A Social Media Agency Takes an Edgy Approach

Pat Law of Goodstuph makes it a habit to be "badass." This summer, she's opening a bar.

Colleen DeBaise By Colleen DeBaise

Pat Law, who started her social media agency, Goodstuph, in Singapore in 2010, has developed a reputation for being unconventional. She has cropped hair, tattoos and funky glasses, and is openly gay — all of which help her stand out in this prosperous but socially conservative city. “I will piss a person off within the first five minutes of meeting them,” says Law, with more than a hint of pride.

From a business standpoint, the tough persona seems to work for Law. Her nine-employee firm has won industry awards for its quirky, sometimes edgy, social-media campaigns, and is on track to make 10 million Singapore dollars (about $8 million) in annual revenue in the next two years. Clients include Sony, Sephora, Electrolux and BMW’s Mini. “We are not good at wining and dining,” she says. “We don’t know how to treat clients like they’re God. But we deliver on the work.”

As a social media agency, Goodstuph focuses less on tweets and more on events or promotions designed to cause a digital stir on Twitter, Facebook and the like. One of its most successful campaigns involved this cardboard workstation, which was designed for Hewlett-Packard’s Z1 computer and resulted in 79 million impressions on social-media platforms and was cited in Fast Company and other publications for its architectural appeal.

This summer, Law is gambling that a new division of Goodstuph will create more buzz on social media: She is opening a bar. While few social-media agencies own their own watering holes, Law says the move makes sense because a number of her clients — Glenfiddich, Monkey Shoulder, Sailor Jerry, Hendrick’s Gin — are alcohol brands. “If all my accounts were government accounts, I would never have started a bar,” she says.

Every three months, Law plans to let one single alcohol brand take over the establishment, a two-level venue on Singapore’s busy Club Street. For that brand, the space will be a blank canvas, which is why she dubbed it “Bar Naked.” Law will serve as creative director, handling the theme, decor and staffing. The client will supply the alcohol, and sales of cocktails will be split.

Law is scheduled to kick things off later this month with Monkey Shoulder, a triple-malt whiskey. “The bar stools will have swings. There will be a banana on every single table,” she says, and “paintings with monkeys.”

When another brand, Hendrick’s Gin, takes over the space, she plans to put bathtubs outside, as a nod to how the beverage was once produced. “It will be a moment worth Instagraming,” she says. And when Sailor Jerry rum, which was named after a tattoo artist, takes over, she’s considering turning the second floor into a tattoo parlor. “If you dare, we will ink the logo on you, permanently,” she says.

The goal is to blur the line between outdoor advertising and event marketing, and create something consumers will share on social media. “Creativity for us will be in 3-D,” she says.

Of course, whether Bar Naked will actually work remains to be seen. Law has not invested much capital in the project, as the venue is owned by a friend, Irene Ang, who is founder of a Singapore talent agency, Fly Entertainment, and an early backer of Goodstuph. The two will run Bar Naked as a joint venture. While the first 12 months are already sold, Law says she is “terribly” stressed. “When you get bigger, when you get more prominent, you just don’t want to fail,” she says.

Law has taken risks before — including when she left a promising position as a digital strategist at advertising giant Ogilvy to start Goodstuph. She hadn’t wanted to become an entrepreneur, but felt it was the only way she could make enough money to pay her father’s medical bills. (He was suffering from a brain tumor at the time and didn’t have insurance.) It would have been “really arrogant to go up to Ogilvy and says, ‘Excuse me, can you triple my pay?’” Law recalled thinking. “The only alternative was to give it a shot. Thankfully, it paid off.”

Law borrowed 10,000 Singapore dollars (about $8,000) from Ang, found a rent-free office space through a friend, and set up shop. Her first client was Nike, with whom she had worked at Ogilvy. Before long, Law had hired staff. In 2013, Goodstuph was named social media agency of the year in a regional competition run by Marketing magazine, besting Ogilvy and Mindshare.

“We beat the big boys,” she says. “Not too shabby.”

Posted: June 2, 2014

Colleen DeBaiseA Social Media Agency Takes an Edgy Approach