After nearly two decades in progressively senior agency roles, Joe Musicco has joined Toronto-based e-reader company Kobo as its vice-president, creative director.
“It wasn’t so much a deliberate choice to go client side as it was a unique opportunity to help shape a global brand right here in Canada. From that perspective it was an easy decision,” Musicco told Marketing. “Kobo’s doing great things to get more people around the world reading, which I think is a worthy purpose for a company to have.”
He called Kobo a “progressive” company that, like other forward-thinking companies in the tech/digital space, is actively assembling internal creative teams.
Musicco said he will focus on bringing creative leadership and direction for the brand. “As a team, we’re focused on pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for our most passionate readers, fostering innovation and building on a culture that serves as an incubator for great ideas,” he said.
The position addresses a common complaint by creative shops that they’re not at the table when important decisions are being made about brand, strategy and creative direction, he said.
“For me, this is one of the advantages of being ‘in-house’ with my new role at Kobo – I get to work directly with the people who are creating the amazing products and services that my team will create compelling and engaging campaigns for,” said Musicco, predicting that this so-called “creative embedding” model is destined to become more popular.
Musicco had been in contact with Kobo for a few months before joining, and was also familiar with Kobo’s chief marketing officer Colin Bettam, the former VP of marketing for LG Electronics who joined the company in July.
“Part of what appealed to me about the opportunity is that Kobo has a culture that fosters innovation and creativity, which in turn attracts smart and talented people,” said Musicco. “I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Kobo has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise softening e-reader market. In May, the company announced that it grew its user base by 2.5 million readers in the first quarter (15% of its new users came from the U.S.), bringing its total registered users to 14.5 million. The company also claimed that its users were reading 34% more in Q1 than in the year-earlier period.
First quarter downloads of the company’s Android app were up 378% over the corresponding year-earlier period, while the company launched an app for Blackberry 10 smartphones in June.
While Kobo faces competition from Amazon’s Kindle product and tablets such as the Apple iPad, Musicco said that customers have indicated that they are seeking a “distraction-free” reading experience such as the one provided by e-ink devices like Kobo.
Approximately 36% of Kobo’s customers own both an e-reader and a tablet, with 14% of those who read solely on a tablet indicating that they intend to purchase a dedicated e-reader.
Kobo recently introduced a TV, print and online campaign called “Reader’s Passion,” which showcases people who make reading a part of their daily lives. That campaign will continue, said Musicco.