Bummer! This is just a preview. You need to be signed in with a Pro account to view the entire video.
Causing Tiny Trouble14:34 with Jenn Bane
At Cards Against Humanity, we simply want to make things that are delightful, surprising, and cause a little trouble. We aim to misbehave.
[MUSIC] 0:00 I'm Jenn. 0:04 I'm the Community Director of Cards Against Humanity. 0:04 And thank you so much for having me guys. 0:07 To start, to start, uh-oh. 0:09 Hold on, hold on here we go. 0:18 There, there it is, there's our logo. 0:19 To start I wanted to show you guys an email that I received about two years ago. 0:21 So. 0:29 >> [LAUGH] >> As you can see. 0:30 I broke a couple of professional rules in running this e-mail. 0:34 In my response, I swore. 0:38 I also came off as extremely desperate, and 0:40 I admitted I didn't know what a community manager was. 0:43 Even though I could've just Googled it, which I did not do. 0:45 But at least, this is embarrassing. 0:48 I figured what better way to start my talk than to show you something embarrassing. 0:50 But at least it is genuine because I do swear a lot, I was desperate for 0:53 a new job, and I didn't know what a community manager was. 0:58 And little did I know at the time that that would set me up really up for 1:01 working at Cards Against Humanity. 1:04 Because we are a 15 person company, and 1:05 really all we want to do is make things that are genuine and delightful. 1:07 Even if they break the rules a little bit. 1:11 In fact, breaking the rules is kind of one of our goals. 1:13 For those of you who ever watch the TV show Firefly, 1:15 you'll recognize the phrase We Aim to Misbehave. 1:18 Yay, Firefly fans. 1:22 >> [LAUGH] >> So, 1:23 if you're not familiar with the game itself, it is a comedy party game. 1:26 We bill it as a comedy party game for horrible people in particular. 1:29 Because it has some dark humor and some bad words. 1:33 [LAUGH] Fittingly, it was created in a basement a couple years ago by eight 1:36 friends who grew up together. 1:41 And there they are. 1:44 They do not know I am showing you this photo. 1:45 >> [LAUGH] >> So please, please do not tell them. 1:46 They created the game when they were much older than this, 1:49 thank God, when they were home from college for a winter holiday break. 1:51 They were getting ready to attend a New Years Eve party. 1:56 And they were, and they still are, extremely nerdy. 1:58 And they knew that attending the party would be much easier to bear if they had 2:01 some kind of ice breaker, some kind of game. 2:04 So they wrote cards, just on paper, and brought them along. 2:06 And by the end of the night, the friends were asking for 2:09 their own copies of the game. 2:12 In 2011, they put the project on Kickstarter. 2:14 Here's a very old screenshot. 2:17 They asked for $4,000 and in the end they received 15,000. 2:18 With the extra money, they made more copies of the game, and 2:23 put them on Amazon, and to make a long story short, 2:26 it is now the top selling, best reviewed, and most wished for toy or game on Amazon. 2:30 Before I started working at Cards Against Humanity, 2:36 I had just graduated with a degree in journalism. 2:39 Right around the time the economy in the US was imploding on itself. 2:42 So here are some facts about journalism around the time I graduated. 2:46 So, needless to say, I accepted the first job I could. 2:53 It was a very traditional office job where I essentially cold called and 2:58 bothered people all day long. 3:02 To keep my sanity I threw myself into my side projects, and 3:04 the biggest side project of all was my blog writing. 3:08 I created a challenge for myself where I would 3:11 write a blog entry every single day for an entire year just to see if I could. 3:13 Here is a screenshot of my old, very ugly blog. 3:18 Yeah, there it is. 3:22 I'm sure the designers really love seeing all my terrible design. 3:23 But by all, I felt like I was living a double life. 3:26 I would do my normal day job like a regular person and 3:31 then I would go home and write jokes about it on the internet. 3:34 And by all traditional parameters of success my blog was not successful at all. 3:36 I had like 100 readers, maybe, and 3:40 I certainly didn't make any money off of it, but I did do it. 3:43 I did write every single day for a year, and it did make me pay more attention to 3:46 funny things that happened around me during the day. 3:51 Along with my blog writing, I was also pulling what I like to call 3:54 tiny internet pranks, and this is what actually got me a little bit more noticed. 3:58 The set up for this, I'm going to show you my favorite one, and 4:03 the set up for this one is. 4:07 My university was holding a poetry contest, on Facebook, 4:08 because they were demolishing a building on campus, which is kind of ridiculous, 4:12 that they would hold a poetry contest about a construction project, 4:17 construction happens on campuses all the time. 4:21 So, here is my entry into their little poetry contest. 4:25 So, I did not win. 4:32 >> [LAUGH] >> I did not win the $500. 4:34 >> [LAUGH] >> I'm still waiting to hear back. 4:40 Little did I know that a few creators of Cards Against Humanity saw this status and 4:44 remembered it, and they were looking to hire their very first employee. 4:48 I am no longer living a double life. 4:52 I do some blog writing, not every day now. 4:54 But my main motivation for these projects, internet pranks, was pure enjoyment and 4:58 pure entertainment. 5:02 I was not looking to make money or, I was essentially trying to make myself laugh, 5:03 and now as a company we do the same thing. 5:08 We chase things only that make us laugh, and 5:10 every external decision we make is based on whether or not we think it's funny. 5:13 If it's not funny or 5:16 subversive, we probably don't want anything to do with it. 5:17 I understand this is kind of crappy advice to give actual business people, 5:21 actual developers, actual designers. 5:25 So I am gonna call this next section of my talk Bad Advice. 5:27 >> [LAUGH] >> Here are some things that 5:29 we do that you probably should not. 5:32 The first one is Call your customers assholes. 5:34 And we do this a lot. 5:38 Every piece of writing we do for 5:40 Cards Against Humanity supports this character that we've created. 5:42 The character of Cards Against Humanity. 5:45 If Cards was a person, it would be someone who is blunt and honest and 5:47 pessimistic and honestly probably depressed. 5:51 And even in our customer service we use this voice. 5:54 So obviously in customer service the first step is to help the customer, 5:57 that's our first priority. 6:02 But our second time is to make a joke, sometimes at their expense. 6:03 So we balance in our customer service with being helpful but 6:07 also being dismissive, and funny, and weird. 6:10 And I'm going to show you some example emails of this is how we handle our 6:13 customer service. 6:16 So, here's our first email that I copy and pasted from our inbox. 6:17 So, its says, when are you going to be in stock again. 6:22 Get your shit together. 6:25 Hurry up, again, these are real emails. 6:25 And here is how one of the creators of the game, Josh, decided to reply. 6:28 >> [LAUGH] >> I love it. 6:36 Here's another one. 6:41 Can I get a waterproof game? 6:45 We actually get this question a lot, which is weird. 6:46 And then here is how Holly decided to reply. 6:49 >> [LAUGH]. 6:51 >> Here's another email we get a lot. 6:58 People want specific custom cards for their wedding day. 7:00 Here's how I decided to reply. 7:06 >> [LAUGH]. 7:08 >> She was not unhappy. 7:12 She laughed, I'm glad. 7:13 Hopefully it didn't ruin her wedding. 7:15 So that's how we handle our customer service and 7:18 you'll notice we don't use fancy customer service software. 7:20 We've tried it out a little bit. 7:23 But we, really, right now, are just using our Gmail inbox. 7:25 Because we want the whole exchange to feel authentic. 7:27 You're not talking to an Amazon representative. 7:30 You're not talking to a robot or a customer service person. 7:33 You're talking to us, as comedy writers. 7:35 And it should feel authentic, because it is authentic. 7:37 We want to make our customers laugh. 7:39 We are comedy writers. 7:42 And I think businesses often underestimate how well customers can take a joke. 7:44 And we really think every email is an opportunity to make someone's day. 7:49 But on that note, here is another piece of bad advice. 7:53 Go ahead and make some people mad, who cares? 7:57 The internet has taught me that there is some criticisms worth listening to and 8:01 some criticism that is just beneath you. 8:05 Not all opinions are created equal, and 8:07 I really learned this when we launched our scholarship project. 8:09 So, this spring we released a pack of cards called the science pack, and 8:13 all 30 cards are related to science, and all of the funds received for this pack 8:17 toward directing, go directly toward funding a scholarship for women in STEM. 8:21 The reception of this project has been really, really positive and 8:28 really powerful and moving and it's been very enjoyable. 8:31 But as you can imagine, we ruffled a few feathers with this project. 8:34 Here is a Facebook message we received shortly after launching the project. 8:37 I don't blame you if you don't want to read this whole thing. 8:42 So, here is how we decided to answer this. 8:45 >> [LAUGH] >> I'm 8:50 gonna guess we lost this person as a fan. 8:59 He will probably never buy Cards Against Humanity stuff again. 9:02 And that is fine. 9:05 It is not worth our time, our energy to try and appease this person and 9:06 their crappy opinions. 9:09 >> [LAUGH] >> And the best thing that could happen 9:10 here is if he screen shotted this and put it over the internet, I would be thrilled. 9:15 I would love it if this person that we replied to 9:18 showed all their friends cuz it would be free advertising for us. 9:22 >> And finally, my last piece of bad advice. 9:25 This is probably the dumbest thing we've ever done. 9:29 Make up a fake product and then make a terrible viral marketing campaign for 9:32 that product. 9:36 >> [LAUGH] >> So here's the back story. 9:37 Every year we attend the huge gaming conference called PAX. 9:40 One of the most enjoyable things we do for 9:44 PAX is write a set of PAX cards that we put in everyone's swag bags. 9:47 We really like doing this but lately it's kinda lost its magic because people 9:52 have come to expect it, they've come to expect us giving them free things. 9:56 So one year we decided to play a little bit of a prank. 9:59 Instead of putting PAX cards in every single swag bag we put packets of oatmeal. 10:02 And not just oatmeal, it's called, it's gamer oatmeal that we branded as Pwnmeal. 10:09 And in these, there's nothing that indicate that cards are inside, but 10:17 there are oats. 10:21 Actual oats to make really disgusting oatmeal, we've tried it. 10:22 And Cards against Humanity cards are hidden inside. 10:25 And a lot of people didn't realize, a lot of people just threw them away. 10:28 You can see this woman's reaction. 10:33 She's pretty shocked. 10:36 The joke would not have been nearly as funny if we had advertised 10:39 Cards Against Humanity cards. 10:43 We really wanted to make confusion and mass, what the hell is this for oatmeal. 10:44 To really sell this idea we created a Twitter account for Pwnmeal. 10:52 >> [LAUGH] >> A really 10:56 really terrible Twitter account. 11:01 [LAUGH] And then we kind of fell in love with this idea way to much and 11:02 we created a commercial. 11:06 Can you guys help me with the video? 11:08 Thank you. 11:10 [MUSIC] 11:14 [LAUGH] [APPLAUSE] 11:40 Thank you. 11:46 Awesome, thank you, thank you guys. 11:51 So, That's PWNMeal. 11:53 And obviously, the commercials online, 11:54 it's still on pwnmeal.com if you want to watch it over and over again. 11:57 But we also put it on screens at the convention. 12:00 And the screen, huge, huge screens like movie theater style screens. 12:05 >> [LAUGH] >> This commercial played like every 30 12:10 minutes during the convention. 12:13 And watching people unravel this was like one of 12:15 the most amazing things I've ever seen. 12:17 We would just kind of blend into the crowd to see people's reactions. 12:19 And the first day of the convention was pure disbelief. 12:22 People were like, this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen. 12:24 Is this real? 12:27 And then eventually word got out that we were behind it, and 12:28 there were cards inside. 12:31 But the best part, was people started to get in on the joke, with tweets like this. 12:32 [LAUGH] So, people. 12:36 >> [LAUGH] >> Yeah, people got in on it, 12:39 which was the best part. 12:42 And obviously we were pranking people. 12:43 We were having a laugh at terrible advertising that often is at 12:45 big gaming conventions. 12:49 But we're also giving people an experience. 12:51 We were giving people a chance to be in on the joke, 12:52 which I think was why Pwnmeal 's been so successful. 12:55 But it's not out of business. 12:57 So, no more gaming, oatmeal. 12:59 >> [LAUGH] >> Now I want to talk a little bit about, 13:01 before we close my talk, 13:04 I want to mention what's really special about Cards Against Humanity, 13:05 because it's not any of the fun stuff that people get to see. 13:09 It's actually the stuff that happens behind the scenes in our 13:12 office in Chicago. 13:14 And here are some photos. 13:16 We just moved into this space less than a year ago. 13:18 So, the best part about our office is not that it's ours. 13:24 We own the building and we helped do the construction. 13:28 Well not, we didn't help do the construction. 13:31 We hired people to do the construction. 13:32 But, it may be our office, but we share it with fellow designers, developers, 13:34 other creatives. 13:39 And with that, we are not thinking about Cards Against Humanity all day 13:41 that we are directly sitting next to people who are working projects, their 13:45 own kickstarters, their own books, their own zines, podcasts, that kind of thing. 13:49 Is a huge strength that we're not thinking about Cards Against Humanity all day. 13:53 In fact, I think it's the biggest tool we have. 13:56 The fact that we are surrounded by people who are smarter and 13:57 better than us all the time. 14:00 And I know I talked a lot about breaking the rules today, but we do have one rule 14:03 that's really more of a work policy in our office, and that's that if you have 14:07 the ability to help someone, or teach someone something, you have to do it. 14:11 And to close, I wanted to show you guys one of my very favorite emails that we 14:17 received a couple of years ago >> [LAUGH] 14:21 >> Thank you, very much. 14:30 [APPLAUSE] 14:31
You need to sign up for Treehouse in order to download course files.Sign up