Joshua Carter has joined Tunheim as Director of Digital and Social Marketing, a newly created role to lead and expand Tunheim’s burgeoning digital practice. Carter brings with him over 15 years of experience in digital, communications and creative expertise in designing and executing marketing and communications campaigns that elevated some of the world’s most beloved brands including Target, General Mills, Red Wing Shoe Company and Coca-Cola. We sat down with Joshua to ask him a few questions about the digital world and his experience in it.
You’ve been at Tunheim for three weeks. What are your initial impressions?
Tunheim has a bunch of smart people with a wide variety of skills. It’s clear that over (almost) 30 years, the company has worked with some really amazing clients and evolved to fit a ton of different communications and marketing needs. I’ve been on the client side and seen first-hand what Tunheim brings to the table.
Now being a “Tunheimer” and on this side, I’m excited by the amount of energy and potential at Tunheim to find the “next exciting thing.” We aren’t a carbon copy of any other agency in town, we can mold to whatever is thrown at us and I find that really energizing.
After working at Target corporate for more than a decade, what attracted you to working at a smaller business?
What drew me to this role was the ability to build and create (which I LOVE!) while stretching myself across a strong client roster that allows for me grow more broadly. Digital marketing, public relations, storytelling and content marketing are changing really fast and there are ways Tunheim as a smaller organization can be nimble and respond to those changes quickly. I plan to develop a team here that deeply understands the power of digital platforms, storytelling and how to integrate thumb-stopping digital campaigns into almost every other aspect of the communications work that we do for clients.
What company or organization is doing a great job in the digital space right now?
This is such a tough question because each day I see something innovative or unique that I’m loving. But if I had to pick something, I’d say I’m focused on what restaurant/food brands like KFC, Wendy’s, Cheetos, etc. are doing across social and digital. I love how they put the consumer first by interacting with people one on one. Their creative approaches are usually super relatable and always catch my eye. They also do a great job connecting the story across multiple channels and verticals while creating content that is unique to each platform. And of course, I love the community they build and how they interact and engage with each other.
Do you think Generation Z has a fundamentally different relationship to the digital space than Millennials? (You’re technically a Millennial, right?)
I’m not sure if Gen Z is particularly “better” or “more native” in the digital space, but I do think they’ve wholly embraced opportunities to create content and show their individuality in a way that older folks might find foreign. I grew up in a digital environment that encouraged blogging and photography – and lots of Facebook status updates – but I didn’t have access to a bunch of cool video and augmented reality tools. Instead of treating these tools as novel toys, Gen Z embraces spaces like TikTok that erupt in a flurry of innovation and fresh humor.
And yes, I’m a Millennial and I did have a MySpace and AOL Instant messenger.
Does it feel like the rapid innovation of smartphone use is slowing down or do you expect more surprises and cultural shifts for consumers?
I’d be ready to see some of the energy that has been put behind app innovation shift to other sectors like health care, energy production and agriculture. It’s hard for any new digital social space or market to emerge when Facebook and Amazon have such a large presence.
I’m not entirely sure what’s coming in the next 10 years, but I wouldn’t expect the pace of change to slow down at all. You have to choose to be excited by that or else you’ll just be freaked out for the rest of the 21st century.
Would you consider yourself an “influencer?”
Trick question: we’re all influencers. Did you leave a review on Amazon? Influencer. Check into a new restaurant? Influencer. Post a picture of a favorite product and tag them? Influencer.
While I have an extensive background in influencer marketing – and my dog Fonzy the Frenchie (IG: @Fonzy_the_Frenchie) scored an agent in town because of his Instagram account – the influencer space is evolving and is truly about using digital to find the products, movements and inspiration by the people that we trust the most. And that might be your best friend or someone who has built their social media presence over the last few years. #Ad #Sponsored 😊
If you weren’t working in this space, what job would you like to try?
I’m a huge lover of pop culture and fashion – so maybe a fashion designer? But specifically, a hat designer. I love my hat collection and have a story about each hat I own. For me, they bring to life any outfit or occasion that I’m a part of and my grandfather used to rock some of the most amazing hats so I find inspiration based on his style and the sophistication that he brought in the 1900s.
This is very important. Were you born in Minnesota?
I was – and am super proud. I grew up in a small town (St. James) in rural Minnesota and got my undergrad from Gustavus Adolphus College. I now live in Southwest Minneapolis with my beautiful and smart wife, Sarah.