73 - Evan Horowitz, Movers+Shakers

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This is a podcast episode titled, 73 - Evan Horowitz, Movers+Shakers. The summary for this episode is: <p>In today’s episode of Earned, we sit down with Evan Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Movers+Shakers, today’s fastest-growing creative agency that “connects brands to culture.” We start by diving into Evan’s background, and learn how he went from earning an engineering degree from Stanford to pursuing an MBA at Harvard. Evan shares why he decided to pivot into the marketing field, and what eventually inspired him to become an entrepreneur and launch Movers+Shakers in 2016 with his husband Geoffrey Goldberg. We discuss the creative agency’s standout success—achieving 250 BILLION views across its TikTok campaigns—and unpack the philosophies and strategies behind this boom. Evan reveals how the agency helps its clients stay on the cutting edge of culture, and why intuition is a key ingredient to its secret sauce. Next, we hear how Movers+Shakers integrates creators into its campaigns, and what Evan’s ambitions are for the agency’s future. Evan also shares how the idea for Movers+Shakers was originally conceived after Geoffrey, a Broadway performer and director, posted a dance video online that went viral overnight. To close the show, we get Evan’s thoughts on how TikTok has evolved over the years, and where he anticipates it going next.</p><p><br></p><p>In this episode, you will learn:</p><ol><li>Why intuition is a key ingredient to Movers+Shakers' secret sauce for keeping brands on the cutting edge of culture</li><li>How Movers+Shakers' integrates creators into its brands' campaigns</li><li>How TikTok has evolved over recent years, and where it's heading next</li></ol><p><br></p><p><strong>Key Takeaways</strong></p><p>[05:51]: How Movers+Shakers keeps its client brands on the cutting edge of culture</p><p>[15:58]: How Movers+Shakers integrates creators into its brands' campaigns</p><p>[19:15]: How Movers+Shakers differs from more traditional creative agencies</p><p>[24:58]: How TikTok has evolved over recent years, and where it's headed next</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><ul><li>Movers+Shakers: <a href="https://moversshakers.co/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://moversshakers.co/</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Connect with the Guest:</strong></p><ul><li>Evan’s LinkedIn: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/evanhorowitz/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/in/evanhorowitz/</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Connect with Conor Begley &amp; CreatorIQ:</strong></p><ul><li>Conor’s LinkedIn -<a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/conormbegley/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @conormbegley</a></li><li>CreatorIQ LinkedIn -<a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/creatoriq/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creatoriq</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Follow us on social:</strong></p><ul><li>CreatorIQ YouTube -<a href="https://www.youtube.com/@TribeDynamics" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @TribeDynamics</a></li><li>CreatorIQ Instagram -<a href="https://www.instagram.com/creatoriq/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creatoriq</a></li><li>CreatorIQ TikTok -<a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@creator.iq" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creator.iq</a></li><li>CreatorIQ Twitter -<a href="https://twitter.com/CreatorIQ" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @CreatorIQ</a></li></ul>
How Movers+Shakers Keeps its Clients on the Cutting Edge of Culture
04:41 MIN
How Movers+Shakers Integrates Creators Into its Brands' Campaigns
01:30 MIN
How Movers+Shakers Differs From Traditional Agencies
01:33 MIN
How TikTok Has Evolved & Where its Headed Next
02:52 MIN

Conor Begley: It's really clear to see why Evan and Jeffrey have been so successful with Movers and Shakers. They've taken a super innovative, but focused approach to an industry that is unbelievably fast moving. I think you're going to love today's show. Remember, if you do enjoy it, be a friend, tell a friend. That is the best way to help us out. All right guys, enjoy.

Speaker 2: Explore the minds and marketing strategies behind today's winning brands and businesses. Tap into the Power of the Creator economy with Earned by Creator IQ. Here's Connor Begley.

Conor Begley: Hi everyone. Welcome to Earn. Today, we've got Evan Horowitz on the line. Welcome to the show, Evan.

Evan Horowitz: Thank you. Great to be here. Connor.

Conor Begley: It's so fun from my perspective, and I'm sure you see this all the time, but I remember when you guys first got started and when Corey from Elf first introduced us and you guys were just getting going, right? You were a small agency at that time, and that was not that long ago, I think maybe a few years ago and now number one fastest growing agency in Ad week. You're like killing it. So congrats.

Evan Horowitz: Thank you. Yeah, it's been a wild journey, but we're surrounded by really inspiring people like yourself and Corey, and I think that inspiration helps feed the engine and the vision, so thank you for killing it and let's keep growing together.

Conor Begley: I'm down. For those that don't know you, Evan actually originally got his degree in electrical engineering out of Stanford and then eventually made the switch to the dark side, got into marketing, did the Harvard MBA, then did Samsung. Now you've founded Movers and Shakers about six years ago with your husband a little over six years ago, which again, I mentioned already. Number one fastest growing agency in Ad week, 250 billion views on your campaigns. I think the one you ran with Elf that put you on the map was the most successful branded TikTok campaign in history. We got a lot to learn about TikTok and otherwise today.

Evan Horowitz: Thank you. Yeah, it's been a wild ride.

Conor Begley: So let's start at the top. What was it that made you switch over, to go from semiconductors, electronics, electrical engineering to marketing? What caused that career pivot?

Evan Horowitz: I was a big math science guy growing up in high school and in college and still a big tech nerd. I get a new phone the day they come out, but I realized in college while I was studying engineering that I wanted to work with people more than I thought, which was sort of a revelation to me when I was 20. I decided maybe business was an interesting way to go, not really knowing much about that, but I totally flip fought from that freshman in college who made fun of all the business majors for being in a fluffy, ridiculous major to then all of a sudden the inaudible myself and had to eat my words. So I was lucky coming out of school actually to get a job in marketing at a microchip company where they hired engineering grads, put you into a marketing role, because in order to explain why our microchip is better than their microchip, you need the technical understanding and they taught us a lot about marketing. I learned about pricing and business management and sales, and it was fascinating. I loved it. Never looked back.

Conor Begley: What's funny is I felt like I had the opposite problem.

Evan Horowitz: Really?

Conor Begley: Not opposite problem. Yeah, I went into school and I was like, I don't know what I want to do. The school I went to, you had to pick your major before you got there and I was like, I don't know, business feels pretty generic. I'll go into that. Originally I was going to do marketing, and then I was like, marketing's so fluffy. I was like, you got to add something somewhat hard skilled. So I added finance, then added econ. So I did a double major and a minor, but I still always felt like I wish I had gone the technical route, getting an engineering degree, and then you do the MBA. You kind of layer that on top. Obviously it's worked out, but it was definitely something I thought a lot about.

Evan Horowitz: Yeah, I think things unfold how they unfold. It's like I kind of see my life as a pinball game. You go in a certain direction, you bounce, you go in a different direction, you bounce, and I feel like if you start going left and bounce right, you start going right, bounce left. It's just that unfolding process. I never would've predicted that this is where my life would be when I'm now 41. Never in a million years would 18 year old me have thought that I would be here, but it's been awesome.

Conor Begley: Oh my gosh, you don't look 41. You do a good job. Let's take advantage of a lot of our skincare brands. The pinball analogy is interesting. You have a lot of control in pinball. You only get to make a very small number of decisions.

Evan Horowitz: Yeah, I guess in that sense, I do believe we're always in control, but I guess the reason I choose that is you're heading in a certain way. All right, I'm going to major in electrical engineering, or in your case of business, and then at some point you decide to make a pivot. Often in my life at least, they've been hard pivots where it's like, okay, I'm going to be an engineering grad who goes work in marketing. That was weird, but I did it. At some point I decided to quit corporate and become an entrepreneur. That was a hard pivot. So I do see a lot of moments in my life where I've made hard pivots, and that's why it does feel like pinball in that sense of just unexpected trajectories through life.

Conor Begley: Totally. What was the second big pivot to entrepreneurship? What led to that?

Evan Horowitz: That was interesting because I actually got to a point in my life where I pretty much checked all the boxes. I had my dream job. I was at Samsung, I was running this$ 250 million business unit there as a PNL owner, I got to do the marketing and supervise the sales and inventory and everything, and that's kind of what I'd want to do. I actually wrote on my business school application, they always asked you, what's your dream job? I was like, I want to be a marketing leader at a consumer electronics company. I had it and I didn't feel fulfilled, and I kind of had a little pre- life crisis. This is when I was 30, and I was like, oh, checking all the boxes isn't what makes you happy. So that sent me on a deep introspective journey, got really involved in personal development and became really interested in self- help and did a tunnel coursework and stuff like that, and decided to make a big pivot and become an entrepreneur, which is something that I'd never seriously considered before, but I realized that I had some ideas that I thought would be cool, and I never had the courage to just go out and push through the fear of trying it. So I decided to take that leap and I'm glad I did.

Conor Begley: It's definitely a leap. It's not for the faint of heart. You said you're buying the new phone every year. You worked at Samsung, but are you Samsung or you're an Apple guy?

Evan Horowitz: I'm a green bubble guy. Yeah. I have had a lot of Samsung phones, but I'm not totally brand loyal to Samsung. I have a Google phone right now, but I am an Android loyalist.

Conor Begley: Interesting.

Evan Horowitz: Yeah, I'm one of two people in our company who has a Windows PC. Everyone else has a Mac, but I have Windows.

Conor Begley: So Movers and Shakers, I think the big launch point was the Elf initiative that you did did, which is again, at least at the time, was the most successful branded initiative that's ever happened on TikTok, and you guys have gotten known as being the TikTok guys. What is it that's working so well? What really clicked for you guys as an agency?

Evan Horowitz: Well, we're all about connecting brands into culture. So how do we make a brand more culturally relevant, more buzzy, more cool, especially with Gen Z millennials, and that's our North Star. That's why we got on TikTok originally. Movers and Shakers predates TikTok. We've always been an agency that works across social and had this question of how do we make brands more culturally relevant? So when TikTok started in 2019, we went there because we saw, oh, culture is being made here. Same reason Elf went there and we decided to team up together. So that's what keeps us fresh and relevant as an agency and I think why we'll always stay on that cutting edge because culture keeps moving and our job as an agency is to help our clients stay on that cutting edge of culture. What's cool with Gen Z and Millennials, and what we do is we follow those waves and we put our clients on top of those waves. So everybody's talking about this and how do we get the client on that or everybody's using this app and how do we get the brand onto that? That's what inspires us and that's why our work is so strong and impactful for our clients.

Conor Begley: That seems like one of the biggest challenges. Those waves happen really quickly and they die really quickly. So the question is how do you get there in time? I think it's hard enough when you're in- house at a brand where you have a little bit more leeway to just move on something. But as an agency now you've got a whole nother party. You got to get approval and make sure everybody feels good about it. How do you operate in an environment that moves that quickly? How are you responsive to those waves?

Evan Horowitz: You have to set that up in advance, so it's certainly not an accident that you are able to respond quickly. Both for us and then also for the brand team. We've organized our whole agency that way. So we have a culture squad at the center of our agency. This is a group of people who their job is to monitor culture day to day. What are people talking about? What's trending on TikTok? What's trending on Twitter and Reddit? What's happening in Hype Beast in pop culture? This album drop is happening. This celebrity had a snafu that everybody's honing in on, whatever those things are. This culture squad feeds all those insights to all of our different client teams so that we can find the ones that are relevant for that brand. So we're set up ready to react to those, whether that's just getting some cool social content in an organic post or actually building a whole campaign moment around it. Same thing for our clients. We have to train them on how to be ready for that. That is a training process for some of them. Some of them are there, others are really trying to reinvent their whole organizations. But we work with some huge Fortune 500 CPG companies that I'm really impressed at how, with some elbow grease on their internal team, they're able to align things so that they can move quickly. I've been really surprised at even some of our relatively regulated clients, we do trainings for their legal team and we help explain to them what's going to happen, and we get as much roadmap dos and don'ts documented in advance, so when those moments come, we can take advantage of them. So it is possible different brands can achieve that to different levels, but I'm constantly inspired by our clients and what they're able to do.

Conor Begley: That's a pretty big strategic advantage for you guys, just that training program, just having it to like, Hey, this is how you do it. This is the process, this is the way to work. Cause then imagine, again, if you're at a legacy agency, that's not a muscle that's necessarily built and there may not necessarily even be buy- in within the agency that you need to move that quickly. So being purpose built for that world is pretty special. On the culture squad, that sounds like a pretty cool job to have. What do they use outside of the standard apps? Are they using any tools to stay up to date?

Evan Horowitz: Yeah, it's a combination of, I would say quantitative and then also qualitative or intuition. So we do have some of the traditional tools. We're also always partnering with new tools, startups that are doing things in different ways or working with new platforms. But I do think a lot of our secret sauce is more on the qualitative side and just reading the tea leaves. Overall, we're not really a data focused agency. Certainly we want all of our stuff to work and have measurable impact, but we're really more focused on reading the tea leaves of culture and our clients that have the most success also aren't waiting for the data to jump on something. It's more about that intuition and that feel. This feels like it's picking up, and what our culture squad is amazing at is reading those tea leaves, connecting the dots for how this conversation about this to lab or this trending audio that creates an opportunity for a skincare brand or a healthcare brand or whatever it is. That connectivity of connecting those dots all the way through to a campaign or content and doing that quickly, that's really the secret sauce.

Conor Begley: Well, and I think trends are so community specific as well. You could have something that's trending on Twitter or trending on TikTok that I will never see, that I will never be exposed to me because that's not the topics that I'm interested in or the topics that I'm responsive to. So I think having somebody that's in the weeds within those communities and can see those and say, Hey, this is moving, the right people are talking about it, it's got the right narrative. It fits us well, just seems super valuable. How big is the culture squad?

Evan Horowitz: It's about a dozen people.

Conor Begley: I imagine it's a relatively small team, but that's a lot.

Evan Horowitz: Yeah, not everybody that's their full- time thing. There's some people who that's what they do part of the week, but sourcing those signals is really important and then feeding that back out through the whole agency.

Conor Begley: So in terms of ambitions for the group, I think what's fairly common in the agency industry is consolidation. So whether that's the WPPs and the publicists of the world going out and acquiring small up and coming agencies or potentially doing that yourself. So you becoming a collection of agencies rather than just a single agency. When you guys think about your ambitions for Movers and Shakers, what are you thinking about in the future? Is this something that eventually you want to have acquired or that you think about building out this conglomerate? Or are you just at this point laser focused on the day- to- day?

Evan Horowitz: I think our vision is to become a big brand transformation agency and how can we help really have a transformative impact for brands specifically on this dimension of cultural relevance for Gen Z and Millennials. So we're doing that already. We're now a hundred people, which is a hundred more than we were three years ago, and we want to keep growing. The opportunity is endless right now. We have so many brands knocking down the door to work with us. Every day we're getting unsolicited requests just through our website, brands who want to chat with us. So we're clearly doing something that's really special in the industry and it's getting noticed. The question is how do we keep scaling that? So as you said, we're number one fastest growing agency right now on the planet because there's that much demand. For us it's how do we keep having more of that impact? How much of that do we build in house? Is it through partnerships? We do certainly get a lot of interest, to your point, from other agencies and investors who are interested in supporting that. There's a lot of ways that we want to expand our capabilities over time. Right now, we're really focused on upper funnel brand awareness, specifically socially native. We've decided to be us focused exclusively. We've tried really hard to keep our lane tight because there's so much growth opportunity in this really tight lane, but clearly there's a lot of opportunity and adjacencies if we had additional capabilities. So it's all things that we're thinking about. At the moment, we have so much runway in front of us just in our existing narrowly defined lane that we're looking at how can we have better deeper engagements with more awesome brands, and that keeps us very busy.

Conor Begley: Yeah, honestly, I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make as entrepreneurs is having a lack of focus, is trying to do too many things and not realizing how big the opportunity is in front of them. It grows both in terms of the number of people you work with as well as, like you said, the depth of those engagements. For us, we realized, which it should be really obvious, but it took us a long time, was that if you weren't good on social, if you didn't have an active social presence, you probably shouldn't be signing up for influencer analytics. That probably wasn't a customer we should go after. That threshold we used was 50,000 Instagram followers. But if you looked above that, how many businesses fit that criteria, there's about 50,000 brands that have over 50, 000 fans and have an e- commerce presence, and that is a massive, massive market. If we just focus on that, we can build better tools for them. It's easier to reach them, they'll be more successful, they'll refer more people. So kudos to you. I think maintaining focus is certainly the right thing to do.

Evan Horowitz: Thank you. Yeah, it's hard, but it's exciting. I think what we're doing is really needed right now and we have incredible clients who come to us who they get to work with the best agencies in the world and they're finding that this is a service that they're not able to get, this culturally relevant... we call it culturally native, socially native creative. The biggest brands are looking for that. So Unilever for example, is one of our fastest growing clients and we 10Xed our business with them last year, and it's going to continue to grow exclusively, just through internal referral because people are seeing our work and they're hungry, hungry for that different type of thinking. What we're seeing too that's really cool is some of the big brands are actually flipping the script on how they develop creative from the traditional way, which is starting with your TV first creative and then that flows out through all the different channels. Now the best brands are flipping that word. They start with a socially native creative platform, and that flows back to traditional ATL channels like TV or out of home. That's really cool. We're often invited to be that lead agency that's helping define that new narrative for what is this brand going to look like in 2023, 2024 and beyond?

Conor Begley: We're seeing the same thing in kind of a slightly different light. We're calling them creator centric marketing where it's like all these people that are talking about you are really what's propagating the message of your brand and putting them at the center of the marketing funnel, particularly the center of the digital marketing funnel, integrating that content into ads, integrating that content into email, integrating it into your website, utilizing it in more traditional forms like TV, magazines, et cetera, is definitely something that's flipping where this is now, okay, this is at the center and everything else operates off of this, which is pretty special.

Evan Horowitz: We definitely see the same trend. Creators are at the heart of almost all of our work, and it's definitely the future.

Conor Begley: How do you think about integrating them into the creative process? Because obviously you guys are inherently a big part of the creative process as well. How do you partner with them? How do you collaborate with them? How often are they integrated into your initiatives? How does that work?

Evan Horowitz: It's a great question and it's really hard actually. Last year we defined a proprietary model for how to integrate creators into the creative process that looks at different levels of integration because what we realized is there's no one size fits all. On the one end of the spectrum, you have creative that's really led by the creators a hundred percent. Maybe you send them product, they make something, they post it, you don't really give them any direction. On the other end of the spectrum is fully scripted content where we actually hire the creators as actors and we tell them what to say, and that's a spectrum. So we've actually created different groupings within this spectrum so that we can all get on the same page about what are we doing and how are we using the creators? I would say there's no one right way to do it. I do think that brands tend to overscript creators. Scripted content can be great. We have a campaign running right now for Neutrogena that's killing it with scripted content using creators. But really important first step is just what lane are we in and to what extent are we trying to script it versus bringing the creator's creativity. So we built this model that allows us to get really clear with that internally within our team and with the client team. Again, I don't think there's a right way to do it, but you want to know what you're doing and then how to optimize it for that lane that you're in.

Conor Begley: That is one of the biggest changes that I had a hard time adapting to as we scaled up as an organization is this concept of you kind of describing it as playbooks where it's like, Hey, I have to teach somebody else how to do what I know how to do, and they have to do it close to as well as I do if we're going to be successful. It's tough. Then back to your points on the creators, I know that for us when we survey the creators, the number one complaint is being forced to do content that's like not having creative control or creative collaboration in the process. They know their audience, they know what's authentic. Their whole job is to be creative. So it's a tough balance to strike because obviously the brand has certain messages, there's certain branding that they want to come across in their material. It's a difficult problem.

Evan Horowitz: Absolutely. Yeah. It requires a lot of coaching. I'm sure your team is used to this, and then we spend a lot of time coaching our clients on how to work with creators. But I think it's a piece of the same problem that social is evolving so quickly, and so we spend a lot of time coaching our clients on how to create for social now. Social is lofi, social is authentic, and that's 180 degrees different in some ways from the traditional social playbook, let alone the TV playbook of olden times that a lot of marketers are still following. So it's a big learning curve and we have a lot of trouble finding talent and then training talent even for us as we grow so quickly. We hired the best socially native thinkers with the best backgrounds, but we find we still want to do a lot of retraining because what we're doing, it's quite different from pretty much every other agency out there. That's a learning curve, or better said, maybe an unlearning curve for a lot of best practices that are the right best practices in other contexts, but you got to unlearn them if you're going to be successful in those new frontiers of the social world.

Conor Begley: What are the challenges with that? We scaled really fast. We double, double, double, but we didn't go zero to 100 in 31 months. Talk to me about that.

Evan Horowitz: It's hard, but it's exciting. It's been a great journey. Playbooks is a huge piece of that, and you mentioned it a minute ago. It is like how do you distill your secret sauce in a way that is teachable? The first question is, what is your secret sauce? We didn't even know. My co- founder, Jeffrey and I, we have never worked at an ad agency before. We just started our own. So we had no playbook when we went in. We just started doing things that we thought were cool and would make sense for the clients that we were meeting. So when we made a pitch, opened PowerPoint and started putting slides on that we thought were helpful, we had no framework of strategy and then creative and sort of the normal agency model. I've only learned now in the last few years. At the same time, we were so successful and people were loving that. So what we've had to do is even articulate what is our secret sauce, what are we doing? Then how is it different and how is it the same from what normal agency best practices are? Because we're hiring all these really smart people who have great backgrounds and they know all the agency best practices for really cool agencies. Which of those things we want them to bring in and help us make ourselves stronger and which of those things do we want them to check at the door and say, love that that's an agency best practice. We definitely don't do it that way. Everything from how you develop creative ideas, how you build contracts and relationships with clients, pricing, all these things, a lot of them we do very, very differently. So figuring out how to articulate those and then train them, that's an ongoing challenge.

Conor Begley: Totally. Again, from a client perspective, you kind of want the contract to look mostly like other contracts you would assume because then like, oh, okay, this is comfortable, this is how it works. But I do think there is an advantage to, we saw it as well, we came into the influencer marketing space, very much outsiders. Now obviously it's a new industry who's just being developed, but I think that we found that we took a different perspective on it. You went first principles approach like, Hey, what's actually working here and let's start there rather than how it's been done in the past. It was pretty impactful. Let's talk about Jeffrey for a minute. So I think that part of the secret sauce of the agency is you and him.

Evan Horowitz: Sure.

Conor Begley: You've got this deep background on the marketing side of things, and then he's got this deep background on the creative side of things across Broadway. Talk to me about that relationship. I mean, one, hard to work with your spouse I would imagine, but then two, how do you guys kind of interact? How did that work out?

Evan Horowitz: It's been amazing and also challenging. I'll share that. Let me just, for those of you who don't know Jeffrey's background, when I met him, he was on Broadway in Mary Poppins. He's a performer, he is an actor, singer, dancer. He'd worked his way up all the way from the bottom to Broadway and then he switched careers a little bit. So he went behind the scenes. So he got into directing choreography and that's actually where the original inspiration for Movers and Shakers was. He was putting his own work out there. A lot of that was on film and he put it on social and his pieces were going mini viral. So that was the original idea. I was like, wow, this type of joyful storytelling that he's doing, people love it. We never thought when we got together... so we've been together now for our 12 years and six years now as business partners as well. We certainly never thought that was going to happen.

Conor Begley: Oh wow.

Evan Horowitz: It's been great. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody to work with your spouse. It's very intense. But he and I are both very intense people and we have really good communication. One of the principles that I believe that has helped is whatever issues you have in your relationship, they're going to come up in whatever context you're in. So in my opinion, you're going to have the same patterns and the same fights whether you're talking about finances or kids or business. So he and I both believe that. Whenever we have issues that have come up, we really go and try to work through them. Both of us are big into personal development and we're willing to do the hard work on ourselves to grow through stuff. In that sense, the business has been an amazing thing for our relationship because it forced a lot of our relationship issues to the forefront and we've both worked really hard to work through them and we have a fantastic relationship as a result. But there was definitely been times over the six years that it was like, are we really going to lose our marriage over this business? We obviously never wanted to do that, but it's been a long time since we came close to that so I'm very proud of us.

Conor Begley: I think about that in the context of relationships. I think a lot about those, call them, disagreements, fights, whatever you want to call them, but each time you get through that, assuming each person is working actively to resolve it, you get a little bit more of an understanding of who that person is, what their view on the world is, and how that shapes how they interact with it, et cetera. Over time, it polishes that relationship where you get to have this very, very deep understanding of the other person that takes a long time to figure out where the edges are, et cetera. Having that commitment on both sides is just really special. It's not fun all the time, but it's inevitable in any relationship. So again, I have a co- founder, right? We have similar issues. Obviously we are not spouses, but we were friends before we founded the company. The other thing I think that's really important, there's a really good book by Noam Wasserman where he talks about founder relationships. Basically the difficulty in preexisting relationships when you start a company is that you have another relationship, you have a friendship or you have a spouse and you don't want to harm that relationship by giving them difficult feedback in the context of a business. So you don't do it. So we had to set those boundaries too, like, Hey, I'm going to tell you if you're messing up. I'm going to tell you when I think you could be doing better. That's not a commentary on how I view you a friend, but it is important that we can give each other that kind of critical feedback. So hats off to you guys. It sounds like a challenge for sure. So let's go back to TikTok for a second because, again, I think you're probably one of the foremost experts on TikTok in the world. So in your opinion, how has the platform changed from say three years ago when you really started growing explosively to today? Then how do you expect it to evolve over time?

Evan Horowitz: Well, first of all, I never thought anyone would address me as one of the foremost experts on TikTok in the world. So that's an interesting part of... just to our ping pong metaphor from before.

Conor Begley: It's true, right?

Evan Horowitz: It might be, but not a title that I would ever thought that I would have. TikTok is evolving so fast. It's grown faster than any social platform in history. I think a lot of that is because it hit during the pandemic and it's just a great platform. Their AI and their algorithm is so smart, and that means that it's changing incredibly fast. When it started, it was a bunch of teenage girls doing silly dances and lip syncs, and it's just moved light years from that in just a few years. That means marketers need to move quickly to keep up with that. I think the good thing is it's diversified astronomically, so it's no longer teenage girls. Now, every generation is heavily using TikTok, including some older generations. Boomers are increasingly on TikTok and every type of topic or conversation is there from basketball to pottery. So that means there's so much opportunity there for brands which wasn't always there. The way that people interact on TikTok keeps evolving. I think that's also a challenge for brands to keep up with because the best content is relevant to what people are actually seeing on their for you page. You always want your ads to feel so native to people's experience. So when the tone of voice and the storytelling styles are changing almost on a monthly basis, I'm not even talking about trends yet, but just the tone of voice is changing, then that's hard for brands to keep up with from a creative perspective. I think in the future, TikTok, it's going to continue to grow. It's going to have more and more generations on there. It's going to be interesting to see what Gen X talk looks like. That's going to be the last one to really get to defined. It's going to become more and more interactive. I think that's one thing that really differentiates TikTok from any other social platform is the true participatory nature of it. TikTok allows people, not even talking about brands yet, but people to truly interact much more than commenting by inventing the dueting feature. Now you have people making barbershop quartets through TikTok. They've never even met each other, and they're making literally beautiful music together. It's just incredible. As an agency, how do we help brands tap into that truly participatory nature to create whole moments of opportunity where your fans can come together, engage with each other, engage with the brand, and that is such a deeper level of connection with your consumer than just a TV ad or even a really cool social ad because you're actually creating this whole moment for your community. I think it's going to continue to deepen in that way.

Conor Begley: My biggest kind of applications that I use are probably TikTok one, Twitter two, LinkedIn three, right? That's probably a three I use the most. Every time you go on TikTok, the thing I'm always astounded of is just human creativity and how they enable that, how they facilitate that is just fascinating. It's just so cool. Somebody said, it's kind of surprising, there's like a once in a billion experience actually every six or seven days, but you get exposed to it on TikTok. You see once in a billion moments every other day that happen. It's just fascinating. So I never predicted I would be an expert in beauty and fashion influencer marketing either, but it is really cool once you're in the middle of it. One fun end of show question. So you have a daughter, right?

Evan Horowitz: I do, yeah, four year old.

Conor Begley: So when she grows up and she gets her first phone, is it going to be an Android phone or is it going to be an Apple phone? Are you going to make her feel like an outsider or are you going to encourage her to fit in with the group?

Evan Horowitz: I imagine we'll let her decide. My husband is a diehard Apple person, so we're actually a mixed family, which can be a little bit contentious. My parents are actually mixed too. My mom who's the engineer in the family, she's also an Android, and my dad is an iPhone person. So even with her grandparents, she's going to have mixed influence. We'll see where she gravitates.

Conor Begley: Yeah, that'll be funny. You have to get some bets going beforehand. Well, Evan, I really appreciate you taking out the time and congratulations on all the success. I said it at the beginning, but want to reiterate it. It is just so impressive what you guys have done and excited to see where you guys take it over the next five, 10 years.

Evan Horowitz: Thank you so much, Connor. Same. Great to be on the journey together.

Speaker 2: Be a friend, tell a friend and subscribe. Earned by Creator IQ. Creator IQ is your all- in- one solution to grow, manage, scale, and measure your influencer marketing program. Ready to unlock the power of the creator economy? Get started with a demo today at creatoriq. com.


In today’s episode of Earned, we sit down with Evan Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Movers+Shakers, today’s fastest-growing creative agency that “connects brands to culture.” We start by diving into Evan’s background, and learn how he went from earning an engineering degree from Stanford to pursuing an MBA at Harvard. Evan shares why he decided to pivot into the marketing field, and what eventually inspired him to become an entrepreneur and launch Movers+Shakers in 2016 with his husband Geoffrey Goldberg. We discuss the creative agency’s standout success—achieving 250 BILLION views across its TikTok campaigns—and unpack the philosophies and strategies behind this boom. Evan reveals how the agency helps its clients stay on the cutting edge of culture, and why intuition is a key ingredient to its secret sauce. Next, we hear how Movers+Shakers integrates creators into its campaigns, and what Evan’s ambitions are for the agency’s future. Evan also shares how the idea for Movers+Shakers was originally conceived after Geoffrey, a Broadway performer and director, posted a dance video online that went viral overnight. To close the show, we get Evan’s thoughts on how TikTok has evolved over the years, and where he anticipates it going next.

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. Why intuition is a key ingredient to Movers+Shakers' secret sauce for keeping brands on the cutting edge of culture
  2. How Movers+Shakers' integrates creators into its brands' campaigns
  3. How TikTok has evolved over recent years, and where it's heading next

Key Takeaways

[05:51]: How Movers+Shakers keeps its client brands on the cutting edge of culture

[15:58]: How Movers+Shakers integrates creators into its brands' campaigns

[19:15]: How Movers+Shakers differs from more traditional creative agencies

[24:58]: How TikTok has evolved over recent years, and where it's headed next


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