I had the pleasure of speaking with AdMagic's founder and CEO, Shari Spiro last week. My interview with Shari is one of the most fun I've ever had – we discussed Exploding Kittens (a game that was launched early this year), how everything started for her at AdMagic, as well as her involvement with the many mind-blowing projects and creations that Cards Against Humanity throws at her.
First, a little background on one of her latest projects this year, Exploding Kittens. From the game's website -The game was created by Elan Lee and Shane Small, known for their work at XBox, and illustrated by Matthew Inman, of "The Oatmeal" fame. The game is the most-backed game in the history of Kicstarter in history in terms of funding and followers.
THE GAME THAT MADE KICKSTARTER HISTORY
"It is a highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players draw cards until someone draws an exploding kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game -- unless that player has a defuse card, which can defuse the kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the exploding kittens. ". - Exploding Kittens
Back to Shari's story, one day, Shari received a call from the folks at Exploding Kittens requesting a “box that meows”. She thought it would be simple to make something similar to a greeting card that makes a sound when opened.
But as always, she wanted to take this to the next level, and she created a box with a light-activated sound mechanism. She found a manufacturer that could create a special magnetic closure and the meowing effect even if you don’t open the box fully. The production request started at 5,000 and jumped at 100,000 prints in a short period of time.
After massive success in the US, Exploding Kittens will make its international debut in SIEL ’15 Messe Essen, Germany.
Here's a short video from the Exploding Kittens website -
You can purchase your very own box of Exploding Kittens here.
Shari came to be the publisher of some of the hottest games of the past few years through her company, Ad Magic.
With over 20 years experience in the promotional products field, our staff at AdMagic has manufactured millions of personalized promotional items for some of the largest companies in the world - as well as for individuals celebrating a landmark occasion, like a wedding, anniversary, birthday or Bar Mitzvahs –AdMagic
Shari founded AdMagic after the manufacturer that she worked for in the same industry went out of business due to a bad economy. She loved the job so much that she decided to create her own company. She first worked at several printing presses, and around that time she first worked on an Apple computer. She fell in love with all of the creative possibilities that the programs running on Apple devices offered at a time when Adobe's products were first becoming a standard for graphic design. This inspired her to become a graphic designer. And the rest, as they say, is history. After a few years in the industry, she started AdMagic, which created magnets, clothing, and custom deck of cards.
Next, Shari created Breaking Games--an adjunct of AdMagic. If the name doesn't ring a bell, you might have seen them at Gen Con 2015, where they built a saloon and featured games such as Boomtown Bandits, Letter Tycoon, Billionaire Banshee, Poop, the Game of 49 and other popular Breaking Games offerings.
During her first year with AdMagic, it was all a learning curve, but come her 3rd year in the industry, she received a phone call that would change change her business forever. One of AdMagic’s largest future clients was on thr phone: Cards Against Humanity.
HOW IT ALL STARTED WITH CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY
How Shari landed the gig for Cards Against Humanity is quite a story. Shari got a phone call from a represetative from Cards Against Humanity asking very meticulous and odd questions about having a set of customized cards printed out. These then turned into numerous email inquiries, with about 10 very detailed questions on each email. She found it quite odd, as she has never had this sort of request or inquiry before. Then they finally made the decision to order 1500 customized 500-card decks. Little did she know that her client's products would soon top Amazons listings.
All throughout the process of printing the cards, she became too busy to even notice what was being printed on them. She didn't even play the game until about a year into printing, since the orders kept piling up – what once started as an order for 1500, all of a sudden turned into 20,000. Then she received another call to print 100,000 and a request to fly some in as early as possible.
Shari said Cards Against Humanity is one of her favorite clients because they never cease to amaze her with their creative, out-of-this-world ideas.
Do you remember last year’s box of Bullsh**!? The minute she got the request, she literally said “Holy Sh**”!. The process of creating the product was very interesting. She found a woman in Texas who raised bulls, and had their excrement dried in ultra violet light. They then had to be “sized specifically” to fit the box. And away it went. What’s surprising is that the bull sh** didn’t smell bad, but rather it was the sh** smelling/flavored pins that was inserted into the box. I asked if anyone bothered returning them and she said no one has. As far as she is concerned, it is a collector’s item these days. “They can use it to burn and repel mosquitoes… yeah, I’m not quite sure what they’d do with them,” said Shari.
Another idea that CAH had was cards inside popsicles for PAX Prime 2015. She had to find a way to fit 10 cards inside popsicles.
Of course, I asked Shari what Cards Against Humanity has in store for Christmas 2015, but her lips are sealed for now. Will it top last year's Bullsh** in a box?! On time will tell what kind of crazy idea they have cooked up for this year...
Stay tuned for more games from AdMagic, Breaking Games and Cards Against Humanity here!
Also, you can check out our geek event calendar for Chicago events for Cards Against Humanity (don't forget to RSVP on their websites)!