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Meet the Geeks: It’s Bernadette!

Published March 13, 2024

“Meet the Geeks” is soooooo back, gang. Hailing from all over the New York tri-state area, we’re catching up with Director of Marketing Bernadette Orscher, who’s coming up on a year with Geeks Who Drink in April. Keep reading to learn about her geeky toddler and her hot takes on the Fast and Furious series. 

We’ll get into the “work stuff” soon, but first things first: What is the geekiest thing about you?

I used to moderate a Lord of the Rings chat room when I was in high school. I came up in the advent of AOL, so it was very much a “chat room.” I also was a big X-Men comic book reader, and that developed to Brian K. Vaughan and graphic novels in my teens and twenties.

The geekiest thing about me now is probably my deep abiding love for the Fast and Furious franchise. I have an encyclopedic recall and knowledge of that family. And then I would add Bravo to the list.

Of course we celebrate all kinds of geekery. It’s not just high fantasy and space operas. Real fast: Please share your ranking of the Fast and Furious movies.

I’m so glad you asked. I would start with 6, because it reinvigorated my love for the franchise. I think it goes 6, 7, 5, 9, and then it goes back to 1. Last for me is Tokyo Drift; I don’t feel like it’s canon for a host of reasons.

Love that, we’re gonna need that canonical ranking. I am gonna compare it to Rotten Tomatoes, see if you agree with the critics, and if you don’t, you’re a maverick and I respect that. [Note: Rotten Tomatoes goes 7, 5, 6, 8, 9, 1. Pretty spot on!] Anyway: How did you get into the Geekosystem? Which, of course, is the “Geeks Who Drink Ecosystem.”

I’m not only an employee or director, I was once a client. I was heading up brand marketing at OkCupid in 2017 or 2018, and I was running a series of sponsorships trying to drum up brand awareness around New York. Around Valentine’s Day, we were trying to run some on-premise promotions to connect with people who we thought were in the same audience; millennial, young, fun, geeky. And I connected with Geeks Who Drink; I actually worked with Bryan on my sponsorship. I also used to go to Geeks Who Drink quizzes in the city. When I saw the listing for marketing director, I was super curious because I loved working with the team so much in the past.

What is your current role like?

We’re balancing so many different things, where we have two different audiences that we are talking to. The marketing team talks not only to the quizzers, the people actually enjoying our product and going to our quizzes, but also to our clients and our quizmasters. We have a lot of stakeholders, so we have a responsibility to meet them where they are, making sure our channels for communication are all performing accurately on an acquisition level and on a retention level, and making sure that we’re doing a good job of entertaining people and getting butts in seats for our clients. 

Going back to sponsorships: Have there been any inquiries that didn’t pan out as marketing partners? 

We had an entertainment partner that was promoting a particular comedian who has strong anti-trans and LGBTQIA jokes. We had no interest in promoting them and their tour, so we turned them down; we flatly said, “We’re not value-aligned, and we’re not going to promote this to our audience.” We hold inclusivity to a really high standard. 

I remember one of the first sponsorships I encountered when I started at Geeks Who Drink was a nacho cheese company. We’ll do nacho cheese, that’s fine, we can make that work.

A hundred percent! Because that’s inclusive! Everybody loves nacho cheese, man. We do partnerships with whatever we think people might be interested in a direct-to-consumer space… that’s why we work with so many entertainment partners like Hulu and Netflix. It’s an incredibly strong awareness channel for marketers. 

What projects are in the works?

We are really excited about Pride Month. It’s an incredibly important time for us to not educate, but also to celebrate our audience. We’ll be working with a number of our LGBTQIA-owned bars and partners to create some programming, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the trans-rights organizations we work with. 

I’m thinking of what else we’ve seen from the marketing team since you started. [Our at-home quiz product] House Party comes to mind, especially the Taylor Swift quiz, which by my understanding was the most successful one. It seems Taylor has given us many opportunities on the marketing side.

Listen, Taylor Swift is monoculture. She is everywhere, she is everywhere, everything all at once. I knew that we had a significant well of questions about her and I thought, “Why not just curate them and give them to the people?” People were already organically celebrating the Eras Tour by having hotel and house parties before they went to the shows, so there was no reason we shouldn’t amplify their experience for something that was a full pop-cultural moment of 2023. 

With the help of the editorial team, we were able to package it up and send it off to the masses, and it was such a popular response that our clients were like, “We want to do this so we can actually connect with our audiences in our venues.” There was a brewery out in Wilmington, Delaware, that knew their demographic was traditional beer lovers and wanted to give families and a younger audience a reason to come out. They used our Taylor Swift quiz as their initial quiz as their launch, and they’ve had such successful trivia nights since.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I feel like I have positive impacts on people’s days and lives, being able to encourage people to connect with friends and learn something new and support small businesses. Positive impact in people’s days, no matter what level, is what matters to me, and trivia is fully emblematic of that. I used to love going to trivia as a weekly ritual with my friends, and I’m thrilled to bring it to the masses.

When you’re off the clock and you’re not binging Fast and Furious, how else do you like to spend your days?

My two-year-old keeps me super busy. He’s in that phase where everything is starting to hit him, everything is new to him right now. He’s way into the stars and moon right now; planetariums are a big deal inside our house. I would very much like him to be into Fast and Furious one day, but right now he’s just really into Pixar’s Cars. I feel like that’s step one, and then we’ll get into the Dominic Teretto of it all.  

I think our youngest members of society are the ones that represent geekery in its purest form. That two-year-old can probably do better in an astronomy round than the average adult. I’ve heard incredible things about dinosaurs from very young people that I’ve never heard before.

Totally. I can’t wait to see the geeky thing he clings onto. My husband’s a musician, he’s a big audio nerd, so he has it in his blood.