Archive for the ‘General’ Category

james-harrison-son-trophy-tweetPittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, never one to shy away from giving his opinion, was in the news again this past August, this time for giving back his kids’ participation trophies. This issue ignited a national conversation on youth sports, entitlement, and competition.

It reminded me of an interaction I had years ago with a friend. I wished his sons good luck before a soccer tournament, but was told that “luck wouldn’t be necessary.” Everyone in the tournament would get a trophy just for showing up.

“Just for showing up.” I was surprised at the visceral reaction that phrase elicited in me.

As a business owner for 25 years, I was stunned. What would these boys’ first day of work look like? Would they demand a signing bonus just for walking in the door? Would they expect to a raise the first time they stayed late to work on a project? (more…)

Companies large and small are being disrupted by digitally-powered competition. As UBER runs over taxi companies, Lose It steals share points from Weight Watchers, and Amazon eats into the profits of grocery chains and other retail giants (nom nom nom).

All because the cost to compete has gone down. For everyone.

In Jame’s McQuivey’s must-read Digital Disruption, you’ll learn:digital-disruption-book-3d-200x243

  • How free and low-cost digital tools let individuals (not just companies!) build new products and services, get feedback, and iterate business models, faster.
  • How access to digital platforms like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google let these businesses scale, cheaper.
  • And how the growing number of digital consumers has changed the game for brand marketers and innovation teams.

McQuivey explores what makes disruptors different. A few selections:

  • Disruptors innovate the “adjacent possible.” In other words, they look outside the current product experience (and business capability) in order to focus on what the consumer needs next.
  • Disruptors think through the total product experience and put the consumer first.
  • Disruptors remake their company’s culture (and way of working) to drive change.

Great for the C-Suite, marketers and corporate innovation teams. Download a couple chapters free, here:

In her new book, The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Your Digital Transformation, Charlene Li provides leaders with skills and confidence they need to transform their leadership and their organizations.

She lays out a simple framework and road map that leaders of any level can adopt.engagedleader_border

In one example of engagement, the CEO of a large telecom solicits input on his company’s internal social network (Yammer): “What processes and technologies should we eliminate? We will either fix it or explain why it exists.”

98 pages, $17.99.

Part I

“Customer Value = Perceived Benefits – Perceived Costs”

It’s a simple equation learned by marketers early in business school. But which side of the equation can best be influenced to motivate a sale? Which has more enduring effect on the customer experience?

12082-10_blog-graphic_equation8Adding benefits over discounting is the better play. Here’s why:

1. Earns Stronger Goodwill

A customer feels better receiving more of something than feeling like they got something for less. While everyone likes a deal and money saved, adding things like a free attachment with a sweeper purchase is a “purchase trophy” of tangible value

2. Lengthens the Value Tail

Not only do we put a higher value on products or services that we pay for, but that value endures. Having a tangible reminder of that transaction lengthens the “value tail” and leaves a more enduring impression of the brand. (more…)

Google Express, the same-day shopping service, just rolled out in my area (Washington, D.C.), so I decided to give it a trial run.

The user experience is simple and clean. You’ll need a Google Wallet account which requires a quick registration. Delivery is free on orders over fifteen bucks if you commit to a $10 monthly or $95 yearly subscription fee.

I placed an order for toothpaste and mouthwash at 11am and WHAMMY: it arrived on my doorstep by 4:15, via Google Express-branded delivery car and pleasant delivery dude.


Retailers vary by region, and inventory can be limited for speciality items, but they’ve got most of the bases covered in DC:  grocery, drug, babies, books, sports, office supplies, and one oddball: guitars.

The takeaway for CPG brands? Services like Google Express, Amazon Prime, Peapod and others are changing the way people shop in a significant way. And they’re making it easier to justify your investment in eCommerce (since Google Express is sourcing from the same retailers you already partner with).

Same-day service also challenges the conventional shopper marketer’s wisdom that eCommerce is irrelevant for so-called “mission trips” (for products that are needed right away). And once these services start to layer on alerts for profile-based offers and one-click ordering, the barriers will really start to fall away for the average consumer.

In the past, I was always reluctant to buy low-interest  household items like toothpaste online. With same-day service, it’s one less stop to make on my way home from work, and probably saves me 15 minutes. Which at the end of a workday is all that matters.

Innovation Lab

Brunner’s innovation lab, BHiveLab is recognized as one of the first true agency innovation labs.  At our 2013 industry creative technology conference sponsored by the 4A’s, we were asked to chair the innovation lab session which took a look at various successful innovation lab models.  During the 1 hour session there was one question that was asked repeatedly of the panel – How do I get started?

This Slideshare deck contains my personal top 10 steps to starting a successful agency innovation lab.

Smarter, faster brands today are looking at the mix through a new lens:  the customer (or user) experience. Because the ability to continuously engage consumers to build brands, drive sales and increase customer loyalty requires a new mindset. And better content to satisfy that experience.

The velocity at which consumers move through the purchase path is faster today than it used to be.  That’s why mapping the customer’s journey—across all media touch points (paid, owned and earned)—is so critical. Defining a clear role for each communication at each stage of the journey will help guide companies (and their agencies) on tactics and connections that move consumers closer to desired outcomes.

Brands today are increasingly content driven. The brand itself is content. Big brand ideas still connect with consumers at an emotional level, but at the heart of brand activation today is content. Content that meets their emotional and rational needs. Content that creates utility and meaning. It may be created, curated or sponsored by the brand, or perhaps generated by consumer.

Hello, brand marketing? Meet brand publishing.

Great content marketing requires the proper attitude, vision and strategy. Your compass is still your customer but their attention is the new currency. There is no completion date for content, especially in the age of the connected consumer. Above is a tool to help you get organized.

fox-in-hen-house1I recently read an article in Ad Age* about the need for agencies to defend their turf against ad-tech companies who are moving in on clients. As programmatic buying and the real-time bidding space have grown during the past several years, agencies have been adding this capability to their services in different ways – by either building their own solutions, acquiring technologies to enable execution, or creating licensing agreements with third-party suppliers.

The new trend is toward ad-tech companies going directly to clients with a sales pitch that offers them cheaper alternatives so they can cut out the so-called “middle man.” The result is a sense of heightened competition. But, I have to question the practicality of it all.

This might be fine for companies, such as P&G or Kellogg’s, which can fund the in-house resources necessary to work directly with ad-tech companies. But, most companies don’t have the kind of marketing resources needed to set up such a specialized in-house operation. And, should mid-sized to small companies really put their trust in the ad-tech companies themselves to monitor, optimize, and price inventory? Isn’t that kind of like having the fox guard the henhouse? (more…)

Successful brand connections today are social by design. They often start with a platform, or ecosystem of platforms, in mind. They have great content ideas at the core, not just a singular idea or “key visual.” Sure, relevance is key (duh), but they’re also nimble, integrated and highly measurable at the outset. Oh, and supported with paid media to give it scale.

Still, brand leaders (in all categories) hesitate to go all in. Some are fearful, others still revert back on the myriad myths associated with “social.” Time to bust those myths for good:


MYTH: Social media is only for brand advocacy

FACT: Social enables relevant connections at every stage of the consumer journey (and KPIs are different for each social marketing activity!).

MYTH: Social is for millennials

FACT: Nearly all adults, regardless of age, affluence or race is engaged in one or more social platforms. Incidentally, Facebook is losing the interest of millennials, as social media participation increases elsewhere across all demos. (more…)


It’s not easy being a creative in an ad agency today. Ick, that sentence I just typed makes me sound cranky; like I’m one of those “nobody understands my genius” creatives. Not to worry; this isn’t one of those rants. Just a little helpful advice I’ve recently put together after 21 years in the business. (Yes, my career is now old enough to have a drink.)

Advertising agencies have become more integrated, with members of every discipline working side-by-side on campaigns. Which means more and more people have ideas for executions of the brands you work on. Making it open season on what we as creatives bring to the table. Namely, ideas. Writers and art directors once exclusively owned all the thinking when a campaign consisted of TV, radio, point-of-sale and outdoor. Standard practice was for creative to go away for a couple of weeks and come back with ads and soak up the praise from everybody else who was in awe of us heroic storytellers. All hail the great and powerful creatives. (more…)