Archive for the ‘Integration’ Category


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…)

As a marketer knowing what to focus on can be tough. It’s just Like That today. It’s like knowing when the old style is the new style. The guy that sits next to me rocks a different pair of Adidas just about every day. The old school shell-toes - he literally color-coordinates his Gazelles with his outfit. Reverend Run’s got nothing on him. Everyone knows that fashion is cyclical to some degree. Apparently, that’s not the only thing. adidas_run_dmc_shoe2

I save things. I’m not at the hoarder level, but I do hang on to things that interest me. Links to work, screen grabs of ads or images, videos, blog posts, etc. Recently I came across an email I had saved -the topics of the three feature stories?

  • Content
  • Search
  • Mobile

Now that may not be terribly surprising but perhaps the fact that the email was from 2008 might be. As I scanned the articles it became clear why I saved the email, it was good stuff. The importance of having compelling content was prevalent. It talked of content strategy, even though it wasn’t called that. The search piece had a familiar refrain to it as well; search should be part of the fundamentals, smart creative and have a call to action, pointing in the right place. Even the mobile struck a chord - albeit a different one than today - but still pretty on it.

So flash forward to today, that email (or those topics) are probably landing in your inbox daily. When you read whatever you read today it’s the same general topics. Maybe the details have changed a bit and we know more about the impact these three things can have independently or collectively (that was not at all referenced in any of the older articles). Here’s the question for marketers; what have you done, really done, to advance yourself or your brand(s) in these three areas over the past four years? We know more. We talk about it more. You read more about it. But do you truly have a content strategy, a search strategy, a mobile strategy - heck a mobile search strategy?

A couple of things you should do quickly:

  • Take stock of the content you already have. It might not be perfect, but see what you have and use it to tell your story.
  • Create content that has purpose for different mediums.
  • Look at your web site on a mobile device. Would you use it the way it is?
  • Search yourself. Check out your brand and don’t just drop off if you see yourself, explore, see where you go - navigate like your customers - dig in.

You may have heard all of this before - perhaps even dating back to 2008 - but if you are still having the same conversations or are confused about what to do, start simple and build to the bigger programs. There are lots of things that can be a distraction and you can make it complex quickly - but you don’t have to. Back to my colleague…I’ve now noticed all manner of people wearing the new/old Adidas. I see it everywhere. Apparently it’s back….maybe it never left. Knowing when things are back in fashion is a matter of timing but focusing on content, search and mobile is never out of style. It’s Tricky…..just ask the boys from Hollis Queens.

Today, agencies and client organizations all over the world are having the same conversation. How do we prepare ourselves to deliver on the never-ending deluge of digital options? How do we grow our existing team to get there? Is that even feasible, or do we need to find new digital talent? But, if we do that, then are we prepared to lose good people with other skills that are important to us?

[For the full article as posted on iMedia, please click through below]

The Digital Hunger Games

The Digital Hunger Games

This is a comprehensive summary of SXSW Interactive Panel “We Made This And It’s Not An Ad”.

makingthingsWhy is everyone talking about making things that aren’t ads? Because the internet happened. What does that mean?

No mass audience = no mass media
No mass media = no mass advertising
No mass advertising = oh oh.

So what can agencies create and sell?

The answer begins and ends with consumer behavior. The future of marketing is not advertising. Agencies need to go from making people want things to making things that people want. Do it for our clients and do it for ourselves.

The most innovative agencies have within their DNA the vision that there is no separation between products and services. They don’t just provide marketing services, they create products.

Paid media driven connections to consumers, fixed deliverable projects, and an over-emphasis on the big idea. This is the Old Way, both offline and online. Even in the “new media” space there is such a thing as Traditional Digital (note: a term I’ve also been using for a while). This is still filling a hole on a page, but filling it with banners ads, landing pages, and emails rather than print ads, billboards and posters.

So the best agencies and the smartest clients are not just making ads - they are creating products. Sometimes these are physical products, and other times they are digital. And increasingly, they are a blend of the two, or so-called physical-digital, like the Nike Chalkbot developed by DeepLocal.  They are building things that enhance people’s live. And agencies, not just brands, are creating products and devices that serve a true purpose.

But agencies can’t make stuff unless you have people who make stuff. Once you see people making things, it’s infectious. But if you just hire people with ads on their resume, they’ll probably just make ads for you.

The Art Director + Copywriter team is awesome for making ads, but not much else. And the Creative Technologist role, as originally conceived, is defunct. We don’t needs a translator between creative and technology. We need creatives that can speak directly to developers and be understood.

When you hear things like “This whole ‘collaboration, we’ll work together as a team’ - I find it really difficult,” or “there are too many people around the table,” or “developers aren’t creative or idea people,” then you have the wrong people around the table. You have the wrong people on your team.

Progressive agencies are shutting their doors for a day or two for personal project time, group work sessions and hackathons. Everyone gets involved to make stuff, to concept it, to create it. They are doing this because coming up with ideas alone doesn’t give you an edge, it’s the ability to make stuff that sets you apart.

Your competitors (or clients) will make stuff with or without you. This isn’t maybe going to happen. It is happening. Brands are already doing this. Other agencies are doing it.

So get out there and make stuff that isn’t an ad. Here are 10 things to consider as you go:

1. What’s your reason for making things?

2. Find, or hire, your makers.

3. Beware of old ideas in new clothes.

4. Mistrust hierarchy, legacy structures and roles.

5. Give people time to create and to build.

6. Institutionalize collaboration.

7. Be agile in thought and action.

8. Establish a “No permission required” culture.

If there is one key message delivered at SXSW every year, it was summarized perfectly yesterday by Greg Johnson, Global Creative Director for Hewlett Packard:

Digital is not a medium, it’s the age in which we live.

For years, people have been saying that “digital is just another medium.” I’ve heard it hundreds of times myself. Take good, solid approaches to marketing and creative thinking and then execute it in the digital medium: that’s the recipe that our industry has been using to address digital from the start.

But, as Johnson so nicely summarized, digital is not just another vehicle to carry advertising messages. And understanding digital is not just an extension of skills that allows professional to create things on the web.

Digital really is a pervasive current that is interwoven into the fabric of everything that we do as people. It is with us all the time through the devices that we carry, and has become the way that we connect to information as well as manage and enhance our lives. It isn’t something that we consume, as with magazines or TV. It is part of everything that we do. How we shop, how we travel, how we learn, how we are entertained, how we keep in touch with family and friends, and how we meet new people. It is a force that has shaped the way we think and the way we live.

So understanding the broad thing that we call digital is truly about understanding our world. You may be really good at what you do, and may understand a lot of things about our industry as marketers and advertisers, but unless you have a comprehensive understanding of this thing we call “digital”, you really can’t fully interact with our society as communicators and builders of brands.

That is why understanding digital is so important. And that is why I come to SXSW Interactive every year that I can - to help increase that understanding for myself, my colleagues and my clients.


SXSW Interactive wrapped up last week, and it was a worthwhile trip - despite the long lines and filled-to-capacity panels. And while a lot of great ideas were discussed, this year, as most years at SXSW, certain themes kept appearing again and again.

Brand Agility.

“Agility beats perfection” – this was a phrase mentioned more than once at SXSW this year. It means that marketers must be equipped to react quickly to, and participate meaningfully with, the changing wants, needs and behaviors of consumers. Spending a lot of time meticulously crafting a message slows you down in today’s media environment. Try something and see if it works. If not, then learn and adapt and try something else. Consider a marketing “playbook” rather than a marketing plan. Also referred to as “real time marketing”, the idea of brands remaining nimble and acting both reactively and proactively to their consumers was probably the dominant theme at this year’s conference.

Branded Content.

Brands as publishers, brands as media and brands as software developers. While brands have spent the past several decades mainly renting space in the media to spread their message, it’s time to move beyond that. Consumers now expect brands to create content in order to win their repeat attention. As the amount of information that floods us increases exponentially, content developed by brands provides a way to connect more effectively to those consumers who share your brand’s interests and values.

The Gamification…of Everything.

The term “gamification” and the principles behind it made its way repeatedly into the discussions at SXSW this year, with whole presentations dedicated to the subject. Basically, it’s about adding a layer of fun and engagement to your marketing to motivate people to interact with your brand on an ongoing basis. Anything from awareness, education, customer acquisition and loyalty can be shaped and improved by game mechanics – motivating human behavior by adding challenges, choices, goals and rewards that make people care about your marketing. According to one keynote presenter, the last 10 years have been about building the social layer on brand communication. The next ten years will be about building the game layer.

The iPad.

Just as smartphones have done, the iPad (and those other tablets) are evolving the way people use technology. There is something familiar about tablets, but there is also something very new. And as the popularity of these devices rapidly increases we will need to account for them in the way that we plan, conceptualize, design and develop our digital content. A recurring theme at this year’s SXSW was an exploration of just how to do that.

And one more thing worth mentioning…

SXSW Interactive is definitely no longer just “Spring Break for Geeks.” The tech set was there, but they weren’t alone. There were a lot, and I mean a lot, of attendees from agencies, marketing departments and brands in Austin this year. The business world is hungry for insights and knowledge about how to use digital more effectively, it seems, and it flocked to SXSW en masse this year to find them.

A friend tweeted today that he was going to start using Quora more…. if he could make the time.

Quora is the social Q&A engine where people write their own answers to questions and post questions of their own.  It’s like Wikipedia–in that it’s continually improving (in theory).

In our business, it’s important to make time to explore emerging things. I try and devote ~10% of my social media usage to trying something new.

But integrating something new into your regular work stream creates a problem. There simply isn’t time.

So here’s a simple solution: apply the law of conservation of social media.

The law of conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

The law of conservation of social media: a fundamental principle of time management that social media usage (for heavy users) cannot be increased without going insane or living in complete technological isolation.

More simply, if you’re adding something new–do something else a little less.

Then get out for a walk and leave your phone behind for once.

We get this question twice a week so here’s the big picture on making QR codes work for your brand.

What is a QR code?
Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

How big should they be?
As a rule of thumb, codes shouldn’t be much smaller than a postage stamp. For print, about the size of a checkerboard square. If it’s on a skyscraper in TimeSquare, larger.  Perform a Google image search for “QR codes” and you’ll find myriad shapes and sizes.

What content should I drive to?
The content should deliver on your communications objective. Codes can  deliver all sorts of things:

  • Text msg
  • Website URL – is it optimized for mobile?
  • YouTube video
  • Telephone number
  • Email message
  • Vcard
  • Google map
  • WiFi Login (Android only)
  • PayPal Buy Now link
  • Social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc)
  • iTunes link


'Likes' or Votes?

'Likes' or Votes?

More people read about or watched the election coverage on line this past Tuesday than in 2008. In fact with a peak at 6:00 pm Tuesday, this election was the third most viewed online news event since these things began being tracked. Check outCNN’s take on the pulse and impact on line for the mid-term election. So how does that translate to the social media realm?

Facebook is publishing numbers regarding the success rate of candidates in Tuesday’s election and their number of “likes.” (See the Advertising Age article here). They note that on the national level (House and Senate) about 78% of those candidates with the most “likes” went on to win their race. I don’t know if that deserves a “Wow” or a big dose of “who cares?” I guess if you are right 78% of the time on anything that’s doing pretty good. But is that really any kind of a predictor for elections?  Look at it from the other side - in something as important as national elections 22% of the time it was incorrect. Does getting out the “likes” equate to getting out the vote? It may seem so but until we start voting via Facebook I think there’s more to learn about how the medium is being used from this than viewing this as a predictor - at least so far. Lets give it a few more elections before we declare it the stand alone Nostradamus of modern politics. The success rate may be a good number overall - but in a few instances those with far more “likes” got walloped at the polls. I guess political analyst could combine this information with exit polls and come up with some insightful something but as it relates to the average Joe I’m not sure what it means yet. To me the bigger question is what, if anything, can you interpret that to mean as it relates to consumers connecting with anything on Facebook?

An OpenForum piece from September shares data from an Exact Target study that shows that 40% of the people that like a company on Facebook do so for discounts, 39% do so to show support of a company and 34% do so to stay informed. I see how the latter two points could very much relate to the political sphere, so I will be curious to see over time what role FaceBook plays in elections and what kind of facts, figures and projections can be gleaned from election results. I will be more interested, however, to see how consumers view relationships with brands on Facebook and what we learn about the interplay between online and offline behaviors. Ultimately for a brand isn’t voting with your wallet really the only thing that counts?

I recently tweeted that lately the interactive industry was feeling to me like 1998 all over again (I qualified this by saying “the good parts”) and wasn’t really speaking about the financial bubble per se.   At the time I posted that tweet, I was coming off an unbelievable day of new business interest for our agency, several solicitation calls from web/social start-ups, and a couple of conversations that started out as “I need a viral video like Old Spice“.  The day reminded me of the period in time when we would get numerous calls each month where the caller would say “I need a website up and running asap, can you do it?”; “I’m a start-up .com and do you want to invest?”; “My Uncle’s cousin’s brother did the web design but can you program it?” and finally, “We want a viral video like The Dancing Babies.

The response to that spur of the moment tweet was interesting.  On the one hand, there were a couple of immediate and resounding “YES, EXACTLY” type of responses from a couple of the grizzled digital marketing veterans that were also around through the ’90’s.   I suppose I expected that.  But there were more than a few “What does that mean?” direct tweets and hallway conversations.  I realized that there are some very experienced 10 year veterans, who don’t have that historical perspective which caused me to really think about the parallels between those crazy late 1990 years, and today.

The digital marketing industry today is every bit as exciting for me as it was in those exuberant “we’re inventing something” years.  But at the same time we made a lot of mistakes along the journey that I’d like to work hard to avoid this time around.  So I started thinking about some of those mistakes that we made and how we might apply the learnings from them today — so that we end up looking back and saying “Man, 2010 was a crazy year, but a great year”.