clint_hurdleClint Hurdle, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is also a great brand manager. You’ve probably heard about the daily inspirations he sends to his players to keep them energized and positive. http://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/9726637/pirates-manager-clint-hurdle-inspiring-others-daily

But I also admire him for his courage to stick to what is working.  In the “First Pitch” game day publication, Clint talks about the challenges of continuing to play the same type of game as they run out of games.  He says we need to remember that the game we played all season is what got us to the post-season for the first time in 20 years.  I see those same challenges in marketing strategy.  Far too often, marketers give into the pressures and sense of urgency by abandoning what got them to their position.  They change their strategy dramatically and end up trying to be something they aren’t to satisfy a time crunch.  Expiring patents, release of new models and competitive innovations are just a few of the reasons we use for abandoning what drove our success. (more…)

crayon-boxAs a kid, were you ever frustrated with a box of eight crayons? Your creativity was limited, and every picture ended up looking somewhat similar. For decades, media planning didn’t change a whole lot-you were pretty much limited to television, magazines, newspaper, and outdoor. You may have changed dayparts or bought an unusual ad size, but you were still working with the same handful of options for all of your clients.

As corporations face increasing pressure to demonstrate ROI and accountability for every dollar spent, they often reduce, or at best, maintain their marketing budgets. At the same time, those dollars are up against the growing strain of clutter and customized media consumption. Add to that the challenge of proving impact when you don’t have an ecommerce function or an offer for each form or media that you can track.

Interestingly, many of the same advertising options that have made message delivery more complex can also be the answer to your problems. If you can prove the audience is there, and you are willing to stretch a bit out of the traditional media comfort zone, digital media offers the other 100-plus “colors” you need to effectively transform your media picture. Specifically, digital can help you actively engage highly targeted audiences and deliver multiple messages without spreading your impressions too thin. (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…)

The Business Case for Mobile First

For consumers, a mobile device is increasingly the “first screen.” It’s the the first media powered-up in the morning and the last shut down before bed. And for 91% of smartphone owners, their device is within a 3-foot reach 24 hours a day.

2013 signals a sea change in digital: more people will access the internet through a mobile device this year than through a PC. For more background, read Forrester’s 2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers.

What’s Your Brand’s Mobile Competency?

Mobile enables consumer connections at home, in the store, and on the go. Plus, it offers opportunities for deeper engagement by harnessing location, social media and the personal creativity of your consumer.

There is no perfect formula for selecting mobile channels. But you can chart your course by answering these questions, which will help you frame an approach to mobile that maps to business objectives and consumer behaviors.


Ready to get started? Answer these 10 critical questions after the jump.


The ability to deliver savings in the store via mobile is a game changer. It collapses the purchase funnel for new users. It combats showrooming. And it can drive retailer loyalty.

But despite the fact that forty million Americans will use mobile coupons in 2013 (eMarketer), redemption still remains an issue at the store level. Those clunky red line scanners at most cash registers today just aren’t equipped (yet) to accept mobile saving. If airlines can figure it out, why can’t fast moving consumer goods retailers? Cmon! mobile_coupon

In January, the Mobile Marketing Association unveiled its “Current State & Promise of Mobile Couponing” which reviews the advantages and challenges of savings by smartphone. You can download their POV here to find some helpful case studies, but you’ll also be disappointed to learn that even the MMA hasn’t landed on a perfect solution for CPG brands. Print FSIs are still king, accounting for 88% of the distribution universe and leads all coupon channel redemption at 43%.

Coupon giants like Coupons.com require people to download their Grocery IQ app. A nice attempt, but penetration is low (surprising since so many have downloaded their desktop print driver for digital coupons).

In short, we’re not there yet.

In our view, CPG brands should work at the retailer level to promote and distribute mobile coupons. Restaurant and retail brands have a little more control and can promote through branded apps, show-and-save, or through email.

About 15 years ago our agency picked up a small project from a manufacturer of fiber-cement siding. The product was called HardiePlank. It wouldn’t rot, warp, crack, or burn. It was even hurricane proof. At the time, wood composite sidings were experiencing huge problems around the country, yet no one would try this remarkable product called HardiePlank. Our challenge was to change that.

My father-in-law was a builder. My grandfather had been a carpenter for 40 years. I’d run my own painting and deck maintenance company in college. Heck, my first job ever was working in a lumberyard. So when it came time to choose a copywriter for this assignment, I was the unanimous choice. If anyone could talk about building products like a man, it would be me, they said.

Fast forward a few years and the brand was enjoying remarkable success. Our program had gone nationwide, and James Hardie was one of the top three requested brands in all of home building. So picking the good ol’ boy to be the copywriter was a wise decision, right? Well, yes and no. When asked how we’d found such a powerful way of communicating their brand, the CMO had this to say: “Brett is a 40-year-old mom trapped in a young man’s body.” Say what? (more…)

5 Questions is a podcast series dedicated to exploring a range of topics with professionals from all walks - boiled down to (you guessed it) 5 Questions. The hope is to share points of view on different topics with experts from many different industries.

To get started, we’re going to keep it close to home. The first installment of 5 Questions features Shaun Quigley, VP Digital Practice Leader for Brunner speaking to brands, content and what the future might hold for advertising agencies.

Listen to Shaun’s take below.

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) connects physical things to a network. It’s the fusion of the digital and physical worlds.

Soon, consumers will want everyday objects connected to support their hyper-connected lifestyle. That’s why so many manufacturers are inventing ways to add value to physical products by connecting them to the web.

There’s evidence of rapid adoption all around us. Nike’s Fuel Band proves that consumers are ready for it. As is interest in wearable media like Google Glass. In addition, tech giants like Cisco and Salesforce have put their best and brightest talent on IoT. And nearly every buzzworthy digital marketing campaign of the past year featured a “physical to digital” connection.

Internet of Things represents a third significant shift in the digital landscape for which marketers MUST prepare. First everything was social. Today it’s all going mobile. And soon, everything will be connected.



ad-age-digital-conference-20131The theme of day two had much to do with video: TV in the past, now and the future, and how the new and evolving platforms are breaking the norms. We even had a star sighting with Eva Longoria on stage to talk about her upcoming venture on Hulu. With all of the trends, information and speculating about the future, the big takeaway for me was that Ideas win. That’s it.

Robert Wong, CCO of Google Creative Lab, shared some of the most interesting and dynamic work of the conference. It was powerful, engaging, smart, and it told stories. In the end everything he shared, from product innovation to ads, came from good ideas. What I found most interesting is where the ideas came from. Unconventional ways of going about the thinking seems to lead to these really great ideas. For Google, one example was to come up with the commercial before the product – as with Google Glass. As the team was searching for what this “thing” could be and do, they decided to put their efforts into making a commercial, allowing them the freedom of thinking “what could this be?” with the focus of needing to produce a spot. The product idea got better because of the approach to thinking about it. Smart. (more…)

ad-age-digital-conference-2013You could not start any stronger than by having Mayor Cory Booker (@corybooker) speak as Ad Age Digital got underway this morning. I came here looking for some interesting facts and new information hoping to get a motivational boost. What I got in the first hour was not at all what I expected. It went well beyond career and industry motivation. What Mayor Booker shared and the way he shared it was a poignant approach to how technology can harness passion and be THE driver of change. Change in community, change in lives and change in government and how it governs. He was emphatic in his belief that technology can actually help make real democracy come true. “Government needs to keep pace with community and innovation” the mayor said. He continued to explain that America works on feedback loops and democracy is not a spectator sport. His vision for #waywire is just that: the beginning of the merging of community and government through technology. I’m sure he is going places, so watch out. (more…)