Why Racially Tone-Deaf Marketing Keeps Happening

This is a guest post by Stanley Lumax, group account director at Translation.

“Have you lost your damn minds?”

That’s what The New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked H&M after the brand became the latest case study in racially insensitive marketing.

H&M’s product listing featured a young black child wearing a sweatshirts that read, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” Before that, Unilever’s Dove ran an ad including a black woman who had been “cleaned up” to have white skin. A Nivea ad—which also ran last year—promoted a face cream that offered “visibly lighter skin” for black women. Gap and vegan brand Tarte Cosmetics also ran ads that proved problematic for minority audiences.

Yet such brands seem to face no significant short-term business repercussions. It’s not like their sales just fall off a cliff.

While the initial reaction is to question whether these brands have lost their damn minds, the bigger issue is whether these decisions were all made with sound minds in the first place. We aren’t dealing with start-ups that lack the experience, time, or discipline needed to facilitate best practices.

If the decision-makers are not crazy, then we must ponder if this insensitivity is deliberate. In this age of hot takes and attention-driven controversy, I, for one, wonder whether these marketers somehow write it all off as a case of all press being good press.

With each of these branding faux pas, there is plausible deniability. Someone loses their job, an apology is made, and after a week (or less) we move on.

If these acts are not deliberate PR stunts, then one must turn back to the industry’s ongoing struggles with diversity: Just 6.6% of those employed in the ad industry are black versus 12.7% of the U.S. population. Hispanics comprise only 10% of the industry versus 17.6% of the general population. And just 11% of the world’s creative directors are women. In many cases, there is clearly no one involved in the process who thinks to stop, assess the cultural impact of an idea and ask, “Do you realize how that might be interpreted?”

There’s no easy fix for this situation, but hiring a more diverse team at your ad agency is an absolute necessity. I know from experience that if you are the only African American on staff, you will often be asked to speak for every black person in the U.S. That means you go from being just another account guy to the voice of 37 million people. Black America is not a homogeneous population; no cultural group on earth is.

You can’t say, “Stan saw it, so it’s okay,” and assume that it’s been vetted. That’s not how life or advertising works.

What’s the Solution?

Start with championing holistic diversity initiatives and hiring practices that are sensitive to race, gender and class. By doing so, you create an environment that is not only diverse in demographics, but also in terms of perspectives and life experience. Such diversity allows for a healthy debate and the opportunity to learn from and educate one another.

Brands also have to take on the challenge of destroying toxic, pressure-filled environments that produce groupthink. We have to create a space where all viewpoints can be aired and valued equally. This includes listening to and discussing ideas that we don’t like and might even deem offensive, in an effort to learn, teach, and grow.

As creative professionals, honest and open dialogue is a must. That’s the only way we can create work that positively impacts our culture.

Op-Ed Rebuttal: Why Experience Marketing Will Never Die


Well, touché. In case you need a refresher, less than a month ago, we received our usual monthly op-ed from Huge, this time from Andrew Kessler, founder/CEO of Togather, a startup out of Huge Labs. Kessler, whose Togather operation serves as a platform that helps clients deploy event marketing programs with “the same control and measurability of a digital ad buy,” seemed to have sounded the death knell for experience marketing. Well, someone has taken issue, namely Eric Murphy, former VP of marketing/promotions at RCA Records who’s now head of his own experiential/music marketing agency, Pop2Life. Murphy has taken some issue with Kessler’s piece as you’ll see below. Carry on, sir.

“The ‘experience marketing’ trend is close to extinction.” -Andrew Kessler, founder/CEO of Togather

I’ll be honest. When I first caught wind of Kessler’s Op-Ed piece, I wanted to punch him in the face. After all, he was basically labeling the very thing that’s made my agency successful a joke … a waste of time and money. Or more specifically, nothing more
than a “dazzling physical installation,” heavy on pointless, big-budget items like “colored lights, a giant logo,” lots of “freebie swag,” and little more to measure success than a fuzzy count of gift bags and “total impressions.”

So I put on a Jason mask™, gathered a few key clients, and headed over to Kessler’s house with a truck full of colored lights and giant logos.

Just kidding.

Actually, I channeled that initial surge of outrage into some deeper thinking about how and why someone as intelligent and successful as Andrew Kessler would conclude that the best possible outcome of experience marketing was “a large crowd … lots of
product interest … [and] photo albums of smiling fans.” (Which frankly is what a lot of brands hope to accomplish with the majority of their marketing efforts, experiential or otherwise. More on that later.)

To be fair, Kessler posed some worthwhile questions regarding the value and impact of experience marketing campaigns:

-”Are we providing the right kind of value to give us a return on brand favorability?

-”What kind of action did this drive?

-”Can we deliver an experience that also lives beyond the actual event?”

All of these are excellent questions. Every marketer worth their weight in swag should apply them to every marketing investment they make. Still, proclaiming the pending extinction of a species [of marketing] that, when done right, checks off all four boxes of the ubiquitous “AIDA” acronym (Awareness | Interest | Desire | Action)  with a big fat marker seems … well … a bit un-evolved.

Here’s why.


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Op-Ed: Three Simple—Yet Impactful—Takeaways From A SXSW Free Agent

davidtrahanAfter attending SXSWi for three straight years, we skipped the 2014 installment, so we decided to pass the mic to someone who was actually on the grounds and could provide some thoughts on this year’s event. Ladies and gents, meet David Trahan (@brooklyknight), a senior strategist at New York-based MRY. In case you were wondering, he specializes in brand strategy, digital, and consumer behavior and nerds out over airplanes, politics, and architecture. Take it away, sir.

SXSW was a playground for me. I won the trip as part of an internal MRY contest to send three employees to SXSW. I had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted (including sleeping in) with no formal responsibilities such as client schmoozing or attending certain sessions. I used this freedom as an opportunity to not only listen to panelists, but to observe the behaviors of SXSW goers and how they reacted to panels, brand installations, start-ups, and parties. I also ended SXSW as a part of the “The Story of SXSWi 2014: Eye of the Beholder” session recapping trends from SXSW 2014.

My key takeaways are as follows:

1. Curiosity > Information

Inspiring curiosity is the ultimate form of empowerment. You know the saying: give a man a fish, teach a man to fish… What I learned at SXSW is that there’s more bounty in inspiring that man to learn how to fish on his own rather than teaching him yourself. It not only instills in him a greater sense of ownership, but it allows for discovery of new fishing techniques since he wasn’t taught someone else’s way of doing things. Marketers often say they want to empower consumers, and their method of doing so becomes tools and information. Those are nice, but do they inspire? That is, do they encourage curiosity that leads to action and discovery?

This is why many of the “how to” panels got bad word-of-mouth reviews. They were just telling people how to do what they already know, focusing on the seller’s technique and not the buyer’s imagination.

As Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “To feel knowledge makes you take ownership of knowledge.”


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Op-Ed: To Drone or Not to Drone, That is the Question


The increasing use of drones by media companies is one of the topics we’ll be discussing at the TVNewser Show April 29. This post’s author, attorney C. Andrew Keisner, will be among the guests discussing the issue.

From advertising of real estate and car dealerships to filming Hollywood blockbusters to media coverage of sporting events, examples of advertising & media companies using light-weight UAVs, or Drones, is all around. However, when it comes to using such light-weight UAVs in the United States, the legal risks are frequently misunderstood. And although a recent judge’s decision rejecting a $10,000 fine imposed by the FAA is a welcome outcome for UAV operators and the advertising & media companies that engage them, there are still several risks that advertising & media companies should address before engaging a UAV operator to capture aerial footage.


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Op-Ed: It’s the End of ‘Experience Marketing’ As We Know It


And so, the cast of contributors from the Huge family continues to rotate as we now welcome Andrew Kessler to the fold. Kessler is the founder/CEO of Togather, a startup out of Huge Labs that serves as a platform that helps clients like Barnes & Noble and Red Bull deploy event marketing programs with the same control and measurability of a digital ad buy. As the headline mentions, Kessler makes his AgencySpy debut by discussing whether it’s to sound the death knell for what’s known as experience marketing. Take it away, sir.

The “experience marketing” trend is close to extinction.

A sponsored pop-up/installation/lounge/whatever made sense as an “organic” brand experience — before the domination of digital. But today anything that would feel at home in Times Square doesn’t fulfill the new authentic standards for branded content.

Specifically, I’m talking about the big-budget consumer-facing events with colored lights, a giant logo, and, if you’re lucky, a fun stunt. In years of agency work, I’ve been a part of too many to count, and the result was always:

– A large crowd…but not the right audience
– Lots of product interest…but only about the freebie swag, and
– Photo albums of smiling fans…but no metrics or demographic data

Sure, our clients could claim a big success because a whole town could be counted as “impressions” and gift bags eventually ran out. But nobody was asking:

– Is this a useful exercise?
– Are we providing the right kind of value to give us a return on brand favorability?
– Are we just repeating a visibility stunt that has a negligible effect on ROI?


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Op-Ed: The Evolution of the Community Manager


We’ll try to take a quick breather from the Super Bowl madness and provide this op-ed from Natalie Marsan, media director/community management at MRY. As you can gather, community management is the topic at hand and we will let our newest scribe drop some science.

Community Management is no longer a job title. It is a discipline. In fact, it is a new discipline born out of disruption. So, four years into Community Management Appreciation Day, where does this discipline fit in the industry? What does the career ladder look like? Why should you care?

As Community Management evolves, so must the roles within the discipline. If you can say ‘yes’ to any of the following statements, the likelihood that one community manager (CM) will be able to do the job is erroneous. An entire Community Management department might be in your business’s future.

?        Your brand has a large customer base and communities spread over multiple owned channels.

?        You service multiple markets, potentially in different regions of the world.

?        You are seeking new forms and innovative solutions for capturing customer insights, and you think social media is a likely place for gathering those insights.

?        You have diverse customer segmentations.

?        Your brand has a broad share of voice in your industry.

?        You think the future of customer service is more sophisticated than just solving issues as they emerge.

A Community Management department will include not only CM’s and a Director of Community, but most likely a senior CM and potentially a supervisor, as well. While the CM’s themselves have the unique position of being on the frontlines with customers, they also need to remain at ground level. More senior roles within the discipline will have the sensibility of a CM, but also the hindsight of what works and what doesn’t – as well as the luxury of the bigger picture perspective. The most senior team member will need to maintain a bird’s eye view of the health of a community, as well as where the brand stands in broader conversations online.

Ultimately, the most senior role ensures, or more accurately obsesses, that the community is driving value to the brand and that the brand is driving value to the community members. These CM leaders also:

?        Bring a strategic focus to the community management discipline; ensuring insights from the community are driving strategic decisions over time.

?        Set new standards and further enhance best practices uniquely tailored to their (or their client’s) business.

?        Draw out key insights from the highest-yielding content and trends in community voices and sentiment. Conceptualize and optimize content accordingly.

?        Ensure that relevant team members are getting the information they need, deciding on roles and responsibilities, and overseeing day-to-day operations. They keep a close watch on the frontline to make sure the entire team is adhering to strategy.


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Op-Ed: Will 2014 Be ‘The Biggest Year to Date?’


Well, that’s the gospel according to Ignacio Oreamuno, executive director of the ADC, who helps round out our December installments of industry observations, whether they be 2013 recaps or 2014 forecasts. Oreamuno opts for the latter in his brief entry, which you can read below. We might sneak in one more tomorrow on a short day to close out the year, but who knows. Anyways, take it away, sir.

2014 will be the biggest year to date, not just for ADC, but for the entire global industry. Most people contributing to this column will probably write about the way the industry will transform, but what I believe is important is the way we will transform the industry. It is time for the industry to move forward from the hole it is stuck in.

After traveling the world and meeting with hundreds of agency leaders, I predict a massive talent crisis at both the top level of agencies, as well as at the entry level. Disillusioned with an industry that has become lazy and used to making an ugly product, thousands will flee to jobs that feel more real and more productive. It’s hard to remain motivated to create advertising when we don’t like or want to consume advertising ourselves anymore. ADC is calling for a global rethink of our titles and tasks. Ironically, we believe that titles like ‘art director’ and ‘copywriter’ don’t reflect the future, are confusing and are hampering us by limiting what we think should make up our skill sets.

Structurally, I believe that the agency of the future is not a massive agency holding company or conglomerate, but rather small independent shops with very well-trained, well-paid individuals who are neither afraid to learn new techniques and technologies, nor to re-invent themselves. These small shops will have the power to say ‘no’ to creating the ugly advertising that simply pays the bills. They will be the ones responsible for improving the quality of the creative product around the world, and talent will flock to them searching for work environments with more substance and real competitive, creative environments.

ADC will be flexing 93 years of muscle this year, and no organization around the world will be doing more than us to help the industry navigate itself and its professionals to a prosperous future. That’s not a prediction, that’s a promise.


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Op-Ed: Leave No Trace— Year of SnapChat

 virginiahugeVirgnia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, now discussing the year that’s been, most exclusively about the startup that we’ve admittedly never used. Take it away, Virginia.


For me, 2013 was the year of SnapChat. Let me qualify: not SnapChat as a platform or startup (though let’s acknowledge how innovative the product itself is, not to mention the guts—youthful bluster?—it took to turn down Facebook’s massive offer). No, I mean SnapChat as enabler of a major shift in user behavior this past year, which will have big implications for marketers.


When a client asked me recently what I’d be looking for in 2014, I realized how easy it is to focus on specific platforms or tools. Too often though, the hottest new service is really just a smart add-on. They don’t alter the overall picture. Big changes in the way people navigate the digital world, on the other hand, are tectonic, and SnapChat facilitated just such a big change.


With its here-today-gone-in-seconds visual messaging service, SnapChat managed to introduce impermanence back into our lives. In the last few years, that once timeless concept had become pretty quaint. We got used to everything being saved, and most of it shared (even if unshared, we learned that Facebook is probably looking at our unpublished updates and selling that data). Of course, the NSA swept up every last byte. Everything—every dumb drunk photo, stupid tweet, half-baked thought—was on our permanent record.


Enter SnapChat. Suddenly, there is no publicly available record of your unfortunate love confession to your cat. Or any number of indiscretions. Or just silly, ephemeral moments—you know, life. It allows us to live in the moment, and it restores “moments” to being momentary.


Now, there’s a big asterisk, of course—Already we know people  are finding any number of ways around the fleetingness of SnapChat, whether through screenshots or hacks. And of course, the company itself might decide to make things a little more lasting as it seeks to monetize. But the larger phenomenon remains intact: users have responded enthusiastically to a digital experience fundamentally different from every other social experience to date.


From a marketer’s perspective, these developments present a big challenges in how to engage users in newer, less predictable and engageable environments. Just as we seemed to be hitting our stride in reaching people on existing platforms in smart and targeted way. We better figure it out. We’re just going to see more and more fragmentation in social media and norms. I’m not surprised.  How, when and where we socialize is a constant evolutionary process—but at the core—our need to sometimes forget or ignore or just leave experiences in the past remains rather primal. It’s how memory works after all. Props to Snapchat and younger generations for remembering that…what you did last night, can stay just where it was, last night.

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Op-Ed: So, What Does MRY Think About 2014?


As part of our ongoing trend/observation series from agency folks, we bit and below is what various folks at MRY,  the digital/social agency formerly known as Mr. Youth that of course aligned with LBi early this year, have to say what they expect from the industry in 2014. They’ve weighed in on everything from overall social media strategy and brand storytelling, to big data and even Pinterest’s evolving commerce structure. At this point, it’s all speculation, but they make some interesting projections for the New Year. We’re getting the distinct impression that the ongoing debate between advertisers and privacy advocates is poised to rear its ugly head again. Anyone else?


Matt Britton, CEO: Honing Brand Social Media Strategy


“We try to challenge our clients to have a presence everywhere, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to social media strategy. In 2014, it will be crucial for brands to focus on where their audiences are spending the most time and to innovate within that space. As mobile use continues to flourish, it will be important to target growing platforms—such as Vine—that are more conducive to fast-paced, mobile engagement.”


David Berkowitz, CMO: Reaching Consumers Who Prioritize Privacy


“So much content shared today is private – so it often disappears and the users can’t be targeted – which means it can’t be monitored. While the amount of content shared publicly will continue to escalate, this ‘invisible’ social content will proliferate faster, leading marketers to explore new, creative ways of reaching consumers who prioritize privacy. Marketers are going to have to come to terms with disappearing, dark social media.”


Jeff Melton, Chief Distribution Officer: The Rise of Decision Films


“A Decision Film is a piece of content that tells a product’s story to influence the purchase decision at the point of sale. We are seeing the beginning of technology enabled retail experiences come to market. iBeacons, Nomi, CloudTags, and digital wallets are just a few signals that the physical retail world is going to surprise us in 2014. Apple recently (and quietly) enabled iBeacons at their own retail locations, which should show us where the retail industry is headed. With so much information likely to engage consumers at the point of sale, beautiful product stories may be a brand’s best opportunity to convince the consumer that the brand is for them.”


Matt Rednor, Chief Innovation Officer: Customer Centricity


“2014 will be the year of the consumer. We will be moving away from integrated brand marketing across channels, and toward creating connected ideas designed around consumer needs. There will be an increased focus on understanding consumers and telling relatable stories.”


Andrew Udin, General Counsel and Head of Business Affairs: Advertisers vs. Privacy Advocates


“In 2014, we may see an increase in conflicts between advertisers and privacy advocates with the introduction of a federal ‘Do Not Track’ bill and the enactment of California’s Do Not Track law, which takes effect on January 1, 2014.  Under these acts, website owners, online service providers, and operators of software or mobile apps are required to conspicuously post their privacy policy disclosing to consumers how they track users and the categories of personally identifiable information being collected by them, as well as third-parties with whom the operator shares this information. Advertisers may have to revamp their privacy policies and determine new ways to best describe their data collection practices.”


Evan Kraut, Executive Director of Brand Development: Sensors in Brick & Mortar Retailers


“2014 will see a rise in the use of sensors that can identify and track shoppers during retail shopping experiences. While several technologies and devices already exist, this coming year will see a mass adoption, with the resulting data becoming immensely valuable to stakeholders.”


Udara Withana, Senior Strategist, MRY Asia: Social Media on the Rise in APAC Countries


“The stagnation of the booming Asian economies coupled with the rise of social media means that brands (both global and local) are recognizing social media as a cost effective way to engage their target audiences. Consumers should expect to be bombarded with various social campaigns in 2014. The real challenge for brands will be to stand out from the crowd whilst staying true to their brand identity amidst this mega shift to a social-centric marketing model.”


Christine Peterson, US Group Director of Media: Making Big Data Buying Technologies Small


“This is going to be the year of consolidation around big data buying technologies. Agencies need to pick a horse (not build a new one) and get on board. Advertisers are fed up with the cloud of confusion surrounding data driven ad buying in the digital space and will either lead efforts in-house or with a strong agency partner who can clarify how it will move their business forward. The network testing days finally come to an end!”


Jeanne Jennings, Director of Media: Pinterest Bridging the Gap Between Social and Commerce


“One thing to watch out for is Pinterest’s e-commerce strategy. They are taking the right steps in making the transition from just social media to commerce. Pinterest has started sending emails automatically to pinners to let them know that an item they have pinned is either on sale or that there’s a special offer on it. I have not seen wide adoption yet, but I do think it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing more brands/retailers activating via Pinterest price alerts on the products that users have pinned.”

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Op-Ed: D&G’s Colin Jeffery Talks 2013/14 Faves, Trends

colinjeffreyAs we roll into December, let us continue the gathering of industry folks’ observations on the year that was/the year that will be. Up now is a quick and painless 2013 recap/2014 what lies ahead piece from Colin Jeffery, executive creative director at El Segundo, CA-based David&Goliath. No need for any further preamble, just take it away, sir.

Trends by their very nature are familiar and formulaic. The work that really stood out to me went against category trends or formulas. Here are a few of my favorites. “Dumb Ways to Die” – It did not feel like any PSA campaign we’ve ever seen before. Nike “Find  Your Greatness” – This commercial made greatness accessible and redefined it’s meaning. Southern Comfort’s “Whatever’s Comfortable” – Instead of using beautiful bikini clad women to sell spirits they opted for an overweight greasy dude. Incredible.

Here are a few trends.

2013 seemed cluttered with product demonstrations and stunts.

We saw lots of tech brands opting for simple product demonstrations, often throwing in a side-by-side comparison and overtly bashing the competition for good measure.

We also saw a lot of product demos turned into hi-tech stunts. Cutting-edge technology connected to the featured product that then emits a cool sound or visual or something.

There’s a continuing trend in the gaming category. When the COD “There’s a soldier in all of us” commercial came out a few years ago, it felt fresh and a welcome change from all the game footage commercials. Since, it seems like almost every first shooter gaming commercial is trying to do the same. Lots of 20-somethings running around in combat gear, blowing things up to a great sound track.

One more thing, why does every anthem ad have a scene with someone holding a hand held flare? What’s up with that?


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Op-Ed: Brand Union’s Wally Krantz Talks ‘Brand Singularity’

wallykrantz1As mentioned previously, we’re gathering thoughts from industry folks on the year that was and/or the year that will be. Up now is a quick note from Wally Krantz, worldwide creative director at Brand Union.

“More and more in the past year I’ve been seeing a stronger connection across mediums. I’m not sure if this is because agencies are working better together or if CMOs are more involved in every aspect of communication, or if it’s a bit of both. I would place more of it on the latter, since at the top of every agency there is a creative leader that (should) have a direct line to the CMO, and because of this the objectives are clearer and a vision is set.

When an experience is strong, differentiated, genuine, and honest, and made in a way where the sensibility and tone is reflected wherever you are in contact with it – on a shelf, on your television, on your mobile device – it’s going to be more relevant. Or at least resonate in a way that makes us want to engage.

I’m seeing a kind of brand singularity happening for those companies that have a clear understanding of how all the different ways that a customer connects to them. This will start to happen more and more as marketing teams and agencies are aligned in every aspect of communication.”

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Op-Ed: BFG’s Scott Seymour Talks Brands Embracing ‘Quirky’ in 2014

seymourbfgAs 2014 winds down (and time flies even faster), we figured we’d break the monotony a bit by picking the brains of various agency folks and gathering their thoughts on the year that was and/or what to expect from the industry come 2014.

First up to bat is Scott Seymour, VP/chief creative officer at Hilton Head, SC-based creative agency, BFG Communications (no relation to BFG9000, obviously), which has worked with brands like Buffalo Wild Wings as well as on entertainment efforts for Fox and Warner Bros. Here, the 20+-year ad vet tells us what to expect from brands next year in four shorts parts. FYI, we’ll have more input from industry folks as the weeks progress and will scatter them throughout what’s left of 2013. Anyways, take it away, Scott.


1)            Shift to Understated

This one’s simple. Simple — meaning that brands will begin to fully understand that simplicity is a consumer desire both emotionally and aesthetically. Brands will shift from overt branding to subtler, more understated styles. And, as early-adopting brands gain traction, this trend will gain momentum. Other brands will see the benefits through a cleaner approach. This will eventually move to branding across all mediums as brands forgo “screaming” their names, logos and messages in exchange for sophistication. It will be about a quiet exchange of the megaphones in favor of more intrigue, more discovery, resulting in deeper consumer connections.

2)            Embracing Quirky

It is said that beauty can best be found in the imperfections. This coming year, brands will stop saying it and start doing it. This doesn’t mean we won’t see beautiful or “real” work. (Real has already happened.) What this does mean is that the age of transparency will finally catch up with marketing — forcing a divergence from the cookie-cutter, safe route. Brands will step away from canned, stock photos and lofty, aspirational images. Instead, they’ll focus on uncovering stories, shedding light on character and celebrating quirkiness — the stuff with real substance. The real breakthrough marketing.


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Op-Ed: Where’s the Comment Love?

danalarson1Dana Larson, chief content officer at San Francisco-based agency Extractable, has returned with another column, this time *gulp* tackling what is basically the most controversial/notorious aspect of this site, the comment thread. Larson, who has spent 20+ years in the biz, holding a wide range of positions including copywriter, CMO, content strategy director and ECD, asks a question that has been posed to us by many an agency staffer–whether they be in PR, creative or in senior exec level–over the years. We only wish her the best. Read on and chime in if you please.

Writing a post for AgencySpy is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit like splitting the lanes on the Bay Bridge—there’s always a chance that you’re going to find yourself in the comments equivalent of eating asphalt. (For those of you who don’t ride, the drawing of blood is involved here.) Sure, there are plenty of posts that get no comments at all, but when the comments start flying, they really get going and they’re usually not very kind.

In a review of 220 posts on AgencySpy over the last month, 25 posts had 10 comments or more. That’s a fairly engaged audience, but don’t confuse engaged readers with fans. Only two of these posts garnered predominately positive comments—the rest were mostly snarky, and some were downright mean. Here are a few select gems for you:


SpewInThis  type99 

• 25 days ago

Ugh. I think I just choked on my own vomit. Are you for real? I’m guessing yes, probably because you’re one of Justin’s bosses and not someone who actually had to work with him. If you did, you’d realize what an arrogant, overrated douche he is.


Chim-Chim  Spritle 

• 20 days ago

You’re right. If you work in advertising you should have zero moral compass and cling to the dogma that got you that Porsche. Keep believing that you can manipulate dumb Americans into buying whatever bullshit you’re selling the same way you always did because nothing’s changing.

In 5 years you will have no career.



• 11 days ago

Did you just accuse Sigma Beta Bogusky of being insensitive to women and people of other races who play video games? Preposterous! Us mountain honky bros love chicks and darkies.


And trust me, this isn’t even the worst of them (or best of them, depending on how you look at it). So what gets people commenting? I found that there are two breeds of posts that get people’s fingers flying on the keyboard—the “people on the move” post and the “commercial spot review” post. In the latter category, it was interesting to see how often the comments were more directed at the creative talent or agency that worked on the piece than it was about the creative itself. That said, the comments on the post “Dietzen Out at Energy BBDO” expressed pretty much united love for Jimmy Dietzen’s Wrigley’s Extra spot, which was a pleasant surprise.


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Op-Ed: Will Ads Ruin Instagram?

instagramsmVirginia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, now discussing a rather hot topic that would be ads on Instagram? Will it be good or bad for the Facebook-owned service? Well, without further ado, let’s see what the author thinks. Take it away.

Last week, Instagram teased its plan to introduce advertisements into users’ feeds with a few tasteful shots: a gauzy, Americana-inspired photo from Levi’s and a quirky and colorful bird’s eye view from Instagram itself. Commentators are justifiably focused on what the ads look like on a platform that gained popularity in large part because of its emphasis on great images. Instagram has pledged that ads will conform to the high visual standards expected by the community and reassured users that the privacy and ownership of their photos will continue to be protected.

We’ll see. As an Instagram user, I’m irritated that my feed will now involve brands pushing their agenda in my face amongst the folks that I have selected to follow. Of course, it’s no surprise that Instagram decided to monetize its platform, or that yet another social media network is touting the advantages of data at its fingertips, especially the ability to target ads more effectively. And media planners will seize on a new opportunity for ad placement—while InstaAds might not drive a lot of revenue, they will boost brand reach and exposure.


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Op-Ed: Miley Cyrus is a Strategic Brand Genius


It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Maude Standish, co-founder and managing director of Tarot, a millennial trend forecasting and strategy development company that’s the sister company of L.A.-based agency, Mistress. Now that she’s introduced herself with her call to arms for millenials, Standish turns her focus to arguably the most talked-about celeb in the past several months and how she’s taken over in terms of branding. We should note that while we’re not in the habit of republishing/repurposing content, the original version of this was published in the blogger section of HuffPo–though Standish did us a solid and added more to the mix. Read on if you will.

Sinead O’Connor is worried about Miley. So is Elton John. So are the bearded guys of Duck Dynasty. But I’m not. Because I know that Miley is a strategic genius and that brands actually have quite a bit to learn from her. You might not like the way her tongue hangs off to the side or the fact that her nipples have become commonplace water-cooler fodder. But you can’t argue with the fact that she has captured the world’s attention and aroused a response out of the best of us.

Before her now infamous MTV Video Music Awards performance, Miley Cyrus had never had a Billboard No. 1 hit—not a single one. In fact the song “We Can’t Stop” that she performed at the VMAs rose to the No. 2 spot, but could never quite break the barrier to be a Golden # 1. Instead, the song that broke that top-spot barrier was “Wrecking Ball,” which came after her controversial performance. “Wrecking Ball” didn’t just break a personal record, she also smashed the record for most views in a single launch day, with the music video getting more than 19.3 million views in just 24 hours, beating One Direction’s previous record by more than 7 million views. Just one week later the video had been watched 36.5 million times in the U.S. alone, Miley’s VMA outfit was being called the Halloween costume of the year, and a line of twerking Miley “bobble-butts” had gone into production for the Christmas season.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Op-Ed: Is Your Web Content Crap?


Our Extractable contributor Dana Larson, who last stirred it up by talking content strategists, returns with a new post about web content. We don’t need much preamble anymore, let’s just pass the mic and let Larson take it away.

At a recent pitch, a member of the client team asked, “How much is too much web content? And how do I know when to get rid of content?” At a time when website page counts routinely—and often unnecessarily—surpass the thousands, this question was music to my ears. Obviously, there are situations when deep websites are needed—retailers selling thousands of products, media sites with vast libraries, educational sites, etc.— but the reality is that most pages of a website go largely unseen.

In a quick study of a handful of our clients, including a Fortune 500 healthcare technology provider, we found that, on average, 87% of the total website pages receive five pageviews or less in a month. It would be easy to assume that that’s a tremendous amount of content that’s just not pulling its weight, and for the most part it would be a safe assumption. But if one of those five pageviews on a page led to sales, then that web page is not useless crap, it’s just not your lead dog. My guess is that many other websites out there are in the same boat.

So how do you know when to get rid of content?


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Op-Ed: Ad Agency Exec Tells the Tale of Unplugging for a Day

L.A.-based Zambezi, which has given us NBA 2K14 Lebron spots and vitaminwater ads as of late, regales us with a story about unplugging for a bit, meaning abandoning email for a day (like we did over vacation). According to founder/managing director, Chris Raih, the agency “lived to tell the tale.” And now, here we go, with video included above.

Our mid-sized creative agency recently banned email and instant messenger for a period of 24 hours. No outgoing or incoming messages; email was even de-activated on mobile devices. In-person contact, video chat, and phone calls were allowed.

And guess what? It was glorious.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Op-Ed: Taco Bell Takes a Lickin’ But Comes Out Kickin’

Virginia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, this time discussing a certain fast-food chain that has gone from zero to hero in the shortest time. Now, who’s in the mood for a Fiery? Take it away, Virginia.

Just earlier this summer, Taco Bell faced a Public Relations nightmare when an employee posted a picture of himself licking taco shells on Facebook. The photo was part of an internal contest supposed to feature employees enjoying their first taste of a new product. While the news was everywhere at the time, it did little to slow down the Taco Bell marketing juggernaut, hailed last week as 2013’s “Marketer of the Year.” So, for anyone not already paying attention, I decided to crowdsource from my team the biggest lessons for marketers from Taco Bell’s recent success:

1.    Fail fast, and move on. Taco Bell realized quickly in 2011 that dumb white guy humor wasn’t getting them what they needed. A focus on product innovation and the realization that Taco Bell was, for many, a staple part of their diet — helped them successfully Live Mas. Taco Bell did not waste a cycle on lame humor, but quickly sought new ways to position themselves as both relevant and real, leaving their past positioning behind.

2.    Partner Smart. Partnerships come in many forms. Whether it’s a product, brand, or a digital technology partnership, you need to associate with brands that will add value to the customer experience. We all know that the Doritos partnership was super smart—it makes total sense—and 45 product tests later, Taco Bell was in the money with their first Doritos shell. It wasn’t just a great product innovation, it tapped into an emotional and experiential component that lives on long after you’ve finished eating: nostalgia, deeply appealing to Taco Bell’s target market. Nostalgia aside, there are a total of 126 different types of Doritos flavors around the world, which leaves Taco Bell a plethora of options and can guarantee that people will be less and less consumed with where the beef is, and more about which taco shell to choose.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Op-Ed: Your Ads Are Not Art. Just As Your Shoes Are Not Gumbo

Houston-based freelance creative Chuck Hipsher, who you may remember from his ode to Chevy last month, is back with another column. This time, our scribe’s intent is to “challenge ad creatives to make certain that they are channeling their creative energy into the space they truly love. It can’t just be a paycheck.” We’ll let him take the floor from here. Read on and if you’d like, you can check out his blog here

Having come from a painter’s background  – and I don’t mean the painting of walls or ceilings – although I performed those jobs to make ends meet – I always viewed my ad work as very intimate and somewhat self-expressive. Nearly precious. Mostly because it eventually replaced my artwork, so I had to rationalize that decision.

Advertising became my passion. My obsession. My dedication. My joy.

To my old artiste friends, I sold out when I put down my brushes and picked up my magnifying glass. When I decided that advertising was far more interesting and sexy than sitting in a cold, lonely studio, staring at a canvas and wondering if it was worthwhile, reasonable, or even sane to want to try and top de Kooning or Pollock.

Early in my ad career, I developed a tendency to disagree. And while it was annoying to some, it was a healthy habit, carried over from my days of painting. The habit saw me questioning every step of the way in the creation of an advertisement for any of the clients I worked on. It became somewhat routine. It was the same argument I had with myself when contemplating a nearly finished painting and wondering, “Is it right? Is it done? Is it worthwhile? Will people like it – or even get it?”


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Op-Ed: Let’s Play Stakeholder Roulette

After a month’s absence, Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, who’s also worked on the strategy side at the likes of Isobar and Molecular during his career, has returned. As per usual, it’s best he explain his latest opus. Take it away, sir.

I do a lot of stakeholder interviews. That is the first part of almost any engagement when we are learning about a client’s business and digital challenges and trying to delve into how digital may be able to drive new opportunities for them.

I keep a log of every stakeholder I’ve ever interviewed. This week with our new solar energy client the stakeholder interview counter ticked over 1,200.  Yes, I’ve interviewed 1,200 people across hundreds of companies and dozens of sectors and the sessions have ranged from incredibly helpful to accusatory, “why are you asking me this”, and pretty much everything in-between.

Besides memorizing every piece of conference call hold music ever, some useful repeating patterns have emerged across my sample set of stakeholders. So, here is my personal guide to some of the major ‘types’ of stakeholder we see across businesses and more importantly, how to get the best from them, to help drive the project forward.

Yes, it’s stakeholder roulette time!


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.