White House Attacks Fox News

WhiteHouseSealIt must be slow in the Capital these days; it seems that although our world is going crazy, the president and his staff have taken time out to wage a media attack on Fox News, making the rounds on all the Sunday morning talk shows, with one glaring exception: Fox. The gloves were certainly off as Obama’s team struck back at Fox News accusing the network of opinionated reporting. Some of the quotes from the barrage include:

Fox is “not really a news station,” said David Axelrod.

Fox, said Rahm Emmanuel, “is is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective.”
They also urged the other networks not to treat Fox News as a news station because the White House certainly did not think of Fox as news-oriented. A week ago, communications director Anita Dunn opened the White House offensive on Fox on a Sunday show: “Let’s not pretend they’re a news organization like CNN is.”  She then stated that Fox was the communications arm for the Republican Party.

President Obama

The troubling part of this whole scenario: Our government is attacking one of our news outlets, thereby risking one of the freedoms America was founded upon: freedom of the press. (No, it’s not freedom of the press as long as we like what you are saying.)

The cable news networks are highly competitive, and Fox is not only the second highest- watched cable TV network, but it carries 9 of the top 10 cable news shows as of Q1 of 2009. Despite the heavy competition, the White House’s attack has actually begun to backfire.

Helen Thomas, the senior White House reporter in Washington (serving from JFK to
Interim Communications Director Dunnpresent) warned the Obama administration: “Stay out of these fights,”  and Washington Post’s blog stated: Where the White House has gone way overboard is in its decision to treat Fox as an outright enemy and to go public with the assault.

Some have even called the attack “Nixonian” in nature. However, the White House has an out. If the strategy fails, Anita Dunn can be tucked away easily, as she is expected to leave the administration by the end of the year.

fox news logoWhile Fox has not attacked Obama directly, they’ve unloaded on his aides, especially Dunn. Her statement naming Mao Tse Tung as one of her favorite politicians did not help nor did her speech explaining the censorship-like control exercised during the election. If team Obama felt they couldn’t control the message, or the press, they would use YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook to communicate.

While America thought that the Obama Campaign was tech-savvy, it was really just an exercise in message management.

Jeff Louis has over ten years of brand-building, media strategy, and new business experience. His passion is writing and his strong suit is sarcasm.  You can follow Jeff on Twitter or become a fan on Examiner.com.

Everyone Needs a Mentor

MentoringMaybe it’s the transitory nature of business these days or the the strict focus on business/clients and profitability, but finding and being a mentor is still invaluable to our industry and an enriching part of our humanity.

Early on, there were no formal mentoring programs where I began, but there were a lot of smart, fascinating people who were willing to talk about their work, their thought processes, and their clients. I’d watch how they presented, how they worked with clients, and how they handled themselves and their craft. There was much to study and absorb.

Slowly, I struck up conversations with them and developed relationships with my secret mentors, and it wasn’t just people from the creative side. I got to know senior account directors and media planners. Even the crusty, old guy in the studio was a source of wisdom and experience.

That’s one of the great things about our business: There’s always something new to learn if you’re open to it. I’d encourage people who are breaking into the business to poke your nose into a veteran’s office or cube and get to know them. Show some enthusiasm. That’s how you start a relationship. Later you might ask his or her opinion about your work or for career advice.

You don’t have to act on all you learn and hear, but you might walk away with a piece of knowledge you didn’t show up to work with. You can use what you learn from others to help chart your own course.

If you’re a veteran, show some patience and interest with the newbies. Don’t forget we were all newbies once upon a time. Spend more time chatting with your next generation, and get to know their work, life, and expectations. Your thinking and work will benefit from their freshness. Think of it as a reverse form of mentoring.

Give it a try. Ignore your e-mails and silence your Blackberries for a few minutes and reach out. It’s well worth the effort for everyone.

John Kistner is a freelance Creative Director/Writer/Closet Cartoonist. You can check out his handiwork here.

Stop the Assault on Women

This week, Fox Sports and Burger King drew ire for an offensive animated segment poking fun at Jessica Simpson’s weight. The segment, aside from being in bad taste, was beyond insulting to women of all ages. Both Fox and Burger King have issued apologies to Simpson, but it may be too little too late, pointing out, yet again, that making fun of a woman’s weight is still acceptable, especially when done in a chest-thumping manner.

Ralph Lauren Fillipa

It doesn’t stop there. Ralph Lauren was also under fire this week for a print ad that was photoshopped to ridiculous proportions — the model’s head appears to be about twice the size of her pelvis. When called to the carpet, this is what Lauren had to say:

For over 42 years we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately.”

Apparently, quality, integrity, and brand standards are quite slim – the model, size 4, 120-pound, 5-foot-10 Filippa Hamilton, claims that she was fired in April for being “too fat.”
Meanwhile, German magazine “Brigitte” announced they would only use “realistic” women in their magazine from now on instead of professional models, prompting Chanel uberdesigner Karl Lagerfeld to pronounce that no one wanted to see “curvy” women and that only “fat mothers” object to thin models, despite the overwhelming approval of American fashionistas to plus-size model Lizzie Miller’s nude photo in Glamour last August, as well as the success of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.” To me, as well as many other women, healthy always trumps skeletal.
It bothers me that it’s 2009 and we’re still talking about body image distortion in advertising. True, I could point out how these ads contribute to eating disorders and low self esteem, but what bothers me more than anything is that this standard is still only applied to women. These archaic standards still say that fat (ie: larger than a size 4, which is a standard sample size) equals lazy, sloppy, and unworthy of respect and basic human dignity, despite studies showing that an average American woman wears a size 14. There has to be a balance somewhere between art and commerce – a size 16 woman’s money is just as legal tender as a size 2’s, is it not?

Apparently, quality, integrity, and brand standards are quite slim. The model, size 4, 120-pound, 5-foot-10 Filippa Hamilton, claims she was fired in April for being “too fat.”

Meanwhile, German magazine Brigitteannounced they would only use “realistic” women in their magazine from now on instead of professional models, prompting Chanel uberdesigner Karl Lagerfeld to pronounce that no one wanted to see “curvy” women and that only “fat mothers” object to thin models, despite the overwhelming approval of American fashionistas to plus-size model Lizzie Miller’s nude photo in Glamour last August, as well as the success of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.” To me, as well as many other women, healthy always trumps skeletal.

It bothers me that it’s 2009, and we’re still talking about body-image distortion in advertising. True, I could point out how these ads contribute to eating disorders and low self esteem, but what bothers me more than anything is that this standard is still only applied to women. These archaic standards still say that fat (ie: larger than a size 4, which is a standard sample size) equals lazy, sloppy, and unworthy of respect and basic human dignity, despite studies showing that an average American woman wears a size 14. There has to be a balance somewhere between art and commerce; a size 16 woman’s money is as legal tender as a size 2’s, is it not?

Sara Barton is a copywriter, social media strategist, and avid blogger in search of her next opportunity. Contact her via TwitterLinkedIn, or her blog.

Sweet Love Triangle: Cadbury, Hershey’s, and Kraft

Love TriangleIt’s a classic love triangle: The wealthy Kraft wants British beauty Cadbury. Cadbury, however, wants Hershey’s, the poor, yet perfectly sweet option. Hershey’s is of a lower financial capability than the domineering Kraft and is reluctant to make a move, though it knows the two make an ideal pair. So it goes for the two U.S. food makers and the international sweetheart Cadbury.

The drama began in September when Kraft slipped an unsolicited note to Cadbury, making it a marriage offer for $16.7 billion. Cadbury, being of higher standards, immediately rejected it. Hershey’s also wanted Cadbury’s hand, but being of a lower income bracket, the company struggled to gather the funding necessary to support the lifestyle of the demanding Cadbury. After Kraft’s shameless act of domination, Cadbury’s parents, the U.K. Panel on Takeovers and Mergers, had a nice chat with their daughter and decided to set a dueling date for the two contenders: November. The two must make a reasonable and honorable proposition by then or leave empty handed.

For Kraft, the challenge is obvious: They must open themselves up and make a smart, honest proposal for Cadbury’s hand. Doing so would boost their shares in the food-making industry to compete with the biggest and baddest of the land, Nestle. Hershey’s, on the other hand, is the hard-working visionary who is merely after the one he loves. Cadbury would open up an international market for the American-born company and offer pathways into Europe. After last year’s heartbreak from the girl next door, Wrigley, and her marriage to Mars, Inc. (creating the world’s largest sweets company), Hershey’s has done its best to put itself together and move onto to other options.

Hershey’s is doing all it can to make the right move on Cadbury; the former even hired advisors to assist in exploring the bid for marriage. Marrying Cadbury would ensure the continuation of the boarding school for low-income children, which Hershey’s is currently running, so the stakes are high. Kraft, however, is a financial wiz and hopes to capitalize on the devaluation of the British pound during the deadline time, thus being able to bid lower and still come out on top.

Tensions are high, and the suspense rises daily. Hopefully, love will conquer all, and they’ll live happily ever after.

Rena Prizant is a Copywriter, Ad Creative, SEO Gal, and mammal in the Chicago area. Visit www.RenaPrizant.com or @WriteLeft.

Olympic Bid Split Chicago, Local Agency

2016_olympic_logo2In case you were unaware, the competition for the 2016 Olympics host city’s been won and the waiting is over.

It was a controversial ride, but in the end, Chicago got knocked out immediately and Rio de Janiero was bestowed the honor, marking the first time a South American country’s been chosen to host an Olympic Games. The news is bittersweet in Chicago; the city was split 54% For, 46% Against according to recent polls. The city’s debt, added traffic on over-burdened streets, and additional taxes were main contention points that kept Chicagoans from supporting the bid. Plus the knowledge that recent host’s were still paying off Olympic-sized debt.

Skepticism rose to National levels last week when President Barack Obama, and wife Michelle, agreed to attend the final stage of the Olympic pitch in Oslow, adding their political weight to a field filled with political, and royal, notables: A King and Queen (Madrid), Prime Minister (Tokyo), and another President (Rio).

chicagoansforrio2016Competition between Rio and Chicago was especially fierce, and accusations of unfair play were voiced by both sides: One of the larger controversies a website Chicagoans for Rio 2016. The Chicago Olympic Bid team accused Rio of setting up the site (makes sense), but it turned out that it was an inside job…really inside.

Meanwhile, a Chicagoan named Kevin Lynch is confessing that he’s the man behind the cheeky ChicagoansForRio.com, the Web site that’s been anonymously trashing Chicago’s prospects in the past couple of weeks.

Okay, so he was from Chicago. No biggie. The real impact of the story is that Kevin Lynch is one of the top creative execs at Energy BBDO’s Proximity Unit. Energy BBDO, and owner Omnicom, were both in support of Chicago’s bid for the games, providing creative services as part of their endorsement. Plus, there’s the fact that Energy BBDO’s largest client, Wrigley (Wrigley Field, Wrigley Gum, etc), supported the city’s bid.

Which led to “Drama, drama, drama”! Energy BBDO released a statement to Ad Age last week:

“I want to be clear: The agency is and has been fully behind the Chicago 2016 bid,” said Energy BBDO CEO Tonise Paul. “Our clients are aware of our position and understand the situation. The individual acted on his own accord without the agency’s knowledge.”

Kevin Lynch, the “instigator” of the controversy, said he had stopped supporting the Olympic bid for Chicago when Mayor Daley’s statements that Chicagoans wouldn’t be taxed for the games were reversed. (Chicago already carries the heaviest sales tax in the Nation at 10.25%.)

Now that the host city’s been decided, it will be at least a week to discover what becomes of Mr. Lynch…

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or contact him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading!

The Power Struggle in the Agency/Client Paradigm

Agencies’ Fear of Client Disapproval Handcuffs Creativity

handcuffsYou’re just a few short hours from deadline.

Every tick on the clock is a jab at your creative confidence.

The client has already told you to simply use what works, don’t be too creative.

That offer becomes more and more tempting.

We’ve all been there.  The client knows what they want: safety.  But you, the advertising and marketing specialist, know what they need.  And we need to fight for that!

However, the “line-in-the-sand” between agency and client creative control is becoming less defined and turning into a morphed, unrecognizable blur because of today’s economic climate.  Agencies, in fear of losing clients and subsequent billings, are pushing the envelope less to ensure client approval.

We’re playing it safe.

Clients are in the same fear of losing business that agencies are.  They don’t want to scare off consumers with a new campaign, the same way that we don’t want to scare off clients with an extremely out-of-the-box idea.  So, often times, the client will be weary of change and will try to stick with the old, so that’s what we’ll give them.

When that happens, we are not only selling ourselves short . . . we are selling our clients short.  The client has hired your agency because they saw the creative intuition, marketing savvy, or media know-how that is going to push their brand/product/service to the next level of innovation and sales.

When we play it safe, we’re not giving our clients innovation, we’re giving them mediocrity.

We chose to be in advertisers and marketers because we are the early adopters and thought leaders.  We revolutionize ideas and shift paradigms, and when we settle into that “client-approved mediocrity,” we lose what makes us and our industry great.

So when you find yourself asking whether you should use that same headline, that old layout, that played-out tagline, remember why you’re here . . . as an individual and as an agency.  The client may tell you to go with what works, but they hired you because they need ‘innovative.’  Safety is the enemy–give them something great.  It will remind them why you’re here.

Stu Haack is a Copywriter & Social Media Guru at Aviatech.  He likes long walks on the beach and scary movies.  Learn more about him and his writing.

Merkle Re-Brands Database Marketing to Include Customers

stepping_out_of_the_computerDatabase marketing is now about the customer. Who woulda thunk it?

Merkle, a long-standing and highly reputable database marketing firm, has repositioned themselves in the industry. Following their release of Integrated Customer Marketing, Merkle has now adopted a new brand, “Customer Relationship Marketing Agency.”

There’s a lot of jargon associated with this switch. For example, look to the explanation in MediaPostNews “Marketing Daily”:

Integrated Customer Marketing helps companies become more customer-centric by informing the total customer experience , from strategic life-cycle management and marketing mix optimization to comprehensive program development and the optimization of individual campaigns.

What does that mean? I work in advertising and find that confusing. Talk about spin. Well, here’s my take: The idea, from where I’m standing, seems to be that Merkle is transitioning from merely being a resource of information for their clientele to a full-service consultation firm. They formerly offered “information.” Now, they offer “consultation.”

This change was long coming for the company; they have now joined the movement of agencies offering “full-service” solutions. With the state of our spending, that’s what companies are looking for: the one-stop shop or more bang for their buck.

Rena Prizant is a Copywriter, Ad Creative, SEO Gal, and mammal in the Chicago area. Visit www.RenaPrizant.com or @WriteLeft.

Jobs and Accountability for All. Except HR?

HR copyI have been applying to various agencies, consulting firms, digital design houses, and the like, and one of the so-called Human Resources’ policies has moved on my “corporate irritation scale” from irk’d off to pissed off.  For the sake of this writing, I include only the personnel departments at advertising, marketing, online agencies, vendors, and companies as the places I’ve been focusing upon.

When did it become standard for HR Departments to determine  they need not respond to applicants? Doesn’t this seem a bit counterproductive, especially at a time when companies are refocusing their entire efforts on personalizing relationships, speaking to their audiences on a one-to-one basis?

Professional glut

meter-thumb2During the past year, many professionals have been let go, from  C-level executives on down. Thus, there’s been a glut of qualified pros searching. As a professional, when I fill out an application and submit my résumé (usually using Taleo or some other third-party vendor), a cover letter, and samples in a nice package, it’s  indicative I either know your company well and am an “enthusiast,”  or I’ve researched it enough to realize there’s strong potential for both parties to  match on various levels, creating a win-win situation.

Thus, I submit what’s  required when I apply at XYZ. Not two seconds later, I receive an e-mail stating that after review, if my qualifications are a match, I may hear from someone. Otherwise, due to the volume of applicants, I will not hear another word.  First off, this is not only rude, but belittling. I have 11 years experience, and if I qualify, you may contact me? I cut my chops. I have respected your requests, filled out your paper in addition to submitting my own, and you “may” get back to me? It’s at this point I regret applying, job or no job.

A week passes.

Follow-up is key (if you can)

I call the office switchboard. I’m dumped into the HR general voicemail. No once calls back. Knowing I already have no contacts within the organization, I try to figure out if there is another way to get past the wall of silence. I begin to dial the main number with a ploy to speak to the Marketing VP I just looked up on LinkedIn.

While waiting, I wonder what’s transpired. Is the job closed? How many applicants applied? Are they still accepting applications?  Was my résumé submitted correctly? Was there something that screamed out I was wrong for the position? Did I make it to the final first cut, only to be weeded out due to my salary requirements?

I leave a voicemail for the VP. After a couple weeks without contact, I make a note on my spreadsheet that no one ever responded and move on to another opportunity.

Social media

Surprisingly, I see a lot of HR people using social media, especially on LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs. To me, this states that HR departments are versed in basic social-media tenets:

  • Listen.
  • Ask questions.
  • Listen some more.
  • Initiate on-to-one communication.


HR departments use social media to recruit. Why then is it so difficult to get anyone to respond? Why do I have to call the VP of Marketing to get a response, knowing at this point my job hopes have just been shot down?

HR peeps I know say it’s due to the massive amount of résumés they receive, and they’re too busy.I have to say this is a cop out.

Everyone is busy, everyone does more with less, and times are tense. However, most people at a business (with one exception) cannot risk ignoring anyone who contacts them, especially in an industry as fickle as this one.

WWJD, or what would Jeff do? (the solution)

As HR is capable of using social media for recruiting, then why not use social media to keep job posts updated?
It’s efficient, simple, and effective. Set up a blog page with job updates. Send out Twitter updates that a position’s been filled. Write a Facebook App that will cross-reference a job number with a status update. Have a prerecorded job line that applicants can call to learn of any updates.

Problem Solved.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or follow him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading.

B-52’s, Headlights, or Jugs: Breast Cancer Org’s Target Men

rib1This post covers two of my favorite topics: Breasts and advertising. When they’re grouped together, it usually means a 30-minute Girls Gone Wild infomercial. However, this post actually covers a couple advertising efforts behind breast cancer awareness, which is nothing to joke about. While humor is used in writing, and can be seen in the TV spots, no disrespect, implied or otherwise, is intended. My prayers go out to all those who have been affected by breast cancer.

All men love breasts. Some love them secretly. Others wear t-shirts that shout out that they are “breast men.” Even men that don’t dig women are drawn to a woman’s chest…not sexually, but out of curiosity. (It’s a cruel society that labels a straight man as a stalker for staring at a woman’s assets for too long while a gay man has free reign to reach right out and grab a woman’s chest in public…)

Listaholic alphabetizes 138 different slang names for breasts, among them; whimwhams, muffins, kawangas, and dinglebobbers. Which proves that when men don’t understand something, they either rename it or make fun of it.

The truth of the matter is that we probably love breasts more than their owners;

We just don’t know why…

Which leads to an obvious question: Why haven’t men been involved in the fight against breast cancer from the beginning? Like a favorite bra, it’s a natural fit; breast-lovers attacking breast cancer. As you’ll read in a couple of seconds, a couple of organizations figured it out.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 500,000 people die every year as a result of breast cancer. It ranks as the second most common form of cancer, and it’s the 5th highest cause of cancer deaths.

The push towards early detection and education of breast cancer began in earnest in 1982, following the death of Susan G. Komen. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977 and died three years later. Susan’s younger sister, Nancy, was the impetus behind the push; keeping a promise to her sister, she founded The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation with the belief that education, early detection, and research would have saved Susan.

Now known as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, or simply Komen, the foundation has raised over $1.3 billion dollars for cancer research since inception and is the largest cancer charity in the world. On the global level, Komen has but one mission: To end breast cancer forever.

Spurred by National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), two separate advertisers have launched PSAs that have expanded their target audience to include men, which is ingenious: Who thinks about breasts more than men?

Yoplait has just released, “Yoplait Pledge.” It makes fun of the fact that nicknames were given to breasts at some point (hmm).

The second awareness spot comes from ReThink Breast Cancer, a Toronto-based organization that addresses the breast cancer concerns of young people affected by the disease. Rethink is a volunteer organization that is “thinking differently” on methods to defeat breast cancer (like getting men involved). The spot (below) is airing in Canada on MTV, and the woman featured is an MTV Host.

It’s obvious that breasts get plenty of attention. It’s breast cancer that we need to focus on.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or follow him on Twitter. As always, thanks for reading.

Stuff.co.nz Outdoor Campaign Raises the Bar for Creativity

stuff billboardRemember back in the day when a reporter would be admonished or even fired for not being the first to cover a breaking news? Well, the times have changed. An outdoor campaign by Stuff.co.nz boasts “if our team don’t break stories first, there are consequences.” Consequences, indeed (and not for the copy editors!). One of its billboards has a tomato-pelted reporter strapped to it, while another features a reporter being dangled out of a window from high above with a banner below him featuring the same line.

This kind of reminds me of a “Saturday Night Live” skit in the 70’s that depicted a bunny with a gun to its head and the tagline, “buy this (whatever) or the bunny gets it.”

Sure, humor is a fantastic motivator and will, in this case, drive traffic to the Web, but what I love about this campaign is that it raises the bar for creative. It’s not mirroring pop culture – it’s creating it, which is what Stuff does perfectly on its website, too.

Sara Barton is a copywriter, social media strategist, and avid blogger who is in search of her next opportunity. Contact her via Twitter, LinkedIn, or her blog.

Interview with Founder of Bajibot: Vince Mei Sets Creative Benchmark

bajibot_logoA visit to Bajibot’s website is like going into another world. It is so rich with visuals and 3D animation that it’s almost like a video game… you just keep wanting more. I connected with New Business Director Martin Fernando and he put me in touch with Vince Mei, founder of Bajibot. Due to their hectic schedule, I sent my interview questions to them via email. The response came back in half a day, so thank you Martin and Vince for your time — I know you guys are busy.

Bajibot is a web-design company that specializes in 3D animation. I became interested in Bajibot because of its partner list, which not only consists of other agencies such as TribalDDB, BBDO Atmosphere and Digitas, but also includes clients like Pepsi, Nike, Philips, HSBC, Novartis and the NFL.

I thought, “Holy Crap! Look at the brands supported by this company,” and knew that there was something special hidden just below the surface. Following is an excerpt of our interview:

Tell us a bit about the history behind Bajibot. What is (a) Bajibot?

Bajibot Media was founded by myself and a partner in 2006, we came up with the name Bajibot from our screen names, I am known as the “Bajiking” and my friend’s name was “Dxxbot” so we combined our names and came up with “Baji-Bot”.  My partner friend decided to take advantage of a real nice offer at an agency so I started Bajibot on my own.

Bajibot’s  first project was a huge banner campaign for Nike+ through R/GA, and projects started to roll in.  After a month of working from my apartment my wife kicked me and my assistant out and with a budget of $5,000 I rented a small 100 square foot office near Rockefeller Center, and that was Bajibot’s first official location. For three years we’ve continued to grow, working almost exclusively with global agencies in New York, delivering the best digital content for the web.

What makes Bajibot unique?

Bajibot2-[Compatibility-Mode]Technically speaking we are a web design shop equipped with heavy duty 3D capability.  I studied 3D animation in college but my 10 year career had been in the Interactive field, and so combining these skills created a niche of providing broadcast quality 3D content that works on the web.  By knowing the limitations and possibilities of the web and Flash, our clients value us because we provide smooth integration of our work into their Flash projects.  Our clients often come to us for fresh creative ideas from a 3D perspective to add value to their interactive projects.

We like our clients to think of us as their “in-house” power team instead of an “outsource vendor.” We try to keep our shop at a compact size to maintain direct communication and because of our expertise we have the capacity to take on larger tasks.  We offer a single point of contact with our clients – our producer or myself – so the client’s messages get to our artists fast and clearly.  Plus the advantage of being in NYC is that we are always on call to go to our client’s office for face to face meetings.

We have a super laid back, friendly working environment, and that’s the secret of how we keep our creative juices flowing.  My dog Baji often visits our office and Baji helps to nurture that environment, too.

What is the most outrageous site that you’ve worked on?

There are many, but without a doubt the Intel Rich Media Banner Campaign project from MRM would be at the top of the list.  In just 4 weeks we produced a serious of 6 super rich media ads that feature stunning 3D and interactivity inside those banners, and the special thing about the project was that it was the turning point of Bajibot.  Many thanks to Duncan Mitchell, MRM’s Creative Director, who worked with us on the project and gave us enough trust, creative freedom, and a generous budget!

Advertising has changed a lot over the past year. How has Bajibot changed to meet these challenges?

The advertising industry is definitely changed quite a bit over the past year, primarily in budget.  Clients are asking for more and better work done with less budget.  But Bajibot’s business model has always been designed for this kind of demand.  We’ve always stayed on top of the trends and technology to offer the latest “cool” things to do.  We’ve always kept a reasonable and affordable rate card, and we’ve always been super flexible with time with many examples of “mission-impossible” successes.

How would you describe Bajibot in three words?

Flexibility – Creativity – Execution

Three words that have refined — and continue to refine — the creative products that Bajibot provides its partners. Bajibot exemplifies a shop that’s ahead of the curve, way ahead. View its 2009 media reel and you’ll see what I mean.

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, aspiring writer. Please leave a comment, or reach out to him on Twitter or LinkedIn. As always, thanks for reading.

Rachel Nasvik, Pirates, and Hand Bags (Oh My!)

ThrillofTheChaseIn June, Beyond Madison Avenue ran a post about designer Rachel Nasvik, a New York City designer famous for chic, custom-made handbags, and the “scavenger hunt” in New York city where consumers followed clues published on social media sites to discover where she had hidden 96 of these designer handbags around the city. The campaign was a great success, and displayed a great use of social media as well as a natural knack for getting noticed.

Well, Rachel Nasvik has again taken to the streets, but in an entirely different manner.

New York City (NYC) is known for many things, one of them being a place where consumers can purchase merchandise that has been pirated from well-known designers. Basically, knock-offs sold on the street for nothing that look like the original.

VendorWell Nasvik and team turned the tables on the design pirates by using their fly-by-night grocery carts as a means of promoting original Nasvik designs. In what could be called a second scavenger hunt, Nasvik sent clues to her 1,000+ followers on Twitter, alerting them that the game, once again, was a-foot. This time she was hiding her designer goods amidst the copycats roaming the streets of NYC. The cost for a Nasvik original off the cart was an affordable $10, while down the street at Saks, the same bag brought in $300. This obviously was not going to make Nasvik any money.

Yet, what she lost in terms of dollars was replaced by her gains in public relations, love from her fans, earned media coverage, and a creative use of distribution channels. She has taken social media to a whole new level, interacting with her fan-base personally with a fun and competitive game that was not online, but in the “real” world.

Plus, her brand is now being copied by pirates…meaning that Nasvik’s designs have truly “made it.”

Jeff Louis is a Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. You can reach him on Twittter or LinkedIn. He is always searching for great ideas and new friends.

Traditional Agency Model – It’s Been Good Knowin’ Ya!

mad_men-showI love the TV show “MadMen,” mostly because it’s a reminder of a quaint time in the history of our industry – big accounts, big egos, and big paychecks. Of course, at that time, advertising was limited to print and radio, as well as the “new” medium of TV.

Flash forward nearly 60 years to 2009. Magazines and newspapers are folding left and right, radio seems to have a limited shelf life, and TV is too expensive for many potential advertisers. While agencies like the fictional Sterling Cooper still exist, they’re working to hold their own against relative upstarts – the small boutique agencies that specialize in digital and social media. What would Don Draper do – get a Twitter account and attend PodCamp instead of chasing secretaries and boozing?

Traditional agencies are downsizing – many have considerably smaller employee rosters and account lists – while smaller agencies are flourishing due to the focus of specialists such as brand evangelists, social anthropologists, and relationship managers. Their primary methodologies engage the consumer through digital, mobile, and direct mail, then supplement campaigns with broadcast, print, out-of-home, and outdoor.  These small shops seem to get it as they can implement a specialized yet multi-faceted approach for clients.  Think of it as one-stop-shopping and the agencies that can’t keep up with the so-called little guys are folding quickly.

So what does this mean to traditional agencies? Is it the end of the line for them? Or can they peacefully co-exist with this new agency hybrid?

Sara Barton is a copywriter, social media strategist, and avid blogger who is in search of her next opportunity. Contact her via Twitter, LinkedIn, or her blog.

Media Consumption Patterns: Reaching Teens

86653-TeensDid you hear the one about the 15-year-old who decided to run his own study on the media consumption patterns of teenagers? It’s quite the research… er… story… lesson.

Ben Kellogg of Group SJR forwarded me the article after we had spoken about an entirely unrelated subject. To be quite honest, I didn’t jump right on it… my laptop had died, losing files, email contacts, and programs. I just kept resetting the email reminder. Until today.

no-tvMatthew Robson, a 15-year-old intern working for Morgan Stanley, conducted a media study called “How Teenagers Consume Media.” The conclusions caused a bit of an uproar, mainly because one teen does not represent all teens. Yet, it could also be said that the overall observations coincide with many teen media habits. The teens I know, for instance, would rather be online than in front of a television. Either that or doing both… watching TV and surfing the Web, interspersed with texting. Although there is absolutely no statistical backing for a survey of one, we can draw some general inferences from Robson’s writing.

General conclusions for the study include:

  • Most teenagers are not regular listeners to radio, instead opting for online streaming services
  • Most teens watch television, but frequency varies by season. Additionally, now that TV shows are webcasted as well, there’s less worry about missing an episode
  • Teens do not read traditional papers because “they don’t have the time” (I am sure they have the time… it’s just that papers don’t rank highly on the priority list)
  • Console gaming, interestingly, is not of interest to teenagers… and the main factor is cost. Costs for consoles and games are beyond most budgets; however, multi-player, interactive online games are popular
  • The Internet is where teens interact socially, conduct research for school, create videos, IM, and otherwise connect to others… except for Twitter. Matthew states that teens do not use Twitter*
  • Teens love music, but are not paying for it
  • Viral marketing is enjoyed and supported by teens
  • They do not use directories unless it’s online, etc.

*According to the graph below from Sysomos, teens comprise 30% of Twitter users:


This is directly in contrast with Robson’s assessment.

But hey, he is 15 years-old, and while he may be intelligent, his judgment is missing the crucial benefit of time. However, Morgan Stanley should not be lacking in the judgment column… or, in retrospect, maybe that’s exactly what they are missing…

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, Writer & Blogger. Unlike the all the other blog writers for Talent Zoo, Jeff is cute and nice. Tweet him @jlo0312. Just kidding about the nice part.

Uncertain Economy: Separates the Cowards from the Lions

nullIn tough economic times, history reveals that the most successful businesses not only keep their hootspa, they take it up a notch. These days, sadly, many companies are making blind cuts in spending or running for the hills for cover, but giants like Trader Joes, Burger King, and even Jim Henson took a chance and got their start in uncertain times.
The absolute worst thing a business could do in these economic crises is cut marketing costs. I mean, does it really make sense when you need business to cut the one thing that gets you business? CEB (Corporate Executive Board) reports that 90% of companies that blindly cut sales, marketing, overhead, etc don’t maintain savings for more than 3 years. Now that doesn’t sound like sound decision making.

Some thinking says that the market will determine the direction on it’s own and if there really were opportunities out there, others would have already seized them. But industry articles reveal how market leaders like Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines and Macys have smashed that theory.

So whether you are looking for employment, new customers or new opportunities…do yourself a favor and don’t be a pansy…step out there boldly, take chances, and don’t make decisions based on fear.

Jinean Robinson is a CCIO (Chief Creative Infections Officer) who has been in the communications industry for over 8 years, specializing in creative strategy and implementation, 360 branding communications, and brand development. Join her at http://twitter.com/germllc or her firm’s website at http://germonline.com/

Burger King’s Ad Campaign: Ignorant

Burger KingAnother faux pas from the now controversial brand, Burger King. This time, instead of offending an entire country, it went after an entire religion. Burger King’s latest ad release includes the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi sitting in front of the new “Texican Whopper.” The tagline is ‘La merienda es sagrada’ – the snack is sacred.

It seems as though Burger King has taken the “even-negative-press-is-still-press” approach to its advertising strategy because, as Ad Age eloquently explained, “…It’s easy to assume that it was planned: Particularly “edgy” work is sent abroad with the expectation that it will soon reverberate on American soil, accompanied by lots and lots of news coverage.”

Ad Age goes on to discuss ad agency involvement and the debate of who did what and who’s affiliated with which campaign, but quite frankly, I think that all are responsible. Whether or not Crispin was involved overseas or another small agency was contracted by the franchise, the point is that the entire brand suffers. Truly. It’s clear that Burger King has lost control of its brand to a point that it’s now globally hurting consumer loyalty. That, or Burger King has the absolute worst brand positioning plan.

The ads were created in an attempt to increase sales. As CNNMoney reported, an increase in sales does not mean an increase in profit. So, what logic is there in creating campaigns that will discourage buyers faith in the brand by offending them? The fact of the matter is that as a straggling brand attempting to follow in the shadows of the golden arches, you DON’T TOUCH RELIGION. Anyone heard from Mel Gibson lately? You’re not just offending that religion, you’re offending anyone who believes in religious respect.

What should we expect in the next ad, Burger King, swastika fries?

Rena Prizant is a Copywriter, Ad Creative and mammal in the Chicago area. Visit www.RenaPrizant.com or @WriteLeft.

Stickercards: Simple Change May Change Biz Card Industry

guy K faceAs most know, I’ve been writing about innovation in the face of adversity; our industry’s changing, the economy’s sucking the breath out of  good companies, and, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the bubble won’t break until at least 2013. That’s four years of this. Tired of the bad news, we thought that we would task this highly creative industry to either show us your stuff, or keep your mouth shut. Talking the talk is easy. Prove to us, and the industry, that you’ve got the creative mojo and win some free publicity.

It doesn’t have to be “ads” or “campaigns.” It could be your business model, an engaging strategy, how you changed the way you purchase media, social media tactics, recession-proof tactics, or even a small, “Hmm, I wonder…” question that turn into a creative leap. Something like what Guy Kawasaki, owner of Alltop, just engineered.

Alltop gives its clients, prospects, vendors, and friends both business cards and business stickers. However, Guy admits that while he freely gives out cards, he’s reluctant to hand out stickers to promote the brands because they could be used to deface property; plus, he did not want to “burden” others with his branding efforts. And there is always the chance an Alltop sticker might end up plastered on the toilet of a rank rest stop on I-70. Can you say, “negative brand association?”

alltop-fullThen he had an “A-Ha” moment: could the business cards and business stickers be combined? He emailed one of his friends, who happened to own StickerGiant, to find out. He asked this friend, John Fischer, if a business card could be printed on the back of a sticker, and if anyone had done this before. John answered that, yes, it could be done but, no, it had never been requested. So, Guy requested his friend to check into it.

Writing on Open Forum, Guy describes his thought process:

“Psychologically, a stickercard is a powerful concept. By applying the teachings of Robert Cialdini, I hope that it engenders reciprocation and consistency. That is, since you’ve given someone a cool sticker, the person feels like they should reciprocate by sticking it somewhere visible. (Did you donate money to Hare Krishna because one of its followers gave you a flower?) Then, once the stickercard is stuck, the person is more committed to the company, product, or service. That stickercard on laptop is a declaration to the world that they like the what it stands for. To be consistent, they must stick to their positive opinion of your company, product, or service.

picture-2The process, or how the idea comes alive, doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It’s the idea that matters, and whether or not it works.  At any moment, Guy Kawasaki could have stopped and said, “This is stupid.” Instead, he followed through. His tweet tonight stated that the stickercards was his best idea ever.

His best idea ever… and he’s had a lot of ideas. To take it a step further, the first thing he did with his new “invention” was share to it, which speaks highly of his character. He sent out the tweet and a link. StickerGiant made a video. And the stickercards went from idea to product in a week. Be warned though, StickerGiant charges $500 for 500 cards. At least Guy has character.

If your company has something that makes “the cut,”  send it my way. Until that time, leave a comment… it will raise your social media score.

Jeff Louis: A Strategic Media Planner and Brand Project Manager for both B2B and B2C accounts, he is fascinated by past participles, brands, and innovation. Please contact him on Twtter or LinkedIn.

R.I.P. to the King of Endorsements

MJToday we say goodbye to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Over the next few months, the general public will dissect all things MJ — what will happen to his three children, and what his musical legacy will become. I’m more interested in is his impact on the advertising world.

Until 1984, it was virtually unheard of for a superstar to endorse products on TV, until Pepsi inked a $5 million deal with Jackson, paving the way for future deals with Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Ray Charles, and Britney Spears. In fact, Jackson’s relationship with Pepsi was so successful that brands such as Buick, American Express, Cover Girl, and Jell-O also pursued celebrity deals, elevating those brands to unseen levels of popularity.

The Pepsi-Jackson deal also broke creative ground — at the height of “Thriller,” Jackson rewrote “Billie Jean” to create a version specifically for Pepsi, rather than sing the original jingle, thus taking the concept of branding to a new level. The Wall Street Journal credits Jackson for breaking barriers that gave way to iPod commercials starring Coldplay as well as car commercials featuring indie rock songs that have yet to get radio play, but are sure to be the next big thing.

Not bad for a kid from Gary, Indiana, huh?

Photo Credit: the Associated Press

Sara Barton is a copywriter, social media strategist, and avid blogger who is in search of her next opportunity. Contact her via Twitter, LinkedIn, or her blog.

Advertising is Irrelevant?

noAdsHeeAdWeek and Harris recently released a poll asking those not involved in the advertising trade what they thought of advertising’s “relevancy.”

The results show that most find that our jobs, as a whole, are rather irrelevant.

Advertising’s down, no doubt, and now Adweek’s heaping salt on the wound!

Well, Mr. and Mrs. America, let’s look at a life without advertising. A life of relevance.

TV staticFirst of all, without advertising, we would not have free access to television. Advertisers in essence pay for the shows we watch by running commercials. By the same logic, the web in that state would not be as comprehensive as the one we experience now. Radio would be a paid service with subscribers. Programs and shows with relatively lower ratings would be immediately slashed since they would no longer be able to support themselves.

The cultural art form of advertising would be lost.  The circle of life would be disrupted.  Just as life influences advertising, ads influence culture.

Without advertising, creatives would be cubicle-bound and non-imaginative. Serious. Boring. Sex would not sell, and neither would honesty. No one would fight for the cause. PETA would consist of two guys fighting for animal rights, and no one would care. Animals wouldn’t be cool to wear. Or not wear. Or own.  Times Square would be dimly lit. Your favorite beer would be just “BEER,” as the term ‘generic’ would dominate store shelves. Color would be sparse. Trendsetters would be trend-less. No brands, no logos, no icons or spokespeople. No sexy models, sexy shows, or suggestive commercials. We wouldn’t know who to vote for, or why. Four hour erections? Who’d need the pills, let alone use them? No body-image, no silicone implants, no tummy-tucks. No Jon & Kate. Michael Jackson would just be another singer. No Hollywood trailers, stars, starlets, tramps, red carpets, or blockbuster openings. No E! TV, no TMZ. No Paris, Lindsay, Nicole, or reality TV. No Tila Tequila.

No PSA’s warning that your brain on drugs was scrambled. Or that kids shouldn’t smoke crack and that crack kills. Rather than axing the marketing budget first, corporations would axe employees. And that would be just fine, because there would be no PR effort, no big news story, therefore no downside.

Life would go on, but it would be bland and tasteless. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace: no need for them.

Take a picture of the Cold War-era Russia and apply it to a life without advertising. Cold. Drizzling. Muddled.

The link to this study is now unavailable.  Was the issue so unimportant that Adweek pulled the article? Or was the study published on the wrong day?

Luckily, I printed it:

In an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll last month, respondents were given a chance to say they don’t feel strongly about the industry one way or another, and nearly half of them took it. Asked to characterize their overall impression of “the advertising industry in general,” 47 percent said it’s “neither negative nor positive.” Predictably, those with a negative view of the business (9 percent “very,” 28 percent “somewhat”) outnumbered those with a positive view (2 percent “very,” 15 percent “somewhat”). (The total exceeds 100 percent due to rounding.)

If such numbers count as not-so-bad news for the ad business, responses were less positive on the question of whether consumers find advertising relevant to their lives (”By relevant,” Harris told respondents, “we mean how it connects to things that are ongoing in your daily life”). Given the effort put into aiming the right ad at the right target, the numbers here were pretty lackluster. Eight percent of respondents said advertising is “very relevant” to their lives, and 42 percent said it’s “somewhat relevant.” Thirty-two percent termed it “not that relevant” and 14 percent “not at all relevant,” with the rest unsure.

Can you say “OUCH!”?

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. Reach out and touch him: www.linkedin.com or www.twitter.com.

Digital Television… Buzz to Bust

TVAntenna-194x174Much anticipated, the switch to Digital Television, or DTV, finally took place on June 12, 2009. Despite over 1.5 years of warning, many found themselves with no programmings that fateful day. The original switch date of February 17, 2009 was pushed back due to the “lack of preparedness” of over 10% of US households. The whole effort to switch to DTV, according to the Federal Communications Commission,  began on January 23, 2001.

Eight years of planning, $10 billion dollars invested, and you’re now looking at it. Whew! Glad that’s over. Reminds me of Y2K.

Yet, it’s not really funny. Especially for the 1,700 broadcast stations that spent their money to upgrade to the new TV1 digital equipment, and then to wait patiently for the change. It arrived in February,and then the digital implementation was delayed. It arrived again in June as the cut was finally made.The money invested by the stations was to be recouped via the use of additional signals. Each broadcast station has been given its core channel, which currently carries the signal, along with 5 additional signals that “piggyback” on the original.The additional signals are actually sub-channels, capable of carrying additional programming. For instance, if a viewer wants to watch an “all business, news and weather” version of his or her local NBC affiliate, the station can theoretically satisfy this niche. Geographic areas with high Hispanic indices can have access to Spanish sub-channels.

BusinessWeek reports that there are areas of the country already utilizing DTV’s capabilities, but the others have run into a major stumbling block: the economy.

ION’s Qubo airs cartoon programming for kids while ION Life focuses on health and fitness. NBC offers its local stations a sports channel and just launched a New York City news channel. MGM aims to partner with local stations to offer a movie channel, and entertainment service LATV offers bilingual programming for young Latinos.

Here’s the problem: The cable, satellite, and phone companies are loath to distribute programming that is largely untested and may compete with their own channels. What’s more, the recent switch to digital TV coincides with a punishing recession. Local TV advertising fell 28% in the first quarter from the same period in 2008.

It is not a question of “if” the stations will use the expanded bandwidth, but a question of “when.” There has been speculation that the added sub-channels will be used to send TV programming straight to computers and cell phones, further integrating TV, Online, and Mobile platforms.FTClogo

Either way, it looks as if it may be a while before the dollars flow out of DTV at the same rate they were invested.

Jeff Louis: Strategic Media Planner, Project Manager, and New Business Account Coordinator. His passion is writing. Reach out and touch him: www.linkedin.com or www.twitter.com.