Author Archives: Patrick Wentling

Closing Remarks from Re:Think 2014

Following an exciting few days at the New York Marriott Marquis, the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2014 conference has come to a close, after more than 168 paper submissions were presented from the top companies in business. With key insights from industry luminaries like Keith Reinhard, Carolyn Everson and Lee Garfinkel, the days were jam-packed with valuable insights and takeaways for attendees to take back to their desks and influence their work.

We caught up with Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the ARF, for her biggest takeaway from the conference and how Re:Think 2014 ushered in a new era for the ARF.

For more Re:Think 2014 highlights, see below for a small sampling of the great coverage that ran this week:

Advertising Age: How Big Data Shapes AT&T’s Advertising Creative

Direct Marketing News: Video: Three Questions with the ARF’s Gayle Fuguitt

The Makegood: Why the Best Advertising is Formed When Art Meets Science

Re:Think 2014: Great Insights, Great Innovation, Great Results

Day Two at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2014 conference was about rethinking ideas to derive better insights, and ultimately better creative executions and results.

Lee Garfinkel, CEO of FCB Garfinkel, gave the first keynote of the day said the industry needs more clarity and simplicity in using smart research to inform smart advertising. Rather than wasting time thinking outside of the box, he encourages people to think about how to get out of the corner. “Science won’t get you great ideas alone. You need the gut instinct of great thinkers.”

Garfinkel’s other call to action was to come up with the great idea that will change the mind of the consumer. Demonstrated by his own iconic Diet Coke example from 1994,  he explained how the soft drink faced several challenges — from being too generic to being seen as for “women on a diet.” Garfinkel realized they couldn’t fix all of Diet Coke’s needs at once. “We asked the right question to get the right answer. The question was ‘which one of these should we address first?” Diet Coke’s response? “Make us relevant again.’”

Garfinkel and his team did just that, creating a spot that alleviated many of these issues and helped Diet Coke re-gain market share. The spot speaks for itself:

The second session keynote of the day was a fireside chat between Kim Brink, VP Marketing at NASCAR, and 4A’s EVP Michael Donahue, titled “Branding 180% Turnaround.” One of NASCAR’s marketing challenges is that people perceive it as a sport only popular in the South, without a huge reach. Conversely, the race car brand is second to the NFL in terms of recognition and hosts as many as 70 million fans at their events every year.

NASCAR’s goal was to have consumers rethink the brand. By tapping into insights around what its most rabid fans love about the sport, NASCAR was able to exact that passion and leverage it for new fans. The exercise allowed NASCAR to find its brand voice, which Brink acknowledged they didn’t previously have. NASCAR then signed their first ad agency, Ogilvy + Mather, and leveraged the insights about what rabid and casual fans love most, to create a dynamic spot that went on to be listed as the “Best Sports Commercial of the Year” in 2013.

The overarching message today was that marketers need to challenge their creative thinking by starting the process with smart research and clear insights.

 

Insights from Day One at ARF Re:Think 2014

The DGC team has been live from Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)  Re:Think conference in New York City this week, soaking up all of the intelligent conversations and insights being shared around analytics and insights.

Day One focused explicitly on consumer engagement and how to make better decisions across platforms. Here are some of our key learnings from the first day:

Carolyn Everson, VP of Marketing Solutions, Facebook (Photo Credit: Doug Goodman)

Mobile is now. Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, admitted that even the largest social network in the world was caught off guard by the rise of mobile. But the reality is, that with over five billion phones currently in use, consumers are constantly on the go – and usually active on more than one device. More than one-third of those five billion people are using at least three or more devices in a given day, and 60 percent of consumers start a task on one device and end on another. So what’s the next step in mobile’s evolution? Personalization.

 

Peter Espersen, Head of Co-Creation, Content, and Campaigns, The LEGO Group (photo credit: Doug Goodman)

Peter Espersen, Head of Co-Creation, Content, and Campaigns, The LEGO Group (photo credit: Doug Goodman)

Understand your fans. Peter Espersen, head of co-creation at LEGO, shared how the brand sought to understand the fans, tap into their passion for LEGOs, and then in fact produce what the fans want. After several petitions, LEGO created several limited edition series, including the infamous DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future, a Minecraft series, and the very first fan-petitioned LEGO, the Shinkai 6500, a Japanese submarine. Espersen explained that no one would have seen the fan demand for Shinkai or Minecraft but, given that LEGO allowed its fans’ voices to be heard, it created what was wanted.

 

 

Keith Reinhard, DDB Worldwide (Photo Credit: Doug Goodman)

Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus, DDB Worldwide (Photo Credit: Doug Goodman)

Insights can help create the story. When you leverage insights in the right way, you can tell the story the consumer actually wants to hear. That was the takeaway from ad legend Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB Worldwide. Reinhard showed a famous State Farm ad from the 1960s, featuring the still-iconic “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” jingle, and a real State Farm insurance agent based in Hawaii. “The insight was that the hometown neighbor is always there, which led to the “Like a Good Neighbor,’” said Reinhard, “Consumers could get their own personal neighborhood State Farm agent.” The tagline is still used today.

 

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The conversation was positive and encouraged the audience to question how brands are engaging with consumers. Even if you’re doing something right, you can always look at new data or find another angle that resonates in a new way, generating more insightful campaigns and buzz.

ARF Re:Think 2014 Looks to Rethink Consumer Engagement, Ideas, and Skills

Monday kicks off the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual Re:Think Conference, which brings together leaders from brand marketers, media/tech companies, research organizations, academics, and new-age analysts.

Scheduled speakers include Soledad O’Brien, CEO Starfish Media Group; Keith Reinhard, Chairman, DDB; and Carolyn Everson, VP, Global Market Solutions, Facebook Inc. The conference will feature more than 50 studies from 100 high-profile presenters. More than2,500 attendees have registered for conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Click here to see more on the papers.

This year’s Re:Think theme is  “Inspire Intelligent Growth.” Each day of the 4-day conference has a different focus. Rethinking consumer engagement is the theme on Monday, March 24; “rethinking” ideas dominates the March 25 agenda;  and March 26 is about rethinking skills.

The conference will also recognize recipients of the ARF David Ogilvy Awards (honoring the creative use of research) and the Great Mind Awards (which celebrate individuals who contribute to excellence and advancement of advertising research). On March 26, aspiring advertising professionals can speak with industry veterans about how to make their mark on the industry.

Follow along with the exciting insights here on The Hit Board as well as on Twitter with #ARFRETHINK2014.

Super Snow Bowl = Super Crisis PR Bowl

You already know the story. For the first time in the modern era of the NFL, the Super Bowl will be in an outdoor, “cold weather” location in East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. Although it’s located in the largest metropolitan area in the country, the weather remains the most talked about storyline for the game. With the “polar vortex” stalled in the area, people are asking how cold it will be. Will it snow? Will Bruno Mars be able to perform? My personal favorite is “how will fair weather players like Peyton Manning survive?”

While the weather presents an entertaining storyline, there are more dangerous factors to consider than how potential cold and snow will affect the players’ performance during the game. As one of the most watched events on TV, the game is typically the least concerning property for fans watching at home. It’s a chance for football and ad lovers to gather, socialize and see what all the buzz is about from the warm comfort of their couches. Given this year’s setup, a larger concern has to come from the safety of everyone involved. At what point is it just too cold? At what point is it a risk for anyone to actually be at the game? Is the NFL prepared to postpone the Super Bowl if need be? How would such an action affect viewership, ad spend and, ultimately, future games? And when is it the right time to decide to postpone the game?

When you’re such an enormous juggernaut like the NFL, you have to be ready to do anything and everything to plan for the unplanned. That means a black out, an owner lock out, a referee lock out, a major lawsuit towards the mental health of the players, a wardrobe malfunction, and even the possibility of postponing the Super Bowl. It’s a circumstance that the NFL doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge but has no choice to privately embrace – particularly in the live event space, where anything can and sometimes will go wrong.

It’s a classic case of preparing a crisis communications strategy and making a “worst-case-scenario” plan. Postponing the Super Bowl is a last resort but is the lesser of two evils should the game happen in poor conditions and something truly tragic happens. The NFL certainly calculated the risks prior to agreeing to host the Super Bowl in a cold weather area.

Another thing to consider: any move by the NFL trickles down to everyone else – the broadcasting station, the various sponsors, the fans who traveled to attend – all the way down to the bars and families hosting watch parties. My hope is that everyone (save for the families) has a plan in place as a backup.  And in a similar major sporting event vein, NBC is prepping its own crisis communications plan for next month’s Winter Olympics – which will kick off just days following the Super Bowl. It goes to show that, while you can’t prepare for everything, the crisis plan you write today can in fact serve as a great base to combat any real crises that may arise down the road.

But personally, I’m hoping for festive, safe snow, a la the Snow Bowl in South Philadelphia last month.

metlife

Ten Seconds Or Less

SnapChat is like The Little Engine That Could. Its rivals pulled out all of the stops to buy it, duplicate it, replace it and eradicate it – yet the network is still popular.

What’s interesting about SnapChat is its perception, which, for lack of a better term, snaps back and forth in terms of good and bad press.  The early days of SnapChat led many to believe it’s purely an app for all kids to “sext.” And every few weeks, there’s some sort of SnapChat privacy story – various articles on how safe those snaps are (or aren’t,) an actual data breach, or how legal the content of snaps may be.  In a post-Snowden world, these types of privacy breaches would be a kiss of death. Yet the network continues to persevere for its users.

Last week, SnapChat’s founders were on the cover of Forbes’ 30 under 30 – among other things, sharing how Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg essentially bullied the founders to sell to him or face extinction through Facebook’s version of the app Poke. As we now know, Poke fizzled and SnapChat thrives.

Now the startup, like many other networks in the space, is looking to monetize through advertising.  Yet the network needs to find a genuine way to make these ads happen, with content that people actually want to see.  HBO, always one of the boundary pushers in new avenues for social advertising, launched a SnapChat account tied to its popular show “Girls.” The extension is perfect for the show, as one can easily imagine the characters attempting to decipher what their potential suitors are implying by snapping emojis of pandas and guns.

While many critics, professional and amateur, are quick to remind everyone that SnapChat’s founders each passed on more than $750 million in Zuckerberg’s buyout offer, the network’s popularity among users is as great as it’s even been.  It goes to show that a brand can overcome bad press and a potentially bad reputation by sticking to the company’s brand and messaging. Yet so far, SnapChat may need to work on its sincerity when accepting its flaws, and there have been more than a few instances recently.  One could chalk up this up to the brashness of Silicon Valley hotheads – call it growing pains. Finding your voice and credibility is not easily done in today’s hyper reactive world – particularly when there can be so much on the line – and minor stories can explode into “national scandals.” That’s not to say every brand can survive bad press; it requires buzz, a dedicated following and a little bit of luck – but it is indeed possible.

We’re looking forward to following SnapChat’s business evolution in the coming weeks and months.

You Stay Classy, Social Media

Ever since Ron Burgundy crashed Conan O’Brien’s studio last year to announce the “Anchorman” sequel, momentum has been building in the social world in anticipation of the reunion of the “Channel  4 News Team.”  Paramount Studios has heard the buzz and answered it with a social blitz unseen by most films. And with today’s release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” the hype just continues to grow.

Part of the success of “Anchorman” yields from the love of the main character, Ron Burgundy. Say what you will about the most ignorant broadcaster in San Diego but, as he puts it, he is kind of a big deal. His status has reached that cult following that many classic entertainment properties garner. Before social media, these followings always stayed “underground.” Now with social media, fans are able to connect around the world and grow at an exponential rate.

“Anchorman”/Paramount capitalized on the character’s popularity and teleported him from the 1970’s to the present – having him provide commentary on a curling match, advertising for “Yodge” trucks, dissing said “Yodge” trucks, hosting a local newscast and so on. It’s a walking “ad” for the new movie, yet it’s an ad you actually want to watch. You want to watch curling to see what Burgundy might say (hopefully no one messes with the teleprompter.) It’s an ad that you can’t turn away from and won’t skip through.

Thanks to YouTube and word of mouth, the truly amazing part of each of these activations is that they can go viral faster than a Ron Burgundy Cannonball. In the old days, guest hosting a newscast in North Dakota would be seen as a tremendous waste of resources. In today’s world, “Ron” can do it and be viewed by the entire world the very next day. What a PR opportunity for not only “Anchorman” but the local station itself.

What’s unique about “Anchorman 2” that nearly ten years have passed since the first film. The original came out before Facebook or Twitter existed. Now it’s unfathomable to think about life without these platforms.  “Anchorman” is the rare film franchise that has properties in both worlds – and what a difference we’ve seen between both.

Unfortunately, it’s not a formula that every film can capitalize on. You won’t see Batman competing in a UFC fight before the release of the next film. Katniss Everdeen won’t be competing in the Olympics for archery. Ron Burgundy, though, has the perfect platform for marketing his role because the character can be smoothly integrated into practically anything including out-of-the-box ideas like an appearance on SportsCenter. His cult following has people who want to see him in the real world.

Hats off to the social team at Paramount. The film was already one of the most anticipated of 2013.

anchorman

The Holy Grail of Social Media: Creating Relevant Content in Real Time

The curious thing about social media marketing is that there is no right way to do things. There’s no wrong way, either. It’s still very much the Wild West – with no Sheriff in sight.

I wrote earlier this year about the Oreo “Dunk in the Dark” tweet as the most-talked-about branding execution of the Super Bowl. This one tweet in fact amplified the conversation around “Real-Time Social Marketing” – with nearly every conference of the year including some panel discussion about the hot topic.

However, real time marketing isn’t new; we’ve just never had the tools to make it as easy as it is now. If anything, Disney recognized the power of original, brilliant real-time marketing during major events – including the Super Bowl – before social media existed. For instance, the “I’m going to Disney World!” spots, which would air immediately following national sports championships with in-game footage and jubilant cry, represents a simpler era in real time marketing. 

Times have changed, and it’s now much simpler and less expensive to create content in real time that can be buzz worthy. Yet, as brands try to insert themselves into the conversation of non-branded events, one has to ask if they should. Everything from the birth of Prince George, to the anniversary of September 11, to the finale of Breaking Bad sees brands trying to catch the lightning-in-a-bottle effect that Oreo captured in February. Such activity begs the question though: What is the exact relevance?

I’m not suggesting brands should stop, because it’s well known they won’t. Brands must, however, think about what makes sense for what it already stands for as well as its target demographic. Like PR, there is a time and place to be part of the conversation, but it shouldn’t be for every single event. For instance, Chips Ahoy tweeting about The Walking Dead just doesn’t fit in.

What might make more sense is for Hyundai, which is a sponsor for The Walking Dead, to tweet about its car and marketing campaign tied to the show. While Chips Ahoy is trying to be a part of the buzz without being an official sponsor, it doesn’t come across as an authentic, unique and relevant integration. Instead it feels like a brand forcing itself on you and, in some circumstances, embarrassing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Holy Grail of digital, social, and really all marketing/PR initiatives is to achieve the “viral” recognition – for the right reasons. So very few achieve it, and more brands achieve it for the wrong reasons.  While that doesn’t mean not to try, it needs to be an acceptance of all the varying factors that play into viral success – many of which are completely out of your control. There is no one formula for success (or failure) but with a little bit of luck, you might just pull off something amazing.  

Jason Collins and the Power of Authenticity

Sports Illustrated Cover, May 1 2013

This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic  in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.

We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement.  He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.

In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way.  It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.

The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.

His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.

Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative.  The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.

Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.

Super Bowl XLVII – Cut the Lights, Cue the Tweets

Super Bowl hype has become almost formulaic over the years. In the weeks leading up to the actual game, many marketers release their TV spots in increments online for everyone to get an early look. Then there’s the game, which always has an exhilarating halftime show. The commercials are discussed ad nauseum for days afterward. It’s clear the formula is working. This year the Bowl didn’t break its own record, but still reached the 100 million viewer threshold. The only real variable is the game itself, which was another exciting finish featuring the extremely rare voluntary safety play.

When the lights went out in the third quarter,  we reached uncharted territory; the largest event of the year was put on hold due to a power outage, and the networks, players, fans in the stands and the viewing audience were scratching our heads. Some ads like Bud Light’s Lucky Chair were run again to fill the gap. Many took to social networks.

My personal Twitter feed was full of jokes – the most common being Bane / The Dark Knight Rises references, Beyonce’s “second” performance, and crude Ray Lewis jokes – but the tweets that stood out the most were from brands.

oreo tweet

Oreo stole the show by following the brand’s “Whisper Fight” spot with a tweet that perfectly inserted their product into the immediate chaos of the blackout.  Other kudos go to Audi, PBS, and Tide. I’ll even give credit to Calvin Klein, though that Vine was for a different target audience than the one I belong to, but I digress.

While massive marketing events like the Super Bowl seem so planned out from every possible angle, the lesson learned – for PR professionals, advertisers, social media gurus, and others, is to always be ready to make the most of the unexpected and quickly adapt to the unknown. Of course,  that is much easier said than done but these brands showed us it’s possible, and can help change brand perception with just 140 characters and a mouse click.

Let the countdown for Super Bowl XLVIII begin. We hope MetLife Stadium in New Jersey can withstand the high power consumption that the Super Bowl demands.

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