Author Archives: Patrick Wentling

Trumping the Media

Regardless of your political beliefs, Donald Trump is unlike any “politician” in recent memory. He’s never been one to pull verbal punches, which is why I say “politician” in quotes, because he’s far from your stereotypical elected representative.  From his racist terms against certain demographic groups and objectifying phrases towards women, it’s no secret Trump doesn’t hold back. His most recent contretemps came when he had Univision reporter Jorge Ramos ejected from a press conference.

From a PR agency’s perspective, the Donald’s approach is a nightmare. While being “politically correct” is not Trump’s MO, it should be for the rest of normal human society, and Trump’s style and approach are definitely not the way a potential President should behave. To make matters even worse, many of his remarks are not supported by facts, which make them even more outlandish. His comments towards women are uncalled for, and he’s leaving a wide trail of very angry people – and media stations – in his wake.

donald time magazineThat said, his approach has led to a media craze, including the cover of Time this week. What was once a circus now has to be taken more seriously. It’s a unique stance that, from a purely objective angle, is refreshing, considering the election is more than twelve months away. It’s provided some buzz in the dog days of summer, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, the news media can’t get enough, and I’m sure the funny folks at Saturday Night Live hope Trump mania continues for their upcoming season. We’ll be following Trump over the next year to keep up with his words – and media buzz – and be sure to share our thoughts here on The Hit Board.

To PR a ‘Mockingbird’

Today’s release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s second book following the American staple of  literature To Kill a Mockingbird, signifies a landmark in a widely considered “dying” industry of book publishing. In the book world, this “new” novel is comparable to any hit summer blockbuster movie.

Underneath the fans’ passion lies a heap of controversy and ethical question marks. Among them are concerns over Harper Lee’s health and whether she actually agreed to publish this book, years after vowing to never publish again. Lots of Lee’s close friends point the finger at her lawyer, Tonja Carter, citing she’s taking advantage of Lee in her old age. In a savvy PR move, Carter provided her story in an op-ed to the Wall Street Jounal of how Watchman went from being stuck in a safety deposit box to being made available to millions of excited fans today.

The public may never know the true story behind Lee’s change of heart or if Carter is telling the truth, but we recognize a valiant effort by Carter to take control of her message in hopes to set the record straight.

With summer season upon us, it’s always a great time to catch up on a new book. Our colleagues are voraciously consuming new, non-fiction, best sellers and best-beloved books.

If you’re looking for a good book to while away the hours until Labor Day and beyond, you might find some inspiration here:

 Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf 2013)

Kendra says, “Americanah covers race, relationships and identity. It pulls you into the politically complex world of Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century and the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. It takes an interesting approach to storytelling that is direct, but still descriptive. You feel the energy and emotion of the characters and fall in love with their process of discovery. My sister made the recommendation and gave me her copy of the book. She thought I’d enjoy it.”

Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (Doubleday 2015)

Maryliz says, “Krakauer reports on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. He shares the stories of the victims, the accused and law enforcement in a beautiful narrative that brings to life this serious issue. This isn’t an ‘easy’ summer read but anything Krakauer writes is brilliant. He’s an amazing storyteller, even when he’s reporting on such a tough subject. He draws you in, makes you question everything and leaves you wanting more.  This book was recommended for me on GoodReads.”

Theresa Piti, Office Manager

1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Knopf 2011)

From the cover blurb: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —‘Q is for ‘question mark.’”

Theresa says, “It’s a dual narrative story and as of yet, I’m not sure where it will converge. I’m a fan of Japanese fiction. A friend recommended it and off I went.”

Scott Berwitz, Vice President

Inferno, Dan Brown (Doubleday 2013)

Scott says the book involves “a famed Harvard professor who wakes up in a strange hospital after having survived an attempt on his life.  He has to make sense of his predicament while being hunted down by his would-be killers – a task made ever more difficult by the short-term amnesia he suffers from the attack.  What results is a fascinating journey through Florence and the underworld depicted in Dante’s Inferno. It’s sort of a cerebral thrill ride, a really exciting read. I’ve loved other books by this author such as, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Claire Higgins, Account Executive

The World According to Garp, John Irving (1978, republished 1999 by Ballantine)

This story chronicles the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist, following him from infancy through all the pivotal moments in his life.  Claire says, “It’s very long, and a little long-winded, but John Irving is a favorite of mine so I had to pick it up and am determined to finish it. Once I hit the most climatic moment in the story, I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s very realistic, heartbreaking at times, and dryly and subtly funny, which I like. I liked John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (William Morrow 1989), but both were recommended to me by my aunt and grandma. Irving is a fave of theirs, too.”

DGC Roundtable: Taylor Swift Versus Spotify

The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our fall intern, Jamie Kurke.

It’s no secret that Taylor Swift has been the hottest artist on the planet (and DGC favorite) since she released her smash single “Shake It Off” near the end of the summer. Between the highly anticipated new album, upcoming tour, and overall Taylor-mania, she’s run an effective launch strategy to keep herself in the news — and this time it has nothing to do with ex-boyfriends.

The big headline of the week was Taylor’s abrupt decision to pull her entire music catalog from Spotify, one of the popular streaming services. There’s been several theories and reactions for why, but nothing definite from her camp.

With that in mind, our question this week was:

After Taylor Swift pulled her entire music catalog from Spotify, what are the implications for the industry – from Spotify’s response, Taylor’s reputation, and the future of digital music distribution?

Erin Donahue Tice, Vice President, Group Account Director

taylor-swift-jkl-2014-billboard-650-01Taylor can do no wrong, especially when it comes to knowing her own personal brand, and how to connect with her fans. She’s a savvy marketer with strong PR inclinations, and her choice to pull her entire catalogue from Spotify is only causing more intrigue and excitement around her new album, which will in turn drum up sales. Much like Beyonce’s decision to release her new album last year on itunes without any pre-publicity, Taylor is at a level in her career where she can do what she wants, on her own terms. There are a multitude of ways to get music in the hands of consumers these days, and by omitting her songs from Spotify, Taylor isn’t hurting her career; if anything, she’s breeding more “Swifties” who love her sense of honesty and integrity, and will pay whatever it costs to hear her tunes.

Sara Ajemian, Account Director

Taylor’s not the first to buck the trend and make her own rules (hello, Beyoncé). Removing her music catalog off of Spotify will have no negative impact on her career. Clearly she’s doing something right: 1989 went instantly platinum. I think more artists are going to follow in her footsteps, but only if they can afford to.

Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive

This comes down to an art versus distribution conversation which is anything but apples to apples.  Music is an art form, and digital distribution platforms like Spotify have devalued that art but provided it on a grander scale. It’s a debate that has valid arguments on both sides. In this case, Taylor has to do what’s best for her. It’s not going to hurt her or Spotify. She’s one of the few artists who can rise above it. For digital distribution’s sake, I do hope there is a conversation on fair pay for artists who spend their time developing the music we love. In the meantime, Taylor’s just gonna shake.

Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator

I think that Taylor Swift pulling all of her albums from Spotify could have interesting implications for the music industry. However, I don’t think that it’s the end of the world for Spotify.  I think Spotify means different things to artists on different levels.  For an artist not as well-known as Taylor, Spotify could be an opportunity to get their name out there and get exposure to people they may not initially be able to reach.  It will be interesting to see what implications Taylor Swift’s decision has as new albums from bigger acts come out and to see whether or not more artists follow suit.

Jamie Kurke, Intern

My visceral reaction of this whole situation is how brazen it is on TSwift’s part. Spotify is, in my mind at least, in the top tier of music streaming services and it seems to be a huge snuff on her part to declare that she doesn’t need or want them. Furthermore, I’m sure there are plenty of enraged fans out there that now have to choose between their go-to music app and their favorite It-Girl. That said, however, it could prove to work marketing wonders for Taylor. She’s always been vocal about her independence and makes a big deal about having gained fame all on her own; this is certainly a power move that pushes out that message even further. Hopefully, her fans will remain loyal and respect her choice, Spotify will continue to be respectful and graceful about their loss, and balance can remain intact in the music biz.

AWXI: Authentic Storytelling with Data

Day one at Advertising Week saw a consistent theme from the advertisers that descended upon New York City. The kickoff keynote panel was moderated by WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell with executives from Live Nation, Amazon CBS, and ESPN to talk about data, storytelling, distribution and more.

“Consumers don’t think about branded content, they ask if it changed the experience for them,” said Russell Wallach, President of Live Nation’s Media & Sponsorship division. “They feel good about brands that enhance experiences for them.”

Mr. Sorrell pushed the panelists to discuss how they work with data and agencies. Most everyone on the panel agreed that first party data was their primary resource for talking to marketers, but agencies had an unusual role in the middle.

“We see that our agencies tell different things, so it can be hard for us to understand exactly what is going on. Some of our longest partnerships, the ones that have gone on for years, have been direct with the brand’s marketing team,” said Wallach.

A panel later in the day hosted by DDB focused on how to build an influential brand, and the panel continued the morning’s session with a focus on data.

“We’ve almost become data poets,” said Nancy Hill, CEO of the 4A’s. “We take the data that we want and use it to tell stories to our audiences.”

“Brands need to understand the influence they can bring and make a long-term commitment,” said Jeremy Levine, SVP of Digital Sales at Live Nation. “To market with music, they need to be in for the long haul, not a one-off event. We have the data to help that partnership”

Much credit was given to Omnicom agency sparks & honey for hosting daily “culture briefs” that look at the pulse of the conversation by consumers, with an eye towards social media trends.

“You have to have a fluid strategy with an ear to the ground, because things change so rapidly and you need to be ready,” said DDB President Mark O’Brien.

Several hiccups from brand’s real time social campaigns were discussed and the agreement was that global brands want to have an influence everywhere, but they must feel authentic.

“Global brand, local touch,” said Hill.

Financial Times Future of Marketing – Millennials, Music, and Data

Russell Wallach, President of Media and Sponsorship at Live Nation, spoke on how the world’s largest live-entertainment company uses data to reach consumers at the second annual Financial Times Future of Marketing Conference on Sept. 17, which brought together executives across a variety of industries.

“The journey of the fan experience, from ticket purchase to the end of the show months later, can be improved by data, and fans welcome anything they can to enhance those moments,” said Wallach.

And what is the future of marketing? The answer is Millennials, known as the most “social” generation ever because of their global, digital connectedness. Many agreed that music is at the intersection of marketing to this group.

“We have first party data from our over 200million-plus user database,” said Wallach. “So that presents a great opportunity for our brand and agency partners to develop unique properties.”

Wallach listed examples that included a recent investment in electronic dance music (EDM) by 7Up to target millennials and Hispanics and working with Kellogg’s to create a summer concert series targeted towards tweens.

To close out the day, Bruce Flohr, co-founder of GreenLight Media & Marketing, sat down with Marc Roberge, lead singer of O.A.R. to talk about how they market themselves to brands. “Music is worthless, yet everyone loves music,” said Flohr. “Everyone walks around with earbuds on, you can’t escape it, but the music has no tangible value.”

“The U2 deal with Apple really put the nail in the coffin for selling albums and completely devalues music,” said Roberge. “We now look for brands who want to partner with us. We want to understand why a brand chose us, and make sure it fits for everyone involved.”

Everyone agreed that the future for marketing is bright but cluttered as brands try to navigate every channel to reach their audience.

Ice Cold: Ice Bucket Challenge Needs More Heat

It’s always news when a piece of content goes viral but in the case of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” we’re happy to report that dumping a bucket of ice on your head is all for a good cause. The idea is simple: Pour a bucket of ice on your head and have someone video tape it; post the content to the web (preferably a social-media channel), and then challenge up to three friends to do the same within 24 hours. If they do not, they must donate $100 to “Strikeout ALS.” ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s Disease.

If you haven’t seen videos on your newsfeed, you likely will soon. Or simply search #icebucketchallenge on Twitter. It’s been everywhere as of late, including the Today Show. This week I found five different “Challenge” videos on my Facebook newsfeed from one day.

The origins of the movement are unclear, but there is no doubt that it has caught on quickly, seemingly achieving social media success without proper PR support or a formal marketing campaign.

As communications professionals, we see a missed opportunity for a brand or research organization to really own the program.  What would make sense is a unifying site where these “ice droppers” could share their videos and encourage donations directly on the site. Movember’s site is a great example of a social movement site done right.

Without that central support and core message, the viral sensation – while for a good cause – feels misguided. Is the objective to dump ice on your head (and get those ego-boosting “likes” at the same time) or to truly encourage donations? Many of the videos I’ve seen lack that link to a site to donate.

In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to ALS without dumping ice on your head, please click here.


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.



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.


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