Category Archives: DiGennaro Communications
This post was written by DGC’s International ACE Award winner, Senior Account Executive Megan Sweat. Recognizing her stellar work and contributions to the agency, DGC sent her to London to spend time at Advertising Week Europe and to meet with our strategic partner Eulogy!
Many people in the U.S. ad market are oblivious to Advertising Week in London, and vice versa. This year Advertising Week Europe ran from March 23-27, and compared to past ones in New York (which take place in the fall) the programming had a unique edge.
Many of the players were the same, including Publicis Groupe, Google and the IAB but the gorgeous historic venues such as St. James’s Church and outdoor settings (pictured below) gave Advertising Week Europe an entirely different feel from the New York edition.
Outdoor seating outside of the ADARA Stage
St. James’s Church in Piccadilly
Collaboration, creativity and inspiration were recurring themes throughout the week, and here are some of the highlights that stuck with us:
- When asked to leave the audience with one “astounding nugget that would blow their minds,” Steve Hatch, Director of EMEA from Facebook replied that everything in our industry “starts and ends with people.” To be successful, we as an industry need to follow people’s trends, and the customer is truly always right, he said.
- Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, predicted that marketing will become more and more about the “omnichannel” experience. With a few exceptions, he said this is still a complicated world to clients, and it hasn’t yet been mastered.
- Inter-agency collaboration and how to foster it was also top of mind. One possible solution that came out of MEC UK’s session was having a shared workspace, where a client’s different agencies could meet and work together as opposed to working in silos and trying to come together at the end.
As one panelist put it, “We tell our clients they need to co-own their brand with their customers… Now, we need to co-own our ideas with others.”
A handful of other memorable declarations over heard during the week made us laugh: (Since these are not exact quotes, I’ve removed the attribution—which didn’t include people’s titles and affiliations either)
- “Pitches are the crack cocaine of our industry – we’re all addicted to them.”
- “Is it better to follow your dreams and not make it, or make it and betray yourself along the way?”
- “Stupid people think complicated is clever. If you can’t explain it to an 11-year-old, you have failed.”
- “Be uncool. Coolness is a form of orthodoxy. Being uncool is actually a powerful creative force.”
“The first rule of building a ‘love culture,’ is to love what you do.”
Although the session’s panel descriptor was about the brain, Spence and his co-presenter Mac Brown (founder of Spur Leadership and Founding Pastor of Lake Hills Church in Austin) spent the bulk of their time talking about the heart.
They offered three rules for building what they call a “love culture” within your organization:
1) Love what you do. Spence, who built GSD&M with four partners from the ground up over the past 45 years, encouraged audience members to “create an environment where people can play to their strengths.” He relayed a story from his childhood about his struggles with spelling. After numerous C grades, he scored an A- on a term paper when he was about 14 years old. His mother remarked that while he may not ever be a great speller, but she could see that he was a great writer. Her advice? Don’t waste your time trying to be average at something you’re bad at doing, but spend every second trying to great at what you’re good at doing.
2) Hang out with people you love. “Love cultures are about people helping you, and you helping people,” said Spence. Brown added that part of loving people is accountability: “You have to operate alongside people with an established set of values. As a leader you have a greater responsibility to the group than the individual. You have to be willing to let someone go if you want to build a love culture. You have to do it for the health of everyone else. You love people when you hold them accountable.”
3) Love the impact you have on lives and communities. Brown said that any thriving organization has two things: Love and good deeds. Spence recited some of the purpose-based companies he and GSD&M have worked with over the years from Southwest Airlines to Whole Foods.
Their one common denominator? They’ve all cracked the code on creating environments where people can love what they do, be deliberate and intentional about their jobs and have license to literally change the world. To Spence and Brown, those are the ultimate markers of a “love culture.”
As the session came to a close, one woman asked Spence for his personal definition of a leader. He replied: “I’ve never called myself a leader, but I do know this…If you don’t have followers, you’re not a leader. Leaders build the ship, and they do so through love.”
The DGC team hit the ground running on Saturday morning at SXSWi with a quick stop at and an 11 a.m. deep-dive into how data will build high-performing humans. The panel featured New York Giants star wide receiver Victor Cruz and Equinox President Sarah Robb O’Hagan, joined by Michael Gervais and Mashable’s Haile Owens. We were fascinated with the panel’s discussion on how data can make even the highest achieving athletes more powerful on and off the field. One nugget we took away from the session was data and tools are great, but don’t forget about your body’s biggest source of information: your brain.
After a quick selfie with the man of the hour, our team dispersed to other sessions before gathering to prep for DGC’s first-ever #SXSWi happy hour. The team set up shop at the JW Marriott to entertain clients and friends of DGC over margaritas, chips and guacamole, and the best darn jalapeño cornbread Austin has to offer.
Day three saw us checking out some of the week’s best brand activations and experiences. We swung by Samsung’s Studio Experience, where our colleague, Sara Ajemian, made a DGC t-shirt in its design studio. While the A&E network offered up nightly stays at a faux Bates Motel to promote its series of the same name, neighboring station National Geographic took it to the extreme with a challenge to promote its new season of “Life Below Zero.” We dared to see if we had what it takes to Escape the Cold, as the promo was called, encouraged players to find clues to get out of the room in twenty minutes working with teams of 6. It was tough going – we didn’t find the key. Brands should take note for 2016 as this was an incredible way to bridge the gap between brand experience and user interaction. It tied to “life below zero” which is a show about people living in isolation in Alaska
Other panels we checked out:
– Argonaut, an agency that’s part of Project Worldwide, had two executives on a panel: Robbie Whiting, Creative Technologist, and Garrick Schmitt, digital advisor, who spoke to a packed house about “Malevolent Marketing.” Recap the conversation on Twitter with #letsbeevil.
– Deep Focus CMO Jamie Gutfreund cracked the code on Millennials at the Pandora Lounge, encouraging marketers to be smart about their consumer and audience. She was later joined on stage by Nana Menya, AVP of Investment Strategy of GE, whose talk on the mindset of music was equally intriguing.
– DDB’s Global Business Director Marina Zuber discussed art, tigers and an #EndangeredSong with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and on-the-rise band Portugal the Man.
Stay tuned for more!
If you were among the millions of viewers who watched the 57th annual Grammy Awards last night, you undoubtedly saw the :30 version of this spot from Hyundai and GreenLight Media and Marketing featuring Mark Ronson and Ziggy Marley. In voiceovers, the musicians each talked about the inspiration they derive from creative collaboration as Ronson arrives in a black Hyundai sedan to meet Marley at a recording studio.
The highly stylized ads are in support of the car maker’s partnership with The Recording Academy® and the third annual Grammy Amplifier program, an online music initiative to mentor emerging artists. Full-length versions of the work that tell deeper stories of artist and mentor collaboration can be viewed here.
GreenLight worked with Hyundai to conceive and create the program, in which Ronson will serve as the official ambassador alongside this year’s curators, including The Band Perry, Ziggy Marley and Allen Stone.
They will vet talent through online submissions and select three winners, who will be awarded one of the following prizes:
- A studio recording session with a Grammy-winning producer
- Filming and starring in their own music videos with an acclaimed director
- An opening spot for a noted musician at a music festival.
Artists began entering submissions on January 27th at GRAMMYAmplifier.com. The last day to do so is February 20th.
The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our fall intern, Jamie Kurke.
Each fall, the DGC team hosts their annual scavenger hunt. The team breaks out into teams and treks out for an afternoon running around in the Flatiron District to complete clues ranging from the mundane (Grab an AM New York) to the bizarre (Eat a chocolate turkey.) Our winning team, “The Cluesters” won a free pizza party, and the team with the best spirit, “Team Flashypants,” won a free coffee break. To see all the photos, please check our Facebook page.
With all the fun that was had, not to mention the post-Hunt happy hour, we asked our team to share highlights from our fourth annual hunt as this week’s DGC Roundtable:
Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive:
This year’s hunt brought some of our most “interesting” challenges yet. By far the most intriguing of them was taking a picture with a parking attendant (with bonus points for a minivan) and the attendant actually pulled up a random mini-van. We were a little concerned that it was someone’s vehicle, but we were more concerned about winning (we came in last place.) After the car arrived we provided a nice “thank you” and went about our way. We also spent more time looking for a chocolate turkey than anything else. I don’t think I’ve been to that many CVS/Duane Reade’s in such a short span and left empty handed. By the end, I couldn’t wait to eat that turkey.
Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator:
For me the funniest aspect of the scavenger hunt was how many people shut us down when we asked if we could get a picture of one of us walking their dogs. No one trusted us! When someone finally did let us take a picture, they still wouldn’t let go of the leash. I thought that would have been one of the easier tasks, but it was the hardest.
Kathy Sampey, Vice President:
My favorite part of the scavenger hunt (also) was trying to find a dog to walk, which was on every team’s list. Usually, there are a million dogs sauntering down the block at any given time in this area, but when we were out scavenging, there was nary a canine in sight. Finally, in Union Square Park, a woman with a gentle-looking curly haired dog handed me the leash, and the poor dog thought she was being given away. When she realized she wasn’t, she jumped up to give me a kiss.
Jamie Kurke, Intern:
For me, the best part of the scavenger hunt was just seeing the reactions from everyone we interacted with. To set the scene for you, my team was decked out in ’80s workout gear, complete with matching fluorescent pink sweatshirts. Among the most enthused to help us out were the Sleepy’s employees who couldn’t wait to have us take a picture sprawled out on a mattress and the two NYPD officers who graciously agreed to put their dinners on hold to do ‘The Mystical’ in a photo with us. Others, like the Petco employee who was trying to catch a hamster for us, were less than amused by our garb and requests, but those interactions were equally as entertaining. In the end, my team may not have won, but the experience of it all made every second of scrambling around the city worth it– and we did get recognition for being the most spirited!
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” Shakespeare wrote.
As CEO of the 35-person NY based agency, with outposts/partnerships in Los Angeles, London, Mumbai and Sydney — DiGennaro still manages a healthy balance between her work and her personal life. Sam founded her namesake PR firm, DiGennaro Communications (DGC), in 2006.
“I just haven’t given up the things I love,” DiGennaro said of about her personal life in a seaside interview at the 2014 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this past June. She told Katie Kempner, EVP/Chief Communications Officer at Cripsin Porter + Bogusky, and host of Perspectives with Katie Kempner. “I have sacred rituals and I don’t let anything get in the way of them. It keeps me centered and calm as the work week unfolds.”
DiGennaro talked about how she encourages a supportive, collegial atmosphere at her agency in which employees can spread their wings and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.
Perspectives with Katie Kempner in an inspirational online series featuring conversations with women in business and how they balance business with their personal lives given today’s “always-on” mentality.
You can check out the full interview here.
The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.
Seasonal marketing kicks into overdrive this time of year, including storefronts with skeletons and commercials for candy. That’s right, it’s Halloween! Since we’ve all been gearing up for the holiday over the last few days – and celebrating here at DGC, the question this week was:
What is your favorite Halloween marketing campaign/ promo and why?
Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive:
Cheetos launched Project TP a few years ago, which had Chester Cheetah putting “virtual TP” on houses using Google Earth. As an homage to my childhood, and the adolescent Mischief Night, I loved to see my present day house (and friend’s houses) covered in toilet paper. I even pranked my parents by sending them a “picture” of their house covered while they were traveling, and they were horrified. I guess you don’t really ever grow out of mischief.
Meg McMahon Stagaard, Account Director:
Denny’s “The Grand Slams” (created by our client Erwin Penland) has a great Halloween episode of the original web series: Food Fright, which takes a “stab” at Canadians, and no breakfast food is safe.
Kathleen Ruane, Vice President:
Crest and Oral-B serve up some fun Halloween humor in a kids’ focus group gone wrong. Costumed trick-or-treaters stage a mutiny when their candy is replaced with veggie flavored, vitamin-enhanced treats that look like candy. The only adult in the commercial soon has a mutiny on his hands as the kids reject his offerings. A nice closing reflects on the fact that nothing is more horrifying than a Halloween without candy.
I love this ad becuase the kids’ reactions are so real. Not sure what they fed those kids, but it must have been pretty awful.
Christine Perez-O’Rourke, Account Director:
Without candy there would be no Halloween. Plain and simple. As a kid we get excited about dressing up in an outlandish costume, traipsing through our neighborhood and begging strangers because of candy. And as an adult, Halloween is the one and only holiday where devouring a whole bag of Reese’s is (somewhat) acceptable. So I’m going to have to give this one to a candy brand. In particular a brand that continues to take a simple idea created a few years back and make it feel fresh, not to mention funny. My favorite Halloween marketing campaign goes to Snickers. In particular, their ‘Horseless Headsman’ spot that aired back in 2012 and has been brought back each year around this time. Because you’re not you, when you’re hungry…
Gab Berman, Account Executive:
I love the Skittles Halloween ad with the giant spider – it shows him befriending a little boy who is trying to get Skittles from the spider’s cobweb. The ad then goes on to show the two doing fun activities together and becoming best friends. The kicker is at the end when the spider says he was just kidding and actually ate the kid, I love it.
Jamie Kurke, Intern:
I have to give my vote to Chipotle. They’re bringing back their ‘Boorito’ campaign from years past, and it is awesome. Just show up (in costume) after 5 PM and any burrito, bowl, salad, or taco order is only $3.
As if I needed another excuse to dress up tonight….
Happy Halloween Everybody!
The DGC Roundtable is moderated by our Fall Intern, Jamie Kurke.
On Tuesday, Oscar de la Renta passed away. To honor his memory and the huge impact he made on millions of lives, this week’s question was:
What is your all-time favorite Oscar de la Renta piece, and why?
Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President:
The dress just screams to me ‘live life to the fullest’, which is how Oscar lived his life.
Jules Smith, HR Director:
I think this dress speaks for itself, it has true “star quality”~ it is a show stopper and a real statement piece!
It showcases his passion, creativity and spectacular talent.
I absolutely adore it!
Claire Higgins, Account Executive:
Oscar de la Renta was undoubtedly a Red Carpet icon and I’m so sad to think about not seeing new work during award season– one of my favorite seasons. One of my favorite looks was Zooey Deschanel at the 2013 Golden Globes. Such a classic, which Oscar de la Renta always managed to do. I love the cut and the flow of the skirt; it’s a perfect Red Carpet dress for me.
Much of our team (myself included) was moved by this iconic pink dress, featured in Sex and the City:
Arguably the most clichéd choice, but this pink silk, full-skirted, mid-length gown was the perfect mix of classic chic with an edgy, forward-thinking twist (and slightly more structured than many of his whimsical designs). When it hit TV screens during the final season, Oscar de la Renta’s name was permanently etched in the memory banks of SATC and fashion-lovers alike. Even a decade on, it’s a piece I still long to own.
Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator:
My favorite Oscar de la Renta piece was a dress Sarah Jessica Parker wore in an episode of Sex and the City. The dress is simple and timeless, and it didn’t matter that SJP’s character wore it to a McDonalds!
Peyton McCarthy, Account Coordinator:
Jamie Kurke, Intern:
You think Oscar de la Renta, you think this dress. It’s a beacon of style and character that an entire generation of women simultaneously swooned over. Given its cultural significance and timeless beauty, it’s no wonder that half of the office choose this piece to remember him by.
As much as the Carrie Bradshaw dress speaks to me, I think another important thing to note is that the last Oscar de la Renta crafted before his passing was Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress.
Lesson learned: If you’re going to marry George Clooney, you should probably do so wearing ODLR.