Category Archives: DiGennaro Communications
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always a frenetic and fun week for DGC and the industry. It’s a unique opportunity to bring together creative minds across the world to celebrate terrific work, focus on challenges, and how to give back to the world. As we recover from a week of hard work, lack of sleep and amazing views, we wanted to share a few takeaways.
- Business happens when you least expect it. Always be prepared to talk shop, even when you’re walking from the Carlton to the Palais on the Croisette. You never know who you’ll run into and when the conversation will turn from the quality of the rosé to solving business challenges.
- Madison Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard are intersecting more now than ever before. Much of the short and long-form content that won Lions was on-par with short films and documentaries typically generated by Hollywood studios. Branding took a backseat to storytelling – with compelling content and incredible visuals. If you didn’t know you were at the Cannes Lions, you could easily have thought you were at the Cannes Film Festival. [insert this link http://www.festival-cannes.fr/en.html]
- Be Clear. Be Honest. Words taken from the session of healthy-cooking advocate Jamie Oliver rang true throughout the week. Consumers are now more than ever attracted to brand messages that are sincere and honest.
- Know your audience. It was clear throughout the week which speakers knew their audiences and which were speaking to serve their own agendas. Facebook executive Chris Cox gave an excellent presentation that spoke to the larger issues of cultural sensitivities in communications. In one of his many examples, Cox gave advice about brand messages in India–don’t use the word “password,” he said, because while that word is such a part of the day-to-day lives of Westerners, it is entirely meaningless even to English-speaking Indians. Knowing your audience and what they need from your brand has become increasingly crucial to gaining consumer receptivity.
- Strike the right balance of work and play. There’s plenty of work to be done at Cannes – handling the press, networking, going to sessions and identifying new trends, etc. Yet, time spent with your clients and colleagues – at dinner, at drinks, on a yacht, etc. – is just as important. Loosen up a bit and take a moment to get to know the people you partner with a bit better. You’ll find that a few days in the south of France can equal a year’s worth of relationship building in the States.
- Be a better global citizen. One of the themes that resonated throughout the week was that we need to use technology to be better citizens, a message that also came through in some of the work that won big at Cannes. From the ALS Bucket Challenge and Like A Girl to Twin Souls, it was all about being more compassionate and sympathetic to one another. Monica Lewinksy, Jamie Oliver and DDB’s Amir Kassaei all spoke to how we can use our skill-set to do good.
Pharrell is “happy” by nature, not just because he wrote and sang the 2014 Oscar-nominated mega-hit but because, according to himself, he goes after what he wants. He truly embraces collaboration through creativity and is unafraid of working to get the creative mix of people he knows will win.
American TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest sat down with Pharrell at the Cannes Lions Festival on June 24 to talk about collaboration and creativity. Pharrell provided some crucial advice about bringing one’s “A” game to creative projects.
Here’s what we learned.
- Intention is essential. When Ryan asked Pharrell to give the young creatives in the audience advice, he emphasized “intention,” noting that if you are going to create something, make sure to “write some intention in there.” What is your intention for a given project? Intention should be the number one ingredient in everything that you do and, if it isn’t, consumers won’t buy into it.
- Multitasking is important. Multitasking allows you to diversify projects without “blurring the lines,” Pharrell said. It’s important to have your hand in different things to get the creative juices flowing. That said, you don’t want any crossover between your projects because it will keep them from being truly fresh and unique.
- Have a “second element.” A song isn’t great just because of the way it sounds, but because of the way that it makes you feel. Just like a movie with all great actors and no plot – you may think that you’re going to like it, but it fails by not providing consumers with the second dimension they need and crave.
- Creativity and commerce are related. Many people believe that you can’t have both, or that one relies on the other, but as Pharrell so simply put it, when you really concentrate on your creativity, it translates into commerce.
- Bottled delusion would sell millions. Pharrell noted that if you were able to bottle the delusion for greatness that many people have, it would be a wildly successful product. It’s like the people who genuinely believe they are good singers, but can’t sing a lick – it’s that sense of confidence and delusion that helps people succeed, in addition to providing a fantastic laugh.
- Adele is the master of intention.
- Tuesday, June 23, 3:30PM – 5PM: MediaLink & Adweek “Daily Dose” Programming with Ian Schafer of Deep Focus; Carlton Hotel; Sean Connery Suite 7th Floor
- Thursday, June 25,
- 2PM – 2:45PM: “Ogilvy & Inspire” Tham Khai Meng, Ogilvy & Monica Lewinsky. Grand Audi
- 2:30PM – 3:15PM: “Watson & The Future of Advertising” Saul Berman, IBM & Jerry Wind, Wharton. Experience Stage – Data Creativity
- 3:50PM – 4:20PM: “Solving the Marketer’s Latest Identity Crisis” David Jakubowski, Facebook & Julia Heiser, Live Nation NA Concerts. Inspiration Stage
- Friday, June 26 4:15PM – 5PM: “Do This Or Die” Amir Kassaei, CCO, DDB Worldwide. Debussy
There are three little words that, when improperly construed, can get an executive in a lot of trouble when talking to the media. What are they? “Off the record.”
Just exactly what does that mean? The phrase is one of the most misunderstood in journalism and is open to some degree of interpretation. As such, executives doing interviews with the press must make sure everyone at the table is crystal clear as to its meaning before any sensitive information is imparted.
The most popular definition is that it means the information a journalist is given in an interview cannot be included in the reporter’s article under any circumstances. The information is strictly for the journalist’s edification and for contextual purposes to help him/her understand the nuances of the story being reported. They can’t use it directly or indirectly. Period.
But not everyone agrees with that interpretation. Some reporters (and their editors) believe “off the record” means they can use the information as long as they don’t attribute it directly to the person who is giving it to them. In other circles, that definition falls under going “on background” with the reporter. And that opens another door that could be troublesome. If a reporter does use the information, exactly how is it attributed, and to whom?
Some reporters say “according to a source” while others might attribute the information to “a source with direct knowledge of the situation.” And that leads to another potential pitfall—what if only three or four people have “direct knowledge of the situation”? Then it becomes possible to narrow down the possible source, and that can lead to finger pointing among the people being covered in the story. And that can damage business relationships. Another scenario occurs when the information is attributed to “an agency source” or “a company source”? Again, that can lead to the source being narrowed down and more easily identified.
The best course of action is to make the rules of engagement perfectly clear from the outset. If at any point in the interview a reporter asks to go off the record, or if the person being interview decides it’s best to go off the record for whatever reason, make sure each party defines the term immediately. If it is agreed that the information can be used, then both parties also must decide exactly how it will be attributed.
One final, crucial tip–always remember that all these negotiations must take place before any delicate information is given to a journalist. It’s exceedingly bad form and totally unfair to give a reporter an important piece of information and then tell him/her it’s off the record after the fact. That’s not the way the game is played and it’s the mark of a rank amateur.
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.