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AdAge Digital Day One: Viewability, Humanity, #failing

 The 9th Ad Age Digital Conference kicked off today in New York with a packed first day lineup. Some of the hot topics addressed today included viewability, humanity, and failing.

The morning’s first discussion between Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital officer at GroupM and Lisa Valentino, SVP, Digital Sales at Conde Nast, surprised some in the audience when the two executives vaguely discussed the terms of a recent deal where Conde Nast agreed to only charge GroupM’s clients for ads that were guaranteed to be viewed by consumers. While 100% viewability is never a guarantee, the two partners stressed that they reached an acceptable & agreed upon viewability level for their ad units.

The afternoon panel “The Story Makers” talked about the evolution of storytelling to storymaking – where consumers work with brands to create the story. Hirschhorn stated that it can be much less risky for brands to enter stories already being told rather than create one of their own.  Anne Lewnes, SVP and CMO of Adobe, showed an inspiring video celebrating Adobe Photoshop’s 25 year anniversary wholly created with user-generated imagery and exhorts viewers to “Dream On.”

We loved the “Fail Fast Forward” series of 10 minute vignettes, that highlighted a “fail” moment, the learning, and what was implemented to “fix” things. Meredith Kopit Levien, EVP, Advertising, New York Times, led with the story of a 161-year old article in the Times about Solomon Northup, aligned with the release of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, and a subsequent Gawker piece entitled “This Is the 161-Year-Old New York Times Article About 12 Years a Slave  that performed way, way better than the Times piece about the original article.


The three actions the Times took? One was to “defy the gravity of tradition”, by embracing the notion that finding the audience is just as important as the story itself — Alexandra MacCallum was recently appointed to audience development and there is now a “masthead level” or leadership-level focus on finding the right audience. Two was to “Invent new ways to create value” which spurred the creation of T-Brand Studio and the Times’ entrance into the branded content biz, continuing striving to create content that makes people feel things, regardless of whether it is paid or not. Number 3. is to “never lose sight of what got us there in the first place” summed up with two simple words: Quality. Storytelling.

Our favorite quotable from the “Moving at the Speed of Culture” interview with Beats by Dre’s Omar Johnson: Jimmy Iovine said to me one day “What’s a SWAT? Your job is to sell headphones, right?” We had to work at a speed that most brands don’t have to. And they live it every day – Beats agency, R/GA, has to present every idea on one slide. Love this challenge!

Atlas’ Jennifer Kattula wrapped the day eloquently with “Five Things Marketers Ought to Know,” challenging us to move on from the Four Ps from Philip Kotler’s 1967 book Marketing Management, to the 4 Cs…. from Product to Choice, Price to Convenience, Place to Cross-Device, and Promotion to Creative Sequencing. Some compelling stats within, including touting the cookie’s demise and how people-based marketing is more effective for reaching the right people at the right time – something that digital marketers have a responsibility to aim higher on.

Super Bowl XLIV Preview: The Biggest Event of the Year

This year, the high holy day of American sports falls on Feb. 1, with kick off set for 6:30 p.m., ET as the Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

An estimated television audience of 112 million will include a significant number of non-sports fans who are most interested in the commercials, for which NBC sold air time at a record $4.5 million per 30-second spot.

Here at DGC, we revel in all of it: The game, the parties, the commercials, the half-time show, the real-time marketing moments, social media, the second screen, the entire omni-channel experience and, of course, the PR opportunities that abound.

DGC staffers want all of our clients to win, but some have taken sides regarding the two teams that will actually play the game. Click on the video to find who they’re rooting for and why.

Say “No Mas!” To Segmenting Your PR Strategy

Most marketers are paying attention to multicultural audiences and, in particular, U.S. Hispanics. No wonder: with 131 Hispanic babies born every hour into a population that represents $1.2 trillion in purchasing power, Hispanics are an important consumer group for companies to reach.

Companies are being urged to incorporate a “total market approach” meaning they should consider a cross-cultural approach to marketing – one that taps into universal truths, rather than specific ethnic groups. In theory, if this approach is deployed correctly, it allows organizations to influence and reach all consumers – not just one segment of the population. However, what many do not realize is that even if your company employs a total market approach, your strategy can fall apart once it’s turned over to PR.

If you are utilizing a total market approach, your PR strategies must be aligned. Here are tips to ensure you’re covering all bases:

  • Understand the audience: The majority of Hispanics, specifically millennial Hispanics, consider themselves “ambicultural” – meaning they feel 100% Latino and 100% American and are easily able to switch from one culture to another. This cultural duality creates an appetite for all things Hispanic. Total market PR campaigns and communications should be culturally relevant and reflective of this Latino-American life. A reminder to stay devoid of stereotypes and sensitivities by doing research beforehand.
  • Get your PR teams talking: If you represent a large organization or brand, you most likely have two PR agencies or teams – one exclusively handling your multicultural outreach that works within its own silo. If you are managing multiple PR agencies, make sure teams are coordinated and utilize a cross-cultural strategy. Total market PR campaigns that share a common cultural thread – a Hispanic spokesperson or a nod to a Hispanic passion point (e.g., multi-generational families, Latin-inspired music or food) can prove to be more effective with all audiences – not just Hispanics.
  • Reach your audience where it consumes content: The media industry now includes more than 100 networks dedicated to Hispanic programming – with hundreds upon hundreds of print, radio and online media outlets targeted to this audience. Don’t exclude media outlets that may only target Spanish-speaking Hispanics or similarly, English-speaking consumers, in general. A lot of Hispanics consume content in both languages so it’s likely to have more of an impact if you get your message in both.

It’s also important to know that Hispanics watch 62 percent more digital video than non-Hispanics – about six hours of video per month on their mobile phones according to Nielsen. And according to eMarketer, 72 percent of Hispanic Internet users will use social networking in 2014 vs. 68 percent of the total population. For these ultra-engaged Hispanics, digital and social media offer an immediate way to start a fruitful dialogue.

Successful PR lasts beyond a campaign or project. Similarly, total market PR initiatives should be consistent and continuous with audiences. Look beyond short-term ROI and consider engaging Hispanics with long-term communications. Known for their considerable loyalty to brands, this will prove worthwhile in the end.

Food for Thought: How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

When it comes to reaching a mass audience, TV is the undisputed king of all media (sorry, Howard Stern). Or is it? In this column, originally published in Adweek, Radha Subramanyam of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment demonstrates how radio delivers not only reach, but receptivity and the sense of community consumers want. Read on for insights on how marketers can create Super Bowl-style results with the original social medium:

How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

Look to radio for reach, receptivity and community By Radha Subramanyam

Football fans around the country geared up for weeks before last Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers and their opposing coaches—brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, who took sibling rivalry to new heights.

The big game did not disappoint.

From the power outage to the 49ers mounting an almost-comeback to that electric Beyoncé performance—there was no shortage of drama. And the commercials were no exception.

For marketers, advertising during the Super Bowl is a once-a-year moment of unprecedented reach and consumer attention. Never does advertising have a more captive audience. But most brands can’t afford the $3.8 million it takes to buy just a 30-second spot. What’s more, everyday TV buys don’t come close to generating the awareness of a Super Bowl spot—and in fact, can be a fumble for brands.

The magic of the Super Bowl ad spectacle is that rare alchemy of reach, receptivity and community. Don’t underestimate the power of community; at a time when we are more plugged in than ever through email, Twitter and Facebook, what many of us actually yearn for is to feel really connected. That’s the feeling we get when we’re sitting around the living room with family and friends, engaged in a common experience—like the Super Bowl. But if you want to achieve Super Bowl-sized results all year, radio is the only medium that delivers a Super Bowl kind of reach, receptivity and community year round.

To read the full column, click here.

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.

Truth and Privacy in Advertising – Is it ‘Mission: Impossible?’


As the advertising world continues to collide with the digital age, issues of consumer privacy and truthfulness in marketing are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These were the topics addressed in an Advertising Week event Thursday evening hosted by MediaCom, Davis & Gilbert LLP, and Idevoita at the Liberty Theater in New York.

Following an introduction by MediaCom U.S. CEO Sasha Savic, Jonathan Salem Baskin – who co-authored the newly-published Tell The Truth with MediaCom’s own Sue Unerman – shared his views on the relationship between transparency, purchaser data, and the emergence of “brand truth” as a basis for effective customer relationships. He discussed why it is so important for brands to be honest and forthcoming with consumers, especially in today’s world where brands don’t only talk TO consumers, but also WITH them via social channels. The consumer has more power now than ever before, and advertisers can use this as an asset when they correctly – and honestly – engage with the buying public.

Also part of the presentation was a conversation between Ronald Urbach, Chairman of the law firm Davis & Gilbert, and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill. They addressed a wide range of topics critical to the advertising industry, from privacy to data collection and security, citing specific examples and particular responsibilities of the government agency.

The packed theater was addressed by the real life Frank Abagnale, who was famously portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the big screen classic “Catch Me If You Can.” Abignale told his life story from teenage runaway turned identity thief to convicted criminal and FBI informant and academy instructor.

Following the event was a cocktail reception at Lucille’s (inside B.B. King’s Blues Club) sponsored by MediaCom and Evidon.

What do you think are the biggest issues regarding privacy and advertising? What brands do you think “tell the truth” the best? Or the worst? Share your thoughts below.

DGC Rewind

This is the first in a series titled “DGC Rewind”, pioneered and written by our summer intern, Julia Tomasek.

Before finding our niches in the whirlwind world of PR, many of us here at DGC have experienced an array of previous jobs that were interesting, unexpected, and even humorous, helping to enrich our already effervescent office environment.

By digging into the past employment of my fellow coworkers, I aim to showcase the diverse pool of characters we have working here at DiGennaro Communications. The “DGC Rewind” blog series will introduce readers to the multi-faceted experiences of my coworkers that shaped the unique, hard-working individuals they are today.

DGC founder Sam DiGennaro (aka Sammy D) used to spend her college summers supervising rowdy kids as well as manning a mini-bus to transport them to and from “the world’s best day camp.” A favorite among campers and counselors alike, Sam had patience and bottomless energy, two traits that won her the “Counselor of the Year” title at the camp.

Sam’s “celebrity” status at the camp even landed her a spot in their national commercial, where she was shown directing her troops into the mini-bus she drove, transporting them to a typical fun-filled day at camp. (See video at 0:09).

DGC’s President, Howard Schacter, also has a noteworthy occupational past. In the mid-90’s, Howard’s sports-marketing/PR job sent him on a month-long journey to the Maui Invitational NCAA Basketball Tournament–all expenses paid. It was an ideal trip for the self-proclaimed basketball junkie, providing Howard the opportunity to meet some of his favorite players and coaches like Dean Smith and Bob Knight.


Above, DGC’s Howard Schacter presides over a press conference with University of North Carolina’s Coach Dean Smith and guard Jeff MacInnis at the 1995 NCAA Maui Invitational.

However, the saying “work hard, play hard” definitely resonates here, as Howard and his colleagues were responsible for transforming Chaminade University’s small-scale recreation center into a major venue to facilitate media coverage and relations for the 75 press who attended the event. Howard’s experience with this sports-marketing firm is reflective of DGC’s brand message that working hard does not necessarily have to be painful. It can be fun, too.

The Hunger Games Teaches Us That Timing Really Is Everything

I’ll be honest with you: I think I made my way through all three books of The Hunger Games series in less than a week. So, when the studio slowly started releasing images and interactive web sites associated with the first movie, I was in the loop and sharing the content with my friends. We were so excited about all the hype surrounding the movie that we even went to see it at midnight when it opened, and we were not disappointed—or ashamed. Maybe we should have been. (Although the most embarrassing part of the whole experience was this completely ridiculous teaser for the final movie of the Twilight Saga.)

You didn’t have to be an advertising industry expert to see how Lionsgate slowly built hysteria around The Hunger Games. The whole thing was like a scavenger hunt, giving Hunger Games fanatics the opportunity to interact with the series directly through traditional and non-traditional media, and build a connection with the movie before it even opened.

And to great success. The Hunger Games was predicted to make $90 million during its opening weekend—it raked in $155 million.

It goes without saying that the real star of The Hunger Games movie wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence or the incredibly good-looking Liam Hemsworth—it was the social marketing push, which the New York Times’ Brooks Barnes sums up nicely in this article about how the franchise generated “must-see fever.” What brands can learn from The Hunger Games is that the more subtle, phased approach builds suspense and drives interest in a product—even if the audience already knows the story. By serving products up piece-by-piece, brands make fans feel like they discovered them on their own. It is that sense of ownership that builds true loyalty, and in return, a record-breaking opening weekend.

So, when you’re working on your next campaign, think about the who, what and where—but also think about the when. Knowing the best time to reach your audience is what will get you ahead in the game.

How Much Have We Really Changed?

In the weeks leading up to the season premier of AMC’s Mad Men, various business publications had a field day showcasing the sexist ads of earlier eras.

As astonishing as some of them are, it’s legitimate to ask just how much society and the industry have evolved, especially when you consider that the percentage of women comprising the advertising workforce has remained flat—holding at 55 percent since 1982, the earliest available data from the 4A’s.

Belvedere vodka recently ran an online ad that was suggestive of an attempted rape.  A steakhouse in Georgia thought it was funny to post on Facebook the name of one of its sandwiches—the Caribbean black and bleu–in honor of Chris Brown and singer Rihanna. And who could forget last year’s Chapstick ad?

In all three instances, the ads went viral, not because people thought them clever, but because consumers wanted to express anger and disgust at words and images that were demeaning or made light of violence against women.

Even though the companies apologized for the ads, it’s tempting to lament that societal attitudes about these issues haven’t changed much. However, the speed with which consumers can and do shame brands on social media regarding questionable messages gives us reason to hope.

Book PR in a Digital World

Sometimes when you attend a panel here at SXSW, you wind up hearing a topline conversation of things you already know and not a deeper dive into things that you really want to know. Discoverability and the New World of Book PR offered a refreshing instance of the latter with a variety of tips for today’s authors.

While the discussion on the changing media landscape, use of social media and basic pitching were things we know and practice, Rusty Shelton and Barbara Henricks – book PR specialists – made it clear that timing and access are critical to success in this digital world (sounds familiar).

With fewer reporters and publications, authors need to begin the process earlier and earlier to build proper momentum and enhance success after a book is published. A bottom up approach – starting with social media and working your way to top-tier broadcast — while seemingly slow at first can have greater impact than an initial hit or two.

To kick-start your book marketing journey and enhance PR efforts, consider the following:

Timing: Start talking up your book as soon as you have a title and topic. This will help gather interest from your inner network of respected friends, family and associates to get the buzz started. Waiting until the last minute will put you behind the eight ball when it comes to securing more traditional coverage.

Social Media: Begin talking about your book or topics closely related to it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog and with bloggers to share your expertise and engage with potential readers. Once the book is available for review, these supporters will be the first to offer a positive review and start spreading the love. And don’t feel like any outlet is too small – optimization is your best friend — so take advantage of those blog opportunities.

Video: Don’t have the time necessary to dedicateto social media? Start small with an hour per week and progress from there. In the meantime, create a video for your website that allows visitors to visualize you as an author and engage based upon your passion and expertise (not to mention help with broadcast pitching efforts).

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to write a good book; it’s up to you, your community and PR team to help make it a best seller. With the proper timing, community and tools in place, this can be a reality.


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