Author Archives: Kelsey Merkel

Paris Smog Is Breathtaking. Really. Breathtaking.

This post was written by DGC’s 2015 Rising Star, Account Director Kelsey Merkel. Recognizing her stellar work and contriubtions to the agency, Kelsey was sent by DGC to London to spend time with our strategic partner Eulogy!

Paris is known as the City of Lights but these days it’s hard to see anything through the smog of pollution.

The weather apps on our phones told us it was sunny, but we couldn’t see the sun. The view from atop the Eiffel Tower was limited to say the least. On Saturday, the city’s pollution index hit seven (out of a possible 10), a number considered dangerous, according to AirParis, which monitors smog levels for the French government.

My colleague, Megan Sweat, and I were in Paris this past weekend, before heading to London to spend a work week at our sister agency, Eulogy! and attend Advertising Week Europe.

Exploring all the sights, sounds and smells that Paris had to offer was amazing. Reality hit when we tried to board the Paris metro from the Champs Elysees and couldn’t figure out how to use our cards (despite having done so multiple times before). After several attempts to pay to ride the metro, we learned that underground transportation was free for all passengers for the weekend.

Why? Pollution.

On Friday afternoon, French officials declared an emergency ban on most cars to curb heavy pollution and the overwhelming gray smog that covered the city for days. By Monday, cars carrying three or more passengers, those with odd-number license plates, and “clean” or hybrid cars were permitted, and all had to observe a 20km speed limit.  Public transit became the best alternative.

Social media played a roll in the decision as the ban sparked a political debate between the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and the socialist ecology minister – much of it carried out on social networks. While the ecology minister did end up agreeing to a ban, he made sure to accuse Hidalgo of failing to have a “real transport policy” to deal with the pollution problem.

After the ban was implemented, Hidalgo tweeted on Monday that traffic already was down by around 40 percent. This was only the third time since 1997 the city authorities have resorted to such emergency measures.

Needless to say it was an interesting few days to be in Paris for the first time, but Megan and I didn’t particularly mind saving on our metro fare this weekend.

Stay tuned for highlights from our week in London!

America’s Fear: Public Speaking and Teleprompter #FAILS

It’s awards and event season in the entertainment industry. There is plenty to talk about, especially when it’s the “talks” themselves that we are buzzing about.

Earlier this month at the “Golden Globes,” actors Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie were put in the hot seat when the teleprompter wasn’t working. A month earlier, movie director Michael Bay found himself sans teleprompter assistance during a Samsung presentation at CES. In each situation, technology failed the speakers – leaving them struggling and panicking in front of a live audience around the world.

Jonah and Margot handled the situation with honesty and poise – briefly explaining the delay/mix-up and how the teleprompter was out of order. Luckily, someone rushed from off stage and handed them paper notes to pull them through.

Bay, on the other hand, had no back-up plan. His presentation was long, and it looked as if he hadn’t memorized even one line of his speech. Flummoxed, he at first attempted to “wing it” but ended up walking off the stage – frustrated and undeniably embarrassed. During the “Golden Globes,” co-host Tina Fey even mocked the CES incident.

Public speaking is not easy for most people, and it definitely doesn’t help when the one thing you thought you could rely on (aka the teleprompter) goes completely out of whack.

But what can we learn from these situations? There are some easy tips to keep in mind when preparing for and getting up in front of a crowd for a big presentation:

  • Confidence: You have been chosen as a speaker for a reason, so make sure that you exert confidence during your presentation. Be honest with your audience regarding any snafus, but don’t let that sway your speech by any means.
  • Focus: Know your subject matter. Don’t go over the top with apologies for what you don’t have with you to present or what you do not know. Rather, focus on what you can in fact speak to and discuss that material with poise.
  • Body Language: Stay upright. No crouching or nervous pacing. Open up and engage with your audience. Show enthusiasm!
  • Keep Simple Notes: It is ok to have back up note cards to get through your presentation should electronics fail you. However, avoid using notes as a crutch. Remember, keywords work best as thought starters so that you don’t sound overly scripted or are stuck looking down at a paper throughout the entire speech.
  • Rehearse: The best way to succeed at any task is to prepare for it. Rehearse your speech as much as you can — in front of the mirror and/or friends and colleagues. Knowing the material very well will calm nerves and give you some confidence so that very few unexpected interruptions or tech fails will rattle you.

And last but not least… breathe deeply, take a sip of water, and face that fear!

The Piano Man Has an MSG State of Mind

Piano Man Billy Joel, in looking to re-connect with his fans,  grabbed headlines by announcing he will return to the stage at the famous Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York City – not just once or twice – but once a month, indefinitely.

Single-artist residencies are a fairly common Las Vegas staple. For decades, big names like Elton John, Rod Stewart and most recently, Britney Spears, have been known to sign deals with Vegas casinos for extended engagements — and Woody Allen famously plays clarinet with a band at The Carlyle in Manhattan. But this is the first time that a major artist has announced such an ongoing large-scale gig.

With a new logo already in tow next to the long time sports franchises, MSG is gearing up for its first-ever music franchise in high spirits. So what does this mean for the Garden?

The Good: While big-name musicians have performed at the venue since the beginning of time, actually partnering with a single artist hasn’t been done. While the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty cover off on steady cash flow almost year-round, Joel will fill the musical artist gap and potentially combat any competition from other venues.

The Bad: Single-artist residencies have solely existed in the gambling land to this point. Is the Big Apple the appropriate marketplace, and is Joel the right guinea pig for MSG? Will the Bronx, NY native reach his target audience better in NY or Vegas? Only time will tell.

The Not So Ugly: This could be the start of a great collaboration for the Garden, for NYC and for Joel, whose top songs include “New York State of Mind,” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”  It could be the start of a new trend where artists and venues follow suit and NYC becomes an even greater hub for musical talent with extended engagement deals.

The new franchise, “Billy Joel at the Garden,” kicks off January 27, 2014 and has plans to continue each month as long as there is demand.

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