Author Archives: the HIT board

Advertising Week is Here Again…

It can be all too easy to lose sight of the big picture in our “have to,” ultra-packed, always-connected day-to-day workflow that has the power to both energize and tire out the average advertising executive.  Where is the industry going? What are the key issues that are re-shaping the business?

Enter Advertising Week, the industry’s once-a-year, week-long event that brings together the brightest minds from brands, agencies, tech companies, startups, etc. to take that much-needed step back and have the broader, high-level conversations that are as needed as they are rare. Next week kicks off the 12th Advertising Week, and it will no doubt continue to spark the exciting conversations and ideas that have made it the coveted tent pole industry event it has become.

As always, DGC will be on-site, supporting a vast array of clients at this year’s festivities and tweeting, Instagram-ing, Facebooking and Hit-Boarding (read: blogging) about the most exciting news and insights offered by this year’s incredible roster of speakers – which includes Sir Martin Sorrell, Gloria Estefan, Elizabeth Vargas and Ryan Seacrest, to name just a few.

Here are some of the sessions we will be attending:

  • Do Brands Still Matter — Monday, 10:00am at the Liberty Theater
  • Capitalizing on Mobile Video — Monday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • Breaking Down Social and Mobile — Monday, 2:05pm at the Grand Hyatt New York
  • Connecting in a Mobile World: A Conversation with Sheryl Sandberg — Tuesday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • Frito Lay: The Intersection of Marketing & Technology — Tuesday, 10:15am at Liberty Theater
  • People, Not Pages: What Does “Buying Audiences” Mean for Media and Marketers — Tuesday, 2:00pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion
  • Stories of Creative Invention — Tuesday, 3:00pm at B.B. King
  • Getting Away: Inside the Vacation Mentality — Wednesday, 3:00pm at B.B. King
  • Are We On Target?: Making The Most Of Mobile’s Unique Power — Thursday, 9:15am at the Metropolitan Pavilion
  • The Instagram Effect — Thursday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • WIRED CMOs — Thursday, 12:00pm at the NASDAQ
  • Two Start-Ups, One Mission — Thursday, 4:30pm at Times Center Hall

Please find our take on the most compelling insights on news on the DGC Hit Board, as well as on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram feeds!

SUMMER DAYS, DRIFTING AWAY…

Party’s over.  Such is the sentiment of many people this time of year.  As we kick off the first official day of fall, our fun-in-the-sun vacations, weekend shares/getaways come to a close.  For me personally, the moment my Mom starts talking about the Jewish holidays and all the kugels that go along with them, I know it’s back to the grind for me. Oy vey.

So, I’m taking a new line on the beginning of fall – and giving you five reasons why the changing of the seasons is something to welcome rather than dread.  Here goes:

  1. Everyone’s Back! – You know that close friend you haven’t seen since May since she/he has been away every weekend you’ve been in town and vice versa?  Well now you’re both in the city again and can finally catch up, go out, reconnect, etc.  The city feels more like home when it’s fully re-populated with your favorite people.
  2. Find Your Center (again) – It’s difficult to find your center and get into a routine – with work, gym, family, etc. – when every week is different than the one before.  With summer’s end comes a return to more normal schedules that bring with them a feeling of ease, zen and productivity.
  3. It’s Beautiful Out There – The beginning of fall brings gorgeous sunsets, changing leaves, warm days and brisk nights.  In my opinion, the Northeast is never more beautiful than it is in September and October.
  4. Food, Glorious Food! – With the beach behind us and our bathing suits neatly tucked away, feel free – even entitled – to dive into that bowl of pasta, slice of pizza, steak, etc., you’ve avoided like all summer.  Enjoy – next summer is never farther away than it is right now!
  5. Two Words (well, letters): TV – Your favorite shows (and some soon-to-be favorites) are back on with new episodes.  For me, that means Homeland, Modern Family, SNL, and a disturbing amount of reality programs and cooking shows.  I fully admit my entertainment tastes are not universal, but no matter what programs you enjoy they are back in full force during the autumn season.

It’s true that summer is officially over, but the party isn’t.  This is a beautiful time of year – and we haven’t even discussed all the wonderful times to be had with family and friends during Thanksgiving and the December/January holiday season.

And just when you can’t take it anymore – the freezing cold, jackets, scarves, gloves, snow, sleet and pale skin – next summer will be upon us once more.

By Scott Berwitz

Burritos, Bowls, or Tacos? The DGC Chipotle Debate

At DGC you might say we have an unhealthy obsession with one of our favorite fast-causal restaurants, Chipotle. It isn’t uncommon to run in to colleagues while in line, or take trips together for the sweet meal.  So, because our obsession runs so deep, we each decided to let the world in on our sacred Chipotle orders – of course each of us thinking our own is, by far, the best.

If you’re in the mood for some mouth-watering content, continue to scroll down and decide for yourself what the best order of the bunch is.

  • Steak burrito bowl: Extra white rice, Light black beans, Fajita stuff (if I remember), Corn, Mild salsa, Cheese, Sour cream, Lite lettuce, GUAC!!!! – Peyton McCarthy, Account Executive
  • Steak burrito bowl, brown rice, black beans, mild salsa, corn, sour cream, cheese, guac (don’t be stingy with the guac) and a whole lot of happiness. – Gab Berman, Senior Account Executive
  • Hard shell barbaco tacos and an iced tea. Makes me feel like I’m eating healthy despite the sour cream and cheese. – Kathleen Ruane, Vice President
  • Two chicken tacos with chips and guac. Gets the best of both worlds. Add in some hot Chipotle sauce on all parts and it’s a terrific, well balanced meal. – Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive
  • I love the burrito bowl with chicken, black beans with all the salsas, lettuce & guacamole plus a TON of Tabasco Green Sauce. – Theresa Piti, Office Manager
  • Chicken burrito without rice. – Bridget Bulters, Senior Account Executive
  • Black bean burrito with pork and guac. – Kathy Sampey, Vice President
  • My go-to is a veggie burrito bowl – extra guac, extra cheese – Soraya Hanzus, Senior Account Director
  • Salad, no dressing, a little brown rice, black beans, chicken, fajita veggies, mild salsa, medium salsa, corn, a little sour cream, and guac if I’m feeling crazy (I usually am.). Mmmmm Chipotle. – Claire Higgins, Account Executive
  • Oh em gee, the chicken bowl dude. No problems exist when you got yourself a chicken bowl. – Emily Donoho, Junior Designer
  • My go-to staple at Chipotle lately has been to get 3 flour tortilla tacos with white rice, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream. The taco option allows me to get a variety of the meat options…I typically get two steak tacos and one chicken taco. I usually walk into Chipotle with the intention of getting the salad but that quickly goes away once I get up to the line. I should just say, “carbs please!” – Marielena Santana, Vie President
  • Gotta go burrito – white rice, steak (because anything else is child’s play), mild, corn (a little more than a spoonful), cheese, sour cream (extra, obvi) and guac (because you’re doing it wrong if you don’t get guac) – Jackie Berte, Senior Account Executive
  • Chipotle is rare for me but WHEN I go it’s almost always a salad bowl with rice, black beans, tomatoes, cheese and extra guac (obvi). Occasionally I’ll throw in a side of chips – Kelsey Merkel, Account Director
  • My absolute favorite is a burrito bowl with chicken, white rice, tomato salsa, sour cream, cheese, and if I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll top it off with some guacamole. – Yana Berliner, Office Administrator
  • So many great options, but my go to is definitely the chicken salad bowl. With guacamole, if I’m feeling fancy. – Megan Sweat, Senior Account Executive
  • Steak bowl with brown rice and EVERYTHING on it… – Sylvia Zhou, Senior Account Executive

We did have one outlier though…

  • I have 99 vices, and Chipotle ain’t one. Judge away. – Scott Berwitz, Vice President

Burger Battle: What’s the Best Local Burger Joint?

At DGC our passion for PR might be overshadowed by our passion for food..  This week we decided to pit local burger spots against each other and see which location came out on top.

Turns out, it wasn’t that close of a competition…Madison Square Park’s Shake Shack took home gold without breaking a sweat.

While there can only be one winner, burgers are burgers, so no one is truly a loser.  Below hear from a few of our biggest burger fans on their favorite burger and, more importantly, why.

shakeshack

SHAKE SHACK

My favorite local burger spot is Shake Shack because I am a big fan of their buns. – Maria Swift, Account Coordinator

It’s got to be Shake Shack – they don’t know how to disappoint.  (QP w/ C is obviously a close second though) – Jackie Berte, Senior Account Executive

Shake Shack.  Two words: shack sauce. It’s what dreams are made of. ­– Ali Colangelo, Account Director

I love Shake Shack. My guilty pleasure is a burger and a shake and having it outdoors in the park, makes it all that much sweeter. ­– Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President

Shake Shack. GET IN MY BELLY. – Gab Berman, Senior Account Executive

Shake Shack– this was a tough one because I am a burger a week kind of gal and these all have a special place in my heart, but Shake Shack just has it all (despite the very long lines). You cannot beat their burgers or amazing cheese fries or the overall aura of being in the park on a nice day. – Peyton McCarthy, Account Executive

Shake Shack ‘shroom burger in the park wins for me. The line is long, but always worth the wait.  – Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator

Shake Shack is the best burger in the neighborhood. The line is long but it’s definitely worth it for their perfect, juicy burgers, crinkle fries and the beautiful setting of Madison Square Park.  – Mari Santana, Vice President

SchnippersLogo

SCHNIPPERS

Schnipper’s, hands down. They have the best milkshakes, which always go well with burgers. The day Soraya and I ordered lunch and they gave us double meals was heaven. – Sara Ajemian, Senior Account Director

All three are solid winners in my book, but what separates Schnipper’s is the cheese fries and special Schnipper’s sauce, along with ample seating and welcoming environment in any weather — can’t eat Shake Shack in the winter! — Pat Wentling, Senior Account Executive

ny burger

NEW YORK BURGER & CO

While a classic Quarter Pounder with Cheese is always hard for me to pass up at McDonald’s, my pick has to go to NY Burger & Co, but really only by default – It’s definitely a great burger and I do like the array of dipping sauce options, but I haven’t had a chance to check out Shake Shack or Shnippers yet. – Claire Higgins, Account Executive

I like NY Burger Co. because the food is delicious, the service prompt and polite, and it’s very close to our office. Second place is Schnipper’s, which also has great food and service and more ample seating but it’s several blocks away. ­– Kathy Sampey, Vice President

Hmm I’ve never had a burger at Shake Shack or Schnippers so my vote for our area would be New York Burger & Co. – Yana Berliner, Office Administrator

From Bathing Suit to Business Casual, Let Your Co-Workers Get to Know the True You

It’s 11891894_10154162984313079_1388583280605041189_ovirtually inevitable – work long enough with certain people and you’re bound to run into them at a restaurant. Or at the gym.  Or at a company outing in the Hamptons laying out at the pool (more on this in a moment).  These are the moments when your co-workers become “people” or even potentially “friends.”  They are also instrumental to building the type of the congenial, collaborative, transparent work experience so many companies strive to attain.

In a recent article in Fast Company on the cultures at Facebook, Ideo and Virgin Airlines,  a theme of blending the personal with professional at the companies featured runs throughout the story.  “Bring your authentic self to work,” says Facebook.  Virgin Atlantic looks to hire people with a “comfort in sharing their personalities.”  Clark Scheffy, Managing Director at IDEO, implores employees to “bring their whole selves to the workplace.”  The days of putting on a corporate guise every time you walk through the office doors apparently is a relic.  More than ever before, authenticity is the cornerstone of a transparent company culture.

DiGennaro Communications took that to heart during our recent summer outing in the Hamptons – where many of us saw each other in a new light – sunlight!  There’s a moment of authenticity that comes when you’re standing next to a coworker in a bathing suit in a pool rather than sitting next to that same person in a business suit at your desk.

The most effective company cultures are the ones that stress that we present our true selves to our co-workers and feel comfortable with one another.  That’s as true in the conference room as it is in the pool.  I speak from experience when I say there’s nothing quite like watching your co-worker float by in a massive inflatable pink flamingo while shooting everyone with a water gun.

By: Scott Berwitz

DiGennaro Shares Secrets for Success at SXSW 2016  

South by Southwest Panel Picker is here again, and it’s another opportunity for great insights, learnings, and dynamic industry leaders to come together. We at DGC have submitted two topics for the PanelPicker and if selected, it would be our first time to appear on the SXSW stage. The sessions highlight our unique approach to business and how these ideas have helped us grow since our founding in 2006.

Over the years we’ve learned a lot about attracting and retaining the very best talent in the PR industry, especially how to keep pace with an evolving workforce and offer more flexible work schedules and environments. As such, our first session is “Conducting Business in a Flex World.”  will share best practices on how to retain talent when employees embark on major life events such as marriage, pregnancy, family-care issues or relocation that can potentially make them leave their jobs. Included in the session will be our CEO Sam DiGennaro and our President Howard Schacter, who will share insights on how to create a flexible work environment that allows for flexibility but still encourages growth and maintains your company culture.

Our second session, “Brand Me Please: Personal Branding 101,” looks at how executives can build their brands to align with personal values. DGCers will conduct a live demonstration of a branding session, taking members of the audience and teaching them the basic skills to sell themselves. The “jury” will be comprised of both DGC executives, those from other agencies as well as wardrobe and body language specialists. The winner will get a trip to NYC for a Personal Branding boot camp at DGC headquarters.

We appreciate your votes for these sessions, and your willingness to share thoughts in the comments section. Hope to see you in Austin!

Spirits Brands Want to ‘Drink Up’ Your Data

The Internet of Things continues to insert itself into aspects of our lives we could never have imagined.

Take the spirits industry where brands are developing “connected” bottles to monitor when, where, what, how much and how often their products are imbibed by individual consumers.Remy Martin_connected bottle

Our first encounter with the notion of such innovation came from a story about Remy Martin’s connected cognac bottles, scheduled for an autumn debut in China where counterfeit brands run rampant. Part of the thinking behind this development is that Chinese consumers should be able to “verify” the brand pedigree of the cognac via the connected bottle.

Here in the U.S., spirits brand executives are much more straightforward about the potential for such innovations. While touting some of the benefits to consumers—and there are a few such as, home delivery of your favorite liquor when supplies ebb and cocktail recipes—Absolut’s Markus Wulff says point blank that it’s mostly about consumer data: “The more we learn about consumers and their behaviours, the better services we can connect them to.”

This New York Times article previews other personal areas in which the IoT will soon make inroads. We couldn’t help but linger on its opening question: “Just because you can do something, does it mean you should?”

Ariana Grande’s Privacy Breach

Photo Credit: E! Online

Photo Credit: E! Online

Poor Ariana Grande. She became the “hate” girl du jour earlier this month when she was captured on video in a California donut shop saying she hated America and Americans.

It’s important to remember that the pop singer, who was born in Florida in 1993, and is in fact, American, had no idea her image or voice were being recorded at the time of the incident. Grande was in the shop with a couple of friends, and her actions and words appear to have been recorded by a camera mounted behind the counter and perhaps not visible to customers.

She and a male companion appear to take turns licking, or pretending to lick, some donuts on a tray that was placed on the counter. When a worker comes into frame and tries to place another tray of donuts on the glass counter right in front of Grande she disgustedly remarks, “[WTF] is that? I hate Americans. I hate America.”

Although it happened in a public place, hers was not a public pronouncement but an off-the-cuff, reaction to a friend.  Once released online, the video went viral. No surprise there.

The whole kerfuffle that ensued raises a number of important questions and observations:

First the observations:

  • There is no privacy for anyone no matter where you are.
  • Retail stores are recording your every move.
  • If you’re famous, say nothing beyond please and thank you when out in public.
  • In private, put your smartphone in another room and make any companions do the same if you intend to have a conversation or do anything you’d rather not have appear on the Web.

Now for the questions:

  • Why did the donut shop release this video?
  • What did they hope to gain?
  • Do they hate Ariana Grande?
  • Why were Grande and her male friend pretending to lick the donuts?
  • If she’s so disgusted by the site of a tray of donuts, why was she in a donut shop in the first place?

The whole situation is a publicist’s nightmare. But then the tables turned. The Health Dept. in Riverside County investigated Wolfee Donuts for incorrectly placing trays of donuts on the counter where they could be tampered with.

But then, even the donut shop came out smelling sweet after this promotion.

Maybe there really isn’t any such thing as bad publicity.

Until Next Year, Cannes

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.

Au Revoir!

cannes

Advertising: More Than Just an Award

Amir Kassaei, CCO, DDB Worldwide

Amir Kassaei, CCO, DDB Worldwide

DDB Worldwide’s Chief Creative Officer, Amir Kasseai, gave a raw and personal speech that addressed the state of the advertising industry.  Using an introspective lens, he brought attention to the fact that the industry has a tendency to forget about the real values and the real purpose: connecting with real people.

In a jaw-dropping presentation, Amir shared three short stories, each bringing to light how far the industry has strayed since its initial conception.  There used to be a time when advertising had an impact on society, culture, music, etc.  The industry has lost its focus.

Advertising is not about being the “chief asshole officer of some f**ing agency”, Amir said.  It shouldn’t only be about awards.  Winning an award only means you’re good at wining an award. He asked the audience when the last time someone’s child was truly excited to hear they won [insert any award here] and was met with laughter and applause. Because the truth of the matter is, advertising isn’t about that. It’s about truth, love, responsibility and purpose.

Amir ended the last session of Cannes Lions 2015 pleading with the audience (and industry as a whole) to remember their purpose, be honest with themselves, respect people and don’t waste talent doing things that are completely irrelevant – Do This or Die.

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