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Ryan Partnership on Sponsorships like Jay-Z and AMEX at SXSW

One thing that SXSW and its sponsors did deliver this past few days were some amazing experiences. Thanks to AMEX, an early morning trip to the convention center and standing in a couple of lines, DGC‘s Meg McMahon and Megan McIlroy experienced one of the hottest sponsorships of SXSW Interactive – a night with Jay-Z. Not only do we have footage of Jay-Z singing Empire State of Mind, we also have Jorge Llauro and Ryan Wiedmann of HMI‘s Ryan Partnership sharing their thoughts on this strategic, on-brand partnership:

And here is the great Jay-Z in action:


The United DMAs of America

Marketers often hope that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching today’s television viewers – a magic bullet of sorts that will make media buying easier rather than strategic. But, with today’s diverse audience only becoming more varied with each passing day, it is essential that brands understand the nuances of their viewers from region to region and how to best target them.

Steve Lanzano, CEO and President of TVB, shares a few thoughts with DGC on the value of local media to reach today’s diverse audience. With the help of Nielsen’s “Cross-Platform Report,” he sheds light on some unique media behaviors across the country, while touting the value of local media to help reach these viewers:

One of the great enduring ideals that we hold about ourselves as Americans is that we are One. However, that’s just not entirely true. “One nation” is true – we all stand up for the same flag, struggle to hit all the same notes in the same national anthem, recite the same pledge. But in a practical sense, “America” is a very personal concept. It’s even right there in our name – the United States of America. We’re really a collection of localized differences.

There is very little that’s unanimous about media, either. So it should come as very little surprise that Americans tend to use media differently depending upon which DMA they happen to live in. The demographics, economies, and social behaviors vary too greatly from market to market to make media “one size fits all.”

In their 2Q 2011 “Cross-Platform Report,” Nielsen shines a spotlight upon some of the differences in media behaviors that exist among people from the top 25 DMAs. Some are fairly intuitive – the fact that Los Angeles has the most Hispanic TV households, for example. Others, however, are somewhat enlightening:

  • Dallas-Ft. Worth is tied with Houston for the youngest TV household median age. It also has the highest DVR penetration.
  • Pittsburgh is tied with Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne for the oldest TV HH median age.
  • Miami has the highest mobile phone penetration.
  • Los Angeles has the highest percentage of Mobile Video users.
  • Minneapolis is somewhat split – on one hand, it has the highest A18-54 cross-platform behavior (TV viewing with web surfing), but it also has the most broadcast-only homes.

For an advertiser, the ability to recognize that these local distinctions exist will allow them to leverage these behavioral nuances on a market level. Without considering local usage trends, they sacrifice their potential to maximize spot market deliveries that might be lost by relying upon a national medium.

Like everything else, media has its own quirks, customs, and accents depending upon where you are. Local broadcast TV’s advantage lies in its ability to speak to consumers in their own uniquely local way – on air, online and on-the-go. It really is the United DMAs of America that you’ll find here – one similarity with many differences. And because we are a nation of nuances, that’s where the brilliance of local media truly shines.

So we have to ask….How do you speak to your audience on a local level?

Occupy Wall Street Is Occupying Everything

Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011, in what I thought was going to be—at most—a week-long demonstration of discontent with the current state of the economy. It is now entering its third month of protest.

For years the U.S. has been struggling financially, and the jobless finally hit their breaking point. It’s understandable. As the gap between the affluent 1% and the neglected 99% continues to grow, so does the anger inherent in this majority that has been born into a system muddled by greed, corruption and inequality.

But, lately, it appears that Occupy Wall Street has forgotten what it’s fighting for.

We suspected foul play when reports circulated that Occupy Wall Street supporters    were eating better than most entry-level employees, and it didn’t help when Jay-Z tried to capitalize on the “Occupy [Insert Town Here]” events by launching a line of Occupy Wall Street themed t-shirts, but things were taken to a new level earlier this month when protesters graffiti-ed an Oakland Whole Foods and were consequently evicted with the use of riot gear and tear gas. Last week even, the Occupy Wall Street camp at Zuccotti Park was evacuated, inciting a “Day of Action” for protestors, who traveled around the city occupying subways, bridges and streets, sometimes resulting in further violence…or at least inconveniencing daily commuters like myself.

I am all for the First Amendment—I’m acting on it right now—but as a PR professional, I recognize that this is one campaign without a clear strategy. In our line of work, we see a lot of confusing programs make it into the public eye—half of the time I can’t tell if Axe is trying to sell body spray or sex toys—but Occupy Wall Street is a movement that cannot afford to jumble its message or tactics and still expect results.

The message since day one has been to create more jobs and find a way to balance the dichotomous economy, right? So it’s time for the 99% to remember what it stands for and reassess its strategy – that is if they want to do more than be a nuisance and actually make a difference.

Extreme Couponing vs. Expired Couponing

Who doesn’t love TLC’s Extreme Couponing… But have you tried Expired Couponing? Come on, you know you’ve tried to get 50% off a second shampoo with last year’s coupon…  How’d it turn out? Barbara Apple Sullivan, founder of the brand engagement firm Sullivan, thinks there’s a lesson to be learned in how expired coupons are handled. According to Barbara, the willingness to honor an outdated voucher largely depends on the cashier’s gender: Male cashiers will accept them. Female cashiers will not. (mental note for future trips to Walgreen’s)

So what gives?

Barbara suggests that the male/female divide in Expired Couponing might have larger applications in the business world:

Based on this “coupon test” and many years as a manager, I’d venture to say that, more often than not, women take action according to the letter of the law while men are more inclined to flout rules to be true to the spirit of the law. Women are rule followers and perfectionists. They want to be right. They dot I’s and cross T’s. But that is not always the way to win the war—particularly a war that’s being fought in a world of masculine values.

This purely anecdotal “research” may sound like a sexist generalization but I point it out because women who want to be leaders can start by recognizing what it means: Sometimes it’s not only okay to bend or break the rules – it’s critical to your professional success.

What do you think? Ever broken a rule in business?  Did it turn out poorly or does it usually work to your benefit in the end?

Check out Barbara’s full article on here: Women and Rule-breaking: Why It’s Essential for Business Success 

Think Pink

While most people associate October with pumpkins, back-to-back airings of “Casper” and “Hocus Pocus,” and clever Halloween costumes, October also happens to be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM).

The American Cancer Society, and what is now part of AstraZeneca, established NBCAM in 1985 in an effort to increase breast cancer awareness and promote research funding. Although The Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for the Cure held its first race in 1983, it did not hand out pink ribbons to participants until 1991, and it was not until 1993 that Estee Lauder founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, introducing the Pink Ribbon as its official symbol.

Today, the Pink Ribbon means many things. Hope. Remembrance. Courage. Survival. It has become the common thread weaving its way through a number of breast cancer awareness initiatives. Here are a few campaigns that the DGC team thinks have been most effective:

  • One in eight. In 2006, Avon promoted the fight against breast cancer overseas in Romania, highlighting the fact that one in eight women is at risk of developing breast cancer. In movie theaters, subways, buses and other public seating areas, one in every eight seats was painted pink and left empty to show the significance of the statistic.
  • Takeout gets a makeover. Last year, KFC launched its controversial “Buckets for the Cure,” serving up fried chicken in pink buckets. Although the public was confused by the fast food restaurant’s connection to breast cancer awareness, KFC donated 50 cents to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for each bucket sold.
  • Real men wear pink. During NBCAM, the NFL supports breast cancer awareness by incorporating pink into its advertising and online presence. Players also sport pink apparel, showing fans that pink isn’t just for powder-puff.

There are many ways to promote breast cancer awareness successfully, but recent patient Giuliana Rancic said it best: “I had a friend call me yesterday, and she said, ‘I’m so sorry, can I do anything for you?’ And I said, ‘Just call your doctor tomorrow and make an appointment [for a mammogram]. That’s what you could do for me.’”

My-vertising: Making Your Consumer The Center Of Attention

Forgive my artistic license of interpretation, but there is a great line in Gladiator that can apply to the brand advertising world — “Win the crowd, you will win your freedom.” If you remember, this was said to Maximus (Russell Crowe) by his mentor before leading a band of gladiators to fight against the emperor’s men in the Coliseum.

Conventional brand advertising wisdom isn’t much different and often dictates that empowering your customers is a great starting point for success.  This involves much more than just adhering to the old cliché that the customer is always right.  In today’s Facebook  generation, brands are starting to understand that consumers want social empowerment – they want to take credit for discovering that cool app their friends would want to use.  Brands are deliberately blurring the proverbial line between themselves and the people they sell to for the benefit of getting their story told by the most influential people of all – their customers.   If done right, consumer advocacy can be the most powerful tool in a brand’s arsenal.

According to Dietmar Dahmen, a Vienna, Austria-based ad man who was previously creative chief with BBDO (Vienna) and executive creative director at Ogilvy (Vienna), the best way to earn a thumbs-up from your audience is to address both your brand and your consumer in your advertising efforts. And the best way to think about this is from your consumer’s point of view.

With this in mind, Dahmen has created a system that lets a brand tell its story, making sure that the consumer sees it, loves it, uses it and promotes it.

One of the pillars of this system is called “My–vertising.” Focusing on the location and preferences of a consumer, My-vertising puts the individual in the center of the program. Imagine an app that shows a dog-owner only dog-friendly restaurants in his/her vicinity that are open now–that’s My-vertising. It cuts through the dense woods of over-information, showing you a few needles, but not the whole haystack.

As a result, My-vertising maximizes ego-relevance, and makes a consumer feel important because of what it does for his/her personal brand. This extends to sharing information about a brand on Twitter or Facebook. As Dahmen points out, Mike Arauz famously said: “’If I tell my friend about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but because I like my friend’ is just one more ‘I’ added to the already five I’s and my’s. Plus, I look cool doing so.”

Sharing information through social media is just another, sometimes faster, way of building one’s image.

We have to always remember that social advertising is essentially non-social. People collect friends to look cool, and they share information with those friends so they can be heroes to others. Your brand can help your consumers do that, and they will be grateful if it does.

Toyota Sued For PR “Stalker” Stunt Gone Awry


This week Wired Magazine reported on a 2008 incident involving Toyota, Saatchi & Saatchi and a stalker-themed online advertising stunt which has now resulted in a lawsuit. Apparently,Toyota and its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, launched an “in-your-face” Punked-style campaign called “Your Other You,” which drove traffic to a web site where people could enter the name and details of someone they wanted to punk. The person could choose one of five fictional characters to freak out the designated friend with stalker-style text messages, phone calls, e-mails and videos for five days.

One California woman, Amber Duick, who was duped and downright frightened by the prank has been granted approval to sue bothToyotaand Saatchi & Saatchi as well as 50 individuals associated with the campaign afterToyotainitially moved to dismiss the claims in 2009. Now that a California judge has put the case back in play, Ms. Duick has asked the parties involved for an excess of $10 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress; unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices; and negligent misrepresentation, among other things.

After reading the piece we asked ourselves if this was just a marketing stunt gone sideways, or rather a legitimate cause for concern. After all, with all of the reports about privacy laws or emails warning us to “not open that email from a Kenyan prince,” wouldn’t Toyota have thought twice about releasing such an over-the-top and borderline intrusive marketing ploy? Perhaps that was the point–to target people who would find the joke funny and appreciate a dash of witty advertising. InToyota’s defense, they claim they were targeting 20-something males, not the woman who is suing them, but we still can’t help but wonder if the envelope was pushed too far despite theintended target audience.

Everyone is fighting for attention online, and PR stunts like this one have gotten riskier and louder, and sometimes not always producing the desired results. In fact, ConAgra recently ran into similar territory(although not of the legal sort), when NYC food bloggers were invited to a four-course meal at a restaurant they were told belonged to George Duran. They were also promised a “surprise.” The surprise came after the meal when they learned that the lasagna and the dessert were actually from boxes of ConAgra’s Marie Callender’s line of frozen foods. Bloggers took to the web and blasted ConAgra for a “sham” of an experience.

The moral of the story is that even when a stunt sounds great in concept, sometimes marketers and PR practitioners just totally get it wrong. Next time you find yourself dreaming up that next great idea, justifying it with the “any PR is good PR,” concept, just keep these examples in mind. Nobody wants negative press nor do they want to be sued.



Grab Me a Pint of Schweddy Balls

Last week Ben & Jerry’s announced a new flavor of ice cream based on the SNL skit Delicious Dish. For SNL fans (or Alec Baldwin aficionados) the announcement is music to their ears, as the Schweddy Balls skit lives in infamy along side Will Ferrell’s “More Cowbell” or Chris Farley’s “Da Bears.” Who doesn’t want to eat their favorite SNL skit? For those of you not familiar with the skit, it’s about a faux food show on NPR hosted by Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer and their guest, Pete Schweddy (Alec Baldwin), who talks about his holiday baked goods, which happen to be in the shape of balls. And the two hosts openly express their love for his moist, so-called “Schweddy Balls.”

But some people haven’t taken so kindly to the admittedly vulgar name. It might be difficult to ask your husband to grab you a pint of Schweddy Balls on the way home from work. Which begs the question, what’s in a name anyway?

For a company like Ben & Jerry’s whose image is happy-go-lucky and fun loving and whose consumer base skews liberal, a name like Schweddy Balls is perfectly within their brand (as proven by the number of fans on their Facebook page who have vocalized their approval).  They’re playing into their constituency’s pop-culture touchpoints (see Cherry Garcia ) and have clearly done so in jest. Now, if Charles Schwab created the Schweddy Balls standard portfolio, taking to Twitter to question their intent would be understandable.

In the end, Ben & Jerry’s is about great ice cream with interesting flavors; and if they happen to have a little fun with their ice cream names we think it’s a good PR move. Hey, they’ve gotten us talking about it haven’t they?

A Unique Store

A Uniqlo pop-up store took up residence on Fifth Ave., between 21st and 22nd Streets, and a couple of our staffers went to check it out. The store was simple and spare, unlike the flagship Soho location, but it’s really just here to whet everyone’s appetite for the two new stores scheduled to open in Manhattan next month—on 34th St. and on 53rd St. Stuart Elliott wrote in The New York Times this week about the print, outdoor and online campaign Todd Waterbury created for Uniqlo. We don’t know about you, but we’re rooting for all retailers in Q4.

Oscar Who?

Let’s face it: The annual Academy Awards show stinks every year no matter who hosts it, and poor Eddie Murphy will likely be no exception. The New York-born comedian has kept a low profile for several years unlike during his Saturday Night Live and stand –up days.  But if the brilliant Chris Rock couldn’t pull Oscar ratings out of the mire in 2005, nobody can.

Many people think Billy Crystal should return as the magic-bullet host but really, weren’t his digitized insertions into scenes from the nominated movies getting a bit stale? He was smart to decline the gig for the past several years.

Has anyone considered that the hosts aren’t even the problem?

Maybe it’s the stuffiness of the event itself made stuffier still by botoxed countenances and an overblown air of self reverence. And don’t get us started on the blockbuster and franchise film garbage that rakes in the real bucks for Hollywood, which sadly, is all it and the mass audience care about.

Maybe it’s time to stream the Oscars on YouTube where an ardent audience will seek it out. That way, advertisers can engage a more targeted consumer base and more accurately measure the return on the media spend.

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