The SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) hype machine is in full effect as we inch closer to the event kick off this week (March 11-15) in Austin, Texas. From President Obama’s keynote to promises of robots everywhere, this year’s schedule has more to offer than ever before for all of you makers, creators and digital savants.
But, if you’re struggling to narrow down the packed agenda, you’re in luck. We’ve spent hours combing through the master schedule and reading up on influencers’ predictions. Here’s a snapshot of what to look out for at SXSWi 2016:
- Continued talk about politics: All eyes will be on Obama as he delivers the opening keynote. The President will participate in a live Q&A with the Texas Tribuneto talk about technology’s growing role in the political process. Considering we’re in the middle of a headline-worthy elections season, this will only be the beginning of the political talk swirling on the ground.
- I. and Robots, not as futuristic as we think. SXSWi will host the first ever Robot Ranch this year where attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with A.I. animals. Attendees can get their hands on the different types of robots and chat with creators.
- Gamergate (the controversy continued): You may remember the controversy around SXSW last fall, when organizers pulled two Gamergate-related panels from the agenda citing “violent threats.” The festival was criticized for giving misogyny a platform and an Internet outcry abounded. Long story short, SXSW re-instated the sessions and added a day-long, live-streamed online harassment summit to discuss the topic.
- A big startup launch. Last year’s SXSWi saw the launch, and subsequent explosion, of live broadcasting app Meerkat — it was reminiscent of 2007, when Twitter blew up at SXSW, and 2009, when Foursquare accomplished the same feat. Who will attempt it this year? Check out the Startup Village and their signature competition, SXSW Accelerator.
In addition to some of those bigger trends/ events, the DGC team will be on the ground to join clients and report on all the action first-hand. Here are some of the events we’re looking forward to covering:
- Following Obama’s session on Friday, we’ll be heading over to Austin City Limits to attend a session with 360i’s Chief Strategy Officer who will be talking about innovative brands using data-driven marketing.
- On Saturday, we’ll be kicking off the weekend at a session with Marie Claire who will be sitting down with the stars of Broad City to discuss the transition of their show from web series to cultural phenom. #yassqueen From there, we’ll be learning about how brands can join the billion-dollar idea club at a session with KITE, Coca-Cola and MasterCard.
- Later in the day, GSD&M will host a discussion on which risk-taking brands are successfully connecting with their customers via Periscope and Meerkat.
- We’ll have to divide and conquer on Sunday – the day kicks off with two great sessions at 11am – one with Facebook that will explore the power of A.I. and how it’s posed to shape our future. The other session is hosted by InStyle Magazine – the editor will sit down with Kerry Washington to discuss the “new rules” of stardom. Then, we’ll finish off the day by hosting a #DGCSundayFunday cocktail party at the W Hotel.
- On Monday, Ogilvy & Mather will be touching on the challenges of marketing to a Latino audience in a session about how they made the Modelo Especial story “special,” not schizophrenic.
- Before jumping on a flight home on Tuesday, we’ll be sure to catch one last session at the Austin Convention Center. SoulCycle founders will be sharing their story in a session entitled, “How to Create a Movement.” We’ll be taking notes in that one for sure!
To keep abreast of these and other happenings on the ground, follow @DiGennaro and #DGCsxswi + our colleagues who will be in Austin: @SamDiGennaro, @erindonahue, @MarielenaSan, @perezOrourke and @sylvia_zhou,.
See you in Austin!
Mobile World Congress 2016
Day One has closed on the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the largest conference in the world dedicated to the art and science of mobile technology. It’s a gathering of the greats who believe passionately in unlocking mobile’s untapped potential.
Mobile video was a headline theme of the day and the topic of a colorful debate in the “Mobile Video Explosion” panel discussion. It was an all-star line-up of the industry’s best mobile players – from Facebook to YouTube to Viacom to Netflix – each sharing their unique points of view.
Facebook’s Head of Global Tech & Telco Strategy, Jane Schachtel shared her views on how video is pushing the boundaries of innovation by creating immersive experiences for people and businesses. Facebook is seeing numerous brands seizing upon this opportunity and firmly believes that video is, “the” global medium that transcends language barriers and sparks great creativity.
“We’re building a canvas for businesses,” said Schachtel. “If the content is relevant, people will create it and continue to discover it. The richness and relevance on your newsfeed is what’s helped drive such explosive video growth at Facebook.”
Alex Wellen, CNN’s chief product officer, explained how the app, CNNgo, is tracking every story in real time, each minute of the year, annotating real frames with every piece of live content that augments the story.
But there are challenges at the 24 hour news network. CNN “needs to be a technology and storytelling company at the same time, and it’s really tough to be famous for both,” mused Wellen.
There’s good news, though: “People are now binging on [Anthony] Bordain, when no one had consumed news programming like this in the past.”
David Benson, Director, Brand Strategy EMEA for YouTube, agreed about binge watching mobile video content, which he said is driving deep change in the market. Benson added that 400 hours of content are uploaded via YouTube every minute.
“The way in which we consume and connect has been rewritten by mobile,” Benson added. He posited there’s no more water cooler chatter and comparing notes about, “what you watched last night.” In its place, we have become a culture of spoiler alerts and binge-watching.
“We’re having less sex as a result,” said Benson, who cordially invited us to chat with him after the panel for more info on the “sex” stat.
The consensus among all the panelists: Mobile is exploding and there’s an obligation to continue to make great content — via stellar storytelling — so that people will to want to engage.
In his day-one closing keynote, the one-and-only Mark Zuckerberg took the video discussion to the next level saying that video will have to get increasingly better for virtual reality; in particular, resolution will have to be very high.
Zuckerberg closed with something important to consider, “Video is just as big in 2016 as mobile was in 2012. Bandwidth opens up desire to make and consume videos, which makes the developers want more, which ultimately perpetuates demand.”
A great finish to a great opening day.
I am looking forward to a week of seeing and hearing about the technology and creativity that is going to reshape our world.
More soon. #MWC16 #MWCVID
We love music because it puts into words our thoughts and feelings in a way that we would want them to be said. Last night’s Grammy Awards celebrated the music and performers that create the soundtrack to our lives.
Yet, between the stomps of Kendrick Lamar and the soulful stylings of Bonnie Raitt, it became clear that brands were at the top of their game last night – composing a number of notable advertising masterpieces. In our opinion, this year’s Grammy’s advertisers were remarkably more creative than what we saw during the Super Bowl.
Here’s three we thought tapped into the Grammy’s spirit.
- Lady Gaga as the ultimate chameleon, David Bowie, was pure gold. So too was connecting her with tech giant Intel for pre and post-performance spots. Taking us behind the scenes of Gaga’s spectacular performance demonstrated the integral role Intel plays for brand innovation in the music space. Just imagine what Intel could do for you!
- If a premium is placed on knowing your audience then Truth.org should receive an award for their #CATmagedeon spot. With teen smoking on the rise, Truth eschewed the traditional scared straight approach to health warnings. Taking aim at the unique relationship between people and their pets, Truth combined cute with poignant to deliver a strong message that is sure to resonate on social media.
- Gwen Stefani and Target had audiences guessing: Is it an ad or a video? The live four-minute, seven costume change performance – replete with roller skates – left audiences breathless and gave Target a few cool points.
Great music just doesn’t happen, it’s the culmination of talent, experience and courage. The same for great advertising. Our big winners sought to tap into the power of the 25 million Grammy viewers – the most for any entertainment show this year. The brands each understood who viewers of the Grammy’s are and what’s important to them. So, will ads during the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards begin to rival the Super Bowl? If brands become as courageous as musicians like Lady Gaga then the answer is, yes.
The Super Bowl is about stories: the big catch that wins the game, the goal line stand that stops a crucial touchdown, the thrilling (and sometime shocking) half time performances. This is what marketers do every day. Little wonder, then, that the Super Bowl has become as much about the advertising as it is about the game…walking hand-in-hand to create to create sports narratives and iconic commercials that will be talked about for years to come.
And so on Sunday night, while an ambitious young quarterback battled a veteran looking to write a final chapter to a celebrated career, 80 ads were seen by 115 million viewers around the world.
What marked 2016’s crop of ads was its decidedly straightforward approach: humor, celebrities and cute animals carried the day. The tone was light and celebratory in keeping with the game’s national status as a quasi-holiday. The price tags were high with the cost of a 30-second spot reaching a new high (a whopping $5 million). We’ve shared some of the most compelling highlights below:
- Cuteness, Canines and Ketchup: If you’re an animal lover you weren’t disappointed – there was an endless parade of animals throughout the game. The Clydesdales made an appearance for Budweiser, as did a stampede of wiener dogs reunited with their ketchup bottles for Heinz, a flock of sheep sang the lyrics to “Somebody to Love” and one of the most buzzed about creatures: the “puppymonkeybaby” – a diaper clad baby bottom, monkey torso, dog head for a Mountain Dew spot.
- Celeb-ration: From Alec Baldwin, Steve Harvey, to Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen, there was an onslaught of famous faces during the commercials. Take this highly-praised spot for Avocados From Mexico, created by Austin-based creative agency GSD&M, which featured “Happy Days” actor, Scott Baio. Another fun spot featured celebrity recording artist Janelle Monae paying homage to iconic songs in this pre-half time show spot for Pepsi.
- Autos in the driver’s seat: It’s no surprise to see car ads during the Super Bowl, but brands like Hyundai and Prius captured the audience’s attention and sent a buzz through social media. Christopher Walken also made an appearance for Kia in this ad from creative agency, David & Goliath.
- New Advertisers Taking the Plunge: As you’d expect, the Super Bowl featured many established brands, Budweiser, Doritos alongside big-name soda brands. What surprised us this year were the first-time brands who paid big dollars to get in front of a huge, captive audience, especially tech brands. From PayPal to SoFi (an online lending start up), to Bai, Amazon, LG Electronics SunTrust Banks and even pharma companies there were many first-timers who entered the game.
We also noted that while the Super Bowl ads certainly entertained, the more lofty commercials that look at the human condition were in short supply. We’ve come to expect these kinds of cinematic and inspirational ads from brands such as Coca-Cola. Instead, the brand ran a commercial featuring the Incredible Hulk and Ant-Man arguing over a ‘mini’ can of soda. A far cry from the rousing ads and motivating messages they’ve typically delivered.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing marketing moments of Super Bowl 50 was not scripted by any adverting agency. When asked what the future held, Peyton Manning replied he was looking forward to drinking, “a lot of Budweiser.” The twice repeated reference was PR gold; a hero’s endorsement in the golden moment.
Today, Madison Avenue, much like the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, will take a collective step back to debate what worked and what didn’t. They’ll go over every move along their journey to discern the right moves from the wrong ones. If there’s one theme they all share – it’s that they went big and gave it their all. Stay tuned…the story continues next year.
Welcoming new talent is an exciting opportunity for any agency. They bring fresh ideas, new perspectives and varied expertise that adds to a team’s collective skills. Every now and then though, agencies have the opportunity to welcome new talent that also knows the inner-workings of the agency. Here at DGC we love when this happens.
Over the course of our ten-year history, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming back employees who took advantage of new opportunities to spread their wings and fly. We’ve found that these boomerangs come back with more unique insights and a fresher perspective and a host of new approaches to PR and strategic communications. Of course, because they know the inner workings of DGC, they also transition more easily into new roles with new team members, while understanding how their “new assets” can complement the entire organization.
This past month, we have had the chance to welcome two boomerangs back to DGC: Chrissy Perez-O’Rourke and Claire Eisenberg (who rejoined from Big Spaceship and 360i, respectively). Here’s what they had to say about coming back to DGC.
Chrissy: “From intern to Account Director, I learned everything I know about PR from the talented people at DGC, and I’m really excited to start this new chapter at the agency. Being on the inside at Big Spaceship for the past year has been such a refreshing experience – I was able to learn about the industry from the inside and gain a whole new, invaluable perspective. I look forward to what lies ahead – onward and upward!”
Claire: “After spending nearly five years deeply rooted in the advertising space at DGC, it was exciting to gain an inside perspective at 360i, an agency that’s reimagining marketing and pushing boundaries for its clients. It offered a unique opportunity to continue to elevate the high-profile agency, it’s executive and roster of clients. And now I’m looking forward to what’s ahead at DGC!”
Welcome back, ladies!
DGC is all about celebrating our employees, especially the ones who continue to knock it out of the park time and time again! 2015 was a great year for our agency and we’re proud to celebrate and recognize several individuals for outstanding work over the course of the year.
Our 2015 MVP honorees were Sara Ajemian, Bridget Bulters and Lexi Hewitt, who were all recognized for being exceptional in every sense of the word, day in and day out.
Our latest Hall of Fame inductee, Kristen Bryan, has been with DGC since the start of the agency and joins Kendra Peavy and Erin Donahue Tice in the DGC Hall of Fame, a special placefor the best of the best and the consistently excellent.
And last but certainly not least, a spirited shout out to our own Kathleen Ruane who brings a smile to our faces every day and earned herself DGC’s newly-introduced “Spirit Award.”
Congratulations to all of our awesome employees and here’s to another great year in 2016!
As many of you may know, Cindy Gallop, the founder and former chair of Bartle Bogle Hegarty and founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, was invited to speak at an event earlier this week hosted by WPP shopper marketing agency, Geometry Global. The agency’s Executive Creative Director, Heidi Schoeneck, led the talk, which centered on promoting gender-equality in the industry. In case it is news to anyone, Cindy likes to call herself the “Michael Bay of business” for a reason, and a good one at that.
Cindy is known for providing powerful words of wisdom and provocative points of view that truly inspire a larger discussion among her audience. This was true of the crowd in the theater at Geometry. The audience was on the edge of their seats with eyes wide open, and hands were high when it came time for questions. Thanks to Cindy, we found some inspiration as well and we can’t wait to take these insights and apply them to our careers and our daily lives. Therefore, we wanted to share a little Thursday wisdom to take you through the rest of your week and into the weekend so you can #BlowShitUp (the hashtag for the event).
- Change happens from the bottom up, not the top down.It is micro-actions – small, baby steps – that bring the biggest amount of change.
- Say what you think. That is your value.Saying what you think is the biggest micro-action that you can take for success in business. Never be afraid to speak up, even if you are the most junior person in the room. Telling the truth is so endearing because so few people do.
- Be your own filter.If people respond poorly to how you feel and how you express yourself, then they’re not for you.
- Don’t give a damn. Fear of what other people think is the most paralyzing fear in business and in life. It’s important not to pay attention to what other people think of you. Your own sense of value is all that matters. Take a long hard look at yourself and identify what you believe in and what you value. That’s the key to work happiness–not what other people think of you.
For some more fun thoughts, interesting sound bites and/or photos from the talk, search #BlowingShitUp and follow @CindyGallop and @heidischoeneck on Twitter.
By The Hit Board
Another Advertising Week has come and gone! This year proved to be just as eventful as years’ past. Our team on the ground seemed to have do and see it all (although we know that would be impossible…)
The UCB Comedy: Seriously Funny session was hosted by none other than the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy theater. For those not as familiar with the New York comedy scene UCB is one of the most notable and prestigious theaters in the city (and country) and was the starting place for many famous actors in the industry, not to mention launched by Goddess Amy Poehler. This session was run by UCB Director/Producers Nathan Russell and Julie Gomez and covered the business side of the theater. Some may be surprised to learn that in addition to their hilariously innovative shows the organization also works with both brands and marketing/advertising agencies to create unique branded content that breaks through the clutter by way of comedy. Some takeaways? Collaboration is key, and when pressured about ROI metrics make the brand/product seem as approachable as possible. — Emily Donoho, Junior Designer
I attended a few sessions over the week, but there were two that really stuck out to me. On Thursday, I attended the ‘From Minibar to Megahit’ panel, where Partners + Napier’s CEO and Associate Director, Marketing & Business Development were on stage with the Co-Founders and leading lady entrepreneurs of on-demand, alcohol delivery service, Minibar. The four ladies led a compelling conversation, on what the road to success looked like for Lara Crystal and Lindsey Andrews, as they took on the challenge of opening their business. One of my favorite moments of the session, were when the ladies admitted that the challenge of opening an app in the alcohol space is often intimidating to business people, but Lara and Lindsey saw it as intriguing and took the industry by storm. Check out their app and get your drinks for tonight 😉 — Peyton McCarthy, Account Executive
At Project: WorldWide’s “Stories of Creative Invention” the audience was exposed to a wide breadth of innovation from engineering blocking with Little Bits’ founder, Ayah Bdeir to street art with Bradley Theodore to fitness-like business clothing with Aman Advani. It became abundantly clear that creative invention is around us more than we might have originally imagined. Each speaker radiated inspiration; each story just as captivating as the last. Advertising Week is programmed with many sessions that discuss the future of advertising, the problem with ad-blocking, the new creative talent, and so on and so forth. That said, to attend a session that put pure creativity and inventive spirit on the stage was a breath of fresh air to say the least. Leaving the session you couldn’t help but think, “What am I doing wrong with my life?” — Jackie Berte, Senior Account Executive
The political season was alive and well at Advertising Week. During the panel on how technology is shaping political advertising, panelists explained that too often, we frame how we see politics through the lens of the presidential campaigns themselves which includes advertising. It’s all about the messaging during these campaigns and the media serves as the most popular delivery mechanism. Speaking of media, Facebook is making a name for themselves on the media side with 61% of millennials consuming their political news on the platform. “The Donald” was a hot topic. Thoughts from the panelists across the board? When we call Trump a master of social, we’re doing a disservice to those who are doing it right and that we “confuse noise with signal.” And who is doing it right? All panelists agreed that Ben Carson has a strong presence across the board on social platforms. But what is king during ads in this election season? Creative. The quality of creative is key to delivering the message that will ultimately win voters over. — Ali Colangelo, Account Director
My other favorite panel of the week was the ‘Creative & Technology: Lorraine Twohill & David Droga in Conversation’ on Wednesday. From the Google side, it was super interesting to hear from Lorraine, the tech company’s SVP of Global Marketing on the brand’s recent logo change, especially since she was a leading force behind the change. The audience learned a few fun facts about the change, like the ‘e’ is tilted, simply because the guy behind Google’s doodles every day, asked for it to look like it was smiling. The conversation was also centered around Droga5’s relationship with Google as a client, and the work that the agency has done of late, including the adorable ‘Friends Furever’ spot which came out earlier this year and took a different and more loving approach for a tech company ad. David also discussed some of the agency’s other famed work, like the Under Armour spots with Misty Copeland, where he dug deep on the ways that Droga5 thinks about advertising and looking beyond just content itself, but looking to when and where consumers will be consuming the content before creating an ad. As a lady who was inspired by the spots, learning more about the creative strategy was a huge takeaway for me. — Peyton McCarthy, Account Executive
Our team was both inspired and awed at Sheryl Sandberg’s poise, knowledge and overall demeanor during her fireside chat with Bloomberg’s chief content officer, Josh Tyrangiel. Sheryl’s session touched on a variety topics, including the risks people take in business, why Facebook is the place to be for television advertisers, feedback within the work place, leadership and talent. In a moving moment towards the end of the session, Sheryl discussed how expressing herself on Facebook helped her in the days and weeks after her husband’s death, stating “when we know and understand each other, the world becomes smaller and more peaceful.” She cracked jokes, rattled off impressive facts around mobile and advertising, and discussed navigating Facebook’s role in the rest of the world, including India and China. The session was an-hour long, but it was packed with information and inspiration. Our team sat in awe as we watched Sheryl, and left ready to tackle our own jobs with the same fire that Sheryl tackles hers. — Lexi Hewitt, Account Executive
We’ll soon be preparing for next year, but until then…adios!
After Day 1 of Advertising Week, DGC pulled together our top picks from the first sessions of the week. Check back here each morning for some of our favorite content from the day before.
At the “Breaking Down Social and Mobile” Mobile Media Summit session with Bob Hall (SVP of RadiumOne) and Shenen Reed (President, Digital, MEC North America), both offered unique insights. Shenan shared that positive brand association, rather than number of shares, is a strong indicator of campaign success. Bob spoke about how 72% of sharing happens on a desktop, but 54% of viewing is happening on mobile. — Scott Berwitz, VP
During the “Impossible to Ignore” panel with DDB New York’s CCO Icaro Doria, there was an insightful discussion around how advertisers and marketers should always stay on top of what’s current and culturally relevant to create content that’s ‘impossible to ignore’ by the audience. Icaro said, “When it comes to ad blocking, Apple just made bad advertising go away really fast so only good ads with a compelling message can stay.” — Sylvia Zhou, Senior Account Executive
“The Power of Sports: The How and Why of Fan Passion” took a look at the sports stories that often get overlooked in mainstream news coverage. Ryan Eckle, VP of Brand Marketing for Dick’s Sporting Goods talked about some of Dick’s original content and “building brand through cause.” — Ali Colangelo, Account Director
Deep breath in, deep breath out. As odd as it seemed in the midst of the craziness of Advertising Week, that was how this reflective session started. In this session, MEC’s Global Chief Talent Officer, Marie-Claire Barker and panelists explored mindfulness in the workplace and how companies can use it to improve overall employee happiness and workplace culture. Panelists agreed that it’s not about the industries, but about the human beings in these industries, and that the people are what companies need to focus on if they truly want to be “mindful” in the work place. — Lexi Hewitt, Account Coordinator
At the Cross-Screen Summit: Why Does Context Matter? Because Context Matters! session with Hulu, ESPN, @radical.media, Olson and TubeMogul, there was a lot of discussion around how marketers now must produce multiple creative executions of a campaign around a unifying theme to better meet the needs of today’s multiplatform and multi-device audience. With the industry’s focus on using data for its targeting abilities, Hulu’s SVP Advertising Sales Peter Naylor remarked on the necessary components for ad effectiveness, saying, “Marketers have to have a healthy dose of data and context.” There was agreement among panelists that data needs to be used to inform creative, but that telling a relevant story for the target audience still has to be the primary foundation of any campaign. — Lauren Leff, VP
There was no shortage of amazing content on Day 1, but for me the main highlight was definitely Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook’s Director of Product Design at IAB MIXX. Margaret discussed the importance of maintaining humility in design, and following “desire paths” to design not only for people, but with people as well. A great example she shared was the “Missed Call” product Facebook developed in India to meet the demand of how people throughout the country were calling each other and hanging up, to avoid being charged. Different numbers of missed calls mean different things, almost like a modern day Morse code. Facebook recognized this and incorporated it into their features, allowing people to connect more easily to the people who matter to them. — Megan Sweat, Senior Account Executive
One of the first sessions of the day was the unveiling of new research by Ogilvy & Mather. The session titled, “Do Brands Still Matter”? was posed to the audience before diving into the findings from the study. Colin Mitchell, Ogilvy & Mather’s Worldwide Head of Planning discussed the research findings which revealed that brands do still matter… just not like they used to. It’s an interesting topic they tackled that also engaged in further discussion with guest speakers, Jennifer Healan of Coca-Cola and Hope Cowan of Facebook — both very different, but extremely relevant brands in the lives of consumers today. Both Jennifer and Hope shared various examples of how and why their brands are successfully mattering to their targets today – from happiness to helping people stay connected – it was evident that they were hitting home on the top factors of mattering in the lives of today’s consumer. — Kelsey Merkel, Account Director
Enjoy Day 2 – it’s already off to a great start!