A resolution on resolution
A resolution on resolution

I still remember it like it was yesterday. My dad (always one of the early adopters) brought home our brand new, round-screen RCA Victor Color television set. He plugged it in, adjusted the rabbit ears and turned it on. With a low pitched hum, starting slowly from a single dot in the middle of the screen, the screen grew to reveal an ABC news broadcast already underway. Eagerly, we three kids leaned in to be able to see “color TV” for the first time. The problem was, the local TV station wasn’t broadcasting in color yet. So we had a wonderful color TV set that we didn’t get to actually see a color program on for about another three months.

Fast forward to the year 2010. We’re all supposed to just think about TV and it magically pops up, filling an entire glass room in our home, right?

Wrong.

Oh sure, we have 1080p high definition on 120 channels or so, but we’re still very much in the dark ages when it comes to the local affiliate commercial break. It seems as though someone forgot to notify the local broadcast channels in just about every US market that the local breaks are still sponsored by local advertisers.

Even though stations happily broadcast the network feeds in hi-def and tout their HD coverage, the local slot is filled with wonderful lo-def mediocrity. Which means for clients and agencies: that $1.5 million dollar TV ad campaign you just authored in hi-def? Well, it is going to be shown in standard definition. In most cases, in the old 4:3 format of older tube-type televisions.

Welcome to 1965 all over again.

So picture me on a soapbox now, screaming at the top of my lungs at every local affiliate that will invest in the equipment to broadcast a network feed, but won’t take the small added step of upgrading their carting equipment, so they can show local spots in hi-def as well. Fine. That’s okay, we’re just the ones paying to keep the lights on.

Following this logic, may I tell my clients that we can’t do their website or handle their social influence because we’d rather not spend the money to pay for an internet connection? I’m thinking, no. They would fire us and move on to someone who would. We spend months poring over our creative product to make it the very best it can be, and then unless we are prepared to do a national network buy, we are saddled with playing that television spot through the digital equivalent of gauze.

This is not a difficult request. But it does take influence. I suppose there are just too many advertisers out there who are willing to settle for mediocrity. Until the silent majority of local advertisers who are willing to settle for less than top quality will take a stand and demand better, we might as well break out the hip boots and Peter Maxx posters.

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Stony Brook University Medical Center captured the Gold Award for best total campaign for an Academic Medical Center at the 2009 Aster Awards. Individual honors went to Stony Brook’s microsite and print advertising. Clients Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Medical Center and the University of Virginia Health System were also recognized for a total of nine Aster awards. In addition, Lewis clients received ten honors in the 2009 Healthcare Marketing Awards.

The passion of volunteering
The passion of volunteering

I have volunteered all my life – not sure if it started with Brownies (a younger version of the Girl Scouts) or whether it was following my Mom around “helping” her with countless charitable organizations she worked with during her life. So I guess it’s in my blood or, “The way I was brought up” as many say.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I get so much more out of volunteering than I could ever give, and it’s just something you do, because it feels good. So I guess it’s not surprising, that the civic organization I’m most passionate about right now was started by my Mom. She helped start McKemie Place, the only overnight shelter for single women within a three county area based in Mobile, Alabama. She started McKemie Place with such passion because she didn’t want these ladies to sleep on the streets one more night. Was every single detail in place? Absolutely not. But she was determined to figure out a way, sooner rather than later, and made it happen. She could pretty much do that with anything she set her mind to do.

Not long after the shelter opened, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer and she lived only a few short months after her diagnosis. The bad part was that McKemie Place didn’t yet have an operational fund structure set up – so for the next several months it was struggling to make the monthly operational fund budget. When I began working closely with their director to help, there were possibilities on numerous occasions that we may have to close for random nights because we couldn’t make payroll. I think that’s where the passion truly kicked in for me. These ladies were not going to be left on the streets – I knew the data and research and I knew what could happen to them. We had to find a way to keep the shelter open every night.

Before I knew it, I was co-chair of the charter advisory board. It has been a long but inspiring six months since then. Many a night I wake up and wonder…what in the world am I doing? How can I do this as a single, working Mom? I don’t know if I can do it… Even though I’ve been on numerous boards, I’ve never started one! What was I thinking?

I was thinking about passion and the passion that I had gained from the experience of not only working with the ladies as guests at McKemie Place, but the countless other volunteers, foundations, government entities, etc, who had stepped up to the plate to help us pay the bills each month. Not to mention the way that the team at Lewis jumped in and took hold of the reins.

I believe it all started with my Mom. She had passion like there’s no tomorrow. She taught not only me, but countless others so many things. Do I think you can teach passion? I don’t think so, but you sure can show folks what it looks like. When you see it, you want a part of it and it’s contagious.

Going to Boulder to drink the Kool-Aid
Going to Boulder to drink the Kool-Aid

My colleague Carlton Wood and I just attended a fantastic seminar at Boulder Digital Works (BDW) in Colorado. Thanks to a nonstop schedule, we barely saw the Rocky Mountains, but we did have the chance to hear from some of the leading voices in digital marketing.

BDW, a joint venture between Crispin Porter & Bogusky and the University of Colorado, is a graduate school that offers both a 60-week program for full-time students and an immersive workshop for working advertising professionals. Instructors are working creative and strategic leaders at top agencies like Crispin, Colle & McVoy, RAPP, Mullen, Modernista, and Victors & Spoils.

The session was sponsored by ICOM, our international agency network. It was revealing for Carlton and myself to work side by side with agency principals from the US, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Finland, India, and beyond. After each session, we went into breakout groups and concepted digital ideas and solved problems, based on the information we had just learned.

A few takeaways from our seminar that seem well worth sharing:

Everyone knows that social media is playing a larger role in marketing campaigns now, and that there is movement toward a two-way conversation, rather than just a creative broadcasting of a slogan or positioning.

BDW instructors spent a great deal of time talking with us about the next wave of digital marketing—the notion that a brand’s communications should not only be powerful, but useful, to consumers.

If the first stages of the Web were about microsites, e-commerce, and brochureware, and today, it’s about a two-way conversation with consumers, what lies ahead is a fully-integrated digital ecosystem. It’s not just your website, or your Facebook page. It’s about shaping your brand at every touchpoint of contact. Are you the same company in your print ads as you are on your mobile website? Does your social media speak in the same voice as your event advertising? What about emails, banners, and search?

Kip Voytek, SVP Communications Planning at RAPP: It’s no longer about talking at consumers—it’s about talking with them—listening, helping, inspiring, and facilitating conversation. (If this sounds a lot like the language you’ll find on the Lewis website, we think that’s good news; it’s a sign that we are headed in the right direction.)

Mike Caugin of Colle & McVoy had this memorable observation:

Web 1.0 = The Information Age
Web 2.0 = The Participation Age
Web 3.0 = The Helpful Age

He cited companies that were pioneering helpful, such as Google, Netflix, and Kayak. In his words, “the lines are rapidly blurring between what is marketing and what is operations.” It’s challenging marketing departments and the people who actually create product to work together in new ways.

A great example is Apple, and the fact that the advertising, storefronts, and product are so seamlessly integrated that you can barely tell where one ends and the other begins. Great marketers are looking past media messaging and searching for ways to more powerfully connect with consumers at every touchpoint of a brand. At the same time, powerful storytelling will remain an essential part of a great brand.

Scott Prindle, Interactive Creative Director at CP+B put it this way: In the expanding digital ecosystem, brand utility is a key component of the marketing mix. How can we be useful in our interactions with consumers, in a way that’s congruent with our brand? This mix of utility and brand story will define the great brands of the future.

At our BDW seminar there was also a great deal of talk about the emergence of a new team member. The “creative technologist” is becoming a vital new member of the creative team: the technically-savvy individual who introduces the latest technological possibilities into a creative concepting session. Ideally, this is someone who speaks both advertising and technology and who can bridge the gap for the other players.

Two other key trends: the rapid adoption of smartphones is going to define our marketing efforts in the next few years, and the proliferation of crowdsourcing is definitely changing the advertising and communications landscape.

Carlton and I loved getting to work with our ICOM counterparts from agencies around the world. Agency networks sometimes are only mentioned in passing during new business pitches, but our experience reminded us that these ties are real, powerful and useful. As part of the ICOM network, we have the ability to gather research or get assistance from agencies all over the globe, and to share our knowledge with them. Being able to meet and work with these people firsthand really affirmed the value of the ICOM network for me.


A book a number of us in the agency are reading right now is Fascinate, by Sally Hogshead.

In Fascinate, Hogshead identifies the seven triggers that power all human behavior:

Power
Lust
Mystique
Alarm
Prestige
Vice
Trust

She demonstrates how every brand on the planet uses some combination of these to affect the way we feel about products and services.

A superb example she uses in the book involves “Jagermeister – the most popular drink that nobody likes.” Hogshead describes how Jagermeister used the Mystique trigger to allow rumors and legend to spread about a brand that used to be little more than an unpopular German working-class apértif.

She also shows the perils of misusing a trigger. She offers recent research demonstrating that the $1 billion DARE program — so widely lauded for bringing police officers into classrooms to talk with kids about drugs — is a failure. In a misguided attempt to activate the Alarm trigger, the program actually increases kids’ interest in drug use by activating the Vice trigger – you know, “forbidden fruit.”

Here’s a great, simple way you can experience the seven triggers right now: Take Hogshead’s F-Score test. By answering a few simple questions, you can identify which triggers define your personal brand.

Sally Hogshead worked with me as a young copywriting intern in Atlanta, and went on to become one of the most award-winning creatives in America, working at agencies like Fallon Worldwide and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. She’s brave, bold and insightful — and so is her book. Pick it up!

The Branding of Paula Deen
The Branding of Paula Deen

By now people all over the world have heard at least some part of the scandal that Paula Deen is embroiled in. Whether or not you’re pro Paula, one thing should be taken away from all of this. Her brand is now tarnished.

Paula Deen is much larger than her individual self. She’s a brand. She worked on it, cultivated it and watched it grow into the empire that she now enjoys….or did.

Branding works on feelings, perceptions, images and beliefs. There are certain expectations behind a brand experience. As we tell our clients, your brand is everything. Perception is reality. End of driveway talk, social media and a myriad of other things can make or break a brand. How people view your brand can hurt or help you. Brand trust or believability, in this case, has been damaged.

A brand is an inherent promise to consumers. There is a saying that “your word is your bond”. It’s the same for a brand.

Will Paula come back from this debacle? She probably will but it’ll be an uphill battle. The take away from this? Protect your brand, shape it, mold it and above all, guard its integrity.

Clarity hurtling towards you at 21,000 mph
Clarity hurtling towards you at 21,000 mph

According to some British scientists, on May 19, 2031, an asteroid about the size of Manhattan is predicted to center-punch the Earth, effectively eliminating all human life within a few months.

Bummer.

So, we probably don’t have to put quite as much emphasis on that global warming issue. (What is Al Gore going to do?) Not to mention those who are currently building a house don’t need to opt for the more expensive 30-year roof.

21 years left.

So does knowing the exact amount of time you have left change anything? Does your list of “somedays” take on a newfound urgency? Are you now going to quit your job and go help the less fortunate around the world?

I say if that’s what you want to do, you should pursue it with unbridled vigor. For me, knowing now I will never retire actually provides a little more clarity. How many times do you attempt to look way off in the future and you feel like you somehow won’t live the life you have at present. Well, no need to worry about that anymore I suppose.

Now we all have something in common to worry about: May 19, 2031. So let’s all just stop worrying about everything else that is suddenly not so important: the economy, our 401K’s, the death of advertising, or TV or NASCAR. We’re all going to be just fine. You know how I know? Because if you’re reading this, you are probably in the advertising (uh, sorry…the “communications/social influence”) business. Which means you’re in the greatest, most exciting and interesting career on the planet. You make a living on ideas. That is NEVER going to change. Sure those ideas will manifest themselves in new ways, but who cares? Great ideas will always be great ideas up until that fateful May Monday in the not too distant future.

So take a look at what is on your desk right now. There are a million excuses not to make it the best it can be: “I don’t have enough time,” “I’ve got too much on my plate,” “It will cut into my Facebook time,” “The AE is clueless,” “The client won’t like it,” “The creative director is stupid,” “The strategy is wrong,” “There is no budget,” “They’ll never buy it,” “I can’t make a difference,” “The category is shunned by the shows,” “My computer screen is too small,” “I am a hack,” (okay, I admit I still believe this one). The difference between good work and GREAT work is the unwillingness to give in to the voices. So just take things one at a time. Pick your projects, clients, etc. that will most help you make a difference. And have fun. Most importantly, make whatever you do GREAT. Make it memorable. Make it funny, or serious or compelling. Just make sure to get it done by Sunday night, May 18, 2031. I can promise you, this time there’s no way you’re getting an extension.

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Lewis recently helped create a successful joint promotion for Whole Foods Market and the Black Warrior Riverkeeper. A portion of proceeds from a day’s sales went to the Riverkeeper, and sales for the gourmet market were up by 5% the day of the promotion. Lewis also created a new educational brochure for the Riverkeeper.

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On December 1, at the Annual Recreation Vehicle Industry Association International Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, Lewis Communications helped Tiffin Motorhomes unveil their newest model, the Allegro Breeze. The Breeze is a 28′ Class A diesel-pusher that isn’t just a new product, but creates a whole new category in the RV industry. Just as luxurious as Tiffin’s high-end models, the Breeze is smaller, more maneuverable and fuel efficient.

In an industry where in the past bigger almost always meant better, a teaser campaign was developed with the tagline, “This is BIG.” The campaign targeted dealers and industry media letting them know Tiffin would soon be unveiling something brand new. The Tiffin website homepage included a countdown clock promising something huge at the industry’s leading annual show. Direct mail and social media posts also helped spread the word of Tiffin’s big news leading up to the show.

The actual unveiling at the RVIA show included an oversized curtain with fake wheels pushed out to create the impression of a vehicle almost twice the size of the Breeze.

When the curtain was dropped attendees were surprised to see a luxury RV half the size of what was expected. Miniature pocket-sized brochures were handed out and the wording on the side of the display changed to say “Small is Big.”

The Breeze was named Best of Show for the RVIA Expo and was featured in RV Business and MotorHome Magazine.

motorhomemagazine.com
rvbusiness.com