London 2012 is Over. Which Brands Won?
London 2012 is Over. Which Brands Won?

Team Great Britain, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas and countless others won athletic gold in London, but which brands came out on top during these games?

The Peacock
In the U.S., NBC’s brand saw mixed results with soaring ratings delivering a huge and positive impact to their bottom line. Unfortunately, the hashtag #NBCFail was ubiquitous during the games and reached a crescendo last night as Bob Costas pulled the ultimate bait-and-switch promoting an appearance by The Who, but only after a pilot for a new sit-com. NBC pays billions of dollars to have the U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics, and must make hard decisions about how to recoup that investment. It is still hard to see how going out of your way to aggravate your viewers is a winning long-term strategy.

The Swoosh
Although Nike wasn’t an official Olympic sponsor, they almost don’t need to be. The swoosh logo was shown on screen thousands of times on athletes’ shoes and apparel. Their guerilla marketing campaign “Find Your Greatness” was brilliant in both strategy and execution by featuring everyday men, women and children finding greatness on a less-than Olympic stage, but still in a town called London.

The Ultimate Branding Machine
One of the less-heralded Olympic partners was BMW Group who found smart and relevant ways to keep their brands and their cars top-of-mind. In addition to TV spots touting their sponsorship, BMW riffed on Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket by driving a Golden Bimmer around London giving free tickets to those who shared photos of themselves with the car. During the closing ceremonies, Jesse J and two other singers were transported into and around Olympic stadium in three Rolls-Royce Phantoms specially built and badged for the event. BMW’s Mini joined in the competition with remote-controlled Mini’s carrying javelins back to athletes finding a way onto hallowed athletic ground that is supposedly free of commercial clutter.

Proctor & Gamble, Omega Watches and several other official and not-so-official sponsors of the games were highly visible with TV spots, online video, and social media memes. The brands mentioned above stood out most to me during these games, but branding is seen through the eye of the beholder.

Which brands grabbed your attention and won Gold in London?


A print campaign for The Scribbler was named Best of Show in the 7th District ADDY Awards in New Orleans (the 7th District encompasses most of the southeastern United States and includes Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Lousiana). The campaign of small space ads for a Birmingham-area stationery boutique was created by ACD Roy Burns, designer Holly Cook and senior copywriter Kathy Oldham. The accolade also marks the second consecutive Best of Show District win for Lewis Communications.

Okay, I admit it. I am hooked on Snapped, a true-life crime show on Oxygen, the network that encourages women to “live out loud,” which in this half-hour of programming is defined as first-degree murder. Despite the title’s promise, no one ever explodes into an ax-wielding frenzy. These homicides are premeditated, usually motivated by jealousy, greed, or boredom, and carried out in such a ham-fisted way that Helen Keller* could probably solve the case. But I do have to give these ladies props for their courage, even if they do end up as sunken-eyed inmates with bad hair.

Lesson #1. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
A note pad, a spare afternoon and boxed sets of CSI can be a literal lifesaver for someone looking to get away with murder. Case in point, the fate of the ladies on Snapped. How might their lives have been different with tips, such as: Don’t dispose of incriminating evidence in your own trash can. When staging a burglary, break the window from the outside. Homicidal motorcycle gangs are extremely rare, especially in suburban Connecticut. And my favorite: after murdering your husband, don’t plop into your hairdressers chair and say, with a giggle, “Guess what I’ve been up to?”

Lesson #2: Always do your homework.
Inappropriate behavior during a 911 call is an immediate red flag in a criminal investigation. When reporting an emergency, most people tend to be frantic, terse, and unguarded. Unlike the callers on Snapped, they seldom laugh, make jokes, answer call waiting, attempt a British accent, sound as if they’re reading, or ramble on as if chatting with a girlfriend while folding laundry. “So I was making chili for Troy’s Scout meeting (many minutes later) and my husband is bleeding from the neck.”

Lesson #3:
Use the appropriate tone when communicating with your target audience.

* Note: No offense to Ms. Keller, who would be the first to admit she is not qualified for police work.

According to communications research company IDC (, Internet usage in December 1996 was limited to only 36 million people, or 0.9% of world population. By June 2009, Internet World Stats measured nearly 1.7 billion Internet users worldwide, accounting for 24.7% of the global population.

For those of us in the marketing and communications industry, the difference between 1996 and 2009 is huge. Although the essence of what we do is unchanged in many ways, it has been like learning a new language as we work to tap into the vast potential of an always on and available online home for our clients’ brands, messaging and promotions.

And now, although Facebook and Twitter have been around since 2004 and 2006 respectively, these new web-based communications channels are again revolutionizing how virtually anyone with a message communicates with an audience.

But, it feels different this time.

The Great Recession of the last two years has really changed attitudes very quickly. Some of the same clients who even last year weren’t interested in a Google search campaign are now very open to new strategies that involve dialogue and engagement through social networking.

So although all of us will be glad when the recession is over and sustained economic growth returns, the pain of a downturn will not have completely been in vain. The quick leap of advancement being made in marketing and communications practices will be good for our industry and good for our clients. And I’m convinced these advancements would have taken a great many years, if not for the financial pressures of the current recession.

Viva la Revolución!

Is Pinterest Legit?
Is Pinterest Legit?

The social media realm is abuzz over Pinterest and possible trademark and copyright infringements. We’ve seen the articles, blogs, etc. on how this pin-board style portal is enabling millions of people to illegally share all kinds of things they don’t “own”. Is this a big deal? Perhaps it is worthy of debate, but let me ask you this. Who isn’t guilty of sharing things that aren’t technically theirs via an array of other online activities like re-posting, re-tweeting, emailing, and so on. The concept isn’t new; it just so happens that Pinterest is a pioneering proponent for such online behavior. Companies and brands should stop protesting, and start developing their plan for the social site. Is it right for your brand? How can you use it to leverage relationships with customers, especially if they’re women? Don’t waste time debating whether or not it’s legit. In just one year, the site has gone from zero to more than 10 million registered users. To us, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are in good company with our new friend Pin.

Source for site traffic and more Pinterest data

I like history, always have. Even as a kid, I preferred a good war movie to Star Wars and cartoons. The future was all lasers and space. Phooey. History just seemed more exciting. And it actually happened. It was true. It was real. Luke Skywalker couldn’t hold a candle to Magellan or Robert E. Lee.

For a time, before getting into advertising, I worked towards a PhD in history. I quit my studies midway. As it turned out, I preferred reading history to researching it. Still, many years later, I get a great thrill from reading a solidly researched, well-written historical tract. Nothing beats it, except golf.

It bothers me that people don’t know or appreciate history. I think they’re depriving themselves of an important part of being alive. They’re missing the richness of appreciating where they exist in time. They don’t get to absorb the happenings of another place and era. And sadly, I believe their ability to fully make sense of the present world is compromised. Because man is a creature of memory, custom, and ritual, and the past will always be with us. For good and bad. The future is coming; I’m here to tell you, so is the past.

Well, for my money, there’s no better supplemental training a creative can have than a grasp of history. Each day, I face the blank sheet of paper. It can be daunting. But thanks to my passion for history, I don’t look down on that empty whiteness alone. I have inspirational helpers as I search for a concept to tackle a client’s problem. You may know some of them: Napoleon, Buzz Aldrin, James K. Polk, Cortez, Thomas More, Erasmus, Hannibal, Pericles, Botticelli, Peter Abelard, Chester Nimitz, Plato, Hadrian, Otto Von Bismarck but enough name dropping.


Animation brings a fresh look to Lewis’ latest broadcast efforts for longtime partner Vanderbilt Medical Center. The spots—for Vanderbilt Sleep Center and Vanderbilt Sports Medicine—were written by Kathy Oldham and Carey Moore and art directed and designed by Nessim Higson and ACD Roy Burns.

Inspire Your Clients
Inspire Your Clients

Having wrapped up a week of video shoots, facility tours and consumer focus groups, I’m flying home and checking Twitter at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport when I see a headline from AdWeek about George Lois and Lee Clow’s talk at Cannes about the future of advertising.

The AdWeek article covers two creative giants in advertising who have made their mark with incredibly entertaining and successful work. But further down in the piece, one quote from Lee Clow really sticks with me.

“But the moment in time that I’ll never forget is when we produced the ‘Think Different’ commercial and campaign (in the late 90s) and gave a new voice and a new energy back to the Apple company, and gave permission for all their designers to go do the amazing stuff that they ended up doing.”

The energy the campaign created certainly improved Apple’s standing with consumers, but that would have been short-lived without a renaissance of the products Apple offered their customers. The second part of Clow’s statement is far more important. The campaign reminded Apple’s employees that they were capable of doing really amazing things and helped inspire them to “Think Different” and create an even stronger foundation for the future of the brand.

At Lewis, we talk a great deal with our clients about how important their “internal audience” is, but it is easy for client and agency to get distracted and focus more exclusively on promoting a brand to the consumer. In one quote, Lee Clow reminded me that our job as an agency is to help lead and inspire our clients to live up to their brand’s lofty ideals and meet their full potential.

For a health care client, we need to remind physicians and staff how heroic and life-changing their work is. For an RV manufacturer, we try to focus on how their vehicles create an entirely new lifestyle for their owners. And for a small craft brewer, everything from our package design to web design has to live up to their incredibly high standards for ingredients and process they use to brew.

All things being equal, I’d rather hear this in person hanging out in Cannes. But even reading it from afar, I love the reminder that the work we do in advertising has a much more profound impact than just building awareness and intent to buy.


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.

Finally, advertising makes a rebound
Finally, advertising makes a rebound

These days it’s difficult to escape the heavy-handed and negative media reports regarding our economy, consumer confidence and the recession. We constantly hear off-putting reports and statistics on unemployment, real estate, the stock market and a myriad of other social and economic issues.

The advertising industry has also seen its fair share of negative press. We’ve witnessed media conglomerates collapse, 65-year old magazines dissolve and national mega-newspaper corporations suffer. However, in this massive sea of negativity, it seems as though things might be headed in the right direction.

According to data recently published by Kantar Media, total advertising expenditures in the first quarter of 2010 rose 5.1% from a year ago and finished the period at $31.3 billion, marking the first increase in quarterly ad spending since the first quarter of 2008 and the largest gain since the first quarter of 2006, as the ad market finally experienced a long-awaited rebound.

The study tracked 19 types of media —13 of which increased from this time last year. Network TV, Cable TV and Spot TV all increased significantly (11.6%, 8.2% and 22.0% respectively), as well as Internet (display ads up 5%) and Local, National and Network Radio (4.6%, 19.0% and 3.0%). As a whole, print media recorded a slight decline in 2010 (an average of -3.4%) except in Sunday Magazines (13.7%) and National Newspapers (9.1%).

While we continue to follow the ups and downs of the economy, we can be encouraged by studies like this that provide us with an indication that the ad market is moving forward. With the political season approaching this fall, we anticipate these numbers to increase further as inventory tightens and media costs rise. As I’ve recently prepared media plans for several clients, I’ve noticed a renewed confidence in our vendors that I haven’t seen for some time. I think we’ve seen the bottom of the media market and the only place to go from here is up.