As we’re watching some video footage about a fancy medical procedure for a client one Thursday afternoon, one of the creative guys asks if we want anything to drink. Assuming he would be coming back with a Coke, I said no thank you. When he came back from the fridge with Yuenglings, however, I knew I was going to like it here.
I’ve been an intern at Lewis for about a week now, and I see this culture is about more than the stockpile of beer and beef jerky in the fridge. And I see advertising is about more than making cool posters. I’m not sure what I expected agency life to be like, but this definitely isn’t it. I think I imagined people being bossy and on-edge all the time, and I think I imagined every meeting and conference call being a calculated battle. This imaginary office I built in my head couldn’t be farther from the truth, at least in Lewis’s case anyway.
People wear skinny jeans, colorful scarves and hip glasses, and they make me feel cooler just by being around them. Every cubicle is decorated with cool artwork and/or pictures of adorable children. As much of an oxymoron as it may seem, the thing I’ve found most odd about the agency is how normal every interaction and meeting is. The way people communicate with one another and with clients is just so relaxed, so easy, so normal.
This simple, understandable communication style each member of the Lewis team seems to possess is the reason I have already learned so much. Just in the few days I’ve spent following people around here, I’ve realized how complex, compelling and fun the advertising industry can be.
Caroline is a summer account service intern. She graduated from the University of Alabama in May, and she will be continuing her education at the University of Missouri in the fall. Follow her @carolineemurray.
Regardless of your political preference, the upcoming 2012 election has been fascinating to watch on Twitter. Think back to the 2008 election. Hardly anyone knew anything about Twitter. Yes, Facebook was growing and so was the concept of social media, but Twitter only had around 1 million Twitter users during the fall of 2008. Today, Twitter has over 500 million and counting. Big difference.
Fast forward to October 2012. Since the first debate started on Oct. 3, Obama’s campaign Twitter handle, @BarackObama, has gained over 847,000 followers. @BarackObama now boasts over 21 million followers and is in the top 10 of all Twitter accounts. A 4% increase in just three weeks. A side note for those who care—Lady Gaga has the most Twitter followers at 30.6 million and counting.
On the other side, Mitt Romney’s campaign Twitter handle, @MittRomney, has gained just over 310,000 followers since Oct. 3. @MittRomney now has over 1.5 million followers—a 20% increase in three weeks.
No matter which side of the political fence you sit on, Obama and Romney are in a tight race. Yet, Obama has the opportunity to tweet to almost 20 million more followers than Romney—nearly the population of the state of Florida. While his following is considerably smaller than President Obama’s, Mitt Romney has more followers today than total Twitter users from 2008.
So why bring up all these stats? Brands who are seeking to influence groups of people, small or large, need to consider the best combination of media to generate conversations about their respective brands. Twitter is a fascinating and non-invasive social media outlet in that users can pick and choose whom they follow. In essence, they can easily manufacture the type of content (or people) they are interested in.
The social media impact on the Presidential Election of 2012 has definitely provided a huge awareness boost for the two candidates when compared to previous elections.
The new Edelman Trust Barometer Study is out and causing quite a stir among marketing people. The buzz surrounding the report is primarily because it shows a significant one-year decline in the perceived value of “friends” as a trusted source re: brand trial and preference.
Many pundits are gleefully quoting this single datapoint as evidence that the social influence “fad” is starting to fade.
I think this is a big mistake.
For starters, words matter and the term “friends” has been severely cheapened and confused due to the social media lexicon. Real friends will forever remain a source of trust and confidence for Americans. We are greatly influenced by people we know and admire, and as media fragmentation continues, our reliance on these sources will increase.
Secondly, it is important to remember that brand “conversations,” as we define them here, have never been limited to or framed by the social influence movement. We don’t endorse a cannibalizing view of social media and we openly reject the “advertising is dead” mantra.
Instead, our position is that “we do work worth talking about,” no matter what the media. This is not a new position for our firm, nor is it an attempt to promote ourselves with a social media spin.
We are marketing communications experts who are passionate and gifted at stimulating, measuring and sustaining brand conversations — which is vital in an era of “always on, always accessible” media.
Therefore, while the term “conversations” may become a casualty of the social media debate, what should not be lost is a singular focus on helping customers better connect with and through a client’s brand.
This has always been the strength of great agencies and it will never lose its value.
See the good.
A few months ago a professional colleague and a friend told me about a project he was working on in Haiti. When I first heard the idea, I knew I had to find a way to help. And now, I’m leaving within the next 24 hours to spend five days in Haiti with a video and still photo crew.
My friend Jim Bryson is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met working in the advertising business. His research company, 20/20 Research, has been our partner with countless clients as we work to uncover powerful consumer insights that will help build our clients’ brands and grow their business. Jim was also a state senator in Tennessee for several years and when he sees a problem, he is really good at finding a solution and doesn’t rest until things get better.
Which is why when Jim visited Haiti last year on a mission trip after the earthquake, he uncovered some pretty powerful insights of his own and developed an idea on how things can be improved for future generations. His insight after visiting Haitian orphanages was that the common practice of providing formal education to orphans only until the 5th grade and more or less turning them loose on Haiti’s unpaved streets was only perpetuating a cycle of joblessness, poverty and hopelessness. If, instead, proper schools could be built within or attached to orphanages that provided an education for kids from the 6th grade on, a new generation of educated, service-minded Haitian’s could become future leaders and begin to solve some of Haiti’s ongoing social problems.
Jim has already begun the fundraising process and is now headed to Port-au-Prince to purchase land where the first Joseph School can be built. Several of my Lewis colleagues (Sarah Cooper, Ben Fine, Jeff Williams and Steve Moe) and I are tagging along with Jim in order to shoot stills and video of teachers, parents, and children. By telling the stories of the Haitians we’ll meet, we hope to create a powerful way for people in the US and around the world to know about and support The Joseph School. For some people, they will be compelled to donate much-needed funds to build schools. But for many others, supporting Jim’s work and the work of so many others in Haiti can also be accomplished by spreading the message through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media.
Please check out TheJosephSchool.org when you get a chance. Once back from Haiti, we’ll be updating the site with a new design with images and video from our trip.
The Birmingham chapter of the American Advertising Federation held its annual ADDY Gala at Soho in Homewood. Lewis captured 11 Gold ADDYs and 22 Silver ADDYs, more than any other agency. In addition, the agency won Best of Show/Broadcast for its “Never Saw It Coming” TV campaign for Alfa Insurance. Stephen Curry was honored as Creative Director of the Year and Copywriter of the Year, while Joel Wheat was named Art Director of the Year. In addition, being one of Lewis’ youngest employees didn’t stop Holly Cook from making her mark at the show. Holly was named Designer of the Year, Illustrator of the Year and her work from Auburn University was named as Best of Show/Student. This represents an unprecedented three major honors for a fresh-out-of-school designer.
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.
It’s no surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to the news in the past 12 months that it’s a buyer’s market. Whether real estate, cars, clothes or media, everything can be bought at record discounts. So at the risk of sounding like a cheesy car ad, there’s never been a better time to buy!
And we’ve all seen the studies about businesses that advertise during a downturn and come out stronger on the other side.
But this time, it’s more than a little dip. Media costs are down 30% or more from the same period last year.
And media such as newspaper and magazines that historically issued an annual rate card and then said “take it or leave it” are now making bundled offers that create opportunities to increase frequency or ad size, add color, or gain online exposure. They’ll even let you write a favorable article about your business if it saves them having to pay editorial staff!
The point is, with all the noise in the market, this economy offers businesses a great opportunity to dramatically increase their ad frequency without increasing their ad budget year-to-year.
So be fearless. If your business is sound, let people know about it. We all love a success story.
Make that a 22,841-foot view.
Just Do It. Sounds trite, but I firmly believe that I stood on the top of Mount Aconcagua, one of the highest mountains in the world, on Jan 14, 2011 because of an ad man from Portland, Oregon. Our industry has the power to influence. Sometimes for good, sometimes not. I’m not a copywriter, as witness to this blog post. I’m an art director. And while I do believe that art can certainly move you, words, on the other hand, have a lasting quality and a power that transcends a memorable photo or a striking illustration.
“Just do it.” has remained Nike’s official tagline for over 20 years, and is one of the most memorable slogans in advertising history. It’s also a mantra that can be heard on any weekend bike ride, or college keg party. You can hear it at the local gym, an 8th grade dance, or maybe on a morning jog with a few buddies. It always comes to the surface when someone is contemplating something new. Something that will most likely push them out of their comfort zone. A tagline written for a shoe company has changed lives. It changed mine, of that I have no doubt. No, I don’t have a Nike shrine under the stairs at home. I don’t even buy Nike shoes. But I bought in, 100 percent, into their marketing effort. I love “Just do it.” Sometimes it gets me in trouble. Sometimes it puts me in places I thought I would never be. Like the summit of the tallest mountain in the Andes. So in a way, I guess I do use Nike’s product. The fact that I think about Nike’s tagline every time I push back at the urge to sit on my ass, is testament enough.
Words have power. The power to persuade. The power to motivate.
A simple note can change the course of someone’s life. A single paragraph from a paperback book, graffiti on a wall, a love note passed in a 5th grade classroom. Just a few words from a speech put 12 men on the moon. Words can move people, change people. Words can make you cry, make you laugh. A message on an answering machine, or even the lyrics from a song can have a profound impact. Like the tagline of a shoe company that put an old art director on the summit of Mount Aconcagua.