Making shade.


Listening to a friend’s house-decorating stories often means enduring a litany of woes: the rug that was too scratchy, the paint color that was too bright, the upholstery that cost a fortune, and on and on.

But my cousin, Elizabeth—who’s sprucing up her new house in Atlanta—called the other day with a happy decorating tale.

It’s also an example of some great marketing to women.

Elizabeth had an enormous window in her stairwell that needed covering. She found the perfect solution at The Shade Store—a pretty roller shade made of grasscloth. Being a green type, she liked that the shade was made from organic materials and had a natural look to it. 

The Shade Store

I wasn’t familiar with this company but from what Elizabeth told me, it sounded great. The website tells you how to measure your window, customize your window treatment, and install it by yourself. Skilled customer service people will walk you through the process if you need extra help. For a busy working mom like my cousin—or myself, for that matter—being able to order and install a quality window treatment without having to hire (and meet with and pay) a decorator is a great time-saver.

Elizabeth and her husband loved the shade, her neighbors were grateful for the privacy, and that was that—or so they thought.

A couple weeks later, Elizabeth received a “Give a Tree” card from The Shade Store. As a thank you for her business, the company (through the Arbor Day Foundation) had planted a tree in one of our fire-depleted national forests.

What a great business move.

Since The Shade Store uses a lot of natural materials (organic ones, to boot), planting trees is a great way to promote its own brand.

It’s also going to help sales. The Shade Store’s products are naturally going to attract plenty of green customers. (Incidentally, a majority of those will probably be women. According to She-conomy, women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases and more than 50 percent of women say they want more green choices.) These customers are going to love the fact that The Shade Store gives back in the form of tree planting and they’re likely to give the company repeat business because of it.

It worked on my cousin. She’s now considering using the company for window treatments in her front room. I’m sure I’ll hear all about that decorating venture, too. But given the Shade Store’s inspiring business model, I don’t think I’ll mind.

9 insights to consider before developing a social media strategy for your hospital.


We are always trying to think of ways that our healthcare clients can successfully tap into social media in order to help them reach their marketing goals.  And with an industry that is slow to adapt to leveraging social, it’s hard to convince them that it’s imperative to participate (especially when there isn’t much research or good samples to reference that support the fact that it is worth the investment of time and money). 

So, when The Health Research Institute released an analysis of health care and social media, I was extremely interested to see what the data said and how it could be applied to our current and future healthcare clients. 

With that, I have honed in on some of the research that I found most relevant to our hospital clients, and have included 9 insights that should be considered when developing your social strategy. 

  1. Those with  poor health are more likely to engage about health

This is really interesting – as the ultimate goal on social platforms is getting people to truly engage with your brand.  With this, hospitals could think about developing campaigns and social programs specifically around a disease state.  For example, we have seen many children’s hospitals doing a good job at breaking into social, as their audience seems more engaged than those on the hospital’s brand page.  So, it would be interesting to see if service line pages specific to a disease state would do better, such as a page for your breast cancer center, to serve as a health resource. 

  1. 18-24 year olds are the most likely to trust/share/engage via social media regarding healthcare.

Trust Impact of Each Level

This brings me to the fact that one of the greatest times to build a relationship with the female healthcare decision maker is during the time she has her baby, as it’s one of the most positive experiences she will have with your brand.  Perhaps you could offer an application that allows her to easily share photos and updates on her baby’s development or an application that allows her to find a local playgroup.  A unique application available for expectant mothers that is a nice reference for inspiration is available via babygaga on Facebook

  1. 28% of consumers have supported a health related cause

I can truly appreciate this piece of data, as it proves that fans are passionate about health causes.   An idea to put this to work could quickly increase your fan base/followers.  Have your organization select a health cause to partner with and develop ideas and tactics to boost followers.

  1. 40% of consumers will post about negative care received at a hospital

While maintaining a social presence is important to help build relationships with your brand, it is equally important to monitor social channels to find out what people are saying and what they’re unhappy with, allowing you to improve the perception of the hospital.  Be sure that this component is included in your strategy, as you may be surprised at how harmful not knowing what others are saying could be to your reputation. Supporting this is the fact that 41% of consumers said that the info they found via social media would affect their choice in selecting a hospital/medical facility.

  1. 42% of consumers are likely to post about a doctor/nurse/provider if they had a positive experience.

This data supports the thought that people may look to social for referrals or second opinions.  Create an idea that with help foster sharing of positive experiences with your hospital, and make it something that people will really want to share. Be sure to ask yourself, what about this makes it interesting enough to share with others. 

  1. Most consumers expect to receive a response from a healthcare company via social media within 24 hours

Be sure to build this into your plan and have a highly thought-out process in place to ensure that this can happen.  Perhaps a simple “we are looking into this and will get back to you asap,” just letting them know that you are responsive, concerned and timely. 

  1. Consumers want ways to make their healthcare easier to manage (doc apts., apt. reminders, discounts/coupons, continued support post-treatment). 

Think of clever applications or tactics that can be incorporated within social outlets that will make people’s lives easier – an app allowing consumers to schedule an appointment, an app that sends patients reminders about their appointments, exclusive coupons for health screenings (i.e. $20 off a heart screening).  These serve as the content that is going to keep your fanbase engaged.

  1. 63% of consumers are concerned about sharing their health info, as they worry about public sharing


We know that for hospitals, HIPPA regulations have many worried about what they can and can’t do.  A great idea for remaining compliant,yet able to engage is to have a social policy in place guaranteeing that information will not be shared.  A good starting point on information in regards to the rules for establishing a HIPPA compliant social media strategy can be found on a blog from HIVE strategies. 

  1. Organizations are most concerned about integrating social media data/analytics and measuring the effectiveness/linking to ROI

When developing a strategy and a social plan, it’s important to set sound goals to measure the effectiveness of a campaign.  Determine what is important and feasible to the campaign per the strategy.  Is it increasing brand awareness?  Be sure to measure your fan increase and retention.  Is it spreading your brand message?  Look closely and analyze how often something was shared.  Or perhaps it is building an engaged fanbase.  With this you can monitor comments, shares and feedback rates. Just be sure your goals are realistic.  A blog post by Avinash Kaushik gives a breakdown of the best social media metrics to use as a starting point.

Have you seen any good examples of hospitals using social well, with this data in mind?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Lowe's knows women.


As I embarked on my first do-it-yourself project of the summer I came to a crossroads – which store do I buy my paint and sandpaper from, Lowe’s or Home Depot?

I went into both stores and came out surprised at how much Lowe’s understands women and what they want from a home improvement store. The store is brightly lit, well organized and clean. Their signs are complemented with pink backgrounds and the outdoor furniture section includes cute sun hats. Right in the front of the store is a huge display of cleaning products and laundry detergent. The paint department is covered in bright colors, floral prints and hearts (literally). All of this combined creates something much different from Home Depot’s warehouse set up.

This women centric attitude seems to be carried by each of the stores’ employees as well. At Home Depot, I was scoffed at in the paint section when I asked the difference between semi-gloss and satin finishes. At Lowe’s the woman employee complimented my shoes and asked me what project I was working on.

Lowe’s knows me and they know women.

According to Marketing to Women by Marti Barletta, women like to browse while shopping and Lowe’s provides aisles and organization perfect for that. They also put things together to create entire rooms so women can see the big picture. Finally, they take into account that women want bigger aisles for strollers and carts and keep things on lower shelves so women can reach products easily. On the other hand, Home Depot creates an environment that centers on a man’s way of thinking. Men like to walk into a store and pick up a tool quickly and efficiently. Home Depot’s aisles cater to this way of thinking.

Lowe’s doesn’t stop at creating a woman friendly environment in stores, the emphasis on women continues throughout their advertisements. Their commercials are bright, colorful and fun. They show women doing projects that real women aim to complete. Once again, in contrast, Home Depot’s ads show things that men find funny like construction projects gone awry.


There’s nothing wrong with Home Depot taking the rugged approach, but since women make 80% of home improvement decisions, I think Lowe’s is making a great decision in reaching out to a target that is less thought of in the home construction market.

What do you think? What other brands are excelling in reaching women in a male dominated industry?

Three unique brand page examples on Pinterest.


Last fall we mentioned the latest social craze – Pinterest – and how users are pinning anything and everything from food to fashion and beyond. Back then, the majority of user accounts were created by individuals looking to organize their thoughts and ideas in a visually appealing way where they were easily accessible at a later date. But, in the past six months, we’ve seen a shift and numerous brand pages have popped up on Pinterest, hoping to capitalize on this new social medium and engage with their brand advocates in a new and exciting space.

Right now, brand pages function in the same way as any other users’ page. There is no special functionality for brands. However, this does not mean that brands have not thought of innovative ways to set themselves apart on this new channel. In fact, I have seen many brands promoting unique contests and sweepstakes, creating innovative collaborative boards and utilizing their boards to tell the story of the brand. Below, I’ve selected a few brands that are good models for other brands to reference if they are hoping to join and become active on Pinterest. 

Peugeot Panamá

This car company is hosting a creative Pinterest puzzle contest.

Peugeot Panama Pinterest Page

Users have to locate each of the puzzle pieces around the website and/or Facebook page and pin them to a board that they create on their individual Pinterest account. Once the board is completed and organized correctly, users must share the board with Peugeot. The first five people to complete each board win the contest. 

Peugeot Panama Contest Pin

Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is a great example of a retail brand that’s utilizing the channel in a way that is interesting for the users. Their boards include photos of Dunkin’ Donuts and their products around the world, some history and what “keeps them running”.  They also feature a cool collaboration board, called What are you Drinkin’, that features quotes from actual fans. This is a unique way to show brand advocates that they are listening and incorporating their thoughts into the brand image.

Dunkin Donuts Pinterest Page

Peapod Delivers

Peapod Delivers is a company that delivers groceries throughout the United States. They have created a very unique Pinterest page with numerous boards ranging from recipes, to healthy living tips, to holiday and event specific ideas, to causes they love (centered on food). Overall they do a great job of capturing the brand’s lifestyle and culture, giving users a reason to follow their boards without constantly pushing their service. One board that caught my eye was the Delivery Trucks board that tracks the delivery truck as it travels to different states. I thought this was a fun way to engage users so that they can follow along with where the truck has been.

Peapod Delivers Delivery Trucks Pinterest Board

What other brands have you seen on Pinterest? Have you seen brands with any unique boards or promotions? Stay tuned for more blog posts to come on Pinterest strategy and best practices.

Our big trip to The Big Easy.


Every year, Brogan & Partners and Ignite Social Media go on an annual Mystery Trip. The tradition began in 1995 as a perk to create a happy work environment and as a bonding experience among employees. The first Mystery Trip was Chicago and the agency traveled by bus, shared beds and kept it simple. Since then, the trips have evolved and become a little more sophisticated.

Here’s how it works….there are only a select few who actually know where we are going. These people plan for months in advance. They coordinate flights, hotels, group activities and group dinners. All of this planning stays under wraps until clues are sent to our emails at random times. The clues can throw you for a massive loop or can trigger your inner Sherlock Holmes. There have been several occasions where a Mystery Tripper has packed summer gear and the actual destination was cold and rainy, the complete opposite has also happened.

I personally have been around for nine trips. Since I started in 2001 we’ve been to places such as Bahamas, San Antonio, Iceland, Amsterdam, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago and Jamaica.

2012 was no different than the previous years. We were given those taunting, mind-boggling clues which included pictures of: Ron Burgundy (from Anchorman), Trent or Vince Vaughn (from Swingers) and Kermit the Frog.

And where did we end up? New Orleans or as the natives say N’awlins, The Big Easy.

This year was unique in itself because we had a ton of new employees and everyone is getting to know each other. This past weekend, the Mystery Trip came full circle, and was truly a bonding event. We shared such great experiences that included sightseeing (or gawking) on Bourbon Street, listening to jazz tunes on Frenchman Street, eating great Cajun food and feeding gators on the bayou.

The tradition of the Brogan/Ignite Mystery Trip is one of the greatest perks a business could give its employees. Where do you think we should go next?

Bring Facebook shopping with you.


I stared at two pairs of wedges for about twenty minutes unable to decide which to buy until a woman came up behind me and said, “Definitely go with the yellow.” That’s exactly what I needed and what most women want while shopping - a reassurance that they are making the right decision.

Surprisingly, Facebook is here to help. According to Mashable, in Brazil, the social media powerhouse is unleashing a program that puts Facebook likes on the top of hangers in the fashion retail store, C&A. Every time someone likes a product in C&A’s online store, the number on the physical hanger goes up.

This is a win for all types of shoppers. If you want what’s popular, you can pick up a hanger with a ton of likes. If you like to be different, you can go for something with less online prevalence. You no longer have to feel anxious shopping on your own.

You can see social media being integrated into the real world all over the place now. There have been plenty of online campaigns where people vote online for a new clothing design and the winners are produced and sold. One of our favorite examples is Bobbi Brown bringing back lipstick shades on Facebook.

What do you think about social media entering your everyday world outside of the internet? Do you think this is an effective way to market to women or is Facebook out of place?

Facebook Hangers

10 tips for students looking to get a job in an advertising creative department.


You’d think in an era of social networking, it would be easier to find a job. But I meet young people all the time struggling to find where they fit in and how to get their foot in the door. And I remember those days at the University of Notre Dame, when I decided I wanted to be a copywriter, searching through the Agency Red Book, trying to get internships, mailing clever things to agencies to get their attention. So here are 10 helpful tips that I have to pass on to aspiring agency creatives.

  1. Be creative. If you want a job in creative, do not follow a so-called professional resume format. I have seen resumes on paper napkins and on video. Be different if you want to break through.
  2. Study award-winning campaigns. Get award books like the One Show, Archive, and Communication Arts Advertising Annuals. While you can find great award-winning creative online at places like Ads of the World, I think buying old versions of these books on is a great thing to have, to understand what makes a campaign and what makes it great.
  3. Learn the business. Seek opportunities (in class and out) to learn the business and add to your portfolio. Invent clients, do spec or do real ads for families and friends. The best way to get hired is to have a great book!
  4. Intern. Intern. Intern. I had two internships before I landed a full-time job. So pursue internships whether free or paid—but only at places where you like the work they do and know you can learn from their talent. Agencies like to try before they buy. An internship at your dream agency could lead to a better future than one at a mediocre one.
  5. Choose wisely. Big agencies are a great place to start as they hire more people more often. But at a mid-size shop like ours an intern could do web ads, social media, radio and get a shot at TV. Think about what fits you and your career goals.
  6. Brand yourself. Make your own brand speak uniquely through your website, business card, resume and guerilla. And be consistent with that unique quality that differentiates you from the pool of other aspiring creative. I have sent funny things to agencies over the years to get noticed. Attach a web video to your resume. Or try snail mail because in the digital world it’s a better way to break through and be noticed.
  7. Understand it’s not about you. It’s about what you can do for an agency. So research different agencies online and through the Agency Red Book at the library so you can talk intelligently at interviews and show them how you could move their business forward.
  8. Be patient and persistent. Understand Creative Directors and Creative Recruiters are busy. If they don’t get back to you, it’s most likely because it’s not a priority to them at that time. Find the Associate Creative Director or a Senior Copywriter or Art Director to glean info from. Any connection that can give you insight. Name drop their name (“So and so said to call you”) to get you to that next level. Stay visible so when they do need to hire, you make the list.
  9. Network. Join ad clubs. Freelance for local chambers of commerce. Friend people you admire on LinkedIn. Blog. Vlog. Increase your SEO. No contact is ever wasted.
  10. Stay positive! It takes time to get with the agencies you really admire but persistence eventually will pay off.

Those are the real secrets to getting a job in advertising as a creative. Take it from me, the school of life is more educating than even the best universities. Let me know if this helps. Or if there are any other tips that a young creative should try. Best of luck to you!

Will Create For Chocolate

Innovative healthcare marketing example #12.


Memorial Hermann will be doing more than putting pins in patients today. They will be pinning a live brain tumor resection. Brain surgery on Pinterest? Yep. I'm not sure if it's the right social platform - it's not where I'd go to get up to speed on leading brain surgery centers - but it's certainly innovative. As is the hospital's social media machine.

This Texas hospital performed the world's first live-tweeted open heart surgery a few weeks back. When this reaped 125 million views via Twitter, Storify and media coverage, they decided to go for it again. Adding in Pinterest.

Today's brain surgery will be performed by Dr. Dong Kim, the surgeon who operated on former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. While surgeries have been tweeted in the past, this will be the first to share the feed from the surgeon's fiber optic microscope. Real time pics and videos will be posted on Twitter, YouTube and Storify.

According to Nielson @Plan, homemakers index 204 on Pinterest, meaning they are 104 times more likely to be on this site. So Pinterest definitely reaches the female healthcare decisionmaker. But will she want to look at photos of brain surgery while hunting for recipes and fashion tips?

(Image from

Time will tell. I think one thing's for sure. Memorial Hermann is living up to its themeline of "100 Years of Patient-Centered Care and Innovation." Not only with its team of expert docs, but its team of social media experts.

What do you think of surgeries on Pinterest? Is it over the top? Or is this hospital ahead of the curve?

Target does it again with The Shops.


You can probably tell that we’re big Target fans here at Brogan & Partners. Forgive me for visiting the subject once again, but Target keeps stepping up its game, especially when it comes to marketing to women. I just can’t ignore it.

Their latest bit of brilliance? The Shops at Target.  These are five actual “Main Street” type of shops—from a Boston dog bakery to an Aspen cosmetics boutique—that will be reproduced in Target stores.

I can’t tell you yet if I love the shops themselves. They don’t debut until Sunday, May 6th, but I already know the online marketing is breaking new ground for the store.

While we’re accustomed to Target partnering with cool designers like Missoni and Dwell Studio, these lines’ online presence blends right into the rest of the Big Red Dog website.

The Shops part of the website, on the other hand, looks completely different.

It starts with a chic storefront window that you really want to peek through. Then the page for each shop features the brick-and-mortar version’s colors, fonts, and vibe. The page for the Miami clothing boutique, The Webster, for instance, is sexy and lit up in neon. Privet House’s page evokes the cozy Connecticut housewares store with a fresh, green color and a romantic tree. 

Here’s the best part: there’s a short documentary film about each shop. The videos are sweet, slickly produced, accompanied by jaunty xylophone music, and narrated completely by the shops’ owners, with whom we’re on a first-name-only basis.

“When people walk into Target and see our collection,” says Diane, co-owner of The Candy Store, “you’re going to feel like you’ve walked into our small store in this little neighborhood in San Francisco.”

Her other half, Brian, adds, “We want to bring a little piece of the boutique experience to Target.”

In other words, Target is letting us know: We know you’d rather shop local. We know you’d rather have unique, boutique goods, rather than Big Box ones. We also know that’s hard to do if you live in a distant suburb or you don’t have the time or money for boutique browsing.  So we’re giving you with the next best thing.

With their adorable online presentation at least, I think Target is doing a pretty good job of it.

What do you think of Target’s new marketing approach?

The changing face of Point-of-Purchase.


When I take my five-year-old to the local mall, he immediately starts begging to see the “pictures that move.” This technology, in which an image is projected onto the mall floor and changes as a user touches, jumps, or steps on it (imagine bubbles popping or butterflies flying away), has captivated a future shopper and given him a reward for joining mom at the mall.

Now, it looks like that technology (or similar) has entered the ranks of point-of-purchase. In a Mashable post by Lauren Indvik, we get a glimpse of how a retail signage company, Perch Interactive, is working to change the shopper’s experience at retail. Simply by picking up a product, a user will activate marketing messages and visuals that will help him imagine how the product will fit into his life. It’s gotten me thinking about how this experience might become personalized – could it sync up to social media, so you can “like” something from the sales floor (great way to build a Christmas list)? Or could it become a loyalty tactic – driving rewards for shoppers who spend time with products?

Maybe that is a lot to ask from some lights and projectors (forgive the understatement), but who knows what is possible? We’d love to hear what you think.

Innovative healthcare marketing example # 11.


One man. In a box. For one month. No, he's not homeless. Just kinda unhealthy. Until Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota put "Scott the Human Doing" in a glass apartment at the Mall of America. There he learned in the public eye, and with their help, how to be healthier. Sit-ups. Tai chi. Pilates. Cooking and eating fruits and vegies. Whatever his audience desired. Scott did exercises directed by Facebook and Twitter polls. He also spent a lot of time connecting with folks via posts, tweets and videoblogs. And marveling over the support they gave him, which he says made all the difference.  

The Human Do.Ing glass apartment

The brilliance in this disruptive campaign is the two way communication. We've all heard that we should exercise and eat better. But this campaign showed and engaged people. In a real and memorable way, with live results. As for the results? National buzz. Over 2 million social media impressions. Over 4300 Facebook fans. Over 500 Twitter followers. Thousands of on-site impressions from people at Minnesota's most popular tourist attraction. Not to mention Scott dropping 29 pounds and 110 cholesterol points in just 30 days.


The Human Doing is part of BCBS of Minnesota's "do campaign". Getting people to move and groove at home, work, school, their community, etc. to fight obesity. Testimonial TV ads spotlight people explaining the excuses they used of why they couldn't lose weight ("I told myself it was hereditary"). Each ends with the thinner, healthier person "do dancing" with the funny "do dance" guy who makes you smile.  

I think BCBS of Minnesota is doing a good job of getting people to do. What do you think?

Sisterhood of the magical pants.


There are clothes I’ll keep forever for sentimental reasons, like my old sorority sweatshirt and the shoes I wore at my wedding.

And then, there are the clothes that seem to be a permanent possession because they just won’t wear out. I’m referring, of course, to my Lululemon yoga pants.

Those of you who’ve splurged on a pair of super-comfy Lululemons know what I’m talking about. You stretch and sweat in them, you wash them a gazillion times, and they continue to hold their shape (not to mention flatter your shape) and look brand new.

So I was fascinated—as both a marketing expert and a consumer—by this Wall Street Journal article about “Lululemon’s secret sauce.”

With some brands, the high quality of  the clothes alone is enough to draw a loyal following. When Lulu added some savvy marketing to the mix, it turned their loyal following into a cult one, giving the company a market value of $10.4 billion last year.

A couple interesting bits of Lululemon wisdom:

  • Don’t try to gloss over high prices with sales. Own the fact that high quality clothes are expensive and make that part of your caché. Lulu never discounts the prices on its staple items and rarely holds sales. According to the article, 95 percent of Lulu togs are sold at full price.
  • Leave ’em wanting more: When Lulu introduces new styles or colors, they’re released in limited quantities. Customers know they’ve got to grab their goods quick before they’re gone. According to the WSJ piece, “a hot-pink color named ‘Paris Pink’ that launched in December was supposed to have a two-month life cycle but sold out its first week.”
  • Pay close attention to consumer feedback and don’t be afraid to act on it. Lulu doesn’t punch focus-grouped data into a computer to make business decisions. Instead, they design the stores so that salespeople fold clothes right outside the dressing rooms—the better to eavesdrop on customers and learned what they really think. Sometimes it’s Lulu’s CEO, Christine Day, who’s listening in. Another great quote from the WSJ: “Ms. Day spends hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores. ‘Big data gives you a false sense of security,’ says Ms. Day.”

I like the straightforward approach of Lulu’s marketing. It’s not right for every business or every product, but in the age of search engine optimization and algorithmic everything, it’s refreshing to see a business become hugely successful by kickin’ it old school.

Lululemon Website

What about you? Do you have more examples of successful companies who’ve ignored current marketing trends to do things their own way?