The evolution of the Barbie Doll has been drastic since it first hit the children’s toy scene in the late 1950s. Since its launch, Barbie has had to combat multiple lawsuits and negative press about the unrealistic body image the dolls could be inflicting on young girls. Even with these public relations issues, the doll is one of the most successfully marketed children’s toys in history with hugely successful campaigns like its 50th Birthday in New York Fashion Week and the viral Ken and Barbie break-up social media campaign that had the whole world waiting for them to be reunited. Barbie was even listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 All-Time Greatest Toys.
Mattel and Barbie are now taking another step forward in strategic marketing and more importantly, in promoting a positive self-image for children who need it most. Mattel announced on March 27th on their Facebook page that in 2013 they will be producing a bald friend of Barbie. This announcement comes off the heels of a parent-organized campaign on Facebook and change.org to produce such a doll to help young girls cope with their loss of hair from cancer treatments or other diseases, which some doctors have said can be just as traumatic as the diagnosis itself.
With over 157,000 fans on Facebook this campaign caused quite the stir and eventually caught the attention of Mattel executives. An excerpt from their announcement states, “Play is vital for children, especially during difficult times. We are pleased to share with our community that next year we will be producing a fashion doll, that will be a friend of Barbie, which will include wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience.”
These dolls will not be available in stores, but with Mattel’s partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association they will be given directly to those girls who are most effected by hair loss. Although Mattel will not be directly profiting from these dolls, as a marketer I can imagine the positive press Mattel will receive and the huge impact this will have on Barbie’s, sometimes debatable, image.
As a company who has been directly affected by cancer and works to raise money for cancer treatment efforts, we hope these iconic dolls can boost the confidence and brighten the attitudes of the brave young girls fighting this fight.
Today is World Autism Awareness Day. That means for the next twenty-four hours, buildings and monuments around the world will be bathed in blue light. Among the places “lighting it up blue” are the Empire State Building, the Paris Stock Exchange, The Sydney Opera House . . . and the historic Peabody Mansion in Birmingham, Michigan, which is the home of Brogan & Partners.
I’m so proud that our firm will be a part of this amazing day, when so many people will be focusing on autism. Maybe the blue lights will inspire more people to volunteer on behalf of those with autism. Or to donate money for autism research. Maybe those who live with autism on a daily basis will choose this day to reach out and educate others about the disorder.
Photo by Mike Lord
There are so many ways to learn and help. The blue lights are there to remind us that autism is all around us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism’s prevalence has now risen to one in 88 children. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a personal connection to this disorder.
That's why we are supporting Michigan's Lt. Governor, Brian Calley, in his effort to implement autism insurance reform in Michigan--to make sure that the 15,000 people living with autism in Michigan get the treatment they need to live a bright and productive future.
That’s why I (as well as Brogan & Partners) am a longtime supporter of Friendship Circle of Michigan, which provides services to kids with special needs, including those with autism.
It’s why I contribute to Camp Kids All Together, which helps autistic kids go to an inclusive day camp along with children of all abilities.
And it’s why my husband, Jon, has just joined the board of The Bear Hug Foundation, which helps kids with special needs go to overnight camp.
As many of you know, we bathe the Peabody Mansion in a pink glow every October to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the first time we’ve shined our light on a new issue. I hope it gets people talking. I hope it prompts a flood of donations.
And I hope it means that some day, that one in 88 statistic will be a distant memory.
We love our teams. And are well-known for getting behind them. Win or lose, they can count on a loyal fan base to be there for them. Cheer them on. Believe in them.
We have another team to get behind. When they suit up—it’s dressed up. They are the mighty, fighting Business Leaders of Michigan.
The players are players at the top levels of their games. So you have the participation of Bill Ford, Steve Gorman, Mary Sue Coleman, Jim Hackett, Steve Kircher, Mike Jandernoa and 75 others of equal strength and expertise. And each is fighting for, defending a recognized area of strength and potential in Michigan. Natural Resources. Life-Sciences. Higher Education System. Mobility/Automotive. Engineering. Logistics.
They’re representing Michigan on trade missions--nationally/internationally, to policy leaders, in our communities–wherever it will benefit Michigan’s economy and job growth. They’re all over it.
Brogan & Partners is proud to have worked with our clients Doug Rothwell and Kelly Chesney at Business Leaders of Michigan to create a video Michigan Turnaround Plan: Blueprint for a New Michigan. Check it out. Maybe you’ll be inspired to get behind the team.
Lions. And Tigers. And Pistons. And Red Wings. And Spartans. And Wolverines. And Business Leaders of Michigan. Oh! My!
After you take a look at the video, share your vision for the New Michigan on Facebook and you’ll be entered to win some great prizes.
As one of the digital thought leaders at Brogan & Partners, I was excited to attend this year's SXSW conference and see where the future of digital design was heading. Often, I feel like the "usability police" and for years I have been making sure our web sites, rich media and social media designs where intuitive so the user knows where to click and what they'll get. But with Touch UI gaining momentum, it begs the question: Is Touch UI the Click UI killer? After all, video killed the radio star...
During my week of Interactive sessions at SXSW, I realized that the focus of conventional Click UI was pretty much obsolete. If anything, it was only mentioned in passing. And I also didn't hear the word "usability" mentioned at all. It was all about the touch or gesture experience.
I joke that my kids don't know what a mouse is, but it's true. Their first experience and exposure to computers were a laptop, iPhone, and iPad. None of these devices uses a mouse or has to be clicked. We do have desktop computers around, but it's avoided because there's a feeling of entrapment compare to our mobile devices. Our expectations of how we experience the web has gone way beyond just the conventional and intuitive navigations.
Whether we believe conventional Click UI is a passing phase or not, it is paramount to consider the visual interface as part of the brand. As designers, we'll need to build an easy and memorable experience for our users. And to stay on top of our competitors, those experiences will need to be unique. This is what Nike Myers described in his "The Visual Interface Is Now Your Brand" session at SXSW. Where do you think the user interface is heading?
Here's a little taste of things to come when the visual is the interface.
Like everyone else's kids, my twelve-year-old daughter is crazy about The Hunger Games. She devoured the book trilogy and she's been making plans for the big opening day for weeks.
I myself have been kind of indifferent to the Hunger craze. I was only grateful that there weren’t any vampires involved. But then I spotted a Hunger Games promotion that made me a fan, too.
As the poster says, the world really will be watching when this much anticipated movie hits screens. So instead of just doing the usual glamorous premieres, magazine covers, and other ways to drum up ticket sales, the film is using its fame (and its theme) to do some good in the world. Through the Facebook page, people can make a donation for food distribution by the World Food Programme,internationally or WFP and Feeding America in this country.
To further entice fans to learn more about the very solvable hunger problem, the site features a quiz that includes facts like:
- “1 in 7, or close to one billion people, go to bed hungry every night.”
- “Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.”
- “There is enough food today for everyone to have the nourishment needed for a healthy and productive life. The problem is access.”
Finish the quiz—and learn an important thing or two—and you’re entered to win a signed Hunger Games poster.
To me, this is cause marketing at its best. The film not only gets its publicity, it also harnesses all that fan love to do, good work. It’s a win-win. And it’s made me—a formerly indifferent Hunger Games bystander—volunteer to chaperone seven girls to the movie on Friday night.
Never underestimate the power of a good idea. It will stick in your head for years. It will push itself to the forefront among other ideas. And when the right people see it and believe in its potential, they will jump on your bandwagon. I came up with the idea for “Secondhand Smoke, Secondhand Rose”, 17 years ago working on the Michigan Department of Community Health account at Brogan.
At the time, we were doing some TV spots, so radio wasn’t in the budget and YouTube did not exist. But the tune, “Secondhand Rose,” (which is in public domain) and my rewrite of the words had a sticking factor. And the tune stuck in my head for years. So recently when I heard MDCH needed a radio spot about secondhand smoke for parents of young children, I remembered that idea from long ago. Of course, the original script was gone, considering it was written on one of the first Macs! But I recreated it. And I couldn’t have scripted what happened next better. Our wonderful clients at MDCH, Kelly Niebel and Jason Holben, let us produce it as both a radio spot and a YouTube video (the latter has over 4,000 hits just after a couple weeks). Serendipitously, we found the perfect talent shooting another spot for STEM awareness. We called in favors to make it amazing and stay in budget. But the icing on the cake: powerful results. The calls to the Michigan Tobacco Quit Line were so dramatic, one of our clients exclaimed she “almost fell out of my chair.” So that great idea you have, it can happen. It just may need a little longer incubation period. What do you think of our “Secondhand Smoke, Secondhand Rose” spot for the Michigan Department of Community Health? I'm glad it stuck in my head all those years!
South by Southwest or better known as SXSW, is an interactive, music and film festival. A few of us, Broganites, set off on our travels to take part in the interactive portion of the festival. In particular, I was a SXSW virgin. However, I was excited to lose my v-card and participate in networking events, panel discussions and other social activities surrounding tech innovations.
My first thought was that it all was extremely overwhelming. There were probably over 50 events or sessions you could choose from per day. And there were always going to be 1 or 2 that you could tell would be a waste of time once you sat in them for the first 10 minutes. But overall, the tech leaders that made up the panel discussions and sessions were really insightful. They made you think. After a session you would feel more empowered, more knowledgeable and maybe even invincible. There was also the feeling of: When I get home I am going to be the first one in my office to know about the next great tech idea!
I had a few favorite sessions and here’s what I learned from them:
I Used Data Analytics to Game Online Dating – I was under the assumption that this solo speaker, Amy Webb, was using the title as a metaphor. I thought I was going to a session about social media analytics. Boy was I wrong! It really was about her dating life. This woman created an algorithm to find her husband on an online dating platform. It was even considered rated “R” according to the SXSW organizers – only because she used colorful, raunchy-ish language. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, I really found it very entertaining and humorous. And I may even buy Webb’s book, Data: A Love Story, once it is released in 2013.
What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI? – There isn’t one! Or at least there isn’t a universal social media ROI. The panel from this session discussed that you shouldn’t use sales as a goal for social media. Social media is about building relationships directly with the consumer. For those folks who have created their own ROI for social – your formula should be used as a benchmark. However, it’s not an absolute science or equation. My favorite quote from this panel was “What’s the ROI in not doing social?” from Craig Daitch a Social Media Manager for Ford Motor Company.
Social Media Is a Bubble and SXSW Is a Fad – This panel of 5 had lots to say. It was a combination of humor and opinions. All but one of the panelists agreed that social media was a bubble. They were preaching that the social community should figure out how to manage the bubble once it bursts. How do we create value from the burst? I think the creative talent that comes out of this burst will need to be placed in new companies. However, this could be good because they will bring new and fresh ideas to wherever they land. This was by far my favorite, because these people who are looked at as social leaders were being realistic and having a real conversation about the social phenomenon. It is here to stay; the question is when will it become just another medium? After the bubble bursts?
So there you have it, those were my favorite sessions from SXSW. And I can now say…I am no longer a virgin, and it was mind blowing! If you were in Austin last week, what would you say was your favorite session? If you weren’t in Austin last week, does this sound like something you would want to be a part of next year?
Did you know that March 25th is the kickoff date for Michigan STEM Awareness Week? You’re probably wondering what is STEM and what does it have to do with me? Well, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It turns out that STEM occupations are the highest paying, fastest growing, most influential jobs of the future to drive economic growth and innovation. Which we all know is important for the State of Michigan. Michigan STEM Awareness Week is being sponsored by the STEM Alliance of Michigan (SAM).
I had the pleasure of working with these forward thinking folks on a TV spot to promote STEM education awareness. Working with the kids featured in the spot was too much fun, they were spontaneous, charming and hilarious. It’s times like this that I love my job. A job I couldn’t do without my MAC and technology. So learn more about the good stuff going on during Michigan STEM Awareness Week, March 25-31. How will you build STEM awareness? Start by sharing the spot with your family, friends and social networks. I did.
After attending SXSW, one of the best sessions was Dear Google and Bing: Help me rank better! It was practical and gave me tangible items I could take back to my company and to all of you.
The session included Danny Sullivan, Duane Forrester and Matt Cutts. Danny is the Editor in Chief of Search Engine Land, and Duane and Matt joined us from Bing and Google and helped clarify some questions that were basic, but valuable:
First question asked by the audience was, what are those links that appear under websites?
Google and Bing call them slightly different things (site links vs deep links), but they are determined by the trust of the pages. They are the most relevant pages in a website. For Brogan & Partners, Google decided that Contact, Careers, About, Healthcare Marketing, Brogan & Partners Business Reboot page, and the Brogan Blog were the most relevant for a user searching for our site. And even better news, you can edit and remove these deep links for Google at Google.com/webmaster. However, you cannot add any deep links. That is for Google and Bing’s algotheriums to determine.
Next question was about high bounce rates and if they matter.
Scary thing about the search engines, is they measure every move you make, but they claim to do it for the greater good and understanding how us, humans, search. They do measure when a user goes to a site, then right back to the search engine. That means that user was unhappy with their information. Duane at Bing did note that it is not always a consumer being unhappy, but rather they received the information quickly, so it is not a bad thing, but something the search engines take into consideration. So make sure to monitor your bounce rate and let it be one of many things to evaluate.
Another key note that Google and Bing both pointed out, was make sure to engage socially. If a topic is going around the social networks, it is a signal to Google and Bing that that information is relevant and will rank higher. And we all know that YouTube videos are the first result in many seaches (Hint: Google owns YouTube).
SEO points to relevancy. If a user lands on the site, are they happy? Or are they annoyed? Google and Bing want the user to always be happy, so create compelling content and get into a niche market. Work to become the voice in your area with compelling content so users will be happy when they land on your site. And try to rank high for less competive search terms.
Google and Bing want your results to be personal. Google has come under fire for their new privacy settings, but it is an attempt to have a very personal search relationship. Google and Bing remember what you have searched for in the past, and try to connect your current searches with your past searches. They have been doing this for a long time, but they also try and bring back geotargeted results. So when I search ‘restaurants for lunch’, Google brings up restaurants in Raleigh for me.
Last question they had time for was how to fix broken links. They unanimously answered ‘301 re-direct is the best way’. So make sure to push that with your IT team.
Matt, Duane and Danny were great and really did a fantastic job of explaining some of the nauances about SEO to the lay marketer.
Not so long ago, if you wore a girdle, you didn’t want anybody to know it. Now girlfriends (including the Grand Girlfriend of them all, Oprah) love to dish about smoothing their muffin tops or rounding out their booties with sexy, slimming shapewear.
And it’s all because of Spanx.
Founded 12 years ago, Spanx sells (and sells and sells) not just because it works wonders on women’s bods, but also because it does it with winning sass, from the naughty name to the cute cartoons on the packaging.
And that’s all because of Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. Her force of nature personality, relentless work ethic, and most of all, true understanding of women, have made her a newly minted billionaire at age 41. She’s the youngest self-made woman on Forbes magazine’s “Rich List.”
I love Blakely’s back story. She started Spanx with $5000 of her own money. She had an idea to improve upon control top pantyhose and had to practically storm a hosiery mill to get them to make her prototype. She wrote her own patent to save legal fees. She hand-sold Spanx at a folding table at Neiman Marcus using picture of her own disappearing panty lines and stayed up all night filling her own mail orders.
Now that her company—which is debt-free and privately owned—has hit it huge, Blakely’s personality still charmingly infuses everything Spanx does, especially its savvy marketing. The company’s staff is dominated by women who put themselves out there as much as Blakely does. On the Spanx blog, “The Rear View”, for instance, staffers pose for before and after photos in Spanx nipping and tucking swimsuits.
And in a section called “Spanx-Giving,” we hear about charitable work staffers have done for organizations like the Foster Care Support Foundation’s Prom-A-Palooza.
Blakely also gives back with motivational speaking, largely aimed at women, and impulsive gifts of joy, like treating everyone in her favorite restaurant to dinner.
A cute cartoon of Blakely herself, wearing a long blond ponytail, is perched at the top of the every page on the Spanx website. It’s clear that, while her ragtag underwear company has changed immensely, Blakely has remained true to her very feminine self. And that’s the best recipe for success I can think of.
When marketing to women it’s important to understand their influence when it comes to decision-making. Today is International Women’s Day, so we’re taking time to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments women have made around the world.
2011 marked a huge step forward for women professionally. For the first time in history women hold more than 1 of 10 board seats internationally. This may sound like a small number, but it was less than a century ago that women didn’t even have the right to vote. What does this mean for marketers? Now, not only are women a powerful audience to target for purchase decisions in the home, but they are becoming a growing target as business decision-makers as well. Also, women are now in the position to overtake men in the American workforce. With statistics like these it’s only a matter of time until women hold even more of the boardroom influence.
Personally, I’m proud to work in an era that offers opportunities for women to thrive and grow in our careers. And remember, next time you're working on a new campaign or business pitch to keep the female perspective in mind, as there may be a woman sitting on the Board of Directors.
Sometimes great marketing to women is simply just great marketing. So for this post, I would like you to weigh in. I polled the women at our agency and most of us love the Allstate “Mayhem” campaign. According to Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys, women like “humor without victims”. But I would contend that this campaign is an exception, despite the car crashes, electrical sparks, trees falling and black eyes. The humor is so clearly metaphorical and satirical; many women I polled think it is hilarious.
We all relate to potential of mayhem in our life (we are against it vehemently) and like the humor of this male personification of it. As a female creative director, I wish I thought of it—it’s smart and memorable with endless possibilities. I do not know if Allstate was targeting women specifically (my guess is it was for the general population), but maybe they should be. According to a 2011-2012 Prudential Study, Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, “95 percent of women are financial decision makers, and 84 percent of married women are either solely or jointly responsible for household financial decisions.” While I am personally not offended by the stereotype of the hot pink jogger spot, others seem to be from blog posts I saw online. Hey, it’s a man in a suit acting like a girl so I think that’s funny.
But perhaps a campaign that speaks to women better is the Travelers campaign with the dog. The first spot which featured the dog worrying about losing his bone had the tagline “Take the scary out of life.” Now they have a new tagline “It’s better under the umbrella.” I guess since the dog was such a hit, it’s become their “spokes animal” and now they are putting a more branded, positive spin on the campaign. I guess all insurance advertising has to have a spokesperson these days, whether it’s the Mayhem guy, a gecko, Flo, the nationwide nerd or Snoopy. I like both the Allstate and Travelers campaigns for different reasons. And I think they appeal to both men and women. What financial or insurance marketing connects with you? And do you think Allstate is doing a better job or Travelers when it comes to creating great marketing to women. Want to see more, check out my first post in my series 20 examples of marketing to women that connects.