The Business of Advertising
Well, the Olympics have come to an end (sigh). The closing ceremonies are over and have successfully spiced up my life. But the completion of the games have left a void in my nightly television routine I have gotten quite accustomed to over the past two weeks. I’ve now had some time to reflect on the proud moments, the incredible athletes, and, of course, the tear jerking Olympic commercials that oftentimes deserve gold metals.
What struck me the most was the huge role social media played in this year’s games. The New York Times even referred to it as the “Socialympics”. There have been some highlights (following the athletes as on their road to Olympic stardom was inspiring), but there have also been some social media mishaps.
Here are some of the lessons we have learned that can be applied to your business or brand’s social media so that you don’t accidentally commit “social suicide”:
Greek Olympic triple jumper, Voula Papachristou, was ousted from the games and was ineligible to compete after tweeting racially hurtful comments about fellow African athletes. Not only did she get the boot, but she put a rather large dent in her personal brand.
Dick Raman, CEO of BrandReact, says, “the lesson here is think before you tweet. Because social media is instant, people sometimes don’t realize that things written in the heat of the moment have a lasting effect even in the Twitterverse.” Remember: social media is instant and permanent. This also validates that age old adage: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Photographs by Stanley Chou/Getty Images; Michael Buckner/Getty Images.
Here’s another example: Olympic Soccer player Hope Solo and Brandi Chastain got in a twitter cat fight over Brandi’s guest commentating during a match. Their back and forth was more painful to watch than the final seconds of swimming.
The lesson here may be obvious, but it’s vital: don’t talk smack about your competition. You’re better off letting your brand, products or services speak for themselves than bashing your competitors. Keep it classy.
I’m already looking forward to the next round of Olympic Games and all of the glory and controversy it is sure to bring. Until then, I’ll be keeping an eye on my social media and carefully monitoring my twitter posts.
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.
- 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.
- 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 Amazon.com is a great thing to have, to understand what makes a campaign and what makes it great.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
Every once in a while, a big retail chain reinvents itself, and I always find it fun to watch. Remember, for instance, when Abercrombie & Fitch was a place for great, white hunters to shop? Or when Banana Republic was all about safari chic?
The latest store to do a big switcheroo is JCPenney. This reboot isn’t a simple case of hipping up the middle-American staple and shortening its name to JCP (though of course, they have shortened the name to JCP).
According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, JCP’s new CEO, Ron Johnson, is trying to turn the whole concept of a department store on its ear. The store’s main floor is no longer a sea of cosmetic counters. Now, it’s a wide-open “town square,” surrounded by dozens of tiny specialty shops. The ubiquitous .99 has been lopped off of price tags. And instead of pricing items high, then holding sale after sale after sale, all merchandise will now be offered at lower prices from the get-go, and there will be regular sales two Fridays/month. (For a full breakdown of JCP’s new pricing structure, check out this great blog.
All of these changes seem made for busy women who can’t exactly plan for spontaneous sales, and don’t like to be toyed with when it comes to pricing. Considering that a majority of department store shoppers are women, this seems like a smart move.
My favorite part of the new JCP is its marketing. Ellen Degeneres, whom I adore, has been hired as spokesperson. She and the company were both the picture of grace in the face of a recent anti-gay protest by the group One Million Moms. And Ellen’s JCP commercials were one of the only entertaining parts of the recent Oscar broadcast!
In addition to advertising the store’s new game—which includes no coupons and no receipt necessary for returns—Ellen’s commercials introduce the chain’s new motto: “Fair and Square.”
I love the cleverness of this phrase. Not only does it refer to the classic community gathering place that is the small town square, it also pokes a bit of fun at JCP’s old image—which was definitely square. Such sweet, self-deprecating marketing is winning, and I hope it works. Next time I’m at the mall, I plan to check out the new JCP. I’ll also be curious to see if their rebrand impacts other department stores, which are all suffering in this economy. Johnson is the genius behind the futuristic Apple Store, so the odds are in his favor.
However it goes, I admire JCP for shaking things up, and for following through with some great marketing to women.
Have you been to the new JCP yet? What do you think?
As we all know, Facebook is going public. Even though Mark Zuckerberg is the social media giant’s founder and figurehead, it seems like Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is the one everyone’s talking about.
I’ve admired Sandberg for a long time. Not only is she a brilliant leader at Facebook (who will soon be worth an estimated $1.6 billion) she’s also a champion of other female leaders. And she puts her money where her mouth is.
According to this New York Times piece, Sandberg insists on hiring, promoting, and mentoring women within Facebook, and giving lectures on the importance of female ambition around the world.
Of course, Sandberg is an uncommon visionary. On the other hand, a woman being one of the most powerful people in social media makes perfect sense. Women are the most powerful forces behind social media. Take these statistics from emarketer.com:
- 69% of females use social networking sites.
- People are 49% more likely to recommend a company after they like them on Facebook.
- 79% of women will refer family and friends to a brand page.
- 40% of internet users like a brand to receive discounts/promotions.
If Sandberg alone doesn’t inspire more women to climb for the C-suite in internet tech and social media businesses, then statistics like those above should seal the deal. The numbers translate into tremendous female influence in the marketplace. That’s why it’s essential that social media be shaped by those who understand its primary users most—women.
I hope to see more and more social media-oriented companies like Facebook (and for that matter, Brogan & Partners with women at the helm. It’s a simple equation that will only add to their success.
And once she’s a billionaire, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandberg start a foundation that promotes women’s professional development in social media and beyond. At least, that’s what I hope she’ll do.
What about you? Who are your role models within the world of social media?
Have you heard of the “lipstick index?” This is a term created by Leonard Lauder during the 2001 recession. As the economy went down, Lauder posed, the sale of little, cheering luxuries like lipstick went up.
But in our current economic downturn, the news is all about nail polish. According to Time magazine, lipsticks sales are only up 14 percent this year, but the sale of nail polish has risen 54%.
This might simply be a fashion trend. Or it might be because nail polish is cheaper than lipstick. (In other words, even lipstick is too rich for our blood these days.)
But here’s a positive spin on the news: I think good nail care is a boon for women. At Brogan & Partners, we even bring in a manicurist once a week to give our employees some free pampering and—if they want it—polish.
This is a perk, yes, but I also think it’s a sound business decision.
I know that sounds a little bizarre, but hear me out.
When you think about it, your hands are one of the first impressions you make in a business meeting. You thrust out your hand and shake. And while men might focus on their grip, women think about their grooming. Manicured hands—with neatly shaped nails and no ragged cuticles—show that you’re put together. You’re conscientious, even meticulous. You’re on top of the little details. And you’ve got style!
All that conveys, and inspires, confidence. And this is no small thing in the business of marketing. After all, we’re not just marketing products and ideas. We’re marketing ourselves.
Not that polish is all about putting on a show. It gives the wearer a lift, too. How many times a day do you glance in the mirror? Maybe three or five?
But your hands are always in your sightline. When I type, gesture, or drive, it gives me a little lift to see a flash of color and shine. Does it boost my confidence? Who can say? I’ve been a diehard nail-painter since the age of eleven. I barely know myself without a coat or three of lacquer on my nails.
I do know that when I was going through my breast cancer treatment, I was appalled when I heard I might have to take off my nail polish for surgery. In her amazing memoir, Geralyn Lucas wrote why she wore lipstick to her mastectomy. I didn’t care much about lipstick when I went for mine, but my polished nails felt like the utmost symbol of my dignity. (And yes, I got to keep my mani.)
Nails might seem like a frivolous detail, but I think they’ve got some significance—in life or at work. So, even though it’s a sign of bad economic times, I’m kind of glad women are finding a pick-me-up in nail polish these days. In my book, it’s one of the better boosters out there.
I was pleased to hear that Lego recently launched a new line for girls called Lego Friends. My two sons love Legos (love might actually be too weak a word for their Lego obsession) and as a parent, I like them, too. The stackable bricks encourage creativity, concentration, and even math skills.
You’d think it would be a no-brainer to build on the brand that parents love to love (except for those moments when you gouge your bare foot on a Lego piece left on the floor). But apparently, creating and marketing Legos for girls is very, very hard. A Friends cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek even included a “Lego Girl Graveyard” with a sizeable line-up of failed past attempts to reach the pink side of the playground.
Friends, Lego has vowed, will be different. The company fine-tuned the line so exhaustively, its market researchers have been compared to cultural anthropologists.
So, I checked out the Lego Friends marketing with eager curiosity and high expectations. When I clicked to the website, I was . . . a little perplexed. Lego Friends is character-driven because pretend play is just as important to girls as building with bricks. The plastic figures have names, personalities and interests and they look more detailed and pretty than the famous, boxy Lego minifigure. They also look quite young—just like the 7 or 8-year-old girls in the Lego Friends commercials.
So why are the animated characters on the website so adolescent? They have shapely, figures, sculpted cheekbones, and the wide, almond-shaped cat eyes do not happen without the help of mascara. They do a lot of giggling and hugging. They’re not yet Barbies, but they’re definitely sexier than their plastic counterparts.
I bet little girls love these cartoons. But as a mom—you know, the one who’s going to be viewing the website and buying the products?—I’m a little turned off. I accept that Lego made many of the Friends sets a little stereotypical, from the beauty salon to the fashion design studio. That’s what girls ask for in focus groups. (They obviously don’t know how cool women-led ad agencies are.)
I’ll even tolerate the fact that the building aspect of Lego Friends looks less intricate than that of many “boys’” Lego sets.
But when it comes to marketing, we all know grown women are the target. And I think Lego misfired with this website. That’s a shame, because the sweet, age-appropriate Lego figurines are a welcome change for those of us who are Barbied, Bratzed and Disney Princessed out.
I’ll be interested to see if women look past the mixed message of the Lego Friends website and buy the sets for their young daughters.
What do you think of the new Lego Friends line and its marketing?
I just finished reading “Start Something That Matters” written by founder of TOMS shoes Blake Mycoskie. I picked up the book after learning that Brogan & Partners was featured in a call-out box. Blake recognized us for our long-standing tradition of honoring mistake of the month with a $50 reward. Each month at our agency meeting, while celebrating our hero of the month and our BVP (Brogan Values Perfectionista), we also share the mistake of the month. The only rule—you have to nominate yourself. Celebrating mistake of the month has helped contribute to our open and honest culture while also helping others to avoid making the same mistakes.
This is just one of the many traditions that makes our company truly great. When I walked in the doors 18 years ago, I never dreamt that I’d be working for the same company today but what I’ve found inside our walls is a spirit and an energy that inspires me every day. Whether it’s helping a company with a branding reboot, building a snowman for the Friendship Circle, raising money for breast cancer, walking for the Rainbow Connection or holding a party to benefit FORCE, our Board of Directors and employees are continuously thinking about how they can make a difference in this world. In our day to day worlds, we are working with our clients to make a difference in their companies—some of which we’ve worked with for over 20 years. This year we celebrated our 27th year in business and we are looking forward to the next 27 years. Big thanks to our clients, friends, neighbors and employees who are the reason we are able to continue doing great work. Wishing all of you much success in 2012 and beyond.
Like a lot of women, I used to keep my admiration for Bethenny Frankel to myself. This was back when she was catfighting her way through The Real Housewives of New York City on Bravo. I couldn’t help but be drawn to her smarts, her quips, and the fact that she actually seemed relatable.
Frankel’s moved on to her own show, Bethenny Ever After, and bigger and better things. She’s used her celebrity status and her keen understanding of what women want to establish her own brand which now includes bestselling self-help books, a shapewear line, skincare products, and exercise videos.
But her most brilliant endeavor is her cornerstone product, the Skinnygirl Margarita. Frankel understands that women want to have a good time and still stay skinny. She found a niche in a category typically dominated by men. Smart, considering women make up 65-70% of the alcohol purchasing decisions.
And it seems to be working well. With nearly 350,000 Facebook fans and over 33,000 Twitter followers, Skinny Girl cocktails are the hottest new drink. Clearly Fortune Brand’s Beam Global understands that too since they recently signed a nine-figure deal with Bethenny and they’ve since released a Skinnygirl Sangria and Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo.
“If I’m going to form a brand, it has to solve a problem for women,” Frankel said recently on Forbes.com. “It has to be something I would actually do, say, eat, drink, live. And it has to be innovative, something that hasn’t been done before.”
Forget Bethenny’s brash personality, her fame, her hotness, and the fact that she regularly says, “Holy s#%&balls” on TV. As a businesswoman who took female consumers seriously and filled a niche that nobody else had thought to consider, I think Bethenny Frankel is a class act.
Can you think of any other traditionally male industries that should take heed and start producing for women?
Hereʼs a good example of a difference between men and women: shopping. Women shop. Men retrieve.
A woman will decide she needs a pair of brown shoes to go with a suit she wants to wear to work. A man will notice his brown shoes are looking tired and he could use a new pair. Both go to the mall. The woman will go with an idea of whatʼs in the fashion magazines, what she wants to spend, what brands of shoes fit her well and feel comfortable, what stores carry shoes she likes, what stores carry shoes she can afford. The man will go to the store where he found shoes the last time he bought shoes.
When the woman gets to the first store on her mental list, sheʼll look at all the shoes, sheʼll check out sale shoes, sheʼll tell the clerk sheʼs looking for brown shoes to go with a suit—something suitable for the office and point out a few pair sheʼd like to try on.
The man will point to a couple pair of brown shoes, ask for his size and sit down. He might check out the running shoes too. Heʼll try on the shoes. Look at the shoes. Walk around a little. Maybe try on and buy athletic shoes if the salesperson is on his game. The man will pay for his shoes and leave the store.
The woman may or may not buy a pair of brown shoes she likes. But sheʼll look at more stores for more brown shoes until she finds “the perfect brown shoes”. Sheʼll know them when she sees them. She wants to see the universe of brown shoes and some viable alternatives. Sheʼs shopping. Itʼs research. It will take all day. (Sometimes into the wee hours on the internet too.) She may arrive home tired and empty handed. (although she may take advantage of serendipitous finds too right to pass up and have several new items she “needed”.) Sheʼs a shopper.
The man will get in his car, stop for a car wash, pick up some crescent wrenches at the hardware store, stop for a beer and sandwich and arrive home with new brown shoes. Heʼll flop on the couch, turn on a game, wait for dinner. Both people will be gratified by how their day went. Both will say they went “shopping”.
Weʼre experts in how women shop. Good news for clients. Women influence 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to healthcare. Affluent working women with family incomes of $75,000 or more are growing in number, and 94.3 percent access the Internet during an average month. About half are now considered heavy users of the Internet.
And yet, only 3% of the creative directors in ad agencies are women. We have two of them.
Talk to us. How women think isnʼt theory with us. Itʼs practice. Itʼs in our DNA.