Monthly Archives: May 2015


The most recent iMedia Agency Summit focused on the agency model of the future. This tends to be an ever evolving debate in an ever changing marketing universe. Do you specialize in one area? Be all things to all people? Partner with other shops or go it alone? With the rise of procurement departments at the same time as programmatic solutions that promise efficiencies, there seems no better time to have this conversation. 

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This conference always kicks off with a special day dedicated solely to agency folks. Most everybody in the room is a Director or higher, from agency’s owned by holding companies down to 10 person independents. The basis of the day is to have an open and honest conversation about this great industry in regards to the conference topic. 

Once again this day did not disappoint, you could feel the passion among these agency leaders which lead to some spirited conversations and great learning. One area of concern in the ad community continues to be training for staff and finding the right talent. While a number of folks resorted to the usual comments such as, “we don’t have time” and “we run so thin, it’s sink or swim”, a handful of people had some great solutions. One that stood out was an agency’s no interview rule. They simply have a handful of people come in with each getting pared up with a mentor and begin working. Every 4 hours the mentor checks in with the department head and makes the decision to keep going or cut bait, eventually landing on one candidate. They are in a sense looking at two things, how does this person fit within our culture and what is their work product like?

Next up was a great conversation with Jon Raj from Cello Partners, discussing the agency search process and what brands are looking for and saying. Turns out it’s a little of everything. You have Best Buy and other brands moving away from the standard AOR model and going towards project work. You have more and more brands embracing independent agencies that display great thinking, along with a certain level of trustworthiness. Two things that can get lost at times. The bottom line: build trust, be transparent and collaborate internally to bring great ideas forward.

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The theme over the next two days focused mainly on evolving the agency model and the ways in which we target consumers. Lots of insight from the clients in attendance continued to focus on building trust, bringing good ideas forward and providing real insights, not just data. One quote in particular stood out, “the difference between agencies is declining, so it’s not what I require but more about how you can solve my business needs”.

In terms of building out your agency team with focus on specialty areas, some agency leaders found it hard to grow the knowledge while maintaining the current level of work. The solution in these cases centered on finding a niche agency, buying them and folding it into the current shop. The main concern in these cases was clashing cultures and how to mold together. The consensus was to include more people in the process and get them working together early, before a deal is even done to ensure a cohesive environment.

The other big discussion revolved around Millennials and Gen Z and how they will not only impact the marketing business but also from a consumer standpoint. Ann Mack, the Director of Global Content and Consumer Insights for Facebook was on hand to present a recent study on these two groups. The results were very telling of how the industry is, but still needs to shift in terms of thinking and engagement. The top three areas of focus for these two groups were Family, Friends and Music. It was also noted that online has surpassed the mall for places teens hangout. FOBO (Fear of Being Offline) is the new FOMO, and it’s a real thing that’s not going away, especially with the digital first world we now live in.

We as marketers need to evolve the way in which we operate our businesses and think more from a digital first mindset. We can’t simply apply old techniques to new technology. You must embrace digital, stop supporting silos and invest in vision. Those who do will continue to build trust and thrive.

Always Stay Live and Up to Trend for Social; What’s Next?

There is no question that Meerkat was the hottest topic of conversation during SXSW this year. Meerkat is the new app introduced during SXSW 2015 that allows you to live-stream content on Twitter.

Some of the critics raised their eyebrows about this new app when it comes down to the safety and privacy issue of social media.

… privacy can be an issue for people broadcasting video of anything other than themselves or willing participants ….” − Kia Kokalitcheva via Fortune Magazine

But you can’t deny this generation that ALWAYS wants their content here and now, 24/7, 365 days a year, LIVE.

“… people love it. Meerkat has become a darling of Product Hunt that’s signing up plenty of tech’s elite and scoring praise from users.” – Josh Constine via TechCrunch

Image courtesy of NBC News

As you look back into the history of social media, you will notice that it’s been about real time. Facebooking your latest status with your friends, tweeting the live concert you are at this instance … real-time content seems like the purpose of social media all along.

“Today’s younger generation has a reputation of being glued to cellphones and tablets. It’s where they chat with their friends, find out the latest hot spots in town and, believe it or not, keep up with the world. In their own way, of course.” – Erica Quinn, CBS

Courtesy of Ninth Decimal

But where does this lead us to in the future of social media?

Will live-streaming and real-time content change consumer behavior?

Today, Twitter just announced its partnership with Rhapsody on the new feature, which allows music service subscribers to share full-length tracks on Twitter that anyone can listen to, even if they don’t have a subscription themselves. Also, Twitch announced its live-streaming service with Ultra Music Festival for those music fans who couldn’t be at the event in person. Now fans can watch online in real time. Even more, Game of Thrones’ Meerkat (now it’s a verb, just like tweet) the red carpet moments during the Season 5 premiere without any commercial interruptions.

Will people soon enough not need to spend big bucks on concerts and events like SXSW or Coachella since they can just watch everything with a click? Will any exclusive materials and experiences that become more easily accessible to everyone lose their unique charisma from a content-marketing perspective?

From my observations and experience, my answers will be no.

Social media is a way of life, but it’s also about another main focus: INTERACTION.

Brands want to know the general perception from the audiences and users, and they want their fans to engage on the social channels. Brands feed content continuously in order for people to keep the conversation alive and to keep their brand image fun and refreshing.

Keep the conversations going is a main reason why social is still king in the digital space. Good content will drop on the ground and die without any further interaction and buzz in the community.

What if we have live-streaming options and can also interact with people at the same time? Augmented reality seems so overdone. How can we refresh this concept into actual successful executions?

With the rapid technology developing day by day, I am very much looking forward to the inventions we see on sci-fi films very soon.



Is your brand on the path to irrelevancy?

Can you recall the last time you heard anyone speak of his unmentionable BVDs? How about the last time anyone asked for a Nuprin? How about Xerox? Has anyone xerox’ed paper lately? It was a very common function at one point.

Remember the good old days when Oldsmobiles, Plymouths and Mercurys traversed the country’s roads? How about when Nolan Ryan took Nuprin for his aches? Or when smokers and coffee drinkers knew exactly which toothpaste to use to maintain their pearly whites. Do you remember that premium coffee was available in a can?

There are many factors that contribute to the demise or irrelevancy of a brand. This is not about listing those factors — ultimately, bad brand management kills a brand. Rather, this is about another huge factor that is at the marketer’s doorstep and in due course will be the death of additional brands − demographic shifts in population.

You might know of demographic shifts. But do you know about the effect on your brand?

According to Census data, the percentage of foreign-born population is the highest in more than a hundred years. At almost 13 percent, it is the highest since the mass European immigrations at the end of the 19th century.

Now think of how we acquire brands. How does the relationship begin and how are we introduced to them? When young adults leave the nest and begin their acquisition stage, they don’t do it with a blank slate − the brands used at home are already embedded in their lives; the relationship with brands, not necessarily the use of them, is old. And who introduced the brand relationship? The parents. And if the parents lack a relationship with a brand that was introduced to the American public decades ago, then not only are they lacking a relationship with the brand, they are lacking awareness and understanding of the brand.

Let’s look at the Hispanic consumer segment as it relates to this topic. While 60 percent of all U.S. Hispanics were born in the U.S., the family history in the country is rather short. The generational relationship to American iconic brands is not well developed or is nonexistent.

Think of iconic brands developed 40 years ago in the U.S. How many of the death or dying brands mentioned at the beginning of this article fall into that category? Does Brooke Shields remind you of wearing your Calvin Klein jeans commando? Does the Pillsbury doughboy elicit the same emotional response with Hispanic consumers? What about Mr. Clean? Is Wonder Bread building strong bodies? All the efforts conducted in the past lack a reference and emotion; they are irrelevant.

Moreover, immigrants bring in the brands from their home countries, and these days, they are also found in the local grocers’ aisles. Hostess brands compete with the portfolio of Mexico’s Bimbo snack cakes. Mexico’s Picot brand is the go-to effervescent indigestion brand over Alka Seltzer − and it outsells Alka Seltzer in Walmart.

It’s OK then. Native-born Hispanics will speak English and know my brand, right?

Native born Hispanics will speak English because they are and will be educated in the U.S.; however, they will be unfamiliar with your brands. Branding is not about language. It’s about creating relevancy, about acquiring real estate in the consumer’s mind. And if the brand ignores the consumer, the consumer will also dismiss the brand.

It gets worse. Hispanic consumers are drastically changing the definition of mainstream consumers. Food items and customs previously thought of as Hispanic are now part of the mainstream. Think about that during your next Dia de los Muertos party as you dip into your guacamole, or the next time you indulge in your churros at Disneyland, or get ready to eat serrano-topped sushi rolls.

How do I learn if my brand will be affected by demographic changes?

Learn if the category is developed with the Hispanic consumer segment. Is your brand history seeded in the post-WWII baby boom? Is your brand steeped in 1950s Americana? Are you using Catskills humor to position your brand with consumers who think Catskills is the YouTube piano-playing cat? Are you tapping the emergent consumer markets not familiar with your brand? If you are, is the message relevant or simply a translation?

Think about your personal experience: Remember traveling in the old station wagon and spending the night at the Holiday Inn? Remember the familiar shag carpeting and Astro-Turf by the pool? The fun time you had while stretching your legs by the pool, the horseplay and the cannonballs? That’s a memory − a brand perception not shared by more than 30 percent of the U.S. population.