Tag Archives: Advertising

Finding Purpose on International Women’s Day

For more than 100 years, people around the world have been striking, protesting and marching in support of women’s rights every March 8, on what is now recognized by the United Nations as International Women’s Day. And on this day, I’m reminded of the heartbreaking story of Madonna Badger, and how she chooses to “fight with hope and love.”

I first learned of Madonna when she spoke at The 3% Conference last year. When she took the stage, I expected her to impart wisdom gained from her life as a creative director and the founding of her agency, Badger & Winters. Instead, she opened her heart and shared her story of unfathomable tragedy. In the early hours of Christmas Day 2011, Madonna’s parents and her three little girls − Lily, Sarah and Grace − died in a house fire. Madonna was also in the home at the time; she wasn’t able to save her family.

After enduring a year of devastating depression, grief and survivor’s guilt, she emerged with a new purpose. She would use her considerable talents and voice to make the world better for women and girls. She would do this in honor of her daughters, and in the hope of making the impact she knew her girls would have made had they lived to fulfill their potential. The #WomenNotObjects campaign was born.

The mission of #WomenNotObjects is to end the objectification of women in advertising and support brands that empower women. Hundreds of years of systematic privilege, fear and prejudice have shaped society to hamper the rights, dignities and personal freedoms of women, minorities and anyone thought to be “other.” Today, objectifying and stereotyping in marketing are a couple of the more subtle ways in which these discriminatory ideas are perpetuated. These harmful messages, often cloaked as “art” or locker room humor, threaten to undermine the gains we’ve made toward true equality and, in doing so, weaken our society.

I’m very proud that we don’t do the kind of work that objectifies or stereotypes. We use our voices and talents to influence and move legislation, to inspire movements, and to create positive experiences. We know the impact our work and service can have on individuals, communities and culture. And so, let us support and spread the mission of #WomenNotObjects and continue to use our talents to fight with hope and love.

Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should: The Internet of Things and Its Impact on Advertising

About 20 years ago, Edward Tenner wrote a prophetic book, Why Things Bite Back: The Revenge of Unintended Consequences, in which he identified the “revenge effects” that result from some of the technology advances that have defined our improvement-obsessed society. Things like superbugs emerging from antibiotics, carpal tunnel/back pain from computer usage, and crop control that actually attracts pest populations rather than eradicating them.

It’s a case study of Murphy’s law. So as we continue to live in the exciting world of the Internet of Things (IoT), the question of revenge effects looms large. It’s the “Jurassic Park” conundrum of “can” or “should.”

IoT is both the chaotic bleeding edge of technology and the absolutely certain path of how we will conduct business and commerce in our connected future.

According to a recent Forrester study:

(IoT) solutions help companies bridge the physical and digital worlds, ingesting information and context through sensors from the physical world into the digital and taking actions in the physical world via actuators based on digital insights.”

What that means in plain English is that virtually every interaction you’ll have with a product, service or piece of technology will eventually be tracked by sensors and transformed into data on the cloud. The data then will be harvested by companies, service providers, marketers, insurance companies and government agencies who will slice and dice it into the products, services and information your profile says you want and need.

To be clear, IoT is not something in our far, far off future. Adoption is happening at a blistering pace, right now. Market research company Gartner estimates that “6.4 billion connected gadgets will be in use worldwide by the end of (2015), rising to almost 21 billion by 2020. Roughly 5.5 million devices are hooked up to the Internet of Things every day.” The New York Times recently reported that within a year of starting its operations, “Microsoft cloud handles a trillion sensor messages a week.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Then multiply that number by the immense server capacities of Google, Amazon, Apple, the Telcos, and literally thousands of worldwide data centers, and you have an inkling of the sheer scale of this transformation.

For now, most of the activity in IoT is happening behind the scenes—supply chain management, inventory control, shipping and tracking. But the frenzy over this technology among consumer businesses is mind-boggling. B. Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement for snack food juggernaut, Mondelez, has stated that, “Mondelez might become one of the biggest technology companies in the world.”

Here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Mondelez puts sensors on its products, like Chips Ahoy! and Oreos. These sensors can track inventory, sales velocity and replenish rates, freshness, store locations and much more. When you pick up that package of Oreos at your local Kroger, it’s scanned at checkout and merged with other sensored and scanned purchases you’ve made. Those purchases could be linked to your debit card, which now inexorably links the Oreos to your household, personal data, bank account, contact info and, ultimately, your smartphone.

From here, depending on your view of push marketing, you’ve either entered the kingdom of heaven or all hell just broke loose. Kroger could aggregate your data into a personal shopping list that includes all of the items you typically buy. They’ll send you a text to confirm the items and price—the items will be delivered to your door within the day (by drone or driverless car) and the balance due will show up on your debit or credit card.

Couldn’t be easier.

But as Guthy-Renker says, “Wait, there’s more!” With emerging machine-to-machine interactions (M2M), this data can interact with data from other devices. For example, if your home is secured and heated by Nest, Google knows which rooms you enter, when. It knows when you’re home, which lights you turn on and for how long, when you use your washer/dryer and how long it takes to blow-dry your hair. Which can then be tied to personal care products, laundry soap, travel and leisure among myriad other things—all of which have sensors of their own that generate even more data.

Nest could also know when you open your refrigerator, which is tracking the contents inside, including the Haagen-Dazs chocolate gelato that’s almost empty. At some point, you’re going to get a message on your smartphone stating that it’s time to restock the Haagen-Dazs, and most likely the Oreos. If you restock your gelato every other day, the frequency can be noted by the home health care app on your phone, which relays that data to your health care insurer, which recommends a fitness program or raises your premium. Even with this seemingly absurd hypothetical, you can see how interconnected data can become a lot more than a convenience.

Fortunately, we’re not there. Yet. Because of the enormous range of sensors, customer scenarios and providers, there are no industry tech standards, or worse, privacy guidelines or security protocols. But they’re coming. As this blizzard of sensors and data hits us, there will be a ton of profound questions.

Setting security aside, the implications for advertisers, marketers and society at-large are unprecedented and profound. From a marketer’s perspective, exactly what should a brand target, a living human being or his/her data set? If purchase behavior is so granularly tracked and reliably predictive, why market to people at all if they’re satisfied with what their data is delivering? Will our notion of choice be redefined? Is there any need for advertising, branding or marketing of any kind if the purchase process is predetermined by data and the efficiencies it delivers?

IoT could become both a micro-segmentation and rationing tool to develop highly calibrated marketing campaigns. The idea of affinity groups of consumers becomes irrelevant in the context of a technology that can efficiently target millions of consumers one at a time. Marketers can pinpoint geographic product distribution as part of a penetration strategy to either flood a market to kill a competitor or create product scarcity to raise prices. Taken to an extreme, IoT could even become a vehicle for social engineering. Consumers’ preferences and credit ratings could dictate which products are made available to them, creating new exclusivities and inadvertent social divisions. Regardless, the role of marketing, brands, consumer choice and control will be revolutionized and dramatically different from anything we know right now—with potential revenge effects that are too numerous and daunting to begin to contemplate.


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.

Brazil garners attention for ad spending

As increasing attention in global marketing is being focused on the Latin American market, Brazil, sitting at the #6 economy in the world, has shown particularly astronomical increases in media growth and ad spend, with 2012 projected to surpass all existing bench markers.

IBOPE reports that in 2011, total ad spend in Brazil went up 16% to top 88.3 reales, the US equivalent of $51 billion, an increase of about 8% from 2010.

Leading the pack in terms of ad spend was free TV, with about 53% of total spend. Meanwhile, while pay TV has grown 118% since 2008 (the audience is currently 40 million strong), ad spend is only about 7%. Total TV spend is down a few percent from 2010, as heavier emphasis has been placed on digital.

Both IBOPE and IAB Brasil report that 5.3 billion reales (US $3 billion) was the total ad spend for online in 2011. This is a significant 69% increase compared to 2010, during which advertisers spent 3.1 billion reales for online advertising.  Interestingly, 50% of Brazil’s 2011 online ad spend went to search and the other 50% was for display.

As a result of increased digital spend and activity, heavy-hitting American brands have opened up shop in Brazil— Netflix, Google, Facebook and Yahoo, to name a few. These companies now compete with top Brazilian brands like UOL, iG and Globo.com.  Still, 75% of the page views in Brazil are generated by just 7 Web sites: AOL, Earth, iG, Globo.com, Google (including search, YouTube and Orkut), Microsoft Live and Yahoo. Additionally, 31.1 million Brazilians visit e-commerce sites every month; coupon sites alone grew 379% in visitors between May 2010 and May 2011.

Sitting at a surprising number two in ad spend in Brazil in 2011 was newspaper, while magazines ended up slightly behind pay TV.

From a consumption standpoint, newspaper circulation yielded a 3.5% increase in circulation and a 7% increase in subscription since 2010. In fact, 11% of the Brazilian population reads the newspaper every day. Meanwhile, magazines subscriptions were up 5% year over year, and subscriptions doubled!

The following is a survey of media outlets Brazilians most admire:

  • Free TV network: TV Globo
  • Pay TV channel: GNT, which is from the Globosat cable network
  • Magazine: Veja
  • Radio network: CBN
  • Internet portal: Google

Join us for our weekly #RRchat

Hey you! Yes, you, the one reading this blog entry in between checking your Twitter stream and Facebook and all of the other things that you probably are not paid to do, but weave into your workday to keep it interesting.

We’re not knocking you. Social media and surfing the web ARE part of the workday in some ways, because they’re great tools to use to keep up with industry news, trends, and engage in discussion with both clients and other ad folks. At least that’s how you justify it to your boss while you look at pictures of cats using bad grammar.

Since you’re online all day anyway, make it productive — join us Friday from 3-4 p.m. Pacific time for our weekly Twitter discussion about all things advertising. Follow @rrpartners on Twitter and each week, you can give us your thoughts and insight on three short marketing-themed questions. Be sure to use #RRchat in your replies so we can retweet and holler back.

To give you a head start, here are the questions we’ll be tossing out to the Twittersphere this week. Read over them, formulate your responses and get ready to have some fun banter with other marketing agency tweeps!

Question 1: Do you think if a brand has a social presence, you are more likely to purchase from that brand over one that doesn’t? What’s the value in a brand name?

Question 2: Facebook may be rolling out a dating component. Would you date on FB?

Question 3: A recent study says Klout may not be an accurate view of your social influence. What do you think?

Don’t forget the #RRChat hashtag, and hope to see you every Friday from 3-4 p.m. Pacific!

Digital Content Developer/Social Media Specialist Sal DeFilippo contributed to this article.