PRNewser FishbowlNY FishbowlDC GalleyCat TVNewser TVSpy LostRemote SocialTimes


Op-Ed: Brand Union’s Wally Krantz Talks ‘Brand Singularity’

wallykrantz1As mentioned previously, we’re gathering thoughts from industry folks on the year that was and/or the year that will be. Up now is a quick note from Wally Krantz, worldwide creative director at Brand Union.

“More and more in the past year I’ve been seeing a stronger connection across mediums. I’m not sure if this is because agencies are working better together or if CMOs are more involved in every aspect of communication, or if it’s a bit of both. I would place more of it on the latter, since at the top of every agency there is a creative leader that (should) have a direct line to the CMO, and because of this the objectives are clearer and a vision is set.

When an experience is strong, differentiated, genuine, and honest, and made in a way where the sensibility and tone is reflected wherever you are in contact with it – on a shelf, on your television, on your mobile device – it’s going to be more relevant. Or at least resonate in a way that makes us want to engage.

I’m seeing a kind of brand singularity happening for those companies that have a clear understanding of how all the different ways that a customer connects to them. This will start to happen more and more as marketing teams and agencies are aligned in every aspect of communication.”

Op-Ed: BFG’s Scott Seymour Talks Brands Embracing ‘Quirky’ in 2014

seymourbfgAs 2014 winds down (and time flies even faster), we figured we’d break the monotony a bit by picking the brains of various agency folks and gathering their thoughts on the year that was and/or what to expect from the industry come 2014.

First up to bat is Scott Seymour, VP/chief creative officer at Hilton Head, SC-based creative agency, BFG Communications (no relation to BFG9000, obviously), which has worked with brands like Buffalo Wild Wings as well as on entertainment efforts for Fox and Warner Bros. Here, the 20+-year ad vet tells us what to expect from brands next year in four shorts parts. FYI, we’ll have more input from industry folks as the weeks progress and will scatter them throughout what’s left of 2013. Anyways, take it away, Scott.


1)            Shift to Understated

This one’s simple. Simple — meaning that brands will begin to fully understand that simplicity is a consumer desire both emotionally and aesthetically. Brands will shift from overt branding to subtler, more understated styles. And, as early-adopting brands gain traction, this trend will gain momentum. Other brands will see the benefits through a cleaner approach. This will eventually move to branding across all mediums as brands forgo “screaming” their names, logos and messages in exchange for sophistication. It will be about a quiet exchange of the megaphones in favor of more intrigue, more discovery, resulting in deeper consumer connections.

2)            Embracing Quirky

It is said that beauty can best be found in the imperfections. This coming year, brands will stop saying it and start doing it. This doesn’t mean we won’t see beautiful or “real” work. (Real has already happened.) What this does mean is that the age of transparency will finally catch up with marketing — forcing a divergence from the cookie-cutter, safe route. Brands will step away from canned, stock photos and lofty, aspirational images. Instead, they’ll focus on uncovering stories, shedding light on character and celebrating quirkiness — the stuff with real substance. The real breakthrough marketing.

Read more

Op-Ed: Where’s the Comment Love?

danalarson1Dana Larson, chief content officer at San Francisco-based agency Extractable, has returned with another column, this time *gulp* tackling what is basically the most controversial/notorious aspect of this site, the comment thread. Larson, who has spent 20+ years in the biz, holding a wide range of positions including copywriter, CMO, content strategy director and ECD, asks a question that has been posed to us by many an agency staffer–whether they be in PR, creative or in senior exec level–over the years. We only wish her the best. Read on and chime in if you please.

Writing a post for AgencySpy is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bit like splitting the lanes on the Bay Bridge—there’s always a chance that you’re going to find yourself in the comments equivalent of eating asphalt. (For those of you who don’t ride, the drawing of blood is involved here.) Sure, there are plenty of posts that get no comments at all, but when the comments start flying, they really get going and they’re usually not very kind.

In a review of 220 posts on AgencySpy over the last month, 25 posts had 10 comments or more. That’s a fairly engaged audience, but don’t confuse engaged readers with fans. Only two of these posts garnered predominately positive comments—the rest were mostly snarky, and some were downright mean. Here are a few select gems for you:


SpewInThis  type99 

• 25 days ago

Ugh. I think I just choked on my own vomit. Are you for real? I’m guessing yes, probably because you’re one of Justin’s bosses and not someone who actually had to work with him. If you did, you’d realize what an arrogant, overrated douche he is.


Chim-Chim  Spritle 

• 20 days ago

You’re right. If you work in advertising you should have zero moral compass and cling to the dogma that got you that Porsche. Keep believing that you can manipulate dumb Americans into buying whatever bullshit you’re selling the same way you always did because nothing’s changing.

In 5 years you will have no career.



• 11 days ago

Did you just accuse Sigma Beta Bogusky of being insensitive to women and people of other races who play video games? Preposterous! Us mountain honky bros love chicks and darkies.


And trust me, this isn’t even the worst of them (or best of them, depending on how you look at it). So what gets people commenting? I found that there are two breeds of posts that get people’s fingers flying on the keyboard—the “people on the move” post and the “commercial spot review” post. In the latter category, it was interesting to see how often the comments were more directed at the creative talent or agency that worked on the piece than it was about the creative itself. That said, the comments on the post “Dietzen Out at Energy BBDO” expressed pretty much united love for Jimmy Dietzen’s Wrigley’s Extra spot, which was a pleasant surprise.

Read more

Op-Ed: Will Ads Ruin Instagram?

Virginstagramsminia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, now discussing a rather hot topic that would be ads on Instagram? Will it be good or bad for the Facebook-owned service? Well, without further ado, let’s see what the author thinks. Take it away.

Last week, Instagram teased its plan to introduce advertisements into users’ feeds with a few tasteful shots: a gauzy, Americana-inspired photo from Levi’s and a quirky and colorful bird’s eye view from Instagram itself. Commentators are justifiably focused on what the ads look like on a platform that gained popularity in large part because of its emphasis on great images. Instagram has pledged that ads will conform to the high visual standards expected by the community and reassured users that the privacy and ownership of their photos will continue to be protected.

We’ll see. As an Instagram user, I’m irritated that my feed will now involve brands pushing their agenda in my face amongst the folks that I have selected to follow. Of course, it’s no surprise that Instagram decided to monetize its platform, or that yet another social media network is touting the advantages of data at its fingertips, especially the ability to target ads more effectively. And media planners will seize on a new opportunity for ad placement—while InstaAds might not drive a lot of revenue, they will boost brand reach and exposure.

Read more

Op-Ed: Miley Cyrus is a Strategic Brand Genius


It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Maude Standish, co-founder and managing director of Tarot, a millennial trend forecasting and strategy development company that’s the sister company of L.A.-based agency, Mistress. Now that she’s introduced herself with her call to arms for millenials, Standish turns her focus to arguably the most talked-about celeb in the past several months and how she’s taken over in terms of branding. We should note that while we’re not in the habit of republishing/repurposing content, the original version of this was published in the blogger section of HuffPo–though Standish did us a solid and added more to the mix. Read on if you will.

Sinead O’Connor is worried about Miley. So is Elton John. So are the bearded guys of Duck Dynasty. But I’m not. Because I know that Miley is a strategic genius and that brands actually have quite a bit to learn from her. You might not like the way her tongue hangs off to the side or the fact that her nipples have become commonplace water-cooler fodder. But you can’t argue with the fact that she has captured the world’s attention and aroused a response out of the best of us.

Before her now infamous MTV Video Music Awards performance, Miley Cyrus had never had a Billboard No. 1 hit—not a single one. In fact the song “We Can’t Stop” that she performed at the VMAs rose to the No. 2 spot, but could never quite break the barrier to be a Golden # 1. Instead, the song that broke that top-spot barrier was “Wrecking Ball,” which came after her controversial performance. “Wrecking Ball” didn’t just break a personal record, she also smashed the record for most views in a single launch day, with the music video getting more than 19.3 million views in just 24 hours, beating One Direction’s previous record by more than 7 million views. Just one week later the video had been watched 36.5 million times in the U.S. alone, Miley’s VMA outfit was being called the Halloween costume of the year, and a line of twerking Miley “bobble-butts” had gone into production for the Christmas season.

Read more

Op-Ed: Is Your Web Content Crap?


Our Extractable contributor Dana Larson, who last stirred it up by talking content strategists, returns with a new post about web content. We don’t need much preamble anymore, let’s just pass the mic and let Larson take it away.

At a recent pitch, a member of the client team asked, “How much is too much web content? And how do I know when to get rid of content?” At a time when website page counts routinely—and often unnecessarily—surpass the thousands, this question was music to my ears. Obviously, there are situations when deep websites are needed—retailers selling thousands of products, media sites with vast libraries, educational sites, etc.— but the reality is that most pages of a website go largely unseen.

In a quick study of a handful of our clients, including a Fortune 500 healthcare technology provider, we found that, on average, 87% of the total website pages receive five pageviews or less in a month. It would be easy to assume that that’s a tremendous amount of content that’s just not pulling its weight, and for the most part it would be a safe assumption. But if one of those five pageviews on a page led to sales, then that web page is not useless crap, it’s just not your lead dog. My guess is that many other websites out there are in the same boat.

So how do you know when to get rid of content?

Read more

Op-Ed: Ad Agency Exec Tells the Tale of Unplugging for a Day

L.A.-based Zambezi, which has given us NBA 2K14 Lebron spots and vitaminwater ads as of late, regales us with a story about unplugging for a bit, meaning abandoning email for a day (like we did over vacation). According to founder/managing director, Chris Raih, the agency “lived to tell the tale.” And now, here we go, with video included above.

Our mid-sized creative agency recently banned email and instant messenger for a period of 24 hours. No outgoing or incoming messages; email was even de-activated on mobile devices. In-person contact, video chat, and phone calls were allowed.

And guess what? It was glorious.

Read more

Op-Ed: Taco Bell Takes a Lickin’ But Comes Out Kickin’

Virginia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, this time discussing a certain fast-food chain that has gone from zero to hero in the shortest time. Now, who’s in the mood for a Fiery? Take it away, Virginia.

Just earlier this summer, Taco Bell faced a Public Relations nightmare when an employee posted a picture of himself licking taco shells on Facebook. The photo was part of an internal contest supposed to feature employees enjoying their first taste of a new product. While the news was everywhere at the time, it did little to slow down the Taco Bell marketing juggernaut, hailed last week as 2013’s “Marketer of the Year.” So, for anyone not already paying attention, I decided to crowdsource from my team the biggest lessons for marketers from Taco Bell’s recent success:

1.    Fail fast, and move on. Taco Bell realized quickly in 2011 that dumb white guy humor wasn’t getting them what they needed. A focus on product innovation and the realization that Taco Bell was, for many, a staple part of their diet — helped them successfully Live Mas. Taco Bell did not waste a cycle on lame humor, but quickly sought new ways to position themselves as both relevant and real, leaving their past positioning behind.

2.    Partner Smart. Partnerships come in many forms. Whether it’s a product, brand, or a digital technology partnership, you need to associate with brands that will add value to the customer experience. We all know that the Doritos partnership was super smart—it makes total sense—and 45 product tests later, Taco Bell was in the money with their first Doritos shell. It wasn’t just a great product innovation, it tapped into an emotional and experiential component that lives on long after you’ve finished eating: nostalgia, deeply appealing to Taco Bell’s target market. Nostalgia aside, there are a total of 126 different types of Doritos flavors around the world, which leaves Taco Bell a plethora of options and can guarantee that people will be less and less consumed with where the beef is, and more about which taco shell to choose.

Read more

Op-Ed: Your Ads Are Not Art. Just As Your Shoes Are Not Gumbo

Houston-based freelance creative Chuck Hipsher, who you may remember from his ode to Chevy last month, is back with another column. This time, our scribe’s intent is to “challenge ad creatives to make certain that they are channeling their creative energy into the space they truly love. It can’t just be a paycheck.” We’ll let him take the floor from here. Read on and if you’d like, you can check out his blog here

Having come from a painter’s background  – and I don’t mean the painting of walls or ceilings – although I performed those jobs to make ends meet – I always viewed my ad work as very intimate and somewhat self-expressive. Nearly precious. Mostly because it eventually replaced my artwork, so I had to rationalize that decision.

Advertising became my passion. My obsession. My dedication. My joy.

To my old artiste friends, I sold out when I put down my brushes and picked up my magnifying glass. When I decided that advertising was far more interesting and sexy than sitting in a cold, lonely studio, staring at a canvas and wondering if it was worthwhile, reasonable, or even sane to want to try and top de Kooning or Pollock.

Early in my ad career, I developed a tendency to disagree. And while it was annoying to some, it was a healthy habit, carried over from my days of painting. The habit saw me questioning every step of the way in the creation of an advertisement for any of the clients I worked on. It became somewhat routine. It was the same argument I had with myself when contemplating a nearly finished painting and wondering, “Is it right? Is it done? Is it worthwhile? Will people like it – or even get it?”

Read more

Op-Ed: Let’s Play Stakeholder Roulette

After a month’s absence, Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, who’s also worked on the strategy side at the likes of Isobar and Molecular during his career, has returned. As per usual, it’s best he explain his latest opus. Take it away, sir.

I do a lot of stakeholder interviews. That is the first part of almost any engagement when we are learning about a client’s business and digital challenges and trying to delve into how digital may be able to drive new opportunities for them.

I keep a log of every stakeholder I’ve ever interviewed. This week with our new solar energy client the stakeholder interview counter ticked over 1,200.  Yes, I’ve interviewed 1,200 people across hundreds of companies and dozens of sectors and the sessions have ranged from incredibly helpful to accusatory, “why are you asking me this”, and pretty much everything in-between.

Besides memorizing every piece of conference call hold music ever, some useful repeating patterns have emerged across my sample set of stakeholders. So, here is my personal guide to some of the major ‘types’ of stakeholder we see across businesses and more importantly, how to get the best from them, to help drive the project forward.

Yes, it’s stakeholder roulette time!

Read more