It is no secret I’m getting married in two weeks and two days. Not that I’m counting. Yes, I am. I’m counting the hours at this point! I’m also finishing up my first semester of my graduate program. So, when I’m not managing the wedding planning, I’m managing the avalanche of writing, presentations and group work mounting on my to do list. It seems the past three months went by in a flash, but I know that I learned a ton. That’s an actual academic metric – I learnt a TON. And I noticed some overlap between the skills necessary to run a marketing campaign and be a successful wedding planner. It is almost uncanny! Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Research: Extensive research goes into successful brand launches, campaigns and new market entry through a variety of methods: survey, listening, ethnography, and focus groups. Weddings are no different. Most brides gather information and opinions from their community, (whether they want it or not). They observe and participate in other weddings to gain insight into their own. And they gather all the data from every channel of possible.
2. Creative inspiration: This is the ideation phase in both marketing advertising and wedding plans. Here, marketers gather sources, think about what inspires them currently and how those trends and concepts can be transformed and built upon for something new. Brides do the same – scouring websites, blogs, twitter feeds and magazines, they create mood boards and Pintrest pages and aggregate the information to create a cohesive image.
Sometimes, creative disagreements happen, but a good team can work through most things. The people you work with matter. Who you marry matters more.
3. Storytelling: Advertisers will take all the information gathered and synthesize it into a story, a narrative to represent the brand and product. Great advertisers will drill down to shared human emotions to create a common experience for the viewers. Brides and grooms will do the same thing for their wedding, crafting an event that tells the story of their relationship, an event that so completely, and accurately reflects their true selves. Both marketers and couples will look at the tools available to tell their story. What mediums should they use? How will they communicate their story? Who is the audience?
4. Project management: Whoa. Project management is right. Most people (or just me) don’t have wedding planners, so the responsibility to manage the vision, vendors and execution falls solely on the shoulders of the couple. This includes managing and corralling vendors to create a shared vision, conducting test runs, or rehearsals, executing the communication strategy (invitations) and collecting the data, or responses prior to launch. Sounds just like marketing!
When things go over budget marketers take note. Weddings? Just put it on my tab.
5. Execution: The big payoff! Here, in both industries, everything comes together and fires on all cylinders. All the hard work, planning, design and inevitable re-work and create the reality of a vision that was enhanced by the story. Now, here is where the tracks differ – results definitely matter for marketers. We need to know how successful the campaign was based on traction, buzz, increase sales, etc. The bride and groom are lucky enough to just fully enjoy themselves and ignore the missteps or flaws. They just get to be happy, which is pretty freaking awesome.
As soon as Halloween turned the corner, agencies and brands alike flipped a magical switch and we were all bombarded with the holiday season’s first ads! I am not one of those bah humbug people who protest seasonal cheer before we slice the turkey! Personally, I love the spirit that comes with Christmas and the season, the city decorated with trees and lights, the store windows dressed to impress and entice. I’ll gladly slip into a shopper’s blissful paradise while deciding if my sister really truly needs the cashmere gloves and new perfume. (She does – always.)
This season, it’s really wonderful and interesting to approach the commercial blitz with almost a full semester of marking and advertising under my belt. This week one of the biggest news items came from J.Crew. (Full disclosure – I love this brand.) J.Crew partnered with MasterCard for it’s first ever television advertisement. While advertising publications like, Ad Week, are talking about the partnership and the way the brand permeates the 30 second spot. What they aren’t touching upon is the integration between advertising methods and how the J.Crew brand is able to so easily stay in the forefront without being overt.
First, by partnering with MasterCard and its digital wallet, MasterPass, J.Crew makes point of sale purchasing easier, making the modern consumer happier. It also incorporates further digital enhancements by letting the viewer Shazam the catchy song where you’ll then be directed to the MasterPass J.Crew site where you can easily purchase the merchandize featured in the ad. The integration of traditional advertising with digital marketing and ecommerce is relatively new and not yet mainstream. Shazam presents an interesting facet to the industry because it gives the viewer a call to action not typically found in traditional advertising. This is officially called the Shazam Engagement Rate. Earlier this year David Taintor touched upon it in Ad Week noting that this rate not only tells brands how many times the commercial was tagged, but how large the engaged audience was at the time. This metric, combined with actual buying power and ease of purchase has the potential to be tremendously successful for both brands. The question is how many more brands will be employing this strategy?
And while both brands were vested in this particular campaign, it is evident that J.Crew comes out on top. This ad is stylized so perfectly to align with it’s brand. The family presented is charming, and as the critics are saying, too perfect, but it is easy to be swept up into the lovely façade of a dog with a pipe and a family donning bow ties. This presentation is exactly why consumers and brand loyalist love the company. It has the ability to poke fun at itself while maintaining its integrity and promoting its style. Take a look for yourself and let the holiday magic begin:
I am in the heavy handed, down and dirty, center of my first semester of grad school. I have to admit, when we started the program, my fellow students and I heard professors extol the amazing amount of work we would have, and I scoffed! Mentally, of course, but there was a lot of scoffing.
Eight weeks in and I’m no longer scoffing. I’m working. Hard. And there is little to no time for outside pursuits Some times, my brain is actually tired. That’s a real thing. My brain gets tired. Most times, it’s a good tired. It is the tired that brings about a strong sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. And then there are those times that just make me want to lay my head on my pillow and pretend that life just isn’t happening. Of course those times are few and far between.
It help avoid those soul-crushing moments, I took some down this weekend to do something I enjoy just for fun! For a lovely Sunday afternoon, this means cooking. I love the idea of being a Sunday chef, so I got up early and went to the market early so I could enjoy the process before the swarm of shoppers arrived. Nothing is better than strolling around the market and having your pick of al the fresh produce, fish and meats.
I got home and promptly prepared a lovely meal of braised short ribs, parsnip puree, and asparagus. I made food for the rest of the week too: an herb roasted lemon chicken, roasted broccoli, and roasted brussel sprouts. And then I made brownies. Oh well It was 95% healthy. 100% delicious. And cooking is an outlet for creativity too, so I guess I was just prepping my brain for Monday. Win win.
I forgot how much I used to enjoy cooking and preparing and tending to our home. By taking a just a few hours for myself I felt totally rejuvenated and better able to commit myself to the start of the week and the homework that was still waiting. All in all it was a nice little weekend and it served as a great reminder that no how matter how busy we get or how many demands there are on our attention, it’s still really important to listen to yourself and refresh your spirit – with food and brownies, obviously.
I am lucky enough to have a guy who sends me articles about what I’m studying and my future career. This week, he sent me a great article about advertising and technology. Advertising is in a period of transition, that much we know to be true. This past Sunday, Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner wrote about the leading innovations transforming the advertising industry through technology in an article call “Mad Men meet Mr. Spock”. The article highlights some of Boston’s hottest companies that are leading the movement to combine the clever concepts behind ad campaigns with results driven by the hard data of consumer responses. One of the most interesting companies is Brand Networks, a Boston based company with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Rochester, and Toronto.
Jamie Tedford, a former member of Arnold Worldwide, founded Brand Networks in 2006. He had the foresight to provide a service for a need brands were just beginning to understand: what consumers were saying online mattered, and participating in those conversations on the web and social networks can help control the message. One of the reasons Brand Networks is so exciting is because of its major acquisition of Optimal and its positioning for international growth.
Optimal is a leading social advertising and analytics platform and the only company to provide real time measurements. This technology, combined with Brand Networks existing capabilities, means that brands and agencies will be able to streamline their content across multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
For Brand Networks, and their clients, this is awesome. Here’s why: Customers will be able to drive their messaging across multiple platforms and generate buzz in multiple channels – paid, earned and owned – and be able to view the value in the ad. This type of advertising is the future of the business. More and more people only view advertisements online, and it is becoming increasingly important to determine how and where to promote a product or service. Companies will be better able to assess the return on investment of any campaign and engage consumers simultaneously. A win win for sure. This is how decisions about products or services can be, and should be made. The accumulated consumer data will provide business intelligence in real time to better serve marketers and allow them to be responsive and flexible in their decision-making.
The question then is why aren’t all companies leveraging this technology? As new technologies enable consumers to create dialogues with brands and other consumers, social integration and the ability to measure its impact is increasingly important to the success of any campaign. And this is not to say that creativity is out of the equation at all. It’s only the leveraging of technology to enhance creative campaigns that makes any ad buzz worthy. A great example is the Dancing Pony commercial from Three, a UK wireless provider. Not only is the ad clever and amusing, it promotes engagement with a game to choreograph your own pony as it drives consumers to the website. Genius. It has over 6 million views and 1 million shares and now I know about the leading UK wireless provider.
Companies like Brand Networks have the ability to position a company or brand in relation to its market in a collaborative manner to increase loyalty, engagement, and sales. And like the new old saying goes, “If its not on Facebook, did it happen at all?”
Quite simply, yes, Boston is innovative, and it can be argued it is one of the most innovative and creative cities this country has to offer. Now, you may think I’m slightly biased, and that’s true. I love this city. I made it my home and am building my life in this fair city, getting married and going to graduate school. Going to school in Boston made sense logistically and financially, but it is also one of the best places to launch a career, especially in my chosen career path; my program is called Global Marketing Communications and Advertising after all.
So what does it mean to look for a career in this field? For one, you want to be in an area that encourages innovation and creativity, has the spirit of entrepreneurship and appreciates good old fashion hard work. Namely, Boston.
For example, BostInno, a cutting edge online news source that focuses on local news, trends and industries, hosts an annual 50 on Fire. This program recognizes the region’s leaders in all things awesome: marketing and advertising, design, education, sports and media, media, arts and entertainment, technology, dining and retail, and healthcare. These are all the things that help our city, or any city, thrive. The main criterion for a nomination is being an innovator in the given field. A preview of the marketing and advertising field shows a gamut of companies, from startups like Promoboxx, to new companies with a large footprint like Hubspot, and old main stays, like Dunkin Donuts, that prove innovation is a constant for success in any industry. Yay, BostonInno!
This is such an awesome thing to be nominated for, if you’re one of the lucky companies or individuals, you’ll be recognized by your peers and the city you call home as a trail blazer and someone who can approach problems with creative and innovative solutions to produce successful results. Really cool, right?
It also goes to show what a great time it is to be entering a career that demands innovation and creativity as the most important skills that you can bring to any job. And I’m really excited my grad program is preparing me to have these skills. Who knows, maybe in a few years, it will be my name on that list.
(This is what I imagine my success dance to look like.)
As it turns out, graduate school keeps you busy. And by busy I mean if I’m not doing school work, I’m thinking about the school work I should be doing and wondering whether or not I’ll ever get it all done with all the other real life things that are still happening, regardless of whether or not I have a paper due. Because real life does not care that I have a paper due or a group project or a finance exam to fail.
This week I realized I forgot to do a few very important things: book a brunch for the wedding even though it’s on the invitations that got sent out (tiny insignificant detail, right?), cancel a major appointment, and make several necessary phone calls. Who has time for this? Head. Spinning.
Of course, this is all an adjustment and it will all get done because it always does. But this has me thinking about how stress, or an increase in activity, impacts the creative process. Right now, this hyper level of activity is making my creativity frizzle. FRI-ZZ-LE. My mind becomes disorganized and I need to make lists and then cross things off to feel accomplished. Get out of bed on time? CHECK. Shower? CHECK. So, I did some googling.
Design Taxi, an online global creative network, posted an interesting article last winter about the stress impact, from tunnel vision to decreased problem solving skills and the ways to manage the stress so creativity productivity isn’t decreased. One of my favorite stress reducing techniques listed is the recognition to trust yourself and that you are adaptable and open to a multitude of ideas. Just reading the article calmed me down.
So, with that, I’m going to take some deep breaths, and stop making lists. I’m going to trust my process and let myself ideate until I need to and try very hard to stop worrying. I obviously need my problem solving skills.
(Just cause it’s Halloween and Hocus Pocus. What up 1990s.)
I think it is safe to say I’m the target demographic for just about every product out there. Fancy shoes? Sneakers to make me jump higher? The blush to contour my cheeks just right? The perfect sauté pan to make dinner? Please send them my way. Whether I need them or not, isn’t the point. I want them. You win, commercials, you win.
And it’s not just that I want these things, I want the narrative that goes with them. That is why advertising is so effective, the stories become intertwined with the viewers desires and drive for consumption.
This is one reason why I’m such a good little buyer (much to the fiancé’s chagrin): I love a good story. Sit me down; spin me a yarn, and I’m rapt with attention. I become engaged with the characters and their journey, and my imagination places me there. I can see myself, glamorous and graceful in six-inch heels, athletic and agile on an obstacle course, Julia Child incarnate over my gorgeous six-burner stove. But, what makes a good story? Why are some advertising campaigns more successful than others?
Good creative, the industry term for these delightful productions, encapsulates the mind, places the product, introduces the narrative, and promotes without being overt. It creates a lifestyle that the product promotes and invites the user to be part of the experience, like this one:
It can tell a story of a relationship, the provocation caused by the product, but driven by character. Chanel is excellent at this:
(A little long, but totally worth it. Trust me.)
I bet you want to wear Chanel No 5 while you Crossfit now, right? I know that’s how I go to the gym. The process behind creating these ads is simply enthralling and I can’t help but want to be part of that one day, which is exactly why I’m back in school.
Good creative enthralls and emotes. The question is where does it go next? The stories can be supplemented with technology to create further engagement with the consumer. Do the videos become shoppable? Will further content be released with purchase? In the other direction, some companies are already making their advertisements more artful, creating mini-films Chanel does this, as does Cartier and various car companies. It is an exciting time for the industry and I’m on the edge of my seat to see the next chapter.
I may be a little late to the game, but I’m totally in love with and inspired by the magazine (and website for) Fast Company. Because of my grad program, I’m definitely paying more attention to the topics centered on my choice career path. October’s issue of Fast Company focused on innovation in design and how successful companies often have a dynamic relationship between the business and creative – who wouldn’t want to be as successful as Apple? J.Crew? Burberry? Count me in.
For me, this was definitely an “Aha!” moment. Almost all brands are focused on design – the presentation, the packaging, and the functionality of the product are all integral aspects of consumer engagement and loyalty with the brand. It allows companies to expand their vision, broaden their market base and even when it isn’t successful, it tells the company what not to do! Just as important in my book!
One of the more interesting quotes was from PepsiCo’s Chief Design Officer, Mauro Procini. He talked about a culture that doesn’t punish you when, eventually, you make a mistake: “What scientists call experiments, marketers call failures or mistakes.” Why is this true? Are the financial consequences overshadowing the choice to try something different? Why can’t marketers look at the lesson learned and apply it to the campaign?
That really resonated because while I’m so excited about being in school and what I’m learning, leaving the work force as a late in life student is definitely a risk! There are so many negative what ifs – “What if I never find a job? What if I don’t like this either? What if there is no return on my investment? What if I just faaiiilllllll?”
This particular article and quote made me refocus these what ifs. Sure, this choice was risky, but it’s also brave. And I knew I wasn’t going to be happy working where I was; it was time to discover something new. So, instead of negative nancy pants up there, “What if I land my dream job? What if I’m featured in this magazine one day? What if I love my work and look forward to doing my job everyday? What if I thrive?”
When looking back at this feature, I can only see possibility and innovation. Like, P&G reexamining how to position a product and bringing that new design innovation to the rest of the industry, and how the Nike CEO still designs, even if he calls them doodles. It’s not just bridging the gap between business and creative, but enhancing the relationship with collaboration and cohesive goals, (and yes, risk) to bring a brand and a product to the forefront of innovation and consumer fascination.
It’s football season! Yay! While some might still consider baseball season, that sport belongs to the long lazy days of summer. It’s autumn, the air is changing, the leaves are falling, and the football team America loves to hate, the Patriots, is taking the field for the next 16 weeks, (plus the play offs, naturally). I really love this sport, maybe because I grew up in a football house even when the Patriots were in the dark dire times BBB – Before Bill Belichick. Maybe it is because I cheered for the majority of my young life. Or maybe it’s because I just really love the game.
While football is entertaining to watch, the NFL is primarily a business, and the most profitable national sports league. In the 2011-2012 year, the NFL’s revenue is $9.5 billion. The Sports Business Journal confirms the majority of this revenue is from media, sponsorships and NFL ventures (“The Road to 25 Billion” Dan Kaplan, January 28, 2013 www.sportsbusinessdaily.com). The majority of the NFL teams are privately held, and this information is gleaned from the Green Bay Packers, the only public team. If 25 billion is the goal, the push towards media makes sense. There are now multiple channels of distribution, from television, to mobile to tablet. The only question is how the NFL will broaden its market base and how products will leverage their branding to get in on this growth.
If you have ever sat through a network television football game the investment in advertisements is evident. The commercials are often epic, sometimes poetic (Clydesdales, anyone?) and always so incredibly male. Cars, beer, major sporting brands, Gatorade, cable providers, razors – if you’re a dude and you don’t know what you want out of life, the NFL commercials will tell you. You want a LEXUS! a BUD LIGHT! a GILLETTE FUSION! The commercials bring the viewer back to the glory days of peewee football and to the daily humor of the office.
There is, of course, a glaring omission. Where is the female marketing? I watch one to three games a week and have seen one commercial geared towards the fairer sex, and it is from the NFL. As a consumer, it definitely peaked my interest. Could I wear a form fitted jersey with a tutu for adults? Maybe. Will I? Probably not. Okay, lets be fair – there is a 50/50 chance I may or may not be wearing a tutu next week at game time.
While the majority of hardcore football fans are men, it certainly isn’t a closed market. Just recently NBC Nightly News reported on the strength of the NFL female market (http://nbcnews.to/14KRVEY). It is reported that 45% of the market is female and the NFL launched a female clothing fashion show. Outside of slim fit jerseys, how can other brands reach women? One approach may be to create the tradition of a family watching the game together, a Sunday dinner with a football theme, mom and dad grilling on their new Home Depot grill. The NFL could also approach games and tailgating as a girl’s night out, a way to bond with friends, in someone’s new cross over Jeep. And, I know for a fact there are other things besides Bud Light available for consumption on game days.
Holy hiatus. I mean, do years even count? This is like a revival. Brand new. Bang. Bring it back old school, 2011 style. Except it’s 2013 and so, so much has changed.
I have a new job from two jobs ago and – big news here – I actually left MetLife and I am very (very, very) happy. MetLife is a great company and I learned a lot from my many positions there, but it was definitely time for me to move on and change. And change I did. Or am. I am changing.
Au revoir, MetLife, au revoir.