In the Office

Howard/Merrell and Lincoln Brewing Company Celebrate Big Wins at the ADDY’s

The creative team of Howard/Merrell and client, Lincoln Brewing Company, celebrated YUGE wins last week at the the Triangle Advertising Federation’s 2017 American Advertising Award Show, taking home eight Golds, three Silvers, and the coveted Best in Show Award.


That’s all thanks to the campaign created for the Fuquay-Varina-based brewery to re-reelect Abe Lincoln. The novel campaign intended to bring some levity to the heated 2016 presidential race, delivering messages from Abe about where he stood on the issues, as well as his feelings for other candidates—Clinton, Trump and Sanders. The team produced campaign videos, posters, road signs, and events at Lincoln’s not-so-secret headquarters, Lincoln Brewing Company.

“The 2016 election was out of control,” said Billy Barnes, creative director at Howard/Merrell. “Everyone was desperate for a candidate they could believe in. We thought Abe Lincoln could be that guy. Who wouldn’t want old Abe to come back from the dead and save us all from ourselves?”

“People needed beer too. So it was perfect,” continued Barnes.

Interested in viewing the award-winning campaign? Visit:

Nice work, boys. Cheers!

Week In Marketing: Valentine’s Day Marketing, SI Swimsuit issue, Nike Campaign, Content Advertising

Burger King’s Valentine’s Day Marketing
hearts-937664_1280g> Finally, a solution for consumers who want to share a drink, but not a straw. Burger King heard these complaints and has developed a lid with two straw-holes. Even better, the new lid came just in time for Valentine’s day! The two straw-hole lid is perfect for sharing, or adding a little romance to the fast-food experience.

Burger King also offered an exclusive Adults-Only Valentine’s Meal, after 6 p.m., only for customers over eighteen years old. The chain asked, “Kids have got their ‘Kid’s Meal.’ But what about grownups?” The meal comes in a deep purple “happy-meal box” with two whoppers, two packs of French fries, two beers, and a toy.

Snickers Lands the Back Cover of SI Swimsuit Issue, Again!
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s front cover is a coveted job for models in the swimsuit industry, but what about the back cover? The 2017 issue will be Snickers third time advertising on the back cover. This year Mars Candy will run two sarcastic, but clever ads on the back cover and the inside back cover. The ads show a Chest of Drawers and a Guinea Pig on a beach, in a bikini, with the tag lines: “Magazine editors get confused when they’re hungry” and “Magazine editors get loopy when they’re hungry.”

Nike Premieres a New Campaign at the 2017 Grammys
In honor of Black History Month, Nike is rolling out a new campaign, “Equality.” The black-and-white commercial features stars LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, and Gabby Douglas. The ad “encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field.” The campaign tag line is introduced as “equality has no boundaries.” Nike is encouraging fans to show support by creating a “Equality” avatar and using their social media filters.

Content Advertising Growth
Content advertising is projected to grow into a $50 billion market by 2021. This is up from $12.8 billion in 2016, according to projections from Polar, a content marketing platform for publishers. That’s a growth rate of 32% year-over-year, and more than 2x the growth rate of digital advertising as a whole. Polar estimated that the global ad market will grow from $590 billion this year to $775 billion in 2021, at a rate of 7% year-over-year growth. Digital advertising is expected to be 48% of the market, while mobile represents 78% of that total.

Super Bowl LI Ads: Viewers React Via Social Media

In the midst of a very divided political climate, the big question going into Super Bowl LI was if marketers would give viewers a break or use this platform to chime in on hot topics like immigration and women’s rights.


We saw both. And, viewers went to Twitter to voice their response.

Some companies like Google, Bai and Mr. Clean kept their message true to their brand through light, clever advertisements. Ads from companies like Coca-Cola and Budweiser, were not meant to be directly political but viewers have been making criticisms with the hashtags #BoycottCoke and #BoycottBudwiser. Yes, Budwiser is spelled incorrectly in the trending hashtag, giving it, even more, momentum from both sides of the political spectrum.

On the flip side, we also saw brands like Audi, It’s a 10, Airbnb and 84 Lumber who were not shy with their politically forward messages. 84 Lumber, a construction and building supplies company aired a clip from the short film featuring an immigrant mother and daughter’s journey to America only to discover President Trumps’ prospective wall. Within an hour after it aired the full video had more than 6 million views.

In case you missed it, here’s an overview of some of the most talked about ads:

Google Home Units Respond to Super Bowl Ad
The Google Home ad inadvertently prompted confusion in homes of many of the speaker’s users. The ad highlighted how the Google Home smart speaker can make the consumer’s life easier by responding to “OK Google…” requests. While viewers who do not own a unit were able to see the convenience of the speaker, viewers who own the speaker tweeted how their unit actually responded to the commands in the commercial.

Bai Bai Bai
The healthy beverage company, Bai, captured viewers’ attention with a 30-second clip of Christopher Walken reciting lyrics from N-Sync’s song “Bai Bai Bai” while sitting with none other than Justin Timberlake. What most viewers don’t know, Timberlake joined the beverage company earlier this year, as the C “F” O – Chief Flavors Officer. Bai hit the nail on the head with this ironic and iconic ad.

Mr. Clean the Cleaner of Your Dreams
Mr.Clean showed his sexy side in a comical and surprising commercial. The ad shows a woman’s instant attraction to Mr. Clean’s character as he entices her with his housework skills. “You gotta love a man who cleans,” tagline sparked attention on Twitter. The @RealMrClean was also active on Twitter during the game trolling other advertisers. Viewers responded, crediting Mr.Clean for the best ad of the night.

Audi Promotes Gender Pay Equality
Audi’s ad, “Daughter” is being praised for the powerful gender pay equality message in Super Bowl commercial. The ad is narrated by a father who is watching his daughter compete in a cart race, the soft tone illustrates the father’s dreams for his daughter’s future. In Audi’s press release for the Super Bowl LI ad, the company said it is committed to supporting women’s pay equality. The car company tweeted, “Women are still paid 21% less than men. As a brand that believes in progress, we are committed to equal pay for equal work. #DriveProgress”

It’s a 10 – Four Years
In its first-ever Super Bowl commercial, It’s a 10 hair company combined humor with a bold political statement in the “Four Years” ad. The opening line, “America, we are in for at least four years of awful hair” very clearly used the platform to make a dig at President Trump’s infamous hair-do…and Twitter loved it.

Airbnb Criticizes Trumps Travel Ban in Super Bowl Ad
The Airbnb ad – “We Accept” – was produced just days after President Trump signed the order to temporarily close the border to refugees and citizens in seven Muslim countries. Through the advertisement, the travel company indirectly spoke out in opposition to the ban. The ad is narrated saying, “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.” As of the Monday after the big game, #WeAccept was trending topic on Facebook with almost 9,000 hits.

Week In Marketing: Super Bowl Ads, Delete Send, #AlternativeFacts, #DeleteUber

A new National Holiday: #Smunday
Heinz Ketchup and the Weiner Stampede won’t be making an appearance in the 2017 Super Bowl. Instead the brand launched a campaign to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a new National Holiday. The comical video that will be shared digitally refers to the day after the best day in sports as, “It’s a Sunday Monday… Smunday!” football-player-260557_1920

Their goal is to get 100,000 signatures on their petition before presenting it to Congress. The condiment company is giving all of the Heinz employees February 6th off in celebration of the first #Smunday in Super Bowl history.

Budweiser Goes Back to its Roots
Budweiser’s 2017 Super Bowl advertisement will captivate viewers and set the marketing tone for the year in a 60-second powerful tribute to the company’s heritage. The ad, “Born the Hard Way” tells the story of an immigrant Adolphus Bush, Budweiser co-founders journey from Germany to the United States in pursuit to create the world’s largest brewer. The Budweiser team predicted the topic of immigration would be relevant after the presidential election, but are not intending to convey a political message through the ad despite the current topical significance.

#AlternativeFacts Ad
Dove quickly responded after President Trumps senior adviser Kellyanne Conway used the term “alternative facts” in response to false claims about the recent presidential inauguration attendance. The brand placed an ironic two-page print ad listing #AlternativeFacts about their new product. The advertisement shows an image of the antiperspirant and a list of obviously false statements followed by #AlternativeFacts. Dove, among other brands are weighing in on political topics through ironic ads that are meant to poke fun at the new president.

Uber is Under Heat
The #DeleteUber hashtag was trending on social media after the company was accused of profiting from the taxi strike after the announcement of the immigration ban. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance ceased rides at JFK in protest of citizens being detained. Meanwhile, Uber surged its prices and continues driving to the airport. Uber is seeing the effects from their political statement on Facebook and Twitter from the trending #DeleteUber hashtag.

WhatsApp New Feature: Delete Sent Messages
The free international messaging application, WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will allow users to delete and edit sent messages before they are read. The app is also working on a Live Location Tracking feature so users can send their moving locations to friends. In addition to these changes, WhatsApp is expanding its live video feature so users can edit pictures similar to Snapchat.

Week In Marketing: Instant Gratifiation, Instragram Live Story, White House Social Media, Personalized YouTube Ads

Instant Gratification is the Demand of the Future
As technology advances and improves, so does the demand for brands to serve consumers’ needs in a highly efficient manner. Through the development of artificial intelligence software, consumers’ expectations are shifting to brands that can meet their needs imminently or without having to be summoned to do so at all.
hand-1865305_1920 Amazon is among the companies already serving the need for instant gratification with their “get it the same day by drone delivery” option. Will consumers soon have access to refrigerators that automatically replenish groceries, or buttons that order household products?

Instagram Introduces the Live Story Feature Worldwide
Since November 2016, Instagram users in the United States were introduced to the Live streaming feature. This feature is similar to Facebook’s live stream in that users are able to swipe to the left camera and instantly go live for up to an hour. Unlike other social media platforms, the video will disappear when the live stream ends. Over the next week, Instagram is rolling out the feature for global use.

President Trump joins Snapchat
Through the presidential campaign President Trump actively used Twitter to connect with voters, meanwhile other candidates used Snapchat. Now, President Trump has joined the Snapchat community with a verified account ‘Donald J. Trump (realdonaldtrump)’ accompanied by the flying money emoji next to his name. The Trump administration also has possession of the official White House Snapchat (WhiteHouse). President Trump can be followed on Snapchat as ‘Donald J. Trump (realdonaldtrump) and on Twitter as @POTUS.

The White House Asks Users to Send Their Messages on Facebook
Back in the day, if citizens wanted to reach the White House they called the switchboard where they would be directed to the appropriate line or leave a message. Now the comment line greets callers with a recorded message saying “the comment line is currently closed”, and tells callers to send the President their message in an online comment. Callers can leave a comment on the official White House website or send their comment via Messenger on the White House Facebook page. According to the Washington Times the comment line has been closed since President Obama’s last week in office.

Users Search History is the Future of Personalized YouTube Ads
Advertisements are getting personal on YouTube. Google has enabled marketers to target their ads based on the individual users search history. This new possibly invasive advertising advancement makes it easier for advertisers to influence what YouTube users see between videos.

2017 is Here!


2017 is here. What will happen in the industry this year? What will be challenging for brands? What do consumers want?

No one really knows, but here are some insights from industry experts about 2017:

Top Three Predictions for the Marketing Technology Industry
Digital intelligence platform Amplero has unveiled what marketers can expect to see in the coming year with the company’s marketing technology predictions for 2017. Rooted in machine learning and artificial intelligence experience, Amplero predicts that marketers will finally be able to take advantage of the global investment in big data infrastructure and move beyond traditional rules-based marketing automation. These advancements powered by machine learning will have significant impact on the day-to-day role of the CMO, as well as transform the way marketers approach customer-centric marketing. What else does Ampler predict?

6 Marketing Resolutions to Ring in a Successful New Year
Here are some suggestions to amp up a business’s digital marketing strategy in 2017.

5 Transformative Creative Trends
Check out the top five creative trends that will dominate in 2017 as observed at the sixth annual 4A’s Create Tech conference.

Top Five B2B Public Relations and Social Media Predictions
According to the Bulldog Reporter, 2016 was a far from average year for the media—and PR pros felt the impact. Here are their predictions of hot industry trends for 2017.

What Will it Take for Brands to Win Over Consumers?
A new study examines how brands can achieve new engagement criteria called — “wantedness.” This is “the degree to which a brand proves their commitment to earning a customer’s business across every touch point and throughout the entire path to purchase.” The study found that in the U.S., 79 percent of respondents said they only consider buying products from brands that show they care and understand their consumers, while in the U.K., the number is slightly less but still sizeable, hitting 72 percent.

4 Survival Trends Consumers Will Turn To This Year
Marketers and consumers alike are reeling from a year of deep division and chaos. What happened? And, where do we go from here? The answers…

6 Bold Predictions for Digital Marketing
Not sure if these will hit the mark or not, but here are Social Media Today’s six bold predictions for digital marketing in 2017.

Digital Marketing Industry Forecast Study Compares Today’s Strategies, Reveals Shift to Brand Awareness, Loyalty Marketers are shifting their focus from customer acquisition and tools like buy buttons to brand loyalty and awareness, according to new research from Campaigner, which recently announced the results of its Digital Marketing Industry Report study. The surveyed marketers plan to rely on content marketing—and more specifically, email marketing—to help lead these efforts.

Keys to conquering social media
Social media — as many digital marketers know it — refuses to slow down. To keep up with trends, consumer inquiries and engagement efforts, it’s imperative that PR pros and social media managers learn new skills and apply them to their current strategies. To more effectively engage with audiences, there will be an increased dependence on the relationship between brand managers and influential social media users. There is more, from a 2017 predictions guide.

10 Marketing Trends to Watch
PR Daily gives their 10 trends to watch for in the new year:
1. Cognitive insights helping to predict digital behavior.
2. GPS-based search-engine optimization.
3. Content marketing conversion.
4. Balancing marketing automation and authenticity.
5. Increased emphasis on mobile marketing.
6. Native marketing on social media platforms.
7. Balancing mobile and desktop web design.
8. The rise of customer service bots.
9. News media outlets vs. fake news.
10. Using data security as a marketing tool.

PR and Social Media Account Executive Needed!

We are searching for a vibrant individual who will help drive social media and PR strategies and be an advocate for digital marketing as a whole, both internally and externally. The ideal candidate is energetic and organized, a strategic thinker, an independent worker, as well as a team player.

Responsibilities include:

– Guide day-to-day development of public relations and social media activities with approved plans
– Conduct media and blogger outreach; manage interviews
– Write and edit press releases, press kit materials, posts and bylines
– Write and publish social content on behalf of clients targeted at a number of different audiences
– Use monitoring and reporting software to gain insight, identify engagement opportunities and measure success of social media efforts
– Manage speaking, awards and tradeshow programs
– Participate in strategy and planning meetings
– Work directly with client on daily tasks
– Build and nurture productive business relationships
– Help manage day-to-day client work

Preferred Skills:
– Highly motivated individual
– Eagerness for analysis – ideal candidate will be constantly measuring results in order to search for ways to improve
– Solid writing/editing skills – the job will involve a heavy amount of writing, from preparing emails to Powerpoint presentations and other client-ready documents; Knowledge of AP style
– Ability to prepare clear and concise client-ready documents
– Strong interpersonal skills, demonstrate empathy and commitment to the client
– Experience working in an agency environment

Bachelor’s degree and at least two years post-graduate experience required.

Send cover letter and resume to:

We Wear Jeans…

Going into the interview process for Howard/Merrell is when I first got a glimpse of how my semester would go. In the interview, my soon-to-be manager told me, “Yeah, we wear jeans here, so you can ditch the work pants.”

Truthfully, that was the first moment I was sold on the company, because who gets to wear jeans to work every day?


With this being my first internship, I really didn’t know what to expect coming in as a Public Relations/Social Media intern. But the first week that I started, I knew I was in the right place. I felt immediately welcomed by all of the employees here, and my superiors were always there for me whenever I needed it. I believe the reason why Howard/Merrell is so successful is due to their care and emphasis on their employees, making sure their needs are met while also keeping a fun, lighthearted workplace atmosphere.

I did not have any experience in the field prior to this internship, yet I am able to leave with a broad variety of expertise. This internship has allowed me to dip my toes in many different areas, and even though I may not have had confidence going into some projects, with practice and dedication, I was able to gain full confidence coming out of every project. Due to the constant feedback from my managers, I learned the ins-and-outs of editorial calendars, news releases, blog posts, and more. Because of Howard/Merrell, I was able to gain real world experience that will benefit my future career.

This internship has set my standards higher for wherever I end up next, not only because of the work that I was able to accomplish, but also because of the people and workplace that Howard/Merrell has provided.

Moving forward, I plan to continue pursuing a career in PR/SM wherever it may take me. I am open to whatever possibilities come my way.

Rachael Matson is a senior at NC State University.

My Intern Experience

I’m sad knowing that my time as an intern at Howard/Merrell is coming to an end. However, I think that everything I have learned during my time with this agency will further benefit me in the future.

The hands-on writing experience I was able to do will help grow my portfolio and expertise, to hopefully land a job when I graduate in May. It was satisfying to write for actual clients and feel important during that process. I felt like I was truly apart of the agency, not just an intern. I enjoyed writing the press releases, blog posts, and social media editorial calendars. I developed an understanding for legitimate deadlines and necessary organization when it comes to content.

I believe this internship gave me diverse experiences when it comes to PR and social media. Everything that I did with this internship aligned with what I had learned in school. My skills have drastically improved through practice and feedback from my supervisors. Of course, there still is a lot more I can learn within this field.

I am eager to gain more experience next semester before I graduate in May. I love everything that this career encompasses as a whole, and I think what I have learned will take me far as I strive to find a job in the near future!

I appreciate all of the employees who work at Howard/Merrell – They have been such amazing influencers!

Ambra Jeanson is a senior at NC State. She interned at Howard/Merrell during her Fall semester.

Searching for Spring Interns!

Love PR and social media? So do we!

There’s much more to public relations and social media than writing and distributing press releases and adding Twitter and Facebook icons to a print brochure. Our integrated approach and strategy coupled with our relationships with national, regional and local media and bloggers garner the most meaningful and measurable results for our clients.


Our internship program is intended to help students develop skills to help launch their career in the PR and social media field, as well as providing an introduction to agency life. While strong writing, a professional presence and creativity are important, the best interns are those who are eager to learn, enthusiastic and willing to take on challenging tasks.

Interns will have the opportunity to work on a variety of assignments including, but not limited to:
• Developing and updating media lists
• Writing and distributing press releases and pitches
• Conducting daily media monitoring and reporting for clients
• Researching story angles, client competitor information, media outlets, etc.
• Creating social media content (blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for clients
• Assisting with special events as needed
• Building editorial calendars and news bureaus

The ideal intern is organized, detail-oriented, have the ability to multi-task and possess strong communications skills (familiarity with AP Style preferred).

Interns must be available to work at least 10 hours per week.

Interested applicants should send their resume and cover letter with your preferred start/end date, hours available to work and writing samples (if applicable) to