In the Office

Week In Marketing: YouTube’s Birthday, Retro Ads, Influencer Marketing, Branding Efforts


1. Lady Gaga’s Piano Player Trying To Start His Own Brand
Lady Gaga has raised the creative bar so high not only is the competition trying to keep up, but so are the members of her band. Keyboardist Brockett Parsons has played for packed arenas for Lady Gaga for sometime. Now he feels as though it is time do try something of his own. Parsons has made the concept of a circular piano with an asking price of $45,000. Could there be a PianoArc in every home?

2. The From SunnyD’s Goofy ’90s Rollerblading Advertisement
Sunny D released a commercial that may bring back memories or a little chuckle. The company made a parody of its own iconic commercial from 20 years ago, with rollerblading kids and a view of a 90s kitchen. The new ad shows you what its like 20 years later. The commercial displays a valuable viewpoint that although time has past, Sunny D will never change.

3. YouTube’s Birthday Contest
In honor of its tenth birthday, YouTube is hosting a showdown of the top ads featured on its platform. YouTube has taken the top 20 advertisements and encourages everyone to visit the site and place their vote. Who will take the crown?

4. Resurrecting Colonel Sanders
Celebrating its 75th birthday this year, KFC is bringing back Colonel Sanders. The Colonel, who has not appeared in ads since the 90s, will soon be online, in social media, on broadcast and in stores as part of an effort to update the chain’s image. The marketing push includes a blitz with the new Colonel played by “Saturday Night Live” alum Darrell Hammond, store remodels, new packaging, new menu items, a new and a “reinvented”, which gives the history of the Colonel in all his different iterations.

5. What’s next with Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing – partnering with well-known bloggers and people with large social media followings – is on the rise. A recent study found that 92 percent of consumers look for referrals from those they know, finding referrals online 81 percent of the time. This is making brand managers look for creative ways to attract consumers’ attention through social media. They are leveraging the of selfies, pictures taken of food,… what’s next?

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Week In Marketing: Breakfast Campaign War, Foreign Ads, Verizon-AOL, Pay-per-View Record


1. Breakfast War Heats Up Among Fast Food Competitors
Sales in the breakfast category hit $34.5 billion in 2014 and the big players are trying to get a piece of the pie. Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Carl’s Jr, Hardees and Starbucks are all racing to catch up with McDonald’s who receives a third of all sales in the category. Everyone is fighting to offer the best promotion like McDonald’s “free coffee with breakfast”, Taco Bell’s free Biscuit Tacos on Cinco De Mayo, and the launch of the Hardees Mile High Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit.

2. British Bus Service Pulls ‘Ride Me’ Ad Campaign
A British Bus service pulled its ‘Ride Me All Day for £3’ ad campaign after massive criticism on social media. The ads were targeted to younger customers and featured topless men and women holding a sign with the tagline over their body.

3. Verizon Will Buy AOL For $4.4 Billion
Verizon has announced that it will be buying AOL for $4.4 billion. This will give the mobile network access to AOL’s news sites Huffington Post, Engadget, and TechCrunch along with 40,000 other publishers. The merger will allow Verizon to continue growing in the Internet and mobile space.

4. Australia’s Launches Brutal Anti Meth Ad Campaign
Australia’s Federal Government is launching a new 6-week public service ad campaign aimed at decreasing “ice” or crystal meth addiction. The new commercials feature gruesome and upsetting storylines and are receiving mixed reactions from the Anti-Ice community.

5. Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Produces $500 Million in Revenue
Originally estimated to produce at least $300 million, the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight generated at least $500 million in revenue, setting a new pay-per-view record. This includes at least $11 million in fight sponsorships.

Week In Marketing: #SongForMoms, Ad Injection, #NotBroken, The Pool and Googling


1. Sing A Song about Milk for Mother’s Day #SongsForMoms
Through Sunday, the California Milk Processor Board is creating custom short songs for people who post about why they love their mom using the #SongsForMoms hashtag. The Board is on the hunt for funny and emotional posts about moms to respond to with 45- to 90-second songs. The clips are first uploaded to SoundCloud and then pushed to social media. The goal is to churn out a total of 200 songs through Mother’s Day Sunday, and a few lucky snippets will be played live on California radio stations.

2. Googling for Pizza?
Google’s search results are slowly but surely becoming more than mere pointers to a destination. Google recently added the ability to order food directly from its search results. The feature, which currently works only in the U.S., gives users who search for restaurants an option to instantly place an order for delivery.

3. Honeymaid’s new campaign – Powerful and Polarizing
Honeymaid’s ad campaign portraying interracial, blended and same-sex families illicited a wealth of passionate responses – both positive and negative. When the company created the #NotBroken component of its “This Is Wholesome” campaign, it wasn’t looking to push an agenda, the company was looking for a fresh way for the 90-year-old brand to reach parents.

4. Have you Fallen Prey to Ad Injection?
Google recently released a disturbing report detailing the vast reach of software programs that insert unwanted ads into internet users’ browsing experiences. The practice, called ad injection, is often carried out by malicious browser extensions or misleading software download packages. The software places ads into websites across the web without permission, and its operators sell those ads for a profit, sometimes to leading brands. The Google report found that more than 50,000 browser extensions inject ads, an astonishing number.

5. The Pool invites users to escape from online clutter
The UK digital platform launched last month, The Pool is “For women who are too busy to browse”. The platform is already achieving 60% click-through rates on its daily email, and has named Clinique, Microsoft and Marks & Spencer as its launch partners. The Pool has adapted the broadcast model for online, creating a programming schedule by posting a set number of articles at fixed times in the day so as not to overwhelm its audience with content. Eight articles are published in a 24-hour time period, and each post is labeled with the amount of time it takes to read.

Week In Marketing: Millennial Parents, Bud Light Apology, #GirlYouDon’tNeedMakeUp


1. Reaching the Millennial Parent
It’s estimated that 40 percent of older millennials are already parents and they account for 80 percent of the 4 million annual U.S. births. This generation of parents born after 1980 is different from its predecessors in many fundamental ways. According to AdWeek, savvy marketers see this as a unique opportunity to capture an enormous segment of the population — if they can help older millennials be practical and solve problems.

2. A Minor Twitter Revolution?
Comedian Amy Schumer did a parody on One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” on her show earlier this week. Afterwards, Schumer encouraged fans to share their make-up free photos with the hashtag #GirlYouDon’tNeedMakeUp — and women are uploading them by the thousands.

3. “Her Shorts” A New Video Series
Refinery29 is partnering with Planned Parenthood on a new digital-video series called “Her Shorts” that focuses on men’s and women’s reproductive and sexual health issues, including videos from Lena Dunham and Emily Ratajkowski. The American-based fashion, style and beauty website announced that two other celebrities taking part in “Her Shorts,” actresses Mae Whitman and Mamie Gummer.

4. Viewers Engage More With TV Ads Than Video Ads
A new biometric survey shows that traditional TV commercials are four times more engaging than video advertising on Facebook. Study participants were exposed to the same video advertisements across Facebook, TV and digital pre-roll on PC, tablet and smartphone.

5. An Apology from Bud Light
Bud Light supported its “Up for Whatever” campaign with a bottle that included the tagline “perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” There was public outcry over the seemingly overt date-rape, or at the very least sexual, implications of the tagline. Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch pulled the bottle and issued this statement:

The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brand in a positive and light-hearted way. In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.

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A Toast to Cindy Calhoun


Cindy Calhoun is retiring from Howard/Merrell today, after 26 years.

When she started here in 1989, I was in my freshman year of college and Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t even born yet. She made it through four finance directors, Y2K, the agency’s first computerized accounting system, and the end of “Cheers”. She saw the beginning of the Internet and World Wide Web, and she (finally) got an iPhone.

For most of us here at the agency, there hasn’t been a day at work that didn’t include Cindy as a co-worker. She’s always been here, she’s part of what makes Howard/Merrell great. She cares for the people here and cares about the work she does and is a part of. And because she cares, Cindy will do anything – really anything. Answer phones, empty trash, play with the kids who visit the office, stuff envelopes, drink pina coladas, research new business leads and wear silly hats on her head.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have not only had the chance to work with Cindy day in and day out for 16 years, but I get to call her friend.

Accounting can be a thankless job and more so in an environment that is as creative as an ad agency. But some how, Cindy made it fun; not just for our department and me, but for everyone in the agency. Cindy will joke with you, laugh at you and be the first one there to lend an ear or give you that hug. And, for those reasons, she will be irreplaceable.

We can’t be sad for Cindy though. She’s moving to Florida, planning a tour of all the casinos in the US, and spending time with her family. We wish her happiness, good fortune and safe travels.

A toast to Cindy: We won’t cry because you are leaving. We are going to smile because you were here.

Twenty-six Years…How things have changed

Howard/Merrell was founded in 1945. Since our inception, there are employees who have come and gone, but many have chosen to work here for 10, 15, even 20 years. These employees have seen the industry change and the agency evolve.

Cindy Calhoun joined the agency 26 years ago as a receptionist. Over the years, she has served multiple roles including accounts payable clerk, billing manager and financial services manager. She has been part of the fabric of this organization.

When given the opportunity to ask Cindy about her long tenure here at the agency, I was eager to find out what she had to say. Cindy will retire from Howard/Merrell at the end of the month.


Q: What brought you to the agency?
A: I moved here from Albany, NY in 1989. I went to a temp agency and told them I wanted a job within 5 miles of my house. Howard/Merrell was where I was sent.

Q: What was Howard/Merrell like when you first joined?
A: Very formal. At least in both the Finance and Account Management departments. Women had to wear skirts or dresses, hose, and closed-toe shoes. There was no such thing as “Casual Fridays”.

Q: How has it changed?
A: Have you ever seen me wear hose?! It is much more relaxed, which I think leads to better productivity.

We have also come a long way in technology. We didn’t have laser printers, we had dot matrix printers. We didn’t have the Internet. Invoices were printed on four-part forms. We used carbon paper, typewriters, did manual journal entries, and our computers were only for our accounting software. We didn’t have Word or Excel.

This is making me sound real old!

Q: What kept you at Howard/Merrell for 26 years?
A: It’s been a good company to work for – But it’s mostly the “family” I have become part of that has kept me here.

Q: How has technology helped make the working environment better?
A: Internet access allows you to research facts, competitive ads, new business, etc. Mechanical pencils are also nice!
Email is both good and bad. It’s good to have a paper trail but many times someone will send you an email instead of walking over and having a discussion with you.

Q: How do you think technology has hurt the working environment?
A: You’re never away from work as you can be contacted by cell, email, and text. And you an carry around a laptop.

Q: Do you have a favorite client or campaign over the years?
A: I’ve enjoyed most of the creative we’ve produced. I’ve always thought our Christmas cards were a little “out there”!

Q: What keeps people happy at work?
A: A combination of things:
– Having happy fellow co-workers is key. One person that is down can bring the whole group down.
– Knowing peers respect you
– Working together as a group
– Acknowledgement
– Social gatherings
– Having good management that leads by example

Q: What will you miss the most about Howard/Merrell?
A: The people. And, my paycheck!

Week In Marketing: Cyber-bullying, Mother’s Day Ad, YouTube’s Birthday, Facebook’s Growth


1. Twitter Looks to Stop Cyber-Bullying
Last week, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s general counsel, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post describing the company’s plan to restructure its safety policies and cut response times to abuse reports. The company is launching a program that will detect abuse, using signals and context that correlates with abuse. Cyber-bullying cannot be stopped all together, but Twitter is trying to take a step in the right direction it.

2. Pandora Jewelry Releases Heartwarming Mother’s Day Ad
Pandora Jewelry has released a Mother’s Day ad, in which blindfolded children are asked to identify their mothers by touch alone. The two-minute video already has more than 14 million views on Facebook and 7 million on YouTube. The video celebrates all women, whether they are mothers or not. Pandora tells them to appreciate the women they are at heart.

3. Facebook Unveils Video Program on YouTube’s 10th Birthday
Facebook unveiled Anthology, a new video program that will allows publishers and digital video producers to create videos for advertisers on Thursday, YouTube’s 10th anniversary of the first published video. Among the publishers and producers are Vice, Vox Media, Tastemade and Funny or Die. According to Facebook spokesman, advertisers will be required to run videos created through Anthology as ads on Facebook. This could help Facebook as it attempts to take YouTube’s spot as the top digital-video advertiser.

4. Hydrogen Fuel Video Campaign
There are a number of misconceptions about hydrogen fuel and for many it is even viewed as scary. As Toyota plans to introduce its new hydrogen fuel vehicle in October, the brand will be releasing videos depicting everyday hydrogen sources. Toyota hopes this video campaign will change consumers’ perspective on hydrogen fuel.

5. Facebook Users Grow
Facebook reported that it now has a user base of 1.44 billion per month. Also the number of exclusively-mobile Facebook users has increased to 581 million.

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Happy Jack Pet Brand Names Howard Merrell as Agency of Record


With so many pet lovers who work at Howard/Merrell, you can only imagine how excited we are to be named Agency of Record for Happy Jack Inc, an Eastern N.C.-based manufacturer of animal health products.

Happy Jack was seeking a fully integrated communications partner who understands and has a successful track record supporting brands in the pet care category, and they chose us!

We’ve already starting working with the great team at Happy Jack who brought us on to help the company accelerate growth and strengthen its position with key consumers, distributors and influencers. Over the next year, we will focus on the development and execution of market research, integrated brand communications campaign, website design, media planning and placement and product positioning.

Established in 1946, Happy Jack Inc. manufactures high quality, effective animal health products for dogs, cats and horses. We are excited to help Happy Jack build on its rich heritage of success.

Read more here about our relationship with Happy Jack.

Cindy Honickman Joins the Team


Aloha. Bienvenue. Powitanie. Shalom. Willkommen. Bem Vindos. Verwelkomen.

Welcome to Cindy Honickman as a Senior Account Executive.

With knowledge and experience on how branding and marketing can benefit a company and improve its bottom line, Cindy is leading the development and management of integrated campaigns that involve advertising, media planning and buying, website development, event support, public relations, social media, market research, and analytics.

Before joining Howard/Merrell, Honickman worked at advertising agencies in the southeast, where she has worked with clients in a host of industries. She wrote and executed against creative briefs, managed campaigns, collaborated with teams to develop media plan, and managed budgets and client success. For the past three years, Honickman pursued her dream to own a business, and has successfully run a social sports franchise in the Triangle area.

Cindy earned both her bachelor’s degree in advertising and master’s degree in management from the University of Florida.

Find out more about Cindy in her release.

Week In Marketing: Mobile Ads, Sponsored Ads and the Latest Campaigns

WeekInMarketing:  latest-news

1. 3-D Mobile Ads Have Become a Reality
Brands have started using 3-D mobile ads as the mobile industry is shifting to virtual reality. Jameson recently claimed it created the first 3-D Facebook and Instagram ad in which a shot glass was made to appear as if it were flying off the screen. Other brands such as Ford and Mazda have been creating ads using this multidimensional technology.

2. Coca-Cola Brings Back “Share a Coke” Campaign
Coca-Cola is bringing back the “Share a Coke” campaign. Last year’s campaign yielded the largest year-over-year growth, more than 19 percent. The campaign will return this month 1,000 names, 4 times as many as last year, replacing the Coke logo on 20-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. The website will also sell 8-ounce glass bottles with customizable names.

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