In the Office

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.

Image Credit.

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.

Image credit.

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.

More »

Week In Marketing: Racist Tweet, #ImNoAngel, Social Media News


1. Clorox Tries to “Bleach Away” Potentially Racist Tweet
As racially diverse emojis were added to iOS Thursday, Clorox sent out a Tweet showing a bottle of its bleach made up of emojis with the text, “New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.” Many took to Twitter, enraged by what seemed to be a racist comment by Clorox. Later, Clorox tweeted apologizing for the confusion and stating it wished it could “bleach away” the comment. Clorox explained that the tweet was meant to be about the tubs, toilets and glasses that could use some bleaching.

More »

Meet Lori Kramerson

Howard Merrell Account Project Management

Welcome to Lori Kramerson, our new Project Manager.

In this position, Lori manages project timelines, coordinates the traffic process and workflow and ensures all projects are completed on time and within budget. She works with everyone here no matter the discipline – Creative, Media Planning, Interactive, Public Relations, Social Media, Marketing Research and Analytics.

Lori keeps us all in line and bakes cookies for us too! (Even though that is not in the official job description.)

Before joining our family, Lori served as Studio Manager at Rosa + Rosa Studio, Inc., where she produced photography shoots for a top-tier team of photographers and clients including Apple, Bulgari, and W Magazine.

Coming to us straight from Brooklyn, we are thrilled to have Lori on board!

Learn more about Lori in this press release.

Howard/Merrell captures real people telling emotional stories for Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

Genworth Web Videos
Buying the perfect house is a pretty special moment in life. Of course, you have to find that house first. Then you have to get through the closing. In this web video series we created for Genworth Mortgage Insurance, real homeowners share their home-buying stories and along with it, their emotions. We shot these with the great Charles Gupton. All editing done in house.

“..nothing moves as quickly and spreads so far as a good story.” 

- Frank Chimero.

View Videos »