In the Office

Week In Marketing: Social Media Complaints, Presidential Race, Advertising and Technology, Iconic Magazine Covers

Howard/Merrell social-media-customer-service1

1. True: US Brand managers are ignoring the majority of complaints on Twitter and Facebook
Twitter and Facebook can be effective tools for addressing questions about a brand’s product or services. According to a new study by Socialbreakers, US brand managers are not take advantage of these opportunities. The study revealed that 80 percent of questions posed to United States companies on Twitter are ignored. That’s a 20 percent higher rate than on Facebook, where brand managers are more likely to answer customers’ questions. Socialbreakers arrived at the number after studying 6.5 million tweets and 1.4 million Facebook posts across 50,000 brands.

2. Caitlyn Jenner Cover becomes instantly Iconic
Vanity Fair made headlines this month with the release of its July 2015 cover, featuring a photograph of Caitlyn Jenner shot. Its image became a viral sensation. How does it compare with other “iconic” magazine covers like the Esquire cover showing Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian, or Rolling Stone’s Boston Bomber cover? The explosion of social media, magazine covers have a wider impact than ever before. Yet, in an age where print is being constantly subsumed by digital, the impact of a cover like “Call me Caitlyn” proves that the magazine still holds an important place in the media landscape, regardless of whether it’s being consumed on a newsstand or in an Instagram feed.

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Week In Marketing: New Getty Images, Father’s Day Tributes, WSJ’s New App, Automated Social Media

Howard/Merrell Fathers Day

1. Getty Images New Collection: Masculinity Gets a Modern Makeover
Stock photography is everywhere, and a lot of it reinforces traditional gender roles. Last year, Getty Images created a collection of 2,500 images showing women in more empowering ways. The collection, which has since doubled in size, turned out to be a success, according to Getty, with sales also doubling since the launch. Now, ahead of Father’s Day, Getty Images has curated another collection, this time offering images that redefine representations of masculinity. According to the company, there has been a growing demand for imagery showing a modernized view of gender equality like parents sharing the work of raising kids and images of same-sex couples.

The collection, which Getty customers can find by entering the keywords “Lean In Together” in the database, features images of what the company describes as men as involved caretakers and caregivers, men who are emotionally available and affectionate, men involved in domestic life, and men working collaboratively in the workplace.

2. Toyota’s Documentaries for Father’s Day
It’s all in for Toyota this Father’s Day. They are unveiling a pair of 3-minute-long Web films — and erecting an “I (Heart) Dad” monument next week on Southern California’s Santa Monica Beach Pier. The campaign turns on the insight that Americans spend $7.4 billion less on Father’s Day gifts than they spend on Mother’s Day. Toyota’s push: Let’s make Father’s Day Mean Something…

Extending the Father’s Day theme into the physical world, Toyota commissioned a 15-foot-tall wooden “I (Heart) Dad” monument, which will be unveiled next week on Santa Monica Pier, where it will remain through June 22. Visitors will be able to instantly print their Instagram photos at the site by adding the campaign’s #OneBoldChoice hashtag.

3. Mobile Programmatic Growing As 91% Of Marketers Up Spend
Nearly all (91%) mobile ad-buyers have increased their programmatic spend in 2015, according to a new survey and research report from Millennial Media, a mobile ad exchange. The company interviewed 137 advertisers during the first quarter of 2015 and pulled campaign data from its exchange for the report. Millennial notes that 46% of respondents are spending under one million on mobile programmatic campaigns this year, down from 63% in 2014. Over one-third (36%) are spending between $1 million and $5 million, up from 22% last year. And the number of marketers spending over $15 million via mobile programmatic has more than tripled — up to 13% from 4%. The number of buyers spending between $5 million and $15 million has decreased to 5%, from 11%.

4. The Wall Street Journal tests new app
The Wall Street Journal is testing a news app called “What’s News,” which will be offered in addition to its current subscription. It’s the first product the Journal has created that’s available only to mobile readers, and it will offer a digest of the day’s most important stories.

According to Capital New York, the app was designed to increase reader loyalty: From a business standpoint, the app is designed to shore up subscriber loyalty as the Journal marches toward a goal of 3 million paying customers by 2017; it currently has around 2.2 million, roughly 700,000 of which are digital-only subscribers, according to company estimates.

5. Spirit Airlines’ automated Social media customer service
According to PR Daily, while most businesses go out of their way to employ best practices in all areas of marketing and operations, Spirit Airlines somehow survives by employing some of the worst practices. That now includes social media. Spirit has a history of an almost adversarial relationship with customers, and has gotten its fair share of negative comments in social media. While all other airlines have made it a point to show that real humans work on these accounts, Spirit goes out of its way to try to convince you that they use a robot to manage their Twitter account. The brand has renamed the Twitter presence the Spirit Autopilot. Clearly, it’s a gimmick. Because that’s what irate customers want—another automated response. Even the organization’s broadcasted tweets are apparently automated with customized social media tiles that, if we’re to believe the brand, no human had a hand in creating.

Week In Marketing: Content Factory, #DenimDiary, Live Stream, Instagram Buttons, Caitlyn Jenner

NFL logo

1. Yahoo Launches First Ever Free Global Live Stream of an NFL Game
The NFL signed on with Yahoo! For the first free global live stream of a sporting event. NFL senior VP, Hans Schroeder, shares, “We see more and more of our fans spend more time on digital platforms. We want to evolve with the landscape.” This is the first time that viewers won’t be charged for a live stream game. Yahoo! Will be in charge of securing the advertising for the game.

2. Instagram Customizes Commercial Content
This week, Instagram introduced posts with “Shop Now” buttons and other messages (“Learn More,” “Download,” “Sign Up”) taking direct action. The app also adopted a new API that allows marketers to manage, track, and measure campaigns. These ads are all about customizing commercial content that blends with the Instagram feed and does not disrupt the user experience. Although some backlash appeared after Instagram first introduced promoted posts, the idea of instant gratification is expected to keep this “ad shop” in full service.

3. Bud Light Builds “Content Factory” With Whatever, USA
For it’s second year in a row, Bud Light created Whatever, USA to host a big party for a select number of fans. With millennials valuing experiences rather than actual products, and only 1,000 fans attending the festival, Bud Light has created an experience that will be broadcasted to consumers around the world. Bud Light even utilized Snoop Dog riding a bicycle as one of their shareable moments at Whatever, USA.

4. Lucky Brand Wins Customers Through Wise Social Media
Lucky brand recently changed their marketing efforts in 2014 to become relevant again in the minds of consumers. In order to do this, they created a series of campaigns that enabled fans to set the tone for the Lucky Brand name. They utilized the #DenimDiary which asked people to share photos of themselves in everyday life wearing Lucky. They also utilized fan-driven content and created a referral system to reward their fans for sharing.

5. Caitlyn Jenner Considered, a Potential Celebrity Brand Endorser?
Caitlyn Jenner broke the Internet as she exposed herself on the cover of Vanity Fair, revealing her gender transformation. As a former Wheaties brand endorser, there is a lot of talk about whether or not brands will pick up Caitlyn after the recent transformation. With her huge fan base, and an LGBT market buying power of $1 billion, the question is why a cosmetic or hair-care company wouldn’t want her.

Beer Marketing: Spicing up the Lincoln Brewery

Lincoln Squares

There’s probably about 1% of people in the world who don’t drink beer, and I’m one of them. Just not my thing. But, once we started working with Lincoln Brewing Co., I was able to do some cool work and learn more about beers than I ever imagined. I even know what IPA stands for now (India Pale Ale).

After recently working on Lincoln’s new website, they asked us to create some artwork for their brewery and taproom in Fuquay-Varina. We created a series of 4’x4′ posters that would be mounted throughout the brewery. Check them out »


Week in Marketing: #SaveOurSwirled, Tweet Ordering, Lifestyle Branding


1. Ben & Jerry’s Uses a New Ice Cream Flavor to Promote Climate Activism
Ben & Jerry’s created a new flavor called “Save Our Swirled” – the acronym spelling “SOS” – to raise awareness of the upcoming global climate talks in Paris in December. Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with the activist group Avaaz, as well as made changes internally to increase energy efficiency and shrink their carbon footprint.

2. Twitter Ordering is Made Possible by Domino’s
By tweeting a pizza emoji to the Domino’s twitter account, you can have a pizza sent to your house. The Twitter ordering system works by accessing customer profiles found in Domino’s Easy Order system. Domino’s said this will be a permanent ordering feature.

3. Hillary Clinton Creates “Pansuit Tee” to be “More Relatable”
Hillary Clinton has shown that she is comfortable poking fun at herself. Her campaign store is now selling an “Everyday Pantsuit Tee,” inspired by her reputation of frequently wearing pantsuits. It seems that this is an effort to soften her brand image. But because the proceeds of the t-shirt sales are benefiting her campaign, many wonder if it will have any effect on voting.

4. Scion’s Music Label = Lifestyle Branding?
Scion’s music label, Scion AV, works with more than 1,500 artists in an effort to give a consistent voice and style to the Scion brand. Even though it is part of Scion’s marketing efforts, Scion AV functions as a normal record label, with all rights belonging to artists. They support up-and-coming talent through the creation of albums, music videos, films, live events, and more.

5. Liam Neeson Named Most-Likeable Celebrity Endorser
A Neilson study named the ten most-liked celebrity endorsers and overall ten most marketable celebrity endorsers for the first quarter of 2015. Liam Neeson made it on the top of both of those lists. Awareness, likability, and influence were some of the characteristics used to determine this list.

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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.