In the Office

Joe Williams Joins Howard/Merrell

Howard/Merrell Joe_Williams

Meet Joe Williams. He’s a recent college graduate with experience in research, advertising, social media and customer acquisition techniques, and now one of the newest Account Coordinators here at Howard/Merrell.

Before graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Joe interned at Howard/Merrell and ArchiveSocial. He has also worked with a variety of student organizations, community groups and nationwide businesses to plan events, coordinate activities and expand their social media platforms.

Joe recently earned his Bachelor’s degree in advertising from UNC-CH’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Welcome to the team Joe!

Read more about him here.

Week In Marketing: Timesquare Billboard, Next Big Brand Ambassador, Consumer Storytelling, Marketing Stats, Neuromarketing


1. Coke Expands on their “Share A Coke” Campaign With an Interactive Billboard
After creating a new microsite last week for the Share a Coke campaign, Coke decided to add another component to the mix: an interactive billboard in Times Square, activated by Twitter. When a fan tweets their name along with the hashtag #CokeMyName, they are changing the billboard in real time. Once someone sends the tweet out, the name, along with a fun fact about the name, will be displayed on the billboard in Times Square. However, you don’t have to be in Times Square to see your name across the screen. After a tweet is sent out, Coke’s social media team receives a picture of the billboard with the name on it, and sends it back to the person within the hour.

2. Gatorade: A Coach’s Concoction now a Billion Dollar Industry
In 1965, Florida Gators football coach noticed his player’s lack of hydration and energy, so he mixed up a drink that is now known as Gatorade.
Ever since people were calling this electrolyte filled drink “Gator Coach’s Aid,” it has been dominating the $12.5 billion sports drink category. While Gatorade has given rise to plenty of competitors, it has also shined in its marketing efforts. From Michael Jordan to Peyton Manning, the drink has had some of the biggest names in sports behind it. Joe Favorite, a sports marketing teacher at Columbia University says that “[Gatorade has] done a great job of storytelling to the consumer.”

More »

Neuromarketing: The Secret to Advertising that Works

consumer neuromarketingEver wished you had mind-reading powers? Surely there isn’t a marketer out there who hasn’t dreamed of knowing exactly what consumers are thinking at any given time. Well, the team at Howard/Merrell doesn’t claim to have superhuman abilities, but we’ve certainly got the next best thing: Neuromarketing Research.

Neuromarketing research has changed the way that we create advertising. It is used to delve into both the conscious and unconscious mind to get 100% of the consumer story. People often don’t know or are unable to fully express what they want and how they feel, but neuromarketing allows us to measure subconscious emotional reactions. Because emotions drive engagement, perception of brands, and purchase behavior, measuring and analyzing how an ad affects consumer emotions is the key to optimizing ads for effectiveness.

Here’s the proof:

In 2000, neuromarketing research helped Howard/Merrell measure the Priceless campaign for MasterCard. When the campaign was in its infancy, conventional research procedures showed that the campaign was ineffective. But before stopping the campaign, Howard/Merrell used neuromarketing research to provide a new, different perspective. According to our data analysis, MasterCard’s Priceless campaign was very emotionally engaging. MasterCard chose to keep the Priceless campaign, and it evolved into the award-winning commercials that you still see today.

So in a world where consumers are exposed to over 5000 ads a day and notice only about 250, advertising campaigns have to find a way to cut through the clutter. The way to do that is with powerful, emotionally engaging advertising.

Want to learn more about neuromarketing research and how it works? Download our white paper here. 

Week In Marketing: Wimbledon, World Cup, Millennials Reading, Coke’s New Site and Same-Sex Marriage


1. Brands are boosting fan engagement at Wimbledon
Stella Artios, Jaguar and Evian are leveraging hi-tech products to boost fan engagement at the Wimbledon Championship. Jaguar is handing out biometric wearable devices to crowds that measure energy and excitement levels during the tournament. An infographic with the collected data will be shown live across billboards at busy locations around London such as Piccadilly Circus. Stella Artios has built a television commercial that gives tennis fans a chance to experience what it feels like to fly like a hawk over the grounds of the tournament. Evian is getting fans involved with their #wimblewatch and content series.

2. Supreme Court Decision stirs up Social Media
Following the wake of the Supreme Court decision in which same-sex marriage was legalized nationally, brands have taken to social media to show their support. JELL-O, SKYY Vodka, Stolichnaya Vodka, Game of Thrones, Kellogg’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Miller Lite and Google are just a few brands rallying together to support this decision using Twitter and Facebook.

3. AOL “Digital Prophet” says Millennials would rather Read about a Brand
David Shing, digital prophet at AOL, says the way to reach millennials is through video and a strong brand. “It’s all about content. Nobody wants ads. And where it becomes fascinating to me is that 70 percent of people would rather read about a brand than be advertised to,” Shing notes. Brands are beginning to leverage multi-platform campaigns targeting millennials who constantly switch from their desktops to their phones.

4. The U.S. Women’s World Cup sparks Growing Interest from Brands
With the U.S. Women’s soccer team advancing to the final World Cup championship, brands are taking notice and joining the conversation. Ritz Crackers, Downy, Coca-Cola, Fiat USA, and the Seattle Seahawks have taken to Twitter to voice their congratulations for the team and to support the Unites States in making sports history.

5. Coca-Cola’s new website continues to advance Brand Journalism
The Coca-Cola Company debuted their website, Coca-Cola Journey, which is a full-blown media platform that displays its marketing campaigns. The website is the means for disseminating news and information about the brand to the public in a way that engages its consumers more directly than ever before. The website has more than 32 million visits and 76 million page views, so it’s safe to say the idea is propelling Coca-Cola as a forward-thinking brand.

Image credit.

Week In Marketing: #followfood, NFL Advertising, Millenials’ Music, Packaging and Beer

HowardMerrell bike 1. New Packaging for Cyclists
Mcdonald’s has a new promo packaging aimed for cyclists. The packaging was designed to help riders hold their food while staying balance on the bike. The frame work and craft of the box is innovative and captivating. The promo packaging was released in Copenhagen, Denmark and then Medellin, Columbia. The project will be coming soon to Amsterdam and Japan.

2. Follow that truck!!
Dentyne is making a foundation with its #followfood campaign. It shows the benefits and values of following the food with breath-freshening gum. The Dentyne truck will be on tour with its food cousin, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, as well as a Kimchi Taco truck, a hot dog vendor and a pizza truck. The following trucks will be traveling to six food festivals across America.

More »

The Latest Endorsement Guides

Endorsement Howard/Merrell

Are you leveraging social media for professional use?

If you answered yes, then you may want to familiarize yourself with the Federal Trade Commission’s newly updated Endorsement Guides.

The document answers questions people (advertisers, advertising/PR agencies, bloggers, etc.) are asking about the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, including information about disclosing material connections between advertisers and endorsers.

The guidance is now available in the form of the FTC’s recently updated FAQ entitled, “What People Are Asking”. The FAQ covers: Product Placements, Social Media Contests, Online Review Program, Intermediaries, Affiliate or Network Marketing, Expert Endorsements, Endorsements by Individuals, Testimonials and Soliciting Endorsements.

More »

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.

More »

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 »