In the Office

Week in Marketing: Tinder and Politics, Blendle, Instagram’s Algorithm, YouTube Video Essays, Adobe

1. Tinder Wants Its Users To Get Political
Tinder will be releasing a new feature on its app that will help users determine who they should vote for in the upcoming election. The feature will work by displaying various video cards that will pop up as users are swiping on the app. vote-1190034_1280 Each card will discuss a current political issue, with details describing its current circumstances. Users will then be able to swipe left or right based on whether they agree or disagree with a certain stance on that issue. After the user has gone through each of the political cards, Tinder will inform him or her of the candidate that most aligns with his or her views.

2. What’s Blendle?
Blendle, a Dutch micropayments platform that offers ad-free, pay-per-story news from various sources in one place, has launched in the U.S.. Several big publishers, including Time Inc., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Condé Nast, have all signed on to be available to U.S. Blendle users. Blendle aims to offer a wide variety of news content in the same ways that Netflix and Spotify offer shows, movies and songs to users. Blendle will offer recommendations to readers, and articles will range from a cost of 9 cents to 49 cents.

3. Instagram’s Changing Its Timeline Algorithm
While Instagram has always displayed photos chronologically on users’ newsfeeds, it has recently announced that it will be incorporating a new engagement-based algorithm to generate newsfeeds. This means that accounts with greater activity – especially on the receiving end – are more likely to appear at the top of followers’ newsfeeds. To stay at the top, it is important to generate engagement with your posts. This is encouraged by engaging with other accounts, posting engaging content, and making a special effort to interact with Instagram’s more influential users.

4. YouTube Video Essays Taking Journalism To A New Level
YouTube video essays aren’t complicated – they consist of well thought-out arguments presented alongside video footage and other imaging. Now, with the millennial audience, these video essays are growing in popularity, just as written essays are fizzling out. YouTube video essays are popular not only because of their visual appeal, but also because they are free and easy to access. In a time when print news is dissipating, it is important to keep up with this growing trend.

5. Adobe Switches Its Marketing Focus From Devices To People
This past week, Adobe hosted its 2016 Digital Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, where it announced the release of its Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op. The product will allow marketers to finally connect users’ ad engagement across platforms and devices. The Device Co-op will let Adobe Marketing Cloud members share the link across devices, without requiring information from user profiles. This will result in a clearer, less fragmented picture of user habits. Adobe hopes to release this new service by the end of 2016.

Ellen Wayland: Planner, Buyer, Negotiator, Strategizer

Meet our Media Director, Ellen Wayland.

Ellen oversees the agency’s media department and is in charge of coordinating the planning, buying and reconciliation of all digital, print, broadcast and non-traditional media campaigns for the agency’s clients.


She recently celebrated her 30th anniversary at Howard/Merrell, and we’ve been lucky to have her.

A negotiating and strategizing wiz, Ellen finds herself using her professional skills in daily life. “I’m usually the go-to person in the family when it comes to negotiating,” she says.

Ellen’s our go-to person, too.

According to her, a successful media campaign is one in which all the pieces come together, the clients see the results and are happy. And for the past three decades, that’s what Ellen has been delivering.

Surprisingly enough, Ellen didn’t even know what a media planner was when she graduated from the University of Virginia. She always envisioned herself owning her own retail business, “something like an ice cream shop or candy store.”

Her first job in the industry was a freelance marketing researcher for a small agency in Raleigh. After that, Ellen worked in the media department for another local agency before moving to Howard/Merrell. The rest is history.

What’s her secret? Ellen claims the best advice she ever received was, “It’s just advertising. You’re not going to mess it up.” Her advice for people in the industry? “Embrace the inevitable changes and get ready to hang on for a wild ride.”

So what’s kept Ellen here at Howard/Merrell for 30 years? She simply couldn’t see herself anywhere else.

“It’s a great place both personally and professionally,” she says. “Great people, great talent, and some great clients along the way.”

Want to know more about Ellen, check out the press release on her 30th anniversary.

Week in Marketing: Video-on-Demand, Instagram Algorithim, Tiger Beat, Mobile Game Changer, Cross-Platform Measurement Mix


1. Nielsen Finds Little Demand For Ads In Video-On-Demand
According to a Nielsen:
– Some 66% of global respondents say most ads in Video-On-Demand content are for products they don’t want
– Sixty-two percent who watch VOD say online ads displayed before, during or after VOD programming are distracting, and 65% wish they could block all ads.
– Most say they “don’t mind getting ads if I can view free content.” That’s the case for 68% of consumers in North America; 60% in Latin America; 59% in Asia-Pacific countries; and 53% in Europe.
– About 50% of people in North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East/Africa say they don’t mind getting ads for recent purchases already made. But this percentage is far lower in Europe, at 34%.
– Nearly 60% of global respondents favor watching VOD programming because it is less expensive than programming via a cable or satellite service. Still, nearly 70% say they have no plans to cancel their existing traditional service.

2. Instagram’s New Algorithm – What does this mean?
It is time for brands to put more muscle into their Instagram ads. Instagram is adding an algorithm that reorders pictures and videos in users’ feeds based on their interests. Marketers say this move was inevitable. The photo-sharing app builds out its ad business and takes a page from sister company Facebook’s playbook. The question is: How made will this make Instagram’s core users?

3. The Evolution of Tiger Beat
Tiger Beat magazine is undergoing a transformation in an effort to keep up with the times. Under the control of its well-connected new owners, the magazine has already made a number of big strategy shifts. The most noticeable is the new cover. No more cluttered collages of teen stars. Tiger Beat’s latest covers feature solo celebrities, from megastars like Taylor Swift to up-and-comers like Vine star Cameron Dallas.

4. Canvas Has the Potential to Be a Game-Change for Mobile
People spend an enormous amount of time in front of their phones. That’s why advertisers would love to leverage mobile opportunities. But the mobile advertising options available to date, have not been that impressive. This may have changed with the recent launch of Facebook Canvas. Why? 1- It’s fast to get in. 2- It’s fast to get out. 3- It’s an answer. 4- It’s easy to build

5. Cross-Platform Measurement Mix
With the importance of analytics, publishers are looking for ways to demonstrate print’s impact alongside and in conjunction with digital and broadcast media. Time Inc. and Nielsen Catalina Solutions unveiled a new cross-platform measurement service that adds print ad exposure to the mix. The service, available to CPG advertisers, brings together different forms of measurement tailored to specific media, including Time Inc. subscription data and GfK MRI.

Week In Marketing: Fempowerment, Gamification, Messaging Apps, Sharapova Sponsors, Dos Equis Spokesman Retirement

1. Brands Promote “Fempowerment”
In support of International Women’s Day, paper towel brand Brawny is launching several digital short films celebrating women’s accomplishments. By replacing the iconic lumberjack mascot with strong women and using the slogan #StrengthHasNoGender, the brand hopes the ads will transcend simple advertising and stimulate a more important conversation. weekinmarketingOther brands are joining the conversation one by one: Nesquick’s “Daredevil” TV commercial starring an ambitions second grade girl encourages moms to celebrate their children’s dreams, Always #LikeAGirl campaign is fighting for empowering girl emojis, and Young Minds for Gender Equality ‘s quirky “Business Bulge” campaign draws attention to female equality issues.

2. Sports Brackets are a Marketing Slam Dunk
From a marketing perspective, brackets are ingenious. They give fans a reason to watch every game, engaging them on levels like never before. In 2015 alone, some 40 million Americans filled out a tournament bracket, betting a total of $2 billion. Brands are trying into tap into this rabid enthusiasm and capitalize on sports fan’s passion by creating brackets of their own. This type of marketing, known as “gamification,” can be a powerful way to connect with consumers and drive traffic, keeping brands in the game instead of on the sidelines. AT&T’s successful partnership with Major Soccer League last year only proves how promising gamification-done-right can be.

3. Marketing Platform of the Future
As consumers continue to abandon desktops for smartphones, they have begun to trade in traditional email for mobile messaging apps. Apps like Snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik and Facebook Messenger are quickly on the rise, and are especially popular among younger audiences. Until recently however, these app’s massive audiences have been untapped by advertisers. But as they become more integrated – Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are enabling users to exchange money directly on the platforms – their potential for effective marketing platforms is skyrocketing.

4. Sponsors Cut Ties with Maria Sharapova
World famous tennis champion Maria Sharapova announced that she recently failed a drug test for the Australian Open. Sharapova admitted to her usage of meldonium, apologized publicly, and expressed her hopes that the scandal will not end her career. Despite the controversy over the details of the situation however, sponsors Nike, Tag Huer and Porsche were quick to suspend their relationships with the 28-year old athlete. And, although addressing the issue head on was a smart PR decision, the sponsor’s swift response signaled a new “no-tolerance” attitude among corporate sponsors, whose reputations are increasingly more affected by bad press.

5. Dos Equis Retires The Most Interesting Man in the World
Dos Equis bids adieu to infamous pitchman Jonathan Goldsmith, better known as The Most Interesting Man in the World, in its most recent farewell commercial. After “creating one of the most celebrated campaigns of the 21st century,” Heineken CMO Nuno Teles says the beer brand is looking for a more modern character to appeal even more to young people. Like Superman and Batman receive periodic makeovers, Teles wants people to look at this decision as a franchise reboot that will keep the concept fresh and relevant.

A Q&A with Billy Barnes, Creative Director – Part II

In celebration of Billy’s 15th anniversary, we asked him to answer some questions. We posted the first half of the Q&A last month.

Here’s the rest!


Q: What’s the most significant change you have seen in the advertising industry?

A: Obviously, when digital as a technology and as a new medium came along, it brought about a gigantic change for everyone. So much so that all these years later, people are still trying to figure it all out. The mobile device is a monumental change. Advertisers can ride around in the pocket of their customers all day long. It’s incredible. More recently, I love the continued shift toward marketing that goes deeper than just trying to sell a product. We’re looking for ways to create an exchange of more than money between a brand and a consumer. It’s no longer one-way communication. And it’s leading us to much smarter, much more emotional and meaningful work.

Q: What do you think the advertising industry will be like in 15 years?

A: Ask me in 15 years.

Q: What advice would you give to a young person looking to become a creative in the advertising industry?

A: Become a farmer instead.

Q: What made you stay at Howard/Merrell for 15 years?

A: It just feels right. Always has. But I better get a gold watch for my 30th or I’m gonna be pissed.

Q: What is your favorite Howard/Merrell campaign and why?

A: Hard to pick a favorite after all these years and all the work we’ve done. The Power of Print campaign for Sappi Fine Paper has always been a favorite. It’s a good example of what we do really well here – tapping into human emotion. And I know it was powerful because at least a half dozen companies and organizations copied it. The stuff we did for Scott Rags in a Box was great too. Did really well for the client. Won awards. And to this day is still the hardest I’ve ever laughed on a shoot.

Photo Credit: Tibor Nemeth

Week In Marketing: Snapchat Filters, Tech Trends, PR=Lobbying, Google CTRs, Unskippable Campaign

1. Snapchat’s Chain Geo-Filters
Snapchat and IHOP developed what they are calling “chain geo-filters,” location-based dynamic art that can be added to photo and video snaps. howard/merrell pancake-640865_1920IHOP has released new geo-fencing Snapchat filters that can only be accessed in the restaurant. The goal for the Snapchat campaign is to pull more people into the restaurant, and then have those customers share their experience with their friends via the social media platform. IHOP also sees it as a new way for the company to engage with its customers. Less than a week after its release, the filter had already garnered 3 million views.

2. Five Technology Trends Among Millennials
With millennials being the most involved in the digital field, it is important to keep track of technological trends and habits. (1)According to research, millennials are most likely to get their news from social media, chiefly Facebook and Twitter. (2)Virtual reality is picking up the pace, and preparing to be common in households. (3)Video games are shifting over to the cloud, to allow for more storage space; they are also making a greater shift toward virtual reality. (4)More companies are jumping on the streaming services bandwagon (4)Startups that offer financial services are taking over the fintech industry and hurting banks.

3. New York Says PR Is Lobbying
New York State’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has passed regulations that require PR professionals to provide information strikingly similar to that which is required of lobbyists. This information includes details surrounding their relationships and interactions with media and government in New York. This comparison to a lobbyist is derived from the notion that PR professionals can have power over the government through the media, and under the new regulations a PR professional is considered a lobbyist if he or she is doing anything with an end goal of affecting a bill. PR professionals are shocked, and PRSA has released a statement suggested that the new regulations will have a “chilling effect on free and clear lines of necessary public communication.”

4. Google CTRs Rising After Redesign
Late last month, Google stopped serving paid-search text ads down the right rail of its search query results page. Early data confirms higher click-through rates on paid-search advertising for all positions except one after Google eliminated the text ads down the right rail of search query results. A fourth paid-search ad now serves up at the top of bottom of the page.

5. Geico’s Latest Ad Campaign Can’t Be Skipped
In the follow-up to its 2015 “Unskippable” campaign, Geico has created a new series of preroll ads that each introduce a scenario in the first five seconds, and then fast-forward to an unexpected and ridiculous ending. While these ads cannot be skipped to more quickly get to the content viewers are attempting to watch, they create a knowledge gap so profound that viewers can’t help but to wonder what happens in the middle of the story. Geico says the goal of the ads is to suggest that the company is speeding up the advertising period for the viewer, but they also give viewers the option of clicking on extended versions of the commercials, which fill in the missing content for viewers who wish to feed their curiosity.

Week In Marketing: Gas App, Apple-FBI Fight, Foursquare’s Tool, Battery Battle, Facebook emojis

petrol-996617_1920 1. Visa Takes Smart Cars to the Next Level
Low on gas? There (will be) an app for that. Visa debuted its connected car app – built with Honda – at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. How does it work? The app prototype is part of the car’s dashboard and alerts consumers when their gas levels are low. Once at a gas station, the app determines how much gas the car needs and uses Bluetooth technology to transfer payment from the car to the gas pump. Think that’s cool? Visa is just getting started.

2. Tech Companies Back Apple in FBI Battle
Facebook sided with Apple in its fight against the U.S. government after refusing to bypass security functions on the San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone. Zuckerberg stated that although Facebook supports the fight against global terrorism, weakening digital security of technology companies isn’t a good idea. Twitter and Google CEO’s also voiced their support, explaining that such actions could compromise user’s privacy and set a “troubling precedent.”

3. Foursquare’s New Tool = Digital Marketing Game Changer?
Tracking purchases, website visits, clicks, and impressions is nothing new in this day in age. But Foursquare’s new tool is promising retailers the ability to connect digital ads – on all platforms – with physical store visits. The social location/discovery platform’s new offering, Attribution Powered by Foursquare, uses voluntary data from Foursquare users to track consumers’ visits. The tool has been tested in several stores and restaurants, and used to measure the effects of Super Bowl 50’s advertisements on the brand’s foot traffic.

4. Energizer Takes Duracell to Court
It’s a battle of the batteries: Energizer is suing Duracell’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, for using Energizer’s iconic pink bunny on packaging. Although Energizer’s trademark prohibits Duracell from using its image in American advertising, the “Duracell bunny” has appeared in Colorado, Missouri, and online. The lawsuit will seek an injunction, unspecified damages, and recall of any Duracell products in packages displaying the bunny.

5. Say Hello to Facebook “Reactions”
The infamous Facebook “like” button will be accompanied by emoji-like expressions “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry,” courtesy of the new “Reactions” feature. Facebook’s new development, which has been in the making since October, is the most recent sign that emojis are taking over the digital world and are quickly becoming mainstream.

Week In Marketing: Tweet GIFs, Social Media Influencers, Memorable Super Bowl Ads, Tech Slowdow, Snapchat Capabilities

Howard/Merrell Tree

1. Twitter Improves Users Ability to Tweet GIFs
Twitter is pairing up with popular GIF search engines Giphy and Riffsy to allow users to add GIFs directly from a library. The animated images can be sent in tweets or direct messages from searching key words in the library to find related GIFs. Although Twitter is not the first to do this, more than 100 million GIFs were shared on the platform last year, making it a very useful feature for users.

2. Pandora Gets Help From Social Media Influencers
In December, Pandora launched a new feature called Thumbprint, which compiles all of the songs a user “likes” and creates a station from it. Pandora plans to promote the station with the help of Internet personalities – i.e. targeting younger people with the nostalgia from listening to old favorite songs. The campaign overall includes social media posts from each of these influencers that both promote the station and ask users to share their experience with the platform, as well as more traditional paid advertisements.

3. Can you recall the Brands Behind Famous Super Bowl Ads?
AdWeek interviewed New Yorkers a week after the Super Bowl and asked them the names of the brands behind popular Super Bowl advertisements, captioning the video with the phrase “let’s just say not every brand manager will be thrilled by the video above.” This raises the question if such a large investment pays off for brands and how brand recall should play into making these sorts of investments.

4. Preparing for an Upcoming Tech Slowdown
Several different things point to a possible slowdown in the technology industry, including a slowdown in the realm of venture capital, as well as some not-so-great outlooks from publicly traded tech giants such as LinkedIn. Silicon Valley seems to be preparing itself for the inevitable, so hopefully the slowdown will not be a total halt.

5. Snapchat Becomes a New Platform for Brands
Snapchat may be a useful platform for brands. The social media app allows brands to reach 18-24 year olds easily and in isolation from the older audience using other social media platforms. It also allows many options for how to promote a brand through storytelling, including filters, videos, photos, and text. Costs for advertising on Snapchat are also decreasing significantly from the prices in the past.

Account Executive Wanted!

We are committed to creating groundbreaking work that drives sales and wins awards – on every project, for every brand, for every client. We’ve created an environment based on the belief that there are no challenges that can’t be met, no problems that can’t be solved, and no conventions that can’t be broken. Our drive, determination as well as unique methodology and approaches, have created solutions that have sustained our agency for more than seven decades.

Howard/Merrell Hiring

Does this sounds intriguing to you? If so, let’s talk. We currently have an Account Executive position open.

Responsibilities include:
• Communicating with clients on a day-to-day basis

• Helping develop creative briefs and initiating new project startup meetings with the creative, interactive, social media, PR and media planning teams
• Providing insightful and strategic value to communications plans, creative work and client requests
• Working with Project Management to ensure that all timelines are met and that projects stay within budget
• Communicating changes/approvals from client to team – Clearly and in a timely manner
• Scheduling and participating in client meetings

• Updating job status reports on a weekly basis and running agency and client status meetings

We are looking for someone with:

• Bachelors Degree
• Experience working at an agency
• Excellent communication skills, the ability to be a team player and the desire to collaborate with multi-discipline teammates

• The professionalism and maturity to handle day-to-day client interaction

• A strong skill set in organization, multi-tasking and prioritizing

• The ability to keep projects on track
• Fluency in PowerPoint and Excel

• An optimistic mindset – who lifts those around them up, and makes a positive contribution to the agency culture and the clients they serve
• Agriculture and/or construction experience

Send cover letter and resumes to:

Peyton’s Plug, Twitter Feed, Super Bowl Ads, Facebook Videos and Local Marketing

howard merrell football

1. So Budweiser Didn’t Ask Peyton Manning To Promote Its Brand?
At the end of the Super Bowl on Sunday, Peyton Manning claimed that to celebrate his win he would “kiss his wife, hug his family and drink a lot of Budweiser.” Viewers disliked what seemed like an obvious sponsorship plug, saying it was a poor way to end his football career. However, Budweiser tweeted they were unaware the company’s shoutout would be occurring. As it turns out, Peyton owns shares in Anheuser-Busch distributorships, so when the company is successful, he profits.

2. Twitter Is Changing The Way It Does News Feeds
Twitter will be offering users an algorithm-based ‘catch-up’ news feed that picks the top tweets a user missed since the last time logging in. The algorithm will be based off of only organic social interactions, meaning that promoted tweets will not have an advantage in whether or not they are picked for this new and condensed feed. What this means is that companies with naturally larger reaches are likely to see more organic growth, as some of their non-promoted tweets get extra views through the new news feed. This ‘catch-up’ feed will be in addition to Twitter’s original reverse-chronological news feed, and users will have to manually turn on the function.

3. And The Super Bowl Commercial Winners Are…
AdWeek ranked its top five favorite Super Bowl commercials. Coming in fifth place is the Doritos commercial, “Ultrasound”; in fourth place is the Heinz Ketchup “Wiener Stampede”; third place is the Audi “Commander”; second place is T-Mobile’s “Restricted Bling”; and first place is Jeep “Portraits”. Jeep’s commercial aired at the half time, and showed a series of photos that told the story of Jeep’s history.

4. Facebook Enhances Videos For Sound-Off Environments
Facebook will automatically be putting captions on videos to increase views from people browsing in a sound-off environment. Facebook found that 80% of people react negatively when video ads begin playing loudly, and it wanted to find a way to improve responses without eliminating the meaning of the video. By putting captions on videos, Facebook has found through initial testing that view time increases by an average of 12%. Facebook hopes to bring more videos to its news feed that are visually enticing and less reliant on sound through its new tactics.

5. Taco Bell Uses Local Angles To Reveal New Menu Item
Taco Bell switched up marketing tactics for its Super Bowl reveal of its new menu item. In addition to its national commercial, it hired local celebrities from cities around the nation to promote the new quesalupa. The chosen local celebrities are known for being so quirky, they’re memorable. Deutsch L.A. Executive Creative Director Brett Craig said they chose the local celebrities to make it seem like everyone in the community was talking about it.