• Strategizing is for Prom Queens

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    I hear the word “strategy” thrown on just about everything. Like rhinestones on a South-Texas-prom-queen’s dress, “strategy” is too often a cheap and easy bedazzle on everything from PowerPoint slides, to someone’s superfluous commentary in a meeting that is already running too long with too many attendees. Anymore, in my day-to-day, Strategy is quite the loose little buzzword.

    Often, it is a noun, as in “brand strategy” or “I am a strategist." Sometimes it is an adjective, as in “strategic vision” or “strategic insights." Also, as an adverb, such as “strategically developed” or “strategically placed.” And let's not forget it as a verb, as in “strategize” (which for the record, makes me want to punch the speaker in the nose every time I hear it).

    And that isn’t to say that I don’t use the word often myself. But I used to accept the word at what I believed was its face value — a sense of something great and purposeful. A sense that when I heard “strategy” — I knew we were talking about the key to winning whatever was at stake, the secret sauce critical to achieving the mission. I knew we’d be talking about something tangible, and most importantly — something actionable. (Strategy is, by definition, a military term that, in a nutshell, means using your brains and your guts to not only stack the odds in your favor, but empower you to make the right decisions when confronted with any obstacle.)

    Now, given the bedazzling trend, I’ve made it my personal charge to pay much closer attention when the word “strategy” is presented. Analyzing it quietly in my head, from every angle. Challenging my own application of it constantly. Because the real disturbing trend, is not that the word gets overused, but rather that the very concept of strategy has become a crutch. A well disguised excuse NOT to act. An exercise in lengthy requirements-gathering to plan for problems and scenarios that don’t yet exist. A perceived need to create a long list of tasks for what should happen in the future, when instead we should be driving for real feedback via iterative launches in the present. I see terms like “strategic goals” and “strategic vision” plastered across PowerPoint slides, and the actual bullet points associated with most of these goals and visions, amount to little more than minute tactics positioned as passive options to explore. Presented in the context of “we are working on,” or “working toward,” or “think there is great opportunity within this area.”

    And with that lack of conviction, certainty, drive — fucking nothing can be won. It’s all a lot of bling with very little bang.

    So here is what I'm really driving at — let's all of us in the industry be more thoughtful with strategy. That when creating, executing, presenting or thinking about strategy in any context, let’s be critical of ourselves, of our interpretation of strategy and when/how/why it matters or is applied. As an example, do we sometimes create formality where it isn’t warranted — like laboring over a “social media strategy,” when maybe all we really need is to just be social? Or when our strategy feels like it is a moving target, and people struggle with how to articulate it — should we check our premises? Are there assumptions at play that have been driving a weak, obtuse strategy? And if the goals are ill-defined, then no amount of “strategic planning” is going to get us anywhere, even if we wrap that anemic goal in a shiny label called “strategic vision.”

    Diamonds are a girl's best friend for a reason — because they have real value. The real, lasts-for-a-100-years-and-cut-glass kind of value. Fortunately, making sure your strategy has actual value is really pretty simple — just ask yourself, is your strategy something your team can:

    • Articulate without a slide in front of them?
    • Apply in any given situation?
    • Execute against to deliver desired results?
    • Feel empowered and confident in so doing?

    This piece is cross-posted from The BRAT Blog from The Aha Method — a company that coaches teams around a better working dynamic.

  • “No Gays Please, We’re Advertising.”

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    Advertising is a pretty progressive industry. We like to think of ourselves as an enlightened bunch. Some of our best friends are gay. Hell – some people in advertising are actually gay. Seriously. And yet, we all seem reluctant or incapable of portraying same-sex lifestyles in our work.

    There are gay creatives, planners, producers, directors, clients and actors. And yet in adland, it seems gays don’t need mortgages, don’t drive cars, brush their teeth, play bingo or use low-fat spreads as part of a calorie-controlled diet.

    There’s no question we should include ethnic minorities in our advertising. Who would even dream of digging their heels in to preserve an all-Aryan cast? We’ll feature empowered women. Strong-willed kids. And moonwalking Shetlands. But where’s even the token homosexual? They can’t all be at G.A.Y. screaming for a Kylie encore – or in hiding, surreptitiously unpicking the very fabric of our society.

    Did Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s child-catcher change tack and start prowling the streets playing Barbara Streisand from a float pulled by French bulldogs, loaded with rainbows and glitterballs?

    Dropping the G-Bomb

    Benetton have deliberately courted controversy over the years – some executions playing ‘agent provocateur’ with same-sex relationships as their political football. But why can’t gays feature in ads because they’re normal consumers who just happen not to be heterosexual?

    Look, it wouldn’t take much to stand out a mile in the UK straight-acting ad-scene. Feature gays. Leading normal lives. Arguing over dog food, trying out sofas, comparing their car insurance, living out their later years with a private pension.

    Ikea ran the first gay commercial ever aired on US television in 1994. It ran for a few weeks until there was a bomb threat at one of their stores and was subsequently pulled. Have we moved on since then?

    It must seem alien for gays to see themselves represented in TV shows and films but have their very existence given the cold shoulder when the ad break arrives. The few examples I’ve seen just use homosexuality as the rug-pull, the reveal, the joke. “Oh I get it, she’s actually a lesbian.” Gag, packshot, endline. Cheap.

    JC Penney vs One Million Moms

    JC Penney in the US used Ellen deGeneres to front their campaign which led to a storm of protest spearheaded by a Christian group calling themselves One Million Moms. They wrote, “By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years.”

    So far, so predictable. But two silver linings emerged:

    1: One Million turned to be a tiny fraction of that figure.
    2: The backlash spawned its own backlash. The #StandUpForEllen campaign gained 50,000 signatures almost overnight and helped prompt JC Penney to er… ‘come out’ and say Ellen was their perfect brand ambassador.

    In that distant land called real life, gay marriage is here. The Prime Minister – a Tory – is pushing for more rights for gays. And who’s to say he’s wrong?

    Guinness made an infamous commercial portraying a gay couple back in 1995. It was ready to run, word got out, people were up in arms, the world was clearly going to end and the client lost their nerve. And in so doing, they compounded the very problem they set out to address.

    Is it time for another try?

    Papas and Papas

    One recent exception is a Mamas and Papas campaign in the UK for their Urbo buggies, featuring heterosexual mums and dads, single-parents and a genuine gay couple and their little boy, Blu.

    The press release states, “How We Roll celebrates the diversity and individualism that forms the makeup of the modern family, for whom parenting has simply become a positive extension of their current lifestyle.”

    There have been mixed reactions. On Netmums, some are highly supportive – “The world is changing and it’s about time all loving parents are catered for in adverts” – while others chime in with not wanting to have this sort of thing “shoved in my face.” Freud would have a field day.

    Even the gay community was sceptical. Were they being used simply as a PR stunt? Were the ads really running? It seems there are pitfalls and suspicion whatever your intentions.

    Creatives want to create. We want to invent brand new stuff, never before seen. And yet there’s this vast expanse of unexplored territory: overlooked at best, taboo at worst.

    It’s a rich, emotive area, surely. Love against all odds. Unconventional is cool, right? Overcoming prejudice, defying conventions, being true to yourself. You could have this space all to yourself. Column inches galore and plaudits for being progressive and well… real.

    It doesn’t have to be gratuitous. No need to shock. In a way, the most shocking thing is that one of the most enlightened industries in the land is lagging so far behind the real world.

    This post originally appeared on the DLKW Lowe blog

  • The Egotist Interviews: Steve Babcock of EVB

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    EVB has become known for doing some of the best creative work in San Francisco. So when their new executive creative director, Steve Babcock, came over from Crispin Porter + Bogusky but decided to stay and open an outpost in Boulder, we just had to talk to him.


    So why Boulder and not San Francisco?

    To be honest, I’m terrified of large bodies of water. And bridges. And fog. And the prices at Taco Bell (I’ve never seen a Burrito Supreme surpass double digits before).

    Actually, the plan is for it to be more of a Boulder AND San Francisco thing. EVB had been toying around with the idea of a Boulder office for a while. Recently, things just aligned, and we decided it was time. It makes sense because we’re partnered with an amazing brand, WhiteWave, that’s located in the area. In addition to that, Boulder has a really strong pool of talent.

    Not unlike San Francisco, Boulder has a unique culture and a healthy entrepreneurial scene that attracts all walks of brainpower, especially in the tech space. It’s not your typical “advertising city,” and I believe that sense of unfamiliarity can be a great thing. It means there is no playbook – just your gut and a healthy dose of optimism. It’s this doer mentality that I think makes Boulder a great complement to San Francisco.

    Aside from that, I love the idea of being able to offer our people the option and flexibility to live in (or just experience for a season) different locations. Both places have so much to offer. SF and BDR are really the best of both worlds.

    What was the most important thing you learned at Crispin Porter + Bogusky that you’ll bring over to EVB?

    One of the most important things I learned at CPB is the value of cultural tension in the work. Tension is typically a scary word, especially for clients. It’s the hard truth. It’s identifying how culture may not align with a brand’s promise. And, in my opinion, it’s one of the strongest bits of knowledge a creative team can have. Work that is aware of the real tension consistently proves to be more relatable and more honest than work that relies heavily on invented storytelling. Today, there’s just something powerful about a brand that proves it really does understand the culture in which it plays.

    How do you want EVB to evolve? What are your goals as an ECD there?

    First of all, I feel extremely fortunate. EVB is a great agency with a solid foundation. The culture continues to pleasantly surprise me. In an industry that is typical of agenda, it’s a refreshing group of people who genuinely appreciate and enjoy each other and what we do. My hope is that I can simply add to this foundation and create a system designed for growth – not just growth for growth’s sake, but growth that can put us into new spaces and give us new opportunities. I’d like to see more diversity in the types of assignments we get from clients. I think the addition of Boulder will help in this evolution.

    Another goal – the most obvious one – is to continue improving the quality of output. There are so many factors involved in this endeavor, everything from encouraging a creative culture to empowering and trusting talent to identifying tension in the work to creating a system of makers instead of managers. I certainly can’t say I have all the right answers right now. But that’s what goals are for, right?

    What excites you creatively these days?

    I’m a total sucker for remix culture. I love the idea of taking something that already exists and turning it into something new. I like everything from parody and overdub videos to auto tune the news to life hacks and street art. I think the challenge of the limited palette is what makes remix culture so interesting to me: It’s so experimental. And there are no rules. It’s random. It’s clever. It’s oftentimes really intelligent. It’s a frontier of anything goes.

    It’s funny how we can now predict remix culture. We see a blooper on the nightly news, and we know that tomorrow morning we’ll wake up to a bunch of hilarious translations. The Internet rules for this reason alone. It’s like we toss a big glob of clay out to the world and get to see what everyone does with it.

    I’m also very excited about the bridge between digital tools and the real world. It’s such a great time for our industry in terms of technology. The ability to create a digital utility that has a real effect in the physical world is awesome. There’s so much potential in this space.

    Oh, and 3-D printing. Total mind ’splode right there.

    What disappoints you most about advertising?

    The fact that there are still people out there, both in our industry and on the client side, who believe a line exists between mediums like digital and traditional and social. It suggests a resistance to change. Of all the industries out there that should be über-ninjas of change, it should be the marketing industry.

    What are the key traits that make a good creative person?

    Curiosity is a key trait to being a good creative person. It’s the gateway trait – it leads to all the other creative qualities, like optimism, imagination and determination. All of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with have been naturally curious.

    A great idea is moot unless you can get a client to buy it. What are your keys to selling stellar creative to clients?

    I think the key to selling a stellar idea to a client is honestly believing that if they kill it, you can just go back and come up with 10 more. And that there’s a good chance they’ll be even better.

    We are a service industry. Sometimes the clients we serve feel differently than we do about work. The key to making sure good work gets produced doesn’t always lie in our ability to sell it to the client, sometimes it lies in our ability to keep coming up with great work. I’ve found that this mentality alone has been enough to bring down some walls in favor of the original idea.

    If an idea is presented as being so precious that it could never be outdone, it creates a pressured dynamic that freaks most clients out. It’s like, “This is it, and there can never be anything better! And if you don’t approve it, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! So, what’s it gonna be?"

    Name a couple of advertising-related things you’d love to see disappear forever.

    Advertising to children. Focus groups.

    What recent idea makes you say, “Damn, I wish I’d done that.”?

    The last Foo Fighters record, “Wasting Light.”

    What are three pieces of advice you’d give any creative?

    1. Be honest.
    2. Have at least one creative outlet in your life that isn’t creative directed.
    3. Learn to love being met with and solving problems (that’s all we really do in this business).

    Bonus: Strive to be the person everyone always wants in the room.

    This piece was originally posted on The San Francisco Egotist.

  • SPONSORED: 5 Reasons Your Creative Brain Craves Attending ADIM13

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    There’s a unique Adobe-sponsored design conference headed for Boulder in just over a week and you’re invited. If you’re a graphic designer, art director, creative director, illustrator or photographer, you already know you’re in competition with a lot of talented others. Your ability to stay a cut above the masses = money in your pocket. ADIM13, a 3-day hands-on workshop led by Adobe Senior Creative Director Russell Brown, will help you sharpen the design skills that will keep you current and competitive. Here are the reasons to come:

    1. It’s the Gift that Keeps on Giving – If your ability to commit is as strong as ‘let’s be friends,’ then paying a registration fee may seem downright terrifying. But what if your ‘friend’ came with some awesome benefits? Including a complimentary 1-year subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, a complimentary 1-year subscription to Lynda.com, a bunch of fabulous (free) fonts, and free access to foltolia for a month? We just bet you’d buy roses, and not from the grocery store.

    2. Three Words: Mad. Design. Skills. – The ADIM13 workshop helps proficient designers elevate their artistic abilities via the Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’re a Creative Suite user and you think you know everything there is to know about Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and the rest, prepare to feel like a clown in a ball pit. A really fun ball pit.

    3. You Might End Up on TV… Not in a Bad/Infamous Way, Either – If you’re the Next Big Thing waiting to be discovered, here’s your chance to be part of a workshop that will be featured on TV’s Making Monsters — the popular Travel Channel series. Ed and Marsha Edmunds, creators of Distortions Unlimited fright props and the stars of Making Monsters, will film an episode of the TV show on-site. The Edmunds designed a creepy stage set for ADIM13, which will be unveiled when ADIM starts. We can tell you: it’s ugly.

    4. You’ll get to Mingle with Awesome Designers – When it comes to having a posse of heavy-hitting friends in the design industry, Adobe’s resident Mad Scientist Russell Brown rolls deep. ADIM13 speakers and instructors include James White from Signalnoise Studio, typography and ink master (mistress?) Ina Saltz, InDesign wizard Sandee Cohen, and Lynda.com’s design and photography instructor/expert Mordy Golding.

    5. Because Food, Friends, Fun… and Something for The Trophy Case – Past ADIM attendees rave about ADIM because it’s more than just a classroom experience. In addition to the learning sessions, there’s a seriously fun project to design. Using a Universal Laser and a Roland printer, you’ll create a monster-themed microbrew glass bottle, glass mug and wood carry case, which you’ll take home in completed form. And display. Most meals are included, and we’re not talking about stale bagels and cold coffee, because the venue is the swank St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. You’ll also enjoy opening and closing festivities where monster-themed costumes are not just encouraged but applauded. 2013’s theme, as you may have guessed, is MILE HIGH MONSTERS. So go crazy, but first, register for your place at ADIM13.

    For more info, or to snag one of the remaining golden tickets (and be sure to take advantage of that discount below), visit www.adimconference.com.

  • The Astonishing Rise and Rise of The Harlem Shake.

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    Collectively these videos may end up dwarfing Gangnam Style. At one stage last month new versions were being uploaded at a rate of 4000 per day. There’s every niche and sub-niche covered. You want walruses and sealions? You got ‘em.

    We’ve seen the Norwegian Army get involved, Wieden’s in Portland, Channel 4 and even my in-laws were persuaded to bogle with traffic cones on their heads in a charity shop while the manager’s back was turned.

    It all started in Queensland, Australia with 5 teenagers in morph suits. And it has blown up beyond all comprehension. They may get some fame – even some girls – but it’ll be interesting to see if they can monetize this monster. Could they ever repeat it? The odds say No.


    Ironically it exploded at the same time another short-form video format launched – Vine. Unfortunately Vine seems too inflexible to carry this type of execution so it’s been bypassed. Shame – what a way to launch yourself – with a pop culture phenomenon that will no doubt feature in everyone’s end of year round-up of 2013.

    The mutating meme

    What’s interesting is that this meme is evolving. The rules are gradually changing and right now these are the ingredients one needs to make your own Harlem Shake:

    • one lone shaker with optional but preferred helmet on
    • several bystanders who look unaware or uninterested in the activities of the lone shaker
    • when the bass drops there’s a hard cut right on the beat and the locked off shot switches to the same same scene but with everyone in fancy dress going batshit crazy
    • optional: a lone person standing still in the midst of all the lunacy
    • the last second switches to slow motion to match the low time-stretched lion roar in the song

    There’s even a site that will turn any other site into a living breathing Harlem Shake:

    Try your own at http://hsmaker.com

    Inevitably the early-adopters are already disowning this phenomenon now the squares have caught onto it. And no doubt it’s jumped the shark when mainstream TV stations do their own versions.

    Douglas Rushkoff, author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now” says, “Something like this stands in for the centralized broadcast spectacle. It’s interactive, in that people actually *make* one of these things. And being in one, or knowing people who are in one, or even just knowing this phenomenon exists *when it’s happening* is a form of connection. In some ways, the brevity of the fad makes it all the more tempting to participate in. It’s going to be over so soon that you want to get in on it before it’s not cool any more.”

    If you didn’t make your own within a fortnight of the first you missed the credibility boat – unless you bring an Earth-shattering twist to the format.

    Goodby Silverstein + Partners have released their own gentle backlash video – a charming swipe at other agencies that jumped on the bandwagon. Their message: we’re in the business of creating cultural phenomena, not straight-up mimicry.

    However, you have to wonder how it blew up so big so fast? And could a brand ever pull it off? Cadbury’s have perhaps come the closest with “Gorilla” and “Eyebrows”. Consumers are no mugs, which is why they’ll resist any prompting from us to spread overt brand messaging on our behalves.

    5 factors that made Harlem Shake go BOOM!

    1. Here’s the thing. It’s not even a great song. Released for free in the summer last year it’s highly repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere. It does however work very well in this 15 + 15 second UGC format. The crescendo building to the bass drop just underlines that sense of anticipation, waiting for all hell to break loose.
    2. It’s stupidly easy to make your own. People are uploading their own versions at an astonishing rate. And is it any wonder? You need a cameraphone, 2 shots, enough people willing to make idiots of themselves (seemingly no shortage) and the track. You can even put this together on YouTube when you upload it – no need for any editing software. I managed using my phone and nothing else.
    3. The joy of it comes from the anticipation and the explosion of unfettered WTF anarchy when the bass drops. You could watch each one over and over and see something new to LOL at every time. There’s a man in a bra standing completely still, there’s the account guy for Nike on a trike, there’s my sister-in-law with a lampshade on her head.
    4. With so many versions out there, it reaches a critical mass where mainstream media gets hold of it and adds more fuel to the fire, so even the luddites get to hear about it.
    5. It’s funny and there’s a constant supply with something for everyone. Not in an intellectual or cerebral way. It’s an outlet for puerile, infantile stupidity that connects with our inner 10 year-old. A pleasure that gets more guilty as we get older.

    Gay abandon finally found an acceptable outlet. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

    So you can sing along at home, here are the lyrics in full:


    Con los terroristas

    (Do the Harlem Shake)

    Con los terroristas







    Con los terroristas


    Con los terroristas



    This post originally appeared on the DLKW Lowe blog

  • So, Only 3% of Ad Agency Creative Directors are Women. Is That The Real Problem?

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    On Thursday, February 28th, a bunch of talented people from our industry got together to discuss the shocking fact that only 3% of the nation’s advertising creative directors are female. That was put out there with the other big, bold fact… 80% of all household purchases are determined by women.

    When you look at that on the surface, it’s an obvious paradox. Surely, with 80% of the purchasing power in the hands of females, we should have more females controlling the output from the advertising agencies that are trying to influence those women? And that would result in better, less condescending advertising, right?


    Well, not so fast, my partners in crime.

    I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are many truly talented women in this field, and in the complementing fields of design, PR and marketing. The fact that there aren’t more female creative directors is a real fucking tragedy. Seriously. I’ve written a whole article on the subject. I’m a believer.

    But we need to concentrate on the facts being presented to us right now. Yes, only 3% of creative directors are women. There is a greater percentage of women in creative roles within agencies, but again, it’s not equitable. Not even close.

    Stats from a comprehensive study done in 2009 (best one I could find, sorry it’s a few years old) show that only 19.1% of creatives in ad agencies are women. And although 46.7% of employees are women, only 16% are in the top roles. Still, it’s all a little better than the paltry 3% that are creative directors. The figures are not good.

    And yet, as I analyze all of this, there seems to be an enormous elephant in the room that most people are choosing to overlook. And being the unpopular prick that I am, it seems reasonable that I should point it out.

    Question: Who Works with the Ad Agencies?

    Corporate America is not quite the same as it was in the 50s. Women make up a sizable chunk of the workforce now, and there are some stats I’d like to share in that regard. You’ve seen the negative figures. But there are positive ones. For instance, the Department of Labor shows that 60% of PR managers are women. And better yet, 61.1% of advertising and promotions managers are women. Andy Dougan, group account director of KLP, said back in 2009 that “there is a 60/40 split of women to men. We’re seeing more and more women come into the marketing industry and they are climbing the ranks too.”

    Anyone here think that in the last three years, women suddenly left the marketing and advertising workforce in droves?

    From personal experience, most of the meetings I’m in, with various clients spanning many different industries, are dominated by women.

    As a creative, draw upon your own experiences. How many client meeting have you been in that were made up of just men? I can’t remember one. I can remember thinking “wow, why are most of the creatives men, but most of the clients women?”

    I don't have the answer. I’m not claiming to know why. But here’s what this is leading up to.

    The BIG Question: Who’s Buying the Ads Aimed at Women?

    Answer: It’s NOT the creative directors. It’s the client.

    And most clients employ more women than men.

    Let’s backtrack a little.

    When I started my career at the tender age of 21, there were two female teams in the agency. There were two teams that were mixed. And there were seven all male teams. I suspect that was a better batting average than most agencies at that time.

    The female teams were put on female accounts, because it was felt that they knew the products better, would have an affinity with the client, and would be more comfortable on the accounts.

    I saw great campaign after great campaign get rejected. The male teams had a crack. Same story. The female clients in charge of these accounts were not out to do radical work, redefining the industry. They wanted the same old shit. And they got it.

    The male creative director pushed for the most interesting work. The work that resonated most with the women in our own agency and, dare I say it, with focus groups. It was killed. Seriously beaten to death.

    After months of reworking, the end result was bland, vanilla vomit. The sort of manure that includes women parachuting when they’re on their periods, and female friends discussing life over a pot of fucking yogurt.

    Fast-forward to today, and it’s still going on. Ads aimed at women, created by women, bought by women, are just as crap as ads aimed at women, done by men and bought by men.

    Remember the failed TV show The Pitch? (Well, it should have failed.) There was an all female agency on that one – Womenkind. Female creative director, female creatives, female account teams. They knew just how to market to women. They were inside women’s heads. They did better work than DIGO, their male competitors, for C Wonder.

    They lost the pitch.

    Now, in all fairness the head of C Wonder was a man. A complete douchebag of the first order, although his executive marketing team was a mix of men and women.

    But this is the real problem.

    Clients, by and large, are afraid of change, they don’t like to rock the boat, and they don’t want something that hasn’t been done before.

    If we reversed the 3% tomorrow, and 97% of creative directors in this country were female, do you think we would see a vast shift in the way we advertise to women?


    Clients buy more shit work than good. They ask for more mediocre campaigns than breakthrough ideas.

    Always have. Always will.

    At the end of the day, ad agencies will always bow to the whims of the clients, to keep the account.

    No amount of women in the creative department will ever change that.

  • The 3% Conference Makes the Business Case for More Donna Drapers

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    It’s fairly mind blowing. Eighty-percent of all household purchases are determined by women, while only three-percent of our nation’s advertising creative directors are women. (And let’s be honest, women probably practice veto power over the other twenty-percent of purchase decisions anyway.)

    But, in a study where female consumers were asked if brands understood them, ninety-percent said no.

    So there it is. As advertisers, we’re tasked with marketing to women for much more than the stereotypical lady brands. You know, the spots featuring freshness-challenged women running through flower fields, dancing with mops, or sniffing scent illusions.

    In fact, much of our challenge lies in coming to terms with bigger misperceptions.

    Believe it or not, women currently out-use men in all social media channels except for LinkedIn. Statistically, they’re also bigger gamers and they watch more television. Women demonstrate more technology usage and more social influence.

    Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference said, “It’s not about equal rights, it’s about serving our clients better.” And women are notoriously bad in focus groups. They’ll tell half-lies because they self edit. However, when they’re on the other side of the agency table, they bring unfiltered intuition to the mix.

    Let’s rethink how we market to women.

    The key is to have people on your team that are not all like you. That’s how you find the uncharted truths. Fear not, marketing with women in mind does not have to alienate men. When positioning a brand – make it human, think collectively, don't sanitize, show diversity, and practice storytelling.

    There are inherent differences between how men and women think, and divergent perspective is a good thing.

    It shows up in childhood play. Boys enjoy reigning over their toys, and when they destroy things, it’s merely an act of fun and power. Girls empathetically imagine themselves as the toys and become part of the make-believe worlds. So, if a boy comes along and takes out the meticulously arranged princess castle, the girl is devastated. And the boy has no idea why.

    So, what is it that’s making it so difficult for women to advance to ACD, CD, or beyond?

    Times are changing. This is by no means a pity party for creative industry women. It’s about supporting talent. At all levels, advertising industry women are negotiating for the same salaries as their male counterparts. The biggest difference is that women are unlikely to ask for raises. It’s largely a matter of teaching women to be assertive and confident.

    As a creative builds career momentum, this often coincides with family growth. The industry demands full commitment for advancement, and those with young families require more schedule predictability and flexibility. Many struggle with the challenge of work/life balance.

    Mentoring enables advancement.

    After Gordon’s keynote, the audience enjoyed mentorship from a truly stellar regional panel consisting of Dave Schiff, Partner/Chief Creative Officer of Made Movement; Charlotte Isoline, Executive Creative Director of Karsh Hagan; Jonathan Shoenberg, Executive Creative Director/Partner of TDA Boulder, Rachael Donaldson, Client Services Director of Made Movement; and Dani Coplen, Vice President/Creative of The Integer Group. Our excellent host Serena Wolf, Founder of Wolf Creative Company, moderated the panel.

    "Women have to help other women. The greatest mentors I've had have been a combination of nurturing and badass." – Rachael Donaldson

    "It's not about if you're male or female, it's just about who's good." – Dave Schiff. He also hilariously thanked his many mentors that may or may not have been state-appointed. And, he’s convinced that rock star ladies will inevitably phase him out.

    Jonathan Shoenberg told us how he rose through the ranks, which involved a former employer liking his “country-ness.” Apparently, he had a great deal of farm experience on his resume back in the day.

    Charlotte Isoline advised us to not be the genius in the room, but to maximize the collective genius.

    Dani Coplen encouraged women to avoid invisibility. Say what you want to say.

    Some of the advice from the panel that really resonated with me was the emphasis on mentoring. It’s crucial for career advancement. And in my mentoring experience, I’ve learned a great deal from those I’ve mentored. Always take time to help the driven ones; it’ll come back to you. The event was a full house, men and women. Everyone left inspired and excited about how they were going to move this knowledge forward. So, let’s empower some future Donna Drapers and keep this moving forward, shall we?

    Jennifer Hohn is an advertising enthusiast, idea-driven creative, relentless pursuer of insight and an Associate Creative Director at Vladimir Jones.

  • How to Spend $275 Million in 48 Minutes: Three Super Bowl Ad Trends for 2013

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    Want to watch $275 Million get spent in 48 minutes? Just tune into CBS at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to see one of America's greatest primetime displays of violence, debauchery and poor impulse control. And I'm not talking about the Super Bowl…

    I'm talking about the Super Bowl ads.

    In all seriousness, these days it's no surprise that independent research year after year continues to show that over half of U.S adult viewers plan to watch the Super Bowl as much, or more, for the ads than for the game itself. In fact, social listening measurement findings suggested that in 2012 64% of respondents said that half or more of their conversations online with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials themselves.

    With the average investment of $4 Million on the line for a 30-second spot, it's no wonder why the CMOs of many of these advertisers are looking to squeeze their investment for every penny.

    There are three standout trends that have continued to proliferate the Super Bowl ad space for the last several years (and by all accounts will continue even more in 2013).

    01. Online Ad Preview and Teasers

    Online Ad Previews and Teasers are becoming more of the norm. VW made the most famous splash last year with its Star Wars parodies that received over 56 Million hits after allwas said and done, largely in part to the pre-release of the spotson YouTube.

    This year's early winner goes to the Kate Upton Mercedes spot, which in one week gained over 5 Million views (and counting).

    Humbling news as, by this author's account, this is one of the more ridiculously off-brand spots I've ever seen. Given the fact that the CLA won't even be available for the next 7 months, the brand needs lasting impression and awareness. Regardless of the substance, it's clear that Mercedes knows the value of online traction and will do whatever it takes, no matter how low-brow, to get an early lead among its rivals.

    Regarding the idea of Super Bowl teasers, the concept is simple,but the debate still rages on about whether or not the big reveal should be saved for the big game. While we don't promote a "one size fits all" approach to advertising, and I'm sure there are errors to the rule, it's hard to argue with the facts. Mashable reports, "According to YouTube's research, ads that ran online before the Super Bowl last year got 9 Million views, on average. Those that waited? 1.3 Million." With, on average, three times as many views online over broadcast, many could argue that the real winner in all of this is actually YouTube.

    02. Ads for Social Democracy

    Ads by social democracy are becoming more common in 2013. While Doritos pioneered the concept with their user-generated ads in the past few years, this year we are seeing a greater variety of the concept. For instance, one of the biggest brands in the world, Budweiser, has finally launched a Twitter account in its name. The brand, which had a little more than 600 followers Monday morning, is using the account to promote its upcoming Super Bowl ad, which will feature a Clydesdale foal via their Twitter hashtag campaign. Pepsi is also using their site and Twitterto recruit some of their fans to strike a pose with their can before their half-time show.

    But, the big pre-game winners in 2013 seem to be the "choose your own adventure" style ads from Audi and Coke. In what Audi says is a Super Bowl first, they recorded separate endings for their "Prom Night"commercial, and are compiling social votes where the audience chooses the ending. Coke created cokechase.comto tease their spots by highlighting three different sets of teams who are all racing to win a giant coke in the desert. The team with the most votes online will get their spot aired right after the game.


    03. Second Screen

    This year, more viewers than ever will be watching on a second screen. Now in real-time, technology allows brands to engage with the viewing public on their mobile phone or tablet during the event. For instance, Yahoo's Into_Now pioneered app technology that augments the second screen experience by using the unique audio digital signature in a television show topickup, and serve up, content directly related to that show. CBS estimates ad revenue alone from their second screen engagement to be between $10-$12 Million. Being able to interact with stats,player bios, team formations, highlights and social aspects is an essential part of any second screen approach for the sports enthusiast.

    Regardless of all of the hype, a few certainties remain. The Super Bowl represents one of the highest risk: reward ratios in advertising. Because of this, marketers are getting smarter by using not only the right tools, but also the right content to get the consumer's attention. Disintermediation is taking effect and the consumer is finally starting to see large-scale control of and connection with their favorite brands. As our society gets more social and mobile, so does the advertising.

    Needless to say, as an advertiser, I am thankful for the Super Bowl. If not for any other time during the year - the Super Bowl gives us an annual magnified window into the progress of advertising. With so much attention to the commercials, it almost makes me feel sorry for the guys on the field.


    Originally posted on the Rodgers Townsend blog.

  • 12 Must-Have iPhone Apps For Creatives

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    Apps, apps, apps. Everywhere you look, they're there. Almost de riguer on digital briefs these days, like banners and MPUs were in the 'old' days.

    It's estimated that over 400,000 new apps will be released this year - as there clearly aren't enough already...

    So which of the current crop are actually useful to an iPhone-toting creative looking to boost their productivity or just find inspiration?

    We only have iPhones at Ego Towers. The good news is that many of those listed below are available on other platforms too. Here goes...

    1. Dropbox

    You'll know this already, no doubt. Google has Google Drive, Microsoft has SkyDrive. They all do essentially the same thing with a few minor differences - online storage 'in the cloud'.

    Store your files where you can access them any time you have internet access.

    Dropbox lets you define which folders are public and you can share specific files with specific people.

    Saves bloating everyone's email with vast attachments and makes everything easier to file and find.

    Dropbox has great integration with other apps making it easy to create files in other apps and save them straight into your Dropbox.

    Download Dropbox >

    2. Evernote

    This is the power behind The London Egotist. With day jobs to attend to and families waiting at home, the commute is where a lot of the legwork is done - and it's done in Evernote.

    It's a relatively simple text editor that syncs with every browser you can think of (even Opera). Write your note and as if by magic, it'll be waiting for you on your desktop machine.

    Formatting tools are simple and comprehensive and the autocorrect is mercifully accurate.

    You can add voice and photos to your notes too if you're that way inclined.

    You can add tags to make files easier to find and it automatically geo-tag your notes so if all you can remember is where you wrote your note, Evernote will help you find it.

    Download Evernote >

    3. Tiny Scan

    Expenses. The eternal tension between admin and getting your own money back from Accounts.

    We've never found it easy, doing it in batches months apart so we forget the whole process in the meantime.

    What this app does us convert a photo if your receipt into a PDF that you can email yourself or save into your Dropbox.

    Then you just attach the PDF to your online claim and your money's on its way (slowly).

    Download TinyScan for iPhone (paid)

    4. Clipboard

    We resisted Pinterest but Clipboard does a similar thing with less of the 'look everyone, I'm curating!' vibe.

    It's good for scrap-booking if you're researching a brief, pulling together reference or you can showcase all the different places your lovely integrated campaign appeared in.

    Download Clipboard for iPhone >

    5. Great-Ads

    This is really just a web-app/shortcut on your phone pointing to great-ads.blogspot.com

    They pull together the latest and greatest ads from all over the world, so it's a handy window onto how the rest of the planet is selling toilet bleach.

    Download the Great Ads web app > (go here via your mobile)

    6. TED

    "TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology. Entertainment. Design."

    If you don't have this already, you need it - unless you're that Steve Jobs - and we're pretty sure no one is these days.

    This is inspiration for creativity and technology with valuable lessons for humanity and sometimes marketing. Each video is downloadable, so you can benefit from the wisdom of Stephen Hawking and Sir Ken Robinson wherever you are.

    You will feel surprisingly worldly and uplifted after every single one.

    Download TED for iPhone >

    7. Fathm

    Timesheets have always vexed us, so anything that helps is more than welcome on our smartphone.

    This is the prettiest apps of the bunch - though setting it up's a tiny bit fiddly.

    Once you've got past that, it's just a question of remembering to let Fathm know what you're up to so it can keep track of the hours for you.

    Download Fathm for iPhone >

    8. Snapseed

    Exercise your inner re-toucher - and you know, Instagram filters are for amateurs. Snapseed is one if the best, most feature-packed of the many mobile photo editing apps out there.

    For example, Selective Adjust lets to make subtle changes to a selected area of your photo, while Tune Image gives you control over the white balance and other ambient colour effects.

    Download Snapseed for iPhone >

    9. Pocket

    Pocket lets you save web pages to your iPhone so you can browse them offline when you're underground or somewhere you can't guarantee a good connection to the web. It can preserve the web page layout or you can choose a reader-friendly 'Article View' if you prefer.

    It's as simple as bookmarking a page, syncing while you still have a data signal then you're set. Plus you can bookmark pages on your desktop to save them to your phone. Smart.

    Download Pocket for iPhone >

    10. Image To Text

    A simple yet clever character recognition app. Take a photo of some text on a page and it'll send the editable text to your email.

    A bit geeky but very handy if you don't fancy typing out paragraphs needlessly.

    Overlooked and underrated.

    Download Image To Text for iPhone >

    11. Pocket Lists

    There are lots and lots of To-Do apps and this is one of them. What sets this apart is the ability to set reminders by time and or location.

    Need to remember to call that production company back as soon as you get into the office? Easy. Just enter the reminder and your office postcode and you won't forget.

    It syncs with all your existing work and Google calendars so those reminders will find you wherever you are.

    Download Pocket Lists for iPhone >

    12. Snapguide

    This is actually an app designed to help people share their step-by-step how-to guides using a sequence of annotated photos.

    However, there's no reason why you couldn't use it to map out a TV storyboard on the move or an online user journey on the train home.

    Download Snapguide for iPhone >

    So that's our top 12. What have we missed? Tell us in the Comments below or email us london@theegotist.com

  • Don’t Kid Yourself. You Are Expendable.

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    Anyone here like Office Space?

    Dumb question.

    Anyway, there’s a part in the movie that has always rang true to me more than any other, although most of it is biting. It’s the conversation Michael Bolton and Samir have with Peter. And it goes something like this:

    Lumbergh's gonna have me work on Saturday, I can tell already. And I’m gonna do it because I'm a big pussy. Which is why I work at Initech to begin with.

    Uh, I work at Initech and I don't consider myself a pussy, ok?

    Yes, I am also not a pussy.

    And they’re gonna find out the hard way that I'm not a pussy if they don't start treating us software people better.

    That's right.

    They don't understand. I could come up with a program that could rip that place off big time…big time.


    Later in the movie Michael and Samir get shitcanned. No warning. Just dumped. And all that fuck you bravado went straight out the window.

    That boasting and self-assurance is something I have heard throughout my entire advertising career. A bunch of fevered egos strutting around thinking they’re untouchable. They’re rock stars. They kill it. They basically do everything important, do nothing wrong, and if you don’t agree you can go fuck yourself.

    They bitch about how poorly they’re treated. They whine and complain about the long hours, the crappy pay, the shit benefits, the awful clients, the dogshit briefs, the lousy account managers, the rotten creatives and the fact that the agency is going down the crapper. But they are the oasis in this desert of mediocrity. They shine. And without them, the whole damned company would be nothing.

    I guarantee, you will hear this raving braggadocio conversations in your agency sometime this week. Probably sometime today if you tee up a conversation with “how are things going?” or “what’s going on with client X?”

    You may even, dare I say it, be one of the people who believes they are, in fact, the most important cog in the machine.

    Think about it.

    Do you think “this place would be fucked without me” at least once a week? Do you wonder how half the people around you get a paycheck? Do you have to bite your fist to stop yourself saying “how the fuck are you still employed?” to your boss?

    Well, this is your wake-up call.

    I don’t care if you’re the boy who gets the mail, the blonde bombshell account exec, the award-winning writer or art director, or the shit-hot creative director.

    When push comes to shove, and other suitable clichés, you are not bulletproof. The sad fact is, there are meetings happening all the time about the state of the business. If you’re part of a large corporation, there’s a meeting like that happening right now.

    They talk about profit margins. Trimming the dead wood. Streamlining. Hiring a younger team. Bringing in new experience. Fresh blood. Or just “that smartass who never stops complaining.”

    If you're a crack creative team with 20 years’ experience, that means you (hopefully) do fabulous work. It also means you get paid more than most, and have the attitude that goes with it. There are younger, better looking, hungrier teams out there willing to do your job for half the price. And they won’t spend all day bitching about the shitty clients and awful briefs, they’ll just be happy to be in work. They’re in, you’re out.

    That’s when you sit up one morning, and realize you didn’t have it so fucking bad after all. And shit, where do I go from here?

    I know people like this. It sucks for them, and it’s scary for me because I come close to being that arrogant, whiny little bitch on a daily basis. Sometimes, I fit into the role like it was made just for me.

    When you find yourself thinking you are unbeatable, unfireable (it’s not a word, but it works) and irreplaceable, remember you are none of the above. You may be great, perhaps even the best at what you do, but it doesn’t give you immunity form the axe. All it takes is for one big client to leave, one important person to hate your guts, or one stinking bad attitude, and you're out on your ear.

    And as I finish this, I should also add…spending time doing something other than what you’re paid to do is also something that can put you on the hot list.

    But shit, at least I look busy to passersby.

    Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.

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