A Funny Thing Happened in Advertising

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

Our Chief Creative Officer, Helayne Spivak, was asked to be a judge for the Forbes "Funniest Ads Ever" this week. If you've ever worked with Helayne, you know that her laugh is unmistakable. So who better to judge?

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Helayne:

Ferrets are the world’s funniest animals, with gerbils bringing up the rear. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Okay, some context here. On Wednesday I judged Forbes Magazine’s World’s Funniest Commercials with a great panel of judges including
- Linda Sawyer, CEO, Deutsch
- David Skokna, executive creative director and partner, HUGE
- Bill McCuddy, Ad critic, Forbes
- Chris Mitton, creative director, Ogilvy & Mather
- George Dewey, executive creative director, McCann-Erickson
- Caroline Hirsch, owner, Caroline's on Broadway.
To my surprise the 37 commercials we saw weren’t current. They went as far back as 1974. (Not all of the panel members went as far back as 1974.)
Some held up over time (the commercials, not just the panel members). Some definitely didn’t.
Alka Seltzer’s “Spicy Meatball” commercial was still funny. So was FedEx’s “Fast Talking Man”. A mock Italian opera spot for Rice Krispies with a mother-in-law joke at the end didn’t fare so well. And yes, there were two separate ferret spots and one gerbil spot that still got big laughs.

You can read about it in Forbes here: http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/30/funniest-tv-commercials-leadership-cmo-network-funniestads.html

What were really interesting were the conversations that took place in between spots and between the judges. Despite the age differences, the experience differences, and even the skill set differences, all were aligned on what is and is not funny.

All agreed the 60-second spots seemed to go on forever. All agreed even some of the 30s needed to pick up the pace.

And, we all agreed that the real entertainment today is happening online.

The reason? Because the risks that were taken on TV in the 60’s, 70’s and through to the 90’s are not being taken now. Safe is good when it comes to your health. But it’s death to comedy.

- Helayne Spivak, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


YouTube Sensations

>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First it was Susan Boyle, who overnight became the biggest click ever on YouTube, and put Britain's Got Talent on the map worldwide.

You can't help but feel good about Susan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk

And then this week it was the Wedding Entrance Dance watched round the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0 If you've got a pulse, you can't help yourself but smile. The folks recreated it on The Today Show!

The amazing thing about the Wedding Entrance Dance, though, is the sales that it generated. Pay attention to the music that they are dancing to and you'll hear Chris Brown's song Forever, which has long been off the charts. And Chris Brown's own personal life has taken him off the hot list for sure.

In comes the Wedding Entrance Dance on YouTube with a convenient link to Forever on iTunes. You heard that right, a convenient link to buy the song right at the bottom of the video.

The result: the song re-enters the iTunes chart at the top of the list. YouTube, and social media in general, is becoming a part of the big marketing machine. Double your pleasure, double your fun, and dance forever :)

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


A Weekend of Wellness

>> Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am convinced that there are times when a double chocolate chip cookie is a great wellness choice. Hands down.

Refueling with good friends is also a healthy way to spend a weekend, even if it includes doing things that are not all that healthy.

Here our Associate Creative Director, Stu Fink, recounts his weekend of wellness.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Stu:

I have not seen The Hangover. I bring this up because every single person I’ve told about my weekend has asked enthusiastically, “was it like The Hangover?”

You see, I just spent three nights and four days in Lake Tahoe with six of my high school friends. Seems our last single friend is finally getting married. And while we were under strict orders from his fiancé that “this is not a bachelor party,” it was a bachelor party. And while there were no tigers or Mike Tyson sightings, it was still seventy-two hours of debauchery.

In the interest of not getting myself fired, the details are unimportant. What is important is that while I was simultaneously treating my body like a trailer park, I can’t remember the last time I felt so good. OK, physically, there were some mornings…and afternoons, and well, late nights as well, that I was worse for wear. But emotionally, spiritually and mentally, I felt like I was seventeen again.

Yes, being with my friends had something to do with it. The hot tub probably also had something to do with it. As did the great music and delicious food. But, come on, it was a bachelor party. Why do think I felt so good?

The impetus for this posting came to me while I was watching “17 Again” on the plane ride home. Give me a break, after what I just experienced, I needed a little Disney clean.

In case you don’t know, this is a movie about what happens when Chandler from Friends magically transforms into a coiffed mound of chestnut hair, so that he can go back to high school and fix….something. I wasn’t clear on what exactly.

By the way, I’m told the hair is named Zac Efron. The movie wasn’t actually that bad, though it was the longest commercial for abstinence I’ve ever seen. Put it this way, if I found out the movie was funded by the Catholic Church, I wouldn’t bat an eye. Anyway, it got me thinking, was there anything from high school that I’d like the opportunity to go back and change? And then I realized, of course not. I literally just spent the last three days doing just about every stupid thing I ever did in high school.

Nobody ever said the path to wellness was a straight arrow. Sometimes, in order to feel good you gotta spend a little time being bad.

Again, for the sake of keeping my job, let me stress, “a little time.” At one point during the weekend, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I noticed the collection of medications sitting on the counter. There were pills for anxiety, allergies, acid reflux, chronic headaches, blood pressure and high cholesterol. My first thought was, “why is all this old-person medicine here?” And then, of course, I remembered, some of that medicine was mine.

So, all right, we’re not as young as we were in high school. And as the bathroom pharmacy made crystal clear, not as healthy either. But did we care? Not for three nights and four days we didn’t. We were having fun.

Dumb, irresponsible, potentially liver-damaging fun. And it was great. We were great.

We were together and we were well.

- Stuart Fink, Associate Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Bon Appetit

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

As follow up to last week's "Size Doesn't Matter" blog post, we come back with an observation that perhaps in France, it's more that "size isn't an issue".

How do the French do it?

They eat amazingly rich food yet as a nation they do not have the obesity issues that we do. With a little help from a friend, our Strategic Planner Betsy Levine tackles the issue head on.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Betsy:

Much has been written about the French Paradox – how the French are able to eat all kinds of paté, cheese, bread and wine and yet never gain a pound, while Americans gain weight at the sight of a Snackwell. Much as also been made about the effects of nature vs. nurture.

My good friend Elizabeth Bard spends a lot of time exploring these issues in her forthcoming book Lunch in Paris: A Memoir with Recipes and in her blog of the same name (click here to read it).

This week, Elizabeth, who is 9-months pregnant with her first baby and lives in Paris, posted a lovely looking recipe for Rabbit with Pastis while observing that not only do French women not get fat, even while pregnant, but their babies are thinner! Her American-bought baby clothes are a good two inches wider than the ones from France.

Are French babies chic from birth, while American babies are doomed to obesity?

Elizabeth has been living in France (and eating and cooking like a French person) for the last seven years. Previous to being pregnant, she hadn’t gained an ounce on all that cheese and paté. Now, at the end of her pregnancy, she’s gained 20 pounds– exactly the French recommendation, in contrast to the 35 pounds considered normal by American standards.

She thinks it’s nurture – she has learned from and adapted to her environment. She writes, “If I was home in NY right now, I'm pretty sure I'd be eating Pillsbury vanilla frosting out of the can.”

The French may indeed be chic from birth, but surely this also shows we Americans can change our national fate, at least in regards to our obesity crisis. The lesson is not necessarily to eat what the French eat, but to eat how they eat – with time and forethought and care, rather than with convenience and speed and ease as our highest priorities.

It doesn’t have to be fancy; it’s more a shift of mindset. But if you care to experiment, I’m sure that Rabbit with Pastis is delicious…and that you could make it with chicken instead.

- Betsy Levine, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


What's Age Got To Do With It?

Marcia Gold is a strategic planner here at SSW. I like to call her our "not-so-secret, secret weapon". She's that good. She makes her SSW blog debut today with thoughts on NOT feeling your age.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Marcia:

“Older” people in our society have gotten a bad rap. Jokes are common at their expense, and who hasn’t heard the “senior moment” comment more than a few times and shrieked in horror? This cuts close to our business, because as you age, the more likely you are to be a target for some medication.

Well, a new Pew Center Study shows that the older you are, the more likely you are to feel younger than your chronological age. While the majority of those 20 something young’uns say they feel their age, adults 65 and older say they feel younger than their age – and we’re talking 10 – 20 years younger. Well, I guess they have good role models – who could have missed Sir Paul McCartney [67] rockin’ it at Shea Stadium [aka CitiField] last weekend?!

If this is the so called “Silent Generation,” think of what will happen when the Baby Boomer generation ages into this demo – kicking and screaming and fighting it every step of the way.

I don’t know about you – but if I asked people who are my contemporaries [and don’t you dare ask what that means in terms of numbers] I bet they would also say they felt many years younger than their chronological age.

So here’s to more good years of feeling good – and turning back the clock – at least in our minds.
- Marcia Gold, Strategic Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Chemistry is a Skill, Not Just Good Luck

>> Thursday, July 23, 2009

I attended the AAAA's New Business Seminar yesterday, conducted by Mark Schnurman (I'm a BIG fan of Mark Schnurman).

I've been to several new business seminars in my day, and every time I learn something new. Not always about new business.

Mark threw a little nugget out into his audience yesterday that has really struck me, and I'm dying to dive deeper into it.

We often talk in new business pitches and in client relationships that it's all about the chemistry. We talk about the chemistry between two people or two groups of people as almost being a result of luck. These folks just happen to hit it off. 

BAM -- instant chemistry, how lucky is that?

Yes, maybe that happens once in awhile. But most of the time, good chemistry is a skill, as Mark says. It's a true understanding of human behavior and then using it to give people what they want.

Chemistry is a result of knowing your audience and giving them what they want, how they want it, when they want it. The miraculous result? Great chemistry.

Along with great client service and an edge in new business pitches.

But of course there's great chemistry. The client is happy, and you feel great that you've made your client happy.


Now of course the trick is learning how to truly understand human behavior. We'll leave that for another seminar.

Thanks, Mark!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Ned Russell Joins Our Team

Ned Russell recently joined our Executive Team as our new Director of Client Services, and we couldn't be happier.  He writes a post here about making the decision to come to "wellness". 

Welcome, Ned!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Ned:

I spent over three years living in Japan, where a common response to 'How you doing?' is 'I'm genki'. 

There really isn't an English word that corresponds to 'genki' -- it means you're in good form, physically and mentally, but it also means on some larger scale that everything is in sync, that you're pressing ahead and ready for whatever comes next. 

So when I heard the words "Saatchi Wellness" for the first time, I was stopped in my tracks. 

In a world driven by customer engagement, this was big news. It seems like the thought leaders -- from Yankelovich to The Wall Street Journal -- currently publish 'Wellness' reports, and the reason they do go well beyond the obvious implications of an aging population. It's because today, 'Wellness' is the ultimate value proposition. Wellness is the the 'genki' that healthy, active brands want (and need) to have as part of their story.. 

Then I met Jim Joseph, Helayne Spivack and Johanna Skilling and I was really stopped in my tracks. 

Tremendously talented, full of vitality and passion (not to mention extremely sharp humor), these people were leading an operation unlike anything else I had ever seen in a 20+ year career of global marketing. 
They were doing what other agencies claimed but couldn't deliver: a modern, integrated practice (balanced between digital/CRM/traditional advertising); they started their shop with a strong point-of-view; they had great work; and they inspired scores of talented, motivated people under them to put in extremely long hours to make their clients successful through 'wellness'. 

All genki

I decided on the spot that I had to be a part of this because I believed myself in what Saatchi Wellness was trying to do: become a thought leader and content driver in an area that will be vital to just about any brand in this era of 'consumer engagement & participation' -- wellness will be an important component to how growing brands engage and sell to consumers. From health to sustainability, financial planning to fast food, wellness is already critical component to economic success. 

Saatchi Wellness is genki. It's different. And man is it exciting to be a part of it on the ground floor, as the importance of wellness and its role in marketing is just starting to gain traction. 
In my mind, Saatchi Wellness is the place to be.

- Ned Russell, Director of Client Services at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Why You Creeping On Me?

>> Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I don't like to admit that there's a generation gap. But every once in awhile it slaps me on the face and I have to recognize it. And try to learn from it.

Over the weekend I was driving my 16 year old daughter and her girlfriends to a party. Generally that's how I spend my weekends with the kids -- driving them around. But it's often a learning experience for me because I get to hear about what's going on, usually without them even realizing it :).

So the friends are in the back seat talking about Facebook. And they are talking about how their parents and aunts and uncles are on their Facebook pages, looking around, finding out what's going on in their lives. And then commenting on it. Seems fine to me, it's right out there in public.

Then one friend describes a conversation that she had with her mother about it and says, "Mom, why you creeping on me!?" And says, "Why is Aunt Louise creeping on me!?" "Why is everyone creeping on me!?"

Why You Creeping On Me? Which is code for: "why are you invading my privacy on my social media pages." As if there is anything private about social media.

So I got to thinking. Forget about the generation gap that I just slipped into, the bigger issue here is the social responsibility of social media.

Just because we put it out there in a social media space, doesn't give everyone the automatic right to view it, comment on it, and share it. There is a social responsibility to the consumption of social media.


I guess we all need to realize that as in anywhere else, we need to respect each other's privacy. We need to be invited in. We can only participate when asked. Particularly as marketers.

As a brand, we don't ever want our consumers saying, "Why You Creeping On Me?"

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Size Doesn't Matter

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

I know, I'm stooping low, but bear with me.

Last week the NYTimes had an interesting piece about "fat acceptance". The notion being that as a nation, we are not getting any thinner. Maybe we should just accept the fact, stop trying so hard to diet, and move on.

Our decades of dieting obsessions have merely caused our weight to fluctuate up and down, and up and down. We are not any thinner, just more stressed out and confused.

Certainly not a picture of wellness. Perhaps it is time to put aside size and focus on being healthy. So I join the NYTimes in asking the question, "Does Size Matter"?

But I'm not sure it's about "fat acceptance" as much as it's about just embracing a healthy life. Wellness should be the goal, not size.

Does it really matter how big you are if you are healthy? Does it really matter the size of the jeans that you wear? Isn't it more healthy to be strong and fit, rather than to hit a magical number on a scale or a fictional dress size?

Oprah's infamous magazine cover when she was at her all time skinniest is a perfect example. She calls that day her most unhealthy ever. Jessica Simpson certainly took a lot of heat a few months back for the extra pounds that she was carrying. How could it possibly matter as long as she is still happy and healthy?

In our minds here at the agency, wellness is all about choices. All of us, everyday choose to exercise and we choose the food that we put in our bodies. We can choose to live a healthy life and to do the things necessary to maintain it. And be happy about it.

As marketers, we can help people make the right kinds of choices for their wellness.

So instead of choosing to diet and to be skinny, let's put aside size and just choose to eat healthy and to stay fit. I'm betting the rest of wellness will follow suit. We'll all be a lot more content as a result.

Isn't that what wellness is really all about?

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Good Marketing is No Coincidence

>> Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ever notice how when you first hear of something, you think that you've never heard it before? And then suddenly, you hear the same thing over and over (often in the same day) and you can't believe that you never noticed it before?

I suppose from a behavioral standpoint, that phenomenon has something to do with a raised awareness of a topic that the brain now more easily recognizes and remembers.

Or maybe it's just a coincidence.

Not when it comes to good marketing.

It's no coincidence that after a first exposure to a brand, consumers suddenly notice it over and over again -- in a short period of time. Hopefully leading to trial of that brand.

That's no coincidence. It's good marketing leading to new sales -- the result of a thorough plan to continually reach consumers at various places in their lives.

I just had such an experience with Tim Hortons -- the coffee house franchise that is hugely successful in Canada. Read the backgrounder here if you are interested: http://www.timhortons.com/us/en/about/index.html

Tim Hortons is coming to the US and is planning on giving Starbucks a run for its money. Dunkin Donuts too.

There was a story about Tim Hortons on The Today Show last week. I watched it with great curiosity because I am a loyal fan of Starbucks, although admittedly that brand is faltering in my eyes. But that's another story.

No sooner did I see the story on The Today Show, but then there's a cover story on my Yahoo! home page. And a mention on the radio. And in a feature story on CNN. Holy cow, Tim Hortons is everywhere. How could it be that I had never heard of this brand before?!?

And then, to top it off, I'm running to catch a train at Penn Station and I see a "coming soon" sign, a stone's throw away from several Starbucks.

Coincidence? No, just good marketing. Can't wait to try it.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Is Sarah Palin a Brand?

>> Friday, July 17, 2009

I am a firm believer that marketing is marketing, no matter what the brand. And I also believe that anything can be a brand, if it's marketed well. In this post, our Director of Strategic Planning, Johanna Skilling, has questions about Sarah Palin.

Is she a brand?

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Johanna:

Permission to be Sarah Palin

Apparently no one in the country, except perhaps the First Dude, knew what Sarah Palin was going to do next. She shocked the right, amused and delighted the left, and let herself become the object of every kind of speculation.

But my suspicion is that soon-to-be-former Governor Palin has just discovered that in fact she is Brand Palin. Not just a public servant, but a public figure. Someone who does more than fill a role, but embodies an archetype. (Did I hear someone just say “Maverick?”)

Brands are built on a mission and a vision, and love her or loathe her, Brand Palin has got both. Her mission has been to be a public figure; her vision is to operate on the biggest stage possible. Maybe Sarah has studied brands like Harley-Davidson (I said maybe.). H-D’s products are about two-wheeled transportation, but their brand is about fulfilling dreams. A plain old motorcycle company wouldn’t engage our imaginations as much as a fulfiller of dreams … just as Governor Palin didn’t engage the country as much as Brand Palin will.

But brands don’t just emerge on their own: they need our help. As Seth Godin says, “You don’t get permission to become a brand; you earn it.”

The former Mayor of Wasilla earned the right to run for Governor (and win, and get pretty high approval ratings); the Governor earned the right to be considered for Vice President of the United States of America. And the candidate who shook up that election decided she had permission to become a minister without portfolio in our national political landscape.

We don’t yet know what kind of brand Sarah Palin is going to be. But through a combination of natural attributes, luck, skill and strategy, she’s earned our permission to transcend the tidy niche a product fills, and become part of our collective consciousness.

We should all be so good.

- Johanna Skilling, Director of Strategic Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Using Social Media for Consumer Research

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

There seems to be the beginning of a trend happening, and I feel the need to call it out. Although I'm certainly not the first.

Using social media outlets to conduct consumer research.

There's a breakthrough example from Splenda (the no cal sweetener) for its use of Facebook. Essentially the brand used a custom app on Facebook to distribute samples of an upcoming new product to consumers and then gathered their feedback. Pretty cool and incredibly efficient. AdAge covered it this week: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=137851

Our agency just recently used social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) to conduct a wellness survey. Johanna Skilling, our head of strategic planning, is compiling the results and will release them shortly. In essence we used our vast networks of "friends" to get feedback on how the economy has influenced our wellness choices. Respondents crossed state and national borders as well as demographic profiles. We believe this social media wellness survey is the first of its kind, and will surely provide insights into the economic toll (or not).

Clearly part of an emerging trend and perhaps an unforeseen use of social media.

Another example is this recent survey of LinkedIn members by AdWeek to gauge interest in a ban on tobacco advertising: http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/packaged-goods/e3ie3cb96740c26f800223ff6479b0c0b45

Spot on and all social.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Agency POV

>> Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There's considerable discussion happening online about a recent editorial in AdAge from Jonah Bloom about how to differentiate your agency and avoid "commoditization". As a marketer and agency leader, I find it fascinating, and right in line with what we are trying to accomplish. You can read it here: http://adage.com/columns/article?article_id=137856

"Stop the rot," as Jonah says. Now there's a call to action for our industry!

As agency professionals, we spend so much time helping our clients differentiate their brands that we often leave our own "brands" a bit generic. Sort of the like the shoe maker's childrens' shoes, as the saying goes.

As an agency, though, I do think it's really important to have something to say; to have a point of view.

Lots of agencies have been built around a core capability, in the very traditional sense. Advertising agencies. Digital agencies. RM agencies. Doesn't differentiate anymore.

Some agencies have been built around a target: kids agencies, boomer agencies, senior agencies.

Some built around size: network agencies, boutique agencies, consultancy agencies.

Some even around an industry: pharma agencies (like what we used to be), fashion agencies, food agencies.

A committed point of view can transcend all of those very traditional segments and can set you apart from the pack. From my vantage point, very few agencies have been built around a point of view.

Ours? Wellness. Not just a trend, but a real cultural shift that crosses industries, targets, borders, and media.

How else do you explain vanilla soy milk "light"?

Look at any category, and there is at least one brand that owns some sort of a wellness positioning. Cars that are safe. Mattresses that aid sleep. Yogurt that helps in digestion. Makeup that reduces wrinkles. Banks are even talking wellness these days, as they should.

We've built our wellness point of view around a firm understanding of how consumers view their wellness. We revel in our understanding of how they make daily choices that either improve it or reduce it. We understand how to build relationships with consumers surrounding their wellness.

Wellness gives us a reason to be here. Does that differentiate us, we think so. It certainly gives us a reason to commute to work everyday.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Ageless Cool by Helayne Spivak

Helayne Spivak is one of the coolest people I know. She writes today about staying cool in an industry that requires it. She should know. Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away Ms. Spivak:

I had lunch the other day with a 28 year old art director who works at TBWA/Chiat Day. He was talking about how cool their head creative guy is. The cool guy he was talking about is Lee Clow.

Lee Clow, for those of you who are not ad geeks, is the creative genius behind the Apple launch and all current Apple work, the original Nike work, and hundreds of other outstanding and landmark advertising campaigns.

Lee is a laid back, long haired, bearded ex-surfer dude who happens to be about 65 years old. Not exactly the “cool” sweet spot. So how has he kept his cool when so many others his age have let theirs go tepid? The same way we all should.

Instead of rejecting new ideas, he embraced them. He never became a dinosaur because he wasn’t slow to catch on to the changing environment. He saw every new media channel as an exciting opportunity instead of bemoaning “Advertising as we knew it is dead…” He may not party every night with 20 somethings, but I guarantee he knows their mindset, what they’re reading, who they’re listening to, where they’re watching it and where to find them.

Because he needs to. Because he sells to them. And because he’s still interested. The point is what keeps anyone cool, no matter what their age, is staying current, which is to say relevant.

Way back when cable TV first began to give the networks a run for their money and people were trying to understand how it would pan out, advertising legend David Oglivy said, …"I’m too old to learn about cable, so the hell with it”. Retired to his chateau in France he could afford to take that attitude.

We can’t.

- Helayne Spivak, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Michael Jackson and Advertising

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm in a little bit of Michael Jackson overload. So I'll apologize in advance for a post about Michael Jackson.

But with all the hype over his sudden death, his (again) soaring record sales, and of course his legendary music, many of us have forgotten his career in advertising.

That may be because his advertising days were very short lived. Not exactly sure why, although I'd bet a little hair gel and an open flame may have contributed.

Anyone in touch with the music scene in the 80's surely remembers his Pepsi commercials -- and the instantly infamous "hair on fire" shot heard round the world.

Phil Dusenberry even wrote a book about his own experiences in advertising titled "Then We Set His Hair on Fire". It's a good read, actually, particularly the time on set with Michael.

Just for fun, take a quick look back at Michael Jackson advertising in this AdAge article: http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=137600. Always fun to see another side to an incredibly talented man.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Agencies on Twitter

There has been a lot written just in the last two weeks about agencies on Twitter. As an active agency ourselves, we have something to say. William Martino is just the guy to say it. Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, William:

Would you hire a plumber who has a leaky faucet in his own home?

This is essentially the question that Rupal Parekh asks in her recent AdAge article, where she is quite critical of several agencies (big and small, traditional and digital) for their presence (or lack thereof) on Twitter (and by extension, other social media like social networks and blogs).

Her main argument is simple: how can these agencies rightfully preach the value and advantages of social media when they can't successfully "master" the spaces themselves?

It's a question that sparked a tremendous amount of debate in the accompanying comments with opinions from both sides of the aisle. I find myself agreeing with 2 comments in particular.

The first, by robbywells, argues that you wouldn't judge the advertising work from these same shops based on their own self promotion ads (could you imagine if THAT was how Cannes lions were awarded?), so why would you judge them by their Twitter accounts?

The other comment, from carlenlea, rightfully asks the most important question that both the author and most of the commenters overlook: what were these examples trying to achieve and how are they measuring success?

All too often, the lure of engaging in social media has the unfortunate side effect of performing a "marketing lobotomy," where the fundamentals of what we do go right out the window.

Business objective? What's that? Who cares.

Strategy? What strategy? Twitter is HOT right now!

For our agency, social media is another way (in addition to places like PR, conferences, and trade press) to "own wellness marketing."

One of our strategies, "have a dynamic voice," lent itself perfectly to a blog and places like Twitter and Facebook. And we're monitoring things like web analytics to see if the content we're creating is really raising our voice in the marketplace (having clients call to share their enthusiasm over the blog doesn't hurt either).

As I've said before, there is no "one way" to participate in social media—what works for one person (or brand) doesn't necessarily work for another. But our approach as marketers should always be the same: tie your efforts to clear business objectives, identify a strategy that will help you succeed, and determine early on what success looks like and how you will measure it.

That's what we should be evaluated on, not page views and followers.

- William Martino, Digital Strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Doctors Talking About DTC Advertising

>> Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here's another post from the Planning Group here at Saatchi Wellness. Jacob Braude comments on how direct-to-consumer advertising isn't just for consumers anymore.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Jacob:

An interesting finding from Verilogue came through my email recently.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, Verilogue offers the unique service of letting you listen to the actual conversations (blinded to preserve privacy of course) that happen between doctors and patients – discovering the common language they use, who does most of the talking, and what they are actually talking about.

They recently took a look through their database of conversations to try and understand how DTC TV ads effected (if they did) the patient-physician dialogue – and they discovered something surprising.

Out of all of the conversations where DTC was mentioned, 54% of the time it was physicians who brought up the advertising – not patients.

Even more surprising, four out of the top five reasons they introduced DTC into the conversation were positive:

Top 5 ways doctors use DTC:
1. Activate the patient’s prior knowledge about medications before a treatment decision has been made
2. Express overt negative sentiment about DTC
3. Increase patient buy-in after a treatment decision has been made
4. Use a DTC advertisement to start the side effect discussion
5. Encourage patients to pay attention to DTC and/or seek information outside the visit

In today’s world of hyper-focus on measurement and accountability, it serves us well to remember that we often don’t understand all of the mysterious and powerful ways that marketing affects our audiences – or even which audiences we may be affecting.

- Jacob Braude, Planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet

Several members of the Executive Team here at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness went to a special screening of le Monsieur de la Pub last week. The film is a documentary about the life of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, the founder of The Publicis Groupe, our parent company. Marcel is often credited as the father of advertising, certainly in France. The director of the film, Olivier Mille, was at the screening and held a q&a session right after.

Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet had an incredible life, publically and privately. He endured many ups and downs in his career, but always remained steadfast in his pursuit of creativity. He made Publicis a force to be reckoned with, to this very day.

I had not realized that Marcel's advertising career started in health: one of his first clients was an aspirin. And then he opened a drugstore that sits in the lobby of the company headquarters. How cool is that (!?!), especially for those of us dedicated to the pursuit of wellness.

When the film was over, I walked away with one very important lesson learned: enjoy your life. Live it to the fullest. Marcel certainly did, through all the trials and tribulations he enjoyed his life and he made every moment count. And he was incredibly successful doing it, leaving a legacy behind for all of us to be inspired by.

The pictures are there to prove it!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


NYU's New Marketer's Boot Camp

>> Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Johanna Skilling, the head of our planning group, teaches a marketing boot camp at NYU. Pretty impressive, huh? I asked her to share her thoughts from last week's session.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Take it away, Johanna:

I spent part of last Thursday at Boot Camp – no, not that kind of boot camp! Trust me, I seriously don’t have the chops or potential for all those push-ups.

No, I was a guest lecturer at NYU’s New Marketers’ Boot Camp, a one week intensive for new (and even some experienced) marketers interested in improving their game.

There were folks there from as far away as Brazil and Nepal, and from organizations as diverse as Human Rights Watch, Centro Universitario de Communicación in Mexico City, Coopers & Lybrand, Avaya, and Unilever in El Salvador. The group included students majoring in a wide array of fields, including Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, Psychology at Union College, International Studies at the American University, Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College, Fine Arts at the New York Academy of Art, even Theology at the University of Bristol.

So what was powerful enough to bring together this group of talented, smart, internationally-savvy students and business people? Two words: integrated marketing.

Because what these folks all get, is that silo’d marketing is a thing of the past. That marketers need to rise above media, and understand how all their efforts work together to serve customers, no matter where they are.

I was there to talk to them about what happens before an integrated marketing campaign (IMC, in boot-camp lingo) ever happens: that is, creating a brand. We talked about the 5 steps to creating a strategically smart brand, and how that brand creates a firm foundation for their integrated campaigns.

I was struck, as always, by how deeply the students responded to the need for a solid brand that personifies the company and its mission (or as Tom Peters famously observed, the brand called “you”).

The conversation ranged from motorcycles to micro-fashion brands, from J&J baby products to Team Obama, from Dove to Dunkin’ – and even touched on our agency’s own re-branding, to Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness.

When I asked them the single most important thing they’d gotten from our time together, many of them focused on all the things I would have hoped: the importance of listening to stakeholders, of defining a clear mission, of understanding how the brand lives across the time-space continuum.

But as always, I was struck by the quality of the discussion with my students, and how ideas and observations built off each other, so that collectively, we all left the room feeling smarter and more invigorated than when we came in (me included). And to me, that’s the real lesson of integrated marketing …Boot Camp, too. We’re all so much more powerful when we join forces and work together.

- Johanna Skilling, Director of Strategic Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Tylenol and Drug Safety

Once again, Tylenol is under scrutiny for its safety. Ironic because the brand was built on a heritage of safety.

As it periodically does, the FDA is taking a look at specific dosing levels of acetaminophen, the drug found in Tylenol, to make sure that consumers are safely taking the drug.

As well they should.

I think there's a larger issue at play here, however. It's one thing to make sure that the dosing instructions call for a safe use of the drug. An absolute must. But it's another thing to have consumers follow the dosing instructions. Also an absolute must.

I'm afraid that the larger issue is that consumers don't follow the label instructions. They often take more than prescribed (often take more than prescribed!) and often mix in other drugs that they are taking at the same time. Which can result in an unsafe level of an otherwise safe drug.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case with Tylenol, but a more general issue about prescription and non-prescription drugs and how consumers take them. There's an over-riding sense that these products are safe, regardless of how they are taken. That is simply not the case.

The FDA regulates labelling and dosing for a reason. To keep these drugs safe. Consumers need to understand that just because the FDA deems a drug to be safe, it may not be safe when taken incorrectly.

I admire Tylenol for always standing for safety. Consumers need to do their part too and take their drugs safely. Tylenol or otherwise.

Follow this link to read a bit about the current situation with Tylenol: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/PainManagement/story?id=7955370&page=1

Hope this finds you well -- Jim