Generic Drugs

>> Wednesday, September 30, 2009

As a lover of brands and a career-long marketer, I've never been a fan of generics. It's not that I don't get the concept of getting the same product at a lower price, that part theoretically makes sense. I just don't believe it, particularly in healthcare products. But that's just my opinion and my own purchasing behavior -- I stick to brands that I know and trust.

In the attached article, a research company exposed a recent news clip from Fox News about the safety and "sameness" of generic drugs versus their branded equivalents. The news clip calls into question whether the generic version is in fact EXACTLY the same as the branded original formula.

Of interest here is that the research company found that nearly half of the viewers of the Fox News clip were then less likely to buy generics drugs. knowledge can indeed be power, as in purchasing power.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Who Owns Social Media

>> Monday, September 28, 2009

Advertising Week last week was loaded with rich content on virtually every aspect of "advertising", or as I prefer to say "marketing". Our digital guru, William Martino, participated on a panel about social media, so I asked him to recap his experience here.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


This past Thursday (Sept 24th), I had the pleasure of participating in the ANA's 2009 Agency/Client Forum as part of Advertising Week here in NY. Moderated by Steve Rubel, SVP, Director of Insights at Edelman Digital, I joined Paul Dunay, Global Managing Director of Services Marketing at Avaya, and Phyllis Joseph, Senior Lead, Communications at Unilever, as we discussed "Who Owns Social Media?"

Although social media has been with us for a few years, the space continues to change and evolve at an incredibly fast pace, so our discussion was rich with questions to answer and areas to explore. Beginning with our own definitions of social media, and ranging all the way to how agencies and clients are selling and buying it -- we covered a lot of ground, but we touched upon two areas specifically that I find intriguing.

The first is about agencies, and which type of agency is "right" for social media. Personally, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, although some agencies are better suited than others. As an integrated marketing agency, I feel strongly that our proximity to brand strategy, coupled with our ability to identify and understand consumer insights, puts us in a position to create opportunities within the social space that are truly engaging and relevant. We love big ideas and innovative tactics, but when they are not strategically grounded or tied to brand goals, they are misguided.

We're certainly not the only agency with these capabilities or this point of view, and great thinking is coming out of a variety of different shops, be they digital, PR, or integrated; independent or part of a large network. Clients should be less concerned about the type of agency they are working with, and more concerned with the people within these organizations.

Do they have a passion for (not just knowledge of) social media? Do they have a presence in the space where they experiment and share a point of view? Do they use these technologies day-to-day, as an indispensable part of how they do business?

This industry has always been about people and team chemistry, and it's no different now that we're creating Facebook pages instead of TV spots (if anything, it's MORE important).

The second area is about organizational change, which I feel is the single biggest obstacle standing in the way of companies fully embracing social media. As I mentioned during our discussion, a radical shift in thinking and working is now necessary—from an approach where it takes 4 months to create a stand-alone piece to thinking and acting like a content publisher, where the dialogue is rapid, the expected response time is immediate, and your work is never finished.

Thankfully, agency teams and brand teams alike are starting to make necessary changes so their people and processes can be more nimble, flexible, and better equipped to live in a social world.
Paul and Phyllis touched upon how they are facing these challenges within their organizations, and their approaches, while a little different, mirror the two major philosophies that I see when working with our clients.

One, which is similar to what Paul is doing, is to centralize the thinking so that best practices can be shared across teams and there is clear accountability in terms of leadership. Whether these types of teams are formally created or organically grown, I'm seeing more and more of them sprout up.

Contrasting that is a decentralized approach, which is similar to what Phyllis shared. Here, the thinking and empowering is "pushed down" so that individual brand teams have the autonomy to do what's right for their individual needs and the people that are closer to the customer handle the major decision-making.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each: centralized thinking can certainly help unify a company's approach, making sure thinking from one brand can be applied to another, missteps are minimized, and efficiencies are gained. But it can also paralyze teams, making them timid to try anything unless they have the green light from above.

Decentralized empowerment fosters healthy trial and error, experimentation, and unique solutions that solve unique needs. However, effort may be wasted and success may not be shared across teams without clear leadership or if lines of communication are not open.

Just like identifying the right agency to partner with, companies must look at their distinct needs, culture, and people to define an approach that is right for them.

Despite the healthy discussion, I think we all left with more questions than answers, which is indicative of a space that is maturing by the minute. But after letting our conversation sink in for a few days, I realized that we never really answered our primary question, which was "Who owns social media?"

The reality is, CONSUMERS own social media, not brands and certainly not agencies. Whether we like it or not, we now must market our brands in a landscape where consumers have the tools to make their voice heard, and the technology to hear what everyone else is saying. Any more hesitation on the part of a brand to participate and engage in dialogue with their consumers is extremely risky. It's not about waiting to get this "right", but about participating now (ie. small pilot programs with a focus on learning, experimentation, and quick wins), and doing so with a spirit of honesty and transparency.

Our consumers expect this dialogue and if they don't get it, they're going to vote with a lot more than their wallet.

- William Martino, Digital Strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Ad Tech Chicago

We have a new Channel Planner here at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Melissa Gordon, and we are thrilled to have her. Melissa helps our teams determine where and when we should enter the marketplace, and boy is she busy! She recently attended the Ad Tech Symposium in Chicago so I asked her for her thoughts in regards to her new job here.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


My Adventures at Ad Tech Chicago

A few weeks ago I spent a few fun filled days with roughly 500 other advertising and marketing professionals at the Ad Tech Symposium in Chicago. By the end of my visit, I had attended 4 Keynote presentations, 2 workshops and 8 seminars across topics that varied from Mobile Metrics, to Social CRM to of course the Twitter effect.

Those 2 days at the end of the Navy Pier were filled with me running (in high heels) from seminar to workshop to seminar, doing my best to absorb all of the trends, case studies and applications of social media and the new digital space. What they didn’t tell me in the credentials or event information was that almost everyone but the presenters would be casual. As a result of that, no less than 10 other attendees asked me which panel I would be speaking on. I just smiled -- and said, the one on Wednesday!

As for what I learned, here were 3 key themes of the discussions:

1) The exponential rise of social media. The majority of the sessions were focused on this theme. The consensus? Use with caution. On the plus side, I heard many examples of how social media can showcase a brand by giving consumers power, with huge tangible benefits. For example, Threadless, a T-Shirt company, is mobilizing their 1 MM Twitter followers to create and vote on new T-Shirts, creating an active interest in their brand without a sizable media budget. Amusement park Six Flags partnered with to personalize an interactive roller coaster: over 150,000 users created and shared coasters featuring their own and their friends' faces, which was worth more than $2MM worth of "traditional" media exposure (per Jackie Gagne, Six Flag's director of digital and direct marketing). Of course, other marketers dove into the space prematurely; in one case, the only person talking about or engaging with the program was the Brand Manager’s Mom. This is a true story.

2) Metrics, Metrics, Metrics. This was a very hot topic, especially around standardizing measurement across all new media. Do we force measurements used in traditional media into the online and social worlds? How do we ensure consistency? These questions were brought to the forefront of the discussion by one of the keynote speakers, Bob Bowman, President and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Simply put, he reported that Nielsen had under-represented his site's true audience number by roughly two-thirds. How could Nielsen miss millions of unique visitors? This was a show stopper. Needless to say, there were audible gasps from the audience, some probably from Nielsen representatives. It was a perfect example of the need for more accurate, accountable metrics in the digital space.

3) What's the next big thing? This was the big question of the conference and the resounding answer was (drum roll please)….. no one really knows. But some of the likely candidates include the explosion of mobile media, improved mobile web content, superior augmented reality and the rise of geo-utility.

I'm already looking forward to what we'll learn about at next years' conference. But one thing I know for sure: next time, I'm packing flats.

- Melissa Gordon, Channel Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Helayne Spivak on The Big Ad Gig

>> Friday, September 25, 2009

Yesterday was The Big Ad Gig, an event sponsored by Advertising Week to give young talent a shot at the big leagues. The contestants had the pressure of not only creating a campaign, but also of presenting it in front of some pretty intimidating people. Not that the judges are not nice and wonderful, but just hugely successful. Like our very own Helayne R. Spivak ("Her Royal Spivak" as I say), who writes about the contest here.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


The Big Ad Gig. Young, currently unemployed writers and art directors were asked to submit a video and samples of their work and separate panel of judges got the vast number of entries down to about 18 then myself and the rest of the panel judges chose the 8 finalists. The panel was great. They were, in no particular order:

Alex Bogusky, Chairman Creative, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

Andreas Combuechen, Chairman, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Atmosphere Proximity

Priscilla Natkins, Executive Vice President, Director of Client Services, The Advertising Council

Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide

Jaime Wells, Director, Global Trade Marketing, Microsoft Mobile Advertising


The entire event was Hosted (and quite well, by the way) by Stuart Elliot, the advertising columnist for the New York Times. The prize for 4 of these really talented young aspiring advertising people was a one month paid gig at the 4 judge’s ad agencies.

The 8 finalists were given a brief for "Hands Only CPR". The client, The American Heart Association. They had a week or so to do a 360 campaign which, if picked, the client would run.

Now all that these kids had to do was get up in front of the panel, the moderator and an audience of about 100 people and present their ideas. Can you imagine the pressure these poor guys (and gals) were facing? Well, no one fainted (although one came close) and we came up with 4 clear winners.

We won Jamie Walker. A fabulous young writer who will be with us for a month in the very near future and then…who knows? Here are the others (the sites listed do not have the work they won with. They are from their original submissions).

Abraham Truzman



Jaime Walker



Matthew Koulermos



Anna Lippert



Let's keep an eye on these very talented folks!

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


Client Bonding Sessions

Remember the days when we regularly did "bonding sessions" with our clients? With budgets and timelines so tight, I'm afraid that for the most part those days are behind us. Bummer.

I remember when I worked at Johnson & Johnson, we often did team building sessions where we would do trust falls and climb rock walls together. It really did give us a chance to get to know each other, way beyond what could ever happen in a conference room or at a bar.

One of our client teams decided to bring back the "bonding session", with great success. Will Metzger, one of our account directors, recounts the experience here.

They float through the air, with the greatest of ease.....

Hope this finds you well -- Jim

How'd it go, Will?

From FUD to FLY

Everyone who takes in the view of the west side of Manhattan from our offices on the west side of the building remarks upon the expansive view of the Hudson River, from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge. It truly is an incredible, even inspiring sight. But after a few moments of taking it in, most people comment on what they see a block due west, thirteen floors below: It's a trapeze rig run by the New York Trapeze School.

And while the view is universally inspiring, when it comes to the trapeze rig, people very quickly bifurcate into either "that's crazy," or "I'd really like to try that."

A few months ago a client in our office clearly indicated she was in the latter camp. So this week, after a full day of meetings about how we can help our client lead a new branding initiative, a group of 10, some clients, some agency folk, headed over to the rig.

As we changed into appropriate tight-fitting trapeze gear and approached the rig, the 40-foot ladder up to the board you jump off of looked imposing. Though the net below provides some measure of comfort, it is still high up there. While still on the ground, our instructors described the sequence of 8 steps: Place your feet shoulder width at the edge of the board; hold the rope behind you with your left hand; grab the trapeze bar with your right hand; thrust your hips out; grab the bar with your left hand; hold the bar at eye level; bend your knees when the instructor says "ready," jump with both feet at "Hep!" And they all have to be done in under 2 seconds.

It's at this point that the "FUD" factor sets in.


Racing through your head are the sequenced steps, and you wonder if you will remember them, if you can climb that ladder, if you can really jump, if you'll hurt yourself...or embarrass yourself.

Then you climb the ladder and curl your toes over the edge of the board. Not a single one of us, on hearing that "Hep!" jumped with confidence. We all felt a measure of "FUD." Some more than others. Some didn't jump on the first "Hep!" But every one of us did jump, did take that leap, did go from FUD to FLY. And I find that remarkable. That whatever FUD we felt, we did leap into thin air, took a chance, did something new. (Link to pictures?)

It is a testament to the human spirit. And really put in sharp relief the issues we'd been discussing earlier in the day about the new branding initiative we are helping our client introduce into their organization. It will be asking that company to do something differently, to take a leap. It made us aware that change is difficult and that as we roll out this program, we need to be aware of it, acknowledge it, and help them to work through the FUD...and FLY.

- Will Metzger, Account Director at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Most Trusted Journalist

>> Thursday, September 24, 2009

This isn't new news this week, but I thought I'd follow up my blog post from earlier in the week about "most trusted brands" with my thoughts on the poll back in August about "most trusted journalists" because I think it rings true with consumer sentiment at the moment.

The poll came out shortly after Walter Cronkite's death, and it asked Americans in the aftermath of losing the first most trusted journalist who would now fill those shoes, so to speak. The answer: Jon Stewart (as has been widely covered, discussed, and debated).

There's a nice review of Jon Stewart's career leading up to this moment from The New York Times here: Whether you are a fan or not, it's an interesting account of the last eight years.

Even fans of Jon Stewart were surprised at first. But when you think about it in the context of current consumer attitudes and perceptions it kind of makes sense.

In many ways trust means being true to who you are, not deceiving people, and telling it like it is. The problem is that main stream news, which wants to be objective, really isn't all that objective anymore. And consumers know it.

Traditional news programming is filled with entertainment, often entertainment affiliated with the host network. Mixed in are the news stories certainly, but they seem to take second seat. The anchors pretend to be objective, but the consuming public is starting to understand where the network biases lie. Objectivity is not what it used to be in the days of Walter Cronkite.

Yes, bias. Enter Jon Stewart. Objective? No way. Biased, yes. But he is perfectly clear about his bias. There's no mistake about it. As a consumer, you know exactly where he stands and he is incredibly consistent and clear about it. You can trust that what he says is true in his opinion. You know where he is coming from and he doesn't hide it.

Very consistent actually when you observe how consumers are looking more and more to each other for help and advice online. The huge surge in user profiles, user rankings, user surveys that are influencing everything from shopping, choosing schools, and even healthcare. We are starting to trust others in situations similar to ours over those who appear to be more objective. Much like the ranking of eBay as the most trusted brand (

Just like Jon Stewart, for many people. Or at least enough people to catapult him to the top of this ranking.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


>> Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This week is Advertising Week in New York. I've gone to several of the events, and I have to say that it's been wonderful. Not only catching up with colleagues, but more importantly discussing together the issues that we face as an industry. And trying to jointly come up with solutions that will help all of our clients, and ourselves in the meantime. It's a tough time in the industry, and by banding together we can make real significant change.

The other thing that's great about Advertising Week is the multiple layers of content. You can probe just about any topic, which is an incredible feat by the organizers.

Our very own Dustin Glick made a discovery himself on the more charitable side of Advertising Week and he wants to spread the word.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


If you work in advertising and want to do something about global warming, apparently you’re not alone. Just check out Lots of people during Advertising Week certainly are.

According to the site, “Hopenhagen is a movement generated by the International Advertising Association representing the global advertising industry in support of the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place this December in Copenhagen". features a petition in support of a worldwide climate change solution, as well as frequent news updates regarding positive environmental developments.

It also includes the line: “Let’s turn Copenhagen into Hopenhagen,” but we can overlook a cheesy little line for a good cause!

Check it out at

- Dustin Glick, copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Most Trusted Brands

>> Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In honor of Advertising Week, I thought I'd post a recent list of the most trusted brands in America. Not the standard list that we are all accustomed to seeing - the one with Johnson & Johnson, Disney, and Coca-Cola all over it.

Now there are lots of compilations, ranked on all sorts of measures. But I thought I'd share a list of the most trusted brands for privacy, as compiled by TRUSTe. Given how we interact with brands, it seems to me that we are collectively redefining what we call trust, so I thought this list was especially newsworthy and important.

I have to say I was a bit surprised by the list, if not shocked. You can read it here:, and I'll also summarize it here:

1. eBay

2. Verizon

3. US Postal Service

4. WebMD

5. IBM

6. Procter & Gamble

7. Nationwide

8. Intuit

9. Yahoo!

10. Facebook

A few things to note, at least from my perspective:

- eBay! Wow. I had no idea of the importance of this property.

- No mention of Google, shockingly.

- US Postal Service? Interesting given that snail mail is in theory dying.

- WebMD is the only really "personal privacy" brand listed, other than maybe Nationwide which I imagine is more about the sales representatives than anything else (although Nationwide is "on your side")

- IBM instead of MAC, a little strange given the popularity of iTunes.

- Really only one traditional CPG "brand" per se, Procter & Gamble

I think the biggest wow for me out of this whole list is that we are changing what we value in brands. Our lives have become digital, mobile, and socially online. So it really should be no surprise that we are starting to value brands that help us in those areas, particularly when it comes to privacy.

Better renew my eBay account!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Wellness Gaming

>> Friday, September 18, 2009

Here's a Saatchi Wellness blog first: we have a post from one of our fans from Facebook!

Bob Easley is feeling some inspiration from the Nintendo Wii Fit, and the new options in wellness that it presents. Pretty cool, actually, if you think about how gamers have gone from being couch potatoes to athletes.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

Introducing our "friend", Bob Easley:

There was an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal that’s another interesting example of how the world is evolving toward a new, ever widening perspective on Wellness:

A Pitcher's New Core Routine

The last time most of us looked, video-gaming brought forth thoughts of the marginally scary “Grand Theft Auto” or perhaps the latest version “Madden” -- and of teenage afternoons in front of the screen that might be better spent outdoors or in the library. Video games, it was said, were a root cause of the obesity epidemic.

Now a video game – the Nintendo Wii Fit – is part of a Major League Baseball player’s fitness routine! And it’s being covered in The Wall Street Journal, of all places! How things have changed!

It’s a reminder that “Wellness” is, or could be, just about anywhere. The innovators at Nintendo found their way into a gigantic new market when they rolled out the Fit version of the Wii.

Now the game is everywhere from Senior Centers to major league locker rooms (and some agency and client conference rooms as well). If video games can be thought of, developed, and marketed from a wellness perspective, is there a category that can’t be embraced? (Saatchi Wellness has certainly demonstrated once again that condoms are not off-limits!)

Much like the way marketers of every stripe and flavor have rushed to make sure they offer i-phone applications, all of us should be exploring how to connect our brands to consumers in new ways to bring wellness more fully into their lives. Product innovation, strategic focus, and messaging will all be better. It’s both a business opportunity for our clients, and a quality-of-life opportunity for the consumer. In the language of Wii baseball, that’s a home run!

- Bob Easley, fan of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Advertising Week

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

Advertising Week is next week here in New York.

I have to admit that I've never paid that much attention to it (my apologies to the organizers). But for whatever reason, this year it is totally on my radar. Maybe I'm just more aware, or maybe the organizers have done a great job marketing Advertising Week this year. Not sure which it is, but I am totally pumped this year.

As part of my AdAge subscription, I received a complete guide to the week's activities which really got me going. Jammed pack with events. Plus it's all there on the event website at For a really simple registration fee of $49, you can enroll and then choose the events that interest you. There are a ton.

Helayne Spivak and I are certainly going to the opening gala in Times Square. It'll be great to catch up with colleagues old and new. And then I've literally circled all the events during the week that I'm planning to attend (clients permitting of course).

Topics include traditional issues like media planning and creative development. And of course "hotter" topics around social media and our evolving industry are covered as well.

One to highlight is Big Ad Gig -- it's a talent contest to help young talent get a start in the industry. Our very own Helayne is a judge, and we will be hosting one of the winners here at Saatchi Wellness for a month-long freelance gig. We are looking forward to it.

So if it's not on your radar this year, I encourage you to visit the website ( and check out some of the events. See you there?!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Whitney, Re-Launched

>> Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My friends know that I love my Divas. Donna, Mariah, Beyonce. To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left.

And of course, Whitney.

Ah, Whitney. Whether you love her or not, you have to appreciate what she has been through as a human being. The high high and the low lows (literally). And you have to acknowledge her incredible success, even if you're not a fan. 140 million albums sold and the most decorated female singer of all time.

One of the things that I admire about Whitney, aside from her soulful voice, is the way that she has been marketed. Right from her first launch.

Flash back circa 1986ish. Suddenly we hear this powerful voice on the radio and us fans of pop music literally can't believe our ears. A little princess with royal roots and a voice that could only be described as magical.

Hit song after hit song, the next one even better than the last. A breakthrough music video with just the right dress, How Will I Know, and a cameo of Aretha. An album that becomes not only the second largest selling album from a female artist (second only to Carol King's Tapestry), but also the largest selling debut album from anyone.

Perfectly packaged to sell, and boy did she sell.

As we get to know Whitney, we start to see the musical connections and the marketing machine behind the launch. Daughter of legendary gospel singer, Cissy Houston. Niece of another Diva, Dionne Warwick. Close close friend of a living legend, Aretha Franklin. Backed by music mogul, Clive Davis.

An entire infrastructure put into place to make this girl famous.

When Whitney's second album came out, there was a collective sigh of relief. It wasn't just a fluke! This girl really can sing! We were in Whitney heaven, and so was the record company.

I was living in Boston at the time, and when she came to town to do a concert, she was sighted all over the city doing charity work at the public schools. Brilliant, what can this girl do wrong?

Enter The Bodyguard. Just when maybe we might might might be getting bored, Whitney throws herself onto the big screen with great fanfare and a tremendously successful movie soundtrack. Biggest one since Saturday Night Fever.

I saw some clips last night from Whitney's interview this week with Oprah. Evidently The Bodyguard was a turning point in her marriage and subsequently a downturn in her career. Everything started unravelling at that moment. Did you see her husband's reality tv show? Grimace.

But now we have her back. Whitney, Re-launched. The voice is still there, yes a little more mature and perhaps a little worn, but it's still there. And the marketing machine has kicked in again. Clive Davis is engineering his little princess back into the spotlight and we are loving it.

Big time intimate interview with Oprah. Inspirational song, I Didn't Know My Own Strength, perfect for the moment.

Celebrity-filled album release event at the Time Warner Center. Free concert in Central Park. Appearances on MTV. Hit single written by Alicia Keyes, in tribute to her inspiration as an artist.

The result? Album debuts at number one, and a huge collection of fans have their Diva back.

I love marketing.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Ageless Icons

>> Tuesday, September 15, 2009

As a society we are fortunate to have a number of pop culture icons who remain ageless. They remind us that as long as we still have it, we should flaunt it. Look at Cher, look at Tina, look at Jack. Still doing their thing, and serving as inspiration that we should still be doing ours when we are their age.

Johanna Skilling, our head of Strategic Planning, had the chance to see one of our ageless icons this past weekend. And she still has the sparkle in her eye from it.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


What will you be doing when you’re 83?

If you’re Chuck Berry, you’re dressing in your blue sequined shirt and captain’s hat, picking up your favorite axe, and getting your groove on in front of folks who love you, just like you’ve always done.

I had the great good fortune to see Chuck in concert this past weekend. The man looks good. Actually, he looks great: tall and well built, with a fun-loving face that would suit a man 20 years younger.

I’ll grant you, the concert got off to a slow start, with an extended demonstration of on-stage tuning and a mild hissy fit by the star himself ("Get the manager out here! I want the manager out on stage!") but that’s one reason to go to live shows: to see a real person doing what they do, the way they do it.

And did I mention he’s 83? So while he was stopping the show and tuning up, he said, "I’m old enough to do things the way I want ‘em done." Love that – he was making sure his music came out right. And he didn’t ignore the fact there were paying customers in the room – in fact, he acknowledged us cheerfully, saying we hadn’t come to hear him play anything but his best.

And if his best is that of a man slightly past his prime? I don’t think anyone cared – quite the opposite, judging from all the hollering and cheering and clapping going on. It was real. It was vintage. And it was fun.

By the end of the set, when Chuck invited "4 or 5 young ladies to come right up here. Well, you don’t have to be young," and 20 or more women of all ages stormed onstage to dance, we were all in rock ‘n’ roll heaven. Chuck was playing Johnny B. Goode, by now with a broken string, and we were all singing along.

In a long (long) career – did I mention the man is 83? – it’s easy to guess that Chuck has had his ups and downs. But seeing him in action was a great reminder that life is all about seizing the moment – and not letting a few sour strings hold you back.

And that it’s ok to wear spangles after 80.

Go Johnny, go, go!

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


When is a "Friend" a Friend?

>> Monday, September 14, 2009

Facebook has certainly changed our network of friends and our social relationships. A huge amount has been written about it lately and I know that all of my "friends" are talking about it.

This is a world where William Martino thrives (you should follow him on Twitter at @wmartino) so I asked for his thoughts.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Perhaps it's a coincidence, but I noticed two articles last week which discuss a "backlash" against Facebook.

The first, from Elizabeth Bernstein at the Wall Street Journal, wants us to think before we post—all of the useless/silly/boring/"too-much" information we share in our status updates are ruining the relationships people have with each other. Over at the New York Times, Virginia Heffernan points to things like privacy concerns, losses in productivity, and yes, even us marketers, as reasons why people are abandoning Facebook.

Whether you agree with the sentiment in those articles or not, it's clear that social technologies like Facebook are making us question the nature of our friendships and radically changing what that label means. People who we've lost contact with—whether intentional or not—are coming back into our lives, loose acquaintances are now privy to the sometimes intimate thoughts and actions of our day, and we are coming to realize that "six degrees of separation" is probably more like three or four.

Our circles of friendship are suddenly a lot larger than they used to be, but are the relationships we have with all these people the same?

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that there is a limit to the number of people that we can maintain a stable relationship with, based on the size of our neocortex. This number—Dunbar's number—is about 150 people. I don't know about you, but most people that I know on Facebook have at least that many friends in their network.

Facebook themselves have conducted research to better understand our growing social graphs, including the number of friends we have, how tightly we're connected, and how often we communicate with each other. The results are quite interesting:

  • The average network size is about 120 people, with women typically having more friends than men (of course, the range is quite large—some people have networks in the teens, others in the thousands).

  • In a network of that size, most people only "maintain a relationship" with less than 20 of them (this number goes up as the network gets larger).

  • The number of people you passively communicate with (browsing status updates or photos, for example) is between 2 and 2.5 times as many as the number of people you actively communicate with (exchanging email, for example).

Clearly, there are multiple meanings in how people define a friend. On one end of the spectrum, there are the casual connections that are causing our networks to swell (friend-of-a-friend, co-worker, etc...). But on the other end are our "classic" friends—the people with whom, even without technology, we would still have deep relationships.

Our wellness is greatly influenced by the people we surround ourselves with, and this mix of different types of friends is a key component. There is strength and reassurance (and maybe a bit of ego) in large numbers—we feel a sense of security in knowing that we are (or at least can be) in touch with so many people, if necessary. But volume can't compensate for quality, and we still need a core handful of people that we know we can trust and rely upon.

Brands that are engaging in social media need to understand this mix as well. Chances are, they are a casual connection and not in the "inner circle" of friendship. They need to respect where they are in the social graph (understanding boundaries, levels of intimacy, when it's OK to intervene, etc...), otherwise they will lose their friendship altogether.

- William Martino, Digital Strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


Masking Your Disapproval

>> Friday, September 11, 2009

It was the shout-out heard 'round the world that evidently can hit pretty close to home.

I love this blog post from Stu Fink, our ACD, because he watches someone else's big time "mistake" and learns from it. We'll call it a "coaching moment".

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.

What's up, Stu?

So, even before Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “you lie!” during President Obama’s address Wednesday night, I was sickened by the sight of many of our elected officials behaving like petulant children unaccustomed to not getting their way.

There they sat, many of them stone-faced or grimacing. Some were shaking their heads in mock-disbelief. Others were busy typing away on their blackberries while the President spoke. Many flailed their arms in the air, jockeying for both the president and the camera’s eye. It was a shameful and immature display.

And all I could think was, “is that what my co-workers and clients see when they’re sitting across the table from me? I wasn’t sick to my stomach because I was watching politicians behave like brats. I was sick to my stomach because I looked into my TV and feared I saw myself staring back at me.

Lest you think, I’m the only one within the halls of our agency with a terrible poker face, think again. I’ve been on the receiving end of withering looks of disapproval more often than I care to remember. And they’ve come from account people, planners, clients, fellow creatives, project managers, hell, even the guy who runs the newsstand once eviscerated me with a scowl and arched eyebrow. I think I tried to buy The Post with a fifty.

I guess my point is this: I’ve never had a client respond to one my of patented eye-rolls by saying, “hey, you know what, thanks for showing me how stupid you think I am. Let’s do it your way.” Now one can argue – and I’ve tried and failed to make this argument with my bosses – that outwardly showing your displeasure is a sign of passion and dedication. It shows clients and colleagues that you “care.” But it doesn’t. It shows clients and colleagues that you’re an jerk (note from Jim: Stu didn't use the word "jerk").

I am a work-in-progress. I’m trying to get better. Stabbing your thigh with a pencil under the table is a good way to covertly work out your aggression, by the way. Now, I wish I could say I’m trying to get better because it’s the responsible, mature thing to do. But the truth is, I’m trying to get better because I keep losing arguments I badly want to win.

Whether it’s trying to convince a client to make the logo smaller or, perhaps slightly more importantly, trying to achieve bi-partisan support for universal health care, you’re not going to win by behaving like a jerk (note from Jim: Stu didn't use the word "jerk"). So, lets stop holding our politicians to a higher standard than the standard we set for ourselves.

I’m doing my best. I encourage all of you to do the same. Now try and read that last sentence without rolling your eyes. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. (note from Jim: you taught me something today, Stu)

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


Remembering How 9/11/01 Changed Our Lives

Today is a national day of remembrance. Honestly when you live in NY, almost every day is a day of remembrance. Still.

I do not have any friends or family lost on 9/11. But I do have a lot of friends who have friends and family lost on 9/11, and friends of friends, etc. Our lives have become more like 2 or 3 degrees of separation instead of 6. Thanks to Facebook and LinkedIn. Even without Kevin Bacon.

I vividly remember my first reaction standing straight up watching CNN in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in Princeton, NJ. Before any of us could have processed the loss of life and the suffering that would follow, I said to myself, "our lives have just changed."

As I rushed home 45 minutes later to pick my two kids up early from grade school, I said to myself "our lives have just changed."

For those directly affected by the attacks, this was certainly instantly true. And I continue to feel for all of you, and I honestly don't know how you get through a day like today.

For the rest of the country, my first thought also certainly became true. Our lives had just changed. And it wasn't good.

We became instantly vulnerable. Like never before in our history. Over the years following, we continually lost faith in our government, our financial institutions, even our religious institutions for some of us. The economy crashed and we all started to feel like perhaps the lives we had built were just not sustainable. We are all much more vulnerable and fragile than any of us ever imagined. Individually and collectively.

9/11/01 was a turning point. But what has also risen from that moment is good old fashioned optimism. "We can get through this".

This growing feeling of realistic, some call gritty, optimism is being tracked by all the consumer trending analysts, so it's really there. I know that I feel it too. We can get through this.

As we follow the families of those directly affected by the attacks, we see them slowly move on with their lives. Forever changed, but moving on. They are getting through it.

Our optimism is different this time around. We can get through this. We can pull ourselves out of this. But WE have to do it, we can't rely on anyone else. We will do it.

So as I remember 9/11/01, I remember how it changed all of our lives. And at this very moment, I also remember the pain and suffering that so many of have endured as a result. Many of us are turning this day of remembrance into a day of service ( by helping others in our community.

What a great symbol of getting through it, and getting through it together.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


"The September Issue"

>> Thursday, September 10, 2009

This past weekend I saw The September Issue, the new documentary about Vogue magazine and the infamous Anna Wintour.  It was fascinating.

The film basically follows the process as the Vogue team brainstorms, creates, and assembles their September issue, the biggest one of the year and certainly the most influential factor in fashion.

In true documentary style, it follows a small cast of "characters", really the principles at the magazine, as they go through the trials and tribulations of their craft.

A few observations:

One:  It was fascinating to watch their creative process. It's not all that different from any other creative process, certainly very similar in many ways to creating advertising. It was fun to see concepts get created and then later cut. Compelling to see a photo shoot take a sudden turn of events. And absolutely fascinating to watch people really avoid confrontation on creative issues. Most of the time when Anna Wintour cut a spread from the issue, for example, she didn't do it directly to the person who created it. It was all done through third parties. At least from what I could tell.

Two:  While Anna Wintour's reputation certainly enters the room before she does, I found her to be much more relate-able and real that I have ever heard about her. Sure she's decisive and sure she's impatient, curt, and focused. Maybe even insensitive. But from my vantage point from seeing only this film, my take is that she's a business person with a mission. And she's human. She also compared her work to the work that other members of her family do, which I found to be very honest.

Three:  I was amazed at how much the industry bows to her. I've always heard that, but it was amazing to see it real.

Four:  It was also fascinating to see how non-technical the process is. Sure the photography is done digitally and there is a lot of retouching, but much of the assembly of the magazine is done with white boards, hard copy printouts, scissors, tape, and paste-ups.

The real breakout of the film was Grace Coddington, the Creative Director. She stole the movie. Not only was she in the movie the most (from my memory), but she was also the most interesting to watch. A creative genius at work, yet still humble and real in her own way. I fell in love with her. The scene with her at Versailles was inspiring.

I wouldn't say to rush out to see the movie because it's the most amazing movie I've ever seen or because it's a documentary that changes how you view an important issue. But if you have the chance, it is fun to get a peek into what it's like to work in another profession. And it's fun to see really creative people in action.

Of course at my agency I get to see really creative people in action every day :)

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Marketing in the Digital World

>> Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No question that the digital age has changed how we live, how we interact with each other, and how we experience brands. Gwen Korbel from our Account Management team gives her thoughts on how digital obsessions shouldn't change one of the fundamentals of marketing.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Last Tuesday Garrick Schmitt posted a great article on titled “How Demand for Digital Experiences Is Transforming Our Physical Spaces (And Creating ‘Screens’ Where There Weren’t Any)”

Among the wide range of primarily large-scale applications defining the landscape were

- The 555 Kubik project, which had no marketing nor live audience interaction component and is captivating to observe

- The Livestrong Chalkbot, commissioned by Nike but focused on spreading messages of hope and inspiration, not product superiority

- And HBO’s Voyeur Project, winner of the 2008 Grand Prix Lion-Outdoor

Assuming most readers here are marketers, it’s likely you’re familiar with that last one. If not, please check it out for yourself, it did for digital outdoor what Gardasil did for unbranded marketing – set the standard, and set it high.

While I had a hard time turning away from the hour-long YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, my mind keeps coming back to a more human-scale and pervasive transformation of our physical space: the smartphone.

Whether you carry a smartphone or not, they’re rarely outside your physical space today – the person next to you on the subway / in your meeting / at your dinner table is using one. It’s that last instance that troubles me – our expectation of constant input has grown (and maybe our manners have diminished) to the point where being in the presence of others no longer qualifies as adequate engagement.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy settling a bet with friends on the spot thanks to a smartphone and a group digital interaction that informs and entertains. But more often social experiences can be devalued, like when someone reads a new e-mail during conversation rather than looks at whoever is speaking. Foodies will tell you we eat with our eyes, referring to the importance of a dish’s presentation, but we listen with our eyes too.

I’m a big fan of the digital sphere and the ever-evolving access it gives us – at a minimum, I shop, research, and communicate online daily. That being said, I still value face-to-face interaction most, and prefer to unplug and experience people with my whole self, not just half an ear.

Looking at this from a marketing perspective, digital can and does allow you fresh, outside-the-box opportunities to touch consumers, but at the end of the day, is it generating word-of-mouth about a cool campaign, or is it creating a relationship with your product?

The most effective marketing continues to be the people who use your product, your sometimes unintentional brand advocates. They too are best heard with both ears, and both eyes.

- Gwen Korbel, Account Management at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness


For Sophie, Love USC!

>> Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sophie is my French Bulldog. USC is the Union Square Cafe, one of the most consistently best reviewed restaurants in New York City. And this is a tale of two restaurants and of superior customer service.

If your brand or business has any quotient of customer service, then take this as inspiration. In this economy, in my opinion, customer service should be top priority for almost any brand or business. Keep your customers happy. Give new customers a great experience so that they want to come back.

So here's my tale of customer service, ala two different restaurant experiences.

This past Saturday night, we decided to celebrate the holiday weekend and go to one of the trendy restaurants in the trendy Meatpacking District here in New York. Bagatelle.

Long story short, we decided to go to Bagatelle that same day and we didn't have a reservation. I called on three separate occasions through the day, and each time was told that although there was no reservations available, I should stop by anyway when I'm in the neighborhood.

At 9:15 at night, we were already in the neighborhood but I couldn't remember the exact address so I called again and spoke to the same woman I had spoken to earlier. She told me that she wasn't sure how busy the restaurant was (she was upstairs in an office) but that I should stop by and worst case have a drink at the bar while we wait. Good enough for me.

Well, when we got to the door, the bouncer (very old school Studio 54 type bouncer) would not let us in because they were booked. I told him that I had just spoken to someone and that she had told us to stop by. He "demanded" that I tell him her name. He was rude beyond belief.

I stood there stunned, and quite honestly I have not been treated so rudely in years. This is just a restaurant. It's just food. No need to be so incredibly rude. He finally said that we could go to the bar for ONE drink and then we would have to leave.

Nice. Our little holiday "stay-cation" night out was now marred by an obnoxious bouncer. For no reason. I will never go back and I will tell all my friends not to bother.

In an effort to rebound the night (it is a holiday weekend after all), I called one of my old standby restaurants, Union Square Cafe. Not as trendy. Not in as trendy of a neighborhood. But always good.

The customer service blew us away. The woman on the phone told us that they were pretty busy but that we should stop by and they would work us in. When we got there, we walked in like it was our long lost home and we quickly told her our story. What did she do? She HUGGED us.

We waited a couple minutes and they gave us a great table. Timing was oddly perfect. What did the waitress do when you told her our story? She HUGGED us.

We went on to order fabulous food -- the best in the city. On several occasions through the evening the waitress stopped by to check in with us and to chat. Perfectly attentive yet also let us enjoy each other's company. We somehow got to talking about New Orleans and all the amazing restaurants there -- if I remember correctly she used to live there. We told her that we were planning a little get away there sometime soon.

We didn't finish all our food, so we had her pack up what was left of the steak so that we could give it to our little French Bulldog, Sophie. We paid the bill, grabbed the doggie bag, and started to walk home happy and content -- loving the best of NY.

We were about ten steps away from the door when the waitress came bounding out to give us a hand written note on a Union Square Cafe card with a listing of the best restaurants in New Orleans, organized by type. Can you believe it? Customer service at its finest. We hugged goodbye with huge smiles on our faces, amazed by the level of genuine caring.

What a sharp contrast to the experience just hours before at Bagatelle.

The next day, still commenting on the turn around of the night, we opened up the doggie bag to feed Sophie dinner. Written on the top of the box was "For Sophie. Love, USC!".

They had me at hello. They have me for life.

If customer service is a part of your brand experience, then please learn from my tale of two restaurants and of superior customer service. Especially in this economy, but truthfully in any economy.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


The History of Labor Day

>> Friday, September 4, 2009

As a nation we are celebrating Labor Day this weekend, which generally means we are celebrating with a day off of work over a nice long weekend. Not bad, because quite honestly the only day off of work is a day when EVERYONE takes a day off. So let's all enjoy.

I thought it would be cool to really understand what Labor Day is all about. To do that, we need to go back to the late-1800's, via

American workers were tired. Tired of the long hours every day, tired of working every day of the week, and even tired of seeing their children working too.  They had to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week just to make a basic living. They wanted to call attention to how off balance this all was.

It's unclear who the actual founder of Labor Day is.  It was probably a small group of people in all likelihood. The very first Labor Day was September 5, 1882 when 10,000 workers in New York marched from City Hall to Union Square to protest work conditions. They all took an un-paid day off from work, creating the first Labor Day parade. Over the following years, other cities followed suit and twelve years later Congress made it an official holiday.

Now in our day, Labor Day has come more to mean the end of summer than anything else. Although I bet we all feel like we are working too much, but that's another story.

Enjoy the weekend. Rest and relax, as is the intention of the holiday. I know that I'm looking forward to the fall, my favorite time of the year.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


Back-to-School Stress

>> Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Researchers say that back-to-school is one of the most stressful times of the year (second only to the December holidays). Rushing around to get new clothes that fit, sharpening all those new pencils, and downloading new music for the iPod -- and that's just for moms/dads, what about for the kids?!?

I always found that one of the most stressful parts about back-to-school is making lunches for the kids. Healthy lunches. Healthy lunches that the kids will actually eat and not "trade away." And before you cynics say anything, yes I do make lunches for my kids. Yes I'm a dad and yes I make lunches for my kids.

A few weeks ago we did a post on healthy fast food options for us adults (, but what about school lunches for the kids?  

I know that Michelle Obama is working to improve the school lunch program. But let's face it, there's going to be a lot of brown-paper-bag lunches from all of us before that ever gets fixed. So with a renewed focus on wellness, I decided to start the new school year out right. I decided to do a little research.

There's an amazing amount of advice available on the web, with just a couple simple searches. Here's a site that I found particularly good:

From the range of sites that I quickly found, here are a few of my favorite little tidbits of advice.

1- Make it mini: kids love to eat bite size portions. So give them mini parts of healthy foods that they can pop in their little mouths. Like mini carrots and small pieces of celery instead of the whole stalk. They are much more likely to munch on them. Grapes are also a perfect pop-em snack.

2- Don't be the boss: take the kids shopping and let them pick out their own lunch food. They are much more likely to buy into the choices if they have helped to make them.

3- Roll it: take a low-fat deli meat and a low-fat cheese and roll it into a tortilla. Low fat, lots of protein, and much more fun to eat.

4- Stack it: take some whole grain crackers and stack them together with a little low-fat cream cheese and low-sugar jelly. It's like a sandwich but not quite as ordinary and hopefully less likely to be thrown out. And a lot less carbs without the bread.

5- Keep it fresh: if you are worried about the food not staying fresh while in the lunchbox, freeze it the night before. It'll thaw in the morning in time for lunch.

As I mentioned, there is a ton of advice on the web about making healthy lunches -- just do a simple search. I am by no means an expert. Just a dad who wants to make healthy lunches and a marketing guy who is committed to wellness.

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.


"The Big Ad Gig" for Young Talent

New to the advertising business or ready to get your big break? Well here's your chance to be "discovered" during Advertising Week in September here in New York. The organizers have this to say:

Do You Have What it Takes to Win an Ad Job?

Were you born with a tag line in your brain, skin as thick as a gold pencil and enough creative fire to make even a legal disclaimer go viral? This September 24th, during Advertising Week in New York, it’s your chance to show a panel of ad luminaries that you can even sell Turkducken Bites to a vegan. Your reward: 30 days of briefs, branding and benjamins at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, Ogilvy, Atmosphere Proximity or Saatchi Wellness. Deadline for submission is September 7, 2009. Check <> for more details. Game on!

The Big Ad Gig! Our very own Chief Creative Officer, Helayne Spivak, is a judge and one of the winners win be working a freelance gig at our agency, Saatchi Wellness.

So take a chance. Get discovered. Sign up today. Can't wait to meet you!

Hope this finds you well -- Jim.