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Working Through a Client Crisis: Mad Men Philosophies

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Sunday night’s premiere episode of Mad Men showed Peggy in a new light. In her new role she is reminiscent of a young Don Draper in Season 1. This episode, though very entertaining, teaches its professional viewers a thing or two about working through a client crisis. The episode was focused on a campaign for Koss headphones called “Lend Me Your Ears” that was pulled after an unfortunate incident in the Vietnam War. When Peggy was unable to reach the firm’s partner to figure out how to handle the situation, she was left to her own devices.

Working through a client crisis is no picnic, especially when it’s a crisis as socially unacceptable as what she would have had to deal with. Peggy losing out on Christmas vacation is nothing out of the ordinary for many ad agencies today. Here are five things to learn from Peggy Olson on how to best working through a client crisis:

  1. Accept the crisis. Do not get in the way of yourself. By acting upset you are simply wasting time and energy. Move on. When Peggy was presented with this situation she was frustrated but kept it together. She was diligent in sticking to her process of what works, going back to a method that Draper taught her about writing a letter to someone about how much she loved the product.
  2. Open your eyes. Sometimes the best answer is right in front of you. When her live-in boyfriend Abe brought dinner, she did not kick him out. She wanted him to stay and asked him to listen to the music and describe what he heard through the Koss headphones. When she saw Abe bobbing his head to the music she remembered some video footage that came out of her initial session for the “Lend Me Your Ears” campaign. She used what she observed towards the ad. When you open your eyes, many times you will find the answers in the most unexpected circumstances.
  3. Do not try to rebuild Rome. Rome was not built in a day and it could not be rebuilt in a day, either. Developing an advertisement takes thought and time. It is important to use the resources that are around you. As we see here, the ad did not need to be adjusted that much. In the end, it was a much stronger ad. It almost makes you wonder how close you actually are to a much stronger ad when you think you have a good one.
  4. Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and your team to take care of the situation. The client told Peggy what to do but she only considered it as an option and not a great ad. Peggy showed the confidence that she had in herself and the team, reassuring the client that they would have a new ad in time for the Super Bowl. Showing confidence allows others to trust in what you believe is right. It makes a big difference in almost any situation, whether it is business or life.
  5. Go the extra mile. Let’s face it. Peggy got lucky with the extra footage to prevent a reshoot. Next time you have an ad, go the extra mile and keep other material on hand from the start. Shoot a little extra or write a little more just in case. Once the ad is complete, it may even be worth revisiting a couple days later to bring a fresh set of eyes to it. The key here is to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice. After all, you would rather put a little more into an idea up front and prevent a future crisis, wouldn’t you?

Have you been in a similar situation as Peggy Olson from Mad Men? How have you dealt with the situation? What could you have done better?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17306

Starting an Agency Includes Cultivating REALationships

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Bilal Saeed and Tim Adkins, Brofounders Pakmode

Bilal Saeed and Tim Adkins, Brofounders
Pakmode

“Deflate your ego.” This is one of the first things Bilal Saeed, Brofouder of Michigan-based Pakmode Media + Marketing, said to a packed house at TEDxEMU on March 15, 2013 at Eastern Michigan University’s Quirk Theater. Alongside Saeed, was Brofounder Tim Adkins, who leads creative direction at the agency. The creative duo’s discussion focused on building REALationships, and not just relationships, to stay successful in business and life.

When starting the agency fresh out of college in 2008 they quickly understood what hard work meant. Upon their first day of business, an advisor gave Saeed a small needle. He was unsure what it was for but the advisor simply said that Saeed will know soon enough. He kept the needle and got to work. Many times, Saeed and Adkins, found themselves washing dishes and waiting tables at a local restaurant after a full day of work just to pay the bills.

Thousands of clean dishes later, it dawned on the Brofounders that the needle was to deflate their ego.

Brofounders, by the way, is what they decided to name themselves instead of the formal CEO or COO since they were together much of their waking lives. The name stemmed from when they first heard brothers John and Scott Meyer of 9 Clouds refer to themselves as ‘Brofounders.’

Saeed and Adkins realized that deflating their ego was only the first part of the process. To create, grow, and maintain REALationships, there are actually four key ideas to keep in mind, especially when starting your own agency, as follows:

  1. Deflate your ego: This was their first and most vital lesson. It is important to remember that you are not automatically entitled to anything you do not earn. If you want something you must work hard to achieve it. Nothing will be given to you. They say to “Grind because you believe in something greater.”
  2. Be a chameleon: Adkins reluctantly lets Saeed talk about this point since he focuses so much on it. However, in creating REALationships it is important to know your surroundings and adapt as you need to. Do not be afraid of change and allow yourself the ability to be prepared for all situations as they arise. You may be in a tough situation and your next client may or may not be watching you. Saeed exceeded one man’s expectations so much with the way that he went out of his way to adapt for another client at an event that he landed the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowlaccount on the spot.
  3. Being selfless without being selfish: The Dalai Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others.” The Brofounders keep this in their mind daily. Their goals are focused on helping others first and acting for no personal gain. This allows them to be better people and better corporate citizens.
  4. Being a real, better person: This last point is best assimilated to being a child again. Simple things that people forget over the years are to share, say please and thank you, and remember to be nice. And do not forget, the ransparency of this niceness factor should be shown through all social media channels.

At the completion of their TEDxEMU talk, Saeed and Adkins made note that these four points are easier to say and harder to do. This is not a sales technique, but rather a lifestyle. They truly believe in the working capacity of each of these key points and have made them part of daily life. “Do not fake it,” says Adkins. People will see right through the exterior. It is truly important to be a better listener and to care about the REALationships you make. What will you do to turn your relationships into REALationships?

Read the entire article on Talent Zoo’s beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17244

How to Throw the Ultimate Mad Men Premiere Party

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mad_men_amc_tv_season_6Don those skinny ties and freshen up, it is Mad Men season. The highly anticipated season six of Mad Men is sure to break new ground, but since we have yet to know the year the show will be based in, let’s start where we left off. To throw a great Mad Men season premiere party you need a couple of things: friends, atmosphere and food. Let’s just assume you have the friends part covered and start with atmosphere, shall we?

To throw the ultimate Mad Men season six premiere party, there are a nine essentials to nail down, as follows:

  1. Music: Since music was one of the biggest reflections of 1960s culture it comes first on our list.  If you are a fan of the show you may already have a record player, but if not, ask a friend to bring one over. Next you want some great music to play. If you need records too, there are always local record shops happy to sell you some 45s (vintage singles). After all, it would not be very Mad Men of you to have a iPod playing the songs. However, if that is all you can find, it will do. Look for some of the billboard top 40 songs from the mid-1960s. If you are able to get a record player it is not a bad idea to pick up a copy of Jessica Pare singing Zou Bisou, Bisou on vinyl to really set the scene.
  2. Items from the set: What? How can I buy items from the show? You cannot. You can, however, find show-related items at local vintage or antique stores. In a recent excursion this weekend I went to four vintage shops and found a glass bottle of Patio, a lucky strike ad, a tie bar, a matchbook from a vintage Hilton Hotel, some skinny ties and a chip bowl made out of a 1960s Rolling Stones record. To throw a great Mad Men party you have to get creative, like Draper. Sometimes that means rummaging through someone’s old stuff. And yes, it is always worth it.
  3. Dress code: Set one. It is not only fun for a change but it keeps the atmosphere in check. If you do not want to buy clothes chances are you have something you can pull out of your closet that will fit the bill. Just watch the show for five minutes and you will get tons of ideas from Janie Bryant’s creative costume designs. Speaking of Bryant,  if you do not have anything in your closet, you can either go back to the vintage shops or pick up something from Janie’s new Banana Republic Mad Men collection. If all else fails, no jeans.
  4. Taste of the times: No pizza tonight folks. The food should reflect the era as well. That is not to say you must have a pot roast and baked Alaska. Just make sure that food ideas come from things that were popular or at least available in the 1960s. Assuming you are from a non-smoking household, grab a couple of packs of candy cigarettes.  Remember, this party is themed to stand out from a normal party at your house. Put a bowl of nuts out, unless you can find of bag of Utz potato chips. As a fan of Mad Men you may very well know, ‘Utz are better than nuts.’
  5. Remove the screens. Your TV is fine, of course, but leave smartphones and computers out of sight. You may actually remember how to interact with people without all of the modern distractions. Having a vintage phone in the kitchen would complete the look. This may be easier to find than you realize. I was able to find a mustard yellow rotary dial phone in my parent’s basement just a few weeks ago.
  6. Glimpse of the past. Achieve a glimpse into life in the 1960s by placing out a few vintage magazines on the ottoman. If nothing else, you and your friends will have a good laugh at all of the new and improved items that were all the rage back then. In my same excursion over the weekend I picked up 1966 editions of Life, Motor Trend, and Better Homes and Gardens magazines.
  7. Set the DVR. Two reasons here. The first is because if you miss any part of the episode while hosting the party you will probably want to catch up later. As an example, I think my wife and I watched a total of 10 minutes of the Super Bowl this year between the two of us. A second reason to set the DVR is to have some television on in the background. You can either play episodes of Mad Men season five from early morning reruns on AMC or 1960s programs that are currently on TV such as Dick Van Dyke, The Donna Reed Show, Andy Griffith, Bonanza, or Bewitched.
  8. Keep the party going. Cards were a popular way for adults to pass the time is years gone by. If you do not know how to play bridge, or you think it is just an efficient way to get over a body of water, charades was another popular game. You can also wander down to the art department and get some colored pencils for a lively game of Pictionary. Finally, as in Season 2 episode “The Jet Set,” you could play a game where one person names an international city and the next person has to use the last letter to name the next city, and so forth.
  9. Bar in your living room. I saved the best for last. You have secretly always wanted to do this and now you can; put a bar in your living room. Stock it heavily and get some tasty recipes from yesteryear. Start with the Mad Men cocktail guide or just do a little Google search for some of the classic drinks.  Heineken beer could also be on hand to pay homage to Betty’s around the world dinner party from the Season 2 Episode “A Night to Remember.”

The key is to have a different party-going experience. Try not to get wrapped up in the same party ideas, but please leave the John Deere riding lawnmower in the garage. For more tips, see the Mad Men Party Planner or watch any of the last five seasons of Mad Men for inspiration. And remember, no talking about the baby and Don gets the big steak.

RFP Responses: 5 Simple Reminders for Success

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Don’t go it alone.

Don’t go it alone.

When a Request for Proposal (RFP) comes in from a potential client to your ad agency you feel one of two things. Either you are excited for the opportunity or you are dreading the long hours it will take to complete. No matter how you feel about it, it is always important to set yourself up for success.

Setting yourself up for success may not seem like something you have to pay attention to. Of course, everyone wants to succeed in their career. However, if you approach RFP responses without a proven process you may be doomed. There are entire companies out there who are dedicated to helping you navigate the RFP process; believe me, I have spoke with them. Here are five steps that will help you respond to RFPs more effectively:

  1. Read, Read, Read: Read the entire request. So many times, people get excited over the opportunity and begin glossing over things. Do not assume the text is standard or that you have seen it before. Carefully take your time to read this document because there may be a few things such as type of submission or how the footer should look that could disqualify you from the process. Miss one of these things and they will just throw your response out. It may sound harsh, but it happens. I will say it again, read it. After all, you want them to read your response.
  2. Timing: Set a schedule and give your team the wrong due dates. Yes, you read that correctly. Set your team up for success by giving a one-day buffer, minimum. There are many steps to completing an RFP response. If one person turns their review or updated text in a day, or even a few hours, late, it throws off the whole team. A solid buffer is always needed. Now, the team will readjust to make up for the lost time, so do not be so quick to give up your day just yet. There is always something at the last minute you may need that extra day for.
  3. Define Responsibilities: Divide and conquer. So many times there are one or two people that try to complete the RFP response all by themselves. This is not the key to success. Build a strong team first and foremost. Not everyone has to be involved for the entire process, but many people can be involved for parts of the process. Different sections can come from different internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This allows the coordinator of the process to be able to focus more on making the response more cohesive and less focused on just “filling it out.”
  4. Re-Read: Re-read the entire proposal once you think it is complete, including drop-in text, to make sure it works. Drop-in text is a good way to save time, especially when you’re offering services that are more standardized. However, you want to make sure the proposal has a cohesive story. Have other internal stakeholders perform clean reads as well. They may be able to add some last-minute polish to the response that you would not catch otherwise.
  5. Quality Control: Let someone not involved in the response read it and perform an independent quality check. For best results, a quality checklist and formal process for review should be in place. One of the most obvious but important checks is to make sure no other company name is included. It almost sounds too obvious but it happens more than you probably even realize.

A good RFP response could win you business that may last far beyond your years with an advertising agency. These five steps will help you ensure that there are no simple hiccups that may disclude your ad agency from the process. The creative part of the response is up to you. What would you consider as the sixth simple reminder for RFP success?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17165

Stella Artois Commercial Exemplifies Branding Perfection

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Watch the spot here.

Watch the spot here.

Some commercials try too hard. Some commercials do not make sense. Some commercials look like the agency just put an intern on it. None of this is the case with the new Stella Artois commercial entitled “The Artist.” From the first viewing of the commercial you can see what the brand is all about, who they are, and what they want you to experience. “The Artist” is the latest television advertisement for the brand from New York advertising agency Mother.

Describing the brand, Stella Artois’ global brand director, Jorn Socque said in an interview “we are one of the only beers in this [US] market that has the same level of sophistication as wine.” This advertisement, as well as others that came before it, exemplify this trait. Sophistication and panache of the brand in “The Artist” show that this is in fact more than just a beer. After reviewing this commercial, it can be broken down into five distinct key points:

  1. Pulling them in: The consumer is initially pulled in with the art of glass making. It is an art that very few people have seen regularly, if at all. It is that initial touch point where you are not quite sure what is going on but you know you are intrigued to see more. The Stella Artois logo does not fully appear on the glass until 19 seconds into the commercial. They were very careful to make sure to focus more on how the consumer should feel about the product experience first. That is big when it comes to branding.
  2. Sincerity: There is a piano in the background playing lightly, showing sincerity. You cannot see the piano but the expression and the colors coming from within the sound of its key strokes intrigue the audience even more. It is classy. It is cool. It is unmistakably different from other ads.
  3. Something more: The artist is getting ready for something. He cares about the glass chalice enough to put on cufflinks before hand-painting it. Another classy touch. He is a man of fine taste, as seen in his taste in watches and his tailored suit. He cares about not only making the chalice but about everything else in his life as well.
  4. Script:  Many commercials have so many words that the consumer may lose sight of what matters. In this case, simpler is better. The only words in the entire 30-second commercial come in for the last third, briefly affirming, “If this much care goes into the chalice, imagine what goes into the beer.” The brand values speak again. Stella Artois cares about their beer and how you feel while drinking and preparing to drink it. They do not take you through a factory to show you the same beer process that every other company uses; they want you to imagine it. Instead, they take the consumer through the preparation for enjoying the beer. We can clearly see that the words matter as much as the preparation.
  5. Tagline: The commercial ends with The Artist meeting a lovely woman at the bar who ordered a ‘Stella.’ The tagline is not even read like many commercials, it waits for you to read. The consumers are already pulled in so much that they automatically read it themselves. “She is a thing of beauty.” Are they talking about the beer, the chalice, or the woman? Maybe it is all three? In the end it is about a young man showing care — for his lady, his style, and his work.

This is perfect execution. You realize that this is more than just a beer. It is a lifestyle. It is a feeling. The commercial debuted during the Oscars and made its statement right away. What do you feel while watching the commercial? How can you apply this to your brand’s advertising strategy?

Watch the spot here.

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17103

4 Must-Watch Super Bowl Commercials

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2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

2013 Super Bowl Commerical Coke Chase

Every year we are stunned by some of the commercials that come out during the Super Bowl. Sometimes they are amazing displays of an advertising budget and sometimes they are lost in a creative directors vision. This years is more of the same; advertisers trying to outperform each other to get the attention of the masses on this all-American-almost-holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday. Here are just four commercials that you must watch. They will pull at your heart strings, make you laugh out loud, and make you run to YouTube to watch them over and over again.

  1. Budweiser: The King of Beers always makes a move to make stronger and better commercials year after year. This time they look at the man who trains their prized Clydesdale horses. The commercial really brings it full circle and in its short 60 seconds really makes you feel like you’ve just watched a really good movie. Not to mention they are making great use of social media but having people tweet their favorite baby name for their newest horse with the hashtag #clydesdales. Watch the Clydesdales “Brotherhood” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2prAccclXs
  2. Fiat 500 Abarth: Fiat is at it again. This time their commercial goes topless. The commercial can be best described as tastefully sultry. Other than that, you have to watch it for yourself. This should get a lot of people talking. See the commercials for the Fiat 500 Abarth here.
  3. Taco Bell: This is one of the best commercials to come out of Taco Bell in years. It is called “Viva Young” and features a version of “We Are Young” in Spanish. Other than the song, there is no dialogue in the commercial except for a nurse saying goodnight to a lonely old gentlemen. Seconds later, he jumps out of bed and into some classic Detroit Muscle for a night on the town with his old codgers like no other. They end up, like all people do after a night of clubbing, at Taco Bell. Live Más. Watch it here.
  4. Coca Cola: What would a watch list be without Coke or Pepsi? Coke does it this time with a chase through the desert. This chase includes Flamingo showgirls from Vegas, cowboys, a sheik, a motorcyclist, and a large glitter cannon racing through the desert like they are trying to get to the oversized bottle of Coke first to quench their thirst. The sign says 50 miles ahead. The chase continues. The intriguing thing about this commercial is that Coke is letting the public decide how the commercial ends. Watch it here and see how it ends on game day.

Watching all of these commercials via YouTube early can be great. However, you miss out on the big reveal. The way Super Bowl commercials used to be aired before social media took a huge foothold. The agencies and advertisers that still keep this element of surprise should be commended. Coke gets innovative by intermixing both tactics. Do you think revealing these ads early on social media hurts the airing of the commercials during the Super Bowl or helps it? Discuss.

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=16718

Welcome to Advertorious

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One day a friend posed the question to me,  why don’t you write a blog? I thought about it for a while and thought, “why not?” I have a lot of insight, am always searching for more information and just generally love advertising. So here I am. I plan to roam through my thoughts of  all things related to advertising, marketing, and public relations throughout Detroit and beyond, such as:

  • Advice and helpful hints
  • Industry insight
  • Recaps of industry events that I have been to
  • Observations
  • Book reviews
  • And more!

You see, advertising intrigues me because it has the power to make or break a great brand. Audrey Hepburn said it best when she said “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Advertising makes many things possible and that why I love being a part of it.

A little background on me

I am a no nonsense kind of guy. I like things clean and simple. Self-motivation is one of the keys to my success thus far. I lead all marketing and communications efforts at MMS Holdings Inc., a pharmaceutical service organization based in Canton, Michigan. Due to the nature of my position, I am very knowledgeable about a wide variety of areas. I still have a long road to hoe in my career ahead but I look forward to the journey. I have my Master’s of Business Administration with a Marketing Management certificate from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. Outside of work I play saxophone and sing in a oldies rock ‘n’ roll cover band. I am a 2nd degree black belt and instructor at Schollenberger’s Tang Soo Do Korean Karate Academy. And, I have a lovely wife named Jess.

Thank you for reading my blog. I look forward to continuing the conversation.