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  1. Once Bitten…Twice Shy

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    I’m a beach person. That wasn’t always the case. In no particular order I’ve been a Disney person, a State and National Parks person and even a travel to baseball/softball tournaments person. But now I prefer the beach and its sun and sand! I find it to be where I want to be when I’m not dealing with everyday life.
    But the past couple of weeks something has me concerned about whether or not I need to re-think my planning…..SHARKS! I’ve never even worried about sharks. I’ve even been in the water with a shark once. It didn’t stop me from going back into the water. I just never thought about it. But something is happening off the coast especially near the Outer Banks in North Carolina that’s got my attention. There has been a rash of aggressive shark attacks on swimmers. Thankfully no one has died as a result but they are happening frequently enough that people are starting to take pause.
    So imagine my surprise when I saw a commercial for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week that depicted people doing things that people do at the beach (Diving, kayaking, surfing) surrounded by sharks. Seemed like an odd choice (besides Billy Idol singing the song and making a cameo at the end) given the current climate. I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone who has been attacked or lost someone from an attack they will not be humming the tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Week of the Year!”  This thought is not soon to pass with the worldwide viral video of an Australian surfer being attacked on live TV this week in South Africa!! I personally am not getting a “come on in …the water’s warm” feeling from all this!
    I know ads are meant to promote and this one for Shark Week was no different but what message is it sending? With that in mind I ask …Do advertisers have a moral responsibility to not glorify horrific events for their own gain? Does Discovery Channel have a responsibility to industries like travel and tourism that are connected somewhat to their product (in this case television shows) to not scare people away from the coastal area from fear of being the next victim? Or is it fair to say “everyone fend for themselves”?
    I’m not sure what the answer is (if there is a correct answer) but I do know this:
    If I owned a rental property or a beach resort I’d wish cable had a “Nothing Bad Ever Happens at the Beach Week.”

  2. Super Sunday

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    Super Bowl Sunday. The closest thing Advertisers have to a “work-related” holiday. Every year dozens of brands cough up millions of dollars to get in front of millions of people watching the biggest sporting event of the year. Favorite beverage, check. A few different snack options, check. Time to watch the ads… I mean the game.

    Here are our agency’s three faves, determined by a highly scientific email survey.

    1. Anheuser-Busch: “Lost Dog”

    This little pup has stolen the show once again. Everyone loves puppies and heartwarming tales of a happy reunion. Nice job, Budweiser.

    2. Snickers: “The Brady Bunch”

    Snickers is always good for a laugh on Super Bowl Sunday, and this year was no different. Danny Trejo and Steve Buschemi team with with the Bradys to create a memorable ad using a classic scene from the Brady Bunch. I bet there were a lot of children asking “who is Marcia?” and lots of parents saying “back in my day…”

    3. Clash of Clans: “Revenge”

    Watch out BigBuffetBoy85, Liam Neeson is coming for you. If you have seen Taken 1 or 2, you know this is not a good thing. There are a million ads for Clash of Clans in the mobile space, but this one is special.

    What were your favorite Super Bowl ads? We would love to hear from you.

  3. It all starts with a big idea.

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    In the advertising business, we all rack our brains to come up with the big idea. It’s the ticket to success.

    Not to be confused with a creative execution that generates “likes” on social media, which—heck, yeah—isn’t a bad thing.

    No, the big idea is bigger.

    It’s not the execution itself; it’s the thinking that drives the execution. Contrary to the popular notion, the big idea is not grandiose or impractical. Rather, it’s usually a simple idea that has significant impact.

    To be sure, the big idea is not the sole domain of the ad world. If it were, we wouldn’t have heart catheterization, the Internet, or unmanned spacecraft.

    Close to home, let’s look at some uniquely Cleveland big ideas.

    The Geis Companies E. 9th Street corridor project

    The project encompasses four buildings of an entire block along E. 9th, wrapping around the corner of Euclid Avenue: The newly unveiled eight-story Cuyahoga County Administrative Headquarters building, the renovated Marcel Breuer Ameritrust Tower transformation into the Marriott Metropolitan Hotel and The 9 luxury apartment complex, the landmark Cleveland Trust rotunda to house upscale grocer Heinen’s first downtown store, and the interconnected Swetland Building at 1010 Euclid.

    The stated intention of the Geis project, especially a project of this scale and scope, is to transform an urban district in decline.

    To do so, the Geis concept goes beyond redevelopment of vacant landmark buildings—and the usual hype of blending commercial, retail, and residential space.

    The Geis development team understood that upscale properties with upscale amenities aren’t solely dependent on upscale people. A broader community base is required to make such a project work.

    That’s where Geis planners had a big idea: Bring a pivotal demographic on-site.

    People are needed to work in the Marriott hotel. People to provide services for concierge living for residents of The 9 tower. People to staff the Heinen’s store.

    To that end, they’re including apartments that will offer subsidized rents to attract residents who, in turn, will provide the manpower for the hotel, the apartments, and the grocery complex.

    Housing for workers on site instills a sense of community, a sense of belonging, and a more convenient lifestyle for workers. They can avoid the time and cost of commuting. Their workplace is connected to their home.

    And it infuses cultural and economic diversity into the district. That’s a big idea.

    It’s self-serving to be sure. But the sheer fact of including a more diverse target audience in the planning is unique. It’s forward-thinking, not just to project completion but also to project sustainability: an organic approach to project development.

    If all goes as planned and the concept succeeds, it’s a potential first for the city.

    The Positively Cleveland rebranding campaign

    The Positively Cleveland group has launched a campaign to attract Millennials to experience Cleveland and all it has to offer, as a destination to visit as well as a career/lifestyle choice.

    They conducted research to determine direction. Then commissioned an edgy campaign that expresses the true character of Cleveland and Clevelanders.

    The launch relies on social media to perk the conversation. It’s part of a larger multimedia communications platform and a broad-based community-engagement effort aimed at changing attitudes and reshaping lingering impressions of our city as “the mistake on the lake” and “the burning river”.

    The big idea: Engage locals. Get residents involved. Tap the mindset of the faithful of all ages. Define who we really are. Ultimately, present a composite personality that sets us apart. To attract the non-us.

    As you would expect from a travel and tourism group, the campaign consists of an external component, the outreach to out-of-town Millennials. It also includes an internal push to energize the Cleveland base.

    All designed to get Clevelanders talking about themselves. To get Clevelanders talking to each other. To give Clevelanders an open mike to share the love.

    In short, defining our character by showcasing our characters.

    The Scranton Peninsula trail

    On December 12, 1974, President Gerald Ford signed the bill that released the funding to establish what would become the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area along the Cuyahoga River and the historic Ohio & Erie Canal.

    Constructed by manual labor in the 1820s and made obsolete in 1861 by the expansion of the railroads, the 308-mile canal linked Lake Erie to the Ohio River, establishing a commerce route that ultimately linked New York City on the Hudson River to New Orleans on the Mississippi.

    Winding through that vast tract, the engine that made the canal run was the canal towpath, where mules towed the canal boats delivering goods and materials from Cleveland to Portsmouth.

    Then in 2000, the classification was upgraded from National Recreation Area and officially designated the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making it eligible for increased funding and improvement.

    In the ensuing years, the U.S. Park Service acquired land from private owners until they had created a continuous 33,000-acre tract through the Cuyahoga Valley. Along the way, the park service made infrastructure improvements, opened museums and visitor centers, and constructed trailside historical exhibits.

    The principal attraction? The restored historic canal towpath, an uninterrupted 110-mile hard-packed trail that runs beyond the park from Cleveland-Akron to New Philadelphia.

    More than any other amenity the park has to offer, the towpath is why the Cuyahoga National Park is the sixth most visited in the United States.

    The big idea? Actually, two. First, of course, the preservation of a vast natural space within an urban area, offering access from surrounding communities without traveling a great distance.

    Second, easy access for local residents without the use of a vehicle. Creating a system of feeder trails connecting neighboring communities through connected green space areas effectively brings the park to the people. And more of them.

    The recent dedication of the one-mile Scranton Flats towpath park and trail along the Scranton Road peninsula, a multimillion-dollar project completed by multiple area partners, further extends that vision of access to the inner city, transforming a barren wasteland into an urban oasis.

    Yes, God is in the details. But it’s the bigness of the idea that has real impact. And can change the path of progress.

    E. 9th Street Corridor Project 

    Positively Cleveland Campaign

    Scranton Flats Trail Dedication

  4. When the night belonged to Michelob.

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    We all know how bloated the ’80s were. “Greed is good,” sneered Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. Excess became fashionable during the ’80s, and advertising picked up on the trend.

    If excess wasn’t glamorized in the commercials, it sure was obvious in the production budgets.

    Case in point: I remember first seeing a trio of Michelob commercials during a Saturday Night Live episode, around 1987, that blew my preteen mind.

    The seduction was themed, “The night belongs to Michelob.”

    The setting was any large American City—late night—real late night. Very cool people decked out in high-end ’80s fashion exploring the mysteries of after hours in the city. Who knows who or what they’ll run in to.

    Naturally, as each spot ends and the theme comes up, every one of those beautiful people has a Michelob in one hand and an arm around a newfound significant other.

    Each spot was set to a soundtrack by the biggest rock artists at the time, all enjoying the monster success of a recent album release.

    I watched these spots obsessively as my brother and I would stay up late and record episodes of SNL on our super-high-tech VCR (that probably cost my dad a gazillion dollars at the time). Every day after school, we’d kick back to these tapes.

    No wonder these Michelob spots have been tattooed in my head. A little now-that-I’m-in-advertising post-analysis gives me some insights why.

    For starters, sheer repetition. Not only did Michelob spend big on airtime, I went on extended play on my time. Creative ploys completed the seduction:

    1. The concept was set at nighttime. The mysterious, sleazy, dark part of nighttime, just before closing time—and after—when night people glide down shadowy rain-soaked streets illuminated only by a neon MICHELOB sign. Next stop: Who knows?

    2. The epic-ness of big-city nightlife. The scenes didn’t identify New York City, to make it seem like Any Big City, but we know it’s New York. The interior shots made me want to hang out and have a beer at every one of those chic watering holes. Or even just walk those streets. And not leave.

    3. The soundtracks were legendary. No jingles or stock, they were the real thing. Winwood, Genesis, Clapton. Gritty, driving, the pulse of the time. Tracks from names at the top of the charts then that still resonate today.

    4. Finally, the spots exuded cool. They didn’t hammer us over the head with it. They didn’t have to. You could see it. You could feel it. They had entertainment value. More music video than commercial. Total cool.

    I have to admit, this wonderfully strange campaign of fantasy-reality made me want to get into the TV and advertising business.

    They made me want to be part of the magic. To someday get into people’s heads and influence them to buy a product from a company that I represent.

    No question, Michelob spent a ton of dough on this campaign. Not only on the no-doubt megabuck rights to the songs, but also on production. All the footage was shot on location in a major market with talent. I can only imagine the production costs—which were probably over “way up there,” because, hey, it was the ’80s.

    And, some of the spots were full :60s. Brands just don’t do 60-second spots anymore! Not to mention the client entertainment. “Bring in the boys from St. Louis—we’ll show ’em a good time!” Just like in the spots.

    Thanks Michelob. I love looking back on this campaign today—a great snapshot from the decade of decadence, the ’80s. It’s still cool.

    And, yes—I’ve been on plenty of TV shoots. Both in New York City and Los Angeles. Still looking to capture the magic of these spots.

    Campaign ad agency—DDB Needham Worldwide

  5. Mobile Best Practices: How Dunkin’ Donuts is Staying Relevant

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    John Costello, President of Global Marketing and Innovations at Dunkin’, spoke in New York today. As this recap from MediaPost describes in detail, Mr. Costello is striking the right balance of risk and realism in mobile.

    He commented during his speech that “tactics and technologies change, but principles don’t,” alluding to the fact that marketing’s job is to drive sales and brand engagement. There’s little value to launching an app or running ads on mobile simply because “everyone’s doing it.”

    Instead, focus on the facts and the insights that the data leads you to. And remember that, as marketers, our job is to drive brand engagement and sales. By any means – and media – necessary.

    To read MediaPost’s full recap, click here: Dunkin’ Donuts is Staying Relevant with Mobile

    To read about #AmazonCart and digital marketing strategy, click here: Amazon and Twitter Team Up for eCommerce

    To learn more about Wyse, visit our website.

  6. The essence of branding: Naming.

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    What’s in a name? Everything.

    Virtually every product, service, ingredient, fabric, component, feature of everything you consume, wear, live with, work with, depend on — everything — has a name.

    Think cars, packaged goods, clothes, craft beers. Think of everything you can think of. The list is endless. So are the possibilities.

    {Thinsulate. Microsoft. Febreze. Gore-Tex. Vibram. Intel.}

    Arguably the most important single component in marketing, the name captures the essence of a brand and expresses its image in a single word. Powerful stuff.

    To become a household name, riveted in our collective consciousness, takes more than savvy marketing, advertising, packaging, labeling, and endless repetition.

    It takes sticking power. As in how well the name sticks to what it’s attached to and with its audience. Stickiness spells success.

    {Google. Yahoo. Patagonia. MasterCard. Groupon. Nike. Netflix.}

    Names become brands themselves, are copyrighted, and aggressively defended by stables of attorneys charged with protecting their sovereignty and economic franchise. Woe to those who infringe on another name’s territory.

    No one has a monopoly on the process. Good names can come from anywhere and do.

    {SkyJack, motorized aerial work platform. WhatsApp, mobile messaging. Alibaba, named after Ali Baba.}

    It’s a discipline all its own and a lot of resources are brought into play—creative think tanks, market research, competitive analysis, money. Factor all that together, and it might lead to a great name. Or not.

    {Erehwon Outdoor Stores, “nowhere” spelled backwards. Bug Off and No Fly Zone insect-repellent fabrics.}

    Chances are just as good that a great name will come from out of the blue, by luck or by accident. Maybe an internal code name or nickname becomes the public name. And, of course, function often defines name.

    {PODS, Personal On Demand Storage. Big Ass Fans. Hunker Down, jacket from Mountain Hardwear.}

    Esoteric influences come into play as well. A passing comment in a meeting. Extreme sports slang. Sound, color, other sensual experiences. How the product makes you feel. Ah, never underestimate the power of feelings.

    And some names are just plain made up. Words are sliced and diced and recombined to create something that just plain works.

    {Arc’teryx, derived from the Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird.}

    And as they age, names continue to evolve, capitalizing on their familiarity. They condense, abbreviate, even become acronyms of their former selves.

    {Federal Express to FedEx. International House of Pancakes to IHOP. Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC.}

    Don’t get me wrong: Naming is no easy task. It’s a challenge made no less daunting by the simple fact that so many names are already taken.

    Will we ever run out of names or the desire to create them? Not likely.

    One thing’s for sure. As the military-industrial-consumer complex continues to crank out new technologies and new products and new features, creative minds will be challenged to name them.

    What’s just short of amazing is how infinite the English language is and how elastic our cultural perceptions are.

    What are some of your favorite names? Why do you like them? What makes them work for you?

    Oh, and here’s a good name to remember when you need one they won’t forget. Wyse.

    More on naming:

    Risque Names Reap Rewards

    The Name Game


  7. SEM Strategy: What’s a Good Conversion Rate?

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    Coming off a metrics meeting with a pretty sophisticated client just last week, conversation rates and cost per acquisition are phrases that we’ve been throwing around a lot lately. But given the ambiguous benchmarks for conversion rates, can you really claim that your conversion rate is higher-than-average, let alone optimized?

    The short answer: No.

    To better navigate these waters, check out this post from  The Wordstream Blog for simple steps and guidelines to optimizing conversions. The post is somewhat lengthy, but worth reading:

    Conversion Rate Optimization

    One additional piece of free advice based on our expertise: Always optimize to conversions or leads, rather than cost per click or click-thru rate. As the Wordstream Blog points out, it’s important to keep you eye on the prize.


    To read more about e-commerce, click here: 4 Data Points to Drive e-Commerce

    To talk with us about optimizing your digital spend, visit our website.


  8. New Data on Marketing to Women

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    I saw this Ladies’ Home Journal research study on Twitter this morning. It’s worth a quick read as you hone your marketing strategies:

    • 79% of women have made a purchase decision based on the experience of someone they know
    • 82% of women surveyed said the often share their product experiences with peers
    • Almost 1 in 5 women purchased or considered purchasing something for their home after a conversation with a friend

    Read the full report here:

    Adweek: Women Trust Friends’ Opinions Above All Else


    For additional reading about marketing and women, check out the following or visit our website.

    Social Media Marketing and Moms

    3 Tips for Marketing to Women in the Auto Aftermarket


  9. Amazon + Twitter = Compelling Digital Marketing Strategy

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    While this partnership was met with some skepticism, it sure is compelling. As you’ll see in the video below, you can now add items to your Amazon.com card simply by replying to a tweet.

    Given that more than 50% of Twitter session occur on mobile devices, the implications for mobile commerce are obvious.

    BONUS: Your purchase might even be delivered by drone!



  10. Make Sure Your Customers Think & Drive.

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    I’ve known for some time that the number of vehicle maintenance services that are unperformed in America has grown significantly over the past few years. And I clearly understand, given the relatively stagnant state of the economy over the years, how this could happen. However, as a public service, I’d like to share these human statistics with everyone.


    According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. And a portion of these deaths can be directly attributed to unperformed vehicle maintenance – as each year neglected maintenance leads to over 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.

    If you’re in the auto service or repair business, perhaps you’ll share these facts with customers who are considering foregoing needed services on their vehicles. Those of us who share the nation’s highways count on you to help keep everyone safe. Starting with your customers.