Trending from G/L: Rail Safety getting the Google treatment

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Rail Safety getting the Google treatment

Despite numerous advancements in transportation technology, rail is still a massive industry. On the passenger side, ridership is increasing significantly in intercity corridors. On the freight side, it remains a very effective way to move goods across long stretches.

And yet, safety remains a critical issue for the rail industry. In mid-May, a train derailment along Amtrak’s Northeast corridor put the issue in the spotlight. On the freight side, the issue of individuals crossing train tracks at areas not secured by intersections remains a significant challenge.

The Federal Railroad Administration just announced a partnership with Google to provide information on all grade crossings via their incredibly popular Maps application. The effort comes as deaths from train-on-vehicle collisions increased between 2013 and 2014, which goes against a decades-long decrease of nearly 80% from the 1970s.

On the surface, it may seem surprising that accidents have increased in recent years. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception that trains move slow enough or are easily visible enough that it’d be very difficult to get struck by one. This ignores how difficult it is for a train to stop on short notice.

Recently, our client Union Pacific Railroad launched a campaign to raise awareness about the rise of high school photos being taken on or near railroad crossings. While emblematic of one’s next step in life, it ignores the inherent dangers of being so close to a dangerous area. Here’s one of the videos from their campaign:

The campaign is in line with other safety initiatives that Union Pacific and other transportation companies and authorities have launched in recent years. Being proactive with new technology partnerships, advocacy campaigns and streamlined regulations are part of the key to improving rail safety across the country.

Is your brand in need of advocacy solutions that make an impact? We’re always happy to chat.

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Trending from G/L: How far will personalized marketing and advertising technology go?

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: How far will personalized marketing and advertising technology go?

Every Monday morning, we sit down to discuss industry trends. Topics range from wearable technology to brand-sponsored short films. This week, our Creative Director Dave Geile brought something so technologically innovative to the table that we felt compelled to share.

The new gadget that had us geeking out in the conference room: a centimeter-long origami robot that climbs, swims, and carries loads twice its weight, according to MIT researchers. The fascinating, yet admittedly esoteric, device is expected to provide assistance in the medical industry—capable of reaching otherwise difficult-to-access areas inside the body.

Naturally, watching the bug-like device fold itself and chug through obstacles got me thinking about technology, marketing, and how the separate industries intertwine.

Advertising has a coercively isomorphic relationship with the tech industry; meaning the development and evolution of advertising is at least partially linked to technological innovation. Wait, isn’t this a movie?

“You could use a Guinness right about now!”

Behold, the single line I remember from Minority Report.

In 2054, Washington D.C., wall-attached eye scanners assess moods and chime out tailored advertisements. Tom Cruise must’ve been thirsty.

In 2002 when the film was released, I’m guessing the concept of hyper-personalized marketing was so far-fetched it was promptly dismissed—like time travel or teleportation.

Now looking back, the scene portrays future advertising somewhat accurately. Although most advertisers don’t implement eye scanners or mood detectors, I imagine cookie tracking would’ve seemed equally improbable—but here we are.

The question is not how far can advertisers go? Technological advancement has shown little sign of slowing. The question is how far will advertisers go? As tech capabilities continue to increase, how advanced, personalized, and intrusive will brand messaging become? Will advertising technology ever go too far? Let’s hope these undetectable, body-diving robots stick to exploration… below the neck.

Here at Geile/Leon, we have our own approach. We believe results come naturally by making sure every project, interaction, relationship, and even handshake mean something. Before we even touch a project, we ask ourselves one question: Why? By determining why a project is important, we’re able to recognize what we need to do to make our client successful—now that’s personalized marketing.

Want to learn more about Geile/Leon’s approach to strategic marketing? Let’s chat. Drop us a line and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours.

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Trending from G/L: How Nike’s relationship with LeBron remains timeless

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: How Nike’s relationship with LeBron remains timeless

Sponsorships for professional athletes carry an extreme level of volatility for the simple reason that the outcome of the games they play aren’t predetermined (unless you’re a professional wrestling fan, that is).

It’s remarkable how quickly a golfer like Tiger Woods can watch his stock plummet while Rory McIlroy heads in the opposite direction. It’s incredible to watch a no-name utility infielder like Geoff Blum become a World Series hero in one night. It’s humorous even when it’s for all the wrong reasons and most casual fans probably don’t remember your name.

And then there’s LeBron.

There’s no question that LeBron James is a phenomenal basketball player. His legend was already well known when he was playing in high school, and this was really before the golden age of high school sports clips were available all over the internet. Even before he even played his first professional game for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, Nike had signed him to a deal just short of nine figures.

More than a decade later, that relationship between LeBron and Nike has been accompanied by everything that’s happened on and off the court. On the court, LeBron brought the Cavs to the brink of a title. Then, off the court, there was The Decision.

Shortly after, amid a strong fan backlash, Nike released this iconic spot, attempting to humanize LeBron and explain why he made the choice to leave home:

After winning multiple titles in Miami, LeBron returned home and nearly delivered a championship, falling short in the NBA finals despite a heroic effort.

Over the weekend, the Cavaliers and Nike took out a full-page ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, thanking the fans for their support and reminding them that the journey is not over.


The ad is minimalist, but it strikes the right tone and tells the story that just transpired as well as what lies ahead. For a partnership like this, Nike doesn’t have to be front and center because they’ve been intertwined with his story since the beginning. It allows them to focus more on why people should care instead of trying to just sell shiny new shoes.

Certainly not everyone has the resources that Nike does, but as this ad shows, you don’t need to create something overly flashy to resonate with readers and grow a brand. If you’re ever looking for help your brand take the next step, we’re here to help.

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Trending from G/L: How Patagonia let Denali have the spotlight

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: How Patagonia let Denali have the spotlight

By now, most of you have probably seen this video that has gone viral and likely reduced you to a giant puddle of tears. Unless, of course, you have no soul.

That video is a short film called Denali.


Can we talk about the feels?

In case you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing, Denali is a heartwarming film created as a tribute from one man to his best friend. In June 2004, Oregon-based photographer Ben Moon was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and endured over 10 years of battling the illness until finally freeing himself of it. The unwavering support system that saw him through? His beloved dog, Denali.

Denali, a shelter dog Moon adopted in 1999, served as a constant companion delivering that unconditional love that only man’s best friend can, for nearly 15 years. After beating cancer in 2005, it was Denali who was struck with the illness and endured surgery to remove cancerous tumors, and suffered both respiratory and kidney problems. Denali finally succumbed to his illness in February of last year.

Upon being approached in the interest of producing a film about his own story of battling cancer, Moon ultimately decided that it wasn’t his story but Denali’s story that should be chronicled. Thus, the tribute to his beloved buddy was created…and cue the waterworks.

Keying into emotion is not a new trend in media—brands like Hallmark, P&G, Disney and Apple are experts at tugging our heartstrings. Why is emotion such a standard when creating ads? Because it’s effective! When an ad evokes a true emotional response from a consumer it not only increases the likelihood that they will recall the ad’s message and purchase a product, but it creates brand loyalty. And, in this day and age, when we’re moved by something emotionally, we share it.

Brands have to be careful with emotion, though. They can’t just jump on a serious issue solely for the purpose of banking off its attention—consumers hate this (e.g. using September 11 as a platform for promotion). It comes across as self-serving and insincere.

For a brand to be able to associate itself with a serious issue or event that evokes strong emotions and opinions from consumers, it has to have a right or relevant reason to play in that space. Take Caitlyn Jenner, for instance. Within 24 hours of Vanity Fair releasing its July issue featuring a 22-page cover story on Caitlyn, there were nearly 30,000 mentions of her in the media. However, only one brand stepped forward to comment in support of Jenner—GAP, a brand that has a long history of supporting LGBT issues and advocating for the community, making their inclusion in the Caitlyn conversation relevant and credible. As Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer at digital agency Deep Focus, states in this article from Advertising Age, “This is not a bandwagon moment.”

So, what does all of this this have to do with Denali’s story? Well, Patagonia happens to be one of the primary sponsors of the film. Patagonia, a certified B-corporation, has a vested interest in supporting organizations and movements that have a positive impact on the society and environment. Prior to sponsoring production of Denali, Patagonia teamed up with the film’s director and production company in 2014 to commission DamNation, a film about dam removal and river restoration. When it came to Moon and Denali’s story, Patagonia had an opportunity to support a great, feel-good story relevant to their brand given Moon and Denali’s place in and appeal to the outdoor enthusiast community. Patagonia’s contributions to projects like these shows their authenticity as a brand and, with over 8 million views of Denali in about a week, gives their brand one heck of an amount of good visibility.

However, Patagonia’s involvement in Denali is a back seat position, one they are happy to take and leave the praise, notoriety, support and tears to the true stars of this endearing film: Ben and Denali.


Trending from G/L – Marketing Buzzwords aren’t even real anymore

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L – Marketing Buzzwords aren’t even real anymore

It’s tough for me to admit, but I’m very susceptible to falling into the cliché trap on a regular basis. I used to do a bunch of sports writing, so when you’re around athletes for a decent amount of time, you’re bound to want to give 110% percent every week. It just comes with the territory, and it’s hard to beat around the bush any other way.

The marketing world isn’t all that different. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.

So, when Joe Lazauskas at Contently put together this quiz of marketing buzzwords, I figured I had it in the bag. Nevertheless, I’m afraid I overlooked the competition and ended up in the 60-69% bracket. Dang it. Guess I’m going to have to put in a strong week of training so I can be ready for next week.

Here are some of my current favorites:

Owned Media/Owned Audience – this is one that I used a lot when I was working extensively on social media platforms. The premise is simple: with TV, radio, billboards, and other traditional advertising mediums, you have to pay to get in front of that audience; whereas, with social media, your brand “owns” those Likes/Follows for the rest of time.

Problem is, social networks (*cough*Facebook*cough*) are making it harder to reach those connected to the brand…unless you have an advertising budget, of course.

Actionable insights – I’m kind of surprised this one hasn’t become more popular in the business world. Basically, you’re trying to say that you should do something based on research. Which might be slightly redundant because most research is probably conducted with an end result in mind. But it sure sounds cool!

Brand journalist – We’re big believers in helping brands tell their story in a compelling manner. We definitely believe in creating good content that makes the target audience want to learn more. But I know quite a few journalists who HATE this term. Like, want to put the word on a bullseye and throw darts at it kind of hate. Pro Tip: never call yourself this when pitching a press release.

Branded emojification – I literally can’t even.

If you’re ever looking to cut through the clutter (dang it, I did it again), contact us and we’ll help you create a message that doesn’t sound like a millennial version of Mad Libs.

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Trending from G/L: Social Impact Cruises

Randy Micheletti
VP, Director of Brand Strategy

Trending from G/L: Social Impact Cruises

So you say you want to help others. You say you would if it was easy. You say you would if someone would figure it out for you. Well, now it’s time to lose the excuses and do your part to make the world a better place. And, starting in 2016 you can do this on a vacation – a social impact vacation.

With all the negative things going on in the world, Carnival Corp. will launch Adonia; a 710-passenger ship focused solely on social impact vacations. Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald says, “we will cater to an underserved market of consumers who want to make have a positive impact on peoples lives and aren’t always sure where to begin.” He goes on to say, “We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions in the world.”


And you know what, I agree with him whole-heartedly. And believe me, I’m not easy to convince when it comes to vacations. I’m one who loves my resort, relaxing in the sun, sand between my toes and a cold drink in my hand. But even I can give a week of my time to help improve the quality of life for others. And if you think you still can’t help, think about a country where the average household income is $6,000 a year and more than two million Dominicans don’t have access to piped water.

With the cruise time to and from the Dominican, each person will get three days on the ground to help make a difference before returning to Miami. Transit time includes great activities such as orientation to the country, conversational Spanish lessons and creative workshops. Once you’re in the Dominican, you have several choices of volunteer activities ranging from teaching English in schools, helping to cultivate cacao plants and building water filtration systems.

For all you naysayers out there (and you know who you are) that say this can’t make a big difference, think about this: with 700 passengers arriving each week – week after week – in the first year alone, that means 18,000 travelers will spend more than 55,000 days volunteering. That’s more than making a small difference. We really can help make a difference in the region.

So give it some thought. Get off your beach chair, put down your umbrella drink and help do your part. It’ll help others and maybe even put a smile on your face too. Price point starts at just over $1,500 per person. To find out more visit or call 855-932-8466.

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Programmatic Buying: How Media Is Changing

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Programmatic Buying: How Media Is Changing

There’s a buzzword flying around the advertising industry these days, one that has a value of nearly $15 billion in 2015. No, I’m not talking about #Kimye (not even close). I’m talking about #programmatic.

Heard of it? Yes. 

Know what it means? Yes…I think…maybe…kind of? No…not really.

…Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Programmatic media buying is the hot new gossip in advertising. It’s new, it’s shiny, it’s mysterious and naturally, like with most gossip, everybody wants a piece of it. But does everybody understand what it is or why they want it? Not exactly.

Well fear not, my friends, for I am about to bring you into the inner circle, define what programmatic buying is, and explain why it is projected to account for over 25% of digital advertising revenue in 2015.

“That’s right, Dorothy.”
“That’s right, Dorothy.”

But let’s look away from the dollar signs for a minute, because programmatic media buying goes far beyond the colossal projected revenues associated with it. Programmatic represents the industry’s gradual adoption of a completely new way of buying digital media that could revolutionize and alter the way media across all mediums is targeted and purchased.

What is it?

Programmatic, by definition, is the data-driven, automated process of buying digital advertising. Gone are the days of exchanging phone calls and emails and IO’s with sales teams, now replaced by…well…acronyms.

Specifically: PMP, DSP and RTB. Also known as the driving forces behind programmatic ad buying.

If you love tech speak as much as me (note: sarcasm), then you’ll love these definitions even more:

Private Marketplace (PMP) is a marketplace where specific, premium publishers make their inventory available to a select group of buyers. Unlike the traditional site-direct buy, PMP’s offer buyers access to these inventories via ad exchanges called DSP’s.

Demand-Side Platform (DMP) is the software platform by which buyers purchase digital media within a PMP. DSP’s make the ad-buying process more efficient by allowing buyers to access 1st and 3rd party data that ensures them that the impressions purchased are delivered on the right sites, to the right audience and at the right time. Allowing this access to buyers eliminates the need for any humans to be involved in the buying process—no extra costs, no negotiation, no back and forth. Instead, ads are purchased via RTB.

Real-time Bidding (RTB) is the entirely transparent, auction-style method for buying and selling ad impressions in real time, like the stock market. A general assumption throughout the industry is: RTB=auction=low quality/remnant ad stock. However, with the rise of programmatic, a growing number of publishers are making their premium inventory available through PMP’s.

So, how does a buyer get their hands on this premium stock? We refer to age-old adage: it’s all about who you know.

How are we using it?

Here at G/L, we are “getting with the programmatic.” One thing we prioritize as an agency is the importance of implementing business practices that not only benefit and drive our work forward, but those that do the same for our clients’ brands. True, the programmatic waters are still a little murky, so we knew we needed to seek out a partner to help us navigate. One whose expertise in developing strategic programmatic buys would help us produce successful, optimized digital campaigns and see that our clients achieve their desired ROI. Enter Goodway Group.

Working with Goodway Group, we are able to cultivate digital media buys based on specific target audience parameters versus the traditional site-direct buy. Thus, for example, rather than assuming a clients’ regional customers are solely surfing regional sites (that often have a higher monthly premium restricting the overall reach and frequency of a campaign), we’re able to utilize rich data that tells us exactly where the people we want to target are, in real time, and serve them the message within milliseconds. In turn, programmatic also offers us the ability to access immediate reporting data to track campaign success and pause or augment the campaign based on ad performance. Insights like these effectively inform the campaign, our targeting and our creative.

In joining forces with Goodway, we are able to be a dynamic player in the ever-evolving world of digital media by adopting programmatic as a way to produce better, more strategic digital campaigns that provide our clients with the greatest impact and highest ROI. Removing humans from the process of ad buying allows us as an agency, along with Goodway Group, to make our primary focus optimizing clients’ campaigns and ensuring they are on strategy. 

Where is it going?

According to eMarketer, programmatic is the fastest growing area of online advertising. By 2017, it is predicted that programmatic media sales will account for 83% of all U.S. digital display ad spending. The trend is catching, however, and is predicted to represent 4% of U.S. TV budgets in 2015, increasing to 17% by 2019. We think it’s going to cause a pretty big shift in the industry, and we’re excited to be on board!

Want to learn more about how we’re working with Goodway Group in the developing digital landscape? Download your own copy of our webinar presentation, A Strategic Approach to Digital Media!

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Trending from G/L: Wearable Tech Cycles On

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trending from G/L: Wearable Tech Cycles On

It seems like not that long ago wearable technology was still just an emerging trend still waiting to take off. Now, with the industry expected to be worth nearly $20 billion by 2018, and the number of units in circulation expected to be more than $110 million within the same time frame, that trend is now.

Along with smart apps, smart watches, FitBits and so so so much more, another really cool concept is now added to the mix:

Smart Bikes.

Trends 6-8

Well actually, it’s more of a smart bike pedal. Concepted by French start-up Connected Cycle, the pedal collects information that’s transmitted to an app that tracks usage stats and other health info. Pretty cool, right?

But that’s not all. The product also helps protect against theft by tracking the whereabouts of the pedal (and by proxy, the bike) at all times. Plus, the pedal requires a code and other information in order to remove from it the bike, so it’s kind of a thief’s worst nightmare.

Wearable tech is continuing to explode, with both established brands and tech start-ups entering the fold. Apple, Samsung and Garmin are among the frontrunners in the industry as they create products that are innovative and quickly become must-have items. And as consumer data is collected, the marketing opportunities are endless.

It’s fascinating to think about the possibilities for the wearable tech industry. Just the way that basically everything can be turned into a data point is pretty cool, if not a little bit scary. But, as more products like the Connected Cycle pedal show, keeping a focus on security and taking aim at pain points to solve classic problems (e.g. keeping tabs on a bike), the wearable’s market will keep rolling on.

(Sorry, bad cycling pun, I couldn’t help it.)

Interested in learning more about how new products can be branded effectively to make end users feel that connection? We’re always available to chat.

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Higher Education: Is Free Coursework Charity or Promotion?

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Higher Education: Is Free Coursework Charity or Promotion?

Now you can achieve MBA status for free—well, sort of—it may just be a higher education marketing masterstroke. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will offer a seemingly revolutionary MBA program they call the iMBA. It works like this—UIUC will offer the entirety of its iMBA coursework on Coursera, a free online education platform where students are able to earn specializations such as accounting, business operations and digital marketing. Pretty cool, right?

Well, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. While course “certificates” may be earned for free online, legitimate iMBA’s can only be obtained by gaining admission to the University, then paying somewhere in the ballpark of $20,000. That ain’t free.

So what’s UIUC’s angle here? Maybe we can chalk it up to an act of charity—here’s a university providing a solid curriculum to folks who can’t or simply don’t want to pay for a traditional MBA. Could be, but what if UIUC saw free online coursework as an education marketing opportunity?

Perhaps UIUC realized prospective students’ reservation to delve into the all-too-familiar realm of student-loan debt. Maybe prospective students just needed a small taste of MBA coursework, like a sample at Costco, to fork over the $20,000 for the official iMBA. After sampling the coursework and assuring themselves that an MBA is attainable, they’d feel confident investing tens of thousands of dollars.

Charity or genius promotion, free coursework from any university as esteemed as UIUC should be greatly valued in this day and age. Average undergraduate student-loan debt is up to $30,867 per student—the highest it’s ever been. While college costs surge, the value of a degree has remained substantial. According to the Wall Street Journal, workers with only a high school degree earned a median weekly wage of $668 compared to $1,193 for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree.

If all of the knowledge can be found online, I fear it’s become blatantly obvious that we’re paying large sums of money (that we don’t have) for a posh piece of paper. This is neither profound nor a revelation. College has always been about getting the degree, and hey, if you learn something along the way, that’s great too.

We work with a number of education clients to help define their brand and create strategies that drive results. Think your brand could benefit? Contact us today!

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