Less Selling, More Selfless

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Less Selling, More Selfless

Brands have always been held to a high standard when it comes to managing and preserving their identity, reputation, and connections with consumers during times of crisis. During times of national or global crisis, a brand’s response matters, even if their industry Is not directly related to the crisis. With that in mind, brands are under scrutiny to nail their response, with consumers and stakeholders responding well to transparency and authenticity.

What they don’t respond well to (to say the least)? Tone-deaf sales pitches. When an opportunistic brand attempts to leverage a crisis to grab attention or boost sales, most people have a very adverse reaction to this type of cheap marketing ploys. Ultimately, this can harm your reputation and relationship with consumers.  

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone. This puts brands in a unique position as they all have a role to play and a place for response. In fact, the 4A’s recently reported that 43% of consumers find it reassuring to hear from their brands during times like these, and 56% want to know how brands are helping people in response to the pandemic. This powerful new video from Google points out that “how to help” is being searched at an all-time high rate globally, especially as it relates to the medical and healthcare communities.

Since many consumers are closely scrutinizing brands communications efforts right now, a thoughtful and carefully crafted response to this crisis is critical to maintaining a positive reputation. Ultimately, we think it comes down to empathy—during times of uncertainty, brands should strive to understand the challenges people across the world are facing and find the ways to connect with them in a way that communicates genuine care and concern.

What’s been incredible and encouraging is how brand marketing has responded. And in turn, made some pretty significant adjustments to crisis management and communications. Whether a brand has an in-demand product or not, the smartest marketing is empathetic. In many cases, sales-oriented calls to action have been removed almost entirely. In their place, brands are using messages of positivity, safety, support, and togetherness in the face of COVID-19. 

We are seeing great examples of this from large and small brands alike:

It’s an unprecedented and challenging time for all of us, but we truly believe that the brands that understand and embrace the power of empathy in times of crisis will be able to not only persevere, but also grow stronger bonds with both consumers and communities.

Trending from G/L: The Big Mac’s Big Birthday Campaign

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: The Big Mac’s Big Birthday Campaign

Do you remember your first Big Mac? I can’t say that I do, but depending on who you ask, others may have an answer that dates back half a century! That’s right, the Big Mac, the Mac Daddy, the OG ultimate 100% beef burger, is 50 years old this year.

Ben Affleck Salley Omalley GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY

If I dig into my own mental archives, I remember a period between the ages of 3 and 5 during which the Big Mac was my McDonald’s meal of choice. Why settle for a measly single-patty hamburger or five little nuggets when you can have the real deal: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun. Despite the fact that I had to cut that sucker in fourths and fully dissect it in order to consume it, my fandom of the Big Mac has not waned in 25+ years (although my adoration is nothing compared to this guy who’s eaten 30,000 of them).

At 850 calories, 29 grams of fat and nearly 1,000 grams of sodium, this mammoth burger doesn’t mess around. And McDonald’s isn’t taking its anniversary lightly, either—the American fast food brand has launched an equally massive global campaign to remind people that, while many things have changed in 50 years, the Big Mac you know and love remains the same. So let’s celebrate! Promotions include:

Go big or go home, am I right? Big Mac, you’ve aged like a fine, calorie-laden, artery-clogging wine—happy 50th and thanks for the memories.

Trending from G/L: How the #NeverAgain Movement is Working Like an Agency

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: How the #NeverAgain Movement is Working Like an Agency

Over the past year and a half, buzz words in media and marketing have revolved around one thing: “social.” Social media, social commentary, social movements… we like to talk about things. And given the number of momentous events that have transpired over that period of time – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – we’ve had plenty to talk about.

Brands and media outlets can draw criticism when they get involved with the discussion surrounding some of these heavy, sensitive topics. Whether it’s being ill-informed, or being accused of exploiting controversial subjects for personal gain, we’ve all seen PR disasters happen on social media. But when brands and media outlets really listen to what’s going on in the world, they can provide a megaphone to individuals who, up until this point, may have felt voiceless – an incredible success not only for the brands and media outlets, but for our community as a whole. Often, this megaphone manifests itself as social media.

The tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida stunned and saddened people all over the world. But somewhere in that tragedy, a group of teenagers found enough strength and determination to take charge of one of the most vexing and controversial debates in the United States. And they’re using social media to make it happen.

This movement, aptly titled #NeverAgain, has played an integral role in organizing possibly the largest single-day protest in the history of our nation’s capital, has core leadership that has amassed over 2 million followers on Twitter and has changed the gun conversation in America… and it’s made up of two dozen young adults ranging in age from 17 – 20 operating out of a Florida strip mall. Welcome to the 21st century.

According to an article by Vanity Fair, the atmosphere in the #NeverAgain headquarters is akin to the vibe of the Saturday Night Live writers’ room. It’s a social media think tank where a group of animated and highly driven high school (and some college) students gather to strategize the content, tone, messages and tactics that will continue the movement’s momentum that has amassed in the past few weeks.

The group is made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and talents, all collaborating to cultivate engaging and easily shareable social content that will continue to captivate and earn support from our country and, possibly, the world. They vet creative ideas, develop memes, write and shoot short-form video, draft event speeches and more. They constantly consider their key audiences and the best ways to attract and engage them. They brainstorm, concept, debate and create.

Wait a tick…that kind of sounds like…an agency. As I read this article, I was amazed at the knowledge, skills and level of thinking these kids seem to possess. The conversations they’re having, the questions they’re asking, the work they’re doing and the energy they’re creating is comparable to what professionals across our industry have spent years developing and perfecting. This group of adolescents is operating a content studio, PR firm, social media agency and non-profit organization all at once and all while still in school! As industry professionals, we are often quick to criticize the notion that anyone can become a designer, content creator, strategist—but these kids are challenging the status quo and proving that, with enough tenacity and grit, they can achieve anything.

So, is it just plain luck that they’ve formed the perfect team to carry this movement? Or, is their competence in capturing our attention just the reality of a generation who has been reared in the digital age? Or, is it simply a group of passionate young people who realize they have the power and the resources to create real change? Either way, whether or not you agree with their message or this movement, I believe we can all agree that what they are doing is equal parts impressive and inspirational.

Trending from G/L: Marketing to Millennials

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Trending from G/L: Marketing to Millennials

About a month ago, I turned 30. We Millennials like to think that we age about 1.6 times faster than other generations, so 30 is actually about 50 in Millennial years. As soon as I neared the dreaded 3-0, I was inundated with messages reminding me that I’m getting old. I mean it. Facebook trolled me for months leading up to my birthday with listicles like “30 Things You HAVE to do With Your Finances Before You Turn 30 or You’ll Never Retire. Ever.” and, “30 Places You HAVE to Visit Before you Die (aka Turn 30 Because Your Life is Pretty Much Over.)” It was pretty dire.

The world’s largest and most sought out generation is growing up (much to our dismay) and brands are eager to figure out how to continue engaging us as we ditch our avocado toasts and 6-hour brunches for cars and (possibly) houses.

Progressive is one such brand attempting to tap into this emerging component of the Millennial psyche. In an effort to advance their reputation as a home insurer, Progressive has introduced their “Parentamorphosis” campaign in which they spotlight the harsh reality that, at some point, we will become our parents. And while Progressive can’t stop that from happening, they can make sure that our resistance doesn’t happen in the form of a bad home and auto insurance policy. According to AdAge, Progressive conducted more than a year of research and sought the help of a behavioral psychologist to come up with a concept that would have broad appeal. A spokesperson for the brand said the campaign has been their most successful effort without their iconic spokeswoman, Flo.

One of the campaign ads, a TV spot titled “Group Session”, recently caught my eye… socks with sandals? Grilling everyone in the family about the “massive” utility bill? Refusing to throw away electronic devices you haven’t used in 10 years? There was my dad, and thus followed my ad recall. Bravo, Progressive. This Millennial is paying attention.

Check out the ad here:


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.


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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Hope for Young Adults with Cancer

Meg Strange
Senior Account Executive

Hope for Young Adults with Cancer

When one of my closest friends was diagnosed with Stage III cancer on her 26th birthday, I was shocked (to say the least). Cancer at 26?!  My immediate reaction: “But she’s too young.” But that’s the thing about cancer: it has no age limit. Cancer doesn’t care how old you are, it doesn’t care if it’s your birthday, it doesn’t care if you have no money, it doesn’t care that you have your whole life ahead of you…cancer is pretty evil like that. Of the 12.7 million people who are diagnosed and victimized by cancer each year, 72,000 of those are young adults.

Hope for Young Adults with Cancer (H4YAWC) is a non-profit organization, headquartered in St. Louis, that is dedicated to the support and assistance of young adults, ages 18-40, who are living with cancer. Believe it or not, H4YAWC is one of less than 100 organizations in the United States that work specifically to support young adults, and just one of three nationwide that provides financial support to individuals while they are in treatment.

The mission of Hope for Young Adults with Cancer is to connect with young adults in the fight to provide direct financial support along with a social network and outlet for those battling, surviving and living with cancer.

H4YAWC’s main focus is their Giving Hope Fund that gives young adults currently battling cancer, as well as those who have been in remission for up to 5 years after their treatment, the opportunity to help pay for the necessities of everyday life. These items range anywhere from gas cards and grocery store gift cards, to cell phone and credit card bills, to daycare or mortgage payments, and, of course, to any and all forms of medical bills. Applications for the Giving Hope Fund are accepted and reviewed twice a year and funds are distributed to applicants based on availability.

Although providing financial support is a main mission of this organization, H4YAWC is also extremely dedicated to the moral support of young adults who are currently battling or have battled cancer. As social isolation is a primary concern in young adults with cancer, the organization hosts a number of social events throughout the St. Louis area. These events bring together patients, survivors, caregivers, family, and friends to socialize, have fun, and take their minds off of the burdens that come along with battling cancer. Happy hours, movie screenings, fitness programs, and more are offered throughout the year for patients and survivors to connect with people their age and regain a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Like most non-profit organizations working tirelessly to achieve their mission, Hope for Young Adults with Cancer needs help to help others! H4YAWC encourages anyone and everyone in the community to become an ambassador for the organization in any way they can—donate money to the Give Hope fund, volunteer at one of their social events, host a food drive for them—the opportunities are many, and more help means more support for the young adults they serve.

I will be celebrating G/L STL 25 by joining the H4YAWC #Run4Hope team at the 2014 St. Louis Half Marathon in November and fundraising $250 for the organization.

Anyone who lives with or has lived with cancer will tell you—having a support system makes all the difference. Thanks to the efforts of great organizations like Hope for Young Adults with Cancer, those who fall victim to this sickness can be confident that they have a strong support system backing them and helping them through their seemingly insurmountable fight. This is why I choose to help H4YAWC.  To find out how you can get involved with and help H4YAWC, visit their website or contact them at [email protected].