Should Your Brand Take a Stand? Here’s What You Need to Know to Decide

Shawn Maher

Should Your Brand Take a Stand? Here’s What You Need to Know to Decide

Empathy is a tricky thing. It’s powerful, but only if it’s authentic. If brands don’t use it earnestly and in good faith, then their customers can smell a fake from a mile away. And there’s nothing people hate more than a brand trying to approach a cultural touchstone opportunistically with just profits in mind.

How can brands do it right? It has to be a natural fit with the brand itself, aligning with their corporate values and brand reputation. That’s what being authentic is all about. When someone sees it, they shouldn’t have to think twice about why you’re doing it.

The latest Trust Barometer research from Edelman, which surveyed more than 32,000 respondents from over 28 countries, a majority of consumers want businesses to do more to address a wide range of societal issues.

This same survey illustrated how fine of a line it is for brands to walk, with respondents admitting that brands taking a stand is fraught with risk of politicizing the issue. All of these top issues listed are very important to many in our country.

When an issue is so charged with emotion, the last thing someone wants is to feel like a company is making light of it solely for the sake of increasing sales. When considering whether your brand should take a stand on one of these or other issues, revisit your branding and your company culture. Check to see if there are any common threads that would make this issue something that your brand lives and breathes or whether it’s simply just a matter of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

We are all unable to forget the backlash from brands who do not approach these issues with empathy. Remember the Pepsi commercial that implied that systematic racism could be fixed if we all just enjoyed a Pepsi together? Yikes.

It’s this authenticity, rooted in the core of the brand, that makes it a trustworthy source of information and empathy. It takes honesty rooted in action. Not something you do once, but something you live, day in and day out.

No matter what challenge your brand faces, we can help. We can help inject your brand with empathy and make it relevant through our Dynamic Branding process. Get in touch now and let’s talk about it!

AI, ChatGPT and the Future of Copywriting

Shawn Maher

AI, ChatGPT and the Future of Copywriting

Many of us who spend (probably too much) time online have probably seen chatter lately about ChatGPT, a new AI writing program. Many are pretty amazed about how well it can write. Naturally, that has led to all kinds of excitement about what it could mean for the future of advertising, journalism and literature. It’s also left a certain segment of people a bit terrified. 

Namely, copywriters, journalists and writers of all types. 

However, writers worth their weight in words don’t need to worry about our eminent demise at the hands of our robot overlords. There are many reasons why those with talent and creativity will always be able to offer value that AI simply cannot. Here are a couple of the many reasons why great writers can’t be replaced, no matter how many breathless panic pieces are written to make you think otherwise. 


AI Can Only Recycle Ideas

When someone uses ChatGPT or any other, similar software, they face the same limits that all technology runs up against: it can only perform as well as the information it is given. That means that you describe what information you want it to find, but it will be unable provide any ideas beyond what’s out there already. 

If you use AI, then you won’t be generating any new or disruptive ideas. All you’ll do is take what everyone has already done and shuffle the deck chairs around a little bit. But to find something new, to make connections that no one else has ever made and to communicate a unique selling proposition…you need a unique idea. That’s simply not available through AI right now. 


Wit Does Not Compute

One problem many ChatbotGPT users have found involves humor. Or more specifically, the program’s complete and utter lack of it. This shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone who has watched movies in space ships and/or stations run by a computer, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon or Flight of the Navigator (minus the scene where the spaceship’s computer does its Pewee Hermann impression, of course). 

A humorous or cheeky tone is just more nebulous than what a computer can understand, it seems. Clever humor is often about playing off misdirection, understanding intangibles about the human experience, and once again, making a previously unseen connection between seemingly disparate ideas. Those just aren’t in the cards (chips?) for AI. 


But Here’s a Secret: It’s Not All Bad. 

It’s hard to admit, but copywriters can actually use AI to their advantage. It can be useful as long as it is considered a tool, not a crutch. In fact, it could free up copywriters to focus on creating even better creative concepts that a computer could only dream of. If computers did dream, that is. 

Sometimes there’s a tedious task that’s mostly just searching out existing copy and organizing it. Have at it, bots! Need to gather a bunch of information, specs or data for long-form copy, like a whitepaper? Let the bots round it up for you. Wondering how a certain demographic might describe your client’s product or service? Or maybe a competitor’s? Release the bots! 

Maybe the bot could provide a perspective that runs counter to your preconceived notions. Sometimes a perspective shift is valuable, and there are plenty of perspectives on the internet. Everyone has an opinion, and understanding a multitude of opinions is invaluable to a copywriter. 

In many ways, when used correctly, AI could conceivably help us do better work than ever. Naturally, of course. No bots, no brain chips, no holograms. Just some creatives in a room with markers and whiteboards, making jokes that no computer could ever make. 

If you want to talk to a real human about how your brand could benefit from the unique and boundlessly creative ideas that only an experienced marketing communications firm could provide, especially one that’s been doing it since before the internet was even a thing and phones couldn’t fit in a pocket, get in touch! We’d love to chat.

The Winter Watchlist: G/L’s Top 6 Marketing Documentaries

Shawn Maher

The Winter Watchlist: G/L’s Top 6 Marketing Documentaries

We are right in the middle of holiday season, and baby, it’s getting cold outside. That means it’s the perfect time to snuggle up with your cozy beverage of choice, a warm blanket in front of the fireplace (or space heater) and something good to watch. So we’ve come up with our favorite marketing documentaries for your viewing pleasure. That way you can consider it time well-spent on professional development. At least that’s going to be our excuse when get caught making hot toddies on a Tuesday afternoon…

Without further ado, let’s get on with the doc talk! 


Art and Copy (Free on YouTube, Available on Prime Video)

For any creative or simply anyone who appreciates a timeless and flawlessly executed campaign, this documentary tells the stories of some of the most successful ones of all time, plus interviews with the creatives and strategists behind them. It’s a masterclass in taking an idea from concept to execution, using as case studies like Got Milk?, VW and Just Do It, plus interviews with Hal Riney, George Lois, Dan Weiden, Jeff Goodby, Lee Clow, Phyllis K. Robinson and Rich Silverstein amongst many other industry luminaries. It should be required watching for anyone in the field and is even available for anyone to watch on YouTube


Untold: The Rise and Fall of And1 (Netflix) 

People of a certain age no doubt remember the iconic street ball brand, which made t-shirts that were far classier than the No Fear fad of the same era. More importantly, And1 helped democratize hoops and produced highly rewatchable videos with some of the sickest moves you’ll ever see on a court. So what happened? Discover more about the marketing miscues that caused their downfall in this Netflix documentary. 


Helvetica (Available to Rent on Prime Video)

How did such a simple sans serif font prove to be such a tour de force of a whole era of design? It may seem simple, but to appreciate the effect of Helvetica in how we appreciate not only graphic design, but also industrial design…just check out that iPhone you have in your pocket. For what would seem on the surface level to be such a simple font could inspire a paradigm shift in the way we think about compelling design. Sure, you may have to shell out the $4 to rent it, but think about it as a professional investment…and a good excuse to stay planted on the couch in your comfort accoutrements of choice. 


Fyre (Netflix) and Fyre Fraud (Hulu) 

This takes us back to the ancient times of 2019, when we had no pandemic and putting thousands of people on a tiny island didn’t cause a second thought. However, in this case, it totally should have. That’s because the brand was built upon a great idea hyped by influencers that masked a monumental level of chaos and criminally neglectful behavior. Why there are two documentaries listed, you may ask? The Netflix documentary was produced by the social media agency that was hired to promote the festival and work with influencers, and it (unsurprisingly) puts the yeoman’s blame on the organizer of the festival. The Hulu documentary, however, was a created by a third party with no vested interest and it paints a bit of a different picture. Interesting to compare and contrast, and anything that buys us a little bit more time snuggled up instead of shoveling snow is greatly appreciated! 


McMillions (HBO)

Let’s go back to the 90s once again, this time for the fast-food game that gripped us all: the McDonald’s Monopoly game. We all got the game board in the newspaper (it’s impossible to write this without severely dating myself) and hoarded the game pieces with the hopes that we would score big and win prizes or even cash! However, it seemed like we just got stupid Baltic Ave over and over again. Did you ever know anyone who won? Of course not, and this documentary investigates the coordinated heist behind it. 


Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? (Netflix) 

In the 90s, Pepsi rolled out a loyalty program called Pepsi Points. It featured a kid who looked like he would’ve been the coolest dude at my elementary school and the offer of a $32 million Harrier jet for anyone who collected seven million points. Everything about it looked totally tubular in that cringey-in-retrospect 90s way, but it turns out that it worked a little bit too well. Find out what happened when someone attempted to redeem his seven million points for the jet and the series of missteps that led to this public relations fiasco in this great documentary. 

But it doesn’t stop there! We’ve got even more great ideas for your viewing pleasure. Add these honorable mentions to your winter watchlist, as well, and thank us later! 


Why Brands Need to Choose Their Words Carefully…and Empathetically

Shawn Maher

Why Brands Need to Choose Their Words Carefully…and Empathetically

The world is changing in many ways. How we communicate is maybe one of the biggest changes we’ve seen. Not only the channels of communication, but also through drastic shifts in the tone and content of what we say and how we say it.

In turn, copywriters have to adapt, as well. That means being more empathetic than ever.

Of course, empathy has always been perhaps the most important tool in a copywriter’s arsenal. They have to take on the brand’s tone in a pitch-perfect manner, understand the problems of the audience with whom they are communicating and find a way to communicate the brand’s promise without activating the gag reflex so many consumers have when they encounter a sales pitch being shoved down their throats.

You’ve heard us talk a lot about Return on Empathy™ for brands. But personally, ROE has been a very important north star when it comes to writing copy at Geile/Leon. Today, we’re going to talk about how that is translated into the creative process and executions.

First of all, fear no longer works. Consumers are smarter than ever, and trying to motivate with fear will do more harm than good. They can seek out reviews, product specs and influencer opinions to find all the nitty gritty details that they need.

You have to act as a sales docent, leading them to the top of the mountain where the solution lies. You know what they need; all it takes is leading them to the correct path and solving their problem together.

Next, storytelling is a large part of that journey. Decisions are not made simply on logic alone. A huge dose of empathy, relatability and personality should be present throughout. You can use your story to explain how the brand empathizes with their pain and why it is so driven to solve that problem better than anyone else. For example, half the fun of a Southwest flight is the injection of the flight crew’s personality into your journey.

Finally, you not only must tell a compelling story, but it has to be communicated clearly and concisely. Don’t make your customers wade through the details, bogging them down with information that isn’t relevant or interesting to the customer. Especially in campaigns focused on generating awareness, you want to pique interest first and foremost.

Speaking of which, always keep in mind where you are on the sales funnel. When you’re in the conversion stage, you’re about to take the final step in your journey with the consumer. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It should the exciting conclusion to the story, so don’t peter out with some boring or inauthentic copy when the finish line is in sight. Make sure you finish with a flourish!

Just like every person has a story, so does every brand and every product. But it’s not enough to simply tell it. You have to make it interesting, but also relatable. Or else it’s just someone telling you about a dream that’s only interesting to the person who had it. Empathic marketing is all about telling a story where your customer is the protagonist, not your brand. That’s how you make connections that don’t just sell a product, but instead provide a solution in a way that lets the customer be in charge.

If you think your brand could use a healthy infusion of empathy (and what brand doesn’t?), then get in touch. Let’s talk. We love to talk about empathy, but what we really enjoy is listening to our clients’ stories and helping them tell them.

Has TikTok Become a Sneaky Opportunity for Online Video Marketing?

Shawn Maher

Has TikTok Become a Sneaky Opportunity for Online Video Marketing?

When we talk about online video content, we often discuss the importance of picking the right channel. Often, our clients ask about YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But what about TikTok? 

Before you dismiss it as a channel for teeny boppers without disposable income, let’s talk it out. It turns out that TikTok is a more attractive avenue for branded video content than many realize. 

Not only did a recent survey show that 30% of respondents said it was their favorite social media platform, surpassing Instagram, but it also has seen huge growth, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. And even though the platform does skew younger (although usage amongst adults 35-54 tripled during 2020), the overwhelming majority (41%) of users have household incomes of $100,000 or more. Second highest income bracket? $75,000 to $100,000. 

Of course, the third highest income bracket is less than $25,000, which illustrates the importance of fostering a deep understanding of your target audience and also what you hope to accomplish with your video content marketing. This is also important if you’re looking to buy real TikTok followers, as you’ll need to understand what you’re working with and who will need to be targeted directly to make your boost worthwhile.

So, like anything, it boils down to knowing your audience, understanding your objectives and knowing at what point on the funnel your campaign is intended. It’s one thing to create a fun video. It’s another thing to do it with a purpose and to Make It Mean Something. And that’s where we come in. 

We have three decades of experience of staying ahead of trends, understanding how they fit within a plan and basing everything upon a foundation of tried-and-true marketing fundamentals. Get in touch to see what type of online video campaign would work for your brand’s needs. 

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Shawn Maher

3 Ways Tool Manufacturers Can Grow the Skilled Labor Workforce

Over the recent months, we have read a lot about how the labor market is in an unprecedented state of transition. While many jobs that were eliminated have returned, we have also seen many jobs, often those with poor pay and minimal benefits, remained unfilled. At the same time, skilled labor is seeing much of its workforce head to retirement as the Baby Boomer generation reaches their golden years. With that in mind, now is the perfect time for skilled labor fields like welding, machining, HVAC/R, construction, roofing and plumbing to take advantage of disillusioned service industry workers who wish to begin a real career with a brighter future. 

How can tool manufacturers help with the skilled labor shortage? 

Throughout these skilled labor industries, employers would like to see these jobs filled immediately. There’s no doubt that this is important since there is always important work that needs to get done. However, now is the perfect time to resort to more creative measures. Sure, finding experienced workers is ideal. But there is a great opportunity for contractors to fill the help they need, including non-skilled workers, while still maintaining the quality craftsmanship that their customers demand. 

Of course, tool manufacturers depend on these contractors, as well. Without workers, there is nobody to use their tools! So, let’s discuss three ways that these tool manufacturers could do to help grow the workforce in these industries that they support. 

Make tools easier to use 

In a recent article entitled Tools Tackle the Labor Shortage, Supply House Times provides several examples of manufacturers developing tools that have a lower barrier to entry for use by making them more intuitive for a less-skilled laborer. In this article, DEWALT Product Manager Daniel Heiney-Gonzalez explains, “This has provided an opportunity for innovation to come in and make these workers who are working more efficient.” 

Marketers can support these efforts by gaining an in-depth understanding of customers and keeping an open dialogue with sales teams, who spend so much time with customers that they gain a wealth of knowledge of their needs and pain points. This was the case when Geile/Leon helped Parker Hannifin launch a new product that reduced the time that HVAC/R contractors spent joining pipes by simplifying the process. Brazing pipe is a learned skill that can take many, many hours to master. But with ZoomLock, employees with minimal experience in the field can confidently join pipes together, and the skilled workers could do it faster than they ever could before. 

Curious as to how we did it? Then check out our case study here:

Support trade school education

Thanks to the efforts of Mike Rowe, along with many companies and individuals in a variety of industries, in promoting skilled trades as a logical alternative to a four-year college degree, trade schools are steadily gaining in popularity. This is a very promising trend for companies who wish to see a larger pool of skilled labor, but there is even more potential for growth. 

Manufacturers should support these schools and take advantage of this momentum. There are many groups that help collectivize and maximize these efforts, like SkillsUSA. In addition, they could donate tools and funds to these schools. Not only will it lead to a future with a wealth of skilled employees, it will also foster brand loyalty from day one as these future employees will enjoy hands-on instruction with your products and come to recognize them as a trusted industry standard. 

Our client, Harris Products Group, is one of those future-focused companies who supports high school trade classes. In fact, they had their efforts recognized recently in a news story. We’d highly encourage you to check out this inspirational story and see how they have brightened the future of Grayson County students who are learning brazing and soldering skill training. 

Work to diversify your industry’s workforce

The Associated General Contractors of America’s Culture of Care program launched last year and is doing great work in attracting a large pool of skilled tradespeople. With an expected 10-million-person labor shortage by 2023, according to the nonprofit Bridging America’s Gap, now is a perfect time to seize an opportunity to invest in recruiting and training people of all backgrounds. Not only will this provide an opportunity those in marginalized populations who have an immense amount of talent, but it will also create a workforce that is stronger due to its inclusive nature. 

We think another really great example can be found right here from our client, Clayco, a St. Louis- and Chicago-based commercial construction firm. You can see how we helped them to brand and promote their Clayco Rising diversity and inclusion program, breaking through barriers of income, race, sexual orientation and gender. The tagline, “Clayco Rising, People Above All Else,” is a clear indication of their dedication to leading the industry to bring positive change from top to bottom, not only internally but also in their contractors and strategic partnership. 

Actions speak louder than words

Manufacturers and the industry groups that they belong to can be the catalyst that ends the current labor shortage, but that means thinking beyond traditional methodologies and recruitment strategies. When we invite everyone to participate, we not only help those who deserve an opportunity, we help our companies by unlocking potential that could have remained untapped and by creating an inclusive company culture that is a boost to morale across the board. Opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air. Those who create them are the visionaries who rise to the top of their industry. 

Ideas require action, however, and a strategic marketing partner can help you maximize these campaigns. We have a great deal of experience and success in finding unique and inclusive solutions for employee recruitment. Let’s talk about what we can do for you. Get in touch now and let’s get started!

Key Takeaways from a Year of Online Product Launches

Shawn Maher

Key Takeaways from a Year of Online Product Launches

There’s something about a really well-executed product launch event that captures our attention and our imaginations. When it really clicks, the anticipation among consumers is electric. But during the pandemic this past year, packing a giant event space full of people for a product launch simply wasn’t an option. 

Of course, necessity is the mother of invention. And if there’s anything that marketing professionals can do, it’s to use necessity to invent really, really amazing solutions. So, here’s what we learned in this past year as the product launch was reinvented.

Invest in the Building the Anticipation Before the Launch

With all the tools we have at our disposal, a well-coordinated campaign leading up to a product launch can be a well-oiled machine. And the very best are well-oiled machines with lots of horsepower. 

Use your social media platforms, mailing lists, influencers and traditional media in conjunction to unleash this power. Cleverly unveiling clues or tidbits of information not only builds anticipation for the event, but it also gets people talking. Just ask anyone who binge watched a crime show during quarantine: we all love to solve the puzzle as we watch the plot unfold.

Use Your Platforms to Make the Event Interactive

Wherever your video is streaming, your brand can engage people in ways that would never be possible at a traditional product launch. Whether it’s answering questions or just socializing, the chat section is a great place to hang out. Think of it as an opportunity to round up a few thousand of your favorite customers to kick back with them and talk shop. 

This is your chance to engage on a personal level than you could previously, fostering the type of relationship that breeds a deep customer loyalty. Just make sure to keep the conversation natural and organic. You’re making friends with your customers, not selling them a new set of steak knives.

Continue Building Engagement After the Event Ends

Your event is over and it was a huge success. You’ve built a ton of momentum, so don’t just walk away. Ride the wave! Sure, you’ve introduced your product, but today’s consumer seeks more information than ever. And what better place to get it from than you? Start digging into the features, demonstrating different uses and telling everyone where to buy it. 

Basically, use this huge level of engagement to make sure your customers have a deep understanding of your product’s selling points as well as the tools to ensure successful adoption and long-term satisfaction.

Let’s Make Your Next Launch Astronomical

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all as excited as you are to get back to the world with events that have crowds and excitement. But for marketers, this isn’t just turning lemons into lemonade. It could be turning lemons into a lemonade factory. 

However, you’ll need a strong brand and a coordinated campaign that works cohesively through every execution and touchpoint. As a full-service agency with over three decades of experience, Geile/Leon is your perfect partner for your next product launch. Get in touch and let’s get planning!

How Universities Can Make Online Grad School Exciting

Shawn Maher

How Universities Can Make Online Grad School Exciting

Many of us remember college fondly, but not necessarily for the time we spent in the classroom. The overall college experience is a big part of education marketing: the campus, clubs, sporting events, networking and more. But like anything else, many universities are finding ways to successfully adapt to the (all together now) new normal and find new ways to make the graduate school experience attractive to students.

Due to the sudden shift required as the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, many colleges were unprepared, leaving a poor perception of online education, especially from prestigious institutions that have set a high standard. However, many of these universities have been working hard to reimagine their online education experience with resources to rival their in-person offerings as they experience an average of 4% drop in enrollment.

So how do they communicate it to these skeptical students? Especially during a crucial moment when so many are considering this as an opportunity to further their education with an advanced degree.

An optimistic sign for higher education is that studies have shown no empirical evidence as to any decline in the quality of applicants. Additionally, some anecdotal evidence has demonstrated an even greater diversity in applicants.

By coordinating efforts between faculty, staff and marketing teams, universities have a chance to reach students they may not have been able to before. Colleges can not only diversify their student base, but also allow opportunities for students who are well-suited to the university’s unique offerings to flourish. And with a robust online learning program, it is an opportunity that these potential students many may not have been able to take advantage of.

However, unlike a baseball field in the Iowa cornfields, if you build a great online graduate program, that does not mean that they will come. A strong marketing communications plan is essential to getting these opportunities in front of potential students who are seeking it. We understand how to tap into this potential with our years of education experience and are well- positioned to help you take full advantage of these new opportunities. Get in touch now to get started on your plan.

Building Brand Loyalty with Construction Marketing

Shawn Maher

Building Brand Loyalty with Construction Marketing

For those in the construction industry, trust is important. From the big-picture view, it is essential to create trust in the performance of your products and your work. There aren’t many other industries where a job well done – one that is sure to last – is more important to the safety and well-being of their customers. 

Whether it’s a new line of tools or a new piece of equipment, many builders often find a brand that they trust and stick with it. When planning a new construction job, it is reassuring to know that you can trust a product’s performance. Construction jobs can be unpredictable enough, and so the peace of mind of being able to trust a brand is invaluable.

However, a recent study by Builder showed some interesting results. While it did illustrate the loyalty that many feel to brands, it also discovered that more than 65% of builders are open to trying new products and brands in their projects. 

It may seem a bit contradictory, but this is an industry that has seen quite a bit of innovation over time, leading to evolving thinking. This is a great opportunity for marketing your new service lines or building your brand – your marketing can convince them to give you a chance, while your stellar performance can keep them coming back for years and years. 

Of course, you have to get your foot in the door first and foremost, and that’s where a marketing and communications agency with proven experience in the industry can help. G/L has worked with the brands that build America’s landscapes, the ones that are trusted to create the infrastructure of the communities in which we work and live. 

Get in touch with us to see how our experience in construction marketing can help you take advantage of all the opportunities to build brand loyalty.

Now’s the time to rebuild your construction marketing efforts

Shawn Maher

Now’s the time to rebuild your construction marketing efforts


During the pandemic and all the social distancing that has come with it, many industries have been affected. However, the construction industry is particularly interesting. Not only for the boots on the ground, but because so much of the marketing efforts in the industry are people oriented.

Looking for new clients or even new vendors? Many industry professionals rely upon in-person meetings, drop-ins, industry shows and networking their tool belts off. Just thinking about it, so much of the construction industry is coordinating people and building as many relationships as actual structures, if not more.

So does this mean those in the construction industry should put an end to their marketing efforts? The answer is a simple no. In fact, now is the perfect time to lean heavily on marketing and communications expertise. And here’s why.

Marketing isn’t just about trotting out the same solution no matter what. Even if that’s what some may do. Marketing is about ideas. It’s about creativity. Problem solving. Coming up with new ideas for new problems that have never been encountered. Now is EXACTLY the type of situation where these creative solutions are needed the most.

There are answers out there. Maybe it’s time to increase your digital presence…or even create one. Blow the dust off those social media channels and not only create an engaging and informative content calendar, but also truly engage with both your existing audience and potential new leads with thought leadership. Build a website that creates value. Launch a campaign that promotes your pandemic safety measures and demonstrate exactly why your company is the right choice during these times.

Maybe even take this opportunity to rethink your brand from the ground up.

The people you want to reach are undoubtedly out there. And you can reach them. We know how to do it with proven experience in both the construction industry and the new and ever-changing landscape of marketing. Get in touch. There’s no one answer for any problem, but that’s what makes finding the perfect solution for your unique needs so exciting.