Joe Alexander of The Martin Agency – Making Advertising Great

By TAMMIE SMITH Richmond Times-Dispatch

Oct 1, 2017

Early in his 26-year career at The Martin Agency, Joe Alexander was on a team working on an advertising campaign for children’s clothing company Healthtex when he suggested they try something different.

The children’s clothing market was dominated by competitors OshKosh B’gosh and Carter’s, remembered Martin Agency president Beth Rilee-Kelley, who was an account executive at the time. The competition’s ads usually showed cute children in cute clothing.

“What (Alexander) thought was important was that we needed to be talking more to moms and acknowledging what moms are going through every single day,” Rilee-Kelley said. Alexander was a senior copywriter at the time.

The advertisement that the team came up with had a lot of text on the page, which was unheard of at the time, Rilee-Kelley said.

It was different and wordy, but had a cute and catchy headline.

“One of the things we talked about was new moms had so much on their plate, would they even read long copy?” Rilee-Kelley said.

“What we learned … was that moms loved the copy, and it endeared the brand to them. It was a home run. He wrote it from a mom’s perspective,” Rilee-Kelley said.

The headline? “When you’re bald and toothless, you’d better wear cute clothes.”

That willingness to take risks is one of the traits that has landed Alexander at the creative helm of the Richmond-based but internationally recognized advertising agency.

As chief creative officer for The Martin Agency, it’s his job to lead efforts to come up with advertising for clients that have included national brands such as GEICO insurance, Oreo cookies and Benjamin Moore paints, among many others.

The Martin Agency in the past seven years alone has won 60 awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, company officials said, including the Grand Prix in film in 2015 for its “Unskippable” ad campaign for GEICO insurance.

Alexander was named chief creative officer in 2012. More recently, Alexander was named one of the 100 people who make advertising great by the 4A’s, a membership organization representing the marketing communications agency business. The Martin Agency is a member of the organization.

The awards were presented last week at the 4A’s 100th anniversary gala held in New York City.

“Since (the 4A’s) represents about every advertising agency and a lot of clients, it’s a very big deal,” said Helayne R. Spivak, executive director of the VCU Brandcenter, Virginia Commonwealth University’s highly touted advertising program.

“To be recognized as one of the top 100 people to make advertising relevant, fun or great is a very big honor,” Spivak said.

Alexander is quick to share the honor with the people he works with at The Martin Agency, which has its headquarters in Shockoe Slip and an office in London.

“I am only as good as the people in this place,” Alexander said.

“We are good to each other but really tough on the quality of the work. That’s what’s got me here,” he said.

Alexander came to The Martin Agency in 1991, hired by Mike Hughes, the longtime creative leader of The Martin Agency who died in 2013.

Before coming to The Martin Agency, Alexander, a Minneapolis-St. Paul native and a journalism/mass communications graduate of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, worked at agencies in his hometown.

Much of what he learned about advertising came from studying the works of the pros.

“There weren’t graduate schools you would go to and work on your portfolio book and get hired a couple years later,” Alexander said.

Instead, he poured over advertising recognized as the industry’s best and collected in “One Show Annuals,” yearly compilations from The One Club for Creativity.

“You learned from studying the ads. That was your textbook,” Alexander said.

“I was lucky to be in Minneapolis at the time when one of the best agencies over the last 50 years, Fallon, started. There were some great people there that I learned a lot from. I eventually was hired by one of those guys, Tom McElligott, who is in (The One Club Creative) hall of fame.”

McElligott had left Fallon and worked at Chiat/Day when he hired Alexander to help lead Chiat/Day Toronto.

Martin Agency president Rilee-Kelley said one of Alexander’s strengths is that he remains a student of the advertising profession.

“I remember when he started, he was one of those people who studied creative work. … He admired the work that people did and he reached out to his fellow creatives across the country to talk to them about the work. He learned about the techniques that were different and were being used. He truly studied,” Rilee-Kelley said. “I think that is what has made him the leader he is today. And he hasn’t stopped. He has such an appreciation for this industry and creativity.”

Alexander’s role as chief creative officer at The Martin Agency includes being a coach and mentor to the people who make up the agency’s creative staff.

“A lot of people think we are in the creative business and the advertising business. I really think we are in the talent business. Talent is everything. We survive and we thrive when we have great people,” Alexander said.

Alexander said his work at times also includes battling misconceptions among outsiders that great creative work can only come out of such places as New York City and Los Angeles.

“Since 2010, I think we’ve started to get into more of the conversations of the best agencies in the world,” Alexander said.

“We’ve had a lot of success at Cannes, and that has helped us overcome some of that insecurity. But I think deep down, we are underdogs. We are scrappy. That’s our culture. We attract those kinds of people. We attract people who really want to overachieve and have a life, too,” he said.

The Martin Agency offices are set up to encourage collaboration. Alexander’s office has glass walls off of an open communal working space where employees sit at work stations set up on long tables. There are smaller rooms available for group meetings.

“When we have great work here, it starts with an assignment, a brief. Then, it quickly goes to some sort of insight, strategic insight that comes from somewhere on the team,” said Alexander, explaining the creative process.

In the case of the “Unskippable” campaign, for instance, the strategic insight was you have to hook people in the first five seconds before the “skip this ad” banner pops up on digital advertising.

“When the guys heard that, they said we are going to win the first five seconds. Sure enough they did,” Alexander said.

The guys in this case were creative director Neel Williams and associate creative director Mauricio Mazzariol, he said.

Another noteworthy and award-winning project was pro bono work for nonprofit organ donation advocacy group Donate Life. The ad features a scraggly dude with a nasty attitude. Dude redeems himself somewhat when he dies, and it turns out he is an organ donor. The tagline is “Even an asshole can save a life.”The ad has more than 2.4 million views on YouTube and more than 1,000 comments, many just as edgy as the ad itself. Some folks like it. Some folks don’t.

“Our business is a creative business, so it’s not perfect. In fact, it’s kind of messy. I think that’s OK,” Alexander said.

“The most surprising solutions in our business are often because of mistakes or accidents. It’s not science. … There is a creative alchemy that happens between people and ideas and energy. My job is to foster that, to foster that kind of environment, and I think that starts with really talented people.”

Some of that willingness to see opportunities everywhere may stem from growing up in a household with nine children — six boys and three girls. Alexander is the sixth born. His father, who passed away nine years ago, was a high school teacher and principal. His mother, 88, is a homemaker.

His father, he said, brought a lot of consciousness about having a life outside of work.

Alexander is married to Sarah Rowland, a wallpaper designer. They live in Richmond’s Westover Hills neighborhood. It’s close enough to the agency that Alexander rides his bike to work about twice a week. He has three adult daughters — two live in New York City and one lives in Los Angeles.

He admits to being a lawn geek, actually enjoying getting out and mowing the grass. The Martin Agency lets employees individualize their business cards. His has the outline of a guy pushing a lawn mower.

“Work is really important to me but … family is obviously huge,” Alexander said. Equally important is helping the community he lives in reach its potential, he said. He has volunteered in political campaigns.

At The Martin Agency, Alexander shares the senior leadership with Rilee-Kelley and CEO Matt Williams.

The advertising industry, like other forms of communications, is being transformed by technology, Alexander said. Client companies want something different.

For a decade, The Martin Agency created ads for Walmart. Walmart ended the contract as of September 2016. The Martin Agency that month laid off 29 employees.

In March of this year, the agency laid off 21 people — 16 in Richmond and five at its New York office — which reduced the company’s total workforce to 450. Those layoffs were related to a restructuring. The agency closed its New York office and moved those operations to shared space with the ad agency’s parent company, Interpublic Group of Companies Inc.

“The business has been going through quite a transformation. I think it’s going to be like this for a long time where, not just us, but all agencies like us are changing,” Alexander said.

“It’s a reflection of the media that’s out there and the kind of choices our clients need to make about budgets and everything else. We’ve had to transform, too. We’ve had to adjust our staff and the way we work to be more social, to be more digital, to be more nimble, to be always on. That’s what the best clients are. The best clients are always ‘on’ now. They are not waiting to put out some fixed media unearned media solution,” Alexander said. “The best agencies now are creating earned media solutions where their work not only gets placed in incredible places that cost money but also grab attention outside of that.”

New client: Busy Bees

Busy Bees is a top global nursery and education provider with more than 340 nurseries in the UK, as well as a further 148 sites in Canada, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

Over the past 34 years the group’s grown and grown, acquiring more than 480 nurseries around the world.  So, to support Busy Bees’ evolution and mainly focusing on the UK, we’ve been appointed to move the brand forward.

We’ll be using Busy Bees’ new brand proposition, ‘Seriously happy childcare’, as a starting point to create a distinctive new identity. Through a new look and feel, tone of voice, and photographic style, Together will bring the brand bang up to date and amplify its founding principle: to provide great quality childcare to hardworking parents looking for a great start for their children.  This identity will roll out across all the brand’s collateral, from the website to nursery brochures and signage.

JT, one of Together’s two partners, said: “Busy Bees is a fantastic brand that offers us some exciting challenges. With the new identity, we’ll not only need to create something that juxtaposes that real warmth of the group with expertise and professionalism, but also something that their widespread teams and nurseries really buy into. We can’t wait to get started.”

Jitin Topiwala, Sales and Marketing Director at Busy Bees, said: “Chemistry is essential with a project of this scale. After meeting the agency and seeing their approach, we knew a creative partnership with Together would allow us to realise our ambitions for the brand.

“This is a hugely exciting time for Busy Bees and we’re looking forward to working with Together to bring our brand to life.”

There you have it! Stay up to date with our latest work over on our social media channels, or take a look at our Work section to see more of what we do.

The post New client: Busy Bees appeared first on we think.

Blurring the Line Between CDN and CMS

Cloudflare recently announced that they’re launching a new feature, called “Cloudflare Workers”. It provides the ability for anybody who’s using Cloudflare as a CDN to write arbitrary JavaScript (based on the standard Service Worker API), which runs on Cloudflare’s edge nodes.

In plain English, you’ll be able to write code which changes the content, headers, look, feel and behaviour of your pages via the Cloudflare CDN. You can do this without making development changes on your servers, and without having to integrate into existing site logic.

If you’re familiar with JavaScript, you can just log into Cloudflare, and start writing logic which runs on top of your server output.

Why is this helpful?

As SEOs, we frequently work with sites which need technical improvements or changes. But development queues are often slow, resources restricted, and website platforms complex to change. It’s hard to get things changed or added.

So many of us have grown comfortable with using workarounds like Google Tag Manager to implement SEO changes – like fixing broken canonical URL tags, or adding robots directives to pages – and hoping that Google respects or understand the conflicting signals we send when we mix on-page and JavaScript-based rules.

But whilst Google professes to be capable of crawling, indexing and understanding JavaScript content and websites, all of the research suggests that they get it wrong as often as they get it right.

Cloudflare’s announcement is significant because, unlike tag management platforms, the alterations are made server-side, before the page is sent to the user – Google only sees the final, altered code and content. There’s no messy JavaScript in the browser, no cloaking, and no conflicting logic.

Service workers on the edge

Cloudflare, like other CDNs, has servers all over the world. When users request a URL on your website, they’re automatically routed to the nearest geographic ‘edge node’, so that users access the site via a fast, local connection. This is pretty standard stuff.

What’s new, however, is that you can now write code which runs at those edge nodes, which allows fine-grained control over how the page is presented to the end user based on their location, or using any logic you care to specify.

With full control over the response from the CDN, it’s possible to write scripts which change title tags, alter canonical URLs, redirect the user, change HTTP headers, or which add completely new functionality; you can adapt, change, delete, build upon or build around anything in the content which is returned from the server.

It’s worth noting that other platforms, like AWS, already launched something like this in July 2017. The concept of making changes at the edge isn’t completely new, but AWS uses a different approach and technology stack.

Specifically, AWS requires users to write functions in Node.js (a common server-side JavaScript framework), using a specific and proprietary approach to how requests/responses are handled. This comes with some advantages (like being able to use some Node.js libraries) but locks you into a very specific approach.

Cloudflare’s solution is based on the Service Worker API (as opposed to Node.js), which might look like a more future-proof approach.

Service workers are the current framework of choice for progressive web apps (PWAs), managing structured markup, and playing with new/emerging formats as Google (and the wider web) moves from favouring traditional websites to embracing more app-like experiences. That makes it a good skill set to learn, to use, and potentially to recycle existing code and solutions from elsewhere in your ecosystem.

That PWAs look likely to be the next (arguably, the current) big thing means that service workers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but Node.js might just be the current flavour of the month.

Getting hands-on

Cloudflare provides a sandbox for you to test and visualise changes on any website, though it’s unclear whether this is part of their launch marketing or something which will be around for the long-term (or a component of the editor/deployment system itself).

That’s a lot of power to play with, and I was keen to explore what it looks like in practice.

It took me just a few minutes to modify one of the scripts on their announcement page to add the word ‘awesome’ (in a pleasing shade of orange) to Distilled’s homepage. You can check out the code here.

Whilst this is hugely powerful, it doesn’t come without risks and drawbacks. For a start, you’ll need to have some sharp JavaScript skills to write any rules, and you’re going to have to do it without any external supporting libraries of frameworks (like jQuery).

Service workers can be complex to work with, too. For example, all of your changes are asynchronous; they all run in parallel, at the same time. That makes things lightning fast, but it means that some complex logic which relies on specific ordering or dependencies might be challenging to write and maintain.

And with all of this, there’s also no nice WYSIWYG interface, guides or tutorials (other than general JS or service worker questions on StackOverflow). You’ll be flying by the seat of your pants, spending most of your time trying to work out why your code doesn’t work. And if you need to turn to your developers for help, you’re back at our initial problem – they’re busy, they have other priorities, and you’re fighting for resources.

A meta CMS is not a toy

As we increasingly find ourselves turning to workarounds for long development cycles, issues which “can’t be fixed”, and resolving technical challenges, it’s tempting to see solutions like Google Tag Manager and Cloudflare Workers as viable solutions.

If we can’t get the thing fixed, we can patch over it with a temporary solution which we can deploy ‘higher up the stack’ (a level ‘above’/before the CMS), and perhaps reprioritise and revisit the actual problem at a later date.

You can fix your broken redirects. You can migrate to HTTPS and HTTP/2. You can work through all those minor template errors which the development team will never get to.

But as this way of working becomes habit, it’s not unusual to find that the solutions we’re using (whether it’s Google Tag Manager, Cloudflare, or our own ODN) take on the characteristics of ‘Meta CMSs’; systems which increasingly override our templates, content and page logic, and which use CMS-like logic to determine what the end user sees.

Over time, we build up more and more rules and replacement, until we find that there’s a blurring of lines between which bits of our website and content we manage in each platform.

This creates a bunch of risks and challenges, such as:

  • What happens when the underlying code changes, or when rules conflict?
    If you’re using a tag manager or CDN to layer changes ‘on top’ of HTML code and pages, what happens when developers make changes to the underlying site logic?

    More often than not, the rules you’ve defined to layer your changes break, with potentially disastrous consequences. And when you’ve multiple rules with conflicting directives, how do you manage which ones win?

  • How do you know what does what?
    Writing rules in raw JavaScript doesn’t make for easily readable, at-a-glance understanding of what’s being altered.

    When you’ve got lots of rules or particularly complex scripts, you’ll need a logging or documentation process to provide human-friendly overviews of how all of the moving parts work and interact.

  • Who logs what’s where?
    If conflicts arise, or if you want to update or make new changes you’ll need to edit or build on top of your existing systems. But how do you know which systems – your CMS or your meta CMS – are controlling which bits of the templates, content and pages you want to modify?

    You’ve got rules and logic in multiple places, and it’s a headache keeping track.

    When the CEO asks why the page he’s looking at is broken, how do you begin to work out why, and where, things have gone wrong?

  • How do you do QA and testing?
    Unless your systems provide an easy way to preview changes, and allow you to expose testing URLs for the purposes of QA, browser testing and similar, you’ve got a system with a lot of power and very little quality control. At the moment, it doesn’t look like Cloudflare supports this.

  • How do you manage access and versioning?
    As your rules change, evolve and layer over time, you’ll need a way of managing version control, change logging, and access/permissions. It’s unclear if, or how Cloudflare will attack this at the moment, but the rest of their ecosystem is generally lacking in this regard.

  • How do you prevent accidental exposure/caching/PII etc?
    When you’ve full access to every piece of data flowing to or from the server, you can very easily do things which you probably shouldn’t – even accidentally. It doesn’t take much to accidentally store, save, or expose private user information, credit card transaction details, and other sensitive content.

    With great power comes great responsibility, and just writing-some-javascript can have unintended consequences.

In general then, relying overly on your CDN as a meta CMS feels like a risky solution. It’s good for patching over problems, but it’s going to cause operational and organisational headaches.

That’s not to say that it’s not a useful tool, though. If you’re already on Cloudflare, and you have complex challenges which you can resolve as a one-off fix using Cloudflare Workers, then it’s a great way to bypass the issue and get some easy wins.

Alternatively, if you need to execute geographically specific content, caching or redirect logic (at the closest local edge node to the user), then this is a really great tool – there are definitely use cases around geographically/legally restricted content where this is the perfect tool for the job.

Otherwise, it feels like trying to fix the problem is almost always going to be the better solution. Even if your developers are slow, you’re better off addressing the underlying issues at their source than patching on layers of (potentially unstable) fixes over the top.

Sometimes, Cloudflare Workers will be an elegant solution – more often than not, you should try to fix things the old-fashioned way.

ODN as a meta CMS

Except, there may be an exception to the rule.

If you could have all of the advantages of a meta CMS, but with provisions for avoiding all of the pitfalls I’ve identified – access and version control, intuitive interfaces, secure testing processes, and documentation – you could solve all of your technical SEO challenges overnight, and they’d stay solved.

And whilst I want to stress that I’m not a sales guy, we have a solution.

Our ‘Optimisation Delivery Network’ product (Distilled ODN for short) does all of this, with none of the disadvantages we’ve explored.

We built, and market our platform as an SEO split-testing solution (and it’s a uniquely awesome way to measure the effectiveness of on-page SEO changes at scale), but more interestingly for us, it’s essentially a grown-up meta CMS.

It works by making structured changes to pages, between the request to the server and the point where the page is delivered back to the user. It can do everything that Google Tag Manager or Cloudflare can do to your pages, headers, content and response behaviour.

And it has a friendly user interface. It’s enterprise-grade, it’s scalable, safe, and answers to all of the other challenges we’ve explored.

We have clients who rely on ODN for A/B testing their organic search traffic and pages, but many of these also use the platform to just fix stuff. Their marketing teams can log in, define rules and conditions, and fix issues which it’d typically take months (sometimes years) for development teams to address.

So whilst ODN still isn’t a perfect fix – if you’re in need of a meta CMS then something has already gone wrong upstream – it’s at least a viable, mature and sophisticated way of bypassing clunky development processes and delivering quick, tactical wins.

I expect we’ll see much more movement in the meta CMS market in the next year or so, especially as there are now multiple players in the space (including Amazon!); but how viable their products will be – if they don’t have usable interfaces and account for organisational/operational challenges – is yet to be seen.

In the meantime, you should have a play with Cloudflare’s sandbox, and if you want more firepower and a stronger safety net, get in touch with us for a Distilled ODN demo.

Media first or Creative first ‘round 2’

“If you depend on figuring out which old media, new media, internet media, cellphone media or whatever media is right before you have a creative idea that makes that medium actually necessary or work harder, the best result you can expect is to be only as good as your competition — and not better. All those media and internet choices are available pretty much to everyone. However, if you start with a brilliant creative idea you are instantly setting yourself up to do better than the competition since the best ideas are unique, interruptive and make any media idea work harder for you.

Net net, don’t settle by getting excited about some new way to reach people, or any of the numerous new internet and cell phone ad delivery systems. Not good enough. Think about the creative idea that engages and activates and keep the media options available as part of the idea. This side by side sign that went up to get consumers to visit Legal Sea Foods near the Boston Aquarium uses the aquarium logo and importantly comes out of a single creative idea that incorporates the creative and the medium in one thought. Brilliant and effective.” – ELLIS VERDI

Theresa May Coughs Up New Housing and Energy Policies in Speech to Annual Conservative Party Conference

The UK Prime Minister’s speech to Conservative Party Conference

During a Conservative Party conference dominated by speculation over who is best suited to lead the Party in the future, Theresa May sought to use today’s speech as a platform to re-assert her own leadership credentials and to present her vision of a renewed “British dream”.

However, confronted by an intruder with a mocked up P45 unemployment form and troubled by a persistent cough, that not even the Chancellor’s throat sweets could remedy, this was undoubtedly a challenging experience for a Prime Minister under close scrutiny.

While the headlines tomorrow will focus on the series of unfortunate events that hampered the Prime Ministers delivery, the speech itself contained several significant policy announcements aimed at progressing the Prime Minister’s ambition of leading a Government that offers a “voice to the voiceless”.

In a big shift away from the Cameron/Osborne focus on building homes for owner occupation, May promised a significant expansion in council housing with local authorities to be given new freedoms to build their own homes, while also being forced to assess local need and set targets to construct more housing in their area. Additionally, a further £2 billion will be invested to build affordable housing.

This policy demonstrates the importance that the Prime Minister places in reconnecting the Party to young voters, many of whom have struggled to afford housing and favoured Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party during the General Election. The eagle-eyed may also have spotted that the title for this year’s conference “Building a Country that Works for Everyone” contained a clue to the policy announcement to come – even if the slogan itself couldn’t make it to the end of the speech.

The Prime Minister confirmed that she would push ahead with the Conservative manifesto pledge to introduce legislation to cap energy prices, which many speculated had been set aside following the General Election. A draft Bill will be released next week setting out the Government’s framework for implementing this policy. This section of the speech was redacted in the version handed to journalists before the Prime Minister stood up, showing it was meant to be the ‘rabbit out of the hat moment’ that headline writers would focus on – sadly, for Theresa May, events ensured this was not meant to be.

Other policies announced include a review of the Mental Health Act by Professor Sir Simon Wessley aimed at addressing any injustices present in the current system, an extension of the free school programme and the introduction of an opt-out organ donation system in England.

By urging her Party to speak for “ordinary working people” and tailoring a policy platform to match, there are parallels between this speech and May’s initial address outside Downing Street last July. This was also evident in the tone of the speech, which was often of a personal nature.

In the later part of her speech, May received a standing ovation when arguing that “the test of a leader is how you react when tough times come upon you”. Faced with a challenging set of circumstances for a Prime Minister delivering a conference speech, May proved once again that she will continue to confront adversity head on.

If you would like any further information or detail, please do not hesitate to contact the Public and Corporate Affairs team.


ADCOLOR exists to establish a community of diverse professionals to support and celebrate one another. Every year, those diverse professionals attend a conference full of the brightest, diverse and innovative minds in the industry. This year, a total of nine GSD&M employees attended, and they returned with meaningful, game-changing insights and inspiration. Along with our attendance, we were an incredibly proud sponsor and as such, wanted to create something as a little reminder of the change we have the power to make. These pins were sent home with every attendee:


I caught up with the folks who attended to see what they learned, so I’ll let the people at the forefront of diversity and inclusion do the talking.

How can the ad industry influence and inspire more work toward diversity in other industries and beyond?

  • Cara Maschler, account director: Our best efforts are those that strive for as many diverse voices as there are in the world. When we partner with related industries, it’s plain to see that a great idea can truly be cultivated from anywhere.
  • Max Rutherford, vendor diversity director: It is imperative to champion diversity and inclusion at our respective agencies and in work we do on behalf of our clients. It has to create an inclusive environment that embraces talent with diverse perspectives in order to deliver more groundbreaking solutions for clients.
  • Eric Knittel, associate creative director: The biggest thing the ad industry could do is lead by example. We are expert communicators, and we haven’t found a way to really start the conversation about unconscious bias.
  • Laura Guardalabene, designer: Advertising has a huge subconscious influence over the general population. The more we can reflect the diverse culture that is America, the more empathy we can create for disenfranchised communities.
  • Monica Vicens, strategy director: There is a great opportunity for us to educate our clients and push the envelope (ours and theirs) to embrace the people, lifestyles and attitudes that will drive brand growth.

What was your personal most important takeaway from ADCOLOR?

  • Ana Leen, account director: Rising stars in an organization are chosen by the leaders around them. If we want more diversity in leadership positions, we need to create the scaffolding for them to get there.
  • Kirya Francis, VP solutions/decision sciences: It is important not to leave your voice and experience at the door—it is critical in making better work for our clients as well as a better workplace. In general, the ad industry excels in branding diversity, but we have a little ways to go when it comes to embracing workforce and vendor diversity.
  • Shannon Moorman, VP talent acquisition: It’s incumbent upon us in the business to highlight the wins, the good and the bad, and create platforms of communication to galvanize the racial divide across this nation.
  • Candi Clem, analytics manager: ADCOLOR taught me a lesson that I will forever cherish: I am never alone. I have a tribe of brilliant, beautiful, diverse people who have my back. Even when I’m the only person in the room that looks like me, there are a legion of others with me in spirit. I don’t have to fight this fight on my own.


This industry has the power to cultivate change—and it must start where the work happens. These conversations must continue to take place inside and outside of agencies and brands, and although we have a ways to go, we should be incredibly proud and excited to have minds like these fighting for diversity in our industry.

Until next year, ADCOLOR. Here’s to progress.

Got a passion for film and digital?

Well, imagine getting paid for doing the stuff you love!


MAGNAFI is a film led content marketing agency with a 20 year track record in delivering campaigns across the marketing spectrum. From Broadcast TV commercials to product launch video for microsites, MAGNAFI services include strategy, creative, film and post production and interactive technologies.


We are seeking a smart, ambitious and digitally-passionate person to join our award winning and expert team as a digital marketing apprentice.


Everyday we make films for some of the country’s biggest brands. The likes of Very, Missguided, Sofology, Betfred, NHS and the BBC trust us to bring their brand to life across a world of channels and devices. Last year our NHS Christmas film bagged number one ahead of Justin Bieber and was named in Creative England’s Top 50. So where do YOU fit in?


We are driven to make films that move people unexpectedly, powerfully and with purpose. We do this by relentlessly pursuing the evolution of film: challenging its conventions, exploring what’s next and realising its economic force.


As an apprentice with Magnafi, you will be given the opportunity to gain a further qualification and progress a career in the cutting edge of digital marketing – the convergence of film, channels, data and technology.


You will work alongside expert teams who develop brand, campaign and digital strategy. Then be part of bringing them to life through film and video production.


No day is the same – there is a tremendous variety in the clients we work with, the strategic challenges our films need to identify and meet and how our films are made and deployed.


This dynamic work is underpinned by strong processes, tools and techniques you will learn and master. We invest in training and development regularly and have a strong internal learning and creative inspiration programme.


Our values are critical to our competitive advantage and the quality of our work. You will be expected to demonstrate them and protect them.


Maganfi is part of the MMI Group – the largest portfolio of content, film and production companies in the northwest including industry leaders The Gate Films and the purpose built Foundry Film Studios in Salford Quays.


To apply, visit
Deadline for entries: 9th October


Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend a selection day on 12th October where the lucky apprentices will be chosen. If you are selected you will be expected to start your apprenticeship on the 16th October, please mark clearly on your application if you will be unavailable to start on this date and we will consider you for future selection days.


Note: The Juice Academy will recruit a number of apprentices to start in October and while you’re applying for the Magnafi position, you may be placed in a different, equally exciting in a different company as part of the programme.

The post Got a passion for film and digital? appeared first on Magnafi.

Why This Feminist Weed Camp Isn’t Just For White Women

Marijuana cotton candy, flower crowns, and surprising diversity. Ganja Goddess Getaway is carving a niche in the $563 billion wellness tourism industry.

“The belly dancing class will start on the great lawn in five minutes,” announces a soothing female voice over the public address system. After a pause, she adds, “I love you.”

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What We Learned in September 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

While the main tech headlines have revolved around new hardware, with all the major players showing off their new products to the press and public, there has been plenty of updates all around the digital marketing and tech landscapes. Google is making changes to appease both publisher and the EU Commission, and Instagram is becoming an advertising juggernaut…

Industry news

Google responds to EU competition commission woes

Google has responded to the EU Commission’s June ruling that it has breached EU antitrust rules by giving an illegal advantage to its comparison shopping engine (CSE). Google’s new plan involves allowing competing CSEs to bid in an auction to have their listings appear alongside Google Shopping’s in the “one-box” at the top of the search results. Google Shopping will also have to bid, and will be run as a separate entity in Europe in an apparent attempt at a level playing field. We are sceptical that the playing field will truly be all that level – it’s not clear what operating costs the new Google Shopping unit will have to bear – and this also feels like a step up in complexity for individual retailers who will now need to manage competitive listings on multiple platforms. We anticipate that it will be hard for retailers to get visibility into why an individual listing on a given CSE does or does not appear in the Google one-box.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

First Click Free is dead

Google has recently announced that it will abandon its ‘First Click Free’ policy, whereby users are allowed to read three free articles a day on otherwise paywalled publications, or the website in question wouldn’t appear prominently in search results. Publishers have hailed the change as a victory, but many (including Distilled CEO Will Critchlow) question whether the replacement is any better.

Read the full story (The Guardian)

Apple drops Bing in favour of Google for Siri web search

Apple has announced a switch to Google as its provider of web searches from within Siri (on iOS) and Spotlight (on mac). Google already powers web searches within Safari and pays Apple a lot (an estimated $3 billion in 2017) in so-called “Traffic Acquisition Costs” (TAC) for the privilege. It’s not yet clear whether more money will be changing hands as part of the updated deal, particularly as the integration will reportedly be API-only and show only organic results, with no ads. Is it possible Apple is even paying Google (or at least reducing the TAC Google pays for the Safari integration)?

Read the full story (Tech Crunch)

Google updates AdWords to tackle Apple ITP problem

Apple has recently signalled its intention to roll out ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) as part of a Safari update, which is aimed at limiting the cross-browsing data that third-party trackers can capture. This poses a headache for Google AdWords. In short, Google’s solution involves a new analytics cookie that will be used to capture conversion data in a way that confirms to ITP.

Read the full story (Search Engine Land)

The super-aggregators

Facebook’s handling of news aggregation has become a highly sensitive and politicised topic over the last 12 months. It has been criticised for censoring too much, not censoring enough and having no real solution to the fake news problem. Ben Thompson of Stratechery argues that Facebook (and others) have become super aggregators, and breaks down potential ways to effectively regulate these massively-powerful companies.

Read the full story (Stratechery)

Apple and Amazon lead new hardware launches

It’s the season for the tech giants to launch their new wares, and Amazon feels like the brand with the most innovative and interesting products being released. The e-commerce company has been in the hardware business for some years now, but its new round of Echo hardware (including the Echo 2, Echo Spot, Echo Plus and more) shows it is still experimenting to see what resonates and drives widescale adoption. And the Apple event didn’t exactly slip under the radar either…

Read the full story (QZ)

Instagram hits huge 2-million monthly advertisers mark

In September, two million businesses bought ads on Instagram. This figure is double the amount bought in March and four times the amount bought in September 2016. Facebook regularly gets five million monthly ad buyers. The purchase and subsequent integration of Instagram by Facebook has, of course, accelerated the growth of advertising with a large overlap of advertisers promoting their products and services on both social platforms.

Read the full story (Marketing Land)

Ahrefs crawlers now executing JavaScript

Ahrefs has announced it will now crawl links found in JavaScript. According to the company, it “will only execute JavaScript if a page has more than 15 referring domains pointing at it”. This currently works out to be about 30 million of the ~6 billion pages it crawls every day and results in the discovery of an additional 250 million links in JS.

Read the full story (Ahrefs)

Google searchers using location modifiers less and less

Google has personalised search based on location for a number of years, and has consistently gotten better at it. However, there has been a question mark around the overall understanding and adoption of implicit aspects by searchers. Recent data would suggest that people are finally getting used to the idea. For example searches including the phrase “near me” is declining, while comparable searches without the location modifier have grown by 150% this year alone.

Read the full story (Think with Google)

Distilled news

SearchLove London 2017 is now just 11 days away. For any last-minute decision making, we’ve compiled the 8 biggest reasons to join us at this year’s conference. You can pick up your tickets here. Senior Designer Leonie Wharton has compiled the most interesting creative work we’ve produced this year, while Principal Consultant Ben Estes had updated his very popular technical audit checklist.

Over on the Moz blog, Robin Lord has written an epic post on how he built a chat bot from scratch (and how you can too), and Zee Hoffman Jones has been laying down the checklist for competitive analyses (protip: Zee will cover this in even more detail at SearchLove London).

Amazon reportedly building rival service to FedEx and UPS

The online retail giant is reportedly testing its own delivery service so it can reduce reliance on FedEx and UPS, reports Bloomberg. The trial program is said to be underway on the west coast before rolling out nationally. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Amazon is hoping its proprietary delivery services would mean it could make more …

The online retail giant is reportedly testing its own delivery service so it can reduce reliance on FedEx and UPS, reports Bloomberg. The trial program is said to be underway on the west coast before rolling out nationally. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Amazon is hoping its proprietary delivery services would mean it could make more of its products available for two-day delivery than it can using FedEx and UPS, as well as reduce congestion in its warehouses.

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