Thank You

As I walk out the door for my official last time today, I look back in satisfaction on 35 remarkable years as a brand management principal at The Richards Group. I came in with that designation, and I proudly retire with it too.

When I joined Stan and his mighty band of 35 or so Groupers in 1983, I had already been blessed with a solid launch at Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago and almost ten years in marketing at Frito-Lay. I was 35 and, some would say, a bit full of myself. What I learned most from Stan, and all my colleagues here, is that the agency business is the ultimate team sport. There are no more important jobs – or less important jobs. They are all critical to our work, the growth of our clients, and the welfare of our people. Nothing else matters.

I have also grown to understand that hiring and developing smarter, more organized, and harder-working people will help you grow and ensure that your clients and the agency prosper too. And many of these wonderful people will grace you with friendships that will last a lifetime. I am also counting on many of them to lead the next generation of Groupers to carry on Stan’s legacy far into the future.

Every retiring agency person has enough client stories to fill at least one book, but in the interest of blog etiquette, I will keep to just a few. My first big new business “win” was Motel 6, and it wasn’t a real win but an assignment from one of Stan’s former clients.

The first thing I learned on Motel 6 is that advertising can do very little unless the product is at least competitive. Motel 6 delayed the launch of a new campaign until they finished some major remodeling and product enhancements, like putting telephones in the rooms. But that gave us time to really understand the motivation of the potential customer – and time for the creative and media folks to develop one of our most successful and longest-running campaigns, which is still running today. Though I passed the baton early to another principal, I was asked to take the helm again later in my career to ensure that we kept the business on track. Along the way, my wife, Becky, and I developed a lifelong friendship with our first CMO at Motel 6, Hugh Thrasher, may he rest in peace.

My next new business highlight – and I partnered with my good friend Jeff Upshaw on this one – was The Catfish Institute. We had been recommended to the institute’s president, Bill Allen, by a New York consultant. But Bill also knew of Jeff, whose family still farmed in the Mississippi Delta.

Jeff and I worked hard to understand the challenges of working for a farmer cooperative and had great fun plotting with the first creative team, Glenn Dady and Mike Malone, to help put farm-raised catfish on the menus of America’s white-tablecloth restaurants. And what fun we had along the way! I still count Bill and Jeff as two of my closest friends.

I was also blessed to lead the agency team that pitched and won Chick-fil-A. Though a couple of smarter, harder-working folks eventually took the ball from me and ran with it for the rest of our 22-year run, I was fortunate to be there at the start. Our team helped craft the Original Chicken Sandwich strategy that pitted us against the burger boys. A brilliant young creative team came up with the self-preservationist cows, and we were off to an incredible run – and a few more lifelong friendships including Steve Robinson, David Salyers, and Greg Ingram.

Another really interesting opportunity came our way with a call from Malmö, Sweden. The woman in charge of Perstorp Flooring’s advertising admired our work for The Container Store, Elfa’s primary retail outlet in the United States. She invited us to Fort Worth to meet Perstorp’s president, Lars von Kantzow, who had just signed Color Tile as their first U.S. outlet.

Stan wasn’t available, so Owen Hannay and I were on our own. We told The Richards Group’s story the best we could and showed our work to much nodding and laughing, so we knew there were no language or cultural issues. We then suggested that Lars consider Stan’s four conclusions that he hopes every client prospect will come away with at the end of a pitch: I like what you said. I like how you said it. I like you. Let’s do business.

Lars called the next day and said those conclusions right back to me. Together, we launched Pergo, the most successful new flooring brand in a generation. And I made another lifelong friend in Lars.

These are only a few of the stories about this place and our wonderful clients, but they are representative of my story here. They are part of why this place has meant so much to my career and why I have remained here so long. But in every story, it wasn’t just the business success – it was the people I had the opportunity to work with every day. They are what I will dearly miss.

Thank you.

The post Thank You appeared first on The Richards Group.

What Marketers Need to Know about Facebook and Third-Party Data

Last week Facebook announced that it would be deprecating a product (Partner Categories) that has allowed advertisers to leverage third-party data on the platform. This data was often comprised of offline behaviors like television tune in, in-store purchases and other in market behaviors, and it served as a great way for advertisers who didn’t have much first party data to augment their targeting strategies. While advertisers will still be able to leverage third-party data on Facebook, the process is now much less turnkey and much more complicated.

This is a very aggressive move from Facebook to help shore up their users’ privacy concerns and provide transparency into their platform. While that remains to be seen, this has huge implications for advertisers, especially those in the CPG, Auto and Finance verticals. We expect that in the short-term, advertisers who relied on this data, will see drops in performance. Longer term, this may change the role of Facebook and Instagram in brands’ marketing mix.

But being on this blog, you are most likely one of the advertisers impacted and are currently wondering: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!?! Don’t worry, we have you covered with the below step by step guide that outlines how you should be approaching your data-driven Facebook campaigns from here on out:

  1. Don’t Panic: This feature will be deprecated over the course of three months, as campaigns can be created and edited until June 30, 2018 with this targeting. These campaigns will be able to run till September 30, 2018. This gives brands six months to revisit and revamp their approach to Facebook and find alternatives to any third-party data you may be using.
  2. Update briefs, plans and campaigns: If you have any campaigns planned or are in the process of planning any campaigns, take a look at your audiences, targeting parameters and estimated results. While Partner Categories will still run till September 30, use this opportunity to test those categories against other possible data sources such as Lookalikes, CRM, or interest.
  3. Audit your use of data on Facebook: While on the topic of data sources, use this as an opportunity to do an audit of how you approach data on Facebook. Are you often using third party data? Do you have your pixels or SDKs in the right places and firing at the right times? How often is your first party data refreshed? These questions can serve as a starting off point for you to determine your approach on Facebook.
  4. Audit your use of data across digital: While you’re looking at your data use on Facebook, you can take this opportunity to look at how you use data across other social channels and digital as a whole.
  5. Revise your data approach: Now that you’ve audited your data usage across digital and social, look to develop norms and answers to the following questions:
    • Do you have full ability use or house this data?
    • How are you qualifying your audiences (purchase, site visit, etc)?
    • What action on site is most indicative of the action you want?
    • Are there different data sources for each phase of the consumer journey?
    • What channels are best used with what data sets?
    • Do these changes in data capabilities change the role that Facebook and other platforms?

While these changes do limit the out of the box capability of the platforms, Facebook still has massive amounts of scale, and the ability to target granularly – it’ll just require a bit of work to get there.

Photo credit: The Verge

The post What Marketers Need to Know about Facebook and Third-Party Data appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

Alana named by The Young Creative Council

Looking to celebrate rising female creative stars who are going above and beyond in and outside work, The Young Creative Council (YCC) launched for International Women’s Day. Sense Senior Creative Nobby Hill spotted the initiative and instantly thought of an ideal candidate to nominate.

“She’s one of the most talented, positive, rad people I’ve ever met (let alone had the pleasure of working with). The only thing more inspiring than her approach is her work,” he told YCC, who agreed and chose Alana McDowell as its 20th

As well as Sense, Alana has designed for lots of brands, including Vans and Dirtquake, with YCC describing her work as “rebellious, beautiful, polished and ever-evolving”.

“On top of all that,” says Nobby, “Alana is constantly striving to help anyone and everyone in any way she can, from giving tips, finding contacts, supplying veggie recipes, and more. She’s got your back – even if you’ve just met.”

Click here to see Alana’s Badass.Gal entry

…and here to check out her website.

Plus you can nominate someone here.

The post Alana named by The Young Creative Council appeared first on Sense London.

SEO Content Marketing Strategy: Why You Need it and How to Get Started

The key to a successful content marketing strategy is simple: create high-quality content that speaks to your audience’s interests, needs, and concerns, and make sure that content gets seen. Having a strong SEO foundation within your content marketing strategy plays an essential role in increasing the visibility of your website’s blog and creative assets. We’ve […]

The post SEO Content Marketing Strategy: Why You Need it and How to Get Started appeared first on 97th Floor.

Aesop Storytelling Series; Season 2

Back by popular demand, we’re here for another mind-expanding helping of the Aesop Storytelling Series, this time from the mind of our new Executive Creative Director, Brian Cooper.

In the last series we uncovered how the power of narrative could help build brands. Now we’re going one step further, and exploring the storyverse, what this means for brands, and how it might be the only way to reach the consumers of today.

Download Episode 1—Advertising in Tomorrowland.

Or, if you missed it, catch up on the entire first season.

Champion Works with 360i to Launch New Brand Campaign: “Dare To Be Champion”

“Dare To Be Champion” is the new mantra from athletic apparel brand Champion, as the brand showcases the modern day champion: those who embody inclusivity, integrity and heart. In a new anthem spot, three inspiring individuals – a skateboarder, Leandre, a dancer, Jaira and an artist, Casey – encapsulate Champion’s vision: one that celebrates the life, heart, skill and dreams of real champions.



“Dare To Be Champion” is Champion’s latest, full-scale brand campaign that builds on the current momentum behind the brand, as consumers rediscover what Champion has always stood for and as the brand prepares to open their first U.S. retail location in Los Angeles. The brand worked closely with Creative AOR 360i to cast a light on the real-life passions of Leandre, Jaira, and Casey, leaning in to the brand’s inherent authenticity and accessibility, and away from the notion that success is solely defined as winning. Leveraging online video across Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to reach a young and diverse audience with passions of their own, the brand will also tap the three champions’ own social channels for an authentic rethinking of influencer-driven campaigns.

For more videos from the new campaign, head to Champion’s YouTube page.

The post Champion Works with 360i to Launch New Brand Campaign: “Dare To Be Champion” appeared first on 360i Digital Agency Blog.

Social Media News Roundup: March ’18 Week 4

In social media news this week, a new app blindfolds you from your retweets, Instagram introduces a feature to control time but parts ways with Apple, and Youtube helps the daily lives of multitaskers.
Finding the Gems in the Twitter Junkyard

A new app has been released that hides retweets from your Twitter timeline. Blindfold gains access to your Twitter through your permission then offers the option to hide or show retweets. It is supposed to rid a user’s timeline of meaningless retweets by clearing out Twitter’s digital junkyard to provide individuals with reposted tweets that they ‘need to know about’ instead. The app claims to value Twitter users’ mental wellbeing by cutting out the pointless stuff. Therefore, it doesn’t clear your timeline of retweets completely, but does aim to remove those that are deemed witless, unworthy or retweeted by users seemingly by mistake. The app only works on desktop at the moment, so your phone is still subject to irrelevant retweets for the time being.

Instagram Puts a Refreshing Spin on Time

Instagram still seems to be ignoring everyone’s pleas for a chronological timeline, but is providing some useful tools to try and parallel its old style…or at least refresh it. The app is currently testing a new feature that lets you control when your feed refreshes, so you won’t miss out on your friends’ posts. The feature is supposed to stop the feed taking you back to the top and will aim to show you the newer posts after the refresh by simply clicking the ‘New Posts’ button. Although Instagram aren’t reverting to their old ways, it seems it is trying to listen to its users at least in part. I don’t know about you, but I think the update will be rather refreshing!

The Insta Break-Up

As Instagram says hello to its new features, it says goodbye to the Apple Watch. Apple has turned its focus to new apps and their developers by pushing updates that will render the Instagram app useless on their digital device. Nevertheless, it won’t come as a huge surprise to those that used it as there wasn’t a huge amount of time and effort dedicated to the app on the Apple Watch platform – it had a long way to go compared to its mobile and desktop versions.


Youtube has finally answered the prayers of multitaskers everywhere. The video site is currently testing a feature that keeps the video you are watching on the screen, even if you click off it. It allows you to play and pause and to go through to the next video. The feature is being tested for desktop and only works if you stay on the platform. This means you can scroll and search for your next watch, but if you leave Youtube, then you leave the video you were viewing behind with it.

The post Social Media News Roundup: March ’18 Week 4 appeared first on Giraffe Social Media.

Could Virtual Reality Eventually Substitute an Actual Reality?

What is reality? Usually it’s overheating on the Central line whilst ignoring a podcast en route to a Monday morning meeting. But what if we go a bit deeper, beyond the tube and past the coughing person next to us who shouldn’t be on public transport; how do we actually manage to distinguish between what is real and what is not? These are questions that up until recently, weren’t often considered by the general public. With the emerging technology of virtual reality headsets and augmented reality, these are now questions that are on the tip of everyone’s tongue. With an estimated $2.3billion dollars (around £1billion) having been invested into VR technologies in recent years, it’s quite fair to say that these aren’t questions that are going to go away any time soon, either.

Before considering whether virtual reality could eventually substitute an actual reality, it’s perhaps important to look at what virtual reality has to offer and what it’s purpose actually is. Virtual reality is a digital mechanism for creating a simulated environment through the use of computer technologies. Broken down, this translates to a way in which to experience real life situations and environments through the use of (typically) a headset that straps onto your head and covers your eyes. It allows you to experience the thrill and fear of a 10-loop roller coaster without physically being on it. It can re-create an environment so effectively that it leaves the consumer experiencing a life-like reality from the comfort of their own home. Virtual reality has to date, mainly been used in the production of video games such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Elite: Dangerous, as well as for the viewing of some movies. There are also apps and programs that can be run in combination with the use of a virtual reality headset that allow the user to explore locations they may not be able to in actual reality, such as India, the Amazon forest or a tour of a museum halfway across the world. In this way the purpose of virtual reality could be described as both a medium of entertainment and a way to experience a reality that may not be possible in ‘real life’. The way virtual reality is able to mimic realistic experiences is what makes it so popular. Virtual reality is able to deliver artificial stand-ins for real life stimuli that are often produced by someone affected by their natural environment. An example of this would be the way your stomach drops when hitting a particularly big drop on a rollercoaster, or the way your skin feels when the sun is shining on it. Our bodies and minds are able to identify the ways in which a stimulus would feel in reality, and mimic that experience in our minds when presented with a triggering environment, much the same way we may experience the ability to ‘feel’ things in dreams.

So with all this in mind, back to the question.. Could virtual reality ever actually substitute an actual reality? The answer is much more complicated than simply yes or no and it is dependent upon a lot of varying factors. The use of virtual reality has so far, been extremely popular, allowing people to experience situations and environments on a whole new level. Whilst the popularity of virtual reality is only likely to rise, whether the experience it can offer is truly comparative to experiences in actual reality is under debate. How far can a headset mimic the feeling of the wind in your hair, or sand beneath your feet? Whilst current and potential future developments in the virtual reality field could go a long way to providing a convincing and realistic experience of such things, there are some events that virtual reality simply cannot and never will be able to replace. Eating, sleeping and using the bathroom are all examples of this. Virtual reality will never be able to sustain or alleviate the physiological needs of our physical bodies. There will always need to be an element of actual reality within our lives to sustain ourselves. Whilst pop culture shows and movies such as Black Mirror and The Matrix dabble in presenting a world where such a thing is possible, it is unlikely to be realistically possible without considerable scientific development and major breakthroughs in the understanding of the human body. Even then, whether the general population would accept and adapt to such a way of living is difficult to predict.

A more philosophical viewpoint that has been explored by Lawrence Stark, a former professor of engineering and optometry at the University of California, poses the question, how do we know that what we call an actual reality is actually reality? In the same way that virtual reality convinces us of our virtual experiences by providing us with supporting stimuli such as a moving field of vision when we move our head, doesn’t real life offer us the same supporting stimuli? We are convinced of our actual reality through persuasive argument. We are persuaded that this is an actual reality because of the convincing way in which our bodies react to the environment and our thought processes. Virtual reality mirrors this way of persuading us of a reality and from a philosophical standpoint, makes both types of reality as legitimate and real as each other. The lines between the two are therefore more blurred, and the question of whether virtual reality could substitute an actual reality is obsolete, as there is no clear distinction between the two.

Generally, the answer to the question posed is highly reliant on an individuals attitude towards and belief of how far science can go. Currently, high-end virtual reality headsets retail for around £300 per unit. If you add on the costs of separate games, movies, experiences and so forth, the cost of having and experiencing virtual reality stacks up considerably. This then poses the question, at such a high cost, would it be cheaper to simply experience what is on offer in actual reality? With the rise of social media in the past decade it seems hard to imagine a world where people would rather sit at home with a headset on than explore the world and share their snaps and experiences on the internet.

The post Could Virtual Reality Eventually Substitute an Actual Reality? appeared first on Don’t Panic London.

Three ways brands finding purpose are also finding profit

This article originally appeared in Chief Marketer. I shared my thoughts on a recent speaking engagement on “The Evolution of LGBT+ Consumerism” at OPEN Finance and talked about our work with Love Has No Labels.”

Femvertising. Purpose-driven branding. Micro-niche marketing. No matter what you call it, it’s undeniable that brands are increasingly pushing themselves to find purpose beyond their products and services.

And let’s face it—it’s a delicate step for a brand to stand up for a cause it believes in that’s greater than profit. Recent studies have revealed that many consumers feel it is important for brands to use their influences to help shape social and political discussions. A stellar example of this from last year was with Patagonia. The brand blacked out its homepage declaring, “The President Stole your Land,” in a blatant protest (including a lawsuit) against President Trump’s declaration to decrease the size of several national parks.

Only 10-40 percent of B2C brands and 50 percent of B2B brands have an emotional connection with their audiences—Google

The outdoor retailer is no stranger to supporting causes, particularly those aligned with its mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” The brand often literally puts its money where its mouth is—and is willing to potentially sacrifice profit to support its beliefs.

So why do it? Because buyers in today’s market respond to more than just products on a shelf. It is this type of advocacy that helps strengthen the connection between brand and consumer. People are looking for brands that reflect their own values and are prepared to take action on the issues that matter to them.

Recently, an OPEN Finance & Nomura’s event addressed “The Evolution of LGBT Consumerism” and how brands can do business with a market that is estimated to have $917 billion in buying power in the U.S. I was lucky to be part of the discussion during which time we reviewed the topical example of the digital and content marketing work for the Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels campaign, a collaborative effort focused on combating bias through love. The most recent effort on Veterans Day honored the love Americans have for the extraordinarily diverse community of people who have served our country, representing a wide range of races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders, ages, and abilities.

During this discussion, we considered how brands can be successful when wishing to pursue a purpose, while also pursuing profit. Three key themes emerged:

1. Beyond the Base Brands considering associating with a cause are wise to think about the appeal of their efforts beyond the core group. Accenture reports that 78 percent of LGBT adults and their friends, family, and relatives would switch to brands that are known to be LGBT-friendly. Similarly, brands supporting female empowerment are wise to consider that 33 percent of men also identify as feminists, according to the Washington Post.

2. Efficient Emotional Connections Modern marketing requires balancing consumers’ emotional and rational behaviors. Yet, Google reports that only 10-40 percent of B2C brands and 50 percent of B2B brands have an emotional connection with their audiences. Aligning brands with passions and values of audiences is a clear path to emotional connection. And with the power of targetable media based on user-provided data (via Facebook, DMPs and more), brands can now target their affiliations and purpose-driven initiatives to exactly the right populations, leading to more efficient media buying and better results.

3. Meaningful Contributions, Not Messages Brands must go beyond messages to actually make meaningful contributions to populations. If brands are seen as being opportunistic or disingenuous in their efforts, that can mean being held accountable by the media, customers and powerful digital influencers. For example, for brands trying to reach LGBT+ communities and their allies, it’s critical that they score well on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, support social causes surrounding equality and demonstrate a commitment to the community, even when it’s not convenient. In other words, it’s not enough to put a same sex couple or a gender non-conforming model in an ad. The community expects to see what you’ve done to support those people and make a difference in the real world.

In the case of the Love Has No Labels campaign, which, is supported by brands including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, P&G, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, State Farm, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Google, each brand has been able to appeal to a broad audience of Americans who support inclusivity and an intention to be aware of the role implicit bias plays in our lives. The campaign boasts broad awareness among about 60 percent of Americans and the brands that support it will ultimately make a true contribution to the fabric of American culture.

And like Patagonia, if brands can find their purpose and profit at once it’s a win-win for marketers.

The post Three ways brands finding purpose are also finding profit appeared first on Jack Morton.

A Call to Advertisers – Make Your Voice Heard

Over the last few days, we’ve received hundreds of emails and calls from clients, partners, and members of the ecosystem at large. In the wake of Facebook’s decision to discontinue their Partner Categories program, almost everyone in the industry is wondering what they should do.

Here are our thoughts for advertisers:

1. Defend your ability to create your own standard data models and apply them across all touchpoints. There are big advantages to starting with your own CRM data, enhancing with ethically sourced data from reputable providers, and working with publishers that give you the ability to use data you control. For most companies, your own data is one of your most valuable and strategic assets – and you should never share it with anyone that has inherent conflicts of interest or does not meet your standard for data governance.

Nor should you put all your faith in only a single type of data, particularly with less reliable social inputs. The best models and experiences draw from multiple ethical data sources. And lastly, you shouldn’t have to spend hours developing different segmentation strategies for every walled garden. Instead, demand the ability to use your own data across all activation points, and be willing to vouch for the quality and ethical nature of this data.

2. Demand standard integrations that give you the ability to protect your data. Let’s face it, proprietary black box systems aren’t good for anyone – particularly if there are concerns your valuable data might not be well protected or misappropriated. Custom processes for importing data also impose an operational tax that adds additional steps to an ecosystem that is already far too complex. And marketers should be able to plan and optimize their campaigns on an apples-to-apples basis to ensure best results. Walled gardens can and have made errors when it comes to representing reach, viewability, and other metrics.

Rather than place blind trust in the self-serving biases of anyone’s black box, demand support for secure integrations offered through LiveRamp and others that allow you to control what data you send and how it’s used. If you don’t take control over how data is ingested by partners, ensure that a privacy-compliant match process is performed in a safe haven by a neutral third party, and maintain a view across all your activation points – you lose control of your consumer experiences and harm the performance of your investments. An industry monopoly is only good for one company, and it’s not you.

3. Don’t panic! It’s easy to overreact to all the noise. Don’t. Over time, markets have a way of finding the most sensible and economic solutions. Take the example of AOL from twenty years ago – a story that seems prescient to much of today’s swirl. Long before some of today’s tech giants were even launched, AOL once required advertisers to build custom campaigns unique for their walled garden. As advertisers expressed their displeasure to AOL and even threatened to slow spend, the company wisely decided to embrace industry standards and greater transparency. Together, we can achieve change for good and a level playing field for all.

Now more than ever, advertisers need to exert their voice. Money is powerful, and advertisers should remember that they are the real decision makers. You vote with your marketing budgets every day, and your votes determine which policies change and which endure. Use your voice to demand support for data you can use everywhere and integrations that allow you to protect the data that’s in your care.

And trust that common sense will ultimately prevail. We’ve seen some signs that Facebook is reconsidering the initial policy they issued last week on data imports in light of advertiser concerns that will have an economic impact. There are many talented and smart people at Facebook. And if they take action on this feedback, it would be a smart move for them and good news for the industry.