Madison Ave Insights

Stuart Weitzman Turns Its Shoe Obsession into Success

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Social Media

2014 has been a banner year so far for shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. The luxury shoe brand is a top choice for a dizzying array of starlets who love Weitzman’s combination of style and comfort – such as Beyoncé who has claimed to have danced a thousand miles in hers, and Kate Middleton who sported a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedges when the Royal Couple visited Australia – and the brand made a big splash with the launch of SWxYOU.

SWxYOU is a series of limited edition shoes that allow customers to customize their shoes by choosing their own colors and hardware. Of course, Stuart Weitzman, the man behind the brand, has always been an innovator, ever since he took over his father’s shoe business and famously started using materials like lucite and wallpaper.

The brand has also been making news with its successful expansion.  In 2013, Stuart Weitzman opened Zaha Hadid-designed flagship store in Milan, and 2014 openings include Hong Kong and Rome.  All told, the brand operates forty-four retail stores across the United States, sixty-two international stores, fourteen international shop-in-shops, and e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Hong Kong, making its footwear and accessories available in more than seventy countries.

Much of Stuart Weitzman’s recent expansion was fueled by careful data collection and savvy use of social media. The company uses offline data, such as in-store sales reports, in combination with online performance data, to gauge international audience preferences. It then uses those insights to drive promoted posts on Facebook in countries where it is about to open new stores.  For example, when Stuart Weitzman opened its new store in Mexico City, the brand saw 5,073 post “likes” and 46,128 clicks. It has since used similar campaigns to promote store openings in United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Korea.

The Way I See It

  • I see a revival of bespoke clothing and shoes. From Stuart Weitzman’s SWxYOU initiative, to suit and shirt makers like Indochine and Blank Label, brands are catering to customers by offering unique and individualized merchandise they can make their own via online templates.
  • I see social media remaining a key aspect of a brand’s marketing and advertising. Brands will continue to push out content via social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest – as a mode of connecting with their customer base. After all, many of us rely on social media to obtain the latest trends, news, etc., and brands have taken notice.
  • I see store opening events as not something of the past, but as a key player for brands. For all the handwringing about the demise of brick-and-mortar retailing, store openings can still be major events for brands that know how to play them right.  As Stuart Weitzman has demonstrated, smart social media promotion can drive foot traffic as well as virtual clicks.

The Way the Industry Sees It

 

 

I sat down with Wayne Kulkin, Chief Executive Officer at Stuart Weitzman, to discuss social media and world retail domination.

 

Q
What was the inspiration behind SWxYOU, and what have sales been like through that program?
A
Our business model has always been inspired by creating styles that can be customized by the various merchants around the globe. We gave the merchants the ability to choose from hundreds of thousands of variables in an array of materials, heel shapes, heel heights, sizes and widths as well as their choice of ornaments and finishes. We even give customers the opportunity to change the type of sole from leather to a variety of comfort materials like latex. So we thought in this world of bespoke ecommerce that we would give individual customers the same opportunity as a retail merchant – allowing her to have a wide range of colors, ornaments, studding, and heels.
Q
You partnered with SocialFlow – social media optimization platform – and use their Crescendo platform for your social media marketing. What did Social Flow bring to the table that made it a good partner, and what does Crescendo allow you to do that other platforms don’t?
A
SocialFlow and Crescendo are the firepower that helps us to cut through the clutter and ensures that people that are interested in the brand are seeing the content we work so hard to create.  We partner with SocialFlow to promote our posts as well as utilize day to day publishing through Crescendo. SocialFlow and the Crescendo tool use data and an algorithm that allows us to post content at the optimum time, to the most relative and engaged audience. Our publishing decisions are determined by looking at audience availability, topical appetite, topical saturation, and a risk assessment that includes audience and topical variability. Crescendo also provides an ad buying platform enabling clients to run ad campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. The product uses keyword targeting, refined by demographic targeting, to segment and target existing, potential and competitor audiences based on real-time conversational data. Through SocialFlow on Facebook we average thirty-five to forty percent higher engagement than when natively posting. Our results on the paid media side tend to be even stronger, with click through rates (CTR) as high as ten percent. Industry standard tends to be around one to two percent. Through SocialFlow on Twitter, we have an average engagement rate of approximately three hundred percent above retail averages and an average cost per engagement eighty-seven percent below retail averages.
Q
What has the data taught you about shoe buyers in Asia and the Middle East, where you’re focusing your expansion? How do consumers in those places shop as well as use social media differently than in the United Stated, and how do you alter your marketing approach to accommodate them? 
A
One thing we learned is – even though the world is flat with easy access to the Internet and all things mobile – it is critical to geo-target based off of customer’s behavior, likes, and dislikes. Some of the tactics we have selected are using specific lasts (which are molds that give the shoe its fit) and we learned many years ago that women have different fit needs based upon geography. On the socialization standpoint – part of what excites a customer is global celebrity – becoming a new trend is taking advantage of key local celebrities, tastemakers, and bloggers. The customer wants to be able to have a vehicle through which they can partake in social media in their own voice and we are just in our infancy in learning how to navigate successfully and uniquely with product distribution in seventy countries.
Q
With Fashion Week coming up in September, is there anything new and interesting planned to take advantage of the buzz surrounding the week?
A
We pride ourselves on being a very democratic brand and believe fashion week should be celebrated fifty-two weeks of the year.  One of the challenges is to create a synergistic party atmosphere across all our channels that celebrate fashion, design, and function 24/7.
Q
What’s the most interesting object in your office?
A
A talking monkey head, which has the ability to answer questions with variety of facial movements.  We confer to the monkey head for “yes” and “no” answers to lighten the mood on serious subject matters.

“MommyShorts” is Blogging Her Way into Hearts, Homes, and Brands

Posted in Advertising, Entertainment, Marketing

Maybe you’ve seen them on Instagram or Facebook – pictures of babies dressed up in grown-up suits like so many chubby-cheeked David Byrnes. It’s called “baby suiting,” and it’s the latest photo craze instigated by mom blogger Ilana Wiles, who just a year ago launched a surge of “baby mugging,” which is just what it sounds like (well, maybe not) – taking pictures of babies as though they’re sitting in coffee mugs.

Wiles and her blog – MommyShorts – are part of a growing and influential trend of moms who blog. According to recent research by eMarketer, there are roughly 4.2 million moms who blog, accounting for eighteen percent of all adult bloggers. An established mom blog can have hundreds of thousands of regular readers.

As Wiles and her MommyShorts blog has proven, mom bloggers wield an enormous amount of influence. If you can get thousands of other moms to dress their infants up in their husbands’ best jackets and ties, what do you think happens when she mentions – let alone reviews – a product she likes? And like Wiles, many mom bloggers are quite entrepreneurial, and actively court brands to advertise on their blogs or to submit products for review.

The Way I See It

  • Blogs are an effective way to reach important demographics. Most moms have a list of blogs they read daily, and almost seventy percent of them believe the word-of-mouth information they get from blogs is credible. In fact, eighty-one percent of all consumers trust the information they get from blogs and social media.
  • I see brands actively courting moms and their audiences, often participating at events like the “Mom 2.0 Summit” and other events for mom bloggers, which, among other things, also teach bloggers how to work with brands.
  • I see the relationship between brands and mom bloggers, specifically, growing. Who better to receive advice from than a fellow parent?

The Way the Industry Sees It

 

I sat down with Ilana Wiles, founder of MommyShorts, to discuss mom bloggers and their influence as brand ambassadors.

 

Q
What was your goal in launching Mommy Shorts, and how has that goal evolved over time?
A
Almost four years ago, I was laid off from my job as a creative director shortly after I returned from maternity leave. I had a hard time finding a full-time job at my level when most of my portfolio was in traditional advertising – television, outdoor, print. I had very little digital experience. Many of the brands at my old company had recently started paying attention to mom bloggers, and I thought if I got involved in that space, it could end up being a real asset in the advertising world. I decided to work freelance and start a blog in my down time. I became immersed in social media, building my own brand and creating content to engage a growing audience of new moms. As my audience grew, I received more ad jobs where agencies wanted to leverage my reach for their clients. They were building Mommy Shorts into their pitches and their proposals. I decided it made more sense to pursue the blog full-time and see where it could go if I focused all my energy on building my own brand. In the end, my advertising experience helps me be a better blogger instead of the other way around. As I work with more brands, I find the ideation and the partnership possibilities even more exciting than I did at a traditional agency. This year I started to realize my brand can be bigger than the blog. I have a show on ulive, a licensing deal in the works, and an Instagram following I am leveraging all on its own. I’m not going to be writing about my kids in the same way ten years from now, so it’s nice to know there are lots of possibilities of where this can go.
Q
What’s your relationship with your readers like? Do you feel you have a responsibility to them? If so, what is that responsibility?
A
I put my readers first always. There are lots of bloggers who are writing entirely for themselves, and their readers love them for it. I am more about reader response. Their engagement determines my content entirely. Every sponsorship I take on means my content has to be that much better. You can’t just sell to people. They aren’t interested. You have to be entertaining and authentic.

Peel back the curtains and read the rest of the Q&A here!

Ghostery Assuages Privacy Concerns Through Transparency and Control

Posted in Uncategorized

Maybe you’ve noticed this, or maybe you’ve worked on a campaign that uses this tactic: You visit a website to look at shoes, a car, or whatever, then move on to some other website – say Facebook or the New York Times –  and an ad for the site or the product you just visited appears somewhere on the page.  This is called “behavioral advertising” or “behavioral retargeting.” While some consumers like it, others find it creepy.  That “creepiness” feeds into broader concerns about privacy – companies selling consumers data or the NSA scooping up phone records.

Ghostery is a company that’s attempting to insert a level of trust and comfort into behavioral retargeting by giving consumers control over how and when their online and mobile behavior is tracked by advertisers. Ghostery’s free software lets them see all of the entities that are tracking their web activity and choose which ones they want to allow to follow them. Ghostery makes its money by tracking the trackers (not the consumers) and selling that data back to online marketers who want to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

 The Way I See It

  • Privacy issues were big news in 2013 – Edward Snowden, the NSA, the Target and Nieman Marcus data breaches. Privacy was top of mind, and Dictionary.com made “privacy” its word of the year. With Heartbleed and other issues, “privacy” might be the word of the year for 2014 as well. All of this anxiety around privacy winds up getting applied to the legitimate attempts of brands and advertisers to provide a quality online experience to consumers.
  • The regulatory issues are all over the place, especially for companies that do business internationally. Privacy laws in the European Union are very strict, and seem like they’re about to become even stricter. In the United States, regulation varies from state to state. When it comes to behavioral retargeting, advertisers have tried to get ahead of the game through self-regulation. The Digital Advertisers Alliance recently published a new set of guidelines that includes how behavioral targeting should (and should not) be implemented on mobile devices.
  • Privacy is a brand issue. Brand is built on trust, and brands that are perceived as being deceitful or simply just careless with customer data are going to pay a huge price.

 The Way the Industry Sees It

On June 10, Davis & Gilbert and Ghostery co-presented a Digital Media & Privacy Seminar, after which I sat down with Todd Ruback, Chief Privacy Officer at Ghostery, to talk about privacy, transparency, and the future of behavioral retargeting.

 

 

Q
Take the consumer’s temperature for me. What is the typical consumer worried about related to privacy? And how well-informed is that worry?
A
Thanks for having me here today, Ron.  To level-set, I don’t like the term “consumer.”  Not to be nit-picky, but a consumer is someone who buys something and you don’t have to buy something to have your privacy at risk.  We’re talking about people.  What we see and hear at Ghostery is that people, even if they can’t fully articulate their privacy concerns, feel that as technology has become more embedded into every facet of our lives, society has transformed into a surveillance society.  Over 30 million people have downloaded our free privacy tool, Ghostery, which allows them to see who’s tracking them on any given website and to control that tracking.  We see an absolute explosion in downloads, over 100% every six months.  People care and they are arming themselves with information so they can take control over their online experience. As the Internet has become a pillar of our lives, there is a salient concern that it is a gateway to privacy risk.  People are well informed generally, through both the excellent efforts of organizations like the DAA and through self-education.
Q
What do consumers understand or misunderstand related to privacy and behavior retargeting?
A
People understand that the Internet is free because advertising subsidizes websites.  Study after study show that people are cognizant of the quid pro quo that is the present day engagement model of the Internet. Maybe folks don’t exactly know what a “cookie” is, but they know technology is used to track them as they traverse the Internet and is used as a means to ultimately market them something that is related to their interests.  That’s both kind of cool and a little creepy.  At Ghostery what we are hearing is that people aren’t objecting to this tracking, rather they are objecting to it being hidden.  The answer to the real question, which is “what do people want,” is easy. People want transparency.  They want openness and honesty from the company that they are choosing to do business with. When I go to Amazon to buy a book I’m cool with given it my credit card info, email and address, so I can buy my book.  That’s the trade. But, I’m the one who dictates whether or not I’m okay with it.  After all, I came to your site. So the trade in a free Internet model is I will get free Internet and be able to go from site to site, but you get to anonymously track me in order to serve me an advertisement that will be relevant to me. You want to track me, fine, but tell me about it first so I can decide if I’m okay with that.  It’s all about empowering the individual with information so they can make the decision that is best for their selves.

Peel back the curtains and read the rest of the Q&A here!

Likeable Applies the Lessons of Social Media to Branding

Posted in Digital, Marketing, Media, Social Media

Marketers promote, entertain, celebrate, and explain. In other words, they talk. But Dave Kerpen, cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and founder and CEO of its sibling company, Likeable Local, believes that a different skill is needed in a media landscape increasingly driven by social media – listening.  And by listening, Kerpen means more than just using social media channels to respond to consumer questions and complaints.  He sees listening via social media as a means to tell stories and engender authentic conversations with and among consumers and to promote conversations that strengthen and reward brand loyalty.

In a lot of ways, it’s the next step in the evolution of branding. Branding started with the idea that companies and products had actual identities and that consumers would affiliate with brands that enhanced or fit well with their own identities.  And – without invoking John Roberts and suggesting corporations are people – the next step seems to be making brands part of the consumer’s social circle, or at the very least, using the social circle to validate the brand.

Kerpen first made a splash in all media – not just social – when he and his then soon-to-be wife raised over $100,000 selling sponsorship rights to their wedding, which was hosted at the Brooklyn Cyclones ballpark. They then leveraged their notoriety to launch Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing company that is one of the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States.  Kerpen also authored two New York Times Best Sellers: Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, and was also named the #1 LinkedIn Influencer of All Time last summer when his article, “11 Simple Concepts for Becoming a Better Leader” garnered 1.8 million views and 21,000 likes. The first concept on his list – listening.

The Way I See It

  • As much as things still keep changing – and will likely continue to keep changing – I see a growing maturation in the use of social media. Whether marketers are arriving at it through Dave Kerpen’s advice or their own observation, more and more brands are realizing the central nature of listening and storytelling to the way social media works.
  • I see consumers heavily relying on participation as a means of measuring trust. They want brands they can engage with and relate to. And they want that engagement validated by their own social networks.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Dave Kerpen, cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and founder and CEO of Likeable Local, to discuss listening, social media, and his most recent book, Likeable Leadership.

 

Q
Two of the strongest themes in your writing and speaking are listening and storytelling. How are those two skills related?
A
I always say, “Listen first and never stop listening.” Listening is the single most important communication skill, and sometimes it’s harder than you think. Often when we think we’re listening, we’re just waiting to talk. Try shutting up and really listening to everyone: your customers, your fans, your employees, your husband or wife, your children, etc. You might be surprised at the valuable insight and stories you’ll hear when you do. The next step, of course, is to share those stories. No one remembers facts or statistics, but everyone remembers a great story. Practicing listening and storytelling will make you a better communicator and, ultimately, more likeable, and more successful.
Q
What did you learn as you were “listening” to the stories you collected for the new book? Did anything surprise you?
A
I am constantly surprised by how much I learn when I just shut up and listen. People’s lives and stories are so fascinating to me, and there are always lessons to be learned. Last year, I wrote an article about my interaction with an older man on a flight to Boston. I chatted with him, asked him a few of questions, and listened … a lot. I had met Frank Lautenberg, the late United States Senator, who taught me, in just forty-five minutes, one of the most important lessons of my life: Career Highlights Won’t be on Your Tombstone. With a few questions and a lot of listening, you can literally change your life.

Peel back the curtains and read the rest of the Q&A here!

Reebok Gets Fit with an Intense CrossFit Sponsorship

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Social Media

Go to the gym. Load up a barbell. Pick the bar up off the ground ten times. Then jump up and down off a twenty-four inch box ten times. Follow that with ten pull-ups. Repeat the sequence as many times as you can in sixteen minutes. Congratulations, you’ve just done a CrossFit workout! To some people, it sounds like hell. To Reebok, it’s a way to invigorate a brand.

CrossFit is an exercise regimen that combines elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, and endurance sports with the goal of creating the ultimate level of cross-functional fitness, and it’s caught on like wildfire. The first CrossFit gym, called a “Box,” opened in 2000. Today, there are more than 8,000 worldwide. In 2007, CrossFit launched the “CrossFit Games.” Reebok began sponsoring the Games in 2011 and inspired the idea for an “Open,” basically a giant qualifying round open to any athlete who wanted to enter.

Reebok is constantly working to design apparel that helps athletes achieve their best possible workout, no matter what their sport, with a special emphasis on products that have the durability and functionality that Crossfit, the Spartan Races, and other demanding regimens require.

Reebok’s line of CrossFit shoes and apparel has grown along with the sport. Revenue from Reebok’s CrossFit merchandise grew by 13% in the first quarter of 2013, and sold millions in business just selling gear at regional CrossFit Games. In fact, Reebok is so committed to CrossFit that the brand opened a CrossFit Box in its corporate headquarters.

The Way I See It

  • I see Reebok as the official “CrossFit gear,” much like lululemon is synonymous with yoga. I see product development continuing to be a large part of the brand’s business model, and not only a way to connect with customers, but to engage and support them.
  • I see Reebok as a trendsetter in the durability-focused fitness gear. As cross-functional fitness continues to expand in popularity, brands will look to Reebok to set the benchmark.
  • I see that Reebok is onto something interesting. Unlike sponsoring professional sports, and receiving endorsements from professional athletes that go along with it, Reebok is sponsoring the sports equivalent of a grassroots movement in which the fans are also the athletes.

The Way the Industry Sees It

 

I sat down with Chris Froio, ‎Vice President of Fitness & Training at Reebok, to discuss how its CrossFit partnership has opened opportunities for its brand and aided in product development.

Q
How do you see CrossFit fitting into the issue of exercise trends? Do you see this as a long lasting change or a reflection of the moment?
A
As far as trends are concerned, the biggest trend that is shifting is fitness enthusiast have moved away from solitary jogging, running, and weightlifting on their own to a more group focused environment.  We are seeing a shift to communities, tribes, etc. and people are doing functional fitness in a CrossFit gym – or a “Box” as CrossFit calls it – with 20 to 25 people in a class. We are also seeing people do Spartan Races alongside a couple hundred people.  Group studio classes are starting to grow as well, such as Spinning or SH’BAM.  People are taking the idea of “I have to get the work out in,” and rather than making it a chore, we are seeing people turning workouts into a lifestyle and social thing. We see that working out with others increases motivation and helps eliminate the excuses, now you have people counting on you to come in for that class because you have formed relationships with the people in your class and your instructor.
Q
How did Reebok decide to focus its energy on CrossFit? Was it attributed to the community-based workout trend shift that is underway?
A
The whole aspect of social media, social lifestyle, and the way people interact is where fitness trends are going. 4 years ago, we decided to go back to Reebok’s roots – fitness – and identify or create on our own a fitness regimen that was engaging and social. We wanted something that was more relevant than a gym full of treadmills or a weightlifting machine, and that is what spurred our relationship with CrossFit. I don’t see CrossFit as something that is going to go away. The more Reebok can make fitness engaging, the more it will inspire those who are not yet motivated.

Peel back the curtains and read the rest of the Q&A here!

Disclosures And Privacy Policies Head 2014′s To-Do List

Posted in Advertising, Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made a number of changes to its regulations and guidelines in 2013.  Specifically, the FTC updated its “.com Disclosures” guide to provide advertisers with more specific instructions for complying with the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in various forms of new media. Moreover, the updated guide emphasized that disclosures must be clear and conspicuous on all devices and platforms where consumers may encounter advertisements and clarified methods by which advertisers can implement effective disclosures.  The FTC also announced new mobile privacy guidelines designed to improve the disclosures that appear on mobile platforms and that are used by application developers.

On the privacy side, dozens of state and territory attorneys general filed comments with the FTC addressing consumer complaints about “mobile cramming” – a practice involving the placement of unauthorized charges on consumer mobile bills for unwanted services as well as the inadequate disclosure of these third party charges.  The comments also expressed concerns about the limited mechanisms available to consumers to effectively block or dispute such charges.

A 2013 FTC ruling against juice company POM Wonderful clarified the FTC’s standard for determining whether an advertising claim is misleading. Specifically, the FTC found that, based on the overall “net impression” of the POM advertising campaign, at least a “significant minority” of reasonable consumers would believe that drinking POM juice would prevent heart disease and/or that there was clinical proof of these claims.  Applying this “significant minority” standard, the FTC concluded that the challenged claims were misleading despite the fact that most reasonable consumers would not interpret the advertising to mean that POM’s juice actually prevented heart disease.

The Way I See it

Advertisers and agencies will need to adapt to these regulatory approaches by:

  • Ensuring that clear, conspicuous and truthful disclosures are made on mobile and social media platforms.
  • Working with application developers to develop and implement effective disclosures and standardized privacy policies.
  • Recognizing that advertisers are responsible for all reasonable interpretations of their claims – even those interpretations that only a “significant minority” of reasonable consumers would believe to be true.

Kroger Gets Its Fuel from Customer Rewards

Posted in Advertising, Digital, Marketing

Kroger has always been an innovator. It was the first store to combine meats and groceries under one roof, and the first grocery store to have its own bakery. Kroger pioneered the use of optical scanners in the checkout aisles and was one of the first grocery chains to open superstores, a move that has helped it weather competition from big box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco. That drive to innovate has helped make Kroger the nation’s largest grocery chain and the second largest retailer in the country after Walmart.

But, what has really driven Kroger’s recent success is its commitment to the customer experience, and particularly how well it has applied its customer loyalty program. Kroger launched its “Kroger Plus Card” program in 2003. In 2010, Kroger partnered with Shell gas stations allowing customers to redeem points earned on their Kroger Plus Cards for fuel. Well over two million customers use Kroger’s shopping app, which allows users to download coupons, sort coupons by relevance, sync coupons with their shopping lists, monitor their Kroger Plus reward points, and even refill prescriptions.

Last year, a study by Maritz Loyalty Marketing found that Kroger had the highest rated loyalty program in the grocery sector, with an overall satisfaction rate of eighty-three percent. In fact, ninety percent of register transactions are completed with a Kroger Plus card, and eighty-five percent of all United States households in markets where Kroger operates have a Kroger Plus card.

The Way I See It

  • As behemoths like Walmart and Amazon continue to gobble up market share – in everything from groceries to clothing to consumer electronics – I see more “traditional” retailers needing to double down on the customer experience in order to compete.
  • Successful competition is going to be increasingly dependent on maintaining an ongoing conversation with customers via the tools and channels they prefer, namely their mobile phones and social media.
  • Data – not just gathering it, but using it in novel and effective ways, and ways customers are comfortable with – may wind up being the biggest difference-maker for retailers.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Natalie Ream, Vice President of Customer Communications & Marketing at Kroger to discuss customer service and customer loyalty programs as a way to differentiate.

 

Q
What’s made your Kroger Plus program so successful? What have you been able to tap into about the way customers like to use these programs that your competitors haven’t?
A
Our Plus Card program is successful simply because of our ability to deliver real value, and to uphold the trust that our customers place in us as it relates to their shopper data.  Through our shopper card program we are able to capture and analyze shopping behavior, and then apply the insights we gather to create offers, discounts, and recommendations that are meaningful and relevant.  We are very careful to protect our shoppers’ data and their privacy.  Our customers have come to expect us to know them better, and they tell us that they look forward to hearing from us!
Q
What’s the relationship between the Kroger shopping app and more traditional print coupons and circulars?  Will the app and social media eventually replace coupons delivered in the mail, by newspaper, or handed out at the checkout counter?
A
For more than ten years we have been perfecting our ability to deliver highly-relevant, personalized coupons for the products that our customers like and buy the most through our ‘Loyal Customer Mailings.’  We are now applying that expertise to the digital channel through our mobile app, which allows customers to sort digital coupons by relevance to them.  By applying real-time insight derived from their shopper profile, we can sort and deliver relevant offers based on what we know about a customer’s product preferences or lifestyle segment.  Because we have five generations of customers shopping with us – and because each generation and each customer is unique in terms of their preference for how we talk to them – our aim is to meet our customers and talk with them in the channel or channels that they prefer.

Peel back the curtains and read the rest of the Q&A here!

Creativity is Poppin’ in New York’s The ADVERTISING Club

Posted in Advertising, Marketing

1896 was a big year – the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece; the first x-ray was taken, and, of course, The ADVERTISING Club of New York was born. Located in the heart of Manhattan, The ADVERTISING Club is the industry’s premier venue for networking and creativity and professional development. As such, the club plays a vital role in cultivating advertising professionals of tomorrow and supporting the thought leaders of today.

While The ADVERTISING Club may be best known for the International Andy Awards, which recognize creativity and innovation in advertising around the world, it has garnered its most recent attention for its “I’mPART” initiative, which celebrates diversity within the advertising and marketing industry and works to recruit a wide variety of fresh young voices and talent to the business. That goal is embedded in last four letters of the name – Promote, Attract, Retain, and Train. I’mPART was recently featured in The New York Times, which celebrated I’mPART’s success in making the advertising industry more inclusive and more reflective of the diverse and increasingly global market it is trying to reach.

The Way I See It:

  • I see The ADVERTISING Club remaining an important pillar within the industry, and a symbiotic relationship forming between the older and younger generations. We will continue to see millennials mentoring the older generation on emerging technology and how to best implement it, and the older generation providing seasoned advice that only experience can provide.
  • I see The ADVERTISING Club playing a strong role in continuing change within the industry on the topic of diversity, not just from a race and ethnicity perspective, but a gender one as well.
  • I see The ADVERTISING Club paving the way for young people and creating a more inclusive industry.

The Way The Industry Sees It:

I sat down with Gina Grillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of The ADVERTISING Club of New York to discuss the impact the Club has on both the industry and the members.

 

 

Q
The ADVERTISING Club (The AD Club) of New York has been engrained within the industry since 1896, and encompasses thousands of industry professionals. In terms of membership, have you seen members you’ve attracted at a young age stay active within the Club throughout the duration of their career? What’s the longevity trajectory like?
A
Our membership of four thousand strong includes many legacy members who joined The AD Club as young professionals and have grown up and progressed in their career with us over the years. While the industry focuses on recruiting new talent, we see retention as just as big of an issue and believe it is critical to nurture talent after they have entered the field. Part of our mission as an organization is to support members along their career journey – as they move up the ranks – keeping them active both within the industry and within The AD Club. We also have a Young Professionals group that is designed to help advertising, marketing, and media professionals ages thirty and under grow to become tomorrow’s leaders. It is truly inspiring to see this ambitious, philanthropic, and outgoing group of future industry leaders develop themselves as professionals and people.
Q
It’s no secret that The ADVERTISING Club has a myriad of impressive initiatives. Are there any initiatives that the Club is especially proud of?
A
Advertising is about experimentation in communication. It is the business of inventing ideas to be discussed, debated, assessed, and adjusted daily. The AD Club exists to support this process through a number of initiatives around our core pillars – access, creativity, professional development, and diversity. We are proud of our efforts in all of these areas, but I am especially proud of our diversity initiative, i’mPART. It’s our belief that diversity of people, ideas, culture, and craft is a major driver of creativity and creates better work in our business. i’mPART is a fundraising effort that aims to raise awareness of the benefits of diversity and support the nation’s leading diversity programs.  i’mPART employs an acronym that represents the four pillars of the initiative – to Promote, Attract, Retain and Train diverse talent. It’s a movement to make diversity a priority and increase accountability for this issue through a ten-year-long benchmarking survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which will track the progress of diversity programs to ensure long-term success. We are committed to supporting diversity of thought and seek to inspire a diverse mindset in the advertising industry.

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“New” Concerns Likely to Top FTC’s Interest This Year

Posted in Advertising, Marketing

There were significant changes in almost every aspect of the law relating to advertising, marketing and promotions in 2013, and Davis & Gilbert published a piece entitled, “2013 Lessons Learned and 2014 Practical Advice.” This piece explains and discuss what happened, and offer suggestions for advertisers and agencies to think about and address in 2014.

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you a few pieces I authored on the topics of: Environmental marketing, National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus rulings, and the Federal Trade Commission’s changes to its regulations and guidelines in.

Environmental marketing made a significant comeback in 2013. After years of diminished standing during the Great Recession, green issues were again on the minds of consumers, advertisers and regulators. Factors such as an improving economy and a seemingly endless series of “once-in-a-lifetime” weather events, as well as the release by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of its updated Green Guides in October 2012, all contributed to environmental impact being an increasing focus of marketing.

Regulators used the first full year of the new Green Guides to send a message to the marketplace that green marketing practices were very much on their radar. The FTC alone settled 14 separate enforcement actions based on what it considered to be misleading or deceptive environmental marketing claims. Green claims also were the focus of many state attorney general investigations, private litigations and industry self-regulatory actions over the last year.

Interestingly, although the updated Green Guides contain a lot of guidance about environmental issues never before covered, much of last year’s regulatory scrutiny involved more “traditional” green claims – such as degradability – for which guidance long had been provided by the FTC and that also had been the subject of many previous enforcement actions. In other words, regulators used 2013 to enforce long established principles of green marketing, meaning that 2014 likely will be the year regulatory scrutiny turns to “new” concerns, such as the FTC’s new “de facto” ban on unqualified general environmental marketing claims.

The Way I See it

In 2014, advertisers and agencies will need to:

  • Expect regulatory scrutiny and be especially cautious when making marketing claims about “new” environmental issues, including reductions in carbon emissions or the use of renewable energies; be specific and work closely with counsel early to ascertain how different claims might have to be qualified.
  • Understand that with green marketing, it is critical to consider the overall net impression of the ad so as to ensure it is not making claims – including through its visuals, use of third party seals or use of “green” trade names – that cannot be supported (e.g., an unqualified general environmental benefit claim).
  • Keep in mind that green claims often require a lot of qualifying and explanatory information to be properly understood, and merely referencing a website with details about the environmental claim is not acceptable to the FTC. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the intended media and its limitations (e.g., social media, mobile marketing) when determining how, or even if, a certain environmental claim should be made.

Building the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow: A Candid Discussion with the CEO of Venture for America, Andrew Yang

Posted in Digital, Social Media, Technology

Let’s say a senior at MIT is about to graduate with a double major in Computer Science and Comparative Media Studies. Career Services tells the student, “You can make six figures at a Manhattan consulting firm, or you can apply to ‘Venture for America.’ Oh, and if selected by Venture for America, you will be sent to a city in need of entrepreneurs. There you will make less than $40,000 a year working for a start-up.” Which would you choose as your first job?  Fortunately, in 2013, hundreds of America’s best and brightest college students chose the latter and applied for the seventy fellowships offered by Venture for America.

Venture for America is the brainchild of entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Yang saw the Ivy League-to-hedge fund/investment bank/consulting firm conveyor belt and thought, “What a waste of talent.” Venture for America re-allocates that talent to where it has the potential to do the most good. Specifically, start-up companies in mid-sized cities across the country that are trying to revitalize their local economies. Recent college graduates receive invaluable experience that they would likely not get at a large, established company, and the start-ups are provided with access to talent they otherwise probably would not have the resources to recruit.

Among the many interesting projects Venture for America has supported is “SocialProvidence,” a social media analytics and consulting company based in Rhode Island, that is supervised by executives from HavasPR, but is run day-to-day by two Venture for America fellows. One of SocialProvidence’s main selling points is that digital natives – like the two young men running the company – have a much more intuitive and accurate sense of what kinds of social media marketing techniques will be most effective.

The Way I See It

  • I see a growing intersection between start-up culture and community development. Some of that is driven by a consumer niche that wants to buy local products and have real relationships with the people whose businesses they patronize. But a lot of it is driven by the genuine desire of a certain class of entrepreneur to use their business as a way of building community.
  • I see a millennial generation that is really driven by a sense of connection. They want to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. Millennials are one of the reasons that community service has become such a big deal on college campuses. Venture for America has certainly tapped into that spirit.
  • I see entrepreneurship gaining in popularity among the youth of today, and not just in the sense of entrepreneur as business owner. But embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and building things, creating new ventures, and solving problems.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Venture for America CEO, Andrew Yang, to discuss entrepreneurship and his upcoming book, Smart People Should Build Things.

 

Q
Before you started your own company, you were on the same Ivy League to                 law/finance/consulting path that you’re trying to knock your Venture for America Fellows out of. What shortcomings did you find in that path?
A
When I was graduating from college, law, finance, and consulting were the options that were presented to me – mainly because the consulting firms and financial services firms were recruiting heavily at Brown.  It just seemed natural to go down one of these paths on the road to success and prestige.  After becoming a corporate lawyer, I found that it wasn’t a great fit for me because of how narrow and specialized the role was, and that I didn’t enjoy acting as a document reader and deal facilitator.  These “prestige pathways” of finance, law and consulting, as I call them in the book, are still the options that are being presented to college seniors. The professional services firms have millions of dollars to spend recruiting talent on college campuses each year. The salaries and benefits that they can offer are certainly appealing. These kinds of resources are not available to early stage growth companies that are actually creating jobs in this country and are most in need of the nation’s best and brightest minds.
Q
Your last business was a test prep company. What did you see in the students you were working with that made you think that maybe they were open to a different kind of opportunity?
A
When I was at Manhattan GMAT, I met hundreds of bankers and consultants who were preparing to enroll in business school. Many of them seemed a little lost, like I had been when I realized I no longer wanted to be a lawyer. They would talk about wanting to make a real impact in an organization, and I think they were going to business school often to reset and seek that kind of opportunity.  Our young people want to build things; they just aren’t being presented with the choice to do so. I started Venture for America because I believe that if we provide the path to entrepreneurship to smart, enterprising young people, they will embrace it.  And early returns suggest that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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