In 2004 – the inaugural year of the industry’s biggest event, Advertising Week – Facebook was launched as a social networking site open only to Harvard students.  Now ten years old, Advertising Week – like social media – has seen many changes and, more importantly, has shaped critical conversations driving change in the advertising industry in the past decade.  Advertising Week now has its very own app, not to mention too many hashtags to count.  With dialogue and events on the most important topics in the industry, featuring many of the industry’s biggest innovators, movers, and shakers, Advertising Week is the most important week of the year for everyone on Madison Ave and beyond.

The Way I See It

  • I see an event that has grown vastly in the past ten years, mirroring the growth and innovation that the industry has achieved, to present hundreds of events, discussions, panels, and live case studies  on advertising’s most important issues.
  • I see a week of creativity and innovation that is truly unmatched.  With some of the brightest minds in an industry that is notorious for driving change faster than you can say, “Advertising Week is a hotbed for big ideas.”
  • For Advertising Week’s tenth year, programming is right on point for what will shape advertising moving forward, with mobile, data, video, and innovation tracks.  With a session called “Will Robots Ever Cut Your Bangs,” it’s safe to say that Advertising Week is looking toward the future.
  • I see the industry’s biggest leaders gathering in New York City to share and discuss the latest ideas, creations, and technology that are shaping the future of the industry.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Matt Freeman, the Chairman of Advertising Week and Operating Partner at Bain Capital, to discuss all the details of Advertising Week’s tenth year.

It’s hard to believe Advertising Week is in its tenth year.  The industry has experienced a lot of change in this past decade – the advent of smartphones, Twitter, and YouTube, to name a few.  How do you think this year will differ from others in terms of programming and topics?

Data has truly become a central player in marketing – as is reflected in the strong presence of technology and analytic companies this week. The ability to use data to unify and optimize a brand’s connection to consumers – increasingly in real time – may be the most dynamic sector of marketing today, and it is changing all facets of the business. This data trend not only makes for exciting new capabilities, but also for a more diverse set of talents and conversations – ultimately a great strength for our industry.  Also, Pamela Anderson will be doing a Q&A. So, to summarize: data and Pam Anderson.

What role do you think this week plays in the industry?

Advertising Week is a unique chance for our industry to come together each year for both celebration and (even more importantly) advancement.  Our business is replete with award shows, but Advertising Week is a chance to celebrate the best and brightest aspects of marketing in the interest of education and advancement.  From promoting diversity to attracting and developing young professionals, the week is fundamentally centered on the long term health of advertising – in turn, a vital driver of our economy.

Continue Reading A Decade of Advertising Week

We’ve all dreamed of traveling to exotic locales, living like locals halfway around the world, or taking that long-discussed epic road trip across the good ol’ U.S.A.  When it comes down to it, travel is a luxury, and in the recent economic downturn, budget-friendly trips have been the ones most frequented.  As the economy picks up and a new generation of eager travelers matures, we’re noticing a revived investment in local business growth initiatives and tourism advertising and marketing budgets for cities across the country and around the world.

The Way I See It

  • Stateside, cities are reinvigorating their taglines, investing in digital and social media advertising as opposed to the traditional, often-cheesy commercials, and encouraging visitors to try hidden spots, embrace local traditions, and support local businesses.
  • I see states and cities trying to draw business and economic development in order to grow tourism and business travel.  Everyone wants to get in on the start-up boom, and initiatives like New York’s “We are Made in NY” campaign, which now covers the sides of buses across the city, is aiming to revive Silicon Alley and draw more startups to the city with incentives like subsidized office space and grants, and increased resources and support from the community.
  • I see states and cities around the country opting for local creativity rather than relying entirely on national agencies.  Colorado is the latest with its announced of a “Making Colorado” initiative which will bring together advertising and marketing professionals from the state and also rely heavily on an online forum for feedback from residents on new ideas.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Edward Hogikyan, Senior Vice President, Marketing, of NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism, and partnership organization, to discuss advertising and marketing strategies used by cities to attract tourists and boost local economies.

Let’s talk a bit about the recent revival of local business growth and tourism initiatives in cities like New York.  How has the general approach in NYC to drawing tourism changed in recent years?

New York City itself is constantly changing.  If you were here six months ago, there are now new things to see and experience, places to dine, exhibitions, shopping, or even new places to stay.  Reminding people of that is important in keeping NYC top of mind as a destination and core to our messaging.  There are also new segments to focus messaging on, such as families – they have been a priority for us.  Over 15 million families came in 2012, a nearly 3% increase over 2011.  NYC is the top U.S. destination for gay travelers and the passage of the same-sex marriage bill, combined with the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, has afforded us a new way to message to the LGBT community.  The youth travel market continues to grow, and they are often more intrepid about exploring parts of the city that are outside the typical tourist destinations.  International markets have also been shifting dramatically.  The exponential growth in visitation from China and Brazil, for example, has resulted in a significant influx of cash into the city’s economy as both markets are comprised of serious shoppers.

Considering a city as a brand, how do cities typically measure Return on Investment (ROI) and success, especially with the tie-in to local businesses and growth?

There are several different metrics for success that we use.  One, of course, is total visitation.  In 2012, NYC reached a record 52 million visitors, up from 43.8 million in 2006 when our current organization was created.  We are also the top U.S. destination, with a 33% share of international visitation (the second highest in the country is at 11%).  Next we look at jobs and the economic impact of visitation.  In 2012, we had a record $55.3 billion in economic impact.  There are 356,000 jobs currently supported by the leisure and hospitality industry.  By 2015, we are projecting $70 billion in economic impact and 390,000 new jobs.  Other key indicators include hotel room occupancy and the Average Daily Rate paid for those rooms, and attendance at Broadway and other cultural attractions.

Continue Reading Calling All Travelers: Advertising Cities as Brands

Gatsby.  His name has been forever immortalized through the words of       F. Scott Fitzgerald.  For most of us, it conjures up memories from high school English classes, but now it’s being broadcast all over in ads and trailers for surrounding the film adaptation.  The Great Gatsby’s big movie turn got us thinking about how marketing strategies around blockbuster film adaptations impact book sales and play into the publishing industry.  Some of the biggest flicks to hit silver screens in the past few years have been adaptations from books – Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook. And of course, this practice is nothing new. Even Gone with the Wind is an adaptation of a book. So how do movie adaptations tie into marketing strategies to sell books?

The Way I See It

  • I see big-screen box office hits reinvigorating marketing of their book counterparts with the production of new editions of the book with covers to match the movie posters and new promo displays linked to the main characters from the movie to feature alongside book displays at retail stores – all timed around the release of the movie adaptation.
  • I see an opportunity for publishers to capitalize on the buzz around highly-anticipated new movie adaptations to implement a marketing and advertising strategy to drive sales of the associated books by reminding consumers that the movie was a book first.
  • With the popularity of certain themes at the movies – such as vampires, crime dramas, or futuristic fantasies – publishers can tie books with similar themes into the pop culture theme-of-the-moment by target marketing to key demographics or consumers composing the fan base.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Rachel Coun, Executive Director of Marketing, Trade Books at Scholastic Inc., to discuss marketing strategies for books that become blockbusters.

How do marketing strategies for books change, if at all, with a new film adaptation hitting theatres? What factors play into whether and how a movie adaptation of a book will impact marketing of a book?

When a film adaptation comes out, we have the great opportunity to reach new people who are eager to see the film and have not read the book yet.  Plus, when the movie is based on the first book of a series, you are able to promote that next book in the series to the existing fans as well. Prior to its theatrical release, we advertised The Hunger Games on Facebook and popular movie and entertainment websites with “It started with a Book” messaging.  Once the film released, we added “And the Story Continues” to the copy line and linked the ad to all three books in the series.  In addition, we sent out an eBlast, with that same messaging, directly to people who purchased The Hunger Games movie tickets online.  We promoted The Hunger Games Movie Tie-In Book to both that new movie audience as well to existing Hunger Games fans.  This entailed retail displays featuring a movie image; placement on our Hunger Games Facebook page and Scholastic website; social media outreach via Facebook and Twitter; and advertising on Hunger Games fan sites that cater to both the book and film audience.  We also have worked with movie studios on cross-promotions that included movie tie-in book giveaways via on-air radio promotions and media events.

Are there any timing factors that impact how a movie version will play into sales of the book?

We release movie tie-in books a good six weeks prior to a film release to give a new audience time to read the book before the movie comes out as well as create energy among existing fans who are waiting to see the film.  The books still are promoted at retail for several weeks after the movie releases to bring new fans to the brand.

Continue Reading Box-Office Hits to Best-Sellers: Scholastic Inc. Shares Marketing Strategies Around Film Adaptations

On Tuesday night, I attended a fascinating event at The ADVERTISING Club called AD THINK, which is bridging the gap between tech startups and the advertising world.  As the event’s host, founder and partner of Evol8tion Joseph Jaffe, put it – we have seen a lack of creativity in digital advertising and with all of the creativity streaming from the high-tech startup boom, several stellar startups have emerged to bridge the gap between Madison Ave and Mountainview.  The event, which was standing-room only and will be the first in a series, brought five cutting-edge startup founders to deliver presentations on their products and attempt to woo a panel of experts who know a thing or two about successful startups, ad land, and how creativity and tech can work hand-in-hand.  The panel included: Brian Cohen, Chairman of New York Angels and the first investor in Pinterest; Andreas Dahlqvist, Deputy CCO of Global & Vice Chairman of NY for McCann Erickson; Nihal Mehta, Founder and CEO of Local Response (in 2001, he founded an agency dedicated solely to mobile – way ahead of his time); and Catherine Schenquerman, Digital Advertising Head of JetBlue Airways.

Even though I could talk about the all-star panel for a while, let’s talk about the startups – the true stars of the evening.  I was blown away by the creativity of each of these tech companies, and the potential that these startups have for the future of advertising and marketing.  The main theme among them was something we’ve talked about before: bringing data and creative together, as well as using data and analytics to improve and drive creative content for digital and mobile advertising.  I’m excited to see what’s next for each of these companies.

  • One of the founders of social intelligence company Bottlenose presented the analytics tools the platform offers brands, which, among other things, can correlate the volume of trending topics and conversations surrounding a brand on social media with key indicators (i.e., stock price, sales, website visits, Nielsen ratings, etc.) to uncover who and what on social media are driving important activities.
  • The founder of started by saying, “E-mail is dead.”  We’ve heard it before, but his technology is actually using data gathered from e-mail marketing to help brands determine what to say and when to say it in order to achieve objectives from their e-mail marketing.  This could really bring e-mail back to life.
  • Continue Reading At the Intersection of Tech and Advertising

The holidays are swinging into full gear, what better time to… reminisce?  Every year, it seems there is a new “hot” item on the shelves that our children, family, and friends have on the top of their wish lists to Santa.  I will never forget the Ty® Beanie Babies phenomenon, the holiday season when people of all ages were frantically hunting for Tickle Me Elmos, or those Tamagotchi keychain games that flew off the shelves faster than you could say “Tamagotchi.”

All of these hot-ticket items were wildfire brands – they launched onto market and became overnight hits with consumers.

And though product makers are thrilled with such rapid-fire consumer hits, there are a number of brand protection concerns that they must work to address while the sales ratchet up in order to protect the brand’s increasing value.

The Way I See It

  • I see new and innovative wildfire products and brands continuing to be launched onto the market through a variety of marketing channels, but especially through viral videos and social media marketing.  As in the past, many of these wildfire brands will become a symbol of a generation and instant pop culture hits.
  • When the products begin flying off the shelves, I see brands working to protect their product and intellectually property from counterfeiters, and other potential threats to the brand – those trying to take advantage of the hit item by trying to produce something similar at a lower cost in order to benefit from the brand’s increasing value, or trying to pass off their goods by using similar trade dress or marks.
  • I see marketers working to launch creative ads and campaigns to continue the sales momentum of the initial brand proliferation period, ensuring the product’s long-term sales growth in addition to its short-term sales spike.

The perfect recent example of a wildfire brand is the Snuggie®, which sold over four million units in three months.  Its launch to market was an interesting one, with a single TV ad, launching the Snuggie® to become an instant pop culture phenomenon.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Scott Boilen, President of Allstar Marketing Group, the company behind many high-profile consumer brands, to discuss brand proliferation and protection.

You’ve seen wildfire success with a few leading consumer brands.  In your experience, what is the most critical precaution to take before launching a product to market in order to ensure brand protection?

As a company, the single most important thing we can do to protect our brand is to make sure all trademarks are applied for and all materials are copyrighted prior to debuting a product.  We also seek patent protection when feasible.  When launching brands with an aggressive “As seen on TV” campaign we build mass awareness in a very short period of time. If all pre-launch legal items are not buttoned up, we are leaving ourselves open to companies trying to piggyback off our success with similar marks, logos or other materials in an attempt to create brand confusion.  Right after launch, we also begin to monitor the market and aggressively do what we can to stop the marketing of any infringing product as well as halting counterfeits from coming to the United States from overseas.

The Snuggie® was launched in October 2008, right at the height of the economic downturn, yet sold over four million units in three months.  With a brand as popular as Snuggie®, are there particular obstacles and challenges that arise during the initial time period of the few months during which the brand is skyrocketing?

The launch of the Snuggie® blanket created tremendous consumer awareness.  It was critical that we ensured we were using our marks in a way that was consistent and protectable. We had many companies attempting to bring out similar products with marks or logos in an attempt to confuse the consumer.  We were successful in shutting down every violator.  This was made possible as our marks were registered and used in a consistent way as to make them defensible.  Ensuring that our own employees, agents and representatives used the marks correctly was integral to the education we also provided to folks in the media when the brand was discussed.  While there is a fine line between getting as much exposure for the brand as possible and making sure the marks are not diluted when not used properly, we did a great job of maintaining a strong brand along with a great product in the United States and abroad.

Continue Reading Brand Protection Concerns for Wildfire Consumer Sensations

On Thursday during Advertising Week in New York City, I hosted an event called “Mission Impossible: Truth & Privacy – The Future is Now,” featuring Commissioner Julie Brill of the Federal Trade Commission, along with Frank Abagnale, one of the world’s foremost authorities on fraud and identity theft (you may know him best from the film Catch Me If You Can – he was portrayed by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio), and Jonathan Salem Baskin, Co-Author of Tell The Truth. Privacy is an issue everyone is talking about these days, and I wanted to share with you some of the thoughts and issues discussed during the session at Advertising Week. Click here to view a video of Ron’s conversation with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill.

Advertising is a fascinating and complex industry, reflecting the latest innovations, the newest technologies, and, of course, the height of creativity. Advertising is a reflection of the fundamental changes sweeping our society – the transformative effect of digital, the changes in all forms of media, the importance of data and the rise of wireless. Amidst this rapid change, privacy is one of the most important issues in the advertising and media business, and one which demands our attention now, not tomorrow.

The Way I See It

  • I see that digital technology and media has created an unprecedented “Holy Grail” opportunity for marketers to have conversations with consumers as individuals wherever they are on a broad array of devices. The question we must answer is, how do we manage the legitimate privacy concerns?
  • I see the FTC’s role and influence in steering the privacy and data security debate and action rising in importance.
  • I see global marketers and agencies working in good faith either alone or in groups to navigate safely through leading edge issues and the concerns of interested parties – the government, agencies, marketers, technology providers, media and consumers.
  • I see “do not track” continue to be a central issue that focuses many of the important advertising industry and societal issues about both what can be and what should be.
  • I see “privacy by design” being a simple concept, but a difficult concept to execute in real time.

The Way The Industry Sees It

Commissioner Julie Brill of the FTC shared some extremely valuable insights with me and the attendees of our Advertising Week session. I then asked Commissioner Brill some follow up questions that touched upon some of the conversation that we had in our Advertising Week session.

Can you highlight what you see as the role of the FTC in regards to its relationship with the advertising industry’s need to focus on consumer privacy and data security?

The Commission has developed a set of best practices, as outlined in the agency’s March 2012 final privacy framework, for companies that collect and use consumer data. (“Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Businesses and Policymakers,” An FTC Report (Mar. 26, 2012) available at Because the advertising industry is among the heaviest users of such information, these best practices can be useful to the advertising industry –including ad networks, individual advertisers, and all other players in the advertising eco-system—as they develop and maintain processes and systems to operationalize privacy and data security practices within their businesses. In addition to our policymaking role, the Commission takes action against companies—including those in the advertising industry—that do not treat consumer data in accordance with the laws enforced by the agency. For example, we took action against several advertising networks that misrepresented their practices involving consumers’ ability to opt-out from online behavioral advertising. (See press releases, “FTC Puts an End to Tactics of Online Advertising Company That Deceived Consumers Who Wanted to “Opt Out” from Targeted Ads” (Mar. 14, 2011), available at; “Online Advertiser Settles FTC Charges ScanScout Deceptively Used Flash Cookies to Track Consumers Online” (Nov. 8, 2011), available at

In the fast paced world of marketers and agencies where they must implement “privacy by design”, what is the biggest issue confronting the industry?

Well, there are a lot of big issues. One of the biggest issues is the rapid pace of today’s technological advances. Companies are bringing products and services to market as quickly as they can—and the advertising and marketing have to keep up with that pace. As a result, companies may not be employing a methodical process to consider all the privacy and data security issues that could arise with the product or service, or with an advertising or marketing campaign. I think one of the most important elements of Privacy by Design is for companies to take the time to thoroughly examine the consumer information they are collecting, what is being done with that information, and how it is being safeguarded. In our privacy report, we stress the importance of operationalizing these processes, which will help companies conduct these analyses in an efficient and timely fashion.

Continue Reading Privacy and the FTC: Inside Perspective from FTC Commissioner Julie Brill