I was leaving an audio session at Clatter & Din the other day, and our sound engineer, John Buroker, had done an incredible job on our spots. I mean he killed it. Which is what John does.
I thanked him, shook his hand and left.
You know what? That’s not good enough. It’s people like John who make the work what it is, yet the agency gets almost all the credit. To try to right these terrible wrongs, I’d like to publicly thank a few people and share some of their work. Starting with John.
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With all the hullaballoo around Moneyball, we at C+F took a moment to ponder our favorite baseball movies. As the longtime agency for the Seattle Mariners, we know a little something about baseball entertainment. (We gave birth to Larry Bernandez, after all.) So we implemented a detailed survey of popular baseball movies—with several criteria, all with a different numerical weight that was then put into Google-esque algorithm to determine our favorites. Okay, it was basically a straw poll. Regardless, here are our top five favorite baseball movies in order of staff (read: expert) preference:
- Major League: A hugely entertaining depiction of an under, then overachieving group of cobbled together Cleveland Indians misfits. The characters of this movie are memorable, from overpaid giant ego Roger Dorn, to tire salesman-turned-skipper Lou Brown, to washed-up and lovesick catcher Jake Taylor. Throw in great performers Wesley Snipes (Willie Mays Hayes), Charlie Sheen (Rick Vaughn) and buffed-up Cuban slugger Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano) and it’s a movie that you can watch over and over again while reciting all of the great one liners (i.e. “You put snot on the ball?” or “It’s too high.”). We almost dropped this movie down in the rankings on account of the inept sequels Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors, but the original shines and gets top billing from C+F.
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Over the last couple of years, industry studies have reported a general decrease in average click-through rates (CTR) for online display. This trend was recently highlighted in a Google study looking at CTRs across 2010. The favorability of online display is starting to be questioned given steady declining CTRs and other stats flowing from user studies that find something like 16% of online users account for 80% of all clicks.
It shouldn’t be a shock to us as marketers (who are consumers ourselves after all) that CTRs are declining. As continually barraged as we are with advertising messages furiously competing for every last nanosecond of our attention, it makes sense that users who are interacting with content they have voluntarily sought-out might not be so ready to be redirected to your site just because you have been gracious enough to place an ad on the page they are viewing. It just doesn’t work that way and we need to rise above the dependence on the click as the only measurement by which we judge campaigns success.
The focus should move from driving the click to maximizing the impression. We make a lot of impressions in online display, but what is the true quality of those impressions? Not very high if we tell incomplete stories that rely on the click to resolve the narrative. Instead, we should focus on succinct, engaging storytelling in-banner that fully communicates within the unit.
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Someone once described advertising as “the sandbox of business” because it is often fun, frothy and entertaining. True enough. But occasionally, we confront serious and powerful issues.
Earlier this year, we created a video featuring Dr. Michael Jensen, a scientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Jensen is developing a therapy for cancer treatment that will spare young patients from the harsh side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
We learned that kids who undergo chemo and radiation often lose their hearing and sense of taste. They frequently endure difficulties with reproduction later in life. They are subject to a range of physical and mental disabilities. During treatment, they are wracked with pain and nausea. Hair loss is the least of their problems.
As part of the video, we conducted an on-camera interview with a family from Montana. John, the son and patient, was a normal and happy three-year-old who was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma. Within the last year, his treatment included six rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, followed by high doses of radiation.
For nearly a year, the family lived in a small apartment at Ronald McDonald House as John underwent treatment and surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Their home in Montana was up for sale; their life was in limbo. As John’s dad explained, “You just move forward, one day at a time. What else can you do?” As we prepared for the interview, John moved around the apartment wearing a brightly colored backpack that doubled as an IV.
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It’s not often you get a chance to hang with a pioneer, let alone have one in your own family, but I’ll go ahead and brag that I had the honor of attending the 90th birthday for Hollywood television writer and our own “Nanny” Ann Marcus. Ann was a pioneer for women writers starting her career at the New York Daily News and then Life Magazine at a time when there were no women writers on staff. She continued on to become a successful Hollywood television writer for Peyton Place, General Hospital, Knots Landing and even won an Emmy Award for her work on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
Ann has been hugely influential in my pursuit of the glamorous world of media and production. She told me to stay as far away as I could from this industry as I was too nice to survive. I didn’t listen. She is an amazing example of a woman who broke through the glass ceiling of a male dominated industry to gain respect and accolades all while maintaining a loving home as a wife and mother. Beyond our family connection, we have a professional connection as she wrote for Fernwood2-Nite which was the launch pad for Fred Willard, who we recently had the pleasure of working with on three videos for Symetra. Her birthday party guest list included some well-known beautiful actresses; Michelle Lee, Joan Van Ark and Donna Mills and even a cameo (on her tribute video) from the great Norman Lear. But most importantly Ann was surrounded by her adoring family. Happy Birthday Ann. We love you.
This piece from ReadWriteWeb on Facebook usage by platform really got my attention. It links through to Facebook’s statistics page, which shares the following mobile data points.
- • There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.
- • People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
- • There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products
These stats underscore the need for brands to take a write once/publish everywhere approach to web content. If we use Facebook as a bellwether, 33% of the potential audience is consuming content on mobile. If marketers want to meet this opportunity, they will need a cross-platform content strategy that delivers users to a responsive, empathetically-designed web presence. We will be writing more on responsive design in the coming weeks.
It’s been one of the coolest summers on record here in Seattle. But inside our agency, the heat is cranked up. We’ve had a flurry of new business activity, with the acquisition of three great new clients.
World Vision is a worldwide Christian relief and development organization that helps people around the world to overcome disaster, poverty, illness and abuse. We are honored to be a World Vision marketing partner—charged with helping to raise awareness and funds.
Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau will oversee the creation of the new Seattle Tourism Improvement Area. The STIA will create a marketing fund through a hotel room surcharge with the goal of boosting leisure travel to our city. Great product, great people!
Blue Nile is a highly successful online jewelry retailer. We’ve been assigned a brand enhancement project we’re very much looking forward to.
We’re a very lucky agency: In a challenging economy, we’re growing our current accounts and attracting new ones. We’ve got a great staff. And future prospects are bright. (Excuse me for a moment while I knock on wood.)
By the way, we’re looking for an experienced Account Supervisor and a highly capable Production Manger. Check out the job descriptions:
Account Supervisor (PDF), Production Manager (PDF)
If you have any recommendations, please send them our way. Provided they don’t mind the heat.
The prevailing wisdom goes something like this: If you’re afraid to fail you’ll never succeed.
This looks great on a book jacket in the self-help section. So no successful person has ever been afraid to fail? Good for them.
When it comes to advertising, I’m afraid to fail. It’s not a paralyzing fear, but a slow burn, a voice in the back of my head that says, “What if you’re out of good ideas? What if this campaign bombs?” It’s a decent-sized list of fears actually.
Granted, this is advertising. My failure isn’t going to cause a plane to crash. Still, the fear is there every day. And I love it.
Here are five reasons why:
1) It pushes me.
With every new assignment, I feel pressure to succeed. I know the only way to avoid failure is to work really hard until I come up with something good. Hopefully great. Without any fear, it’d be easy to kick back and think “I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, no problem.” Then give half the effort.
2) It makes me scrutinize my work.
This is a dicey one. I know I have to ask myself the right questions, like “Is this REALLY the best it can be?” or “Will this strike a chord with the audience?” or even “Is it kind of funny or very funny?” The wrong question is “Is it possible somebody might not like it?” (ads that go unnoticed never get hate mail.) But taking a long, hard, objective look at my own work forces me to find the flaws and hopefully fix them before I produce something I’m not completely proud of.
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If you read one management text this year, I’d suggest a history book: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s a compelling biography of Abraham Lincoln focusing on the management of his cabinet during the Civil War years. Goodwin’s book takes us deep inside Lincoln’s challenges and triumphs.
He was nominated at the Republican national convention in 1860 as a compromise candidate. His better-known and better-financed opponents—Seward, Chase and Bates—cancelled one another out. Lincoln rose from relative obscurity to the presidency during the most perilous time in America’s history.
Over the next four years, he performed brilliantly as the nation’s CEO.
As president-elect, he convinced his Republican rivals to join his cabinet. Each felt himself superior to the humble and self-effacing Lincoln—and each accepted his appointment with the certainty that he would act as the de facto president. But over time, all were won over by Lincoln’s intellect, political acumen and compassionate nature. Now, nearly 150 years later, Lincoln’s legacy provides valuable lessons in management training:
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Hi there. I’ve noticed your work over the years, and I was hoping you could answer one nagging question for me.
What are you doing?
I’m not trying to be a jerk here, I seriously want to understand what both your general thought processes are when it comes to advertising. More specifically, what are you hoping to accomplish?
If you’re trying to alienate people and cement the stereotypes that you’re both radical fringe groups that aren’t worth listening to, congratulations. You nailed the brief.
I’m in advertising, so you’ll forgive me if I’m over-thinking this by trying to attach a strategy to your work. For all I know your goal may just be to see your name mentioned in the press as many times as possible. Sort of the Lindsey Lohan approach. You’re certainly talked about, and that’s all that matters.
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