Tag Archives: culture

Happy Labor Day

I always remember my father with fondness on this day because of his tenacious embrace of the labor movement.

As the American economy becomes more and more service based we may forget labor’s historical gravity. The first Labor Day celebration was on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, promoted by the Central Labor Union. The Union held its second Labor Day celebration the next year on September 5, 1883. Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday of September ever since. Its launch came at a time when America was moving into the industrial revolution and the conditions of workers were often difficult.

My dad, a WWII vet, frequently teased me about Rosie the Riveter and powerful women. I was young and didn’t understand how much her iconic image meant to him. I’m guessing that in some small (and not so small) ways I must have reminded him of the power she signified. Doing a little research on her image this morning, I learned a few things I didn’t know before.

There were two iconic Rosies.

Rosie Riveter norman rockwellThe first Rosie – the one most of us remember – was painted by J. Howard Miller. He was commissioned by Westinghouse to make a series of posters promoting the war effort. Miller inspired the Saturday Evening Post, whose covers tended toward civic inspiration. With WWII raging the Post hired Norman Rockwell. Rockwell’s Rosie appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post (May 29, 1943). It was the Memorial Day issue. She’s muscular and dressed for a hard day’s work, just like the Rosie most of us might recall. We also know she’s Rosie because of the name inscribed on her lunch pail. However, what might surprise many of you, as it did me, this Rosie is stepping on a copy of Adolph Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. Now this is serious symbolic propaganda.

We_Can_Do_It! J. Howard MillerOn the heels of Post’s highly successful cover, stories about real life Rosies began appearing in newspapers across America. The U.S. government took advantage of Rosie’s popularity and embarked on a recruiting campaign named after her. The campaign, done by J. Walter Thompson under the auspices of the Advertising Council, used J. Howard Miller’s Rosie. The campaign brought millions of women into the workforce. To this day, Rosie the Riveter is considered one of the most successful government advertising campaign in history. On May 25, 2012 the Ad Council threw a 70th Birthday Bash for Rosie, noting that Rosie the Riveter remains an enduring emblem of empowerment for women everywhere.

Dad, thanks for teaching me the value of a hard day’s work. I miss you.

Happy Labor Day everyone!



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Educational Opportunity for All

This really does matter.

Vicki Madden’s op-ed in today’s New York Times is worth a read. As she says, “In spite of our collective belief that education is the engine for climbing the socioeconomic ladder — the heart of the ‘American dream’ myth — colleges now are more divided by wealth than ever.”

Joanna Neborsky

Joanna Neborsky, New York Times

Do only the wealthy have bright, inquisitive minds? I think not.

I am first generation college having grown up in a blue-collar, middle income family. As I graduated from high school earning a PhD was not something on my horizon. However, after an adventurous journey involving three prior careers – two of which involved the advertising industry – and four institutions of higher education, here I am. Yet today, for young people of modest means, the climb up the educational ladder is steeper, longer and fraught with many more challenges. In fact, from 1990-2012 there has been little change in the enrollment of students with less resources. Moving forward it looks as though little will change.

Successful advertising involves speaking to consumers with a resonant voice. How can we do this when the industry does not reflect the diversity of the American cultural landscape? (Nor does it reflect the diversity of the global cultural landscape.) Change must involve a serious commitment to hiring a diverse pool of talent.  Change must also involve a commitment to getting behind educational opportunities for all. That, in fact, may be our next biggest challenge.


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New Edition. New Ideas.

The third edition of my co-authored book Advertising Creative: Strategy, Copy & Design (Altstiel & Grow) has just been released! I hope you’ll check it out.

Bill Wright, Chief Creative Officer at OgilvyWest said this, “Advertising Creative is a systematic guide to creating modern, 21st century advertising. The authors dare to try and make sense of today’s changing, evolving world of multiple screens. Read it and be ready to create breakthrough ideas.”

In this edition, we take a deeper dive into digital technology and its implications for the industry. We also explore how brands now cut across geographic and cultural boundaries with lightning speed creating a marketplace that knows no boundaries. Here are a few things you’ll find:

  • New chapters on Global Advertising and Social Media and expanded coverage of digital media reflecting a rapidly changing advertising industry.
  • Updated with new illustrations and timely examples.
  • Insightful stories from seasoned advertising creative professionals and rising stars provide an inspiring picture of the industry.
  •  “Survival Guide” chapter offers practical advice on how to land a job, and advance, illustrated with student portfolio examples.
  • Engaging end-of-chapter exercises encourage creative thinking.

Let me know what you think.


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Digital DNA

I recently wrapped up my Global Brand Tracking class with a visit to Double You, an agency where creativity curses through their veins and digital is part of their DNA. The agency embraced the digital world, jumping in in 1997, when they opened their shop. Today, nearly 15 years later, they employ over 100 people and have agencies in Barcelona, Madrid and recently opened an office in Mexico City – immediately garnering the Coca Cola Mexico account.  Adéu, Barcelona! embodies the spirit of the Double You DNA.


Their philosophy on communication is multi-dimensional. As creative director, Jesús Revuelta said, “The old way was like bowling. The new way is like pinball.” This attitude and bold work has landed them accounts such as: Nike, vodaphone, Spanish tourism, L&G Electronics, Audi and many P&G brands. Jesús and Luis Ortiz, on the account side, walked us through four cases: Mahou, Audi, Estrella and Hot Mail.

Mahou and Estrella provided a great comparison between two Spanish beers and the cases were loaded with insights for the student team working on the beer cultural code. With Mahou Double You leveraged the brand’s ownership of the cinema space, which differentiates them from their competitors. Along they way they created huge buzz engaging consumers on the creation of a movie through social media. With Estrella the team won the hearts of Spanish consumers with a single beautifully languid TV spot that became the summer song. Consumers now await Estrella’s summer spot, which runs only once, and sings its way across Spanish beaches. The students were thrilled to learn the behind the scenes account after visiting the parent company, Damm, earlier in the week.

Introducing us to Audi the team demonstrated their ability to leverage social media with the Virtual Me campaign. It was witty, playing on emotions that can’t be reproduced without human experience – driving consumers to test drives and purchase. Along the way they introduced us to what is considered the best television ever produced in Spain. This BMW spot, by SCPF, never shows the car. Rather it uses the hand of the driver, feeling the wind against his skin as he drives across Spain. The student team working on the cultural code of cars walked away with lot of new insights.

The Hot Mail campaign was absolutely brilliant. It tracked one guy’s quest to win back the heart of his woman. Via Hot Mail and social media Spanish consumers watched and cheered him on, all the while learning about all the new features available on Hot Mail. Lucky brand. Luckier guy. He won her heart.

ImageWe ended our visit with a discussion of cosmetics when Tania Nolla joined us to talk about Spanish women. The cosmetics team benefited in spades, taking away insights that led them to a great Spanish cultural code.

Yet, the highlight of our visit was being there the moment Double You team found out they had won the Nestlé’s account. What a fabulous way to end my Global Brand Tracking class. Congratulations! We wish you well.


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6.5 Seconds

That’s the time you have to make a connection with consumers, according to draftfcb’s executive creative director, Beto Nahmad. Those 6.5 seconds are more then every defined by the digitally driven society 2.0. Digital changes everything and with consumers having increasing control of the mediated world, brands need to become friends with consumers. To do this advertising must feel like anything but advertising. It must make connections by being cleaver and compact –relevant and real. Yet, for as much as digital shapes us, advertisers must think digital rather than be digital because end the day we are all human and long for personal connections.

Beto and account director, Laura de Luque, presented a dozen blockbuster cases to my Global Brand Tracking class in Barcelona, last week. They walked us through their work for Tunisia Air’s “Seven Days/70 People” initiative, which just landed draftfcb a gold at El Sol. Congratulations! Next he introduced work for Gui Repsol. Both brands live in the tourism category, and everything draftfcb did from them feels authentic and true to their spirit – and nothing like advertising.

Beto also showed us seven cases from the spirits category featuring Rom Barelo, Tia Maria, Sailor Jerry and Siboney 34 and Hendricks. These were particularly interesting as in Spain alcohol cannot be advertised on television. In fact, none there is no advertising allowed in mass media whatsoever. The campaigns they developed for these brands leverage social media and promotional events in highly imaginative ways that garnered new audiences and secured a passion among existing audiences use techniques that surprised and engaged them.

Smint mints, River Plate and Action Against Hunger rounded out the presentations. Action Against Hunger was the agency’s 2011 commitment to the community. Raising awareness about hunger the agency partnered with Reebok as they helped citizens in rich countries burn calories to feed citizens in poor countries. The campaign was so successful the agency plans to move into South and Central America.

The agency harnesses the power of collaboration to generate ideas that push beyond traditional boundaries and into the world of imagination – building blockbuster brands along the way.


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Deliver Surprising Truths. Create Deep Connections.

I recently took a group of students, to Euro RSCG, London. Russ Lidstone, CEO, was our gracious host, providing a transformative afternoon with eight speakers – each sharing wisdom, insight and creative magic.

According to planner, George Roberts, “the enemy of insight is observation.” As the fledgling student ethnographers began conducting in-culture exercises there could have been no better words to guide them. For observation without analysis leads to insights that are simply rubbish. The planning frames he presented illuminated the guiding Euro principle – surprising truths create deep consumer connections.

Four cases illustrated this perfectly: Santander, Chivas, Durax and VO5. The poetic copy by Russ Schaller, Creative Director, for the Santander 123 campaign highlighted the humanity of brand. How often can you say that about a bank, especially in these economic times? The Chivas case, presented by Global Account Director, Elisabet Jonsdottir, highlighted the essential sweet spot at the intersection of consumer, product and brand category. What could be more shareable for a whiskey brand then to live chivalry? Durax Vinyl showcased the power of imagination, with Tech Director, Michael Olaye, taking the lead. Vinyl used a social media led television campaign to launch Performax Intense and brilliantly connected couples. Caroline Saunders, Business Director, introduced the Pliktisijiteur Pageant for VO5 Extreme Style, which set up a perfectly targeted campaign launched with teasers leading to wickedly funny television that broke the mould. Each case offered lessons on insightful creative rooted in spot-on strategy, driven by imaginative innovation.

The afternoon wrapped up with discussions on creativity, PR and social media. Dom Gettins, Head of Copy, turned the students’ notions about creativity on its head. He challenged them to think about advertising creativity as a conversation. Paola Nicolaides, Associate Director of PR, introduced the idea that it’s not about what you do or why you say. It’s about what others say about you. The day wrapped up with Claire Adams, Head of Social Media. She reminded the students that the heart of any campaign, across any platform, remains the idea. But with social media the value proposition is inherently driven by emotion and utility coming together to create value.

Value is exactly what the day produced. Pearls of wisdom, some with uniquely British leanings, others that spanned the global marketplace – all invaluable. Clearly delivering surprising truths leads to deep consumer connections.


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