Advertising: A Touch of Singularity

Welcome to Junction’s Book Nook. At Junction, we dedicate a significant amount of time educating ourselves on the complexities of the business and marketing ecosystem. We would like to share insights from some of the pages of the books we are reading.

As part of my New Year’s resolution to put down the technology and pick up a book (an actual book), I selected Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilivy, a true genius known as the “Father of Advertising.” Although Ogilvy passed away in 1999, his principles remain as relevant in today’s marketing economy as in the 1960s:

– Be A Student: In order to be great in advertising, it is important to be a student first. Listen, learn, and study before you beginning the creative process, or risk being permanently superficial.
– Be Ambitious: Put simply, don’t bunt. Rather, hit the ball out of the park.
– Sell or Else: In the words of Ogilvy, you can’t save souls in an empty church. In today’s modern business world, it is useless to just be creative. You must also sell what you create.
– Tell the Truth: Present only the facts in advertising if you want to be successful.

Reading the book felt much like an interview. All of the questions I would ever think to ask, Ogilvy managed to answer in this book, leaving me with more than a few notable remarks:

– On Discipline: “It takes brains and perseverance to create a brand.”
– On Content: “Advertising is a business of words…..”
– On Engagement: “Advertising is a game of seconds.”
– On Talent: “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine. ”
– On Hard Work: “I believe in the Scottish proverb, ‘Hard work never killed a man’, men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They do not die of hard work.”
– On Excellence: “The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying.”

As the advertising industry continues to dynamically change, advertisers and marketers search for solutions for establishing marketing best practices within each respective organization. Ogilvy is sure to remind us that sometimes the big ideas are simple ideas. Despite the pace at which we operate, there is inherent value on first looking behind to adjust our decisions moving forward.

Lost in Translation: The Social Marketing Disconnect

We are well aware of the power of social networks to effectively disseminate a brand message and create real, mutually-beneficial relationships between consumers and brands. But there are two sides to the coin – a great deal of the content brands perceive as engaging to audiences falls short of expectations when the metrics on conversions and ROI come in. Likewise, some communications and activities that consumers find compelling are seen as less worthwhile by marketers. Without consistency and quality, brands can quickly find their audiences leaving for greener pastures.

The kind of brand loyalty generated by social media is certainly unique in the current marketplace. With consumer behavior becoming increasingly personalized, brands have an opportunity to garner eager ambassadors, willing to share experiences with others. This is a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal, but it comes at the cost of the expectation that the consumer will gain something from the relationship, whether a promotion, prize, or even simple recognition. Customers on social media platforms are constantly seeking this “social currency.

Meanwhile, a 2012 study conducted by The CMO Council and social media technology firm Lithium showed that about 60% of CMOs believe their customers interact with social media for the content related to the brand philosophy, new products, and news. Just 33% thought that fans are looking for incentives or rewards, with even fewer operating under the impression that customers are actively seeking rewards or exclusive offers.

Therein lies the disconnect. It’s plain to see that consumers and marketers are speaking two different languages. So, if it’s really about the ‘social’ for the customers, why are brands so focused on the ‘media?’

Businesses must resist the temptation to promote themselves on social media platforms. They are simply a different animal than traditional marketers are accustomed to. Social customers expect to be rewarded for connecting with brands online, and there is no shortage of ways to please them. The more investment made by the brand, the more value contributed by the customer. The people have spoken, and marketers must adapt to bridge the gap and capitalize on the potential of their loyal customers.

Are You Ready for Some Football?

It’s no secret: Americans love football. The Sunday tradition of gathering with friends and watching our favorite teams beat up on each other is an experience that resonates with millions. We have already discussed the status of the National Football League as an elite brand ‘juggernaut’, but looking at the number of digits on its bottom line, the success of the NFL lies in more than just the passion of its fans. With the teams now set for the Super Bowl – the league’s signature event and arguably greatest spectacle in all of sports – here’s a look at how the NFL has turned a humble sport and its loyal fans into a well-oiled, multi-billion dollar machine.

Engage the Customers
Over the years, the game of football itself has changed significantly. The size, strength, and speed of the athletes has increased, mandating that the style of play needed to win had to change. To compensate, the league has imposed salary caps and free-agency restrictions in order to maintain as much parity among competing teams as possible. The popular adage ‘any given Sunday’ speaks to the excitement of how every team has a chance to win, grabbing hold of the attention of the audience, and never letting go. In fact, as the season wears on, the stakes are raised. In the playoffs, the level of engagement only intensifies, and the marketing efforts of the league and the individual teams ramps up accordingly.

Understand the Value Proposition
At the close of the 2011 season, the average NFL Franchise was worth more than $1 billion, a number that has climbed substantially this year under the terms of the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, negotiated last summer. TV deals with CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN are at the crux of these earnings, each bringing in an average of more than $3 billion dollars annually to the NFL. The league has successfully parlayed its rabid viewership into a bargaining chip that all but guarantees the new contracts will be even larger when they are renewed after the 2013 season.

Protect Your Assets
If the fans are the customers, and the game is the product, the players are the employees. The NFL has always pushed to give its customers the highest standard of quality, and that means keeping the players healthy and happy. Players have always been well-compensated for their work, and they are deserving of it: while the common man grumbles about pro athlete salaries, the truth is they generate more profit for their bosses than employees at just about any other business. The latest challenge facing the league has been an epidemic of injuries, particularly concussions that can limit a player’s lifespan in the big show. In response, the league is working to change rules and improve equipment that will keep its invaluable star players on the field. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like it matters that much, but maintaining a talent base that operates at the highest level week in and week out is pivotal to the appeal of the league.

Stay Current and Innovate Constantly
Despite all its successes, the NFL has often had to identify ways to improve, especially as the emergence of a better ‘at-home’ viewing experience has threatened ticket sales over the decades. The league has always been quick to adopt new technologies and even pioneer some of its own, often shaping the way the other professional sports manage and market their game in the process. As the next generation arrives, expect the NFL to be the forefront.

Junction CEO Talks 2013 Trends, ‘Getting It Done’ at Financial Marketers’ Conference

Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based strategy firm Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), spoke on a panel of senior marketers representing the nation’s largest financial firms with on Wednesday, January 16th in New York, NY.

The event, JFAM:FORUM-NYC, was the first major conference of 2013 hosted by The Gramercy Institute’s Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing. The sole representative from an independent marketing agency, Gareleck joined industry leaders including JPMorgan Chase, Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America in discussing the theme of the day, “What Financial Marketers Want in 2013.”

The panelists covered a broad range of hot-button marketing topics, framing their insights in the context of a rapidly moving marketplace that has left many financial firms looking for solutions to new challenges. Discussions on reputation management, mobile and tablet marketing, social media, and the role of so-called ‘Big Data’ characterized the conversation at the half-day event.

Gareleck’s firm is known for its dedication to bringing together thought leadership and encouraging collaboration in the greater business community. “In the past few years, the game has changed, not just in the financial world but across all industries. It has become increasingly difficult for companies to strategize effectively with the unknowns of a marketplace driven by technology and innovation,” says Gareleck. “For business leaders, especially marketers, taking the time to share perspectives and educate ourselves is the best way to adapt. Events like the JFAM:FORUM series are invaluable to financial marketers in 2013.”

For more information about Junction Creative Solutions, visit

Reminder: JFAM:FORUM-NYC Today

Don’t forget – this morning, Junction CEO & Managing Partner Julie Gareleck is speaking on an expert panel with representatives from some of the world’s largest financial firms at JFAM:FORUM-NYC in New York City. It is the first major conference of the year hosted by The Gramercy Institute’s Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing, and the panelists will be discussing marketing trends and goals for 2013.
The event is still open for last-minute registration, so stop by if you are in the area and hear insights from the most prominent brands in the industry! Click here to register.
Make sure to check back for a recap of the day’s events and the ideas shared by these influential financial marketers.

Lessons from the CEOs – Culture

In this series, we will explore some less-frequently discussed ideas about running a successful business utilizing the experiences of real CEOs.  In this first installment, we find some wisdom from Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.

After selling internet advertising startup to Microsoft for $265 million in 1999, Tony Hsieh joined Zappos as an investor, eventually rising to CEO as he created a unique culture that breeds happiness in its employees and customers and gives a lot back. He has even written a book called ‘Delivering Happiness,’ an illustration of his perspective on the goals and values of the company.

Hsieh at his desk

To Hsieh, Zappos’ work is meaningless if customers are not delighted and the greater community does not benefit. So how does Zappos execute Hsieh’s vision?

First off, Zappos is known for exceptional, even extreme standards of customer service. For example, the performance of customer service representatives in call centers is not measured in the traditional metrics that usually come to mind; where it is clearly more profitable to keep call lengths to a minimum, this company celebrates employees who have the longest lasting service calls, not the shortest. Zappos also pays $4,000 to any new hire who decides to quit during the training period, in order to foster a culture of employees who are committed to the brand and the culture, not just money.

Working towards building desirable culture within a company is already well known to be extremely important. Large companies spend millions allotted specifically to retain talent and boost productivity. Of course, thousands of studies and surveys conducted in the last 20 years will tell you that happy employees are more productive, but the crux of the idea goes far beyond the notion of simply rewarding your workers with higher salaries or letting them wear Hawaiian shirts to work on Fridays. As the example of Hsieh and Zappos shows, the focus when designing and realizing a great company culture must be to engage employees with the values and goals of the company as a whole.

The people at the front of an organization – the entrepreneur, the business owner, even the executives, usually have the best understanding of the vision of the company and the environment and culture needed to stay on a successful track. The capacity to get others on the same page and find employees to fully buy in remains the challenge. Take a page from Zappos and consider stepping up efforts to make sure the crew is on board; the results may be surprising.

Joining the Worlds’ Biggest Financial Brands to Address Trends for 2013

Junction is pleased to announce its presence at the JFAM:FORUM-NYC, the first major conference of 2013 hosted by The Gramercy Institute’s Journal of Financial Advertising and Marketing, on Wednesday, January 16th in New York, NY. CEO & Managing Partner Julie Gareleck will join senior leaders from top financial brands including JPMorgan Chase, Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and more as they discuss what financial marketers want to gain from their marketing efforts in the new year.

The half –day forum features five panel discussions covering specific topics ranging from branding and reputation management to mobile and tablet marketing, social media, and the role of big data in marketing financial services. The lone representative in the conference from an agency’s perspective, Gareleck will participate in the fifth and final panel, informally titled ‘Getting It Done,’ addressing financial marketing team management.

Gareleck views the topic of how to effectively organize a team and execute on marketing tactics as one of Junction’s core strengths. “Junction has proven that our own process makes a significant impact on streamlining operations, improving internal and external communications, and maximizing the value of the solutions we design for our clients,” says Gareleck. “Marketers in 2013 must focus on this high level of organization, because even the biggest ideas lack power without proper coordination and flawless execution.”

Honest Abe

Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring a cast of acclaimed actors headlined by the venerable Daniel Day Lewis, the recently released film Lincoln was destined to be a big hit at the box office. What was less expected, however, was how resonating the film would be as a master class on leadership.

Anyone familiar with American history understands that landmark pieces of legislation have often been met with strong opposition. In the case of the 16th President, the passage of the 13th Amendment was a signature work that now echoes in our society and is frequently paid tribute to, such as in the case of this film, although that infamy exists despite a great deal of resistance in its time.

Mirroring political history, the greatest strides forward many other facets of our world are often made in the face of those reluctant to change. Hesitation to adopt new technologies is a barrier for innovative new businesses, and doubters in the board room prevent the risk-takers from reaching for the stars; yet thanks to those willing to step up and lead, business, culture, and life can move forward.

Any politics aside, the Lincoln portrayed in the film (and the real man, for that matter) is remembered and even revered for his unequaled understanding of what it means to lead. In particular, 3 qualities demonstrated by the Tallest President come to mind:

Humility: Lincoln prioritized the good of the country above his own personal interests. He listened to others and considered their opinions before making decisions.

Honesty: Lincoln truly earned his most famous nickname, Honest Abe. Despite the prevalence of bribes and lies in politics at the time, he maintained a dignified authenticity at all times, bringing honest pleas to his cohorts to accomplish progress the right way.

Perseverance: In the face of a seemingly impossible goal of ending both slavery and the Civil War, Lincoln refused to compromise, and pushed until the very end to ensure victory on both fronts.

There have been countless books written and seminars held trying to describe what it means to be a leader in business, whether as an entrepreneur or an executive. Some might argue that there are only born leaders, while others believe that personality makes all the difference. In the end, what we can take away from this film and the historical record of Abraham Lincoln is that our actions are crucial to earning the respect and trust of our peers and our customers. Win the admiration and respect of the opposition, like Lincoln, and success will follow naturally.

The Hat Trick

A little over 2 months into the a lockout between the National Hockey League and its players, the results of a public opinion poll were published in an editorial in Canada’s The Globe and Mail suggesting that the league’s brand had suffered damage equivalent to or even worse than British Petroleum (BP) following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

On Sunday, the league and the Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement to end the lockout and begin the 2012-2013 season, but the immediate response from fans was not uniformly enthusiastic. For the generally rabid followers of the fast-paced sport, which doesn’t typically get the same media attention as the other 3 major North American professional sports leagues, the feelings of the moment are summed up by disinterest at one end of the spectrum, and betrayal at the other.

The NHL's customers, the fans, joined players in being 'locked out' from their beloved game.

Considering the loyalty and passion of the sport’s fanbase, it doesn’t seem too surprising that Level5 Strategy, the firm behind the research, would suggest that the NHL has truly committed such a serious grievance against its customers. The people who watch the sport on television, buy tickets to games, and fill their homes with merchandise have had their trust in the league severely breached. Following its catastrophic oil spill, BP put in a serious effort to initiate cleanup, pay out damages to affected citizens and businesses, and ultimately agreed to pay the enormous fines that resulted.

It is highly unlikely that the NHL will do anything but move on as if nothing happened at all.

This most recent lockout marked the third under current commissioner Gary Bettman, a figure employed by the league but frequently maligned by the fans. For more than a decade, die hard followers of the sport have called for change, citing Bettman as an ineffective leader, detrimental to the game of hockey. The league is fundamentally a business, focused primarily on creating a quality product to generate revenues, a fact sometimes forgotten or intentionally ignored by the fans, but this latest development and the toll it has taken on the reputability and integrity of the league should be enough for the owners to realize how important the management of that brand truly is.

Many fans will reluctantly return to the rink to watch the game they love, supporting the NHL in spite of the frustration that the lockout has caused. Under Bettman, the league has more than tripled its annual intake of ‘hockey-related revenue,’ and notwithstanding the losses accrued from 3 months off from the regular season, might still be on track to continue growing richer over the next 10 years of the new collective bargaining agreement. All of that success is placed in serious jeopardy, however, should the owners fail to recognize that its customers are the lifeblood of the business, a fundamental truth across all industries. The NHL brand faces a long road back from the damage suffered during the tenure of its current commissioner. It must take measures to win back the trust of the fans, or die.