A Year in Review

A Snapshot of our Blog in 2012

2012 was truly a year worthy of conversation. Facebook’s IPO opened the world’s eyes to a new understanding of social media, mobile technology continued to grow and captured more of our attention and our dollars, the Summer Olympic Games unfolded in London, Hurricane Sandy became the most digitally captured event in history, and the nation caught the fever of a Presidential election that set new standards for advertising spending while highlighting the state of business and the economy in America.

We try our best to write about the topics that matter most to doing business in the context of an economy unlike any other experienced before. Here is a look at the influential topics we discussed in 2012, and some that we believe will be on the forefront of conversation in 2013:

We are also extremely proud to share our Annual Report: Sustainability in a Fragmented Marketing Economy, which presents a short timeline and history of marketing to shed light on a fundamental truth about successful business communication that we think will spark a trend next year. Read the report, share with your network, and join the conversation in the comments section below or tweet us @junctioncreativ.

Thank you so much for reading Strategy. Impact. Results. We look forward to offering our insights and perspectives, and seeing what unfolds in 2013!

Testing the Pressure: The Consumer Barometer

Marketers from the “golden age” of advertising have had their legend inflated to great heights by television’s Mad Men. But no matter how cool they were (or at least seem to us today), those executives would be green with envy at our ability to collect, measure, and react to data in the 21st century.

Of course, we live in a radically different paradigm than this idealized era. The seemingly endless amount of information at our disposal would be absolutely useless in the context of the 1950s or 60s. Unfortunately, simply having access to this bevy of facts and figures does not automatically make the modern marketer better; the more we know about consumers, the less we often seem to understand them at all. The challenge we face is how to intelligently interpret and react to the ‘Big Data’ at our fingertips. In order to make sense of what we know, we must sort through the veritable ocean of information and decide which data is relevant, and how best to apply it.

Earlier this year, Ersnt & Young Advisory Services reported the findings of a monumental market research survey in This Time It’s Personal: From Consumer to Co-Creator that revealed several important new findings about the behavior and preferences of modern consumers. Accruing nearly 25,000 responses globally, the survey presented insights into the new breed of consumer and the trends that, in response, might characterize 2013.

The report describes the “Chameleon” consumer – who defies any traditional persona and disrupts the old notion of strict market segmentation. Thanks to the prevalence of this behavior, brand loyalty has become more transient, as preferences quickly change in a more crowded market with more options. Creating strong brand experiences now requires far more personalized communication and service. Consumers are empowered, and they want to be active ‘co-creators,’ not just an audience. We already know that marketing ‘lingo’ has been made effectively obsolete by social media, but these findings are a broader comment on the changing nature of commerce itself.

Visualized graphically, there is a clear consistency of response in the data across different verticals and the various channels of communication that drive marketing around the world. Regardless of industry, respondents had uniform expectations about the dynamic between marketer and consumer. As such, the implications for businesses of all kinds are twofold;

1. Businesses must focus on offering more personalized service to customers, and
2. Every link in the organizations’ ‘chain’ must be aligned to delivering the brand promise.

In a rapidly changing ecosystem that has taken a great deal of control away from marketers who fail to understand consumers, it is the best path to creating sustainable relationships with the new breed. With 2013 just around the corner, the pressure is on.

No Fright in this Night

As Halloween descends upon us, images of copious amounts of candy corn and miniature chocolates, vampires and werewolves, and children roaming moonlit streets on a brisk autumn evening are conjured. The latest scary movie (this season, it’s the fourth installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise) hits the theaters, and in 2012, some real life drama is even injected with the arrival of the “Frankenstorm.” Amidst all the storylines, the second largest consumer holiday on the calendar, after Christmas, is an alluring holiday not just for the American public, but for business, where an entire economy is built upon our love for the spooky day.

According to the National Retail Federation, 148 million Americans take part in the festivities each year. It’s not just the candy companies who love this time of year. In its 2010 “Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” the Federation found that we spend an average of $66.28 per person on costumes and decorations in addition to sweets, a number which can be expected to increase as the weaker economy that has slowed consumer spending over the past few years continues to recover.

Temporary Halloween stores selling costumes and other kitsch out of available retail space pop up all over the country, and established retailers rush to expand their offerings and ad campaigns to include the Halloween theme ahead of the 31st. Another trend taking flight is restaurants, bars, and clubs cashing in by charging cover and marking up drinks during Halloween parties. Millions of dollars are at stake, and everyone wants a piece of the pumpkin pie.

The fascination with the holiday that leads us to so easily open our wallets has much to do with escapism and relief from the everyday mundane. Putting on a costume and reveling in the night is a way to forget about work and other stresses. Businesses have capitalized on our love affair with this particular celebration, but supporting a quirky little niche of the economy is all the more reason to put on our zombie makeup and enjoy being someone else for an evening.

Keeping the Sizzle in the Agency/Client Relationship

The advertising industry is often imagined as being encapsulated by a scene from the popular TV show Mad Men. Agencies are thought to be an exclusive club of talented, like-minded individuals who have an innate ability to transform creative to sell products and services for the most notable brands. But is this what clients are really expecting?

With the market experiencing a huge shift in focus as organizations evolve, corporate clients are now looking to agencies to solve not just marketing problems, but business problems. In turn, the agency model must dynamically adapt to maintain relevance. The CMO Council reported in a recent study that only 9% of senior level marketers say ad agencies are managing to evolve and extending capabilities in the “digital ocean.” Furthermore, other surveys have shown that the same senior marketers are not as confident dealing with the complexities of this new marketing economy looking ahead to the next 5 years.

These volatile changes are undoubtedly affecting the traditional relationship between agencies and clients. Now, both are faced with increased expectations of measured effectiveness and delivered results. How do we keep the flame burning amidst the uncertainty? A successful agency/client relationship is one with:

Clarity: The client must set expectations for the desired outcome of a project or campaign. Agencies must also be clear upfront as to what can be expected with a specific marketing solution.

Communications: Consistency in communication is critical to the relationship. Both the client and the agency must engage in the conversation, speaking with each other rather than at each other.

Manners: Advertising is a high stakes game. When money or reputations are on the line, it’s easy to forget manners when dealing with a client or an agency.

As agencies move forward, hand-in-hand with clients, qualities of trust, value, accountability, and responsibility are being elevated over the Don Draper prototype in importance.

The secret to keeping the sizzle in this relationship is simple: Be transparent. Deliver results.

The Beefeaters of Brand

One of the most widely viewed portions of the Olympics isn’t any of the competitive events or ceremonies. Over television and digital platforms, millions of eyes are on the bevy of advertisements decorating the Games. Each Olympic year, the International Olympic Committee and the host city of the Olympiad come together to protect the prestigious brand of the Games that will be on display for the world to see. Every advertiser wants a piece of the pie, but few have the resources required to become an ‘official sponsor.’ The title doesn’t come cheap; Adidas reportedly spent $62 million solely for the right to be one of the fortunate Olympic sponsors, which doesn’t even factor in the cost of creating, printing, and running their advertisements.

Other companies left in the dark typically engage in any sort of ‘guerilla’ marketing possible to grab attention during the biennial spectacle. Brands like Nike, American Express, and Kodak are some of the more prominent companies that the average person might expect to get involved in the $2.1 billion affair, but have been excluded from the London 2012 Games.

This year, with help from the British Parliament, the IOC has actually criminalized the kind of guerilla tactics so commonly seen as a result of the exclusivity of advertising at the Games. The result of the legislation has been the creation of a so called “brand police” squadron charged with fighting unauthorized campaigns. Among the broad duties of the Olympic Delivery Authority, responsible for much of the infrastructure of the Olympics, is enforcing the new branding rules. The ODA has posted 250 “specialist enforcement officers” at the 28 venues and sites across London to protect the integrity of the all-important official sponsorships

The extent of the powers granted to the ‘brand police’ has not been seriously tested, but there has been a great deal of discussion sparked merely by their presence at the Games. Murmurs from London suggest the squad may be quietly exercising its authority, pulling down unauthorized signage and telling athletes and spectators what to wear.

Regardless of hyperbole surrounding how severe the measures being taken to protect the messages of official Olympic sponsors, the creation of the “brand police” serves as the latest mile marker in the dramatic shift in brand culture since London’s first hosting of the Games just over a century ago in 1908. For many, it is a somewhat disconcerting sign of the times. Although G4S, the private security firm hired to handle security at the London games, failed to deliver, the group of esteemed official sponsors can rest easy knowing they are being strongly protected.

Solavei: The Network Where Social Meets Commerce in a Big Way

Solavei™, the first social commerce network for mobile services distribution, is grabbing headlines in anticipation of its September 21st launch.

Solavei™ is a new social commerce company offering an affordable, contract-free mobile service that actually pays back consumers for adding new members. The Solavei Mobile Service is a comprehensive mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) utilizing T-Mobile’s nationwide 4G network. As a member of the network, consumers sign up for a $49 per month unlimited voice, text and data plan, and earn income by engaging friends and family to purchase the mobile service through Solavei’s integrated social networking platform.
“We are going to make a difference in people’s lives by shifting billions of dollars from traditional mass-media advertising into the greatest advertising vehicle today – people,” said Ryan Wuerch, founder and CEO of Solavei. “Solavei is the first company to create an economic linkage between mobile service, social commerce and social-networking technology. We give people the opportunity to earn income by using and promoting the services they are already consuming each and every day.”

The first half of 2012 has brought quite a bit of excitement across the marketing and media industries. Facebook stole the headlines with the unprecedented valuation and their May 17 IPO that is now considered one of the worst performing of 2012. Twitter experienced its longest service disruption since an hour long outage in October 2011, causing an internet freak-out. Just now, as Q3 begins, Microsoft and NBC complete a web divorce that has industries speculating what the future holds for NBCnews.com. The appointment of Marissa Mayer, 37, to run the global media giant Yahoo! as the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500 continues the trend. While it’s hard to predict what is to come, it’s safe to say that Solavei is attempting to do what no other company has tried.

“As a purveyor of all things social and mobile, Solavei is positioned to completely revolutionize the market place,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner of Junction Creative Solutions. “As founding members, we have the access to test the platform before its official launch into the marketplace. As an agency, it’s a great experience to be involved with such an amazing group of leaders who will make a significant impact on consumer behavior, social networks, and commerce.”

Gareleck is sharing a few spots for other industry leaders interested in testing this new network before its debut on September 21st. Contact Gareleck at julie@junction-creative.com for an invitation.

ABOUT SOLAVEI

Solavei is a social networking and commerce platform that enables users to connect, share and capitalize on the power of social networks. Solavei’s mission is to make commerce less expensive by empowering individuals to earn income on the products and services they enjoy and use every day. Solavei’s initial product offering is affordable, no contract, unlimited text, voice and data services throughout the United States. It operates as a MVNO through a strategic partnership with T-Mobile USA. Solavei is led by former Fortune 100 telecom and retail executives and advisors. For more information, visit www.solavei.com. For the brand’s latest news and updates, find Solavei on social media at facebook.com/solavei and twitter.com/solavei.

O’ Say, You Can See

With the London Olympic Games in full swing, the attention of media audiences in the United States is intently focused on watching the athletes representing our nation compete at the pinnacle of their respective sports. The US has historically been extremely successful at both the Summer and Winter Games, winning more than twice as many total medals as the next winningest nation, the former Soviet Union.

This Olympiad will likely be no different. Many American individual and team competitors are expected to find themselves on the podium when the dust settles. The American Olympic team holds a certain rarified air of dominance, honor, and character, and it is always on display during the two weeks of the games. With all the medals they will be collecting, it is obvious why advertisers and sponsors want to be associated with the US Olympic athletes.

It is a well known fact that successful athletes are magnets for positive attention. Olympians are athletes competing at the highest level, and incidentally, they bring advertisers an ever higher level of value. Brands vying for association with the US Olympic Teams are attempting to capitalize on some of the most positively regarded and emotionally charged personalities in the world. It is no secret that the biggest brands desire this kind of brand association; think of how endorsements by the star of the 2008 Beijing Games, Michael Phelps, fared as he soared to fame as the most dominant Olympian of all time.

Brands like The Home Depot, P&G, and Visa, which has a dedicated “global sports sponsorship portfolio” spend billions of dollars on the quadrennial event. These companies will dominate commercial breaks and integrated ads across television and digital. Social media will be alight with conversation during the Games, and big marketing budget dollars will energize the platforms that carry the discussion. McDonald’s will open its largest store in the world for the Games, right in the Olympic Village. Yes, even fast food brands, often criticized for reasons that place them on the opposite end of the lifestyle spectrum from Olympic athletes, want in on this prime opportunity.

As the Olympic spectacle grows (this Games will involve a global audience of as many as 4 billion watching more than 5,300 broadcast hours), so does the opportunity for brands riding the coattails of the Games’ most recognizable competitors. How the games unfold will surprise, captivate, and inspire us, and the sponsors are counting on it.

Checking In or Checking Out: Geo-Regulation

Over the course of the past year, we have frequently touched on how location-based services, specifically geolocation technologies, have facilitated the growth of mobile marketing, discussing topics such as the latest SoLoMo trends and the influential experience of contextual advertising. Now, the government is in the process of moderating a complicated discussion about the future regulation of these powerful technologies.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined forces to open a dialogue about high level privacy and security issues related to this data, playing mediator between telecommunications carriers, tech companies, consumer advocacy groups, and academics. A first official bill has recently been introduced to Congress, and it is now intensifying the debate.

Some groups have voiced their support for new comprehensive privacy legislation that would establish baseline privacy rights and requirements applicable to user information such as the data collected by geolocation technologies. On the other hand, a host of entities poised to benefit from the collection of this user data, have vehemently opposed additional regulation or legislation, arguing that businesses have marketplace incentives to be careful about user privacy. This side has argued that given the relative youth of the geolocation industry, the government likely lacks the information needed to create requirements that would meaningfully protect user privacy without stifling innovation and growth.

In the current regulatory environment, location based services do benefit both consumers and businesses. “Self-regulation” has so far been successful; consumers must opt-in to have their location data tracked. Although there have been instances of companies violating or working around this stipulation, there is yet to be a case stemming from the collection of this data. At the very least, consumers are becoming increasingly educated about the associated risks in privacy as the technologies become more commonplace.

What role will geolocation services play in mobile marketing in 2, 5, or 10 years? The future role of this technology will likely depend on a combination of consumer sentiments and some level of government supervision. Until then, consumers’ wants, needs, and expectation continue to drive the geolocation marketplace.

3 Clever Social Campaigns

Social media has arguably been the single largest trend in marketing over the course of the past few years. As more and more businesses shift their strategies and increase marketing spend on these social platforms, it is becoming harder to make a brand message stand out. Social is unique in that marketing to these networks is not about who can be the loudest. Instead, success is dependent on how well a brand creatively draws attention to how it fulfills a group’s wants and needs.

There are plenty of examples of failed attempts at capitalizing on the unique opportunities social media offers. These cases share a common problem of failing to understand how a message will be consumed, or acting with disregard for how disastrous a misstep can be.

On the other side of the coin, there are a several unique social media campaigns that exemplify the ability of social media networks to deliver a clear message organically across a large captive audience. Here are a few examples:

– Healthy Choice understood that its female customer base was becoming increasingly social, and responded well to coupons when making purchase decisions. The company took this information and introduced a “growing” campaign that offered a printable coupon that increased in value as its Facebook page garnered more likes. In a few weeks’ time, the fan page went from 7,000 to over 60,000 likes, and customers responded well, with more than 30,000 of the new fans subscribing to the company’s newsletter.

– When Old Spice introduced its new humor-injected advertising campaign in 2010, the ‘Old Spice Guy’ quickly became a viral sensation, and the main advertisement was so well made, it actually won an Emmy.  The company took notice, and signed up their popular actor to create more than 180 YouTube videos responding to tweets and blog posts that mentioned the ads. The entire campaign created a lasting image that the brand’s target demographic still shares online over social networks today.

– With Pinterest’s rise to popularity in 2012, Honda is hammering home it’s multi-platform ‘Leap List’ campaign by crossing over into the social visual network and encouraging users to take a ‘Pintermission’ (a 24 hour break from Pinterest) and attempt to visit, buy, and experience places and things they have pinned. They are even paying fans of the brand to help accomplish their goals. Most of Honda’s pins link across different networks back to the campaign, and drive home the message of adventure that has been wildly popular since its launch during the Super Bowl.

Social media is ultimately not about the product or service being marketed, but the relationship between marketer and consumer. Communication on social networks is a two-way street; brands have a chance to be relatable to their audience, and customers unwittingly increase awareness and loyalties. Creating strong relationships turns customers into brand ambassadors more powerful than advertisements.