A Bid for the Presidency

Wander through the White House or saunter around the Smithsonian, and you probably won’t see any presidential memorabilia made out of poultry (though if Ben Franklin got his way a few centuries ago, we woud be a nation of turkeys). But travel to Dakota City, Nebraska and you’ll find a frozen history lesson.

About three years ago, Rebekah Speight took her kids to McDonald’s and as she cleaned up, a familiar face looked back at her. It wasn’t from a coin purse, but from the pile of uneaten McNuggets. The McNugget looked like George Washington. So government waste no more, Speight kept the pronounced POTUS profile and tucked it into her freezer.

Here’s where the word-of-mouth world that GW knew and our world of connectivity meet to make a creative grass roots campaign. When Speight needed to raise money for a higher purpose, to send students from her church to camp, she got the calling to auction the meaty McNugget. And the lesson from history and marketing is that at times the best viral campaigns mean brushing off the freezer burn and taking a bite of creativity bigger than George Washington’s wooden dentures could take (yes history teachers, and my mom, I know that’s not quite true). It’s stepping outside the usual to create chatter about the unusual. It’s using the tools and toys we employ every day – Facebook, Ebay or Twitter – to drive awareness of those causes that matter the most to us.

For Speight, her bid for the presidency on eBay got media coverage from around the world, creativity that cost conversation and getting bids past $8,000. While Commander in Chiefs may communicate about taxes or partisan politics, when a message makes its way through all the other talk of the day, we must ask why it matters so much. For Speight, the head of state (even in a state of breaded tastiness) gave her a way to help the cause and kids she cared most about it.

– Jolene

Update: The winning bidder chickened out on the sale, but organizers say they will still work to find someone interested in bidding on this presidential piece of poultry.

Is Your Business Prepared for the Changing Times?

CarHop Mobile SiteAccording to a recent Advertising Age article, tablet users are expected to double by early next year. While the number of current tablet users may not seem outrageously high now—only 12% of American internet users (28 million people) are accessing the web through tablets today—a study by the Online Publishers Association and Frank N. Magid Associations predicts that roughly 54 million Americans (23%) will be using tablets for internet access by early next year.

So what does that mean for your business? It means you should seriously be considering the next steps for your online presence. If tablet growth continues at the rate it’s going, it won’t be long before tablet devices are a staple of the internet browsing experience for your customers, not just a rising trend. So there’s no better time than now to get ahead of the curve.

And keep in mind that it’s not just tablet use that’s growing. At ADwërks, we’ve seen a similar trend with mobile website usage. One of our clients, CarHop, has seen huge jumps in the number of visits to its mobile website over the past few months. From 3200+ visits in December to 5700+ visits in February up to 7500+ in April and May, the mobile site has seen an increasing number of visits each month and it looks like that trend will only continue moving forward.

It’s not hard to see that internet use on tablets and mobile devices will continue to grow in the future. As our dear friend Bob Dylan said, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” It’s up to you to decide if your business wants to evolve with the times or stay stuck in the past.

Media/Mirror Fragmentation

CwQdHL5MTimes have dramatically changed since the days of newspaper and radio. There was once a time when reaching people with advertising was simpler, because the media options were simpler. If media can be represented by a large mirror in which people view and connect with the world, people had only one, maybe two reflective shards to look into. As a result, advertisers always knew where to find their audiences.

Fast forward to the present, and there is a plethora of media options to choose from. What used to be a solid, sturdy mirror, has now shattered into many fragments varying in size and reflective power. One shard is radio, one is Twitter, one is a video game, etc. So who’s looking into which shard? Everyone has their own unique combination of usage. And when the next form of media breaks off from its respective shard, the fragmentation will spread even further.

Since there are so many different ways to reach people, from an advertiser’s standpoint, it’s not always easy to know how and where to communicate with them. Break it down to an increasingly diverse group of demographics, all with varying media habits, and the equation gets even more complicated. But “advertologists,” (like our esteemed leader at ADwërks) have remained resilient. There is a lot of progress being made with the utilization of the digital age, and it can only get better. Although this “mirror” fragmentation has certainly posed to be a challenge, in a way, it’s pretty serendipitous. With modern technology allowing for an always-increasing connectability throughout the world, media fragmentation has allowed us to narrowly target and reach the smallest and most “nichy” audiences, efficiently and effectively.

These days, we are not only harnessing the consumer power of a large, dominant demographic, but we now see the value and power in the small demographic groups as well. We recognize the individual and have developed an interest in everyone’s “reflection” (aka consumer profile). So bring on the fragmentation, it can only strengthen our connection.

– Andrew

What Macho Man Randy Savage Taught Me About Business

Macho ManAs a childhood fan of professional wrestling, I was more than a little sad to hear the news a few weeks ago that “Macho Man” Randy Savage had passed away. One of my all-time favorites growing up (as my multiple Macho Man action figures can attest to), Macho Man brought a flair and excitement to his matches that other wrestlers just didn’t have. He was more than just “a pro wrestler.”

After thinking about what made him more than just a pro wrestler, I realized what made Macho Man so unique (and how it can apply to the business world).

Plain and simple, Macho Man had personality. Lots of it. Whether he was flying through the air in neon green tights or “snappin’ into a Slim Jim” in a loud and over-the-top Slim Jim commercial, Macho Man capitalized on his entertaining personality in order to make his footprint in pop culture history.

The question is, does your business have a personality like that? A personality that puts a smile on people’s faces and gets them excited about what gets you excited? And if it does have that kind of personality, how are you showing it off to the world?

That’s the beauty of smart advertising. It gives you a chance to highlight your business’s personality in a way that draws a customer in and makes them want to be a part of your passion. Advertising shows them what makes you unique, and it does so with a purpose.

Having a personality sets you apart. It makes you memorable. Don’t let the opportunity to show off that personality pass you by. You may not need to show it off with pink and green tights like Macho Man, but you’d be surprised at how well you can share your business’s passion and personality with just a little bit of advertising.

Oooohhh yeahhhh! Dig it!

-Mike B.

The Impact of OTA

The Impact of OTA Apr 08, 2011

OTA phota 2Conferences happen across American on a regular basis. Covering hundreds of industries and thousands of attendees, these conferences create, share and spread millions of ideas every year. The problem is that many of these conferences are held in “big cities”—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin—and they cost thousands of dollars.

So when given the chance to attend a big city-caliber conference for a fraction of the cost right here in Sioux Falls, I was obviously excited. About 350 other folks were too.

All in all, I can say that the OTA Sessions—founded and hosted by Hugh Weber (also the founder and president of Storyline)—turned my typical Friday into a day of introspection, inspiration and invigoration. More importantly, the event helped me understand the importance of DOING big things, not just thinking big things.

Whether it was Sally Hogshead making me realize that even my “everyday” tasks could be infused with elements of fascination to get better results orDusty Davidson and Jeff Slobotski showing how being passionate about a mission or goal can turn that mission into something amazing, each presenter managed to get my brain juices flowing in his or her own unique way.

OTA phota 3Add that to the WIDE array of attendees who shared their wisdom, spoke their minds, and represented the OTA region with originality and action, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a memorable conference and a powerful push to accomplish something meaningful over the next 12 months.

I’m already excited for next year’s OTA, and I’m pretty sure that excitement will only continue to bubble and build over the upcoming year. I look forward to seeing you there.

-Mike B.

Disclaimer: As someone involved with the planning and execution of the OTA Sessions, it would be impossible for me to keep my review totally unbiased. That said, this entire post is sincere and true, both from a co-planner’s perspective and from an attendee’s perspective. One love.

Photo c/o The OTA Sessions. Thanks OTA!

5 Reasons We Love The ADDYs

Addy_logo2Last weekend was the ADDYs, which means a bunch of marketing folks got dressed up, hoped to win an award or two, and generally celebrated each other’s company in the process. We at ADwërks did the same, so we figured we’d share with you guys a few reasons we enjoy the ADDYs so much.

1) Marketing, Advertising and Production People Unite!

The people of South Dakota’s marketing and advertising community (co-workers and competitors alike) all come together to celebrate really good work. Coexistence at its finest!

2) Fantastic Work (and Lots of It)

The ADDYs show off a smorgasbord of the region’s best work in numerous formats, which makes it truly inspiring to see the creativity coming out of this state.

3) A Look At the Legends

Each year the SDAF gives away a Creative Legacy Award and a Silver Medal Award. The Creative Legacy Award highlights creativity and celebrates the careers of the people who are the backbone of our creative community while the Silver Medal Award is “the highest honor bestowed upon an advertising practitioner by his or her peers.” Yeah…it’s a big deal. And the speeches are usually pretty fun too.

4) Sometimes Your Friends Win

This year ADwërks was thrilled to see some of our close friends and favorite agencies win ADDYs for their work. It’s a blast to work with—and occasionally compete against—folks who produce award winning stuff.

5) Sometimes YOU Win

As happy as we were to see friends win, we also didn’t mind winning a few ADDYs ourselves, including a Best of Class award and a pleasantly surprising Volunteer of the Year award, which was given to the agency as a whole rather than an individual for the first time. As our Certified Advertologist Jim Mathis said, “I was tickled pink by the ADDYs this year.”

All in all, there were plenty of reasons we enjoyed the 2011 ADDYs, and these were just five of them. We’d like to congratulate all of the winners at this year’s ADDY awards and say thanks to everyone in this region for continuing to inspire our creativity and for pushing us to improve on a daily basis.

For a full list of all of ADDYs winners, you can click this link. If you have any thoughts you’d like to add or any other congratulations you’d like to share, just leave a comment below.

-Mike B.

What Businesses Can Learn From Holiday Jam

Holiday Jam by Xopher SmithFor the second year in a row, Holiday Jam with the Hegg Brothers rocked the main stage at the Washington Pavilion, and some of us ADwërkers (and our significant others) got to enjoy a killer performance.

While the music was fantastic, I think the biggest takeaway I got from Holiday Jam was the importance of storytelling to the entire night’s events. Specifically, storytelling with a purpose. (This is the part you business owners might want to pay attention to…)

A Stronger Connection

The Holiday Jam crew managed to keep a room full of hundreds of people (not all of whom were diehard “Christmas jazz” fans, I can assure you) entranced throughout the 2+ hour performance. How? Through storytelling.

In between songs, an emcee (John Beranek) would come out and share a joke, explain a song’s significance or simply talk about a band member’s background or personality. Each time he did this, we in the audience were brought in closer and closer to what Holiday Jam was all about. This culminated in a deeper sense of significance than we’d have ever gotten from simply hearing 18 songs in a row and going home.

More Than Just A Story

At one point in the show, John explained how he took a tour of the Sanford Children’s Hospital. Describing the extremely moving and inspiring experience, he talked about the undying optimism of the sick children, even when they don’t get to “live a normal life” like most kids their age. Then he explained how the Children’s Miracle Network offers summer camps for those sick children to attend so they can have that “normal” life experience they rarely—if ever—get to enjoy.

After the entire story had been told, John closed with a heartstring-tugging caveat – the proceeds from the “Holiday Jam” (like, jelly “jam”) on sale in the lobby would go toward the Children’s Miracle Network.

Suddenly, the crowd wasn’t simply buying a $5 jar of jelly. In fact, it wasn’t about the jelly at all. It was about something much bigger and much deeper. Within seconds of the intermission beginning, the Holiday Jam table was overwhelmed with buyers. Not because people were desperate for grape jelly, but because they were now a part of the story behind the sale of Holiday Jam. They, too, were making a difference in the lives of those sick children.

How Are You Using Stories?

All in all, telling the right story makes a difference. Without it, your product or service is just a product or service. But with it, your product or service becomes a part of your customer or client’s life. And that’s where you’ll really find success.

Don’t be afraid to share a little bit of your story with your customers or clients. You’d be surprised at how much stronger the connection becomes when you do.

-Mike B.

Photo by Xopher Smith. Thanks for the photo (and great job jamming), Xopher!

How YOU Can Help the AdStuds of AdFed’s Student Day

SDAFSD_logoblackWe just wanted to take a minute to point out that the South Dakota Advertising Federation will host Student Day on October 27, 2010. As part of that effort, some young and energetic advertising professionals have built a website for the event that lets students ask questions, find information, and get engaged with the local advertising community before Student Day arrives.

As one of the young and energetic advertising professionals helping out with this great effort, I wanted to make sure we at ADwërks did our part to pass along the website to anyone who might be interested. Whether you know a student interested in the marketing and advertising world or simply want to pass along a tweet about the AdStuds site/effort (@adstuds on Twitter), it would be awesome to have more people spread the word about this impactful event and the strong effort leading up to it.

If you have any questions about anything, drop me a line at mikeb@adwerks.com and I’ll be happy to help.

We now return to our blog’s regularly scheduled programming of marketing insight and opinions on advertising. Thanks!

-Mike B.

OTA Sessions: Vanilla Ice, Boats, Spinal Tap and Mythology

Many of Social Media’s mantras were started by Julien Smith and Chris Broganin their book Trust Agents as well as Mitch Joel in Six Pixels of Separation. Often when an author speaks, they just rehash what they wrote. Thankfully, these guys don’t. What the audience heard in the OTA morning session were thoughts and ideas that will likely be the building blocks of the author’s next books.

Most of what they spoke about can be summed up by themes.

  • You’ve made it to the new world. Now, burn the boats. Consider how people communicate online when planning strategies and channels. There is no going back to a world without Social Media.
  • Feel the burner. You will get burned from time to time, but it is the only way to see what works and what doesn’t. Heather Solberg expounds on this idea here. Or see it straight from Julien Smith.
  • Stop, collaborate and listen. Prescient advice from Vanilla Ice. Do something many marketers have trouble with; Listen. Take what you hear into a means of getting people to work together. Thereby building a channel and eventually a community.
  • Hype dies, but channels live forever. When you make a channel, build it to be sustainable so it can become a community.
  • Turn it up to 11. The ghost of Spinal Tap was invoked to remind us to work our asses off and always be innovating.

Battle for the Arts provided lunch time entertainment. Two artists scrapping it out with Sharpies. Both pieces were later sold and proceeds donated to charity.

Picking up where morning speakers left off, Spike Jones dove into the nuts and bolts of community building through variety of methods, not just social media. Heather Solbergcovered this better than I could inher post. Spike’s time at the mic brought out more laptops and notebooks from the audience than any other speaker.

Tim Brunelle shared the history of marketing firm Hello Viking and likened the successful, modern creative business to a boat on the ocean. If you’re going on a long voyage, make sure you have a great crew who are skilled in multiple disciplines.

Then, Jonathan Harris took the stage. Jonathan is like some sort of shaman/guide character that you read about in Joseph Campbell Mythology books. Except he is possibly from the future. His ideas and creations dig down through technology so deeply that he finds what is really at the heart of it. The human collective consciousness. Through his lens, we see that people are just as fragile, resilient, mad, sensitive and unknowingly tied to symbolism as anytime before the web. Maybe more so because of it.

For no reason I can think of, I drew owl masks for about a week or so. The end of that week brought Harris, a wild haired mystic telling a room full of people to believe in signs. His sign being….the owl. How is that for signs?

– Michael S. Hay


OTA Sessions: My Takeaways from OTA

I have to be honest—I didn’t know what to expect when I first signed up to attend the OTA Sessions. I was hoping to get some good pointers and hear a few fun stories along the way. Well, it blew away my expectations. I can honestly say this was one of the more powerful events I’ve attended in recent years.

I learned a lot at OTA but I wanted to bring up the points that have resonated with me over the past few days.

Create a movement not a campaign

As Spike Jones told us, movements continue for forever and campaigns have an end date. The movements should propel the brand forward while getting your strongest advocates to be influencers of the movement. We all want to feel like we have a voice—what is more powerful than being a brand champion for the companies you believe in? Or in terms of marketing a company or product—what is more powerful than having passionate influencers out there talking about how much they love your brand? I work as a media buyer so it is easy to think of things in terms of a beginning and end date for each campaign. One of my personal goals is to think of things in terms of a movement as I plan the media buying instead of just focusing on a message for a finite amount of time.

90% of Word of Mouth Marketing is offline

And just when we thought that divulging our every thought and opinion online was the answer. This was the one thing Spike Jones encouraged us to remember even if we forgot everything else he said. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of the latest and greatest
social media tool but we can’t forget the people continue to talk about a brand/company offline.

Feel the Burner

Julien Smith delivered some great advice—feel the burner. It was meant to encourage you to experience what might scare you. He challenged us to take a minute and feel the burner. Sure, you might get burned, but you also might discover something you would’ve missed out on if you just stuck to your safe and predictable path.

Change on a daily basis

As Mitch Joel mentioned in his presentation, 20% of Google searches each day are searches that have never been done before. This is a great illustration of how fast things are changing. It also reinforces how important it is for online content to continually evolve to embrace the constant changes.

Using photos to tell the story

I don’t know about you, but I’m filing away everything I’ve been taught about bullet pointing my presentations. The presentation styles were as captivating as the message each speaker delivered. I will remember the photos that helped tell the story much longer than I will ever remember a bullet point. I can tell you the identity of Spike Jones, see the burner image from Julien Smith, and recall the sculpture Tim Brunelle used to illustrate his journey message. The photos were a powerful reinforcement of what they wanted me to take away from their talk.

Thanks to everyone who put on OTA sessions! I enjoyed the day and am looking forward to seeing what OTA brings in the future.

– Heather Solberg