September 16, 2021 / CPOVs

TikTok Killed the Radio Star

Kelly Fennessy, Assistant Brand Manager

Music has always had a huge impact on the advertising industry. Advertisers have pulled inspiration from radio hits, MTVs videos, and movies for ages. Over the years, industry experts have honed their skills on selecting the best scores to drive their messages, distinguish their brand, and evoke emotion from consumers. Not only that, but advertising has also impacted the music industry, with popular ads leading to top charters. There is no doubt that music and advertising have a close and mutually beneficial relationship, but recently, that relationship has gotten a bit complicated. If the old saying is “video killed the radio star” then our newest media mogul, TikTok, has taken both radio and video to the slaughter house and massacred them in a slasher film fashion. TikTok took what video had heightened from radio and condensed it to fit the population’s growing need for short and digestible content. Just in 2020 alone, on average, individual users in America spent 20 hours monthly on TikTok, grossly surpassing apps like Facebook and Instagram. And brands are catching on to this growing phenomena. 

TikTok is providing a platform for all advertisers to take advantage of the power of music. The whole app revolves around song and user generated sounds. Brands can truly make an impact on audiences, with 68% of users saying they recognize a brand and remember companies when they use a popular TikTok sound or song. It is such a simple step that can drive sales forward. Even AdWeek has acknowledged that brands can no longer be static and safe with their social media content anymore. Social media has become its own creative platform in and of itself, and the smartest companies are leading the charge and leaving the rest of advertisers in the dust. 

Just this past summer, we have seen brands take advantage of this amplified obsession for musical ads within TikTok and outside of the platform. For example, Ocean Spray’s sales skyrocketed and the brand earned 15 billion media impressions in a month when a user took a simple video drinking their cranberry juice and skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Ocean Spray took advantage of this viral video by sending the user a truck full of cranberry juice. Such a simple clip causing an uptick in sales and brand recognition has led other companies like Walmart and Dunkin Donuts to encourage employees to take organic videos at work. You never know what may go viral.

Similarly, Wright Bacon hopped on the TikTok band wagon recently with their Bacon Beats campaign. They partnered with four popular TikTok music creators that turned their 19 minute vinyl of frying bacon into upbeat tunes that garnered an upwards of 975k impressions combined. Their experimental advertising also relied on user generated content, something that continues to entice audiences, especially on TikTok.

Outside of TikTok, other campaigns have highlighted how important audience creation and music is becoming. Reese’s recent OOH stunt of turning their boxes into music studios with an AR illustrates how the brand is recognizing audiences’ newfound infatuation with music in tandem with their growing desire to create. If content is king, user generated content and music are becoming its right hand in command queen. 

To further exemplify the growing importance of music in the industry, eMarketer has projected that the amount of paid music platform subscriptions will increase by 11% this year. Spotify even put out their new campaign, Song for Every CMO, that honors individual CMOs with their own music selection, while also showcasing how important audio is becoming in the advertising industry. Spotify wants companies to see how music can shape storytelling in new ways today, and notes how audio is no longer the same as radio. It is a new kind of beast. 

Even in our own Boston office, we have music pumping through the halls 24/7. It helps us stay productive, creative, and well, awake on a Monday morning. Every employee gets a chance to showcase their music taste when they are selected for a day to take control of the speakers with their own playlist. You could say we are already ahead of the game with this user generated content music trend. Who knows, maybe it’s subtly psychologically impacting our advertising? I hope it is. And I hope that other companies get ahead of the curve and utilize the power of music in their advertising. I can’t wait to see what crazy experiments the industry comes up with.

August 16, 2021 / CPOVs

Uno Pizzeria rolls out new ad campaign, gets back to deep dish

August 6, 2021 / CPOVs

Irreverent, Unpolished, and Exuberant, Gen Z is Shaking Up the Tokyo Olympics

Chelsea Carrasquillo, Brand Planner

Here we are, a year and a half after the world was brought to a halt by the devastation of a global pandemic, and perhaps one of the most exciting beacons of hope that we’re coming out the other side has been the arrival of the Tokyo Olympics. While it won’t look like the Olympics of the past for many reasons, one of those is the thunderous arrival of the Gen Z Olympians. Irreverent, unpolished, but infectiously excited, these young athletes arein their typical fashionshaking things up, and they may just be what makes the 2020 Olympics so worth watching. 

The first digitally-native generation, they’ve grown up with smartphones in their pockets and therefore megaphones in their hands, and that’s led them to become a generation that values their individual and collective voice above almost anything else. It’s the unfiltered, expletive-laden Gen Z voice that can be heard ‘round the world this summer. 

Where previous generations have shown up to the Olympics poised and polished, a product of intense coaching with a reverence for the games, Gen Z athletes possess a unique balance of endearing, over-the-top excitement mingled with laid-back indifference. While you could equate their lack of polish (and lack of filter) with a lack of respect for their position, their genuine excitement is really rather endearing, and there’s something very pure in their presentation of themselves. Olympic athletes have always shouldered an immense amount of responsibility, and while it should be so, young athletes were often stripped of the ability to be kids and to behave as such. High-level athletes, especially at the Olympic caliber, are pushed from childhood not only in their sport, but also in how they represent their country. That comes with not just extreme physical burdens, but often mental and emotional burdens, as well. There’s something refreshing about the Gen Z athletes’ ability to brush that off and be unapologetically themselves. 

If anything, it’s apparent that Gen Z views their position on the world stage with immense gravity, recognizing that they’ve been granted a very public platform. The Gen Z and young Millennial athletes are amassing huge followings on social media, particularly on TikTok, and are using their platforms to give fans a behind-the-scenes look into what’s involved in their training, to introduce new audiences to their sports, to speak to the burden of competing at such a high level, and to serve as role models for a diverse group of up-and-coming athletes. 

Brands need to keep in mind that the values reflected in the Gen Z athletes ring true for the generation, and may be the key to connecting with this audience. 

Ensure a Foundation of Authenticity

Gen Z holds authenticity as one of their top virtues, and that’s something that can be seen in both their self-expression and in the way they interact with brands. The imperative for brands that want to establish trust with this generation is to ensure that they are prioritizing the things that Gen Z cares about (for example, social justice or the environment), but doing so in a way that’s authentic. This young generation is essentially a giant B.S.-detector and as a result, brands have to be able to walk the walk if they’re going to win them over.

Adapt to Gen Z’s Infamous Irreverence

Gen Z is a generation that doesn’t want to play by the rules, they want to rewrite them (remember when Daenerys said “I’m not going to stop the wheel, I’m going to break the wheel”?). There’s an interesting dichotomy that exists within the generation, and that’s that in that they don’t take themselves—or much society’s expectations—too seriously (see the lax attitude of some of the Olympians), but that there are some things they take extremely seriously (issues of injustice and equality, for one). Brands that want to connect with this generation have to find a way to share in that attitude. That could manifest itself in the transparency and authenticity previously discussed, or even in a self-deprecating sense of humor that’s so resonant with this younger generation. Brands have to tap into that Gen Z mindset that while some things should be taken seriously (e.g. activism), the rest can be laughed off. 

Make Room for Real Storytelling

Finally, brands need to understand that Gen Z’s desire for authenticity goes hand-in-hand with their desire for real content (i.e. real stories of real people). Apart from the Olympic competition itself, Gen Zers said that they’re most interested in the human interest stories of the athletes (19 percent) and behind-the-scenes footage of athletes training and socializing away from the competition (19 percent), which is precisely the content that the Gen Z athletes are providing via their social media. Brands that can feature this type of compelling, emotional storytelling and provide an additional platform for young people to tell their stories through their own voice will win the hearts of this young generation of viewers.   

Love it or hate it, Gen Z’s modus operandi is not to adapt to ‘the way things are,’ but rather to force the world around them to adapt. Personally, I’m excited to see the Olympics have a little less polish and a little more personality going forward.

 

August 2, 2021 / CPOVs

People Shouldn’t Take Themselves Too Seriously and Neither Should Brands

Courtney Marlow, Public Relations & Social Media Manager

As a Social Media Manager, I’m always looking for inspiration from well-known brands, as well as hidden gems who are killing it in the social space. Bringing ideas back to the team has not only sparked creativity and gotten our wheels turning, but more importantly has taught me to never underestimate the power of humor. 

Whether it’s a new TikTok challenge, trending Twitter thread, or out-of-the-box content lane on Instagram, there is something to be said about a post that tickles your funny bone. Bigger budgets and higher produced content aren’t necessarily your ticket to loyal followers or a spike in sales. To put it simply, people shouldn’t take themselves too seriously and neither should brands (most of them, anyway). 

We’ve taken this to heart when making recommendations for our own clients, encouraging them to keep their social media content conversational, witty and in-tune with their audiences’ sense of humor. Doing so has taught me the importance of differentiating your brand and finding ways to highlight what makes you, you. From pulling an April Fools’ prank announcing that UNO Pizzeria & Grill was getting rid of deep dish, to hopping on trends with the Gorton’s Fisherman and designing the ultimate Fisherman Starter Pack, we continue to see high levels of engagement when keeping ‘laughs’ in mind as an important KPI!

Looking for inspiration? Over the past year I’ve stumbled across some must-watch accounts that have drawn me in with humor and keep me eagerly awaiting their next move. Here’s a roundup of brands to follow during your lunch break today: 

Bush’s Beans: Yep, beans. Most wouldn’t peg them to be funny, let alone have such an ownable presence on social media, but they certainly do. From short and witty tweets, to inspirational Bean Thoughts and a recent bean-inspired backyard giveaway, they really are killing the bean game.

Wendy’s: Wendy may look sweet and innocent, but you can always count on her to bring the sass. Be sure to mark your calendar for the next National Roast Day so you can witness @Wendys poking extra fun at its competitors and customers. This year Sun-Maid, Triscuit, T-Mobile and OREO were a few of the brands who stepped up to the plate to be roasted. 

Bud Light: Welcome to meme city. @budlight is exactly what beer lovers want and need. From humorously sharing reasons to crack open a beer, to joking about relatable moments at parties and everyday life, Bud Light will keep you laughing as you’re sippin’.  

Charmin: Yes, toilet paper can be funny. Keep your eye out for the latest bathroom-spired puns and thoughts during events including Wimbledon, the NFL draft and the Oscars. Tied to their #tweetfromtheseat series, Charmin is a great example of a brand who takes a product that most people don’t talk about, and opens people’s minds using humor.

Totinos: We’ve all craved pizza rolls at some point in our lives and Totinos taps into everyday moments we can undoubtedly relate to. From having a rough day and burning your mouth, to serving up appetizers or ending your day with a glass of ‘wine’, Totinos hilariously keeps its products top of mind. 

Bottom line? Numbers matter but so do laughs. After all, I’ve got Bush’s Beans in my pantry, beer in my fridge, Charmin in my bathroom, frequent late night Totinos cravings and a real hankering for a frosty from Wendy’s. Now that’s what I call marketing…

June 7, 2021 / CPOVs

How spending a year in client service has shaped me as a creative

Donal Gaughran, Copywriter

As I sit here at my beautiful wooden desk in my home office (bedroom) on a sunny day in Dublin city, I can’t help but think of the desk’s origins. 

When I was 7 I lit a box of matches, stuck them in the microwave, slammed the door shut, and ran. I’d been watching a show called Brainiac: Science Abuse on TV where they would ‘do’ science. Science like placing sticks of dynamite in microwaves… The kitchen was obviously destroyed, completely scorched, but hey… 15 years later and I have a beautiful desk, so not a total disaster.

Like my kitchen’s pathway to becoming a desk, my pathway to becoming a creative is a rather unique one, given I spent the first year of my young career as a suit.

I had always wanted to work in a creative department, but I studied a broad business degree, so figured I wasn’t really qualified for that kind of role. After college, I managed to get my foot in the door at one of Ireland’s most creative and well respected agencies, Chemistry.

I found a home in their client service department, working with really talented, fun and sound people, and was happy doing it. I also wasn’t totally useless at it, which helps. But as the weeks and months went on, I knew I wanted to be a creative. 

Connelly Partners gave me an opportunity to prove myself as a copywriter. 12 months later and I’m still doing it. I do suffer from the occasional bout of imposter syndrome, and feel about as useful as a chocolate teapot. But generally speaking, I’m doing alright. 

There’s 3 things in particular I’d say I’ve learned having spent time on either side of an agency, and it’s definitely made me a slightly ‘different’ creative for it.

———

1. We’re on the same team

Being told your totally perfect, amazing idea that you put your heart and soul into isn’t being chosen for a campaign sucks. Having to tell someone that their idea, that they put their heart and soul into, also sucks. 

There are of course situations when as a creative you’ve got to push back, but sometimes you’ve just got to move on. Having been on the client-facing side, and understanding that sometimes no matter what you say the idea is doomed. Knowing what fights to pick certainly does make tantrums a little less likely.

That’s not to say I haven’t had any (I have), but I try and make sure not to shoot the messenger in the process.

2. We ALL crave flow

Whether you’re a copywriter, an art director, an account manager, or Barry, our Finance Manager in CP Dublin, we all perform at our best when we’re in the zone.

Flow state is a “focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback,” Csikszentmihalyi said in a 2004 TED Talk

As an account executive, organisation was key to finding flow. I’d block off hours and do all of my billing, becoming one with my computer. As a copywriter, it’s a little different. As well-respected adman Sir John Hegarty’s book, “Creativity: There Are No Rules” has already told you, there are no rules.

I now find flow scribbling in a notebook or talking into a voice recorder, at times of pure chaotic thinking and at times of organised thinking. There is rhythm, but there is no rhyme. 

Having found flow in both sides of agency life, the big takeaway for me is that flow looks, and is, very different for different roles. The sooner we recognise that we both need it, and the sooner we help each other find it, the easier our lives will be.

3. We can disagree, we can’t be disagreeable

When everyone is invested in a project and trying to make the best work possible, disagreements are inevitable. We all might have different ideas for a campaign but we can’t run them all. As an account executive I always feared giving the ‘wrong’ feedback when it was my turn to speak.

I now realise that every voice, opinion and perspective is valuable, even if it disagrees completely with the creative’s idea.

If the idea is good, it’ll be able to stand up to inspection and there will be a strong rationale for it. Pushing back should be easy. As a creative, it can feel like you and your idea are under attack when an account manager is feeding back, asking questions, and being what feels like a little too pedantic. They’re doing it for the right reasons. Trust me, and them. 

I firmly believe that the ability to disagree is integral in making interesting and impactful work. Although, if you’re being disagreeable, to quote Walter White from Breaking Bad, “I am the danger”. 

Just kidding, but do be pleasant… please.

———

While you obviously don’t need to work in client service to be a great creative, it definitely has made me a better creative than I would have been otherwise. I’m more patient than I might have been, I’m more critical with my thinking and I’m comfortable presenting to clients. I wouldn’t swap that experience for anything.

That said, I’m not sure I could raise a purchase order without bankrupting the entire company…. so probably best I stick with the writing.

And as the sun continues to shine through on me and my kitchen countertop desk on what is now a sunny summer’s evening in Dublin city, I shall bid you farewell.

May 6, 2021 / CPOVs

A Producer’s Path to Productivity

Lauren Lukacsko, Broadcast Producer and Creative Services Manager

Working from home, from a confined space without distraction forces you to take a serious look at not only what you do but how you do it.

When I’m surrounded by people in an office, or at a cafe or even bar my normal working spaces⏤I know I have my quirks. I like sitting on the floor. I like working at kitchen and bar tables when everyone else is done and socializing for the evening. I like listening to music through my headphones and I like taking coffee walks, a lot of coffee walks.

These are things I like and that is all I thought they were, until all the other distractions⏤people working around me, meetings to go to, life’s white noise⏤stopped.

At the beginning of the quarantine I actually felt relief. All of a sudden projects that before were blowing up dwindled to mere blips. I had needed a break and this was it. Thank heaven.

But when you are a person who likes being busy, needs to be busy, the break gets old. Work was slowly building back up – productions needed bids, our editors were getting busier; with the burgeoning of some normalcy on the work front I thought my productivity would follow suit.

It did not.

I tried waking up, making my coffee, reading a bit…. Doing all those things I used to do to prep for the day before quarantine, just this time instead of heading to an external workspace I plopped myself on my couch or kitchen table.

I’m normally a fast and motivated worker. I love work. So when an estimate that would take me maybe thirty minutes to pull together took me two hours; when timesheets were taking me double the time; when I simply did not care about anything I worked on… I was frustrated to say the least. Not unlike plenty of my coworkers during this time, I found myself sitting staring at my computer for over twelve hours “working” with limited efficiency and outputting maybe half of what I used to accomplish in half a day.

Twyla Tharp, a renowned choreography, wrote a book called the Creative Habit where she outlined how to deal with creative roadblocks: determine the problem, determine the assumptions about the problem, challenge the assumptions, act on that challenge.

When I read this book months before I read it as an artist⏤which is my side gig. In my head this thinking did not apply to my work as a producer. Sure I’m a creative thinker and sure I work at a creative agency with creative people, but I wasn’t a “creative”⏤who was I to have the luxury of a creative process?

But when I looked harder at my “problem”⏤my inability to get to work with my usual rigger⏤it hit me that the denial of being someone with a creative process was the assumption I needed to challenge. And maybe all those things I called quirks⏤working around noise and people, sitting on the floor, all my coffee breaks, my music⏤were not just things I enjoyed doing but necessary parts of my productivity.

And like someone craving sweets who realizes that endulging actually helped them get past the craving, I let myself do what my gut wanted.

Music

I can take upwards of twenty minutes to find the right album, the right song. A distraction, an avoidance of getting to work⏤I thought. But no. When I allowed myself to “find the vibe” I realized it was like taking extra time to make sure your shoes are tied just right⏤you’ll run faster in the long run. All of a sudden my mood began to improve.

White Noise

It’s a common understanding that you should not watch tv or movies while you work. And yet since high school I have found that if I put on a movie while working on a paper or my math homework, I actually was able to work better. As I moved through college and then into the real world⏤this moved from movies to real life scenes: cafe’s, bars, a noisy office. I need the distraction to distract me from over thinking⏤I need to feel productive when some other type of “life” was going on.  I needed something to drown out. And so when the music stopped working I turned on a movie and amazingly was able to get through whatever it was I couldn’t quite figure out. I found this only works with movies though. TV shows are too distracting unless I’ve seen them a 1000 times.

Changing the Environment

I’ve always liked working in a variety of places depending on what I was doing. At work no one knows where my desk is because I never sit there, or at least not for long. At home this isn’t much different – Im constantly shifting from working on the floor, to the bed, the couch, the kitchen table, kitchen counter, etc. This Ive always known and never thought much of. But when you are stuck in a single space and have a need to be in different spaces, the only logical solution is to change the space. I would be in the middle of sorting through production needs on an upcoming job and get stuck. Even though my notes were due the next morning, I found that stopping and re-arranging my apartment, doing my dishes, sorting through my closet… and all of sudden with a place that looked different, I would see different problems with my production prep and my notes become stronger.

Procrastinating

I’m a procrastinator. Always have been. In college I’d start a research paper the night before it was due. I would also do very well on the paper, so no need to change my process (although the stress I could probably do without). And of course⏤we are told we are not supposed to procrastinate.  But during quarantine, I found that I would naturally pool my work and do only what I needed to do when I needed to do it⏤often waiting until I had enough work to truly keep me busy. I figured there must be something about this stress I not only liked but needed in order to work. Now the trick is to procrastinate earlier to avoid this stress boiling over which unfortunately happens far too often. But first step is acceptance right?

Bottom line, the way I work is a process and now I’ve accepted it as a creative process no matter what the output is. And it is these quirks that may often seem unrelated or even counter intuitive to productivity that often make us the strongest, that are often essential to good work.

February 8, 2021 / CPOVs

CP’s Picks: Super Bowl LV

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took home the “W” – and yes, Tom Brady took home his seventh ring. The ads delivered too, for the most part anyway. We laughed with GM and Doritos, asked what just happened with Reddit, listened closely with Jeep, and star-gazed with Paramount+. Read on for our team’s favorite moments from last night’s game.


Scott Savitt, Senior Partner, Director of Digital 

Indeed: “The Rising”

I really appreciate that Indeed chose not to use humor (like the majority of brands), but instead, remained authentic to its mission by addressing the “times” we live in and the people most likely impacted by the current economic uncertainty.  I loved how the brand wove in real, human “micro-moments” of the different flavors of job seekers (“the hopeful,” “the experienced,” “the beginners,” “the ready”) as well as how they strategically featured the app as seamless, user friendly and personalized. Indeed put out a statement about its commercial saying, “it highlights the emotional journey of job seekers at a time when many people are facing economic distress.”  The execution nailed their vision and strategy.

Dave Kimball, Director of New Business

Bud Light Seltzer: “Last Year’s Lemons”

What better way to visualize 2020 than with lemons. I love the approach of taking all that was defective in 2020 and transforming it into a brand opportunity to introduce a new product. It’s relatable, it’s timely, it’s executed with humor and levity (which we all need right now), and it serves up a positive message that every dad-joke aficionado would be proud to wield themselves.

Hillary Williams, Group Brand Director

Doritos: #FlatMatthew

Feel like you were steam rolled and utterly deflated by 2020? Me too … and apparently, so does Matthew McConaughey. Doritos nails how so many feel, but makes us smile in doing so with their clever (…and slightly disturbing…) portrayal of #FlatMatthew. A winning combination that personifies our emotions of 2020, directly connects to their revamped 3D product launch, extends engagement outside the game on social and gives us a good laugh.

Sarah Taylor, Group Brand Director

Robinhood: “Born investor”

Opening with an emotional hook of an adorable dog, Robinhood connects with people over the idea that we were all born investors. Maybe not the financial kind, but we as humans are really good at investing everyday in what matters most to us — our dogs, our families, our friends, our health and even our businesses. In a positive, uplifting ad, I think we can all appreciate Robinhood’s attempt to repair their reputation amidst the Game Stop controversy. The idea behind their product of democratizing investing is very intriguing as people (especially Gen Z) want to take matters into their own hands, but will it be enough to repair the damage that’s been done?

Nick Bontaites, Executive Creative Director

Pringles: “Stacked”

I fully enjoyed this one. Not just because it’s a total product differentiator, it gets you to buy more Pringles and promotes trial. But because it is simple and smart, and I tend to enjoy the “how would the world change” exaggeration. I loved the authenticity of the joy-dance on the boat. I want to be mindlessly distracted by flavored chips for a while.

Barry Frechette, Director Of Makers

Paramount+: “Sweet Victory”

After 2020 was so… 2020, all I wanted was a bit of a laugh out of my Super Bowl.  Please.  I’m going to heart anything with Patrick Stewart. Granted, another subscription service is the last thing I am interested in, but Sir Patrick’s delivery with Stephan Colbert, Sponge Bob and the rest,  was a pretty good use of so many faces.   It’s hard to stand out in a very crowded market with Disney, Netflix and the rest, but Patrick Stewart’s MC’ing of a mountain top “We are the Paramount World” gave me a sensible chuckle.

Alyssa Stevens, Director of PR and Social Media

Logitech: “Defy Logic”

Over the last year, we saw people explore new forms of self-expression, and I love how Logitech put the spotlight on creators in their ad. Whether it was picking up a new hobby amidst quarantine, finding joy by making engaging TikTok content, or demonstrating the power of freedom of speech and demand for equality, 2020 put emotion before logic as we navigated the times. I appreciate Logitech’s focus on creators, makers, and activists, and felt that the ad’s conclusion where Lil Nas X says, “To create the future, we must defy the logic of the past. We must defy logic” was particularly poignant. Nothing is more “Defiantly Human” than that, and as a social media marketer with a passion for influencer marketing, I can attest to the power of creators to move the needle with their content and POV, especially when that content is thought provoking and pushes the boundaries. It’s time to celebrate the people who demonstrate an unwavering spirit to pursue their passion, no matter what. Kudos to Logitech for doing just that!

Brian Kastelein, Director of Data and Analytics

Mountain Dew: “Major Melon”

I like to count things. I count the miles I bike. I count my frequent flyer miles. I count the books I read.  It is no surprise that I’ve made marketing analytics my career. It just fits…marketing measurement and analysis involves a lot of counting. So when John Cena tells me that I can win a million dollars for counting the number of Mountain Dew Major Melon bottles that appear in his Super Bowl ad, I’m all in. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty tonight that I found funny, entertaining, and even thought-provoking, but most ads rendered me only a passive recipient of what was coming through my screen. Mountain Dew, by contrast, went above and beyond in terms of engagement. They prompted me to be active. They captured my attention and intention. I sat forward in my chair. I slowed down my DVR. And I counted.

Michelle Capasso, Director of Media Services

Toyota: “Upstream”

Most of us wanted to be entertained this year – stepping away from the crazy of the past 12 months.   But the Superbowl is also one of the few opportunities during the year to pull at heartstrings, and I, for one, look forward to that as much as a good laugh. Toyota certainly pulled that off by once again mining a very real and very human story.  This is not an overt play on the emotions of COVID – the NFL handled most of that in their vignettes, appropriately – but beautiful visual storytelling with a very subtle corporate connection that still results in a lump in the throat – I’m not crying, you’re crying…  Toyota stayed low key by using its promo billboard copy to not hit its tagline, or even it’s sponsorship of Team USA and Paralympians, but to insert a social distancing and mask line into that unit.  Again, subtle, but meaningful, and without chest-beating and corporate statements.

Reddit: “Sorry We Crashed Your Super Bowl Party” 

It wouldn’t be a media mention without calling out the regional :05 Reddit spot- and I’m lucky enough to be in one of the original airing markets!  It was clearly a creative use of the airtime – although they could have had the same effect without the overt, literal “glitch/interruption” concept. But it was even better as an opportunistic use of their recent “moment” in the news.  Definitely a risk to assume viewers would pause it or Google exactly what that :05 manifesto said – but it was a calculated one that took advantage of other social platforms, like Twitter, to literally post the ad like a mini-billboard within seconds for nationwide distribution beyond those select markets.  And one that is completely fitting for the grassroots, authentic and viral community that reddit showed itself to be over the past few weeks.

Steve Connelly, President and Copywriter  

GM: “No Way Norway”

WIll Ferrell. No political statements. No over thinking required. No mental requirements. Just good old fashioned Norway bashing. Seriously, a very important topic of national urgency – more electric cars, handled in a way that made me laugh out loud and made the point even louder. On a side note, no one needs a haircut during the pandemic more than Will Ferrell.

Scott Madden, Senior Partner, Director of Strategy 

Jeep: “The Middle” 

It’s not even close. Jeep “The Middle” is the mic drop of Super Bowl 55.

Commercial perfection. Touches the pulse of our humanity. Touches what ALL of us feel right now, in this very moment,  about the country we live in and the people we call neighbors and fellow Americans. Brilliance in concept. Choosing the physical and metaphorical ‘ middle of America.’ Reminding all of us that we are a people – one who are united in our adoration of our Constitution, yet clouded and divided by the ideological interpretation of that very doctrine. Jeep nails society’s pulse and uses a powerful and iconic common denominator in tapping Bruce Springstein – both his poetic brilliance and his physical symbolism of American ideals – to remind all of us that we have more in common, across human values and freedom, than we have in difference. Kudos to Jeep for making their product a far distant second to the message. A Reunited States of America. Copywriting subtly and brilliance. Watching this soliloquy makes me proud to be a marketer. It reinforces my belief that brands can be a positive force in bringing people together when so many other forces around us make that seem near-impossible.

Chris Corrado, Associate Media Director added:

The Super Bowl is the holy grail for media and creative teams alike – it is the culmination of hard work, long nights, and some of our greatest ideas – on the nation’s biggest stage. As an Associate Media Director, I tend to focus on the where and when behind each spot and each commercial break, but this year one ad in particular resonated with me amongst the rest. Jeeps “The Middle” ad featuring Bruce Springstein, brought goosebumps to my arms with a clear call for unity in a time where our nation couldn’t be any further apart. Most advertisers went for comedy, which definitely had its place this year, but Jeep took a bold stand and chose to take on the division first hand. Time will tell if this anthemic spot will translate to sales, but it is clear that Jeep is asking us all as a country to take the middle road.

January 19, 2021 / CPOVs

The Caged Copywriter: A Day In The Mind

Clark Shepard, Senior Copywriter, Connelly Partners

As a copywriter, it’s my job to take in the world around me, and make sense of it through a myriad lenses and perspectives. It’s my job to get people to be aware of their latent urges. To sow envy and tantalize the senses. To inspire action in my fellow humans. The trouble is, for nearly a year we’ve been asked to take very little action at all. Yes, there is a very real pandemic that the entire world is experiencing together right now. But as a copywriter I’ve found myself experiencing another one entirely…

Writer’s block.

Ah, yes. The pandemic of the mind, attacking a single host between the ears. It’s an affliction I’ve typically been able to solve in a number of ways: A burger and a High Life at the Gallows, pinging some pong with my peers, or taking laps around our four story office in search of snacks and light conversation. But of course this year has been anything but typical, and before you ask, I have indeed run out of synonyms for “unprecedented”.

In the last 10 months I’ve had to completely restructure my days to account for this intermittent, solitary-induced writers block. I don’t claim to have the answers, so you likely won’t find any here. But I do know I’m managing it, so I must be doing something right. With that said, below you will find a log of my typical daily schedule. Perhaps you’ll find something useful, or perhaps you’ll just come away feeling you know far more about me than you ever wanted to.

Either way.

6:00am – I awake to the dulcet tones of Apple’s “Early Riser”. The title of the alarm is “Make Shit Happen!!!”. I turn it off, stretch my arms, beat my chest and fall back asleep for another hour and a half.

7:30am – I am entering stage left to perform a play I have never rehearsed, nor know anything about. The crowd is full, all eyes are on me, the expectations feel impossibly lofty. I contemplate the merits of “wingin’ it”, and I’m throttled awake. My dog is performing a tongue-based lobotomy through my ear canal.

7:39am – I brew my first cup of coffee while freestyling alternative lyrics to the Folgers jingle. The worst part of waking up’s getting tongue punched by your pup. I do this every morning. Different lyrics everytime. I’ve never even had Folgers. Why am I like this?

7:48am – I take the dogs out to do their morning business. The eldest, Pinkerton, arches her back, turns her head and locks eyes with me – unblinking as she relieves herself with vigor. I stare back, envious of her ability to be so unflinchingly present and vulnerable.

8:30am – I put on my workout clothes, roll out the Peloton mat, and lay on my stomach while eating cereal.

8:37am – My phone dings. It’s a Slack. From a brand person. Shit, I think. A brand person. A crippling workload is surely afoot…

8:38 – 10:25am – It is. It very much is. I “Make Shit Happen!!!”.

10:26am – I remember I have a video call at 10:30. I check the invite list to see if I need to wash my hair. It’s just internal. Nice.

10:31am – I enter the meeting slightly late. I do this on purpose, so my introductory joke is received by the largest possible audience. I nail the delivery but alas, I am on mute.

10:31-11:02am – I am hollow inside.

11:35am – my wife enters the room and mouths the words “are you in a meeting?” I mouth back “yes”, even though I’m actually watching a compilation of every “Mac vs PC” commercial ever made. I don’t know why I’ve done this, but the thrill of an insignificant white lie is like crack these days.

12:04pm – I knock out some headlines. They’re total shit. All puns, rhymes, and idioms. I throw them out, and write a few more. They’re worse than the first batch.

12:30pm – I inspect each drawer of the snack cupboard before turning my sights on the fridge. Then I double back to the snack cupboard… before double doubling back to the fridge. I repeat this fruitless loop for a good five minutes before a hangry panic sets in. I settle for peanut butter by way of spoon.

12:46pm – While yoked up on Jif, a peanut butter marketed to small children, I attempt more headlines.

1:30pm – I throw the frisbee for my dogs, and contemplate the meaning they place on their own existence. Chase and retrieve. Chase and retrieve. Are our lives any less linear than that of a domesticated dog? Yikes, I think I need more coffee.

2:24pm – More coffee. The best part of brewin cups, it makes your inner voice shut up. 

2:30pm – I exhaustively research the history of the Folgers jingle. First appearing in 1984, the jingle has been sung by such legends as Aretha Franklin, Randy Travis and Rockapella. Will I ever write anything with this much staying power?, I think to myself.

2:33pm – More headlines. I double down on the rhyming. Hey, it worked for Folgers.

3:00pm – Another video call. I come in hot with the jokes. I’m firing on all cylinders now. I mean I can’t miss. I realize in that moment that I’ve entered the “perfection precipice” – that undetermined period of time in any writers day when the entire english language bows down and pledges fealty. Not knowing how long this sensation will last, I put my video on mute, line up my to-dos…and I black out.

5:49pm – I regain consciousness. My hands, resting on the keyboard, feel pre-arthritic. The laptop is humming like a generator. My left buttcheek is an isolated cadaver (note: always take your wallet out of your pocket before sitting down to work). All work appears to be done, and my  right eye twitch confirms I must’ve been centimeters from my screen the past three hours. Perfection precipice: seized.

6:01pm – I stand up too fast and almost pass out. Coming down from a furious writing session can often feel like a horse tranquilizer entering the bloodstream. It’s totally normal, and, when timed right – replaces the need for an end of day cocktail.

6:03pm – I make a cocktail. A Manhattan. Actually, in my house, it’s called a Mainehattan. Because I live in Maine, and I’m a sucker for low hanging fruit wordplay. You should try my Clark n’ Stormy sometime.

6:46pm – my phone dings. Brand has edits for me. I curse them for not recognizing my genius. I thumb through the edits. They make some compelling points, and I made some egregious grammatical errors. I curse myself.

7:15pm – I help my wife make dinner. I’m like her sous chef, in that I am also in the kitchen. This is where the similarities end. While pouring her a glass of wine I tell her how my idea for a certain food client is going to “revolutionize taco Tuesdays”.

7:45pm  We eat our dinner in front of the TV. I control the remote, and with dictatorial zeal I pause during every commercial to say things like, I bet MMB did that, or what in Gods name was the creative brief for this dumpster fire, or Friggin Wieden… or BABE, BABE MY COMMERCIAL IS ON! BABE LOOK I WROTE THAT! MY COMMERCIAL IS ON! BABE! She loves me unconditionally. I’m almost positive.

9:30pm – I read aloud to my wife in bed every night. Usually historical fiction. Preferably something with loads of accents. Hell yeah I do the accents. The book we’re currently reading, The Huntress, follows the trials and tribulations of a crew of Nazi hunters. A Brit, a Bostonian, a Russian vixen – all arguing over each other constantly. Keeping the characters straight every night is surely helping to stave off the dementia that awaits me in my elder years. I’m sure of it.

10:30pm – I kiss my wife goodnight and return downstairs. At last. Me time. Free from all worldly responsibilities. Free to shut off my brain and let the world spin me around for a spell. Free to satisfy whatever primal urge beckons…

10:31pm – …Those headlines could be better, I think to myself. Where’s my laptop? 

11:05pm – I set my “Make Shit Happen!!!” alarm. I contemplate the alternate universe of my reality. The one where I had only the best ideas today. Where all my jokes landed like a canister of laughing gas. The one where I wasn’t saddled with crippling self doubt. Not even for a second. The one where Covid never happened.

11:06pm – I remember I actually kind of liked my day…

…Because I spent time with my dogs (I’ve never spent this much time with my dogs). I sang my stupid coffee jingles in peace. I still got to laugh with my colleagues. I got to read to my wife. All the work got done. I still have my health. I still get to debate the merits of rhyming and puns for a living. Above all, I was reminded today that my creativity will always be at least one percent stronger than my writer’s block.

Also, the Celtics won. Shwing.

11:11pm – G’Night.

July 7, 2020 / CPOVs

Don’t Be Left Behind: Todays New Normal Is Forcing All of Us to Evolve Our eCommerce Strategies

Dana Wantman, Senior PartnerDirector of Brand Leadership

I’m not a fan of grocery delivery and Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS.)  Just sayin’.

I know I’m in the minority, and as a marketer I’m probably more critical than I should be. Call me old school, but I still like choosing my own bananas – there’s an art to choosing the right mix of what’s ripe today and what will be ripe in a few days. There are exceptions. Hard goods, for example, and for that, I’m all in. The number of Amazon packages that arrive at my house borders on embarrassing.

Admittedly,  I stand mostly alone on this topic, I get why people love it. The convenience, speed, and safety concerns, all far outweigh my overripe banana concerns.  And I know full well I need to get used to it, and fast. Both personally and professionally. In February of 2019, the commerce dept reported that total market share of “non-store,” or online U.S. retail sales was higher than general merchandise sales for the first time in history. You can thank Amazon for that. Fast forward 12 months and the country in quarantine is accelerating the adoption of eCommerce as a channel at a blistering pace.

Even as the country reopens and people can get back into stores, will they? And how long will it take? I certainly don’t know…and no one does. But what I do know is human nature. And human nature is such that the habits people have formed during quarantine, for many, will stick. In the same way companies are reevaluating the need for big fancy office space, or enormous call centers in lieu of people working from home, CPGs and product companies need to be thinking about DTC strategies, and driving online purchases and share of basket, instead of relying solely on in-store conversion. In a Brick Meets Click/ShopperKit survey conducted in late March 2020, 43% of the survey respondents indicated that they’re either extremely or very likely to continue online grocery pickup and delivery after Covid-19 stay as home orders are lifted.

As a marketer, this is where it gets fun. One of the things I get most excited about talking to clients (current and prospective) about is how Shopper Marketing has evolved over the past few years. Shopper strategies and tactics related to eCommerce have been rapidly evolving for some time, but now more than ever they should be the focus, not secondary strategy. It used to be a tactic, thought of within a linear progression from awareness to conversion/in store purchase and loyalty. If you can influence when someone goes from a “shopper” to a “buyer,” you’ve captured the brass ring. For example, if someone finds recipe inspiration online and you can get them to immediately put the ingredients (of which your brand is one) in a shopping cart for purchase, you’ve eliminated them needing to remember your brand for a future shop.

eCommerce has changed forever – not a shocking statement, I know – but the forced adoption of services will forever change the landscape of the retail shopping experience. Habits are being formed and they’ll stick long after restrictions ease. Like it or not. And brands who put their head in the sand and hope things go back to the way they were pre-pandemic will find themselves too far gone to come back.

Even brands who fancied themselves innovative in product development and execution have had to pour gasoline on those strategies to keep up and survive, let alone excel.

eCommerce as a shopping channel will continue to grow, at a steady pace, and brands willing to recognize the reality and reconsider their eCommerce Strategy will come out on top.  I’ve gotten in trouble before by telling clients that they have a choice –  they can get ahead of trends like this and make the most of it, or, they can get dragged into it later and be forced to spend more money to catch up. Either way it’s going to happen.

If this has gotten you thinking, but you’re wondering how to take that first step, consider the following:

  1. Look at your 1-3 year business strategy. If it hasn’t changed, it should.
  2. Make innovation a core strategic objective.
  3. Integrate flexibility and agility into your plan. It’s hard to stop and look around once you’re in it, but the market is changing so fast you can’t have blinders on. Stop every so-often and look around.
  4. Most importantly: Keep your finger on the pulse of your customers. How are they responding, how are their needs changing, what’s motivating them?

At Connelly Partners our specialty, expertise and passion is using empathy to help brands connect with consumers. Now more than ever, a little empathy goes a long way. Be where your customers are, help them – don’t inhibit them, show them you understand what’s happening in their lives – from a product and delivery standpoint – rationally and emotionally.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep getting my groceries delivered, and hope the store clerk gets my bananas right.

December 4, 2018 / CPOVs

Why we launched Defiantly-Human.com

We have long wanted a place to share what we think about, what we want to say and give space for collective points of view. We made Defiantly-Human.com by spending our twilight hours thinking, writing, sharing, finding and learning.

We invite you in to be a part of our stories and what we do here.