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

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