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Why More Brands Are Doing It Live

Mars threw out its standard playbook for its Super Bowl ad this year. The company ran the usual 30-second spot for its Snickers brand during the game but with a twist: It was live.

The ad featured actor Adam Driver in a Western-themed setting in which everything went wrong, including flubbed lines, missed cues, and a scenery implosion. It was all scripted, of course, and got across Snickers’ long-running “you’re not you when you’re hungry” messaging.

To get maximum bang out of the effort, Snickers had presented a 36-hour live stream on Facebook Live. “We know that advertising is about being noticed and being relevant,” said Berta De Pablos-Barbier, VP of marketing at Mars Chocolate North America, in an interview with “The relevant part is [why we went] live, not only with Facebook, but with other platforms.” She claimed that the brand engaged with about 1 billion people before the Super Bowl.

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Emotion Is The Currency Of Experience

The shift from good ol’ marketing to delivering “experiences” means that brands must strive to invoke emotion from their customers, said John Mellor, Adobe’s VP of strategy, alliances, and marketing, during his day-two keynote at Adobe Summit, in Las Vegas.

“The impact of experience,” Mellor told the 12,000-plus attendees, “is not just functional. It is also about how [the experience] makes us feel. Experience is about the emotion we have when we interact with brands. We are not just marketers anymore. We are not just stewards. We are ambassadors of experience. And every experience leads to an emotional response.”

According to Mellor, brands that focus on making experiences rewarding—and even a “little bit magical”—will build better connections to their customers.

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How Mars Takes a Bite Out of Content Marketing

Gone are the days of “just throw it out there” and “let’s see what happens” when it comes to marketing campaigns. The hard truth is that in 2017, we have too much information at our disposal to lean on our instincts and creative prowess to connect with consumers. Today’s leading marketers know this better than anyone.

Take Rob Rakowitz, global director of media at Mars, who was recognized by The CMO Club for his cut-through content marketing performance with brands like Uncle Ben’s, Snickers, Pedigree and Whiskas. Rakowitz understands that to drive growth, marketing teams must use a targeted, well-researched approach backed by fail-safe insights — and the simpler the goal, the better. Read on for his story.

Driven by data

It could be said that a good marketing theory works well outside of marketing, so a good marketing leader practices his theories outside of work. For his part, Rakowitz enjoys mining data as a member of a cycling team. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), even riding a bicycle generates a mind-boggling amount of data. Armed with insights before a race, for example, his team can determine distinct roles and peak performance points, as he says, “much in the way that you would for launching a really great campaign.” The implication for brands here is that data offers not only meaningful positioning but can also inform when to act on topical content.

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The Insider’s Guide to Data, Personalization and Marketing Automation

Ad Age Executive Editor Nat Ives talks with TBWA Global Data Director Baker Lambert, Accenture Interactive Global Head of Personalization Jeriad Zoghby and EngageSimply founder Judy Shapiro at the Ad Age IQ Conference: Marketing & Technology in New York on Tuesday.

Data can actually be a source of creativity, not just the answer to specific questions or challenges facing a brand, TBWA Global Data Director Baker Lambert said at Tuesday’s Ad Age IQ Conference: Marketing & Technology in downtown Manhattan.

Data has led TBWA to new ways of telling a brand story and new tools to tell it, Mr. Lambert said during a presentation titled “How Not to Suck at Data.” The discovery that National Donut Day had a high incidence of social mentions, for example, led TBWA to create a video for its Nissan client showing cars performing donuts in a parking lot covered with 1,000 pounds of sprinkles — all to cover actual donuts in said sprinkles. The clip became one of the most- shared and most-viewed pieces of content for Nissan last year, Mr. Lambert said.

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The P’s and Q’s of Selling Great Work


As 2016 winds down, I’m pausing for a moment to reflect on how fast the industry is moving. With deadlines coming quicker than ever, we creatives all too often forget this is a business built on relationships, not just ideas. We focus so hard on doing and selling great work that we tend to overlook our role of fostering common ground between agency and client.

Whether you need a friendly reminder or are just beginning to land yourself in rooms with the big guns, here’s a compilation of what I’ve learned from 15 years in advertising.

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Seeking the Human at Web Summit

One of the fascinating aspects of the annual Web Summit in Europe is the astonishing array of new technologies and start-ups on display. But as everyone at the Summit in Lisbon this month obsessed over the alphabet soup of technologies (AR, VR, bots, AI, IoT, etc.), there was an eerie discomfort that permeated the space. While the excitement about new technologies justifiably keeps increasing — the annual festival grew significantly this year! — there is a basic perspective that our industry is in danger of losing.

Attendees, particularly marketers, are intensely focused on chasing the next technology. The promise of finding more targeted and engaging ways to interact with consumers is our holy grail. But in a world of robots taking over the Earth, an evergreen truth remains: We are all (so far, at least) human first. This is the core truth that drives us. And it’s how we unlock the ways that brands, products and services can and should earn a meaningful role in people’s lives. As an industry, we need to shift from a technology-first conversation to a human-first conversation.

Brands can play a major role in this rebalancing. When people are separated from their mobile devices or technology, an increasing number suffer from what has been recently termed “nomophobia,” the anxiety or discomfort caused by being out of contact with a mobile device or computer. Brands can counteract this fear when they create digital experiences that provide seamless assistance to people.

When we think about the notion of bots creating efficiencies for customer service or transactions with brands, the interaction can feel distant and alienating. But what if the brand could sense how you are feeling as you interacted with it? What if it could sense your anger, frustration, or anxiety?

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What to Do With Your Marketing Budget Windfall (Yes, It Happens)

As the year (and, for many, fiscal year) draws to a close, are you burdened with a marketing budget that’s too large to spend?


More common is the experience of a pharmaceutical client of ours, who went on vacation for a week in August and came back to a 19% smaller marketing budget. Such experiences may help explain why Americans chronically short-change themselves on vacation time.

Even so, organizations are budgeting so tightly these days that the occasional windfall isn’t uncommon.

Sometimes, an executive VP likes a creative presentation so much that she “finds” a bucket of money to add to a spend; sometimes, the boss is so frustrated with how slowly an internal marketing push is progressing that he “steals” money from another budget; sometimes, a company pulls back on trade show appearances, “transitioning” these dollars to marketing.

In response, we’ve had to become adept at making fast suggestions to our clients about spending.

In general, when money hasn’t been planned on, we suggest investing in something other than day-to-day marketing operations. For example, don’t throw money into the pay-per-click budget because, in some number of weeks or months, it will be gone, and the value of the spend will be gone too.

What should you do with a marketing windfall? Here are a few ideas:

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What You’ll Need to Build the Agency of the Future

In 2010, the CEO of an upstart digital agency was asked by the IAB to predict the future of advertising agencies and how they needed to adapt if they wanted to be around 10 years from now. Rather than give a eulogy, the thesis of that talk was that we were on the cusp of the golden age of advertising and that agencies could and should play a critical role in helping brands transform their marketing.

Well flash forward six years, and I’m reprising this talk at IAB Mixx during Advertising Week. Then as now, there was deep pessimism about the future of agencies and a clear implication that agency survival was an open question. Then as now, in spite of things being far from perfect, I am very bullish on the opportunity and need for agencies to play an essential leadership role in the future of marketing.

There is both peril and promise for everyone in this industry whether agencies, media owners or brands. In the last six years, consumer behavior has continued to change exponentially, to the point where two of the most dominant platforms — Instagram and Snapchat — didn’t even exist when I first visited this topic. And yet the infrastructure at most clients and agencies still feels heavily analog. Marketing, as a profession, is in real trouble if we keep letting consumers lap us.

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Let Machines Do the Advertising Grunt Work

Artificial Intelligence Is a Tool, Not a Replacement for Marketers

In 1950, computing pioneer Alan Turing posed a heretical question: Can machines think?

Some 66 years later, the answer is clear. Evidence of machine learning is all around us. Execute a Google search and you’ll reap the benefits of machine learning. When Google presents results to a user, the user votes on those results via a click. The machine records that click, and then uses that data to inform future results.

Even though such technology is now commonplace, some fear machine learning. That’s because we have been inundated with science fiction stories and movies over the past few decades about machines taking over. Some in the advertising industry may also dread the idea of a machine taking over their jobs.

IBM Watson avatar

IBM Watson avatar Credit: IBM

Actually, tools likeIBM’s Watson that are capable of making decisions and “thinking” aren’t replacements for people. They’re tools that let marketers do their jobs better. They are well positioned to do the advertising grunt work.

Why marketers need AI

The advertising world got by for a century or so without artificial intelligence. Why does it need it now? The short answer is that the media environment has gotten far too complex. It is beyond human capability to reach an individual online via his or her various devices. To have a clear conversation with me — Bruce the consumer — you would have to process huge amounts of data. That’s not because I’m unusually complex, but rather because I switch between devices, like many consumers.

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Despite All This Data, Empathy Is Still the Greatest Tool in a Marketer’s Toolbox

A Top-Down Approach Needs to Be Balanced with Consumer-Centric Thinking

Imagine having to watch an hour’s worth of commercials before a two-hour movie. Or being tapped on the shoulder before each page of a novel with an “exclusive offer.” It sounds ludicrous, but this is essentially the way we experience ad-supported content today. It’s no wonder ad blockers are proliferating.

This is because something strange happens to ad execs when we walk through the doors of our corporate offices: We somehow forget that, just before stepping over that threshold, we were a part of the population we’re trying to reach with ads. With this perspective mysteriously erased from our minds, we begin describing people as “users” that “consume” content in a “cross-screen” environment. When was the last time you thought to yourself, “I’m done watching short-form, snackable content on my mobile screen and now I’m going to watch long-form, premium content on my OTT device?”

This collective amnesia can be cured by simply reminding ourselves that we, too, are the viewers. People don’t think in silos. They just want to watch their stuff where and when they want — and so do we. This is indicative of what I see as the major problem in our industry: We need to balance our top-down approach with consumer-centric, bottom-up thinking. As we begin to make this change, what should serve as our beacon is a sense of balance and empathy.

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