There are good reasons for having dogs at a company.

October 4, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO at NYCA

Here’s what our friends bring to NYCA each day.


What happened September 11, 2001

September 11, 2011

We are re-posting this piece written by Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA, in honor of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. 

To those of you who lost loved ones in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, here’s what happened in their final moments.

Your father was a hero.  When the building shook from the blast, he did not concern himself with fear.  He helped unblock an office door which had been barricaded by debris and furniture that had moved. He freed three people.

Your friend who was on the plane being hijacked recognized immediately how serious the matter was and reached to calm the shaking hand of the person in the next seat.

Your wife saw a man bleeding from his head and she tore a piece from her shirt and made a bandage for him.

Your aunt helped her co-workers who could not find the exit through the smoke – they all made it. Then she went back for others.

Your nephew who was the pilot on the plane had only the safety of everyone on board in focus every second.

Your grandfather found a young man pinned under a fallen piece of ceiling and even when the young man said go on without him – he stayed until others heard the calls and came to help.

Your husband took on the hijackers believing it would cost his life. He helped save hundreds of people neither of you will ever know.

Your grandmother who worked at the Pentagon led hundreds who were physically stronger to a secure area, putting them before her own welfare as she always has.

Your uncle gave his water to a choking woman who gave him God’s blessing with every floor they arrived at, arm in arm.

Your brother who always wanted to be a policeman knew without doubt as he followed the cries for help up the stairs this was the moment why.

Your sister searched her entire floor to make sure everyone was out of there before she began to make her own way down.

Your friend held the exit door open for his office-mates with his wheelchair, cheering as they moved on that “We’ll all get out together.” And he didn’t so much hold on to those who lifted him down as he hugged them.

Your son would not let the tired woman stop. He cajoled her by telling her she reminded him of you; how you two had to meet. He even called her mom to keep her moving.

Your flight attendant daughter was forced to the back of the plane with all the others on board but stood in front of them in protective defiance; keeping herself between the terrorists and her passengers.

Your sister climbed back up three flights against the crowd and heat, believing her assistant was still there.

Your college buddy’s sense of humor kept all in his voice’s range smiling and moving with hope.

Your niece lent her shoulder to lean on for a man she had seen in the elevator so many times but whose name she never knew.

Your sister-in-law saw a man sitting in the stairwell coughing, and shared her asthma medicine. They moved on together.

Your firefighter brother-in-law helped hundreds of people out, redirecting them to clearer exits as he climbed higher and higher.

Your nephew and his boss carried an older woman 38 floors.

Your cousin got everyone to sing “The Long and Winding Road” as they worked their way down, making up the words they didn’t know.

Your mother’s last thoughts were the same thoughts she’s had as she lay her head down every night since you were born.

You wonder what happened. You want to know what these people you love were feeling, what they were thinking, what they went through in their final moments.  These are actual facts, exactly as they happened. As true as their love for you. As true as their faith in your love for them.


Washing Dishes to Grow Your Business and Yourself

June 20, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Ask a Zen master how to make your life complete and he’ll tell you to wash the dish. That’s it. The same goes for your business, I would think. Wash the dish. Totally. Feel the warmth of the water. Look at the reflection of the light on the surfaces of things. Let your fingers touch the sides of the knife blade – being mindful of the edge. Feel the flat of the spatula. Don’t think about things – any other thing. These thoughts are just distractions and diversions from what it is you’re doing. So just wash the dishes. Focus and giving over to the act without distraction will enhance your experience, your effectiveness, your life and your business.

This, of course, goes beyond washing dishes. It applies to your strategies, your conversations, all your actions, your relationships, financial spreadsheets. To compare: when washing dishes, notice the different materials that your dish is made from and you better understand the dish, just as you would when researching the demographics for your next product launch. This focus is not easy when you have your calendar backed-up. But if you just do what it is you are doing you will see that these audiences have emotions, behavioral patterns and, in fact, are not targets at all but human beings. And you can relate more deeply – which in itself is a wonderful reward. Then later it will help you to sell to those people. Later.

In dish washing, it’s not just a wooden salad bowl that you need to get clean – it’s taking care of the wooden salad bowl given to you by your grandmother who picked it out in Denmark from a lady who sang when she spoke, you remember now as you wash it. It’s about looking closely, past routine’s dullness, past conventional thought, past your next waiting activity, to being there in the action. It’s not stats it’s the way people behave. It’s your time with them to appreciate their consumer journey.

When you wash your bowl, you wash everything. When you enter fully into any single activity, there is nothing anywhere else — you are not in your next or last meeting. This is hard to do in this time of time-shifting, multi-tasking, life-juggling. But what a relief to be only here, only now. And in the now, you can begin to experience the true joy of dish washing or creating that marketing plan, and your children, yourself, your job, the joy of this moment.

You may even catch a glimpse of yourself smiling, in the reflection of a shining plate or financial plan.


Company Culture

June 1, 2011

By Bethany Farrelly, Associate Business Manager @ NYCA

NYCAers Meghan, Lauren & Dana work together at The Learning Grove

A healthy work place culture is so very important. A group of co-workers who have respect for one another and make an effort to develop and nurture healthy working relationships have more of an effect on the business as a whole than they may think. When I entered the work force I did not understand the importance of company culture. Questions about the company environment were not even remotely in my consideration while interviewing and I don’t think that I am alone in this. I believe that it takes experience to understand the importance of a healthy working environment.

When a company greatly lacks a cohesive nature, it is felt by everyone. It is felt everyday by the employees and it truly affects their daily lives. Many of us spend more than a quarter our week at work, interacting with co-workers. When the relationships are strained or downright disrespectful and unhealthy, it has negative effects on a person even when the best efforts are made to keep a positive attitude and push through. Clients can also sense a divide or lack of cohesiveness within a company and that translates into a sense of instability. A company whose employees work well together are able to achieve better results and have better lives.

The company culture at NYCA is a refreshing change from some previous experiences. The people within NYCA’s walls work together and laugh together. It is actually encouraged here that all talk is not all business. People spend the time to develop good relationships with each other which helps everyone learn how to best communicate. I enjoy coming to work each day because even when the work gets tough, the people here work as a team and get through challenges together.

There is not and never will be a perfect working environment, but when efforts are made by management and each employee, it truly makes a difference. I believe that a constant effort to improve and foster a positive company culture is vital to any company’s success and overall health of its staff.


Maybe the garden can make Schwarzenegger an honest man

May 24, 2011

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

Why do these muckety-mucks muck up their jobs and their reputations, their loved ones lives and their own? Governor Schwarzenegger has an affair with his family housekeeper; Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, comes out of the shower, sees a hotel maid, has a few minutes before his flight and allegedly forces himself onto her. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer works up an $80K bill for prostitutes. All of these men are married, by the way. And as Bernie Madoff showed us, it’s not just about sex: he financially screwed everyone. It’s abuse of power. It wasn’t that these men didn’t think they would get caught. It had nothing to do with thinking. They didn’t feel enough, they didn’t care enough. They didn’t feel connected enough to their promises as husbands, connected to their promises, fiduciary or otherwise. They didn’t feel beholden to their responsibilities.

I submit that gardening could teach them all a lesson about connection.

In the garden, these big shots, holding a single seed that one day could be a fruit tree that could feed their families, would know soon enough that they are not bigger than anything else. They would learn helplessness when dealing with the all-powerful weather, which has no time for political speeches, fools-gold promises, threats. They would learn to truly nurture, not merely take a one-time oath, watering regularly, fertilizing properly (ok, they have some background in this category), again and again. This is what it takes to have a healthy relationship — getting down on your knees, as it were. And even if they don’t feel it in their souls (they have them, I am sure), the physical repetition might summon commitment, or perhaps surface empathy, and if not, the constant trimming, grooming, will let them know that they must clean up their own mess. Humility will serve the ones who have mis-served.

To think of it, this might be easier for the politicians, it’s a more positive form of mud-slinging.

Being the center of attention is the most precarious place to be, ironically. Too much attention causes disconnection. These people need grounding. We all do.


Mind Your Manners: ‘Thank You’ Is a Powerful Marketing Device

May 11, 2011

By Michelle Edelman, President @ NYCA

On so many creative briefs, we see the same objectives over and over. Build awareness, create that elusive thing called buzz, grow topline sales, increase customer loyalty.

When’s the last time you saw a creative brief that instructed: thank our customers?

For many of us, the answer is probably never. Our efforts are always so focused on asking for the order, or gaining likes or fans or friends, or inviting the consumer to attend, save, sign up, share — all of this in anticipation of a purchase. Let’s be honest. We’re salespeople, really.

That’s why I wanted to share a particularly simple and moving experience from my recent purchase from Toms Shoes…

(Read the full article published in AdAge.com’s Small Agency Diary here.)


Copywriting is harder than writing, much.

April 26, 2011

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

I love ideas. Not all ideas. Truth is I am a proud snob about the extremely rare ones that have the power to grow businesses. I pander to those. I’m brutal on the thousands of weak ones I toss away with as much regret as swatting a mosquito.

Ideas kidnapped me away from an intended career of writing poems, plays, TV shows and novels. I found writing prose beautiful, empowering, challenging.

Copywriting is an entirely other and more demanding enterprise.

At the essence of advertising is the idea. The advertising idea, as I think of it, is that intensely concentrated energy form destined to change behavior. It’s not easy to make a person cry or laugh with small black characters crawling on a screen but to get people to spend their money on a product when they set out to buy a different product — well, that takes some deep voodoo science.

Twenty-seven years into it, the hunt and cultivation of that kind of idea keeps me up nights ruminating, conjuring, Maaloxing, celebrating, praying; alive. The voice in a novel is a powerful current running through it. In advertising there are many voices, accents, dialects, languages to harmonize into a distinct chorus; more like a play, in my mind, with stage hands, actors, set designers, producers, musicians — and you must include the voice of the audience, not just listening but inviting them to coauthor, to get the mix just right. Of course, with these many variables, you realize, it is never ever right. This is also true of any writing. Copywriting is just more cumbersome, the odds are more stacked against you. That’s why there are more good novelists than copywriters.

Often, in advertising, you are working on a brand that already existed before you started tapping away to get to its core so there’s history you’re beholden to, invisible relationships that you will need to understand, nurture. Like marrying someone with step-kids.

In copywriting, your main medium is not words. You are working with preconceptions, competitive positions, visuals, the clock, evolving positions, sacred cows, relationships, ghosts haunting the brand from the past. And as high as you raise the volume on your headset to tune out the voices of the world into a powerful harnessed energy-force, you are on a team — a loud, then murmuring, un-unified, insistent, collective with (too often) different agendas. You are involved in a dialogue not just with your audience, but with your planner, your clients, your partner, your medium, your client’s customers, your competition, your own ego. These, more than words, are what the copywriter must work with. And when so many livelihoods are involved, all of a sudden clever just doesn’t seem so important, does it?

Also, unlike in a novel or a play, if you are a good copywriter you never write the ending. There’s no “Curtain gingerly lowers, catches on a piece of light, then darkness,” no “The End.” No “Fade Out.” If you are a good copywriter, you write for the action to continue and you wait for your next cue and you re-stimulate. The brand must go on. Like your kids, it should outlive you.


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