Capturing Emotion: A Lesson from Consumers

July 27, 2009

By Chris Cruz, Online Producer @

As marketers, we are always looking to capture emotion with the products we represent. We look to create copy, imagery, tell stories that strike an emotional chord that will not only differentiate our clients’ brands, but elevate them above all others. 

A continuing challenge is trying to retain the essence of a moment – it’s so easy to lose. By trying to market, we can lose the feeling that makes a moment special. By trying we are doing just that: trying, and not being.  

But when consumers share content with each other, they have authenticity on their side from the get-go. Consumers involving a brand in their social content are truly passionate and posses a genuineness that marketers covet. This type of messaging isn’t one that is told from “expert” (who are compensated in some way by the brand) to consumer, but from real advocates. It’s in this type of interaction that endorsement can be unbiased and therefore retain deeper emotional context. 

If you haven’t yet seen Jill and Kevin’s wedding entrance on YouTube, don’t miss it. 

In the past week over 8.5 million people experienced and shared, the fun, the joy, the creative nerve and most importantly the love that took place during the “Best Wedding Entrance Ever”, all set to Chris Brown’s Forever. 

Despite the fact that Chris Brown has had some terrible press lately, and the fact that this song hasn’t been in the top 10 since shortly after its release over a year ago, one week after the posting of Jill and Kevin’s Wedding entrance, the song rocketed back up to one of the top 5 downloads on iTunes this past weekend. Not coincidental. Jill and Kevin sold that music. 

Personally, Forever isn’t a song I would have been interested in – but this weekend, I downloaded it. The song puts a smile on my face – Jill and Kevin changed my experience with this song, and that of 8.5 million others too. That’s brand building, folks.

Questions on transparency.

July 22, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA

Will the combination of technology’s insatiable hunger and human beings’ relentless curiosity take away our individual privacy?

 Picture1Could it be replaced with freedom?

Will the constant spotlight on all companies and governments and people reveal the inherent goodness in mankind?

Will it cause us to behave better because we live in view of our neighbors and around the world?

Does it even matter whether it’s due to the desire to do right or the shame of being caught doing wrong?

Will it be liberating to be so deeply scrutinized because we will be seen for who we really are and we will see others for who they are?


Once we realize that regardless of our airbrushed wishes, we all have warts and scars, will we finally accept ourselves in the reflection of the multiplying screens seen everywhere?

In exposing our differences maybe they will not be feared but embraced, even cherished?

Will technology’s capacity to remember everything forever slow our ability to forgive?

Will the ability to have all questions answered so easily free us to invent in the open and to devalue secrets even in the competitive market?

Transparency breeds knowledge but will its greatest offering be to breed understanding?

Perhaps trust? 

And then peace?

We shall see, won’t we?


July 17, 2009

By Michelle Edelman, president @NYCA

We recently conducted a survey among top US marketers. We wanted to know how they were faring as the Great Recession drags on.


We’ve witness declining media spends and our sample of $100+ million companies was no exception. 58% had reduced media expenditures and 79% had slashed their production budgets too. 19% of our sample reported significant change in their marketing strategies as a result of the economy. 69% of these top marketers were experimenting with new ways to get their messages out and sway consumers.

In short, it’s tough out there – getting tougher – and there’s a need for change in the air.

You would think agency partnerships would be more mission-critical than ever. Agencies can help their clients change paths quickly, and deliver alternate media solutions. As third party experts, we live and breathe this stuff all day every day, across industries and see different successes across different companies. 

But only 1/3 of companies reported that they viewed their agencies as collaborators in this dollar-shift, dollar-shrinking challenge. 2 out of 3 marketers said they would hand the changes down to the agencies to execute.

If you’re one of those 2 out of 3 – try your agency out. Put them in brainstormings to see if they can bring creative ways to help you through. If not, drop us a line and we’ll send you 5 ideas next week. Sometimes our solutions sound rather weird for a creative shop – like improving the efficiency of a process so it costs less. As creative entrepreneurs, this is business as usual for us – not just recession talk.

With so much on the line, why is most POS work so lazy?

July 10, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA 

There’s no more intense drama anywhere than at the point of purchase, including most bowl games and bedrooms. And yet Point Of Sale work too often is a dull, sleepy afterthought.   

Shakespeare’s got the pretty words but when customer meets products meets choice – that is magnificent theatre. When we do POS at NYCA, we like to think of what is at stake. It focuses our work on the specific task at hand: stop and sell. In fact our first piece of work we ever did at the agency for a global client that wanted a TV campaign was a piece of POS. That device made the product the number one seller in the world.  

posLook at the characters: there’s The Customer – searching for something satisfying, not often sure what, even after having searched online, after reading the blogs, listening to her friends, being bombarded with the ads, she still has to see it, smell and touch it for herself. She needs to experience it to believe it.  POS can help answer her innermost questions. “Is it really what I have heard?” she wonders “Is it for me?” Doubt, confusion, hope.  

Now all around The Customer you have The Store just pulsing with the hungry, encroaching competition.  The attractive merchandise surrounding and beckoning the weakening Customer. She came in with one thing kind of in mind but now, hmm this looks good and that seems like it could be nice, too. Ah the heart thumping of opportunity!  

And yet with all this tension, with the entire transaction on the line, we see Point of Sale materials that are flat and boring, worse, acting like they have no role in the outcome.  They are just standing there like limp spectators who have no understanding of the customer in her vulnerable state and seemingly no desire to win her over. And, worse, some that just mumble irrelevant nonsense to themselves when the customer is right before them. 

Too often POS is just a take-down of the brand work that ran in other mediums when the customer was in the gathering state. Good POS knows and talks to the customer in her “buying mindset.” She is in front of you – you are already in the circle of acceptability with others. Now you need to make her your own.  

Bad POS talks to the customer as if she is still at home. It’s just like we speak differently to people who are across the street than we do when they are in arms reach, we need to adjust what we say and how we talk to customers at retail. When we are up close, we’d better recognize her exact needs at that moment or she is gone with the other goods (rising music for emphasis) and we are tragically abandoned. (SFX: lonely wind blows)  

At those moments you need to know your customer well because generalities won’t get it done.  Her “buying mindset” needs rational information over the emotional because POS doesn’t work alone – the item she is considering is the emotional element. You have to double team her. And you better get your part right with the persuasive details, said fast. STOP and SELL. Do the research to understand her ‘buying mindset’ and turn her from a shopper into a cash paying customer. POS stand up for your product and yourself and sell her why you are the best choice. That will get her 40 feet down the aisle to the cash register. That will make the story worthwhile.  

That’s how you should be thinking when creating POS: like everything is on the line.  

And then Ka-ching. The sale is closed. A happy ending. Curtain falls.

Find time to be inspired by each other

July 7, 2009

By Dan Henry, Senior Business Manager @NYCA 

In a prior life, I was in a band.  We worked hard, had fun, and at times made decent music.  Unfortunately, our regular practices weren’t always as productive as we’d have liked.  The stress of staying up all night getting ready for the next show, or trying to put the finishing touches on the new song before a recording session made us crazy.  Once, when we were at each other’s throats and things were close to a breaking point, we decided to try somethfriendsing new – spending time together outside of the garage.  It had an amazing affect.  We got to know each other outside of the instruments we played and when we sat down to prepare for the next show we did it with more patience and passion.  We even came up with ideas for some of our best music when we weren’t plugged in.  

Naturally all of us buy into this idea – we make sure to have lunch with friends or catch a dinner and a movie with our significant others when we can to stay close. But what about our clients?  

Today we are lucky to offer instantaneous service to clients who are located 1700 miles away and beyond.  Our relatively small agency can coordinate with far-off branches and vendors to launch global campaigns. Even more important, brands can work with the right agency team without having to worry about their office locations.  

But email, or cell phone video, or 140 character segments can’t replace the need for real human connection.  

Yesterday, while our distant clients were in town, we shared assets and ideas and org charts, but we also shared good food and pictures of our kids. In all the rush to meet launch deadlines, there was a short pause where I remembered that business relationships, like our personal relationships, can grow stronger and richer when we don’t just share spreadsheets and text messages, but also time.  It is well understood that time is rare and valuable.  But so are the ideas and learnings that naturally bubble to the surface over a drink.  Ideas like how to communicate more effectively or how to better utilize the skill set of a particular team member. It doesn’t have to happen every day, but once in a while there’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned handshake or high five at the end of the day.  It’s good for the soul, and it’s good for business. 

It’s a busy business we’re in and too many issues begging for time.  While I’m not making music anymore, I still see the value of getting outside of the garage with your team when you can.  I’m reminded of all the good people I work with and for, and that invigorates me and makes me ready to face the next impossible deadline.

Gen Yers in the workplace: lots of work but worth it.

July 2, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA

Advertising is a young person’s biz they say. Our agency and our industry are teaming with Generation Yers – all born post 1980.  Warning, mass generalization about a generation: these 70 million working people are super smarties!

They have more general knowledge than any generation has ever had at their age.  But – and all you young NYCAers mind your manners with your elders now – these guys require lots of feedback and it better be in instant-web time – oh, and they like it positive. 

 Yes of course it’s my generation’s fault. Being helicopter parents, (my wife and I refer to our home as the heliport) we videoed our kids’ every drool string like they were pearls. It made them feel entitled. And then we overscheduled them:  the play date at 9, the tutor at 10, followed by soccer game at 11, lunch brought to them at 1, etc. and, guess what – they like it that way and don’t intend to have that behavior stop. With all those passions they have developed, they must now see work as one of them.  So just as they facebook at 10 a.m. in the office – they should be writing ideas at 10 p.m. wherever they are. They should be.

And so these talented staffers are an intense amount of work for their managers. They seem to miss self discipline that the latch-key kids before them had to learn on their own. It’s because they have gotten so much stimulation – constant interactivity is needed at high dosages. That means their manager’s energy has to be channeled so they can tap into it at all times – human wifi.

But I have found they’re worth the attention. An added helping of ‘you can do it!’ with very clear guidelines focuses them through all the distractions that their up-bringing and media present.  This bunch tends to be very open to making their goals. 

Here are some approaches, some even we have taken:

1. Time is tough to give – tough, give them your time. They need interaction and feedback so if you hire them you must work with them. Hallway reviews, ambushes really, are common, so be prepared for unscheduled ‘How’m I doing boss? What do I need to do to be promoted?’ And if it’s their year anniversary – they will be on your calendar 8 sharp. Also, here’s a benefit for their managers: interaction is a two way street – if you listen to them and stay open you will learn a great deal. In fact you can be more up to speed in your business in technology, communication methods just to name two. Hey you can extend your career – and with the economy you’ll need to! So pay them back with your attention.

2. The language of criticism is important. If you want them to do something beside roll their eyes and stuff their ears with their i-buds avoid comparisons to your past, “In my day we didn’t have lunch, we worked through the night and that includes Saturday.”  Be to the point and be as quantitative as you can be – they get this.  “I expect that work to be complete by 9 – not 9:30 and closing time is when the job is done. If that takes until 8pm, that’s what it takes. And by the job done it means you have completed these 12 tasks.”

3. ‘Making a difference’ is among the most popular phrase I hear from these people – a cause beyond profitability and growing the business will catch their attention and fire their desire to work because they are doing something besides work for the man. They are deeply connected to the world. Work is to support life, odd as it sounds, they don’t live to work.  At NYCA we have an outlet to “make a difference” inside the place that reaches outside to the community.  This cause grew from our NYCAers. 

4. Money matters. 49% of Gen Yers say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. A USA Today study showed that 70% of the Gen Y respondents contribute to their 401(k) plan.  They are living through a financial melt-down and they are wise to the ways of Wall Street. A job makes money and money invested well makes money. They get that. They demand that. When we started I was told we couldn’t afford the program we selected we did anyway and it has been attractive in hiring.

5. Your business is everyone’s business. These guys share financial information that Boomers consider private such as their salary. They share their feelings about the company freely. And when they share they share with hundreds and even thousands of friends through their networks. Your company ‘private laundry’ information is blowing out there in the wind of mass conversation. The good part of that is when they are saying good stuff the word travels fast and far. Their peers could soon be your next talented staffer.Clock_Nina 002

6. They want their lives in their work lives. That’s why our workplace is pet friendly. Though it’s difficult and sometimes expectations have to be reiterated – the more we embrace their lives, the more they will bring their work into them. We have found it a breath of freshness – aside from the pet odors.

Above all it’s the connection; it’s on us, old analogers, to put in the time. Different as we are, our mutual success depends on sharing common ground and pushing each other so all can grow.  It’s certainly keeping us young.

I just hope they remember to take care of me when I’m drooling.

Two pieces came out in just this morning that deal with this generation.