Doing good matters.

June 30, 2010

By Meghan Tetwiler, Brand Planner @ NYCA

Last week I walked out of a strategic meeting with one of our solar start-up clients re-invigorated that what I do, to an arguably significant degree, matters.

Think about it. Advertising can fuel healthy competition and encourage progressive innovation yielding better products for consumers and society at large.  Advertising done well can also bring about much needed societal shifts in peoples’ thoughts and behaviors.

A few examples to which I’m personally privy: one advertising campaign can help recognize and champion the far too often neglected and invisible mom.  Another can celebrate “real beauty” across the planet instead of glorifying 21st century, computer-augmented glamour.  These “do good” ad campaigns have the power to impact more than just units sold.

Clean energy advertising, from exclusively an advertising point of view, has the greatest potential to fundamentally change our world; I believe it’s what is needed to catapult alternative energy adoption to the masses.

If you are someone who stays up on advancements in sustainable innovation, then you already know alternative energy is no longer a dream for tomorrow; it is a reality for today.  A recent NYCA project in the solar roofing sector validated, to me, how close we are to leading a more energy efficient existence, where the world is less reliant on finite energy resources and more empowered to be self-sufficient.

I was amazed to learn there are so many proven, and increasingly affordable, sustainable energy practices readily available in the building sector alone.

I predict somewhere down the road, cutting-edge architects and regular old homeowners alike will share my enthusiasm for integrated photovoltaic systems that blend into existing roof structures.  What’s the hold up? Well, people don’t yet understand the ins-and-outs of alternative energy nor do they realize entrepreneurs have made saving the planet profitable.

I believe the groundwork for solar success is in place; sustainable technologies are constantly being encouraged by governmental incentives and there appears to be an emerging appetite for solar growing amongst a segment of “citizen consumers.”  What is next needed to help transition our world into a sustainable era is widespread demand across demographics. Who can best influence consumer behavior and shape culture in a positive direction? Advertisers – those whose messages are heard by the masses.

I’ve spent over four years working in this consumer-centric industry and have become well-versed in understanding what triggers people and finding a way to position products/services in ways that have meaning.  In order to ensure people embrace alternative energy completely, we must find a way to create conceptual badge value of doing good for the planet as well as find ways to fulfill the human need to reap personal gain.

It’s undeniable – advertisers have an important job to be done; we can accelerate the speed of progress toward sustainability. I look forward to partnering with alternative energy companies, making strides in growing their businesses and simultaneously taking steps in changing our world.

We’re proud to be a sales agency.

June 25, 2010

By Michelle Edelman, President @ NYCA

Some think that sales is a low-brow profession. We are proud to claim it as our profession.

At NYCA, we work as hard on our clients’ sales meetings as we do on their consumer marketing campaigns. The sales force is a key constituent. If they don’t believe, retailers won’t. If retailers don’t believe, our product will be competing with the cacophony of others for attention in already-crowded stores.

Working on sales meetings gives us a completely different view of products and the people who make them. We understand the insight and motivation of our brands so much more as a result. We hear the first questions, firsthand. If the sales force doesn’t understand what we’re saying, the consumer definitely won’t.

We’re honored that our brands trust us enough to engage us in sales meetings. The motivation we deliver in a short few hours or days, needs to last a whole selling season. Lots of our campaigns build up impressions over time. Sales meetings have but one chance a season to deliver the goods.

Top 5 things to remember while executing for sales meetings:

  • Excitement is at least as important as ideas. Motivation is contagious – it exists in the skin, not really the brain.
  • 1 idea, repeated many times. So much information flies around that having simple takeaways makes them embed better.
  • Element of surprise – sight, sound, motion, change of venue, or people acting out of character keep the audience a bit out of balance. This heightens awareness – and adds to comprehension.
  • Ask “what’s in it for them” – bring it into the language of the sale, not the product. They want it to be easier to sell and have less retailer complaints. How does the product compete – what’s that elevator speech that will make all the difference given 5 minutes with a key account?
  • Follow up – what does the sales force receive when they get back to business as usual, that reminds them of those few key things you need them to do and remember?

It’s sales meeting season – and we’re in our element. Call us and we’ll help you out next time around.

A tale of the little tree…

June 22, 2010

By Mark Graham, Traffic Director @ NYCA

When I started work at NYCA three years ago, the philosophy of “grow” was what drew me here. The grove was the physical representation of that philosophy. The grove had plants associated with each of our clients and with agency anniversaries and other milestones. The grove was dominated by a large tree. It shaded our meetings. It sheltered us in the rain. It provided a feeling of tranquility as you walked in and out of the office.

Then one day the tree was gone. The building owners had it chopped down. All that was left was some bark and a few stumps. Michael tried to save some pieces to remember that tree, but that tree was gone. Where was our shade, where was the shelter?

Not too long after, I planted a seed. A seed of a sago palm. Most people don’t realize that it is not a palm at all, but rather a Cycad, a totally different type of plant. Cycads are a group of plants that are very primitive in their origins. Fossils have been found on almost every continent on the planet. What better representation of keeping the history of the old tree alive with than this! I watered the spot. I made sure it was free of weeds. There wasn’t anything there, but I knew where the seed was planted.

As the new tree sprouted this spring, I began to think back on that old tree. It was being replaced right before my eyes. With a tree that was going to be just as inspiring. Just as good at providing shade. Just as good at sheltering. Just as good at everything we valued the old tree for.

Then it dawned on me. The old tree was like an old employee. An employee that we thought was always going to be a part of the agency. She was the go-to person — but then she was gone. Guess what?! The “small trees” are being nurtured and growing to be even stronger. Would my sago palm have grown in the shade of the old tree that we found so fantastic? No. They prefer direct sunlight. Growing the sago palm in the shade typically gives one lanky, stretched-out leaves that are weak. If in too much shade, this species can actually just stall and do nothing. Just as the employees are thriving now that they are in the direct light of their own – they will be strong!

Creativity can cure everything.

June 18, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The story is about a person with a serious heart condition who envisioned a way to live his dream.

Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant survivor who is getting a shot at this week's U.S. Open

In the hospital, after being told he’d never play at the professional level again, he watched TV and imagined his own head on the bodies of those pros. On his back with the third heart just in his body, he created his future.

This week he is playing in the U.S. Open.

We have this power. Let us be inspired to use it to solve our issues and see and build our futures.

How to be in a constant state of wonderment.

June 16, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Quietly taking her place among the circle, Lynne bends open the book and turns us into children.

She more than reads; she breathes life into Harold and the Purple Crayon and the 40 people of NYCA.

This is the true story of how creative power trumps all. It’s based in fact. And it’s a ritual we do every year, whenever.

However many we are at that moment, we sit on the carpet, quiet, some eyes closed, various stages of smiles smiling. It’s a cookies and milk, endless sky, puffy-white-cloud NYCA moment.

To see the world as a child is to be fully alive to invention.

Lynne’s voice rises, vibrates, slows, floats, pitches and loosens the titles. The years melt away and unfurls grip on the baggage, and creativity rises, weightless, colored in all colors.

Playfulness and possibility and openness and agelessness and measurelessness.

“And” is a big word here. It’s an energizer. A window opener. A mind cracker.

And this happens and then this could happen, yeah, and then, and…

“And” kicks “but”’s butt, and dances merrily over “no”, and can’t even hear “can’t”’s doubts.

It is just so very easy to be old. To know; to be sure, safe, right.

Lynne takes her work seriously to make us young. She arches an eyebrow and her neck narrows and cranes a foot longer, “And so Harold…”

She does this so we ask why the night is darker than day, and how to build integrated communications platforms that perform beyond expectations with less time, smaller budgets.

She makes sure we question what we have been taught. What has been proven. To disbelieve in barriers. So when it appears we have no way out, we all know all we have to do is reach to the NYCAer next to us and borrow the purple crayon.

Are our Facebook profiles stealing our identities?

June 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

We tell our life story to the world and to ourselves. We think about it, we write it down, we share. This is my name, this is my job, this is my role, this is what I believe, this is something I like. And we think that’s us.

Asian. American. Minnesotan. Male. 34. Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Buddhist. Engineer. Failed architect. Successful entrepreneur. Lover of novels. Healthy. 329 friends on Facebook. Likes the Twins, ice fishing, golf, adidas originals, the Clash.

These can all be true but is this really anyone? The more we allow our minds to absorb the material and the external about us as who we are, the less we may be willing to explore further to find our own individual essences.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

This is easier to do now because of how we are “forced” to tell our stories these days.  All of the social networks have similar blanks, depending on the site’s focus: business, sports, religion, politics, family. The forms dictate the ends: a series of boxes for us to fill in with “ourselves.” They push and mold us to fit, and in that act we become homogenized and less true to our real self.

With all of our information kept on one page and viewed multiple times a day by our Facebook “friends,” Linked-In associates, all our subscriptions, etc., it seems like constantly looking in the mirror and saying, “Yes that’s me.”

But is it?

I have heard, “This is only my virtual self.” But do others see that? Do we really see that as we move from page to page, hypnotized by the repetition and familiarity?

With all the talk of privacy invasion – this is theft. Spiritual identity theft.  And it’s not Facebook but we who are the culprits! Whoever we are. (I have on my profile “I am funny,” so I added this.)

Seems this is the contemporary story of Narcissus. Instead of water reflecting our image, we get our digital reflection bouncing back in bits and pixels. Nowadays that information is instantly spread through our networks and so more untrue reflections of our false self are causing mass confusion.

The latest advancement in social technology is the “Like” button. Seems fine on the outside, but having my likes counted, monitored, and housed by Facebook and sometimes  distributed to marketers furthers the solidification of my false self. I can see that it will better help them be relevant in marketing to the “me” of my profile but, in the end, I don’t believe there can be a virtual self.

I should thank Facebook for making me ask, “Who am I?”

Now, as I ponder, I am wishing there was a multiple choice box to fill in.

Nah, I’d never fit.

Does keeping up just keep us on the surface?

June 8, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Excuse me, I just gotta check my email, phone, laptop, Facebook, Twitter, blogs…

It’s the constant stimulation, the news, the new news, the newest news, news before it’s news.

I wonder if the constant updates offer more data, more links, but in its completeness doesn’t allow time or room for much reflection?

It seems to be an issue of time and attention and intention. Like fast food compared to a more complete dinner. (Full disclosure: I love fast food and its bright, plastic, optimistic, transitory environs. I take my work there and spend hours, mindlessly munching, not remembering.)

A couple of questions: How much time would you allot to read a traditional newspaper article? Would that change if the same article was online? Same question for a news post?

How long do you think you remember an article you read in Time Magazine compared to a post you read on

Varying lengths and issues of the articles aside, my guess is the quicker the read, the less invested in time and intellectual capital, the less retained. And that the posts, even comments and tweets keep us up to speed with what’s going on but not deeply.

Informed but not.

Quick chats with friends are essential for the relationship, just as the fast info-sharing is critical to keep us in touch with the present.

But let’s not forget the rewards of deep, long, meandering conversations.

The ones that keep you full and you remember for a lifetime.