They killed my great big idea – I should give them a raise!

January 25, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA

I had a great idea – no really, a big, rare, juicy one. It was clear, unique – it was an app for cripes sakes! And for a client who is innovation focused!

I ran to the digital producers, “Get your heads out of your cloud computing and get on this faster than now!”

They did their wireframes. Had some questions – actually doubts: cost, timing.

“I don’t care how much money,” I said, “This is a great idea – do it, now!”

They brought it to strategy and they did some research on the target and had reservations. Actually they thought it was a good idea but not in coordination enough with the rest of the work we were doing.

“Go renegade with me!” I called, charging in no one direction.

They brought in media and they did some data digging – interesting idea as it was the target would be insignificant.

Dead. They killed the idea because it wasn’t a grow! idea.

Lucky me, lucky clients.


I trust you with my life

January 20, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA

I read that 40% of the people who get a diagnosis from their physician will doubt the doc if their social network friends question it. Now, I like second opinions like I do another slice of cream pie but will this undermine the medical attention one gets? How about when people start taking advice from their Facebook buddies and start exercising more than the doc wants and have a heart attack?

And if this happens with someone who has gone to medical school, what happens when you are buying light bulbs from the hardware store and ask your peeps what they think of the sales associate in overalls’ opinion that 60 watts is the way to go?

People trust other people because those people are like them. Comfort is healthy when not numbing. This is a new shift; it used to be comforting to know that the person you were being advised by was different from you. Doctors would wear lab coats to show they were medically superior and perhaps cleaner. These days, fewer physicians wear those coats. Overalls once showed that the hardware salesguy was more serious about his handcrafting; that’s why he had all those places for his tools on his jumper. Now he is either in a costume or seen as a bad dresser. Uniforms in stores are rarely seen and if you took off the associate’s name badge you couldn’t tell the customer from the patient from the tool guy from the doctor. They’re just people talking to people. This puts pressure on the information over pomp — which is a good thing for all advice takers.

Still, expertise needs to be questioned in order to be trusted. I still check the fine print on the diplomas when waiting in the examining room for the doctor.


What is creative?

November 10, 2009

By Michael Mark, Creative Director & CEO @ NYCA

The first question I ask all NYCA candidates in all departments is this question, right after what they are passionate about. Makes for a good conversation and lets them know two things: that they are responsible for being creative and the answer “something cool” will get them a job next door. Not here.

For us the answer is simple. Not easy mind you. It’s what the agency is built on.

NYCA strategyWe create growth in the marketplace. So any idea or execution that is powerful enough to help that to happen is creative.  It’s not about pretty pictures, not about engagement, or the plan, or the insight or even if we like it or the client thinks it great. All those are roads to getting to the destination for sure. But it’s about the growth.

Now much as we think and sweat over them not every idea is what we call a grow! idea. The odds are stacked against each one as it struggles for life. Compassionate as we are with each other – you have to be if you’re going to be so tough on ideas – we are merciless when it comes to a grow! idea. 

Here’s a check list to see if you have the makings of one:

To be grow! work it must be powered by a message that is highly relevant to the target.

It must be true to the core values of the brand/product/service.

It must be executionally inspired.

If you get all yeses you have a well intentioned grow! idea. And once it performs dramatically well in the marketplace then you have creative. 

Simple. Impossible. It’s what we do.


NYCA Invites Golfers to “Suit Up”

September 29, 2009

For Immediate Release:

Innovative interactive feature equips users for some of the world’s toughest courses.

Reflecting adidasGolf’s unique philosophy that golfers are athletes, as well as its mission to create equipment for the body, NYCA has created a website for the performance-focused company that gives users the opportunity to interact with the footwear and apparel, be inspired by a fitness regime specially designed for golfers and enhance their own golf game.

Picture 1pr

The site, www.adidasgolf.com, centers around the idea of “Suit up,” a battle cry born of the idea that when one puts on their golf clothing it should look great but be more than fashion – it must get them mentally and physically prepared to take on the challenges of the game. The technology part of the site goes into detail about the innovations that adidasGolf brings to the golfer.

In the unique, interactive “Suit Up” section, golfers are – for the first time ever – able to change the weather at some of the world’s most challenging golf courses, including Royal Birkdale and Whistling Straits, and learn how to conquer the elements with equipment suggestions for those specific conditions.Picture 5pr

The “Suit Up” mantra also applies to the golfer’s mind, body and spirit, and adidasGolf.com features a golf-specific “Conditioning” section which includes a workout regimen, as well as sections devoted to nutrition and mindset, where golfers are encouraged to approach the sport with an athletic philosophy.  Because of its leadership in emphasizing the importance of fitness and mindset, adidasGolf has the support of Core Performance and Mark Verstegen, one of the top sports fitness trainers, contributing content based around this philosophy.

Picture 11pr“Every piece of adidasGolf equipment is created to enhance the performance of the golfer,” says John Kawaja, Executive Vice President/General Manager of adidasGolf. “The new site dramatizes the philosophy, the innovation and the benefits of our mission with a total dedication to bringing the athlete closer to the sport.”

According to Michael Mark, creative director/CEO at NYCA, “From the idea to the design, everything about adidasgolf.com is about athleticism and performance. It’s an authentic connection between the game, the golfer and apparel and footwear that are so technically superior they perform for the golfer the way true equipment should.”

NYCA, a full-service advertising agency, opened its doors and arms to the world in March 2002. Clients include TaylorMade Adidas Golf Worldwide, Rossa Putters, Maxfli Golf, ViewSonic Corp., The San Diego Union-Tribune, SignOnSanDiego.com, The EastLake Company, Kyocera Wireless, EnDev (Stingaree, Side Bar, The Witherby, Ciro’s, Bar West), San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Dental Choice, Duramed FUTURES Tour and others. The 38 remarkable NYCAers work on the beaches of Encinitas, California. Lucky, huh? Log on to www.nyca.com to learn more.


To perform better later, perform better now.

September 18, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director & CEO @NYCA

Golf Pros — and these are the best in the world, physically and mentally — score better on Thursday than on Sunday. The average score at a PGA event on Thursday is always lower than on Sunday.

Why the difference, why is it higher?puttinggreen_practice_1

It’s the same course, the same equipment, the same competition.

The players themselves are the ones who change and obviously not for the better.

It’s because the players are thinking differently on Sunday. They are adding another element beyond playing the game well: winning.

Thursday is the day the tournament begins and it ends Sunday.

You cannot win or lose the tournament on Thursday but on Sunday you will.

As they get closer to the final hole the golfers think beyond the hole, beyond the shot – no longer about just hitting the ball in the direction they want or even getting a low score which, as you know if you play golf, is hard enough.

Maybe it’s the trophy, the jacket, the check, the fame, the approval of their peers, their parents – all this comes with winning and not if they lose.

And so the act of hitting the golf ball becomes so much different than the act hitting a golf ball.

And the scores reflect it.

Their need to win saps them of their ability to play well enough to win.

They are getting ahead of themselves. They are thinking about the results of the tournament and putting their energies outside ‘the ropes’ and so diluting their powers to affect the outcome which they care so much about.

Winning is not part of the golf action: the back swing, the down swing, the contact, the follow through. It is another state entirely, and when the two are forced to combine, it causes confusion and distraction and inefficiency and unhappiness, as well as errant golf shots.

This is true in all endeavors, personal and professional. The more we encumber ourselves the less well we perform. We restrict ourselves under the pressure we put on ourselves unnecessarily.

We must stay in the present moment in all we do.  If we just hit the best shots we can we have the best chance at winning. It’s all we can do. And anything else is harmful to the cause.

My son, Alex, wants to be a CFO of a multinational corporation.  Today he is an undergraduate at a prestigious university’s business school. If he wants to run that big, complicated company, the best way for him to do that is to pay full attention to his studies today. That focus on the professor, the assignment, the studying will get him eventually to a place where he can do a good job leading the corporation when that time comes. Not before. This is difficult for anyone with a dream, especially a young energetic entrepreneurial person like him, to understand. He must succeed now in his school work in order to succeed in the now of his CFO role once that now comes.

The golfers can not pick up of the trophy until the final shot is completed. So best to complete the final shot first, completely, and then pick up the trophy and then kiss it completely. In that order. And then cash the big check…. No confusion or distraction here. Simple as back swing, down swing, contact, follow through on Thursday. Certainly there is happiness in the flow. Oh, and less pressure because you accept the moment’s offerings.

In my profession we have award shows – hundreds of them, perhaps thousands. Awards are nice and recognition is vital for self esteem. But when you think of winning an award as you create, you dilute your ability to do great work. Your energy is going to two distinct channels and not doing justice to either.  

So focus on the task – stay in the present. Enjoy the shot, the memo, the PowerPoint, the conversation, the hand-holding, the salad, the view, the moment, yourself, life.

And Thursday will be just as great as Sunday as Monday as 9:33am as Now.


Building Brands through Social Networking:Part 1

August 20, 2009

By Kevin Breid, Business Management and Development Intern @NYCA

By now we have reached a point where the majority of internet users are at least aware of Twitter and Facebook.  Their endorsement and utility are expanding exponentially.  Facebook alone hosts 250 million users.  Nearly half of those users log on to the site at least once every day.  The same goes for Twitter, with estimates stating they have increased by near 20 million users since the beginning of the year.  In the past two months alone, an incredible number of internet users went from having only theoretical knowledge of Twitter to becoming regular tweeters.

social_circles_2Only a couple years ago, these social media sites did not even appear on anyone’s radar.  Now, Facebook, Twitter, and the form of communication they provide are becoming part of everyday life.  Facebooking, tweeting, and texting (which is essentially the basis for Twitter) are quickly approaching a status of necessity and functionality that rivals the cell phone and e-mail.

So how are brands getting into the networking game?  Interaction.  By participating in social media sites and interacting directly with consumers, we can find out what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and what their needs are.  Beyond metrics and results, we can begin to engage consumers on an individual basis. In return, they have the opportunity to connect with us, speak their minds, and ultimately feel important and even influential. 

A small business, like a privately owned restaurant, can send a message to their regulars through Twitter if, for example, they have a new entrée on their menu.  A regular can then tweet back after dinner and offer their opinion and feedback.  Likewise, larger corporations can give a face to an otherwise seemingly impersonal monster.  Consistent, personal dialogue of this sort can give life to a brand and permit patrons to feel legitimately that you are investing as much in their interests and concerns as they are investing in your company with their loyalty. 

These methods of networking are still new and constantly progressing, but symbiotic brand-and-consumer relationships of this kind could do great things for companies who are willing to open up to their audience and communicate.


‘When I was deep in poverty you taught me how to give.’ -Bob Dylan, The Wedding Song

August 13, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @nyca

 

You may need to reduce staff – the P&L Statement will have its say. You may need to cutbob-dylan services – it goes hand and hand with lost revenue. You may need to cut salaries – that hurts but maybe it’s better than losing a job. But with all the cuttings you cannot lower your standards. In fact, you must raise them. 

With less money and fewer people and less time, you must actually give more.  If you don’t, things will just get worse. You will have fewer clients because you will not be as valuable. More, you will have less self-respect because you haven’t been doing everything you can.  Don’t let the recession take away your self esteem. 

Cut your scope, cut your deliverables but in everything you do deliver, give more. Do it with even greater care than when the budgets were there. Yes, you might need to do less but do it better. You will have lots of excuses not to. The economy will weaken your resolve — that’s where it gets nastiest. But don’t give in, give more. You will keep your clients. When your competition succumbs you will get their business. Offer a fourth idea when you usually share three. Make the extra client call. Look over the work for another time to see how to make it better. Spend more time with your staff, listening more is giving more.  What ever you do quality is non-negotiable.

During cuts you need higher standards to keep your head and company morale raised. How else are you going to get a glimpse of the future?


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?


THE RECESSION: DON’T GO IT ALONE

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.

recession

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.


What the flock is up with Twitter?

June 26, 2009

By Dave Huerta, VP, Associate Creative Director @NYCA  

Have you ever wondered how flocks of birds are able to change direction in unison like they do? It’s amazing.  birdsThey’re all going one way and then all of a sudden, on cue, they all go a different way.

You might think it’s some highly evolved bird-brained telepathy, or that there is a leader in the group sending out signals to all the other birds to turn left NOW. “ 

Actually, it’s a much more democratic process that happens millisecond by millisecond. As birds fly together, individuals within the flock make decisions resulting in the collective direction the flock will travel.  

If a bird in the group senses danger, for example, it flies away from the potential danger. All the other birds then react eventually changing the direction of the entire flock.  

That same kind of interconnectivity that’s shared by a flock of birds is shared by millions of others who use Twitter. And, it’s this social aspect that allows information to go from one member to another that gives it its power.  

As its millions of users are following links or videos or tweets about what you’re doing right now, like the birds flying in a flock, they are collectively changing the course of how information is shared and used. 

Imagine if advertisers and marketers worked this way. Imagine if their products and services were conceived and sold with the same input that a flock has from the birds in it. 

The smart ones are already working this way. Little by little, other companies are following the flock. They’re finding relevant ways to have honest dialogue with their potential customers through sites like Twitter. Access to new products or promotions, live customer service, and customer involvement in new product development are all ways consumers can feel valued and closer to the brands that choose to listen to them.  

The smart ones will understand the strength consumers have when they’re part of a network like Twitter.

And that a comment from co-workers and peers will have more weight than a trophy from J.D. Power and Associates. 

The marketing model of the past where a company would create a product, create a need and sell it to a customer is growing stale fast. If advertisers want to stay relevant, they’ll have to develop a new model that works in the reverse order: listen to your customer, understand their need, and then provide them with a solution.