My, Branding has Changed

December 17, 2010

By Meghan Tetwiler, Brand Planner @ NYCA

How should a brand connect with today’s sophisticated consumers?

Over the course of a few short decades, the playing field for brands has changed dramatically.  Believe me, Hollywood’s depiction of Mad Men martini lunches and chain-smoking brainstorming sessions is no longer an advertiser’s reality.  With their fingertips on the Internet and mobile phones, today’s consumers have access to quickly retrieved information, are in control of when/where/how they receive content, and are more discerning about the information they consume.  This increase in consumer sophistication demands that brands evolve their approach and build lasting relationships.

Static media messaging touting a pithy catch phrase may have been the way for brands to win attention in the past, but today it isn’t enough.  In order for brands to meet consumers’ demands, they now must work harder to go beyond screaming, “buy me” and deliver What’s (really) In It For Consumers. Creating experiences that bring a brand’s ingenuity to life and opportunities for people to personally experience the benefits of a brand’s products and services are now necessary to impact purchasing behavior.

In theory, brand marketers can easily agree the era of marketing plans built solely on one-way communications are no longer sufficient.  They nod their heads when there is opportunity to incorporate experiential branding into their marketing mix.  What is difficult for them to stomach is when it comes time to reallocate traditional print/TV budgets to interactive online, retail or event-based experiences.  I see even my progressive clients struggle to embrace experiential branding.  It’s tough.  Gone are the days when marketing plans can be recycled year after year.

One common first step made by companies integrating experiential branding is that each brand must discover how to connect with its consumers through a shared passion.  This allows not only the tried and true one-way consumer interceptions but also more interactive consumer/brand engagements.

Check out the entertaining, educational and interactive experiences the brands below have created in effort to strengthen consumer bonds.

These are just a handful of 21st century brands that have successfully made the leap into experiential branding.  I’d argue the experiences these brands are creating, from Apple’s Genius Bar to Nike’s Running Club, are personalizing their brand offerings and, in turn, successfully contributing to winning over their consumers’ hearts and pocketbooks.

As this year winds down, its time to start thinking about the future.  I look forward to dreaming up interactive experiences to deepen each of my client’s relationships with their consumers.


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.

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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.


Social Media Revolution

August 17, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive @NYCA

Social media is about communication.  Whether peer-to-peer or brand-to-fans.

The future of social media for marketers is being able to segment their fans and communicate to them with relevant topics and extend targeted offers.


BRANDS IN THE DIGITAL SPACE: IT’S TIME TO CHANGE

August 4, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive, NYCA.  gpaek@nyca.com; http://www.nyca.com

The year was 1999.  My neighbor was selling his home.  No realtor, no MLS listing.  Just a sign that read “For Sale By Owner.”  By the end of the day, he received five offers.  All over asking price.  The winning bid by a jogger that just happened to see the sign passing by.  Back then, home sellers sat back for buyers to find them.  In today’s real estate market, it’s the complete opposite.  Home sellers need to find buyers.

Same thing happening with brands and their websites.  Back in 1999, building a web site was pretty much the bullet point for their “Interactive Strategy” slide.  But in today’s digital space, brands need to understand the digital space means more than just a website and online advertising.  Today’s consumers are finding necessary product information in a variety of ways (search, retailer sites, blogs, apps and rich media formats).  

Don’t get me wrong.  Brand still need a web destination.  A home in the digital space.  However, brands also need to venture out and find consumers where they’re consuming their media.  I call this fish where the fish are fishing.

Social media sites are great fishing spots. I hear many brands talk about social media sites and their fear of “diving in” because they’re not sure if a particular social media site will be popular next year.  I always give the analogy of top network TV shows: who knows what next year will bring, but you will always find success placing media in a current hit TV show.  Seinfeld lasted for 9 seasons while The Brady Bunch only lasted 5 seasons.  However, both are considered iconic.  Note: I was under the impression that The Brady Bunch was still filming episodes.bradybunch
In today’s social space, Facebook and Twitter are iconic social platforms that brands can leverage.  But leveraging these platforms the right way is key. It’s not about a destination for your brand, as these platforms are about communications between your brand and its consumer.  Who knows for how long these sites will be mainstays, but what we know is that both destinations are growing.  And probably growing stronger than a particular brands own website.  

eRetail is another untapped fishing spot.  It’s equally as important to leverage eRetail strategies to educate consumers about your products and influence purchase for your brand.  For example, if a consumer is looking for a new food processor to buy (non-search), do you think they will visit Target.com or Sunbeam.com?  Chances are Target.com. Thus, the opportunity for a brand like Sunbeam to develop content specific for Target.com shoppers and feature that content on Target.com (as opposed to driving users to their site) will provide better results in the end.  Results meaning sales.

Brands simply cannot rely on just driving users to their own brand site to find success in the digital space.  Brands can no longer wait for consumers to visit them, instead, brands need to go out and find their consumers.  Just like the Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy once sang, it’s “Time to Change.”  http://bit.ly/GdNQe


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.


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.