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.

Can negative viral marketing have a positive effect on sales?

September 15, 2009

By Jason Marchioni, Media Strategist @NYCA

If you are a habitual Ad Age reader, you probably saw the most recent article surrounding  This blog site invites people to upload, rate and comment on photos of oddly-dressed, weirdly-behaving people seen shopping at Walmart.  
This site appears to have been created in the name of good fun. It’s the kind of virtual people-watching we all crave. Whether you’re a frequent Walmart shopper, or have only been there occasionally, retail people-watching is a sport we’ve all engaged in. The site brings us closer to Walmart by letting us experience some of its inherent fun from our desks. And yet, some of the content on the site denigrates its subjects.

Should Walmart embrace the site and join in the fun?  Or should it try to put a stop to it and risk being viewed as an establishment with no sense of humor?  Or perhaps, in the advice of Stanley Bing in “Throwing the Elephant,” perhaps they should do nothing —  stand by idle and wait for the next big viral hit to draw the attention away? Difficult as it might seem to refrain from reaction, It appears that Walmart will follow this path. Walmart spokesperson David Tovar has declined to speak to the media by simply releasing this statement, “it doesn’t seem like it’s news that there’s a website that allows people to post photos on it.”   

That’s a pretty humorless response. Walmart probably hates this site. And with good reason. Many anti-Walmart advocates have called for Walmart’s demise due to its notorious reputation of siphoning customers from formerly-thriving local business. And now this site throws pot-shots at its consumers! What’s a brand to do!

Fact is, people are in love with The founders had to move the site to bigger servers to accommodate the influx of traffic.’s traffic has also risen – probably the back to school shopping wave. But perhaps is unwitting advertising for a product we all consume at Walmart: the sheer experience of being there. It’s possible that Walmart will enjoy beneficial effects of We’ll have to watch and see.

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.

Know thy consumer

May 28, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive @NYCA 

Words to live by when utilizing CRM.  Bigger issue is that CRM to many brands today means just collecting names. Biggest issue, however, is that many brands today don’t realize how to know their consumer—or just as important—their potential consumer.

I am a coffee consumer. And I mean a consumer. From four cups of coffee a day (now down to two cups a day) I am still statistically above average in my coffee consumption on a daily basis. McDonald’s recently launched a $100 million campaign to support its McCafe specialty drinks with a strategy to be an everywhere-you-look, invade your dreams approach.  I’ve looked everywhere and thought about where I’ve looked everywhere and the only recall I have for a McCafe drink is at the POP.   mccafe

From a target demo perspective, I am a prime prospect: within the 25-54 target demo, have 2+ kids, drink coffee on a daily basis, and get my daily intake from Starbucks. So consistent that Xan and Jason (Starbucks employees) know my drink of choice (tall coffee, 2 shots of hazelnut, room for cream). 

I am an avid TV viewer, listen to the radio and pay attention to at least 10 billboards on my commute. Avid magazine reader, constantly on the web and active in social media destinations. You would think that I would at least recall or be targeted to try a McCafe specialty drink?

The point I’m trying to make has nothing to do with creative or messaging strategy. More to do with targeting. Spending $100 million to be “everywhere-you-look” could have been better spent by using the budget to be an “every-time-I-want-coffee” strategy.  And the only way to know that is to understand the habits of your target consumer to deliver them the right message at the right time. And the only way to know that is to know thy consumer. If you’re a brand manager, know who your consumers are and let them know you know who they are.

I’ve been eating at McDonalds for 32 years now. And they have no idea who I am. 

Contact Gene:

Follow me on Twitter @gpaek

Brand Actions Sell Harder Than Ads

May 20, 2009

By Michelle Edelman, President @NYCA

Many an ad agency and marketer have spent their research dollars trying to determine the factors that cause consumers to fall in love with auto brands. With US auto makers in real trouble, and consumers squirreling away their dollars, this insight is perhaps more valuable than ever.   carinshoppingcart

That’s why it’s so interesting that last week, a study quoted in Business Week indicated that a single action caused survey respondents to increase their consideration of Ford by 33%. And the action had nothing to do with rebates, new car launches, or a new cool ad campaign.

Prior to the federal bailout, 41% of consumers had a positive perception of the Ford brand, but according to the survey, after Ford declined to take the loan it increased to 63%.

It appears that when a consumer buys a car, they are also buying the company that’s selling it. They want to know that the company will actually be around at the end of the service agreement. Logical.

But this move has brand implications for Ford. Ford is not immune from industry difficulties. But this decision holds a message to the marketplace that the Ford brand is about hard-working American values. That instead of accepting a government handout, Ford is imbued with the grit and grease that toughs out the tough times. In contrast with the banks, who took taxpayer money and proceeded to still spend some of it on golf events and bonuses, Ford is going to weather the storm by its own wits.

In this way, the brand has a measure of integrity and roll-up-the-sleeves workmanship that is analogous to its own core consumers, allowing them to relate and connect to The Ford Motor Company in a way that transcends its advertising. In this way, the company’s behavior has become the most important part of their media plan.

Manufacturing a Conversation

March 27, 2009

 How to message to more than one target audience

From one of our resident geniuses, Michelle Edelman: President @ NYCA

Most good marketers stayed awake during the class which discussed that “targeting” meant what it sounded like: not being all things to all people, but finding one part of a buying population that you could own and driving a single message toward that group.

And then they graduated, only to discover that many brands have more than one target. In fact, many brands have more than one target to accomplish a single sale.

Take business-to-business purchasing, for example. The guy who holds the purse _01independent-projects_03speech-bubbles_bubblestrings is typically different than the guy who has to use the product, and those guys are different from the guy who performs the side-by-side evaluation of the options. Sometimes none of these guys knows each other particularly well, nor do they work together. There are more “no” opportunities in this sales cycle than “yes” ones.

Typically, multi-constituent decision processes are not impulse purchases. They are longer timeline, considered purchases. When working on a multi-constituent marketing plan, the key points to keep in mind are:

Know the roles of the target within the sales cycle. Map out the distinct phases of the sales cycle, flowchart style. Think about how decisions get made in each phase. Who is involved in each part of the cycle? What is their role? Where are the points of interaction between the parties?

Read the rest of this entry »

What is creative anyway?

March 12, 2009

By Dave Huerta,

Vice President, Associate Creative Director @ NYCA


Well, very simply, it’s whatever causes a consumer to think,

feel or act in a positive way toward your brand, product or service.


But great creative is that which connects on a much deeper subconscious,

involuntary level and causes change. Like when you put your hand in 300px-incandescent_light_bulbfreezing water or over a flame or when you have an itch.


Remember the last great movie you saw? Most likely you don’t remember scenelighting or camera moves or that you were sitting in a theater watching actors deliver lines.


What you remember is the story or message – the movie’s essence.


When this happened, you were changed.


Every brand or product has an essence too.


What we do is find it, or if it already exists, we brush it off, and tell its story in a meaningful way to your consumers.



When we do that, they’re changed.

And when they’re changed, that’s creative.