To make the biggest changes, focus on the smallest things.

March 1, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

“It’s all too complicated.” We’ve all felt and sighed that. Life moves fast and can have so many layers, one can get paralyzed under the tonage.

Same with work. With so many channels of information constantly being updated even as we’re analyzing it all, we can get caught up in just staying current instead of creating change. When we get overwhelmed, we can’t be our most effective or happiest. If you want to change the direction of your life, of a company, of a brand, try to focus on one thing only. You have to block out the noise to hear the music. It’s that easy. Sure it’s an oversimplification. But oversimplifications can get you moving — and action wins.  So, instead of the entire web of intricate behaviors, see only the action of a single movement.

For example, since I’m hungry, let’s say sales are down 24% on your global company’s frozen turkey slices. You’ve stared at the data for days and the turkey still isn’t moving. So forget the data, the percentages, the fact that your company produces turkey for most of the meat-eating world, and imagine a single person in a single store passing by the rack and reaching for another brand’s product. Your entire mission goes back from this moment — all you need to do is get that consumer to reach just a few inches over for your brand. For right now, it’s not about the changes in distribution, the trucking contracts, rising cost of turkey feather pluckers, shifting trends in eating habits, new entrants to the marketplace — so much, too much. Just focus on moving that customer’s hand over to grab a cold handful of your turkey. That’s the entire mission.

In all matters it comes down to one thing more than any other: what is that one thing that will make the customer move? It’s not everything, but for this jump-start it is the only thing. If you can bite-size the matter, you can handle it more easily, you get unfrozen yourself. Same in your personal life: if you want to stop smoking, you need to see yourself not as a child being brought up in the house of a smoker, not a smoker yourself for 17 and a half years who has tried to quit and now will lose the love of your life if you don’t. You just have to see yourself simply not putting a cigarette in your mouth. Once you master the image, you are on the way to doing the action, repeating it. Where do you not put a cigarette in your mouth? In church, your kid’s classroom – see that; it’s a starting point. Small movements, no matter how small, shape all things. Small makes a big difference. All the difference.


Michelle Edelman featured in Ad Age

February 25, 2011

By Michelle Edelman, President @ NYCA

Want to Move Your Agency Forward? Try Moving – Adventure in Real Estate Leads to Reflection on Our Business Practices

At our small agency, we want to be bigger. We’re restless characters. We like to solve different problems. Our metabolism is just built that way. Growing ourselves is a big part of what we think about during the 16 hours we aren’t at the office (OK, maybe more like 12).

So surprisingly enough, one of our greatest growth spurts as an agency came when we decided to move our headquarters location. When I read that last sentence, it sounds like there was some sort of grand plan. Far from it. We looked at our lease renewal price, looked at each other, and said, “Well, I guess we better go then!” It’s what happened after that ball started rolling that grew the agency.

Read the full article here.


How a sporting good became an ESPN Play of the Day

February 17, 2011

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director at NYCA

Yesterday a non-athlete, a non-athletic activity, was celebrated as an ESPN SportsCenter Top Ten play. The Play of the Day is the domain for spectacular efforts on the playing field. So how does a piece of sporting equipment make it into that pantheon?

It must capture the imagination. It must tap into a truth in sport and culture and fantasy. Of course, it starts with the product, the remarkable innovation that is R11. It’s white in a world of dark sameness. That is a story in itself. It’s a great performing golf club, perhaps the greatest.

Sergio Garcia at the white-out event in NYC

But what makes this story trespass the boundary of sporting goods equipment to a play-of-the-day is a marketing effort that was completely engaging and incomplete – to allow the media and the consumer and retail to join. A true 311 degree campaign that will be 360 degrees when done. Initiated by an activation plan featuring public relations, mass advertising, experiential, retail – where entire store fronts were whited-out — the best professional athletes, a famous celebrity ambassador who ‘happens’ on to the scene, top level corporate and public support at TaylorMade, site white-out takeovers, associating with a great and relevant cause – all coming together at a time when the golf industry is searching for a way to the future, enthusiasm, passion. A brave voice, a great story told in many ways.

White-Out TaylorMade Tour Truck

Whiting-out retail stores beyond the golf section was a breakthrough. Having an event on the streets of New York with Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, TaylorMade Golf CEO Mark King and Donald Trump in the cold of winter brought together business, golf, the biggest city in the world – in the off-season. Bang-bang-bang, barriers busted, at the premier event on the PGA Tour, the big black TaylorMade Tour Truck was whited-out, the players were dressed head to foot in white and so were fans of the brand on the other side of the ropes. Advertising ran that broke tradition by using famous kid tunes sung by children in the broadcast – in a serious game of golf?!  Yes, “one of these things is not like the other things.” The combined messaging that focused on the fun and intrigue of a renegade attitude of the product, and then supporting the technological leaps and performance founded in the science of the product – we call it the 3 Dimensions of Distance: balancing emotion and the rational.

This is part of what it takes to go from a piece of equipment to ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten Play of the Day. Breaking boundaries, from the performance of the product to the communications. A team that includes all partners powered by dramatic imagination. And, like all other plays of the day, inspiring execution. Breathtaking displays, this time not on the green grass of the playing field but on the marketing playing field.

And the MVP – Most Valued Performance indicator: according to retailers, the R11 is “the fastest selling golf club in the last 10 years!”


The last tour on 101

January 26, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

I gave my last tour of the agency today. We’re moving this week. Jason, Joel, and Tracey, the three newbies, walked with me, starting outside on the sunny, nostalgic 101, lost in a time of vintage cars, chatty neighborhood diners and bike shops, then inside, walking around the boxes, spilling over with stuff, making the move all the way to the back, the Grove, by the Pacific Ocean where our fruit trees are bursting with winter oranges and lemons.

I give a tour of the NYCA world headquarters to all new NYCAers and long-timers. We talk about who we are: a sales agency;  how we work: harmonious chaos; what is success, what I expect from them, and what they should demand from NYCA. We give this tour to prospects, too. It’s pretty much the same talk, as we all are relying on each other for our mutual growth. We talk about the art on the walls from the gifted people of St. Madeline’s Sophie Center, and why we don’t like our own work in frames — “it’s a working tool, not precious art” — and The Learning Grove. Why we are by the wide open ocean and not in the crowded city. Why our color is baby blue and why we plant a tree for every one of our clients.

I moved more slowly than usual this time, not just due to age. I was saying good-bye and thanks to each touchpoint: the laundry line with our dozen NYCA different celebration t-shirts, the lyrics to the song, “Spirit of Water,” the harvester who reminds us to serve generously, even the awful stain that looks like Africa — and is almost its size — left by someone’s (I know whose) coffee. I explained why we have Frank Sinatra tilting in a too-big gilded frame in a conference room that is called Fargo and why we have another fancy frame cock-eyed around the fire extinguisher: “Challenge the norm!”

We have been here for 8 years and now are moving to a place which we are staging to be more current with the way communication works today and perhaps the day after: for more free-flowing collaboration, more openness and to be much faster, lots more fun.

On the back door that is our front is the word, “grow!” This is our greeter, our task master,  relentless as it is encouraging. And it is leading us two miles south. As we pack, I am reminded that little is essential to take except our creativity, courage, compassion and integrity. Don’t even need a box. We have it on our walls to make sure we do what we say we do: “integrity is better than pie.”

Above all, we are thankful.

Thanks to every single one of you, all the NYCAers, all our inspiring clients, partners who work so closely with us, and every single thing – yes, even you Africa coffee stain! — who took part in our growth, and helped us be all we can be here and push on to better places.

Thank you for the love that made every moment so valuable. I hope you felt it from us. See you not so far down the road.

Got to grow!


Michael Mark featured in Direct Marketing News blog

January 11, 2011

Michael’s perspective, “Creative director is the title, but not the job” ran in Direct Marketing News’ Direct by Design blog today. Read the full article here.


What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?


SHOOT’s end-of-year POV with Michael Mark

December 23, 2010

NYCA Creative Director & CEO, Michael Mark, was interviewed as part of SHOOT’s end-of-the-year recap featuring POVs from industry leaders. Read the full article here.