Company Culture

June 1, 2011

By Bethany Farrelly, Associate Business Manager @ NYCA

NYCAers Meghan, Lauren & Dana work together at The Learning Grove

A healthy work place culture is so very important. A group of co-workers who have respect for one another and make an effort to develop and nurture healthy working relationships have more of an effect on the business as a whole than they may think. When I entered the work force I did not understand the importance of company culture. Questions about the company environment were not even remotely in my consideration while interviewing and I don’t think that I am alone in this. I believe that it takes experience to understand the importance of a healthy working environment.

When a company greatly lacks a cohesive nature, it is felt by everyone. It is felt everyday by the employees and it truly affects their daily lives. Many of us spend more than a quarter our week at work, interacting with co-workers. When the relationships are strained or downright disrespectful and unhealthy, it has negative effects on a person even when the best efforts are made to keep a positive attitude and push through. Clients can also sense a divide or lack of cohesiveness within a company and that translates into a sense of instability. A company whose employees work well together are able to achieve better results and have better lives.

The company culture at NYCA is a refreshing change from some previous experiences. The people within NYCA’s walls work together and laugh together. It is actually encouraged here that all talk is not all business. People spend the time to develop good relationships with each other which helps everyone learn how to best communicate. I enjoy coming to work each day because even when the work gets tough, the people here work as a team and get through challenges together.

There is not and never will be a perfect working environment, but when efforts are made by management and each employee, it truly makes a difference. I believe that a constant effort to improve and foster a positive company culture is vital to any company’s success and overall health of its staff.


Maybe the garden can make Schwarzenegger an honest man

May 24, 2011

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

Why do these muckety-mucks muck up their jobs and their reputations, their loved ones lives and their own? Governor Schwarzenegger has an affair with his family housekeeper; Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, comes out of the shower, sees a hotel maid, has a few minutes before his flight and allegedly forces himself onto her. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer works up an $80K bill for prostitutes. All of these men are married, by the way. And as Bernie Madoff showed us, it’s not just about sex: he financially screwed everyone. It’s abuse of power. It wasn’t that these men didn’t think they would get caught. It had nothing to do with thinking. They didn’t feel enough, they didn’t care enough. They didn’t feel connected enough to their promises as husbands, connected to their promises, fiduciary or otherwise. They didn’t feel beholden to their responsibilities.

I submit that gardening could teach them all a lesson about connection.

In the garden, these big shots, holding a single seed that one day could be a fruit tree that could feed their families, would know soon enough that they are not bigger than anything else. They would learn helplessness when dealing with the all-powerful weather, which has no time for political speeches, fools-gold promises, threats. They would learn to truly nurture, not merely take a one-time oath, watering regularly, fertilizing properly (ok, they have some background in this category), again and again. This is what it takes to have a healthy relationship — getting down on your knees, as it were. And even if they don’t feel it in their souls (they have them, I am sure), the physical repetition might summon commitment, or perhaps surface empathy, and if not, the constant trimming, grooming, will let them know that they must clean up their own mess. Humility will serve the ones who have mis-served.

To think of it, this might be easier for the politicians, it’s a more positive form of mud-slinging.

Being the center of attention is the most precarious place to be, ironically. Too much attention causes disconnection. These people need grounding. We all do.


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.


Trick or Truth

December 1, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Here’s a little story about advertising within a story about truth. Our client, Ryan from the UK, sent it to us.

I like this very much for the inspiration to remember we are creating products and communications that have to work hard in the marketplace. We too often get caught up in the success of a meeting and yield to our own desires, too far from the needs of the consumer. In that smaller meeting room with internal agendas, we can unknowingly get smaller-minded, choke off opportunity.

Ryan’s story reminds us why we do what we do together so passionately – to create growth in the marketplace and to please consider who is doing the buying and who we are competing against. Here the agency gave the client the opportunity to feel not like an innovator, an entrepreneur, but a consumer – the role that could help him make the best call for the work. At first it appears like just a selling trick but it is really a wonderful way to get to the truth. A trick, yes, but with a happy ending!

Reminder for the agency: we also need to go through this porthole to understand the consumer, the competitive set, as well as the client’s state of mind. The more we can understand our constituents the better we can all do our work, harmoniously and productively.

Thanks Ryan!

THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION.

My wife is an art director.

Recently she went to The Marketing Forum.

Being a creative, she expected to be bored by lots of case histories, graphs, charts, numbers.

But one client told an amazingly creative story about the birth of a brand.

It started when he was working in Belgium.

Every day he had to try to sell margarine (butter-flavoured spread) to people who didn’t want it.

It was dispiriting work.

To cheer himself up, every day he went to the same pastry shop and ate a delicious chocolate pastry.

Eventually it became clear to him.

“I don’t like margarine.

I do like chocolate.

I’m in the wrong game.”

Doing what you love is always the best idea.

So he quit his job and began working on perfecting a delicious, rich, chocolate pudding.

He worked on it until he had it exactly right.

Now he needed marketing.

He needed a positioning, a name, packaging, a brand in fact.

So he went to see an agency and asked if they could do that for him.

They said leave it with us.

So he waited.

And he waited.

Three weeks later they hadn’t contacted him, so he called them.

They said “We-ell…. You’d better come in, we’ve got something to show you.”

He went to see them.

They said, “We’ve got some bad news we’re afraid. It looks like someone else has already done it.”

His jaw dropped.

They said “Yes, unfortunately, virtually the same product, same positioning, everything. We’ve managed to get hold of some pictures.

If you promise not to let it leave this room, we’ll show you.”

He nodded.

They said “You wanted a stylish, classy chocolate pudding, deliciously gooey, yet premium? Look, theirs is called Gu.

It’s got the German umlaut (two little dots) over the letter U, so it looks like a smiley face. And it rhymes with ‘goo’ so it’s fun but classy.

A bit like Haagen Dazs.”

The client’s face fell, he said, “I can’t believe it. That’s a great name.”

They said “Yes, and look at the packaging: it’s dark, rich, elegant. Indulgent and chocolaty, but also stylish.”

The client said “This is terrible. How advanced are they.”

They said “Their sales force is ready to start selling it in. We’re worried because we think they’ll be very successful.”

The client said “What do you mean: you think they’ll be successful. Of course they’ll be successful. It’s a brilliant product, a brilliant name, a brilliant pack design. It’s exactly what I wanted dammit.”

And he sat back, depressed, thinking about all the success he could have had if only he’d got that idea first.

Then the account man smiled and said “Well if you really mean that I may have some good news for you.”

The client said, “What?”

The account man said “I made that story up. No one has actually done anything. This is our presentation to you: the name, the packaging, everything.

If you want it you can have it.”

The client said he felt as if the sun came out.

Instead of the usual shuffling, and humming and hawing he just took everything as it stood and went with it.

Isn’t that great.

We never want anything so much as when we can’t have it.

So instead of selling the client an idea in a way that lets him think he’s got all the time in the world to fiddle with every tiny unimportant detail, they let him see what’s really important.

How will he feel if he sees a competitor has done it?

If he’s been beaten to market.

He won’t quibble about the serif on the typeface.

He won’t worry that the background colour isn’t exactly 100% perfect.

He’ll just wish to God he’d done it.

What a great lesson.

Show the client the idea in a situation where he would give anything to have done it.

But it’s too late, someone else got there first.

It’s like a nightmare.

Then wake him up and tell him it was just a dream, and he’s still got a chance to do it himself.

Instead of suspicion and hesitation, he’ll feel gratitude and eagerness.

He’ll be concentrating on the 95% that’s right.

Not holding everything up for the tiny 5% that isn’t.

We’ll have a client that wants to move things forward, not hold things back.

By the way, the name of the client who told that story was James Averdieck.

And he’s just sold that brand for £35 million.



Rut Buster II

October 13, 2010

By Dave Huerta, VP/Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

When I was 9 I used to play this game with my uncle where he’d draw a squiggle on a piece of paper, then hand me the pen and ask me to finish the drawing.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s whatever you want it to be,” he said.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could approach more projects with that in mind?

It’s a tough challenge these days. In our attempt to give consumers more ways to connect with brands, a single print ad, for example, can end up with multiple logos, multiple urls, tag lines, QR codes…

“Hey, what’s this ad supposed to communicate again?”

Well, here’s an exercise that helps us get back to that idea of “whatever you want it to be.” Pretty amazing how many different things can be seen from one squiggle.


Should morality affect creative opinion?

April 16, 2010

By Mike Frey, Associate Creative Director @ NYCA

It’s a subjective business.

When the face of your brand falls from grace, what do you do? The public is outraged at Tiger for his indiscretions. So chances are, any Nike ad featuring Tiger would be damned by the public no matter how he was portrayed. I thought they showed guts by attacking the issue head on.

I thought to myself before the spot aired, what would his dad think about his infidelity? In fact, according to a show I saw recently, his dad also cheated on his wife. So he might not have even cared. Who is to say whether his dad would have disapproved of using his voice for this commercial?

Much of the public has judged this spot as being manipulative.

This is how I judge a commercial.

Does it hit me and make me think?

Is it original?

Is it not pandering to make a sale?

Is it going to create buzz?

I thought it did all of that. I can’t remember the last time a commercial even touched me that much. I don’t think this spot was trying to sell anything. It said, “I f–ked up. I got caught. There is nothing I can say to change that. I just have to learn from it and move on.”

So the public doesn’t like it. And what does the public like? Girls Gone Wild videos. Porn. Millions of dollars are made each year off of this type of stuff. The public really liked “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin.” With Mr. Whipple. A classic indeed. But that isn’t what I appreciate or admire.

A tough assignment for Nike. Thought they handled it well. I still think it will get in the One Show. Gold is a tall order to call. But I stand by what I think is great.