Tagged: Los Angeles

It Sounds Obvious, but to Be Trusted, Brands Must Be Honest

After the nastiest, most mean-spirited presidential campaign in modern history resulted in a new presidency that will be markedly different from the last eight years, many questions remain about whether the divided country can overcome its deep lack of trust in our government, the media, and many institutions.

Margo Chase

At the opening of the 115th Congress, Speaker Paul Ryan tried to send a message of optimism and called for a fresh start, but will the country will embrace that tone, given the rhetoric that preceded it?

What important lessons can brands and companies learn from these scenarios as they look to become beacons of inspiration, authenticity and trust? To earn trust, brands must create an emotional relationship with their customers through actions that inspire them and align with their values. Brands that forge strong relationships and build trust with their customers earn their loyalty for life.

Brands that engender trust have three attributes:

Honesty beyond reproach 
Trustworthy brands are honest and transparent. They don't lie about who they are, what they are made of or how they manufacture. Transparency about their products and their values is what defines them. According to the 2016 Food Revolution Study, 94 percent of consumers say transparency is important to their purchase decisions.

Fast-casual dining chain Panera Bread took this principle to heart. In May 2015, the company made a promise to stop using artificial ingredients by the end of 2016 and launched a "Food as It Should Be" marketing campaign and "transparent" menus that list calories, ingredients and nutritional information for every item.

Southwest Airlines is also using honesty as a differentiator. The airline's latest campaign headline, "Low fares. Nothing to hide. That's Transfarency," makes its position clear. For Southwest, "Transfarency" is a company-wide philosophy that inspires trust in customers because it's consistent with its brand position as a low-fare airline. When they say, "We're all about being open and honest with our customers," we believe them.

In contrast, Jessica Alba's The Honest Company is currently battling lawsuits claiming that the ingredients it uses in its products contain harmful chemicals. When a brand takes a stand for honesty, customers expect the company to deliver on that promise. Failure is seen as more than a simple mistake, it's a betrayal of trust.

Got your back
Trustworthy brands have their customers' best interests at heart and will take a stand to protect their employees and consumers even under extreme pressure. Following the publicized rise in bullying in schools, the Secret brand launched a campaign called "Mean Stinks" to encourage and empower girls to counter bullying by being nice. Secret's outreach programs position the brand as supportive and trustworthy in the minds of young girls who will be brand loyal as they grow up.

When Apple opted not to give the FBI the tools to unlock its phones, customers could be confident that their personal privacy and security were protected. Compare that behavior to Verizon, which freely turned over millions of phone records to the NSA and then agreed not to tell anyone. 

Own Your Errors
Trustworthy brands admit mistakes and work to repair the damage. How a brand responds when faced with a problem is critical. Chipotle's E. coli outbreak could have put the popular restaurant chain out of business. Instead, the brand took steps to close locations, institute new food safety measures and consistently communicate to the public. The chain took a big hit and continues to struggle against negative public perception, but a quick response positioned the fast-casual food chain as trustworthy to its loyal customers—a position that will pay off in the future.

Today, Nike is the undisputed leader of athletic brands in the U.S. But things weren't always so rosy. Two decades ago, reports about abusive labor practices caused customers to boycott the brand in droves. In the face of the rising sweatshop scandal, Nike's CEO Phil Knight took steps to aggressively and publicly make changes within the company. Nike admitted that it wasn't perfect and the admission lent it credibility with consumers, helping turn public sentiment in a positive direction.

Trust is not something that can be obtained instantly. Trust must be built gradually through consistent performance over time. Brands that are honest and transparent, brands that stand up and protect their customers and brands that respond quickly to admit and repair their mistakes earn the trust of their customers. They are consistent, reliable and deliver on their promises. Over time, these brands can become beacons of inspiration, authenticity and trust. Something we all long for in the aftermath of this contentious election.

Margo Chase is the founder and executive creative director of Chase Design Group, a creative agency with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.


Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Creating a Ripple Effect Is Key for Branded Stories to Swim, Not Sink

In September, I was thrilled to participate in an Advertising Week panel with esteemed Adweek editorial director James Cooper and some of the storytelling industry's best and brightest. The topic? "It's all about the Story."

Shannon Pruitt

As someone who has spent a majority of my career in the entertainment business, the epicenter of storytelling, I want to believe that. I do believe that it IS all about the story.

But, I am concerned. I am concerned that the word "story" and notion of "storytelling" is becoming clichéd. I am concerned that as data, content, media and creative are seeping into the cultural definition of storytelling, we are becoming fascinated with the creation … but the actual stories and the value they are meant to bring to audiences are getting lost.

As I listened to my fellow panelists—the work we had done, the places they find success, and their offering—the thread that connected us all became abundantly clear. It was the ability for the emotion derived from an image, video, text based editorial (together or separate) to create a ripple across people and culture to connect with that experience—the story. But all too often today, the focus is on the creation of the stories and the stories and the storytelling sink to the bottom.

Stephanie Horbaczewski, CEO of StyleHaul and a fellow panelist, used the analogy of a single piece of branded content dropping like a stone to the bottom of a pond, and how the focus at StyleHaul Is to ensure the content also creates a ripple. She is 100 percent right. And that is what we, as brand marketers, content, storytelling, creators, should aspire to do each time we create, curate or co-create stories. Our stories should reach in and connect with audiences so that they want to pass them on, refer back to them and keep the story and its purpose alive.

At The Story Lab, we are an audience-led storytelling agency. We create and distribute content based on audience needs and behaviors … not just demos. We address the stone and the ripple. But too often in our space, it's just a stone thrown into a pond, sinking to the bottom, never to be seen or heard from again. And this type of strategy, or non-strategy, challenges not only the effective measurement of the impact of content as a standalone but also as part of a larger campaign ecosystem.

So how do we create the ripple?

We start by asking questions—and listening to the answers. Not fake listening, like when you are at a party and someone is telling a story, and instead of listening, you're busy trying to think of an equally good story to tell. No, this is the kind where you are actively engaged and have a million questions because you are interested in what someone is saying, how they are saying it and how they are adapting to your attention and focus (which is how it should always be, but that's another story).  

My 3-year old daughter Mia is one of my biggest inspirations for this approach, beginning with the Why. The Why is the single most powerful way to get the ripple that connects a story to its audience. Why this audience? Why should they care about you and what you have to say? Why do you have the credibility and right to be having this conversation? Why is this considered storytelling and not repurposed advertising? Why did you select the story you are telling? Why would they have a barrier or even better trigger to receive it? Why are you choosing the distribution or influencer partner you are choosing to share the story? Why are they the best partner to help you adjust, optimize and measure the impact of your storytelling?

If you are anything like Mia, you may never run out of questions, but at some point with enough "whys" you can count on the right story, for the right audience, with the right partner, at the right time, place and context. 

We all know impactful storytelling when we see it, hear it or experience it because we feel it. It's personal, it creates value in our lives, and it puts our needs, desires and motivations at its heart.  To effectively cast the stone and create the ripple, we must remember that stories themselves are connected by a thread. They are meant to travel. And the best stories stay with us to be passed on to others again and again whether through a Facebook share, like, pin, snap, tweet, email, text or through good old fashioned word of mouth.

Advertising is not storytelling, ideas are not stories, creative is not distribution and distribution cannot compensate for mediocre stories. The audience will be the judge and jury. But for those of you who cast a stone, plan for the ripple and use the data to inform your next adventure, you will continue to be the successful ones in this space. 

Shannon Pruitt (@ShannonPruitt) is president of Dentsu Aegis Network's The Story Lab, and is based in Los Angeles. She also serves as jury chair for the Adweek ARC Awards, which honors the best in branded storytelling. To enter the awards, click here, but hurry—the window for entries closes Nov. 10.

Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Zambezi’s Strategy Chief Looks Back on Her First Year on the Job

Current gig Chief strategy officer, Zambezi
Previous gig Culture intelligence officer, mcgarrybowen
Twitter @KJxCulture
Age 42

Adweek: You spoke on a recent Advertising Week panel about Los Angeles as a creative epicenter. As a native New Yorker now transplanted to L.A., what strikes you most about your adopted hometown?
Kristina Jenkins: People in New York really take pride in the grind and the hustle and the go-go-go attitude. But there's an L.A. hustle, too. People are moving fast and pushing boundaries, but they're also having a life, and I love that intersection. It's a very optimistic place that's always been open to breaking rules. I've gotten really into wellness, fitness and outdoor activities and all the things that California makes possible.

How and why is Zambezi remaking Autotrader?
Autotrader is an iconic brand in car search—it basically invented the category—but there was no love for it or real connection to it. People love their cars, but not the brand that made the purchase possible in the first place. We looked at it like the backup singers for the Rolling Stones who made it all happen but didn't get any recognition. We wanted to create a rock star following with this new generation of car buyers. So we reframed the brand to make it more culturally relevant, which is how we approach strategy for all our clients, and asked what Autotrader did better than anyone else. It was matchmaking. So we've been communicating that point: Autotrader knows so much about you and your life that it can help direct you to a great choice.

How did that culturally relevant hook play out with the agency's work for the Venetian resort?
Luxury brands tend to say they'll transform you if you opt in. For the Venetian, we said, "You're fine the way you are." We didn't look at hotel case studies or Vegas travel marketing. We thought about where people wanted to hang out and spend time. Our platform has been: come as you are. It's a heavily visual campaign with great music, using a slight cue to the Venetian's Italian heritage. But it leaves a lot to the imagination. We want people to be able to see themselves in the marketing.

Do you think there's been too much marketing focus on millennials?
No. This is a generation that really inspired brands to think and problem solve differently. And yet the industry created all these stereotypes and misrepresentations. Millennials have given you permission to do bold, disruptive things. Take them up on it, and be transparent about it. That said, there are other generations and demographic groups to think about.

Such as?
Baby boomers, for one. They're completely redefining what it means to grow older, to be a senior, to retire. This is a sizeable population that's literally changing the way we age, and there are so many ways for brands to engage them differently. They're part of what we're referring to as the "grown-up question." What it means to be grown up has really changed: Gen Xers are redefining the midlife experience, millennials aren't buying into labels, Gen Z is coming of age in a time unlike any other. The traditional markers have gone away because people don't necessarily get married at a certain age, start having kids, buy a home. All this creates new needs based on life stages. What opportunities and innovations can brands grab onto to fill those new needs?

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Q&A: Deutsch’s Kim Getty on Los Angeles’ Growth, Creative Community and Earthquakes

In recent years, a growing number of agencies have been establishing themselves in Los Angeles. But that's not the case for Deutsch, which planted the flag in 1995 and, as a result, has been benefiting from the wealth of talent that the city's entertainment industry offers. Since joining the shop in 2003 from San Francisco-based Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and ascending to president in January 2015, lifelong West Coaster Kim Getty has played an integral role in growing the agency into a creative powerhouse, counting Taco Bell, Sprint and Volkswagen as clients. In the last few months the agency has landed a few of the well-known tech giants that are based in the area, including Pandora and reportedly Uber. Getty spoke with Adweek about the move to blend Deutsch's L.A. and New York offices, working with tech giants and the growth of the L.A.-based agency business.

Adweek: Why did Deutsch remove the distinction between the Los Angeles and New York offices?
Kim Getty: Ultimately the ability to tap into each other's skill sets and talent, we're stronger together was essentially the perspective. We're going to continue to become more closely connected.

As you bring these two offices closer together, do their respective cultures mesh well?
It's easy to think about the classic New York versus Los Angeles differences and maybe there are stereotypes to some degree. New York is known for having more of an intensity; L.A. has just as much hustle, just as much energy, but we can walk around barefoot if we want and I don't know if I could do that in the New York office practically or sartorially. We both bring our individual spirit. The thing that the West Coast has always had is that pioneering, innovating, inventing new firsts, entrepreneurial, sort of roll-your-sleeves-up attitude and that's a huge driver of how we think and operate here.

That seems to be getting the attention of quite a few tech clients like reportedly Uber, and Pandora, too.
We have started relationships with four digitally born businesses in the last three months. It's premature for us to be disclosing them. Certainly soon we'll be able to do that as work goes out into the market, but they really cover the true gamut of service offerings on the internet.

In the past, these companies have used their services to sell the apps. Why are they now more interested in traditional marketing?
A lot of these relatively new digitally born businesses are still at the early stages of their growth curve. Part of what we're doing is looking to expand that user base and broaden the understanding of who they are and what they have to offer. Another important piece of it is that being a service is really important, but consumers are paying increased attention to who a brand is, not simply what the product or service might offer. They want to understand what the brands' values are and who they are doing business with and so that plays an important role in us defining how these brands can play a role in a consumer's life and provide more meaningful depth there.

Why are these clients specifically drawn to the L.A. office?
When you look at Los Angeles, it's home to a true 360 creative community; influencers, production companies, entertainment companies, multichannel networks, new tech companies and a robust ad industry. All of these things mixed up together creates a cocktail of creativity that's really exciting to brands, particularly new brands that are looking for what's next and that are unencumbered by legacy systems or relationships, and they're looking to see what is the leading edge of connecting with consumers. I think there's not a better market in the country or in the world for doing that than Los Angeles.

What's the status with Deutsch's in-house production work?
We've been doing in-house production for years. The appetite for doing that on the part of our clients has grown as we've continued to invest in that resource. The capability has outgrown the space that we have here, which is why we're launching [our production company] Steelhead next year so we can further grow that capability.

We can't talk about East Coast versus West Coast without talking about the growth of L.A. agencies.
Deutsch has been here for [21] years. We were one of the first anchor tenants, if you will, and so for us to see now so many agencies coming to Silicon Beach, it is thrilling because it creates more community and more connections. In the late '90s when a variety of East Coast agencies were setting up shop in San Francisco, Deutsch chose to set up shop in L.A. They saw the white space here, they saw that there wasn't a major advertising presence here, and there's been a commitment on Deutsch's part to the Los Angeles market.

So, as a SoCal native, how seriously do you take earthquake preparedness?
There was a moment, this is going a few years back, when we had a fairly substantial earthquake, and I hustled outside. I avoided power lines. I had my phone with me. I was ready to go, and I was expecting 500 people to go hustling out of the building after me. I looked around at our parking lot, and it was me and two others. So I don't know if we've done a great job communicating the earthquake plan to everybody, but we will.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

5 Things to Consider When Trying to Match the Right Celebrity With Your Brand

There's no question that a celebrity can bring instant attention to your marketing campaign. Celebrities can serve as megaphones for your message, take your brand into a new category or market, and (in the best case scenario) have the ability to increase your brand's awareness. But how do you know which celebrity is the right match for your brand?

Jessica Thomas Alex Fine

The answer to that question is more complicated than ever before. Today, the definition of celebrity can mean so many things. It has evolved from actors and musicians to include chefs, models, athletes, digital influencers, scientists and many more. Needless to say, brands have a lot of options to choose from. And while there are many great choices, not all of them will be the right fit.

We don't have an app or algorithm for pairing celebrities and brands (yet), so in the meantime, brands and agencies have to rely on old-school connectors like myself. In my decades-long career of pairing celebrities and companies for all manner of partnerships, I've learned that the basic tenets of any successful relationship can be applied here too. It must be rooted in mutual admiration, you have to respect what each other brings to the table, and there has to be compatibility. Here's some advice on what to look for the next time you're thinking about a celebrity partnership.

Be open-minded
It's easy to be set on using your favorite celebrity, but that person may not resonate with your consumers. Before pursuing your ideal tastemaker, ask yourself: Who will connect best with my key consumer and what is the message I am trying to get across?

Answering these questions is usually a good place to start when seeking talent for your brand. Your findings may surprise you. I also recommend that you don't get hung up on how many social media followers a person has because that doesn't necessarily translate to consumer engagement.

Find someone with an authentic voice
Seek an existing evangelist, someone who already has an affinity to the brand. Today's audience has a sharp nose for disingenuous associations and the square peg-round hole brand alliances will not hold up to millennial scrutiny. For instance, if you are an automotive brand, find someone who already drives your car and posts on social media about it. You will not go wrong by building on a pre-existing, organic connection between your product and the talent. The collaboration will possess a halo of genuine enthusiasm on both sides.

Look beyond a pretty face 
Hire an artist to be a creative partner, not a shill. Brands often look to install talent into campaigns that they had no hand in crafting. But in a media landscape where film studios and record labels have a diminished capacity to bankroll artistic expression, brands now have a chance to provide a canvas. Brand campaigns present artists with a new platform that can be utilized in service of both their art and your brand.

Think about empowering your spokesperson by having them participate in the creative process 
It will provide talent with a sense of ownership in the campaign's success, drive home the authenticity of the association to your audience, and it will give your brand a unique opportunity to leverage the voice and perspective of a talented celebrity. It might just make for marketing magic. There is a reason why we are increasingly seeing more artists and celebrities being named to creative director positions at companies: It's working.

Ask questions
I commenced this column by alluding to the ever broadening definition of celebrity. So how do you choose who is right for your brand from today's myriad multihyphenates? There is a unique answer for every brand and marketing initiative which will depend on case-by-case specifics. Do you want to emphasize digital? Do you want household name recognition? Do you want someone who can create recipes or beauty tips and tricks?

What you are really looking for is compatibility. Every celebrity-brand partnership becomes a relationship. As with any relationship, you want someone whose company you enjoy and whose values sync up with your own. It doesn't hurt to see if your talent of choice and your brand are a good fit first. Before hiring a celebrity for a 360-degree campaign, consider talking to their agents. Any good agent will truthfully tell you whether they are the right partner or not.

So the next time you're thinking about injecting some rocket fuel into your brand campaign by collaborating with star power in whatever form it takes, I hope these suggestions guide your thinking. Remember, life is too short—and this business too fast—for unhappy brand partnerships.

Jessica Thomas is co-head of WME's endorsements division. She is based in Los Angeles.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.