The Value of Brick-and-Mortar in an Online World

Last week I was searching for e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar statistics. Depending upon the source, brick-and-mortar retail is either thriving, making a comeback or dead and buried. Wading through the bias and hype, I found several white papers from reputable sources in our agency library.

Based on metrics from the US Government, in Q2 2016, US e-commerce sales represented approximately 8% of total retail sales. And, according to several national retail analysts, over 55% of shoppers would prefer to buy from a merchant with a physical store presence. Among younger consumers, 80% of Gen Z and 82% of Millennials prefer a brick-and-mortar experience to online shopping.

So, brick-and-mortar is still a viable channel in the purchase process, but does it provide any consumer insights in addition to the revenue stream? The value of digital in an omni-channel environment is fairly transparent. Digital provides a steady source of data and insights that refine and enhance the shopping experience. But, what does brick-and-mortar bring to the data table? Quite a lot, actually.

First, brick-and-mortar locations enhance 1:1 targeting and ROI. Every brand has a trade area. This trade area is where a brand’s best responding customers and prospects reside. Brick-and-mortar locations anchor these trade areas, providing a strong geographic center. Targeting the top traffic-driving zip codes that surround a brick-and-mortar location can double or triple 1:1 response.

Second, brick-and-mortar visits are stronger predictors of loyalty. Online visits are great for measuring the potential success of a retail site, but a true brand interaction can only happen in store. The ability to touch and feel a product while having a detailed conversation with a knowledgeable brand representative increases conversion and satisfaction rates, which are key metrics in predicting customer retention.

Third, brick-and-mortar locations are better at driving net revenue per visit. Online returns are usually handled via free shipping and a return box. There is little to no interaction with the brand after the product is sealed and mailed. But, in a brick-and-mortar environment, returns provide an opportunity to cross or up-sell a customer along with creating a positive brand experience. Within the group of retailers that I’ve worked with over the years, over 40% of returns resulted in net increase in revenue within the same visit.

What is Twitch, and Why Should I Care?

If you’ve heard of the game streaming platform, Twitch, you may be amongst those wondering, “Why would anyone want to watch a stranger play a video game?” The stereotypical persona of a “gamer” doesn’t provide many answers – the word “gamer” can still conjure an image of a guy who hasn’t bathed in months, lives in his parents basement, eats a lot of Cheetos and “trolls” other gamers on the internet. Who’s watching that guy? With an estimated 9.7 million daily active users per day on Twitch, it would appear that a lot of people are.

That Cheeto guy is not the reality of the gaming industry’s audience. Today’s gamer is anyone. According to a 2015 annual report from Entertainment Software Association, 63% of all US households include at least one frequent gamer – and 41% of all gamers are women. If you play games on your Xbox or on your phone, you technically count towards that number. And Twitch covers all of those bases, with personalities and programming that appeal to a much broader audience than most might suspect.

Twitch, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014 and recently added into its Prime offerings (a.k.a. Twitch Prime), is the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers and video game culture. And it’s not just “games” being streamed anymore – there’s Twitch Creative, which has broadcasters streaming cooking shows, art tutorials and home-brewing shows.

But what is the appeal – as a viewer, a streamer or an advertiser? Let’s break it down (drums please!):

A Twitch Viewer

Like any other popular social channel online, Twitch is a place where like-minded users can communicate and commiserate. Choosing a channel to engage with can lead a user to conversations about games they enjoy. Also, like professional sports or reality shows, this is a form of entertainment. Many streamers are highly skilled players, or have engaging personalities, or both. On top of all of that, Twitch users might just really love gaming and be looking to spend time with games they already love – or discover new ones to buy.

A Twitch Streamer

The “streamers” (or the users who choose to record and share video of themselves live for an audience) are growing in number and gaining ground as web personalities. For many streamers, Twitch broadcasting is a way to have fun and connect with friends (and fans) about their mutual love of games, cooking, sewing or other creative endeavors. It can also be an opportunity to entertain and engage with audiences for money. Whether it’s through donations, advertising or channel subscriptions (which is where Twitch Prime comes in, giving members one channel subscription for free – but paying the streamer),there are popular streamers now making a living by playing video games. For real.

A Twitch Advertiser

Opportunities for advertisers continue to grow and expand as much as Twitch does. Each day, users watch and talk about games being played by more than 2 million streamers per month. Currently, Twitch claims to reach “half of millennial males in America” – 75% of its users are male, and 73% of them are between ages 18-49.

With these statistics in mind, the appeal for game makers and developers to have streamers play their games is obvious – attracting new fans and buyers to new and existing games and building buzz. For non-gaming brands, there’s also a growing opportunity with everything from traditional display and takeover ads to having high-profile streamers act as influencers to their specific audiences. Amazon is actively growing this list of mainstream advertisers, and has already attracted brands like Coke, Bud Light, Pizza Hut, Old Spice and more.

Similar to YouTube and other native video platforms, Twitch also serves video pre-, mid- and post-roll ads. To make those video options even sweeter, Twitch is currently rolling out its SureStream video technology platform, claiming ads on it cannot be blocked by third-party ad-blockers.

Twitch’s longevity and overall growth potential remains to be seen, and its unfiltered UGC nature certainly presents some concerns for many mainstream brands. However, with Amazon continuing to push this platform forward and find new ways to manage how content and ads are being seen, it’s definitely setting itself up as a media powerhouse worth keeping an open mind towards.

Sources:
https://www.twitch.tv/p/about
http://essentialfacts.theesa.com
http://www.polygon.com/2016/4/29/11539102/gaming-stats-2016-esa-essential-facts
http://thehustle.co/get-rich-or-die-streaming-making-money-on-twitch-tv
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/amazons-twitch-streamers-can-make-big-bucks.html
http://twitchadvertising.tv
http://www.wsj.com/articles/amazons-twitch-angles-for-more-non-gaming-advertisers-1476439202
http://adage.com/article/media/amazon-adds-twitch-streaming-prime/306138/
https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/02/twitch-starts-selling-its-own-video-ads-says-they-cant-be-avoided-via-ad-blockers/
http://twitchadvertising.tv/audience/

“It was twenty years ago today…”

Looking back, 1996 seemed to be a more quaint, unmuddled and innocent time as Sgt. Peppers was meant to conjure. In truth, it was a generation ago, though the changes in that time to our world and to our industry could be more accurately described as an epoch.

There are so many memories going back 20 years, and I won’t attempt to recollect them here, or try and thank all the people who deserve it.

But as this anniversary approached, people have been asking two questions:

“Did you think you’d be in business for 20 years?”

The answer is no; you can’t even conceive of twenty years when you start a business, and know the odds are greater that you’ll be back at your kitchen table within twelve months. It takes a lot of luck, and it takes a lot of great people, like the ones I’m lucky enough to saddle up with every day, and the clients who entrust us with their voice.

And, “What’s going through your mind when you think back on 20 years?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of my thoughts have been about the accounts or awards we’ve won. I recall the zany stories and courageous stories, but mostly it’s the stories of being there for each other. Of caring for each other.

Of our current RTers, nearly a quarter of us watched together as the towers came down on 9/11. Another 15% have been with us 10 years or more. We’ve shared countless laughs, tears, births, deaths, promotions and retirements.

Those aren’t measures that define mere employees, personnel or associates; those are milestones you associate with genuine friends, family and relationships you know will last a lifetime.

The winning that mattered was winning over a group of talented people, and even better human beings, to a unifying cause and purpose: Simply to be the very best for our clients and each other, and to care for one another with equal abandon. That’s worth getting up for each morning, and helps you sleep soundly at night.

We’ve put together a brief video that captures glimpses of the blood, sweat and tears expended, spanning most of those twenty years. I wish we could have captured more of the amazing work we’ve done in DM, social, digital, print and posters, but even in this condensed version, I can see and feel the fingerprints of every RTer who’s graced our halls reflected in the work.

And I can tell you that like the last twenty years, if you blink, you’ll miss it.

How do you like me now?

Social media: selfies, vacation pics, memes-and ads promoting your favorite local café? Yep, 2016 is officially the year that brands are taking over the newsfeed.

Connected World

Social media marketing generated $16B in revenue last year, and marketers are making it a bigger priority in 2016. 70% of advertisers anticipate spending more this year than last, and total spend is expected to exceed $35B by the end of next year. Even small businesses are getting in on the game: a recent Constant Contact survey reported that 66% of small business owners use social media to acquire and engage customers.

With so many prospective advertisers ready and willing to spend marketing dollars in social media, the platforms are taking notice. Throughout 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have made it easier than ever for brand managers to play the role of Chief Content Officer, allowing greater access to and connectivity with current and prospective fans. Through enhanced analytics capabilities, lower costs-to-entry and simplified dashboards that make targeting users and boosting posts easier on less-savvy community managers, brands now have a bigger voice in the top social channels.

The upside: as marketers become savvier, using technology to connect with customers, they open the door for new low-cost/high-engagement avenues of communication, driving customers to interact with more branded content across all channels. The downside: the newsfeed becomes noisier and more crowded every day, and every marketer will need to work harder and smarter to stay relevant, stand out and drive engagement.

To make sure you’re on top of the latest trends, check out the new offerings from the industry’s biggest social media players:

Sources:
http://blogs.constantcontact.com/small-business-marketing-in-2016/
https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising-stats/
http://www.statista.com/topics/1538/social-media-marketing/
http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/facebook-advertising-statistics/

Meet the RT Dog Pack

It’s Pets at Work Week. Did you know that only 10% of employers allow pets at work? Once a year, this #PetsAtWork movement hopes to bring cuteness and cuddles to cube dwellers everywhere. We’re behind it 100%.

Every day is Bring Your Dog to Work Day at Rodgers Townsend. We have an informal pack that’s as diverse and interesting as the people who work here – big dogs, little dogs, old dogs, young dogs, quiet dogs, crazy dogs, pure breds, rescue dogs, obedient dogs and dogs that consider themselves free spirits.

We’ve noticed some interesting outcomes since the pack took over and made itself a cultural force within our walls and out in the downtown St. Louis green spaces:

– Delighted Clients. Some of our clients request puppy play time when they visit. Usually we keep dogs away from the fancy, formal conference room, ceremonially named “5D.” It’s hilarious to watch our guests flee the gilded cage of 5D to roll around on the floor in the lobby with a dog.  Important note: All dog hours are non-billable because cuddles are free.

Laura and Alex Samoyeds

– Strategic Insights. We tried the FURminator product on Ollie and Riggins. If a de-Shedding tool works on Samoyeds, then it’s a great product. It works miracles. But the fluffs of fur everywhere were the beginnings of a strategy and campaign idea. We credit their thick, white coats for the insight that lead to the Shedlings campaign for FURminator.

– Happy Employees. Advertising is stressful. The deadlines are crazy. Sometimes, you just need a dog to help you put it all in perspective. Cheryl, our miracle worker head of production, is less stressed out when there’s a dog about. Internally we call the phenomenon#DogsOnCheryl

– Casting Dog Talent. Otis was featured in this adorable, I mean highly effective, Cyber Security Awareness Month post for AT&T as part of the #GuardPets campaign. He is not just a model. He’s a certified service dog with the official jacket and special skills.

Otis the Guard Pet

– Attracting Top Talent. Several of our recent hires cited the dog friendly work environment as a reason to work at RT. The new hotshot developer said something like, “I can bring my dog! This is awesome.” The new account guy actually said, “As a single guy, that flexibility in a workplace allows me to both work longer hours when needed as well as be more social outside of work. If I can bring Dash, I don’t have to feel guilty working late to get things done or going out without him after I’m off the clock. I’ve been fortunate to only ever work at pet-friendly places, and I hope to keep it that way.”

– Giving Back. Last week our dog policy enabled us to give back to the community and help Stray Rescue by fostering a dog during a power outage in a heat wave. You can learn more about Ken and spread the word about finding him a forever home on our Facebook page.

If you check out the #PetsAtWork hashtag or watch the news on Friday you’ll see stories about how pets increase morale, boost productivity, appeal to Millennials and boost your employer brand. That’s all terrific. But we do it because we just love dogs.

Outlier or Opportunity?

Several years ago, I was visiting an old colleague who works for a large technology company. Over dinner, our conversation slowly turned to work and he asked me about data modeling and outliers. Apparently, his team views data outliers as noise that should be removed from all models to increase confidence and predictability. For some outliers, that is the correct process. But, pruning every outlier can severely limit your potential for growth. Sometimes, an outlier is an opportunity.

Opportunities masquerading as outliers can take many forms. In the database, they could be customer attributes that don’t match the target profile or product sets that don’t correlate to the standard mix. Outside of the database, they could be an engagement point that differs from the current conversion path or a new media channel. At the surface, these outliers may seem interesting, but not worth the effort to pursue. However, spending a little time and digging a bit deeper could yield quite a bit of gold.

A while ago, I was helping a large retailer with their loyalty program. The member base was mostly moms who were purchasing apparel for their children. Via profile and purchase analysis, an outlier appeared in the transaction mix: during major traffic periods, like Back to School, moms occasionally purchased something for themselves. The retailer knew about this behavior and attempted to capitalize on it by including a few additional product shots of apparel for moms in each mailing.

After a bit of convincing, we tested a different approach. We pulled the best target and tested a separate, additional communication stream focusing on moms. The ROI was similar during key traffic periods. But, outside of the key periods, the ROI skyrocketed. Incremental store and online visits increased from three times per year to five times per year. These additional visits drove stronger ROIs per piece and dramatically increased lifetime values.

The biggest hurdle with outliers is not the identification, but the justification of pursuing them as opportunities. Once an outlier is found, we use primary and secondary research to add qualitative insight to the outlier. Via the combination of quantitative and qualitative insights, we are able to determine the value of the outlier and propose a plan of action. This plan usually contains a test-and-learn process along with a detailed ROI expectation generated via our proprietary calculator. This calculator combines objectives, KPIs, target quantities, revenue and cost expectations based on several what-if scenarios. We like to call it our Return on Dare calculator. You can call it your justification for pursuing a different path.

The Magic House is about child’s play.

ST LOUIS (May 23, 2016) – Today’s children are experiencing a very different childhood than those of generations past. With their time filled with nonstop structured schedules on top of hours of screen time each day, there is a growing concern that a key component of child development is disappearing from children’s lives: Play. Numerous studies have shown that play is important for developing social skills, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills, all important for academic as well as professional and lifelong success. The Magic House hopes to combat this growing trend by partnering with two of St. Louis’ most influential creative companies, Rodgers Townsend and production company Bruton Stroube Studios, to create a community-wide message encouraging families to “take time to play.”

“Children learn through play, yet research shows that they are not getting nearly enough opportunities for hands-on, exploratory free play,” said Beth Fitzgerald, President at The Magic House.  “As a children’s museum, we feel a responsibility to be an advocate for play. This summer is perfect time for encouraging families to take time to play, and in the process enjoy the many benefits associated with it from physical well-being to social, emotional and cognitive development.”

The “Play to Learn” campaign will launch this summer with messaging at The Magic House as well as on billboards, radio and television. A video will also appear in movie theaters and be accessible through a variety of social media sites. “As parents who grew up going to The Magic House, we love being able to share the message that play is important,” said Jake Edinger, writer and creative director at Rodgers Townsend. “It’s a good reminder for all of us.”

Learn to Play. Play to Learn. Video Link

Find more details on the benefits of play through these resource links:

About Bruton Stroube Studios

We are an independent studio of creative collaborators working together to create beautiful imagery through still photography and motion – all under one roof. We have a squadron of more than 30 full-time employees. Our 55,000 square foot work space was originally built in 1896 as a Beethoven Music Conservatory on the outskirts of downtown St. Louis. It houses three shooting spaces (each with a full kitchen), a retouching/3D department, five editing suites, audio engineering and custom composition, an entire floor dedicated to prop and wardrobe storage, and an Elton John-themed pinball machine. Check out what we make at BrutonStroube.com.

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

The Magic House is a not-for-profit participatory museum that provides hands-on learning experiences for children and families and encourages experimentation, creativity and the development of problem-solving skills within a place of beauty, wonder, joy and magic. Regular Museum admission is $10 per person. Children under the age of one are free.

The Magic House is located at 516 S. Kirkwood Road, one mile north of Highway 44 in historic downtown Kirkwood, Missouri. Summer hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; Friday, 9:30 am to 9:00 pm; Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; and Sunday, 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Parking is always free at The Magic House. For more information, please call 314.822.8900 or visit The Magic House online at www.magichouse.org.

#LearnToPlay #PlayToLearn #TheMagicHouse

Never Say Always

More and more, brand executives are pressured to be in market faster, especially in demand generation campaigns where there are revenue expectations within a specific time frame. They, and by extension as their agency partners, we, push every level to squeeze more time from a hasty schedule to think, design, react and revise our creative solutions to the business problem.

One common approach to save time is to use design templates in which the layout and graphic elements are already established. Depending on the template,  the theory goes, the art director would simply (and efficiently) swap out the visuals and the writer would provide copy to be placed in the space allocated. Once the original template is designed (and tested for consumer response in the marketplace), it’s reasonable to expect that the development process would be significantly reduced, especially in direct marketing. Direct mail templates would allow for advance production of envelopes and letterforms. Email templates for tablet, mobile phone and full screen consumption would take the guesswork out of what goes where.

The University of Texas at Dallas Marketing Science team shared a research study showing the wearout (and, interestingly, the wearin effect) of a repetitive advertising formula. While it works well for awareness, it has a diminishing effect on demand. If the campaign is taken out of media for a period of time, awareness decreases, but demand increases when it is re-introduced. http://www.utdallas.edu/~nxb018100/wearout.pdf

It’s tempting to say certain tactical elements, once proven, should be always applied based on one’s experience with it. But our experience, along with that of various other agencies and institutions, show that “always” is a dangerous word. One of our B2B clients tested the use of a Starbuck’s gift card in a demand generation DM campaign with terrific results. We applied the same tactical approach to a slightly different segment and found significantly higher preference for the Amazon gift card, which was tested against the Starbucks version in an A/B split test.

Some of the most memorable campaigns are indeed templates, but they’re conceptual templates around a common creative approach as opposed to efficiency-based design. My favorites include Goodby’s “Got Milk” for the California Milk Board featuring white mustachioed celebrities, Penn’s “Official Ball” series showing various interpretations of their tennis ball at the French and U.S. Opens, and the Tiffany jewelry ad that appears every day in the New York Times – same size, same layout, same amount of copy, but the surrounding environment helps it stand out, as noted by Ross Bleckner in A3: Our Lives in the New York Times:

Every day, on page three of The New York Times, section A, an ad for Tiffany jewelry appears in the upper right corner of the page. Because of its placement in the paper’s first news section, the advertisement generally appears alongside a major new story, most frequently an international disaster or tragedy of some kind. The effect of these juxtapositions, for those alert and lateral-minded enough to notice them, are variously humorous, tragic, tragicomic, ironic or subversive. An ad for a pair of Tiffany earrings is titled “Gold Rush”; to its left is positioned a photograph of a line of Palestinians at a cash machine, after Israel had begun to release frozen Palestinian Authority funds. An ad for a Tiffany bracelet bears the tagline “A Charmed Existence,” and across from it the headline reads “Despite Embargo, Haiti’s Rich Seem to Get Richer.” An ad for four Tiffany rings carries the title “The Masterpieces of Engagement,” and to its left, below an image of the president, is the headline “Obama Chastises Wall St. in Push to Tighten Rules.”

That said, here are thoughts on where and how to use efficiency-based advertising templates.

When we SHOULD (nearly always) use tested templates

  • Reaching a fresh audience of consumers who fit the same prospect profile as the  originally tested template
  • Fulfillment of requested content, such as newsletters or white papers, to people who  request them, allowing the recipient to become familiar with content style and to build a  sense of continuity
  • Providing official notices regarding legal updates, change in pricing or other elements of  service agreement

When we should NOT (nearly never) use tested templates

  • Attracting the same prospect base with the same or similar message within a close time  frame or space proximity
  • Reaching a different prospect base whose attributes are not the same as the originally  tested group
  • Facing significant shifts in the competitive landscape or consumer preferences
  • Introducing a new product, service or offer that deserves a different approach to stand  out in the mailbox or on screen

In other words, we use templates to save time when we don’t risk losing touch with our audience, or losing sales for the sake of efficiency.

Rodgers Townsend Imagines a Bug Apocalypse in Spectracide Spot

When we last heard from Rogers Townsend and its client Spectracide, the bug spray’s new Accushot technology played stand-in for a certain male body part as a very excited homeowner looked on.

Earlier this week someone sent us the latest work for that client, and it’s a bit more subtle. In this case, the agency imagines a bug apocalypse of sorts.

That was pretty effective. We also appreciated the English folk song, which led us down a primrose path toward the Fairport Convention.

The spot was filmed in Vancouver with the help of production company Tool. It marks a new stage in the campaign, which still focuses on the guy with the ripped thighs and the green beard from the last ad on social.

The new work is so far only visible online, but it should begin airing on network TV later this month.

CREDITS

Agency: Rogers Townsend
Client: Spectrum Brands

Chief Creative Officer: Michael McCormick
Account Director: Laura Yarbrough
Associate Creative Director: Jon Hansen
Senior Copywriter: Conor Barry
Producer: Marianne Daniels
Senior Account Planner: Alex Kerlick
Media Specialist: Christy Bockler

Production Company: Tool
Post-Production: Coolfire

Original Article:

http://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/rodgers-townsend-ddb-imagines-a-bug-apocalypse-in-spectracide-spot/107377

I just bought a pair of size 42 men’s Scarpa “Helix” Italian rock climbing shoes in Hyper Blue for $99 at REI. This purchase is remarkable and highly unlikely. I had to climb over lots of psychological hurdles to get the right shoes for me. The experience made me think about Behavior Design hacks for better strategies, particularly for products and brands with low awareness.

Unknown

I’m a novice climber still working on my first punch card at Climb So Ill, so I don’t have brand preferences or experience to rely on. All these performance gear brands are new to me. Brand shortcuts aside, REI had a nicely curated collection of shoes to limit the choice set. This purchase should have been as easy as a 5.8 rock wall. It wasn’t.

Filters

The literature in psychology, behavioral economics and behavior design is chock full of goodness on the power of filters, nudges and default options. Theory met reality today in the shoe aisle.

The most powerful filter was gender, suggested by social convention, the store layout and the salesman: “Here are the ladies shoes and over there are the unisex and men’s shoes. Let me know if you need any help. Try on anything you like.” There was also a powerful nudge with the mention of unisex shoes and the encouragement to try on anything I liked. REI is cool like that.

I’m a woman. I shopped in “ladies shoes” without a second thought. My choice was anchored in my gender identity and spatially filtered by the store design. I found a pair of size 41.5 women’s Scarpa “Helix” climbing shoes in orange and set that as my default.

Feelings

I’m also a fashion rebel. “Unisex” was a nudge to think about these shoes as just shoes. Feet are feet. I buy unisex Converse shoes on Amazon all the time. But in a store, I have to literally walk over to the men’s section and publicly break a social norm. The walk was only four steps. No one was looking. It’s Women’s History Month. I hesitated. Then I angrily shook myself for even giving it a second thought.

But norms are norms. Breaking them requires thought – an executive command to override habitual behavior and social convention. And then there’s the emotional tax of feeling uncertain and uncomfortable. I unpacked all of this baggage on the walk to check out the shoes. No turning back. I was committed to shopping men’s shoes in the name of fun, fitness and feminism.

Fit

Climbing shoes fit funny. The sizes vary. It’s not as bad as trying to buy jeans, but it’s close. So I grabbed several different pairs of unisex/men’s shoes in 41, 41.5 and 42 and smuggled them over to my ladies nest to try them on. A pair of Five Ten brand “Rogue” shoes felt terrific. Should I go Rogue? Hmmm. They were size 42. I wondered if it was the shoe style/brand or something more basic, like the size. I tried the men’s version of the Scarpa ladies shoes I had set aside as my default. They felt just as good, only better. Why? Because they were the right size.

The most basic human filter was the best.

I love my new shoes. They feel great. They’re adorable. My post-purchase rationalization has kicked into overdrive. I’m new-shoe happy – a special kind of joy.

Dare

Filters and feelings can get in the way of a great fit. What if you dared to change the filters for your brand on the path to purchase? Can you make your customers new-shoe happy?

My experience confirmed powerful insights from Behavior Design, the art and science of hacking how people think and choose stuff. Advertising is all about changing consumer behavior. My journey towards better behavior-change briefs started with a new pair of shoes.

A Question Every Creative Director Should be Asking

Creative Director sounds like a pretty schmancy title. And when you consider that Taylor Swift, Usain Bolt, Alicia Keys and I have similar business cards, it’s easy to see why people might assume it’s all glitz and catered sandwiches.

But if you’re not a CD like Justin Timberlake you may find yourself running into tight timelines, tight budgets and the competing pressure to approve, defend, revise and sell-all while having a strong point of view.

So here’s one suggestion on how to remove some of that pressure, improve the work and strengthen your team along the way. Just ask:

“Which idea do you think is best?”

That’s it. Just that one little question when they’re sharing work. Ask the team, “which idea do you think is best?” And wait for an answer. They know what feels right. They’ve gotten intimate with the brief. They’ve searched far and wide and come to you with a range of thinking. See what they say.

Ideally, they’ll have a feel for what’s getting there, even if it hasn’t gotten there yet.

Again, timelines add stress. But a moment of reflection in the safety of a creative sharing session (I hate the term “review,” and “presentation” sounds a bit overblown) can allow teams to recapture their objectivity and back it with some heart.

This question can be daunting. But answering it honestly can accomplish a lot.

First of all, it gives the illusion of time. When sharing sessions can be over-the-shoulder (not necessarily ideal), asking “which idea do you think is best” can take someone out of the rush of the moment and encourage brief but meaningful thought. Weird how that works.

And if nothing else, you can ask “which idea do you think is best” while your A.D.D. focuses back in on the task at hand.

But this little question is more than a stall tactic. It shows that you care. Because asking the question means you’re going to listen to the answer.

They may love an idea that you dismissed because it wasn’t brought to life in all its Photoshop-with-stock-images glory. But in the minds of your team, it has tremendous upside. You should hear what they’re thinking, and consider it before opening your trap.

Then, there’s the business of articulating what makes an idea great. How can we expect teams to grow and stand up in front of a client to explain an idea if we don’t let them practice in front of the mirror? Or in front of a forgiving audience like, say, a creative director?

That’s important stuff. Even if you disagree with their choice, if they can explain why they like it, you might be able to help make it work harder, better and more simply. And isn’t that the most important part of Lady Gaga’s and your job title?

Our job isn’t to hand pearls of wisdom down to our underlings to execute and then raise our fists to the sky when they just don’t get it. Our job is to foster great thinking and surprise ourselves and our clients with unexpected solutions that set them apart. And how can you do that if you don’t ask the most basic of questions?

By asking “which idea do you think is best,” you’re not asking which idea is the most out-there. Nor are you asking which one do you think the client will like the most. Or which one do you think will please me. You’re asking how it pays off the brief and how it rewards the audience.

And while you have no obligation to approve that idea or direction, at the very least, you can harness the enthusiasm for that idea and reinvest it in another. Or you can urge the team to pursue the idea at a slightly different angle.

There’s a lot to be said for having heart for an idea. Clients can feel it. And ultimately the audience will, especially when the team (along with you) is dead-set on making it come to life.

And between you, me and the open floor plan, being receptive to new thinking is contagious.

I don’t pretend to be the most lauded or ideal CD myself. I’m lucky. I’ve had creative directors who did this to great effect and little fanfare. And it stood out. It helped me separate myself from the last idea I came up with on my way into the room. And it let me know that there’s always time to make an idea better.

Even for Jessica Alba, this doesn’t cover all the responsibilities of a creative director. It’s just a question.

Scottrade “Moments” Campaign Breaks

Scottrade is launching a campaign focusing on the company’s commitment to investors and traders.

The campaign initially features two TV spots with several more to follow in early 2016. The effort will be supported by digital advertising and integrated broadcast sponsorships with leading national outlets.

“With our 35-year history of putting clients first, we’re positioned better than ever before to help our clients on their financial journeys,” said Kim Wells, Scottrade’s chief marketing officer, in a release. “Our clients know that our friendly, dedicated support sets us apart.”

The TV spots, from St. Louis-based Rodgers Townsend, demonstrates that whether clients know where they’re going or need guidance to get there, Scottrade is there to help.

The “Moments” campaign features specific moments when a personal financial situation needs attention such as when starting a new job or saving for a long-term goal like college. The ads showcase Scottrade’s breadth of solutions and how it is positioned to help clients seize those moments.

The first two spots,  “Rollover,” and  “First Visit” are airing in news, finance and sports media outlets. Featuring a dreamy slowed-down motion effect, the spots highlight the help clients receive from their investment advisers in situations like rolling over a 401K or planning for retirement.

The effort comes on the heels of the financial service company’s announcement in November that it is evolving its business model. The company established Scottrade Investment Management, offering portfolio guidance and personalized financial advice through its Advisor Access program. The firm is deepening existing client relationships and creating new relationships with those specifically seeking advice.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/267871/scottrade-effort-embraces-lifes-moments.html

Rodgers Townsend Wins Grand Prize at 2015 ANA

Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis’s largest, full-service advertising agency, took home the Print Grand Prize at last night’s ANA’s Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Excellence Awards, which recognizes marketers that produced industry-leading multicultural advertising campaigns between June 2014 and June 2015. Grand prize winners across ten different categories were announced at a ceremony during the ANA’s 17th Annual Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, November 8-10 in Miami Beach, FL.

Rodgers Townsend earned top honors in the Print Category for the agency’s campaign for The Black Rep, the largest professional African American theatre company in the nation and largest performing arts organization in Missouri.

Sponsored by the ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Committee, the awards were created to help raise awareness of and recognition for the outstanding work being done in multicultural marketing. A portion of the proceeds collected will help fund scholarships for high-potential multicultural students who plan to pursue careers in advertising and/or marketing.

To learn more about the conference and the other winners, click here.

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Rodgers Townsend Most Awarded Agency at Chicago Association of Direct Marketing Tempo Awards

The Chicago Association of Direct Marketing (CADM) Tempo Awards is a Midwest award competition recognizing stellar work in direct, digital, mobile and social media marketing.

This year, Rodgers Townsend, based in St. Louis, took home the lion’s share of awards from the Chicago show. Rodgers Townsend took home a total of 26 Tempo Awards, half of the 52 total awards given at the award ceremony. Other agencies awarded that evening include FCB, Ogilvy and Havas Worldwide.

Rodgers Townsend received a special Judges Citation for Innovation in Print for their Blacklight Dimensional Mail for the Hartford. In addition to the Judges Citation, Rodgers Townsend received 10 first place awards, 8 second place and 8 third place.

“In one of the most important direct marketing award events in the U.S., it’s great to see how our work stacks up against our esteemed competitors,” said Katie McGrath, Executive Director of Rodgers Townsend. “We’re proud to work with such great client partners to make this incredible work.”

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About Rodgers Townsend:

Rodgers Townsend is a nationally acclaimed, full-service marketing communications agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. The agency provides strategic planning, advertising, digital, social, direct/one-to-one marketing and design services to a wide range of clients both nationally and regionally.

Current clients include: AT&T, The Black Rep, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Enterprise Holdings, Great Circle, The Hartford, Luxco Brands, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis University, Spectrum Brands and United Van Lines.

Rodgers Townsend is a part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC). Omnicom is a leading global advertising, marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, interactive, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

About CADM:

Since 1955, the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing has been a response marketing resource for marketers in the Midwest. We bring together professionals in the areas of direct mail, mobile marketing, digital marketing, social marketing, marketing analytics, response generation and more.

Rodgers Townsend Promotes Michael McCormick to EVP/Chief Creative Officer

Rodgers Townsend, a St. Louis full-service advertising agency and part of the Omnicom Group (OMC: NYSE), announced today the promotion of Michael McCormick to EVP, Chief Creative Officer. Previously serving as Executive Creative Director at the agency, Michael will continue to be responsible for overseeing all creative across the agency’s roster of clients and new business endeavors. McCormick assumes the CCO role following the 2014 retirement of Co-Founder Tom Townsend.

“Mike is an extremely talented creative leader whose high standards and standout work have positively impacted our agency and clients’ businesses for more than 15 years,” said Tim Rodgers, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rodgers Townsend. “I know he will continue to raise the bar ever higher, and fearlessly lead us in whatever new directions we need to go.”

Since returning to Rodgers Townsend in 2009, McCormick has produced campaigns for such brands as AT&T, The Hartford, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Spectrum Brands, Mayflower and the St. Louis Rams.

Prior to Rodgers Townsend, McCormick spent time at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago, where he worked exclusively on Porsche Cars of North America. Before that, his career included a stint at Austin’s McGarrah-Jessee, where he worked on brands including Shiner Beer, Whataburger, Hyatt Resorts and Frost Bank. He began his career at Publicis in Dallas after graduating from The Portfolio Center in Atlanta.

“What I love about Rodgers Townsend is the rare combination of hunger and humility,” said McCormick. “I’m honored to lead a talented, growing team and look forward to producing even more inspiring, innovative work for our clients.”

McCormick’s work has been recognized by the Art Director’s Club, International Andys, Graphis, Luerzer’s Archive, Print, Communication Arts and Creativity. He’s also received the Austin ADDY Best of Show and St. Louis ADDY Best of Show five times, in addition to multiple National ADDY awards.

ABOUT RODGERS TOWNSEND

Rodgers Townsend is a nationally acclaimed, full-service marketing communications agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. The agency provides strategic planning, advertising, digital, social and direct/one-to-one marketing, and design services to a wide range of clients both nationally and regionally.

Current clients include: AT&T, The Black Rep, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Enterprise Holdings, Great Circle, The Hartford, Luxco Brands, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis University, Spectrum Brands and United Van Lines.

ABOUT OMNICOM

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE – OMC) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

 

Rodgers Townsend Wins Best of Show at St. Louis ADDY Awards

Rodgers Townsend, a St. Louis full-service advertising agency, was the most awarded agency at the St. Louis Advertising Club’s ADDY Awards in February, including winning Best of Show for the Everclear MakeItYourOwn.com website.

In addition to the Best of Show, Rodgers Townsend received two Judges Citations for the AT&T Toggle Phone Case and the Rebel Yell distributor kit, and 10 gold ADDY Awards for work on AT&T, The Black Rep, Cutter Insect Repellent, Everclear, Rebel Yell, Lewis Osterweis and The Hartford. The agency won an additional 24 Silver ADDY Awards in various categories, by far the most of any agency.

“In one of the more hotly-contested shows in a long time, full of great creative, we’re incredibly proud to have work recognized for nine of our clients-big and small, local and national,” said Michael McCormick, Chief Creative Officer.

McCormick said the agency’s dedication is what helped the Everclear website win the highest honors at the show. “Even our team’s approach was on strategy for a site called MakeItYourOwn.com. Our guys cared for every word, crafted every cocktail, even shot every photo themselves. A true labor of love and a fitting way to reintroduce Everclear to the world.”

Everclear final

About Rodgers Townsend:

Rodgers Townsend is a nationally acclaimed, full-service marketing communications agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. The agency provides strategic planning, advertising, digital, social and direct/one-to-one marketing, and design services to a wide range of clients both nationally and regionally.

Current clients include: AT&T, The Black Rep, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Enterprise Holdings, Great Circle, The Hartford, Luxco Brands, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis University, Spectrum Brands and United Van Lines.

Rodgers Townsend is a part of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC). Omnicom is a leading global advertising, marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, interactive, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

About the ADDY Awards:

The American Advertising Awards, formerly the ADDYs, is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local AAF Club (Ad Club) competitions. The mission of the American Advertising Awards competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.

 

Agency Culture: Look Inside RT

I’ve been asked quite often, “How would you describe the culture at RT?” It’s a great question. A question I get from college students eager to learn the ins and outs of agency life. A question I get from prospective employees as they evaluate if RT may someday be the spot for them.

But while it’s a simple question, it’s just not a simple answer.

How do I describe the culture at RT? Culture is how we feel when we walk in the doors each day. How we feel about our teammates, our surroundings and the work we are engaged in. I’ve never hesitated to answer the question, but while I probably eventually got to the point, I find myself rambling to describe it. To answer this question in a couple of succinct words is a challenge.

So when I wanted to come up with a stronger answer to this question, I asked my fellow RTers – “How do you describe the culture of RT?” And here is what I got back:

We are people who thrive on seeking out opportunities, not having them handed to us along with a big title and an office with a mahogany door. We work hard. We are scrappy. No one, and I mean no one, ever utters the phrase “that’s not in my job description”. Everyone here is creative and will go the extra mile because we simply don’t believe in a cookie cutter approach to the way we do things.

There were several words that resurfaced time and again in the answers. Passionate. Friendly. Committed. Smart. Creative. Supportive. Genuine. A list of stellar words, but not all encompassing of who we are. We aren’t perfect. At times, we are messy and unpolished. We are proud, but mellow. We are a team full of opinionated creative thinkers who can’t all always get our way.

We are a couple of floors of people with strong opinions and definitive points of view. We are proud of who we are and the family we represent. And like a family, we will push each other’s buttons. We will speak our minds, but only because we want to make everything we do exceptional. We have our good days, we have our bad days, but in the end, what we care about is simple. We care about the quality of our work, we care about each other and we care about what’s best for our clients.

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And what’s even better, we try to have as much fun doing that as we can.

So while I may still ramble the next time someone asks me to “describe the culture at RT,” I have a few more phrases in my back pocket. And maybe this gives a few of you a small peek behind our doors. And if you want to see more, well, the door is always open.

Small Data

The buzzword of 2013 is Big Data. Well, so far at least. We still have a few months to go before we can officially award the honor. But the term is everywhere. It’s enough to give anyone not working with large data sets a complex.

The term has moved into mainstream as more and more brands are beginning to collect data at every touch point, from social to sale. But is all of this data helping or hurting your insights? The answer is:  it depends. If you are a business analyst charged with enhancing an operational process, then more data points may help you hone your output. But, if you are in charge of putting the right message in the hands of the right consumer, at the right time, then additional data might be clouding your view.

For example, Netflix is collecting and analyzing a large amount of viewing data to influence programming choices. This makes perfect sense since creating personalized recommendations heightens the relationship and can increase usage and retention rates. But, they are also capturing screenshots to analyze “in-the-moment viewing habits” like “volume, colors and scenery, to provide valuable signals about viewers’ tastes”. How much time and money are being invested to generate this level of granularity? If I paused and rewound two car chase scenes, does that mean I really like that genre, or did I simply use the basic feature of the service:  the ability to stop and start movies around my schedule? How does this level of detail correlate to my selection history? I have a feeling that Nate Silver might question this level of analysis paralysis, and some subscribers might question any recommendations created at this level.

In most cases, Big Data is not necessary to successfully manage a CRM program. Simply collecting and aggregating customer purchase data will provide details on the buying cycle. Adding response data to the mix will provide feedback surrounding communication and offer effectiveness pre, during and post purchase. With the addition of a few household metrics from a third party data provider, you can create customer profiles for targeting and tactical optimization. And finally, you can always augment those profiles with qualitative data. One simple way to collect that data while enhancing the relationship between customers and the brand is to ask.

Sustaining Our Small Business Ecosystem

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You may not know that St. Louis has become a mentoring mecca for would-be entrepreneurs. If that’s news to you, there’s no better time to get with the program and progress than during Small Business Week, the week of June 17th. If you need further proof of our prowess, all you need to know is that St. Louis is one of just five markets the Small Business Administration has targeted for its big event.

We love the notion of the ecosystem as a metaphor for how we need to nurture our nascent entrepreneurs. And with St. Louis being a hot bed and hothouse for so much medical and bioscience, we ought to care a lot about ecosystems.

You might ask, what would I know about the entrepreneurial mindset, given that Rodgers Townsend has been owned by Omnicom, a global communications giant, for the last six years? I would tell you that as an entrepreneur who, with Tom Townsend, started an agency with no accounts, no office and a combined six children to feed seventeen years ago, I never forgot what it’s like to take that leap into the great unknown, equally energized and terrified. No matter how secure things may look like from the outside, inside you’re still planning paycheck to paycheck.

We’ve also had the privilege of working with AT&T, The Hartford and others on communications targeted to small business owners. When you consistently see how fearlessly they take on the challenges and opportunities that confront them, with little or no support, you can’t help but come away inspired.

With 40% of all new businesses failing in their first year, and 60% by the end of their second, it tells you everything you need to know about entrepreneurs: they’re willing to take the gamble with odds they’d never accept at a blackjack table. It takes both fortitude and good fortune for the rewards to outweigh the risks.

I think being in the advertising business also gives us a special insight into the entrepreneurial mindset. Granted, we advertising people think we have special insight into everything, but let me explain why this is especially so with entrepreneurs.

Like their budding businesses, our ideas are fragile hatchlings that need nurturing and support if they’re to have any chance of flying. There’s always a skeptic pointing out the folly of our thinking, or demanding proof in the offing when the proof only comes through the power of commitment and competence.

Like us, the hopes and aspirations of small business owners are tied up in things their friends and families may not see, nor certainly not understand. I like how Jon Burgstone, who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of California, Berkeley, puts it:

“You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option, and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option, and then make it available.”

In honor of Small Business Week, what can you do to help them along their path? If you’re in a position to help and have the requisite experience, consider mentoring a small business owner in an area that might be outside their area of specialization.

If not, attend one of the many events, or read their inspiring stories, as it just might inspire you in your current line of work. It might even prompt you to take the plunge yourself.

Each of us can seek out a small business solution to that next product or service we need, andthen spread the good word when you come across that gem of a business that most needs awareness to give them a fighting chance. Remember, they don’t have research budgets, so they’ll live or die on the feedback they so desperately need that you can provide.

At the very least, stop what you’re doing for a minute on June 19th and tip your Cardinal cap to the undaunted courage of our entrepreneurs. And remember, with small businesses accounting for 64% of the job growth in this country they’re more likely to hire your daughters, sons and grandkids than anybody else.