Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Reflection on an advertising education
May 1, 2008

This Friday will officially be my last day of class as an undergraduate student (well hopefully, unless something goes terribly wrong). I have spent a lot of time thinking about the time I have invested the last four years in school. I want to take a few minutes to examine my education, and the fruits of my degree.

Being an advertising major has opened many doors for me. I have had the opportunity to do marketing and advertising campaigns for both large and small clients. Between Adidas, Kelloggs, Pioneer Bank and Zinger Hardware I have been able to take academic advertising/marketing theories, and turn them into practical application and campaigns. I have seen what it means to work with a client, to work within both defined guidelines and vague recommendations. Professors have given me to freedom to explore the industry and express my thoughts and understanding on ideas like connections planning.

The most important thing that my education has done is taught me how to think as both a marketer and as a professional. The University of Texas Advertising department challenges students to think outside of the box. If a student has a good idea, a professor pushes them to find the great idea. Detailed tests, tight deadlines and a balance of extremely vague yet extremely defined restrictions create an environment that requires students to be at their best at all times. My freshman year I was angry at the TA who took 10 points off my project for not initialing my memo correctly. It was then I realized that I would have to fight not only to do well, but to be the best I could.

So I believe that a good advertising education is more than the clients you work with and the campaigns you execute. It is the caliber of work expected, and the environment that the professors create by pushing and challenging their students. What do you think?


Digital: A jumpstart for connections on the web
April 25, 2008

Others that know me and consider me the “techy girl”; more on a bronze/silver level than a gold. I can and do understand a lot of “webspeak” when it comes to working on the back-end of a website, know many interesting nooks and crannies on the web, and really I know how to find almost anything about anything.

This passion for the internet and all things in it has come from a basic understanding of how advertising on the web works from a metrics standpoint and a strategy standpoint. Once I understood that you can optimize on a media plan during a campaign, I was hooked.

With the realization that not understanding interactive advertising would mean “job obsoleteness” in the future, later came the epiphany that not knowing offline would accrue the same result. Hence agencies recently rolling back in their “interactive” departments into offline/online sitting in adjacent cubicles: MindShare Reveals Major Re-structuring.

In relevance to this blog about gaps in the industry and connections planning, the question of investigation is how, and if so why is connections planning alive on the web?


Interview: Search Director at Digital Media arm of a global ad agency – Chicago office
April 8, 2008

I recently took a trip to Chicago to interview some industry professionals about how the gaps are affecting the Chicago ad market. This Search Director had a lot to say about teamwork and collaboration, and how young talent is viewed in the industry:

On teamwork and collaboration…

  • The best teams are those where people have complementary skill sets. It makes no sense to have people collaborating unless each person brings something unique to the table.
  • It can be frustrating working with other departments. Media people want to be innovative, and a lot of good ideas hit the floor before they’re sold to the client because everything goes through filters at agencies. Direct media relationships with the client are always favorable.
  • As online media is becoming more important, traditional media is struggling to stay relevant. The agencies that are doing really well right now are the ones that are tailoring their strategy to digital media. Online media is a lot different than traditional – offline strategy doesn’t always translate in the online world, but the agencies that are pulling it off are really successful.
  •  The elephant in the room is clients – they hire multiple agencies looking for collaboration, but what it really creates is competition.
  • Agencies don’t always do what’s best for the brand, most of the time they do what’s best for the client relationship first.   (more…)

Impetus Behind 360: High/Low Effect and the Internet
April 7, 2008

I asked Gene Kincaid, a UT Austin professor head of the Digital sequence in the advertising department, what he thinks will be the driving force behind connections planning and he believes there will be a “high and low” effect. What does this mean?

“High”: Change and improvement in the industry will come “from the top down” because big agencies will be able to afford interdepartmental training and afford to nurture 360’s. 360’s will fill in the cracks and allow mega agencies avoid missing out on the benefits of real integration and brand consistency, (especially since their clients are demanding it.)

“Low”: From the bottom up, because with the exception of television production, media is less expensive now than ever before and accessible to all—thanks to the internet which cuts distribution costs so much, even free is possible. (That’s right free. It’s not my idea; thank Chris Anderson, author of the Long Tail). Now, Google will buy even traditional media for you. So small agencies are able to provide good service and intelligence, which, as long as egos fall by the wayside, is the perfect environment for connections planning.

Kincaid says the other catalyst behind 360 advertising is the internet. If online promotions are not absolutely integrated with their offline branding, the effect is disruptive. Internet is only a small fraction of many clients advertising budgets, so why is it so important? Let’s face it, online advertising is important because clients are demanding it, and why? because they can directly measure it. Measure it like no traditional media ever dreamed of. The truth is clients know they could probably cut off 10% of their traditional advertising spending, or 20%, or add 10% more and double sales, but which part? and how much? Well, no one really knows. This is why online advertising is a financial dream. Several creative/media campaigns can be tested in a few days, directly measured, and easily improved upon. Online is efficient, so clients demand it. How does this help promote 360 advertising? Advertising on the internet has to be collaborative—there are no rules dividing departments; they industry is still figuring it out and working together.

-Karen Brooks


Part 2: Generation Y agency competing with Boomers
April 7, 2008

We are groups of overlapping packets: we are ‘independents’ that can work together, but not always under the same roof.” -Carlos Casa

Carlos and I have been team mates in a project before. We were a part of a team that had to build, market and promote a product built for the iPod. We had to make a business plan and marketing plan, figure out prices, promotions-the works. So one year ago when Carlos announced that he and his brother were going to launch their new advertising agency, Azul & Green, I was not surprised.

Although Carlos has some involvement building a business and an idea of the advertising business, he had to build A&G from scratch, learning how to run, pitch, innovate, and keep business himself. Today, A&G is made of four people: Engelbert, Carlos, Allen, and Shiann. Engelbert handles mostly the day to day operations as well as the buying for the business and clients. Allen is their creative that has some industry experience. Shian and Carlos are more of the account planner roles: researching, talking with clients, helping creatives, etc.

“The difference now is that in the past, you had to have an office,” says Carlos.

A&G is based out of the Casas’ home, but each employee working wherever they please. They come together when they need everyone’s help, input or cooperation. They heavily rely on phone calls and e-mails to keep up to date on status and news.

Azul & Green is an agency that is relevant to one of Adbridge’s core discussions about generations and the industry. A&G is a Generation Y agency where it did not matter how much money they started with, they were going to make their own waves–and they have.

Azul & Green has more challenges but even more opportunities.

A&G is anything but short on great, innovative ideas for their clients-their challenges lie within the budgets. They might have a great idea for a billboard but the affordability of that vehicle compared to others makes it just out of reach. Carlos says they do quite a lot of collateral and newspaper within the Hispanic sector. “A lot of the time, Spanish speaking businesses will advertise in Spanish magazines and the creative will be all wrong.” Azul & Green is in a holding pattern at the moment until Carlos graduates. “We don’t mention that most of us at A&G have not graduated yet but only one client has asked and he was impressed.”

There has been opportunities and new windows opened to A&G that run horizontally to growing the agency including A&G Publishing services. The publishing division develops Spanish targeted educational posters for teachers; available via their website


UT Professor’s Perspective: Unselfish Advertising
April 4, 2008

Now the chief aim of AdBridge is to connect people, disciplines and ideas, encouraging and driving collaboration, however, my experiences are limited to one particular university and its merits and faults. My intention is not to under or misrepresent other advertising programs, but rather use mine as a launching pad for discussion.

Gene Kincaid, a professor in charge of the Digital sequence of advertising at UT, said that UT’s advertising students are 3-7 years ahead of reality. This blog, you the 360 planner, you the creative problem solver not bound by departments but free to improve brands regardless of departmental divisions, you are 3-7 years ahead of the curve.

Kincaid says that one of the biggest hindrances of 360 advertising is the cost structure of the industry. He says that 360 advertising is “very unselfish” because it “spreads intelligence around.” This brings up a problem because the bottom line is often, well, on a short horizon. And Connections Planning, working for the big picture, makes it difficult to see direct benefits of collaboration—at least with out some leeway. Hmmm, billing, the question of “who gets paid for this?” is currently a big roadblock for connection planning.

He also tells of how when the advertising department at UT was first formed, there was a decision to be made about how to “raise” students—to be executives in the industry, those that run agencies and are not “ad people” but more so understand business or to be leaders in the industry, those that are critical and strategic thinkers. People that he says are “native 360 planners, native creatives who have the ability to solve problems.”

Chew on this for a few days… I will finish his interview Monday with what he believes to be the driving force behind 360 advertising.

-Karen Brooks

Interview: HR rep at Digital Media arm of a global ad agency
March 31, 2008

AdBridge caught up with this Recruiter to talk about interdepartmental collaboration and how his HR department is adapting to the generation gap in the workplace:

On collaboration… 

  •  It depends on the client and the holding company more than anything else. Two agencies will struggle to collaborate if they are owned by competing holding companies or if the client has multiple people managing multiple agency relationships.
  • Internal collaboration between departments is tricky because employees are over-extended. When departments fail to collaborate, everyone loses, but it happens mostly because people are too pre-occupied with their own projects and deadlines to be able to contribute to a colleague’s as well. Territory battles are a reality, but stress is the bigger factor. 

On Millennials…

  •  They tend to do well in digital because their co-workers are closer in age.
  • HR departments really are actively working to adapt agencies to generational differences 
  •  Millennials want everything too soon. They expect to get promoted quickly because they perform their duties well, but don’t understand the other factors at play.
  •  Millennials tend to “top out quickly” because they lack management skills and have a hard time delegating day-to-day responsibilities. Promotions are about putting employees in charge of people, not just projects.
  • Ad agencies are structured with intermediary job titles (Assistant Planner > Planner > Supervisor > Director) so that employees can gradually prepare for management roles. Hierarchy is an unfortunate side-effect of that model.

Solution No. 1- A Creative Mind
March 28, 2008

In continuation of my previous discussion, “creativity” might seem like something to pass off on the “creative” department, but with a “360” or “Connections” mindset creativity can be facilitated by:

  1. Generalists—those that spread the gaps and cross departmental/structural barriers. Generalists are not as concerned about, “Whose job is it?” as “Who can do the best work?” and “With whom else?”
  2. Cross-departmental programs that allow people to work/train in multiple (all?) departments for a holistic perspective on the business- there are multiple agencies that do this well, but its up-front costs often limit it to the select.
  3. The “Creatively Minded”—they have possibly never deliberately dwelt on cross-department integration, but have the freedom within their place of work to generate ideas and solve problems.

Can you see examples of these in your agency? What are the Pro’s and Con’s? The third solution, the “creatively minded” seems hard to define, but David Armano at says that creativity is no longer a one-dimensional mindset only for artists, but rather a “four-dimensional type of creativity that blends logical thinking with creative problem solving.” This person would use analytical, expressive, curious and sensual qualities. The result, Armano says, is a holistic approach. Holistic. When I think about all the characteristics of the advertising industry, holistic is just not one of them. In fact, advertisers have become very good at specialization, in other words, fragmentation.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, fleshes out a concept of “T-shaped People”. T-shaped people have their main function, such as an engineer or technical designer, but are

“so empathetic that they can bridge out into other skills, […] and do them well. They are able to explore insights from many different perspectives and recognize patterns of behavior that point to a universal human need.”

Basically, start with the end in mind. Caveat: T-minded people don’t have a defined territory—others can feel threatened when they wear many hats. Also, T-thinking doesn’t mean one person does everything; Armano says, “It’s about being curious, empathetic, analytical, insightful and expressive all at the same time.”

-Karen Brooks

The Bridge between Brand and Utility
March 26, 2008

I am consuming as much as possible on branded utility and here is the understanding I have established so far.

Branded utility is a new way for a brand to become a habitual part of a consumer’s life. If done well, a person resonates with the brand and appreciates the functionality. The consumer has the opportunity to interact with the brand, as oppose to feeling an invasion of privacy. Skeptics and pessimists doubt and claim that it is a brand’s way of taking over your life, but the average American is impressed with the way it “makes life easier.”

It is important to remember if you provide a utility, the consumer has an expectation level that must be filled. If the function does not meet expectations, it reflects negatively on your brand. Therefore branded utility must be a executed both well and strategically. A really great example of branded utility is the Nike+ partnership with Apple. As a runner, I have the opportunity to track my stats online. Each time I do so, I am interacting with both Apple and Nike. The Epsonality campaign is also a great example.

In the 1970s the University of Texas neglected the aesthetic architectural component in favor of functionality. Consider the form of a company a brand, and the utility a function the ad business has done the opposite of UT. Many times we are developing campaigns that toot our product’s horn, but neglect to offer function for our audience.

As always I am a student, and looking to learn from you. So please, point out the holes in my logic, or point me in the direction of other good materials to read.