Idea Osmosis

April 11, 2008 - Leave a Response

Idea Osmosis: an enriched collaborative effort developed by different tools, from which specialties join together to form a generalist group that collectively mold the effort by trading, focusing and passing off the effort between group members. In order to effectively innovate and enlighten the client’s marketing and promotional needs, a pure communication line must remain open for all or a selective few to participate in.

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My name is Jennifer Hallabough, I am 22 years old and about to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Advertising. Cecelia, Kelly, Karen and myself will be formally introducing AdBridge and ourselves really soon but we are going to start adding more of our personality to our posts so you as the reader can know the ‘kids’ behind the madness. To sum up the kind of ‘ad person’ I am—I love media planning, strategy and consumer analysis. Ideally, I see myself as a person that can translate advertising strategy into a visual image.

Welcome to Adbridge

April 9, 2008 - Leave a Response

Welcome to Adbridge! We are four University of Texas students preparing to enter the industry. Our goal with AdBridge is to address a variety gaps in the advertising industry, including the gap between advertising agencies and university programs across the country. Check out our introduction slideshow, as we are students, we are open to any insights and criticisms! We invite you to join the discussion.

White Paper: Introduction to Connections Planning and Why We Are Here

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

April 8, 2008 - Leave a Response

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.   Read the rest of this entry »

Impetus Behind 360: High/Low Effect and the Internet

April 7, 2008 - One Response

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 - Leave a Response

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 http://www.azulgreenpublishing.com

Read the rest of this entry »

UT Professor’s Perspective: Unselfish Advertising

April 4, 2008 - Leave a Response

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

What is Connections Planning?

April 2, 2008 - Leave a Response

Connections Planning was the jumping off point for Adbridge. Last spring, I had the opportunity to work with the Connections Planning Team at GSD&M here in Austin. Then in the fall, I went to the Connections Planning Conference hosted by Trumpet Brand Studio. Afterwards, I sat down with my media professor and had a conversation about Connections Planning, and what it meant for our discipline and industry. We committed to doing an independent study aimed to pinpoint the role of connections in the industry.

Our first task in the independent study was to do a white paper on Connections/360/Communications Planning. The four of us dove right into the research and realized the issue we want to address is bigger than a new discipline in an ad agency. Connections isn’t account planning for media, or media as the new creative. The real issue is the call for change in the advertising agency model. This refers back to Jennifer’s Post on the agency as a well-oiled machine. It functions efficiently, but not to its full creative potential.

To us, Connections Planning is simply a mindset and a way of looking at agency structure and strategy. It is an agency model where egos are checked at the doors, and the people are inspired by collaboration and working in teams. The right idea for a campaign can come from any department. Many of the agency interviews to come will represent the ways Connections has manifested itself in agencies today.

So this is what we think…what do you think? Is this a new discipline, another layer added to our system of strategy or a band-aid to the much bigger problem in agencies today.

Interview: HR rep at Digital Media arm of a global ad agency

March 31, 2008 - 2 Responses

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

Solution No. 1- A Creative Mind

March 28, 2008 - 2 Responses

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 http://darmano.typepad.com 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

Part 1: Generation Y Agency Playing in a Big Pond

March 26, 2008 - Leave a Response

About a year ago, a peer of mine, Carlos Casas, and his brother decided to start their own advertising agency in Austin, TX. What resources did they have?
Ideas, ambition and business know-how.

Carlos is a Hispanic 22 year-old advertising major at the University of Texas at Austin: College of Communications, His brother, Englebert (yes his real name) is 32 years-old. Carlos brings a combination of business sense, a love-hate relationship with advertising, and a passion for creative and ideas. While Carlos mettles in a little bit of everything within the agency, Englebert takes care of more of the day-to-day operations: ordering, purchasing print, etc. as well as the finances of the agency. Together they began Azul & Green Advertising; a small start-up shop by a Generation X & Y state-of-mind.

About two months ago, Cecelia Stewart and I had a conversation with Joel Greenberg of “Friends Talking Podcast” about how differently Boomers, Generation X and Ys work. Through speaking with Joel, we realized the ‘gap’ that exists between these generations as they work together (or try too!). The Baby Boomer generation is all about getting things organized, divvying up the work to be done, assuring everyone is doing their part. Today in the advertising industry, these are the executives running the agencies. Generation X are a few of the start up companies, trying to do what the big agencies do with little money. They don’t care how big or small they are, they know they can do it better. The Generation Y agencies have to be the most passionate and collaborative group because they have to be. They don’t care whether they start with a dime in the bank, they are mostly concerned about getting everyone’s input and working together.

This is an introduction into the conversation of “Gaps Between Generation Collaboration”. Over the next few posts, I will be discussing an interview I had with Carlos Casas about Azul & Green (A&G), and his experiences diving into an industry before he’s even received a degree in it. The most fascinating thing about A&G is that it is made up of about five people, five clients, and they are making due.

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

-Jennifer Hallabough