Artwork submitted by The Ad Store

My Pitch for You to Watch “The Pitch”

Photo of man from Ad Store pitching client

If you love advertising, watch AMC’s The Pitch. If you are a college student or an adult changing careers and you are thinking about going into advertising, watch The Pitch. As one advertising exec on the show put it, “You have to be insane to work in advertising.”

I spent a block of time this holiday weekend watching the five episodes that have run so far (Sunday a sixth ran, but I haven’t seen it yet). I loved every minute!

The setup in each episode is this: Two ad agencies send reps to a large client and gather info for a creative brief. These reps then fly home and share the info and brief with their teams. The teams have seven days to come up with an idea and develop it enough for the ultimate pitch. The reps fly back to the client and pitch their idea. One agency wins the account.

You learn a few things very quickly:

  • You have to have an ego and thick skin to work at most ad agencies.
  • The best ideas aren’t always chosen.
  • You must have good listening skills so you can really deliver what the client wants.
  • Advertising is not an easy business to be in…and that is sometimes half the fun.

You also have to have guts to go on this show. No one wants to walk away a loser, especially not twice (SPOILER ALERTSkip to the last three paragraphs if you don’t want to know who won).

The Ad Store vs SK+G

The Ad Store did just that. But I am not the only one who thought they should’ve won. AMC runs polls on their website after each episode that asks “Who should’ve won?” Here are the results so far for the Ad Store episodes.

Poll results from online vote showing viewers liked The Ad Store better

Online poll results showing viewers liked The Ad Store better

In their first episode, The Ad Store went against SK+G to win the Waste Management account. The Ad Store’s campaign was brilliant—Trash Can. No, not “can” as in canister. It’s “can” as in is able to.

Artwork submitted by The Ad Store

SK+G had a horrible tagline—Turning waste into WOW!—but a better Trash talking mobile & print adpresentation. Their initial video was emotionally strong and well done. And the deal sealer was most likely their mobile component—where the video playing on the mobile phone becomes the mouth of the person on the print ad. Creative and fun!

However, as good as they were, I would’ve had a hard time hiring them because of the jerk who kept interrupting his own colleague during the pitch. So unprofessional. This guy was pretty much an ass through the entire episode.

The Ad Store vs Kovel/Fuller

In the second Ad Store episode, they competed against Kovel/Fuller to win the Frangelico liqueur account. This one was very close. I liked both pitches. And now that I’m exploring The Pitch website (they have the artwork posted there), I think Kovel/Fuller deserved to win. But here’s what I liked about the Ad Store’s pitch:

  1. They were honest enough to tell the client that their bottle looked like Mrs. Butterworth (and their recommendation to go clear was perfect).
  2. This all-male team was open enough to consult with a women-led agency first to get the female perspective and to start over when told their idea sucked and sounded like a feminine hygiene product.
  3. Their storytelling idea matched well with the Legends theme Frangelico wanted to keep (but their copy was a little weak).

Check out the show for yourself and spend some time on the website. AMC is doing a terrific job with all the extras available online. You get to vote for who you think should’ve won, and you get to hear why each client chose the agency. Plus a whole lot more.

Sadly, I don’t think The Pitch will last because I think the audience is too narrow and the 11pm time slot is a killer. People may madly love Mad Men, but not everyone wants to see the real behind-the-scenes of the advertising world.

The Pitch is very interesting and well worth watching. And the website keeps your interest going. I hope it catches on. And, really, if you think you want to go into advertising, watch all of the episodes and then decide. You’ll get a very good sense of what you’re getting yourself into.

Blog Roll, Please…6 Blogs Worth Reading Regularly

Images from blogs mentioned here

Most bloggers I know put community at the heart of what they do—building a community, promoting a community, sharing with a community. All you need to do to realize this is to hang out in #blogchat on Twitter some Sunday night (9pm ET). People there are extremely willing to share tips & stories and welcome new attendees. It’s where I soaked up advice before I started blogging a couple years ago.

In this spirit of sharing and community, I’d like to share with you some blogs that I think you’ll really love.

Community Blogs

I Love Skippack by Michael Shaw

If you live in the Philly area or want to blog about your community, I strongly suggest you follow the I Love Skippack blog. Mike talks about the businesses and people of Skippack with genuine love and respect, without blowing smoke up our butts. He promotes this town better than any marketing agency could.

A funny personal note—Mike and I used to work together at Aetna, but I have to say we didn’t really get to know each other until we both left. Social media and blogging have made us friends. And that’s a cool thing.

The Ambler Rambler…Your MontcoREsource by Allison Wolf

I met Allison through Twitter. What caught my eye was how much and how well she promoted Ambler, PA—a town close to home. The Ambler Rambler is her blog. Like Mike Shaw, Allison gives us a terrific example of how to promote a community you truly love.

She is a real estate professional who understands social media and how to connect very well. Other real estate pros should follow her lead to see how to build a following without blatant self-promotion.

Marketing, Brand & Advertising Bloggers

Steve Olenski

Steve has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, and it shows. He really knows his stuff and he presents it in an engaging and often funny way in The Steve O-Zone blog. You might have heard of Steve because he writes for Forbes, Advertising Age, Business Insider and more. Plus, he was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media by Social Technology Review.

Danny Brown

Danny is one of the first people I followed when I jumped into Twitter and social media years ago. He is a man whose actions can teach you much about being community minded. He’s generous with his advice and words, and his posts are always intelligent and engaging. I love how honest he is and that he’s not afraid to challenge people who aren’t being so honest or are letting their ego get the best of them. I think the Danny Brown blog was the first one I subscribed to, and I still read it today. I recommend you do too.

Ben Grossman

I just found Ben Grossman’s blog through a post on Twitter. His two-part story on Responsive Advertising in and Economy of Relevance sold me. And his Texts from Hillary post was a great look at our Secretary of State understanding social media better than most corporate execs or government bigwigs.

His experience is in digital marketing and advertising, and it shows. He has a knack for writing about this industry, and I will surely go back to read more.

Liam Dempsey

Liam is a friend of mine whom I met through local Meetup groups. His blog posts are usually short and practical—to the point. He writes about blogging, social networking and all things communication. While you’re on his site, check out the link to his other blog, Chicken, Monkey, Dog for a bit of fun.

There are a ton of other blogs out there I can recommend. I just didn’t want to bombard you with them all at once. Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments below, and if you like the stuff I write, you might want to check out the Philly Marketing Labs blog. I contribute there as well.

Thanks and happy reading!!

Walk for the Wounded: A Good Cause but a Tough Sell

How do you promote an event that’s for a good cause but makes people uncomfortable, for political reasons or personal reasons?

This is the challenge Operation First Response faces every year in putting on the Walk for the Wounded.

3 Myths That Keep People from Participating

Myth 1: Wounded soldiers don’t need my money because the government pays all their bills.

Many people assume that our government takes care of our military when theyVietnam vet escorting Iraq/Afghanistan vet on mortocycle are injured, and unfortunately, that’s not true. Though wounded soldiers do receive care in military hospitals, they still have mortgages and other bills to pay and not much money coming in. On top of that, spouses and other family members often have to quit their jobs to help care for the wounded soldier.

Money raised in the walk goes directly to help soldiers with these extra bills, for rent, food, clothing, etc. And believe me, these funds are very much needed and appreciated by these soldiers and their families.

Myth 2: Listening to the soldiers and their families talk will make me cry.

This one is true. But don’t let it keep you from coming to the event. I’ve been going now for the past three years. Yes, I’ve had tears in my eyes, but overall, I leave feeling uplifted. I leave with perspective that makes it easier to deal with everyday problems. Speaking at these events often helps give the families and soldiers relief from their pain and grief. The brotherhood between the soldiers and the close relationship built by the organization’s volunteers and the soldiers is truly heartwarming and inspiring. Photo of the Phillie Phanatic

Plus, this year, the event includes more live music and a car & motorcycle show. And, for all kids and Phillies fans, the Phillie Phanatic will make his usual appearance.

Myth 3: This is just another event for pro-war speeches or political propaganda.

No. It’s not at all. You’ll hear only pro-soldier speeches and you’ll be amazed by the strength these men and women have. There are no Republicans or Democrats trying to push an agenda here. I consider myself anti-war but pro-soldier, and regardless of political affiliation, most people are there simply to support the soldiers.

Many men in my family have served in different branches of the military and my friends have served in the Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard. One of my friends did not make it back from the Iraq war, so I initially went to this Walk to honor him. I keep going back.

Last year, I volunteered and sold t-shirts for the first half of the day. A woman bought a t-shirt and then lingered. She seemed like she wanted something more but didn’t want to ask, so I asked if there was anything more I could do. She started telling me about her son Matt, who was wounded in the war and was not well enough yet to get around. Tears sat in her eyes and her voice quivered as she asked if I’d take a photo of her in front of a Walk for the Wounded sign so she could show her son.

It was the tiniest little task, but to her it meant so much. These are the types of things we can do for military families on a daily basis. It’s not hard to make a difference.

These soldiers, they’re doing a job—a job many of us would never want to do. They follow orders and sacrifice much, yet they never ask for anything in return. So, I’m asking.

Operation First Response is a fantastic organization in which a small number of people do everything they can to make a difference in the lives of wounded soldiers. They become these soldiers’ friends and family as a result, often helping with money out of their own pockets.

Please consider doing this small, honorable task and donate to the Walk for the Wounded. Or better yet, go to the event and see what I mean.

Thank you!

Walkers in 2010 Walk for the Wounded

No Time to Read? Save It in Your Pocket for Later

Ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day for all you want to do? All you want to learn? All you want to read?

With social media and keeping up with e-mails, we’re all bombarded with a glut of information every day, all day long. I see interesting articles posted on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, and I feel like there’s not enough time to read them all.

As a writer, I often base my writing off research that includes many articles shared on LinkedIn and the other channels mentioned above. And often, when I’m searching on Google, I find other articles I want to save for later.

All of us find information every day on how to better ourselves, how to advance our careers, how to simply do our jobs better, how to keep up with the latest technology, and more.

How do you manage your time and still manage to read the important articles you need or want to read?

My answer is Pocket.

Screen grab from Pocket website "When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket."

I used to use Evernote, which I always liked but found myself not using. I guess, to me, it was a little clunky and time-consuming. I’m really not sure why I didn’t use it more, but the fact that I didn’t means it wasn’t for me.

Pocket (formerly called Read It Later) is easy and clean. You can use it to save articles, images and videos. Plus, you can tag each item into categories to easily find what you need when you need it.

I use Pocket on my laptop and tablet, and on both there are no messy format issues and saving items is quite easy.

While I was away this past weekend, the tablet app really came in handy. With only 20 minutes of free wifi at the airport, I cruised through different sites and quickly saved all the articles I wanted to read later. Then, I could read them on the plane or anytime, whether I had wifi or not!

That might be the best feature right there. It saves the article in a nice, clean format, that you can read on your own time, whether you’re online or not.

Don’t just take my word about the advantages of Pocket. See what ReadWriteWeb had to say about it:

Today’s Pocket pivot is a huge win for the potential of mass adoption of content shifting. It organizes saved links by content type, with separate tabs for articles, videos and images, and it displays them in a vivid grid with previews. Pocket has a real chance to reach mass adoption because it practically explains itself.

View Pocket’s own video to see how it works:

There are many other apps like Pocket you can use to save items for later perusal. Check them out on your own and talk to other users about them. Even watch the Hangout ReadWriteWeb had that influenced me to try Pocket out. They discuss a few of these so-called “content shifting” sites.

Two other sites, besides Pocket and Evernote, you may want to try include:

An added note, I just found this little trick to saving Google+ posts to read later. It’s from Dustin Stout from Hint: You can create a Read It Later circle.

So, now that you know about Pocket, you can save any of my blog posts you find interesting and save them to read later. Have fun!

And let me know if you find something better or if you have any advice to add.

bareMinerals Proves It’s a Force for Women

Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it.

Not quite the Dove Beauty messaging, but it’s a step in the right direction. The above message appears in the bareMinerals® ad campaign. The overall tagline, Be a Force of Beauty™ only begins to hint at the impact of this campaign.

Just the tagline: Be a Force of Beauty

In fact, the word “force” is something Leslie Blodgett, Executive Chairman of Bare Escentuals, wants women to focus on. She wants these ads to help women see they are bigger than just what they look like–realize their own potential.

That’s the beauty of this campaign.

The ad I saw this weekend features a real-life firefighter (Lauren) and emphasizes that the best make-up shows off your natural beauty.

Listen to the song in the background too, singing “I know you’re beautiful inside.”

Like Dove, Bare Escentuals, the maker of bareMinerals, uses real women and their real-life stories in their ads. To recruit models, the company reviewed surveys women filled out rather than looking at headshots.

They chose women with interesting stories, and then they used those stories too in video interviews.

Here’s Lauren’s story (the firefighter):

You can go to the Bare Escentuals YouTube channel to see all the ads and interviews. Melanie is a black belt in karate and a former mechanical engineer. Keri is a mother of three, and what she says really sums up the intent of this whole campaign:

These women are true role models. Something Dior could certainly learn from. Teen magazines should stop running the Dior Addict ads and make sure they run these bareMinerals ones instead.

Girls and young women need positive stories, positive role models to look up to. They also need to hear that beauty is not just “pretty” but what’s on the inside and what you do as a person that counts.