On Election Day, Velocitize Explores the Role of Media and Advertising in a Democracy
Is the media angelic?
Far from being “the enemy of the people,” professional news organizations have a halo effect on business and society.
The vast majority of Americans trust their news sources and have a positive perception of brands that advertise in them, according to The News Trust Halo: How Advertising in News Benefits Brands, published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (AIB) and Magid Research. Of the people surveyed in September, 84% say advertising within the news increases or maintains brand trust.
“News consumers think that brand advertising adjacent to even unsettling and sensitive news has a positive impact on perception of a brand’s trustworthiness,” says Susan Hogan, IAB’s SVP of Research & Analytics. “Rather than shying away from advertising during moments of conflict and chaos, brands that embrace the news could benefit greatly from association with a consumer’s relied-upon sources.”
Ads supporting truth
Source: IAB Research, “The News Trust Halo”
The study marks a continuation of IAB’s News Saves Lives campaign, which started eight months ago coinciding with the spread of the coronavirus. In March, IAB CEO David Cohen pleaded with American businesses to support news organizations and the public’s wellbeing by placing ads next to pandemic-related news. Some marketers had the misconception that placing their ads next to virus-related news would hurt their brand.
“To put it bluntly, we are at war with a virus. Brand safety must begin with consumer safety,” Cohen wrote. “Healthy consumers and a healthy economy are essential to healthy brands.”
The Halo study provides the data to back up IAB’s position. It analyzes a sampling of 2,029 U.S. consumers (ages 18 to 54) who get national or international news at least weekly. Of those, 46% follow the news daily. (Thirteen percent said they rejected all advertising or never use an ad-supported news source and were omitted from analysis.)
The report was sponsored by American Public Media, CBS Interactive, CNN, Disney, Fox News, NBC News, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
“Our study breaks the myth that brands should avoid advertising in the news,” Hogan says. “They’re missing a huge opportunity by not placing ads in trusted news outlets during a time of crisis. Advertising within news increases brand trust, regardless of subject matter. For brands, advertising within sensitive news is a big opportunity.”
Researchers also surveyed 322 American business executives between the ages of 30 and 64 who had the title of president or a C-level position. Of those, 70% are white and 69% are male; 49% are Republicans, while 37% are Democrats.
Conversely, in the general population of surveyed news consumers, 40% are Democrats and 33% are Republicans.
Trusted and verified
Source: IAB Research, “The News Trust Halo”
The way people perceive the news and advertising varies by political affiliation, wealth and occupation. Of the Republicans in the general population, 65% acknowledge the presence of fake news in the sources that they watch, listen to, and read, while 45% of Democrats do so. The IAB did not analyze the statistical difference.
While Americans place considerably more trust in the news sources they use versus those they don’t, U.S. executives’ trust levels are higher across the board. According to the report, executives trust unused news stories around the same level that consumers trust the sources they use.
In the general population, 69% of respondents said their news sources are “trustworthy” but only slightly more than half said other sources can be trusted. Of the executives, 77% said their news sources are trustworthy, and 68% say other sources are as well.
Asked why executives trust the news more than the general population, Hogan said it may have to do with an understanding of business processes needed to create a product. They also may be more familiar with the scrutiny of facts.
How ads can boost your brand
Source: IAB Research, “The News Trust Halo”
Brands get considerable lift by advertising with professional news organizations. For brands intending to reach the affluent business class, it is even more imperative to demonstrate currency and relevance.
Upon seeing ads in the news, 43% of news consumers in the general population say they are more inclined to visit a brand’s website, search online for information or reviews, or buy something. For executives, the likelihood of taking action is considerably higher; 61% say they are more likely to visit a brand’s website.
Positive brand perceptions remain in place even when people on social media post negative comments about news stories.
“While user-generated comments in social posts/consumer points of view do not tarnish consumer perception of either the advertising brand or the news media presenting the story, news consumers associate negative online comments with the individual making the comment,” the report states. “This is true regardless of whether the news consumer personally agrees with the news story or not.”
Just yesterday, Reuters reported that Twitter and Facebook had “outlined plans for placing warning labels on posts from U.S. election candidates and campaigns that claim victory in advance of official results.”
And the brand played on...
No matter how ugly it gets in the next few days, brands should stay the course. Being in the news means being part of the discussion.
Asked why the IAB published the report just days before the election, Hogan said: “Not only is supporting the news critically important and the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing for brands as they look to grow their business. News is brand safe, increases brand trust, and drives business results. Consumers trust brands more when they run adjacent to news, especially breaking news.”
Written by Sally-Ann O'Dowd, republished from Velocitize
This is the second story in a two-part feature about Vote Early Day and Vote for Your LIfe voting initiatives. For the first story, click here.
Daniel “dGon” Gonzales says young gamers are opinionated.
In a democracy, that’s an asset, says the VENN video game personality who is also former team manager of the Golden State Warriors.
“I think there’s a positive way to channel that energy into impactful societal responsibilities like voting, especially in an election as important as this one,” Gonzales says. “Since we as a community aren’t afraid to let our voices be heard when it comes to the things we love, let’s turn our voices into action at the ballot box, too.”
Gonzales will be giving the play-by-play during Fall-o’-Ween, a get-out-the-vote gaming tournament on Friday night, to mark the country’s first Vote Early Day Eve. Celebrities will play the family-friendly Fall Guys game during a five-hour live broadcast on VENN’s Twitch channel. It is co-hosted by Gamers.Vote and MTV, which has been championing voting rights for three decades via its Rock the Vote and Choose or Lose initiatives.
As President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden duke it out tonight during the last presidential debate, a massive coalition of companies, nonprofits and celebrities is betting that this weekend’s Vote Early Day Eve and Vote Early Day will bring an unprecedented number of young voters to the polls.
“Our biggest priority at the moment is to ensure that October 24 is not only the first-ever Vote Early Day but also a really big milestone on the election calendar,” says Max Zorick, senior director of social impact for ViacomCBS’s Entertainment and Youth Brands division, which includes MTV, VH1, Pop TV, and Smithsonian Channel. “We’re creating an election day 10 days before Election Day. The election is now.”
The nonprofit Vote Early Day launched in the spring with some 50 partners. Today, 2,600 organizations, companies and tech platforms are backing the early-voting movement. Major supporters include When We All Vote, HeadCount, Black Girls Vote, NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, Patagonia, Levis, Target, Uber, Snapchat, and Twitter, says Vote Early Day Project Director Joey Wozniak.
It’s a public-private partnership intent on reversing a downward trend in voting.
“We’re working to activate nationally and in 20 cities across the country, like Atlanta, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles. We’re going coast to coast and many of [the activities] will lean into pop-up art installations,” Zorick says. “Our activations are drawing visibility to young people and first-time voters on how they can be voting early, and what their options are.”
As the American citizenry has grown more diverse, and as more Americans have obtained the right to vote, participation in the electoral process has actually declined. Of eligible voters, 60% cast a ballot in the 2016 election, according to the United States Elections Project, run by University of Florida political science professor Michael P. McDonald.
In the 19th century, when voting was, in practice, restricted to property-owning white men, more than 80% of eligible voters cast a ballot in each U.S. election.
“Voters came to the polls in part to socialize with friends, have a free drink (or several), and enjoy the entertainment that parties would provide,” write Columbia University Political Science Professor Donald P. Green and Oliver A. McClellan, a Columbia doctoral candidate in political science. “Polling places were deliberately located in areas that were conducive to social activity, such as saloons. The historical record suggests a strategy for increasing turnout: attract voters to the polls by accentuating the social aspect of civic participation.”
Voting rights groups borrowing from the 19th century playbook—albeit loosely and perhaps unwittingly—are on to something. Research by the non-profit Civic Nation indicates that early-voting initiatives increase voter turnout.
“Our analysis of early vote celebrations in Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee in 2018 found that weekend events held at early voting sites had an even greater effect: raising turnout by about 3.5 percentage points, or 90 votes, per precinct,” write Columbia’s Green and Civic Nation’s Shira Miller. “This much is clear—voting celebrations are among the most cost effective get-out-the-vote tactics available.”
As Americans stay home because of the coronavirus, digital get-out-the-vote content is having a massive impact on voter registration and voting. As of October 21, 40.6 million Americans had cast their votes, representing 86% of all early voting in 2016.
For brand marketers used to engaging Gen Z and Millennial audiences, rocking the vote via technology and social media is not only second nature but also the right thing to do.
“Digital content presents a tremendous opportunity to influence the behavior of our audience, most of whom consume the majority of their media diet from various online platforms,” says VENN Co-Founder and Co-CEO Ariel Horn. “Our hosts are able to speak to young people with fluency, credibility and energy.”
Marketers often talk about changing behavior; it can be as innocuous as changing toilet paper brands or asking people to join the U.S. Army. Here, we’re talking about getting young people to go somewhere, safely, possibly stand in line for hours, or put a paper ballot in the mailbox. The digital-to-physical transference requires clear information and a respectful tone.
“Our goal is to make sure that every single person in the gaming community that wants to vote has the information they need,” says Gamers.Vote CEO Christie St. Martin. “This election is shaping up to have the highest voter turnout in American history, and young, engaged audiences are critical to determining our future.”
The Fall-o’-ween five-hour live broadcast is scheduled to begin at 7pm EST Friday. As “dGon” Gonzales casts the event, as a sportscaster would, Chrissy Costanza, lead singer for Against the Current, will serve as host. Players include New Orleans Pelicans forward Josh Hart, musicians from the alt rock band Wallows, web series creator and gamer Felicia Day, and rapper Tee Grizzley. The public will be able to interact with the gamers, in sync with Fall Guys’ multiplayer spirit.
Here is a short list of other digital activations.
Vote Early Day Eve: October 23 Digital Events
Vote Early Day: October 24 Digital Events
Taken together, the digital and physical events reflect the intent to lessen the country’s divisive tension. It’s the act of voting that counts.
“Like most things, it’s important that people know all of their options before deciding which one works best for them—voting is no different,” Vote Early Days’ Wozniak says. “Things are tough right now, and 2020 has presented unique challenges for voters across the country. We want to make the process a little easier for every eligible voter. ”
Indeed, every company in the coalition sees its customers as a voting vertical, whether it’s gamers or people sporting denim.
Lime, the scooter company, is a quintessential example of digital-meets-physical engagement. For this election cycle, Lime is reducing transportation barriers such as cost, lack of car ownership, and Covid-19-related concerns in cities throughout the country. U.S. riders will be able to use the promotional code LIMETOPOLLS2020 to receive two free rides up to 30 minutes across all vehicles in the Lime app, including JUMP bikes.
“This is the most important election of our lives,” Lime CEO Wayne Ting says. “Healthcare, climate change and the future of so many cities we serve are on the ballot in 2020. At Lime, we’re focused on doing all we can to register voters, ease access to polls, and encourage our riders to vote.”
For Horn, the co-founder of VENN, the MTV partnership reflects how an iconic brand can influence one generation, which goes on to influence another. It’s like using the same detergent your mom did, or voting, because you saw people on TV talk about it 20 years ago.
“Growing up, my co-founder Ben Kusin and I were inspired by Choose or Lose on MTV and the way they committed to news as a platform to speak directly to youth around the current events that mattered,” Horn says. “Both of us agreed that the driving force behind VENN would be our understanding that gaming isn’t a niche anymore. It makes sense that we’d address massive critical issues like this through the lens of gaming.”
Image source: Pixabay
Republished from Starmark
”They may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” That Maya Angelou quote comes to us from voice artist Mindy Baer, and it underlines what this entire article is about. Because brand personality, more than anything else, is the way to carve out a space in the minds of consumers by creating an emotional connection.
The future of digital marketing offers space in emerging tech, like voice assistants, and new media, like TikTok. Now, it’s time for companies to consider how well documented and consistent their brand personalities are – because these new opportunities come at the expense of many of the crutches relied upon in the past by logo and design-driven legacy brands.
In this article, a panel of experts offers their advice on what any brand steward or marketing professional needs to know to stick the landing when taking the leap into emerging digital marketing trends and new channels. Because whether 2020 has you looking to take your brand to TikTok, augmented reality, immersive video, voice assistants, chatbots or virtual trade shows, defining your brand personality is the key to getting it right.
What is brand personality?This is one topic that deserves its own article, which is why we wrote one. But to keep things simple here, think about this: What defines you as a person? Your interests, your mission, your appearance, your voice, your actions and your demeanor – just for a start. A brand is no different. The best, most successful ones are driven by well formed personalities.
Jennifer Whetzel of Ladyjane Branding says, “With my clients, I try to make it simple and fun. I have them take a short quiz that helps me understand who they are, and then we talk through different types of brand archetypes within the cannabis marketplace to help them fully define their brand personality.”
Three of the brand archetypes used by Ladyjane Branding – the Eternal Child, Explorer and Socialite, respectively.
Tip #1: Define your own space in new media
”One misstep we see are companies trying to define themselves purely in relation to their product or service category. When you think about it, those product categories aren’t meaningful to real people out in the real world. They aren’t forming a relationship with your laundry detergent because of how different you are from your competitors,” says Dave Berg of Shepherd. Shepherd specializes in using data-driven audience analysis to help clients uncover new growth opportunities by uncovering the passions that unite people.
Dave adds, “That kind of category-comparative thinking is a relic of a world where you could buy people’s attention. It’s just not the world we’re living in today.”
They aren’t forming a relationship with your laundry detergent because of how different you are from your competitors.” – Dave Berg, Shepherd
The takeaway here is to find your own brand personality that’s authentic and matches your common interests with audiences. Focusing too much on what the competition is doing is a trap.
”We always try to find the clear space in the sports market for our clients,” says Bill Wollert, Managing Director of Optimum Sports, the dedicated sports marketing division of Omnicom. “With a clear brand focus and personality, it’s easier for our team to find the ways they can add value to the space in ways others couldn’t or wouldn’t,” he added.
“With a clear brand focus and personality, it’s easier for our team to find the ways they can add value to the space in ways others couldn’t or wouldn’t.” – Bill Wollert, Optimum Sports/Omnicom
Tip #2: Use your brand personality to eliminate waste
Let’s face it; there’s a cost to creating an AR experience or diving into a new social channel. “Even if it’s not a big deal to fund the up-front development or the ongoing costs of content, if you’re investing in a tool or a channel that doesn’t fit your brand and audience, you’re never going to get the value out of it,” says Sarai Nuñez, social media consultant and professor for University of Miami’s School of Communication.
“One of the first things I work through with many clients is getting past the idea that we’re for everyone. One of the most powerful things about defining your brand personality is it tells you who you’re not. And that helps you make real business decisions about where to invest and what to avoid,” adds Jennifer Whetzel. Ladyjane Branding specializes in helping cannabis brands find their personality and voice in an emerging market.
One of the most powerful things about defining your brand personality is it tells you who you’re not.” – Jennifer Whetzel, Ladyjane Branding
Eliminating the irrelevant is one critical but overlooked function of a documented brand personality. It will help you figure out what audiences aren’t going to be relevant targets. And it will also help you figure out what media just aren’t a good fit for you and the value you offer.
This is a powerful tool for helping you avoid missteps in new media and failed experiments in new tech. Sarai Nuñez says, “Trust the people you’ve hired to help you with your brand. If they’re steering you away from a certain medium or steering you toward something else, it’s because they’re trying to find what fits.” Because for brands, as with people, there are absolutely different strokes for different folks.
Tip 3: Brand development can help you find your tribe
Part of the brand personality process helps you uncover what’s important to you. And those brand passion points are the key to making real connections with new communities. For instance, if you’re a tool brand that values ingenuity, it’s easier to see how you might look beyond your audiences of craftspeople and DIYers to find a shared passion with PC builders and IT professionals.
”When a brand understands who it is, it’s easier to find new growth audiences that make sense. The big data part of what we do helps find those tribes united by a strong shared interest,” says Dave Burg. “A brand that knows itself is going to be able to build authentic relationships in those communities,” he adds.
”As we’ve seen cable TV penetration rates decline and entertainment viewership shift to OTT and VOD services, traditional cable and broadcast sports programming viewership has remained relatively stable – or gone up in some cases. Sports is still a way to deliver massive reach, and these consumption shifts have given advertisers a second chance to rethink their sports strategies. As we’ve seen cable TV penetration rates decline, women’s sports is now one of the more efficient ways to reach female audiences,” says Bill Wollert. “And you’re part of the conversation that you know the audience is passionate about,” he adds.
Tip 4: Figure out what value your brand can provide
According to Bill Wollert of Optimum Sports, the clients who’ve figured out how to add value to the communal experience for sports fans are the ones who’ve benefited most. He went on to say, “When an advertiser is looking to enter into the sports marketplace, we push them to think about how they can bring value to the fans. Sports fans always want to get closer to the game, so figuring out how to do that can unlock new opportunities. It’s all about having a fan-first mindset.”
“When an advertiser is looking to enter into the sports marketplace, we push them to think about how they can bring value to the fans.” – Bill Wollert, Optimum Sports/Omnicom
Credits: Sophie Robbins and Francesca deWeerdt, University of Miami
“The students in my Advanced Creative Development class are great at this because they’re so much closer to emerging trends,” says Sarai Nuñez. “For a COVID-related brief, they came up with an idea for Goodwill; a TikTok challenge to try on everything in your closet and have friends tell you what to keep or donate. We dug into the audiences, really got to know their struggles, and this was a great use of TikTok to escape boredom in quarantine in a way that helps Goodwill restock.”
These service-minded questions are absolutely the crux of any good branding endeavor, and defining those values should be part of your brand personality process. The important thing to remember here is to approach any new marketing technology or new media channel with an idea of how you can make the space better. What fun can you add for users? How can you address a pain point? How can you amplify their passion?
Tip 5: In the world of marketing technology, it pays to make your brand more human
”I have to evaluate every opportunity by considering if I can portray this honestly,” says Mindy Baer. “When I’m creating a promo for a new show, I have to think about the experience of watching it. Does it need to feel like curling up next to your friend on the couch with a glass of wine or is it a late-night true crime nail-biter?”
”The first thing we do is start talking about human characteristics and archetypes, and that’s no accident,” says Jennifer Whetzel. “I really need my clients to think about their brands as real people with real personalities and dimension.”
Developing a real human personality is what allows you to relate to an audience in a way that’s meaningful and authentic. But don’t overcomplicate it. Start by defining the very small number of things that should always be true about any interaction with your brand. Are you absolutely always cheeky and joyful? What about uplifting and supportive? The goal isn’t to define everything you can be, but instead to outline what you must always be to maintain consistency. If this sounds tough, it’s because self-examination always is. And while it’s totally possible to outline your brand personality within your own company, the process is much easier with the help of an outside perspective from an agency partner or consultant.
Your brand personality gives you the power to go forth and conquerIf you haven’t defined your brand personality, we hope these tips have shown you how much you stand to gain by getting real before diving into emerging media or tech. Knowing who you are, definitively, will save you immeasurably in the long run by helping you determine how, where and with whom to play.
This group of experts – from the emerging market of cannabis branding to sports marketing to professional commercial voice work to higher education to audience segmentation and analytics – hopes this article will help you understand and document your brand personality so that you can step more boldly into new spaces. If you want to know more about developing your brand personality in new places, check out our articles on developing your brand personality the easy way, finding your brand personality in your favorite TV characters and how to bring your brand to life in augmented reality.
Thanks again to Jennifer Whetzel of Ladyjane Branding, Voice Artist Mindy Baer, Bill Wollert of Omnicom’s Optimum Sports, Dave Berg of Shepherd and Sarai Nuñez of University of Miami for lending your expertise.
Written by: Jacob Edenfield, Starmark Associate Creative Director
In July, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. representatives introduced and cosponsored the Local Journalism Sustainability Act as part of our nation's economic recovery plans.
From the recent article in Velocitize:
"U.S. Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the Local Journalism Sustainability Act in July. The bill, now sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee, has 26 Democratic and 17 Republican co-sponsors. The bill aims to support local media via tax credits to publishers and broadcast outlets, advertisers, and newspaper subscribers."
The bill provides support for a critical function of our communities – local reporting. It also provides a lifeline for local businesses to help offset the costs of marketing in local publications.
And while AAF is not actively lobbying for the bill, we do stand behind it and its mission. According to AAF CEO, Steve Pacheco, "The advertising industry (and the AAF) recognize the importance of healthy local media, not only for journalism, but as a conduit for local businesses to communicate efficiently and effectively with consumers.”
As members of our local community, where vital stories may go untold without local journalism, we urge our members to contact your representatives in support of this bill.
Article excerpts used with permission of the author. Please read the full story on Velocitize.
As part of our Let's Make Lemonade effort to help South Florida companies bounce back from the COVID-19-induced recession, we spoke with Jenny Jean-Baptiste and Kareme Shorter of Cox Media Group, Miami. They had some great news to share about the emerging trends in advertising media that companies can take advantage of during the state's fitful reopening.
DIGITAL SPENDING IS UPPerhaps no surprise here – with much of the population sheltered at home, digital media – such as social media, paid search and display advertising – now account for a larger percentage of many companies' spend.
Some of this additional spending is directed toward efforts letting customers know that businesses are open, offering modified services or offering different hours. The rest is reallocation from other media, such as out of home.
The big takeaway: For advertisers, now's a great time to double-down on your high-performing digital channels with important information or relevant offers.
DIGITAL RESPONSE RATES ARE ALSO UPInterestingly, click-throughs, even for display advertising, are up during this period. "We've had partners say, 'why are my clicks up by so much this month?' which is a great conversation to have," says Jean-Baptiste.
More consumers with time on their hands is actually driving up ad response across the digital spectrum. Another factor in this is slightly better saturation and less competition providing a more effective canvas for a smaller number of advertisers.
On a more industry-specific note, for home goods, home services and food service, this trend is even more pronounced. More time at home is driving more interested in professional and DIY home improvements – and in, no surprise, food pickups and delivery.
The big takeaway: Right now, any digital spend is going to go further. The combination of emerging consumer demand from being at home and decreased competition means that every ad dollar counts for more.
COSTS PER CLICK AND IMPRESSION ARE DOWNThis is the inverse of the point above. The combination of higher response rates and lower competition has a pincer effect on these important ROI measures. Kareme Shorter, from Cox Media says, "Right now more people are responding to advertising, while fewer competitors are vying for keywords and ad space. That's great news for our partners."
Much like we've seen in prior recessions, companies that maintain a level of advertising activity tend to make market share gain that last long after the downturn.
The big takeaway: Now is an excellent time to demonstrate return on ad spend – if you're one of the smart ones spending. LOOK FOR EXCLUSIVITYMany companies have, in a knee-jerk reaction to uncertainty, paused or postponed media buys. If that describes any of your competitors, this is your moment to snag exclusivity within your chosen channel. Think about being the only one in your market advertising on the station where you know your customers tune in. It's like have your own custom-made exclusive sponsorship deal – without the extra cost.
Jenny Jean-Baptiste says, "That's been positive news for several of our partners who are now actually increasing their spend in certain channels. Once they realize they have category exclusivity, it becomes clear quickly that this is a can't-miss opportunity."
The big takeaway: If your competitors are doing less, it's time to make big inroads with their customers. Opportunities for category exclusivity within a given channel don't come around often.
CHANGE BRINGS OPPORTUNITYIf there's one thing to take away from our conversation with Cox Media Group, it's that. The point and purpose of our Let's Make Lemonade effort is to get companies to stop reacting – and instead plan for a future that now looks different. It's a great opportunity to get some outside counsel from top agencies and media partners in our area on what you can do to come out stronger.
If you're not sure where to start – contact AAF Greater Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches. We'll connect you with resources and partners, like Cox Media Group, who can set you up for success.
Sally-Ann O'Dowd I February 19, 2020
In the ad industry, it’s our job to follow social media trends—whether it’s Facebook’s new ad campaign for groups (such as bazooka players) or bad behaviors accompanying Instagram addiction. Think: the 2017 Fyre Festival that defrauded thousands of music lovers, leaving many stranded in the Bahamas. Or, a travel couple with 25,000 followers who fell to their deaths in 2018 trying to perfect a selfie in Yosemite National Park.
What’s more, a study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says extensive social media use and depression are a vicious cycle. The more time people spend on social media, the more likely they are to become depressed; some people already demonstrating symptoms go to social media for connection—only for more loneliness to set in.
But it’s a fictional tragedy that’s making Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri address real-life dangers simmering on his platform.
In a recent New York Times interview with Amy Chozick, he said he decided to remove likes from public view while watching “Nosedive,” a dystopian episode of “Black Mirror” in which people can see each other’s public rankings in thin air like a telepathic Google Glass. The protagonist becomes unhinged at the wedding of a childhood friend who ranks higher. She winds up in jail after an outburst at the reception.
Employees executing Mosseri’s like-hiding plan—dubbed Project Daisy as in “you like me, you like me not”—have been testing the feature for several months in six countries: first in Canada, then Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.
Mosseri announced at November’s Wired25 conference that tests on U.S. accounts, including some event attendees, would begin later that month, while the Times is reporting that Instagram will “introduce” the project “later this year.” Mosseri did not respond to a Facebook DM asking for clarification on how many U.S. accounts will be affected in 2020.
While questions remain, advertising executives, influencers and casual users have strong opinions on what this means for the platform, from cautiously optimistic and cynical to downright exuberant.
“I have to commend the effort to just start to figure out, directionally, how they can change some of the behavior,” says Sarah Snyder Lyons, general manager of digital marketing company SocialCode. “Ultimately, is it going to make really big strides toward shifting the way people deal on the platform, the pressure, the anxiety? Or [go] as deep as eliminating bullying? It’s not going to solve those things.
“But it indicates to me that the platform wants to get ahead of what YouTube found itself in…after having such a massive role and scale and then advertisers finding out they were showing up next to hate speech.”
Or, Instagram is making up for its parent’s sins. Facebook has been the subject of outrage since the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its decision to allow fake political ads. Likewise, Mosseri could be taking a cue from Justin Rosenstein, who has stated publicly that he regrets creating Facebook’s like button.
Matt Klein, director of cultural strategy at marketing research firm and consultancy Sparks and Honey, is skeptical of Instagram’s intentions, saying it’s an effective PR play.
“They’ve made their money and developed an incredibly impressive career, and now they’re saying ‘whoops, let’s make this right,’” he says of the social media tycoons. “The coincidental timing [reflects] the conscious reckoning in Silicon Valley.”
The young generation’s collective desire for superficial approval can’t be stopped so easily, says Marc Landsberg, CEO of creative agency SocialDeviant. Some Instagrammers have been known to dress up as if they’re going clubbing, post some selfies, undress, and go to sleep. He compares the trend to a waterfall that can’t go backwards while Klein sees Instagram as a drug supplier. If people can’t get dopamine spikes from likes, “you find another drug dealer.”
“The vanity metric ends up being really dangerous for people,” Landsberg says. “Removing likes is an important but insignificant step.”
On the positive side, it appears the public’s desire for authenticity is growing organically.
“In the last six to nine months, SnapChat has gotten traction,” Landsberg says. It’s what Instagram used to be—“unfiltered, unvarnished, you’re in your sweats, up early, up late. It is the opposite of ‘how great my life is.’”
Eric Sanchez, with 381 Instagram followers, proves Landsberg’s point.
While Mosseri’s posts are littered with spam about blocked accounts, @erics640 wrote him around the time of his Wired announcement and a trip to Asia.
“Please take my likes away!!!” he commented after Mosseri posted a photo of his Tokyo team. “It makes the experience feel more inclusive and I engage with the content I love without the negative pressure of feeling like everyone is competing on what is supposed to be a leisurely social platform. Also it seems the content that people post has improved as all of the fake follower people are gone.”
At the other end of the spectrum are paid influencers such as L.A. designer Amy Royland, the woman behind @afashionnerd, an account with 136,000 followers. For years she dedicated herself to blogging and taking photographs on her building’s rooftop to build social currency; now she earns between $250 and $6,000 for each post on behalf of a brand.
Through it all, the pressure of acquiring likes has limited how frequently she can post; she’s needed to wait up to two days to maximize the public’s affection for each piece of content. Without the pressure, she can post three times a day.
Instagram’s decision is “amazing,” she says. “If brands want to know our engagement we can always see it on our end and screenshot it and send it over. I don’t think that’s gonna be an issue at all.”
Developers are also innovating to adapt to Instagram’s changes. If, for example, influencers don’t want to have to send pictures to clients, they can use Socialinsider’s “Return of the Likes” app, available in the Chrome Web Store. The app—which makes public likes reappear—has garnered about 3,000 downloads since December.
In the page’s overview section, the firm explains: “Instagram has stopped displaying the number of likes and comments in some areas—that makes the life of a Social Media person very complicated so we thought about lending a hand.”
The emergence of workarounds shows the relentless need for external validation, says Sparks and Honey’s Klein. If Instagram is serious about changing consumer behavior, then the company needs to communicate directly with everyday users, he says. Aside from the conference announcement and the NYT interview, neither Mosseri personally nor the company has said anything; nothing about Project Daisy appears on Instagram, the blog, or anywhere else on the corporate site.
“They need to say, ‘this is why we are removing it,” Klein says, “and explain why [people] are better off without it.”
This is all too late for Jacqueline Jimenez.
Five years ago this month, members of South Florida’s social media community gathered for a memorial and a walk on the beach to honor the 28-year-old marketer and blogger who died by suicide on Jan. 27, 2015. On her Instagram page, which is still live, she called herself “The Innovative Consultant and Public Speaker.” She had 546 followers.
Her friends continue to run the Jackie Jimenez RIP Facebook page, where people post tributes and content related to suicide prevention.
“We would work together,” says Karla Campos, owner of The Mompreneur Center, which provides marketing and other services to women-owned businesses. “She was happy, motivated—someone you’d think would never do such a thing. It started going downhill because she wasn’t getting likes…She didn’t feel successful; she was comparing herself to others.”
Jimenez, who lived in Boca Raton, left a suicide note stating she felt “lonely” and “ignored,” Campos says. Yet BocaNewsNow.com, which does not regularly cover suicides, did cover Jimenez’s death because she was “notable.” The site refers to her as a “social media expert and consultant” with more than 3,000 Twitter followers.
A couple months before she died, she posted a motivational phrase with a pretty lavender background: “Be an encourager, the world has enough critics already.” She didn’t take it to heart, in the end.
It’s taken Campos years to get over her friend’s passing. If she could talk with her again, she would tell her to not take social media so personally. “She wasn’t where she wanted to be and felt people were ignoring her,” she says. “We were all trying to get our businesses up. We were not trying to hurt her.”
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Sally-Ann O'Dowd I March 24, 2020
Fjord’s latest trends report says people are moving from a “me to we” perspective. Does that hold up in a pandemic?
From soy burgers outselling red meat at Oakland Coliseum to banana-fiber sanitary pads for rural Indian women, companies are overhauling product design in an era of “liquid” people.
It’s a time of self-reflection and changing behaviors spilling like homemade almond milk onto all aspects of one’s life, according to the Fjord Trends 2020 annual report.
An increasingly woke public is developing a “me to we” mindset, reassessing what it means to be a citizen, make money, and buy stuff. Whereas your grandfather may have said “I gave at the office,” now we’re authentically stating our values while traversing every role we play. And although the study does not account for the coronavirus, some lessons do apply.
“People are redesigning themselves on the fly,” says Mark Curtis, co-founder of Fjord, Accenture Interactive’s design unit. “Self-definition is changing and becoming more liquid. People are moving away from defining themselves as consumers. Don’t get me wrong—we will continue to want to consume things—but we will be more thoughtful, with greater intent and insight on the ramifications of what we buy.”
Companies responding to such shifts are adopting life-centered design processes that consider a broad range of societal and environmental needs, not just an individual’s wants. Fjord’s point of view is inspired by writer John Thackara’s theory of designing for all life, not just human life.
The holistic view replaces user-centered design, for decades considered the paradigm for making things. Just as the dehumanizing word “servant” has left the daily lexicon, the word “user” sounds selfish and pejorative, says Fjord Global Media Relations Director David LaBar.
Now, designers must start to address people as part of an ecosystem rather than at the center of everything. This means designing for two sets of values: personal and collective.—David LaBar
One such design pioneer is Indian feminine hygiene company Saathi. It uses discarded banana fiber to make biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads, instead of relying on plastic and chemicals found in products on most Western women’s bathroom shelves.
The natural fiber is safer for women’s bodies and the planet: Over the course of their lifetime, women generate 132 pounds of plastic from sanitary pads alone, the company says.
Along with other Indian personal-care companies, and even Oscar-winning documentarians, Saathi is also helping to advance education and female empowerment in India, where traditional attitudes associate periods with shame.
In the food sector, Fjord highlights the popularity of the Impossible Burger.
Impossible Burger CEO Dr. Patrick O’Reilly Brown and Beyond Burger CEO Ethan Brown have both earned the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth distinction. Plant-based foods, the UN says, are a viable replacement for meat, which it considers a primitive “technology” for creating nutritious food. Animal agriculture is a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
Impossible Burger uses heme, an iron-containing molecule in every animal and plant cell, to recreate the same smell, taste and texture of animal meat. Its primary ingredient is genetically modified soy. Genetic modification may raise some eyebrows, but according to a biotech non-profit, the mass-producing process dramatically reduces the need for pesticides.
“There’s a lot of design thinking in the product,” Impossible Burger Communications Vice President Jessica Appelgren says:
What is more interesting from a pop culture perspective is, the younger you are the more plant-based you are. You’re not associating red meat with an American identity.—Jessica Appelgren
The entertainment industry is a big backer of the company, with investors including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, John Legend, Quest Love, and Katy Perry, who wore an Impossible Burger-inspired outfit in the last scene of Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” video.
Hip hop “is a driving force in awakening the masses to plant-based eating,” Appelgren says. The community is “pretty upset about the way African-Americans are being marketed to…”
Indeed, Questlove and the company he keeps embody the “me to we” perspective when speaking out for neglected communities.
He addresses racism in the food system on a podcast produced by Foodtank, a nonprofit supporting life-centered opportunities to build a more sustainable and just world.
“It’s not by accident that the cheapest and kind of the most unsustainable foods are surrounding [certain communities] and the foods that should be benefiting you, like the foods from the earth, are more expensive and don’t seem at all appealing to [these communities],” he says in a fall 2019 Food Talk episode. As a child in Philadelphia, he says, “To even want a healthy lifestyle was financially unobtainable and literally 20 blocks away out of my range.”
Burger King, which launched its Impossible Whpper six months ago, is working to change that perception. José Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International, which owns the chain, has said “plant-based food is a new platform for the brand.”
But prices needed to come down to reach a broader audience.
Last year’s premium price “limited some guests from trying the Impossible Whopper, so in January we added [it] to our core 2-for-$6 promotion,” Cil says on February’s investor relations call.
In the six weeks since then, the coronavirus has killed thousands of people worldwide and stirred concerns about an economic depression. Still, Fjord’s thoughts on human behavioral change remain prescient. Hygiene is the new vegan.
The U.K. government has told people to wash for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, Curtis says. “I’ve never seen people so assiduously wash their hands. That change is happening in a month.”
It comes down to the liquid idea—as consciousness evolves so does habit.
You have to meet people at a place they care about. They don’t want to spread disease and die of it…and you reframe that and tell them hand washing is the most effective thing you do.—Mark Curtis
Fjord declined the opportunity to elaborate on the future of design in a post-pandemic world. But if life-centered theories hold, private and public sectors will have to innovate new products and services, say journalism, PR and advertising students at Florida International University.
Several of them riffed on potential travel-related outcomes during a recent Zoom session replacing an in-person writing class. (The author teaches writing and media studies at the university.)
One Gen Z’er says she hopes the transportation industry will redesign airplanes so they’re “roomier” while another posits that airports may require temperature checks at all gates. Life-centered design would be critical in all such instances to achieve feasible business models, sustainability, and public health.
Likewise, travelers may proactively bring their own masks and gloves, even if airlines don’t require them, another student says. Given current shortages, manufacturers would likely need new approaches and materials to meet unprecedented demand.
“You’ll have to have a card with you to check your medical history, or wear a chip in your arm,” says another, to whom a fellow student responds: “We have no choice. If the government applies these regulations, we have to abide by them.”
The students help to illustrate how the pandemic will fundamentally change social interaction. But businesses may not have the resources to design for fear, says Matt Klein, strategy director at cultural consultancy Sparks and Honey.
“This moment will absolutely scar the way in which we view public spaces and more specifically proximity to each other in transit,” Klein says. “We’re still flying in planes that are sometimes 10 years or older. The planes and trains we’ll see in 15 years may possibly reflect this moment in time, but these designs will also have to consider the economics of the business.”
Concern about lurking germs could generate skepticism and distrust, in a world already divided in the political sense. Liquid people could dry up.
“While over time we’ll recognize how we helped each other ‘flatten the curve,’ we’ll also realize how we’ve endangered each other by not practicing social distancing and responsible hygiene,” Klein says. “This will be burned into our memory.”
If today’s hypervigilance turns into long-term paranoia, that wouldn’t be life-centered at all, as summed up by one FIU student:
Interaction is already dying because of social media. Now we’re three feet away from each other.
Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash
Reprinted from Starmark.com
The possibilities for augmented reality and virtual reality in fundraising are huge. After all, allowing donors to see your vision come to life, quite literally, is a powerful way to win allies and big donations.
Put architectural renderings to use
Facilities that are building or expanding will have architectural and design renderings as part of the planning process. Taking this 3D artwork and turning it into 2D marketing is kind of a waste. Allowing donors to explore a new space before it’s built is a perfect application for immersive VR at fundraising events – or for phone-based AR that makes a big impact while being more portable and accessible.
Stand out from the crowd
When raising money, a big part of the challenge is getting donors to relate to your project. AR and VR are great ways to add impact to you story. Our last eTip covers how AR effectively stands out in social feeds, which are notoriously cluttered environments.
Conversely, most fundraising efforts are, let’s face it, still fairly analog in an increasingly digital world. Because these technologies are not yet widely used in the sector, they provide an effective way to stand apart from other organizations and causes vying for attention from donors.
The economics make sense
We covered the fact that AR and VR aren’t as expensive as you might think in our article about how to sell your first AR project. But we’re happy to discuss it here, too, because it really is a no-brainer. Tools like this absolutely will help you secure extra funding. And when closing just one additional donor equates to six or seven figures of additional fundraising, the investment in a reusable, refreshable AR or VR fundraising platform makes excellent sense.
For more on this topic, you can also check out our South Florida Business Journal article on how to start small in AR, VR and 360 video.
On Thursday night, a group of about 30 advertising and marketing professionals got together for the latest event in AAF's ongoing series, Change the Narrative. The event was hosted by New York-based diversity and inclusion advocates Reema Mitra and Bennett D. Bennett with the theme of equipping young people to exercise their voices and their influence to build an industry that better represents the public it serves.
GOOD ADVERTISING IS AN EXERCISE IN EMPATHYAt its most fundamental, marketing is an exercise in empathy – a company and a customer finding common ground through a problem, a product, a service or a cause.
So, what happens to good advertising and marketing when the industry loses touch? That's the question at the heart of AAF of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches Change the Narrative event series.
The first event in the series, held in August 2018, focused on learning about – and from – six of the many female agency owners and leads in the South Florida area. As a region, we're fortunate to buck the trend of male-dominated agency culture that has inspired movements like #MeToo and the 3% Conference.
Thursday's intimate, Q&A-heavy event focused on helping young people, inarguably the backbone of marketing departments and advertising agencies everywhere, to understand the role they have in shaping our industry's more inclusive future.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Helping yourself is an important part of helping others. As a person of color, LGBTQ+ individual or member of another under-represented group, it can feel like it's your burden to speak for and advocate for whole groups – often because you're the only one at the table. During the Q&A, both Bennett and Reema shared their experiences as accidental advocates in these situations, as well as their advice to not forget about your own career in the process. After all, creating more diverse board room tables requires those who are already there to stay there.
Savings are your escape hatch from a toxic environment. Have a financial safety net before you find yourself trapped in a toxic environment. Some places are beyond your ability to save. Some aren't worth saving. But you are. Having a rainy-day fuck-off fund provides both comfort and the ability to exit a bad situation while you calculate the next good move, rather than leaping into a new job without really looking.
Broward and Palm Beach counties have a lot going for them. The cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ friendliness and immigrant communities in both counties are advantages we often take for granted. Because we are so diverse, the real challenge comes down to finding ways to recruit and co-create with broader communities.
You have more power than you think. The most resounding note of the night was the recurring theme of not underestimating your power and influence. Oftentimes, it can feel lonely to be part of an underrepresented group. But being one of a few doesn't mean your voice matters less. Bringing a unique point of view is an asset at almost any company.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
A firm believer that digital transformation creates business impact, Reema Mitra is passionate about using digital to make brands culturally relevant and change the way people interact with them. Outside of the office, Reema spends her time mentoring women from diverse backgrounds and advocates for positive changes in the advertising industry. She is most passionate about changing the ratio through giving women she hires and mentors the support to confidently become strong voices in the industry.
Bennett D. Bennett is a writer and futurist born, raised, and still based in NYC. Most recently, he was the US staff writer for global marketing trade The Drum, covering agencies, the media landscape, and special topics in creativity and innovation. Prior, he spent over three years at BBDO New York as a copywriter, working on roster of brands including FedEx, CVS Health, Bacardi, Visa and AT&T. Since his time as a MAIP Fellow in 2013, he’s been listed as one of the 4As 100 People Who Make Advertising Great, an ADWEEK Young Influential, and honored as a 2017 MAIPer to Watch. He’s also sat on advisory boards with the AAF, 4As and ADCOLOR and spoken at and moderated panels at Advertising Week and the 3% Conference.
We want your suggestions for speakers and topics for our next Change the Narrative event. Please send all recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're interested in getting involved in the diversity and inclusion activities of AAF, please contact the email address above.
Written by Jacob Edenfield
According the the 4As (American Association of Advertising Agencies), there are roughly 13,000 integrated marketing agencies in the U.S. Starmark is one of 1,000 or fewer who are Agile. Today, one of those agencies was featured in The Wall Street Journal. Hint: it’s Starmark.
Work & Family reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Sue Schellenbarger, interviewed Starmark President, Jacqui Hartnett, Chief Digital Officer, Brett Circe and Associate Creative Director, Jacob Edenfield, about the agency’s four-year journey embracing Agile. It’s a topic of interest for companies large and small looking for ways to build higher functioning teams and attract higher caliber talent.AGILE IS ABOUT CREATING MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING WITH CLIENTSIt has been four years since the agency moved from a traditional waterfall approach to following Agile Methodology.
This far along, Starmark still encounters many connections, prospects, clients and partner agencies who think Agile is a project management fad, a simple process change – or worst of all – an easy button that management can use to makes work quicker and cheaper, according to Brett Circe. “In reality, it’s just more efficient because we have a better shared plan with our clients, and that means we make better use of their time and marketing dollars. We cut out all the stressful, expensive rework that makes projects drag on at the end.”
"What every new client and new employee needs to understand is that there are real benefits to better up-front planning. Our roadmaps are built and informed by the group of experts who will actually do the work. As a client, you walk through what success looks like with the people who can get you there." – Brett Circe, Chief Digital Officer, Starmark
AGILE WORKSTREAMS HAVE TRANSFORMED THE WAY THE AGENCY WORKSStarmark is divided into two independent, multidisciplinary teams, called workstreams. Each of these workstreams is made up of a variety of experts – from front-end and back-end developers to art directors to copywriters – to serve the needs of a specific group of clients. It’s an obliteration of the department silos that are typical of a waterfall approach.
Clients benefit because they have open communication and contact with the experts doing the work throughout the process. As part of the article, The Wall Street Journal interviewed Starmark client, Brandon Hensler, from NSU about his experience with Starmark and Agile Methodology.
"Meetings at Starmark can be brutally honest. But that results in something better than our initial ideas – because Starmark has a whole team from different disciplines working with us." – Brandon Hensler, Executive Director, Public Relations and Marketing Communications at NSU
Instead of projects moving from a group of project management generalists to a creative department and on to production, all the while accumulating scope creep and rework, every project is now roadmapped by all the experts needed to ensure success – and then those experts walk through the plan with the client. Now work gets reviewed with clients during every two-week sprint, so the black-box mystique of the agency fades away, in favor of a more transparent, more experimental, more aligned approach that makes big, ambitious projects go much more smoothly.
DAILY CHECK-INS REPLACE ENDLESS DAILY MEETINGS
One of the most important aspects of Agile for advertising and marketing agencies is to start every day with a high-value team check-in meeting, says Jack Skeels, owner of Agency Agile, the company that consulted with Starmark throughout their transition. During the check-in, the team members share relevant accomplishments, schedule time to collaborate or review work in progress, discuss blockers and make a shared plan for the coming day. It’s one 15-minute meeting that eliminates the need for constant status update interruptions, stop-bys and chats about when to expect work or schedule a review.
“When a team meeting is done right, there are few things more inclusive and soothing." – Jack Skeels, Owner, AgencyAgile
It’s called the most important meeting of the day for a reason. With a set of shared commitments, the team is free to follow its plan for the day, working individually and in groups to accomplish the work they set out to do. This is called flow time, and at Starmark it runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This leaves time in the morning to align and time in the afternoon for updates. The majority of the day is unimpeded time designed to be free of unexpected interruptions. For clients, this means a greater focus on their work, more frequent work reviews and better visibility into how each story within the project is progressing.
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT IS PART OF THE AGILE PACKAGE
Four years in, Starmark is still improving its approach with a retro at the end of every two-week sprint. It’s a time to share announcements, celebrate the work accomplished and an open forum for every member of the company to discuss ways to work better together in the future. This week’s Wall Street Journal article is sure to be a topic of conversation.
"Obviously, we’re incredibly excited to be featured in The Wall Street Journal. More than that, though, we’re using this as a reminder for ourselves and our clients to celebrate making this shift. Yes, we’re asking something of each and every client to come on this journey with us, but the results are better work and better working relationships. That’s what we’re celebrating today, most of all." – Jacqui Hartnett, President, Starmark
Read the article at The Wall Street Journal.
This content is republished from Starmark.com.
AAF South Florida was established in 1957 as a local arm of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) to serve the interests of all disciplines and career levels in advertising. Now in 2020, we serve the Greater Fort Lauderdale and Plam Beach County advertising community.