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posted by Kevin Smith Mar 29,2010 @ 06:00AM

Facebook – a 1970’s phenomenon

McDonald's "You deserve a break today" campaign is a mainstay of 1970's pop culture. It ranks number five in AdAge's top 100 advertising campaigns of all time. "You deserve a break today's" extraordinarily success lies in a perfectly timed strategy. Economic decline during the 1970's introduced the dual family income household, starring a time-starved mom. Middle income Americans faced unprecedented economic hardship. McDonald's was there, offering a highly accessible much needed getaway.

Rising oil prices, declining household incomes, long hair, patchwork leather pocket books and a serious love for the color brown are back. It's the 70's all over again. Today's consumer is yet again time-starved, budget-crunched and facing large cultural shifts. It's time for a 70's approach to marketing.

Facebook is a perfect example of 70's behavior. Some of the busiest people I know, Moms with full-time jobs and multiple kids, make time for Facebook. They take quizzes, post high school prom photos and fan their favorite stores and restaurants. Why are the busiest people among us making time for such frivolity?

Just like McDonald's in the 70's, Facebook is a getaway. It's a getaway that satisfies a need born from economic stress. It's better than MacDonald's. McDonalds's is fast, cheap and tasty. Facebook, is fast, free and non-fattening.

The era of superlatives and bragging rights is over. We must get back to the basics of satisfying what our customers need. And we must relearn how to keep the message simple.

HCA hospital system in South Florida recognizes that people need to know how long they will have to wait in the emergency room. So HCA hospitals post current wait times on outdoor boards and online. Instead of bragging about doing more surgeries than their competition, HCA is satisfying a need, and admissions are up.

We manage social media for client Moe's Southwest Grill. Contests, offers and give-aways entertain, and hopefully endear, Moe's to their customers. But they only work when they are simple. It can't take more than a minute to process or respond. Moe's is enjoying success in this sluggish recovery because they know how to keep it simple. Mom may not be sporting a polyester pantsuit just yet, but she still doesn't have time to cook dinner. Kids Eat Free Tuesdays at Moe's satisfies a need with no need for explanation.

posted by Apprentices Mar 22,2010 @ 08:36AM

Fabulous Riggs Partners stars in Vegas

On August 11, 2009, after 22 years in the industry, veteran agency Riggs Advertising announced its move from a larger agency with on-staff employees to a five-person partnership that works with a network of strategic contacts. The model was innovative, bold and ahead of its time – and it was dubbed "Riggs Partners."

Six months later, partners Cathy Monetti and Teresa Coles presented the new Riggs model to more than 50 agency principals from across the country.

The presentation was part of a three-day seminar held by Second Wind, a business-improvement information network consisting of more than 9000 small to midsize advertising agencies, design firms and related businesses. The seminar, held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, highlighted the SMALL+SMART agency model, an idea which held an uncanny resemblance to Riggs Partners’ existing structure.

"Riggs Partners was smart to make this shift from traditional ad agency to small and smart outsourcing agency,” said Tony Mikes, managing director of Second Wind. “Their structure is a wise and timely response to economic change, overhead-weary clientele, increased freelancing and advanced technology. They have recognized an idea whose time has come.”

Monetti and Coles offerred expert advice to a number of inquiring principals attending the seminar. “It will be interesting to see how many traditional agencies now move to a smaller structure,” Monetti said. “I hope to see many follow suit, because I truly believe – especially for midsize companies – our structure is the agency model of the future.”

- Sammy Rutkowski

posted by Kevin Smith Mar 10,2010 @ 06:29AM

Still the same. The power of a consistent brand positioning strategy.

Sometimes we have the luxury of starting from scratch. We're in the process of working with a new client on a new product launch, and I was recently speaking with them about their positioning strategy. "This should be your elevator pitch in one sentence," I advised. "Every piece of communications we develop, and every aspect of your product should evoke this. It should never change."

Great brands never change their positioning. Basic advice, yet a premise far too often ignored, particularly in the volatility that comes with economic stress. Jack Pitney, VP of Marketing for BMW, spoke with Marketing Daily about BMW's new "Joy" strategy. He commented while the work was about the end-user's emotional benefit, joy, BMW's positioning would remain exactly the same, superior engineering. He added that, while the brand was in need of new recession-appropriate messaging, they were not in any way abandoning "The Ultimate Driving Machine." Read the full article here.

BMW’s strategy is so logical it seems obvious; however, the past year is littered with examples of brands that veered and failed. Take Saturn, a company born from the concept of rethinking people’s relationship with their car. The people who brought you “A different kind of car company,” altered course in an effort to grow. Their product moved from niche to mainstream with mid-sized sedans and SUV’s, and their core message meandered. In an economy that demands absolute clarity and message precision, the move proved fatal.

Another example is Saab. For forty years, Saab was about a unique body style that, well, wasn’t for everyone. This brand of individuality was summed up in their tag line: “Find your own road.” Acquired by GM, the product, like Saturn’s, lost its focus, and its cult following along with it. “Born from jets,” a heritage/performance positioning led to disaster. Let’s hope Saab’s new owners resurrect something from the crash.

Saab brand loyalists persist

Of course, the car companies merely provide a large scale, somewhat frightening example for us all. For a destination or restaurant, the recession may mandate discounting. That doesn’t mean a brand built on luxury, such as Hilton Head Island, needs to become the best beach value in South Carolina.

Examining your brand’s message is key, especially in the face of continued economic pressures and a slow recovery. Just don’t forget the basics, and keep what made you stand apart at the core of every message.

posted by Cathy Monetti Mar 08,2010 @ 04:18PM

Never underestimate the power of a really great party.

And so we found the Partners at the 2010 Addy Awards, Cirque du ADDY. The ultimate costume ball of the season, we were there in all our costumed fabulousness.

Kudos to the ADDY committee for the Party-Part of the night. We had a blast.

And now to the awards. We did A-OK, walking out with both Best of Print and Best of Broadcast. We also racked up three gold ADDYs and four silvers, and while we shouldn't, we will steal a tad bit of the spotlight of the two silvers bestowed upon our friend Ryan Cockrell for his amazing Riggs Partners CreateAthon video. (Ryan rocks.) Glory!

Honored work included:

We want to shine a little light upon our Riggs Partners apprentices, who contributed mightily to our big haul. And thanks to our good, good friends Mad Monkey, as our creative partners in the Spartanburg Regional "Who's Your Plus One" television. (We believe in the cause--find a woman you care about and MAKE SURE she gets a mammogram!)

It has never been more true: a fine time was had by all!

 

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