Category: From Us to You

You’ve probably heard that YouTube and Facebook are selling six second ads with FOX, the first TV network to experiment with the format. So how should marketers think about this new format that will gain steam in 2018? For one, don’t think of it as new. Anyone remember print advertising? Anybody remember Vine? Yep, the platform that Twitter bought and shortly thereafter closed, is now the “new” format for advertisers to embrace. How long do brands have to catch the average consumer’s attention in print? Two seconds. Most of the media buys on YouTube allow users to skip your ad after five seconds of watching. And have you looked at your data analytics on those ads? Not many people continue to watch your commercial in its entirety unless it’s very relevant to the viewer. Maybe YouTube is actually giving advertisers an additional second with this format. Now you get six seconds instead of five! Hopefully the format will force advertisers to again be disciplined about messaging, ideas and storytelling.

Here are some ideas to help marketers think about the new six-second format:

  1. Focus on a moment, not an entire story. There’s no time for a traditional set up, arc and resolution in six seconds. Show how your brand helps or relates to a situation, leaving viewers with a strong connection to a relatable moment.
  2. Think of this new format as you would a great print ad. With only six seconds it can almost be thought of as print with motion. Of course, like with print, more value will need to be put on the simple, pure IDEA for it to get etched into consumers’ minds. If you think about some of the best visual-solution print ads or strong headlines coupled with amazing visuals, it tells a story quickly, succinctly and memorably. On average, consumers spend 2-3 seconds with print ads and decide if the ad is relevant to them within 0.3 seconds. Maybe smaller, independent agencies that were traditionally great at print ads, will shine with the new format.
  3. Create a Brief specifically for this format. Or at least give it clear definition within a campaign brief. It’s not a :30 that’s cut down to a :15, that is now cut down to a :06. That won’t work here. The Creative Brief needs to clearly state the goal and mandatories of a six-second commercial. It needs to have real expectations on what can be communicated. It needs to be signed off on by all internal decision makers, otherwise you will do yourself, the brand and the agency a disservice.
  4. Cut the clutter. The six-second commercial will be great for pure branding and for marketing messages related to a certain event or day of the year. Again like all great advertising, it will need to have one simple message and can’t be cluttered with too many mandatories, explanations or lengthy CTAs.
  5. Contrary to what I say in point one, if you want to tell an entire story in six seconds you should consider using time lapse, hyper-lapse, stop-motion, jump-cuts and fast/slow speed video techniques to tell your story. Many brands are already successfully using these techniques in social media and these formats may not be that different from your social content efforts if you already take these storytelling approaches.
  6. Of course, this format will be best used as part of a larger campaign. It will have definite messaging limitations and it should probably have budgets more on par with social content or print ad creation. In fact, as agencies and marketers begin to experiment with the format, you may realize it aligns more with your social media or print concept efforts but that doesn’t mean the brief and approval process should be handed of to an in-house social media coordinator.
  7. If it doesn’t “give away” the idea, quickly show your logo at the opening of the video. Sony was brilliant with this on all of their Playstation commercials in the past. You can also consider as an option, watermarking your logo on a bottom corner of the video (like a station identifier), although we prefer the opening blip instead of a continued “distraction”. We also believe the blip creates better brand recall with viewers.

Have fun, think differently and be disciplined in your approach. It will take the expertise of creative agencies and disciplined marketers to do it well, but it’s exciting to think about and get ahead of the curve as it may become a part of your media plan in the near future.

Tips for creating six-second commercials

It might be a total rebrand or it might be considered more of a brand update or refresh. Either way, it’s probably one of the most significant marketing challenges the company will face in a given year and it’s important to get it right. Here are a few tips from our experiences.

  1. Get decision makers involved early and often. This might be the most obvious one, but it’s the most crucial. For example, if we talk with a potential client and a C-level executive isn’t a part of the process in some form–from giving us time for discovery interviews to signing off on direction and potential positioning statements, we’ll pass on the assignment. This isn’t a process a company’s communications group should undertake in isolation.
  2. Define and understand all your potential audiences. What do they like about the current state of the brand? What do they dislike? If it was their brand what would they do differently? What’s sacred cow that the brand shouldn’t touch without audiences taking their loyalty elsewhere? (New Coke anyone? O.com instead of Overstock.com…)
  3. Test multiple directions with your audiences. Internally, you may have drank some of the kool-aide, and the agency may have blinders on from being the “makers” and knowing what the message or creative is supposed to communicate. Most importantly, you need to know if the world is going to see or interpret something completely unexpected, which may not be the intended message at all. Consumer’s can see things a brand and agency may miss. Some audiences may even see something bad, funny or negative in a brand refresh (Airbnb logo anyone?)
  4. Rebranding isn’t just a new logo and tagline, it’s defining your authentic tone and voice. It’s finding a positioning that will resonate with your current audiences and allow for future growth.
  5. A brand is a living entity, therefore it needs updating and adjusting as sentiments and styles change. Going through a brand update and exercise is good to do at least once a decade, even if the adjustments end up seeming minor to you and your external audiences barely notice. The process will at least give you peace of mind that your brand currency is relevant and will (hopefully) continue to be, all other factors aside.
  6. If you partner with multiple agencies, be open to sharing the process with all of them. Not that you need feedback from other agencies, but everyone will need to work with the update and it’s important that they feel it has the legs to work how they need it to.

 

At Seed Factory, we consider ourselves an advertising and PR agency that often starts the process with a branding exercise. We understand brand positioning and real-world applications of branding across advertising, PR, social, digital and of course, design. Let us have a holistic conversation about your brand’s needs even if it’s a small project. Sometimes the “refresh” comes from a website update to keep it current with the ever-changing digital landscape. Take a look at the largest two rebrands we have done: CDC Foundation and Navicent Health

Rebranding, or Brand Refresh, Here Are Some Tips to Consider

Interbike Badge

The ever entertaining and fun crew at Vintage thought it would be good for me to walk around as an “Athlete” for an electric bike co. Funny.

 

I’m back in Atlanta from Interbike and recovered by doing a real road ride and also a fun ride on Sunday. It was one of Atlanta’s “Streets Alive” days so I went out with the urban masses to celebrate human powered transportation in the ATL–biking and walking.

But back to Interbike.

Even though we used to have Wahoo Fitness as a client and designed some of their trade show graphics, along with packaging and advertising, I had never been to the greatest trade show on earth before this year! Turns out that some of the biggest brands decided not to attend this year. Specialized, Trek and Giant were no shows. It’s probably hard to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses when they already have direct access to all of their dealers.

I don’t think I did a very good job at the show for the one day I was there. I didn’t get to half the booths I wanted to and I didn’t have a game plan. You need a game plan at this thing–it’s huge! The amount of companies there is overwhelming. The amount of amazing products is overwhelming too. Unfortunately, I also didn’t think Interbike did a good job with the map. The numbers on the map were absolutely tiny and to cross-reference the booth numbers to the companies in the long list below the map could have taken me 3 hours to create my own walking map. Maybe they’ll get to the point that they offer an interactive, customizable map online. Or maybe they did and I missed it.

Anyway, we picked up a bicycle client shortly before Interbike so I was glad to have already booked my trip there. It was nice meeting the clients in person and help with some of the media briefings. I think things went really well for them at the show.  They have an amazing electric bike company and the team was so nice. They seam to be very hard workers, sweat the details and have a vision for the growth of the electric bike market. Check out their amazing bikes here – Vintage Electric Bikes.

Vintage Electric at Interbike

Thomson is a local GA bike parts manufacturer who Seed Factory needs to reach out to. Honestly, I haven’t seen a more boring and visually underwhelming booth than theirs. I’m wondering if it’s part of their brand persona to be completely anti-flashy, but it seems a bit extreme and counter-productive to selling more of their beautiful bits. I’ve always believed that if you’ve created something beautiful, then you should present it beautifully to help create an aura and emotional connection to it.

Moving on, there were so many other booths to see. I literally got lost at one point when I was trying to get back to Vintage Electric’s booth. I loved Pivot’s bike line up, the Alchemy bikes, Industry Nine’s trick bits, the Bell helmets booth and tons of others. Renovo Hardwood Bicycles caught my eye as one of the most beautiful frames out there, but then again, I’m a sucker for anything well crafted from hardwoods.

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Seed Factory would love to work with more of these companies in the bicycle industry. Of course we’re super stoked to be working with Vintage Electric Bikes as they’re poised to grow into a huge company. Others such as Kuat racks are beautiful and smartly designed.  Being in MO, it’s close enough to our time zone to work together easily. Phil Wood has such trick bits and they supply the hubs for Vintage. Litespeed is just up the road from us in Chattanooga. 6D Helmets are really onto something with the shock-absorption layer. G-form’s protective equipment looks great. Crank Brothers, Stan’s NoTubes and the list goes on.

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Bell Helmets - Interbike 2017

Jimbo Phillips one-off painted helmet for Bell.

 

Interbike 2016

Navicent-Health-moments-of-kindnes-1

Helping build a brand based on a powerful insight is our favorite type of work we do here at the agency. We had the opportunity to partner with Navicent Health to build a new, simple, understandable brand. Developing a branding campaign around a central truth is a tactic that all marketers can leverage within their health care organization. To read more about this campaign, please see the AMA article here.

Branding Emotion

Jake on Santa Cruz Bronson, Brevard NC

A few of us around here have finally gotten into our mountain bike groove this summer and it feels good. Atlanta has the good fortune of being situated 3 hours from a few of North Carolina’s best trails–the Pisgah/Brevard area and the Tsali/NOC area. I’ve been a huge fan of Tsali for about 16 years and it has been named a Bike Magazine top trail (or something like that) so we rode there 2 weeks ago and in Brevard 3 weeks ago. Let me say, for as long as I’ve been a proponent of Tsali, we rented some Santa Cruz full-suspension bikes from The Hub and had way more fun at Brevard. So I have to say it, after 16 years of being a Tsali, and a hard tail fan, I moved my riding allegiance to Brevard and I’m in the market for a full-suspension 650b. It doesn’t hurt the Brevard, NC has one of the coolest bike shops in The Hub. They have a tiny bar in the back of the shop that serves regional beers. That was two and three weeks ago. It was tough to admit that I’ve fallen out of love with Tsali, but after about 18 miles on the left and right loops, the thrill was gone. Perhaps I can blame it on too many tree roots from too many wheels traveling it over the past 16 years.

Last weekend we decided to travel only 1.5 hours to a spot near Dahlonega in N. Georgia. Guess what? After switching my allegiance to Brevard, I suddenly had a new favorite trail system that’s even closer to home! I’m not even going to say the name of this one because I like it so much. It’s anywhere from 12-26 miles of single track with some seriously fast and flowy sections, plus of course, a lot of good climbs. Yep, summer is on–3 weekends in a row of great rides with some mid-week local trails mixed in. And now I’m mid-flight to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and I’m sticking around to ride the chair-lift delivered tails and downhill of Park City on Saturday. Make that four weekends of epic rides!

And the “everything else” part of this blog post? Well NOC near Tsali has amazing white water kayaking and rafting. And Brevard, (Transylvania County, NC) has amazing waterfall hiking and a slick rock natural water slide for cooling off.

If you’re at a bike or bike components/accessories company and are looking for a new agency, please give us a ring. I promise we’ll take you to my favorite new, undisclosed trail system between meetings.

-Mark Sorensen
Creative Director

Mountain Biking and Everything Else Outdoors

NYT_Werner Ladder

We’ve had the opportunity to work with Werner Co. for more than three years now and today received news that a recent campaign won the FIRST place prize in Ragan’s 2015 PR Daily Awards for best Product Launch. Exciting news!

As background, Werner introduced an entirely new type of ladder to the market and through a collaboration with their team, ours and other partners, we kicked off an endeavor to introduce this new product through a multi-channel marketing approach. We were tasked with creating brand awareness and product preference with consumer home enthusiasts/DIYers. We also needed to demonstrate a clear product benefit in a simple, memorable way that provides an entertaining connection.

The huge success of this product launch has led to a product line expansion and the creation of a new ladder category. If you missed the link above that summarizes the elements of the campaign, click here.

Werner Co. Wins PR Daily Award!

The past 48 hours have been very telling for the Germanwings Flight 9525 crisis. While horrified by the tragedy, I would like to compliment the speed and transparency of which the information is being delivered to families and the public. With loss of life, especially of this magnitude, there is nothing more critical than to identify the facts and deliver what is appropriate in a timely and transparent fashion. At Seed Factory, we applaud Brice Robin, the Marseille Public Prosecutor for the delivery of the latest information—which is the co-pilots deliberate attempt to destroy aircraft—in a direct, honest and transparent approach out of respect for the families. He comes across as very sincere and credible about the latest findings. When you compare this to airplane tragedies in recent years—namely Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 —it is a stark contrast to what the public is accustomed to.

While we don’t believe Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is doing as good of a job, there are many learnings for corporations and executives on how to respond, when to respond and the information that should be shared. While no one wants to be in this particular situation and communicating this unfathomable level of detail, it’s imperative to be prepared. We take our lessons from leading Microsoft’s Y2K initiative and other crisis communications programs as we’ve prepared our clients and teams for a variety of unique scenarios. The following actions will help prepare a communications team and other key stakeholders if a crisis scenario hits.

  1. Define Your Crisis Team & Infrastructure: Along with the corporate communications team, identify the key leads from each of the business units and operations team to prepare for every possible crisis. Meet on a monthly or quarterly basis to review processes, protocols and actions.
  2. Build Your Crisis Plan and Be Prepared for a Variety of Scenarios: Don’t wait for a crisis to happen to begin thinking of a plan. You should have a variety of scenarios developed, based on the industry, and specifically the process of how to respond for each. Examples of scenarios, in order of importance, may include: loss of life, employee injury, manufacturer recall, corporate layoffs, quarterly losses or major corporate announcements. Develop a crisis plan and checklist, while aligning the actions to every particular scenario, role of each team member, messaging architecture and both internal and external responses.
  3. Identify & Prep Your Spokesperson: This is one of the most important steps any organization can take. Who will be the face and voice of the crisis communications that will be delivered? This spokesperson is ideally the most senior level executive at the organization that is authoritative, confident, articulate and accessible during the crisis. He or she will also take responsibility and accountability when needed. This needs to come across as sincere and not defensive.
  4. Prepare Your Content: Because possible scenarios have been identified, the company should be prepared from a messaging structure on how this critical information will be delivered. Questions and answers should have already been developed from the corporate and legal teams and reviewed by corporate executives. Only use confirmed facts and don’t speculate until you are 100% confident in the information that is being released. You don’t want to create a crisis around your corporate crisis.
  5. Be Accessible: This is critical and we’ve seen this part of the equation fall apart too many times. When a crisis happens, the spokesperson immediately needs to go to the location, share information as it’s uncovered, showcase transparency and be available to customers and media at any time they are needed. Set up a command center, have an 800-number established and staffed for the particular crisis, communicate these details through media alerts, host a press conference, respond to questions on social media, etc. It’s critical that the company has a presence at all times, is accessible and transparent.

 

At Seed Factory, we believe your company can be prepared and ready for any type of scenario, no matter how large or small it may be. Starting the discussions early leads to a prepared team that can confidently navigate a crisis and ensure the company’s reputation stays in tact. If you are interested in learning more about our crisis communications work and how we may help, please contact us at 404-996-4041 or angie@seedatl.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transparency in a Crisis is Crucial

We’ve had a busy fall at our Atlanta ad agency with a couple of new business pitches. We won one, and didn’t win the other. We’re really excited about the business we won because it is in the outdoor industry and the company has huge potential to become a major brand, but we can’t talk about it yet.

The one we didn’t win was Zoo Atlanta. Even though we won’t be partnering with them, we still wouldn’t change the opportunity of being involved in the RFP process. Our teams’ really enjoyed coming up with several creative campaigns for the non-profit and liked the concepts we presented.

Maybe more than our feelings about our proposal, we felt proud of the fact that we made it to the final round, and were one of the three agencies that presented to Zoo Atlanta. We’re a boutique agency and had a feeling we might have been “punching above our weight”, but it was fun and we concepted some very creative, strategic ideas. Maybe if you are the marketing director of a zoo or an applicable brand, you’ll take a look at our work and give us a call.

Look for great new work in the outdoor category coming from our Atlanta ad agency and Public Relations firm in the next few months.

Komodo  Frog-jump-closeSnakePhotoOpp Atlanta Zoo pitch Ad

A peak at a few of the experiential ideas we wanted to produce for the Zoo’s new Spring exhibit.

Ad Agency New Business for Outdoor and Non-Profit Clients

Hegarty On Advertising, Turning Intelligence in Magic is written by John Hegarty, who I would consider one of the great minds in modern advertising. His agency, BBH which started in London and now has offices in New York, Singapore and other global cities, is behind the amazing campaigns for Levi’s from the late 80’s through the early 2000s. His outlook on creative, business, clients and branding is so honest and direct that it cuts straight through all the marketing jargon that other books ply. He touches on what Bernbach taught us about modern advertising and discusses what he learned in his early career, which influenced the great work his agency does today.

Instead of continuing to describe why this book is a must read, let us just give a few excerpts:

“Always remember that all information goes through the heart. Or as James Stephens, in his book The Crock of Gold, said: ‘What the heart feels today, the head will understand tomorrow.’

“You have to accept the creative process is completely dysfunctional. If you deny that fact, you will ultimately fail.”

“Great brands that continue to be succesful are so because they don’t think like a conventional brand owner who is obsessed only with themselves and the belief that the world revolves around them and their product. The key to great marketing is never stop thinking like your audience.

“So, in true BBH style, we put the brand at the centre of the advertising, made the product the hero (in fact created a product demonstration), but wrapped it in emotional power.

As a creative, account director, planner or a client, it’s one of the best advertising books I’ve read since “Hey Whipple, squeeze this!” by Luke Sullivan.

 

 

 

An Advertising Book Worth Reading

The Seed Factory crew was recently invited to a Nike ID party, where each person picks and customizes their own shoes.  It was a small event hosted by a trade magazine and every attention to detail was thought through by the brand. We left the store being a bigger fan than before. (Disclaimer: We do not work for the shoe manufacturer).

The experience was a good reminder just how important each touch point is for a brand. From the personalized card that shows a picture of the finished product to the miniature Nike shoebox the custom card comes in—every detail reinforced the importance of the brand elements and how they are experienced by the consumer.

As companies view the full customer experience—from the first print or digital ad encountered to the experience online or at the retail store, all of these brand touch points make a difference.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to ensure your brand is sending a consistent message:

  • Are the hang tags a similar look and feel as the product packaging?
  • Does the print ad campaign match the visuals and tone of your website?
  • Do the product or brand videos showcase the emotional connection with the consumer?
  • Are you promoting these brand videos? A small investment can make a significant difference in who sees the video you invested in.
  • Is your brands voice consistent across all of your channels?
  • Is your product packaged well? When it is shipped to the consumer, is the first impression a positive one?
  • Can you clearly differentiate your product or service from the competitors?
  • Are your internal and external teams aligned—is everyone communicating the same product/service benefits? From the product platform position to the supporting points?

Nike had the insight to bring a customized experience to life and it was executed very well. These are all good reminders for marketing directors to think through the entire experience the consumer has with your brand, ensuring integration and consistency throughout.

 

Every Touch Point Counts—From the first experience to delivery of the product or service