So You Want To Be A Media Planner?

Everyday a city dweller is exposed to 5,000 advertisements. With this many advertisements it is amazing that we actually remember some of them. Part of the remembrance is due to the work of media planners.

Media planning is the science of message dissemination. It specifically “refers to the process of selecting media time and space to disseminate advertising messages”. In order to find out more about this division and the work they do our blog group reached out to Zimmerman Advertising Assistant Media Planner Mariel Oweida.

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Oweida, a May 2013 graduate of the UNCW Cameron School of Business, began working for Zimmerman Advertising in December of 2013. She referred to media planning as,

“…finding appropriate media platforms for a client’s brand/product to use by determining the best combination of media to achieve the client’s marketing objective; media could include print, TV, radio, digital, OOH (out of home advertising- billboards, bus wraps, etc.)”

 Media planning begins with a Media Action Request (MAR) and ends with a media buy. Although the media planning division doesn’t actually negotiate the buying, they do work closely with buyers and account executives to make sure the plan is well executed.

Media planning is fast paced. Owieda explains she was surprised at the quick turn around. Having concentrated in marketing as an undergraduate, media planning was a new career path for her. Usually you need specific degree for advertising or experience from another ad agency but, she says, ad agencies look for candidates that are willing to learn and grow with the company.

Specifically, Zimmerman Advertising is a full-service agency that focuses on building national retail brands. Over the past 30 years it has become 14th largest advertising agency in the world and they currently bring in revenue of $100 million a year.

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Recently they moved their headquarters to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Their brand new office is beautifully constructed to promote a more casual, creative, and collaborative environment. Although this brand new building seems friendly and relaxed, it is full of hardworking individuals who go above and beyond to help clients meet their advertising objectives. In a previous interview with Elizabeth Harrington, Oweida described her typical workday as untypical. “You should never expect to go in at 8 a.m. or leave at 5 p.m. [You] almost always end up going in early and leaving later- that extra dedication is unpaid.”

Zimmerman photo of building

During her day Oweida works on budgeting clients money, conducting market research, and media placement. Already she has worked on accounts for Ashley Furniture, Boston Market and AC Moore. “The most challenging part of being an assistant media planner is paying attention to detail, executing the plan we provide, and dealing with clients,” Oweida says. “As a media planner it is your job to let clients know why they are spending their money the way you are telling them. It is important to keep up with research from Nielsen ratings, to demographics, income, and even how long people have owned homes. They all help you plan the media and explain the why to the clients.”

So as soon to be graduates we asked for the inside scoop on what to do if you want a career as a media planner. She said work on knowing Excel and basic Excel math, but most importantly have great communication skills. She also told us to be up to date on the newest and important trends in the field, which as of right now are social and digital media.

We would like to thank Ms. Oweida for taking the time to speak with us. If you have any questions or advice about media planning comment below!

- Caroline Robinson, Elizabeth Harrington , Savannah Valade

The “Instructional” Campaign

According to the calendar, Spring has officially sprung. And while we are still experiencing some chilly days, it’s undeniable most of us are ready to shed our winter gear for shorts and sandals. As with all season changes, clothing companies are eager to help you exchange your wardrobe.

Recently, clothing company Lands’ End launched their new “How to Spring” advertising campaign, showcasing, “How fun and fashionable it is to add bright colors, graphic prints and floral patterns with a few perfect pieces from the women’s spring collection”. It could be argued that every spring campaign that will launch this season will have a similar goal; however, Lands’ End decided to do something a little different this season by adding a sweepstake to its promotional and marketing strategy.

The sweepstakes works by first connecting with Facebook or entering your email. Once you’ve connected, you are asked to fill out your name, email, and zip code. Filling out this information unlocks the game. The rules are simple, select an outfit and click “spin”. If the outfit that the player selected matches the three tumblers, the player automatically wins a gift card with a balance of $25, $50, or $1,000. That’s it! Simple right? Not to mention, everyone is eligible to enter every day for the grand prize of $1,000 shopping spree. You can view the official rules of the sweepstakes here.

While we like to think that games, contests, and sweepstakes’ only motives are for fun and entertainment, they are actually a smart marketing move – encouraging consumption of the product by creating consumer involvement. This involvement builds fan base, engages the audience, and enables consumers to do your marketing for you. Not to mention, user generated content often provides quality, innovative, and creative ads for free.

In addition to promoting brand visibility, contest and sweepstakes are strategies that provide valuable quantifiable benefits for companies as well. They are cost effective, they help build search engine optimization (SEO), and increasingly important, they provide a rich source of consumer data for the company about existing and potential customers – emails, product preferences, location, etc.

With every click essentially producing some sort of user information, online contests are growing in use on websites and especially on social media. The most popular initiatives include: photo and video contests, tagging contest, hashtag giveaways, and website raffles.

Top Rank, an online marketing blog, named some of their picks of the best contest use on social media.
Facebook: When Frito-Lay began their campaign for searching for new potato chips flavors, the company bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to connect directly with the customers who would be eating them.
Pinterest: AMC Theaters have an entire Pinterest board, AMC Giveaways, where all users have to do is follow the board to stay up to date on the latest AMC contests. The basics are simple, when users see a prize they want, clicking on the image takes them to a landing page that collects their information.
Twitter: In a “retweet to win” twitter contest, Doritos tweeted a message that simply asked followers to retweet for a chance to win. The tweet was retweeted over 500 times in a day with winners snagging products that ranged from Doritos to widescreen tvs.
Instagram: As many clothing company are starting to do, Vera Bradely’s instagram contest asked users to post pictures of them and their favorite Vera Bradley bag using the hashtag #VBStyleShare. At the end of the contest, winners received a wrislet, followers of the hashtag could receive fashion inspiration, and staff could see how consumers were pairing their products.

The benefits contests can provide seem like an almost no-brainer for companies to increase brand awareness while also gaining consumer data, but as they start to trend they are also subject to overuse. To combat becoming another form of clutter, companies will have to make sure their contest are increasingly interactive, engaging, creative, or lucrative.

Have you ever participated in an online contest? Did you win? Did it make you feel more favorable towards the brand? Scrolling through your social media feeds have you seen brands using contests similar to the ones above? What are some of the best/most creative ones you have seen?

- Elizabeth Harrington, Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade

Personal Preferences vs. Employer Requirements

Six weeks until graduation here at UNCW. Ask any senior what’s on their mind and I can almost guarantee it has something to do with employment – resumes, cover letters, interviews, portfolios.

It is our goal to make a good impression on our potential employers in every form – in person, on paper, and increasingly important, online. Searching someone’s name can yield a lot of information – sometimes too much information.

In the COM Department, many students will enter fields where managing an online presence is part of their job responsibility. Here is where we enter the public versus private debate. We have been told that our social network sites should be kept public so that prospective employers, especially those in the marketing field, can see what we post about, how often we post, and if we’re keeping up with the latest trends. But what if companies aren’t making the public or private view a personal preference? What if they are demanding access to your accounts? Other than directly asking for your log in information, employers are also asking applicants to friend a human resources manager, or log in to a company computer during an interview.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, Catherine Crump said: “It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process.  People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account.”

Facebook’s privacy officer, Erin Egan, also weighed in on the issue: “In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to anticipated legal liability.”

Much of what these employers are doing could be illegal. When interviewing, every human resource staff member knows that some topics are strictly off limits. Asking one of these off limits questions could put your company at serious risk for being sued for discrimination. Yet by using to social media investigation or review, this kind of off limits information can be collected about a potential employee even before their interview.

Here are some examples of questions employers cannot ask:

-   Are you married?
–   How old are you?
–   Do you have children? If so how many and how old are they?
–   What church do you attend?
–   Do you belong to any social or political groups?
–   Do you suffer from an illness or disability?
–   Are you taking any prescribed drugs?

And for women specifically:

-  Do you plan to get married?
–  Do you intend to start a family?
–  Are you likely to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC describe the issue as “Tempting Fruit from a Poisonous Tree”. They give the following example:
Applicant – Alex Jackson – catches your eye. Excellent resume, degree from a New York Ivy League school, published in trade magazine, active in community, and has excellent references. You decide to pull their Facebook page to get a better feel for the applicant. You find Alex is a 42 year old female, active in the Catholic Church, recently married, and has one year old son. A recent posts says “Please pray for my mother as she recovers from her most recent bout with cancer.”

Just like Alex’s, your profile probably reveals a lot of the same information. In just a matter of a few clicks, race, age, religion, gender, and medical history have all been revealed – and are all illegal questions for an employer to ask. In a worst case scenario, an employer could even get sued under a variety of Acts if one felt such factors contributed to swaying a hiring decision.

Social media continues to blur the lines of public and private. Be prepared for your interview – know what questions are likely to be asked, but also know what questions you don’t have to answer. How do you feel about employers requiring to see your accounts? Acceptable or infringing? Where should the line be drawn? Is there a compromise that can be made?

Savannah Valade

Make sure to keep up with the blog this week as the team explores more employment trends in preparation for COM Studies Day this Friday. Students and alumni are encouraged to attend the informational panels, fashion, and networking events that will take place throughout the day. This is a great opportunity to learn, ask questions, and get advice . For those who cannot attend the events, follow the IMC Hawks here on Twitter as we will be live tweeting, as well as live blogging, throughout the day’s events.

 

LinkedIn: Your Future Just Got Easier

Are you are a job-seeking college student, getting closer to the day you receive your diploma, and need help finding a professional career? For you social media consumers (which is everyone, right?) the next app you download should be LinkedIn, and it’s free! LinkedIn is a resourceful social media website that assists you in creating and shaping your professional identity. There really is no other website that makes all the hard work you’ve already done in college, more organized, and it’s free to join! Just like other social media websites, you create a log-in, password and your own profile. It’s basically a professional, public resume which includes your education, skills and areas of expertise. LinkedIn allows you to search for people, jobs, and companies and all the while networking in the world’s largest professional internet site. You can also stay connected with colleagues and classmates. The site is especially beneficial for discovering professional opportunities, business deals, and new ventures. You can also get the latest news, inspiration, and useful insights. With more than 250 million people “linked in” to LinkedIn, the site is obviously a professional networking success!

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LinkedIn is not just used for networking yourself but also for other businesses to reach their direct audiences. Whether you are a large brand or a direct response marketer, you can gain new customers or professionals for your business for a minimum of $10 a day. LinkedIn has limb site just for these groups called, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. LMS is an all-encompassing tool that gives professionals the ability to build relationships and increase brand awareness of their business by targeting, publishing and extending engagement. Targeting specific content on LinkedIn allows businesses to reach a specific audience of educated individuals on social media. LinkedIn promises companies a premium display of their advertisements in an uncluttered environment, increasing the chances it will be noticed by a direct target audience. LinkedIn also offers companies the opportunity to utilize a feature called Sponsored InMail to deliver content through targeted email marketing.

By publishing quality content, businesses effectively increase their marketing solutions to ensure their target audience receives imperative information. In order to publish content, sponsored updates can be used to increase your company’s brand awareness, generate leads through content sharing and building strong relationships with the target audience. In addition to sponsored updates on the website, companies can also use company pages for marketing purposes. Important content about the company can be updated here, as well as information regarding the company’s product or service for others to view.

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Extending engagement is the last feature of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions. By sharing information on LinkedIn, this information can then be shared on various other social media platforms, thus extending the reach of the message. It also increases traffic to your company’s main website. When the messages reach the target audience through LinkedIn, they are inclined to follow the message back to your main company website which increases exposure.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has generated quite the success story for the world’s leading PC company, Lenovo. The company began using the social media platform with the goal of forming better relationships with their target audiences via engagement marketing. Lenovo used sponsored updates to fuel their new content strategy on LinkedIn that ended up increasing their brand favorability by 17%. Ron Strother, the Director of Digital and Social Center of Excellence, says that while content has always been tied between the company and their audience, it seems like they can never create enough.

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Sponsored updates on LinkedIn allow them to give the desired content to a variety of audiences and then use their feedback to improve their strategy in moving forward with the campaign. These sponsored updates contain targeted content revolving around four key themes: brand, products, thought leadership and trends. Seeing updates about Lenovo’s business and products gives audience members the opportunity to truly engage and express their thoughts, while Lenovo is able to use this feedback to continue improving and moving forward. Lenovo has shown that they care about customer engagement, which is likely to have been a major component in the percentage increase of their brand favorability.

Lenovo and other large companies have used LinkedIn to network and reach their target audiences with success. LinkedIn has allowed professional achievement for brand awareness and individual branding for millions of people all throughout the world. It really is the most beneficial social media site out there today. Do you think that while the economy improves, will LinkedIn prevail? Will businesses and individuals continue to flock to LinkedIn in the same numbers and exhibit the same behaviors?

-Bri McWhirter, Emily Foulke, Hannah Turner

Out With The Old, In With The New: Technology Decides It All

Everyday you as a consumer are exposed to hundreds of thousands of brands. Over the decades the shopping industry has exploded with most brands disappearing at the same rate new ones appear, yet some brands have stood the cluttered test of time – one of those is Macy’s.

Created in 1858 by Rowland Hussy Macy the Macy’s store was originally a dry goods store. Macy’s started to gain notable recognition in the 1900s with its holiday window displays and the hiring of Santa Claus for the stores. In 1924 the store moved to its current NYC location, on the corner of Broadway and 34th Street. This year was also the first Macy’s Day Parade, which was organized to celebrate immigrant employees new American Heritage.

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In 1944, Macy’s became apart of the Federated Department Stores, Inc., renamed Macy’s Inc. creating the world’s largest department store. Today, Macy’s has 800 stores in the United States and sells merchandise online.

Macy’s isn’t the only iconic retailer – Sears Roebuck ring a bell? Starting in 1886, the mail order company prospered as it was able to provide low cost alternative to farmers. As mail order plants transitioned into stores, Sears found their place in city life and the retailer soon became a retailer giant. Today the store owns 863 mall-based operations and 1200 other locations including hardware, outlet, tire, and battery stores.

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Nowadays Macy’s and Sears are direct competitors, but it seems Sears, the company who invented mail order, can’t quite figure out online order.

Holiday sales account for a large indicator of profit margins and often depict the health of a company. Sears seems to be in critical condition – US stores suffered a 9.2 percent drop. In decline for some time now, and with little to no improvement, some speculate the store could be gone by 2017.

The history of an iconic brand is something that should be cultivated in your identity – it induces credibility, shows longevity, and prompts nostalgia. Yet being historic isn’t merely enough to remain vibrant. Iconic companies remain iconic because they are able to cultivate lasting relationships with consumers – at all time periods – and that means evolving.

Looking at each retailers attempt to reach customers during the holiday seasons could explain Sears 9.2 percent drop in sales. Both have social media accounts, yet social media presence is widely disproportionate. Macy’s Instagram account has 150,00 followers while Sears has two Instagram accounts – “Sears” and “Sears Style” – yet both of the followers combined don’t even reach 8,000. A huge missed opportunity for Sears – Instagram is leading the way in social media, growing faster than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest combined.

According to Gary Vaynerchuk’s article “The Road to Black Friday: Macy’s vs. Sears”, the use of social media by Sears is lazy. Choosing to ignore the social media culture they have posted irrelevant and uninteresting content such as a link to one of their commercials and an original YouTube video. While Macy’s post content that is culturally relevant, trendy, and formed around pop culture.

Our culture today has switched, as James Twitchell describes it, “In the last generation we have almost completely reversed the poles of shame so that where we were once ashamed of consuming too much (religious shame), we are now often ashamed of consuming the wrong brands (shoppers’ shame)”. In this day in age a brand establishes and remains relevance by relationship cultivation, reinforcement, and engagement forged through technology – the Internet and social media. It seems Sear’s inability to adapt to technology has prevented them being able to participate in the younger crowds culture leading in profit and brand influence. As an American brand we hope Sears can get back into the groove but as they stand now they are the weakest link.

In what other ways do old brands stay new? Can you think of any others that have had a hard time capturing new generations of shoppers? Or others that have done well?

- Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade, Elizabeth Harrington

Marc’s Makeover: Marc Jacobs’ decision to rebrand… is it the right one?

Deciding whether or not to rebrand your company is an immense decision. Your brand is the face and personality of your company. It is what viewers connect with. Changing this identity will greatly affect your company, but if done right the market can soar.

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs has decided it is time for his company, Marc Jacobs International to rebrand. In an interview with David Amsden from W Magazine Jacobs explains the troubles the Marc Jacobs brand had encountered. Describing the brand as having been “diluted” from his lack of creative supervision and merchandisers pushing his design team.

In order to fix this Jacobs decided to leave his position at Louis Vuitton to grow his company, which includes boutiques, clothing lines such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and Little Marc Jacobs (a children’s clothing line), Bookmarc (a bookstore), and more.

Some changes have already taken place such as his decision to move his offices from Manhattan to London and his decision to part with longtime campaign photographer Juergen Teller after he creatively disagreed on the Spring 2014 ad campaign which features Miley Cyrus. 

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So what is Jacobs looking to do? He’s looking to redesign the logo and packaging, to build his shoe and handbag lines, and maybe even change the name, which he told W Magazine that he had always hated.

Rebranding can be daunting between redefining research, audiences, creative campaigns, and even products, but for those experiencing continuous losses, it is often the best way to launch back into the market.

In recent years, another clothing line, Burberry, underwent a widely recognized successful rebranding campaign. Over the years, the British line went from being known for its historically iconic outwear, to being associated with cheapest form of high fashion, and even gang wear.

In 2006, the company hired Angela Ahrendts and in the next six years, she turned the ubiquitous brand back to luxurious. First, Ahrendts did what she called “buying back the company.” Reigning in the 23 licenses Burberry had around the world, control was brought back to the company with centralized executive and creative offices that could maintain product authenticity and exclusivity.

Secondly, Ahrendts recognized we are in the age of digital consumption and a digital generation – tapping into the resources social media and technology offers. In stores, sale assistants are equipped with iPads, and mirrors transform into screens displaying catwalk images. Online, the company continues to grow its presence, attracting over 16 million fans on Facebook, and over 2 million followers on Twitter. Burberry also uses YouTube to broadcast campaigns, events, music, and even corporate news. 

However, rebranding is not exclusive to high profile companies, the challenges above are things that can be experienced in all types of companies: personal, mid, or large. So how do you know if you should rebrand your own company? From Katie Morrell’s article “10 Signs You Should/Should not Rebrand” here are some warming signs that your company should rebrand.

Macro problems

Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press) suggests that if a company notices that their target customers are choosing the competition over their own company and if a decrease in sales is also trending, rebranding should be considered.

Look and function don’t match

Another element that should be considered when having a decrease in customers is “From a cosmetic point of view, when you look old and your looks don’t reflect what you are or what you deliver, it may be time to rebrand,” said Susan Betts, senior strategy director for New York-based FutureBrand North America.

Attracting the wrong customers

Rebranding is beneficial when a company wants to change their target customers. It gives a company an opportunity to create a new brand identity that the new target audience has the chance to connect too.

Management change

When a company changes management, it is normal that policies and values change as well. When a companies values change, rebranding is a good idea.

Philosophy/function change

When a company changes it’s direction, rebranding can showcase to customers what they may or may not be aware of concerning this change. Betts also mentions rebranding should be considered when a company has a “New philosophy or a changed philosophy”.

These signs are great examples to take heed from, but it is important to note rebranding should not be done unless it has been proven your brand identity is the root of your problems. Branding is the largest initial investment for a company, it sets the spring board for your identity, association, and customers. Rebranding is an even bigger investment – an attempt to reintroduce ideas to already established and preconceived perceptions is no easy task, it is one that must be thoroughly strategized. For Burberry, reigning in and refining their identity proved to be the best decision the company has made. For Jacobs, we will see what his creative vision produces.

What companies do you think have faltered recently or over the years? Who needs to rebrand?

- Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade, Elizabeth Harrington

Tackling Consumers

A round of applause for the Seattle Seahawks as the champions of the Super Bowl XLVIII. Even if you were not a fan of either the Broncos or the Seahawks, it almost a sure bet you tuned into the game. Every year over 100 million people observe what is arguably the sporting event of the year.

The Super Bowl, however, is known for more than a fierce round of football – it’s known for the commercials. Here is time where advertisers pull out all the stops. Audiences expect commercials of both artistic and humorous grandeur. Prices for spots annually rise, this year topping at $4 million for a 30 second spot.

Yet companies don’t spend millions for spots merely to entertain viewers. Unlike in decades past, advertisers are no longer in the business of explaining, but in the business of convincing and reinforcing. This is often the purpose of commercials we see every day. So, other than the guaranteed viewership, what is the worth of a Super Bowl spot?

Credibility, claims Joe Glennon, assistant professor of advertising at Temple’s School of Media and Mass Communication. In an article for the Philadelphia Business Journal, Glennon explains that many advertisers walk away from the exorbitant price tag due to the simple financial standpoint that $4 million for 30 seconds is a largely impossible return on investment. He explains that of those who do justify the expense there are two primary advertisers – large, well known, companies who use the spots to reinforce brand propensities among current users, and smaller companies who use the spot as a means to launch into the market by gaining notoriety.

So, in the myriad of last night’s entertainment, we have selected four commercials that beautifully represent the two credibility building categories Glennon noted; some attempting cut into, or further into the market, others reinforcing brand attitudes.

Squarespace

Squarespace created a spot that was a humorous, but accurate depiction of what the Internet is like – cluttered. Personifying memes, obnoxious advertisements, and the “duck face”, Squarespace offered to consumers that when using their services for website building and maintenance, the company could alleviate such distraction. So, why did Squarespace make it onto the list today? Simple, the Squarespace commercial introduced the company values and brand in a creative, weird, funny, and somewhat true way. Justifying the $4 million dollar expenditure seems to working so far – we are talking about – there’s probably a good chance other people are too.

WeatherTech

Although the ad was neither humorous nor heart-warming, WeatherTech’s commercial built on a sacred theme in the Super Bowl: American pride. Their slogan, “American Factories, American Raw Materials, and American Workers”, was enough to draw people’s interest and introduce their company as a defying the odds, sticking with their gut, and overcoming obstacles many American companies have faced. During a time when many gripe about US jobs becoming outsourced, it’s hard to say that WeatherTech didn’t prove their credibility with their national pride.

Cheerios

Yes, the adorable little girl is back and this time she is getting a brother. This 30-second ad wraps up what all of us remember of Cheerios and what the Cheerios brand wants us to remember about them; families coming together over love. Here Cheerios is showing how they are continuing to be a hearty and healthy part of growing families.

Bank of America/(RED)/U2

What does this commercial not do? It introduces U2’s new song “Invisible” (there is still time to get your free download if you haven’t done it), it highlights and raises money for the charity (RED), increases knowledge of AIDS/HIV, and shows Bank of America’s humanitarian efforts. Reinforcing their slogan, “Life is better when your connected”, Bank of America is giving a chance for its customers and the world to connect by helping to end an epidemic.

What is your opinion? Do you think these commercials deserve a spot in these categories? What other commercials did you see that introduce the brand or reinforce existing brand propensities?

-Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade