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John Adams Inducted into AAF Advertising Hall of Fame

On April 20, our Chairman John Adams was inducted into the 66th AAF Advertising Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of a few hundred men and women who have made significant contributions to both advertising and society as a whole. And while you’ll have to watch the video from the ceremony to see the striking similarities between our Chairman and the Founding Father, we just want to say: Congratulations, John. And especially you, John.

John Adams Inducted into AAF Advertising Hall of Fame

Life’s Rich

Living a rich life doesn’t come as a result of the size of a bank account, but from the shared moments, relationships and interactions you have that matter most. That’s the idea behind RITZ’s new "Life’s Rich" brand platform. So celebrate the road trips, pillow fights and movie marathons, all those moments where RITZ crackers fit naturally. Because buttery rich is a good kind of rich, too.

Life’s Rich


In 2014, we teamed up with RAC to create a music video for his song "Tear You Down," featuring Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We worked on everything from concept to production to even casting and custom jewelry design. The result is an experience that feels more like a short film than a music video.


Spark Some Wonder

Wonder is everywhere around us, even in the everyday moments that we might not expect. But those moments need some kind of spark to help us see it. That’s the idea that brought Walmart and Oreo together – the world’s largest retailer and the world’s favorite cookie – to tell a story of the everyday wonders that help us live better in a hundred thousand million different ways.

Link to video. 


Spark Some Wonder

GEICO Takes Home 5 One Show Pencils

Over the weekend, the GEICO team took home five shiny pencils from The One Show award ceremony. After the entire "Unskippable" series won gold in the short form film category, each of the four videos was then awarded individually in the interactive categories. 

Congrats to the GEICO team! 

Link to full list of winners. 

GEICO Takes Home 5 One Show Pencils

US Ad of the Week: Ritz ‘Life’s Rich’

22 April 2015, The Drum

Ritz crackers are celebrated for their buttery richness in the brand’s latest spot, which has been voted by US Creative Department readers as Ad of the Week.

Called 'Life's Rich,' the spot wishes viewers to be rich with happiness instead of rolls of money rich.

It's The Martin Agency’s first for the company after winning its business last year.

In the commercial, a voice proclaims: “May you be rich. So rich, nothing is out of reach,” while a little kid reaches for a Ritz cracker covered in chocolate spread and strawberries.

The :30 second ad is the first out of the campaign, with other versions debuting next month. A print version will launch in May as well.

Continue to The Drum

US Ad of the Week: Ritz ‘Life’s Rich’

The 5 Best Moments From This Year’s AAF Hall of Fame Dinner

21 April 2015, Adweek. By Andy McMains

The annual American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame dinner this year was as earnest as it was funny, as inductees spoke as passionately about their families as their peers.

In all, eight people and one corporation (PepsiCo) were honored at the event, which took place Monday night at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Some 975 people attended, and the AAF raised around $2 million for college scholarships, student ad competitions and diversity initiatives.

Here are five of the best lines of the night, showing the range of jokes, insights and reflections shared by honorees:

Spike Lee, filmmaker, CEO of Spike DDB and force behind the Mars Blackmon Air Jordan ads with Michael Jordan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said he owed his entrance into advertising to Nike agency Wieden + Kennedy and Nike's "visionary" founder Phil Knight. "People told him that having Michael Jordan as the face of your company will be detrimental to your business, to have a black man as the face of your company would be death," Lee said. "But thank god Phil Knight did not listen to those stupid motherfuckers—excuse my language."

Lee Clow, director of media arts at TBWA, thanked the ad leaders who inspired and trusted him—including George Lois, Bill Bernbach, Jay Chiat, Steve Jobs, John Wren and Jean-Marie Dru—adding that he has had an "amazingly special" advertising life. "And I'd also like to speak about real life: my wife, Eileen, [of] 45 years," Clow said. "Last couple of weeks I realized that being loved by her is all that really has mattered. So, thank you tonight."

John Adams, chairman of The Martin Agency, said he was overcome by deer ticks while clearing brush on the outer banks of North Carolina last weekend. "So, I started to pull them off, thinking about how boorish it would be to go to New York, to sit in a ballroom with these distinguished advertising people, covered with these blood-sucking parasites," Adams said. "But then I thought, wait a minute ..."

Linda Kaplan Thaler, chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, had tears in her eyes when she took the stage after watching a video tribute created in her honor. The video ended with her husband, son and daughter singing the Toys 'R Us jingle ("I want to be a Toys R Us kid.") that she helped create at JWT. "First time I'm seeing this," she explained. "I'm so glad I splurged for the waterproof mascara at Duane Reade."

Chuck Porter, chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, was clearly a bit freaked out by the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. But rather than talk about himself, he reflected on the best ads that his agency and the industry has produced. "People—they care about being informed, being entertained, being engaged, and mostly I think they care about being inspired," Porter said. "If you remember those things from the start when you do what we do, you can do magic."

The other honorees were iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman, Radio One founder Catherine Hughes and actor Michael J. Fox, who received the President's Award for his contributions to advertising, including his fundraising efforts to combat Parkinson's disease.

Finally, the tribute videos for each Hall of Famer ranged from sentimental (like Clow's, which George Lois made) and straight-up congratulatory to goofy. Adams' video had fun comparing the agency leader from Virginia to America's second president:

Link to video

The 5 Best Moments From This Year’s AAF Hall of Fame Dinner

John Adams Inducted into AAF Advertising Hall of Fame

On April 20, our Chairman John Adams was inducted into the 66th AAF Advertising Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of a few hundred men and women who have made significant contributions to both advertising and society as a whole. And while you’ll have to watch the video from the ceremony to see the striking similarities between our Chairman and the Founding Father, we just want to say: Congratulations, John. And especially you, John.

John Adams Inducted into AAF Advertising Hall of Fame

Life’s Rich

Living a rich life doesn’t come as a result of the size of a bank account, but from the shared moments, relationships and interactions you have that matter most. That’s the idea behind RITZ’s new "Life’s Rich" brand platform. So celebrate the road trips, pillow fights and movie marathons, all those moments where RITZ crackers fit naturally. Because buttery rich is a good kind of rich, too.

Life’s Rich


In 2014, we teamed up with RAC to create a music video for his song "Tear You Down," featuring Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. We worked on everything from concept to production to even casting and custom jewelry design. The result is an experience that feels more like a short film than a music video.


RAC & Alex Ebert’s “Tear You Down” Video: Idolator Premiere

14 April 2015, Idolator. By Robbie Daw

RAC has delivered a truly thought-provoking short film experience for Strangers cut “Tear You Down,” a pair-up with Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros vocalist Alex Ebert.

Here we see main RAC man Andre Allen Anjos falling into the ranks of a religious collective after receiving an invite from a pretty young woman. Andre arrives at a house that serves as the base for the group, where he passes through an initiation process, and finally is accepted as a member.

The police eventually raid the collective’s home, but there’s a twist ending that poses a specific question: Whether you belong to a religious cult or not, don’t we all serve the purpose of some larger group or other in the end?

Continue to Idolator

RAC & Alex Ebert’s “Tear You Down” Video: Idolator Premiere

If ‘Game of Thrones’ was an ad agency

12 April 2015. Digiday. By Martin Agency Associate Creative Director, Neel Williams

If you’ve noticed a palpable anticipation in the air lately, it’s not just because Raekwon’s new album is dropping in a few weeks. Game of Thrones’ fifth season is about to begin and it’s got nerds around the world (myself included) in need of a proper fainting couch.

One of the great things about GoT is its perfect mix of drama, violence and frontal nudity. Another great thing is how the show’s characters run the gamut from heroic and moral to despicable and putrid. Hey, this is starting to sound a lot like an agency! OK, so the violence is mostly passive aggressive in ad life, but it’s hard not to see some slight similarities between the show and everyday agency culture.

So without further ado, here is what Game of Thrones might look like if it was an advertising agency. Please understand that there are like 5,000 characters on GOT so most of them have been left out, some of them are currently deceased, and there are plenty of spoilers if you haven’t watched any of the series. OK, now read on.

Hodor: Production
Arguably the most lovable, faithful character in the whole series (if you haven’t watched “Game of Hodor” on YouTube, do it right now). Hodor gets Bran Stark where he wants to go, quite literally. Production is the muscle behind any great idea. Without it, nothing would happen and you’d just be stuck on the ground ruing the day you accidentally became witness to some hot Lannister incest and got pushed out a window. (Note: most producers are far better conversationalists than Hodor.)

Tywin Lannister: Accounting
Head of House Lannister, Tywin is as pragmatic — and rich — as they come. He’s all about the numbers and the outcome. This approach has taken him and his family to the pinnacle of Westeros. As any good number-cruncher knows, you can only get so far on creative strength if you can’t keep the lights on. In the end, the Lannister motto says it all: “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Too bad not all clients share that point of view.

The Night’s Watch: I.T.
A motley crew of bastards, rapists and youngest sons (I’m talking about The Night’s Watch…relax!) They are the first and last line of protection from the scariest of foes. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Game of Thrones with all its drama and politics, but that means nothing when you’re confronted with a million zombies wielding swords. In the agency world, the only thing scarier than an undead army is the prospect of your internet search history falling into the hands of a hacker. Sure, we totally believe that “Naked Golden Girls Pics” was a work-related search.

Varys: Account Management
With a network of informants across several continents, Varys the Eunuch uses this intelligence to the realm’s (and his own) advantage. For a guy with no physical assets, he shows some pretty strong metaphorical ones from time to time. Just like Varys, any good account person should be focused on fostering relationships and gaining inside knowledge that can one day come in handy…COUGH…blackmail…COUGH-COUGH.

Daenerys Targaryen + Her Dragons: Creative
Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the something-or-other. She’s racked up a lot of impressive-sounding titles and has the whiz-bang thunder of three dragons. Unfortunately, you can’t really domesticate dragons and sometimes they eat small children. So it is with Creative, the firepower of any agency worth its salt. Sure, they’re hard to tame and difficult to love, but if you ever need a Super Bowl spot in 24 hours (or get imprisoned by warlocks in a creepy tower), man are they handy to have around.

Lady Stark: Human Resources
There’s not a whole lot of compassion in the Seven Kingdoms, but Lady Stark provides a strong example of motherly love. She was mostly kind and completely devoted to her (legitimate) children. In a similar way, Human Resources is all about the people, making sure they’re taken care of and looked after. H.R. also isn’t afraid to “slap the taste out your mouf” if you disrespect your siblings. Momma keeps it real.

Jon Snow: Project Management
On GoT, it’s tough to find a heroic character who’s still above ground. Somehow Snow manages it. In Season 4, Ned Stark’s bastard keeps 100,000 wildlings at bay when pretty much everyone else on The Wall has gone bonkers. Snow takes the reins, keeps everyone on task and does a hell of a lot with a tiny force. This is Project Management at its best, a calm yet assertive force that can turn 5 fingers into a powerful, Wildling-smashing fist.

Tyrion Lannister: Planning
What Lord Tyrion lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in strategy. His thoughtful planning saved King’s Landing from Stannis Baratheon’s navy. And what did he get in return? A big scar on his face and the hatred of his entire family. Yep, planning can be a bit thankless at times, but without good strategy sometimes all it takes is a mosquito fart to send your castle defenses a-crumbling.

Stannis Baratheon’s Weird Spirit Baby: Freelancers
In one of the more odd moments in GOT, Stannis Baratheon’s Red Priestess gives birth to a shadowy spirit that goes and kills his enemy/brother. The whole thing leaves everybody feeling a bit…icky. Freelancers aren’t nearly that scary, but they do come at a steep cost for carrying out a singular task. Then they disappear into the ether never to be seen or spoken of again.

If you actually read through each of these, you deserve a merit badge. If you skimmed through a few and then got down here, well, I can’t blame you. Let’s just all be glad we’re not actually in Game of Thrones because “winter is coming” and half of us would be dead already. So let’s just kick back with a nice cup of ale and enjoy what season 5 has to offer. Rest assured, it will be packed with more vices than one of Lord Baelish’s brothels.

Continue to Digiday

If ‘Game of Thrones’ was an ad agency

Supreme Court Justices Will Be Invited to So Many Same-Sex Weddings

1 April 2015, Creativity-Online, Editor's Pick

Tie The Knot, a non-profit organization that supports marriage equality founded by "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, is turning the traditional wedding "Save the Date" into ammo for its cause.

Along with the Martin Agency, Tie the Knot has launched "Supreme Save the Date," targeting the 14 U.S. states that have yet to legalize same-sex marriage. It will feature a "Save the Date Builder" that helps gay couples who hope to marry create their own Save the Dates and send them to Supreme Court Justices before they make their ruling on same-sex marriage in June. The idea is to potentially inundate them with wedding plans that can't move forward without the Supreme Court's help.

Continue to Creativity-Online for video and full article

Supreme Court Justices Will Be Invited to So Many Same-Sex Weddings

Benjamin Moore Debuts Its Biggest Ad Campaign Ever

24 March 2015, Adweek, By Noreen O'Leary. 

Benjamin Moore is launching its most aggressive advertising campaign ever, spending $50 million to differentiate the brand in a commodity category where paint increasingly is just seen as color on the wall.

Ron Schuller, who joined Benjamin Moore as CMO last November, said the initiative emphasizes its two strongest attributes: Consumers' perception of Benjamin Moore as a premium brand; and its distribution through smaller merchants, rather than big-box stores.

"In the first phase [of the campaign], we'll talk about product quality where the product is the hero," said Schuller, "while in the second phase we'll focus on our independent, expert retailers who give you the right advice and help you through the process."

The 132-year-old company's pitch, from The Martin Agency, uses TV, radio, print and digital and introduces the brand's new tagline—"Paint like no other." Benjamin Moore previously leaned on a more locally-focused approach. Schuller said the company had to turn up the volume with a clear positioning in a category where there's been "a lot of noise" in recent years, especially as the economy has improved and consumers return to do-it-yourself household projects.

The first phase of the campaign, "Feats of Can," which just broke, highlights paint coatings that correspond to different product offerings. Benjamin Moore lays claim to industry firsts like creating a product that combines paint and primer, and one with zero VOCs (symptom-producing solvents) and no emissions.

Continue to Adweek for full article

Benjamin Moore Debuts Its Biggest Ad Campaign Ever

Enterprise-Level Campaign

Overheated radiators, late shipments, stale donuts, rushed deadlines. These are the problems you never have to deal with when you partner with Penske. And this is the message behind Penske’s first national b-to-b campaign. Supply chains become more efficient, products move more reliably and a change in residence becomes a little smoother. No pathetic horn honking needed.

Enterprise-Level Campaign

Penske Truck Leasing Debuts First National B-to-B Campaign

16 March 2015, Advertising Age, By Kate Maddox

Penske Truck Leasing today is launching its first national b-to-b campaign, designed to raise awareness of its truck leasing, rental and logistics services for businesses.

The campaign, which has the theme "Moving Forward," includes print, online and social media. Online videos break today on around coverage of the NCAA "March Madness" men's basketball tournament.

The ads use humor to show what can go wrong when businesses don't use Penske for their critical shipping and transportation needs, from chickens hatching out of egg cartons to truckers with lousy horns. The campaign was created by The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and the budget was not disclosed.

"We have done a lot of advertising around our individual product lines -- primarily in trade-specific publications -- but we wanted to tell a broader story of what we do," said Sherry Sanger, senior VP-marketing at Penske Truck Leasing.

Penske has three main b-to-b product lines -- commercial truck rentals for businesses' short-term needs; full-service truck leasing for longer-term needs; and logistics, such as handling businesses' transportation and warehousing operations.

The company also provides truck rental services to consumers, although that side of the business makes up less than 10% of the company's total revenue, Ms. Sanger said. Penske Truck Leasing had total revenue of $5.6 billion last year.

"The consumer side is the most visible part of our brand. People are used to seeing our bright yellow trucks," she said. "What we really wanted to focus on is the commercial breadth of our offerings."

So Penske turned to The Martin Agency, its agency of record for the past three years, to develop an integrated campaign that would reach a national business audience.

"Many people in the b-to-b space forget that they are really talking to humans," said Cliff Sorah, senior VP-creative director at The Martin Agency. "We are showcasing the humanity behind the brand and connecting to the audiences with humor."

Continue to Ad Age for full article

Penske Truck Leasing Debuts First National B-to-B Campaign

Play with OREO in the Press

As part of the "Play with OREO" campaign, we sought out 10 emerging artists from around the world and asked them to share their creative OREO expressions of “play.” The results were showcased around NYC, LA and Indianapolis and were featured in Adweek, Creativity and Fast Company



Play with OREO in the Press

GEICO Unskippable is Unstoppable

Apparently not everyone hates pre-roll. GEICO's latest "Unskippable" campaign garnered widespread attention in Adweek, Creativity, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Forbes and USA Today. Carson Daly and the Today Show team even gave it some love. 



GEICO Unskippable is Unstoppable


Pre-roll ads are annoying. We all share that feeling of wanting to click "skip" as soon as humanly possible. Thankfully, we found a solution. These ads are impossible to skip, they're already over. 


Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

A group of valuable new employees you’ve diligently recruited shows up for their first day at the agency. They are eager, and maybe even a little anxious, to start their new jobs. Until now, they’ve known the agency by reputation only and they can’t wait to be wowed by the most exciting, welcoming first day ever. 

Instead, they get a quick introduction to their new teammates who are running late for a client call. They may even hear the refrain: “It’s not always like this but today is crazy busy.” Then they’re ushered into a conference room where they face a mountain of health insurance and orientation paperwork and a cold box lunch.

Sound familiar?

Far too often, in hectic agency environments that are increasingly time starved, new employee onboarding simply doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Yet, a recent Aberdeen Group study found that “new employees are 69% more likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding.”

That statistic was the nudge we needed to completely overhaul our onboarding program. We shifted our mindset and worked to make orientation a personal, enjoyable immersion in our business and our culture. This allows new employees to actually hit the ground running and contribute more quickly, which, as we all know, is one of the great joys of work. Most importantly, we’re hearing from our new hires that this process is helping reinforce that they made the right career choice.

Here are a few changes we’ve made that are making a big difference:

You Told Them You Wanted Them, Now Show Them. Rather than a dull conference room, orientation takes place in our gallery, which is a bright, busy, open space at the center of the agency. During the next few hours, new hires hear from our CEO, Matt Williams, about our culture of “Good & Tough” and our Chairman, John Adams, talks to them about our company values that he penned in 1996. Next a creative director pops in to talk about our approach to the work followed by a seasoned project manager who explains in detail how work moves through the agency. By the end of these sessions, new employees know exactly who we are, what we do and how we do it. Finally, at the end of the day, they are invited to an informal mixer where their supervisors and colleagues gather to welcome and get to know them.

Throw the Book at Them. Our new hires say our Welcome Book (onboarding journal) is one-of-a-kind. It arms our new employees with a personal map for their adventure at The Martin Agency, guiding them through a four-month immersion into our company. It gives tips and ideas for engaging with supervisors and teammates. And to show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, each tab features doodles and notes sections with page 34 even encouraging ‘your best conference call art.’ The book was conceived and written by a team here at the agency with a production assist by The Frontier Project.

Save HR & Paperwork for Day #2. HR plays an invaluable role in the new hire process and we’ve got a fantastic HR team.  But we made the decision to minimize their involvement on the first day by engaging employees from across departments to lead the orientation charge. It can be a project manager and an AV specialist working together, or a copywriter and a producer teaming up. They’re given basic guidelines and material to cover, but are encouraged to put their own personal touch on the day.

Show Them the Ropes – No Excuses. When we asked some relatively new employees about their onboarding experience with us, we learned we suffered from another common onboarding faux pas. New hires couldn’t contribute right away because no one had time to train them. The solution was simple: Have a training plan and stick to it. Now, departments customize specific plans for onboarding new talent that are faithfully completed during the employees’ first few days at the agency.

Play Matchmaker. Nothing makes new employees feel more welcome than other employees. And if these new friends are folks they might not otherwise get to interact with in their first 90 days, all the better. With our new buddy system, we find out our new hires’ interests and hobbies, how old their children are, where they’re going to live, etc., and connect them with like-minded employees. It’s like, but for work friends (and without the .com).

Tell Us What Your Fresh Eyes See. We love new hires; they bring an invaluable fresh perspective and we find it invigorating to talk with them. From the beginning, we go to great lengths to make sure their voices are heard and to remind them that we really want their opinion. At every orientation, an executive committee member welcomes the group. We share our story and talk candidly about the agency and the industry. We remind them that they’re bringing something to the table that the rest of us can no longer bring and that’s a fresh set of eyes without a Martin filter. That’s critical to us and we encourage them to be vocal and have a point of view on what we could be doing better. We tell them our doors are always open and to stop by often. In fact, our CEO meets with new hires monthly.

“The onboarding process was ground-breaking for me when I started The Martin Agency,” said Lauren Prociv, an Experience Planner in our strategic planning department. “Not only did I meet people that became good friends, I learned about the Good & Tough culture of the agency – good to each other and tough on the work – which instilled in me the confidence to immediately share my ideas despite being an ad rookie.”

While none of these steps may sound individually earth-shattering, we’ve found that when everyone faithfully does their part, the combined effect really does make a big difference both to new employees and to all of us who welcome and learn from them.

Beth Rilee-Kelley is the chief operating officer of The Martin Agency and has been with the company for 31 years. She has worked in the account management and creative departments, and right before stepping into the COO role she was head of the company’s human resources group. She is a tireless mentor and sponsor for women.

Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

Top Five Big Game Ads, Live from London

The big game kicked off at 11:30 pm here in London, and we didn’t see the double-cliffhanger ending until almost 3:30 am Monday morning. Even so I wouldn’t have missed it, instant classic.

However, in contrast to the prime-time eyeball magnet that is the US broadcast, here it’s a late-night showing of a game no one much cares much about, so naturally the quality of the ads they showed was a bit different. Nevertheless, there were some standouts.

Here are my Top 5 ads from the UK broadcast:

1. Prof. Alistair Collingsworth-Whitehead’s School of Fisticuffsmanship for Lads
“I Dare Say Sir, How Rude!”
Well art-directed Victorian setting, great dialogue. I guess everyone eats mutton? Weird.

2. Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy Oven and Countertop Cleaning-Up Liquid
“Might we disinfect your kitchen if it’s no trouble?”
Who would have thought a kitchen cleanser would inspire such an extravagant musical number? My kids will be doing this dance for the rest of the year, thanks Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy, sheesh! :(

3. Miss Rose Marblehead-Winterbottom's Hand-Crafted Lavender Shoe Trees (:90 anthem)
“Shore is summin innit, wooncha say missus, I’m well chuffed”
I could barely understand a word through the thick accents and heavy rain, but the claymation chicken & leek pies made it fun.

4. City of Westminster Ministry of Unfortunately Unavoidable Billings
“No One Likes A Rate Increase But We Are Terribly Sorry To Announce Tariffs Will Increase From March 1”
CGI world made entirely of clotted cream, so inspiring. I will forever see Victoria sponge cake as a villain now.

5. Lady Agnes’ Undergarments For Polite Ladies Who Place Decorum Above All Else
“Help! I’ve had a poo”
A difficult topic well handled, I say. Not sure it was necessary to have the diaper voiced by an Italian man, but I am new to the UK so what do I know?

Top Five Big Game Ads, Live from London

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham
Three Ways Brands Can Find and Use their True Voice

By Anne Marie Hite

I recently read an article in which HBO's "Girls" creator Lena Dunham talked about what it was like growing up in New York's most exclusive schools. "I didn't feel chic. I didn't feel special…I was bad at sports. I wasn't the girl that boys liked. But (writing about it) made me feel like I had something."

Something indeed. By baring her soul, and a few other things too, Ms. Dunham found her true voice, which she was then able to amplify across a wide range of mediums -- from a TV show to a book -- and connect deeply with millions of young women. And quite a few of us slightly older women, too.

It occurred to me that brands can learn a lot from Ms. Dunham. And don't worry; it doesn't involve taking off your clothes in front of a national audience. Well, perhaps in the metaphorical sense.

1. Be honest about who you are not.

We don't like people who go around talking about how great they are. And yet, brands do this all the time. I'm not saying you need to dis your brand. Just spend a bit more time exploring its struggles and flaws. Chances are, you can turn them into something positive and in the process, lead your brand into much more interesting, authentic territory.

This reminds me of an old Dudley Moore movie about advertising, where he presented an ad for Volvo that said, "They're boxy but they're good." He was immediately committed to a mental hospital but I actually think he was onto something.

Dove was a pioneer in this honest approach by admitting their products won't make you look like the women in magazines. Their brilliant spin was that no product can do this because even the women in magazines don't really look like that.
Another great example is Toyota's "Swagger Wagon." By openly stating what they knew we were all thinking -- that minivans are the ultimate sign that you're no longer cool -- Toyota's Sienna made driving its minivan actually seem kind of cool.

More recently, Newcastle Ale's series of online "Super Bowl" ads -- which they openly admitted they couldn't actually afford to run on the Super Bowl -- became the most talked-about ads of the Super Bowl.

2. Use "who you are not" to find your authentic voice.

Brands have come a long way in trying to define themselves, but there is still work to be done. Some of today's more common positioning statements include the tech-savvy "innovative," the health-conscious "pure," and the No. 1 choice of female brands everywhere -- "empowering!"

There's nothing wrong with these statements, but there's nothing ownable or differentiating about them either. However, combine them with a perceived flaw or even an attribute that's authentic to the brand, and suddenly things get interesting.

One of my favorite commercials is Nike's "Find your Greatness," which ran during the Super Bowl a few years back. In it, we see a chubby kid panting his way down the road --albeit quite determinedly -- while a voiceover talks about all the things greatness is "not." For the millions of us sitting on our sofas drinking beer and eating cheese dip, this was much more relatable and even more motivating than seeing a star athlete sprinting down the street, talking about all the things greatness "is."

3. Use your authentic voice to build a community of like-minded souls.

I imagine Lena Dunham gets invited to a lot of dinner parties. And it isn't because she was the most popular girl in school. It's because she wasn't. I also imagine that at these dinner parties, there are quite a few people sneaking into the dining room switching their place cards for a chance to sit next to her. Our brands should be so lucky. Again, it comes down to having something to say that people connect with, which is especially important when trying to build a presence on social media.

As the mother of a 12-year-old boy who leaves for school every morning smelling like Old Spice Swagger, I can say with authority that moms don't care too much for Old Spice. Rather than ignoring this fact, Old Spice took it head-on with "Mom Song" and instantly connected with the millions of moms out there lamenting their boys becoming men -- this from the brand that's basically aiding in this abomination. I still don't like that my son is wearing Old Spice, but I love that Old Spice gets that. And judging by the responses from moms in the comments section of YouTube, I'm not alone.

The secret to success

I think back to that episode of "Girls" last season where Lena Dunham spent the entire episode walking around the Hamptons in a green string bikini. She wasn't flaunting her perfect body. She was flaunting a body that 99% of women can relate to. And it was glorious.

Yes, it takes bravery. And no, it's not always comfortable. But a little bit of vulnerability never hurt anyone. In fact, it could be the secret to your brand's success.


Link to story.

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

Play with OREO

Twist, lick, dunk, roll, stack and dip, there's no limit to what your imagination can do when you play with OREO. And from working with electro-pop duo Yelle to seeking out 10 emerging artists to share their creative OREO expressions of “play,” this new campaign inspires imagination and play around the globe.

Play with OREO

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