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  • Posted by: Jennifer Bierce on Tuesday, November 19 2013 04:57 PM | Comments (0)
    Tech Madison AvenueBrand leaders from the likes of Campbell's, Smirnoff, Facebook and Coca-Cola, startups such as Flipboard, Spotify and Mashable and agency leaders from companies such as Tribal Worldwide, Wunderman and HUGE met to talk leveraging technology and innovation to build successful brands. With additional perspectives from participants such as venture capitalists, government officials, academics, legal counsel and artists, meaningful conversations were fostered at the Talk NY's second annual Tech Madison Avenue conference.

    The talks of the day focused on three main themes: 

    • Creating an environment for technology and innovation to thrive 
    • Approaching digital as an overarching principle to facilitate storytelling 
    • Developing partnerships that are beneficial to all parties 

    A Thriving Technology and Innovation Environment 

    Kicking off the conference, Kyle Kimball, President of NYCEDC, along with representatives from Cornell Tech and FuturePerfect Ventures, discussed the changing landscape in New York City and how they've worked to build a city that encourages technological innovation to rival Silicon Valley. Looking at tech as "a horizontal that makes everything stronger," New York City has created 16 "incubators" housing more than 600 startups.

    Additionally, in an effort to increase the amount of engineering graduates in the city, New York has welcomed Cornell Tech, a new university that not only integrates startups, businesses and academics, but also supplies millions of dollars in entrepreneurial funds and generates billions in economic activity. With a concentration of people from a variety of different industries, all the speakers agreed there are unique opportunities available for companies in NYC and the city's position as a tech powerhouse is growing.

    New York City is not only betting on the next generation of entrepreneurs, but agencies are as well. HUGE for example, in addition to having an in house "incubator" for entrepreneurial HUGE employees, also hosts startup days to introduce new businesses to relevant brand partners. Wunderman has created its Wunderlab to map startups in all the cities it is located and match with clients. It is clear that investing in entrepreneurship will equate to big wins for everyone in the future.

    Tech Madison Avenue

    Facilitating Storytelling Through Digital

    While all the speakers discussed the need to look at "digital" as an integrated solution touching every area of ones business, Campbell's Global Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media perhaps best described it, using Campbell's "Digital Fitness" initiative as a model. As technology, devices and social media become ubiquitous in our culture, with children understanding how to use an iPad before they've learned to even speak, it is clear that consumers are more digitally savvy, and thus brands must be digitally fit to respond to consumer needs. To be "digitally fit" brands must understand how to engage consumers, identify the correct touch points in their digital ecosystem and tell a consistent story across each. Brands must measure progress across cultural, financial, customer and personal metrics to track performance in the digital space.

    Smirnoff, in particular, is leading the way as a social innovator through its Mixibit app, which allows consumers to aggregate their digital social life to create short videos that tell their unique stories. As an inherently social brand, Smirnoff saw the opportunity to create a digital experience that allows consumer to relive memories in a new way, aggregating photos, tweets and posts to create custom videos of their experience. This ability to facilitate storytelling is essential to remaining relevant to consumers.

    Benefitting All Through Strategic Partnerships

    The last theme of the day revolved around creating partnerships in storytelling. Adam Berger, a Creative Strategist at Facebook outlined five elements of a successful partnership:

    1. Align to business objective and KPIs 
    2. Create equitable & sustainable relationships 
    3. Be authentic to your brand 
    4. Be prepared to ship & iterate 
    5. The right partner at the right time 

    When these five things align, agencies, startups and brands can develop fruitful partnerships that will be mutually beneficial. 

    What does this mean all mean? 

    It is clear that investing in technology and relevant digital strategies is essential to stay ahead in this ever changing business landscape. In order for brands to remain relevant, they must become storytellers that engage with consumers in clear and relevant ways, building digital strategies that not only make sense to the customer and enrich their lives, but also make sense to the partners involved. 

    New York City is doing this on a macro scale, encouraging entrepreneurship and providing the environment to grow. On a smaller scale, as Smirnoff's Mixibit app and Flipboard's brand magazines demonstrate, brands must engage customers to add something to their lives and facilitate consumers' own storytelling and digital experiences. 

    With access to more data on consumers than advertisers, brands and startups have ever had before, the key to success will lie in the ability to turn big data into intelligent data and facilitate relevant partnerships.

    Jennifer Bierce is a Program Manager at Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Robert Ausdenmoore on Wednesday, November 6 2013 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

    The Next Big Social Thing

    Where there might have been some philosophical consensus on the merits of big data, opinions on best social media best practices were at times more divided at Advertising Age’s 2013 Digital Conference and CMO Strategy Summit. Overwhelmingly, marketers understand the critical role that social interactions with their customers will hold going forward, but many are trying to get out ahead of the curve of “what’s next?”

    Visa CMO Kevin Burke commented that versus the year 2000, the average person is consuming 75 hours of media a week, 67 percent of which is consumed digitally. The proliferation of mobile devices and online reviews has forced transparency that will, according to Burke, “raze the ivory tower of the brand.” While the need for a robust digital and social strategy is increasingly apparent, there are some real practical considerations that are shaping what tactics marketers are deploying.

    Lucas Herscovici, VP of Digital Marketing for Anheuser-Bush explained AB’s three part strategy on determining social channels to leverage: Observe, Experiment and Scale. “Observe” platforms are new social channels that AB actively monitors but doesn’t currently market in for legal or propriety reasons such as an overwhelmingly below-21 user base. “Experiment” channels like the fast-growing Vine or Instagram apps are obvious fits in terms of their media capabilities, but perhaps emerging in size. The “Scale” platforms (like Facebook or Twitter) are critical marketing channels in terms of members and opportunity for impressions.

    Looking across all three buckets of social channels, AB has ensured they can remain relevant on what is emerging, what is current, and are now conventional “must-have” social channels to utilize.

    Ben Huh, Founder and CEO of Internet culture network Cheezburger had similar recommendations in considering what channels could be appropriate marketing vehicles. He encouraged marketers to carefully consider the role of “native format” media, and how applications feel, and function seamlessly across mobile and PC channels. Rather than focusing on capabilities of any one given social channel, content should be generated in a format that is able to be consumed and shared across the largest number of devices.

    In spite of their relative simplicity, Internet “meme” images are so prevalent because of how instantly they can be consumed, regardless of where they are viewed. Huh’s perspective was largely captured in what he calls “The Kitten Test.” Within the context of the Internet, whatever marketing message you create needs to be able to hold interest as well as a picture of a kitten, because that is largely the type of media you are competing with.

    Relevance in Real-Time

    A specific tactic marketers are utilizing within their social channels is the so-called “real-time” approach of entering themselves into online conversations. A gold standard example that was used across several presentations was the “Oreo: Dunk in the Dark” tweet that ran during the blackout of the last Super Bowl. Other examples included the royal baby birth and recent iPhone release.

    Neil Bedwell, Coca-Cola's Group Director for Digital Content and Strategy, is working carefully to apply some of these real-time principles to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Despite its acclaim, he opined that the Oreo example also started a trend of horrible real-time marketing imitations from brands that haven’t appropriately mastered “when to speak and when not to speak.”

    Twitter noticed this trend and developed an Amplify platform that allows brands to work together to live in the moment. An example was ESPN sharing Instant Replays of college football plays within Twitter, complete with a brief Ford Fusion pre-roll that was promoted to non-followers who otherwise fell within Ford’s segmentation. The highlights and associated ads were viewed over 7 million times.

    Like Bedwell, Kevin Weil, Twitter’s VP Product for Revenue, suggested that the key to this sort of real-time success is authenticity, but that its benefits are obvious when a good fit is uncovered. Twitter has determined that interacting with a promoted tweet has resulted in an average 12% sales list among exposed audiences.

    Robert Ausdenmoore is Manager, Client Development, for Interbrand Design Forum.

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  • Posted by: Hugh Tallents on Thursday, July 18 2013 06:48 PM | Comments (0)


    Your parents told you not to carry too much of it. Credit card companies are trying to get rid of it. Environmental good sense tells us to stop printing it. In fact in 2011 the US Treasury produced fewer $5 bills than at any time in the past 30 years and stopped production on the $10 altogether. About 50% of transactions are now conducted in cash, down from over 75% in 1996. Cash use has long been in decline.

    But it might well be back.

    What was once seen as clunky, dirty and inconvenient has started to be seen as a safe haven for those unwilling to part with a different kind of currency that corporations crave – your personal information.

    Consumers are waking up to what has been true for a very long time. When you pay for something with your credit card you are likely giving up more than the cost of those sneakers or groceries you just swiped your card and walked out the door with. Most people don’t understand the nature and quantity of the information they give up in every transaction and just how valuable that data is. The NSA Prism program shines a glaring spotlight on the market for data. IBM is openly talking about using it to make things smarter, Microsoft launched a “Scroogled” campaign to highlight Google’s use of it. Facebook has had their feet held to the fire about their approach to personal information. It is becoming a corporate battleground that could have profound influence on consumer choices.

    The publicizing of this issue by businesses is contributing to the same reason why cash can potentially see a re-emergence. Consumers already had to deal with potential fraud and ID theft. Now they are realizing the value of their information and how businesses are starting to use it, they expect reciprocity from companies for giving it to them. Consumers equate their information to a currency and they want something valuable in return. A more tailored advertisement is not really the answer for most people, they expect more than that.

    Interbrand research shows that consumer perception about data and its usage is not as binary as “I am okay with it” or “I feel like my privacy is being invaded.” People are starting pull apart the different ways that their data is used – whether in aggregate (true “big data”), specifically for people with similar profiles and preferences to me and lastly for me individually. The more specific the usage gets the greater the expectation of reciprocity and the greater the fear for consumers that the information will be misappropriated. These benefits need to be constantly updated and ever changing - expect to see wholesale changes to the loyalty points and affinity industry in due course.

    Businesses are currently obsessed with big data and its commercial possibilities but might not be appreciating that there is a human at the end of that binary string. The role of the brand is to help the business understand not only the need to provide a reciprocal benefit but give insight into what those use cases and benefits might be. Brands that expect their customers to freely and willingly, allow their data to be used must be prepared to do the work to understand what those customers want in return and be prepared to continue to deliver an ever evolving set of benefits for as long as they expect to use the data. This is not a case of one-off offers, it is a relationship based on trust that requires constant reinforcement or people will close ranks around their information and, almost as importantly, the methods of payment that expose their information to companies.

    What businesses forget is that cash is a technology that the consumer is very comfortable with. It is trusted, it is universally accepted (the $100 bill is one of the US fastest growing exports!) and in the medium term competitors may need to be comfortable with the fact that customers want it to co-exist with more modern payment technology. One way to accelerate the decline of cash is to bake real reciprocity into every interaction. Until that time consumers will not only view this black market for 1s and 0s skeptically, they will potentially view the transactional anonymity of cash as making it safer than digital or credit in many transactions.

    Hugh Tallents is Senior Director, Strategy, Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Briggs on Monday, April 29 2013 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

    Starting today at 5PM EST/2PM PST, Comedy Central and more than 50 popular comedians such as The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal, Lil Rel Howery and Amy Schumer are participating in a social media event that brings the Comedy Central and Twitter brands together. Building on and disrupting the Twitter Party, the brands are launching #ComedyFest.

    Tonight’s kickoff event, Mel Brooks Joins Twitter, features Carl Reiner and Judd Apatow as moderator. Following the hashtag #ComedyFest, people can join in all of the action from @MelBrooks’ historic first tweet tonight through Friday, May 3.

    Twitter PartyBusinesses and bloggers have long known the opportunity that lies in the Twitter hashtag to create Twitter Parties, promote products and ideas and find follow-worthy content. Twitter began using the hashtag as early as 2007 and they’re very popular today. Chances are you’ve used a few. (Hashtags are words or phrases that follow behind the # symbol.) They’re currently found in use on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and GooglePlus. Now Facebook too is weighing getting in on the hashtag action.

    Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag into its network as a way to start up group conversations. The feature will allow users to grab posts regarding aspecific topic or event in order to build conversations, keeping users connected and logged on even longer than before.

    This move could be a result of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram last year. Instagram already uses the symbol to sort photos.

    Spectators believe the new feature speaks to the ongoing business rivalry with Twitter. While Facebook is and remains much larger than Twitter, generating $4.3 billion in advertising last year, the competition is prevalent.

    The WSJ reports, “Facebook's work on a hashtag is a sign of the heightening battle between Facebook and Twitter, as both compete for mobile users and fight for advertising dollars. For years, Twitter and Facebook seemed to occupy different poles of the social-media spectrum. While Facebook was the home of close friends and family, Twitter was the real-time broadcasting device for the rest of the world.”

    Facebook Hashtag Protest

    Some are totally against the new feature. A Facebook page named “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.” was set up and has more than 12,000 likes. However, there are many social media experts and users alike that think this is a great feature that will enhance user experience.

    Marketing seems to benefit the most from the use of hashtags in social media. Experts encourage companies to use hashtags in marketing messages on Twitter and other social media platforms. Continuous use of hashtags can help a brand go viral and generating more traffic.

    Hashtag MugHashtags can also help humanize brands, making them appealing to consumers. Hashtags make information easier to find, and that’s important. As a social media user myself, I enjoy having information given to me at lightning speed without the hassle of a full internet search. Other benefits of hashtags are promotion, unification, conversation, targeting and innovation, as Forbes noted.

    Question: So if Twitter is responsible for the success of hashtags, why don’t they own a trademark for it? Answer: Twitter has yet to register for a hashtag trademark.

    In fact, none of the major players in the social network industry have applied for trademark registrations for the word or symbol. From a trademark perspective hashtags could also be considered as an industry standard and functional in the category. If so, Twitter cannot claim rights to hashtags, if it is essential to the use or purpose of the offering.

    The use of a product feature as a trademark would put competitors at a disadvantage. This could be the reason Facebook does not own the trademark for the word Like, outside of its famous thumb up design. While we love a great trademark dispute, there won’t be one brewing here. Just seems like a game of fair or unfair competition.

    Nicole Briggs is an Associate Trademark Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Jennifer Vasilache on Tuesday, April 9 2013 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

    Mark Zuckerberg

    Last Thursday, as we were watching Mark Zuckerberg present the new Android phone experience, we welcomed with delight the name associated with this world-changing innovation: Home.

    Facebook HomeFrom a naming perspective, Home shines with simplicity, is easy to remember and has the privilege of being one of the few English words that is well understood globally. Braving the challenges of obtaining a trademark in such a crowded industry, Home perfectly reflects the fondness of tech brands for short, real-word names with great communication potential.

    This is where the name is ingenious. Primarily, Home denotes the idea of a familiar, safe, intimate place, where everyone is free to be themselves. In the context of Facebook's intent to remain faithful to the brand values and proposition (i.e. open, connection and people-focused), the name also promises a more intense and expansive social experience.

    Facebook redefines the user interface from a traditional homepage to a more personal home, making the physical and the digital worlds even closer. Still, some could argue that Home mirrors the privacy challenges that Facebook has been known for. Your social home is your safe place, but it is also open to everyone and there is no front door key.

    It will be interesting to follow whether Facebook Home will succeed in making the world more connected. Now, with this name ready to appear on millions of devices, we will definitely keep an eye out to see whether the significance of "home" will evolve toward a more connected experience, similar to the evolution of the significance of "friend" in recent years under Facebook's influence.

    Jennifer Vasilache is a Senior Consultant for Interbrand’s New York Verbal Identity department.

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