13 Unique Marketing Campaigns And The Valuable Lessons They Teach

One of the hallmarks of working in an agency is that no two clients want the same thing. Even so, a few campaigns that professionals have worked on are unusual and distinct. Sometimes the client wants something unique and potentially strange to the agency. One might look at this as just another quirk of the profession, but the true masters see these unusual requests as an ability to learn.

The things you discover from a strange request might come in handy later down the road in another project. Below, 13 contributors to Forbes Agency Council talk about some of the most unique and challenging client campaigns they ever worked on and the valuable lessons they gained from the experience.

Unique Marketing Campaigns

1. Treadmill Running For Leukemia Awareness

A former NGO client wanted to create awareness for leukemia by collaborating with a locally famous runner. After some skepticism, we set up treadmills at a crowded CBD location, asking office workers to join the runner’s quest of completing a marathon on the treadmill — with every mile leading to donations. “Running in your heels is hard? It’s nothing compared to those suffering.” – Lars Voedisch, PRecious Communications

2. Friskies Best Internet Cat Video Competition

The goal was to have Friskies be the driver of an online cat video contest. We hired celebrity judges and crafted a donation program for 25 approved national nonprofits to receive Friskies cat food with each vote cast. We learned that cat owners love making videos, and this was feeding something they enjoy while also empowering Friskies to be front and center with them. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

3. Incontinence Pads Promotion Campaign

Recently, a client came to us asking if we could help promote their incontinence pads utilizing our influencer network. While you might think light bladder leakage is not something women would want to talk about online, it turns out you would be wrong! The content generated was authentic, engaging and even funny (one influencer shared photos of herself jumping on a trampoline). – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

4. A ‘Blockbuster’ Campaign With A Limited Budget

Our client wanted us to compete with top dollar spenders with, only 2% of the total budget that the competitors were spending! To the client, this new campaign idea made the most sense in the world, hence the nickname “Blockbuster.” We learned to be resourceful, and my team ended up doing very little with their normal routines. We made sure they found a way; no stone was left unturned. – Zohaib Hassan Patoli, SnapWeb Services

5. Rental Apartment Community Campaign

We were asked to create a campaign to market a new rental apartment community targeted to young, single professionals on a tight budget. We didn’t want to just do the typical photos of the complex so we created three “model” tenants — complete with names, careers, etc., to show what life is like at the complex. We were the one that came up with the unusual idea. It was an experiment that worked. – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.

6. Weather-Based Campaign

Weather can be a driving factor for if people choose to dine out or order in. We ran a unique campaign for a client in the restaurant industry that was based on the weather. We developed digital advertising and social media promotions that offered delivery specials, by geomarket, that were triggered by rainy or cold weather. We found that food delivery thrived in the rain. – Alex Membrillo, Cardinal Digital Marketing

7. Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform

The most interesting, innovative and challenging project we’ve worked on as an agency was a cryptocurrency exchange platform for accredited investors. Specializing in emerging technology and media has given us the opportunities to be on the forefront of continuous learning, exponential opportunities and we never suffer from a dull moment. The level of innovation in the startup space is unprecedented. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media

8. Generating Word-Of-Mouth For Civic Project

A client asked us to generate broad, “organic” support for a civic project. Normal PR tactics were not going to do it, so we delved deep into the world of word-of-mouth marketing and developed an innovative campaign — before the age of social media — that identified influential people and used their networks to create the broad, authentic and obvious support our client wanted. – Jeff Bradford, the Bradford Group

9. Gulfstream’s G700 Launch Show

We love a challenge. When aerospace leader Gulfstream came to us for the launch of their G700 aircraft, they wanted us to hide and then reveal a full-sized business jet — no small task. We came up with the concept and designed and delivered a dazzling live show around the reveal. When we accept these challenges, we learn and grow, and are better positioned for the next one. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

10. Local Political Campaign

Our first local political campaign for a person running for city council was challenging. We were faced with the ins and outs of dealing with a person who should become a brand that could, over time, garner the support of city residents to vote for them. The difficulty lies in making this person likable to a crowd in a short span of time and training this person to be the brand. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

11. Cannabis Outdoor Advertising Nationwide

As the cannabis industry keeps growing, we have been approached by our client and asked to develop and execute an outdoor campaign that meets regulatory requirements nationwide. In order to do so, we had to learn how consumers are buying cannabis products and how to advertise by the rules in each state. Lesson learned? Do your research yourself and keep it away from millennials at your agency! – Jonnathan Trilleras, LEDTruckMedia

12. Website For Energy Muse

We’re currently working on a site for a client that is an energy muse. It’s a very niche market but has found that with her techniques she’s able to get people into a new mindset that they haven’t been open to before. We looked at inspiration across a spectrum to find that brand that feels authentic and comfortable to a market that is new to almost all potential buyers. – Lee Salisbury, UnitOneNine

13. Sports Sponsorships

Sports sponsorships are unique branding opportunities for both the client and the fan where the client can really get behind a team they are passionate about. The sports fan will engage with the brand and sponsorship as there will be a mutual understanding that the brand supports the fans favorite team and their passions are aligned leading to stronger engagement. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro,Hawthorne LLC

Need To Reinvent A Beloved Brand? 9 Important Steps To Take

No matter how well-established a brand is, there may come a time when it needs to reinvent itself. Whether the company is working to keep up with modern sentiments or reach a new target demographic, the process of reinvention should be carefully considered and implemented. Otherwise, you may end up alienating the very customers who built your brand in the first place.

Reinvent Your Brand - AdAge

To help businesses that are considering a rebrand, we turned to the experts of Ad Age Collective for their insights. Below, they share nine steps a company should consider when reinventing a well-known brand.

1. Leverage your historical emotional insights.
When brands need to reimagine their future, it is important to understand why customers had an emotional connection to the brand in the past. Leveraging that emotional insight to refresh the branding and marketing around a product in a new light is often where you can start. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

2. Conduct research and reinvent based on data.
Reinventing a well-established brand doesn’t mean starting from scratch. Be sure to conduct research with your customers to find out what they currently think of your brand. What parts of your brand are still relevant? What parts need to go? What do customers believe you can credibly stand for? Use a fact-based approach to create a refreshed brand that audiences will connect with. – Aaron Hall, Siegel+Gale

3. Involve your existing fans and employees.
Reinvention can be exciting, but for some it means changing the brand they have come to know and love. Avid fans and employees should be considered in any reinvention plan. How do you ensure continuity and inclusion for this passionate base? Involve them early and bring them along for the ride. This will ensure they are not left behind and remain ambassadors for the new brand. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

4. Expand the audience, but don’t alienate the core.
We are frequently tasked with repositioning a well-established brand to reach a younger demographic. An important step in this process is to consider options for a reinvention that avoid alienating the existing core consumer. For a brand that has established equity, new strategies should expand brand relevance to a younger audience, not leave long-time brand fans behind. – Issa Sawabini, Fuse

5. Test your strategies first.
When reinventing your brand, it’s vital to test the changes you’re going to make. Make sure that you do your research and test your new brand image with a small group of your core audience. Continuous testing and getting feedback will ensure that you don’t alienate your core audience. It will also help you make changes in the right direction. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Go back to your ‘why.’
Brands often need to reinvent themselves because they either lost their way or their momentum fizzled. They probably lost their way because they lost their “why.” Or, they lost their momentum because they lost their drive. If companies can retrace their steps to remember why they started the business in the first place, they can inspire new direction or refill the tank with passion. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Make sure you have a clear path to engage new customers at scale.
Ask 20 adults to rewrite history or direct a do-over and what’s the response? No one chooses a gradual approach. Huge success scenarios with visions of landmark breakthroughs are voiced. This also applies to brands reinventing. Pursue outsized results by driving trials with solely new prospects. Proceed only if a path to engage new customers at scale is evident. If not, why reinvent? – Sean Cunningham, VAB

8. Stay true to the core brand.
Staying true to the core elements of a brand that have stood the test of time with the consumer should not be undervalued. A brand can do a face-lift by updating color scheme, images, messages and even refocus themes, but this should not deter dramatically from its brand equity and the value it spent building over time. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Have fun and give the keys to your new brand ambassadors.
Classic brands like Converse and MINI really set the pace in terms of giving the keys to the brand to their customers. They didn’t necessarily need to reinvent themselves. But by allowing their customers to collaborate and use digital tools to “design their own Chucks” or “dream cars,” they got crucial brand insights while appealing to modern shoppers. What they did is now common. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

14 Social Media Faux Pas To Avoid At All Costs

Social media is an important part of any company’s marketing strategy. While social media savvy helps promote brand recognition and overall success, one misstep can bring a business unwanted attention—even national infamy.

Social Media Faux Pas

As industry experts, the members of Forbes Agency Council have seen their share of social media faux pas. Below, 14 of them share some of the biggest mistakes to avoid on your social channels.

1. Inconsistency In Posting

The biggest faux pas is inconsistency. If your company can’t provide consistent, relevant content, then you’re better served—in terms of brand positioning—by not using social media at all. – Gordon Andrew, Highlander Consulting Inc.

2. Seeming Disconnected From The World

Too often, companies are so focused on their own messaging and goals that they come across as disconnected from what’s happening in the world or industry. Especially at a time like now, it’s so important for companies to start by listening, paying attention to what others are saying and exhibiting the appropriate level of empathy. Doing the right thing is as important as saying the right thing. – Matt Berry, Conversion Agile Marketing

3. Engaging Haters

Sometimes the simplest advice is truly the best: If you’ve made a misstep online, apologize and move on. If you take time to engage the social media haters, the fight will never end. There are professionals whose job it is to do this for a living. Other people have too much time on their hands and simply no empathy or filter. Don’t make their problem your problem. Apologize. Move on. – Megan Cunningham, Magnet Media, Inc.

4. Sharing Polarizing Content

First, steer clear of political or religious opinions in general—this should go without saying. Second, be careful when trying to be humorous or catchy by posting “too soon” when it comes to current events. Third, remember that social posts will live forever in some form, so if you can’t stand by your words forever, then you need to reconsider that post. – Bernard May, National Positions

5. Failure To Understand Your Audience

The vast majority of social media missteps are a result of not understanding or considering your audience, the global landscape or both. Poor attempts at humor, a statement that does not reflect the beliefs of your audience or poor handling of an issue can all lead to public consternation. Avoid “hot takes” and speak authentically and true to your brand voice to avoid those faux pas moments. – David Harrison, EVINS

6. Being Self-Serving

Being conscious and appropriate to what is happening in the public domain is critical when posting socially. For instance, in our current health and economic crisis, posting things that do not acknowledge it or take it into consideration would seem self-serving and inappropriate in a time of need. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

7. Letting Quality Slip

It almost always comes down to common sense. The problem is that these things usually come up when social media managers get relaxed about making sure everything goes out right. As long as you keep your quality standards up for every tweet or post you send from the company’s accounts, these unfortunate mistakes can be avoided. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

8. Acting Opportunistically

One of the biggest missteps in social media is trying to be opportunistic or lacking empathy about the current conversation. Understanding a trending topic and wanting to join the conversation makes sense if you’re staying true to your brand values. But simply pretending to be informed or to care to get your name out there can have disastrous results. – Jessica Reznick, We’re Magnetic

9. Not Monitoring Response

The best thing you can do is monitor the comments. If the comments are positive, then that’s great. If they’re negative and it’s not being monitored, it’s going to look worse. It would seem as though you’re promoting something that people want you to take down. This can be avoided if you monitor it. Do it not just once a day, but multiple times a day. Update the ad and listen to your audience. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. Too Much Self-Attention

One of the biggest mistakes on social media is the fact that there is too much self-attention happening out there. What that means is that it is necessary to know the right blend of personal and promotional content. You must give to the community to make sure that you have a responsible balance in the mix. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Political Posts

Unless you are a news organization or work in the political world, bringing politics into your posts should be avoided at all costs. Getting political can alienate a lot of your customers and clients. Always steer clear of talking politics. – Zachary Binder, Bell + Ivy

12. Capitalizing On A Serious Matter For Marketing Purposes

The biggest faux pas a company can make on social media is being apathetic to what is happening in the world. Capitalizing on a serious matter for marketing purposes is a great way to bring unwanted and oftentimes detrimental attention to your business. Double-check your content and look at it from all angles to ensure your message can’t be construed in a negative light. Empathy is always key! – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

13. Tone-Deafness

On social media, it’s essential to build relationships with customers. If a company is too self-focused or is tone-deaf to what its market wants, needs and seeks, its presence will not be valuable or brand-building. Social media should be outward-focused interactions (“What can I do for you?”), not self-focused. It’s about relationships above all else! – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

14. Running Away From Attention

Never run away from attention, whether good or bad. If there is negative attention on you or your business on social media, address it. Whether it’s an irate customer, viral clip or other potential mishap, identify it and address it in a genuine and empathetic way. Be open to bad attention and take it as a lesson to learn from. It’s also something others can learn about how you and your business handle situations. – Tony Pec, Y Not

6 Smart Ways To Handle A Negative Audience Reaction To Your Ad Campaign

You’ve done all the necessary research and preparations for your ad campaign, and you’re sure it’s going to be a hit with your target audience. But then for some reason, your campaign just doesn’t land, and your audience has an unexpected negative reaction. You may even start to lose some customers. Even when you prepare, the unfortunate reality is that even all the forethought in the world can’t always prevent a negative reaction to an ad.

AdAge Collective

If your latest campaign doesn’t get the intended reaction or is poorly-received by consumers, it can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing — but there’s no need to panic. First, take a deep breath. Then, try these six strategies from Ad Age Collective members to recover from the backlash and get your brand image back where you want it to be.

1. Try to catch it early with social listening tools.

Using the right tools can help you catch an ad that does badly early on. Social media listening and sentiment analysis tools will monitor online content that may be impossible to manage manually. Invest in these tools and make it a practice to use them and understand what people are saying in relation to a brand. Doing so will help you manage PR effectively and quickly. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Be human about it.

Sometimes the best brands and advertisements have negative and unintended consequences or associations. Most recently, Planters killed off Mr. Peanut days before Kobe Bryant passed. In difficult times, advertising is no different than life. Be human, act with kindness, do the right thing, explain your actions and do something that truly shows you care equally for your brand and your audience. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

3. Don’t overreact.

In today’s 24/7 social media frenzy, it’s tempting to constantly be justifying your company’s actions to the wider public. This temptation is intensified when the reaction is negative, but it pays to not overreact. With today’s consumer being constantly burdened with messages, you may be able to wait until the reaction blows over. At worst, you give yourself time to construct a composed statement. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Address it head-on.

If an ad inadvertently causes a negative reaction from an audience, it is important to address the negativity head-on by apologizing or retracting the message. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

5. Let your audience know you’re listening.

Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope the tide turns. Be proactive and let your audience know you are listening to them. Gather input, ask questions and state your case. If a change is warranted, be quick but thoughtful. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can make sure everyone feels like you care. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

6. Consider whether there’s a positive spin to the publicity.

The “Silence Sucks” campaign by CHX for Sage Therapeutics is objectively one of the most compelling campaigns in pharma. The goal was to raise awareness of under-recognized postpartum depression. But when the mommy bloggers picked it up, their reaction was much different than was anticipated. The outcome: a media tornado that fueled unpaid social and broadcast press. Good? Bad? It got people talking. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

13 Ways To Update Your Brand Without Changing Everything

Whether a business is updating a marketing strategy or simply trying to keep up with modern sentiment, sometimes a company needs to refresh its brand a little. But while change can be good, a business might not want to do a complete overhaul—especially if the organization lacks the resources to do so, or if its existing brand is well-established and popular.

As experienced agency leaders, the members of Forbes Agency Council know how to successfully brand and rebrand businesses. Below, they share 13 ways a company can refresh its image across platforms without risking its established brand equity.

13 Ways to update your brand

1. Communicate Changes With Your Audience

The fear of rebranding whether large or small comes with the brand equity you’ve built with your audience. If you’re very active in communicating with your audience and customers on your journey, a small or large rebrand will not dissuade them in following your mission—they will stand excited and supportive. Your brand relationship with your audience and customer will allow changes to be made easily. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media

2. Repackage Your Product, Service Or Knowledge

You can add a little sizzle to the agency in a number of ways. Create an information product that can be sold or given away online. Create a new software tool that supports your company and solves issues for your clients. Create and hold a live event. Write a book teaching things that you specialize in. Interview other specialists that benefit your clients in a podcast. – Breynan Hammons, Innvio

3. Find Ways To Connect To New Markets

As brands age, so does their target market. Brands find themselves stagnant because they have failed to remain relevant and evolve into new generations of consumers. Brands need to remember that equity is based on the perception of their target market. If a brand does a good job and understands and evolves with its consumers, it will remain relevant and “fresh” without the need to rebrand. – Revecka Jallad, DIVISA

4. Launch A New Campaign

Just like a beautifully executed haircut, you can easily give your branding a fresh look without making huge changes. We do this with new campaigns. There are a few ways to approach this, but right now, you should start with an idea that demonstrates your greatest values as an organization. Remember, public relations is about building relationships and creatively giving people things to share. – Jennifer von Stauffenberg, Olive Creative Strategies

5. Audit Your Existing Content To Enhance Your Brand Voice

A complete rebrand can be costly. Uplift your brand without the commitment of a complete overhaul by enhancing your brand’s voice. The key to success is a distinctive voice that is consistent in all aspects of your brand. This change will require an audit of your content and communications channels to ensure your new brand voice is positioned to connect with your external audiences. – Ana Miller, A2 Communications Group

6. Actively Engage In Conversation With Your Customer

If you want to raise brand equity without the risk of a rebrand, talk more. Actively engage in a two-sided public conversation with your customer. Social media has made this near-effortless. Extol your values, priorities, humor and brand by being an active member of the community you are trying to grow. You don’t always need a new logo; your customer needs to know you. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

7. Rethink Your Content Strategy

An effective way to shift how your target audience views your brand is to re-tool your content strategy to focus on the intersection between your brand values and what’s important to the end-user. So consider re-aligning, re-interpreting and re-strategizing how your brand guidelines, personality and tone apply to your communication channels, including emails, blogs, social media, video and visuals. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

8. Make Small Changes That Don’t Detract From Your Core Message

A little goes a long way. A facelift can be done by updating color scheme, images and messaging while still staying on brand so you don’t lose the core message or competency. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Create Foundational Messaging And A Consistent Story

A brand needs a consistent story to feel cohesive and streamlined. It’s less challenging to introduce clear storytelling as a sort of refresh—identifying the concepts and stories that your brand stands for is a great way to create a sense of freshness while keeping the same style and brand aesthetic. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

10. A/B Test Your New Messaging

We don’t know what we don’t know. Create your new message and A/B test. If it works, use it. Always study your data, as the story is in the data. I have seen many big agencies sabotage this by creating a “wow” factor for the client, but it fails miserably. – Qamar Zaman, KISSPR.COM

11. Aim To Better-Align Your Image With Core Brand Facets

Giving a brand a fresh new look doesn’t have to have anything to do with the core of what the brand is. The company’s vision, mission and values don’t change. In fact, any facelift should be done with the goal in mind to better align a brand’s image with these core facets. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

12. Add A New Marketing Element Or Channel

When you feel that your brand could use some refreshing, try adding something new to your marketing. For example, if you only have corporate LinkedIn and Twitter, add Instagram and YouTube. Or slightly change the direction with your video content strategy by filming something you’ve never done before. Customers’ tastes are dynamic and unpredictable; just don’t be afraid to experiment. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Keep It Simple

There are a lot of tactics a brand can implement without a full redesign. If brand equity exists, a brand can refresh by introducing secondary visual elements to their identity—complementary colors, new patterns or illustrations, updated photography styles, and so on. Even very minor adjustments such as correcting technical aspects of a symbol or word mark can give a brand the boost it needs. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

With the challenges facing GDPR enforcement in Europe, what is California learning from the CCPA?

On January 1st, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. The law grants California residents the right to be informed about how companies are using their data and protects consumers from having their data collected and sold without their knowledge. It’s considered the most comprehensive privacy law in the United States to date.

Personally, as both a consumer and marketer, we have the responsibility to make sure that we as individuals are protected and our brands can still effectively market to consumers but in a balanced and appropriate way so it’s a win-win for everyone. But, there’s still a ton of speculation about the impact the CCPA will have on businesses, consumers, and the state due to many businesses and their service providers waiting for final guidance from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Even though the law was established on January 1st of this year, businesses have been granted a six-month transition period until July 1, 2020 to establish compliance. Furthermore, Becerra released an update to its proposed CCPA Regulations, giving companies until 5pm PT on February 24th to submit comments on this updated draft.

Currently, businesses must abide by the CCPA by July 1, 2020 or any business making more than $25,000,000 in annual gross revenue or buys/sells/shares personal information of 50K+ of their customers, could face fines between $2500 to $7,5000 per violation if determined intentional. The California Department of Finance estimates that 500,000 businesses would need to comply and that it may cost as much as $55 Billion for tech companies

To better understand the opportunities and the challenges presented by the CCPA, let’s look to Europe, where the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have been in effect since May 2018. The CCPA was inspired by the GDPR and comparing the two can provide valuable insight into how California can overcome and avoid some of the issues Europe has faced.

The Past, Present and Future of the GDPR

The GDPR stated that a company could only use an individual’s data if given explicit permission. This necessitated major changes for just about every company with customers in the EU, and particularly those that handled large amounts of consumer data. The fines for violating GDPR standards were set at €20 million ($22.6 million) or 4% of global revenues, depending on which was the bigger number.

At first, regulators were slow to impose penalties, giving rise to concerns that the GDPR was “without teeth.” In 2019, however, enforcement picked up. 21 countries in the EU have levied fines, according to Enforcement Tracker, and Facebook, Equifax, Uber, Google, British Airways and Marriott have all received penalties for “negligent and intentional misuses of consumer data.” In January 2019, Google was fined €50 million ($57 million) by data regulators in France, and in May 2019, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission announced it was also launching an inquiry into Google. British Airways is facing a fine of £183 ($237 million)—the largest to date—for a data breach disclosed by the company in September 2018.

While fines have been relatively rare thus far, they are still top of mind for companies struggling to become GDPR-compliant. A Ponemon Institute and McDermott Will & Emery report of more than 1,200 international organizations revealed that 80% of organizations said GDPR implementation was more difficult than other data privacy and security requirements. More recently, numerous surveys have suggested that up to one-third of European businesses are still not compliant and that many businesses are not making compliance a priority. “We now appear to be seeing an ‘almost compliant is close enough’ attitude towards GDPR, with a significant percentage of decision-makers indicating that focus has waned in the past 12 months,” said Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress, a software supplier that polled businesses about GDPR compliance.

Compliance takes time, as it requires businesses to invest in new technologies, and hire new people. The regulations have led to an increased adoption of consent management platforms (CMPs) and encouraged publishers to hire data protection officers to ensure compliance. In addition, the GDPR has forced businesses to change how they’ve done things in the past and adapt certain behaviors. In the advertising industry, for instance, programmatic advertisers have shifted their spending from open exchanges to private marketplaces and advertisers are relying less on third-party data for ad targeting. More than 1,000 U.S. publishers have blocked European users and cut off EU ad exchanges. Meanwhile, marketing tech vendors have pulled out of Europe out of concern over being fined.

Broadly speaking, there are those who argue that the GDPR is “hurting businesses, consumers and innovation” by holding European businesses back. The Financial Times stated that the GDPR rollout coincided with a 33% drop in venture funding for EU tech companies. New academic research from Boston University marketing professor Garrett Johnson and Scott K. Shriver of the University of Colorado Boulder found that privacy regulation, like the GDPR, can decrease competition in the short term, enabling large platforms like Facebook and Google to increase their market share.

Conversely, there are signs that the GDPR is having a positive impact, both for consumers and for organizations that have made compliance a priority. Check Point surveyed CTOs, CIOs, IT and security managers from organizations in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain and found that the GDPR is delivering a strong positive effect overall for European businesses. 74 percent of organizations said that the GDPR has had a beneficial impact on consumer trust and 73 percent said it has boosted their data security. Moreover, a report from Capgemini research found that GDPR compliant organizations have outperformed non-compliant companies by an average of 20%. GDPR compliant organizations report seeing better consumer ratings, improved customer satisfaction, greater trust, improved lead quality, better employee morale, and better overall brand image. Those are promising signs.

A Look Ahead at the CCPA

The CCPA is not as comprehensive or strict as the GDPR, but that doesn’t mean its impact won’t be significant. Businesses of all sizes and across industries use consumer data in their marketing and advertising and to make data-driven decisions in areas like product development. Businesses that meet the CCPA standards—legal, for-profit entities that operate in California and collect consumers’ personal information—will be subject to legal action and fines, not to mention reputational damage, if they do not comply.

In March 2018, shortly before the GDPR went into effect, Facebook launched a suite of tools that made it easier for users to change privacy settings, access information, and delete data. This change wasn’t limited to consumers in Europe, and part of a broader response by Facebook to concerns about how it was using personal data, as spotlighted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. International companies like Facebook and Google, which have already made changes due to the GDPR, have a head start over smaller companies grappling with new privacy regulations for the first time. Smaller companies may have a tougher time getting compliant, and in a letter written to California representatives, over 40 privacy experts expressed concern that compliance costs would force small businesses to exit the market.

While businesses may be concerned about the impact the CCPA will have on their bottom line, it’s important that they start preparing, if they haven’t already. As evidenced in Europe, compliance doesn’t happen overnight, and it looks like the regulatory landscape in the U.S. will only get stricter. Every day, there are more news stories about tech giants abusing people’s data and public support for stricter regulations are increasing. That support is translating into political action as more states—Washington, New Jersey and Colorado, to name a few—are considering their own data regulations. In fact, tech executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, have advocated to pass a national policy because one legal standard would be easier and less expensive to comply.

The CCPA is only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, the GDPR has created challenges in Europe and there has been a steep learning curve, but the CCPA is an opportunity for businesses to learn from that example and work towards compliance, rather than resisting it. There are still definitions and questions around limits and enforcement that need to be ironed out, but companies should start addressing how the CCPA will apply to their business now. As for the direct impact of the CCPA, only time will tell.

We all want privacy change, and it is our ethical duty as marketers to make sure the consumer is protected while balancing the ethical brands who are trying to reach the consumers in an appropriate manner. For example, I get multiple spam calls and emails from unethical and non-legitimate companies or brands even though I have opted into the Do Not Call Lists and emails. So, it will be a balance of filtering out those who are truly contacting consumers in an inappropriate manner and making sure the brands are protected, with appropriate and individualized content that their consumers have opted in to and are asking for.

Could You Benefit From Hiring An Agency? Questions To Ask Yourself

Now, more than ever, many companies can benefit from having expert marketers by their sides. With the current economic crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers’ awareness of the constant shifts within the dynamic media environment can help companies weather the storm. But is your in-house marketing team enough? Could your company benefit from outside help?

Hire an Agency

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering which route may be best for you.

• What are my goals, and could an agency help me reach these goals? First, determine what exactly you want to accomplish. Then, take a look at your in-house staff, and ask yourself whether they have the experience and expertise you need. Many agencies have employees who are well-established in the field and have a strong overall view of the media environment that can help you reach your business goals. Agencies also can draw on their past experiences and the results of other clients’ campaigns to inform their strategy and decision making.

• What are my workload needs? Do you have a particularly large project that will require extra time, attention and resources? Does your company require additional support to help you survive the current crisis? Agencies and outside resources can lighten your workload and free up staff members to handle other important business operations during this unprecedented time. They can manage your advertising spending and navigate the media environment while you focus on the critical parts of your business.

• Do I need expertise in a particular area? Advertising agencies offer a wide array of expertise, which can be critical in a landscape as complex as the one that brands face today. According to Smart Insights, there are over 120 content delivery and marketing channels that marketers have to manage today. Many agencies have teams dedicated to distinct areas, such as branding, data analytics and social media marketing. Given how fast the media environment changes today, working with specialized teams can help you stay on the cutting edge.

• Do I need flexibility? Do you need to be able to scale up or down based on demand? If you are unable to quickly change your messaging or creative in-house, an outside resource can help you do so. Midsize agencies, in particular, can pivot a campaign quickly — in hours, as opposed to in days, weeks or even months. Many also have the bandwidth for testing to determine what approaches are likely to be the most effective, and they can constantly adjust to optimize your return on investment.

• Do I need help with appropriate messaging? Especially now, being acutely aware of what messaging is appropriate is a primary concern for companies. An agency — particularly one that specializes in crisis communications — can help ensure that your messages take public health and safety concerns into account.

• Do I need a fresh perspective? Could you benefit from getting an outside opinion? While you live and breathe your brand, sometimes you may find it hard to extract yourself from it and view it as an outsider would. In such cases, agencies can provide this valuable outside perspective and suggest new angles and strategies you may not have considered.

Determine The Best Path Forward For Your Company

Especially in today’s economic climate, companies must consider what route is right for them, whether it’s finding an agency partner or hiring additional in-house marketing staff. Stay safe and well, and we will all get through this together.

6 Tips For Optimizing Your Personalized Marketing Efforts

The best marketing campaigns are tailored to match exactly what a customer or client is looking for. Personalizing your marketing communications is the best way to let a customer know they matter and that you’re the perfect fit for their needs. However, it can take time and effort to adapt your messaging to each individual buyer.

6 Personalized Marketing Tactics

To ensure you are optimizing your personalized marketing efforts, we asked members of Ad Age Collective how they make the customer experience feel more meaningful without taking up too much time. Follow their advice to create genuine, tailored communications at scale.

1. Have reliable creative asset templates.

Have a creative asset that can be easily edited for different personas or marketing channels by swapping out key images or messaging, but keep the template the same for the most efficient use of time and resources. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

2. Choose the right technology.

The key to optimizing your marketing efforts is letting your tech stack do the heavy lifting. As marketers, our job is to engage buyers with killer content and CTAs, not to spend our time researching who they are and what they care about. By letting your platform uncover the critical data you need to know, you can focus your time on delivering a meaningful, ultra-personalized experience. – Latane Conant, 6sense

3. Pick your targets carefully.

The more precisely you define your targets for personalized marketing, the more time and money they warrant. In certain account-based marketing strategies, individual targets may be worth hundreds of dollars and hours of time each. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

4. Tap into emotional insights.

So often we think about segmenting our customer population to develop targets. We think about where they live, what they are interested in — but the reality is that we are not connecting the emotional insights to those profiles that drive behavior change. Personalization comes from leveraging emotional insights in each segment that are translated by each person individually. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

5. Leverage artificial intelligence.

AI now enables marketing tools to analyze and understand user preferences better. It’s helpful to make AI a part of your marketing research efforts by using more AI marketing tools. You’ll be able to provide personalized content without having to spend too much time doing the research. Instead, you can focus on supporting your customers and driving conversions. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Understand the limits of personalization.

With the abundance of data, we often feel the need to over-personalize our marketing. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Instead, take a step back to ask if your audience even wants that level of personalization. Sometimes you can save a lot of time and effort by recognizing that your audience is content with something as simple as their name in an email. Anything more is creepy! – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

Video Advertising Perspectives from Tim Hawthorne, an Entrepreneur Long Before Streaming Video

While we all hunker down, work from home, and stream video content, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to talk to one of the original greats in long-form video advertising, Tim Hawthorne, founder of Hawthorne Advertising. On June 1, Tim will be bestowed a “Lifetime Achievement” honor by Marketing EDGE in New York as part of its EDGE Awards. Here, he shares valuable perspective on a video advertising career in an increasingly rich, ubiquitous medium for consumers, brands, and marketers.

Video Advertising

A ‘Love Story’ for Film

Chet: Tim, first of all, congratulations! I’m so happy to see you recognized by Marketing EDGE – with its mission of marketing education and professional development, bringing the best and brightest into the marketing field. When you graduated from college – Harvard University no less, in 1973 (really, I mean, “Love Story“) – did you have any inkling that you would build a career of first in direct-response television (DRTV) and video advertising?

Tim:  No, I had no idea in 1968 as I matriculated to Harvard that I would eventually become a pioneer of direct response television marketing. (First of all, yes, “Love Story” for sure. I was wandering through the Harvard Yard in the fall of 1969 when they were shooting exteriors. Not sure, but I might be one of those students hurriedly rushing to class in the background.)

Tim Hawthorne
Tim Hawthorne, founder and strategic advisor, Hawthorne Advertising (Fairfield, Iowa), will be honored on June 1, during Marketing EDGE’s EDGE Awards in New York.

It was turbulent times while I attended Harvard – 1968-1973.  (I’m actually Class of ’68 but took a year off after my sophomore year to teach school in Ethiopia with the Harvard Africa Volunteer Project, so I graduated in ’73.) Initially, I intended to study chemistry, then switched to social psychology, influenced by the turbulent social times in the late 60s. But after getting my hands on a still camera in Ethiopia, I decided I’d take a still photography/documentary filmmaking course when I reentered Harvard in the fall of ’71. I was fascinated with the process of editing film, and then determined I’d pursue a career in filmmaking.

Searching for a job post-graduation in my hometown of Minneapolis, I was fortunate to be hired by the investigative documentary unit of the local CBS station, WCCO-TV. I worked there for almost five years, advancing from production assistant to editor to cinematographer, learning the craft of long-form storytelling. Our unit produced amazing documentaries that were often the No. 1 rated television programs in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market and won multiple awards, including the du Pont-Columbia and Peabody awards. I then became a producer/director/writer when I moved to the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia and eventually worked for a number of LA-based network primetime reality-based shows such as “Real People” and “That’s Incredible.”

Chet: Did you grow up having a love for industrial films of the 50s and 60s – which I think were a great precursor to the infomercial age and video advertising?

Tim:  No, I didn’t have any particular love for industrial films (which in the 50s, 60s, and 70s were the height of boring and simplistic video communications!) It’s my background in documentaries – telling a long form story on people and subjects – that seemed a natural basis on which to pioneer telling long-form consumer product stories.

Like many consumers, I’ve never liked being “sold” especially when I’ve felt manipulated. And of course, short-form TV commercial brand selling is very much about manipulating emotions (via humor, poignancy, excitement) and associating strong positive images (sex, strength, beauty) with a product – a very subtle and often deceptive way of selling.

Infomercial or long-form advertising has always been based on factual selling – the exposition of features and benefits – of course, in as entertaining a way as possible. But at least the channel is up-front about its message:  Here’s a product, here’s what it can do, and here are the benefits to you. This “truth in advertising” has always appealed to me. Producing documentaries is also about discovering the truth about a person, group, or issue.

In 1984, having moved from LA to Iowa for lifestyle reasons (wanting to raise our daughter Jessica in the Midwest where I grew up), I was open for new opportunities.  A local real estate investment entrepreneur heard of my background and approached me about producing a long-form commercial. It would be an hour long … and a challenge. That was November 1984, one of the first infomercials on air. Within 12 months, the infomercial had grossed more than $60 million dollars and dominated the long-form air waves. Fairfield Television Enterprise was the company I formed to market the infomercial and over 18 months we revolutionized long-form TV direct response.

Chet: How did early success stories translate to business growth? Were there mentors you paid close attention to? (Alvin Eicoff comes to mind).

Tim:  Eighteen months after launching Ed Beckley’s real estate investment infomercial, I became disillusioned with the way the company was moving forward. I resigned in April 1986 and took a couple of months off before starting Hawthorne Communications, later to become Hawthorne Direct, and then become Hawthorne Advertising. In late June 1986, I was a one-person company with the goal to persuade Fortune 500 companies to add long-form TV commercials to their marketing mix. We were the first infomercial ad agency in the world and I was confident that virtually all products had, somewhere at their hearts, a fascinating story we tell and hold viewers’ attention for 28 minutes and 30 seconds.

The agency had a singular focus: TV long-form advertising. There was no road map for the industry. We invented it as we went along. Certainly Al Eicoff was the reigning master of DRTV (and his book “Or Your Money Back” a short-form DRTV bible) but his company focused on short-form DRTV (2 minutes or less). So I and my growing team began to innovate, and I began to write about and present the long form story to marketing groups and corporations literally around the world. There was no road map; we were the trailblazers.

A Litany of Firsts and Video Advertising Innovations

Chet: Trailblazer indeed. What are some of the innovations you have brought to the field of DRTV, infomercials, and more recently digital video programming? How has digital disruption affected the traditional DRTV and broadcast channel, from a marketing perspective?

Tim: I’ve been called a “leading architect” of the DRTV industry by producing an impressive string of “firsts”:

  • Co-founder and president of the first infomercial direct marketer to break the $50 million revenue per year mark, Fairfield Television Enterprises
  • Founder and chairman of the first infomercial advertising agency, Hawthorne Communications
  • Produced the first infomercial for: a Fortune 500 company – Time Life; a major music company – Time Life Music; a major credit card company – Discover Card; a major health insurance company – Blue Cross Blue Shield; and a retail driving campaign for a brand name product – Braun
  • Infomercial Agency of Record for the first infomercial for: a major computer company – Apple Computers; and a major weight loss company – Weight Watchers
  • Infomercial Agency of Record for the first “promo-mercial” – a half-hour promotion for a primetime TV series (NBC’s “JAG”)
  • Published the industry’s first newsletter: “The 1-800 Report”
  • Published the industry’s first hard-bound textbook on infomercials: “The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing”
  • Created the first long-form TV media buying computer analysis system – “Time Track”
  • Purchased the first long-term cable TV bulk media contract: Discover Network, for $50 per half hour, six hours per night
  • Established the first infomercial agency/traditional agency alliance with Earl Palmer Brown

As for innovations to digital video, Hawthorne was one of the first agencies to actively use video promotion on websites (late 1990s) and we pioneered the “drive online direct sales” with short-form TV commercials, which were designed to motivate new visitors to our web-based clients.

Yes, the digital economy has significantly disrupted DRTV, as it has the television entertainment model as a whole. With a 35% drop in primetime adult (18-49) viewership from 2015-2019, the era of aggregating mass audiences on broadcast TV is long over.

A Family Affair – and an Investment in the Future

Chet: Was it a great leap – or expansion – from Fairfield, Iowa (hey, I’m from Nebraska) to Los Angeles? What brought Hawthorne Advertising to LA (and beyond)? Was there a talent pool you needed there?

Tim: From the beginning, Hawthorne was somewhat disadvantaged being a national advertising agency headquartered in a small Iowa town. We did have a small LA office (two staff) from the early 90s to keep in touch with our West Coast clients. But when Jessica (my daughter) came on board in March 2007, she brought an energy and vision to the company previously unknown.

Her goal was to build the LA office and lead the company into a digital future. And she has done that in spades, making LA our headquarters, while our Iowa office strongly administratively supports LA to this day. Our LA office certainly had access to talent we always struggled to persuade to move to Iowa, as you, being a Nebraskan, are probably aware of. It was a brilliant move by Jessica which has allowed the company to continue to thrive going into our 35th year.

Chet: Well now we know why Marketing EDGE named Jessica Hawthorne-Castro a 2015 Rising Stars honoree. (You must be very proud!)

Tim: Yes, I’m very proud of Jessica’s ownership and leadership of the company. And it wasn’t by design. Jessica was a thriving talent agent at Endeavor, one of the few women agents at that male-dominated business with six years’ tenure. But she recognized that industry was missing certain business and spiritual values important to her. In February 2007, I coincidentally asked her if she had time to monitor a commercial talent audition in LA that we needed someone to attend. She did it, enjoyed it, and said she would be open to coming on board at Hawthorne. Over the next five years she soaked up the business, brought much-needed youthfulness to our efforts, advanced from client service associate to CEO, and built our LA office to 50-plus employees, while transforming the agency to a digital foundation.

Chet: As an author of several business books on DRTV and infomercial formats, and likely a bevy of company alumni in the field today, you’ve contributed so much to the professional development of data-driven marketers, marketing measurement, attribution and the like. What part of giving back to the field do you find most gratifying? Is there a particular “lifetime” achievement you’re most proud of?

Response Magazine
Tim Hawthorne and Jessica Hawthorne-Castro share the cover of Response Magazine (June 2011) on the 25th Anniversary of the Hawthorne Advertising agency.

Tim: My greatest achievement? Creating a company that has endured for 35 years and allowed hundreds of staff to learn, thrive, and grow in marketing knowledge and experience, while realizing greater personal achievement and confidence. We created a company that was a home for our staff to do great work amid friendship and respect. Undoubtedly my greatest achievement, far beyond any creative work for a client.

Thank you Tim – and we’re so happy to celebrate your contributions at the EDGE Awards come June 1.  And much more video success ahead!

8 Key B2B Marketing Steps To Take That May Differ From B2C

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing focuses on directly aiming product advertising to other companies. It’s a significantly different process than business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. While on the surface, they may seem the same, the fact remains that there are fundamental differences between both marketing methodologies. A company that focuses on a business clientele will go about creating buzz and attracting customers differently than those who market to individual consumers.

B2B or B2C

Some marketing principles spread across both of the fields. Both B2B and B2C marketers have to recognize their consumers as individuals and seek to provide value to them through their delivery of products and services. However, several principles are unique to B2B as compared to B2C. Elements such as scale, tone and the type of information necessary for the client to make a decision differ between the two.

These eight professionals from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in what the difference steps are between B2B and B2C campaigns. Here, they try to explain those differences, and why they are so fundamental for consideration when comparing B2B to B2C marketing efforts.

1. Develop a long-term strategy.

B2B is a long-term strategy, providing solutions for an exponential increase in KPIs and aiming to reduce friction and function seamlessly as an integral part of your strategy. B2C marketing is more immediate, with short-term results and measurements. It focuses on larger audiences and the constantly changing behavior. It is more experiential and emphasizes instant rewarding in the short term. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

2. Think about the multiple audience layers.

It’s more what I would do for B2C that helps tackle B2B. B2B marketing is all about the customers of the client. But ultimately, the customers either sell to consumers, or are consumers themselves. So think about the multiple layers of audiences when crafting a marketing plan. Always look at how what you do impacts the end consumer, and how what is happening in their life can impact business. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Focus on the channel above all.

The biggest difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the critical choice of platform and message distribution for B2B marketing. Channel is perhaps the most important marketing mix decision: where, when and how to reach and influence key decision-makers. Narrowing these choices to be as close to the decision-maker and the decision-making moment as possible is the biggest key to B2B success. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

4. Consider the client’s product and/or service goals.

For a B2B campaign, you have to remember you’re speaking to a business or small business owner who needs to have a product or service that will enhance their operation or help generate substantial leads for their company at a larger scope. A B2C campaign focuses on an individual product or service that helps enhance the individuals’ needs, so it typically has a more singular focus. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Identify the right avenues for engagement.

These days, B2B has a lot in common with B2C. In both, you have to surprise and emotionally engage a human being with the best argument for making an expensive choice. The main difference is how to surround that human being with buzz and peer recommendation — the avenues for gaining that buzz in the consumer arena may be more diverse, but B2B targets are as social and screen-immersed as anyone. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Take into account expectations across a team.

The B2B buyer is a buying team where around 10 people make the final decision. Each of these buyers have consumer-grade expectations for an omnichannel, personalized experience. Not to mention, sales cycles can be over a year and things get complex fast. This is why AI is critical — no human can take in intent signals across channels and connect them to buying teams to orchestrate great experiences. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Incorporate evidence and statistics.

B2C can use tactics of emotional appeals extremely effectively. While B2B can also use these same tactics to build rapport, it isn’t enough. B2B clients are seeking a demonstrable result that isn’t always applicable in B2C. It might be ROI, revenue growth or an increased subscriber count — regardless, your messaging needs to incorporate proven evidence and statistics to back up your claims. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. Don’t be afraid to add more technical details.

When it comes to B2B marketing, I would add more technical details than I would in B2C marketing. B2B customers care about getting the right product specifications for their needs and helpful customer service, whereas B2C customers care about the end result. I would approach B2B marketing with more data and facts due to these differences. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner