Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

As creatures of habit, it’s easy to fall into routine and it’s harder to break away from the ‘norm’. It’s often suggested to change your daily routine every so often – take a different route to work, try somewhere new for lunch. The same should apply to your advertising and marketing efforts. 

Clients don’t want the same old, they’ll get bored and move onto another agency that knows all about the latest and greatest. While shoving the newest thing in their face everyday isn’t it either, it’s important to find a middle ground that’s impressive and innovative, but not overbearing.


First things first, Get Inspired.

Take a look at some really great ads that make you sit there and admire them. Listen to music that pumps you up. The key here is to come up with something unique that will excite the client as much as it excites you. Put yourself in their position and think about what they’re trying to accomplish, or what they’d like to see. Forget a stock image for a print magazine – what about an image you fold to make an origami bird that comes out looking like your ad? Nothing is impossible… not yet. 


Once you’ve come up with that big idea, Be Realistic.

Right now you’re envisioning your ad on NASA’s new rocket ship – you’ll get the eyes on television for added value! But, we might have to come down to Earth just a bit. Contradicting to nothing being impossible, huh? Welcome to the world of advertising! Think about everything that might become an issue: budget, cost, and if we didn’t mention, budget. It might be a bit expensive to launch your ad on NASA’s rocket ship, but it shouldn’t stop you from executing your big idea. Think smaller scale now – if people will be viewing the launch on TV, create an ad that says “wish this was on the Rocket” to play on humor, create a commercial that plays minutes before, tying in the rocket launch. Pretend your idea is a fitted sheet – it might take a couple tries, but once you mess around, it’ll fit the bed.


Read the Room around you.

Ensure you know your audience well enough before you get too carried away. It’s important to accomplish what your client is looking for, and it’s more important to exceed their expectations – but don’t scare them off by thinking too big, or risking too much. Not everyone is an adventure seeker that enjoys the thrill of roller coasters. Even if they do enjoy roller coasters, match their excitement, but be mindful there’s a chance it could fail. People do get stuck on rides, it happens all the time. Having a back up plan or solutions to any potential challenges that may lie ahead will make all the difference. Be mindful you’re pitching someone something that will cost them money. Most people want to be sure it’s worth investing before they spend a dime.


Say it Out-loud to your co-workers.

Sometimes things just sound better in our heads. Running through an idea with your team can do one of two things: 

Help you realize it’s a great idea


Help you realize it’s a terrible idea 

It’s important to get the opinion of the account manager – they understand the client and their needs very well, and sometimes can even add onto your idea, knowing exactly what the client will love. At the end of the day, show your client you care about them and enforce that you constantly think of innovative ways to help their business. It’ll go far, and they’ll appreciate it more than thinking you’re just a crazy adventure seeker who doesn’t consider cost.

Avoiding Communication Pitfalls With Clients

Avoiding Communication Pitfalls With Clients

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

It’s two days before deadline and the client is frantically calling. “This isn’t what we wanted at all! We wanted more energy in the ad!” Suddenly, the muscles in your shoulders tense under stress. You call up the point of contact, who says that the client didn’t provide much direction in the first place but when they showed them draft designs, they picked the one that eventually became the final design that you’re looking at. So, what went wrong? 

If you think this is only happening to you, think again. Communication is the number one barrier between delivering what your client needs and understanding what the client wants. In a world clocked correctly by IDEO Executive Chair Tim Brown where “everyone is a designer,” your client can come to the table with an idea in their minds that they can’t readily explain. 

That’s why it’s important for us to be able to translate. It’s not enough to be a fantastic, creative mind in the ad world—you need to be able to translate the client’s wants into their needs while making it all their idea in the process. Here’s some tips to help you get to the “yes” portion of the project with a client.

Identify the Client’s Needs

 This is where you always start. Clients oftentimes come to you with an idea already in their mind of what they want to do. Because everyone is surrounded by a world of advertisements, clients tend to build off of ads that either they found receptive or that they thought were particularly clever. Before you put the cart before the horse, you need to identify the Five Ws for the purpose of the ad and the Four Ps to determine the range and scope of the ad. Hone in on needs, messaging, and audience and a clearer picture will form on what your client wants.

Brainstorm with the Client

This is the part where those communication skills need to be dusted off. I find the greatest success with client satisfaction is when you bring them in on an initial brainstorm for ad ideas. This is where they’ll pitch their idea, allowing you to ask all the questions you need to get clarification for their vision. It’s also here where you can steer the conversation into ad territory that you know will work for your client. This may be difficult if the client is dead set on a specific idea. It’s important to keep the conversation focused on positives, such as the things that you felt were good with their idea. Then take those positives and incorporate them into your pitch. In this way, it makes it seem like it was their idea all along.

Get a Second Opinion

One of the best parts of working in a team full of creatives is that you have the opportunity to get plenty of professional feedback. Sit down with a co-worker or confidant and tell them about the pitch. Share draft concepts that the client likes. Sometimes, you need a second pair of eyes to point out something obvious or asking questions that you yourself didn’t ask during the brainstorm. Catch any mistakes here so you can correct them before you go too deep in the project.

Check in with the Client

Be wary of “Looks good!” emails from the client. What you may hear is, “Great, please proceed with making this the main focus of the ad.” But what the client may have meant was, “Good start, can’t wait to see your other ideas.” The communication process is where messages get lost in translation. Think of it like a telegram: the sender encodes a message, but did you decode it correctly? The only way to know for sure is to respond and receive feedback. When you do, be clear about what you are asking for. Ask for clarification. Be sure that you are both on the same page.

Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s

So, it’s two days before deadline and you’re ready to send the final proof to the client. Did you do all of the glaringly obvious things that you think you already did? Spellcheck? Had a normal look at it for a genuine audience reaction? One of the most common things I joke about with my ad team was to make sure that you check for hidden swastikas. You’d be surprised how often people don’t do the bare minimum before sending the final version to a client. Be sure to pass the ad around the team one last time to see if anyone can pick out anything that jumps out at them.

Pat yourself on the back

So, you not only delivered on what your client wanted but also what they needed, and they couldn’t be happier. Congratulations to you on knocking it out of the park! Be sure to build off your successes and use them as your building blocks for future client satisfaction. Be sure to learn from any mistakes you made along the way, too. Remember, clients may come to you for similar reasons, but every one of them is different and will require a different approach to translating their needs and wants. Be thorough, be concise, and everything should turn out nice.

Non-Traditional Ways to Get a Job: Part 2

How Using This Sweet Trick Landed Me A Job

By Michael Ortiz de Villate (September 26, 2017)

A Resume in Your Belly

If you haven’t already heard of this guy, you’re about to start praising him for this ingenious idea. He’s known worldwide as the “Donut Guy,” but his real name is Lukas Yla, and he’s a Lithuanian marketing professional. While new to San Francisco, Lukas set out on a quest to get his foot in the door of every ad agency he wanted to work forliterally.

Some may call his strategy brilliant, others may call it desperate. Lukas pretended to be a courier for delivery company Postmates, showing up at his favorite companies armed with a box of pastries from downtown favorite Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Inside the box? His resume with the headline, “Most resumes end up in trash. Mine—in your belly.” The outcome of his efforts? 10 interviews.

Cover Letters and Cookies

Reading Lukas’ story inspired me to do something similar. I wasn’t going to pretend to be a Postmates delivery courier, but I was going to make my resume and cover letter more savory. Seeing a recent opening for an ad agency I’d applied to several times, I wrote a new cover letter and re-formatted my resume. I printed both out and proceeded to the nearest Publix where I was delighted to find BOGO cookies. Then, I grabbed chocolate chip cookies for the recipient of my application, and heath bar cookies for myself. In case things didn’t go as planned, I figured I could eat my weight in cookies.

Dressed business casual, hair slicked, and heart-pounding, I drove over to my possibly-future workplace. I blasted “Sorry not Sorry” by Demi Lovato to build up my confidence, and it worked. But, once I got to the building and proceeded up to the third floor, I felt my confidence slipping. I walked up to the receptionist, dropped my resume and cover letter with the cookies, then walked out. Within a week, I received an email from the Account Manager thanking me for the cookies and asking for an interview. After that, things quickly proceeded, and I’m now a Social Media Coordinator at Evok Advertising.

During my interview, the VP of Client Service complimented me for my brilliant cookie idea. The only downfall was that, for a while, I was known as “The Cookie Guy”.

How Businesses React to Hurricanes

How Businesses Reacted to Hurricane Irma

By Eileen Roundtree (September 21, 2017)

It’s hard to believe that a week has already passed since Hurricane Irma left a path of destruction through the Florida peninsula. In the days and weeks leading up to Irma’s landfall in the United States, nearly every TV station brought us stories of local companies reacting. For some, this was a great public relations move, offering the opportunity to build goodwill and customer loyalty. For others, it was unwelcome exposure for some egregious decisions. Let’s explore the lessons learned in the aftermath.

The Good

  • When the cone of uncertainty began to show a direct path toward Florida, citizens took action. Residents in coastal cities and low-lying areas evacuated to nearby states. JetBlue stepped in to lessen the cost of evacuation with $99 nonstop flights. Though the flights went quickly, they were a great method to build brand loyalty and show compassion.
  • Trying to get in contact with family and friends after a hurricane is unpredictable at best. Cell phone carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, waived overage charges for those affected by the storm.  This decision did not go unnoticed by customers.
  • In the same vein, Comcast opened free access to more than 137,000 XFinity Wi-Fi hotspots. This decision allowed first responders and residents to communicate despite downed power lines and cell towers.
  • Orlando’s Rosen Hotels & Resorts welcomed South Florida evacuees with waived pet fees and distress rates as low as $59 per night. The company also made the cancellation process easy: they provided a peace-of-mind policy for guests who cancel their reservation or seek refunds when a named storm is in effect.

The Bad

Of course, there were some companies that missed the mark on decision-making leading up to and following Hurricane Irma.

  • We’ve all seen companies take advantage of customers needs by price gouging. As stores ran out of water, consumers turned to Amazon sellers to order their cases, where they were greeted with $25 price tags.
  • Flights out of Florida were at a premium as Hurricane Irma barreled toward the state. Many evacuees struggled to find affordable airfares. In fact, a Delta flight from Miami to Phoenix, which typically ran for $547, was being sold for $3,200!
  • Perhaps the most outrageous company decision came from Autoline, a used car dealership in Hallandale Beach, FL near Miami. The company chose to park 47 cars in a parking garage in reserved residents spots. The news spread like wildfire on social media, igniting response from residents who felt the dealership took advantage during the natural disaster. Autoline’s owner is now facing $12,000 in fines and 60 days in jail for using public property for private business.

The Lesson

Hurricane Irma affected so many in Florida and beyond. While many companies chose to show an element of humanity that helped build their reputation, others acted in their own best interest. My hope is that other companies learn from the fallout Autoline has faced — after all, companies that treat customers with care and compassion will reap the reward in the long run.

Share Your Thoughts!

Have an example to contribute to this story? Share it on social media!  #ad2orlando

The Struggle Is Real: Part I

Hispanic Heritage Month: Put Your Batteries In

For Hispanic Heritage Month, Put Your Batteries In

By Karina Ross (September 15, 2017)

Central Florida ranks 2nd in the nation for population growth of Spanish speakers. As such, Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way for us to connect and celebrate the different cultures represented throughout Orlando.

But, who says the opportunity should be limited to a month? Forty percent of Central Florida’s population is of Hispanic ethnicity, and the community saw a 23% growth in Spanish speakers between 2010 and 2015.

Do you have a plan to target or engage this growing demographic? Here are a few tips to help you reach out to Spanish speaking audiences all year round.

Translation isn’t enough.

A popular phrase in Spanish is “ponte las pilas.” The literal translation to this is “put your batteries in.” But colloquially, it really means something more like “get ready to work hard” or “put some more effort in”. This is just one example of a time when running copy through Google Translate isn’t in your best interest.

The clever copy your writers took so long to come up with might lose its meaning when translated to Spanish. The same can be said with puns or jokes. It’s important to translate the overall message rather than doing it word-for-word. Once translated, if the message doesn’t resonate with a Hispanic audience, it is time to rework and rethink your approach for your audience.

Aside from the overall message, there are cultural differences among different communities. In Florida, we’d say “soda” instead of “pop”, or “sub” instead of “hero”. Similarly, different Spanish-speaking countries use different words.

To help recreate an appropriate campaign for Spanish speakers, try running it by other Spanish speakers in your office, or consulting with agencies that specialize in Hispanic marketing. Testing ads and messages will give you the chance to craft a cohesive campaign and get insight into a different market.

Now what?

You’ve got an awesome campaign, all in Spanish, with appropriate cultural references. Great! But, if a primarily Spanish speaker calls into your office, will there be someone on the line to speak with them? Often, companies create wonderful campaigns, but there’s a disconnect once the customer is ready for the next step. To lead a successful campaign, you’ve got to have more than a campaign – you have to have the follow-through. Continuous effort and commitment is needed when marketing to the Hispanic community.

With Florida being the 3rd most Hispanic-populated state, it’s easier than ever to embrace and celebrate Hispanic heritage. Chambers of Commerce, festivals and the growing diverse population in Orlando all offer us rich opportunities to expand how we think through advertising strategies.

Running an ad through Google translate may be a good start, but to reach a Hispanic audience, you have to be ready to “put your batteries in!”

Hurricane Prep Checklist: Agency Edition

By Karina Ross (September 7, 2017)

While Central Floridians are preparing for the storm at home, it’s easy to become distracted and not prepare for the hurricane at work. To help alleviate some Irma pandemonium, here is a Hurricane Prep Checklist – Agency Edition.

Communicate with Clients

Those outside of the cone of uncertainty may be experiencing a different kind of uncertainty. Project statuses and due dates might be moved around with a natural disaster and it’s important to communicate with clients and alert them on any possible delays. Safety concerns for you and your team and a loss of electricity might delay project timelines. While your world is revolving around Irma, a client out of state may still be focused on the projects on their radar.

Back Up Files

Keep an eye on the clouds in the sky and your files in the cloud. Make sure to backup all your important documents, emails and the like, especially if you might not be able to go into the office and need to work remotely.

Stay Connected

Make sure your team has a way to communicate. Whether it’s sending panicked gifs over Slack or having a copy of everyone’s emergency contact info, it’s a good idea to stay in communication. Knowing where your team is and who to contact if a work emergency occurs outside of, you know, the Irma emergency, is important.

Stock Up

Water may be scarce, but that secret bottle of liquid courage stashed away in your office’s desk drawer is still there. Don’t forget to bring it home with you.

Above all else, stay safe, Orlando!

The Photoshop Controversy

A big issue starting to get some attention as of late is Photoshopping. We’ve all seen the magazines with gorgeous, airbrushed, touched up people gracing the covers and pages.

Some members of Congress have started to take notice of the issue with Photoshopping and how it can seriously distort the publics image of how and what people should look like. These members of Congress have recently asked the FTC to hold a meeting to discuss the nature of how Photoshop can cause serious problems and how they effect the people viewing the ads. Especially young people who look up to many of the people they see in these ads. Time and time again we see and hear of people wanting to make changes to themselves based off things they see in images. Realistically, the models in the images themselves don’t even look like that in person. It becomes quite the spiraling effect once viewers have the image of “perfect” in their heads when in reality, that “perfect” image is not the real thing at all. They also have pointed out how this can increase healthcare costs in the near future as more people will take to doctors and surgeries to make changes to themselves.

On the contrary, advertisers and brands in the billion dollar marketing industry will most likely combat this by saying that it is simply images and that they are aesthetically pleasing to the audience and in line with brand messaging. Because an image is photoshopped does not necessarily mean it is driving people to harm. Which proves a good point to the objecting argument. These advertisements continually drive traffic to stores and retailers and drive business year after year.

So what does the future for photoshop hold? We have seen the debate come up quite a few times in the past in terms of getting rid of it completely or perhaps limiting the amount of photoshop that is allowed to be placed on advertisements.

This is sure to be a hot issue as more people start to take notice of Congress’ objections.

To read more about this issue, check out this article from the Tampa Bay Times:

What are your thoughts on Photoshopping and do you think it causes any harm to the viewers of the ads?

U.S. Creates Cuba Version of Twitter

Through past revolutions around the globe we have witnessed the power of social media in giving the voiceless a platform to be heard. This exact reason is why the U.S. Government created a Twitter clone to influence revolutionists south of the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, it may have not been the most ethical move to trick people into using a platform created by a government that has had a 54 year economic embargo against you.

“Cuba’s version of Twitter, known as ZunZuneo, was launched secretly in 2009 by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which went through elaborate lengths to hide the service’s true origins, according to the AP.”

As exemplified in recent years such as the Arab Spring, the oppressed around the world have utilized Twitter in mass movements against unjust governing powers. Recently, in Turkey the government has tried to block twitter, as it has become a voice of unrest. “The U.S. hoped ZunZuneo could perform a similar role in Cuba, reaching a “critical mass” and facilitating widespread protest to realign the balance of power in the country, the AP reported. ZunZuneo is the sound Cuban’s use to describe the chirp of a hummingbird.”

It is issues like these that privacy advocates and anti-government opinions are founded to be somewhat rational. At the end of the day, for many developing nations whose internet is controlled by authoritarian governments it’s people are omitted from having the freedom to express themselves on an international level.


The Do’s and Don’ts for using Social Media for Small Business

Many small businesses may hesitate to use social media for fear of making mistakes in an environment they’re unfamiliar with. However, you shouldn’t let that fear keep you from using social media to build your company’s brand. Social media is a powerful tool that is virtually essential for any growing business to reach new prospects and nurture relationships with your customers.


Below are four do’s and don’ts for using social media to promote your small business. Keep in mind that all businesses are different. What may work for one company, may not for yours.


Do choose the social media networks most applicable to your customers and prospects. For example, if your company offers professional services, try starting with a business-to-business network such as LinkedIn. For business-to-consumer communication, Facebook and Twitter are good choices, while Pinterest may work best in visual, design-focused industries like retail, fashion, décor and food.


Don’t decide to just use Facebook because that seems like the easiest or most popular social network to use. Don’t shy away from what’s right for your business. Take the time to figure out where your clients are and start by focusing there.


Do use social media for communication with existing clients and in pursuing prospects. Depending on your business, you might consider making regular how-to videos for YouTube as a way to begin a dialogue about your services or products.


Don’t limit your participation to responding to negative comments about your company or project.


Do post regularly to your social media accounts. Choose a consistent schedule, whether that’s once per week or once a day. Fresh content tends to boost your company’s rankings with search engines. Using Google+ as one of your social media tools can also help in this regard because Google emphasizes Google+ content in its results.


Don’t try to wing it without an actual plan. Make a schedule you can live with and stick to it. Busy periods and long gaps in posts can stall any momentum you’ve built up.


Do remember that email is a great marketing tool. People have work and personal email addresses and they check them regularly. Tools like Constant Contact can help you cross-promote an eblast with social media.


Don’t be a spammer. Allow people to choose the frequency in which they receive emails from you and make sure they can easily opt-out at any time.

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you handle those mistakes that matters. For something minor, people won’t care, just as long as you fix it. For example, if your tweet was too long and got cut off, or your link was invalid, just correct it and repost it. On the other hand, if you accidentally posted an offensive comment, you might want to issue a public apology. Social media lives online forever, so if you’re going to spend the time doing it, it’s worth spending the time to do it right.


GAP Leading the Way

Walking through the high-fashioned Mall at Millennia located in Orlando, FL, I noticed something I had never seen before. Amongst all the storefronts and generic ads of chiseled models, one image stuck out to me. The entrance to the Gap store displayed an ad featuring a Sikh model, Waris Ahluwalia. For some it may have been just another store front ad enticing consumers with chic clothing, but for me it was much more. Gap had made a statement by choosing a religion and region of people that have rarely been represented by corporate America, let alone the fashion industry. As a Pakistani growing up in America, the Sikh religion was something I was accustomed to, but for many, there is mass confusion regarding their religion and beliefs.

As with any step forward with diversity in American society, there was backlash ready to ensue. Except in this situation, Gap decided to take their support one step further. Well done Gap, well done! Check out the article linked below and give us your thoughts!

Fawaz Zakir
Diversity Chair