Cannes Stop, Won’t Stop

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Cannes Lions Creative Festival for two days. No, that’s not the film festival (although that would have been amazing too.) Never heard of this one? Don’t worry, I hadn’t either before I attended.

The Cannes Lions Festival is a giant creative meeting of the minds where the best of the best in our industry get together and celebrate the past, present and future of advertising. Every year people come from all over the world for this weeklong event to network, view presentations, attend workshops and quite simply, to be impressed.

Celebrities, CEOs, small agencies and independent firms are all welcomed with open arms. That’s the great thing about Cannes; no matter who you are or where you are from, creativity doesn’t discriminate against you. Everyone is welcoming and inviting because they’re all here for the same reason; they want to be inspired. They want to see what other people are creating, thinking and doing.

In my two days at the festival, I sat in on a discussion with the Marketing Director of Flipboard on how mobile advertising is the next big thing; watched Joe Pytka, the director of Space Jam (among many other accolades) discuss his career and how certain brands have left their mark on advertising; had my senses overloaded with the Saatchi and Saatchi Directors Showcase, an hour long set of the year’s best ad campaigns; chatted personally with Anthony Burrill, the creator of this year’s Google Beach; and was completely blown away by Marc Pritchard (Global Brand Building Officer of Proctor and Gamble) and his presentation, “The Creative Brief”.

If I had to describe the Cannes Festival in one word, I would go with moving. And I mean that with every sense of the word. Everyone there is constantly going, looking for the next event or to meet someone. On the flip side, I also mean it inspirationally. I have never, ever in my life, been to something so incredibly awe-inspiring. When you’re surrounded by so many great minds, the room crackles with electricity. You get the sense that you’re surrounded by something that’s much bigger than yourself. Which, let’s be honest, you are. This festival is bigger and more amazing than anything you can possibly imagine.

The biggest thing that I took away from the festival was that advertising isn’t just about selling anymore. What we do every day is more than putting a price tag on something, it’s telling a story. It’s making a memorable experience for a consumer. It’s creating a feeling, a moment where our consumer is totally and completely in love with whatever we are selling. But most of all, it matters.

For more information on the Cannes Lions Festival, visit






Diet Coke Pulls “You’re On” Campaign

When it comes to an ad campaign, it’s good to be creative. But sometimes, that creativity can be taken a little out of context if you’re not careful. That’s exactly what happened with Coca-Cola’s campaign, “You’re On”.

Diet Coke is officially pulling their new ad campaign after running it for just three months in North America. It seems the message they were trying to send got slightly skewed. The original ad read: “You’re on. Diet Coke.” But wait a minute: doesn’t that sound a lot like “You’re on Coke”?


You have to give Diet Coke some credit, not all of the ads read that way. Their original TV commercial featured several occasions where a Diet Coke is needed to pull yourself together: first day of a new job, a toast at a wedding, an audition, and of course, Taylor Swift backstage before her concert begins.

Check out the original ad here:


The commercial reads great, but the rest of the ads…not so much. It’s hard to get that idea out of your head once you’ve heard it, and Diet Coke isn’t exactly excited to be associated with an illegal drug. It doesn’t help that there’s a parody of the original ad going around, with the new idea of “You’re on Coke” as the main focus.

So what does this tell the industry? It says that advertising isn’t a dictator in society anymore. Consumers don’t take your word for it off the bat; they’re more skeptical than ever, and are willing to punch any holes they see in your message the second they get the chance. So be warned: it takes a lot more than a cute message and a celebrity to win people over. Better luck next time, Diet Coke.

Niche is Now and What’s Next

The other day I had the privilege of being a guest on Professional Presence, a show on the Michigan Business Network hosted by Shelley Davis Mielock.

We were talking about the importance of niche publications, something I know very well, especially considering I got my start years ago at the Lansing State Journal in their niche publication department.

All these years later, I spend the majority of my time here at M3 Group serving as the Publications Director, overseeing niche publications.

A niche publication – in case you aren’t familiar – is a publication that covers and serves a specific demographic.

Our women’s magazine — Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine  — is a perfect example. We cover the tri county area and for the most part, our content features women and in turn our readers are women and our advertisers are those companies and organizations who want to reach women.

In today’s ever-changing print world, niche publications have, not only survived, they’ve thrived.

With advertisers looking to direct their message to a specific audience and readers demanding content specific to their interests, niche publications have definitely increased in popularity. Add to that the fact that most niche publications offer a form of luxury for their readers – for example our full-color, full-gloss pages of CAWLM make readers want to actually hold and feel the magazine in hard-copy format – and print niche publications are here to stay.

Of course we don’t ignore the fact that some people prefer to read online and that it’s easier to share content via social media sites and email when that content is digital. Again, using the example of CAWLM, we have a website where all content is posted and we have social media accounts that help drive web traffic as well as single copy pick up.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of niche publications is that because they are specific, there is always room for more. If you have an idea for a publication, talk to us. M3 Group helps to produce publications for a number of our clients. From editorial to advertising sales, we can be involved at any level and are always interested in adding more to our line-up of award-winning niche publications.

Stretch Your Advertising Throughout the Whole Year

With all the hustle and bustle during the holiday season, shopping can be quite an adventure.

Wherever you turn this time of year you will probably hear or see specials businesses are offering. When you turn on the computer you see specials with free shipping, open the newspaper and it’s packed with ads or turn on the TV and see the latest greatest offerings.

Advertisers should advertise their business the way they do during the busiest time of the year, all year long. The customer always needs to be treated like it’s the best and most exciting time of the year to be utilizing your business.

So many businesses spend the bulk of their advertising budget during the holiday season in order to receive a big rush, but do those same customers come back in February or April?

If businesses don’t invite them back and remind them they are there with the products they desire, chances could be slim.

Advertising your business throughout the year is important. Some ideas to stretch your advertising budget may include using social media like Twitter or Facebook. Or how about hosting an event? Other ideas include: Email blasts or newsletters sent to customers. Business could also considering supporting a charity event. That way businesses are always doing something to stay top of mind.

So, for 2013, do you want customers only during the busiest shopping time of the year or the all year long?

Be Ready for the Way Consumers Want to Pay

Cyber Monday 2012 is in the books and if the trends continue it might just be renamed “Mobile Monday.” According to IBM Smarter Commerce, mobile sales overall, which include smartphones and tablets, had a huge boost – up more than 96 percent from 2011. Smart retailers need to keep this in mind and make sure their websites are “mobile friendly” so consumers have a positive user experience that turns into a sale.

According to Riverbed Technology, based in San Francisco here are some eye opening statistics as it relates to consumers user experience on website commerce:

  • 89 percent of US adults would stop shopping at a website because of poor website experiences.
  • 79 percent of those surveyed said that overall website experience is absolutely essential or important when choosing a site to shop.
  • 36 percent of participants report they often encounter difficulties including slow load times, site fails and navigation difficulties when shopping online.
  • 44 percent of online shoppers have had to cancel an online order mid-way through the checkout process because the site was too slow.
  • 84 percent of respondents will specifically revisit a brand online based on their website shopping experience.

Retailers need to recognize the two functions that can make or break their site are “search” and “purchase.” If your site is not easily searched, pages take too long to load, product information is not simply and effectively communicated, you risk that client clicking away from your site.

The retailer also needs to make sure once the consumers cart is full that the checkout process is a seamless as possible. Time is still the most precious commodity and when it comes to completing a transaction, it is even more important. Make it easy for people to give you their money.

Retailers who have websites strictly for the traditional laptop or desktop experience are missing the boat. Mobile devices are ubiquitous with shopping savvy consumers and will be a growing market for years to come. In fact, PayPal had almost 200 percent more volume in mobile payments, compared with Cyber Monday last year.

Make sure your website is ready for any type of transaction, mobile phone, tablet, iPad or the good old personal computer and laptop. When consumers are ready to give you their money, be prepared to help them do that.

Not so Standard

“It’s important that people understand the “what you can do with paper” and having high quality paper allows you to do some of those special techniques you wouldn’t do otherwise” – Kit Hinrichs

When seeking print materials, it ‘s easy to limit your search by what you already know. For example, if a company needs promotional items the first answer may be simple informational folder packets and tri-fold brochures. While these materials serve a purpose and can be successful, they are not always the answer. Special effects and unique folding techniques can elevate your materials for a wide range of costs.

Let’s discover more about some of these creative opportunities in the print world.

Sappi Fine Paper North America has a really great resource, The Standard, offering free tips and creative opportunities for the print and design processes. If you followed the link, you’ll see a downloadable version for most of the five issues. The focuses are Pre-Press, Color Management and Calibration, Varnishes and Coatings, Scoring and Folding and Special Effects.  The coolest editions for clients to see are four and five, which do not come in PDF format due to the tactile, dimensional and interactive experience needed. Luckily, there are supplemental videos on the website to give you a peek inside.

I find the printing techniques discussed in Special Effects most entertaining to learn about. Check out a list of some of the effects below:

  1. Lenticular: create 3D optical illusions via lenticular printing.
  2. Thermography: an economic technique, thermography adds tactile dimension to our 19th century.
  3. Flocking: same color, different texture. See how flocking and print combine to define creature and landscape.
  4. Varnish Combinations (see The Standard Issue Number 3 for more about varnishes): thoughtful use of gloss and dull varnishes create contrast and visual interest with minimal cost.
  5. Foil Stamping: striking effects can be created by combining holographic, metallic and flat foils.
  6. Embossing: adds heightened visibility and dimension to images.
  7. Augmented Reality: see how augmented reality is blurring the lines between print and digital.
  8. Specialty Coatings: textural and raised coatings can accentuate the impact of your image.

List provided by Sappi.

The method you use to convey your information through print boils down to the purpose of the information, the expected results and of course, the budget. It wouldn’t be worth your money to add special effects and unique folding if it just looks cool and doesn’t enhance the design in a clever way. An important thing to remember is that some effects, like varnish combinations, look impressive but don’t break the bank.

Start a conversation with us today about your print material needs and let’s discover some creative, effective solutions together.

Want to Land a Job? Be part of the 10 Percent

A hiring manager once told me that if you want that second interview, it’s easier than you think. Just make his job easier.

I asked him what that meant.

He said, “fill out all of the forms properly, have a professional resume and cover letter, know about our company and industry and be enthusiastic and polite. That’s it.”

“Doesn’t everyone do that?” I asked.

His reply was almost no one.

How can this be?

He continued that as soon as an applicant made his job harder, usually improperly filled out forms or a hard to read resume, they were done.

I asked how often this happened. He said more than 90 percent of the time.

So if 100 people apply for a position, less then 10 do what they are supposed to do?


If this is true, do you realize what this means? It means getting a job just got a whole lot easier. Take your time, do your homework, do things right, be personable and you’ll be in the 10 percent.

No guarantee, but still, a whole lot better than most of you were doing yesterday.

Anyone with any work experience kind of already knew this. How many times have you said to yourself, “if people would only do things the way they were supposed to, I could accomplish so much more.”

What you were feeling at that moment is the exact feeling the hiring manager gets when forms are not filled out properly, when your career highlights are not the first thing that grabs the reader’s attention on your resume, when you don’t know about the company that you want to work for.

I guess it comes down to this, don’t frustrate the person who may hire you, and your frustrations will be alleviated sooner!

Promise me ONE Thing

Though I don’t watch much TV, when I do I’m always amazed at the advertising. I’m amazed how awfully good and awfully bad the commercials seem, and not much in between. Strategy, brand messaging, target, tag line … some brands are right on the money. I wonder how others continue to stay in business.

Lately, there seems to be a trend in what I like to call the “double promise tag line” — tag lines with two parts that promise two things. Here are a few examples, off the top of my head:

  • “Higher standards. Lower prices.” (Meijer)
  • “Expect more. Pay less.” (Target)
  • “Save money. Live better.” (Walmart)
  • “Right store. Right price.” (Kroger)

(… And these four are direct competitors! Give me a break …)

  •  “Powered by nature. Proven by science.” (Origins)
  •  “More whole grains. Less you.” (MultiGrain Cheerios)
  • “It pays to switch. It pays to Discover.” (Discover card)
  • “Smells like a garden. Cleans like the dickens.” (Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day)

Your brand is a promise. Often times, your tag line is the message that helps communicate that promise … in a succinct way, again and again and again. It’s what allows your “frequency” in advertising to truly “reach.”

These double promise tag lines are ineffective for two reasons:

1. They dilute the brand promise – if you can’t decide what one thing sets you apart (yes, one), how am I supposed to figure it out?

2. It’s harder to remember, and harder to differentiate – case in point: double promise tag lines No. 1-4 on the list above. What actually makes you different? You can’t all have the lowest price.

A great creative once said, “simplify, simplify, simplify.” I have to imagine these taglines were born out of a client and an agency, sitting around the table, long into a meeting, desperately trying to hone in on a brand differentiator. When they couldn’t, the client proposed they use both. I say ‘the client’ because no self-respecting agency would ever jump on this double-promise-tag-line bandwagon … I hope. I pray.

Closing the Deal

“Don’t Stop Believing…” I am singing at the top of my lungs as I cruise down the highway. Any ’80s rock anthem gets me fired up before I go into a meeting to close a sales deal with a client. As I pull into the parking lot of a potential business I plan to land, my palms sweat and the nerves take over. Running through my head are the steps I will need to go through to close this deal.

First, I need to display a confidence that puts the client at ease because we both know I am there to ask for their business.

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” –   William Bernbach

Enthusiasm will help make the closing easier on both myself and the client because it shows my excitement and belief in my product, not to mention in myself.

“For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough.” – Zig Ziglar

The next two steps intermingle. The trust the client has in me is what got me to this point, and my patience to know when to ask for the business is what will ultimately close the deal for me.

They trust me because I don’t sell to sell. I sell to help them succeed. The trust they have in me will not only help them succeed, but will also form into a relationship which is huge when working with businesses.

“It is not the customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you.” – Patricia Fripp

The hardest part of any closing is having the patience to know when to stop closing. I have asked for the business, now I just wait for the signature. The silence is so loud but nowhere as sweet as the sound of the signature.

“If you work for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

As I jump back into my car I continue to sing where I left off “Don’t Stop Believing!”… And I never did!


How Well do you Know the Millennials?

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), often get bond into other monikers like Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomer. These titles describe the demographic cohort following Generation X. The name Echo Boomers refers to the size of the generation and its relation to the Baby Boomer generation.

Every generation has an archetype and while statistics admit to not defining the year of birth exactly for Millennials, it ranges from 1976 to 1982.  However, it is important to note that in China the birth years of the so-called Millennials don’t exist at all because of the rapid rate of change in that country, those demographics are known as post ‘70s, post ‘80’s and post ‘90’s generations.

What do we know about them? Their purchasing power is enormous, and as a business owner, your future success depends greatly on winning them over. In the 1997 book, The Fourth Turning, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe suggests that modern history repeats itself every four generations.  The authors describe that four-cycles always come in the same order. The first one, the High cycle, occurs when a new order or human expansion is developed, replacing the older one. The next cycle is called the Awakening. More spiritual than the previous, this is a time of rebellion against the already established order. The third cycle is known as the Unraveling, when elements of individualism and fragmentation take over society, developing a troubled era which leads directly to the Fourth Turning, an era of crisis dominating society during which a redefinition of its very structure, goals and purposes is established.

Of these four divisions of type, come what the authors indicated are the: Prophet, Nomad, Hero and Artist. According to the aforementioned book, Millennials belong to the Hero category, featuring a deep trust in authority and institutions; being somewhat conventional, but still powerful. They grew up during an Unraveling cycle with more protections than the previous generation (Gen X). They are heavily dependent on team work, and thus, when they come of age, turn into the heroic team-working young people of a Crisis. In their middle years, they become the energetic, decisive, and strong leaders of a High cycle; and in old age, they become the criticized powerful elders of an Awakening cycle. Another previous generation that belongs to this category is what was called The Greatest Generation (1916–1924).

As a baby boomer myself, I find that this information indicates a proactive need to the global business community to be keenly aware of the each generation’s motives, inputs, imprints and categorizations to reach them effectively and frequently. Currently, the spending data suggest that Millennials are spending upwards of $200 billion annually. One study has suggested, in fact, that their influence on spending reaches as much as half of all spending power in the economy. Records indicate that Millennials are 100 million strong and by far are the largest generations in U.S. history.

What else do we know? Generation Next, AKA Millennials, who were college students, born between 1982–1992, were frequently in touch with their parents and they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations. I can attest to this as a parent of one. Still to this day, my son uses his technological skills to reach out to me in various forms of communication. I often find myself asking him “how to” do something on one of my gadgets. Other surveys have found that 97 percent of these students owned a computer, 94 percent owned a cell phone and 56 percent owned an MP3 player. They also found that students spoke with their parents an average of 1.5 times a day about a wide range of topics. Other findings revealed 76 percent of students used instant messaging, 92 percent of those reported multitasking while instant messaging, 40 percent of them used television to get most of their news, and 34 percent of students surveyed used the Internet. Generation Y’s online presence is growing, as evidenced by the website founded in 2011 to provide a voice for women coming of age in the recession.

As many of our readers of the magazine and perhaps even our Facebook page are women, I think it important to point out the power that you women have more now than ever before. Be sure to utilize your tech-savvy selves to help us understand your needs, wants and desires. We didn’t know until recently that a lot of you think that email is beginning to be treated as a spam warehouse, so we should take note not to try and use it to reach this demographic. We do know what you think of social media and we continue to try and advance our skills at reaching you Y’ers through it. Marketers pay close attention because the edgier designs and traditional molds to reach these savvy consumers require you to incorporate a new architectural paradigm approach. Throw away those old molds and bring on the buzz creations immediately!