Performance reviews have to be some of the most feared days on any manager’s calendar, and understandably so. Giving feedback is a difficult process, considering that different people can react to and cope with feedback in such different ways. That’s why it’s important to exercise caution, and go in with a plan when tackling review season – in all its angst and its glory.

Plan Ahead

One of the biggest aspects of planning your attack is just that: planning. Many busy bosses wing it and try to do their reviews “on the fly,” which often times doesn’t “fly” at all. Poor preparation can lead to a severe lack of depth in a review, which, as Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman taught us in this Harvard Business Review podcast, can leave employees feeling unsatisfied and frustrated. The reasoning behind this, Zenger and Folkman say, is that being specific is key to giving good feedback, because it makes the message seem more genuine and thought-out. Recalling specific events will make positive feedback seem more deserved and will make corrective feedback seem more justified. That being said, it can still be extremely difficult to give critical feedback — one of the most crucial parts of the whole review process.

Corrective Feedback is Necessary

Zenger and Folkman teach us that the first step to making critical feedback more bearable and helpful is to start thinking about it as “corrective” or “redirecting” feedback. It is important to realize that motivated people want to know what they are doing wrong so they can improve and make themselves more effective employees. It is still important, however, to craft a message for appropriate delivery. In this case, it is again crucial to be specific and plan out points and events/examples to be discussed during feedback-sharing time.

Frequent Feedback

To avoid getting to the end of the year and struggling to scrape up something to talk about, it might be a good idea to have frequent, brief meetings with employees instead of one big review, Zenger and Folkman suggest. (Think of it as a diet that calls for small portions, more times throughout the day — management-style.) This will allow you to discuss specific events as they come up, a likely way to garner appreciation from your teammates and colleagues as they recognize more consistent interest in their performance and well-being.

These general guidelines are a great way to lighten the tone of doing performance reviews. Turning the daunting meeting into a conversation with a clear message and a focus on self-improvement will soften any necessary blows, and make the entire process all around more productive. (At least, that’s what we’re anticipating. We’ll let you know…!)



It’s 11:00 AM. Too late for a post-breakfast snack but too early for lunch. You’re in culinary limbo.


As you sit at your desk listening to your stomach serenade you, your merciless mind races with thoughts of vicious things you would do for some grub right about now. SNAP OUT OF IT! You’re not you when you’re hungry – and Snickers understands.


A recent Snickers ad demonstrates the consequences of letting yourself get a little too hangry. Strategically placed on the back cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, the ad shows a beautiful model whose hair floats beside her head, whose belly button is near her chest, whose hand has been digitally placed onto her shoulder sans arm, and whose image, poor girl, has suffered multiple other repercussions of poor Photoshopping. The copy reads, “Photo retouchers get confused when they’re hungry.” Another ad from the campaign features a distraught, wind-blown model with copy that reads, “Wind machine operators get loopy when they’re hungry.” Clearly, these mistakes could have been avoided, had the workers had a Snickers bar.













With this new campaign, Snickers sought to revamp their now six-year-old motto, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” in a fun and hyper-targeted way. Using minimal copy, Snickers challenges audiences to interact with the former ad by finding all 11 retouching errors. While it seems the rest of the world is focusing on technological advancements, Snickers proves that print advertising ain’t about to be a #TBT just yet.


Considering Sports Illustrated’s religious use of Photoshop, the placement of these ads is significant and ironic. Luckily, Snickers was able to bring attention to the absurdity of retouching in a lighthearted, fun way, thus functioning successfully alongside its outlet and, therefore, its audience, rather than against them.


Not only does the campaign get an A+ for creativity, its timeliness is on-point, as well. Sports Illustrated model Ashley Graham recently announced that her 2016 cover is au naturel and entirely untouched. Looks like the magazine is taking the appropriate steps toward combating its notorious reputation by stepping out of its comfort zone to recognize real, natural women for the first time in history. And the Snickers ad, it seems, is the perfect cohort in this effort.


While the ads are proving effective in the states, we’ll have to keep tabs on the brand’s performance abroad, due to a recent product recall in the Netherlands.  Maybe Snickers factory workers should start practicing what they preach–hunger always gets the best of us!



When you picture a woman athlete today, a particular description may come to mind. You may think of the words strong, empowered, determined and full of potential. A woman who will go extra lengths to reach her goals and keep moving through any obstacles that may come her way. More recently, the sports marketing industry has been celebrating women athletes through campaigns based on these attributes. Take for example, Under Armour’s #IWillWhatIWant campaign or Nike’s #betterforitcampaign.



In order to further connect with women, Adidas is introducing a different element to the conversation about what makes women athletes so great: creativity.


“We think the idea of using creativity to reimagine and reshape yourself however you want will really resonate with women because when you look around the world, that’s what so many women in sport are already doing,” explains Jason Norcross, partner and executive creative director at ad company 72andSunny.


The global campaign, titled “I’m Here to Create,” includes a series of videos told through some of today’s most influential and accomplished female athletes. Included are international tennis icon Caroline Wozniacki, WNBA All-Star Candace Parker, DJ Hannah Bronfman, street athlete Robin Arzon and fitness artist Nicole Winhoffer, among others.



Through these women’s stories and lifestyles, Adidas hopes to use the concept of creativity to bring recognition to the changing traditional views of sports and to focus on the versatility of the female athlete.


Each woman in the campaign embraces her creativity to accomplish something all in the name of sport. Candice Parker redefines motherhood to maintain her training schedule, for example, and Wozniacki uses non-traditional forms of training to keep her sharp on the tennis court. These women are redefining what it means to be an athlete – on their own terms. And Adidas seems to be harnessing the concept and energy at the perfect moment.


According to Nicole Vollebregt, the head of women’s at Adidas, in 2016, the brand will continue to “roll out women-focused activations, partnerships, products and events” to engage and further connect to the powerful consumer demographic. We look forward to seeing how this campaign, and Adidas’s forthcoming efforts this year, will contribute to the conversations around female athletes. Will other sports companies follow the gendered suit? Or will the women-focused venture simply be a small drop, affecting a select demo, with few ripples among the larger industry? Time – and no doubt a bit of female sportsmanship – will tell how this ad game plays out.


The 2016 Super Bowl brought along its usual jaw dropping and unforgettable moments for consumer and spectators alike. But what we at CBC care about is how well those big-name Super Bowl advertisers reached their target audience. One way to monitor how well brands did in their advertising initiatives is to measure post-game mentions. For a lucky few brands, talk is still buzzing, and while most of the heavy hitters spent large sums of money to have that precious air time, some were able to grab attention for free. You might be wondering- how did they pull THAT off? It’s simple: product placement.

Product placement has been a notable advertising technique for quite some time. The obvious advantages of product placement are that your brand gets air time with respectable and trustworthy opinion leaders, allowing your brands reputation to become more credible. While most companies will pay to have their products featured in media programs, it’s not always the case. In a couple instances that are mentioned below, brands get credible airtime without spending a dime, allowing for great post-game coverage for their product of service. Here are some brands that are making viral waves post-game.

Red Lobster

One of the biggest benefactors of this advertising technique would be Red Lobster. During Beyoncé’s half time performance, she mentions the chain restaurant in her new song. Red Lobster saw a spike in activity on their social media as well as a rise in sales since the release of the song just a day prior.

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Apple was another brand that didn’t pay for air time in any facet, but was instead including in advertising by other popular brands. The iPhone 6S, Apple’s CarPlay interface, the Apple Watch, and Beats Audio were able to make cameo appearances which spiked interest in Apple products associated with these brands. The cameo appearances were in a variety of product commercials from car companies like Hyundai, phone companies like T-Mobile, and Machine Zone’s Mobile Strike campaign.

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Budweiser was an unexpected benefactor of product placement after Peyton Manning said he was “going to drink a lot of Budweiser” after his super bowl win. An unfortunate circumstance for Budweiser who already spent millions of dollars in advertising fees, but nonetheless a credible and substantial push for their target media.

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Overall, this kind of advertisement is a luck of the draw approach: it isn’t the most reliable, and of course unlike paid advertisement, it’s never guaranteed. But as a PR professional, always be prepared for the unexpected, and if the instance occurs, make sure you thank those who gave you a shout-out!

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It’s the Monday after the Super Bowl around 11:30am, and there’s only one thing on your mind: lunch. You decide to treat yourself to a delicious Chipotle burrito bowl, complete with chips and guac (yes, you know it’s extra). The Monday blues are hitting you hard, and this should flip things around. But instead of fresh corn salsa and spiced chicken, disappointment is the only taste left in your mouth.



This is no doubt the experience that many had yesterday, as Chipotle closed every single one of it’s 1,900 locations for the entire day on February 8, 2016. Seems like a terrible sales move, right? Wrong. This was a strategic, and almost necessary crisis control PR move for the popular chain restaurant. The decision to close the store came after several months of combatting E. Coli, Salmonella, and Norovirus outbreaks in Boston, Oregon, and Washington, to name a few. This could have been monumentally destructive for the brand, but Chipotle is coming out of the fire as a crisis control powerhouse. So much so, that other PR professionals should take note of the crisis control moves stored in Chipotle’s tool belt.

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27: Chipotle restaurant workers fill orders for customers on the day that the company announced it will only use non-GMO ingredients in its food on April 27, 2015 in Miami, Florida. The company announced, that the Denver-based chain would not use the GMO's, which is an organism whose genome has been altered via genetic engineering in the food served at Chipotle Mexican Grills. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Step One: Take Action

The first thing Chipotle did right was take action immediately. Within hours of the first released cases of E-coli, Chipotle had already reached out to those affected to personally check in on them.

Step Two: Play it Safe

Their next move called for a closing of all the locations around the affected area, even if they did not have a problem. Chipotle decided to play it safe and not push their service limits. They showed they were in control of the situation, and interested in stopping it immediately.

Step Three: Communication, Internally and Externally

Now, a month or so after the outbreak has simmered down, Chipotle is still making smart crisis control decisions. The purpose of the nation-wide store closing yesterday was to hold a “company meeting” between executives and employees. Supposedly, new safety and health precautions were thoroughly discussed, employee questions were answered, and upcoming marketing efforts were implemented. They established that a major goal moving forward would be complete transparency and constant communication between owners, employees, and customers.

Step Four: Give the People What They Want

So, you moved onto a different Monday lunch option, but you’re still bitter you didn’t get your $1.50 guacamole. Chipotle saw this coming, and offered a free make-up burrito to anyone who had their number. All you had to do was text “Raincheck” to 888-222, and your burrito dreams came true— talk about customer appreciation at it’s finest (Sorry to those of you who are just hearing about this now!)

Even with increasing costs and lower sales, Chipotle is not a mild, not a medium, but a hot commodity. As the parody article from Gomer Blog stated, “people would rather die from E. coli than not eat Chipotle.” Is this because of their excellent crisis control and PR approach, or is everyone just crazy for carnitas?   We think it’s a little bit of both.


Hey, ladies! Put down the vodka soda and get ready to put on your beer goggles. Last weekend, Coors Light launched a new campaign called “Climb On,” which used targeted advertising to attract women drinkers. Smart move, Coors, considering women represent nearly a quarter of the industry’s total volume. (I.e. they drink over 17 billion beers a year, F.Y.I. That’s a whole lot of hops…)

The debut ad opens with a question: “What would we be without our mountains?” Sure, some of us may prefer to glide through life without obstacles, but Coors realizes that we’ve all got #firstworldproblems and then some. Climbing these “mountains” and facing obstacles and challenges is what builds character and makes life enjoyable (or is it the beer on the other side that makes it all worthwhile?).

Not only will this ad inspire you, it’ll get you thinking about those New Years resolutions you already forgot about.   Throughout the commercial, a number of men and women of all shapes, sizes and colors are shown engaging in vigorous outdoor activities. Don’t be discouraged if the mountain you’re climbing doesn’t involve conquering a mean yoga pose or trying to stay on an angry bull—we all have different aspirations and capabilities.

As Coors kindly reminds us, “your mountains make you who you are—whatever your mountain, climb on.” And when you’re done climbing, crack open a beer. You’ve earned it. [Source]


It’s that time of year again. Seeing the weather getting colder and colder here in New England prompts not-so-distant memories of endless shoveling and bone-chilling temperatures. While most are doing their best to stay out of the cold and the snow, CBC teamed up with some of media’s top-tier journalists and bloggers to tackle it head-on in Dear Valley, Utah for the annual experiential marketing event, Winter House.

Winter House '16

Winter House was live as soon as the plane hit the tarmac. Onstar and Buick started guests off in style, with chauffeured rides to lunch. An active schedule from then on included a running clinic and workout courtesy of Altra and Icon, a relay race put on by Kahtoola (followed by libations, of course), Probar’s make-your-own activation, and a classy cocktail hour by POM pomegranate juice.

probar group copy

Group at Lunch copy

Naturally, surrounded by an abundance of snow and one of the best ski mountains the United States has to offer, Winter House attendees hit the slopes equipped with top-notch gear from Smith Optics and Elan.
Nate Skiing copy

Editors Group Photo copy

CBC’s Winter House gave those who attended a chance to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and share an experience with brands that they won’t soon forget. The activities, combined with a pristine location (and of course plenty of good food and drinks) made Winter House 2016 one for the books.

Deer Valley Sunrise

If you missed the latest Huffington Post article where Cercone Brown’s Winter House was mentioned.

Check out the full article. The New Age of Branding: It is all About the Experience

“What would happen if you could assemble a group of the country’s most influential journalists and invite them to stay at a home in an idyllic setting and live for three days with some of the best new products available? The CBC House programs do just this. Each house hosts five to ten journalists for three-day consecutive sessions over a total period of two — three weeks. The result? A total immersion in the brand and the culture and lifestyle that surrounds it.”

Winter House