Can you believe it? CBC just wrapped up its 11th annual Winter House. And if we do say so ourselves, it gets better with age!
As communication methods evolve, so do the creative ways that we as marketers collaborate with brands. For those who don’t know, the CBC House Programs bring some of the nation’s most coveted top tier media to some incredible locations. For Winter House, Park City, UT was the perfect setting to experience brands and their products the way they were intended.
19 editors from top-tier outlets like Esquire, Fox News, and Women’s Health joined us in Park City to ski the slopes at Deer Valley, sip cocktails by the fire at Wyndham Vacation Rentals, and experience a Rocky Mountain winter firsthand.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the brands and experiences that were showcased at the 2017 Winter House:
Miraclesuit hosted a playful hot tub cocktail hour and dinner hosted by a private chef. The perfect ending to a day on the slopes.
After skiing, yoga was the perfect way to unwind and stretch out those tired muscles. Kleenex hosted a relaxing yoga class at one of Deer Valley’s most elegant resorts, The Montage.
To close the experience, Ester-C hosted a breakfast on the last day where they concocted juices and smoothies that included their immune boosting products. After the healthy meal, editors boarded their planes energized and fully equipped to fight off the winter cold season.
Through the experiences provided by CBC Winter House, editors naturally connected with brands and products as a way to craft genuine stories to share with their readers. But don’t take it from us, check out the full story of #CBCWinterHouse on Instagram.
All advertisers strive to produce great work that goes beyond selling and becomes viral entertainment that consumers talk about for weeks. But then what?
Many have gotten into the habit of cranking out one campaign after the other, without too much diversity in-between. But in the pursuit of staying fresh, they lose the longevity of their brand identity.
This is where Transmedia storytelling comes into play.
Transmedia storytelling is simply defined as “telling a story across multiple media” and thrives off audience engagement. Different media forms work together to create a larger, more engaging story that immerses the consumer in the brand.
Traditionally, media franchises (like Harry Potter and Star Wars) have brought this technique to life by building off the original content with related games, toys, theme parks, etc. This results in a natural build of brand awareness and loyalty.
Perhaps the best example of a brand using transmedia storytelling happened in 2008 when car insurance company Progressive brought out Flo, the quirky saleswoman who has since become the face of the brand.
Over the last nine years, Flo has appeared in over 100 commercials, has her own bobble head, a Halloween costume, and even has a role in the racing video game ModNation Racers.
Flo’s ability to transcend traditional marketing mediums has helped Progressive appeal to the elusive younger audience.
PSAs have a bad reputation. So when Melbourne Metro had to release a PSA for train safety, they seized the opportunity to break the monotony usually associated with PSAs by using transmedia storytelling.
The campaign started with a catchy jingle but has since expanded to an iPhone game, plush toys, and figurines.
When executed well, transmedia storytelling can extend the lifetime of a campaign and strengthen brand identity.
Instagram has come a long way since its debut in 2010, priding itself on being a top-performing platform for mobile discovery.
And now, the beloved platform has broadened its horizons even more – it will soon allow users to purchase products directly from an image. That’s right, Instagram is joining the mobile shopping revolution. This new feature is ground breaking for brands who rely on their online sales.
Mobile shopping has become a consumer favorite, making up 30% of all e-commerce sales. In fact, it is estimated that more than 84 percent of smartphone owners use an app or web browser to view products. This is a HUGE untapped market of potential buyers who use Instagram to follow their favorite brands.
According to Instagram, this is how shopping will work:
- Each post will have a tap to view icon.
- When a product is tapped, a price tag will appear.
- If the consumer is interested, they can select to view the product details.
- Then there’s an option to shop now, which takes the user to the ecomm site to purchase.
Unfortunately for those who want to jump right in, the new experience is still in its test phase. Instagram partnered up with brands like J-crew, Kate Spade, and Warby Parker for the beta version, gaging ease of use and depth.
When it does go public, we at Cercone Brown are especially excited to see how brands like Garnet Hill and Stonewall Kitchen will enhance engagement with current and prospective users. Either way, our wallets are sure to be lighter.
Over the past decade, we have seen tremendous strides in advertising diversity, from gender to religious beliefs. However, let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet. There is still so much room for more progress in attaining equal representation of these marginalized groups.
Why Agencies Benefit from Increasing Diversity in their Workforce
At its most rudimentary level, advertising and marketing campaigns are meant to capture the attention of audiences. We do that by creating content that is relatable and strikes a universal chord. For minority demographics, we believe the best way to create content that resonates is to let them tell the story.
Agencies without a diverse staff are more limited in their understanding of their various target audiences.
With so many talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, why should we make our jobs harder by excluding their voices? We should embrace a breadth of perspectives as a way to stimulate industry progression and inclusivity.
As Pepsi Co. Executive Brad Jakemen puts it, “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogenous groups of people. Quite the opposite. They come from collections of people with different life experiences coming together with a different perspective on the world. Different ages, races, sexual orientations trying to solve a problem from a different standpoint.”
Brands Pushing for Change
A few brands – including Pepsi Co., Verizon, HP, General Mills – have spearheaded this initiative by pressuring their agencies to hire diverse individuals. They’ve asked agencies to propose plans for how they will boost representation at all levels within their workforce.
The SMO for Verizon, Diego Scotti commented in a New York Times article that, “Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers. We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce and suppliers represent the communities we serve.”
We at CerconeBrown applaud the steps these brands are taking, but recognize there is still progress to be made. When new and unique perspectives are brought into the creative process, everyone wins.
Over the course of eight days, 20 editors, bloggers and journalists from top-tier publications attended Cercone Brown’s 11th annual Fall House in Santa Barbara.
From October 16-24, attendees from publications like People, The Huffington Post, and SELF immersed themselves in the Santa Barbara County lifestyle as they lounged by the pool, explored picturesque California beaches, and participated in adventurous excursions all hosted by our brand sponsors.
This year, brands like Buick, Miraclesuit, and Lather organized unique brand activations and experiences. The key to our success with our House Programs, we let the products speak for themselves. Buick kicked off the 2016 sessions with an iconic, self-guided road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway while Mircaclesuit hosted a pool party at the house.
After all the excitement, Lather helped the editors unwind with facials and massages.
Other brands like Sabra and Jackson Family Wines indulged the media influencers with delicious food and cocktails throughout their stay. They were even treated to a mixology class with blogger and author of This Girl Walks into a Bar, hosted by Bolthouse Farms.
While Fall House is certainly fun for media influencers, it also encompasses a series of tailored experiences designed to give each brand meaningful exposure to media in a natural setting. Editors are experiencing a product in the way it is intended to be experienced – and without being clouded by the competition as each brand is offered exclusivity in its product category.
But enough about what we thought of Fall House – let’s let the attendees speak for themselves:
Check out all of the social buzz from Fall House online at #CBCfallhouse.
Controversy was sparked last year when Target went gender neutral with some of its products; with it came an important conversation amongst brands about the potential pitfalls of playing into gender stereotypes.
Many consider gender to exist on a spectrum rather than a male-female binary, causing brands to realize that consumers are more complex than gender stereotypes might suggest. The result: brands that are more inclusive of all gender identities.
At Cercone Brown, we’re calling this a “Marketing to Humans” revolution.
THINX, a brand that sells underwear specifically for a person’s menstrual cycle, is challenging gender norms with its “People with Periods” campaign. The ad features a transgender man, suggesting that females aren’t the only ones who would benefit from their products.
Many high-end fashion lines strut androgynous – gender-neutral – clothing on the runway, however, ZARA is one of the first clothing brands to make this look mainstream with their “Ungendered” collection.
We at Cercone Brown are joining this movement to remove gender stereotypes from marketing, particularly through our work with Veritas Genetics – a whole genome sequencing startup that also markets tests for breast, ovarian, and other cancers by testing for BRCA mutation.
There is still a long way to go until marketing is truly intersectional and representative of all identities, but these brands are helping lead the march towards progress.
Public relations and advertising campaigns draw attention to brands. But what if those campaigns focused on more than just the brand’s products or services? What if they went the extra mile?
Civic marketing and publicity is a combination of public relations and civic engagement occurring when brands use their notoriety to rally people in a community to address an issue or do some good. It’s more participatory – the brand goes beyond drawing awareness and support for the cause to play a more active role in the process.
Heineken’s “Cities” Campaign
Heineken offers a prime example of civic publicity in their “Cities” campaign. They turned to consumers to crowdsource ideas for projects in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Honolulu. With the help of crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, they will raise money from their communities for these projects, matching up to $20,000 in each city so that they can put their plans into action.
The campaign kicked off this September with a re-imagination of the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium.
In the past, Heineken has taken the lead on projects to improve cities. They made music from turnstiles in New York and made the Golden Gate Bridge light up with sound in San Francisco.
But now they are giving consumers control over their projects, and by doing so they are shifting their focus public relations towards civic publicity. Consumers now have the chance to their voices heard, allowing for an active role in directing change. The result of this shift: positive publicity and loyalty to brands.
How CBC does Civic Publicity
We at Cercone Brown know the importance of raising awareness for worthy causes, which is why we’ve worked on public relations campaigns for brands like AMPSURF, the Red Cross, and many more in the past. We work with Brands on a Mission and a big part of that mission is to bring people together to benefit our communities.
As consumers continue to expect things at the click of a button, certain brands are capitalizing on the advantages of this and positioning themselves at the forefront of this trend.
Over the past few years, several services have emerged that allow consumers to get everything they need with one click – from groceries to wine to razors, anything can now be delivered to your doorstep.
Beloved services like Postmates and GrubHub allow you to order food and other items without any human contact, while services like Trunk Club, Graze, and BirchBox go one step further and eliminate the need of you having to make any decision at all. Upon signing up for the service, the buyer takes a preferences test and then receives customized monthly deliveries of clothes, snacks, makeup, etc.
Brands like these have ushered in an Age of Convenience, where consumers get none of the hassle, but all of the gratification. According to a Shutl survey, 60% of millennials expect more from delivery services than they did two years ago.
Convenience is no longer a perk – it’s a necessity. And as more of these delivery services pop up, consumers’ expectations for their shopping experiences change and force companies to refresh their brand positioning accordingly.
This consumption transformation is just getting started. While only 8% of those surveyed by CivicScience use a convenience service now, 24% are planning on subscribing in the next year. The popularity of these services suggests that the future of shopping is all about having someone else do it for you.
It’s official – Garnet Hill has packed up a collection of its most beautiful home and apparel products and set its sights on the open road! Their mission? To connect with their customer in a tangible way and provide a unique touch-and-feel experience in the comfort of her own backyard
This August, we’re celebrating the launch of Garnet Hill’s Mobile Boutique – a pop-up store that truly takes the concept of “experiential marketing” to a whole new level.
Built to feel like a tiny, natural home where you can literally touch, feel, and shop all of the beautiful Garnet Hill products, the boutique is equipped with all of the homey essentials – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closet, and a roof deck.
The pop-up is an homage to the brand’s Beautiful, Naturally mantra and was stunningly designed by ModEco Founder and HGTV Container Home personality Drake Boroja from a converted shipping container. It showcases an array of the most beloved Garnet Hill products, and serves as a venue for community events including wine tastings, farm-to-table meals, and other demonstrations.
The mobile store began its pilgrimage in Franconia, New Hampshire, is currently moving south through the state via Exeter, and will end in New York City.
There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.
The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.
Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.
The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha Steaks, Sambazon, Stonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.
Until next year, Cooking Cottage!
As 2015 is coming to an end and next year’s planning is kicking into full gear, it’s time to take a look at some emerging trends that will rule the digital landscape in 2016.
Different sources have varying perspectives on the top-tier trends, but for the most part everyone can agree that mobile and new gadgets in innovation will top the list. With the endless new devices topping holiday wish lists this season (iPad Pro, anyone?), marketers will definitely be zeroing in on optimizing their mobile platforms, and getting to the forefront of mobile ads.
In an era where anything and everything is becoming digitalized, it’s important to keep an eye out for technological trends. Virtual Reality and 360 tech has had tons of buzz in 2015; it will be interesting to see where this takes us, and how advertisers will be able to integrate this into their projects.
Similarly, wearable tech like TomTom’s GPS watches will definitely be top of mind for advertisers in 2016. Whether or not the platforms will allow for advertising opportunities is still pending, but given the latest trends of social media brands opening up their platforms for advertisers, it wouldn’t be surprising if we start seeing pop-up advertising on our watches, too.
Another industry trend that’s particularly interesting is the growing prominence of disruptive competitors, or small niche brands taking on industries dominated by a few key players. Services like Dollar Shave Club and Uber have been extremely successful in staking a claim within industries that have not seen new competitors in quite some time.
With the emergence of new technologies and companies creating new markets for themselves, marketers will have to work harder than ever to stay ahead of the innovation game. Who knows what platforms will open their doors to advertisers in 2016! As ad-people, we’re staying on our toes, poised to create, to evolve, and to innovate in the name of the ever-changing game.
Summer is winding down, and parents everywhere are preparing their kids and their homes to accommodate the new school year. From stocking up on school supplies to transitioning closets to accommodate the crisp fall months, it can be overwhelming for a parent to sort through all the new products at hand. Luckily, CerconeBrown has the answer to these parenting dilemmas! Since its introduction in 2013, the CBC Parenting Experience works to connect top parenting and children’s brands and products directly to top lifestyle press.
The Parenting Experience is a one-day event showcasing a collection of the best products that top brands have to offer. Guests are invited to sample and taste test these new items, allowing them to get face-to-face and hands-on experience with the experts behind the brands. This year’s event took place this past Wednesday at the London NYC Hotel Penthouse suite, and participants from parenting and lifestyle magazines, top mommy bloggers, and high-influencing mom personalities joined in on the fun. In total, 33 top-tier media were able to get to know brands who ran the gamut from snack solutions to educational tools for children.
The Parenting Experience is not only about the children, but also the parents! Nothing ruins a family outing more than cold and wet feet, and BOGS presented cold-weather solutions for parents and children alike.
The Parenting Experience is just one of CBC’s House Programs, facilitating press and brand interactions between editors, authors, and bloggers and the newest, best products in their beats, all in a casual yet high-energy setting. This experience was another success: authentic, intimate, and the preface for long-lasting brand/press relationships.
Blending social media marketing, interactive design, and press relations has become a hallmark of Boston advertising and PR firm Cercone Brown & Co., helping brands such as GMAC Insurance, adidas, Quiksilver and others build campaigns that drive awareness, sales leads and ROI.
On October 21st, the firm was honored for Best Online Campaign for 2009 for the prestigious Platinum PR Awards for its “America’s Least Wasteful Cities” work for reusable bottle icon Nalgene. Cercone Brown & Co. was among the top eight companies with the Best Online Campaign out of a total pool of 800 submissions.
With thrift and conservation on the minds of many Americans, the campaign put the spotlight on wasteful behavior in our nation’s top cities. “The Nalgene Least Wasteful City Study” ranked 23 waste-focused habits of urban Americans, from recycling, to using public transportation, to shutting off lights. When the results were tallied, San Francisco earned the title of America’s Least Wasteful City, while Atlanta ranked last.
Launched just prior to Earth Day, the program leveraged social media networks including Twitter and Facebook as primary channels.
“From a simple strategy of creating usable, compelling content, the effort quickly caught fire and extended beyond our hopes,” said Caroline Budney, director, social responsibility, Cercone Brown & Co. “Almost immediately the ‘Net reacted with Twitter the clear epicenter of activity, as our frequent tweets were fueled by the tweets of columnists and bloggers.”
In total, the campaign reached more than 1 million on Twitter alone, and was extended by numerous television and print new stories. The campaign allowed Nalgene to strengthen its online community, adding fans to Facebook and followers to Twitter, making direct conversations with important alpha consumers easier and stronger.
The Platinum PR Awards
Del Monte Foods, GE, Time Warner Cable and American Express are among the organizations competing for honors in the 2009 Platinum PR Awards. Presented by PR News, the leading information resource among communicators, this highly competitive program honors the best PR campaigns and initiatives of the year.
The finalists in this year’s awards program included corporations, nonprofits and agencies large and small. The award winners were announced at an October 21, 2009 awards luncheon at the Grand Hyatt in New York City and in PR News’ Platinum PR Awards special issue in October.
The awards were judged by a blue-chip panel that includes PR executives from corporations, agencies, nonprofits and associations, and leading educators and industry consultants.
“It is remarkable how far the PR discipline has come in the past few years in terms of impacting an organization’s bottom line and reputation,” says Diane Schwartz, vice president and group publisher of PR News. “This year’s finalists in the Platinum PR Awards reinforce how powerful public relations is in moving the needle.”
PR News’ Oct. 26 Platinum PR Issue profiles the top PR campaigns of the year and will serve as a users guide to PR departments of all sizes and missions. Coverage will include profiles of the top innovative campaigns, the smartest communications initiatives and the people behind them.
This is the second of three entries on Word of Mouth techniques for PR agencies and professionals. In the last entry, I talked about the first word of mouth tool, guerilla marketing. Today, it’s the publicity stunt. Granted, one could argue that they are very similar, but in my book there is one basic, but important difference: the stunt is about media coverage, including consumer generated media.
A stunt is an unabashed and often brazen play for publicity. Again, Red Bull has a great example: the Flutag. Otherwise normal, semi-emotionally balanced folk leaping from great heights in a hilarious, self-effacing attempt to fly on contraptions of their own design. You can’t help but look, and it makes great TV.
Stunts are easy to spot: skydivers, streakers, even the ol’DJ-on-the-billboard are stunt stereotypes. But to be successful, stunts have to do more than just grab attention. They must create compelling images, a can’t miss photo op. TV and print photo editors think of what looks good on the screen or a page, and it doesn’t always need to be outrageous.
Before baseball player Johnny Damon defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Gillette had extensive coverage for the launch of its new razor thank to him. Johnny agreed to shave his Grizzly Adams beard in public for a local charity. Complete with attractive female barbers (it’s a man’s razor, after all), they captured the city’s attention. Johnny’s clean-shaven face looked great on the evening news, leading all to believe that the M3Power must be one helluva razor.
But the best part of stunts these days? You don’t need the traditional media to be successful. We have YouTube. Still, it’s a crowded viral world out there. To be successful, you should the same press-savvy thinking to your viral videos as (good) PR pros have for years with the Stunt.
And in a shameless plug, check out a video of a stunt my firm, CBC, did for Nantucket Nectars back in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. The World’s Largest Thank You Card brought thousands together from around New England, and made it all the way to the network news. Enjoy!
Next Up: Grassroots marketing.