28 January, 2011

The Mike Rowe Effect

I'm pretty sure Baltimore's own Mike Rowe will be receiving a nice card today from Ford, perhaps something along the lines of:

Dearest Mike,

Thanks for the money!



I woke up this morning to news about Ford posting its biggest profit since 1999. Their earnings in 2010 climbed to $6.6 billion; that's a jump of $4 billion from 2009.

There are many factors that may have contributed to this, including massive recalls from Toyota, the fact that they touted that they never took money from the fed bailout of the other Big Three, and more.

In all of the articles I've read on the subject, not one attributes the success of the brand to Mike Rowe.

Come on, news outlets! Give credit where credit's due already!

Mike Rowe is at the top of his game when he's just on the streets talking with people. Ford knew this and signed him on as their brand ambassador, giving a relatable, credible face to a strong automotive company with a weary future.

This isn't the first, and it certainly won't be the last example of spokespeople bringing a boost to a brand.

I'm definitely enjoying the current batch of spokespeople/brand ambassadors invading our collective cultural lexicon.

Mayhem -

Enjoyable, funny, well-executed commercials. Keep it coming, Allstate.

The World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World -

Quirky, awkward, corny. I enjoyed the commercials leading up to the reveal of who/what was the WGSW but everything since then has been a disappointment.

What other spokespeople/brand ambassadors do you enjoy seeing? What companies/brands would you like to see go the route of Ford and get a Mike Rowe-esque bump?

And yes, I left Geico off my list since they've got so damn many spokesmen: Gecko, Caveman, Storyteller, etc.

Sean Sutherland Associate Account Executive/Official Spokesperson for Renegade

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27 January, 2011

This is my stop.

I hate goodbyes. They're self-indulgent. They drip with sentimentality. But more than anything, they're hard. So I'm not going to make this a big deal. Tomorrow's my last day at Renegade and the Agency Confessional.

When we started the Agency Confessional in '07, we were just looking for ways to make our timesheets look like we were working. But it turned into something bigger for us. A unique voice for the agency. Or at least, the creative department anyway. Entertaining. Irreverent. And, hopefully, something to get people in the ad industry thinking, while not talking down to those who couldn't tell David Ogilvy from David Hasselhoff. Hint: one's alive, and one used to drive a really sweet black Thunderbird.

Well, the Confessional will live on. In fact, it'll have a new home on Renegade's redesigned agency site very soon. That's right, the Confessional's company-sanctioned now. It took a few blog awards from the Baltimore Sun and a ranking in the Ad Age Power 150, but it's finally bona-fide. And we think you're going to like where it's going.

I leave the Confessional in the very capable, and sometimes donut-powdered - hands of co-editor George Convery. Though I suppose you can't really leave something you never owned; it's always been a consortium of personalities. Kind of like a creative socialism inspired by Richard Marx instead of Karl Marx. But whatever.

So onward, friends. It's been a great ride. Thanks for taking it with me. But this is where I get off.

M.M. McDermott

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17 January, 2011

Best Buy Irreparably Destroys Credibility

I generally have a positive view of Best Buy as a company, but after this feature interview in their January Mobile Buyer's Guide, I'll be getting my mobile advice elsewhere.

"I like to stay connected with the freshest phone, so I am getting a new one every couple months."

Justin, I feel that we are in different places in our lives.

-George C. Convery

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14 January, 2011

If You Can Transform a Brand, You Can Transform Your Agency

Yes, I borrowed that line from the title of an article published in AdAge. Truth be told, it's the platform for this post.

Right now we (Renegade) are in the trenches of re-branding ourselves. And I would be a liar if I said it was the easiest thing we've ever done. It's surprising how difficult the work becomes when it is no longer directed towards your clients and suddenly becomes all about you. Case and point, have you ever had to write about yourself? Perhaps a bio, a blurb, about me, etc... It's more difficult than you think. As Christine puts it "Decode your DNA". Figure out who you are. Figure out what your trying to do/sell/offer. Strip everything away and focus on the one thing that makes you, you.

This is the case with any branding initiative but it's a lot easier to dissect the fruits of someone else's labor. When you are forced into a moment of introspect, things get uncomfortable, usually a bit sticky and ultimately someone steps in something gross and tracks it across the living room floor. Fortunately for this industry, a creative solution can clean up any mess.

Once you have the fancy adjectives and fluff stripped away and you can clearly see your vision, corporate culture and unique differentiator, you can begin the process of putting your brand back together. Don't forget all of the other cosmetic details either - you have to think about curb appeal in this neighborhood.

So now you've got a new look, a new approach and now a new buzz in the atmosphere. Now what? Oh yeah, now it's time to launch. I'll leave that up to you while I segue into the Renegade brand launch.

For some time we've been revamping the Renegade brand - who we are, what we do and how we do it. As I mentioned earlier, it was not an easy process and for any agency that has gone through it, knows that.

It's almost like planning a wedding.

You lock down the foundation that everything else will fall into first - who you are, where you're going and how you'll get there (a.k.a. research). Then you move on to the more detail oriented tasks - brand positioning, brand identity, brand plan. And last but not least, the nitty gritty details that you can't forget but never remember - updating all letterhead, docs, envelopes, business cards and email signatures with your new look, setting the tone for your new culture and rallying your troops (in the midst of all the top-level business decisions, you can't forget about your front line - these folks are going to be your brand ambassadors).

With that said, I highly recommend checking out Christine's article in AdAge and also keep checking back to the Agency Confessional and the new Renegade Communications website for the launch of our new brand.

- Jim Luparello III AE Brand Ambassador

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05 January, 2011

A new year, a new look at things

I've always been fascinated by stories that knock perception on its ass. We're so tuned to think a certain way - blame education, culture, media, whatever. And when what we perceive to be a certain way isn't, it jars us. Good ads work that way. Remember the Awareness Test? Or even the ageless, and ever-parodied "I learned it from watching you, Dad."

Works the same for people, too. We perceive someone to be one way. Usually, they prove us right. And sometimes, we're delightfully wrong:

I'm taking some inspiration from Ted Williams. This year, I've made a resolution to push myself to make clients sweat...more than usual. Make myself sweat...more than usual. For our own good. For the good of our brands. I want to destroy the image of what we're used to seeing in our categories. Do something more unexpected than ever. Something uncomfortable, even.

I believe that our clients have it in them, too. We're lucky to work for some very smart brands. And this year, I'm challenging them to step out of their safe zones. To buck perceptions. To be honest with themselves. To put it out there for their customers. And to let go for their own good. It may be a wild ride, but when it finally comes to stop, I think we may just capture some of that same magic. And it'll be just as golden.

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