Thoughts From Day 366: Sr. Copywriter Talks Resolutions

January 12, 2017

Thoughts From Day 366

One year ago, on January 1st, 2016, I made a crazy resolution to run every day. Ok, for a self-proclaimed non-runner, that was borderline insane. In truth, I expected to fizzle out after a month or two, as I’ve done with previous resolutions (oh coffee, I can never quit you!). But this time, I kept going. And going. And 366 days later I had run at least a mile, outdoors, every single day in 2016. In snow, rain, heat and cold. In four states, and two countries. What? Who does that? Well, I did. And it turns out that I learned a lot during those runs. About myself, about running, but even more than that. I found I could apply a lot of my running tips to how I work as well. So, here are 7 things I learned during this crazy, tough, but ultimately inspiring, year.   

There’s always an excuse. But you don’t have to take it.

It’s raining. Snowing. I’m too busy. Too tired (ok, hungover.) None of those excuses worked for me this year. After a 12-hour shoot day, when everyone else was headed out to dinner and drinks, I had to get a run in. I had plenty of excuses not to. But I did it anyway. (And then caught up with everyone and had that drink!) There are always excuses why a project isn’t turning out the way I want it to. The client, the brief, that Law & Order SVU marathon I got sucked into. I can choose not to accept those excuses. And once they’re off the table, the only option is to move forward.

Learn as much as possible—then do what works best for you.

Early in the year, I did a lot of research about running. What to eat, when to stretch, how to breathe, how to hold my arms (yeah, that’s a thing). Some was useful. But some just made running harder and less enjoyable. How I work is a lot like that. Everyone has tips and tricks and it’s great to learn how others snatch that great idea out of the ether. But in the end, I have to do what works for me. There’s no reason to build more obstacles for my brain.

Take advantage of good days, shake off the bad ones.

There were days that I felt great running. So if I had a short run planned, I would bump it up to a long one. And then there were days that weren’t so great. My knees hurt. Muscles ached. No sense doing a long run those days. And no sense beating myself up about it. I just tried to do better the next day. There are good and bad days in advertising as well. When inspiration hits—I need to take advantage! So what if it’s Saturday. Or 2am. While the idea well is pumping, I keep grabbing buckets. And when it’s dry, I don’t (or try not to) freak out. I just keep digging.

Don’t be afraid to walk.

I know, I know. We’re talking about running here, so walking feels like failure. I thought so too. But I learned to use walking as a tool. When I was trying to increase distance, occasionally I would have to walk in order to get there. It helped me stretch to reach my next goal, and soon I was able to run the whole distance without walking. Sometimes I need to let my brain walk a little too. Maybe take a smaller project or a lighter load. Heck, maybe even take a vacation. My brain and I will come back stronger.

Sometimes, let your mind wander.

On a tough day, I often found myself paying way too much attention to each step. To how far I still had to go, and how tired my legs felt. That just makes the run tougher. It was far better to think about a project, conversation, or even an idea for an article (oh hey!) and then suddenly I’m at the end of the run and I hardly noticed. When I sit in front of a computer staring at that blinking cursor, or in a room staring at my blinking partner, there’s nothing but concrete in my brain. But if I do laundry, or take a drive (or a run), or just do something else with half my brain, suddenly the ideas start clamoring for my attention. 

Don’t be afraid to brag (occasionally).

There’s a reason why they are called bragger’s rights. I earned the right to be proud this year. I may still be talking about it in 2020! But I sometimes worried that I was posting my progress too often and annoying people. At some point I realized that if that were the case, let them be annoyed! I got so much motivation out of the positive feedback from my posts that there was no room for negativity. Friends and coworkers weighing in, or just hitting the “like” button, it all felt like one more person joining “Team Sara.” At times, we all need adult cheerleaders. Whether it’s out on the road, or in the office.

Stop comparing.

This year I must have said “I’m not a real runner” hundreds of times. I felt embarrassed and apologetic because I’m slow. Because I don’t run long distances. Because other people have had running streaks for much longer than my measly year. But you know what? There will always be someone better than me. I won’t let that diminish what I do. How hard I work. Because I can’t worry about being the best. That’s a very, very small target to hit, not to mention a fleeting one. Instead I am focused on doing my best. Pushing myself to be better and better. Because those people winning Gold Lions this year, were once sitting right where I am.

After this year I’m not some sort of running expert, just as I’m not an advertising expert after twelve years at The Martin Agency. I’m just someone who set a goal, plodded away day after day, and eventually reached it. And I learned a few things along the way. As of now, my run streak is still intact. And I’m sure running will sometimes be a struggle, just as my work is sometimes a struggle. But all I can do is keep pushing. Keep believing. And above all, just keep going.

Posted By: Sara Kuhs

Martin UX Team On Instagram Story Ads

January 12, 2017

We asked our UX team to give us their thoughts on Instagram's big announcement yesterday on adding ads to Stories.

"Instagram is looking to monetize one of its core features, Instagram Stories. Currently, it is testing video ads which display in between Instagram Stories, as well as live and “formerly live” videos. Advertisers participating in the test have the option to exclude certain content from featuring their brands.

This announcement comes in tandem with Facebook making a larger effort to monetize its video content with mid-roll ads. 

Instagram’s approach to ads is much like Snapchat’s, which also includes ads in-between Snapchat Stories. But this also gives content creators on Instagram a reason to stay on Instagram versus moving over to Snapchat. For its part, Instagram brings a high degree of targeting, thanks to Facebook’s trove of data.

That data paired with the high-impact visuals featured in the Instagram Stories ads will be a powerful combination for brands looking to make an impact, and that’s a combination Snapchat will have to work to catch up to provide.

The big challenge with this rollout, as well as Facebook’s, will be giving brands confidence that their ads won’t show up amongst content they’d rather not be associated with.

Facebook Video is taking a major step, monetization. Now, videos on Facebook will be able to generate money for publishers with mid-roll advertisements. These mid-roll ads can be inserted 20 seconds into any video that lasts at least 90 seconds, which is a shift from YouTube, which typically runs videos prior to videos, some of which are skippable after five seconds.

The mid-roll ads will be limited to 15 seconds. Facebook will keep 45% of mid-roll ad revenue with publishers taking in the remaining 55%, the same split as YouTube. 

The new mid-roll ads come after Facebook tested the ad format in Facebook Live videos last year.

The introduction of ads into videos makes Facebook Video much more attractive to publishers. Now, they have a monetary reason to invest in creating content for the platform. It also opens up a new way for brands to share their video ads in alignment with content consumers show they care about.  And with ads not showing until at least 20 seconds in, publishers will be pushed to make their content as engaging as possible to keep audiences watching. That, of course, should be closely watched by YouTube, which relies on a similar process with its pre-roll ads. "

- Taylor Wiegert, Planning Director, UX Strategy

"It was bound to happen, with the success Instagram has seen with Stories in general (nearly half of their user base is using stories) - and we’ll see how the consumers feel once the initial complaints stop. 

But from an advertising/positive perspective, it’s a great way to re–use vertical video ads that are being produced for platforms like Snapchat, that have had historically limited places to run.  It also helps force a new conversation and perspective in producing video content for mobile platforms – we’ve seen on Snapchat that the more organic those video ads to the platform, the better they perform, so I’m assuming the same will hold for Instagram.  

It’s a great point of discussion internally and with clients when going into production, or even briefing for video content and TV – that the idea has to also be able to live vertically, and in a more “organic” and mobile way for platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.  You can’t just slap up the TV spot to these platforms like  you’ve been able to do with traditional pre-roll."

- Meg Riley, VP/Planning Director, UX Strategy

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Land O'Lakes New Spot "The Farmer" Featured on Adweek

January 03, 2017

Ad of the Day: Land O'Lakes Makes Lovely Use of Amelia E. Barr's Poem 'The Farmer'

 A poignant love letter to our social sustainers

By Angela Natividad

God bless the seeds his hands let fall ... for the farmer, he must feed us all.

This is the closing line from Amelia E. Barr's poem "The Farmer," written by the British immigrant and prolific writer after observing farm life in Texas in the late 1800s. It's a galvanizing piece of work, a reminder to a rapidly changing America that whoever you are—king or poet, doctor or soldier, lord or merchant, craftsman or beggar—you'll need to eat, and this responsibility rests on the shoulders of farmers. 

Now it's the anchor for an ad from Land O'Lakes.

Created by The Martin Agency, "The Farmer" recites Barr's poem as picturesque scenes of American agriculture, shot by a National Geographic team, flick across the screen. 

Click here for full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Campaign's 10 Favorite Ads of 2016

December 29, 2016

Our readers' 10 favorite ads of 2016

by I-Hsien Sherwood

The year’s most popular work runs the gamut, from bizarre comedy to poignant and political verse. As expected for an election year, politics weighed heavily on the product. Perhaps as a panacea, viewers kept tuning in to cute dogs, too. That an ode to diversity ranks here with professional comedians, a tech giant and one of the most successful campaign powerhouses of the last decade goes to show that a good idea—backed by solid execution—can stand on its own merits.

10. "Ice-T sets up a lemonade stand in Geico's latest spot" by The Martin Agency

Geico work is a perpetual crowdpleaser, and a celebrity cameo only sweetens the…tea. As is typical for the brand, it’s a funny, silly take on an absurd situation that makes the most of Geico’s near-ubiquitous name recognition.


9. "Geico puts a sumo wrestler on ice" by The Martin Agency

If Ice-T’s lemonade stand sparks a smirk, the physical comedy of this spot, along with smart voiceover dialogue, should trigger toothy smiles. Geico double dips on this year’s top 10 list—the only brand to do so—thanks to pure goofiness.



For full list, click here.


Posted By: The Martin Agency

Two Martin Spots Featured in Ad Age's 2016 List of Brands' Most Engaging YouTube Videos

December 28, 2016

Aww! Woo! Ha! Brands' Most Engaging YouTube Videos of 2016

By Rebecca Hia

The top five most engaging videos on YouTube this year, according to research from ListenFirst Media, were largely narrative-oriented, and used humor, excitement, inspiration, and family to engage viewers. Those themes evoke quick emotional responses, and can often be summed up in sounds.

Click here for full article. 

2. GEICO, Fast Forward: Going Up

3. Walmart, Easter Surprise


Posted By: The Martin Agency

Forbes' Top 5 Ads of 2016

December 27, 2016

In A Year Of Great Storytelling, The Top 5 Ads Of 2016

Will Burns , Contributor

I'm sure I didn't see every single video ad in 2016. But, being in the industry, the good ones tend to quickly bubble up and catch my attention. And the best ones - the ones we can all learn from, good or bad - are the ones I write about. Today, I went back through all of my posts in 2016 - nearly sixty of them - and chose my favorite five ads that I reviewed this year.

My criteria is not purely based on "creativity," but that's an important component. It's based on creativity and strategy. Because a creative film without a strategy is not advertising, it's just entertainment.

--

#2 Donate Life "The World's Biggest A**Hole"

What I love most about this film is the strategy. By exaggerating how bad a person can be in life, yet still be considered a hero by donating organs, Donate Life dramatically magnifies the appeal of organ donation.

The ad is well cast, well shot, very well written, and builds from an emotionally satisfying insight. So good.

Here's the full review: Donate Life Boldly Launches Powerful Film About 'The World's Biggest A--hole'

Any other year and this Donate Life spot would have been my #1.

Click here for full article.


Posted By: The Martin Agency