Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

January 26, 2015

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham
Three Ways Brands Can Find and Use their True Voice

By Anne Marie Hite

I recently read an article in which HBO's "Girls" creator Lena Dunham talked about what it was like growing up in New York's most exclusive schools. "I didn't feel chic. I didn't feel special…I was bad at sports. I wasn't the girl that boys liked. But (writing about it) made me feel like I had something."

Something indeed. By baring her soul, and a few other things too, Ms. Dunham found her true voice, which she was then able to amplify across a wide range of mediums -- from a TV show to a book -- and connect deeply with millions of young women. And quite a few of us slightly older women, too.

It occurred to me that brands can learn a lot from Ms. Dunham. And don't worry; it doesn't involve taking off your clothes in front of a national audience. Well, perhaps in the metaphorical sense.

1. Be honest about who you are not.

We don't like people who go around talking about how great they are. And yet, brands do this all the time. I'm not saying you need to dis your brand. Just spend a bit more time exploring its struggles and flaws. Chances are, you can turn them into something positive and in the process, lead your brand into much more interesting, authentic territory.

This reminds me of an old Dudley Moore movie about advertising, where he presented an ad for Volvo that said, "They're boxy but they're good." He was immediately committed to a mental hospital but I actually think he was onto something.

Dove was a pioneer in this honest approach by admitting their products won't make you look like the women in magazines. Their brilliant spin was that no product can do this because even the women in magazines don't really look like that.
Another great example is Toyota's "Swagger Wagon." By openly stating what they knew we were all thinking -- that minivans are the ultimate sign that you're no longer cool -- Toyota's Sienna made driving its minivan actually seem kind of cool.

More recently, Newcastle Ale's series of online "Super Bowl" ads -- which they openly admitted they couldn't actually afford to run on the Super Bowl -- became the most talked-about ads of the Super Bowl.

2. Use "who you are not" to find your authentic voice.

Brands have come a long way in trying to define themselves, but there is still work to be done. Some of today's more common positioning statements include the tech-savvy "innovative," the health-conscious "pure," and the No. 1 choice of female brands everywhere -- "empowering!"

There's nothing wrong with these statements, but there's nothing ownable or differentiating about them either. However, combine them with a perceived flaw or even an attribute that's authentic to the brand, and suddenly things get interesting.

One of my favorite commercials is Nike's "Find your Greatness," which ran during the Super Bowl a few years back. In it, we see a chubby kid panting his way down the road --albeit quite determinedly -- while a voiceover talks about all the things greatness is "not." For the millions of us sitting on our sofas drinking beer and eating cheese dip, this was much more relatable and even more motivating than seeing a star athlete sprinting down the street, talking about all the things greatness "is."

3. Use your authentic voice to build a community of like-minded souls.

I imagine Lena Dunham gets invited to a lot of dinner parties. And it isn't because she was the most popular girl in school. It's because she wasn't. I also imagine that at these dinner parties, there are quite a few people sneaking into the dining room switching their place cards for a chance to sit next to her. Our brands should be so lucky. Again, it comes down to having something to say that people connect with, which is especially important when trying to build a presence on social media.

As the mother of a 12-year-old boy who leaves for school every morning smelling like Old Spice Swagger, I can say with authority that moms don't care too much for Old Spice. Rather than ignoring this fact, Old Spice took it head-on with "Mom Song" and instantly connected with the millions of moms out there lamenting their boys becoming men -- this from the brand that's basically aiding in this abomination. I still don't like that my son is wearing Old Spice, but I love that Old Spice gets that. And judging by the responses from moms in the comments section of YouTube, I'm not alone.

The secret to success

I think back to that episode of "Girls" last season where Lena Dunham spent the entire episode walking around the Hamptons in a green string bikini. She wasn't flaunting her perfect body. She was flaunting a body that 99% of women can relate to. And it was glorious.

Yes, it takes bravery. And no, it's not always comfortable. But a little bit of vulnerability never hurt anyone. In fact, it could be the secret to your brand's success.

Link to story.

Posted By: Anne Marie Hite

New Stoli Work Featured on Campaign US

January 09, 2015

Campaign US features the latest work for Stoli.

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Helsinki Holiday

December 12, 2014

First of all, if you're ever in a karaoke bar in Helsinki at 2 am in the depths of December, Duran Duran's "Rio" is a huge crowd-pleaser. Second, if you're slated to sing gentle Oreo songs in front of 250 people at 2 pm the next day, belting out 80's tracks at the top of your lungs the night before is hugely stupid. Fortunately for me, a good portion of the audience at my Eurobest session seemed to have been in that karaoke bar with me, so when my voice cracked like a boy in the throes of puberty, it was met with sympathy. Maybe even approval. If there's one thing the Finns admire, it's the ability to drink whatever's put in front of you.

But if there's another thing they admire, it's creativity. Finland—and really, the whole Nordic / Scandinavian region that includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark too—is, at the moment, probably the most design-savvy, teched-up, dialed-in place in the universe, which made Helsinki an ideal place for a conference dedicated to showcasing the coolest work coming out of Europe. Held in the Aalto-designed Finlandia Hall, Eurobest was four solid days of meeting people with names that had no vowels (i.e., "Pyry") and seeing work that I wish I'd done. Simple, elegant, brilliantly executed stuff that reminded me of why we do what we do.

There was the "direct mail" campaign for Audi that sent mysterious cubes to prospects. Push a button, and a timer starts counting down from 90 minutes. When it hits zero, an Audi A8 arrives in your driveway and it's yours for 24 hours (18% of prospects bought the $100,000+ car).

There was the Google stadium wrap for Manchester United that used webcams to broadcast the cheers of fans in distant lands directly to players on the pitch.

There was the branded content series out of Spain in which a fictional ad agency makes ads for real brands, who essentially bankroll the production—ads that are far more creative and edgy than the brands would normally be able to do.

And then, there were a couple old-school TV spots that were simply stunning. A spot called "The Leap" for Lacoste, out of Paris, brilliantly dramatized the inner struggle of a guy as he decides to tell a woman he loves her; it was simultaneously ultra-stylish and emotionally moving. Yep, a heartwarming fashion ad. That can happen.

Of course, since I was showing work, Eurobest was also a chance for me and Dean to see how the rest of the world reacts to the work we make here at Martin. I wish everyone could have seen the smiles on people's faces when they saw the Oreo work animated down at Hue & Cry, or the new Walmart holiday spot that Deb Hagan CD'd (although, Finland being the birthplace of the Santa Claus legend, a good Christmas spot was bound to go over big). It's always been a strength of Martin to make work that speaks to a broad audience, but you realize just how broad that audience really is when you're making Estonians giggle.

Sadly, I didn't make it to an authentic Finnish sauna. I didn't eat reindeer meat, although we saw it on a menu or two. And while I did catch a glimpse of Santa—he was hanging out near a big H&M store—I can't say with certainly that he wasn't an imposter.

But I can say that inspiring, surprising, brave, innovative and delightful ideas are alive and well in the frozen north. And thankfully, back here at home too.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Wins Tic Tac Business

December 12, 2014

The Martin Agency announced it has been chosen by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. as the new agency of record for the Tic Tac brand.

Link to Full Story.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Wins Sabra Account

December 04, 2014

The Martin Agency is now lead creative agency for the Sabra Dipping Co.

In selecting Martin, Sabra director of marketing Eric Greifenberger cited the shop's "keen understanding of our consumer, the fresh dips category, and Sabra's brand potential," adding that it provides a "depth and breadth of talent uniquely suited for supporting our needs going forward." Martin CEO Matt Williams, in turn, described Sabra as an "amazing brand."

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Brewing a Movement: Being Heard When Your Voice is the Smallest

November 06, 2014

Brewing a Movement: Being Heard When Your Voice is the Smallest
By Corey Lane, Account Supervisor

The Fulton community just wanted a seat at the table.

The community had heard about the corner lot at the foot of Fulton Hill that was being eyed as a site for Stone Brewing Company’s first East Coast operation, a mammoth production facility that would effectively double Virginia’s annual beer production. They’d heard about the social media groups of beer enthusiasts that had bubbled up by the thousands practically overnight to voice support for the proposal. They’d heard the rumors about closed-door pitches and confidential meetings between City and State officials, clamoring for job creation, tax revenue and neighborhood revitalization.

But what the community did not hear was an invitation to weigh in. And to the community of Greater Fulton, this silence is deafening. Once a thriving blue-collar working neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century, it declined steadily as riverfront jobs dried up and sprawl pulled more Fultonites to the suburbs. In the 1960s, Richmond officials enacted Jim Crow-era legislature, citing the right for cities to “serve public welfare” and “challenge blight” by buying out and relocating citizens from under-resourced neighborhoods. Low-income persons in Fulton were displaced, and their homes were razed under the promise of shiny new development that never fully came to fruition.

But the people of Fulton were and remain to be a dynamic and close-knit community, balancing the stoic patience that comes from generations of hard working laborers with an indulgent flair for culture, music and art. When Stone Brewing Company ultimately did choose the corner lot at the foot of Fulton Hill for their facility, the Fulton community heartily—albeit cautiously—made the collective decision to roll out the welcome mat for their highly sought after new neighbors in an attempt to establish partnership early on.

The challenge for the people of Fulton was being heard among the many voices competing for Stone Brewing Company’s attention. A task force was formed to speak on behalf of Greater Fulton, consisting of civic association leaders, community organizers, and business owners. They looked at the efforts from other cities—rowdy block parties, bikini model contests—and decided that they were going to cut through the noise by being true to their collective identity. They were going to get Stone Brewing Company’s attention by being welcoming neighbors.

They worked with a local artist to design an installation 40 feet in diameter: a frosty mug of beer made from branches, hay and—of course—stones, with the hashtag #STONE2RVA, which had been popular with the fervent social media groups. Over 50 Fultonites came together on a Saturday afternoon to assemble the installation on the future site of Stone Brewing Company. Cathartically, they wrote their hopes, fears and well wishes to Stone Brewing Company on the very stones that made up the installation. An aerial photographer captured imagery from a drone and local news stations came out to cover the event.

Footage and interviews from the event were made into a short video, which was posted on the websites and social media pages of various Fulton community groups. Shortly thereafter, it was picked up by beer enthusiast groups via the #STONE2RVA hashtag. Ultimately, it caught the attention of Stone Brewing Company itself, where it was reposted onto their Facebook page, receiving 95,000 impressions and over 700 video views in the first week it was posted. On the video’s YouTube page, Stone Brewing Company left a heartfelt thanks to the people of Greater Fulton and the CEO commented from his personal account a commitment to meet or exceed the expectations that the neighborhood has from his company.

On October 28th, just four days after the video was posted, executives from Stone Brewing Company visited Richmond to meet with City officials, making a special stop at a Fulton community center to meet with neighbors one on one for over two hours. Many factors are at play with the negotiations between Stone Brewing Cmpany and the City of Richmond, but it was clear that the community’s efforts had struck a chord with brewery’s owners.

The community of Greater Fulton successfully circumnavigated the political machine and formed a relationship with Stone Brewing Company because they created a mini-movement. They engaged residents by tapping into the passions at the heart of Fulton: art, music, history and camaraderie. They broke through the clutter by being authentically raw, with intentional choices made in their communication channels, partners, production value, and music. At the same time, they introduced touches of excitement, like cutting edge drone photography and high profile media partnerships that helped amplify the organizers’ energy. Even the simple act of residents expressing themselves on the stones and collaboratively creating art helped individuals feel invested in the cause, and tapping into existing social media activity helped scale that investment.

In less than a month, and with no media spend whatsoever, the community of Greater Fulton avoided being relegated to history’s sidelines once again and took their rightful seat at the table, right beside the founders of Stone Brewing Company. That’s an accomplishment to which we can all raise a glass.

*Corey Lane serves on an advisory board for Virginia Local Initiative Support Corporation, a community development nonprofit heavily invested in Fulton.

Photo Credit: Scott Strimple, CinemAerial Visuals

Posted By: The Martin Agency