Colorado Ad Day: Our Time Has Come

CAD day night banner AdClub v2

Tomorrow is the first annual Colorado Ad Day. The Denver Ad Club event will bring together advertising industry professionals, related experts and students to discuss, learn and share new ideas, trends and technologies affecting our ever-changing world.

This sold-out event is significant for the advertising community because it marks the first, formal educational and training event of its kind in the state. And the timing couldn’t be better. We all know that Colorado has a wealth of talent and resources that make us competitive with other, larger markets such as New York or Los Angeles. Colorado Ad Day helps us make a unified statement about the state of the industry in our state and collectively grow and improve our status. We’re about the show the world our strength!

The Topics

The local, Colorado ad community will cover quintessential topics on branding and creative work along with more surprising themes such as how unapologetic parents  win meetings or the marriage of data and empathy. Plus, this event features Gene Paek, Global Head of Business Marketing for Instagram.

Denver + Boulder

Oh yeah, there’s a party after the event. Not very coincidentally, this day of professional learning will be followed by the Boulder Block Party, which probably requires no introduction here. Somehow it seems fitting that the Denver Ad Club brought the more serious day parts and that Boulder is supplying the fun and games to top it all off.

Movin’ On Up

While the Egotist has done lots to make Denver “suck less,” now Colorado Ad Day embarks on a noble quest to put Colorado on the map of advertising markets that matter.

THANK YOU to the generous sponsors (CU, TubeMogul, Creative Circle, Café Rio, evol burritos, and more) and volunteers who made Colorado Ad Day possible.

We’ll see you tomorrow!

Selling Creative Part 3: Defending the Work

This is the third of four posts, written by Kristin Kidd, Director of Account Service at Amélie Company. These posts provide recap of key takeaways from Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” panel on selling creative.

How do you defend the work without sounding defensive?

Go back to the brief. The creative brief is an expectation management tool. If the brief is solid, everyone agrees on its content, and the work supports it, then the creative shouldn’t need defending. And speaking of defending…

Support the work, don’t defend it. “Defending the work” represents an antagonistic point of view. Remember that everyone is working towards a shared goal of great work that supports a business objective.

Know the work well enough to know how much it can bend before it breaks… and know when to walk away from an idea. If it’s being changed so much that it no longer resembles the idea you sold, then be prepared to take it off the table. Walk away from it and come back to your client with something better. Tune in, listen to your clients’ feedback – they might be making the work better.

Avoid trying to solve problems on the fly, in the meeting as this dilutes creative thinking. It really is as easy as telling your client, “Thank you for your feedback, let us think about it and we will get back to you with a solution.”

Coming up, Selling Creative Part 4: Presentation Styles

Advertising That Makes a Difference

We Helped Move the Needle for Kids’ Oral Health in Colorado

Ever wonder what Colorado kids suffer most from? The answer may surprise you. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease of childhood and a leading reason for ER visits. According to State of Colorado child oral health statistics, 40% of kindergartners and 55% of third-graders have tooth decay. This epidemic hits Hispanic children and kids from low-income families especially hard even though it is largely preventable.

That’s where our client, Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, comes in. A few years ago, the Foundation shared a vision of eradicating tooth decay among Colorado’s children. Our work has been deeply rooted in research and data from a variety of topics and sources such as:

  • Medical and dental professions
  • Statewide Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data
  • Public will building and behavior change best practices
  • In-depth target audience research
  • Concept and message testing

The resulting “Cavities Get Around” campaign initially focused on raising awareness of the impacts of juice and other sugary drinks on child oral health. Over time, the campaign broadened to include community organizing, Promatores and police change. Extensive target audience research informed campaign messaging and strategy. Notably, the campaign’s key messages:

  • Baby teeth matter because cavities can spread to adult teeth
  • Sugar fuels bacteria that cause cavities
  • Drinking water only between meals and at bedtime protects kids’ teeth

The fully integrated campaign aired on broadcast television and radio, along with outdoor, digital media and an interactive website. Social media, grassroots events and earned media strategies deployed to expand the reach of the campaign and engage with our target audience. Final creative executions of the campaign included a sugar troll-themed TV spot and a series of videos exposing the amount of sugar in juice. The campaign also benefitted from dynamic and passionate partners who worked tirelessly to spread the messages.


And the results are in…

A random-digit dial phone survey of 600 low-income, English- and Spanish-speaking families across Colorado recently revealed significant progress toward our goals. First of all, the campaign messages are being heard­–an astounding 39% of respondents recalled the campaign. (Not to brag or anything, but that’s similar to national car brands who have a whole lot more media, money, partners, time in market, etc.) And most of all, our key messages are gaining traction. Compared to our baseline survey:

  • Watershed Moment. More kids are drinking tap water, which helps prevent tooth decay when fluoridated. 63% of respondents said their children regularly drink tap water, a 22-percentage point increase from 2014.
  • Juice Myth Debunked.Those who felt ‘juice was important to their child’s health and nutrition’ fell 29 points to 43%, compared to 72% in 2014.
  • Another Sweet Learning? Juice consumption among children is down 19 percentage points from 66% in 2014 to 47% today.
  • Baby Teeth Matter More. The percentage of parents who consider baby teeth to be “less important” than adult teeth declined by 28. And 71% of respondents knew that cavities in baby teeth can spread.

Inspired by the promise of these results, we will continue our efforts to improve the oral health of the smallest Coloradans and give our clients, partners and the community something big to smile about.

Selling Creative Part 2: Talk the Talk

This is the second of four posts, written by Kristin Kidd, Director of Account Service at Amélie Company. These posts provide recap of key takeaways from Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” panel on selling creative.

What bad habits should be eliminated when presenting creative work?

Collectively, we are poor listeners – trying to answer the clients’ questions before they have even finished asking them. Instead, listen and interpret what your clients are trying to say – they may be making the work better, so tune in, actively listen and help them articulate their feedback. They are another collaborator in the creative process after all.

It’s also time to drop words like “cute,” “fun” and “cool” from our vocabulary. Clients simply do not care about cute, fun or cool. Clients care about ROI, about units sold, about behaviors changed. Rather than use these fluff words, understand the terms relevant to your clients’ business, and use them appropriately.

Replace “I think” with “we think” – show up as a united team. It’s okay to fight about the work internally, but always fight for the work when presenting to your client.

Coming up, Selling Creative Part 3: Defending the Work

Selling Creative Part 1: Perception

This is the first of four posts, written by Kristin Kidd, Director of Account Service at Amélie Company. These posts provide recap of key takeaways from Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” panel on selling creative.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in and moderating Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” – a monthly panel on topics relevant to our industry. “Selling Creative” brought together creative and account veterans from Denver/Boulder ad agencies Grenadier, Sterling Rice Group, Victors & Spoils, cp+b, and of course, Amélie Company. The is the first of four posts providing a recap of key takeaways; I hope you find great nuggets for selling creative to your clients.

Part 1: Preparation There’s a fine line between being prepared and sounding rehearsed. Know the pitch inside out. Know your work inside out. And be prepared to review, revise or remove work right before the meeting (even mid-meeting) if necessary. As a team, walk into that presentation aligned, arm-in-arm and in lock-step. Find shared chemistry and conviction with fellow presenters. Pre-selling the strategy and creative idea (without actually showing the creative beforehand) sets your client up for success and helps minimize surprises. A few things to keep in mind:

Connect. When presenting, remember the client wants to solve a business problem with a creative solution. Connect with your client by speaking their language; this helps establish credibility for your team, and the work.

Set the stage. At the start of every single meeting, remind your client about the shared goal, what the creative is trying to achieve, the target audience and desired action.

Don’t assume. Clients have many other responsibilities aside from advertising. Take a moment to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Breathe. Walk into the meeting calm and grounded. Find a few moments prior to the presentation to get physically grounded: lower your voice, slow your heart rate and calm your nerves.

Up next, Selling Creative Part 2: Talk the Talk

In These Walls

When we moved Amélie Company into our new space at 2601 Blake Street in 2009, we knew the building harbored a special energy. The enthusiasm level of our team went through the roof, our clients ooohed and aaahed and prospects were duly impressed. Originally built in 1910 as a paint and varnish manufacturing plant, the building had also served as a chocolate factory and catering kitchen over the years. After a complete remodel – getting “down to the studs,” removing layers of grease and grime, cinder blocks from the grand windows – we came to know the bones of this place and appreciate the bold, solid and swell, red brick.  

And it piqued our curiosity. Who was here before us? What did it look like in the early 20th century? We went about digging up old archives, visiting the Denver Public Library’s Western History & Genealogy department and getting the building listed on the Historical register. Ultimately, we discovered that it was originally the Joseph A. McMurtry building, and that it used to look like this:


Then, just the other day, I stumbled upon this article. Seeing the author’s name and Colorado connection, I shot out an email to see if there was any relation. Sure enough! Jeannette’s husband is the grandson of the building’s original namesake. But the parallels did not stop there: Jeanette works in advertising and speaks specifically about “behavior marketing;” we discovered we have friends in common; and we’ll be skiing the same slopes in the very near future. Below: me and Jeannette McMurtry.

Robin & Jeanette

This photo is my favorite: it shows the paint and varnish mixers in the exact same space where our team is set up today. The parallel between the work they did then and the work we’re doing now is extraordinary. Pouring over colors, commercial art, mixed media. It all seemed like a wonderful coincidence or an inevitable course set by history.



How to: Create Consumable Content

Whoever said we are all created equal(ly) was probably not referring to content marketing. Consumers of digital content could not be more different, in fact. Think about it. You probably speed-read some emails while paying close and careful attention to others…like the product descriptions of those new shoes.

When creating content, we employ this three-pronged strategy that offers something for everyone and makes online content more digestible. Imagine that your audience is comprised of skimmers, swimmers and deep divers–and you need to somehow reach all of them in the vast blue sea of content. Below are some writing tips for targeting each of these groups.

Hook: Skimming the surface
Skimmers are those who may only have a superficial connection to your topic. Or they’re just really busy. They need and read headlines, subheads, images, bullets, lists and other call-outs, trying to get the gist before moving on to the next thing. Break up the content and avoid long paragraphs to keep their interest. Skimmers: are you still here?

Line: Just keep swimming
Swimmers are willing to look a little closer. They may scan the material for an overview, then read the headlines and first sentences of each paragraph, taking in the imagery along the way. Your swimmers will still come up for air, however, and need a reason to come back. Using questions as headers and more links are two ways to enable this.

Sinker: Totally into it
Deep divers will read and re-read what you’ve published. They will click on every link, search for related topics and share your content on their Facebook feed. For these aficionados, offer stats, sources, more links, FAQs and dedicated pages for subsections of content. These folks will download whitepapers, subscribe to your newsletter, follow your Twitter feed and connect on LinkedIn–so give them all the options.

Good luck making a big splash with your next content assignment!


Interviewing an Expert: Lida Citroën

lida2I sat down with Lida to explore the world of personal branding and wanted to share the highlights from our intensely interesting conversation. Lida is a published author on the subject of personal branding and continues to teach, consult and speak around the country.

RA- How did you get your start in personal branding?

LC- After years in corporate and at agencies, I started my own consulting firm in 2008 and back then most of my work was helping to align perception of senior management around the company strategy.

“Personal branding” wasn’t a household phrase back then, but the executives I attracted knew they needed help refining or expanding their reputation to get better results in the marketplace. Then, my work grew in an interesting way in 2009. I was at a Broncos game during the week of Veterans Day, and during the halftime show, I heard a soldier speaking about the difficulty of getting back into civilian life. It was so exciting and inspirational for me because I knew I could help him! I knew that the personal branding resources and strategies I was using with business leaders could be applied to veterans transitioning to a career outside of their culture and knowledge.

For the past six years, I’ve worked with thousands of former military across the world, teaching them how to build a compelling personal brand. It’s truly one of the most fabulous ways I’ve found to say, “thank you for your service.”

RA- In my experience with (non-personal) branding, one of the most critical reasons to brand is the need to stand out from the competition. We spend a lot of time and effort to develop a unique “personality” and “voice” for products and companies, but don’t people already have those?

LC- Yes, everyone has a personal brand — they have a reputation. The problem is that most people let the marketplace define them and that’s where there’s likely to be a disconnect between your own reputation goals and the reality of how you’re perceived. The point of personal branding is that you are deliberately, intentionally, and strategically managing your brand.

RA- What questions should people ask themselves when trying to define their personal brand?

LC- My first book, “Reputation 360,” is really is really dedicated to this, and it starts with an understanding of how you’re perceived today: What do others perceive as your strengths? What do you bring that’s different from your coworkers? Then, we address the desired brand with questions such as:

What would you like to be known for at the end of your life?
What will be the greatest difference you made?
How do people feel about you when you walk into the room?

From there, we set a marketing strategy to ensure you show up authentically and consistently in networking, social networking, and at work.

RA- Should everyone have a personal brand?

LC- Everyone does – it’s just a question of whether they are managing it so their personal brand works FOR them, not against them. I help people figure out who they are, not what they are. We only get one turn on this merry-go-round [life], and it’s very satisfying to watch my clients find new meaning in their lives.

RA- In your opinion, who has the strongest personal brand?

LC- Funny you ask, because I just wrote an article about Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, he really delivers on the brand promise of a consistent experience. Donald and Oprah are perfect examples of people who are consistent in how they show up.

RA- In advertising, we onboard clients by setting goals and metrics. Do you follow a similar process?

LC- Absolutely. The goal may be to increase, maintain or shift reputation, even to repair reputation in some cases, and we use perception mapping and some intangibles to measure progress. Examples of those include confidence, deliberate and intentional application of tactics, and whether others are using narrative that you introduced.

Thanks, Lida! For more insights from on personal branding, visit Lida’s blog.


How Social and Behavioral Sciences Drive Response

NPR’s recent piece, How Small Changes Can Yield Big Results For The Government, caught my attention yesterday.

Social and behavioral scientists at the White House conducted extensive tests and experiments to drive improved participation in several government programs. What’s fascinating for us marketers is that this really boils down to improving response rates to various email and direct mail campaigns. They were mining behavioral insights that could be applied in their communications. Their challenge may sound familiar to you: how to break down barriers to engagement.

We marketers constantly strive to establish, track and improve the performance of our campaigns and this piece offers several interesting findings that may well apply to other sectors outside of government. Among the findings based upon behavioral insights:

Response rates to direct mail increased 22% with these minor tweaks:

Clearly defined, called-out action steps. Think, “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3,” in large, bold or color type.

Putting important info in the “P.S.” Apparently this is the second spot that our eyes track.

Open rates for email surveys improved significantly when:

Sent around lunchtime on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Varying the subject lines

More cost-effective operations may be achieved when:

A personal appointment time with a call center is included

A dialog box prompts workers to change their print settings to double-sided

The full Social and Behavioral Sciences Team annual report was just published and can be found here.

Although these findings may smack of best practices that we think we already know, they demonstrate the importance of understanding how people make decisions and act on them. And, if we are in the business of generating results, this should matter a great deal.