Sorry, We Don't Serve General Tso Chicken.

Been reading a lot about China due to this year's Olympic games. Of all the foreign countries, I feel that Asian countries are the most foreign. China, Japan, Thailand...I just don't know much about them. And I feel very ignorant.

So I've taken a real interest in all the stories I've been reading. The most interesting I've seen so far is an article from CNN about how the Chinese are changing their restaurant menus in preparation for all the Westerners that want to try some real Chinese. Apparently, Chinese dishes are usually named based on appearance, while western dishes are typically descriptive of the food used and/or cooking method. American Example: fried chicken. Chinese Example: Chicken Without Sexual Life.

Doesn't sound too appetizing, huh? I didn't think so. And that's the Chinese government's fear as well. They have published a book of more western-like translations to help their visitors order. Instead of "Chicken Without Sexual Life" the translation would be "Steamed Pullet."

The other fear, however, is that changing the menus will lose the some of their unique flavor. The names of the dishes are meant to describe feelings associated with the food as well as the Chinese sense of humor. The new names make their menus boring.

So I'm not sure how branding or advertising has to do with any of this, but I found the cultural differences very interesting! Is there anything about your business that's generic and could use a Chinese name?


Bill Imada Speaks to Tally Ad Club

This past Friday, Tallahassee's ad club convinced another top notch agency powerhouse to pay us a visit. Bill Imada, one of Advertising Age's Big Tent bloggers and chairman of IW Group, Inc came to give us a talk about how to increase biz during a slow economy. His talk was interesting because he told all these incredible stories about the creative ways he's won new business. In one case, he took his own photos at a reception and managed to take the perfect shot of a potential client and an elected official - he got the call back when he sent them the photo!

He had a few other examples, but the main point seemed to be this (and I hope I don't misrepresent him): If you can demonstrate your ability to go above and beyond for your clients, you will win more of them. And of course, putting yourself in their shoes doesn't hurt either. In all his stories, he prevailed by putting the client first and going beyond the call of duty to provide outstanding service.

I think this is a great lesson/reminder to anyone in any kind of business. I won't even try to compare myself to Mr. Imada, but I will say that there have been a few times when I've written a letter of appreciation when a rep was extra helpful or sent a book or two to someone I thought would benefit from its contents. So I think his message is important and should be taken to heart!

Thanks, Mr. Imada - I enjoyed your talk and our brief conversation!


Ebony and Ivory via Psych

Thank God Psych is coming back! Season 3 begins July 18. Yes, 3 seasons. Best show ever. Don't miss it.

Media Plan of the Year

It's that time of year again. That's right - Media Plan of the Year Awards! This is the time that I get to "oohhh" and "ahhh" over campaigns that do it right. Sure, my plans are effective and clients are happy (knock on wood), but these award winners are doing stuff that is truly remarkable. My two favorites:

Category: $10 - 25 million, Winner: Carat
Client: Reebok
My first favorite is this amazing campaign for Reebok. Reebok's campaign is basically a rebrand that makes Reebok the shoe of choice for "running easy." They advocate running for the shear pleasure of the sport rather than for the intense challenge. Pretty much the total opposite of Nike. Some sample creative:

Reebok put advertising anywhere that runners could possibly come across it. The best part was that the creative for the campaign was really tailored to the media. For example, San Francisco outdoor media told runners that, “These hills will chew you up and spit you out. Run Easy.” How relevant! No easy feat to coordinate media and creative in such a detailed way. But here's the kicker - I'm a pretty big runner - and I never saw any of this! I'm actually disappointed about it. What a missed opportunity. Apparently they never read my post about race day goodie bags.

Category: Best Use of Print, Winner: Maxus
Client: Welch's Grape Juice
This one is really innovative because it allows the consumer to taste the grape juice before they buy because, really, does anyone over 10 drink grape juice?

These ads resulted in a 10% sales increase - pretty sweet! Uh, pun intended.

To read about the other winners, click here.


A Pixel Pup

Ooh I love this! Or maybe I just love anything that has to do with Jack Russells?

Leica D-Lux 3 Pixel Pup - via American Copywriter

And this is the real thing! My own pup, Tyler.

10 Things Every Media Buyer Should Do

This list was inspired by a piece from Television Week’s Media Planner column. It was a list of new year job resolutions for 2007 that I've kept on my desk ever since. So now I've added my own spin - enjoy!

1. Be media neutral.
You love TV. Or magazines, public radio, outdoor, whatever. Not everyone else does. So don’t just recommend media that you love and don’t spend hours negotiating great TV rates while accepting the rate card of the local magazine. It’s not fair to the client!

2. Use your reps.
But not in a bad way. Use them for their knowledge and experience. They likely have had clients similar to yours and they may give you tips that will make you a rock star. So take time away from your oh-so-busy day to actually ask for their opinion and advice. I’ve won business by taking their advice.

3. Be nice.
No one likes mean people. Unless you’re one of those guys that love bitchy girls (never understood that!). I’ve instated a “be nice media buyers” policy in my agency’s media department. We don’t yell at reps. We don’t make unfair demands. We approach problems by asking, “How can we fix this?” rather than, “How could you let this happen?” Again, I’ve won business by being easy to work with and fair. Notice a common thread here?

4. Be organized.
Unfortunately, this advice is more of a “do as I say and not as I do.” My desk is pretty cluttered right now. But by the end of the week, everything will be in its place and filed. If you are organized, you’ll have no trouble covering your little butt if something goes wrong. In the media world, something always will!

5. Call your reps.
Email is awesome. But we all know that sometimes written communication can be misconstrued. Just call your reps when there is a problem and talk it out. And call them on their birthdays. It will make you their favorite media buyer and that will get you better rates (seriously).

6. Watch a lot of TV.
Who could ask for better homework? You can be a total couch potato and it’s considered proactive research. With hundreds of programs to choose from, you’re bound to find something you enjoy. I never knew how obsessed I’d become with the Food Network. And you know what, I made Tyler Florence’s upside down Cranberry-Pecan French Toast for my dad this weekend and it was fabulous! Benefits outside the office, too!

7. Learn to play golf.
It’s hard. Really, really hard and frustrating. But you don’t have to play well; a self-deprecating loser can be endearing. If you can’t play at all, at least learn the rules so you can be part of the group without slowing them down. If you’re a chick, like me, knowing how to play golf will open doors and get you in “the boys club.” Plus, you get to ride a golf cart and drink beer.

8. Read constantly.
But thoroughly. I tend to engulf any material that comes my way, only to later have the reference on the tip of my tongue when I could have really wowed someone if the knowledge had just flowed out like a river of wisdom. Missed opportunities suck big time. Oh, and read stuff other than business books. Need help? Oprah’s book club. New York Times best-seller list. Amazon.com. There you go. No excuses!

9. Educate yourself.
No, you don’t have to get a masters degree (unfortunately, I’m 30 credits deep). Just make sure you know all about the latest and greatest. Don’t know what Twitter is? Figure it out. Don’t know what Hulu is? Figure it out. Media buyers and planners need to be up-to-date.

10. Send Christmas cards.
This goes back to #3. If your agency doesn’t already do this, go find some generic, politically correct cards and send them to all your reps. It’s thoughtful and creates good feelings.


Really Cool Video

One of our interactive division's clients, IDT, has posted some amazing video in their video gallery that was filmed by the cameras they sell. Check it out - it's so worth it. My favorite was the humming bird. Nature is stunning and they captured it perfectly.


Tallahassee Tweet Up

Tomorrow night a group of Twitter peeps will be meeting up to well, meet face to face. So if you're on Twitter and want to meet some local Tallahassee tweeters, come on out.

Tallahassee TweetUp:

Monday, June 16, 2008
7:00 PM

The Coffee Pub
1122-7 Thomasville Rd
Tallahassee, Florida

I'll be there unless something bad happens (cue ominous music). And my being there is reason enough to drop in ;) You can view my tweets at: mmarts on Twitter.com. So check it out and come on out! See you all there!


Roving Eye Ad Fascinates

This spot from MasterCard, though not new, is so intriguing that I had to share. Not only is the production spot-on(the part where the waitress responds to his eye is such a perfect example of not over-acting), but the writing is especially thoughtful. I love the last line; "What would it find, this spirited orb of mine?" It's poetic!

Agency: Mccann Erickson, New York


Are You Interesting?

Russell Davies, brilliant account planner has posted an excellent list of ways to be an interesting person. 'Cause who wants to be boring? And he makes another point that if you are in a creative biz, then you have to be interesting! Nice. Check it out and give it a try.


A Quote From Yours Truly

Just found out today that my blog was quoted by The Sunday Paper, an alternative newspaper in Atlanta, GA.

From The Sunday Paper -
As Lawless notes, Meghan McCain’s climate change comment addresses an issue important to many voters without ever having to actually discuss policy. “By virtue of blogging on behalf of her father, that sort of sends a signal to voters that John McCain has a good relationship with his daughter,” she says. “By virtue of having this blog, she is sending a signal that matters to a lot of voters.”

Some positive responses to McCain’s blog reflect Lawless’ assessment. In January, Michelle Marts, a blogger from Tallahassee, Fla., wrote of McCainBlogette, “I am the most apathetic person when it comes to politics. However, after reading one post, I already felt like I know John McCain—the dad. And since I have a great relationship with my dad, I kinda had good feelings about John McCain.”

read more here

From my old blog post -
Megan McCain's Blog is Genius
So before I read this blog, I had no opinion of John McCain. None. I am the most apathetic person when it comes to politics. However, after reading one post, I already felt like I know John McCain - the dad. And since I have a great relationship with my dad, I kinda had good feelings about John McCain. Hmm...could this be intentional? Of course! McCain's campaign people are genius! Having his daughter blogging about life on the campaign trail is intriguing. Has this ever happened before? Not that I recall...

Oh, and the professional photographer and video person help too. That's one well produced blog, for sure! Check it out here: Megan McCain's blog, McCain Blogette.

Kinda cool, huh? Unfortunately, my grammar was off a little. Dang. But I can't deny it - I love seeing my name in print ;)


Sex and the Designer Label City

Ok, I'm back from my exceptionally long hiatus. Went down to S. Florida to visit with friends and family, had a pet health crisis and have been pitching new biz. So life has been somewhat crazy. Apologies.

However, I did get to steal away for a few hours to take in the Sex and the City movie this past weekend. Although I was a little tainted by a less than stellar Times review, I still thought the movie was very satisfying. Kudos to the producers - I can't get enough of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Sequel, please!

As an ad girl, I got a major kick out of all the product placements in the movie. Product placement has become a big deal in media world with DVRs giving viewers an opt-out. The best thing about product placement is that is can do two things very well:

1. Add authenticity to the movie or TV show
2. Align a product with a character or event in a positive manner

In Sex and the City, Mercedes-Benz, Dior, Vivienne Westwood (the wedding dress designer), vitamin water, Louis Vuitton, and last -but certainly not least- Jimmy Choo and Monolo Blahnik all starred right alongside cast members.

So here's my take on this - Sex and the City pulls off product placement perfectly. The designer labels help paint a clear (although unrealistic) picture of these characters and the lives they lead. Brands have personality and that personality is reflected in the characters of the movie. So if you're looking for someone doing it right, this movie is a must-see.