August 7, 2019

Tenured Outdoor, Sports, and Lifestyle Creative Lead, Dan Richards Joins AMP Agency Seattle as Group Creative Director

Following a successful four-year stint at Columbia Sportswear, where he led all brand design efforts within marketing, Dan Richards has landed a new role as Group Creative Director at AMP Agency. At Columbia, Richards directed a robust team of designers, project managers, photographers, videographers and production designers, re-designed Columbia’s retail experience, and oversaw many additional seasonal global marketing initiatives. Richards will lead the AMP Seattle office’s creative and production studios, contribute to the agency’s thought leadership, while developing an updated creative approach to new business, and widening the firm’s experiential marketing opportunities. 

 

Richards, who is no stranger to fashion, outdoor and sports lifestyle brands, has already made an immediate impact at AMP Agency - his first assignment was to lead the creative, production and amplification teams throughout the RFP process for an assignment dedicated to Eddie Bauer’s 100th Anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020. Richards and AMP Agency earned the title of Eddie Bauer’s 100th Anniversary AOR for the 18-month long experiential campaign that will debut in Q4 of 2019.

 

"We believe brands that design better customer experiences lead the world in business performance,” said Gary Colen, CEO AMP Agency. “Dan’s experience matches perfectly with AMP Seattle’s expertise in creating immersive customer journeys that deliver exceptional brand experiences. His talents are core to heart of AMP Agency and he’s already shown that with team’s recent win of Eddie Bauer’s upcoming 100th Anniversary campaign.”

 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the AMP Agency family, which is an incredibly talented team comprised of thinkers, makers and amplifiers, and I’m excited at the chance to build even stronger connections, through experiential marketing, for our clients and their consumers,” said Richards. “It’s already been an amazing experience; within my first month I had the opportunity to work on RFPs and projects for brands including Eddie Bauer, Walmart, PUMA and The UPS Store, which is a wonderful way to establish our client base.”

 

Throughout his career, Richards has earned a reputation for being a passionate, creative leader who excels at being a swell guy and, in his spare time, an avid birdwatcher. He is equally capable of designing a project from start to finish or directing a team to realize his vision. He leads with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, creating strategies and outcomes that are bold and unexpected. Richards is also an expert diplomat. Able to broker solutions that satisfy business needs without compromising the intangibles that make design powerful. Former clients of Richards includes: Nike, ESPN, Dr. Martens, Adidas, Starbucks, Target, Columbia Sportswear, Sorel, Keen Footwear, GoLite, Reebok, Microsoft, Camelback, Yakima.

July 31, 2019

Doug Grumet, AMP Agency SVP of Media & Analytics, discusses Digital Ad Spending by Industry in Latest eMarketer Report

Our own Doug Grumet, SVP of Media & Analytics, was recently interviewed for eMarketer’s latest report on Digital Ad Spending by Industry by Ross Benes. The report analyzes digital ad spending from three countries and details fascinating findings, like that US digital ad spending will reach $129.34 billion in 2019, up 19.1% from last year. 

 

Doug spoke with Ross in depth about the shifting media landscape of the largest industries and how AMP Agency is adapting with the trends to drive greater efficiency and a stronger customer experience. 

 

In the report, Doug shares, “Our retail and CPG clients are very active in mobile. The rationale there is around bridging the offline and online worlds. Can I leverage mobile as a retailer or as a CPG brand to either push brick-and-mortar or pull people into the ecommerce funnel?”

 

Check out the full report from eMarketer here: 

https://www.emarketer.com/content/digital-ad-spending-by-industry-2019

June 19, 2019

The Grocery Diaries- AMP Agency Customer Experience Deep-Dive

Buying and preparing food is a huge part of most of our lives and routines. Almost everybody grocery shops – but not everyone shops the same. Strategists Jen Herbert and Greer Pearce recorded grocery diaries for a month and sat down to compare notes on the modern grocery experience.

 

LIFE STAGES SHIFT FOOD ROUTINES

Greer: Jen and I are in different life stages, and one of our big takeaways was not just that our shopping routines are different, but that changes in our lives have acted as triggers for a whole new food routine. Marketers have known for a long time that there are some brief periods in a person’s life when routines are disrupted and shopping patterns are open to change, and we saw that play out clearly in our own lives.

 

When Jen moved in with her partner, Jason, grocery shopping became a team effort. She had to start coordinating weeknight schedules and planning differently. They shop together, so the actual shopping experience became more fun: they make funny faces at each other in the produce section and gamify splitting up the items in their cart at checkout to try and get as close to possible to a perfectly split bill.

 

When I had a baby last year, I also got a new shopping partner – my son, Teddy. Pre-shopping trip, that meant planning more carefully so I could get in and out of the store faster, and new items on our list as he started to eat solid foods. In-store, it meant less time looking at labels or new products, and more time solving the puzzle of how to physically shop with him, a tiny human either taking up most of the cart in his car seat, strapped to my body, or trying to escape from the child seat.  

 

These new routines are markedly different from how both Jen and I shopped as single young professionals, when we made more, smaller trips to the store and only bought food for one.

 

Brand Takeaway: Consumers need different things at different life stages, and there are multiple phases when they’re actively adjusting their routine. Meet them in the moment to offer them solutions specific to their needs.

 

Groceriesdiaries1GroceryDiaries2GroceryDiaries3

 Life stage shapes how people shop. Jen and her partner shop together and gamify their routine to make it more fun. Greer looks for items that will distract her toddler.

 

GROCERY SHOPPING STARTS BEFORE THE GROCERY STORE

Jen: What Greer and I came to appreciate as we traded our grocery stories was just how much effort we both spend on “pre-work” before ever stepping foot in-store.

 

Before a list can be constructed, we both meal plan our future dinners, but our sources for drawing meal inspiration are very different. Greer knows that her family will be home and in need of dinners every night of the week. She sits down and plans each of those seven meals, surrounded by her go-to resources: three favorite cookbooks, the New York Times, and Bon Appetit’s online recipes.

 

Meanwhile, Jason and I start meal planning by assessing when we’ll both be home – these are nights when it feels “worth it” to invest time in a homemade dinner. Then, we’ll scan the fridge to see if anything is in need of repurposing, which will often spark a meal idea. In the warmer months, we’ll also check the weather – if there are sunny days ahead, we’ll grill. If we’re still stuck, I’ll head to my Saved posts on Instagram. (When I see an easy meal idea, I proactively flag it for times like these.) Finally, I’ll do a scan of the house for staples – everything from vitamins to eggs to Kleenex – that we are running low on and should also be added to the list.

 

When we finally arrive in-store, our routines don’t stop. Greer follows the same pattern around her store each time, while I go so far as to “code” my list by the section of the store I’ll find each item in.

 

Brand Takeaway: Going in-store with a clear plan of attack helps the shopping experience run on autopilot, guaranteeing the trip is relatively efficient and even free of in-the-moment decision-making. With that insight, we both agree that well over half of our “grocery experience” actually takes place within our own homes. Consider ways that your brand can build relationships with customers outside of the physical store, when they’re more likely to be in an open, “inspirational” mindset rather than cruising on autopilot.

 

GroceryDiaries4
The grocery experience starts with inspiration and preparation. Jen and Jason make a detailed list before heading to the store.

 

SURPRISES MAKE A SHOPPING TRIP BEAUTIFUL

Jen: With all that prep-work, what’s in our basket is often dictated by what’s on our lists. But Greer and I also found we welcome pleasant surprises and unplanned ways to treat ourselves.

 

Greer sometimes treats herself to a pretty bouquet of flowers if they catch her eye, or spontaneously grabs swordfish if it looks particularly good. She distinctly remembers being excited one spring when her store’s typically uninspiring produce section had fiddlehead ferns.

 

Jason and I typically “allow” ourselves one or two surprises when we do our weekly shopping. This could be, like Greer, a spontaneous bouquet of flowers, a fancy candy bar or pastry, or a new flavor of protein bar or ice cream (usually one with eye-catching packaging!). Another welcome surprise is when large grocery chains begin carrying beloved brands from the Northeast. Just the other day, we happily discovered coffee from our favorite roastery in Maine, which we typically had to purchase on-vacation or online! It’s moments like this that infuse a trip that could feel like a chore with a sense of fun.

 

Brand Takeaway: Basket-building moments center around beauty and reward. While the idea of grocery shopping is quite beautiful – fresh, colorful produce, nurturing loved ones, etc. – grocery shopping in practice is often anything but. Finding small opportunities to encourage customers to treat themselves to something beautiful is a reward for an accomplished store trip.

 

PROXIMITY ISN’T THE ONLY FACTOR

Greer: It seems obvious that where we grocery shop is dictated by where we live, and to some extent this is true. But within a person’s grocery options, several factors might trigger them to buy at one store over another:

 

  • The List: Jen’s list dictates where she’ll shop that week, and she doesn’t decide where to shop until it’s complete. If the recipe’s she’s making calls for hard-to-find produce, or she’s craving the fancy yogurt she likes, she’ll drive a little farther to get to a store where she knows she can find what she needs.
  • Physical size of items: Greer gets all her bulky items like diapers, paper towels, dog food, and toilet paper via Amazon so she can avoid carrying heavy items home from a physical store.
  • Price: Both Jen and Greer have price compared the stores in their area, and make the less expensive store their go-to for staples.
  • In-store experience: Both Jen and Greer sometimes go out of their way to find an experience that offers elements of fun, beauty, and excitement.
  • “Type” of grocery visit: Different grocery occasions call for different stores. Greer does her weekly, well planned trips to one store, but goes to a smaller, closer store for an unplanned mid-week trip.
  • Season: In the summer, both Jen and Greer completely switch up their routines to incorporate farmers markets and CSAs where they can get fresh local produce. This means less trips to the grocery store overall, and meal planning driven by in-season items.

Brand Takeaway: The need for food drives a grocery visit, but many factors go into where and how you shop. While shoppers may have a default routine, they are open to deviating from it – or redefining it when it will make their lives easier or more enjoyable. Brands should consider how to meet the needs of multiple types of grocery occasions.

AMP is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. This article is a part of AMP’s  Customer Experience Deep Dive Blog Series, where we take a first person approach to understanding the modern shopping experience.

 

June 13, 2019

“Through Their Eyes” Digital Ethnography Series: Gen Z Wrap-Up

The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency  Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.”

 

In May we focused on Gen Z college students and saw the world from the perspective of Courtney from Oregon State University, Cortes from California Polytechnic State University, Alexa from UMass Amherst, and Haidar from the University of Rhode Island.

 

Move over, millennials. Marketers’ latest obsession is with Gen Z, the cohort born between 1995 and the early 2010s. You might already know that they’re pragmatic and frugal, multicultural and accepting, and native to the digital world. But we uncovered a few more insights as we followed four college students preparing for finals and the summer ahead...

 

Everyday, they’re hustling

Everyday Gen Z is hustling, and we mean that quite literally – a decorative sign with that very motto was spotted in the background of one of Alexa’s posts, next to a Post-It reminder that said, "Harvard Business or Bust.” Follow any one of these individuals around for the day and be prepared to be exhausted. Both Courtney and Cortes found time for workouts between multiple classes, work shifts, and study sessions, while Alexa is on the board of five different clubs and Haidar’s roster of classes as a Global Business Major and Arabic Studies and Engineering double minor is enough to make your head spin. Our team wasn’t surprised to see this given what we’ve read about the generation as a hard working and focused bunch – only 38% think work-life balance  is important, compared to 47% of millennials, and 58% say ‘bring it’ to working nights and weekends in exchange for a better salary.

 

Throughtheireyes

No (iced) coffee, no workee

While all that hustle is self-driven, it’s apparently also fueled by caffeine – specifically in the form of iced coffee. We couldn’t help but notice that three of our four participants made a point of creating a post specifically in admiration of their respective iced coffees, ‘gramming it beautifully against a flowering bush, decorating their coffee selfies with a “good day today” gif, and even adding Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” as background music for the post (below). It all made sense, when our research showed that 56% of Gen Z has purchased iced coffee in the past month.

 

Icedcoffee1Icedcoffee2icedcoffee3

They find fun in responsibility

We were impressed by Gen Z’s ability to create joy, even during times when duty called. Courtney took her studying outside to a scenic patio. Cortes savored a sparkling coconut water in the sunshine. Alexa got a little sassy with her Stats study guide. And even Haidar, who was busy observing Ramadan during his feature, took a selfie with a friend as they stood in the aisles of a convenience store shoveling down cups of cereal in the early morning hours for Suhur. Despite their exhausting schedules, on-the-go nature, and mountain of responsibilities, Gen Z is clearly able to appreciate and enjoy each moment. In the future, they’ll be looking for workplaces that encourage this outlook as well – 65% of Gen Z look for a “fun” working environment  when assessing whether a company culture is a good fit for them.  

 

Genz1Genz2Genz3

June 12, 2019

Trends From The 2019 TV Upfronts - AMP Agency

On the heels of the upfront presentations, there were two major trends that came up time and again this year: Mergers & Streaming. And as has been the case in recent years, each network group took turns touting their ‘scale and brand safety’, while trying to compel the advertisers and agency attendees that their best bet would be to spend their marketing dollars with them instead of their competitors.

 

Mergers and Acquisitions

Between ABC/Fox/Disney, Warner/Turner/ATT, and NBCU/Comcast – these massive evolving media conglomerates were front and center during upfront week and were prime targets of the comedians as well. “Because it’s AT&T, the reception will be very bad. Because it’s AT&T, the after-party will only have two bars,” Conan O’Brien joked at the upfront presentation, poking fun at the new parent company of WarnerMedia.


It’s becoming harder and harder for these network groups to cover each of their properties in one presentation, but they all tried. Comcast/NBCU were able to cover NBC, Bravo, USA, Oxygen, SyFy, Telemundo, NBC Sports, and E! in just over 90min. Thanks to the Disney acquisition, Fox’s presentation focused only on the network’s primetime programming and sports, since Disney now owns most of their cable properties. And Disney sure had a lot to share. Their 2.5+ hour presentation covered ABC, ESPN, Disney, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic. Turner Media has also been renamed to the aforementioned WarnerMedia. They covered TBS, TNT, TruTV, Cartoon Network / Adult Swim, Bleacher Report, and CNN in a swift hour and 15 minute presentation.

 

What it means

The synergies across multiple properties within one network group should allow for more comprehensive cross-property and cross-platform marketing solutions for our clients. Consolidation of ownership is not always a good thing from a competition standpoint. But as a savvy team, we’ll find ways to use these changes to our advantage and leverage our media dollars to secure the best opportunities.

 

Streaming is King

Everyone is coming for Netflix. With live TV viewership continuing to decline, networks are looking to where the eyeballs are migrating – streaming services. After proudly touting The Office as the #1 show on Netflix, Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising and Client Partnerships at NBC Universal, informed the audience that they would soon be launching their own ad-supported service. WarnerMedia made a similar announcement on Wednesday morning – another yet-to-be-named streaming service. CBS and CW also made time in their presentations to discuss their already live services. But the biggest streaming news came out just hours before the Disney/ABC presentation on Tuesday afternoon when it was announced that they had taken full operational control of Hulu by virtue of the extra 30% share they acquired from Fox. With their stake in Hulu, and Disney+, which is expected to rollout in November, Disney is poised to make an impact in the streaming space.

 

What it means

This biggest story in the video landscape over the last few years has been the migration from live TV to streaming. There is only a finite number of ratings that networks can sell, and each year that number shrinks. Over the last few years, networks have been pushing budgets towards their full episode players and over-the-top devices to capitalize on these additional impressions. While adaption was slow to take hold, it is now the new norm and is expected to grow over the coming years. Adding this element to media plans is a necessity to keep pace with changing consumption patterns.

 

Remaining Questions and Predictions

While the newly formed media-monopolies and their streaming services seemed to generate the most buzz during upfront week, there was plenty more packed into the presentations.  Here are some additional big questions that advertisers were left with, and how our team at AMP sees them playing out:

 

How will CBS and ABC be affected by the departure of their biggest shows, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family?

There are certainly big holes to fill, but networks are put in this situation every year. CBS will fill their slot with The Unicorn, a new comedy about a widowed father, and ABC will have one more season of Modern Family before they’re forced to fill that slot.

 

How is The Masked Singer a successful show?

The Masked Singer had some great lead-ins when it premiered this January, and FOX has been promoting the program heavily. While successful in season one, ratings declined each week, and it would not be surprising to see lackluster numbers for season two as the novelty wears off.

 

Will viewers adapt as TBS veers away from comedy with dramas like Snowpiercer?

Snowpiercer seems like a perfect fit for the sister network, TNT alongside Claws and Animal Kingdom, so placing it on TBS is an interesting choice. Viewers may take a little while to adjust, but expect lots of promotion across the old Turner networks.

 

Can CW continue its success in finding younger viewers with more superhero shows (Batgirl), and a Riverdale spinoff (Katy Keene)?

CW knows exactly who they are. While not a linear ratings giant, they serve younger audiences well and excel in the FEP space. We expect CW to continue over-performing with the hard to reach younger demographics.


The television industry has seen some major changes in the past few years, and buyers have been forced to adapt and evolve. Networks, advertisers, and viewers are all shaking things up and keeping the industry on its toes, creating a media buying landscape that it is constantly changing. We’re excited to see how this all plays out this coming TV season, and we’ll be back at it next year with more trend analyses and predictions for the 2020 season and beyond.

May 20, 2019

Humanizing the Total Customer Experience

There’s a running joke at our agency about the famed industry “ecosystem slide.” You know what I’m talking about - that one presentation slide that attempts to visualize how every single consumer touchpoint plays a unique role, yet connects with every other touchpoint to form a cohesive customer experience. Maybe it’s a Venn diagram. Maybe it’s a table. Or, my personal nightmare, the “Beautiful Mind” approach– a bunch of floating platform icons with a web of lines connecting them all in one tangled ball of confusion. “Look!” we say. “This is your brand ecosystem! See how beautifully and simply it depicts the total customer experience?” “OK, John Nash,” our clients say, before dropping it into a desktop folder to gather digital dust.

 

Brand EcosystemAs marketers, it’s important to consider ecosystems, journeys, and the end-to-end customer experience. But these concepts can be hard to truly grasp when talking about them in the abstract, or out of the context of how an individual person experiences a brand and its products.

 

The reality is that in the digital age, our avenues of information are so diverse, our digital and physical spaces so entwined, that a customer journey is no longer linear or simple. At any given stage in the marketing funnel, a person might bounce around from Instagram, to billboard, to blog post, to text exchange and back in mere minutes. Even when this journey is simplified and beautifully designed to look at in aggregate, there’s a lack of realness to it– and a lack of true comprehension.

 

So how do we start to truly understand what the modern customer experience looks like without making our heads explode? Let’s get out of the abstract.

 

The AMP Strategy team is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. Over the next several months, we’ll be doing first-person deep dives into the experience of shopping, purchasing, and returning across industries. We’ll map out real paths to purchase, identifying pain points and emotions along the way, to surface real industry insights and areas of opportunity– and share them right here on AMP’s blog.

 

Because at the end of the day consumers are human, and we need to understand them as humans. The true customer experience cannot be captured on a slide.

 

- Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

 

Meet Our Humans

Greer

Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

Outdoorswoman, jazz singer, tween culture obsessive

 

Ben

Ben Seldin, Strategy Director

Nike addict, political junkie, wanna-be foodie.

 

Elle

Elle Elderd, Associate Strategist

Savory over sweet, mixer of drinks and vinyls, runs on espresso

 

Jen

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist

Literary fiction addict, almond croissant enthusiast, frequently-disappointed Chicago Bears fan

 

DJ

DJ Weidner, Strategy Director

Backyard grilling fanatic, year-round iced latte connoisseur, occasional salmon and halibut fisherman

 

james_herrera_new

James Herrera, Director, Experience Strategy

Life-long LA Dodgers fan, believer in the beginner’s mind, finds reading science non-fiction oddly satisfying

April 11, 2019

Sara Whiteleather, AMP Agency VP of Media, Speaks on Global Digital Ad Spending in Latest eMarketer Report

Our own Sara Whiteleather, VP of Media, was recently interviewed for eMarketer's latest report on Global Digital Ad Spending by Jasmine Enberg. The report details fascinating findings, like the fact that for the first time, digital will account for >50% of total global media ad spending.

 

Sara spoke with Jasmine in depth about the shifting media landscape and AMP Agency’s focus on driving greater efficiency and a stronger customer experience through the convergence of digital and traditional channels.

 

In the report, Sara shares, “Brands are continuing to break down the traditional marketing silos and think about customer experience first and foremost. That applies to traditional vs. digital and paid vs. owned. They’re thinking holistically about how to reach consumers across all the different touchpoints in the full marketing ecosystem.”

 

Check out the full report from eMarketer here: https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-digital-ad-spending-2019

 

March 19, 2019

Building Strong Brand Tribes (Inspired by Presenters at SXSW)

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP

 

I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.  


The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit.


While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact


Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory.


One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?”


By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Play


All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world.


In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally.


ActualPlayCartoon

Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity


It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.

 

MilkBarToolkit

During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work.


This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling”


Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making.


He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.”


If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

March 8, 2019

YouTube's SXSW Creative Agency Challenge 2019- AMP Agency

A core tenant of our business at AMP Agency is that we strive to generate strategy that is creative, and creative that is strategic. But any marketing agency would agree that it can be challenging for the Strategy team to continually build briefs that present a unique POV and inspire the Creative team; on the other hand, it can sometimes be a puzzle for Creative to generate ideas that are both breakthrough in the marketplace and guaranteed to resonate with our audiences.


This winter our Strategy and Creative teams were given the opportunity to push those bounds and work on a project, leveraging audience insights, that has made us into even more creative and thoughtful storytellers. Not only that, it’s revitalized the way our teams collaborate together.

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THE BACKGROUND


We were selected to participate in the 2019 iteration of YouTube's South by Southwest (SXSW) Creative Agency Challenge. We were excited to learn the theme was "Signals and Storytelling." This theme pushed us to look beyond audience demographics and think meaningfully about consumers’ interests and intent signals based on how they’re using Google & YouTube--and more importantly how these insights could more strategically inform our creative storytelling.


During the Challenge kick-off at YouTube NYC, we discussed how it’s no longer acceptable to fill the Target Audience section of a creative brief with simple, demographic information. The comical example that Google gave, and that stuck with us, is that by writing a demographic-led brief like, Aged 65+, British, high net worth, dog lover, we would unknowingly be creating content that tailored to both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne!


In addition, this year’s Challenge looked to harness the participating agencies’ efforts towards a greater good. YouTube partnered with the Ad Council, and we were asked to create two pieces of skippable YouTube video content for a select cause-based organization. AMP was assigned to work with She Can STEM. Our goal and our challenge was to use insights-based, creative storytelling to empower parents to encourage an interest in STEM.  More specifically, we wanted to understand and reach the audiences of Bargain Hunter parents and Technophile parents, who we found, through working with Google, showed strong affinity for the cause.


 

 


 

 


Below, our Senior Strategist, Jen Herbert, and Creative Director, James Hough, reflect on their insights, the process, and experience.

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FROM CONSUMER INSIGHTS TO CREATIVE STRATEGY


Jen: When analysing interest and intent signals, what came as the biggest surprise was that bargain hunter parents like watching quirky videos featuring silly experimentation around the house, such as Making Slime and the Cheese Ball Bath Challenge. To resonate, I thus wanted to recognize their lives are full of creative, scrappy, playful discovery, and how through this they established a foundation that could translate to a career in STEM.


For Technophile Parents, I saw that they are often shopping for gaming systems, but also interested in sports, TV shows, movies and news articles. So, to cater our messaging to Technophile Parents, I wanted to acknowledge their lives as multi-dimensional and well-rounded.


______________


THE CREATIVE PROCESS


James: The Creative Team viewed this opportunity as a chance to see how we stacked up against other up-and-coming and established advertising agencies and marketing agencies. We felt empowered to ensure our storytelling was on point. Basic empowerment and “you’re a badass” messaging wouldn’t cut it when we need to tell parents they have a job to do – keeping their daughters interested in STEM through the 11 to 14 year-old drop off point. More simply, “She can STEM.”


Based on the strategic insights in our creative brief, we presented four concepts and eight scripts to the Ad Council after sharing initial thoughts with Google. After the Ad Council chose a direction we storyboarded, found a director (Max Esposito), found locations, cast and shot– all within about a week. I think that the financial and time constraints coupled with the freedom to go out and create without check-in’s made for something special.


While each of our spots are aimed at a different audience, they shared the same goal. In each of the stories we see relatable and tangible ways a parent can encourage their daughter at the right time to keep going. Instead of pushing future-focused images of a marine biology or coding career, we centered the seemingly minor moments of everyday life that could have a big impact on a girl’s interest, like a trip to the aquarium with mom or the gift of a tablet from dad.


Check them out. We really hope you like them:

 

https://youtu.be/-bxOcFJNEjs  

 

https://youtu.be/hWZrvXpace8  


And check out the story on Adweek, Think with Google, MarComm News, and others:

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/youtube-wants-to-teach-marketers-how-to-create-more-targeted-advertising-at-sxsw/ 

 

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/video/youtube-audience-behavioral-insights/ 

 

https://marcommnews.com/youtube-and-ad-council-tap-amp-agency-and-others-for-sxsw-challenge/

 

https://lbbonline.com/news/ad-council-spots-show-how-girls-can-be-inspired-to-work-in-stem/

 

March 1, 2019

Nice Try, Fruitcake- A Peek into AMP Agency's Creative Process

Hey! We’re AMP agency, and we like to do things a little differently. For example, this past year our holidays started in October. Not because we haven’t mastered the art of calendar reading, but because we felt our clients deserved a better brand of holiday gift. Something a cut above your average season’s greetings. It took a lot of thought, a little elbow grease, and a mild amount of destruction, but in the end, we’re extremely proud of the result.

 

 

 

It all began with fruitful brainstorming and a swirl of over sixty ideas. Eventually, we landed on one that felt right – destroying holiday fruitcakes, everyone’s least favorite gift.

 

At its core, our idea centered on using fruitcakes as a catch-all symbol for holiday thoughtlessness. By filming ourselves destroying them, we hoped to humorously convey our very serious commitment to providing decidedly thoughtful work and gifts to our client base. Along with the video, clients received a custom-designed fruitcake tin stuffed with a delicious assortment of holiday treats. For context, the accompanying card included a holiday poem explaining the nature of our gift.

 

Holiday Tin and Card       Holiday Card Message

For the tin, microsite and card, we crafted our modern-take on classic holiday fonts, while incorporating our AMP’s orange and black brand colors.

 

Flexibility is King When it Comes to Creating

Initially, we wanted to populate a custom-designed microsite with a series of six to ten second videos, each conveying a different form of destruction, and each involving different members of our office - an AMP fruitcake brigade, if you will. However, as we storyboarded and got set to film, we decided to ditch the employee-focus and hone in on the actual destruction with one cinematic video.

 

When it came to concepting methods for doing away with fruitcakes, we really got into it – maybe too into it. We tossed around what could be seen in the video: slapping a cake into a meat grinder, flattening a cake with a badass SUV, and breaking one open with a bat. From slingshots to samurai swords, we sorted through it all until we landed on the perfect set of destruction methods.

 

Web Developers For The Win

 

With our storyboards drawn, props ordered, and our video department locked-and-loaded, we took to the streets of Boston and filmed all of our fruitcake destruction. In total, it took about two and a half days to film. We not only shot what we had storyboarded, but a multitude of new ideas, angles, and transition shots as they presented themselves.

 

One pivot in particular really brought this concept to fruition. Even after we shifted from an employee-focused approach to one honing in exclusively on the destruction methodologies, we still needed someone to actually put these things into motion. We asked a member of our web development team, Gabe, to take the role, and he agreed with great enthusiasm.

 

We wrote the scripts so that he would barely be seen and the burden of acting would be minimized. But after the first day of filming, we realized we had a pretty great actor in our midst, and the video as a whole would be elevated by making him the focus. This was no longer an aesthetically pleasing montage of destruction, but the tale of one man’s maniacal quest to deliver AMP’s clients the best holiday gift possible.

 

How It All Came Together

 

We sought to not only wish our clients a Happy Holiday, but also flex our creative muscles. A custom microsite and a video provided the perfect mediums to showcase many facets of our creative capabilities in quick and engaging formats. Combined with our custom-designed holiday cards and tins, we sent our clients into the holiday season with something to have a laugh at and some tasty treats to enjoy. Getting to destroy fruitcakes along the way was just the icing on the cake.

 

Please enjoy the fruits of our labor at www.nicetryfruitcake.com  and check out our previous holiday cards.

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