Leading Women: Shaping the Marketplace

In June 2014, Forbes magazine published its annual list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” As usual, the list features 100 brilliant, forward-thinking, motivated individuals. If you’ll permit us to brag a bit, or even if you won’t, we’re happy to say the “Women Business Leaders” section of issues sold in Missouri includes a piece highlighting the success of our own Valeri Lea. The article, titled “deep Knows What’s Cooking,” discusses our agency’s work in the foodservice market and explores Val’s role as deep partner along with her passion for all things food.

Since the latest edition of “100 Most Powerful Women” marks the tenth anniversary of this list, Val finds herself included in the same Forbes issue as some of the figures she has admired over the years, as have many of the rest of us who swim in the deep. Reading up on the women who made this year’s cut has inspired us to write a little more about a handful of these leaders as well as showcase a few others who easily could have been included on the annual Forbes list.

Because we offer extensive interactive marketing solutions, deep is especially interested in the leading women of the marketing and tech industries. That’s one reason it was great to see so many women in tech make the Forbes list this year. True, the ratio of men to women in the technology field still leads to issues that cause dustups on Twitter and other social sites now and again, but with 18 of the top 100 most powerful women earning their livings in the tech market, the industry clearly owes many of its recent successes to members of the female gender.

The same holds true in marketing. In our experience, this is particularly obvious in the food merchandising and marketing industry. For quite some time, leading ad agencies have boasted the type of cross-gender collaboration that results in impressive—not to mention lucrative—advertising campaigns. And while we’ve got lots of love for the guys in the game, over the next few weeks b!eep is going to focus on a three-part blog series celebrating a few notable accomplishments of women in the tech and marketing fields.

This series will delve into the skills and decisions that earned some of the world’s most driven women power seats at their respective tables.

Up next? In “Part 2: Advances in Technology,” we’ll get more familiar with the impacts these four power players continue to make:

  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
  • Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns

Then, in part 3, we’ll learn more about four women who keep their marketing agencies pushing profits:

  • Facebook VP, Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson
  • Ogilvy South Africa Chairman Nunu Ntshingila
  • Havas Worldwide Executive President & BETC Founder Mercedes Erra
  • Ogilvy & Mather Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus

 

Culinary Trends of 2014: 
Bringing Global Flavors and Gluten-Free Options to Pantry and Plate

Staying ahead of developing trends is vital to any business, obviously. To meet consumers’ needs before competitors make it clear they can too, it’s imperative to know what people will want before they know they want it. In the food and restaurant industry, this rings especially true, and it’s not always easy to predict what people will be hungry for next. Only by following the trajectory of current food trends can we get a glimpse of what most people will be eating in 2014 as well as what types of culinary experiences will whet their appetites when they head out for the evening.

In 2013, more and more restauranteurs jumped onto the gluten-free bandwagon, and that shows no signs of slowing down this year. Chefs who create menus with gluten-free products cater to the influx of people who suffer reactions to wheat and show symptoms of celiac disease. These thoughtful menus also appeal to the growing number of proponents of the paleolithic diet trend. The demand for gluten-free choices is steadily rising, so if a foodservice marketing agency’s clients are in tune with the market on this one, that agency had better be ready to let the restaurant world know about it.

This year, we can expect to see a whole lot of sales collateral materials showcasing foodservice companies’ new gluten-free products. It’s already working, as evidenced by the jump in restaurant dishes featuring pasta made of gluten-free grains like quinoa, rice, and buckwheat. Even patrons who don’t have an aversion to gluten are experimenting with gluten-free grains they may have not tried before, just to see what the hype is all about.

Perhaps one of the most exciting food trends predicted for 2014 is the integration of international flavors at restaurants. The industry saw the beginnings of flavor globalization years ago, but 2014 shows promise for ever-more rare and exotic flavors to show up where restaurant guests least expect them. Reflecting the coming trend in this year’s food and drink marketing campaigns will help show chefs, managers, and other product purchasers which food companies are on top of international culinary trends. Better still, it will give ad agencies the chance to offer foodservice personnel fast yet creative menu ideas that incorporate their clients’ new flavors into a fresh new dish.

As chefs increase their efforts to answer consumer demand for specialty foods, branding foodservice products with the artisan angle will become increasingly important in 2014. Farm and estate-branded goods have seen immense success in recent years, and smart campaigns that leverage the local or personal connection to the products an agency promotes will arm restaurant management with something they can tout: carefully crafted, gourmet and artisan products.

Yesteryear’s culinary curiosities are this year’s consumer trends, and we’re excited to see where consumer expectations are headed in 2014. Like other leading foodservice marketing agencies, we’re enjoying all the creative opportunity that comes with the focus on thoughtful diets, boundary-pushing flavors, and artisan products.

The Big Game Changers

The Super Bowl is one of the major payoffs we ad creatives look forward to each year, for obvious reasons. It’s always useful to see what one’s industry peers are up to, and the Super Bowl offers the very best that ad agencies have to offer. With the Seahawks blowout wiping away any gambling worries (for bragging rights only, of course), we had little to distract us from the real reason to watch the game: the commercials. So we’re adding our take on a few of Sunday’s best concepts to the pool of annual articles that break down the state of advertising after the Super Bowl.

After a slew of years when marketing and creative services agencies opted for campaigns that focused heavily on sex appeal, this year’s crop mostly ignored the libido and tugged at the heart instead. Even the normally hyper-sexual Axe Body Spray spot featured couples reuniting in emotional embraces rather than throngs of super models falling at the feet of some average-looking dude. GoDaddy also refrained from selling website domains through sex appeal, choosing instead to feature a puppeteer who used the hosting company to follow her dreams. Going the sweet-and-touching route, however, was just one of the trends agencies embraced this year.

 

 

 

A couple of the best food ad campaigns we saw during the game kept it wholesome with humorous spots. For example, Raj Suri pretty much killed it with the Time Machine that runs on Doritos. The commercial, which reportedly cost a mere $200 to create, won the chip company’s annual Super Bowl commercial contest and the cool $1 million prize that came with it, according to businessinsider.com. Kudos to Mr. Suri for a great piece of creative and a heck of a payday. Also on the funny front, Wonderful Pistachios gave us a peek into the nutty inner workings of a comedic genius, Mr. Stephen Colbert. The company can no doubt expect a rise in sales from the famous Colbert Bump.

 

 

 

Not to be outdone by our brethren in the foodservice marketing game, agencies for tech companies brought the funny as well. In a fairly bold move, RadioShack took shots at itself in the process of unveiling a new, modern image. The spot showcased some of our favorite faces from the ’80s looting the old RadioShack store, clearing the way for a clean, inviting store layout that will better resonate with today’s tech lovers. SquareSpace joined the fun too, bringing some of the best bad on the web to life.

 

 

 

Audi’s ad agency also took a comedic angle with the minute-long “Doberhuahua” spot. It landed on target, in large part due to Sarah McLachlan’s participation. The choice to build suspense with a pre-game teaser that ran a few weeks before the Super Bowl was a sound move, and it had us and a ton of other viewers waiting to see just what had the two “Logan Hills Dog Show” announcers running for cover. The teaser and the extended ad (60 seconds) during the game were part of a smart campaign kickoff that deserves applause.

 

 

Bringing things back around to the sweet side, a couple of commercials in particular have gained a lot of attention on social sites and blogs following the Super Bowl. For the first time ever, Microsoft joined the fun with a 60-second Super Bowl ad that shows all the best technology has to offer, culminating with a shot of former NFL player Steve Gleason, who is now battling ALS and uses Microsoft technology to talk to his son. While not quite as emotional, the Budweiser puppy who couldn’t be kept from his pal (a beautiful Clydesdale) was another fan favorite. And many sites are proclaiming the puppy as the big winner of the weekend.

 

 

 

For us, though, it’s hard to top the simplicity and ultra-relatable concept of the Hyundai Genesis ad dubbed “Dad’s Sixth Sense.” Moms and dads alike love the idea of kids counting on always-reliable dad to save them from harm, and we think the creatives behind this campaign found the perfect balance between emotional appeal and light-heartedness.

 

 

The 2014 Super Bowl may not have offered much in the way of on-the-field competition, but the ad world cooked up some heavy-hitting concepts to vie for viewers’ attention. We’d say that made it a game worth watching right to the end.

Life Goes On

The holidays have come and gone, and most people have come back to a great-big mound of work. We assume at some point even the most responsible among us will need a short break from playing catchup this week, so we’re opting to take another opportunity to share some good tidings and joy. Hope you’re not all joyed out already!

Often, we find that remaining an industry leader in food communications affords deep the opportunity to spread the word about other important things that impact our clients, families, and friends. The holiday season presented yet another chance to share a compelling story—with a happy twist to a fairly tragic plot.

The story of beetle kill pine begins with an epidemic currently impacting millions of acres in the Rocky Mountains. Hoards of mountain pine beetles continue to infest both ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees. The beetles come in droves to burrow into the pine bark, where they lay their eggs. Sadly, the beetles are not merely an annoyance. They carry a powerful chemical on their hind legs, and exposure to this chemical causes a reaction that prevents the natural flow of nutrients in the pines. The reaction not only kills the tree; it also transforms the color of the wood from natural pine to a blue-gray color.

What we at deep find so inspiring about this story is the way one local company in the region has responded to the problem. The innovative thinkers at the Azure Furniture Co. are bringing the plot twist: They’re using the still-standing, lifeless pines to handcraft beautiful furniture. The practice results in stunningly unique furniture featuring the dramatic character of the blue-gray pine. More importantly, each new piece Azure builds represents the removal of one more dangerous fire hazard from the Rockies. The small company’s new method of recycling ensures that the affected pines are not wasted, and clearing the remains of dead pines creates the space new pines will need to grow. We’re as thankful as we are impressed, and their efforts inspired us to do what we can to help.

Our food communications company sent Azure coasters as gifts this year.Some of the more essential persuasive advertising we did in 2013 came in the form of the gifts we sent our clients last month, because they essentially advertised about the pine epidemic. To support Azure’s work and let people know they can help the cause, we selected elegant drink coasters carved from beetle kill pine and stamped with pine needles and the deep logo. The accompanying cards we sent
Our food communications company stamped client gifts with a pine branch.offered clients our best wishes and touched on what moved us to choose beetle kill pine:

The evergreen has long been a symbol of the holiday season, so we thought this gift was all too appropriate. Thoughtfully crafted from beetle kill pine, these coasters offer a story of ingenuity and allow lifeless evergreens to continue bringing beauty to this season and all that follow.

Now that you know a bit about this story of renewal, we invite you to help keep a good thing going. If you received a little extra cash this season, visit azurefurniture.com to pick out an excellent present for yourself and help ensure new pines have room to thrive.

Countdown to New Opportunities

NewYears

It’s no surprise that the past year brought plenty of change to the deep family. We’re part of an always-evolving industry focused on helping clients succeed in their own ever-evolving industries. That’s a pretty good recipe for change. From meeting new co-workers to welcoming new clients, to coming up with exciting new projects and concepts on a regular basis, there wasn’t exactly much sitting still in our office. So it should also be no surprise that we can’t wait for the excitement 2014 is sure to bring.

Now don’t get us wrong—we had a blast in 2013. In fact, it was arguably the most successful year we’ve ever had here at deep. But rather than resting on our laurels, we’re more energized than ever to keep the fires of passion burning and hit 2014 with a full head of steam. Because with each new year, new opportunities arise.

Whether it’s a chance to craft a unique full-scale, multi-platform ad campaign or an opportunity to build a gorgeous, versatile website for a boundary-pushing client, nothing feels better than doing work that’s new, innovative and successful. That’s why we’re pumped for 2014—the future is definitely bright.

We hope you’re looking forward to the New Year the way we are. Because there really is a world of opportunity waiting for us in the next 365 days, and we plan on running full speed ahead into that world.

So enjoy the countdown to 2014, and have a happy New Year.

-deep

P.S. – Don’t forget to enjoy the sweet animated gif our awesome creative team put together for New Year’s. You can find it at the beginning of this post. It might be their best work yet. (So just imagine how great they’re going to be in 2014.)

This Christmas, It’s What’s Inside That Counts

xmas_deep

With Christmas nearly upon us, our team here at deep has had plenty of time to reflect on the spirit of Christmas. Our company Christmas party focused on the important things—ugly sweaters, always-surprising (and occasionally bizarre) gift exchanges, and of course, fantastic food. But along with all of the fun, laughter, and dessert consumption, there was another thing our company Christmas party reminded us about.

No matter what happens throughout the course of the year—no matter which client projects achieve their potential, no matter which ads or campaigns exceed expectations—the most important work we do is inside our building. The relationships we build and strengthen every day with our teammates. The creative ideas that blow our minds (and often proceed to blow our clients’ minds). The laughter-filled meetings that make coming to work fun. And the sincerity of friends who truly want the best for each other.

All of those things, the aspects of deep that the outside world, our clients, and even our families, don’t always get to see, that’s what makes every day at deep an unforgettable experience. We’re fiercely proud of the work the world sees on the outside, but we place even more value on what happens inside. Because without the people here who make deep what it is, we’d just be another ad agency.

So as you celebrate Christmas this year, we hope you enjoy the food, festivities and fun that only the holiday season can bring. And we also hope you’ll take a little time to reflect on what really matters—the stuff on the inside that makes Christmas special. Because that in itself is a pretty awesome gift.

Merry Christmas, from your friends at deep.

P.S. – We hope you enjoy the animated gif some of our creative team members put together. Feel free to share it with your friends, seeing as it IS the gif that keeps on gif-ing.

Incentivizing Healthy Habits

Healthcare has been at the forefront of the media’s focus for quite some time. Judging by its lasting presence in the news and its popularity as fodder for political commentary, it’s clear the topic will not be falling by the wayside any time soon. However, not everyone is concerned with the major political aspects of healthcare. Many people are more concerned with establishing healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyles than they are with debating the merits of universal coverage. Some companies are known for providing incentives for employees to lead healthier lifestyles, like offering gym membership vouchers and other related discounts. But what better way to encourage healthy eating habits than by making healthy food more affordable?

HumanaVitality, a division of Humana insurance, has teamed with Walmart to form the VitalityHealth program—the first incentive of its kind that offers up to 5% discounts to its members on select foods displaying the Great for You label. These discounts are loaded on a card the shopper can redeem for discounts during future shopping trips. The types of food products that will soon appear in Walmart’s aisles sporting the new Great for You label will feature a variety of healthy options, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products to note just a few.

Such incentives are valuable to the field of food market research, as studying consumers’ responses to programs like HumanaVitality helps leading ad agencies determine what will motivate buyers. Innovative foodservice marketers also track the success of companies that help consumers make informed choices about their eating habits. Why? When we’re able to show our clients hard evidence that similar measures to incentivize healthy lifestyles will benefit all parties involved, we can then guide them to launch an exciting campaign that helps further the migration toward healthier eating.

It’s clear the consumer benefits from the 5% discount on healthier food options. The Great for You food merchandising labels at Walmart will also motivate customers to return more often to redeem their discounts. And Humana will likely benefit as its insurance customers become healthier and require fewer payouts for health problems.

After the HumanaVitality program and others like it have run long enough to produce solid metrics, we look forward to seeing exactly what kind of impact such incentives have on consumers’ buying choices. We’re also excited to consider how reward programs for featuring healthy menu options may be useful when selling food to restaurants, as many of our clients already recognize that healthy options have proven quite profitable.

Whether implementing reward programs for grocery customers to lead healthier lifestyles or launching a foodservice campaign that encourages chefs and restaurateurs to focus on healthy dishes, providing more affordable health food options may just set foodservice companies apart from competitors. By incentivizing healthy eating habits, food marketing groups and their clients may likely increase sales while also creating PR topics that could improve brand loyalty. That seems like incentive enough to explore the opportunity.

Positively Unforgettable

In the age of constant Internet access through laptops, tablets, and mobile devices, journals and periodicals now have the capabilities to reach millions of potential readers who would rarely have paid for physical copies of most magazines. With every new opportunity, though, comes new challenges, and the potential to reach so many more readers on the Internet also creates a much larger market in which periodicals must compete. The more level playing field begs an important question for traditional print companies that must move to the online audience: How can a magazine or journal stand apart from the millions of competitors that readers also have access to?

Thankfully, these publications can steal a page—the cover page—from the print world they know so well: Memorable images stir up emotions and bring audiences flocking. The New Yorker, for example, has a long history of loyal readership. In fact, the seasoned magazine has been in publication for nearly 90 years now and still continues to be a strong contender for the top journal of its kind. Why has The New Yorker been so successful for nearly a century? Stellar writing is obviously a big plus, but that’s just one factor. Before people commit to reading an article, something has to draw us into investing the time. You may recall more than a few famously compelling covers for The New Yorker.

How about the cover released a day after Valentine’s Day 1993, featuring a Hasidic Jew and a black woman kissing while in a warm embrace?

Eye-catching images serve work well in integrated digital marketing and in print.

The February 1993 cover featured a couple sharing a tender embrace.

Or perhaps you remember a more recent cover sporting Bert and Ernie cuddled together on a couch to watch the Supreme Court verdict ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The New Yorker recognizes the power of imagery for marketing.

The July 2013 cover again featured a couple in a loving embrace, this time watching history unfold.

Many such covers confront controversy* head on in memorable ways. News flash: controversy spreads quickly on the Internet.

*Controversy as defined by the related comments online, not by those of us at deep.

The more recent “controversial” covers of The New Yorker spread so quickly around Twitter and Facebook, we can’t help but draw comparisons to how important it is to create gripping artwork when planning a client’s integrated digital marketing strategies. While we don’t dive into controversy for our clients, it is our job as advertisers to follow what’s spurring the conversation online. Knowing what’s gaining attention helps us understand what people want to see, in turn letting us concept graphics that earn clicks—landing a campaign on consumers’ screens and reposted in their social feeds.

So, what do magazine covers and other stirring images have to do with foodservice marketing? People talk about images that catch the eye online, and it’s well evident on any social site that people love to post foodie pics. Why not leverage that obsession with foodmarry it with boundary-pushing design, and use an impossible-to-ignore image to stand out from all the competing noise online? If people are interested in the artwork in a food ad, they’re not only more likely to try the product; there’s also a high chance they’ll share the image and increase your reach.

As anyone in our industry knows, well done ad campaigns are works of art. From restaurant print ads to direct marketing promotions to online videos, impressive imagery is imperative to any campaign. With the right artwork from the right agency, it is proven a brand’s imagery can spread as quickly as The New Yorker covers and other controversial images that got so many people talking recently and inspired this blog topic.

Some Thanksgiving thanks from deep

Happy Thanks-gif-ing from deep!Thanksgiving is here, and if there’s one thing our crew at deep can appreciate, it’s a holiday where delicious food gets to shine in the spotlight.

But as important as good food may be, the real point of Thanksgiving is right there in the name—giving thanks. That’s why we want to take a moment to thank all of the incredible people who make being a part of the deep team so wonderful.

So for starters, thanks to the amazing clients we have an opportunity to serve every day here in our always-busy deep office. Whether it’s a single-page ad or an entire multimedia campaign, getting to work with energetic and creative clients makes every day at the office a fun one. Not always an easy one, but we tend to think hard work and fun go hand in hand when it comes to achieving success.

We’d also like to thank the unparalleled network of friends and coworkers who make up the entire Marlin Network. We’re proud to be part of an organization that always wants the best for both its clients and its employees (a tough combination to find in this day and age), and we look forward to the continued success of our entire network in the years to come.

And last but not least, we’d like to thank our awesome coworkers (and their patient families) here at deep. We’re blessed to come to work everyday in a fun—occasionally ridiculous and absurd, but always fun—work environment with people who appreciate, respect, and support each other every day. Everyone in this group is committed to success, and that dedication pushes us all to be better on a daily basis. It’s why we come to work every morning looking forward to the challenges and opportunities we’ll be tackling head on. And it’s why we leave work every day excited to come back the next morning and do it again.

So all in all, thanks to everyone who makes deep what it is. We hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday (and the food that comes with it) as much as we all will.

-deep team

How will the new healthcare legislature affect the average restaurant owner?

The new health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare as it is commonly called, has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the news this year. It seems that everyone has an opinion about it, and it seems that nearly everyone believes he or she will be greatly affected by it either positively or negatively. It’s difficult to know how far reaching the effects may be, and one of the most widely discussed aspects of the new healthcare law is how it will impact small business owners once it takes full effect. The new legislature also presents concerns for foodservice marketing agencies like deep, as it has already begun to affect the food industry.

Since selling food to restaurants is our expertise, it’s important that we recognize how new laws affect restaurant owners so we can help our clients better serve them. So, what does the new healthcare law mean for the average restaurant owner? There are varying opinions. Several CEOs of major restaurant chains have already vocalized concerns to the public. Most notably, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter has warned the public that he will both increase the price of pizza and cut many of his employees’ hours to less than 30 hours per week so he can afford his employees’ health benefits. The CEOs of Applebee’s and Denny’s have made similar statements to the public. As seen frequently on the 24-hour news stations, the public hasn’t responded well to these potential measures.

Papa John’s took a reputation hit in opinion polls after Schnatter’s statements spread across the web. Such polls do not make Schnatter right or wrong (nor is deep stating an opinion on the matter). These polls do, however, reflect the notion that restaurant owners would be wise to work with an experienced food communications agency to craft a statement on such a divisive issue before speaking publicly.

Small restaurant owners may have had similar thoughts to that of Schnatter and other CEOs of major franchise restaurants. Although many small businesses clearly feel trapped by the new legislature, others that already provide healthcare benefits to their employees are undoubtedly looking forward to the new measures. The ACA will affect businesses bordering on 50 employees most heavily, as their owners must decide how to comply with the new regulations while still managing to turn a solid profit.

With an experienced food marketing group behind them, restaurants can launch effective advertising campaigns to survive the initial budget hike for employee insurance and even increase business in the face of higher labor costs. They can also plan food communications strategies to more easily avoid the foot-in-mouth situations many restaurant CEOs have found themselves in lately.

While the need to plan for higher overhead is something many people fear, it is simply a reality restaurant owners must prepare for. It’s clear increasing prices may become necessary. It’s equally clear that restaurants should also offer guests carefully stated explanations—that avoid alienating either side of the ACA debate—for any bump in prices. Providing a simple explanation with a positive spin can go a long way. The most heartening statistic we’ve found on the issue is that both Republicans and Democrats expressed in recent food issue polls that neither really mind paying a little more for food if it assures that more Americans have access to healthcare. After all, wherever one falls on the political spectrum, everyone loves to eat!

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