April 14, 2013
Selling Aspiration

I’ve recently started reading the book “The Tanning of America” by Steve Stoute. I’d heard great things about it, and seeing that it’s about advertising and hip hop, I knew it’d be right up my alley.

I’m not done with the book yet, but am already loving what I’m reading, it’s in line with a lot of my beliefs. The main emphasis of the book is how hip hop changed the rules of the new economy, creating a new way of defining “cool” and how brands can gain credibility.

I could describe it in detail, but don’t want to ruin it for anyone who wants to read it, so I’ll stick to one main thing I’ve gathered so far, and that is the art of selling aspiration.

Hip Hop embodies aspiration. It tells story after story of people who came from nothing and now live prosperous lives. It’s a re-imagination of the American Dream. Stoute describes how brands benefit from this since hip hop artists (and therefore trend setters) buy name brands as proof of their ascension into super stardom, and their fans follow.

Adidas, Air Force Ones, Versace, Bling Bling, etc. are all things that have become “Ghetto Fabulous”. This was not accomplished solely on the quality of the products, but on the status that is brought about from owning them. It’s a “Look at me now, I’m gettin’ paper” mentality (yes, CB reference).

And this isn’t something that’s slowing down. A$AP Rocky has been rapping about Escada, Balenciaga, Helmut Lang and Jean Paul Gaultier. The first time I heard those names i had no idea what the hell he was talking about, and it’s designer brands! I couldn’t tell you what the fashion style of any of those brands is, but you know damn well if i ever owned some I’d show it off and call myself ASAP goose.

From a marketing standpoint, this is the perfect atmosphere with which to drive sales. It’s one thing to provide good products that work, but it’s a whole other thing for your product to become something consumers compete for and strive to own. It creates brand loyalty before the consumer even actually owns your product.

A lot of brands are enjoying the benefits of this new pattern, but few are actually taking advantage of it. More-so, few are taking advantage of the mentality that is driving this change.

The world is ours now. Or at least, it’s ours for the taking. Greatness is not easy to achieve (if it was easy, who the hell would want it?) but it’s more attainable than ever. If you want it, and are willing to work for it, you can get it. I believe it because I’ve seen what my own father has accomplished, growing up in Mexico, dirt poor, with not even a bathroom to piss in (they had an outhouse for a family of 6) to living and staying in the US and putting all 3 of his children through college. If he could do that, with all the obstacles and limitations of his day, then what excuse does anyone anywhere have to not accomplish greatness?

The mindset is there, the desire is there, who’s gonna sell me something that will embody what I feel?

April 14, 2013
The Pandora of Taste & Food

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This past week, we finally concluded UT Social Media week. The work we put into it could be dished out in several blogs and is a whole different story, so I’ll stick to describing a very interesting thing I learned about.  Andrew Foust from McCormick & Company was one of the featured speakers and spoke about a new tool developed by McCormick named FlavorPrint. FlavorPrint, in Andrew’s own words, is the “Pandora of Taste & Food”.

Andrew walked us through the process of taking a huge amount of data (purchasing patterns of McCormick spices) and using it to develop a program capable of recommending food and recipes to people based on what they claim to like eating.

Put simply, one visits the site and takes a series of short, simple quizzes (as in, do you like this food or not simple) and a profile is developed for you, a “FlavorPrint”. This profile indicates what kind of food you prefer and then offers suggestions on other food you’d probably like.

imageI’m not a big fan of rosemary (source)

The site is still relatively new (it’s in beta), and has to be flushed out better, but the possibilities are amazing.

Like I’ve said in other posts, I love to see new things and wonder how they’d make money, FlavorPrint can blow up, if promoted correctly.

People now a days eat with a fork in one hand and a smart phone in the other (sweet quote from Andrew) so the marriage of food-loving and technology is not really all that new. But no one seems to have taken advantage of it- besides people who love instagramming every meal they have.

FlavorPrint can be used to discover new foods, but more so, discover people who love the same food as you. It can be used to connect.

imageIt even asks you what you like to cook with, I’m a master of the grill (source)

SO MUCH OF WHAT WE DO REVOLVES AROUND FOOD. Dates, trips, group hang-outs, events, everything. It’s a pain in the ass to host a party and make food you think everyone will like. You have to end up sticking with something bland and universal everyone’s had before.

-But say you require all your friends to fill out a FlavorPrint profile before your party, wedding, etc. Now you can make the perfect dinner and finger food that you know will be a hit with everyone who shows up.

-Say you add your FlavorPrint profile to your social media or a dating website- now you’ll find people who are compatible with your taste and cooking style. “Hey, you like cheesy, garlicly, tomatoey spicy stuff too? Let me show you a great restaurant or cook something for you” is a nice way to break the ice for a first date.

-Say you’re traveling to a new country, and want to know what local foods will test your palate, but will still be enjoyable. If restaurants provided a FlavorPrint of their Menu, it would help you choose the right meal that’s compatible with what you already like. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try foreign food that’s the complete opposite of your FlavorPrint, who knows, you might fall in love with an unknown flavor (then you can go back and add it to your FlavorPrint).

- What about push notifications when you walk by a restaurant that’s compatible with your FlavorPrint offering you a meal discount?

I could keep rambling for a while, but I’m getting hungry.

March 3, 2013
If you want to make something because you think it will be awesome, go for it. Whether you hit a home run or strike out, you’ll still get better at batting.

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Make a mock up facebook layout for fun? Get job offers.

A while ago I read an article on BI (anyone who’s read my past blogs can tell I frequent the site a lot) that showed pictures of a mock up new facebook lay out. It was made by an Australian designer named Fred Nerby, he did it for fun.

Tonight, as I was scrolling through BI I noticed that they’d done a follow up piece, talking about how Fred Nerby’s life had changed after his mock design went viral. According to the article, while his redesign never got any real traction with facebook, it gained him massive attention, and accordingly, lots of job offers.

I think it’s awesome that this happened to him. One, it speaks of the power of social media, but two, it shows us that trying something different will pay off. If you have a talent, use it, you never know who’s watching and where it could take you. That’s a great thing to be aware of.

Check out some of the screen shots that earned him his well deserved buzz. (all photos courtesy of Fred Nerby/Behance)

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Do you like this layout better than the real one?

March 3, 2013
Make that money- this instagram account and a lot of other ones need to capitalize

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One way studying advertising has changed me is that now whenever I see a new trend, technology, or art even, I try to think of how a company could make money off of it. It’s fun because it forces me to really study whatever I’m checking out, which helps me appreciate it more. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there.

My social media class has caused me to really look into instagram, and how brands use it. I think it’s the best thing that’s happened since magazine ads. If the internet is killing print, then print should move into instagram. Why do most people get magazines? Content? Maybe, but if anything it’s to flip the pages and check out cool pictures, many of which are ads. That’s why magazines are such a hit at grocery aisles, you don’t have time to read an article, but you’ll look at some pictures real quick, and if there’s enough cool ones, hell, maybe you’ll buy the magazine and actually read it.

That’s exactly why people love instagram, it offers rare, different kinds of photos that you’d normally have to jump through hoops to see. I recently read this article on Business Insider about an instagram account that’s going viral. It’s of a guy taking pictures of his girlfriend all over the world. I was very intrigued by how this could make money, he already has 85,000+ followers on instagram and the BI article has gotten over 2 million views in two days. I wanted to understand why it’s successful. Yes, the photos are amazing and the girl is very attractive, that always helps, but look at the places this photographer visits. Look at the perspective he’s offering, people are becoming fans of this account because it’s offering you a genuine-like picture of an extraordinary place.imageI highly recommend checking out the instagram account, it’s got some sweet pictures - source

Why don’t travel magazines do that? Why don’t tourism agencies hire this guy to promote their cities? He’s offering a perspective that allows you to put yourself in his shoes and make traveling to those destinations not seem like that big of a challenge. Seeing those pictures makes me believe that visiting historic places isn’t a far off reality, but something I could do if I really planned it. For people who are not yet wealthy enough to afford lavish vacations (18-33 year old millennials!) advertising of this kind could make them believe they don’t have to wait and can travel now. You might not stay at a fancy hotel or get to do lots of shopping, but traveling is still the one thing you can spend money on that will actually make you richer. Companies need to sell that.imagesource

Why do brands hire athletes to represent them, or celebrity spokespeople, it’s so their fans think:

“Michael Jordan uses that product, I wanna be like him! Using this product could bring me closer to that fantasy!”

Well you know what’s better than having a fantasy about being Michael Jordan? Having a fantasy about visiting awesome vacation spots, because that you can actually achieve, and you can take pictures, and share them. “Where do you want us to follow you?” could be a great photo contest for a brand to throw, asking people to post interesting images like these (you might get some sketchy ones though, social media team would have to regulate well).imagesource

Travelers would eat it up, and those not lucky enough to capture great locations would be forced to be creative instead, it’s a very viral idea.

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I’m rambling a bit as ideas pop into my head, but what do you other people who want to make money think? Can anyone think of a better way to flush this out? Or any other ideas that could work like this one?

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Frankenstein no!! source

February 24, 2013
Cliché Of The Week In Real World Application: Blessing In Disguise (Burger King’s Mess)

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It’s all good! (image source)

As everyone knows by now, Burger King was hacked by Anonymous several days ago in what for sure turned out to be a very bad day for the social media team at BK’s headquarters. The hacked account was switched to resemble McDonalds and tweeted out several harmful messages out to Burger King’s followers.

The account was promptly shut down, but not before Burger King received a massive bump in followers. But if you’re the type of person that likes to look for the upside of things, there were a few more benefits than just gaining more followers.

Burger King had recently been smeared by the horse meat contamination scandal sweeping Europe, and was not looking like a trustworthy or friendly company. But when it was hacked, it suddenly looked like a victim to all of social media, especially those who have had the displeasure of getting their own social media accounts hacked (it sucks). People like those who have the same misfortune as them, they empathize. Due to this, Burger King has enjoyed a huge amount of free media time but not suffered a serious blow to its brand. Quite the opposite, other companies are staging hacks to try and cash in on the Burger King buzz.

That’s a blessing in disguise.

February 24, 2013
Disagreeing with the Oscars buzz, and everybody- Argo was not very good (spoilers)

Argo was not my cup of tea. Judge me if you want, but I just didn’t like it. With the Oscars on TV tonight, and having been on social media non-stop for the past 2 weeks, one of the main things that stood out to me is the mention of Argo.

I went to see Argo; I was genuinely excited to watch it when it came out. The trailer was great, it made you think it was going to be a crazy movie about normal people escaping from terrorists, which is something we’ve all always wanted to do since we saw The Wolverines in Red Dawn. Unfortunately, there’s a reason movies with giant explosions and action heroes will always be around (and awfully re-made), because they’re fun to watch. A movie about real people escaping the way they did in real life – essentially, a really stressful trip to the airport – is boring.

imageIs he gonna make it?! (image source)

Don’t get me wrong, the actual event is amazing, those people risked their lives to save the hostages they could, but it doesn’t make for a good movie. No matter how much dramatic music and background noise a movie has, you can’t substitute good action. The entire movie is full of trivial events with extremely dramatic and tense music. A guy is freaking out because you took a picture of him? You haven’t been able to leave a diplomat’s mansion in a couple weeks? There’s kids starving on the street literally outside your door, how are you complaining?                 

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Very stressful atmosphere (image source)

The most exciting part of the movie is when airport security discovers the American hostages and chase them down while the plane is taking off.Let me clarify, the hostages are already on the plane, and the terrorists are in their cars, chasing the plane as it’s about to go into the sky. You can’t make that exciting, there’s no way the terrorists are going to run down a plane while they’re in a car. Even if they somehow could, this movie is based on true events; we already know the hostages escape.

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This is the second most stressful part of the movie, could you imagine having to check all those people in?(image source)

 

Again, the whole incident is amazing and the people who got those hostages out are heroes, but that movie’s no fun to watch.

January 31, 2013
An Outsider’s Perspective: 3 Characteristics That Make For Success In The Ad Industry

This past week, I was lucky enough to spend the week in NYC exploring different advertising and media agencies. It was thanks to the University of Tennessee’s annual Ad Club trip, which has for the past 20 years, allowed Tennessee’s students to visit the big apple and network with UT alumni in the ad industry while visiting different agencies and companies.  This year we visited BBDO, Mindshare, Y&R, Wieden+Kennedy and MCcann. We heard from various speakers in all of these agencies, spanning from HR staff and account managers, to creative directors and strategists. 

Compiling what I learned from the speakers along with my own experience working at an ad agency in NYC this past summer, I’ve come up with 3 main characteristics I believe make for a productive agency/individual. While some of these might seem obvious, remember that it is much easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. One must practice what they preach.

Lets get started…

1.     Attention to Detail – Be Inquisitive

A chipmunk being inquisitive (image source)

What comes first in an agency? The work. The work the work the work. It’s the standard everything is measured by and the lifeblood of every agency. What most people don’t realize though, is the amount of speculation that goes into every single detail of a campaign. This goes far beyond making sure all your I’s are dotted and Ts crossed; it’s about making sure those I’s and T’s should even be there and whether they’re in the right spots. This specially applies to research. One has to be inquisitive at every stage of the process, always making sure you have the correct data and that someone plays devil’s advocate so every point of view is addressed. A good team realizes that it takes conscious and deliberate effort to develop a great idea, and that sometimes, letting go of your idea, no matter how much you love it, is the best decision you can make. A successful agency lives to keep digging; the team won’t be satisfied with finding a way to solve a problem, they’ll be satisfied with finding the best way to solve a problem. Being inquisitive means not getting your thrills from discovering a solution, but getting your thrills from discovering a bigger challenge than the previous one you faced, and then spear tackling it. It’s about finding an awesome insight, then following the trail of awesomeness to discover more and more. It’s about realizing that the more you learn, the more there is to learn, and facing that fact with a smile.

2.     Relationships – With whom? EVERYONE

Two cats having a good relationship (image source)

Advertising is a relationship industry. Whether it be the relationship with your client, your co-workers, the IT guy, or a random person you meet at a bar, every relationship matters. First, with your client, I heard a great story from one of the agencies we visited illustrating how they wanted their client to go all in on something that had never been done before. The agency had no past campaign results to measure against, no way of knowing if it would pan out, and won’t even know the results of the campaign until years from now, but the client went for it. Why? Because it was a great idea? Sure, but more so because the account team had invested the time to build trust with their client. The client didn’t need to see numbers, projections, or result comparisons (even if they wanted to, there were none) all they had to hear from their agency was “trust us, it’s going to work”. This example doesn’t mean that one should pray for clients that just go along with everything; I believe the best relationships are the ones with friction. It means that no matter what the client asks for or what an agency can provide, there is a common understanding on both sides that everything is being done to produce the best possible outcome. If that is clear for both parties, the only criteria left to evaluate the client-agency partnership will be the work, as it should be.

     When it comes to co-workers, I’ve learned that you never know who you’re going to work with in the future. The ad industry is extremely small, when I interned I met 28 year olds who had already been at 3 or 4 different agencies in their career (often to move up, you have to be willing to move sideways), and they highlighted to me how important it is to maintain connections and always put your best foot forward. Does that mean you have to get along with everyone? Of course not, but it means you are obliged to deliver on what you promise, and always be professional, genuine, and consistent. It takes effort to be kind to everyone, and to work with people you don’t particularly like, but that’s what makes good co-workers and eventually good leaders. Listen to what Abe Lincoln said: “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better” - what a great attitude.

3.     A solid Culture – What’s culture? You tell me

My intern team this past summer

A huge buzzword that’s popped up in the last few years (I think Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness has a lot to do with it) is culture. What’s your corporate culture? Do you have one? Is it the right one? Is it helping or hurting you? etc. All of the agencies I visited had something to say about their culture, some talked about the work, others about people, some about always having fun, collaboration, all kinds of things. I don’t believe I’m in the position to judge what is the best kind of culture, but I can tell you my favorite. I want to be in a culture where people are willing to learn, but more so, are willing to teach. I believe a culture of learning is the best environment for constant growth and innovation. Two of the best quotes I heard from speakers this past week were:

“ You get to work somewhere where every person you talk to is smarter than you, and it’s awesome”

and

“If you don’t want your boss’s job, you should probably be working somewhere else”

These two quotes embody the kind of atmosphere I’d like to work in. A place where you are not intimidated by those better than you, but instead inspired to become as good as they are. A place where those same people are willing to help and mentor you to eventually surpass them.

Now that’s what works for me, but it might not be the same for everyone, which is why culture is such a tricky subject. What I learned from listening to so many different speakers from different agencies is that culture is important because you want to work with people you like and have similar values as you. Advertising is tough; it demands a lot of time spent with your team and other co workers. If you don’t like the overall atmosphere of your agency, you will be miserable. Advertising Agencies know maybe better than anyone, that you can’t be all things to all people. So while there is no formula for the perfect culture, the most important thing is to have a culture, and have it clearly defined. This means not every person will be compatible with every agency, but those that find their cultural matches will be able to truly thrive, both as a company and an individual.

I have a long career in advertising ahead of me ( I hope), many people have more experience than I and I’m sure I’ll discover more important things in the future. So if you agree or disagree with these characteristics, let me know, I like listening to others’ opinions. 

January 17, 2013
Want to read a sentence worth 1 million dollars?

via Search Engine Landvia Search Engine Land

Earlier today I came across an article on Business Insider showcasing the news that Google had recently won a contest set by USA Today. The contest, announced this past October, asked marketers, advertisers and agencies to submit their most creative print ad to be judged by a panel; with the winner getting the prize of 1 million dollars worth of ad space. Google’s winning ad was for its social media platform, Google+. The ad featured a rather long sentence explaining how the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu used Google+’s feature, hangout, to have a meeting online.

I think this was a great idea and concept for a contest. First of all, anything that can be done to encourage good, creative, print advertising is awesome. Unlike most people, I don’t believe print advertising is dead. It might be in the process of dying, but that means that the ads that are surviving are the cream of the crop, the badasses that refuse to go down without a fight. Everyone knows newspapers attract a generally wealthier and more educated demographic, so anything that can sell them is definitely worth advertising (and printing). Feel free to argue with me on this, I like listening to others’ opinions.

My only problem, or moment that made me go “ehh”, was when I read about the runner ups in the contest. One of them was the Ad Council’s Save the Children Campaign. I’m not gonna lie and say I know much about the campaign, I don’t, but I do know the Ad Council only gets behind campaigns that benefit the greater good, and can use all the help we can provide. While Google might’ve been more creative, which was the contest criteria, I can’t help but think the one million dollars might’ve been better spent towards advertising the children’s needs. Maybe I’m just being a sap.

Anyways, here’s a close up of the ad, would you have paid a million dollars for this sentence?

via Search Engine Land

Via Search Engine Land

January 17, 2013

Who I is…

My name is Gustavo Quintero Lopez. Quintero is not my middle name, it’s my last name, and Lopez is my second last name. It’s set up like that because I’m from Mexico, born and raised along with the rest of my family; my dad Gustavo (the II), my mom Maria, and my two older sisters, Daniela and Dulce. You can see their awesome faces in the picture above. I moved to the US 15 years ago and have tried to have a great time ever since. I’ve had a good life, eventful and too long to explain in one post, so I’ll just mention a few things.

I love to work, I guess it’s hereditary since my dad is the hardest working person I know. That picture of me and a bunch of other people with a trophy is from a past job where I learned what it means to truly strive to succeed. I was able to open my own business and influence hundreds (seriously) of people to be the best version of themselves, which is what we’re all here for. It changed my life forever and is what gives me confidence to drive forward in everything I want to do. I’m sure I’ll explain more in the future. The other picture is of me and some of my best friends, all people who’ve shared my college years with me. Since the only family I have in the US is my immediate family, I’ve had to be good at talking to people and getting to know them quickly. This has taught me the value of true comradeship and friendship. I like to think of myself as harshly loyal, and absurdly easy to get along with; I see both those characteristics as positive.

I started this blog for an advertising (my major) class in my last semester of college, but I can see myself growing to like it. I’ll be sharing news, jokes, and insights all from my point of view. Enjoy.