Three Golden Rules for Job Interviews

I have been interviewing potential employees for 30 years now. It’s something that I really enjoy. It’s not just about finding the right person for the job — it’s a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on out there in the market. What is shaping the ambitions and dreams of the new generation coming into our industry? What does the future look like to them?

Overall, the quality of candidates is very high in Los Angeles. Standards of education are very good and even junior candidates have generally interned in relevant organizations, giving them the potential to play important roles in a busy agency environment.

However, three recurring failures will turn a candidate into a definite No:

  1. TARDINESS – It’s a respect thing. You are turning up for the first time to see senior people. We are here and prepared. By being late you are making a statement about your future commitment that may or may not be true. It’s actually much easier and less stressful to be early.
  2. LACK OF RESEARCH – Make sure you have spent a reasonable amount of time going through the company’s website and social media presence, becoming familiar with the client base and recent campaigns. In our case, show us that you understand why we believe so powerfully in Brutal Simplicity of Thought. We realize that it is complicated, but candidates regularly confuse us with our similarly named competition at interviews. This is an immediate fail. It demonstrates a complete lack of preparation.
  3. LACK OF FOCUS – Don’t try to portray yourself as great at everything. We are a team of highly developed specialists. In most cases we are trying to find talent that is focused on a specific set of skills.

Pretty straightforward, really. You would think that these situations would be easier to avoid.

The only other tips I have are: smile, enjoy the experience of learning about a new company and a new opportunity, and be yourself. Above all, we are looking for people who we can enjoy working with and will add to our amazing culture!

Social Media Breakfast LA

Social Media Breakfast LA

Discussing Brutal Simplicity of Thought at Social Media Breakfast LA

Many thanks to everyone who attended my presentation at Social Media Breakfast LA yesterday. I talked about M&C Saatchi’s belief in the power of Brutal Simplicity, and how it applies to the modern marketing landscape. In doing so, I was able to show some powerful case studies from our offices around the world.

The power of simple ideas for good cause, embodied by The Street Store concept from Cape Town, South Africa had huge emotional impact. Learn more in this powerful video about the project: http://bit.ly/1nVbkbd.

We also had some interesting questions from the audience. Some of the work involved ideas that were totally new to social media marketing and the attendees were interested in finding out how to convince clients to take a risk on original, untested concepts.

There are really two parts to this answer. The first is that new is a currency that fires the imagination of the social universe. Consumers are looking for new experiences that they can then share as a demonstration of their social savvy. Delivering these new and rich experiences maximizes the return for our clients.

The second simply comes down to trust. Our clients trust us as the guardians of their brand values. When it comes to social media marketing, we need to be able to empower the consumer, allowing them to experience the brand on their own terms. It’s part of becoming a Generous Brand, a core belief of M&C Saatchi SHARE.

The Ultimate Sports Weekend

Chrysler 2014 Super Bowl Ad

An image from Chrysler’s 2014 Super Bowl ad.

This past weekend was an incredible fiesta of watching sport on TV.

I arrived to the US just over 3 years ago, and the single hardest thing I have had to cope with is how much I am missing following Irish sport — and rugby in particular.

This weekend the Six Nations Championship, the oldest and most prestigious rugby tournament in the world, kicked off. I would have loved nothing more than to be watching Ireland play Scotland today at Lansdowne Road. Instead, I was 5,157 miles away in Santa Monica, watching them play at 7:00 AM local time, on an illegal streaming channel with naked lady ads popping up every 40 seconds. Still, they made me very happy by beating Scotland 28-6. Well done boys!

It was also Super Bowl Sunday. I have done my best to get into American sports but I have struggled with the lack of continuity. So many sports are structured around ad breaks. Usually I find this annoying, but as I am not a Seattle Seahawks fan, the ads were about the best things in yesterday’s game. The Seattle Seahawks won by 43 points to 8 in a completely one-sided game in which a dominant Seahawks defense made it impossible for the Broncos to get into the game.

The Battle of the Ads was a much more entertaining affair. Big money and big reputations are at stake. Why is it so important? For starters, it’s all about the exposure on TV’s most watched day. They deliver excitement.

And when you take into consideration that easily over 100 million may tune in and the price tag to get on the air is about $4 million, everyone suddenly plays armchair Don Draper.

So what were my thoughts?

Personally, I am never going to love the cutesy advertising style in the Budweiser ads. Cute but way too obvious, contrived and boring.

Overall, I thought that the best work was delivered by two of the car brands, Chevrolet and Chrysler. Chevy chose to celebrate World Cancer Day that happens today. The ad was touching, solemn, poignant and very beautiful.

What can I say about The Chrysler ad?

Unbelievably awesome. Bob Dylan proves that he still speaks the language of the American soul. It was stunning, incredibly well written, and authentic.

Apart from that, it was fun to watch Gwen Deans quit her job in front of a watching America in the GoDaddy ads, and the much hyped Bud Light ads were pretty funny. I thought the worst ad was definitely the Sodastream Scarlett Johansson spot. The negative controversy surrounding her association with the brand seems to be compounded by the fact the ads are plain dull.

What did you think? Let me know your most and least liked spot.

Digital and Social Events in 2014

As we move into the new year, I can’t help but notice that clients are starting to focus on digital and social marketing more than ever before. I truly believe that brands are lagging behind their customers’ behavior in term of the focus and investment that they have made in these channels to date.

Perhaps 2014 will be the year that the serious catch up will begin.

One way that marketing and brand managers can get up to speed on the latest ideas, technology, and innovation in our industry is to attend the better conferences and events covering the digital and social sector. I have highlighted a few that our team is considering attending in the year ahead.

The highlights for me will be SXSW in Austin and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) annual digital conference in September. The ANA is a wonderful opportunity to meet people, hear some remarkable case studies and hang out in a beautiful part of Southern California.

Finally, we will be planning a series of SHARE events in the year ahead. These events will be informal gatherings of clients and fellow digital industry professionals. High profile speakers will address a broad cross section of the most critical issues facing our sector.

Be sure to follow me here and on Twitter for further news and dates.

SXSW – Music, Film, Interactive
Date: March 7-16, 2014
Location: Austin, Texas

ANA Digital & Social Media Conference
Date: July 13-15, 2014
Location: Dana Point, California

4A’s Transformation Los Angeles
Dates: March 16-19, 2014
Location: Beverly Hills, California

Adobe Summit 2014: The Digital Marketing Conference
Dates: March 24-28, 2014
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Social Media Marketing World
Dates: March 26-28, 2014
Location: San Diego, California

Ad Age Digital Conference
Dates: April 1-2, 2014
Location: New York City, New York

Gigaom Paid Content
Date: May 13, 2014
Location: New York City, New York

The Code Conference
Dates: May 27-29, 2014
Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, California

2013 – The Year in Review

M&C Saatchi LA Holiday Party at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows.

M&C Saatchi LA Holiday Party at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows.

As the year draws to a close, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time reflecting on the first year of our start-up, M&C Saatchi SHARE.

New Ideas

M&C Saatchi LA was already doing excellent digital and social work on behalf of clients including UGG Australia, Epson, and the San Diego Zoo. However, it was felt that the agency needed to create a defined brand in the social and digital space in order to emphasize our specialist offering in this area. The agency wanted to articulate the particular relevance of the application of Brutal Simplicity of Thought in the new marketing landscape.

Hence M&C Saatchi SHARE was born.

Probably the hardest thing we had to do all year was agree on the name of the agency. Many options were considered and rejected before Kate Bristow, our Chief Strategy Officer, had an epiphany and we all agreed that SHARE was perfect.

New Business

Even before we had a name, we had a lot of business to handle and a lot of our year was focused on an incredible project for Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. We are in the process of completely re-developing their digital and social ecosystem. Our target is that the new websites, blogs, and social channels will reflect the outstanding vision, research, patient care, and success that is achieved at the hospital. All of us at SHARE are honored to work with the team at OSU.

Over the year, we also added further new business in the form of LINE APP USA, Related Companies, Logix Bank, and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami.

New Faces

For me, the story of the year is all about the new people that have joined M&C Saatchi SHARE as well as our existing colleagues at M&C Saatchi LA. Our new staff brought a lot of new ideas, different experience and energy.

However, we could not have achieved anything without the patience, support, and encouragement of the wider agency.

Thank you all very much. We look forward to the challenges and fun ahead of us in 2014.

A Holiday “Miracle” from a Generous Brand

WestJet Christmas Miracle

The WestJet Christmas Miracle

At M&C Saatchi SHARE, we talk a lot about generous brands.

We salute brands that recognize that one of our most basic human instincts is sharing. Social media has accelerated the democratization of brands. These channels enable us to shape brands around our own lives, expectations and aspirations.

It can be hard for marketing and brand strategists on the client side to accept this paradigm shift in the landscape of brand behavior. They are used to being the guardians of defined values and positioning statements. Now, it is the consumer who is in charge of defining the brand on their terms. The smart brands recognize this fundamental change and find new ways to surprise and enthrall their customers.

Westjet’s “Christmas Miracle” is the perfect example of this. In the video, the Christmas wishes of 250 passengers are fulfilled by a real-life Santa and a team of WestJet employees. Well-planned and beautifully executed, the video has received almost 27 million YouTube views.

Watch it here and prepare to wipe a tear from your eyes!

Personalization and Brand Loyalty

Doug Baxter IDAT panel

Personalization and Brand Loyalty IDAT Panelists. Photo courtesy of Reliam.

What is the significance of personalized content in the brand loyalty equation?

When does personalization go too far? How much is too much?

These are just a few of the questions asked at last week’s IDAT Panel, which I had the pleasure of speaking at. But perhaps the most interesting question of the night came at the end, from the owner of Brakeman Brewery (also with Gjelina).

He asked the panel at what point a brand who has relied on word of mouth should start to develop content to steer the conversation on social media. If a brand has found success through word of mouth, is there any point in making this investment?

Clearly, the answer is yes.

In fact, 90% of consumers want brands to share their story. And the strange thing is that consumers also believe that only 10% of brands do it well.

So what does doing it well mean?

I believe that the most important thing is communicating authentically. This means knowing your audience, developing a voice and message that meets their expectations, and not trying to sell to them all the time. We call this ‘Intelligent Dialogue.’ Develop the relationship and interaction first. Focus on the long term. Personalization is one tool in developing brand loyalty, but it comes up short if we use it as a blunt instrument to harass our customers.

Incidentally, Gjelina has over 6,000 fans on Facebook and they don’t seem to post any content. Imagine how many people would follow them, and visit them more, if they decided to become one of the ‘Generous Brands’ who share!