Kickball, the Game of Kings (and admen).
Posted May 8th, 2013
Tension hung thick in the air of the war room as an impressive array of strategic firepower was brought to bear on a critical assignment. In turn, each participant would present a possible solution to the challenge at hand, followed by a firestorm of debate as to whether the suggestion was on strategy. The process was by all accounts a veritable crucible, but ultimate goal was achieved: the new Johnson Group kickball team had a name.
The arduous process began when a few Johnson Groupers were inspired by a Facebook ad promoting the Chattanooga Sports and Social Club’s Spring Kickball League. And, after a few rousing inter-office emails and some spirited recruiting amongst friends and spouses, we were a team of 19 strong—even if many of us weren’t particularly strong.
The strategic brief for the naming assignment was comprised of three things:
- The name must be indicative of the organization the team is representing.
- It must hint to the fact that the group is indeed a kickball team—preferably in the form of a kickball pun.
- It must be humorous, vaguely offensive and sound like a group of 8th graders came up with the name in their gym class locker room.
The result? We are called Big Johnson the Longballs.
One of the greatest things about working in advertising (aside from wearing jeans to work) is the chance to work alongside some really interesting and cool people. And, more often than not, they’re the type of people worth hanging out with AFTER work…at least that’s how we roll (kickball pun!) here at the Johnson Group. Our moniker was even approved by our agency namesake, president and member of the team.
Forming our “company” team really had nothing to do with corporate empowerment jargon like “synergy” and “team building exercises.” It wasn’t a directive from HR passed down to encourage a “more dynamic corporate culture.” And our kickball team most certainly was NOT the result of “out-of-the-box thinking” to help “integrate positivity” to or “add value” to our “collective work experience.”
Not. At. All.
Creating Big Johnson and the Longball had EVERYTHING to do with a fun-loving group of folks who simply wanted to kick it (kickball pun!) while enjoying the lovely Chattanooga spring weather and participate in the great, American tradition of kickball.
Sure, it’s likely we’ll all grow closer as a result of dominating other teams on the kickball field. And we’ll certainly come away with a better appreciation for the unique, awesome and creative personalities that make up the Johnson Group. But for us, kickball is really all about having a great time.
Plus, cold beers ALWAYS taste better in the company of good friends celebrating a victory.
Facebook’s Facelift: News Feed and Timeline Getting Redesigns
Posted March 25th, 2013
You’re getting comfortable with Facebook again – they can tell. You’re logging on daily, uploading your pictures, keeping up with your friends and family. All is quiet on the western front. Then….BOOM! You’ve been Zuckered. (I should probably copyright that term.) Being Zuckered = that rare occasion when Zuckerberg pops his head out of Facebook HQ to announce a new social media forecast that inevitably rocks your world.
Well ladies and gentlemen – prepare to be Zuckered.
After the huge timeline revamp in 2011, don’t think that Facebook is slowing down the changes. They are constantly adding and taking away things, tweaking to make the Facebook experience more enjoyable for brands and users (or more profitable for the company).
These are some recent changes that Mark Zuckerberg announced at a Facebook press conference Thursday, March 7th. Prepare yourselves:
1. The News Feed Switch-A-Roo: Rolling out over the next couple months will be the new and improved News Feed design. You will still have your classic News Feed; however you will also have options of viewing separate News Feeds that will focus on different things such as brands, bands, or photos. Check out the full News Feed filter lineup here:
2. Pictures and Videos Took the “Drink Me” Bottle: That’s right – there will be even more of an emphasis on photos and videos in the News Feed. For example, a picture shared on the News Feed by multiple people will show profile pictures on the left of everyone who has shared it, and if you make a post with an image your words will appear on top of the image. Check it out below:
Everyone’s Facebook will get this makeover eventually, but if you want yours sooner you can sign up for the wait-list, or see a walkthrough of the new design here: https://www.facebook.com/about/newsfeed
Zuckerberg says the change won’t impact brands, but of course any change to the user experience, especially the News Feed, can affect content strategy. When planning what to post, brands will need to keep in mind the visual emphasis of the new News Feed. Brands may want to focus on sharing more high quality appealing images than before. Or, this could mean testing more text-only posts to see if they stand out in an image-heavy News Feed.
But, one thing is for sure - Zucker likes to keep us marketers on our toes, and this overhaul won’t be the last. The real trick in navigating the ever changing Facebook landscape is how you deal with it.
For us, the key is having a social team that’s in tune with what our brands’ consumers want on social, and that can adjust like ninjas to Facebook’s changes as they come.
So how will you use this new round of changes as a marketer? Will you spring into embracing this next Facebook phase, or will Zuck’s predictions mean 6 weeks of social winter, struggling to adapt to this new Facebook era?
Will you let yourselves be Zuckered? Or will you make Zuck’s changes work for you? You decide…
A Market Research Journey
Posted March 8th, 2013
What’s the difference between market research conducted from behind a desk, and research we recently conducted over frothy pints at “Pies & Pints” in Charleston, WV? Well, one approach involves pies -- and pints – which makes the experience exponentially more enjoyable. But, more importantly, it also makes our understanding of consumers’ behaviors exponentially more effective.
It’s never been easier for all agencies, including ours, to mine an endless steam of market and consumer information from the comfort of our offices. But, how we see it, it’s also never been easier to get caught up in researching a market and lose sight of actually working to understand the people who live there. After all, raw data and statistics can never truly capture how products and services fit into the real, everyday lives of real, everyday people.
So how do we get a more complete picture? The answer, though maybe not as convenient as some advertisers might like, is simple –
We go there.
Our most recent adventure lead us to West Virginia, where we were getting a feel for what it’s like to have little or no broadband connection in rural America.
The mission: drive through the rural counties of West Virginia (the highest concentration of counties without broadband service in the United States), and talk to the locals about their current internet service as they went about their daily lives. We were eager to survey the depth of their frustrations, and gauge how they would react to faster internet service coming to their area. Armed with point-and-shoot cameras for filming and photographing, we were ready to document every nuance of every response.
So, we pushed a squeaky shopping cart through the Big Lots in Mercer County, we picked through the produce in a local grocery in Summers, we perused the cassette tapes at a roadside stand somewhere in between and, yes, we had a few pies & pints in Charleston. All the while, we talked some. And listened at lot. Hours of footage emerged—footage of genuine conversations with genuine people, all recorded where they lived, worked and played.
Is this intensive first-hand research grueling? Yes. But, by the end of the our sojourn, we had assembled mosaic pieces from people’s daily lives that we glued together to form a complete picture of a market.
Looking up what consumers needs is easy. But understanding what consumers needs comes from being there, putting your finger on the pulse of their needs and feeling the beat.
That’s the kind of “market research” we believe in. The pies and pints? Well, that’s just an added bonus.