Anna Curtis

The Top Ten Moments Of #MUISS

Laughlin Constable was proud to sponsor the 2014 Insight Summit Series Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, held at Marquette University on 3.19.14. There were many moments that made this year’s event special, but here are our top ten favorites:

  1. LC Shines – Who can resist an opening keynote that includes Beyoncé, Elon Musk, and Flappy Bird? Or a UX presentation from a former punk rocker. Or workshops that unlock the secret to SEO success and how to get the most out of Google Analytics? Many thanks to Paul Brienza, Sean Barry, Trisha Krautkramer, Erin Ebert, and the rest of the LC team who made this year’s Digital Summit a success.
  2. Tweeting Up A Storm – The Digital Summit was a success, and attendees let everyone know via Twitter. Within hours, #MUISS was a trending topic in Milwaukee, generating 1.5 million potential impressions and @LaughlinOutLoud was mentioned hundreds of times – a  perfect representation of the digital world we live in.
  3. AOL Gets Programmatic – Michael Treon, VP Platform Solutions at AOL, discussed programmatic advertising and how it will shape the future of marketing, merging creatives and engineers to come up with time-saving solutions.
  4. Google Rewind – With the massive search engine changing almost every day, it was entertaining to walk down memory lane with Jen Keller, SEO Specialist, and see what Google looked like in the late 1990s, mid 2000s, and just last week.
  5.  #SketchNotes – Jennifer Torres (@jentorres) stole the #MUISS Twitter show with her creative and visually engaging SketchNotes
  6.  UX Drunk Test – Laughlin Constable’s User Experience Strategist, Brady Pierzchalski, highlighted how UX shouldn’t make users feel stupid by showing this video of a person using Windows 8 for the first time.
  7. Tell a Story – Closing speaker Susan Sachatello, from CUNA Mutual Group, encouraged brands to focus on what they stand for, and tell that story to your audience well. She also urged marketers to recognize who your audience is, but who they aspire to be and meet them there with your brand story.
  8. Embrace the Chaos – Taulbee Jackson from Raidious talked about real-time marketing and how advertisers must embrace the chaos. “You have a real time focus group happening all the time, whether you know it or not.”
  9. #SwipeRightForFun – Did you know? The dating app Tinder was originally going to be called Matchbox. And co-founder Jonathan Badeen has indeed been on a Tinder date.
  10. Sell out! – The Digital Advertising + Marketing Summit, including pre-summit workshops, sold out for the second year in a row. Don’t miss the next Insight Summit Series event.


2014 Media Trends

Does the fast-paced digital ecosystem make your head spin?  Do you feel it’s impossible to keep up with the next industry buzzword?  Laughlin Constable can help.  Here at LC, we work hard at staying on top of these trends and applying them to our daily practices.  We enjoy seeing where the industry is heading and what that means for us as marketers.  We are optimistic about the future and look forward to exploring it together with our clients.

Enjoy the chart below, which takes a deeper look into four topics you’ve likely heard about but still might be unclear on… native advertising, online viewability, big data and programmatic buying.

[click the image to enlarge it]


Ceara Milligan

Get Connected. Your Customers Expect It.

Meet Taylor. Her fancy for high fashion has had her seeking online retail therapy for the majority of her 23 years. Dying to don the latest trend-setting little black dress, Taylor clicks – impulsively adding this stunner to her favorite online retailer’s shopping cart. Her mind starts to fill with visions of her flaunting the piece at her best friend’s New Year’s Eve party when she suddenly remembers she’s low on cash until her next payday.

Like most her age, Taylor goes about her day driving through the digital space. At each turn she is reminded of this fabulous frock; Facebook retargeting, delightful email reminders, banner ads. Payday arrives and the LBD is finally hers. After completing a survey and becoming a Facebook “Like,” Taylor now receives frequent discounts and engaging content focused on her fashion-forward lifestyle. Let the loyalty games begin!

Nikesh Arora, SVP and Chief Business Officer at Google, recently stated, “There is reasonable probability that in the next five years, half of all advertising will occur online.” It is also projected that over the next five years, CMOs will be involved in IT more than CIOs. Online shopping is becoming the preferred method for many consumers across generations, whether it is on desktop browsers, mobile browsers, or app-based storefronts and thus, digital marketing budgets are expected to continue to grow considerably in 2014. Today, they are already averaging 30% of overall media spend.

The challenge? Not all marketing executives, media planners, analytics experts, or IT managers have the tools and actionable data they need to make informed decisions about how to utilize their budgets. More importantly, marketers get why tying these marketing channels together in real-time is valuable, but making it happen seems like an insurmountable and very expensive proposition. Companies need to focus on being omnipresent; in other words, the brand should appear in all the right channels at all the right moments throughout the customer decision journey. Customer engagement isn’t just a “nice-to-have” in today’s ever-changing world. Customer engagement is a “must-have.” Customers expect their voices to be heard anywhere at any time, and then receive an accurate, personal, pleasing response as quickly as possible.

The good news for our industry is that it is continually on the rise. Laughlin Constable has worked with hundreds of brands throughout the decades, guiding them through these challenges. Our agency has helped our clients create smarter strategies and enable real-time, omnichannel marketing that is already leading to improved engagement, conversion and loyalty. More great products, solutions and case studies are on the way; so stay tuned, or should we say, stay connected!


Katie Mullen

Reaching “Peak Bullshit” and Where We Go From Here

I’m a college graduation speech junkie. When you ask interesting people to share life lessons, not surprisingly, it can make for some pretty great stuff.

My favorite of 2013 was Jon Lovett’s address to the graduates of Pitzer College, which the 30-year-old former Obama speechwriter later excerpted in a piece for The Atlantic called “Life Lessons on Fighting a Culture of Bullshit.”

You had me at “bullshit,” Jon. Being that the recession created skeptics out of even the most trusting among us, I’m willing to bet his point of view will strike a cord with you too. It’s kind of hard not to agree with statements like this:

“One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning in it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media’s imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything.”

You can see where I’m taking this as it relates to brands. Phoniness is becoming a liability and, conversely, there’s more opportunity than ever for brands that are honest. In a McKinsey & Company article about the rise of socially conscious consumers, the growing importance of brand integrity is spelled out in the stats:

“At the same time, consumer trust in corporations has declined by 50 percent since the crisis. Consumers now trust only one in four companies on average. The dearth of trust in the marketplace makes it an agent of differentiation. As a result, the correlation of trust to brand equity has increased by 35 percent in the past three years. Trust, once an afterthought, can even help companies enter new market categories.”

Jon Lovett not only recognized a similar demand for sincerity in his commencement speech, he argued that it’s led us to an important cultural tipping point:

“I believe we may have reached ‘peak bullshit.’ And that increasingly, those who push back against the noise and nonsense; those who refuse to accept the untruths of politics and commerce and entertainment and government will be rewarded. That we are at the beginning of something important. We see it across our culture, with not only popularity but hunger for the intellectual honesty of Jon Stewart or the raw sincerity of performers like Louis CK and Lena Dunham. You see it across the political spectrum, from Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts to Chris Christie in New Jersey to Rand Paul in Kentucky.”

Marketing can’t create trust in this environment, it can only magnify it. More and more, people are looking into the practices and policies of the companies they choose to hand their money over to. Do they treat their employees fairly? What are their environmental policies? Where/how are their products made?

That’s why I think Jon’s parting advice to the Pitzer graduates is as relevant to brands as it is to individuals:

“All you have to do is avoid BSing yourself — in whatever you choose to do…be honest with yourselves, and others…reject a culture of insincerity by virtue of the example you set.”


Katie Mullen


Photo: Vagenda Magazine

I started down my path as a marketer in the late 90s as a media major. One of the first things I observed about the industry I was preparing to join was how off-base, out-of-touch and sometimes downright insulting too many of its messages targeting women were. Sadly, not much has changed since then (which still amazes me given the significant consumer purchasing power women have had for decades). But I do think it’s finally about to.

As a women’s issues advocate and an account planner at an agency that gets it, I’ve felt the momentum building toward a fourth wave women’s movement — and, concurrently, a tipping point-level demand for more media accountability — for a while now. Then a few weeks ago, this widely-held presumption was recognized as an official consumer trend by Kate Muhl of Iconoculture (my favorite research resource). From Kate’s “The F-Word Returns” trend brief:

Thanks to post-recession economic realities, a 2012 campaign season that brought women’s issues to the fore, and public figures like Sheryl Sandberg, feminism is back — but with a witty, social-media-fueled twist. Both women and men are participating in the conversation, and taking misguided brands to task.

 Yes. Yes. Yes.

One of the most entertaining examples of “taking misguided brands to task” is the hilarious parody commercial Ellen DeGeneres created for Bic’s “For Her” pen series after the brand attempted to recruit her as its spokesperson last fall. But, as Kate points out, “Women (and men) are no longer sitting in a passive position waiting for the entertainment industry to channel their irritation into lampoons and parodies.” They’re taking matters into their own hands and, in doing so, are forcing worldwide change:

  • Just weeks ago, Reebok dropped their sponsorship agreement with rapper Rick Ross because of social media-fueled pressure surrounding song lyrics referencing date rape.
  • Miss Representation, the advocacy organization behind the fantastic documentary by the same name, introduced the hashtag #NotBuyingIt during this year’s Super Bowl to call out brands that rely on sexual objectification to sell their products and are currently raising money for a #NotBuyingIt app that will let users photograph, map and share sexist ads.
  • Ford India’s leaked ad mock-ups depicting bound women in the trunk of a car sparked online outrage and resulted in the termination of several of their agency’s employees. (Again, keep in mind that these ads never even ran.)

Possibly the best example how tired consumers have become of the media’s hyper-sexualized, perfection-obsessed depictions of women came not from yet another outrageously disparaging ad, but from an unusually relatable one — Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video. Unless you’ve been off-grid for the last week, you’ve probably seen it and/or had discussions about why it was such a big deal. Although some have made relevant arguments about the limitations of Dove’s message, it’s clearly proven that authenticity is an approach that women will not only respond to, but champion.

Women have become so used to media that creates and preys on insecurities (there’s a lifetime of that BS inconveniently stored in our brains), which is exactly why the Dove campaign feels so revolutionary. And the message it sends to the industry couldn’t be any clearer: It’s time for a more progressive and respectful way to communicate with women.

“Girls get the message, from very early on, that what’s most important is how they look, that their value, their worth, depends on that,” says Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D, an author and filmmaker internationally recognized for her work on the image of women in advertising. “Boys get the message that this is what’s important about girls. We get it from advertising, we get it from films, we get it from television shows, video games — everywhere we look. So no matter what else a woman does, no matter what else her achievements, her value still depends on how she looks.”

The price our society pays for this environment is high: girls are increasingly learning to self-objectify, women are twice as likely to suffer from major depression than men, 65% of females exhibit eating disorder behavior, and 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

This is not just an industry issue (and certainly, within our industry, there are many exceptions) or potentially a bottom-line issue, it’s a social and moral issue propagated by other cultural influencers as well. Yet when media shapes culture, like it does in this always-connected digital age, not taking responsibility for our role in it is…well, irresponsible.


Heidi Sterricker

Advertising is the greatest industry. Ever.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I can’t tell you how proud I am to say, “I work in advertising.” The outside perception is that all of the people in advertising are fun, creative and outgoing, work in loft-style offices and wear jeans and sneakers. Well, they’re right. We do. However, beyond the stereotype we carry, there is so much more to it than that. You know it, and I know it. We are an interesting mix of people in all areas of expertise, under one roof.

Every day I walk by the strategists and planners who can define everything and anything, down to why you chose to wear Converse on Tuesday.

Every day I talk with the art directors and designers, who translate messages, concepts and ideas into images, pictures and art. Most of them know Lorem Ipsum by heart.

Every day I see the media team who speak a second language of acronyms: CRM, SEM, DMA, CPM, GRP and CTR. OMG.

Every day I run into the producers, who miraculously manage to secure locations, wrangle talent, make sure there is beef jerky at craft service and of course, control the weather, because they, together, are God.

Every day I work with account service teams who are truly the hub of all communication in the agency. Putting client needs first, they usually forget to eat lunch. And sleep. Wait, they don’t sleep.

Every day I see the PR folks who know way more about AP style than Microsoft Office.

Every day I walk by the studio production artists who are always ready to lend a hand with a smile, even though it’s the client’s 26th revision.

Every day I pass programmers who design code, write new code, understand existing code, modify existing code and verify that existing code still works. All under the influence of Mountain Dew.

Every day I work with magical retouchers who can transform a Pontiac into a unicorn—because they can.

Every day I see the highly caffeinated social media crew, who run around with laptops in hand all day, thinking 20 tweets ahead of you.

Every day I work with the ladies of accounting who help organize the potlucks and tirelessly remind us about our timesheets, while proudly sporting Packers sweatshirts.

And, every day I see my favorite, the writers. They get people to act using only words. They come from all walks of life and always find a way to make me laugh. Hell, I like them so much I married one.

Like I said, the outside world thinks we’re fun and creative. In fact, according to a recent study (to be unveiled next week) in Ad Age, 69% of consumers do think that advertising has the power to make our world a better place. Some said that it would be a fun job to have. They are correct (again). We do have fun.

So there you have it. We are surrounded by the most amazing group of people on the planet and the fact that I realize that makes me feel pretty good. How do we ever get bored in this business? The answer is, we don’t. We wear jeans, we swear and we’re paid for our unique thoughts, squeezed fresh from our brains. We’re in advertising, and it is good.


Lindsay Abramson

Stop yelling at the TV. Start talking to it.

A conversation with your TV might currently consist of a string of expletives after your football team fumbles. Or maybe a gasp of disbelief after a particularly jarring episode of Downton Abbey.  But according to a recent AdAge article, a partnership between Viacom and Zeebox is giving consumers an opportunity to further engage with their TVs via a platform called SpotSynch.

Zeebox is a website and mobile app that can be utilized in conjunction with TV consumption. As stated on their website, “Zeebox is your TV sidekick – an interactive second screen that makes TV more social, clever and fun.” For example, you can tweet about what you’re watching, chat with friends that are watching the same program or even get more information about a topic being mentioned on TV by clicking on a tag dubbed zeetag.

With SpotSynch, digital ads relevant to a commercial will appear on Zeebox while the spot is being aired, giving advertisers an opportunity to immediately engage and interact with what might otherwise be a passive TV consumer. Looking at recent stats, this makes a lot of sense.

  • 28% of boomers looked up a product advertised during a TV show (Source: GfK MRI iPanel Reporter, Fall 2012)
  • 85% of tablet / smartphone owners use their device while watching TV at least once a month with 40% of them doing it daily (Source: Nielsen, November 2013)
  • 53% of US Internet users use their computer when watching TV, 16% use their smartphone and 9% use their tablet. (Source: Ipsos Media CT as cited by Interactive Advertising Bureau, “Screens: What Are Peple Doing…and Why?” May 16, 2012)

To read more about these multitasking trends, check out this neilsenwire article that provides insights into simultaneous usage.


Sammi Dittloff

How can you be a better predictor? Get foxy.

Nate Silver, statistician, first became noticed in the political world when he correctly guessed the outcome of 49 out of the 50 states in the 2008 presidential election. This year, he topped his election record by predicting outcomes of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Needless to say, his book released in September 2012 about making predictions, The Signal and the Noise, shot up to the bestseller list for nonfiction and was named’s #1 best nonfiction book of 2012.

There are many different areas of life where accurate predictions come in handy: From the housing markets to political outcomes, from the weather to baseball, there are things that we want to be able to predict so we feel better equipped to handle the future.

When you’re listening to experts on the news, what should you be looking for to know for sure that they are a better predictor? How can you think to become a better predictor? Silver cites Philip Tetlock, a psychology professor in the 1980s, for the answer. Tetlock administered surveys asking experts to predict a variety of events between the 1980s and 1990s, and found he could divide these people into two distinct categories: hedgehogs and foxes.

Tetlock received this analogy from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who received the comparison from the poet Archilochus. The fragment of one of his poems says, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Hedgehogs are generally the experts you see when you turn on your television. In politics, they’re interesting to watch because they stick with one candidate, even when the polls appear to be saying something different. They believe in big ideas and governing principles, generally using one or a few of these to explain everything that happens in society. Silver uses the examples of “Karl Marx and class struggle, or Sigmund Freud and the unconscious. Or Malcolm Gladwell and the ‘tipping point’” (Silver, 53). While simplistic might not be the accurate term for them, hedgehogs do strive to tie in all of their guiding principles into one large idea, and reject any notion that doesn’t fit into their big idea of the universe. Because of their bias and mindset, they might ignore clues that would lead their predictions to become more accurate.

Foxes, in contrast, don’t get as much air time. They are more able to see complexities and nuances, and believe in a lot of little ideas and using as many approaches as necessary to solve a problem. Isaiah Berlin uses examples like Aristotle, Shakespeare, Balzac, and Joyce as thinkers that use their many and varied experiences to form conclusions, instead of focusing on one big idea. They are more comfortable adjusting their predictions if there is evidence that they should do so. Because of their thought process, they might raise doubt over political candidates and qualify their predictions with a degree of probability. In politics, this means they aren’t as interesting to watch.

Any time you are working to predict the success of something in your day-to-day work, think about how you’re approaching that forecast. Are you using one technique that you have used for years; one that doesn’t allow room for adjustments if it doesn’t work out as planned, or are you willing to try options, leave room for doubt, and adjust as necessary to more accurately foresee an outcome? If you are a fox, the latter will apply.

So, how should you think? Use information instead of ignoring what doesn’t fit into your main idea, change with that information, and make the best forecast you can today, every day. Just remember to stay foxy.


Casey Flanagan

Another Six-Pack For Sunday’s Game

Six points-of-interest about the much-talked-about off-the-field action. If you are going to share them this Sunday, just make sure to do so once the on-the-field has started up again.

The average price for thirty seconds of Super Bowl air time is $3.8 million. That’s up 8% from last year. And about a 25% bump from just two years ago.

USA Today’s Ad Meter is an oft-cited source of judging popularity. As recently as three years ago, these numbers were gathered from 250 handheld devices in San Diego, CA and McLean, VA. This year you can join the Ad Meter panel so you can “have a voice in the biggest pop-culture event of the year.”

Since 2003, beer and cars made up 37% of all Super Bowl ad sales.

16% of online videos accessed by tablet and mobile phones are watched on a day with a major sporting event. It makes sense, given that 36% of viewers report they’ll be using a second screen during the game.

Ads released before the Super Bowl generated more 9.1 million views on average, compared with 1.3 million for those appearing online the day of the game. VW’s 2011 The Force which was watched 14 million times before it aired on Super Bowl Sunday.


Great content wins – in the short-term and the long-term. 92% of shares came from the top 20 Super Bowl ads. 55% of Super Bowl 2012 shares came after March 1.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.


Katie Mullen

Listening: A New Day-After Thanksgiving Tradition

A key part of my role as a planner is to be a good listener. So naturally, when I heard about The National Day of Listening — a holiday started by StoryCorps in 2008 — I wanted to learn more.

A noncommercial alternative to Black Friday, The National Day of Listening is celebrated the day after Thanksgiving by recording an interview with a loved one. It’s a day to honor someone in your life through the simple act of listening. StoryCorps calls it “the least expensive but most meaningful gift you can give this holiday season.”

What a beautiful thing.

If you’re not already familiar with StoryCorps through their weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition or their really cool animated shorts, the holiday initiative is another good reason to get to know them. An independent non-profit, StoryCorps runs the largest oral history project of its kind, giving Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives.

New this year, StoryCorps has partnered with SoundCloud to provide an interactive venue for sharing Day of Listening interviews called the Wall of Listening. They make it really easy to participate and offer interview tips and sample questions to help you prepare. All this in an effort to remind one another of our shared humanity and teach the value of listening.

Here’s where I was going to talk about why listening is so important to the planning process, but I realized that’s a pretty obvious point. Besides, it’s almost Thanksgiving and I’d rather just share something nice with y’all for the sake of it.

Maybe I’ll catch your interview on the wall? I’ll have one up there.

Happy Thanksgiving!