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November 2013 - Posts

  • Patagonia opts for community over sales on Black Friday

    Nov 27 2013

    Patagonia Black Friday

    How many retailers are encouraging consumers to NOT buy their products this Black Friday? We know of only one – Patagonia -- with its Worn Wear initiative. Instead of focusing on getting customers to buy more, they will host events to "Celebrate What You Already Own," in select retail locations.

    The events demonstrate Patagonia's grasp on their customer and their target, appealing to their values from multiple angles. They will include repair clinics with product specialists who will mend worn Patagonia gear, exclusive beer tastings and a screening of a short film that chronicles the stories of eight Patagonia ambassadors and the well-loved, well-used pieces of Patagonia clothing that have become part of their lives.

    Patagonia invites all brand enthusiasts to participate by sharing their own stories at Tumblr-powered They'll post each user-submitted story to the microblog and to the @wornwear Instagram.

    The Black Friday parties and Worn Wear initiative support Patagonia's Common Threads Partnership, a virtual community of people who have pledged to reduce their consumption of Earth's resources by repairing, reusing and recycling their gently worn clothes items. More than 60,000 people have already taken the pledge at Each pledge-taker has subscribed to emails which will inform constituents of upcoming events and initiatives.

    We respect a good deal ourselves, but we are really impressed by a retailer that has decided to create community and value on this traditional shopping holiday.


    Image courtesy of Patagonia 

  • Celebrating 60 Collective Years

    Nov 26 2013

    Last week we celebrated the anniversaries of five associates who together have a combined 60 years at Phelps! Happy 10-year anniversary to Greg, David and Michael and 15-year anniversary to Marie and Kristen. Check out all of the festivities on Facebook.

  • Phelps Friday Roundup, 11/22

    Nov 23 2013

    Some great marketing stories and fun tools we enjoyed this week...

    Everyone on TV singing along with Bob.

    Place Pins, for the "explorer in all of us." This nifty new storytelling tool has a great, feels-like-home interface.

    A perfectly executed newsjack by the team promoting 22 Jump Street, starring Channing Tatum

    These beautiful and creative infographics.

    Holiday retail is off to a good start thanks to Kmart and perennial shopping favorite J.Crew.

    Middle Earth by Google. Yes, please.

  • Bloomingdale’s contest capitalizes on #selfies

    Nov 21 2013



    Selfies have had a big week—being named Oxford's "Word of the Year" and all. Retailer Bloomingdale's took an interesting take on the online phenomenon for a recent Instagram contest just in time for the holidays. Using "selfies," or self-portraits often taken with a camera phone and mirror, as its entry system, the retailer called for customers to enter to win a $1,000 Bloomingdale's gift card.

    Despite all the work that goes into creating online contests, the hardest part of executing is often getting people to participate in the first place. The #BloomiesSelfie contest encouraged fans to post selfies of themselves on Instagram along with a beauty tip. Selfies have become a huge online phenomenon and it was a great tactic to allow customers to upload selfies they probably would've taken anyway, thus driving in more than 150 public hashtags on Instagram. Adding in a nice bit of structure, Bloomingdale's also called in for beauty tips, which helped contribute to their own research on trends and avoid the completely gratuitous images.

    As more and more brands move to social media to run contests, it's important to remember that the barrier of entry needs to be low. Popular Instagram photos often fall into certain categories—people like uploading photos of themselves, their food, their travels, their pets, etc.—so a visual element usually makes for higher participation. For clients with visual products or services, such as tourism or paints, encourage user-generated content for contests and to use for other social platforms. Customers were going to upload these photos anyway, so you might as well have them build brand affinity while they're at it.


    Susan Shimotsu - Public Relations Specialist

  • Brand short films put people first and create deeper connections to customers

    Nov 20 2013


    Stanley Marcus, the innovative chairman of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and branding icon once said, “Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.”

    Today, at last, brands are discovering this for themselves. Brands like Expedia, Google and most recently British Airways India, create ads that integrate their products or services into the most important moments in a customer’s life. Ads no longer focus on how great their services are. They are about people first.

    This approach has pushed brands to expand from broadcast and the 30-second commercial to 3-5 minute short films that tell the story of a customer’s’ experiences with the brand. These films resonate with potential customers, which creates a deeper brand affinity. 

    British Airways’ beautifully shot and well-executed 5 and a half minute commercial really felt like a short film. It was engrossing, you got to know the people intimately and by the end of the ad you cared about them, they were just like you. They have hopes, dreams, heartache, loneliness, love and family. The spot portrayed the importance of flying, while never once shamelessly plugging British Airways operations. It was simple: A mother and son needed to be reunited, and British Airways was the carrier to make it happen.

    David Tibbets - Video Production Trainee

  • Integrating POEM: The Rhyme and Reason of Harmonizing the New Media Mix

    Nov 19 2013

    Over the past few years, a paradigm of thinking about media forms has surfaced, and a "magic formula" has evolved.

    POEM = Paid + Owned + Earned Media.

    Okay, maybe it's not so magic…and it isn't very much of a formula either. But it is an incredibly effective framework for how to visualize and plan your brand's marketing efforts to get the most out of what you put in.

    And integration is key. Today, given the exponentially increasing complexity of media planning and buying, an unprecedented need for collaboration among traditional and digital experts demands insight on a fundamental strategic level. Where's the leverage in the POEM mix, and how do we know where to put our limited dollars to achieve maximum bang for the client's buck? Then, how do we connect each media form to its counterparts?

    A quick overview of what each of these are and their relative strengths and weaknesses…

    Paid media is your traffic driver. Its major strength is in providing some level of control over the message and timing: what you say, and where and when you say it, in order to get somebody to do something or go someplace. It's relatively easy to measure, evaluate and optimize. Its weakness is that it can be damn expensive, regardless of whether we're using traditional or digital media, to obtain meaningful reach and frequency. Creative is still big idea driven, though we now have less attention and more noise to break through. An effective Paid media program remains a function of the Paid media mix where selection and budget assignment among an increasingly expanding universe of outlets is quickly evolving into programmatic buying.


    This is your house. Your playground. Your party. It might be your website, your voice within a social channel, or even your brick and mortar retail outlet (yes, you should absolutely be thinking about your physical locations as an owned communication channel) Once again, its strengths lie in total message control and timing, but the marketing costs in driving traffic to your Owned media can make an effective program an expensive proposition with SEO and SEM costs soaring. Also, keeping Owned media fresh is a time and productivity challenge. Whatever it is that you're going to do here, you've got to stay focused on creating an environment that people want to visit… repeatedly. You've got tell great stories and continually offer "stuff" to engage and interact with. And interaction is key as this is where you can convert consumers into evangelists.

    Most of what you do with the Paid and Owned parts of your plan is so that consumers walk away from their brand experience feeling good about "meeting you." In fact, with Earned reach and frequency through social media, consumers have now become "re-marketers" of your brand. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pintrest, Vine, Google+ and millions of personal blogs represent an increasingly dizzying array of new outlets. A major strength of Earned media is that it appears to be inexpensive (though we do pay for PR time costs), but a weakness is that it is very risky in that we lose control of brand messaging. Your brand message is re-sent in text, in pictures, in links, in video, in badges, in content, in conversation without having to pay for each future impression of that message. Yes, they share within their circles of family and friends, but they also are now empowered to share with perfect strangers…anyone who'll listen. While there's been much talk regarding "fanification," what's often overlooked is the fact that, as we know from PR, negative experiences are shared 5-7 times more than positive ones.

    Here's where some magic comes into play. Paid, Owned, and Earned have to work together. There's got to be a clear baton hand-off between them at strategically planned touch points so that you can tell the story that you brand wants to tell. By not accounting for one of the three in your plan you run a very high risk of not being able to get the most out of your campaign efforts. There's a clear missed opportunity if you've put a great deal of time and energy into creating and launching a paid media campaign to drive people to a thoroughly thought-thru owned online destination, only to find that you haven't setup an intuitive and tactical plan (contributors standing by) for how to capitalize on the social conversation that your efforts may have spurred. Even worse, you make a sizeable investment in the creation of your new website to facilitate ongoing social conversation by way of great content, but then you shirked on the media spend, including SEO/SEM, to drive people to your virtual oasis of engagement.

    Another example: Some marketers, particularly luxury brands, eschew Earned media as their level of brand equity must be protected at all costs, and it wouldn't do to have imaging and messaging unleashed among the masses. In a case like this, where Paid and Owned media programs are paramount, something like a PR Preparedness plan is put into place to immediately nip errant social media streams in the bud. It's integrating a "what we don't want to see happen" component that guarantees the strategy.

    Just as critical to any POEM formula is your brand's voice. Whether it be imagery, copy tone, or user experience design, consistency and familiarity are critical here. Baton passing doesn't occur between different voices…it's always you (your brand). You're guiding people through the different components of your brand's story. And consistency of voice is critical in keeping the user engaged, and becoming more familiar with your brand's tone and personality. You can't build frequency if the impressions aren't identical. You're already up against a multitude of varying perceptions and interpretations from your multi-faceted, multi-personality, multi-everything audience. What you can depend on is that you gave the user a familiar, honest, and intuitive path to follow in the engagement of your brand.

    Throughout the planning process, take a step back and look at your brand's overall marketing strategy. If the P, the O, and the E aren't working in conjunction with each other - with a consistent brand voice across all communications - then it's not likely you're going to get as much out of your campaign as you hope to. Consumers have the freedom to move about the universe of information and communication as they please – to create their own consumer journey…not yours. The very best that you can do is provide them a clear path worth following. Making sure that the P, O, and E are ready to grab the baton from one another is your best bet in allowing the user an unfettered trip that they actually want to take.

    The good news is that given the fact that media strategies today are more organic and evolve day-to-day rather than statically adhere to a plan engraved in stone, POEM tactics can be quickly adjusted. So, while the rapid changes in the media landscape have created many new challenges in media planning, these same changes provide opportunities for quick fixes if your POEM doesn't rhyme.


    Aaron Dubois - VP Digital Production

    This post originally appeared in iMedia Connection on 11/19/2013

  • Phelps Friday Roundup, 11/15

    Nov 15 2013

    Some great marketing stories and fun tools we enjoyed this week...

    "Discovering Manhood" with Baxter of California

    Crowdsourced microguides by Mosey that take users on a tour of any city 

    Land Rover's #TheDriven; an IMC campaign showcasing individuals who are driven with a call to share stories on instagram using the hash tag #iamdriven

    Maybelline's "The Girl with the Big Eyes," a short film using the parallax scroll

    This collection of fullsize web page video backgrounds - a trend that we think best works for single-concept campaigns

    The flipboard catalogue 

  • JPMorgan's Twitter Chat "Snarkpocalypse" Explained

    Nov 14 2013

    Yesterday banking giant JPMorgan Chase was inundated with scathing tweets like the one above in what is now becoming known as Snarkpocalypse. It all started after the nation's largest bank tweeted a request for questions to investment bank Vice Chairman James Lee, using the hash tag #AskJPM. But they underestimated the intelligence the public, who clearly recall JPM's Justice Department investigations and links to Bernie Madoff.

    Forbes' Deanna Zandt wrote that it seemed like a poorly planned PR stunt aimed at millienials at best ("Let us show you how hip and down we are! And then ye shall buy our services!") and an Occupy Wall Street infiltration at worst.

    Less than six hours after its original post, the bank posted: "#Badidea! Back to the drawing board." What happened to JPMorgan doesn't have to happen to you. Here are some questions to ask before considering social media as a communication tool for an open dialogue:

    • Do you have a large enough audience for a lively conversation?
    • Do you want to hear what people really think and engage them in a conversation?
    • Are you, your company and your products or services generally respected, admired, and cherished?
    • Have you properly thought through and vetted the idea using an objective source?
    • What is the best thing that could come of this? What's the worst?
    • Does this feel like a potentially risky move with a possible negative outcome? 
    • Are you willing to make changes if good ideas arise from the dialogue?

  • More ads on social platforms require a refined strategy

    Nov 13 2013

    The past few weeks have been momentous for digital and mobile marketing as both Instagram and Twitter updated their offerings to be more friendly to advertisers: Instagram adding sponsorship options that appear automatically in users' newsfeeds and Twitter automatically displaying images and videos (of all kinds) in feeds. Facebook has also reportedly started testing an autoplay video product on a subset of users. If autoplay is rolled out to Facebook's total 1.2 billion users, marketers get a prime-time ad placement in what COO Sheryl Sandberg calls "Super Bowl-sized audiences," daily.

    To benefit from this heightened  visibility, advertisers must be increasingly strategic. There are already well-documented failures by brands that were quick to take advantage of the additional twitter real estate without thought about the potential consequences.  For example, Sprint showed a poorly cropped graphic with the text "Sprint -- Faster." The full image shows up when a user clicks on the preview, but until that happens users are left to guess at the second word.

    When it comes to social media real estate, the "Super Bowl-sized" audience doesn't always translate to a Super Bowl audience. "It's a completely different category," said Amir Kassaei, creative chief at DDB, of Facebook's pending autoplay videos. "I don't know if anyone has an idea how to develop a social type of video format that is interesting. The format alone will not be enough; it's about the content you have and relevance."

    While great content with a relevant message should have the ability to transverse multiple platforms, the rapid pace, diversity of content and volume of content consumption via social media channels must be taken into account when inserting images or video into a newsfeed.

    Our tips for social newsfeed ads:

    1. Always defer to your campaign goals. Who are you trying to reach and why? What action do you want them to take? How will you measure the campaign and, what is your ideal ROI?

    2. Say something meaningful. Content for content's sake damages your brand reputation and can drive away followers. Create content that's on strategy and useful to your target audiences, it'll help build a relationship with them.

    3. Mind the medium: Both in terms of messaging format and execution. Social networks were not originally built for direct advertising, even though they now sell ad space. Don't assume that a TV spot will resonate with a Facebook audience. Refer to best practices per medium and tailor campaign assets so they are in the correct dimensions and formats for the platform.

    4. Don't push it. There are limits to the amount of advertising people will tolerate before finding a platform with less clutter. Be strategic about the timing and frequency of your newsfeed ads.

    Erna Adelson - Social Media Specialist

  • Phelps Brings Home Three PRism Awards and Five Awards of Excellence for Innovative PR Campaigns

    Nov 08 2013

    Last night, Phelps was honored at the 49th Annual PRism Awards, hosted by the Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter (PRSA-LA) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The agency was awarded three PRism awards for work on behalf of clients Monrovia, Tahiti Tourisme North America and Whole Foods Market; and five Awards of Excellence.

    In the "Media or Special Event" category, Phelps won for "Whole Foods Market Media Event: A Day of Beauty, Health and Wellness," where more than 95 national healthy and beauty media gathered in New York City in a spa-like loft for a preview of the latest health and beauty products and to discuss upcoming trends in the natural products space.

    Plant Savvy, Monrovia's monthly e-newsletter, picked up a PRism in the "Newsletter-Corporate" category for its collection of gardening tips, design inspiration and practical ideas. Positioning Monrovia as plant experts, Plant Savvy offers consumers ideas and inspiration for their gardens.

    Phelps received their third PRism in the "Brochure" category for "The Islands of Tahiti: Incentive Guide," along with an Award of Excellence for the "Filming in the Islands of Tahiti" brochure.

    Phelps secured four additional Awards of Excellence for:

    • Santa Monica Place – "The Place" (Reputation/Brand Management-Corporate)
    • Tetra Pak – "Milk Unleashed" (Digital Public Relations Programs)
    • Whole Foods Market – "For a Holistic Lifestyle, Go to Aisle 2" in New York Times (Media Placement-Print)
    • American Licorice Company – "National Licorice Day" on GMA LIVE (Media Placement-Online)

    PRSA-LA annually recognizes outstanding programs and materials created by public relations professionals who work in the Greater Los Angeles area and agencies that have completed assignments for LA-based clients.

    For more photos from the event, visit our Facebook page.

  • Phelps Halloween 2013

    Nov 04 2013

    At Phelps, Halloween is nothing short of a big deal. See our favorite holiday chronicled in full on Facebook.