Women’s Equality is More Than a Day, It’s a Lifestyle

Our “Werkers” Share What Women’s Empowerment Means for Them

Lisa Fasana, SVP, Account Director

Lisa Fasana, SVP, Account Director

Forty-four years ago, the U.S. Congress designated August 26th as “Women’s Equality Day.” Forty-four years may sound like a long time if referring to the length of time a restaurant holds top honors in Chicago, or maybe when it’s the number of candles on your cake—but for something as important as women’s equality, forty-four years is but a blip.

I’m incredibly proud to work for an agency where women’s equality isn’t just a day we celebrate once a year, rather one we represent 365 days a year. We lead by example with women holding the majority of our top leadership roles. From Holly Meloy, our General Manager, Cari Wilber, our VP of Growth & Strategy, and myself, SVP of Account Management—there is no cap to a woman’s growth at Marketing Werks. In this way, our agency embodies women’s empowerment, but we were curious to find out what Women’s Equality Day meant to all our “werkers.” We posed the question and were floored by the rich responses, many of which we then shared in a series dedicated to women’s empowerment. The series includes stories about a werker’s mother who was one of three female graduates at Northwestern Law School in the seventies, of an immigrant who went from waitressing to designing furniture featured on the covers of magazines, and to the female werker who joined a boy’s soccer team when there wasn’t one for girls.

We believe there is a lot more work to do when it comes to women’s equality, and while we’re happy there is a day Congress devoted to it, we strive to embody it every day. We hope you enjoy the following stories about empowering women as much as we do.


Featured Werker: Lisa Fasana, SVP, Account Director

Women’s Equality Day commemorates the date of Aug. 26, 1920, when women were officially granted the right to vote. In recognition of this honor, we are kicking off a week-long series of posts featuring Werkers sharing their thoughts on women’s empowerment. 

Featured Werker: SVP, Account Director, Lisa Fasana “In being a working mom, I teach my daughter she can do anything she sets her mind to and be anything she wants to be. Do what you love, with passion and purpose, and go big. Be strong.”



Featured Werker: Will H., Sr. Art Director

"Sarah Silverman has a great bit in one of her comedy routines, and I agree with her, whole-heartedly. In a nutshell, she says 'we tell girls that they can do it, even as a girl. But maybe it never occurred to them that they couldn’t.' There’s a real subtlety to that, and I agree that we need to encourage our daughters to do as much as they can, because they can aspire to greatness --- Not aspire to greatness despite their gender.

In 2016, I tried to tell my daughter that a woman was running for President, and that this woman could be the FIRST woman as president. She was two … she didn’t care. She didn’t know any different, because that is how it was her whole life practically — a woman running for President. I hope she never knows any different, and that the forward trajectory of our society continues to hammer out equality for all and that there isn’t another 32 years between women running for office. Remember Mondale/Ferraro? I do."



Featured Werker: Emily E., Client Services Manager

"I was lucky enough to attend an all-girls Catholic high school and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Being in an-all female environment during such a period of growth in my life shaped who I became. I was able to feel empowered by the love and acceptance of other women, which in turn made me love and accept myself.

To me, female empowerment means taking the energy of love and acceptance of oneself and giving it back to the world. You can do anything you set your mind to if you use that energy."



Featured Werker: Holly Meloy, SVP Managing Director

"At a former agency, I took a leadership course where a group of colleagues I’d just met had to describe their first impressions of me–positive and negative. In the negative column, they described me as 'aggressive' and 'intimidating.' Afterwards, when I told a friend, he remarked, 'That’s just because you’re a woman. If you were a man they wouldn’t have said it. Forget about it.' 

Today I wear those descriptors without apology, and with pride."



Featured Werker: Jake Weiss, Account Executive

"When I think of strong, independent women, my mother and sister both come to mind. My sister is an elementary school teacher, not too long ago her classroom had to evacuate because of a carbon monoxide leak. She got every single student out. That includes the ones she had to carry when they became too panicked to move.

My mother has run her own business since before I was born. Simply put, she is the definition of a businesswoman."



Featured Werker: Susan Schwartz, Account Director

"My mom was one of three women in her class to graduate from Northwestern Law School in the seventies. That has always been a point of inspiration for me."



Featured Werker: Courtney Lochner

"My mother-in-law Donuta "Donna" is a force to be reckoned with—and a glamorous one at that! Born and raised in Krakow, Poland she got her masters degree in chemistry and later married and had twins while working as a chemistry teacher. When her son and daughter were fourteen she decided to move the family to the United States for a year so her children would improve their English skills, and have a greater opportunity for success. 

In the States she worked tireless hours and multiple jobs. As her teaching license was not applicable in the US, she could only find work waitressing, but she did the labor with her head held high. When the family gained a green card to stay longer her entrepreneurial spirit ignited. She and her husband opened antiques shops in Lincoln Park and Portage Park. Over the years she evolved the shops into a re-upholstery and design firm where today she services high-end clientele in the Midwest--and has even had her work featured on the cover of Elle Décor. 

What’s most incredible about Donna however, is that whenever you show up at her house (whether in the US or Poland) she’s glamorous as a movie star but deep in the dirty work of staining furniture or gardening--and as for her impeccable garden it's akin to the botanical masterwork one expects from the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Entering her home is like stepping back in time and into a room in a European chateau. But it doesn't stop there, later, as she plays with her grandchildren, she effortlessly whips up a seven course meal that rivals Chicago's poshest restaurants. 

She defines the woman-who-does-it-all!"



Featured Werker: Ellie Meyer, Account Director

"Seek out and do what makes you happy, even if it’s not easy to come by. When I was young, there were no competitive girls soccer teams in my hometown. But I LOVED soccer - it was my #1 passion. So I joined the boys soccer team, and I was one of the first to do so in our community. Now there's a thriving soccer program for both genders--nothing should stop you from living the life that makes you the happiest."



Featured Werker: Aja Harris, Corporate Receptionist

"I would like to see equal pay and women fighting for their rights. We women tend to both run the household and hold jobs. Plus, there are now far more single mothers than during the Baby Boom era—our pay must be equalized! 

I am a huge advocate for women empowerment, because I would like the next generation of women to understand their worth and what they are capable of, no matter what obstacle come before them. 

I would like companies to be more compassionate about a woman’s role as a mother—and not make them choose between their natural right and a paycheck. There was a time when I had to choose between my kids and my career. I wanted to be successful in my field but did not want to forsake my children, and so in a male-driven world I missed out on many milestones in my early career. I told myself that I would never do that again. I left the company that didn’t support women and I refuse to work at one which would make me choose between my family and my career."

Marketing Werks Named to Event Marketer’s 2017 It List and Recognized as a Top 100 Event Agency

For the 14th consecutive year Marketing Werks has secured a spot on the Event Marketer It List and is recognized as an industry-leading experiential agency  

Marketing Werks has been named to the 2017 Event Marketer IT List, an annual listing of the Top 100 Event and Experiential Marketing Agencies as selected by the editors of Event Marketer Magazine — the most respected provider of content for the experiential, event and trade industry. This is the 14th consecutive year that Marketing Werks has secured a spot on the Event Marketer IT List and is recognized as an industry-leading experiential agency. View the Marketing Werks listing here.

“This is an incredible recognition that we celebrate agency-wide each year,” said Holly Meloy, SVP, Managing Director. “The IT List is one of the industry’s most valuable resources, and it is a great achievement for our agency. We don’t take it for granted and the recognition is always appreciated.”

She continued: “Marketing Werks is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation, uncovering new ways for brands to reach consumers. This best practice guarantees that we deliver top-quality experiences for our clients and that we secure our spot on the IT List each year.”

This is the 15th annual IT List, which appeared in the June/July issue of Event Marketer Magazine. The publication’s editorial team analyzes and scores each agency entry on various stringent criteria. The top consideration: the percentage of agency work devoted exclusively to events.

Event Marketer: Summer of Mars Experience Tour Targets The Next Generation of Space Explorers

Rover Debut Event Source: Kennedy Space Center

Rover Debut Event
Source: Kennedy Space Center

“If you talk to any of the astronauts, they all had a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives that inspired them to become an astronaut or an engineer,” says Lisa Hultquist, sales and marketing director at Delaware North, which operates the visitor complex on behalf of NASA. “We built the rover with that intent. It’s all about inspiring young people to join the journey.”

In celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the Pathfinder landing on the “Red Planet,” the Kennedy Space Center has launched the Summer of Mars Experience Tour, which in July and August is traveling along the East Coast with a Mars Rover concept vehicle and high-tech interactives. The tour ties in with the Summer of Mars activities taking place at the Kennedy Space Center and is designed to engage and inspire the next generation of space explorers.

The Mars Rover concept vehicle, designed with astronaut guidance and NASA-engineered science and specs, functions as a working vehicle and laboratory and is the star of the experience tour. Consumers can look inside the vehicle, which measures 24-feet long by 13-feet wide and 11-feet high, for a view of its lab and cockpit, and pose for pictures outside of it. Additional tour activities include virtual reality experiences, an interactive Cosmic Quest game, a Name the Rover contest, Mars-themed stickers and poster giveaways, astronaut appearances and tastes of astronaut ice cream for those with correct answers to trivia questions.

Rover Interior Source: Kennedy Space Center

Rover Interior
Source: Kennedy Space Center

“If you talk to any of the astronauts, they all had a moment they will remember for the rest of their lives that inspired them to become an astronaut or an engineer,” says Lisa Hultquist, sales and marketing director at Delaware North, which operates the visitor complex on behalf of NASA. “We built the rover with that intent. It’s all about inspiring young people to join the journey.”

The tour also hopes to inspire visits to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex by offering a peek at what’s in store there. One experience offers a 360-degree virtual tour of the Space Center, its attractions and exhibits, artifacts and hardware. Another VR experience transports consumers throughout the solar system by looking at the different toys and models in a child’s bedroom. A third experience presents a virtual tour from the outside of the international space station as it flies over the earth.

Other experiences replicate two of the four interactive missions of the Cosmic Quest game that visitors can play at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. On the tour, guests can grow a potato like astronaut Mark Watney did in the movie “The Martian” and launch a rocket.

As part of the Name the Rover contest, consumers can post suggestions with #summerofmars to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. An internal committee at the Kennedy Space Center will choose the top two or three names and put them out for a vote in mid-August on social media when the rover returns to the space center.

The tour launched July 14-16 at SunTrust Stadium in Atlanta during three Braves games, then moved indoors to the west hall of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Additional stops include the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City before the rover takes up permanent residence at the Kennedy Space Center. Agencies: Marketing Werks, Chicago; Sandy Hillman Communications, Baltimore, MD.

Marketing Werks Announces New Client Relationship with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Agency to Bring the Future of Space Exploration to the East Coast with Launch of Summer of Mars Experience Tour

Marketing Werks announced today that it is embarking on an out-of-this-world mission with its new client: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, located in Cape Canaveral, Fla., brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program where the mission for exploration is still alive and thriving. Marketing Werks was chosen as its experiential partner for the Summer of Mars Experience tour, to support the Summer of Mars campaign. 

Marketing Werks is responsible for developing and leading the tour’s activation strategy and event execution.

The Mars rover concept vehicle, designed with astronaut guidance, NASA-engineer science and specs, functions as both a working vehicle and laboratory. The next generation of space explorers could be traveling and working in a high-tech mobile lab similar to this concept vehicle. The vehicle is 24 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 11 feet high. The Mars rover was built to inspire the next generation of space explorers and to pique interest in planning a visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Guests can experience and interact with the Mars rover in select major cities along the East Coast beginning July 14. Planned tour stops include SunTrust Stadium in Atlanta during three Atlanta Braves’ games; Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey; Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.;  and the Intrepid, Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. The rover will take up residence at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in late- August. Updated tour details can be found here.

“We are proud that this world-class organization chose Marketing Werks as its experiential partner,” said Lisa Fasana, SVP, Account Director. “Our agency is thrilled to work with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to inspire the next generation of space explorers.”

She adds: “Together, we will bring the Mars rover concept vehicle to the general public and provide a unique and entertaining learning experience. Our goal is to motivate attendees to want to learn more about the advancements made in Mars exploration and the many additional attractions that can be experienced at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.”


PRO Award Silver Winner: Firestone Complete Auto Care

Note: This post was originally published on May 8 and has been updated to reflect the results of the PRO Awards.

Update: Firestone Complete Auto Care won Silver in the Best Retail Category at Chief Marketer’s #PROAwards for its successful Pop-up Vehicle Courtesy Check Campaign.

Congratulations to our client Firestone Complete Auto Care (FCAC) for their 2017 PRO Award nomination. The brand’s Pop-up Vehicle Courtesy Check campaign was named a finalist in the Best Retail Program category.

FCAC, a full-service automotive maintenance provider, created a first-of-its-kind Pop-Up Vehicle Courtesy Check, where their trusted technicians assessed cars, had personal consultations and booked follow-up retail appointments with consumers, right on the spot.

The campaign, which brought a trusting face to the FCAC name, gave consumers a reason to meet with their local car guys by providing free vehicle courtesy checks around town.

With a crew of expert technicians, FCAC connected with their target consumers in a convenient, approachable way — proving that they have what it takes to be their expert car guys.

The award results will be announced live at the PRO Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, June 13 in New York City. Stay tuned to find out the winning campaign.

Gold EX Award Winner: Hershey’s Take5 Swag Exchange

Note: This post was originally published on April 3 and has been updated to reflect the results of the EX Awards.

Update: Hershey’s Take5 Swag Exchange was awarded the Gold EX Award in the Best Fair/Festival Activation category at the Event Marketer #EXAwards.

We are excited to celebrate Hershey’s #ExAward nomination for the Take5 Swag Exchange at SXSW in the category of Best Fair/Festival Activation.

Hershey created a Swag Exchange at SXSW and our brand ambassadors distributed remixed and relaunched Take5 samples throughout the festival to drive attendee traffic to the Take5 Swag Exchange House. Throughout Austin, attendees were surprised and delighted with their free sample of Hershey’s Take5. Upon receiving their candy, they were provided details about the swag exchange house where they could swap branded merchandise for items that they truly wanted and/or were more likely to use when returning home from the event.

We look forward to finding out what campaign will take home the Gold EX Award in the Best Fair/Festival Activation category at this year’s EX Award Gala on May 3 in Chicago.

Leadership: The Work-Life Balance Conundrum

Holly Meloy SVP, Managing Director

Holly Meloy
SVP, Managing Director

Four Tips to Stop Working and Start Werking

Since the birth of my daughter, Take Your Child to Work Day has taken on new meaning and become a more significant event in my life. I recognize the importance of this day and believe it is an occasion to celebrate and recognize hard work.

But what is Work?

I work the moment I get up. And I work hard as a parent, too. It’s work to feed her, dress her, tend to her each and every want, need, sneeze and boo-boo. The reality is, I’m working awfully hard to go to work. So where does work start and where does it end? (Hint: starts with coffee, ends with wine.) And if I’m to bring her to work for that one special day a year, what do I want her to know?
I want my daughter to know she can be anything one day. She can run an agency like her mom, or be a horse jockey in the Kentucky Derby. She can spin records on the Riviera, or operate on those in need. Whatever it is she wants to do, I don’t want her life to feel like her life is hard work. Maybe the problem is in the word and its connotation. Work is outdated, insufficient. Unsatisfying. Work can be so much more.

Ditch the Work. Embrace the Werk.

Werk sounds a lot sexier than work, doesn’t it? It’s got a Rihanna spin to it, something you can jam to, brag about. Werk is lighthearted. A bit rebellious, too. (I don’t need no spellcheck!) Werk is living, Work is surviving. Werk can go with the flow or swim upstream. Because Werk evolves and adapts. Werk has real attitude. And sure, I know this because I have a job at Marketing Werks, not Marketing Works. But I’m also part of PromoWorks … and that’s the whole point: Werk is a state of mind.

Four Ways to Werk Instead of Work

1. Stay Curious

We have a program at Marketing Werks to award those who stay curious. In fact, we give them a Curious George doll (along with a lump of cash). Kids are always curious. And as a result, they problem-solve like it’s their job. Curiosity leads to innovation. But as adults, we tend to go through the motions to get everything done instead. Staying curious means asking questions and being present in every conversation and engagement. It means trying new activities and making ourselves vulnerable. We can’t check off our list and call it a day if we want to evolve. Staying curious means staying young.

2. Talk to Someone New Every Day

Whether it’s the coffee barista, the security guard, another parent at your kid’s school, or a colleague you typically do not converse with, make it a point to talk to someone new every day. Go beyond the weather and social niceties. Ask them what’s the coolest thing they’ve done in the last month. Where they dream of going and why? New conversations check us in and remind us that we’re living not working.

3. Smile More, Talk Less

You know that feeling when your interlocutor has tuned out and is only waiting for his chance to talk? The glazed eyes, parted mouth cue the incoming interruption. Too bad for him too, because he stopped listening; he missed a message and the chance to have a true exchange. We all do it. But I’ve found when you smile more and talk less, not only do you set the stage for positivity, you learn something unexpected simply by setting the stage to listen.

4. Take Home One Positive Story

It’s too easy to take home our bad baggage. You come home exhausted and want to complain to whomever will listen (a happy-hour buddy, a toddler, a spouse, or maybe just that happy-hour empty glass). The more we focus on what went badly, the more we’ll do it tomorrow. It’s the basic concept of neoplasticity. When you bring home your bad day, your brain wires a neural pathway for that memory. If you do it again, the pathway goes from dirt to gravel. Do it again and now you’ve got blacktop. Don’t create a negative highway. We must change our mindsets to bring home a positive story — and you know what? In requiring this positive story we’ll ensure we get one, even if it means creating it ourselves. That’s the best kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
What’s your trick for work/life balance? How do you transform work from a job to a fun aspect of your life? Werk on it.

Event Marketer: U.S. Cellular Elevates Engagement With Brewers Fans On and Off the Field

Photo courtesy of: Event Marketer

Photo courtesy of: Event Marketer

The Power Playground attracts more than a quarter of the Brewers attendance throughout the season.

“Our challenge was how do we organically integrate into a playground setting our products and services in such a way that it is still focused on enhancing the experience for Brewers’ fans but at the same time gives us a strong platform to tell our story and what makes us different,” says Sergio Apodaca, brand activation team sponsorship manager at U.S. Cellular.

U.S. Cellular has stepped up to the plate in its 10th year as official wireless provider of the Milwaukee Brewers with new fan engagements at its U.S. Cellular Power Playground activation and a microsite, uscellularbrewersperks.com, that rewards customers with incentives throughout this year’s baseball season. A smaller version of the Power Playground will bring the experience to local events throughout the state.

“Our challenge was how do we organically integrate into a playground setting our products and services in such a way that it is still focused on enhancing the experience for Brewers’ fans but at the same time gives us a strong platform to tell our story and what makes us different,” says Sergio Apodaca, brand activation team sponsorship manager at U.S. Cellular.

Two new activations at this year’s Power Playground engage fans and integrate U.S. Cellular technology into the experience. At Meet a Mascot, fans can interact with a virtual Bernie Brewer or one of the Racing Sausage mascots and receive a video and photo takeaway. A Fan Scan activation pits them in a competition to try to spot the differences between two Brewers photos while scanning each image. The U.S. Cellular Clubhouse within the footprint serves as a hub for the activation and a showcase for tablets and devices on display that are pre-loaded with the company’s new microsite and details about customer perks such as parking passes, half-price ticket offers, meet-and-greets, autograph sessions with former and current players and more. In addition, fans that complete a data-capture survey receive scratch-off cards to win Brewers’ prizes.

U.S. Cellular’s Power Playground attracts more than a quarter of the entire Brewers attendance throughout the season on an annual basis, Apodaca says. For those unable to attend games, a social media plan includes a custom U.S. Cellular Snapchat filter with rotating images that enables fans to share their experiences in a fun way. Brand ambassadors also will take a 10-foot by 10-foot experience to fairs, festivals and community events.

“It all goes back to providing that ‘wow’ experience for our customer through the one-on-one engagements we have with them, then going beyond that to drive positive brand sentiment through this partnership,” Apodaca says.


SXSW 2017: An Escape From Politics? Think Again. (Surprisingly, That’s A Good Thing.)

David Rothkopf SVP, Executive Creative Director

David Rothkopf
SVP, Executive Creative Director

Once upon a time SXSW was a celebration of unsigned artists—hungry bands looking for a break. (If you recall that era, and you’re still going to SXSW, congrats on your admirable battle against Father Time.) Today the festival has aged well to embrace all facets of culture: music, film, television, digital, social, science, branding, and beyond. So if you entertained a notion that this year’s SXSW would offer a welcome break from the all-consuming 24-7 American political debate…you’d be wrong. Of course SXSW found room for politics too. In fact, much like 2017 itself, every topic seemed to resonate with political overtones—some more overt. Inspiringly however, politics in Austin was not Red vs. Blue. Instead, a discussion about the politics of collaboration and inspiration emerged. And in Texas of all places.

The SXSW organizers stated their plain intent to address more medical issues in the 2017 speaking roster (a hot topic as headlines all week blared the ever-contentious health care debate). But the effect was a look at what’s possible, politics be damned: Jennifer Doudna related how she changed the world of genetics (and potentially the world) through curiosity over agenda; Joe Biden declared his moonshot against cancer as “the only bipartisan thing left in America;” the NASA Mars team detailed international collaboration; and even Chuck Todd, political director of NBC News, theorized how big data could heal the American political divide. Of course there were plenty of non-political sessions too, but it’s notable how “the p-word” kept rearing its head…and how it was all so forward-thinking.

Following is an abridged look at my session diary across four days at SXSW Interactive. The festival is replete with worthwhile takeaways. I certainly can write another million words on everything OUTSIDE the session rooms. But as marketers, we know message matters. So here’s a look at what the official SXSW roster was saying (at least a small slice of it).


-Keynote speaker Jennifer Doudna fascinated with details about her humanity-altering discovery: how to edit human DNA “just like the text of a document.” She developed a gene-editing process (as part of the CRISPR Project) that grants man “awesome power” to “control our own evolution.” You know, simple stuff. Equally as illuminating: the fact that this major discovery was made during an unrelated “curiosity-driven research project” (about viruses and bacteria). Doudna’s curiosity opened up possibilities for humankind to eradicate disease and sustain our future. The takeaway: stay curious—you never know where it will lead you. Or simply: if you’re interested, it’s worthwhile. (Don’t let business goals tell you otherwise.)

Keynote speaker Jennifer Doudna edits evolution

Keynote speaker Jennifer Doudna edits evolution

-A panel of major sports marketers (including Michael Conley of Cleveland Cavaliers) gathered to answer the query: “Do Stadium Fans Even Matter Anymore?” The short answer: No. Less than 1% of the fan-base watch from an arena. All panelists agreed readily that “the 99%” is the true market. It’s more important (and promising) to engage the 99%, than milk the 1% for even more profit (beyond high-priced tickets and in-stadium concessions). Where have I heard this “serve the 99%, not the 1%” slogan before? Even Bernie would be a fan.

-Amazing that as every facet of marketing, music, and film descends on Austin, that I still run into colleagues… even in my literal first two minutes here. Big business, small world.

SUNDAY, MARCH 12: The Truth, The Blind, & The VP

-Dean Baquet, billed as the executive editor of “the failing New York Times,” assured SXSW that he is not “the enemy of the people.” He defines his mission as “honorable pursuit of the truth,” an inspiring benchmark for any field, IMO. Sure, politics took front-and-center in this discussion, but equally noteworthy was his call for inspired writing and elevated thought: “Write big stories that either explain or change the world.” Yes, please.

Dean Baquet of the failing New York Times

Dean Baquet of the failing New York Times

-Willowtree product designer Jordan Dunn discussed the challenges of designing for visual accessibility. He highlighted real hurdles when creating digital offerings for the visually impaired. But he scolded the room too: designers like to talk about "how much empathy” they all have, but how many consider the millions of blind users? It was an appeal for more inclusivity in design. Or, more minority representation (as one might say if he were forcing a political parallel into his write-up).

-Why is doing "good design research" so hard? Capital One’s Allison Abbott asserted it’s because we get in our own way with qualitative techniques that bias the outcomes. Maybe. But better qualitative research still demands sharp perspective and know-how to mine for real insights. That’s the discussion I was hoping for.

Former VP Joe Biden spoke movingly about his son

Former VP Joe Biden spoke movingly about his son

-Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a stirring, personal talk about his “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer. He spoke candidly about his son’s death as well as Washington gridlock realities. “The only bi-partisan thing left in America is the fight against cancer.” A depressing sentiment within a motivating talk. The takeaway: many of our biggest research barriers can be scaled with broad, novel efforts to collaborate. For example, need to solve a radiation issue? Try enlisting NASA, who have protected astronauts from harmful rays for generations…but have never been asked to apply their know-how to chemo patients. Biden included many wonderful examples of how broad collaborative thinking conquers all. Now that’s a message for marketers and politicians alike.

MONDAY, MARCH 13: Cyborgs, Astronauts, Innovators & The FBI

Cyborg Neil Harbisson and his antenna

Cyborg Neil Harbisson and his antenna

-You might think a talk titled "Cyborg Civil Rights” would include a fun theoretical debate about the privacy limits of machines…you would be wrong. Meet Neil Harbisson, a self-defined “cyborg" who had an actual antenna implanted (illegally) into his skull. He claims he can feel the “vibrations of colors.” He also claims that he's treated unfairly, like when he was fired from his job as a waiter because no one wanted to employ a man with an antenna grafted to his head. Civil rights abuse? It’s not quite Selma. He might want to adjust his antenna’s reception.

-Astronaut Jessica Meir and a panel of engineers (from both NASA and Lockheed Martin) delivered an encore session of their talk, “So You Want To Go To Mars?” Why go to Mars at all? According to Meir, she’s partly motivated by a quest to attain the ultimate space-selfie. The in-depth talk was heavy on humor and sci-fi (“Everybody loves a jetpack!”) and a revealing peek into a massive effort of thousands across literal decades. Their “building block” approach begins with near-space experiments, then moon experiments, and ultimately Mars travel…and that’s after the under-sea camping trials and underground cave training. (I’m not sure going to Mars is so appealing in context of all that work!) My biggest takeaway: according to Meir, we send humans to Mars (as opposed to robots) because of our unique “power to improvise.” Improvisation is the defining characteristic of humanity. Who says jazz is dead?

Astronaut Jessica Meir is out of this world

Astronaut Jessica Meir is out of this world

-Pinterest’s Candice Morgan revealed her company’s efforts to “Innovate with Inclusion” to achieve a diverse workplace in the tech world. She detailed her own rising star as a young black girl with superior intellect (teachers often questioned her writing and testing in disbelief). Today she speaks plainly about an ugly (often unspoken) perception: If tech is a pure meritocracy, does the push for more diversity translate to poorer work? Her answer is clear and thought provoking: "We challenge each other less when surrounded by people who look like us. That means we work less hard.” And that means, of course, that our thinking doesn’t get pushed which hampers innovation. So diversity fuels innovation. Preach. She may have been discussing the importance of innovation and diversity in business, but no one missed the politics in this session.

Candice Morgan preached inclusivity

Candice Morgan preached inclusivity

-James Baker, General Counsel of the FBI, discussed the difficult balance between privacy and law enforcement in the field of cyber security. Do we have a right to encryption privacy? Should court warrants have the power to crack our personal devices? Should tech companies share our personal data with the FBI? Terrorism in San Bernardino brought this issue to global attention as the FBI worked to access the phone of an alleged terrorist. But the issue has broader implications for non-criminals alike, as we strive to protect ourselves from intrusion. Baker described the FBI’s “complex” relationship with tech companies (who he regularly subpoenas). He noted that they’re victims of crime too. And he was direct: His job demands him to “deal with reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.” Yet as he defended potential FBI intrusions, he issued a challenge: “Don’t trust us. Hold us accountable.” That’s the balance.

TUESDAY, MARCH 14: Meet The Crooked Media

-Kara Swisher moderated the founders of Crooked Media, all former members of the Obama administration and hosts of the Pod Save America podcasts. Of course this was expected to be the most political of all sessions. But surprisingly, the non-political notes rang loudest. When asked why he would choose a career discussing politics after such a big loss (guess which one), Tommy Vietor answered without hesitation: “It didn’t feel right to wake up and obsess about politics and then go to work doing something else.” (Reminder: Do what you love.) And regarding the reliance on technology to solve almost everything, Vietor expressed sheer exasperation: “Tech can’t solve every crisis! If one more person offers to ‘hack the refugee crisis,’ I will lose my **** mind!” (Reminder: Tech isn’t always the biggest idea.)

Crooked Media charmed with sincerity

Crooked Media charmed with sincerity

-Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd asked a dispiriting leading question: Is Big Data Destroying the U.S. Political System? He posited that our ability to collect hyper-specific data on every slice of society has translated into political messaging that speaks to hyper-specific segments—as opposed to messaging that appeals to broad groups, or heaven forbid, all Americans. The result is hyper-polarization. (“Ideological overlap has basically ceased to exist.”) He reviewed political ads before the “data revolution” with unifying appeal (as opposed to today’s divided gutters). And of course, all this data has resulted in gerrymandering that has furthered our polarization. But Todd pivoted: “How do you empower the political center?” The answer: put that data to good use. Identify the center and start redistricting from there. A final note from Sara Fagen, George W. Bush’s pollster, had us marketers craving more: “Politics is ahead of corporate America in the advertising-targeting business.” So maybe politics can lead by example? Just maybe.

Chuck Todd nerds out on data

Chuck Todd nerds out on data

Inc.com: Getting Your Community Involved In Your Purpose

"Today's consumers expect to be in charge of how they interact with your brand. They'll actively avoid brands that demonstrate a lack of understanding of who they are and what they're about. You need to really understand those needs and how your purpose connects with that, in order to build long-lasting relationships that will drive advocacy for your brand." – Holly Meloy, SVP, Managing Director, Marketing Werks
Holly Meloy SVP, Managing Director

Holly Meloy
SVP, Managing Director

Community really refers to everyone who touches or is touched by your brand

Speaking with Inc.com Contributor and entrepreneur Adam Fridman, SVP, Managing Director, Holly Meloy shared her thoughts on how brands can turn consumer insights into a meaningful brand experience to engage their community. Read the entire article below.

Companies that want to be purpose driven have several challenges to contend with on their journey towards purpose. The first is to define what that purpose is, or why it is you do what you do? The second challenge you'll face is engaging your community - all the people who serve or are served by that purpose - and getting them involved and engaged.

Here are five tips for getting community involved with purpose.


1) Define Your Community

Community isn't just people who live or work in a geographic area, although that is one kind of community. Community really refers to everyone who touches or is touched by your brand. It's your employees or tribe, your customers, stakeholders, partners and others who benefit from or are impacted by your brand's purpose or objective.

When it comes to connecting community with purpose, it's not so much about the actions you take to connect your community with purpose, but the understanding of your community that is demonstrated by the purpose itself. Following are some examples of how you can engage different types of communities in your purpose.


2) Deliver Solutions That Serve a Purpose

Purpose shouldn't just align theoretically with the needs of your community; it should meet some fundamental need or solve a problem that your community has. For Kirby Atwell of Green Vet Homes, purpose means running a real estate investment firm that sustainably rebuilds communities and provides housing for homeless veterans.

"Through my volunteer work, I learned that veterans who receive housing benefits from the VA sometimes had a difficult time finding decent housing " said Atwell, an Army veteran. "Many landlords won't rent to them because they don't understand the VA's processes. At the same time, many investors have difficulty finding prescreened renters with stable income. Green Vet Homes connects these two communities to fill a fundamental need."

The arrangement benefits all the communities Green Vet Homes serves: veterans and the property owners that are Green Vet's customers, and fulfills the company's purpose of developing green, sustainable housing.


3) Take Chances: Experiment with Purpose

Some of the most brilliant and purposeful things happen by accident. When seeking for purposeful ways to connect with your community, experimenting with data and strategy can sometimes yield very useful results.

Chicago-based experiential agency, MarketingWerks engages communities with targeted, immersive experiences that can help accelerate a brand beyond just a single moment in time. Deep within consumer data, they identify the unique needs of each community they are trying to reach and uncover the best place, time, and experience for connecting with those communities.

According to Holly Meloy, SVP, Managing Director of Marketing Werks, "Today's consumers expect to be in charge of how they interact with your brand. They'll actively avoid brands that demonstrate a lack of understanding of who they are and what they're about. You need to really understand those needs and how your purpose connects with that, in order to build long-lasting relationships that will drive advocacy for your brand."

Case in point: Marketing Werks' program for Hershey's REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups. REESE'S wanted to increase trial of its peanut butter cups among Hispanic Millennials, but research indicated that peanut butter and chocolate was an unexpected combination of flavors for their target which is why trial was low. Simply handing out samples wasn't going to cut it.

The solution? Reese's "Spin your Beat" Tour, a series of sampling events designed to reach Hispanic Millennials that mashed different music genres and dance styles together to show that unexpected combinations -- like peanut butter and chocolate -- can be awesome. The program allowed the brand an opportunity to sample to and engage with more than 160,000 consumers in more meaningful way.


4) Leverage Data for Purposeful Experiences

Tomer Tagrin, CEO of Yotpo, a platform that allows eCommerce companies to drive fan engagement and sales conversions through user generated content, believes that analytics is the key to rallying a tribe around shared passions. "Our research indicates that community - whether on-site reviews or community discussions - plays a big role in helping people decide if a product or brand is a good match for them," he said.

Yotpo's research found that 55% of buyers on eCommerce sites interacted with community-based or user generated content before purchasing; site visitors who interacted as part of a community were more than twice as likely to purchase as those who did not participate.

"People view the products they buy as expressions of themselves," said Tagrin. "Younger consumers in particular choose their brands with great care. For them, buying something fulfills a number of needs, including a need to belong."

Data uncovers strategies to connect purposefully with the communities you want to reach but the decision to engage still lies with the customer. To encourage engagement, companies must demonstrate their understanding of the community's needs and wants.


5) Take a Broader View

It's also important not to look at the idea of community too narrowly. Taking a broad view of community is how Chicago-based Giles & Associates Consultancy (GAC) helps healthcare and life sciences companies provide innovative cures and treatments for patients.

The company's work is about envisioning the future and helping companies determine strategies for delivering their innovations to market. Lisa M. Giles, CEO of GAC says, "We believe that our purpose is to propel meaningful innovation to those who can most benefit. Yet, we never work directly with a patient."

GAC takes a holistic view of how to deliver purposeful results to all the communities they serve. "We 'zoom out' and look at the problems our clients face: regulatory issues, competition, different medical approaches," says Lisa M. Giles. "We integrate data from all these communities - our clients, their competitors, regulatory agencies, and patients themselves - to help our clients see how their solutions fit uniquely into the broader marketplace while keeping focus on the ultimate goal - delivering cures."


The Takeaway

Community doesn't necessarily have to be the city or town where you live, it can refer to any set of people that share a connection with or interest in your brand and its purpose. And there's usually more than one kind community you'll want to engage. The key to doing this is gaining a deep understanding of your communities' needs - either by leveraging data or through experience - so you'll understand why your purpose connects, and how to engage your communities with that purpose in a way that build deeper relationships.

Marketing Werks Announces Expansion Into Canada With Opening of Toronto Office

New location represents the agency’s entry into the global marketplace

Marketing Werks announced today its expansion into Canada with the opening of its Toronto office. This new location represents its entry into the global marketplace, a first for the 30-year-old agency headquartered in Chicago. Marketing Werks — a CROSSMARK company — offers a full range of integrated marketing solutions, including experiential campaigns, sponsorship activation, pop-up retail, mobile tours, interactive sampling, multicultural, digital, social, public relations and multi-channel analytics.

This expanded North American presence allows Marketing Werks to provide personalized services at scale that can address the unique needs of the Canadian consumer. This personalization will help to guide the development of successful engagement strategies that can effectively target and reach consumers in and out of store. It also presents the agency with the opportunity to offer more robust and seamless programming across a global portfolio of brands.

“We couldn’t be more excited and proud to announce our expansion into Canada,” said Holly Meloy, SVP, Managing Director, Marketing Werks North America. “There is a growing demand for a solution to reach consumers uniquely and at scale. By bringing our experiential expertise to the Canadian marketplace we are now positioned to be a strategic client partner for brands who are looking to reach both the Canadian and American consumer.”

Marketing veteran, Kathy Skube, has been named VP, Managing Director of Marketing Werks Canada and will lead the Toronto office. She has more than 20 years of cross-functional experience working for tier one CPG companies (Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark), with large national retailers, and as a consultant.  She has also occupied a variety of positions across sales, account management, field management, business development, retail strategy, planning, analytics, communications, brand marketing, shopper marketing and operations.

Kathy is recognized for building strong working relationships, setting operational procedures, aligning marketing activity with corporate priorities, developing large-scale events and directing programs from strategy through execution.

“It is an honour to join the Marketing Werks’ family and lead the opening of its Canadian office,” said Kathy Skube, VP, Managing Director, Marketing Werks Canada. “I look forward to growing the Marketing Werks brand, and providing end-to-end business solutions that support our clients’ consumer engagement events both in and out of store.”

Marketing Werks Canada is located at 5580 Explorer Drive, Suite 300, Mississauga, ON L4W 4YI. For more information visit, MarketingWerks.com

Frontier Communications 12 Days of Giving

This holiday season, we helped the Southern California region of Frontier Communications launch its 12 Days of Giving Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes, which was brought to life on and offline, was a great way for the brand to engage with consumers and show appreciation to its fans and the local communities it serves.

As part of the 12 Days of Giving, Frontier wanted to give back to its customers and beloved charities in a big way. From Dec. 10 through Dec. 21, Frontier gave away a different prize every day to help its customers power through the season. Additionally, to wrap up its year of giving, Frontier Communications sent out a special group of elves to surprise its charitable partners with holiday donations that would provide support to local families and children to carry them into the new year. You can watch those special deliveries by viewing the video below and read more about the 12 Days of Giving here.

Adweek: Why Data is Now the Driving Force Behind Event Marketing Success

"Being able to reach a consumer in the right place, at the right time and with the right message allows us to develop targeted, immersive experiences that can successfully accelerate a brand beyond a single moment in time. It provides the foundation for a brand to build long-lasting relationships with consumers."
– Lisa Fasana, VP, Account Management, Marketing Werks

Building personalized experiences

Lisa Fasana VP, Account Management

Lisa Fasana
VP, Account Management

Marketing Werks VP, Account Management, Lisa Fasana, shared insights with Adweek into how data is leveraged when developing an experiential marketing campaign. She explained how driving brand advocacy requires you to follow the data to develop successful consumer experiences. Read the complete article below.

In this era of personalized, one-to-one engagement, brands are increasingly turning to experiential and event marketing to create rich, emotional connections with consumers. 

From huge events and sponsorships to small, guerilla-style activations, experiential and event marketers are generating new, highly creative initiatives that demand consumer attention. As important, these events become fodder for social media, encouraging Tweets, Instagrams, Snaps and streams. This not only amplifies the reach of an individual event, but also provides sponsors with unique, real-time insights into how consumers react to the campaigns.

In fact, experiential campaigns are going beyond brand awareness to drive direct ROI, whether in the form of immediate sales or, more importantly, in terms of the consumer data that can be gathered and analyzed. On-site registration and giveaways drive qualified leads. Event hashtags provide metrics for consumer engagement. Deeper social listening data gives a sense of overall event impact.

That's not to say that brand perception is no longer important to experiential. Just the opposite is true. According to the Event Marketing Institute's 2016 Event Track benchmarking report, 72 percent of consumers said they positively view brands that provide quality event content and experiences. More importantly, 74 percent indicated that engaging with branded event marketing experiences makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted. That explains why the study found that more than half of brand marketers were increasing their spending on experiential campaigns and events.

"The power and impact of experiences that create emotional connections between brands and consumers is finally being appreciated and understood," says Chris Meyer, CEO of experiential agency George P. Johnson. "This is being driven by three things: 1. A shift in preferences by millennials who not only expect but prefer experiences over any other engagement. 2. Data driven platforms that allow hyper-personalization and much stronger metrics.  3. Heightened creative thinking applied to experience design to create unique and valuable interactions. Experiential has finally taken its place at the adult table as it relates to marketing mix and investment.”

Millennials' thirst for experiences—and their desire to share those experiences with their social networks—remains a crucial driver of experiential and event marketing success. Netflix took advantage of this for the promotion of its revival of Gilmore Girls, a show with a strong millennial audience. This past October it transformed more than 200 local coffee shops across the country into Luke's Diner, the fictional hangout on the series. Working with its agency Allied Experiential, it recruited shops based on their location and their ability to attract 20- to 30-year-olds who were most likely to be one-time fans of the show.

Brands are further upping the ante with millennials by leveraging emerging technologies such as VR to immerse consumers in these experiences. In fact, it seems like having a VR headset available is now almost a requirement for a successful event. During last year's SxSW conference, Anheuser-Busch set up the Budweiser Beer Garage to engage the tech-savvy attendees. The highlight: a virtual brewery tour in which attendees strapped on a VR headset for a multisensory journey seeing how Budweiser is made.

"Brand experiences must put the audience at the center because their access to information is limitless and their ability to create is more robust than at any other moment in our history," says Chris Cavanaugh, EVP and CMO of Freeman. "This means we have to create meaning and value or they simply won't engage. We're on the constant hunt to uncover new ways to inform, amplify and extend their online and in-real-life experiences. The experience has to be worthy of their time."

"Today, the consumer is the boss and in charge of shaping their brand experience," concurs Lisa Fasana, VP of account management at agency Marketing Werks. "When developing an activation strategy, agencies must think about how to meet the unique individual needs of the consumer. Ultimately, the consumer is who will control the outcome of their experience."

Enhanced by Big Data

Experiential events have long had the ability to produce torrents of data for brands and agencies. But using that data has been a challenge. While posting comments or images of an event to social channels is de rigueur for attendees, simply measuring social reach doesn't take into account what is being said. That's why brands are now taking more advantage of social listening platforms to hear what is being said and organize the unstructured data generated by an event. Image recognition now makes it easier to identify photos posted to Instagram, Snapchat and other visual channels.

"Data is absolutely changing the game for those who can capitalize on it," says Scott Kellner, VP of marketing at George P. Johnson. "[We're] using it to inform strategy and creative, measuring during execution and creating actionable insights post event. The customers get more personalized experiences and our clients can measure ROI. It's a game changer."

Agency executives believe that using data can make activations more personal and powerful. Consumers are increasingly accustomed to personalization in their daily lives—and want it at the events they attend as well. VR, mobile apps and second-screen engagement linked to an activation can provide real-time digital feedback that can enhance an event experience.

"Big data does help to deliver better, more effective experiential marketing programs," says Fasana of Marketing Werks. "Being able to reach a consumer in the right place, at the right time and with the right message allows us to develop targeted, immersive experiences that can successfully accelerate a brand beyond a single moment in time. It provides the foundation for a brand to build long-lasting relationships with consumers."

A More Active Role

With brand experience more important than ever, experiential agencies are being engaged earlier in the process. Events, sponsorships, tours, pop-up stores and the like are becoming more critical to overall campaign success.

"There are now blurred lines between the different marketing disciplines. Strategy can come from any agency and the best idea wins," says Mia Choi, founder and chief creative offices at MAS Event + Design. "We're no longer trying to adapt creative to the physical space, but are instead often coming up with the campaign idea and integrating experiential elements into it right from the start,"

Choi points to a recent program MAS did with Condé Nast for Lincoln Motor Company that started as physical, event-oriented activation, but ultimately morphed into a larger integrated campaign.

Aardvark Event Logistics, which works with agencies to provide mobile tour support, is also seeing a shift. "We're starting to hear a lot more from strategists than from creative departments," says Larry Borden, founder and CEO. "The strategists are coming to us with clear objectives and firm business goals versus just a creative vision. This signals to me that mobile tours, sampling efforts and pop-up shops are now an important part of the marketing mix instead of just being a really cool piece of eye candy."

Marketing Werks featured in Adweek’s 2016 Experiential & Event Marketing Guide


View the complete piece here or read the synopsis below.

Think One-to-One for Experiential Engagement

What does it take to forge a personal connection between consumers and brands?

At Marketing Werks, success means creating experiences that are equally memorable and motivating so consumers feel that brands understand them and speak to them one-to-one. 

The agency builds programs that capture attention, stir emotion and accelerate advocacy, believing that experiential marketing can serve as a kind of real-world focus group for brands to interact with and learn from consumers.

By creating experiences in an environment that, by design, facilitates meaningful trial, the agency drives brand advocacy. It does this by giving brands the opportunity to show up anywhere consumers go, from pop-ups to in-market solutions, from hyper-local to large builds, and via sponsorships, promotions and digital/social connection between consumers and amplification.

It is part of what Marketing Werks calls interactive sampling.

Consider its work for U.S. Cellular’s big-time sponsorship of University of Nebraska football. In addition to on-site activation, the company presents Husker Fantasy Camp, a once-in-a- lifetime VIP experience that gives fans exclusive access to their favorite football team.

This year, Marketing Werks amped up the excitement with breakthrough ideas such as a multi-acre corn maze near campus, leveraging social influencers to spread video of its creation.

At events surrounding the stadium and in local communities, it used U.S. Cellular devices to deliver virtual reality experiences showing fans what it would be like to win a trip to Husker Fantasy Camp.


Marketing Werks Named a 2017 PROMO Top Shop

Marketing Werks, a CROSSMARK Company, has been named to the 2017 PROMO Top Shops. For a 10th consecutive year, the company joins the ranks of the Top 100 U.S. Promotion Marketing Agencies as selected by the editors of Chief Marketer — the trusted source of insights and ideas for more than 140,000 marketers.

Marketing Werks builds experiential campaigns that accelerate brand advocacy. Recognized as an industry leader, Marketing Werks has redefined the consumer/brand experience.

“We are honored to again be named to Chief Marketer’s annual list of the top promotion marketing agencies in North America,” said Holly Meloy, SVP Managing Director. “I couldn’t be prouder to lead this agency and of our people… who develop the experiences that have landed Marketing Werks on the list of PROMO Top Shops for more than a decade.”

PROMO Top Shops is an online searchable directory highlighting each agency’s core services, contact information and company snapshot. Both brand marketers looking for exceptional agencies and agencies seeking experienced partners to work with viewed this easy-to-use resource on ChiefMarketer.com almost 73,000 times over the year.


Click here to view our complete agency listing.

Cari DeVille-Wilber Rejoins Marketing Werks

Industry veteran returns to agency as VP, Growth & Strategy

Cari DeVille-Wilber VP, Growth & Strategy

Cari DeVille-Wilber
VP, Growth & Strategy

Marketing Werks announced today that industry veteran Cari DeVille-Wilber rejoined the agency as its VP, Growth & Strategy. After two years at FUSION Marketing, a WME | IMG Global Partnerships Company, as VP, Strategy and Engagement, she returns to Marketing Werks to lead the agency’s strategic growth initiatives.

Wilber began her career at Marketing Werks in 2003 as a Chocolate Ambassador for the iconic Hershey’s Kissmobile. For 10 years she managed and produced award-winning and results-oriented client campaigns. As Director of Engagement, Wilber helped fuel rapid growth for Marketing Werks, generating revenue in excess of $60 million.

In her new role, Wilber will join the executive team and report to Marketing Werks SVP, Managing Director, Holly Meloy. She will be responsible for overseeing the growth team and leading department cross-collaboration. This collaboration will help inform engagement strategies with current and future clients and strengthen Marketing Werks’ already strong position in the experiential space.

As a builder of brand experiences, Wilber has been instrumental for over a decade in developing engagement strategies for well-known brands including: Sony, Hershey’s, Unilever, Purina, Verizon, Pernod Ricard, Kia, United Health Group and Country Financial.

“We are proud to welcome Cari back to Marketing Werks. She brings a wealth of industry knowledge which complements our existing leadership team; plus, a genuine passion for our business, our clients and our people,” said Meloy. 

Meloy continued: “Cari shares in our philosophy that targeted, immersive consumer experiences enable trial that can accelerate a brand beyond a single moment in time. Her leadership will be felt across our company, and I am confident she will be integral to our growth. Adding Cari to our roster positions us to win.”

Wilber adds: “My career has been centered on building campaigns for brands that understand that immersive, consumer engagement is one of the most important ways to earn share of mind, and of wallet. To be back at the agency that sparked the experiential marketing revolution, and where my career began, is incredibly exciting. I look forward to being a strategic partner for the agency and our clients so that together we can build effective campaigns that cultivate brand growth. It feels good to be back home at Marketing Werks.”

Vote for Marketing Werks in the SXSW PanelPicker

Torre Gentile VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Torre Gentile
VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Head over to PanelPicker and join the SXSW community in choosing which topics and sessions will be featured at SXSW 2017! When you get there, be sure to vote for our session featuring our very own VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Torre Gentile.

The SXSW Conference is the premiere conference for industry leaders to discuss trending topics, and we can’t wait to share our thoughts.

The proposed session “The New Digital Strategy: Social Meets Design” will describe how the evolution of communication has brought designers and social strategists into the same room. Digital strategy and design go hand-in-hand and both are vital to producing thoughtful work. Throughout the session, Gentile and his co-presenters will show attendees how to best leverage both roles.

The SXSW conference agenda is selected by your votes. We (including our partners at INK Public Relations) need your support to make this session a reality. Go and vote now! You have until Sept. 2 to make your vote count!

Don’t wait! Voting only takes a few minutes. Here is how it works:

  1. Go here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com
  2. Create an account. (It takes less than 2 minutes. We promise.)
  3. Search “The New Digital Strategy: Social Meets Design”
  4. Click the “Thumbs Up” icon and support our idea!

Is Pokémon Go Effective Experiential Marketing?

Torre Gentile VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Torre Gentile
VP, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Pokémon Go is a fad. No, really, it is. Do you expect crowds of people to still be forming at parks to catch Pokémon months from now? How about chasing them around outside when it is 10 degrees outside in January? 

While the hype of Pokémon Go will no doubt fade, the application of augmented realty is a trend that will influence marketing strategy for years to come. The game’s design also highlights important key lessons that experiential marketers should always consider when developing their own brand experiences.

Nostalgia & Loyalty

One marketing tactic Niantic and Nintendo nailed with Pokémon Go was their connection to a well-known, powerhouse brand, the Pokémon Company. By pairing the augmented reality experience with Pokémon, the app tapped into a nostalgic millennial audience and quickly developed a loyal fan base eager to relive childhood reminiscences.

Accessibility & Low learning Curve

While Pokémon Go was an immediate success with millennials, the game’s accessibility and low learning curve has ultimately attracted users from as young as 13 years old up through over the age of 50. The game, free for download, is intuitive to use. Upon adding the app to their smart phones, users can immediately start playing and learn as they go.

Provide Value & Reward Ongoing Investment

Pokémon Go not only has 75 million downloads, but a third of those downloads are by daily active users – and it is the game’s incentives that keep them regularly engaged. As users catch Poké Balls, the game is equipped with level ups, potions, revives, incenses and “unlockables” that provide the game with value. The more users play, the more items they receive, thus the stronger they are in battle. Pokémon Go constantly rewards users’ ongoing investments.

As experiential marketers we should applaud Pokémon Go for its success. The most successful experiential marketing campaigns cultivate powerful, long-lasting relationships between a brand and consumer, and without a doubt, that is what Pokémon Go has done with its more than 25 million fans. But the mobile game should also serve as a reminder that we should not get so wrapped up in the phenomenon that is “Team Mystic” or “Team Valor” that we forget this, too, shall pass. (SurveyMonkey already reported that downloads soared incredibly after the game’s release, but peaked a week later, showing a decline in new users.)

It is safe to say that Pokémon Go has secured its place in our cultural lexicon. The phrase “Catch ‘em all,” will mean something to not only the millennial generation, but to all generations past, present and future. 


Featured In Event Marketer: Firestone Drives IndyCar Fans Wild

Photo Credit: Event Marketer

Photo Credit: Event Marketer

It was a historic moment for the Firestone brand, which competed in the first Indy 500 in 1911, and this year on May 29 crowned its 67th Indy 500 champion, more than all other tire manufacturers combined. Read this special feature from Event Marketer to learn how Firestone’s fan experience drove excitement among race fan’s at this years INDYCAR 500!

Read the full article here

Marketing Werks Wins Gold EX Award At EMS 2016, Transforms Event With Flavor Tripping Experience and New Digital Rollout


The Hershey’s REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup “Spin Your Beat” tour, developed and executed by Marketing Werks, won the Gold EX Award in the “Best Multicultural Event Campaign” category at the 2016 EX Awards. The EX Awards  — powered by Event Marketer Magazine — is the world’s largest and most prestigious recognition program for experiential marketing.

The Gold EX Award winning campaign was a series of sampling events designed to reach Hispanic Millennials that mashed different music genres and dance styles together to show that unexpected combinations like peanut butter and chocolate can be awesome. Complete with DJs, dancers and delicious REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, the campaign turned unexpected combinations into a must-try experience.

This year’s EX Awards drew a record-breaking 1,000 entries from around the world. Winners were announced in 23 categories at the annual EX Awards Gala on May 4 in Denver as part of the 2016 Experiential Marketing Summit.

EMS montage.jpg

Marketing Werks headed to Denver this year to bring home an EX Award, but the agency also transformed the event itself. At the summit’s opening reception, attendees were treated to a sensory tasting experience that left participants #TrippingatEMS—flipping their taste buds upside down with “miracle berry” samples. The Marketing Werks flavor tripping experience offered a flight of flavors, including citrus fruits that turned sour into sweet, strawberries and sour cream that tasted like the sweetest cake, and salt and vinegar potato chips that offered notes of kettle corn. It was a transformative experience, and just a small taste of what Marketing Werks can do. Learn more about how Marketing Werks transformed #EMS2016 below.

The agency’s taste tripping experience was only the beginning of their event participation. The summit was also a platform to highlight a new exclusive Marketing Werks digital offering — Programmatic ExperientialTM. Torre Gentile, VP, Digital Strategy & Innovation and Lisa Fasana, VP, Account Management presented two back-to-back sessions that illuminated how Marketing Werks uses Programmatic Experiential to amplify client events and generate greater engagement and ROI through real-time metrics and geo-locational marketing. The pair even referenced the previous night’s taste tripping experience for a live example of how Programmatic Experiential is a powerful approach to bring campaigns to life and connect with target audiences.

“As marketers, Programmatic Experiential allows us to bridge the gap between what a brand’s audience experiences on their screens across many devices, and how they personally experience a brand before, during, and after a live event,” said Torre Gentile, VP, Digital Strategy & Innovation. “Instead of viewing consumers’ many digital touch points as a distraction for the brand, our approach to Programmatic Experiential leverages these touch points to form a cohesive online and offline strategy that leads to more compelling, customized experiences.”

He adds: “Consumers win because they get more of what they want and what's relevant to them. Brands win because they get to attract and/or interact and engage with someone who is truly invested in their brand.”