Category: marketing-gestalt.

Super Bowl LI was flush with historic milestones. It was the first overtime game. It was the first time a team won after being ten points behind. It was the first time a quarterback won five Super Bowls.

Both the Patriots and Falcons left it all on the field. They took gambles and risks, but so did several brands.

Typically, the Monday morning quarterbacks/critics are talking about what Super Bowl television commercials ranked the highest and which one tanked. Instead, many are talking about the brands that took a risk by going political.

Airbnb, 84 Lumber, Budweiser, Coco-Cola, Kia Motors, Audi and even the NFL all took huge risks. Will their strategies earn them gold rings or cause more handwringing?
As consumers, many of us just wanted to watch the game. Others want and like their brands to stand for something. However, the country is heavily divided on the topics these brands tackled. And based on a sampling of comments on social media, the reviews and feelings are extremely mixed.

Only time will tell if the reward will outweigh the risk. Did they score with a majority of consumers or cause them to push back and boycott these brands?

In 1970, astronauts John Swigert, Jr. and James Lovell along with Fred Haise Jr. made up the crew of Apollo 13. During their moon flight, they reported a problem back to Houston. Forever ingrained in American folklore, the actual phase uttered by astronaut Jack Swigert was “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Apollo 13 B

The crew of the Apollo 13 moon flight reported a major technical fault in the electrical system of one of the Service Module’s oxygen tanks. It was a genuine report of a life-threatening fault. Since then, this misquoted statement is often used humorously to report any kind of problem.

But, what if that wasn’t the case? What if the PC police told us that we couldn’t use “problem” because it was a negative term? That if they told us the appropriate phase is “Houston, we have a challenge.”

Just imagine the dire concern, sense of urgency and need for rapid response, after hearing astronaut Swigert exclaim, “Houston we’ve had a challenge here.”

It really isn’t that farfetched or hard to imagine. Many businesses and organizations have instituted a ban of negative statements and terms. In their marketing plans, the word “problem” has been replaced by the word “challenge.”

In their advertising, you can’t use “can’t” and other “not” words, or sell the solution by expressing or illustrating the problem first. Any and all negative statements must be flopped and presented in positive and friendlier terms. Often meaning the real meaning and power is lost. And while it’s not a life and death situation like Apollo 13, it can mean the difference between someone reacting and responding to your ad message and doing business with your competitor.

It definitely makes the competitive space harder to navigate and control. And makes it harder for us to successfully launch and guide brands and deliver the payload – share of mind and share of wallet.

So it’s fair to say, “Houston, we have a problem!”

You may have heard the quote…John Wanamaker famously and humorously stated, “Half my advertising is wasted, I don’t know which half.” This quote is over a century old, but still resonates today.

Ask any CFO or accountant and they will tell you that marketing is an expense. It’s one of those line items that can be easily cut when times are tough and sales are slow.

Ask any CEO or business owner and they will tell you that marketing is an investment. It’s the last thing to cut in tough times

So who is right? It’s an age-old debate that in the digital age is becoming much easier to discern.

If you sell products online, you can measure and monetize your digital marketing effort with sales. “Click, order and ship” makes tracking dollars-spent to dollars-made any easy calculation. Few bean counters will argue that point. Package the promotion of any product or service with discounts offers or online support and the direct revenue typically increases by severalfold.

Under these scenarios, a performance-based contract with your agency is a wise investment. Setting performance benchmarks and establishing incentives for sales revenue is a recipe for success. Most marketing professionals live for this opportunity to show their stuff and prove their worth to you, your business and especially, to your CFO.

The same can be said for direct marketing that gives customers a direct response path like a special offer, coupon or loyalty card. That way the process for tracking and measuring performance and ROI is baked in the souffle.


However, trying to apply the same contractual approach across all your marketing efforts is where the souffle falls flat.

When you move beyond direct response advertising, the marketing and sales channels are more complex, less manageable and harder to track revenue performance. Too many cooks in the kitchen…sales coverage and response time, closing skills, product quality, customer satisfaction and pricing complicate the meal and ultimately, the entire deal.

Who gets credit for new revenue is less clear. Tracking it back to a single mailer, radio spot, native ad, online video or display ad is less valid. So unless you want to give your agency control of all four P’s, (product, place, promotion, price), then you can’t give all the credit or all the blame for your revenue performance to one source.

Here is where…CTR, organic search rankings, leads, lead quality, online engagements and impressions become the end game for your agency. Business owners and marketing managers should hold their agencies to these key performance benchmarks and indicators. These metrics are known to have an impact your market awareness, brand value and ultimately, to revenue performance.

No company and no brand can afford to be altruistic without producing return on investment.

So if you’re not tracking and holding your agency accountable to clear objectives and metrics, then John Wanamaker is right and your CFO will continue to win this argument.


Founded in 1933, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the oldest teams in the AFC and one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. The Steelers have won the Super Bowl six out of their eight appearances. The Steelers first Super Bowl appearance and victory was against the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. Over the last 46 years, three coaches have guided this storied franchise – Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.

Three head coaches in the last 46 years! This level of trust and loyalty is rare!

In the last 15 years, another storied NFL franchise the Oakland Raiders had the league’s most head coaches with eight. During this stretch, the Raiders made it into the playoffs only three times.

Is that a result of poor management or a society consumed with instant gratification?

Whatever the reason, the Steelers have bucked the trend to cash in their chips when the cards were down. Or, chase after the hot and trendy coaching candidate climbing with coaching ranks.

How many organizations and marketing directors follow the Steelers’ successful business model? How many recognize and protect the value and equity invested in these partnerships? How many are quick to pull the plug and opt for chasing the latest hot ad shop, PR firm or interactive company?

The stats aren’t that surprising. More follow the Raiders than the Steelers approach. After all, staying the course isn’t always an easy choice or popular decision. Especially, when there is something “shiny” or “bigger and better” to chase after.

In business and life in general, long-term performance too often loses to short-term moves – unless you’re a Pittsburgh Steeler’s coach or fan.

The digital landscape is shifting. The use of ad-blocking software has risen 48 percent within a year so brands have begun to move resources to social media, native advertising and influencer campaigns. We are rethinking the role of digital display ads and their place in the purchase process.


Still, the larger challenge remains. How do we find authentic ways to fit brands into one-to-one messaging platforms without annoying your audiences? The explosive growth of messaging platforms continues to accelerate a warp speed and is expected to expand from 2.5 billion to 3.6 billion global users by 2018 – 25 percent greater than the audience for social media. While one-to-one messaging soars, Facebook has noted that its users are posting less and less ­– in fact, only 20 percent of millennials use broadcast social networks to post photos and videos at all.

However, diminishing returns are showing that using Snapchat as an organic social channel isn’t cost-effective. Nor should we think of it as the next Facebook or Instagram. We need to think of it as new TV. Think appointment-watching, awareness and buying eyeballs ­– not growing communities, editorial calendars and real-time marketing. Think of it as a newfangled TV spot, not regularly scheduled organic snaps to grow your audience.

The digital video space has become more complicated and has to be rethought. You can’t just post your brand’s video to YouTube and syndicate it across other social networks. Your video needs to be optimized for every platform it’s posted on. That is, if you want to bolster its chances of success. Post it on YouTube, but then it needs to be reshaped as a Facebook video, a Twitter video, an Instagram video and potentially a Vine or Tumblr video. That’s for starters. Video needs to be tailored for each platform, optimized for the audience and cultural norms of each. And with live-streaming gaining even more momentum, pushing out that branded content continues to get exponentially more difficult.

Tellys Final

Two of the TV commercials that we produced for the Franciscan St. Francis Health Cancer Center were selected as winners in the 37th Annual Telly Awards.

Competing against over 13,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous other countries, our commercials titled “Cancer Research” and “Cancer Surgery” earned Bronze Telly Awards.

The Telly Awards was founded in 1979 and is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments.

“The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video,” said Linda Day, Executive Director of the Telly Awards. “Lunar Strategies accomplishment illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.”

Besides thanking our moms (and dads), we would like to thank Franciscan St. Francis Health – especially Larry Meade and the Cancer Center physicians, nurses and staff for all their time, passion and support. And two really good guys, David Yosha and David Weyls at Magnet Films, for being key collaborators in the production of these award-winning commercials.

In 2015, Franciscan St. Francis Health not only expanded its physical footprint, but we led the efforts to greatly expand its digital footprint. For seven service lines and two of their hospital campuses, our digital advertising programs outperformed industry benchmarks.

By optimizing our secondary metrics, our digital media placements and creative work surpassed the industry benchmarks and our goals for Click-Thru Rate (CTR) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC). We achieved double and in many cases triple the CTR for display ads, mobile ads, native ads, pre-roll videos, Facebook video ads, and Pandora display and audio ads.


But our ultimate metric and objective is to maximize ROI. By including special call-to-actions and aligning them with operations, we know that our campaign for Women Services delivered even more. It generated over 5-times more in potential revenue than the media dollars invested.

Have you and your team ever spent weeks working on a solution that is enthusiastically embraced by your client, but after a few weeks in their halls it becomes watered down or totally unrecognizable?

I’m sure you have. It’s a safe bet that it happens daily somewhere in the world. But why is that?

It’s pretty simple, really. We answer to our client contact. But they don’t have the final decision. Often, they answer to supervisors, management and/or internal clients. Can you say committees? The whole thing quickly becomes an exercise in group decision making.

So looking to take the path of least resistance and appease as many as possible, consensus building becomes the name of the game.

This is where things can go awry, and your thinking and great work can get lost.

In today’s work environment, enthusiasm for even market-changing or award-winning ideas can fade rapidly. So if your client isn’t 100 percent invested, then how hard do you think they will defend it? If they weren’t engaged in the development process, then how likely are they to fight for it? If you didn’t collaborate with them so “Devil’s Advocate” questions can be quickly dispatched and discarded, then how prepared are they to keep pushing it?

The same can be said for presenting ideas in-house to your colleagues and boss.

Instead of leaving it to consensus building and compromise, strive to create champions or advocates for your ideas. Bring everyone into the process, early and often, so they have ownership. Use collaboration so they own it like you do.

The phrase Own It in magazine letters on a cork notice board

In our business, like many others, there is no avoiding the approval chain and hallway polling so you need to make it easier for solutions to be validated and celebrated. If not, you’re leaving the door open for people who need to leave their mark on it. Not necessarily to make it better, but because they see and sense a lack of conviction and commitment to it.

In an election year, we see how waffling hurts politicians, but it’s equally damaging with office politics. It’s our job to not only own it, but to keep the mojo strong for others so mud doesn’t get tossed on the work.

ob services

In one year, market share for neonatal services at one hospital dropped by 13.8% because several OB physicians elected to change their hospital affiliations. This story is nothing new in the healthcare industry, but it demonstrates how marketing can play a significant role to regain market share caused by an operational issue.
In just two years, the hospital regained 8.1% in market share. And the trend line continues to point up.
How was this accomplished? A small investment was made in marketing to support outreach activities in the community along with a digital marketing and direct marketing campaign.
By executing unique, fun and direct ways to engage moms and mothers-to-be, we were able to deliver big smiles to their faces which translated into delivering more babies, and ultimately, delivering bigger smiles to the faces of the new OB doctors, nurses and hospital administrators.

Over the last few decades, the entertainment industry has been on the leading edge and acceptance of our diverse population and culture in the United States. The sports and music industries were among the firsts to break the color barrier for African Americans and Latin Americans. And sexual preference found support and advocates in the arts – from music to movies, stage to television.

As corporate America signed on, “diversity” became mandatory criteria for the advertising industry.  No longer is it acceptable to only feature European Americans. After all, our country is made up of American Indians, European Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans and Pacific Americans for the most part.

But since humans aren’t bound by simple demographic classifications, taboos got put to the test. Interracial dating and marriage were bridged by showing a European American male with an African American female. But not until recently has the taboo been totally busted by having an African American male with a European American female. Of which, Cheerios became one of the brave American brands to spark public backlash.

But long before all this gnashing of teeth and the toxic tweets to General Mills, one clothing company saw race and these taboos as a cause worthy of discussion and debate so the “United Colors of Benetton” campaign was born. It too had its share of detractors.

Blazing the trail is not a job for the faint of heart.

Today, companies are asking their advertising agencies to realistically represent our great “melting pot” and to help them reach out to underserved minorities. Yet, diversity doesn’t stop at race alone. Religion, physical capabilities and sexual preference are other factors one needs to factor into your campaign strategies and execution.

But at what risk and what reward?

It appears we’re entering a period when companies aren’t afraid to openly engage the LGBT community. While estimated as a small percentage of the total population of our country, gay rights but primarily gay marriage has become the taboo topic of our times. Advertisers such as Expedia, Campbell’s Soup, Wells Fargo, Allstate and American Express have jumped feet first into the fray. Factored into their business calculations are a percentage of lost customers and members along with an acceptable level negative public discourse. And if you read any of the social media posts, you’ll see that to be the case. But time will tell if their efforts and actions will garner new supporters and customers, and become mainstream or place them on the year-end list of brands we might not see in the near future.


Is your company or brand engaged in this trend? Have you bought up the topic with your management executives, marketing team and external communication partners?  Where do you stand? Should you take a stand? Or should you avoid or resist the trend because it runs counter to your beliefs and values, especially if you’re a faith-based organization?

If the topic hasn’t been an item on your meeting agendas, it might be time to add it so you can establish guidelines on how or if it will part of demonstrating customer diversity in 2016 and beyond. But one word of caution, look beyond your doors and market to see what other companies are doing. And be sure to discuss and debate if there is a risk of oversaturation and causing a “net” negative effect, instead of making a positive contribution to the cause and your business.