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DiMassimo Goldstein blog

Welcome to our blog! Each week, our inspiring action content creators work hard to update this page with the latest and greatest in the world of DiGo.

The A-List Podcast: Episode 009 with Megan Skelly

In the ninth episode of “The A-List” podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein Chief Creative Officer Tom Christmann chats with his long-time friend Megan Skelly, the Group Executive Creative Director at R/GA. Megan has been the creative lead on some of the world’s biggest name brands such as Coca-Cola, Target, Stella Artois, and most recently Verizon Wireless. Last year, Business Insider named her one of the “30 Most Creative Women in Advertising” – an honor that she fully deserves.

Tune in and hear Megan and Tom talk about their time together at Kirshenbaum, stepping over dead bodies, not being afraid to be stupid and so much more. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [00:00 – 01:36] Intro
  • [01:37 – 09:24] Megan talks about her childhood in Connecticut and her aspirations of becoming a painter
  • [09:25 – 13:40] Living on a pull out couch for three years in Westport and trying to get a job in the recession
  • [13:41 – 19:20] Moving to New York City and working at Wonderman
  • [19:21 – 26:00] Megan talks about her role models in the industry
  • [26:01 – 31:03] Working on Cablevision at KBS and becoming a storyteller
  • [31:04 – 37:16] “Making it”, using fear as a motivator, and trusting the process
  • [37:17 – 44:20] Not being afraid to be stupid and knowing your strengths
  • [44:21 – 46:05] Why the industry is more exciting today than ever
  • [46:06 – 54:50] The different DNA of R/GA
  • [54:41 – 55:52] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.

7 Things Challenger Brands Do Differently

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Apple. Virgin. Southwest. JetBlue. Crunch. Snapple. Groupon. BlueFly. Zappos. The Motley Fool. What do these brands have in common? They’re challengers, and successful ones at that.

They’ve mastered the art of zagging where others have tended to zig. They’ve taken on the goliaths of their industries and come out on top. The truth is, it’s a challenging world out there, and every marketer these days needs to be a successful challenger or go down.

Market leadership doesn’t create an exception. Look at Citibank and IBM, for example. By becoming their own best competition, they’ve looked like ready challengers, reinvented their businesses and continued to grow.

Here’s what challengers do differently:

1) The top dog is INVOLVED. Intimately.

Some folks think the reason they got degrees and big titles was so that they could independently run their own empire. Some of these people are actually pretty smart. But nine times out of ten, this attitude will do them in.

A boss is not a meddler to be avoided. If you were playing chess, you wouldn’t leave your Queen in the background and try to fight it out endlessly with your lesser pieces. Or would you?

Forget the org chart. Every player on the board is on your team. Use them!

If you want to make things happen @speed, you want the least distance between you and your boss. And you want to access the power your boss has to smooth situations and to make good tactical decisions into great strategic initiatives. Plus, you want the power to change things that you’re not personally responsible for, because changing those things will make all the difference in your ability to create success. So, you bring your boss in as a collaborator and ally. As much as possible, you lead hand in hand. It’s the challenger’s way to use every last person.

2) The advertising conversation and the business conversation are THE SAME CONVERSATION.

Don’t separate what you’re doing from why you’re doing it, even for a moment. You never want to be the one saying, “But we failed with work that was on the strategy we were given!” That is a level of responsibility, but it’s the wrong level.

You want to be responsible for the success of the enterprise. You want the brand and business to reach its full potential. You want to use not just your authority but your influence. Because nothing beats being a part of something great and you don’t want to leave that to chance.

In this context, great advertising is advertising that works for the business and brand. It brings the business strategy to life. It creates the connection that reflects the intentions of the business while both suggesting and fulfilling its promise.

This is where experience meets selling meets branding.

3) The work is seen as the ultimate weapon for conquering the competition.

Where is the unfair advantage to be found? You are not in a position to outspend. You’re not going to break the law. Or trying to change it to favor you. But you can pack more power into the product, the packaging, the service, the story, the propaganda. You can be smarter about the technology, the testing strategy, more ingenious and industrious about the optimizations.

You can win it in the marketplace of ideas. So, do that.

4) The brand is seen as a precious asset and the ultimate defensive fortification against copycats and commoditisers.

Challengers build unique brands and they value them above all else. Customers are intensely loved, but they come and go. Employees are highly valued, but the sort who are attracted to a challenger business can only be held by a great brand. A unique culture and point of view is often the only thing to hold onto in the perfect storm of growth.

A brand is armor and a full tank of gas. A brand is everything. And you only need a business to build one!

5) The VISION of the top dog drives the advertising.

Steve Jobs met every other week for intensive sessions with Lee Clow, the creative chairman of his advertising agency. In the most successful challenger businesses, the vision for the brand and advertising comes from the top. No question about it.

That kind of courage and purity of vision can’t be bought. It can’t be outsourced. No committee could sustain it. For a business that has its founder to get the full advantage of that fact, the vision must be owned and driven from the top.

6) The vision of the agency and the vision of the client are complimentary and synergistic.

The mutual inspiration society should include client and agency, vigorous discussions, sharing inspiration, lots of choices, and plenty of going back to the well.

The most sophisticated team wins.

7) Decisions get made in meetings, not just in between.

In big, bloated bureaucracies, meetings only ratify decisions that are made elsewhere. Which is why most people in those places feel that there time is wasted in meetings. Because it is.

But you don’t have time to waste. So you’re not going to protect your own ego or anyone else’s by pretending for a second to agree with what you don’t. You’re going to have real conversations. In front of whoever is there. And when some people complain about that and they try to negotiate with you to stop the open, inclusive, challenging, passionate dialogue, you are going to say, “I understand how you feel. And, no. Absolutely not. Because that would be replacing occasional discomfort with the endless pain of mediocrity and failure. Which you wouldn’t tolerate for long… you’d be gone. So, no! Let’s just agree to be respectful to each other, to put the good of the work first, and to say exactly what is on our minds.”

 

On Building a Marketing Blaze

Many people have learned to start a fire from the bottom, with kindling and firestarters underneath, then small twigs, and larger wood on top.

Expert firestarters will tell you to reverse that method – for more certain results, start with the top.

Brands built around a powerful emotional match – a single emotional strike zone ignited by a powerful emotional idea that sits above and informs every brand touchpoint – tend to grow faster and burn hotter.

Many marketers try to build a cohesive brand and a self-perpetuating business through offers, promotions, personalization and other performance marketing techniques. Starting from the bottom creates an unruly fire that needs constant tending and that often fails to achieve the integrity and heat of a self-perpetuating blaze.

Starting from the bottom leads to a common marketing malady –the balkanization of target.

Today personalization and micro-segmentation are all the rage. Performance marketers have built a multi-billion dollar industry, but much of the value they capture in the short-term is at the cost of the long-term brand and enterprise value of their clients.

Make no mistake, igniting action is essential to the creation of value, but action at the cost of brand is unsustainable and irresponsible.

Often the process of building a sustainable and growing blaze starts with putting the brand back together again.

Starting with key segments and personas, the successful marketer looks for a singular “emotional strike zone” – a common emotional target that is shared.

The “emotional match” is the key idea or purpose that strikes that target and ignites passion.

The process looks like this:

 Segments and personas -> Emotional Strike Zone -> Emotional Match

 Once the team understands the emotional strike zone and the emotional match, attention is turned to accelerating the actions that create value and growth for the brand and business.

When you start from the top, you build a marketing blaze that becomes self-perpetuating. You set it and feed it and the heat does more and more of your work for you. Does it really work? Check out some of our clients’ recent public results.

 

The A-List Podcast: Episode 008 with Rob Schwartz

“Everything is interesting. If you find something boring, then you’re boring”

This week on “The A-List” podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein Chief Creative Officer Tom Christmann is joined in the studio by Rob Schwartz, the Chief Executive Officer at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY New York. Before becoming CEO, Schwartz enjoyed a long and very successful career as a creative, winning nearly every advertising award under the sun and spearheading the creative behind some of the world’s most recognized brands such as Nissan, McDonald’s, VISA, and Thomson Reuters, among others. Rob is also the host of his own podcast titled “The Disruptor Series,” for which he interviews people who are disrupting business culture and life.

In this episode, Tom and Schwartz break down the differences and similarities between agencies in LA and New York, discuss the managerial prowess of pirates, and talk about how the position of CEO is still very much a creative role. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes:

  • [0:00 – 1:02] Intro
  • [1:03 – 4:12] Rob’s childhood in New York and aspirations of becoming a writer
  • [4:13 – 9:30] Rob’s story of tearing up his LSAT during the test
  • [9:31 – 11:20] Rob’s experience in a leadership training school
  • [11:21 – 15:50] The epiphany that ultimately launched Rob’s advertising career
  • [15:51 – 20:43] Becoming an ad geek historian
  • [20:44 – 26:50] Mentorship and the value of work ethic
  • [26:51 – 28:59] The fear of failure
  • [29:00 – 34:20] The difference between agencies in LA and New York
  • [34:21 – 36:27] Working with supreme talent at Team One
  • [36:28 – 39:20] Catching the eye of Chiat
  • [39:21 – 47:20] The transition from a creative to a CEO and why it’s cooler to be the pirates than the navy
  • [47:21 – 50:17] Rob’s advice to young creatives
  • [50:18 – 52:13] The future of advertising
  • [52:14 – 55:52] Recommended books and “The Disruptor Series”
  • [55:53 – 56:56] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.
 

The A-list Podcast: Episode 007 with Gerry Graf

“I try to be really clear at what I’m not good at and then think about how I can change that… it’s about just being honest with yourself”

This week on “The A-List” podcast, host and chief creative officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with the one and only Gerry Graf, founder and chief creative officer of Barton F. Graf.

Before starting his own agency, Graf spent the better half of two decades making award-winning creative for some of the most well-respected agencies in the world, such as Goodby Silverstein and Partners, BBDO, TBWA/Chiat Day, and Saatchi among others. For his outstanding work, Business Insider would later label him “The Most Creative Man in Advertising”.

Tune in as Gerry tells Tom all about his time writing for the “SNL of Notre Dame”, hunting rats in Venice Beach, the importance of making your own opportunities and why creativity is valued more today than ever. Full episode and show notes below!

Show Notes

  • [0:00 – 1:42] Intro
  • [1:43 – 4:56] Tom and Gerry’s past at BBDO and what it was like growing up in Lexington, MA
  • [4:57 – 7:30] Going pre-med to Notre Dame
  • [7:31 – 13:07] Writing for the Keenan Revue – the SNL of Notre Dame
  • [13:08 – 14:23] Post Notre Dame life and hunting rats in Venice Beach for six months
  • [14:24 – 17:15] Hating life as a stockbroker for two years in Boston
  • [17:15 – 22:03] Gery’s first portfolio, getting denied from agencies, and the introduction of Ken Fitzgerald
  • [22:04 – 25:48] Being offered a job at Saatchi & Saatchi while on a payphone in Grand Central
  • [25:49 – 27:13] The walk of shame
  • [27:14 – 29:22] Emulating Cliff Freeman
  • [29:23 – 37:50] Gerry’s “pull the rug” copywriting trick and getting his big break on Snickers while at BBDO
  • [37:51 – 44:54] Working at Goodby and finally Reuniting with Ken Fitzgerald after over a decade
  • [44:55 –50:25] Making your own opportunities, asking the right questions and not giving up
  • [50:26 – 52:43] Selling and maintaining a good idea
  • [52:44 – 57: 42] Getting in the industry today and valuing creativity
  • [57:43 – 58:57] Outro

“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.

 

The A-List Podcast: Episode 006 with Matt Ian

In the sixth installment of The A-List Podcast, host and chief creative officer of DiMassimo Goldstein Tom Christmann chats with Matt Ian, Group Creative Director at Droga5. For just under an hour, Christmann and Ian talk about everything from getting fired and bouncing back in your career, to the art of the headline, and how students can succeed in the industry today. Full episode and show notes below!

  • [0:00 – 1:04] Intro
  • [1:05 – 7:05] Matt’s childhood playing music in Greenwich, Connecticut
  • [7:06 – 11:53] Attending the Pratt Institute
  • [11:54 – 22:45] Matt’s first gig at Lambesis and living in Pasadena, California
  • [22:46 – 27:59] Working on Airwalk and transitioning from an art director to a copywriter
  • [28:00 – 29:40] The art of the headline
  • [29:41 – 32:18] How getting fired made Matt work harder than ever
  • [32:19 –34:20] Matt’s time working at Chiat Day
  • [34:21 – 37:50] The fear of being mediocre and how words are stupid
  • [37:51 – 45:34]: Working at Droga5 and how to get ahead in the industry
  • [45:35 – 51:47] Matt and Tom talk about what they look for in new hires
  • [51:48 – 52:30] Outro

 “The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter. If you want to be interviewed for an upcoming episode, contact us at AdhouseNYC.com.

Escape From Splitsville

Agencies are split. They are bifurcated, balkanized.

Advertising from sales promotion. Creative from media. TV from digital. Brand from business. Consumer from B2B. Social from experiential. Strategy from execution. Content from Identity from Innovation.

Each responsible for their deliverable. None accountable for the client’s success.

And paid to treat decision makers as if they’re split too.

Rational vs. emotional. Buyers vs. brand users. E-mail responders vs. mobile app users.

But decision makers aren’t split. They’re whole human beings. Hearts and minds together. Real people who think for themselves and are susceptible to social influence as well.

Whole people who respond to whole brand experiences. Amazing, coherent, inspiring brand experiences that move them to engage, to hope, to trust, to desire, to share, to dream, to buy and to bond.

The experiences you create, and the purpose and meaning behind them, are what people talk about. They share, rate, report and buy experiences, and as they do, reputations are formed.

We have lived on the split side, worked in those agencies, large and small, every one of us as experts in our own silos, cut off from the whole.

We each chose the whole brand experience. The integrated, cross-trained team. The challenge of collaborating with the client to create the whole solution.

Here we are gladly accountable for the deliverables, but equally we are anxious to share accountability for your reputation, your brand and your growth.

We help our clients inspire people to make more inspiring decisions and form more empowering habits, connections and partnerships.

We work to be worthy of that whole partnership, and we’re as proud of our results as we are of our work.

Because today, your brand isn’t what you tell people it is.  Your brand is what people tell people it is.


21 Years of Inspiring Action

Next Friday, May 5th, the agency will officially turn 21 years of age.

As an agency so focused on the future – accountable for building our clients brands and driving results – we seldom have the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the past.

But for this, our coming-of-age party, we will make an exception. We’re finally legal to drink, and there’s a lot to raise our glass to.

First and foremost, for 21 years of building truly inspiring partnerships with our clients, both old and new. Together, we’ve been able to bring so many beautiful and inspiring ideas to life. BIG ideas. Ideas that inspire people to make more inspiring decisions and form more empowering habits. These are the ideas that help change the world, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have collaborated on them with you.

To 21 years of always remaining true to our core values of love, courage, and understanding.  While the industry has changed over the last two decades, our values have not. They are the pillars that this agency was founded on, and we’re proud to have never wavered from them.

To 21 years of being fully transparent and honest with our media, and using these practices to create powerful brand associations and increase acquisition efficiency. Where much of the industry has fallen short, we have not. We have and always will be completely accountable to our clients, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

To 21 years of designing phenomenal fulfillment experiences and iconic actions. These are the experiences that emotionally connect the brand to the consumer. They take brand advocates and turn them into devotees, and they start well before most people realize. Every interaction and every touchpoint is designed with the user in mind.

All the people, relationships, hard work, innovations, creativity and undying displays of empathy have made these past 21 years so rewarding.

So with that in mind, please join us at our agency next week as we celebrate 21 years in business. You can RSVP to the event on Facebook HERE. We’d love to see you there.

Our match has been struck, and it’s burning hotter and brighter than ever. We can’t wait to see this marketing blaze grow. Here’s to the next 21.

Cheers,

The DiMassimo Goldstein Team