Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The truth about clients and their agencies (Pam)

I’m going to take a break today from discussing our campaign for this public service announcement. I’ve got something on my mind.

I’ve had an awful lot of conversations lately about the nature of client and agency relationships. Lots gets whispered amongst just us girls, but noone's saying much out loud. So here goes.

The fact is, as I interpret the trends, agencies are on the precipice of becoming completely irrelevant to Canadian business, if they aren’t already.

The reason for this – lack of perceived value. When agency/client relationships are broken, which most are, clients feel like they're being taken for a ride and, as often as not, it's their own fault. Let me qualify this by stating unequivocally that there are exceptions. But, they are few.

Here’s what I see and it’s a vicious circle. Like two cats in a bag.






At least that's how I've seen things play out in my many years in this biz, working on both sides.

Solutions? Yeah, there are lots.

Clients must recognize that agencies require a reasonable margin. They are businesses with shareholders. Agencies must earn that margin by actually providing value. Stop promoting kids before they're ready. How about investing in training and mentoring? Agency staff, particularly junior staff, must accept that earning your chops takes time and it's a mistake to try to rise before it's time. Clients must truly partner with their agencies. They are key to strategic planning. How can agencies have any kind of impact on the growth and direction of a business if they're only briefed project by project? Agencies need the big picture but have to demonstrate that they are good enough to be at the strategy table.

Oh, and then there's having fun. This business is a grinding one. On some days, there's very little to recommend it. So finding moments of pleasure, together, is important. It's pretty easy to do and doesn't have to cost anyone anything.

Okay, that's what I think. Let's discuss.

(NOTE: This discussion bears no reference to WWF's relationship with FCB. In fact, we don't have these problems because we work hard not to. Well, except to say that WWF doesn't pay FCB enough -- but, come on, we're a charity. We do offer lots of other benefits to the partnership aside from money.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Buzzzzzz (Pam)

Looks like the site is hovering around 8.5% conversion. Highly respectable. Most people are putting more than one name in the sky.

The majority of users are entering the site directly. 20% are coming from wwf.ca and 3% are coming from this here blog. Inneresting.

Thanks so much for your support, people!

What we need now are just more people going to the site. We learned, particularly for our hugely successful Do Not Drill campaign (80,000 petition signatures), is that awareness takes time to build. We've only just begun, really.

The buzz does seem to be building. One of our staff members was at the CBC studios for the election night coverage. She said that more than a few people were talking about the campaign.

Pretty cool.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

How I spent my Friday night (Bill)

On Boxing Day I finally ditched my six year old computer and replaced it with one with a blistering fast processor. Does it ever change the online experience. I didn't know what i was missing.

Last night I added the names of my three nieces to the sky at saveourclimate.ca for two reasons. First and most importantly, because it supports a great cause; but in close second, because the site experience is awesome.

As I was watching the virtual sky last night I recognized a number of last, but not first names. Clearly, a lot of my co workers and some of my friends are making their contributions in the names of family members. When we were working through the web creative early in the process, we talked about offering special sentiments for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. Based on what I’m seeing now, it might have been a big idea.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Watching and waiting (Pam)

Names are going up in the sky! People from right across Canada.

There are also names from the U.S. There's someone from Spain and someone from Poland. (People from over 40 countries participated in our Do Not Drill campaign.)

Challenges so far include:

Very little media coverage of our press conference. We knew this would be a problem because of the election. Our campaign was planned in July. It just wasn't possible to move the launch once the writ was dropped.

For some reason, almost none of the TV weight we'd expected in the first three days of the campaign has actually aired. I get a report every morning that details the stations and shows on which the spot airs and the times. Lots missing. Trying to figure out why.

The site itself had a problem when a donor used a weird character and caused all the names in the sky to temporarily disappear. The good news is that people were still able to sign up during this technical glitch. It's fixed.

Wins so far include:

Transit is up and looks great.

Our MSN (we love MSN) deal has an ad and content on the first page of the Home and Lifestyle sections.

The viral potential of the web site seems to be gaining traction given that we're seeing sign-ups at a rate we wouldn't have expected based on very little press coverage and media activity.

We keep receiving a great deal of very positive and enthusiastic feedback from people who have seen and/or used the site.

We'll analyze site activity and conversion rates tomorrow and every day after that. Follow up PR efforts are also in the works.

Tense times as we wait and watch. But no huge warning signs as yet. Early days.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's like crack (Bill)

I watched over Pam's shoulder as she was checking out the reporting site that gives her real time analytics on the Climate Change Microsite - saveourclimate.ca. During the one hour period when she was presenting the campaign and the Climate Change programs to her organization, thirty donations were made; earlier in the day a Skywriter contributed $500. And Pam knew about within minutes.

We thought we had it good when I was at ATT+T Canada Long Distance and we got each day's sales results by noon the next day - it allowed us to optimize our media placement on the fly (at least in theory). With real-time reporting, Pam could practically pick up the phone and personally thank each donor before they had a chance to put their credit card back in their wallet.

There were moments when the real time reporting was tough to watch - the times when Pam refreshed the screen and there hadn't been any activity; but more often than not, it seemed like it would be addictive. Like crack to a Direct Marketer.

That said, there is definitely a buzz at WWF and at the Agency over this, and the online guys are getting the recognition they deserve - this is a world class website.

And as professionally gratifying as it is to be part of world class work like this, it's even more gratifying to see it deliver results.

Check it out (Pam)

I just realised that I've never told you where you can find all the work we've been doing for the past four months.

www.saveourclimate.ca

When you get to the home page, roll your cursor over the stuff flying in the sky and click on it and see what happens.

You can see all the creative in the section called "Our Campaign"

Sign the petition in the section called "Do Your Part"

Put your name in the sky by clicking on "Donate"

Advertising people need to fight climate change, too, ya know.

When the going gets tough, the tough think about shoes (Pam)

The media conference, she is done. I would have written sooner, but I was having beer.

Where to begin? All guests arrived on time and were in great spirits. Logistics were flawless. Content was flawless. What was less flawless was the technology.

When Mike Russill, the prez, introduced the web site, the computer froze. That's right - it didn't work. Worked fine the four times we tried it before.

No worries. Show must go on. Mike explains what the site does and the speaking continues. As that's happening, the computer gets rebooted and the site then performs as previously advertised.

Funny. I wasn't speaking at the conference, but it's amazing how it was I who riveted the audience when the computer crashed. Everyone looking for my reaction. Feeling my pain.

What can a person do at a moment such as this? Grace is what's called for. Grace comes from knowing that no matter what's going on around oneself, if one is wearing great shoes, one can deal with anything.

I was wearing great shoes. The elevator lady at the Tower told me so.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Launch Day II (Pam)

Everyone's getting ready to leave for the media conference. It's happening.

Looked at the web site demo for the conference at 9:00 this morning. It was wrong. No idea how that happened. Will worry about it later. It's correct now.

Nothing like dangling off the side of a cliff to get the blood moving first thing in the morning.

Had a chat with the prez this morning about his speech. We need a rousing, emotional delivery. Not his usual style.

Talked to him about something he said to me when we were reviewing the direct mail copy.

He said that all the work that WWF has done over the past decades -- protecting forests and oceans and our endangered species work -- will be lost if we don't stop climate change.

That brings it home. Talking about that gave him a real spark. He'll do what we need him to do.

I'm going to drink some Diet Coke and medidate over a cigarette.

We have a show to put on. Wish us luck.

Launch Day (Bill)

I just went to SaveOurClimate.ca to see if the Website is up yet. It is not, but there is a holding page announcing the launch today.

It feels like opening night.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pre-launch psychosis (Pam)

Saturday morning and the media event to launch the campaign is on Monday.

This is it. Stomach is in knots.

These are the dark hours of silent introspection. I can't talk to anyone. Don't want to talk to anyone. I am obsessing over every detail. Every word that's been chosen. Every image that's been selected. Every decision we've made over the past four months.

I am responsible. I am accountable. The prez, my boss, the other VPs at WWF leave me free to do my job without interference. They ask tough questions and probe deeply into my strategy and my decisions. I answer to their satisfaction and they trust that I've got it right.

This freedom weighs down on me heavily in these moments. The payback for this freedom is very, very expensive.

I am sick with anxiety.

Have been testing the web site and giving feedback for the past 24-hours. Just looked at the latest iteration. If the site doesn't raise money, I don't know what will.

The media conference is the next hurdle. The speech that Mike Russill, our prez, will say is up to draft seven, could be eight.

This morning emails have been flying between me, Tara, the public relations guru, and Wiseman. Briefing materials for our celebs. DVDs of the creative for the press that attend. The structure for the special web site demo that we'll show.

Logistics in the CN Tower are intimidating. Security, elevators, special passes. We've got high profile people to wrangle through this gauntlet. Mayor of Toronto, David Miller. Margaret Atwood and, her husband, Graeme Gibson. Farley Flex, Canadian Idol judge and music industry impressario. Adam van Koeverden, kayaker and Olympic medalist. All generously giving us their time and influence, but don't need to be hassled and stressed through the process.

Then there are the final grooming details. Hair cut. Done. Eyebrows waxed. Not yet. Need to go see the smiling and sadistic lady over on Coxwell, who speaks to me in a mix of English and Korean. Manicure. Will do myself. New suit. Will get tomorrow.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sneak preview of the ads



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

the horror......the horror (Pam)

In the past two days, our launch event has changed date, time and venue....twice. Anxiety. Nausea. Man-ish levels of perspiration. Many, many cigarettes.

More big names have signed on for the press conference. It's remarkable what you get if you just ask. People care more than I realised from my vantage point in the weeds.

TV is done. Radio is done. Print is done.

Web site is not done, but it's out of the shower and drying its hair. Direct mail is calling the cab.

I'm not sleeping at night but am having the time of my life.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Will great work sell itself? (Bill)

We got approval to the final picture last night, and the output is another example of a Client and an Agency working together to make the product better. Without exception, at least in my experience, a collaborative approach to creative development and production always results in the best work.

I remember starting in this business and being told I had to know my Clients' business better than they know their business. I never bought into it. I have been on the Client side, a couple times, so I have a sense for how they spend their day, and I know it is impossible - impossible - to know the the nuance and dynamics of their business better than them. So how can we possibly build strategic communications engineered to deliver business results without their expertise and input into the process?

With our Climate Change creative moving close to completion, we're feeling as though we are three for three. (And by "we," of course, I mean the Client/Agency team.) So the question is, will this great work help us secure incremental media beyond what we have planned?

This new spot is nothing if not cinematic, so our next BHAG is to figure out how to get this spot on the big screens at Cineplex/Famous Players. The pre-show is great, but we'd like to be on-screen after the lights go down. The problem is, it costs a fortune to advertise in this medium - apparently the Dolby license alone is over $1000 per screen.

But this is the fun part: pulling together an innovative program that will get the spot the attention it deserves.

At this point, every incremental bit of media we secure inches WWF closer to the tipping point; and given the profile of the Global Warming issue, the tipping point seems to be getting closer and closer.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back with a bang (Pam)

That's right. First day back and today we secured a big name for our campaign launch on January 16. Only 8 more biz days left to get a few more big names lined up.

Actually, it's worse than that. Only 8 more biz days in order to get the web site finished. It's some crazy cool technology FCBi is building and it has its challenges. They're telling me they're confident the site will work for launch day. I hope they're right considering that the site will be used for the first time in front of the media with our big names doing the demonstration. Good lord. What have I gotten all of us into?

Believe me when I tell you that every possible contingency will be planned and replanned. I'm primarily motivated by an overwhelming aversion to looking stupid. I'm not going to look stupid.

Lots of copy editing needs to be done on the site. When isn't there too much copy? It has got to go. This will not go over well with Julia, climate change guru. She is already irritated by our need to simplify complicated stuff. To her, nuance is lost in simplification. Without simplification, the information is too much work to digest and understand. Who cares what the thing says if no one will be bothered to read it?

Also due for the launch date - the TV spots and the radio. Going to look at supers tomorrow afternoon, this time will final timing and graphic treatment. TV and radio voices will be recorded on Thursday at RMW.

Bad news. Seems we've lost one of our creative guys. A junior art director. He went over to Cossette to get lost in a sea of other junior art directors. I'm very disappointed, but look forward to giving another junior person the chance to do some really fantastic work. It's very, very important to me that our account be a "teaching" account, where young kids have access to a meaningful creative canvas in a positive environment where they have a voice and can learn not only the nuts and bolts of how creative gets done, but how to persuade a client and defend their work, to be big thinkers, not just typists. That was a long sentence.