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Archives » Agencies

“The Brand USA” Aims to “Rekindle The Love Affair” With Global Ad Push

Published 1 year, 12 months ago

The Brand USA,” the new tourism marketing entity responsible for promoting the United States to world visitors, unveiled the USA’s first-ever comprehensive marketing campaign today during a press conference at International Pow Wow, the largest U.S. travel trade show held this week in Los Angeles. The campaign showcases the diversity of experiences available in the United States in a fresh and unexpected light, inviting visitors to “Discover this land, like never before.”

“Our goal is nothing short of rekindling the world’s love affair with the USA – the place, the spirit and the dream,” said Brand USA CEO Jim Evans. “We want to spread America’s message of welcome around the world and invite travelers to experience the limitless possibilities the United States has to offer. So we asked ourselves, ‘how can we best speak to multiple countries, across countless languages and cultures?’ We found the answer lay in the only truly universal language—music.”

The Theme Song
Rosanne Cash, daughter of American music legend Johnny Cash and Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, has composed an original song, “Land of Dreams,” to serve as the heart of the campaign. Initial advertisements feature Cash playing the song under New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, accompanied by musicians from around the world. As part of its marketing efforts, Brand USA will extend invitations to musical artists from around the world to come perform their music in their favorite U.S. cities and towns, profiling their trips and favorite things about the USA online and through social media. A YouTube channel is live already, with just two in-house videos, but visitors will be invited to upload their own.

Brand USA, which created the campaign in partnership with JWT, the organization’s agency of record, will employ a fully integrated marketing strategy, using a mix of 60-, 20- and 15-second television spots, as well as digital, billboard and print advertisements and a robust online presence and social media strategy to reach potential visitors. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages will showcase country specific promotions and engagements and the newly re-launched website will act as visitors’ information portal for trip planning. The YouTube channel is live, with just a few videos, including the promo spot

“Other countries around the world have prioritized tourism efforts for years, yet in the 236 years since the United States of America was founded, this country has never had a nationally coordinated effort dedicated to inviting travelers to come visit us,” said Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA’s Board of Directors. “That changes today. This new campaign will tap into an incredibly valuable economic resource – the millions of visitors who want to experience all that our great country has to offer.”

The first wave of advertising launches in-market May 1st in the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada, with a budget of $12.3 million for the first three months. A second wave will follow in Brazil and South Korea, with several other markets to follow.

Brand USA was created as a result of the U.S. Travel Promotion Act, federal legislation passed in March 2010 which established a public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government dedicated to increasing international visitation to the U.S. through marketing and promotional efforts to drive job creation and spur economic growth. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the average overseas visitor to the United States spends $4,000 per trip, and 35 incremental overseas visitors supports one new U.S. job.

International Pow Wow, which is being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from April 21 through April 24, draws more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations and 1,200 international and domestic travel buyers from more than 70 countries. Together, these buyers and sellers will negotiate business that will generate an estimated $3.5 billion in future USA travel.

NARC Now ASRC, Still Policing Ad Industry For Integrity

Published 1 year, 12 months ago

The 40-year-old National Advertising Review Council (NARC), founded in 1971, is now the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC). The rebranded organization has not missed a day of work, but its new identity is live at

But “Do you now what NARC is and what it does?” asked Ad Age. “Don’t feel bad if the answer is no.” Ad Age described a “perennial lack of awareness” in Washington and on Madison Avenue, and the organization felt that the moniker Advertising Self-Regulatory Council would be far more clear.

Too bad: NARC was a pretty bold acronym to begin with (it is of course the shortened version of “narcotics officer”). But it was not one the NARC board necessarily liked. Nancy Hill, president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and an ASRC board member told Ad Age "It has the connotation of people undercover, spying on drug dealers—and that's not at all what we do.”

Still, “This strong, bold brand recognizes the industry's commitment to self-regulation and the comprehensive scope of self-regulatory activities – the growing number of programs and services, the broad reach of decisions and the expanded industry representation on the ASRC Board of Directors," said Eric Mower, Chairman of the ASRC Board of Directors and Chairman and CEO of Eric Mower and Associates.

The new brand was developed pro bono by Leo Burnett USA, and comes as the self-regulatory system marks a 40-year partnership between the advertising industry and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) to provide objective third-party oversight of advertising practices.

Still - What Does ASRC do?
"The notion that advertisers could or would self-regulate was greeted with some skepticism in 1971. Since that time, however, the industry has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the establishment and enforcement of strong, meaningful standards," said C. Lee Peeler, President and CEO of ASRC.

ASRC sets the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation programs. In 2009, the Board of Directors expanded beyond its founding partners – 4As, American Advertising Federation (AAF), Association of National Advertisers, (ANA), and CBBB – to include the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The CBBB serves as the third-party administrator of a self-regulatory system that now includes:

  • National Advertising Division (NAD), 1971
  • National Advertising Review Board (NARB), 1971
  • The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), 1974
  • The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), 2004
  • The NAD/CRN Initiative, 2006
  • The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program, 2010

These programs examine the truth and accuracy of advertising claims, the appropriateness of children's advertising practices and, in the case of the Accountability Program, promote compliance with the advertising industry's self-regulatory standards.

Both the ERSP program and the NAD/CRN Initiative began at the request of a specific industry segment for ASRC-led oversight. ERSP was launched in partnership with the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and examines core advertising claims communicated through direct-response advertising. The NAD/CRN Initiative began at the request of the Council for Responsible Nutrition and examines the truth and accuracy of advertising claims made for dietary supplements.

The Accountability Program – the most recent self-regulatory program – was developed at the urging of a cross-industry coalition of trade associations. The Accountability Program reviews compliance with the industry-accepted principles for online behavioral advertising (OBA), focuses on transparency and consumer-control issues and monitors companies that may be engaged in OBA.

"Industry support is as critical now as it was in 1971," said Mr. Mower. "Our industry has always faced challenges – new technologies, societal and cultural sensitivities, legislative and regulatory scrutiny. And as we meet each challenge, we must demonstrate to consumers that we are focused on their concerns. The best demonstration is effective self-regulation."

Upfront Digital: Yahoo/Facebook Suit Demystified | Myspace Comedy Series | Car Sites Called Out

Published 2 years, 1 month ago
  • Helping us make sense of the Yahoo/Facebook battle, paidContent has translated the 10 patents into plain English. You can try to make sense of the gobbledygook like “US Patent 6907566 US Patent 7100111 and US Patent 7373599 Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage (Filed 1999, Issued 2005),” but it boils down to “Placing an ad on a webpage based on what users have done before.”
  • Fox Digital Studio will debut a 7-episode comedy series on Myspace, reports Adweek. Sponsored by Taco Bell (which will enjoy heavy brand integration), "Let's Big Happy" will star Angela Sarafyan as a music blogger who tries to make it in LA, but ends up being a guerrilla marketing savant for upstart bands. While Myspace appears to be the social network that got clobbered by upstart Facebook, it is the preferred medium of bands and musicians. Myspace in Q2 will launch Myspace TV, which will somehow integrate traditional TV content and the social media experience. As Myspace Entertainment President Roger Mincheff told Adweek, "Imagine watching a football game or a concert or even just a favorite sitcom, yet being able to interact, chat, engage with your friends and really make it a shared social media experience." If successful, Myspace will effectively boil the two-screen experience down to one screen—the computer or mobile device.
  • Digiday, which bills itself as “The Authority on Digital Media, Marketing and Advertising,” has taken a chip out of what it calls “Publishing’s Privileged Class.” Digiday’s Josh Sternberg described car-comparison sites as “A magical land in digital publishing where ads sell out, ad networks don’t exist, and advertisers clamor to close deals at high CPMs in an upfront process.” Sternberg interviewed agencies including Digitas, and car sites including Kelley Blue Book. With cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs) nearing $100, the director of advertising products for Kelley Blue Book justifies the cost with the high returns on the price of an automobile; while Sternberg describes “Don Corleone-type tactics” whereby automakers cannot afford to ignore the comparison sites, else they risk “conquesting”: purposeful promotion by the car site of competitor brands.
  • Time has launched a new sports blog, “Keeping Score.” As MediaBistro reports, the blog ismore than stats and scores, “its goal is to tackle all the related controversies and issues.” The site will be edited by Sean Gregory, a Time veteran of 10 years. The new blog will be somewhere between Sports Illustrated and Sports Business Journal in coverage, with the business, economics, culture and politics of sports.
  • Toyota has launched a multipronged ad campaign based on the Hasbro boardgame “Life,” “to drive millennial attention to the just-released ‘city’ version of [its] hybrid Prius,” reports AdAge. The campaign will integrate TV spots with spots on YouTube, Pandora, Hulu and other digital outlets. Also in the works: an online car configurator for potential buyers. “Life” may seem like an old chestnut (it was created in 1860), but Saatchi & Saatchi Strategic Planning Director Sara Bamossy told Ad Age that its research shows the 25-35 target market grew up playing the board game, and “life for them is a constant media stream of information”: they’ll welcome the classic board game tie-in with new media. (It will be interesting in a decade to see how car makers market to a generation that grew up on “Angry Birds.”)

Cable Providers Abandon Interactive Ad Venture, But Those Ads Will Be Back

Published 2 years, 1 month ago

The U.S.’s largest cable TV providers have shuttered a venture that would let viewers interact with TV ads, and have laid off 120 employees, reports the Associated Press. Four-year-old Canoe Ventures enabled viewers of eight cable networks (including Bravo, Discovery and AMC) to request information by mail from advertisers by pressing a button on the remote control.
Canoe had a powerhouse roster of backers, which were Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp. and Bright House Networks; but neither viewers nor advertisers were interested.

That does not mean that advanced advertising is dead, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Rather, the effort may have been simply premature, and perhaps too broad in scope. Canoe aimed at becoming “a national standard bearer for interactivity, addressability and data gathering…a one-stop shop that would nationalize advanced TV.”

Of those three functions (interactivity, addressability and data gathering), one agency told Broadcasting & Cable that addressability is the first step. Tracey Scheppach, executive VP and innovations director at media agency VivaKi and its SMGx unit, felt that “being able to measure [advertising] and address it is so much more important than being able to interact with it.” Scheppach believes that the satellite operators and telcos that were excluded from Canoe are further along in deploying addressability to individual households. They have viewer households than cable providers, but a better grip on technology.

Mike Bologna, director of emerging communications at media agency GroupM, believes that Dish Network, DirecTV, Cablevision and Verizon “all have an addressable product in market today,” if not highly advanced ones, “and I think advertisers are going to focus on that for this current year…once we get the right message to the right households, the interactive overlays and the interactive components will become that much more valuable."

Canoe will close its New York office and retain 30 to 35 employees in Denver to better monetize on-demand programming (encompassing TV, tablet, computer and smart phone viewing). The individual operators will pursue interactive TV on their own.

Upfront Digital: NBC’s Straight-to-App Launch | Apple Targets App Bots | Subway Moves Digital Ad Buy

Published 2 years, 2 months ago
  • NBC News launch its new documentary series “Hidden Planet” not on TV, but on the “Rock Center with Brian Williams” iPad app, reports Broadcasting & Cable in an exclusive. This will be the first time NBC has premiered a series that way. Episodes of the monthly series will be exclusive to the iPad app for one week, before it becomes available on The series takes the veteran foreign correspondent to such exotic destinations as Timbuktu and the Sahara Desert—places generally off the news radar.
  • Mobile app rankings (including those for digital magazines and newspapers) will not be manipulated, pledges Apple. As paidContent describes, the company has acknowledged that third parties are offering download-bot services to inflate app rankings; and to place favorable reviews on apps. Apple declined comment to paidContent, but quickly issued a statement on its developer site that “Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership.”
  • Subway has moved its domestic digital ad business (including search, mobile and display ads) to MediaCom, and away from Publicis, reports ClickZ. The sandwich chain is reportedly consolidating its U.S. business, and MediaCom has managed Subway’s offline ad business since 2000. Kantar Media clocks Subway’s 2011 digital spend at about $12.7 million, excluding mobile, but the chain announced it will up that spending considerably in 2012.
  • Elsewhere in digital/agency news, Ad Age discovered that AOL is searching for an agency to refresh its image and spread the word “why people should care about AOL again.” Supposedly, the company finds consumers vague on its value proposition. AOL struggles against competitors Google and Yahoo, has also struggled to support its community news outlet, but has recently acquired online properties Techcrunch and the Huffington Post. AOL posted Q4 2011 display ad revenues at $363.8 million, up 10% year-over-year.

“Discrepancies” Abound in Media Impressions say Publishers, Advertisers, Agencies

Published 2 years, 3 months ago

Ask a publisher, ad agency or third-party measurement service for a tally of impressions, and chances are the numbers will not match. The discrepancy boils down to the ad server and measurements the organization uses, a panel of experts told Even if they are within 5%, “I’m not willing to lose 5% extra revenue because of the agency’s choice of ad server,” said Jay Wright, Yield Management Group Leader at, an online marketplace. AdExchanger posed the question "What's your take on trends you're seeing with discrepancies in ad delivery reporting today?" the responses boiled down, largely, to “Who is measuring?”

Mitchell Weinstein, director of ad operations at media agency Universal McCann, believes discrepancies stem from using multiple ad servers on a single campaign; one server handles rich media while another handles video, for example. So, “It’s important to identify up front where…billing numbers will come from.” Weinstein hastens to add that revised Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) guidelines of December 2009 did away with far greater discrepancies.

Wright of also observes improvement, but still a lack of precision, which can cost a publisher. found that some 3rd party servers can routinely return discrepancies of up to 7% between the publisher and ad advertisers’ measurements. Wright is in favor of paying on first-party numbers—picking one measure (perhaps the publisher’s or the advertiser’s) and paying on it; or, have a rate card based on an agency’s choice of server.

While discrepancies are improving with technology, “There still exists a fundamental difference in who’s counting an impression when,” said Daniel Davies, director, US ad operations for Adnetik. The Adnetik technology compiles and resolves data between exchanges, ad networks and publisher sites. “What we sometimes end up with is a handful of varying snapshots, all taken of the same thing, but at slightly different times,” and the number of entities making those measurements grows yearly. Davies sums up the solution very well for most of the panelists: technology and standardization have to keep pace. Davies observes that “computing muscle and stamina backing digital advertising” is keeping the discrepancies from growing in pace with the number of digital ad outlets . That number will not keep growing; it is the responsibility of the industry to find technology that keeps pace.

WSJ Reports Top Ad Trends 2012: Think Mobile, Soft Core, Hard Edge and Humor

Published 2 years, 3 months ago

The Wall Street Journal polled ad industry luminaries, and reports that digital media are breathing life into the supposedly declining TV commercial, print ad and print catalog formats. Google for example has unveiled an app to aggregate print catalogs, including those for LL Bean and Pottery Barn.  iPads provide a new platform for print ads, and YouTube enables commercials to go viral. (As of this writing, that Volkswagen commercial with a boy in a Darth Vader mask has had 48 million views.) WSJ expects “couch potato gatherings” to gain steam, with viewers using virtual communities to meet and comment during broadcasts. “TV networks will pump it up because it encourages live watching and thus commercial watching,” CEO Daniel Khabie of Digitaria (a digital marketing firm) told WSJ.

Khabie and other interviewees predicted “Facebook fatigue,” spurred largely by advertising, alas. But large brands will tie their identities to social marketing, chiefly through a Facebook presence, if not through Facebook ads. Mobile devices will be a powerful advertising outlet, as “the link between mobile and commercial thickens” in 2012, speculates the CEO of Digitas North America. Finally, interviewers expect advertising to become more targeted, more sexual and foul mouthed, and light hearted.

Magna: 2012 Mediaspend to Grow 4.7 Percent

Published 2 years, 4 months ago

IPG's Magna predicts that global media spending will hit $427 billion in 2012, up 4.7 percent from estimated 2011 mediaspend. That is a 0.5 percent decrease from the firm's previous 2012 estimates.

US media forecasts are slightly less rosy, at 3.7 percent growth to $153 billion. Interestingly, China may pop up to the second largest ad market in 2012, partly due to its own organic growth, and partly due to unexpected adspend declines in tsunami-hit Japan. 

Two other ad giants published 2012 forecasts that were equally or slightly more optimistic than Magna's newest prediction. Zenith Optimedia predicts 4.7 percent growth. GroupM predicts that the Olympics will add still more momentum, driving world spend to $522 billion, a 6.4 percent increase over 2011.


MySpace Owners See Room for Artists, Celebs | Google, Facebook Plug-ins Slow Sites, Impact Commerce?

Published 2 years, 9 months ago
  • Specific Media, the company that purchased ailing social network MySpace, plans to make the website a place to interact with celebrities and artists and to view content produced specifically for Myspace, writes the Los Angeles Times. "Thirty-five million unique users in the U.S. every single month come to it. That is a massive property online,” said Tim Vanderhook, who co-owns the company with his brother, Chris.

  • Forrester has released a new research series called Community Speaks, based upon a market research online community (MROC) of more than 2,000 participants. The series provides market researchers with qualitative consumer insights built from data on topics such as customer experience and loyalty, consumer technology adoption, and media and Internet behaviors and attitudes.

  • Calculating that the Google’s +1 plug-in and a Facebook’s ‘like’ plug-in slows page-load time by 1.2 seconds, and citing research that indicates that 10% of site traffic is lost for every extra second a site takes to load, the Tag Man Blog has an interesting take on what kind of impact the two plug-ins could make to an e-commerce site. That translates to more than a 10% loss in visitors, and by extension, in conversion. Otherwise put, an online business with $35 million in revenue could lose over $3.5 million in sales using just these two plug-ins.

  • Search optimization company SEOmoz has introduced a search product that allows marketers to see inbound links to their brands' sites as well as other link-identifying information. The company's Open Site Explorer search engine shows what other companies are linking to a particular website, top pages and content on a domain. The software also indicates what content is drawing the most links to competitors' websites and allows users to compare up to five domains side by side, writes B-to-B Online.

Report: Global Ad Spend to Return to $471 Billion in 2011

Published 2 years, 9 months ago

Top 5 Global Ad Markets Global ad expenditure will grow by 4.1% in 2011 to return to $471 billion, the level it had achieved in 2008 before the recession, according to an update from ZenithOptimedia. The ad market continues to recover from the 2009 recession, but growth has dipped this year in response to economic pressures, natural disaster and political disruption. More robust growth is forecast to resume in 2012 and 2013.

In North America, ad spending will reach $165.3 billion this year, up 2.3% over last year. That is also down slightly from the 2.6% growth forecast in April. The sheer size of the US – 3.3 times the next-largest market – means it will contribute the most new ad dollars to the global market over the next three years (US$13.8 billion), despite its slow growth.