Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Apple Watch: PR Blunder or PR Perfection?

May 14, 2015

Two words can instantly spark a heated debate: Apple Watch. The device has created two schools of thought- it sucks, or it’s genius. Try to find someone on the fence and you’ll be sorely disappointed. For Apple “fanboys” like me, there’s no doubt it’s a cool device – well-designed, fills a niche no other technology I have does, and above and beyond any other wearable on the market. To everyone else it’s “Why do I need it?” “Why would I spend $800 to not look at my phone as much as I do now?” or “They’re just dumb.” Debate aside, one thing seems to escape everyone talking about it. If you’re debating the watch, Apple’s unmatched PR machine is working.

Does anyone need a smartwatch?
Apple Watch is a hard sell. It has incredible capabilities but do mainstream consumers think they need them? Probably not, but they may want them eventually and Apple has the clout to make that happen. Before Apple Watch, smartwatches were clunky, fairly ugly and nearly all were marketed to the same audience as Casio’s calculator watches from the 80s. They had no mainstream appeal and even less functionality.

On the other hand, Apple has an ecosystem of more than 3,500 apps for Apple Watch alone and 1.2 million on iOS. Developers will innovate new apps specifically for Apple Watch, leading to more coverage of the watch, more interest and more debate as the device’s appeal continues to grow.

Apple is making smartwatches cool.
Apple’s already won the battle in making a smartwatch cooler than they’ve ever been. But is that enough for a device with a price tag ranging from $349 to more than $14,000? Apple’s betting on fashion-aware celebrities and consumers to adopt the watch. And shortly before launch it was already around the wrists of Beyonce, Pharell, Drake, Sam Smith, Katy Perry and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. Meanwhile the Apple PR team made no small effort to make sure the watch was reviewed by fashion magazines from GQ to Vogue and the most influential watch experts in the world, making the device known as more than just a “mini-computer.”

In order for Apple Watch to be successful it needs to be seen as cool, fashionable, desired, capable and most importantly worth your money. For an item nobody truly needs, Apple’s already proven that they’re able to make people want it. In the end, that’s all that matters. The reviews have been positive (with a caveat here or there), the thousands of articles keep on coming, the debate wages on, yet the bottom line remains – Apple has already sold 3.2 million watches in just over a month.

The Apple Watch is already set to outpace the iPhone in first-year sales. It looks like their PR team is succeeding where others have failed, again.



Advertising Works, And I’m Proof!

August 14, 2014

not a chainAs advertisers, we sadly see companies represent themselves only as the way the public perceives them. They fail to define themselves by what they truly stand for and believe in. Unfortunately, we have seen that these types of stereotypes can make or break a company’s reputation and influence the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. Ads shouldn’t be created by what the target audience wants or expects to hear, they should represent a company’s standards and what they ultimately want to be known as.

I have actually recently experienced the power of an authentic advertising campaign.

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, a few weeks back, my husband and I went down to the Seaport area to have lunch and enjoy the city. We walked around for a bit, thought about grabbing a burger at Jerry Remy’s or guacamole at Temazcal. It was a beautiful day, so we headed to Legal Harborside and sat at a table on their rooftop. When we arrived, the line already had about 30 people waiting and looked like it could be awhile before we were seated. But, we waited anyway –is there anything better than having lunch on the roof on a beautiful summer day in Boston? No.

We ordered several rounds of sushi and sangria and enjoyed the atmosphere for hours! It was fantastic. Everything from the food to the service was top notch and we have been talking about that day ever since. You’re probably wondering what my sunny afternoon has to do with advertising- the answer is, everything.

So when I saw Legal’s new “Not a Chain” campaign for the first time, I was immediately brought back to that day.

When I think about chain restaurants, I usually envision popular establishments like; Applebees, Uno’s, Bertucci’s and other restaurants of similar caliber. The times where I have visited these chains, I haven’t noticed a long line out the door- this could be because I don’t frequent these restaurants often enough, but I usually don’t run into such a willingness to wait for great food as I did at Legal’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional visit to a “chain” restaurant.

In the series of ads, Legal Seafood’s CEO Roger Berkowitz sternly states that even though they have several locations, each of their restaurants is unique, not cookie-cutter. In an interview with the New York Times, Berkowitz stated that “there’s sort of a built-in prejudice about [being a chain] that really doesn’t define who we are and what we do.”

What I like most about this campaign is that Berkowitz is telling everyone what his company stands for. He is refusing to accept a mold for his company and is speaking through his advertising to erase the stereotype. We tell our clients one of the most important things they can do in advertising is define themselves. It’s up to the client and their advertising teams to define a brand and let the company’s message speak through it.

3 Brands Winning the #WorldCup on Social Media

July 3, 2014

This year’s World Cup is officially the biggest social media event ever, and it’s not even done yet. Millions around the world are watching the matches and taking to social media to live-tweet their thoughts during games—and this is a great branding opportunity for companies.

For the brands unwilling to dedicate a large amount of their advertising budget to space during the World Cup matches, social media has acted as a great platform to gain visibility. Many brands have effectively used live-tweeting to connect to World Cup fans around the world.

There are 3 brands, which have scored on social media by creating great content and engaging hashtags during the World Cup:

Waffle House

What do waffles and soccer have in common? Very little–but that didn’t stop the Waffle House from crafting one of the most talked about Tweets during the World Cup. Before the USA vs. Belgium game, the Waffle House declared a war on Belgian Waffles by tweeting a play-on the #IBelieveThatWeWillWin chant:

Despite not actually referencing the World Cup or USA vs Belgium match, this simple tweet was a huge hit. It was retweeted nearly 24,000 times and helped the Waffle House gain coverage in the national media. The Waffle House connected to the World Cup phenomenon in an extremely clever way that drove mass engagement.


One of the most talked about moments on social media from the World Cup was the Luis Suarez “biting incident.” Twitter exploded with people immediately making jokes about biting and twitter was buzzing.  Naturally, brands wanted to participate in the action as well. Snickers, was ready and had the perfect social post created:

The simple claim of “More satisfying than Italian” fit perfectly with their brand’s voice and capitalized on Luis Suarez’s  bizarre behavior.

By using the most popular hashtags of the week, Snickers’ post was retweeted nearly 50,000 times- resulting in one of the most popular Suarez- related tweets on social media.


As a sponsor of the World Cup, Nike spent advertising dollars in all the necessary places.  Adertising aside, they still launched the #RiskEverything campaign, using Nike’s main twitter handle and their Nike Football handle as part of the campaign. Nike’s short videos (promoted on social media) have impressive viewing statistics—upwards of 80 million views. When posted on Facebook, the video garnered over 70,000 likes and nearly 50,000 shares- Gooooooooooalllllllllllll!

Their campaign has been following the cup’s action, and has had huge user engagement with thousands of social influencers spreading the #RiskEverything hashtag. Nike’s social media campaign appears to paying off with fans around the world responding and interacting.

Of all the #WorldCup posts you’ve seen on social media, what was your favorite? Who are you rooting for? Let us know @ebben_zall!


Top 4 Keys to Client Management in Advertising

June 27, 2014


Working well with clients is an integral part of the advertising and public relations industry. Check out our top 4 keys to being a strong partner:

4. Saying No To Being a “Yes Man”

An agency’s responsibility to their clients often includes maintaining the brand’s integrity.  When the client has an idea for new creative that isn’t consistent with the brand’s message or takes them off strategy, we believe it’s part of our role to recommend against it. Many times, clients come to us with ideas based on personal inspiration instead of business priorities – we always guide our clients to stay on course to speak to their audience.

3. Ordering à la Carte

When we create integrated, year-long branding campaigns that run on several cylinders at once to achieve a goal, it can be frustrating when requests come to peel away important layers in order to reduce costs.  We strategically build a price structure that supports each element of the campaign, so we highly recommend against breaking apart the campaign to order specific components “à la carte.”  When advertisers design a campaign and media plan, we have a strategic thought process behind it.  If the elements aren’t put in play to work together and strengthen the client’s bottom line, they won’t achieve the desired result.  In fact, we often recommend killing the campaign until the budget can support the full strategy.

2. Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens

Listening to the client’s needs and goals is a critical important part of establishing trust.  That may seem obvious, but when a campaign idea or specific results are challenged, it can be tempting to get defensive.  On the contrary: consider the input and if it’s valid, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.  If a campaign wasn’t a hit off the bat, for example, go back and try again. If a client’s goal is to start increasing traffic as soon as possible, for example, find the best medium (or mediums) to help support that goal. Rework the budget and the campaign so the dollars aren’t spread too thin – making the campaign as successful as possible on a tighter budget.

1. Earn trust

Advertising agencies need to be trusted by clients, and that’s a fact.  Many companies are afraid to invest in an agency, as they have fear they’ll lose control of their budget.  We let clients know directly that is not the case. Reputable advertising agencies should act as marketing consultants and advise clients on best practices for their particular brand. It may sound cliché, but agencies aren’t successful unless their clients are.

To hear more on our keys to client management, check out our latest clip on EZG-TV!

Did you know you can save lives through advertising?

May 7, 2014

Measuring a campaign’s results is always something advertising pros are aware of in their day to day activities. When I think about the methods used to measure whether a client’s advertising methods are working, I start by examining the answers to two general questions.

  1. Has the company seen a boost in sales?
  2. Is the target audience more aware of the company’s brand?

Most advertisers would agree that these two questions are applicable to every campaign- whether it’s digital, traditional or social in nature.  However, a new trend in advertising seems to be emerging and its asking an entirely different question:

Are lives being saved?

Whoa. Seems a bit heavy, right?

For those of you who don’t know what I’m referencing, think of the commercial that opens with a shot of a young adult in the driver’s seat, laughing along with her friends- and then suddenly her phone notifies her of an incoming text message. She reaches for her phone and begins to respond to the text, when seemingly out of nowhere, she is hit by another car head on. These heart wrenching television ads are airing more frequently, and according to AdAge, AT&T has recently switched advertising agencies for their “It Can Wait” anti-texting and driving campaign because of it. Proprietary research conducted by AT&T showed that the campaign generated decent awareness, but what they were hoping for was to change behavior for teenage drivers.  It Can Wait

Upon learning this, I’m wondering if advertising campaigns are fairly measured. Should commercials really be expected to change people’s behaviors and ultimately save lives? Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the answer is “yes.”

Graphic advertisements featuring real testimonials from people living with smoking induced ailments (ie. loss of a limb, stomas, etc.) are a part of the first anti-tobacco advertising campaign ever funded by the government and the results have made an impact. A Fox News article published last September stated that “new research published in “The Lancet” medical journal suggests the first series of ads in the ‘Tips from Former Smokers’ campaign encouraged at least 100,000 smokers to quit successfully — twice the number CDC officials had expected.”

So it turns out advertising campaigns can be much more than a powerful tool to boost sales.  When the public’s behavior is positively changed and lives are saved due to educational advertisements, it shows the power of a great ad.  As an advertising professional, I applaud the government for standing behind these campaigns, and I hope we start to see significant changes with shock-inducing  anti-texting ads.

How The Hit Show Scandal Lit My PR Fire

May 1, 2014

Some PR practitioners may be naturally born and bred for the industry, others are not. I happen to be one of them-good news for me, all is not lost! After spending years in event marketing and even dabbling in acting and modeling, something happened to me-a popular television show inspired a shift.

Scandal, starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, ignited my curiosity and passion for PR. Watching her act as a fire extinguisher, share stories and form powerful relationships with heavy hitters lit my fire!  Her performance got me thinking, I can be a PR pro too!  A little voice inside my head said, “think outside the box Stacey, and don’t just limit yourself to marketing or modeling. Don’t just consume. Create…” Yes the voice inside my head really said all of that!

After listening to my voice, I recognized three PR touch points: create a story, share the story, track the story. These are just a few of the things I am blessed to do on a daily basis in my position as a Public Relations Account Executive with Ebben Zall Group. Our boutique firm is packed with brilliant individuals who just “get it.” We understand the value of public relations campaigns and leveraging our clients’ goals.  Many are drawn to big powerhouse media, PR and marketing firms, and at EZG I have learned to never underestimate the power of a focused and fun boutique agency. Similar to Pope and Associates, a small group of brilliant people who get the job done well-EZG is home to a tight knit group of people who work well together and get results.

It's handled.

My inner Olivia Pope says, “It’s handled.”

PR and communication professionals all over the world are mastering new skills. More so, modern day television characters featured in Scandal and Mad Men, are representing the industry on a wide scale. These shows are providing a sneak peek inside the industry of people like you and me- the communications pro.  Because of these characters, the general public is now exposed to what we do every day; integrating strategy and creativity for powerful results. .

From the CEO all the way down to the interns, at EZG, one of our goals is to identify our why. We ask, what makes you tick? The natural born storytellers, loud mouths and those who hold eclectic career paths have become more attractive.Those in a position to hire are asking potential employees “what lights your fire?” and brilliant blazing teams are being built because of it.

You and I are fire extinguishers because we create content, we establish credibility, we encourage connections and are master storytellers. We integrate marketing into our PR efforts mixing the traditional with out of the box strategies. All in all, I have noticed our efforts drive new big business.

At least, that’s what’s being done here at Ebben Zall Group and man am I happy to be a part of it.

Did you know ABC’s hot show Scandal was inspired by the real life of PR Pro and Crisis Manager Judy Smith?

Take a look at Barbara Walter’s interview with Judy Smith and tell us how it inspires you @Ebben_Zall 



Trust me, I’m in Advertising: Why businesses should trust their advertisers to make smart decisions

April 17, 2014

In 2009, I made the gutsy decision to go skydiving. I was on the heels of finishing my college career, and was at a turning point in my life.  This turning point caused me to feel daring and invincible, so I did research on skydiving and found a place way out in No-Wheres-Ville Connecticut. When I arrived, the only description I was given about the experience was:

  1. I would watch a 15 minute safety video
  2. I would meet the instructor who would be strapped to me during the tandem-style skydive- that was it.

I watched a 15 minute video on the dangers of skydiving and then I met Bernardo –my skydiving professional. I had known Bernardo for about 3 minutes, barely understood his small talk about what the gorgeous weather (due to his thick accent), and was already being strapped to him in the bed of a pick-up truck on the way to a plane- mind you this is a plane that appeared to be one of the first airplanes ever designed.  After a nerve wracking 20 minute ride in the sky, Bernardo and I jumped through the clouds at 12,000 feet! We free fell for 60 seconds and then parachuted back down to the ground. It was not until the jump was over and the exhilaration had scaled back, that I realized that I had just put my life in Bernardo’s hands.  Bernardo, the man I had just met, was given all my trust to ensure I would make it through my skydiving experience in one piece.

Skydiving Pics

You might be wondering what my anecdote has to do with advertising.  Skydiving, much like advertising, involves a lot of trust, patience, and advice. Recently, a client emailed EZG’s Advertising Director and me asking our opinion on a third party lead generator site.  He began his email by writing I know this really isn’t your job but I’d like your advice. My first thought after reading that line was, of course it’s my job, let me do some research on this site and provide a recommendation. Secondly, I thought about how our client had just given us a huge compliment. He was basically saying that even though this particular website did not provide traditional media tactics, he trusted the EZG advertising team’s knowledge and judgment enough to help him make a decision on whether or not to incorporate this specific strategy into his business plan.

Examples like this one demonstrate the reason trust is so important in advertising.  It’s because businesses have never been more empowered and equipped to know exactly what is going in their companies than they are today. Because data is readily available, a business owner can easily determine the number of visitors to their company’s website, how long the visitors have stayed, and what they are looking for on the site.   Transparency is great because it allows businesses to track the activity to their company’s webpages, but sometimes traditional advertising does not yield the same concrete data.

Sometimes this makes us feel like we’re not trusted but then other times, when we receive emails like the one described; we know our guidance is respected. My advice to business owners who are crunching numbers trying to figure out their ROI on every advertising initiative is, trust your agency. A credible agency will have a customized strategy to fit your business and are cognizant of running your budget in a way that meets your business’ objectives.  Most importantly, they will brainstorm and strategize ways to make your company stand out ahead of competitors.

Your advertising agency should not be seen as an extension of your own business but rather as expert consultants who are helping to raise your brand’s awareness amongst target audiences. Just like when Bernardo and I were strapped together- the relationship between the advertising team and the client is symbiotic. We’re on the same team, have the same interest at heart and are working toward the same goals. And if you currently feel like your agency has you jumping into unknown territories without a parachute, you may want to contact us, I think we can help.

Why Understanding the Customer Leads to Effective Advertising

March 21, 2014

I took a psychology class in college that was titled; the art of persuasion.  In the class, we were taught how to understand what is going on inside a person’s mind and how to persuade him/her to your way of thinking—sounds creepy right? Well I loved it, which told me advertising was the right field for me. Not because I like manipulating people, but because I like the idea of putting myself in other people’s shoes, to identify what their problems might be and working towards a solution.

On a professional level, advertising is all about problem solving, it’s how we create a desire for our client’s products and services. Advertisements pose problems and provide solutions all the time; do your feet stink? Use our client’s foot cream and the stench will disappear. Do you want longer eyelashes? Use our client’s brand of mascara and you will instantly have long, beautiful eyelashes.  The key to effective advertising is not only in the creativity, but in the solutions presented to the audience.  The question grabs the audience’s attention, but the solution provides a reason why the product or service is ahead of its competition.

In a recent branding campaign for one of our automotive clients, we made a point to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. We asked ourselves, what do customers want out of their car buying experience? The answer we developed was: they want to feel important.  Some people might assume that price is the driving factor and yes, people do want the best price for their car, but every dealership highlights their low prices, so what is the one thing that can really set a car dealer apart? Their attention to customer service (see what I did there, posed a question).

In order to differentiate our client from the competition, we wanted customers to feel special and realize they would receive a VIP experience when purchasing a vehicle from this dealer.  In fact, customers become an exclusive member of their “club” after making a purchase!

The crux of this campaign relies on the customer needs- the moment the customer walks through the door, he/she is treated like royalty.  Additionally, the customer is regarded as an insider who receives exclusive deals, tips and tricks and other perks, all while getting the best prices and customer service possible.  Now, tell me that is not a customer service dream come true.

Another campaign that communicated what it’s like in the customer’s shoes was Lincoln’s MKZ campaign.  The commercials are recorded from the point of view of the customer, in an interview format.  The potential buyer interviews two separate cars; an MKZ and a competitor (such as Lexus). The customers are asking the two cars important questions like; what kind of suspension do you have?  This campaign is a great example of the customer being in control of his/her purchasing experience and decision making, and they love that.

Lincoln Commercial can be found here:

While it may be common sense, it truly does make a difference for advertisers to know their audience on behalf of clients. We learn time and time again that customers are not solely focused on price, but also the experience the product/service provides. Being aware of that can sometimes be a challenge to advertisers, but can also be an advantage. Hey, at EZG we’re all about solving problems.

If you have an advertising problem that needs to be solved, reach out to us at

Which brands won at the Oscars?

March 7, 2014

Sure, everyone loves a good awards show.  Glitter, glamour, gowns, and stumbling celebrities make for great theater.  And while the nation (world?) tuned in, there were a few brands that deserve special recognition for making of the most of their exposure:

  1. Best Intentional Product Placement: Samsung
    Samsung takes home the prize for what’s been dubbed “the selfie seen around the world.”  Host Ellen DeGeneres set social media on fire when she whipped out a white Samsung Galaxy, grabbed some pals, and took a selfie with Hollywood’s hottest stars.

    What a spontaneous coup for Samsung, right?  But the plot twist is a familiar one: Samsung paid big sponsorship dollars for product placement through the evening, and the selfie was a smoothly executed part of the plan.  Yes, we’ve seen that one before, but high marks for execution and follow through.  Bravo.

  2. Best Surprise Product Placement: Big Mamas & Papas Pizzeria

    Big Mamas & Papas Pizzeria scored an unexpected on-air win when Ellen called on them for a celebrity delivery.  They knew they’d be tapped for backstage hunger pangs, but didn’t realize their pizza would be shared with the A list.  According to NBC Los Angeles, “The restaurant didn’t spend a dime on the stunt and received advertising for free, all thanks to DeGeneres’ desire to feed her celebrity family.”

    The store is now trying to capitalize on their Oscar appearance by selling their apparel right on the homepage.  Can they roll the momentum into a sequel?

  3. Best Unintentional Product Placement: Coca Cola
    Coke doesn’t necessarily deserve free advertising, but they got it when their logo appeared on those surprise pizza boxes.  See?  Stay loyal to Main Street and reap the benefits.

    Having the brand splashed on camera (and all over social media) was made sweeter by the fact that Coke yielded its traditional Oscar sponsorship to Pepsi this year.

  4. Most consistent brand to take 2nd place: Pepsi
    Ah, Pepsi.  Will you ever win?  Or are you destined to spend blockbuster dollars, only to yield the spotlight.  Perhaps Leo should take over as official Pepsi spokesperson.  Yeah, I went there.

Stay classy, Hollywood…until next year!

I Don’t Always Watch the Super Bowl…But When I do It’s for the Commercials

February 6, 2014

When I was a kid, I would sneak into my parents closet several times in the weeks leading up to Christmas and find my presents. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth (sorry, Mom). Even though it was such a thrill to tip-toe around when I thought no one was paying attention, knowing what my gifts were ahead of time made Christmas morning anti-climactic. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, I had been reacquainted with that old, familiar feeling.  This year, the eager American public was absolutely inundated with “leaked” Super Bowl ads online – eliminating any element of surprise when it came time for the beloved commercial breaks.

While it is has historically been a tradition for some of the best ads to be released for a “sneak peak” before the game, it seems to me that every year, more ads are released weeks before the big game. I’ll be the first person to admit it, I am not a huge football fan. However, I am one of the many people that (regardless of which teams are competing) will tune in to watch the commercials—I do work in advertising after all.

MostInterestingStephanieInTheWorld (1)

 The volume of leaked ads has me wondering about the future of Super Bowl advertising. Super Bowl ads are without a doubt, regarded amongst advertisers as the most coveted advertising real estate there is. This year’s game was the most watched television event in U.S. history drawing in 111.5 million viewers last Sunday night. According to The Washington Post, a 30 second ad cost a record breaking $4 million, or $133,000 per second.  So, with ads leaking prior to the Super Bowl I have a major concern: Each ad that is exposed ahead of time reduces the amount of viewers who tune in just to see the ads.  By doing this, viewership can dramatically drop and real estate for advertisments can depreciate.

One company that is embracing the trend of leaked ads is Google. CBS MoneyWatch stated that “while Google isn’t disclosing how much money it’s earning from Super Bowl commercial pre-game buzz, the company is stoked enough by the number of related searches and video streams…”. One of the biggest beneficiaries is Google’s subsidiary company YouTube, being that practically every pre-released ad is almost immediately posted on the video sharing website.

With the overwhelming takeover of social media in recent years, the reoccurring trend of Super Bowl ads caused me to ask this question: Will a time come when 30 second pre-roll ads (commercials that play before an online video loads) are just as sought-after as a 30 second TV ad? If Google and YouTube have anything to do with it, the answer would be “yes.” It may seem like a stretch, but when thinking about how much social media has changed the way marketers reach their audiences, the concept does not seem too out of reach.

Although viewership of the actual game was up, ratings for the game were down from last year. According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Journal, “FOX’s coverage generated an overnight rating of 47.6 for the Seahawks-Broncos game.  That’s down a hair from last year’s 48.1, during the Ravens-49ers contest in Super Bowl XLVII.”

While the drop has not been proven to be directly linked to the early release of so many ads, advertisers may want to be wary about leaking their ads too soon as a way to gain viral buzz. The last thing major companies would want is to spend an incredible amount of money and have it completely fall through on the day of the Super Bowl. Hey, I guess advertising wouldn’t be the only thing to fall through during the big game right? Too soon, Broncos fans?

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