Friday, April 18, 2014

Still good to the last drop?

NPR's Marketplace recently reported on Kart's "refresh" of the "vintage" Maxwell House Coffee brand -- which includes a new logo and design but resurrects a Very Old Tagline: "good to the last drop."  The people at Kraft are not investing in Maxwell House out of nostalgia. Presumably, they've got some research and insights and that are supporting this risk. Another brand story to watch.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How about this idea for brand strategy: Honesty. Integrity. Truth.

Imagine: a first priority for communicating with total, transparent honesty, integrity, and truth.  Other objectives follow (efficiency comes later; sales results are important but don't come first), because if that first priority is achieved -- all else will be well.

Professor Shannon Bowen from the University of South Carolina has posted at PRWeek that "if we [marketing communications professionals] act as independent advisers seeking to create truth and support relationship building, we release the field [public relations] from the 'divided loyalties' conflict between employer (or client) and the publics that has plagued it."

Shannon A. Bowen
Associate Professor,
Public Relations,
School of Journalism
and Mass Communications,
University of South Carolina
Professor Bowen reminds us that the bar for honesty, integrity, and truth cannot be raised too high.  NOT because that's all goody-goody; but without that ability of a brand to sustain perception of honesty, integrity, and truth, there are no other "tricks of the Ad/PR trade" that will work.

The New Yorker deliberately evolves a digital brand strategy has published a very interesting take on The New Yorker's digital strategy. It sounds like The New Yorker is being smart (well . . . I guess that's what you'd expect) -- in evolving its core identity into digital: not trying to be Upworthy; maintaining the 90-year tradition/policy of having every word published/posted be fact checked (by a real person) (including the comments, Tweets, etc.). It seems to demonstrate that long-read and deep content does not have to be diminished by digital platforms.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rebranding the oldest company listed on NYSE.

Sotheby's auction house is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was founded in 1744, and if it doesn't have a brand by now . . . well, what's a branding firm to do?  Well, whatever it does, it better do it well.

Pentagram Design
Since 2011, Pentagram has been working with Sotheby's "to bring stronger coherence to the full spectrum of the company's identity and communications."  If it were only so simple that the company sold stuff, at auction.  But Sotheby's is arguably one of the leading organizations / voices for significant changes in global culture. Sotheby's customers are among the most influential -- and richest -- consumers and  patrons of global culture.

Sotheby's credibility is grounded in its claim to unerring judgment of the potential value about cultural artifacts -- the final cash value of objects is, of course, up to the buyers.  But Sotheby's is the very definition of a "global market maker" -- and needs to be at home, credible, and trusted in New York, London, Paris, Zurich, Milan, Geneva, Beijing, Hong Kong, Doha, Moscow, and . . . . anywhere that power and money invest in culture.

Pentagram's work for Sotheby's is an insightful case study in branding conceptualization and fulfillment in a high-stakes, high-profile environment. This is not the branding story of a start-up; this is the branding story of an organization over one quarter of a millennium old -- not much competition in that frame of reference.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

BIC students receive prestigious national scholarship awards

Two among BIC's first class of students, Frederick Garcia and Amber Jackson, have been selected -- among just 20 graduate students nationwide -- to receive The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship for students who share the Foundation's mission of increasing ethnic diversity in the advertising, marketing and public relations industries.

Nancy R. Tag, BIC Program Director and CCNY Media & Communication Arts Professor said, "Our BIC student TLF scholarship recipients competed against students in long-established, high-profile graduate advertising, design, and MBA programs from leading universities throughout the country. Most of all, we are thrilled for Fred and Amber. We are also very proud that in our very first year, the BIC program has been acknowledged among the top tier of programs preparing the next generation of leaders in integrated communications professions."

Frederick Garcia
BIC MPS class of 2015
Recipient of a 2014
LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship
Frederick Garcia received an Associate Degree from the Bronx Community College and his BA from CCNY from the Media & Communication Arts program in 2007. Mr. Garcia works at Exposure, an independent creative agency with offices in New York, London, and Tokyo. He previously was an Interpublic Group InterAct Associate (2007-2009) gaining experience at Gotham, Inc., Deutsch, Lowe Worldwide, and DraftFCB.

Amber Jackson
BIC MPS class of 2015
Recipient of a 2014
LAGRANT Foundation Scholarship 

Amber Jackson received her BS in Journalism and Strategic Communications from the University of Kansas in 2012. Ms. Jackson has been an Interpublic Group InterAct Associate since June  2012, a two-year associate program which includes six-month  rotations at four IPG agencies. She previously was employed and  had internships with Victoria's Secret (Lawrence, Kansas),  ISNetworld (Dallas, Texas), and the Starlight Theatre (Kansas City,  Missouri).

The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Los Angeles, was established in 1998 by Mr. Kim L. Hunter to address the lack of diversity in the advertising, marketing and public relations fields. TLF provides scholarships, career development workshops, professional development, mentors and internships to African American/Black, American Indian/Native American, Asian American/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino undergraduate and graduate students. Please learn more about our programs.

Since its establishment, TLF has awarded $1.56 million in scholarships to 221 ethnic minority students and has provided in excess of 278 internships and full-time employment.

BIC student selected to present research at SUNY multidisciplinary research conference

BIC student, Edmund Balogun's research paper initially prepared for his Research & Awareness BIC class has been selected for presentation in April 2014 at the State University of New York (SUNY) Graduate School at The College at Brockport third annual Master's Level Graduate Research Conference.

The SUNY Brockport Master's Level Graduate Research Conference attracts nearly 400 presenters from over 30 universities and enables students to hone their professional presentation skills and network with peer scholars and faculty.

Edmund Balogun
BIC MPS class of 2015
will present original research
at SUNY grad-student conference 
Mr. Balogun received his BS from the American University of Nigeria, in Information Systems, Database Design, and Web Integration in 2012.  He has had employment experience in information systems and business development with the Auchi Polytechnic in Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria and with JoSeg Associates Printing, Benin City, Nigeria.  Mr. Balogun had been active in engineering, international relations and entrepreneurship organizations at the American University of Nigeria.

Mr. Balogun has previously published on "The Role of Linguistics in the Detection and Prevention of Cyber Crimes in Nigeria," African Journal of Computing (Vol. 5, No. 3, May 2012);  "The Eradication of Complexities in Human Computer Interface Design for Increased System Usage Productivity," Information Systems and Development Informatics Journal (Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2013); and "Eradicating Complexity in Software Interface for Increased Productivity Software Engineering and Research Practice," WorldComp Conference Proceedings (Las Vegas, U.S.A., July 2012).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Deep insights from SXSW: "The purpose of an agency is to scare the s--- out of me."

Kate Rothen
Partner, SS+K
and BIC Professor
BIC's faculty member, Kate Rothen, Partner at SS+K, attended the 2014 SXSW conference and brought back to the CCNY BIC community a wide range of insights that are both challenging and a bit un-nerving.

In discussions with Professor Rothen -- in class and out-of-class-- we all caught up on the gossip, the celebrities, the parties, the business launches that are always part of SXSW  (how, every year, the conference just isn't nearly as good as it used to be -- and how amazingly different and promising it now is.)

Both national media and Kate Rothen's personal insights were in agreement on one point: we are just beginning to feel and understand the impact of technological and data innovation for marketing.  If you're congratulating yourself on "how far we've come and what we've now achieved," then you really don't understand the real challenge for marketing -- and for Communication.

The old world: Communications technological channels controlled by corporations provided "slots" / openings for marketers to drop in messages that will reach many people.  Attractive, beautiful, interesting, attention-grabbing images, music, text, etc.  Marketing professions filled communications corporations' buckets with good info or snake oil.  It's all about Reach and Frequency.

The world of the future: Communications technological channels controlled by corporations will provide "slots" / openings for marketers to drop in messages that will reach the One Right Person who Really Needs That Product Now.  Marketing professions will need to fill the the communications businesses' buckets with real info, the right info for that person and situation.  Reach and Frequency will be irrelevant (or they will be about entertainment, not much relevant to marketing). What we will care about is real, usable information for that right person, at that right time.

Check out this Leo Burnett Wildfire video about the power and specificity of marketing of the future.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ty Montague shares "True Stories" with BICsters

Ty Montague guest lectures in BIC's Brand Experience course.
This semester's foundational course in Brand Experience, taught by MediaLink's CMO Dee Salomon, explores methods of creating brand experience in physical, digital, traditional and experimental ways as it delves into the coordinated application of mass, personal and social media. Students' own experiences in this course have included lectures, trips to museums, and a real life encounter with True Story author, Ty Montague.

The March 10th guest lecture up on City College's campus took on a surreal nature since students have been reading True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Build Your Business as a framework for their studies. The current CEO of co:collective and former Co-President, Chief Creative Officer of JWT North America provided his take on innovation, leadership, business transformation and the power of story. He also autographed copies of the BIC course "textbook" insuring its place in students' professional libraries.

Read more about Ty Montague in this Fast Company article.

BIC featured as "HOT" grad program in CUNY

The latest edition of CUNY Matters, the monthly newsletter for the City University of New York, showcases the BIC program among the "dozens of new and innovative graduate programs being offered to better prepare students for careers in the emerging areas of technology, medicine, public health, advertising, film, and digital media."  As the largest the largest urban university in the country and third largest university system in the nation (behind SUNY and California State University system), CUNY has over 800 graduate degree programs in its 24 colleges. 

The article (seen here on page six and seven) features photos of BIC students making final presentations for foundation course Idea Development. It also includes commentary from Program Director Nancy Tag and BIC students:  “We’re living in a visual society and the industry is changing very quickly, and so is the way people consume information,” said Nancy R. Tag, program director of BIC. “We needed to create a program that brings all the disciplines together, so that creative [people] understand the data [personnel] in this data-driven world.”

Cassondra Bazelow, a student in the BIC masters program, said she appreciates the “real world” experience in the curriculum. Industry professionals assisted in creating the curriculum and also serve as adjunct faculty, guest lecturers and project advisers.

 “Between the people instructing the courses and the guest lecturers that they invite, the students at BIC have access to the knowledge of working professionals relevant in their fields,” she said.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


The first ever BIC Open House was held on February 27th and welcomed over 30 candidates to City College to tour the campus, meet BIC program director and faculty, and experience life as a "BICster."

CEO Ketchum NA Barri Rafferty
BIC's "Day of Curiosity" kicked off at noon where an SRO crowd attended MCA's "Lunch w/Leaders" lecture featuring CEO of Ketchum North America and BIC Advisory Board Member Barri Rafferty who eloquently spoke about her recent trip to The World Economic Forum in Davos and 8 Global Trends Impacting Communications (look for a full write-up soon).

Curious candidates then took a tour of the City College campus (led by BIC student, Nehal Mahmoud) which features the first Gothic-style buildings designed for an American college. For the more curious among us, there's an excellent exhibit currently at the CCNY School of Architecture about George Post's architectural masterwork. Or read the article, "The Very Model of a University," in The New York Times link HERE.

The West Gate of the Gothic Quad

At 5PM, BIC Program Director Nancy Tag was joined by BIC faculty Gerardo Blumenkrantz and Frank Walton for an Info Session on BIC. Starting with "high tea" and ending with a Q&A, curious candidates heard about BIC's 36-credit, portfolio-driven curriculum and unique approach to teaching branding and integrated communications. The audience discovered why BIC could only happen here at City College -- where multi-cultural energy is part of our DNA, access to academic excellence is integral to CCNY's mission, and our location in the media capital of the world goes beyond our proximity to midtown, but is embodied by our amazing adjunct faculty, lecture series, advisors, etc. 

Program Director Nancy Tag leads the Info Session

Our ever-curious guests were then invited to stick around and join Professor Frank Walton's BIC class "Branding Issues & Intangibles" in the Public Relations course sequence to learn alongside BIC students about country branding -- or location marketing. Starting with a quick summary of the course to date, Professor Walton (who also heads the BIC public relations track) then asked students to consider such questions as "who owns Brooklyn -- or Times Square?" "how can you leverage the attributes of a place?" and "how can branding make us appreciate the value of origin?" The lecture took students around the globe from upstate New York to the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anti-French. Pro-American. Green?!?!?!

Cadillac ELR
General Motor's Cadillac has a fascinating, complex ad that plays with so many stereotypes it's dizzying. Anti-French/European. Pro-American. Trophy wife. Going to the moon?--No problem. American ingenuity and "winning" attitude.  All in the service of -- an electric car!

That's Cadillac Global's CMO, Uwe Ellinghaus's effort to reinterpret cultural and brand stereotypes. (Just for the record, Ellinghaus came to Cadillac from senior marketing positions at Montblanc International and BMW AG which are . . . European.)

Uwe Ellinghaus
CMO, Cadillac Global
It will be fascinating to see if this ad campaign works. Audi, you might remember, used to be an old fuddy-duddy brand, till VW re-imagined and re-branded it.  Ford has failed with rebranding strategy for Lincoln. But maybe GM has a winning approach for Cadillac. In recent years, Cadillac has won serious industry awards and media attention.

Is it possible that Cadillac may become a brand success icon of the 21st Century?

(And for any of you who are not history buffs, just a reminder -- the 1902-created auto brand is named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, a French explorer of North America in the early 18th Century whose adventures led him from from Nova Scotia to New Orleans to . . . . Detroit.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Linda Kaplan Thaler joins BIC advisory board

Linda Kaplan Thaler
Publicis Kaplan Thaler
On February 14, 2014, Professor Nancy R. Tag, Program Director of the City College of New York, MPS degree program in Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC), announced that Linda Kaplan Thaler, Chair of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, has joined the BIC Advisory Board.

Linda Kaplan Thaler, an alumna of the City College of New York, has created some of the most successful and memorable advertising in America. Much of her work has become part of pop culture, including the Toys R’ Us “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” jingle, Kodak Moments, Clairol Herbal Essences’ “Yes, Yes, Yes” campaign and the Aflac duck.

Ms. Thaler is Chairman of the U.S. flagship office of Publicis Worldwide and its blue-chip client roster, including P&G, CITI, NestlĂ©, L’Oreal, Merck, Pfizer and Wendy’s, among many others. Previously, Linda was CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the Kaplan Thaler Group, which she founded in 1997 and grew from a fledgling start-up to a company with over $1 billion in billings. In 2013, the Kaplan Thaler Group merged with Publicis New York to form Publicis Kaplan Thaler.

She is also a best-selling author and television personality. Her three collaborations with coauthor Robin Koval, Bang!, The Power of Nice, and The Power of Small, have all received national recognition. In 2005, Linda hosted the Oxygen television series “Making It Big,” and she has also appeared on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” as a judge. Her creative talents have earned her the prestigious MATRIX Award for Women in Communications and she was recognized in 2012 by Advertising Age as one of the "100 Most Influential Women in Advertising." She has also earned the Advertising Woman of the Year Award from AWNY, the New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Award and 13 Clio’s, among many others.

Ms. Thaler joins the BIC Advisory Members, David Sable, CEO of Young & Rubicam; Barri Rafferty, CEO North America, Ketchum PR; Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer Global, GroupM; and Peter Finn, Founding Partner, Finn Partners Public Relations.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IBM brand architect on brand as business strategy

Forbes today published excerpts from a discussion between Forbes contributor, Allen Adamson, and a real tried-and-tested branding professional, Randy Golden, who was a senior executive in the corporate brand architecture and design group at IBM for over twenty years.

The discussion circles around, in several ways, the concept of the corporate brand being "in the DNA" of a company -- not just in the advertising -- understood and lived by all levels of employees. They make the case for branding as a business strategy. Golden says, "It was the responsibility of the brand team to identify, prioritize, and build intgrated systems for presenting the IBM brand across all of the global business units and the numerous departments, products and programs."

Golden continues, "The challenge in big companies is the ability to act and behave across the business in a way that is consistent with the core brand. . . . [At IBM] Management knew that the brand and its values needed to guide all organizational behavior. It had to be the infrastructure around which everything else was developed. Advertising needs to be an integrated part of the overall brand presentation, but not the driver."

Adamson concurs: "If stakeholders, employees, can't understand how the brand character and messaging should be deployed in their individual areas of business, how this allows them to differentiate the brand in the minds of consumers, no amount of advertising can help. You have to get them to be able to internalize it, act on it in their world."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You can never coast on past performance?

James Surowiecki writes "Twilight of the Brands" in The New Yorker this week explores his view of the fragility of brands in an information-rich and an empowered-consumer marketplace: "consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos."  He makes the case for a significant erosion of brand loyalty ("Only twenty-five percent of American respondetns in a recent Ernst & Young study said that brand loyalty affected how they shopped"). Surowiecki thinks consumers are the winners; established brands are the losers -- comparison shopping is amazingly easy; upstart competitors can challenge market-dominant players.  In an off-hand comments, however, he underplays a critical point: "brands retain value where the brand association is integral to the experience of a product . . . or where they confer status." If that's true, then brands just might be more important than ever as brands need to lure the consumer to trial -- and as many brands may have minimal distinguishing features.

Brands protecting their Sochi investment

Mashable's T. L. Stanley reported yesterday on the social media manpower being deployed by Olympic global sponsors to protect any online attacks from critics of Russia and the local game organization.  Especially after McDonald's #CheersToSochi campaign got co-opted by civil rights activists, Olympic sponsors have geared up their monitoring and response capabilities.  Visa, to cite just one example, has teams from multiple agencies -- BBDO Worldwide, Atmosphere Proximity, Omnicom's OMD, MRY, and FleishmanHillard all on the look-out for social opportunities as well as potential problems.

The smartest branding thinkers are pausing and thinking before they hit the send key. "There's a real downside to lobbing your hat into the conversation if you don't have anything relevant to say or the credibility to say it," said David Srere, co-CEO of strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale. "Silencee can be golden."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No smoking

CVS Caremark's President/CEO
announces the pharmacy's plan to stop
selling all tobacco products 
CVS/Caremark made a strong brand move today with its announcement of its intention to phase out sale of all tobacco products before the end of 2014 -- and the potential loss of $2 billion in annual sales. The move clearly distinguishes CVS/Caremark from Walgreens and Rite-Aid. We will see if CVS/Caremark is a leader, or whether this action will create a new brand category of health-oriented retailing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 just killed the talking head. This is good news for integrated communications.

The multimedia / integrated communications production by of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address sets a new standard for the 21st century speech. -- So argues BIC professor, Frank Walton, in a post at published tonight.

Brand and the reciprocity principle


A new Boston Consulting Group study analyzes how the Millennial generation has a distinctive relationship with brands, referred to in the study as "the reciprocity principle."  The study asserts that brand is increasingly created by the consumer (at least the more activist ones), and not solely or even dominantly by the marketing communications professional.

The brand isn't what we want it to be (or what our boss wants it to be); the brand is what the consumer tells us it is.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How neutral (or just no-opinion-yet) are you about net neutrality?

Rob Norman
Chief Digital Officer Global

BIC Industry Advisor
While most of us brand enthusiasts are waiting for the Superbowl XLVII ads, some of the people who keep BIC on track are also engaged in the discussion and policy advocacy that will convey the messages and the  impact of those brands to audiences now and in the future.

BIC's industry adviser, Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer Global, GroupM, posted on January 21 at his reflections on the recent decision of the District of Columbia Federal Circuit Appeals Court relating to the principle (claims) of net neutrality. Rob is skeptical that the "end of net neutrality may act as a brake on innovation," and he thinks it's "unlikely that the infrastructure providers [AT&T, Verizon, et alia] will enter into an aggressive 'pay or throttle' battle with Netflix."

A brand is always embedded in (inextricable from)  its physical, social, cultural -- and economic -- contexts. BIC students are challenged to understand all the dimensions in which a brand must perform.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Toronto is looking for a new logo (brand?)

The Globe and Mail posted last Friday about the finalists in their competition for new logos for the City of Toronto.

The story also lets you vote on which you would recommend.  No discussion -- however -- about what is clearly the elephant in the room: for some time in the future, Mayor Ford is going to be the defining brand feature for Toronto for many people. A new logo won't fix that. But if a new logo/mark is linked to other actions?

Place / location branding will be an important copy in the B3022 course Spring semester 2014. We look forward to the discussion.

Branding safety

Auto safety (anti-speeding) is an idea (it's a value, and it's a policy to be advocated to other people).  Often, brand expressions and communications campaigns supporting such ideas get graphic and explicit (like those anti-smoking campaigns that show maimed, disfigured people). But this new public service announcement from the New Zealand Transport Agency found different set of cues. Regret and human sadness -- and the horrific impossibility to have a second chance -- not mangled steel and spilled blood.

YouTube post here -- released on January 8th,  it's getting lots of attention.

Corporate reputation trends for 2014

Leslie Gaines-Ross
Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick and author of the ReputationRx blog has offered her analysis of corporate reputation trends for the coming year.

Read her blog at HuffingtonPost.  But her #1 sets the tone for all her observations: " . . . how does a company create a single clear narrative when business is so complex when information is shared within seconds and when a business model is so instantly imitable? . . . . Author and CEO of LRN, Dov Seidman, posits an answer worth repeating -- focus not only on what you are doing, but also on how you are doing it. Do not merely out-perform the competition, out-behave them as well. . . . The most highly reputable companies are hyper-conscious of not only performance, but also of how they build their cultures and their brands."

Some of her other insights:

CEOs and decision-makers must listen to the "whispers" -- insightful monitoring is required to head off reputation risks.

There is a growing importance of "live media" -- conferences, summits, forums -- as a fourth dimension, complementing paid, earned, and owned media categories. One (ironic?) impact of all our technology is that it has been driving us into situations in which we want to meet and interact with people, unmediated by digitalization.

The threats to reputation of uses/misuses of social media will only intensify. The involvement of CEOs is imperative.

The best defender of a corporate reputation may very well be its own employees.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Interbrand: branding itself for the new year

Interbrand today posted on Vimeo "Life at Interbrand" -- the agency brand message for prospective employees, but also for clients. As you might expect from a branding agency, all the messages you'd want are here: global, innovative, full of opportunity, committed to values, changing the world (nothing less). Nice video.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What one BIC prof learned first semester

BIC professor and PR Track Director, Frank Walton, has posted at about "What I Learned in the First Semester about Integrated Communications." 

Frank's observations are based on his insights from interacting with an extraordinary group of BIC students -- our first, the class of 2015 -- but also based on discussions with the full-time faculty, with our adjunct faculty who are currently in leadership positions in the marketing communications services industries, and with our highly regarded group of official and unofficial advisers and friends in the advertising, PR, digital, communications research, and design communities.

Frank Walton, Ph.D.
Director, PR Track, BIC
Spoiler alert: his conclusion is  -- "We have more to learn."  Are you interested in being at an epicenter about where the future of integrated communications is being explored?  And do you want to be prepared for that future? Curious?  Click here.

Edelman: January 5th -- shows up differently

Richard Edelman announced in his 6 A.M. blog today the launch of
Edelman 's new new branding campaign

Richard Edelman, CEO, of Edelman, has used his blog, 6 A.M., for several years as the place to break news about his global agency as well as to ruminate about trends in the integrated marketing communications sectors.

This morning, Richard blogged the announcement of Edelman's own new branding campaign: Show Up Differently.

It is more than fair to acknowledge that Richard Edelman has been a thought leader about PR and integrated communications, as well as a successful CEO -- especially over the last decade as he prominently led Edelman in the "digital space" with authentic commitment.

Now, with the Show Up Differently brand campaign, Richard has another somewhat different perspective on what integrated communications is. He writes: "We believe that the combination of public relations, digital and research will allow us to build a new kind of marketing communications firm that can help clients both promote and protect their brands."

Note what was and wasn't said in that quotation: nothing about advertising (native or otherwise) and nothing about content marketing/generation. Nor does Richard use or focus on the word "creativity." Richard focused on two traditional concepts/categories (public relations and research) and played to Edelman's undoubted, well-developed strength in implementing digital communications that show results. He also plays to Edelman's business-model as a strength ("independence"), and he wraps up his agency's package of services and expertise in the concept of "story telling."

"Hurrahs!" are being heard far and wide from the PR research community today. For the past few years, the Edelman agency has continued to strengthen its strategic communications research capacities in research through investments into Edelman Berland.  With the Show Up Differently campaign, Edelman has put research at the top priority in a way that no other PR firm has; it will be very interesting to see how this plays out both for Edelman and for its competition.

Richard Edelman
President and CEO,
The Show Up Differently campaign also touts the differentiation of Edelman's independence (not part of the global groups of Publicis-Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic, and Dentsu).  Here is Edelman's video on independence.

Finally, the Show Up Differently campaign describes Edelman's Story Lab (a process? a place?) that asserts an agency expertise in helping clients create better stories, with state-of-the-art and non-traditional media, for better business results. It is significant -- and probably a very good PR tactic --  that the word "creativity" is not used in this environment when Everybody wants to be Creative.

Of course, "time will tell" -- but true to its brand (they're showing up differently in January 2014), Edelman has not sat back and let the impending close of the Publicis-Onimicom merger and other events steal all of the limelight.  One way to make sure you keep your new year's resolutions is to make a public commitment: Show Up Differently is evidence that Edelman understands brand concept and brand strategic timing -- and the element of risk and potential reward.