Q&A with Mckenzie Earley, Director of First Impressions and one of the newest members of the Saatchi & Saatchi S team!
Introducing the newest member of our communications cadre!
Name: Annika Harper
Title: Account Executive on the Sustainability Communications team
That really means…
Media relations like crazy; Always-on tweeter and blogger; Relentless trend researcher; Client advocate to the world.
Hometown or seminal places of residence?
I grew up in North County, San Diego, California. San Francisco feels like home now after moving here a while ago from Santa Barbara and before that Bristol, England.
Fighter! In my free time I’m an amateur boxer. Most people wouldn’t know that I like to get hit in the face for fun.
I was inspired by my great uncle who was a champion boxer and started in a club at Bristol University. It started out as just fun and fitness, but now I’m training to compete.
How does your workspace reflect your working style?
Well, it’s a work in progress at the moment. My desk is always quite messy, unfortunately. I’m not a disorganized person but I am always juggling multiple projects and that is reflected on all the bits and pieces I have scattered across my desk.
What are you most excited about starting with Saatchi & Saatchi S?
Soaking up the knowledge and expertise from the team here. It’s what I came to Saatchi & Saatchi S looking for and I am constantly finding people with expertise that I wouldn’t have expected.
What are your Lovemarks?
Levi’s, Food for Life, CeraVe, Trader Joe’s
Last week we were fortunate to be joined by Cara Hale Alter from SpeechSkills, LLC to spend some time in the Saatchi S offices discussing her work, The Credibility Code. What resulted was a day-long event of speeches, stumbles, stutters, smiles and even socks on heads!
Within the sustainability space in particular, we all focus on the importance of communication. Whether it’s the robustness of the message outpacing the validity of the work behind it (greenwashing) or not feeling confident enough to take credit for worthy achievements (greenmuting), communications and sustainability often operate hand in hand. Given the nature of our business and the communications and PR offering which we are able to service for our clients (along with strategy and engagement), Saatchi S has long focused on making sustainability irresistible. On developing messages and techniques that put the positive back into what can often be a challenging and somewhat negative business.
For a holiday about love, Valentine’s Day certainly inspires a strikingly diverse set of emotional responses. There are those who embrace the day as one to celebrate romance and love like my parents who got married on it some 35+ years ago. And then there are those who just downright hate it as exemplified by this hilarious collection of anti-valentine’s day cards.
As a sustainability professional, I’m a bit torn myself. I like the idea of celebrating joy, love and relationships. It would be great to do so every day, but sometimes we need specific reminders and ‘action-forcing events’ to focus us. On the other hand, I’m less keen on the consumption-focused aspect this particular event and the push to buy things that represent our love.
Last Sunday I spent a good 3 hours on Twitter. I think there was a football game on the TV, too, but between the tweets and the ads, who had time for sports? And I was not alone – according to Twitter collectively we set new “tweeting during a sporting event” records with peaks of 4,064 TPS (tweets per second), 381,605 TPM (tweets per minute) and a total of 24.9 million tweets throughout the game. With that much stimulus, can any single message actually have an impact? One came through loud and clear for me: #notbuyingit.
#notbuyingit, and its counterpoint #mediawelike, are the hash tag brilliance of The Representation Project, a “movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.” Jennifer Siebel Newson, who wrote, directed and produced the 2011 Sundance Film Festival film “Miss Representation,” started the non-profit to create action from the awareness generated by the movie.
Dusty J @ flickr
As the 2014 Winter Games approach, I look back and reflect upon the accomplishments of one outstanding athlete, Peggy Fleming, who, for me, defines Olympic Gold.
For those of you who did not experience in real time the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble, France, it was a thrilling and inspiring Winter Olympics. What I remember most of all about these Games was Peggy Fleming winning the Gold medal in Ladies’ singles figure skating.
Back in the 60’s, the American story line on Olympic Athletes was that US athletes were “true” amateurs who trained on their own and (along with their families) made incredible personal sacrifices to be a US Olympiad. The USSR and other Eastern bloc countries had state-sponsored “training camps” for their Olympic hopefuls built in to their societies that gave their Olympic athletes a distinct competitive advantage over the US amateurs.
At the 1968 Winter Olympics, Peggy Fleming brought home the ONLY Gold Medal for the United States Olympic Team. Not just for Figure Skating, but for the entire US Olympic Team.
Today, this seems oddly incredible.
Back then, I remember two things standing out for me.
First, I was captivated by color TV. We had just purchased our first color television days before, and this was the first Olympic Games to be broadcast in color.
Second, I was mesmerized by Peggy Fleming. She had such style, such grace. She made excellence look effortless. (OK, maybe I am starting to sound a little too much like Dick Button – I will stop).
This past Wednesday, the city of San Francisco launched its “Zero Waste Textile Initiative” at the downtown Westfield Mall in partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi S client, I:CO and other leading retailers and local organizations including SF Goodwill, H&M, North Face, American Eagle Outfitters and Levi Strauss. Through the creation of the first ever I:CO city, San Francisco aims to meet a key cornerstone of their environmental agenda: to achieve zero textile waste to landfills by 2020.
Here we are in mid-January, accelerating as we move into the new year. By this time, I hope you’ve had some time to recover from holiday-induced family time. Been able to process interactions with rarely seen friends and relatives bound to you by the ties of family – if not always ideology or experience.
I’ve had a bit of recovery time myself, and though a lifetime may not even be enough time to ever fully process our families, I had an odd and somewhat begrudging realization: It turns out, we’re far less different than I have been lead to believe.
The “60 Minutes” segment “The Cleantech Crash” that aired on January 5th has received its fair share of criticism for shoddy (or non-existent) fact checking, biased reporting and an overall lack of perspective. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can see the full video here.
The piece is slanted towards three completely misguided ideas:
- Obama’s investment of more than $150b has done little more than create a long list of failed companies
- Cleantech has cost taxpayers billions of dollars (and now China is reaping all the reward)
- Investing in Cleantech is a game for the cocky, rich and idiotic, aka Vinod Khosla
The criticism of the piece has made for gossip as juicy as this sector gets. Following the airing of the “60 Minutes” program, ThinkProgress interviewed one of the guests, Robert Rapier, CTO at Merica International. The ThinkProgress Q&A clarifies that while Rapier very intentionally criticized Khosla, he didn’t mean to disparage Cleantech overall. And before the “60 Minutes” piece even aired CleanTechnica posted a piece anticipating it would be “Dumb & Dumber, Part 3.”
A Huffington Post article written by James Gerken, however, is what’s being shared and reshared. It does a nice job dissecting the “60 Minutes” piece, including a link to congressional testimony from former head of the DOE loan guarantee program Jonathan Silver. In it Silver states that just 3% of the companies that received government grants actually failed. This is a very different reality than the one Leslie Stahl paints when she ticks off 9 failed companies as if they were the last ones on Earth.
Throughout the interview Stahl tries very hard to get Vinod Khosla to admit that he’s a complete miserable failure. Her technique is to ask non-questions like “there must be a downside” and “all kinds of glitches…” and “taxpayers have lost a lot of money in the general Cleantech area.”
Happily, Khosla doesn’t fall for it. In fact, just the opposite – he advances an argument that is critically important in sustainability and Cleantech: failure is not only good but essential. Like the space program, which has received an average of $10b a year from the government since 1958, or cancer research, which has gotten close to $100b from the NIH since 1971, it will take significant investment and a large appetite for risk to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
At least Khosla gets in the last word of the interview, saying “I probably have failed more times in life than almost anyone I know. But that’s because I’ve tried more things. And I’m not afraid to fail because the consequences of avoiding failure are doing nothing.”
Go on, Vinod Khosla, keep on failing – it’s exactly what we need to succeed.
So here we are. 2014.
And there it went. 2013.
Thanks to Jean-Louis Nguyen, you can relive the last 12 months in a little over 6 minutes.
From San Francisco’s BatKid Miles Scott to Toronto’s BattyMayor Rob Ford.
This month, I’m working from across the pond with our Saatchi & Saatchi S team in London. I’m here to help a client develop their corporate purpose – a set of aspirational statements that describe who they are and what they do – and integrate this purpose into their culture, operations and customer experience. I’ll write more about this in a future blog post.
I’ve also been sharing best practices with my UK colleagues and gaining insights from our European work. One such insight came unexpectedly as I walked up to the office the other morning. While I must admit I’d had a few too many glasses of mulled wine the night before, that wasn’t the cause of this strange sight.
As the end of the year quickly approaches, we’ve been doing some reflecting here at Saatchi & Saatchi S. In the spirit of the holidays, we want to give thanks for our incredible clients who have enabled us to advise and communicate around important issues and innovations contributing to making our world more sustainable.
A particular example that comes to mind is Stem, Inc. Last month, Stem announced a unique and innovative financing partnership with Clean Feet Investors (CFI) and Jigar Shah, designed to increase adoption of Stem’s battery storage solution that allows customers to save money and take pressure off of the grid during peak hours. This partnership is a first-of-its-kind, the announcement also gave our Communications team a chance to roll our collective sleeves up and collaborate, garnering some well-deserved attention.
It’s not even my turn to blog, but breaking news waits for no-one. Quick! To the batcave!
As I am sure most, if not all, of you all know by now, last Friday saw San Francisco transformed into Gotham City by the Bay so that the Make-a-Wish Foundation could help 5 year old Leukemia survivor Miles Scott become a real-life superhero – BatKid. Whilst we can sometimes feel trapped by the humdrum monotony of daily life, organizations like Make-a-Wish are changing lives on a daily basis. On Friday, they didn’t just change the life of Miles and his family – they changed an entire city.
The success of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s “Scarecrow” video goes beyond its glossy Cannes-worthy visuals or the 7 million views it has received since its launch last month: the online advertisement is a marketing feat because it taps into the power of storytelling in a way that reflects Chipotle’s ethos and is woven into all of the company’s communications. A look into Chipotle’s broader communications efforts reveals the lesson that for a sustainability message to authentically resonate with audiences, it needs to be part of a strategic communication plan and backed up by real action. These days, skeptical consumers want more than elaborate, inspirational words — they want transparent, consistent messaging and bold action.
The Scarecrow video works because it is not an isolated message, it is part of Chipotle’s ongoing strategy to connect with consumers — and that’s what makes it a winner. After all, the world needs more than 3-minute animated videos and flashy, one-time marketing stunts.
To build a more sustainable future (replete with conscious consumers and sustainable brands), companies must authentically communicate their brand’s story through ongoing engagement and action. In our perpetually connected world of mobile devices, Twitter and Facebook, consumers are bombarded with a flood of messages day-in and day-out — wonder how your brand’s sustainability message can rise above the noise and stick? Below are a few things to consider based on what’s worked for Chipotle and other sustainable business leaders:
Since my last blog post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. (For those who know me, just the prospect of me thinking should be worrying enough.) Lately it seems that I’ve been consumed with ideas, questions and most of all, just wondering. About life, the universe, the number 42……and about purpose. When this situation occurs, one of two quotes sum up where I find myself. Firstly, and to quote one of the finest philosophical minds of our generation:
“Do you ever stop to think and forget to start again?”
- Winnie the Pooh
The answer to which is, “I do, Pooh, I do.”
This past week, I attended the Net Impact Conference in San Jose, California. With the theme “Change Starts Here,” it was an impressive event that brought together a group of passionate, purpose-driven students and professionals from around the globe. In addition to the energy brought by this next generation of leaders, I was struck by something else — a refreshing level of candor.
In the sessions I attended, I found corporate leaders willing to share their successes, challenges and the fairly messy process of creating products and initiatives with shared value. I particularly enjoyed hearing from brands about efforts that were still in progress as it provided an unpolished view of the tradeoffs, internal buy-in process, and setbacks inherent in this kind of work.
Photo by AMagill on flickr
Recently, the CEO of Barilla Pasta, Guido Barilla, immersed himself and the company he leads into a pot of boiling, hot water with his controversial comments regarding gay and lesbian families. In an on-air interview with La Zanzara, an Italian radio program, Mr. Barilla made controversial remarks which angered many and prompted calls for a worldwide boycott of the Barilla brand, which, according to the Italian daily Gazzetta del Sud, is the largest pasta manufacturer in the world.
Many have already reacted and taken action.
Just this week, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) announced that it has “[stopped] serving Barilla pasta in Harvard dining halls” in response to these remarks. As they saw it, the problem was clear and the solution was obvious. The Harvard Crimson reported, “When the media shared the comments that were made, we felt like it was the right thing to do,” explained Crista Martin, HUDS director for marketing and communications. “We found out what pastas were available from our vendor, did a quick test to see what could be substituted, and made the switch.”
Consumers, not companies, get to decide what is appropriate corporate behavior. Similarly, they get to define sustainability and sustainable practices as they deem appropriate. If consumer sovereignty is truly to reign in a free-market economy, then businesses have a responsibility to share with consumers any information that may materially affect their choices. Companies constantly demand such information from their vendors to ensure compliance with the standards they set. Individual consumers have that same right.
We’ve all seen the surveys; “If there were greener options at the same price point/convenience level as the alternatives, would you opt in?” Consumers frequently respond ‘yes’ to this question and some would even be willing to pay more for sustainable products. Many brands offering environmentally friendly options have seen success, but overall, how do we get the if to disappear when talking to consumers about purchasing and living sustainably? In order for sustainable living to be a truly viable option for the masses, we need to remove three main barriers to entry: price, ease of opt-in and a lack or misunderstanding of information.
Are you a working mom sending out emails to clients…while catching up on the final season of Breaking Bad and doing your laundry…in your pajamas?
From the media and discussions these days, one might figure that’s what flextime is all about. But if you’re a career oriented mother, you know that these assumptions are untrue. That’s one reason the national organization, Working Moms Media, declared October 15th National Flex Day – to promote the issue and urge companies to support flexible working arrangements.
However for the flextime debate, this image is still hard to shake. This may stem from how the issue is often positioned – specifically in terms of working moms needing a flexible schedule so they can also raise children and manage families. Carol Evans, President of Working Moms Media explains that working mothers are a key advocate for these policies, but acknowledges that they are marching alongside many others such as those who care for “elderly parents, millennials, sports enthusiasts, adult students, differently abled employees, people involved in their communities.”
Coming down from the SXSW Eco high is challenging. As a relatively new entrant in the crowded sustainability event space, the conference provided the Saatchi & Saatchi S team with an array of valuable experiences, all set in the backdrop of charming Austin.