Jun26

Brain Candy: Byte-sized Creative Inspiration for Digital Minds—1st Edition

GKblogWhat I love about being an advertising creative is the eternal search for creative stimulus. Always on the search for something that turns your mind on, makes you “think different” and gets you excited to show your co-workers like it was a grade school show-and-tell.

But it’s this stimulus, or this search for stimulus, that really does inspire truly innovative ways to reach our fellow persons with a memorable experience. Sometimes it’s a cool social media tie-in, or maybe a super-sneaky hidden camera capture. Either way, it makes an impression on us and becomes a reference point for the next creative idea, the next killer pitch tactic.

I imagine everyone has his or her favorite sites to mine Internet gold. If you have a site like that, stop hoarding the good stuff and write the next Brain Candy post. Or maybe you just like calling people out for being “two-thousand and late” like an art director I know here at Ogilvy (who will go unnamed for now).

So for now, I’ve collected a few of my favorite inspirations over the last few months to share with you. I hope you find them as inspiring, hilarious and introspective as I did.

Before we dive in, have you seen the site This Advertising Life? No? Really? Then you have to go now… This should be daily viewing for all agency types.

OK, so here are some vids from across the interwebs that I think are pretty cool. Some of them actually lend themselves well as crossovers into the pharma world. But if you can’t sell-in selfies and Snapchat for the latest patient consumer pitch, at least you have some neat stuff to show before your weekly status meeting.

Every now and again you see something and think, “That is genius.” And you just sit at your computer in total awe of your self-contempt for not thinking of it first. Then you think about what must have been going on in that room for someone to have come up with it. Pure Genius.

 

How do you get a paper poster to turn into a musical instrument? I watched this video three times and I’m still amazed.

 

I guess you really can’t beat selfies, beer and Twitter. You have to love the Danes, and they definitely love their Carlsberg. Happy hour will never be the same.

 

This one has been making the rounds lately at the Chocolate Factory—a really impressive way to use augmented reality. We actually worked this into a pitch recently, and this is totally something you can build into a convention experience…minus the alien invasion, I would imagine.

 

I don’t mean to encourage duplicitous behavior, but you have to admit this is pretty funny. On the other hand, this is proof of concept for a CRM or patient reminder app. This app can pulse out reminder messages to patients to take their meds (adherence), get well soon (post surgical), have a good day (depression), or even send out appointment reminders.

 

I always loved reading about twin studies from clinical psych class. There’s something really cool about having such a perfect control for a study design. But multiples kind of freak me out in person though. Anyway, you should listen to your mother and not chew gum in mixed company, here’s why.

 

So you want to have a goof on that dude who’s using waaaaaaay too many hashtags? Here you go, courtesy of Axe. I encourage you all to try this, on yourself!

 

Now let’s close on a high note…if you’re somehow one of the 2 million people who have not seen this ad, just do it.

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May29

A Patient is a Virtue

sales reps and docsIn the age of WebMD, Everyday Health, and Facebook, consumers are more informed and involved in their health than ever before.  And with social media infiltrating every aspect of their lives, they are now more vocal than ever.  Patients can – and in most cases are willing to – tell you what you want to know about your brand.  Just ask…and listen.  So why is it that some brands fail to take full advantage of tapping into their own customers for insight, ideas, and even inspiration?

We’ve all heard the phrase “typical pharma ad” and as an industry we are guilty of producing far too much of it.  Sometimes it’s driven by regulatory conservatism.  Often it’s a stubborn client who is afraid to push the envelope, while at other times there just isn’t enough budget to upset the status quo.  So we’re forced to pick up some stock photography, reach into our bag of preapproved claims, slap the all-important “pharma swoosh” on the piece, and call it a day.

But is the work resonating with patients?  Is it even being noticed by patients?  In order to make a connection with patients, the marketing needs to tap into what drives them, what worries them, and what will help them take the desired action.  Put simply, they need to see themselves in the marketing.

Market research and reports can obviously give you broad-stroke generalizations about your audience.  But how can you dive deeper into the psyche of your patients?  There are numerous ways you can do this and they don’t require significant investments:

·         Develop and leverage a standing Patient Advisory Board – Recruit patients to participate in an advisory board…and use it!  This is a great channel for bouncing ideas off patients and hearing first-hand about the challenges they face with their condition every day.  These boards can be conducted virtually (although at least one face-to-face meeting a year helps build camaraderie).  Also, be sure to refresh the participants so that you continually get the latest perspectives.

·         Seek input from stakeholders outside of the Brand Team – The Brand Team can sometimes be the furthest removed from the patient base, as they can get bogged down with sales reports and budget meetings; so try to engage those on the front line.  Sales reps often can provide direct feedback from HCPs and office staff on what they see in patients.  Is there an 800 number for you brand?  If so, speak with the customer service reps who field those calls.  What issues do they hear about most often and what questions are they asked most frequently?

·         Establish a patient eCRM program – A CRM program can be simple or complex – but in order to be useful, it must be trackable.  From that you can see firsthand what content is looked at most often and therefore assumed to be of most relevance.  You can also conduct quick surveys or online polls to get insight about your target.

·         Attend events and conferences – Again, this is another opportunity to hear from those on the front line: sales reps, patients, and HCPs.  You can also see, in one fell swoop, what the competition is doing to market themselves.

Nothing I’ve suggested is earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but I do find that these often get overlooked in favor of more complicated (and costly) research.  I happen to work on a well-established drug that was first-to-market in a category that is now undergoing seismic changes.  We needed to defend our turf from new therapies, new dosing formulations, and new administration devices, and we needed to do it with a limited budget.  “Gaining new patients was going to be increasingly difficult,” we thought, “so let’s at least be sure to hold on to the ones we have.”

So we set out last year to develop a campaign unlike anything this brand has seen in its 20+ years of existence.  We needed to reinvent ourselves while remaining true to our heritage and what kept us successful all these years.  We employed all of the tactics I mentioned above to help us paint a clear and vibrant picture of who our patients – our very lifeline – were.  What we learned was that our old marketing reflected misconceptions about what people with this condition were “supposed” to be like.  In no way did we reflect their vibrancy, defiance, and zest for living.  And because of that, our patients felt like the brand was letting them down.  How could we expect them to be advocates for the brand if we weren’t living up to our end of the deal?

The new campaign has just recently launched, so I can’t tell you yet how successful we’ve been at defending our turf.  But what I can say is that the feedback from patients, sales reps and HCPs alike has been overwhelmingly positive.  It is bold and defiant, and goes beyond the standard “talk to your doctor about…” with a rallying cry that conveys our patients’ inner strength.  In other words, it is a clear reflection of them.

So if your brand feels like it’s stagnating or worse yet, losing relevance, don’t panic.  Put your ear to the ground and listen for the voice of the patient – and then make sure it comes through in the work.

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Also posted in Branding, CRM, Data, Efficacy, Great Ideas, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Learning, Marketing, Pharmaceutical, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
May20

Bringing Sexy Back…to Science

disease managementThank God for The Big Bang Theory. They’ve made it cool to be a nerd again.

While traditional brand attributes (efficacy, safety, dosing, etc) will always be of key importance, the last few years have seen a renaissance of scientific enlightenment as physicians across disciplines take a closer look at not only how well a drug works, but why it works.

With the advent of new targeted agents in oncology and virology, mechanism of action quickly went from a dirty little secret buried in the PI to front page news. There are now numerous products that have built their entire value proposition on mechanism of action.

In oncology in particular, where clinical improvement between new and old drugs is often measured in teaspoons, the science behind the brand can often stand as a key differentiator. Avastin—one of the most successful drugs in oncology—created a simple scientific rationale for its use: stop cancer cells from creating new blood vessels and “starve the tumor.” With three simple words they took a complex process of tumor growth and development and created a unique opportunity in oncology that they have effectively owned since its launch in 2004.

Science Sells

The ongoing race toward “scientific innovation” is redefining how we market specialty brands.

  • Have a good pick-up line: In specialty marketing an entirely new nomenclature has spawned, significantly impacting our ability to change physicians’ perceptions of our brand. Simple terms to describe the science have now become synonymous with clinical attributes we could otherwise never say in a branded way. “Targeted” or “selective” now means safe and well-tolerated, “multi-functional” equals efficacious. Understanding how one simple word can affect how physicians view your brand is now key, requiring comprehensive research and knowledge of the market.
  • Be yourself and if that doesn’t work be someone better: No longer content to be classified under traditional terms, products have been using science to create entire “new” drug classes. Avastin rebranded themselves from a VEGF inhibitor to an “anti-angiogenic,” and DDP-4 was redefined as an “incretin degradation inhibitor” in type 2 diabetes.
  • Dress to impress: Where once MOA materials were simply required to be informative, now visually dynamic and digitally distinct tactical initiatives have quickly become a cost of entry for products seeking to separate themselves from the competition.

And while I can say with absolute certainty that an in-depth knowledge of molecular drivers of cancer will not help you talk to girls at parties, understanding the science behind the brands and their competitors is now crucial to opening up new doors for creative exploration, messaging and differentiation in specialty marketing.

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May16

The Challenge of Change–Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

POP flyerJ-codes. ICD-9 codes. CPT codes. UB-04 forms. Medicare reimbursement appeals. Care Management Strategy and Solutions. Formulary access. Business case. Value prop. These are just a few of the vocabulary words from a whole new language I’ve been learning—the language of Payer.

I’ve spent 20+ years in pharmaceutical advertising—long enough that I truly thought there was very little left for me to learn. How wrong I was. When our Payer group expressed the need for more copywriters recently, I answered the call. And the last couple of months have been quite a ride.

Suddenly I was a newbie again. I went from focusing on one or two products with one client to juggling more than half a dozen different brands for three different clients simultaneously. Beyond the multitasking, though, I’m discovering that breaking out of one’s comfort zone is, while scary, the best and fastest way to grow, personally and professionally. And I’m fortunate to have found some very smart—and very patient—teachers along the way.

Payer is the future of our industry. As everyone from the federal government on down turns their focus to managing the cost of healthcare, the days of billion-dollar blockbuster brands (like Claritin—an account I worked on for seven years) are behind us. Budgets are tighter. It’s not enough to convince a doctor to write a prescription when any one of a handful of middle men—pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), commercial insurers—can step in and switch that branded drug to a generic, charge a hefty copay to discourage patients from paying for it, or just refuse coverage altogether. Efficacy and safety aren’t the most important selling points anymore—they have become the price of entry to a market that is much more cost-sensitive. And patients are more discriminating too—no longer willing to blindly follow a physician’s directives, especially in the current economic environment, they scour the Internet and become educated, sophisticated healthcare consumers in their own right.

We are all going to need to learn this new language—promoting pharmaceuticals in this brave new world requires talking about our brands in a whole new way. The points we use to persuade potential customers are going to have to be more compelling than “Drug X worked better than a placebo.” And I’m excited to have the opportunity to be involved in this emerging area.

My horizons have broadened exponentially in the short time I’ve been involved with Payer—I’ve worked on reimbursement guides, wrote a sales training manual teaching reps how to use a formulary access app, crafted emails announcing formulary status changes, and edited a PowerPoint promoting care management solutions (online resources and programs that encourage patients to participate in improving their health). And I know I’ve only scratched the surface—Payer encompasses a wide range of audiences, not just payers but also HCPs, patients and even caregivers. Future projects could include everything from writing a value prop, to a webinar, to materials for an ad board. I look forward to continuing to learn, and ultimately master, the terminology that sounds like Greek to me today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll figure out what a business case is, and how to fill out a UB-04 form!

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Apr17

Multi-Screen Is the New “Mobile First”

screensFor the past few years, “Mobile first!” has been the rally cry of marketers. The idea was to design websites and ads to work on mobile devices first to account for the growing smartphone- and tablet-using audience. But mobile first is already obsolete; if your strategy doesn’t have multiple screens in mind, then your strategy is out-of-date.

Time spent on mobile devices is steadily increasing. Throughout the day, consumers are moving seamlessly back and forth between many devices, from laptops to smartphones to tablets to TVs. In fact, 90% of consumers start a task on one device and finish it on another. Oftentimes consumers are using more than one device at a time, fluidly flipping back and forth between screens.

This complexity in user behavior makes it imperative for marketers to embrace a multi-device strategy, not just a mobile-first one.

You must now develop ads that work across these multiple devices. The ads should seamlessly leverage the characteristics of each device for optimal user experience. Additionally, where consumers used to be focused on one device at a time, now they are on multiple devices simultaneously, so messaging needs to adapt to the multi-device paradigm as well.

Consumer search trends support the need for multi-screen advertising. According to eMarketer, U.S. mobile search ad spending grew 120.8% in 2013, contributing to an overall gain of 122.0% for all mobile ads. Meanwhile, overall desktop ad spending increased just 2.3% last year. Marketers should not only develop ads for multiple platforms, they should optimize their spending across platforms as well.

Ad targeting also becomes paramount in the multi-screen world. Targeting ads to specific devices and operating systems is the most basic method of mobile ad targeting. But much like the desktop environment, user insights can be culled from the type of content consumed on tablets and smartphones. These insights can then be used to further target mobile audiences.

As consumers continue to access content across multiple devices, marketers must continue to grow and change with them to meet their needs no matter which device(s) they are using.

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Apr15

Mindfulness: An Age-Old Concept in a Bright, Shiny New World

yoga officeIf you asked others to define mindfulness, you’d likely hear a variety of responses, the most common of which might be relating the term to a Buddhist concept. Mindfulness indeed originated thousands of years ago, and for those who conceptualize it this way, a quote from the well-known author Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates the point well. He said, “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” Too esoteric? This is far from the only interpretation of the word.

A more practical and relevant definition for business is simply: awareness. We all know full well the challenges in today’s environment, particularly within the rapidly evolving healthcare space. The digital age isn’t coming, it’s here, but all of its obstacles and opportunities are still being pulsed out over time as we answer some questions and then inevitably raise more. As if our own world isn’t changing quickly enough, that of our clients is right there beside it, equaling if not outpacing the transformation we’re experiencing. One of the keys to all of this—to recognizing the hurdles and also to overcoming them—is mindfulness (yes, that 2,000+ year old practice).

Mindfulness facilitates a more complete view of what’s around us. It compels us to consider our immediate and long-term challenges, and the resources we have available to address them. But it also encourages us to put ourselves in the shoes of our clients, to become more connected to (in other words, aware of) their work climate, and that always makes for better, more creative and insightful work.

But it is more than just awareness. Going back to the more obscure definitions, it’s about being supremely present, the result of which is the ability to recognize beauty and connectedness in the world. The more of that we see, the more impassioned we become and the more driven we are to contribute to it—through our work, but also through our hobbies, our families and our friends.

So let’s make a pact to be more mindful and to reap the rewards, personally and professionally. Become more familiar with and aware of your working environment and that of your clients, work after hours at home and even monitor those devices as needed, and you will be a better, more valuable professional for it. But when the job is done, continue to practice that mindfulness by being fully present and invested in whatever you’re doing after work. It helps us all, even those who love every waking second of their job, to unplug and recharge. There are few things that clients love—and need, especially in today’s healthcare landscape—more than an eager and fresh perspective ready to confront their most formidable challenges.

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Apr10

The Cycle of DTC

blueskyThe history of DTC advertising (and by that I mean all consumer/patient outreach, not just TV), has seen a number of highs and lows over the years.

When campaigns first launched in the late ’90s and early 2000s, we watched as pharma marketers and their agencies worked to create brands out of medicines that, quite frankly, most users didn’t really want to have a relationship with.

During that time, we watched as Claritin and later Clarinex integrated graphics and special effects into their messages; we were introduced to critters including the Zoloft blob and Digger; we applauded the uniqueness of Vytorin’s “food & family” representation of the 2 sources of cholesterol. The Lunesta moth was heralded as iconic, while some of us scratched our heads over the story of Abe & the beaver as told by Rozerem.

The list goes on and on…. The point being, these were campaigns that sparked a reaction (good and bad), told a story, leveraged an insight, and by most accounts, helped our clients successfully market their drugs.

By the late 2000s, many of us noticed a perceptible shift in pharmaceutical campaigns. Some of this was coincident with a number of significant safety issues that prompted some of the major advertisers to pull back, and as more and more companies sought to “preclear” their ads through DDMAC and then OPDP, the feedback, in many cases in my experience, resulted in campaigns that while still engaging on some levels appeared to stop just short of eliciting any kind of emotion or reaction (again, good or bad). Our work still resulted in positive ROIs, it still won awards, but it just wasn’t the type of work that had people talking.

I’m happy to say that lately, the tide seems to be turning. Recent advertising for Crestor reinforces a positive brand experience by literally depicting a patient as a fan. A fairly light-hearted approach that still seems appropriate and responsible, still depicts the risks and benefits in a balanced manner, but one that evokes an emotional reaction, and presumably for Crestor users present and future, a connection with the brand. And campaigns like Novartis’ Gilenya illustrate how a brand can connect with patients—literally and figuratively.

Another positive outcome of this shift back to more emotive and insightful DTC appears to be a resurgence of more disease education. These campaigns are not only getting people to the doctor for appropriate medical advice and care, they are inspiring conversations and connections. Gilead’s “Full Frontal” campaign is provocative and buzz-worthy on the basis of its name alone…but the drama of the idea coupled with the real patient stories just increases the emotional impact and call to action.

So the next time a DTC ad turns up on your TV or Facebook feed…don’t skip it…you might be pleasantly surprised that DTC is back!

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Jan31

How Flexible Are You?

1581156If you work in the creative department in today’s healthcare communications world, you had better be very flexible. Flexible in both mind and spirit.

Gone are the days of working on one piece of business for several years and having a chance to build a strong client relationship that endures for years to come. Welcome to the new world of flexible creativity. Where you have minimal hours in a year to build a brand while trying to build that long-lasting client relationship.

Welcome to the place where you need to shift gears on a week-to-week basis, because many brands nowadays aren’t able to support a fulltime creative person.

Welcome to change. The structure of today’s client brand teams and the type of work we do are very streamlined, with a strong focus on smart, innovative, efficient thinking and execution.

So we must be able to adapt quickly and efficiently to deliver the best work in this new environment. And in many cases we must work across multiple brands with no true base brand to secure us. You might be working in oncology one week, on an OTC the next, or both at the same time.

You need to have a flexible mindset to be able to do this, and the experience in multiple therapeutic categories to back it up.

While it may come across as a head-spinning, anxiety-riddled job, there is a bright side to this. In yesterday’s world many a creative person might have had 3 brands they worked on over the course of their career; they had numerous versions of revised detail aids, ads, iPads or e-details, and their portfolios showed a lack of diversity.

This current flexible creative model allows creatives to explore uncharted territory, learn new categories—at a sometimes rapid rate—but they are gaining a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience across multiple therapeutic areas.

Think of how impressive that will look in your bio and across your portfolio. Think of how exciting it will be to come in and have the opportunity to learn an entirely new space. This is the world today’s creatives live in, and we must embrace it and take advantage of its many positive attributes.

I have personally witnessed many creatives shift gears, enter into uncharted territory, and come out shining, later acknowledging how much they enjoyed the experience and opportunity to work with new faces who have a wealth of experience in these new areas.

So make sure to stretch your body and mind prior to beginning this new activity, because if you are mentally prepared you will truly shine.

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Jan28

What Famous Author Honed His Skills as an Ogilvy Copywriter?

2783008If you guessed Salman Rushdie, you’re right. The great novelist started his writing career as a copywriter at the London agency started by the great copywriter David Ogilvy, Joe Bunting posted at Copyblogger.

While his books have captivated the literary world, his advertising credits at Ogilvy & Mather are not too shabby either. Aero is still using his tagline—“Irresistibubble”—for its aerated chocolate bar. Rushdie also came up with “Naughty..but Nice” for Fresh Cream Cakes and a clever line for the Daily Mirror, “Look into the Mirror tomorrow—you’ll like what you see.”

When he wasn’t writing advertisements, Rushdie spent his off hours writing novels. His first book, Grimus, was published during his seven-year stint at Ogilvy & Mather. His second novel, the 1981 award-winning Midnight’s Children, started Rushdie on his path to international fame.

Here’s what Rushdie learned about writing during his copywriting career:

  • Be disciplined. “I write like a job. I sit down in the morning and I do it. And I don’t miss deadlines.”
  • Spend time writing headlines. For his breakthrough novel, Rushdie spent hours typing “Children of Midnight” and “Midnight’s Children” over and over before choosing the latter.
  • Be concise. “One of the great things about advertising is…you have to try to make a very big statement in very few words or very few images and you haven’t much time. All of this is, I feel, very useful,” Rushdie said at the 2008 IAPI Advertising Effectiveness Award ceremony.
  • Rejection is part of writing; use it as motivation. “One must find themselves an editor or, failing that, a group of people who will tell you the truth about your writing, and are not afraid to say, ‘This isn’t good enough.’ … Unless someone can tell you that what you’re writing is no good, then you won’t know how to push it to a point when it can start being good.”

Rushdie credits the habits he formed as an Ogilvy & Mather copywriter to his continued success as a novelist. “I do feel that a lot of the professional craft of writing is something I learnt from those years in advertising, and I will always be grateful for it.”

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Jan14

Offices Aren’t Just For Working

thumbnailOCHWW colleagues—I think you all would agree that we face a lot of challenges at work: client requests and tight timelines, internal office debates, and the food in the cafeteria. Well, it’s not exactly Dean and DeLuca. Plus, as wonderful as it would be to leave work (physically and mentally) every day at 5:00, that isn’t always the case. We spend most of our waking hours within our cubicles, conference rooms, or offices with coworkers. That’s why I think it’s important to have our workplace be somewhere we’re proud of—and somewhere we look forward to going to.

I’ve personally been a big fan of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide since 2009, when I was a  Communications and PR intern in our New Jersey office. That love grew when I spent two years in the Payer group before deciding to leave my super cool roommates (aka Mom and Dad) and start working for our NY office.

Those of you who work in the NY office, or have had the pleasure of visiting, know that it’s a completely different atmosphere from NJ. Here’s one small example: our cube walls are super low (read: nonexistent) which means you’re basically in everyone’s business all the time. (I wonder how many times a day I apologize to my poor neighbors for being loud and/or obnoxious….) Because of this open floor plan, it’s easy to get to know people—really well. I know when my coworkers are busy, frustrated, upset, or happy—and usually their moods affect mine. That’s one of the reasons I was concerned for the state of our employees’ mental health when the head of our NY morale committee was leaving Ogilvy. What was going to happen to our Friday festivities!? I leapt at the chance to work with the Mod Squad to ensure our morale would remain high.

It’s been a great joy for us to bring back “beer cart Fridays,” while also trying to start new fun events. We had a fantastic time with our Halloween Decorating contest, where employees could be found hanging cobwebs from the ceiling, taking grotesque self portraits, and watching the cool feature film developed by the creative department! This Christmas we had another decorating contest, where each team was given one box of items including playing cards, twine, and toilet paper, with which to decorate their rows. We had fantastic results, from “scratch-n-sniff” snowman noses out of mac-n-cheese to a tinfoil skating rink. Although brutally competitive, these two events have been some of the most fun weeks I’ve had in the office. My mind was blown away by everyone’s creativity, commitment, and fun spirit.

It’s so important for us to have fun together whenever possible—that’s why the Mod Squad dedicates their time to these events. Plus, advertising isn’t just about the work we are doing for our clients. It’s about what we do for ourselves. Don’t we want to brand ourselves as a company who enjoys spending time with each other, whether it’s working in a conference room, pushing a beer cart, or hanging toilet paper from the ceiling?

So, when making your resolutions for 2014, I ask that one of your resolutions be to help make our offices even more fun places to work! I’m happy to hear any and all ideas you may have. I promise you won’t regret it.

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