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Oh man, it feels like just yesterday that I was writing my first blog and waxing poetic about The Handmaid’s Tale (it was really good, not that you asked or anything). I can’t believe how quickly these ten weeks have passed.

This experience has truly been a crash course in good advertising. I’ve watched projects go through every stage, from conception to execution. Seeing the whole creative process has made me completely admire everyone who works here. The collaborative aspect of advertising will always amaze me— like how Kelsey can take something I wrote and make it look beautiful and turn it into something that’s real. It’s insane that there are this many talented people working for one agency—it almost seems unfair.

I’m so grateful that I got to learn from these people, especially Steve and Mark. They were so kind and welcoming, beginning with my interview to even get this position. They’ve taken every possible negative stereotype about advertising (i.e. everything people saw on Mad Men) and turned it on its head. Their patience and willingness to teach was so important and basically the reason I learned everything that I did. Also, they’re really funny.

Special shoutout to Mark here for editing these sweet, sweet blizzies.

The culture of this place is unreal and unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. Congrats to Gregg and Tim for making their agency such a fun, cool place to work. I could back up my evidence with anecdotes about playing videogames at work or kicking off the weekend with free beer, but it all sounds too good to be true and you probably wouldn’t even believe me anyway.

So thanks to everyone who has taught me what an acronym stands for or showed me how to work the phones or provided me with breakfast on a Friday. Something that kept coming up in our internviews was this place is so great because of the people. After my internship experience, I couldn’t agree more.

As for me? I think I’m going to start watching Glow on Netflix. I’ve heard good things.

Until next time, Brokaw.

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I have never felt more out of touch than when I was trying to talk to my 13-year-old cousin. I had foolishly asked what she was watching on her phone. She rattled off a litany of “YouTubers,” none of whom I recognized.  She tilted her screen toward me and I watched a crew of shirtless dudes set fire to a mattress in a well-manicured backyard.

The ring-leader was Westlake’s Jake Paul, a 20-year-old who’s made more money from social media fame than I will probably see in my entire life. His fame has expanded beyond the tween girl set recently, but for all the wrong reasons. Paul’s “Team 10,” a group of “influencers,” has been called out by his neighbors for overrunning the streets with crazy, destructive antics.

When news station KTLA went to interview Paul about the complaints, he came off as a real jerk (an understatement), spawning another viral video. I mean, you have to hand it to him—he knows how to get views, for better or for worse.

These antics had repercussions. As a blonde kid with an army of loyal fans, Paul is a template for the perfect Disney star. His employment with the House of Mouse was inevitable, and he landed a role on Bizaardvark as a dare devil vlogger named Dirk (Imagine reading that sentence ten years ago).

Disney, however, was not pleased with his tantrums and fired mutually agreed with Paul that it was best if he immediately exited the show (tune in Thursday at 7/6c to see how they kill Dirk off!). Paul also has endorsement deals with other companies, usually promoting their products in his YouTube videos. It’ll be interesting to see how they react.

Jake Paul is just one recent example of an influencer gone rogue. Rob Kardashian posted revenge porn of his ex to the same Instagram account he uses to promote his sock line and teeth whitening kits.  Vlogger PewDiePie lost deals with Disney and Google after several outlets called him out for anti-Semitic content in his videos.

Influencers are risky investments. They can be very beneficial if they align with a company’s mission and if a brand keeps to smaller, more niche names, like Ajoyo’s recent influencer posts. It might also be helpful to keep contracts short and on a project basis in case you need to cut ties sooner than expected.

Also—if you think Jake Paul is bad, meet his older brother Logan. Better yet …don’t.

My birthday is March 31. The year I turned 6, I celebrated with my friends on April 1. This is more commonly known as Brokaw’s birthday, but you might also recognize it as April Fool’s Day. My small friends and I were living it up, feeling the buzz from some carefully planned party games.

Then it was time to eat.  My mom brought in cups of cherry Kool-Aid, the obvious complement to pizza. I went to guzzle that sweet, sweet sugar, but nothing came out. I slurped harder. It didn’t work. I immediately assumed muscle atrophy and figured if nothing else, I’d lived a good six years.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t cherry Kool-Aid at all. It was Jell-O. Carol Ertle, that rascal, had fooled us.

This is a roundabout way of saying I don’t like pranks…when I am the victim. However, I love a good joke when it’s executed by agencies under the guise of a “publicity stunt.”

The most recent example is Heinz’s “Chicago Dog Sauce.” Heinz repackaged and renamed their classic tomato ketchup in an effort to get the Windy City to embrace the condiment in time for National Hot Dog Day. People were receptive before it was revealed they were, in fact, enjoying ketchup. Got ‘em!

Heinz is following some other accomplished jokesters. Budweiser set up shop in a hipster Brooklyn bar and got beer snobs to sing the praises of Bud by pretending it was, well, anything else.  People were perplexed that they liked it, but Anheuser-Busch won new customers that day—even if they’re drinking it “ironically.”

Finally, Pur’s “Water Bar” combines a stunt with a social message. Since the (ongoing) Flint water crisis, Pur has been informing the public about outdated legal limits for contaminants in water. The “bar” they set up offered tap water from all 50 states, and people were shocked to learn about the impurities—lead, mercury—that might be coming from their spouts.

All of these are representative of good advertising because they upend expectations. They surprise and delight (and embarrass).  The stunts show a level of self-awareness and address any negative connotations head on. Even if the stunt is temporary, the results can live in print and in video. As consumers, it’s a good chance to question what we know and how we perceive different products.

Anyways, I have to run to my therapist’s office—today we’re digging into my trust issues. Until next week!

I was planning on cranking out a post about Amazon Prime Day, the insane event that led to astronomical sales, a nationwide decrease in productivity, and millions of new Prime memberships.

Then Beyoncé posted a birth announcement to Instagram celebrating her new twins, Rumi and Sir Carter, and nothing else seemed to matter.

And that’s coming from me—I’m not a card-carrying member of the Beyhive, wading through Cedars-Sinai’s medical waste bin to snag a pair of scrubs that might have been in the same room as the twins.

However, I am in awe of Beyoncé. I cannot believe one person has had such a prolific career, and I think this video of her walking has the power to make bald men practice flipping their nonexistent hair in the bathroom mirror.

At this point, Beyoncé has ascended beyond mere mortal. She is her own brand. What’s strange is that she’s gotten to this point by eschewing the rules of celebrity.

B almost never talks to the press—and why would she? She takes control of her own stories. Any magazine would’ve given the head of Graydon Carter on a silver platter for even the smallest detail about Jay-Z’s (yes, everyone, we’re back to the hyphen) infidelity. Instead, Beyoncé kept it all to herself and then turned it into fodder for Grammys.

Instead of doing a big press release about pregnancies or new albums, she just posts on her Instagram with minimal captions and lets the Botticelli-influenced images do the talking.

She takes her time producing albums, but when she does give them to the world, they’re instantly platinum selling and spawn one million think pieces and win all the awards.

In short: she’s pretty much the best at advertising. Like any truly great brand she stays on message, controls her message, and keeps her message simple. She doesn’t make her logo bigger or bore us with a litany of attributes (ahem, Kanye). She just carefully (some might say, strategically) parses out only the best possible content and then lays back in the cut, staying oh so mysterious, and keeping her audience (see: the world) constantly intrigued and tuned in—waiting for the moment when she’ll blow our minds yet again.

Basically, every brand should aspire to be like Queen Bey. And if you want to steal more tips from her, there are several (unauthorized) biographies on Amazon, although you might want to wait. They’ll be cheaper next Prime Day.

The Fourth of July was a few days ago, which means you might still be hung over from all that Toby Keith music or, you know, actual alcohol— the perfect complement to all of those super hazardous fireworks.

Since those patriotic endorphins are still coursing through your body, what better time to check in on one of the most American restaurant chains out there: KFC.

If you’re wondering what qualifies it as “most American,” I could point out that the acronym stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken or that it’s founded by a man named Colonel Harland Sanders. Really, though, I just need to remind you of the Double Down and I think I’ve made myself clear.

Even at 70 years old, KFC is always innovating and forging new paths—kind of like the grandpa in Jurassic Park. In celebration of National Fried Chicken Day on July 6 (how did your family celebrate? Let us know in the comments!!!), KFC and Wieden + Kennedy made an animatronic Colonel Sanders to take orders at the drive-thru.

It seems goofy, but the H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (short for Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device) has been tested at a real location and really is a rather impressive display of AI technology.

In a more low-tech move, a KFC in Saskatoon—the first franchise location to bless Canada’s soil—temporarily renamed itself to K’ehFC. Not only are they paying homage to those Canucks’ most adorable verbal tic, but also celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday (Damn, Canada, I wouldn’t put you a day past 125).

So what can we learn from KFC’s recent advertising hits? There’s the reinterpretation of a mascot using modern technology, a publicity stunt, and a sense of humor running through it all.

Cheers to the red and white (and okay, blue, if we’re keeping it in line with the ol’ USA).

Have you ever struggled when writing? You drum your fingers on the keyboard, prepared for the perfect idea to strike. In the meantime, your mind wanders to important questions, like how the post office operates (Mail AND packages? That just seems like too much going on).

Yeah, that’s never happened to me. I mean, I’ve been close. Like that time when I couldn’t think of anything to write for this post until I received a gift from the Spotify gods: the Counting Crows’ song “Mr. Jones.”

In between thinking about how insane it is that “attractively challenged” frontman Adam Duritz ever dated Courteney Cox AND Monica Potter, I realized that the lyrics—when taken completely out of context—contain some good advice for advertising.

“We all want something beautiful”

A profound truth. Every product has a chance to be beautiful—take, for example, the redesigned Fanta bottle. It took years to develop, but the result is a container that’s a clever twist (pun intended and relished) on what’s inside. Even the ninth best-selling soft drink can inspire intriguing design.

“We stare at the beautiful women”

An obvious critique of the depiction of women in popular culture. A recent collaboration between The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and J Walter Thompson New York shows that gender roles are still alive and well in advertisements, and that’s a colossal bummer. Kudos to the Crows for telling it how it is…and probably how it was back in 1993, when the song was released.

“When I stare at the television, I want to see me staring right back at me”

 This speaks to the success of the Dove campaign for real beauty. When people see themselves reflected in the media, the message resonates. What a great opportunity to cast people who represent the real world. (Either that or the CCs totally predicted the rise of social media, in which case, mind blown.)

“Shalalala la la la”

Lighten up. Get weird with it. Have fun.

Sincere thanks to the Crows for inspiring me with their, um, poetry. Let these lessons sit until next week, when I’ll be dissecting “Tubthumping” for investment tips.

There are a few sure signs that summer has arrived: Instagram radiates with pictures of sunsets, people constantly look 18% sweatier, and little kids shill for sugary messes they dare call lemonade.

Of course, there’s one more, and that’s the uptick in explosions and car chases playing at a theater near you. As summer is upon us, so is the season of the blockbuster.

The year 2017 AD is no different from summers past. You can catch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson patrolling the beach in Baywatch or Mark Wahlberg in the latest Transformers movie Michael Bay churned out.

But if the traditional blockbuster doesn’t appeal to you and all of the screenings of The Emoji Movie are sold out, then I suggest some branded programming.

Intel kicked off this trend in 2012 with their six episode series “The Beauty Inside,” which told the tale of Alex, a man who wakes up as someone new every day, a quality that complicates things when he falls in love. With a bevy of actors playing Alex, the only way to identify him is by the Toshiba laptop he carries around.

More recently, other companies have ventured forth with content in this same vein.

Toyota created their newest cinema ads with an emphasis on entertainment and a healthy dose of “Black Mirror” vibes. A Spanish bank won the Entertainment Lion Grand Prix at Cannes for their 17-minute movie that questions if money or experiences are worth more. Carrie Brownstein created a short film for Kenzo about the weird things people say on the internet.

All of these “commercials” are noteworthy because they chose an extended narrative that subtly weaves in the product over a straightforward sell. It’s advertising for the cinephile, and like any movie, it starts a conversation.

But if engaging in all that sounds too exhausting, The Mummy is in theaters now. SPOILER ALERT: everything explodes.

I’ve been told that anyone who works in the ad world should be familiar with Luke Sullivan, the advertising veteran/author/SCAD professor/leader of the resistance against Mr. Whipple.

In all of his spare time, Mr. Sullivan writes a blog. One of his most popular posts asks “What is the truest thing you can say about your product or brand?” He advises agencies to answer that question and run with it.

Now, I don’t know if you know about Kevin Durant, but he’s good at basketball. Some people say “Finals MVP” good, but people also said the Earth was flat, and they were wrong—except for Kyrie who, obviously, can say whatever he wants.

Durant is also a very controversial figure since he sold his soul left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. ESPN commentators, anyone with a Twitter account, NBA fans, dads across the world; they all have an opinion on this move.

Nike (who, when you think about it, is kind of the Warriors of the athletic gear world) capitalized on Durant’s notoriety with their ad “Debate This,” which ran in the first commercial slot after Game 5 of the Finals when…well, you know.

The ad features a round table of people criticizing Durant for, among other things, being a traitor, for being too soft. They determined he was all-around overrated. But then the Warriors are declared champions and the table goes quiet as the screen flashes to a final card: “Debate this.”

Nike took hold of the narrative and literally silenced the critics. Like Luke advises, they took the truest thing about Kevin Durant this season—his infamy—and shaped their ad around it. It’s bold, but it makes its point.

All that being said: boo Durant, go Cavs.

How boring is it to start off a speech/manifesto/blog with a quote? Let’s find out!

In her short story “Happy Endings,” Margaret Atwood wrote “So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun.”

So true, Marge. With gems like that, I totally see why she landed the show on Hulu.

I’ve certainly had a fun first week at Brokaw. I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand, so I tried to sneak a peek at agency life via the live bro-cam on brokaw.com, but that just gave me nightmares about sentient mannequins.

It really has been so nice to meet everyone. I’m so grateful to be spending my summer with such kind, funny people, for whom casual references to Bobby Fisher or “30 Rock” are as normal as saying hello in the mornings.

I’m really digging the excitement of agency life. So far I’ve sat in on meetings, listened to voiceovers, dined with the owners (thanks again, Tim and Gregg!), and watched the casting process for commercials (now in the running for my Favorite Thing Ever, just behind food court samples and movie trailers). Crammed between all of that, I’ve even done some writing of my own.

I have learned more about advertising in this one week than I have in years of sitting slack-jawed in front of the TV as commercials for Floam played. Who would’ve guessed?!*

Sincere thanks to Brokaw for an awesome beginning. I think I’m going to celebrate with another new start: bingeing “The Handmaid’s Tale” until I can’t see straight. After that, though, I’m pumped to come back on Monday and see what next week brings.

Until then (and no spoilers please),

Annie

*Literally everyone