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A Little To The Middle

I’m weird. I picked Marketing as my major at Spring Testing (as a senior in high school) almost a decade ago, and never looked back. I always somehow knew that I loved the mixture of business and creativity. In high school, I loved math and numbers, and spreadsheets, and symmetry (I get that from my Dad). But then I also loved nurturing, and interpersonal relationships and creativity (I get that from my Mom).

So when looking at the big expanse of major choices, Marketing seemed right. And it has been right. I loved my undergraduate career, loved my first few jobs where I got to be in the field of Marketing and work in it. And I’m loving now, where I’m studying a different side of Marketing, through Strategic Communication. I know I’m in the right profession.

So, have you ever heard of left brain vs. right brain?

According to About.com: “each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. For example, a person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical and objective,while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective.”

I’ve always considered myself a middle of the road type person. I’m not usually too extreme (unless you play me in co-ed softball), and I’m fairly stable (unless you take my pillow). But I always hoped I skewed a little to the right and was a more creative person than analytical. Maybe a little more Janis Joplin than Bill Gates?

Today I saw a blog post from a professor here at LSU about working with her students to understand the left brain tendencies of executive managers versus the right brain tendencies of creatives working on an advertising/marketing project. She then offered a quiz to see what brain-type you were.

My worst fears came true. I’m perfectly symmetrical.

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 9(9)
Right Brain Dominance: 9(9)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

I am no more dominant in my spreadsheet skills than my clarinet playing skills. My blog writing is equal to my poetry. My fashion choices are no more superior than my stapler choices. I love a good ROI report just as much as a good Degas. Devastation.

BUT! What I think I can glean from this is: I can be both. I can be your business-type and speak the language of the executives, but I can also get in the nitty gritty with the creatives. This could prove useful in the world of marketing….right? (subliminally HIRE ME!) And I’ll just have to live with being symmetrical, even in my brain.

For those of you interested, here’s the link to the quiz: http://www.intelliscript.net/test_area/questionnaire/questionnaire.cgi

Let me know what you turn out to be!


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Billion Dollar Underwear

I read an article recently about the explosion of success for Spanx (click here for Spanx article on Forbes). If you’re not familiar with what Spanx are, you must not have a girlfriend, wife, significant other that you discuss women’s underwear with on a daily basis like Jason is so lucky to have….right?

Or you didn’t notice that that prior to Spanx, panty lines were as ubiquitous as, well, panties. But now! Women have the ability to fake the flatness. Stuff ourselves into these contraptions to perpetuate the illusion that we do all really look like Victoria Secret models underneath. Models that wear beautifully beige underwear…

But the article was not about what Spanx were, but how they became so successful. The twist here is that they become a billion-dollar business…with no advertising. No full-blown, strategic media buy with sub target markets or social media strategies. This is a case where word of mouth worked better.

“The power of women discovering the brand from other women was actually a better strategy.” — said owner and newly minted billionaire Sara Blakely.

The company focused on a quality product, stellar packaging and authentic spokespeople to grow. And pinpointed guerilla-style marketing strategies that targeted the people they wanted to be customer, i.e., “targeting famous women who’d be open to talking about body image.” Also, having a dynamic CEO that is known as the “DNA of the brand” helps as well. And Oprah had a little to do with it.

This is a case that shows the power of a quality product. And tapping into a market that wasn’t previously being served, or talked to correctly. Spanx found that women want to talk to other women about what they are doing, buying, saving, etc. And Spanx capitalized on that, making talk of shapewear hip and cool. They didn’t have to buy the conversation through paid media, they created it.

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How To Pick Up Women…

…in advertising?

This past week, AdWeek released a series of articles on women and how marketers can better embrace the inner goddess of all those consumer-crazy girls out there. The collection of articles include demographic profiles, statistics and stories on brands that embrace women in their natural habitat i.e., sports, blogging, etc.

Read more about AdWeek’s Women Issue

OK, is it just me, or did they just put all women into three categories? Which one are you? The Indie? The Mom? Or the Goddess? What about secret answer number four: the “I have no idea what these crazy people are talking about, I just want to buy my damn 99 cent peanut butter without being defined as a ‘savvy-saver’?” Or the other popular secret choice #5: “I have no clue who I am, but I sure do love Ryan Gosling.”

“Hey girl, wanna buy my product or service?”

My point is that this article, while ambitious in its focus, feels…limited and short-sighted.

Case in point: “…across generations, women have earned unprecedented control of their finances, their careers and their bodies.” Oh okay. So the feminist movement was all about getting better data so marketing could make me feel like I made the decision to choose Oil of Olay over L’Oreal? I HAVE CONTROL! I’M WORTH IT!

Marketing should be authentic. Yes, you need to know your audience. But also understand the nuances that exist within each audience. Women cannot be put into three categories, no matter who is dividing them. I, as a young adult from the South, newly married and a dog owner who likes Cheetos — will be very different from you — teenage girl with her first crush, living in Salt Lake City who likes Cheetos. We both like Cheetos, but our lives are severely different. How do you make Cheetos desirable to us both? By this article’s definition, we don’t even exist because we’re not at the magical 28 age group.

Marketing sometimes needs assumptions, but I think a more valuable tool would be a women’s continuum rather than a trichotomy of description. Women can move up and down that continuum through life stages, make different product choices, and feel free to change her mind. THAT would be a more helpful targeting tool than rigid categories. It could even allow more freedom in creative design and media placement.

What do you think? Do you fit in these categories? Or do you just want to ogle Ryan Gosling?


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Back To The Start

You know I love me some Mexican food. And although I’ve never eaten at Chipotle, our fair city is getting one in the next few months. Watch out!

So I was excited to see this commercial during the Grammy’s. But, what I thought was a cute first impression for us (being that advertising is starting in our region because of the upcoming opening), turned out to be a national launch of a new campaign for Chipotle. Not only that, but the restaurant chain’s first national TV commercial, ever.


What a simple, sweet way to say “we’re going to do it right.” Ad Age wrote a great review of the campaign, and I agree that it nearly upstaged most of the Grammy performances. Even though Chipotle is not the first or last to focus on sustainability (or at least try), something about the genuine nature of the commercial is poignant and authentic. Getting Willie Nelson to sing doesn’t hurt either.

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Comparing Drunk Driving To Having A Girl?

The Case For Girls 

This recent article in Fast Company (by Anya Kamentez) highlighted something very interesting to me. Can gender bias be fixed by branding or advertising? The story goes on to explain the severe, and often fatalistic boy-preferences of many countries, including China, India, etc., but also the underlying phenomenon in the U.S. of parents being more apt to “want” a boy when having children.

Even though research (as quoted in the article) points to many reasons why girls and boys are more equal now, valuable in different ways to the human condition and that girls could hold greater hope for a more educated populace, the stigma remains.

So in an effort to test this theory, the magazine asked several top ad agencies to “rebrand baby girls.” Other than the far reaching comparison of similar campaigns (drunk driving: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and seat belts), the idea is interesting. Nevermind the reference that baby girls can be as destructive as vehicular homicide. I was intrigued.

Here are the ads the agencies came up with: The Birth Of An Idea. I think my favorite is “Hope It’s A Girl.”

So what do you think? Can branding help? Or is it a social issue bound too deep to chip away at the stigma?