Meet The Noob.

Say hi to Sara Hill, the latest member of the Monogram Account Services team. Sara’s responsibilities include day-to-day interface with clients, managing detail, conducting research, overseeing QC on her projects, and collaborating with our partners and creatives on every aspect of our work.

After growing up in Arlington Heights she attended Iowa State, graduating in 2014 with a degree in Psychology and minors in Political Science and French. Her leisure time activities include yoga, taking her dog to the park and cooking.

“What I love about the job so far includes the opportunity to use my creativity to solve everyday problems.  I also really enjoy attending photo and video shoots, and seeing how the process unfolds that leads to the finished work.”

Sara was also an instrumental part of our team that competed in the Culinary Care charitable cookoff in October (she dices a mean brussel sprout). 

 

Obama Stands With Ahmed.

On Monday morning, a young Muslim boy named Ahmed was arrested at his school for showing his teacher the clock he had made from a pencil case.  Ahmed was neither provoking nor threatening his teacher- the events that unfolded were clearly founded in racial bias within the teacher and police officers themselves.  Despite this setback in his budding engineering career, the outpouring of positive support for Ahmed via social media today provides a welcome twist to this sordid story.

Following the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed, you’ll find messages in support of Ahmed from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, NASA, MIT, Questlove, and even Twitter themselves.  But the most interesting of them all was a tweet from President Obama’s personal account:

 

So let’s dissect this tweet from the Grand Poobah himself…

“Cool clock, Ahmed.” –Starting off with a laid-back vibe, I like it.  I also like how he’s composed a pro-engineering and science tweet instead of an anti-law enforcement one, way to focus on the positive, Barack!

“Want to bring it to the White House?” –Who cares about the ‘big house’ when you’ve got an offer to hang-out at an even bigger one…that also happens to be painted white. And houses the First Family (dogs included).

“We should inspire more kids like you to like science.” –Agreed!  We’re always in need of the next Edison, McClintock, or Carver.

“It’s what makes America great.” –Boom, now I’m inspired.  This last sentence is the most important- everyone can agree that innovation is what makes America great.  And if we can agree with that point, then it’s too morally conflicting to agree with the decision to arrest Ahmed.

I’m a big fan of the President involving himself in current trending topics.   POTUS’s of the past never had the demands of today’s ever-present social media cycle placed on them.  Obama has been able to stay relevant without looking like he’s trying too hard to look like one of the crew.  He maintains an air of dignity while also assuring us that he’s just a regular guy.  In my opinion, Obama has passed the branding test with flying colors.  Cheers to him for lending his opinion on small but important events such as this; and an even bigger cheers (if that’s an option) to little Ahmed for not letting the Man keep him down.

Side Effects of the Sharing Economy.

The trend of the sharing economy has boomed in the past couple of years, it isn’t until now that we are seeing the side effects of such a bubble.  The sharing economy is a fairly new term generated with the rise of companies like Airbnb where buyers and sellers are essentially at the same level: just people sharing with other people.  Fantastic in theory, but just as the rise of any new marketplace, there is bound to be side effects that are magnified once the dust settles, good and bad.

The most prominent criticism of the sharing economy is in the economic logistics of people switching from their traditional paid jobs to taking on the brunt of demand shocks and price cuts as their source of income changes.  Of course, the sharing economy puts use to underutilized resources, allowing people in the Airbnb environment to fill empty rooms and capitalize upon them, which is helpful to fill gaps in income or simply develop relationships.

There is also a huge liability with the increased risk of vandalism and nuisance as well as competition with hotel services as Airbnb has met complication with the New York City government for renting “illegal hotels.” In New York, one cannot rent out a room or apartment for less than 30 days, especially if the tenant’s rent is stabilized.  Airbnb has also met complications with vandalism, a two-day drug binge at a home in Calgary, Canada.  After damages were reported to local police and Airbnb, the couple who rented out their home were reimbursed for one million dollars, thus creating the Airbnb $1-million host damage guarantee. 

Benefits prevail yet, Airbnb is incredibly attractive to travelers on many levels: less expensive, an authentic experience in whatever country one chooses to visit, conducive to meeting new people.  TIME sent one of their staff writers to experience the sharing economy to figure out just why people trust strangers with their stuff.  TIME’s article has determined that millenials are doing something right for once, now intrinsically understanding that experiences are far more beneficial to happiness than purchases, fueling the experience economy.  The sharing economy makes people nicer.  Nearly everyone who deals with customers directly, even customers are more respectful.  Comparing Airbnb with a hotel service, nearly everyone hangs their towel after use in an Airbnb accommodation. 

With the magnitude of people involved in the sharing economy, the continuous harnessing of data, learning from it along the way, the marketplace will grow and thrive.

Human-Era Brands.

There is an increasing transition from institutional-era branding to human-era, the personification of brands and interacting with humans as a human.  Consumers, especially millennial, no longer like to be talked at by television or radio ads, they want to be a part of something; they don't want to just buy a product, they want to buy into a brand. 

One key characteristic for these new humanized brands is transparency.  These brands let people see behind the curtain.  No longer is constant improvement an internal company motto, it is communicated to the customer that brands want their help to move forward.  And people are willing to respond. We all have interesting back-stories, it is part of being human, and that is what brands are accomplishing.  For example, JetBlue’s “Bringing the humanity back to air travel” and their customer bill of rights have been revolutionary for their brand in a way of developing authentic consumer relationships.  It keeps information simple for both the company and their audience. 

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the airline’s marketing head and executive vice president, Marty St. George says that, “there is no better advertising than when people walk off an airplane and say ‘it’s great.’” Branding relationships in the human-era are expressed in acts, not in ads; it is an enhanced person-to-person interaction. In the human-era, there will be a rise in the need for a company to have cultural insight and how to connect brands to the cultural side of people’s interests.  Marketing expands as well, it is now the responsibility of marketing agencies to act as a maestro, harmonizing social platforms and their users to give voice to a brand and navigate changing habits.  

Call it a Mobile Majority.

According to Pew Research Center's analysis of comScore data, thirty-nine of the top 50 digital news websites have had an increase in traffic to their websites in 2015.  Desktop visitors to these sites spent more time on the site than mobile visitors. For half of these top 50 news sites – which include legacy print, cable, network, international and public broadcasting outlets as well as digital-only entities – visitors from desktops stay longer than those coming through mobile, according to the study.

In the recent years, growth of mobile has furthered the rise of the social Web. Facebook is now a widely-used social channel for news about government and politics; 48 percent of people say they accessed news about politics and government on Facebook weekly. As mobile and social news habits evolve, traditional platforms have not been abandoned. Check out the study  here to read more about the study and see the comparison between mobile and traditional platforms.

How Social Media Fuels Human Rights Movements.

From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to Snapchat, information is being spread in a matter of seconds. Everything from Spring Break cruises to political activism is posted, liked, and shared before more traditional media can say the word "print." However, social media is evolving--broadening it's bandwidth and exploring goals other than socializing. Social media has established a platform for issues arising all over the world and is demanding a response.

Less than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. announced in March of 1968 that the Poor People's Campaign will organize in Washington D.C. demanding human rights equality. Newspapers published articles, radio announcers broadcasted into their microphones, everyone knew in a matter of weeks. Today, as riots break out in Florida, Missouri, and now Maryland, we hear about it in a matter of minutes.

It is human nature to have one of two reactions: fight or flight. As social media grows, each and every voice is given a platform and choosing the latter of the two is enabled enormously. It is up to the public to choose to fight in the face of injustice and resist the urge to remain silent. Political activist Eliezer Wiesel once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Trending topics such as #blacklivesmatter and #prayforbaltimore are erupting on the internet, drawing attention beyond the boarders of the state of Maryland. Due to the massive attention and high volume of tweets, photos, and posts, the media has latched on and are spreading messages that range in a variety of support and disapproval.

In a world where you can share both actions and words to people hundreds of miles away is a world where unity as a nation is possible. Instead of allowing the media to tear apart social justice issues, we must use the media to enable each other in support of a greater movement -- to value all lives. We are in this together and we cannot stand for one section of our unified group to be mistreated.

The Branding Effect of Legislation.

“Don’t Press Send”

This simple but common phrase has become simultaneous with today’s modern society use of social media. Referring to the old age process of thinking before you act, it now represents a much more broad concept. For instance: a press release, interview, tweet, and yes even recently a proposed law. Any publicly released information is fair game in 2015 and the world will be the judge going forward. This may prove to be an irreversible fatal flaw for the associated parties brand going forward.

Enter the state of Indiana and their proposed law “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that has been under major scrutiny since its proposition. “A law that would keep the government from forcing business owners against their religious beliefs.” Basically allowing legally sanctioned discrimination to take place. Of course the backlash has been instantaneous and substantial, but it’s the brand of Indiana that takes the biggest hit.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/indiana-religious-freedom-law-what-you-need-know-n332491

What Are They Saying? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESPN interviewed NCAA president Mark Emmert saying We, the NCAA have to sit down and say ‘all right, if this environment remains the way it is, what does that mean for us going forward?' We hold lots and lots of events here, we're going to have our national convention here, our offices are here. We have to say, ‘what do we do if this law goes into effect in July, and what's our relationship with the state of Indiana going to be?' 

http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/12587768/ncaa-president-mark-emmert-keeping-close-eye-indiana-legislators-new-law-allow-businesses-discriminate-gays-lesbians

The CEO of yelp wrote an open letter to states considering imposing discrimination laws, in it he statesit is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large… Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.”

http://officialblog.yelp.com/2015/03/an-open-letter-to-states-considering-imposing-discrimination-laws.html

Power Of The Hashtag

Once a foreign keystroke and now a powerful tool that has changed the way we communicate on a daily basis. # or hashtag defines a topic or phrase that is easily grouped in one place for viewing and commenting during the use of social media. When used effectively it can create viral campaigns or messages that have the capacity to reach wide-ranging audiences. In this Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act case several hash tags have been trending over time. #BoycottIndiana, #LGBT, #SB101, and #HB1228 all referring to the Indiana law and the ladder referring to the proposed similar Arkansas law on the table. The twitter community has used these hashtags resourcefully to voice their protest and opinions together. It is undeniable the power hash tags in combination with social media present when used properly.

What It Means?

The brand Indiana represents has fallen from glory. Once renowned for hosting big sporting events, Downtown Indianapolis, their football and basketball programs; is now unanimous with legal discrimination. Powerful affiliates of ownership, corporate America, politics, and celebrities alike are joining the outrage against the law and more importantly the state of Indiana as whole. With them accompanies the immense majority support of the people and consumers, with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Malloy-to-Bar-State-Travel-to-Indiana-Amid-Religious-Freedom-Law-Backlash-298010911.html) and NY Gov Andrew Cuomo already instituted the banning of state spending on travel to Indiana. In hindsight, it’s probable the Gov. of Indiana wishes he could go back metaphorically and “Don’t Press Send.”

http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Malloy-to-Bar-State-Travel-to-Indiana-Amid-Religious-Freedom-Law-Backlash-298010911.html http://www.cnbc.com/id/102546251

How often do you stop to think before pressing send?

ProjectM's Exclusive Deals.

Well look at you. You've done it. Congratulations! 

...well don't just sit there!  You've got some killer deals to cash-in on.  All of these deals are brought to you exclusively through ProjectM and can be redeemed either in-store or online at the following trend-setting stores around Chicago.

Don't see a deal that interests you? Email us at social@monogramgroup.com and let us know what type of products you'd like to see offered in the next round. We're in the business to please. Enjoy!

Helping the Youth Connect in an Increasingly Disconnected World.

We are proud to announce that we're assembling a highly selective and influential panel of 18-32 year olds under the banner Project M. As a member, panelists will get the insider scoop on the latest trends, and discounts/deals on their favorite brands. Project M targets a large group of millennial influencers and will help shape the future of marketing of global brands in America.

As part of the initiative, we put together Youth of Chicago, striving to capture the spirit and energy of Chicago's youth. Our hope with Youth of Chicago is to share your story and help connect people in an increasingly disconnected world. We have talked to countless number of millennials and have developed a platform for the youth to have an open dialogue about their personal goals, interests, insecurities, etc. Through the various initiatives under Project M, we will promote a community that is assembled by millennials for millennials. 

To view and share your story click here

Follow Youth of Chicago on Instagram and Twitter

We hope you will take the initiative to have your voice heard. 

Monogram Owns the Conversation When it Comes to Chinese Brands in the US.

We recently released a research study on U.S. consumer preferences on Chinese brands and the press, as seen below, are taking notice. The study focused on 21-32 year olds -- the demographic shown to be the most open-minded to foreign brands -- to test their attitudes and buying patterns on China and Chinese brands. Among many noteworthy findings, 61 percent say they are willing to purchase goods from China and 58 percent of respondents say they will likely buy a Chinese branded product in the next three years. Surprisingly, China rated higher than other popular markets, including France, Mexico and Korea, and only 6 percent points behind Germany and Japan. 

Our research demonstrates with proper brand development, broad online/offline distribution and service/warranty support on par with established global brands, Chinese brands have a tangible opportunity to gain a foothold in the U.S. market in the near future. The popularity of Chinese products exceeds those from other major markets, and the willingness to buy is even stronger if the brand is recognized. 

To download a copy of the full research report click here

 

What Happens When a Beijing Man Invites Women Into His Lamborghini?

A young Chinese man recently asked women on the streets if they wanted to take a ride with him in his Lamborghini, and filmed the encounters.

Read the full the story here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/08/08/338326968/what-happens-when-a-beijing-man-invites-women-into-his-lamborghini

We asked John what his thoughts were on this particular social experiment and he responded by stating the following:

It’s a very interesting video. However, I saw different aspects of the issue. As a marketing person, we think from customer’s perspective and get a deeper understand of what, why and how. Here is what I see from these girls perspective:

  1. These girls feel safe. They felt totally safe jumping into a stranger's car.
  2. These girls are not representative. If the test driver drove the Lamborghini  asking around in business district, he will get 10 ‘no’s out of 10. The testing is targeting a special group. In China, 9 out of 10 girls in bars after 12am are there looking for a rich boyfriend (not husband).
  3. The girls understand the cultural and economic reality of China. There are old Chinese sayings that still apply today "what a man should fear is to choose a wrong profession, and what a woman should fear is to marry a wrong man," "For the life happiness of girls, it's more important to find the right man than find a good job."  Those nightclub girls are usually not well educated, born into a poorer family and they are looking to change their lives by using the best asset they have: beauty. They could choose go to work and earn $500 a month and live in a dormitory with 5 others or choose to live in a high quality apartment, carry LV bags and wear Channel dresses by hooking up with a rich boyfriend. Even if they know they may never become his wife, hopefully they can get a few millions before they get old. They are desperate to change their lives would never be able to earn as much money through work.

When accosted by a man from a Lamborghini, they see the opportunity instead of the risk. They may never again get the opportunity to change their life so drastically. 

I remember a story told by my professor at college. 

“If you give me $6,000 without paperwork and want me keep it for you, that's will be totally safe. You will get your $6,000 back even 10 years later. If you give me $10 million without paperwork and want me keep it for you, sincerely, I may think about if it worth the risk to get that money into my own pocket. That's humanity.” 

If these girls can dramatically change their quality of life by finding a rich boy, it's more humanity than materialism.  This sort of thing is almost unavoidable in a society that is still in the process of economic development and has a huge income gap. Until the day everyone can live in a good life with reasonable effort, these social problems are here to stay. 

What are your thoughts? 

Washington Redskins' Trademark.

RedskinsLogo[1]

In June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the Washington Redskins’ trademarks because it is “disparaging to Native Americans.” The Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder disagrees, and has appealed the ruling. He sees the name as one that implies honor, as the team was named “Redskins” after the first head coach’s Native American Heritage. Members of the National Congress of American Indians, including the former president, aided the Redskin brand, by designing the logo. Should the name be changed?

The Redskin Brand would receive positive feedback for doing the politically correct thing: sensitively addressing a dark subject of the U.S.’s immoral past. New names have already circulated, including the very popular “Washington Pigskins” and “Washington Americans.” These two potential names hope to preserve the history and culture of the team without offending the Native American population. However, the Redskins risk losing the historical and emotional attachment many fans have towards the trademark.

Several polls have found that the majority of Redskins’ fans do not favor rebranding. Fans might psychological disengage from the brand, especially as the team has not performed well in recent years. Opposing the change is currently the safest course of action for the Redskin organization; if they win, they emerge with most of their fanbase in tact, if they lose they can cry that their hands are tied, leaving them less culpable. Popular opinion is still divided. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley believes it is “probably time” for the change, yet NFL commissioner Roger Goodell maintains that the name ‘honors Native Americans.’

Regardless of the outcome of the appeal and the ensuing publicity, the Redskins should make an attempt to involve their fans in the rebranding process. Redskin fans have not remained silent on social media and it would behoove the organization to take advantage of these facts. HTTR: Hail to the Redskins. This is a phrase used often by D.C. fans. Will we ever hear it again?