Morning Update: Strategist cons agency over $260m; how to win over millennials at branded events; why marketers need message apps


Agency Spy: Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding The Variable and McKinney With $269MM in Fake Contracts

Back in 2012, Bill Grizack was working as a top strategist at Winston-Salem’s Pave (aka The Variable). But he badly wanted to be a partner–and in order to get that bump, he needed to invest six figures in the agency or bring in half a million dollars’ worth of new business. Instead, he chose to fake it.

Grizack somehow convinced executives that he had won the business of Coca-Cola, Brown-Forman and other clients to the tune of more than $269 million via fake emails, faked phone calls, and contracts that he drew up himself.

Sarah Todd Geometry Global UK CEO
Campaign Live: Five tips to help women become catalysts for change

Today is International Women’s Day, and Geometry Global’s UK chief executive Sarah Todd shares advice for women to embrace possibility and their inherent strengths.

I grew up on a Yorkshire farm as the eldest of two daughters. Helping out with the basic farm duties was a way of life for both of us: from fencing to lambing, from potato picking to taking cattle to market. Every day my dad was up and out the door, rain or shine, and tasks were assigned with no thought to age, size or experience, and certainly not to gender.

Often the speed and effectiveness of our actions meant the difference between life or death, profit or loss; such is the way of the farming world.  I have always been fuelled by a belief that we can do anything if we put our heads down, demand help when we need it, and then go for it.

millennials and brands

Ad Week: What Millennials Want to See (and Take Home) From Branded Events

Everyone loves a good party, and brands know that. As more events are sponsored, the ways that brands interact with partygoers before and after is becoming more important. Splash, creator of experiential marketing software, mined its data for trends among millennial partiers who attend branded events.

“The brands winning over the millennial generation are delivering experiences, not just things,” said Ben Hindman, co-founder, CEO of Splash. “The savviest marketers understand the crucial link between events and brand loyalty—particularly when it comes to millennials. If you’re not creating experiences and memories, you’re not building anything.”

Tylenols How We Family campaign from JWT Tylenol

Ad Week: A New Survey Looks at the Growing Demand for Diversity in How Ads Portray Families

Family looks a lot different than it used to. Whether defined by LGBT parents, nonmarried parents or stay-at-home dads, two out of five households today do not fit the traditional mold. But exactly what does that mean for brand marketers? Just as the make-up of families has changed, so have the ads targeted to them.

“For brands, the good news is that there’s lower risk when stepping into this territory,” said Ted Marzilli, CEO of YouGov BrandIndex, noting that 80% of parents say they like seeing diverse families in ads. (The report also found that 60% of parents say a brand that respects all kinds of families is an important factor in their purchasing decisions.) But, it’s not just enough to show diverse families in ads. “You have to be authentic,” Marzilli pointed out.

Ad Age: Leo Burnett London Taps Sobhani as CCO, Palmer Leaves Barbarian Group and More

Leo Burnett London has appointed Chaka Sobhani to the role of chief creative officer. She joins Leo Burnett London from Mother London, where she has worked since 2013. Prior to that she worked at broadcaster ITV, setting up in-house agency ITV Creative and becoming its first creative director.

Barbarian Group co-founder Benjamin Palmer has left the agency after 14 years. Palmer, who announced the news on social media saying it was “time for a new adventure,” was one of six partners who co-founded the agency in 2001.


Ad Week: Why Every Marketer Should Be Keeping Up With the Evolution of Messaging Apps

Highly desirable consumers like teens and young adults don’t even use email anymore. They communicate almost exclusively through apps. Until recently, their massive audiences have been largely untapped by advertisers. There are more monthly active users of messaging apps than social networking apps: about 3 billion vs. 2.5 billion.

The top four messaging apps—WhatsApp and Messenger (both owned by Facebook), WeChat and Viber—have nearly 3 billion users alone. When you dig into just the Facebook properties, WhatsApp has 1 billion users and Facebook Messenger has 800 million monthly active users.

Alan VanderMolenMumbrella Asia: Former Edelman APAC boss Alan VanderMolen joins WE to lead international operations

In an interesting move in the PR world, Alan VanderMolen, a long-time Edelman executive who ran the agency’s APAC operations for many years before moving to a global role in the US, has joined rival WE to lead the company’s international expansion.

VanderMolen left Edelman, where he ran APAC for nine years from 2002, soon after a story broke in the Holmes Report last year linking the executive with a probe in China that led to the detention of former country boss Steven Cao.



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