Helping Lowe's win the race to the sockets.

Monday, December 8, 2014 by

Using insights from extensive consumer research, birdsong gregory worked with Lowe’s private brand, category, and merchandising teams to reinvent the Utilitech and Utilitech Pro light bulb packaging for a more intuitive, shopper friendly experience in the overwhelming light bulb aisle.

One of the principal considerations during our design phase was to quickly tell the story of wattage equivalency – the current way shoppers select bulbs. Supplemental information was distilled down to the essentials in order to make LED technology appear less daunting, and simplified icons paired with large numerical data help deliver visual interest and concise, easy-to-understand information. Packaging is just now hitting shelves in store, so keep your eyes open the next time you’re in Lowe’s. And stay tuned for a case study detailing all packaging designs.

Pumpkinstein and a $7 Billion Halloween Industry

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by

Remember when Halloween was mostly for pre-pubescent kids who made their own costumes and walked the streets of their own neighborhoods -- sometimes WITHOUT an adult chaperone? I do, but by admitting that, I'm exposing the huge generational gap between my Gen-X contemporaries and kids these days.

Now, if an unaccompanied minor knocked on your door after dark and demanded candy, the police might be called and the child could end up in foster care. And that's not all that's changed in the last couple of decades. 

Halloween has grown beyond the simple days of trick-or-treating and into a $7 billion business, according to the National Retail Federation, as retailers go to greater lengths each year to try to surpass the previous season.

Just over $2 billion was spent last year on candy alone, according to industry figures. And long ago it stopped being just a candy-driven holiday for children. Among the biggest money earners are adult costumes, with costs typically ranging from $30 to well over $100. Last year, in fact, consumers spent $310 million on costumes for their pets.

Enter Tony Dighera into this spooky consumer bubble. As an organic farmer with a 40-acre plot located north or Los Angeles, he was determined to bring a new creature to life that could grab a share of the big Halloween candy bowl. Though he was fairly new to farming, Mr. Dighera saw profit to be made in strangely shaped pumpkins.

So he created a “pumpkinstein.”

Grown in a plastic mold, the pumpkins bear the distinctive face of the Frankenstein monster, and Mr. Dighera has harvested roughly 5,500 of them this year. With a wry smile, a button nose, a slightly furrowed brow and ears sticking out just slightly, the pumpkins are easy to mistake for something carved from wax.

Their distinctive if unnatural shape is so far a huge success. Mr. Dighera sold out his crop to suppliers months ago, offering the pumpkins wholesale for $75 each. Retailers expect each to fetch $100 or more in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Read more about it here.  

(and don't forget to sign up for GUTS, the annual pumpkin carving contest open to all Charlotte marketing agencies)



A traditional/digital advertising mashup: the benefits of adding Pandora to our tactical mix

Monday, October 6, 2014 by

Our retail marketing agency has added Pandora advertising into our media mix this year as part of some ongoing work with Rack Room Shoes, and this streaming service's capacity for behavioral targeting is really paying off.

In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past ten years, Pandora is the largest online radio source, representing 68% of all online radio listening and 8% of all radio listening.

Straddling the divide between digital and traditional media, Pandora provides a number of advertiser benefits. Their ads are only served upon user interaction -- so you can actually reach people who are paying attention. You can reach people at home, in the car, at work, or on the go. Eliminating the clutter conundrum, they boast ad exclusivity with only one advertiser being served at a time. Plus advertisers get their choice of targeting options including geography, demographics, or music format.

With 70% of their listening done via mobile, Pandora is poised for a bright future. By drawing in new listeners with new ways to access music, they have a great combined radio and digital story to tell. And as Pandora mainstreams itself into the lives of radio listeners, it is on the verge of mainstreaming itself into the hearts of digital and traditional media buyers alike.

So far, it's been a great tool to get our target audience to show up for grand openings across the country.

Above is a fun visual showing what people in NYC are listening to. Maybe next they'll do one for the queen city.

Today's Inspiration: Botanical Alphabet

Thursday, October 2, 2014 by

Not everyone here at birdsong gregory is as in love with nature as I am, but I think everyone can appreciate this botanical alphabet I ran across. Your eyes will thank me.

Hormel Creates Bacon-Fueled Motorcycle

Thursday, October 2, 2014 by

Yes, that is a motorcycle that runs on organic biodiesel fuel made from 100% Hormel Black Label bacon grease, and yes, the exhaust smells like bacon.

This unique bacon bike is actually part of a genius Hormel Black Label Bacon marketing campaign concepted by BBDO Minneapolis promoting Hormel's 2nd Annual International Bacon Film Festival that took place August 29th as part of San Diego Bacon Week.

The “Driven by Bacon” project is a scenic cross country journey from Minnesota to California documented on a Tumblr and by a film crew producing a documentary. The “Driven by Bacon” documentary featuring the road trip experience will debut at the International Bacon Film Festival in San Diego.

You can check out the awesome bacon bike on display at the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

The Ice Bucket Challenge - Social Media Genius or Slacktivisim?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by

Unless you've been locked down in solitary confinement at a Supermax prison for the last month, it's been hard to miss witnessing at least one person standing in front of a camera and dumping a bucket of ice water on their head. From high profile folks like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to big Charlotte ad agencies to kids in the neighborhood, everyone seems to have jumped under this icy bandwagon.

At first glance, it's easy to dismiss this online campaign as "slacktivism," a buzzword that denotes online engagement for a cause that requires very little time, effort or real-world involvement.

Also known as "clicktivism" or "hashtag activism," viral campagins like this raise the question whether those who have dumped water over their heads have donated money or even know what ALS is. Tweeting or posting to Facebook is the easy part, but once that back patting is complete, how many people take action in a meaningful, tangible way?

The negative portrayal of slacktivism was captured in a UNICEF campaign last year in Sweden, and there does exist, in fact, research that seems to support the premise that the more public a person's activism is online, the less likely they are to act in a meaningful way.

"By publicly supporting these causes, you say, I'm a good person, diminishing the need to provide follow-up support for the cause," said Kirk Kristofferson from the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business. (Check out Kristofferson's April 2014 paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research).

And Slate commentator Will Oremus seemed to summarize the problem with slacktivist behavior when he quipped that "a lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research."

I get that, but at the same time, even if someone doesn't donate money, slacktivism, at the very least, raises awareness around a cause. 

At the end of the day, however, the efficacy of a viral fundraising campaign can be measured in cold hard cash. And to date, the ALS Association has raised more than $13 million in the last month, up nearly $2 million over the same time last year. The group also has gotten the equivalent of 260,000 new donors in that period. That's all attributable to the ice cold water pouring atop people's heads. 

The ice bucket-challenged then challenge someone else to do it. They can go all ice watery or contribute $100 to the ALS Association to fight the horrible disease. Of course, many are doing both and donating even more money and time.

At our Charlotte ad agency, we're constantly reminding clients that one of the most useful attributes of social media for their brand is how creates a conversation as opposed to the one-way monologue of traditional marketing communications.

And here we are, talking about it. Meanwhile, the ice bucket challenge has become an internationally trending activity with celebrities and sports stars from around the world participating. From Oprah Winfrey to Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ethel Kennedy, Peyton Manning, LeBron James and the Philadelphia Eagles, among many, many others.

Packaging Success Clear As Day

Monday, August 18, 2014 by

Often, a brand gets attention due to its name, branding, or recent advertising campaign. It's not often that the packaging drives all the buzz. Here, at our shopper marketing agency, we understand the value of a package. We know that its more than just a vehicle for the product, but that it's also an opportunity to gain attention and sometimes encourage a purchase. The package, like anything else, can make or break a product. Food manufacturers must make sure that not only will the product hold up to the environment (think temperature or sunlight), but that it also must look absolutely delicious (note Talenti image above)...

Ok stop thinking about butter pecan. You see what we mean?

The product has to hold up to the circumstances that go along with it's path to purchase: factory - truck - store - stockboy. No one buys the bag of broken tortilla chips. And if you claim you have "chunks of real fruit," you better show it, even if you have to alter the die in your yogurt.

Manufacturers must weigh the decision carefully, some foods just aren't sexy, no matter how they are packaged. The appeal of clear packaging comes with its fair share of hurdles for a manufacturer, but studies show that more often than not, they're worth it - as long as it doesn't backfire. And doesn't that make sense? Don't you want to be able to see what you're going to eat? Larabar marketing manager Julie Wing-Larson says it best: "you eat with your eyes."

Here at our our Charlotte marketing agency, we can attest to that.

Stayin' Alive

Thursday, August 14, 2014 by

One of the best things about our location here at birdsong gregory (besides the pool 50 feet from our front door), is the proximity to the McColl Center. Artist-in-resident, Aurora Robson, had her exhibit called Stayin' Alive close last Friday. We snuck out of the office on an impromptu field trip last week to catch a glimpse before it was taken down. And it was amazing. I was once told that the ideal length of a successful blog post is 1,600 words. I don't know if that's accurate, but for your consideration, I'll try to keep this short.

Aurora Robson is a "subtle yet determined environmental activist". She is a multi-media artist known predominantly for her transformative work intercepting the waste stream. What does that mean? She makes amazing, beautiful, story-telling pieces out of garbage and debris. Not only is she making beautiful and inspirational art, but she has found a way to translate her passion into impact. Aurora has developed a course she calls "Sculpture and Intercepting the Waste Stream". Originally introduced at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia in the Spring of 2013. During this course she directs design students to collect trash and create sculptures that are later auctioned off. Proceeds benefit plastic pollution prevention and the flow of plastic to our oceans. If implemented widely enough, it could significantly help to restrict the flow of plastic debris to our oceans.

I'm not sure if I'm more inspired by the pieces themselves, or the awareness and impact she is creating through them. Either way, I'm definitely inspired to visit the next exhibit and recommend you do the same. Check out a few more of the iphone images that don't do the work of Aurora Robson justice.




Shoot. Crop. Filter.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 by

Anyone can look great on Instagram. It's as simple as shoot, crop, filter. People are using it everyday to look tanner and skinner. (shameless plug) You can check us out at our Instagram (@birdsonggregory) to see some wonderfully shot, cropped, filtered images of food, puppies, agency outings and cool design. I may be an Instagram pro, but I'm a rookie when it comes to all of the other available free design apps out there. If you would like to improve your photo post quality, check out these 21 free creative apps. Spoiler alert, Instagram is not on the list.

We have a some favorites here at birdsong gregory, but our agency has a few font aficionados, TED talk lovers, and color freaks - so we may be biased. Check it out, download a few, and let us know what you think! It's free.

If you're not scared off by paying for your apps, check out some of the best photo apps being bought. In the meantime we'll keep finding interesting things to shoot, crop, and filter.


The United States Postal Service Gets a New Visual Retail Presence

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 by

Its no secret that everyone hates the United States Postal Service. Just the other day everyone here at our Charlotte marketing agency was commiserating over their horrific experiences at USPS retail locations. Some locations are better than others, but I’ve yet to have a pleasant experience at any of them. However, it seems they might be trying to change that… or at least the visual retail presence of their 30,000+ locations, which is a start.

New York based design shop Grand Army recently posted the work they did for USPS helping them to enhance the in-store experience. While I’m reading all sorts of nit-picking criticism of the new system across the internet, what I see is a system that is successfully simplifying information making it easier to decipher the nonsensically-titled shipping services offered.

What did disappoint me though, was seeing the shipping box Grand Army designed and then seeing the stripped down version that ended up being produced. If USPS shipping boxes actually looked as stunningly patriotic as the versions Grand Army designed, it might make standing in line at USPS just a little more tolerable.

Check out some interesting insight into the rebrand from Brand New and Gizmodo.


A Gathering In Black Rock City

Monday, August 11, 2014 by

Burning Man is an annual week long event that takes place in Nevada's 400 square mile expanse known as the Black Rock Desert. The event begins on the last Monday of this month and ends on the first Monday of September, Labor Day. The Burning Man namesake comes from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on the final day of the festival. The event is one in which participants dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. Leaving one week later without a trace of their existence. This wouldn't seem too impossible until you begin to understand what the art installations actually entail (scroll down for a few examples).

A few of the more intrepid members of our Charlotte marketing agency are planning on attending this year, and in case you're feeling the urge, on August 6, tickets go on sale for first come-first serve buyers. Keep in mind, Burning Man is based on a society that thrives on community contributions, so you must bring something that adds value. There are no rules on what this value must be, as long as it invigorates the society. It can be one of the expansive art installations, a conversation for the heart, or extra goggles for the desperate.

Before you head out along with the others (over 68,000 last year), be sure to reference the packing checklist and don't forget plenty of water. Oh yeah, and a fresh new name, because you'll most likely leave a fresh new person. That needs a shower.