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Recap: Asian American Advertising Federation 2019 Asian Marketing Summit

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 29, 2019

By Frances Rubio, MS
Associate Director of Multicultural Marketing Analytics

On May 23, the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF) held its annual 3AF 2019 Asian Marketing Summit. Held at the InterContinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, the summit is the only multicultural conference focused solely on the Asian American marketing and advertising industry.

Top brands, industry experts, researchers, content creators, advertising executives, media and other vendors and partners converged in an insightful discussion on business implications of the Asian American consumer. This year, the 3AF celebrated its twentieth anniversary with the theme, “Honoring Our Past, Celebrating the Present, Empowering Our Future.”

Throughout the summit, events and panels spanned multiple verticals and industries:

- From a brand perspective, Scott Wracher, General Manager of Brand/Cross Vehicle/Toyota Dealer Association/Education, Vehicle Marketing and Communications, Toyota Motor North America and Matthew Choy, Account Director, InterTrend discussed Toyota’s branding within the Asian American community, this year focusing on the hybrid brand.

- Canadian Multicultural Marketing veteran Bobby Sahni shared key insights and opportunities relevant for the U.S. market, along with examples and learnings gained by marketing to Asian consumers in Canada.

- Iris Yim, 3AF Vice President and President, Sparkle Insights, shared results from the 3AF’s second media consumption study.

- HL Gan moderated a panel on the power of Asian media with Danny Wong, Skylink TV; Susan de los Santos, The Filipino Press; Jaideep Janakiram, Sony Pictures Networks; and Brian Jun, The Korea Times. This panel discussed the power of Asian media and how it plays a significant role for business that focus on local audiences.

- Panelists Roslynn Alba Cobarrubias, ABS-CBN Head of Music & Talent, Global, Eljay Feuerman, Director of reDEFINE, an IW Group Initiative, and influencer Tiffanie Marie discussed what it takes to reach young Gen Z and Millennials with meaningful content and effective culture-first activations

- Melissa Flores, Director of Power Rangers Development & Production at Allspark Pictures, a Hasbro Company and Malika Lim Eubank, CEO of Hyper Rabbit Media discussed the opportunities, potential pitfalls and intricacies that come with adapting and marketing new Asian kids’ entertainment to the United States.

At the summit, I presented a session entitled, “From All-American Girl to Fresh Off the Boat to Crazy Rich Asians and Beyond: How the Changing American Landscape has Demanded Better Asian American Representation in the Last 25 Years”. In it, I shared insights and the latest research on the social and cultural impact of Asian representation in the big screen and in television and social media and how the rise of Asian representation affects the rest of mainstream America:

- Asian Americans make up 6% of the total population at nearly 19 million people but their wallet sizes are comparable to other multicultural audiences at nearly $1 trillion in buying power

- Asians have historically been whitewashed or misrepresented, often seen as foreign or secondary, underdeveloped characters--only recently have we seen a shift in Asian American representation

- The launch of YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006 had a significant affect in changing the Asian representation in the media:

- YouTube was a vehicle for Asian creators to represent themselves accurately--today, we see these influencers affect the mainstream, such as Michelle Phan, Wong Fu Productions, and Lilly Singh who was recently named to host a Late Night Show on NBC

- Twitter and social media helped the Asian community affect representation in massive ways--from affecting movie box office results of whitewashed films, to influencing reviews, to starting effective social campaigns such as #StarringJohnCho and ensuring a #GoldOpen for Crazy Rich Asians in 2018

Complementary to my session, Michelle Sugihara, Executive Director of CAPE moderated a panel on “Youth Audience and Entertainment – How to Resonate with The Next Generation of Cultural Influencers” with Director/Producer of Faithful and Jane and Emma, Jenn Lee Smith; COO at China Lion Film Distribution, Robert Lundberg; and Indonesian American actor, model and stuntman, Yoshi Sudarso. The panelists discussed the landscape of content production and the changes in the last decade. The demographics of audiences has also shifted so that more than half of younger audiences are multicultural.

About the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF) The 3AF’s mission is to advance the Asian American marketing and advertising industry for Asian American consumers through education, advocacy, promotion, and increased collaboration of all industry stakeholders including but not limited to marketers, agencies, research partners and media. Additionally, 3AF seeks to promote and encourage high standards of conduct and ethics among our members and our industry.



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Suggested Reading for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019

Posted By Admin, Wednesday, May 29, 2019

By Hana Visaya
Advertising Project Manager

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
-- George R. R. Martin, "A Dance with Dragons"

As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019 closes, we at ThinkLA DIG would like to challenge you to read about our community and support Asian/Pacific writers throughout the remainder of the year and beyond. We’ve compiled a list of ten books to get you started.

As marketers and advertisers, we are storytellers. And as we focus in more on telling diverse stories thoughtfully, there is a risk in delivering them in ways that simply do not land. Perhaps they lack authenticity to the group we claim to represent. Worse, you end up with offensive PR nightmares. Even worse, you don’t even try. We need to do the work and introduce even more diverse narratives into our work as marketers.

To really underline the inclusion in diversity and inclusion initiatives, involve the community. And if you aren’t personally part of a community, be a true ally by appreciating rather than appropriating. We need our allies, and we need them to dig deeper into our histories, our stories, our truths. And that often means doing uncomfortable, hard work.

That means doing your research and being empathetic. It means consuming media and reading stories that will help you visualize what a specific community or individual might see and experience in this world – figuratively walking in someone else’s shoes.

From business books to fiction, non-fiction to poetry, we present 10 recommendations to get you started (or continue) your Asian Pacific story journey. Whether you prefer audio books, your tablet, or you simply want the experience a good, old-fashioned page turning, we hope you learn something. Without further ado and in no specific order:

"Asian American Dreams" by Helen Zia is a deep dive into twentieth-century, Asian American United States History. This work helps fill in gaps of our own histories within this country. It’s a great anthropological view of immigrant stories and Asian American identities as shaped by our unique histories, cultures, and struggles with racism.

Zia is a journalist and daughter of Chinese immigrants. She captures diverse stories of politics, Asian American activism, and tension between Asian groups and other minority groups. Zia centers this discourse around the Japanese internment camps during World War II. She even takes care to explore other intersections of identity, from issues of same-sex marriage and the refugee experience to adopted Asian Americans and mixed-race folks.

"Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians" by Jane Hyun helps members of the community navigate the corporate ladder and reach beyond middle management. When our cultural values and upbringing do not always sync up with the corporate politics and unspoken rules of western business culture, Hyun offers insight.

"Thousand Star Hotel" by Bao Phi is a powerful collection of poetry by a Minnesota-based, Vietnamese American poet and author who has been a performance poet since 1991. This is his second printed collection of poems, which does not shy away from the rawness of racism, the immigrant refugee identity, and the life of the Asian American urban poor. You can also check out his first children’s book, A Different Pond.

"The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time" by Beau Sia is another fantastic collection of poetry, brought to you by a Tony Award-winning and seasoned slam poet. This book showcases work that spans nearly a decade of real-life learnings, revealing the beauty of creative growth and vulnerability. Sia was born to Chinese immigrants from the Philippines and raised in Oklahoma City. He frequently uses his voice to challenge Asian American stereotypes.

"Interpreter of Maladies" is the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of Jhumpa Lahiri (she also authored The Namesake.) Lahiri has a true gift for capturing the Indian American immigrant experience through this collection of stories. She paints pictures of that unique and painfully beautiful world immigrants live in that is not quite the motherland and not 100% American either. Lahiri’s writings will make you feel powerful emotions.

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan, and the two companion books in the series (China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems) hardly need an introduction after the success of the movie last year but check it out if you need a fun vacation read. The Chinese socialites of Singapore come to life with over-the-top drama set on this breathtaking island. Your mouth will water at the richness of the food described in the famed hawker markets. And you will see this opulent world through character Rachel Chu’s Asian American eyes.

"Hawaii One Summer" is written by award-winning author, Maxine Hong Kingston, author of Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and China Men. Kingston is a Stockton, California-born (1940), first-generation Chinese American, who also lived in the Bay Area and Hawaii, where her grandfathers worked on plantations upon first immigrating to America. Her stories are a unique blend of autobiography, fantasy and folklore: personal and honest in its’ reflection on post-WWII racism. Hawaii One Summer is a collection of 12 prose selections released in 1987.

"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini is set in Afghanistan against a heartbreaking timeline that spans thirty years. Like many Asian stories, love and family features prominently. This unlikely tale of friendship between boys of different caste and privilege, during the end of the Afghan monarchy, and the legacy of their fathers’ influence is an emotional ride. The political, religious and ethnic tensions and the beauty of human connection despite it is inspiring and memorable.

"Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama" by Diane C. Fujino is the first biography about 1960s activist Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese-American activist, who championed human rights after her own family’s experience of the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor. Kochiyama met Malcom X in New York, where she lived after the war in the 1960s, and she got heavily involved defending the rights of Black Americans, as well as Asian Americans, Puerto Rico and political prisoners. She brought diverse communities together, particularly the African American and Asian American communities. She dedicated her life to social justice, defying so many stereotypes and gender, as well as racial norms, especially for her time.

"We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation" by Jeff Chang (writer and journalist who brought you the sociopolitical history of hip hop in Can’t Stop Won’t Stop) is a series of essays exploring more contemporary manifestations of racism such as #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite as well as this greater idea of diversity. He also explains the century-long history of redlining, racial separation in housing, and offers his cultural critique of resegregation in our present day, arguing that undoing its’ effects is the key to cultural and racial equity.


Tags:  american  asian  diversity  empowerment  inclusion  islander  pacific 

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The Joy of Not Knowing It All

Posted By Admin, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

By Dave Scott
Strategic Creative Director

In the 2005 film War Of The Worlds, Tom Cruise’s character, Ray, is being a bit of a jerk to his estranged son, Robbie, who is being a jerk right back. In an effort to bond, Ray decides to take his son and daughter outside to throw a baseball around in the backyard.


During their conversation, Ray says to his son, “Haven’t you heard? Between me and my brother, we know everything.”
Ray’s daughter then asks, “What’s the capital of Australia?”
Ray says, “That’s one my brother knows”.

Intelligent Collaboration.

There’s a simple genius at the heart of that joke: you don’t have to know everything.

With the rapid rate of change of technology and with it, the constant shape shifting of social media and influencers, there’s increasing pressure to be something of an expert in all the things, all the time. But the saying “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” cautions us all, drink deep or not at all. Of course there’s a simple alternative to having to know everything, surround yourself with people from different disciplines and different ways of thinking, and talk to them.

It takes the pressure away and allows you to focus on what you do well. At LOLA, we like to call it Intelligent Collaboration.

I’m sure everyone has an idea of what collaboration is, but I’ll tell you what it’s not. Collaboration isn’t just saying nice things about other people’s ideas while you quietly push your own agenda. Being nice while working in parallel might feel like collaboration because, in theory you’re working on the same project, but in reality you’re not building a stronger solution — you’re potentially destroying it.

Right People. Right Time.

Collaboration, like insights, should be at the heart of any project, and though it’s a liberating creative exercise, it does benefit from throwing some process around it. For instance, let’s say one of your team, has an idea for a client and brings it to you. As a group, you’d want to throw it around and ask, “Is the idea viable? Have we done it before? Is the client predisposed to this kind of thinking?”

Then you should push and prod a little, and try to poke holes to see if the idea is leaking. If it seems robust, expand on it as a group and challenge the team to think about what it might look like if it were a campaign, a Superbowl spot, an outdoor billboard, or a digital ad on Facebook a YouTube pre-roll. Do all this to figure out if the idea has legs. How big can it go and how little can it be and still make sense? You don’t want to run to the client with a pie in the sky idea that could never work in the real world.

Next, bring in your subject matter experts. Sure, you can google anything, but what you want is an expert opinion — an outside influence. Doing this doesn’t change the big idea, instead, it opens it up to other possibilities.

At this point you want to be open to following the expert’s lead into other areas. The process of collaboration let’s you adapt and evolve, and leads to a solution that you can sell with conviction, safe in the knowledge that you could actually pull this off.

"Well, duh", I hear you say, and it sounds a bit simple, a bit obvious, it’s because it is. So why aren’t we all doing it?

Well, some clients are cautious by nature and want the agency focused on the day-to-day. Fair enough, it’s their money. With that in mind, before pitching a new idea, you want to arm yourselves with the best information and make sure your argument for this brave new idea is compelling. We do this by collaborating from the start. The more we collaborate, the better we can ballpark what the investment will need to be and show what the results could be.

Take the risk away and it becomes a return on ideas, not just a return on investment.

Leave Your Ego At The Door.

Just remember, true intelligent collaboration isn’t just about outside opinions; everyone has an opinion, some more helpful than others. However true collaboration means you’re going to have skin in the game. Don’t swoop in at the 11th hour with information the team could’ve used three days ago. Get involved. Run the risk of your idea not getting up. And be ok with that. Be part of building something you couldn’t have thought up by yourself. You might even impress yourself.

Realize that there are a million jobs out there that only require effort from the neck down. No matter what your role in this industry, you’re in an industry that actually wants you to think and rewards you for doing it well. Think about it, you’re solving problems — with your brain! That’s rad. You’re making things that never existed before. Why would you not collaborate? Seriously! The odds of getting to something truly great are stacked in your favour if you have smart people to bounce ideas off of. Anything I’ve ever been awarded for came as a result of working with a team of brilliant collaborators.

Management and creatives alike need to recognize the benefits of collaborating for the sake of their own careers. Only then will they become more valuable in an industry that pays them to think and create. I say, collaborate or die. Ultimately, as creative problem solvers, “the more, the better, and the different” we can think, the more successful we will all be.

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May is Jewish American History Month

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 28, 2019

By Leisha Bereson
VP, Group Director, Programmatic
Canvas Worldwide

May is Jewish American History Month. This month is a special celebration as declared by President George W. Bush on April 20, 2006, an announcement in achievement in the lobbying effort of the Jewish Museum of Florida and South Florida Jewish Community leaders for a celebration of Jewish Americans and their heritage.

The Jewish Museum of Florida is located in Miami Beach’s first synagogue, established in 1929during a time of change when prior to this date, Jews had been denied permission to construct a synagogue. This museum represents a history of persecution that Jews experienced all over the world and still continue to see even today.

The theme for 2019 is American Jewish Illustrators, those who have created and continue to create children’s books, iconic graphic novels, and syndicated comics and illustrations.Think about the beautiful works of Maurice Sendak, Stan Lee, Ezra Jack Keats, and many more, all of whom have brought their unique perspective and pasts into works that have changed the lives of children forever. Without their voices and their illustrations, we may never have experienced heart ache, love, and friendship as we know it today.

We at ThinkLA offer you the opportunity to celebrate JAHM locally; you can take your own tour of local longstanding Jewish landmarks (who doesn’t want to have a pastrami sandwich at Canters?) or joining the Los Angeles City Council members at their “Being Deborah: A History of Jewish Women Creating Change in LA” event on May 29 at City Hall.

Often times, we reflect on Jews as a result of observing a holiday, but we must remember that Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and part of a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrew; but there is so much more to this history and its people that have made our lives better. Take the time to celebrate the Jewish Heritage locally by learning more about Jewish Achievements and how they have changed the city we live in. In fact, L.A. has the second largest Jewish population in the US!



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Global Wednesdays May!

Posted By Jasmin mendoza, Thursday, May 2, 2019
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly which break the mold from the mundane, handpicked by ThinkLA Board Member and award-winning creative, Luis Camano. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S.


Ayudín (Clorox) / Mexico-Argentina
“Almost a monument”- Cleaning the house? In South America men are not very inclined to help, but when they do they feel they deserve the appropriate recognition.

Coke / China
"Faces of the City" - China is a very diverse country with more than 240 cities with different cultures and dialects. Here’s a very colorful campaign that used the product’s packaging to share and celebrate the unique character and vibes of the people who live there. / Spain
"La oreja de los políticos" (The politicians' ear) - All over the world voters feel politicians never listen to them. Tired of it, Spanish voters decided to take action before the April 28th 2019 election. A very public display for everyone who had something to say.

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The Return of The Full-Service Agency Model

Posted By Don Lupo, Wednesday, April 24, 2019

By Zach Rosenberg

This article was originally published in MediaPost Agency Daily and is reprinted with permission.


There has been a lot of discussion about “rebundling” or reversing the now prevalent agency model of separate agencies for creative and media.


In the late 1990’s, most of the major holding companies, as well as many clients, had come to the realization that the ever changing and increasingly complex media landscape required far more attention to media than most “full-service” agencies were then equipped to provide.

The solution was “unbundling”--the creation of media-specialist agencies that offered aggregated buying power and other efficiencies. The holding companies sold unbundling to their clients as a way to get a “best in class solution,” even if that meant they would have to significantly change the way they did business. One of the ways that issue was mitigated was reduced cost. Most clients ended up paying less for unbundled services than they did when they worked with a single full-service agency.


There were, of course, significant drawbacks to this model: Clients were forced to manage at least two agency partners rather than one, and for some, the number of shops on their roster increased when ultra-specialized agencies were engaged such as search, social, and digital media. But the biggest drawback only became obvious over time: Media and creative agencies collaborated far less with each other than full-service creative and media departments did under the full-service model.


In recent years, many of the clients I worked with bemoaned the extra time required to deal with multiple agencies. And while they mostly accepted the idea that specialist media shops were more likely to provide best-in-class solutions compared to the way media was handled “in the old days,“ they couldn’t help but wonder if something had not been lost.

Would a “big idea” creative solution be ignored because it didn’t match up with the media solution being proposed -- or would a media solution that had the potential to drive a great creative idea never reach the creative team on the brand, because the media and creative agencies rarely interacted? And how is the ever important management of data analytics handled across both agencies?

Insights gained are critically important to both media and creative strategy. In some cases, clients had to hire yet another resource to manage their data analytics.

A partial answer to those questions was enacted by a few of my past clients, particularly those who simply hated the endless series of meetings that dealing with multiple agencies required. Instead, they scheduled multi-agency meeting days, which enabled them to brief all of their agencies at once. That partially solved the problem of agencies not always being on the same page vis-à-vis the client’s issues or strategy.

But a fundamental weakness in the process still remained: the agencies didn’t interact enough once the meeting was over. So instead of getting a great advertising solution, the clients, in many cases, got good media ideas and good creative ideas.

Is this unbundled model the best way? Maybe it’s time to find out.

For one thing, a number of stand-alone media agencies have been under the gun in recent years, driven by the ANA investigations into media transparency, rebates and steering media budgets to more profitable channels. The result has been an endless series of agency reviews as clients try to get ahead of those problems. Inevitably, some of those reviews ended up being decided almost entirely on price, which resulted in many media shops having to operate on razor thin margins.

All too often, this simply resulted in a “you get what you pay for” relationship, which serves neither the advertiser or media agency well (even though it’s beloved by client purchasing folks).

Maybe that’s why we’re beginning to see a revival of the traditional full-service agency model. A few truly innovative creative agencies are bringing media buying back in house and aggressively investing in the systems, tools and talent necessary to deliver truly integrated creative/media solutions to their clients. Obviously, these commitments are costly, but at the end of the day, they very well may pay out.

But another trend also needs to be watched closely: clients bringing media capabilities in-house. While some large brands that experimented with that model recently abandoned the idea due to its cost, the challenge of finding and retaining first-rate media professionals and an inability to keep up with technology, it is still of great interest to some. And that will continue to be a threat to media agencies.

As the media agency business continues to evolve to automated media buying, will our services simply not be seen as useful and necessary by clients? Will they want to own “black boxes” themselves, cutting agencies out of the picture altogether? And where does that leave the critically important strategic side of our business?

Creative agencies are also being challenged. More and more clients are hiring agencies on a project basis rather than on an AOR basis. This makes it very difficult for them to keep top talent and deliver their best work, not to mention the financial instability it brings -- yet another motivation that positions rebundling in a positive light.

The answer, I think, could very well be a business model that for more than 100 years delivered great work and generated terrific revenue for clients and fair profits for agencies: the full-service agency model.

Imagine an entire team of talented advertising professionals working together on behalf of a client -- instead of a disparate group of companies that barely talk to each other, much less collaborate with each other, competing with each other for pieces of the client’s budget.

Somewhere up in advertising heaven, it’s very possible that Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Raymond Rubicam and Jay Chiat are all smiling, saying to themselves “we could have told them so.” The return to the full-service agency model is such a provocative idea that it almost seems brand new.


Zach Rosenberg is a growth consultant.



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Testimonial: PopShorts

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 15, 2019

We asked Jake Hay of PopShorts to tell us about his company's experience working with ThinkLA to reach the advertising, marketing and media community in Los Angeles. Here's what he had to say.


ThinkLA has been an invaluable community both for myself and for our company, PopShorts. Since PopShorts joined ThinkLA a little over three years ago, we have grown our business by over 700% and have added new diversity to our portfolio of clients. We attribute a great deal of this newfound success to ThinkLA, as the majority of our new clients have come from within the L.A. advertising community. The networking at these events has been instrumental for us in both client acquisition and client retention. 

For our employees, we've taken advantage of the many professional development programs that ThinkLA offers. Our CEO has been so impressed with ThinkLA that he decided to give back by joining their mentor program back in January of 2018. He has since helped two motivated women who were new to the community with their career aspirations, professional development and networking needs by sharing his personal and professional experience, knowledge and skills via one-on-one mentor sessions. 

ThinkLA sets a standard for the LA advertising community and professional communities as a whole. It has been an honor to grow alongside this organization and within this community. We are grateful for the incredible people we’ve met through ThinkLA, the expertise and ideas that have been so openly shared, and the unconditional support we’ve received. On behalf of myself and the rest of PopShorts, we want to give a huge thank you to all of the ThinkLA staff. We wouldn't be where we are now without you!

Thanks, Jake! ThinkLA is grateful to all of our members like you and PopShorts who make our community great by giving back and collaborating with us. We wish you continued success! 

Tags:  members  membership  popshorts  testimonials 

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Aaron Walton: Finding Your Uncomfortable Zone

Posted By Don Lupo, Wednesday, April 3, 2019

By Aaron Walton
Photo by Kal Yee

Pose star and Tony award winner Billy Porter set the bar high for authenticity before the Oscars had even begun. He arrived on the Red Carpet in a ball gown tux designed by Project Runway’s Christian Siriano. ‘People are going to be really uncomfortable with my black ass in a ball gown," Porter wrote. "But it’s not anybody’s business but mine." And that was the kind of cultural confidence that shifted the 91st Academy Awards out of its conservative comfort zone and into the 21st century, celebrating talent from communities of color and diverse cultures.

Regina King, the evening’s first winner, built on Porter’s tone-setting style by dedicating her win to Beale Street author James Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin instantly became the top trending search on Google trends, underscoring why representation matters. From the red carpet to the acceptance speeches to the social media conversations, marketers and the ad industry have much to learn from a new Hollywood, particularly about how the powerful role we play as image makers and identity influencers impacts our responsibility to reflect and respect societal change. Here are three key takeaways:

1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

As humans, we tend to be uncomfortable with the unknown. It’s a survival instinct. It’s why bias, which we all carry in one form or another, acts as a shorthand for sameness which we tend to believe will keep us safe.  As marketers, we are obligated to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is our responsibility to our brands and to consumers to tap into a spectrum of perspectives, psychographics and consumer profiles. Whether it’s gender fluidity in the form of a ball gown tux or understanding the Black-centric social commentaries of an author like James Baldwin, the message from a new generation of diverse talent was unapologetic – particularly in relation to what’s unknown and, therefore, uncomfortable, to dominant-culture leadership. Time to catch up. As advertising and marketing industry diversity programs stumble and fall short of expectations, we too cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. For an industry that prides itself on pop-culture prowess and its ability to laser target individuals in the micro-ist of ways, we have blinders on when it comes to some uncomfortable truths. Our industry doesn’t give credit to culture, it often minimizes the importance of creative contributors from diverse backgrounds, and has turned inclusion into an exercise of consensus instead of a celebration of uniqueness.

2. Practice centering

In spite of D&I efforts, there is very little work being done by clients or agencies when it comes to centering people of color and diverse cultures. Centering is loosely defined as being committed to racial, gender and cultural equity, having diverse stakeholders be in control of resources, and recognizing them for their expertise. The Oscars showed us what centering is and what it is not. Black Panther epitomizes the former while Green Book reflects the latter. Late night host Seth Meyers created an excellent commentary on the White Savior film prototype which, many agree, is how Green Book can be classified. Even when agencies add multicultural talent to their teams, they do little to empower them to lead, or even to simply engage, from a cultural POV. On a positive note, one can look at the work aired by Verizon during the Oscars, specifically the unsubtitled Spanish language work, an Oscar first, and see what centering looks like. While not all Latinos are Spanish speakers, the brand had the cultural courage to unapologetically communicate with those within the community who are; to put their voice center stage without worrying about backlash from an intolerant, often monolingual subset of consumers. Stop thinking of resources like the proverbial pie with a finite number of slices.  Cultural fluency expands us all and, with this commitment to growth, opportunities multiply and there are more than enough to go around. The pie gets larger.

3.  Why "winclusion" matters

If there was ever any doubt about the influence of culture on the psyche of millennials and Boomers alike, one need only listen to Rami Malek, Regina King, Hannah Beachler, Spike Lee, and Spiderman’s Peter Ramsey and Phil Lord, among others. While they may be celebrities today, each of these winners was once a child, standing in front of a mirror and dreaming about what winning an Oscar would be like. And they all wondered why they never saw anyone like themselves represented. "Winclusion" is not just access, it’s advancement and an ability to assume roles worthy of awards – the kind of awards that make history and give voice to those who are often unrepresented and marginalized both in front of and behind the camera. How is your organization rewriting the rules of inclusion, reframing the idea so it’s not just an invitation to a club whose rules and values are already set in stone, leaving little room for authenticity and cultural confidence? 

During a Black History Month fraught with politicians wearing black face and other ignorant offenses, the Oscars managed to demonstrate that progress can be made and respect can be paid. Was it a seismic shift or an anomaly? Time will tell. What is clear is that diverse storytellers, and the consumers they inspire, are done asking for permission to be a part of the societal fabric they influence and impact in the most innovative ways. And those same cultural champions, and the communities with which they connect, are putting our industry on notice as well. Uncomfortable? Good. You should be.

Aaron Walton
is a founding partner of Walton Isaacson.

Tags:  aaron  advertising  creative  diversity  inclusion  uncomfortable  walton 

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Mobile Breakfast 2019: Insights and Recap

Posted By Don Lupo, Friday, March 29, 2019
By Dan Wittmers
Photos by Craig Tovey

On March 20, at what has become one of LA’s tentpole events, hundreds of media, marketing and technology professionals met at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the ninth annual ThinkLA Mobile Breakfast. The goal of this year’s content was to share battle-tested strategies on how to better connect with, create for and convert through mobility; ultimately elevating attendees’ mobile competence.

This year’s speaker line-up featured not one but two San Francisco-based CMOs in Cory Treffiletti of Voicea and Heidi Browning of the National Hockey League, both of whom delivered dynamic and insightful keynote presentations.

Cory kicked off the morning’s content with a presentation surrounding the evolution of the mobile platform to date and where he sees it going from here. The overarching message was underpinned by the idea that mobile phones have become the remote control for our lives. They’ve become our "Head of Operations" for our staff of digital assistants and even the digital representation of us as individuals.

One of the most thought-provoking takeaways from his presentation was that we’ve reached a tipping point in the evolution of technology as a whole – one where "humans can stop having to learn how to understand machines and machines can finally understand humans".

Just think about that for a minute. That means that technology has finally caught up with humans enough so that we can go back to using phones for what they were originally intended – voice-based communication – and it’s all been made possible thanks to the advancements in artificial intelligence.

According to Cory, “Mobile is a voice-centric platform and voice-activated AI is the natural means for interacting with this device.” As we look to the future, “Mobile will become even more important as the gateway to voice-activated AI.” In his opinion, “It really is the final UI”.

During the following hour of content, ThinkLA brought in highly experienced panelists to discuss the topics of connecting with and creating for the mobilized consumer. There seemed to be a bit of debate over whether mobile is, and/or should be, an advertising platform. During the ‘Connect Panel’, Benny Thomas from Rise & Shine & Partners kicked off the debate by suggesting, “We should stop looking at this as an advertising platform. The medium is about Customer Service and deep social.”

The "Create Panel" had somewhat of a differing opinion on that topic. There seemed to be consensus by these panelists that, when done right, mobile can serve as an engaging platform for both marketing and advertising. “The biggest question CMO’s and other creative leaders should be asking themselves”, according to Greg Crockart from Mirum Agency, is “was this [creative execution] made for mobile or does it just work on mobile?” The answer to this question will almost always determine whether you’re winning in mobile or just participating.

Where both sides of this debate were able to find common ground was that the mobile platform is the most personal device we carry. It requires more strategic thought and nuanced messaging than what most advertisers are giving it. Many companies have either repositioned their mobile experts into broader digital roles or eliminated their mobile teams all together. Melissa Eccles from Amazon Studios may have nailed it on the head with one of my favorite soundbites of the morning when she said, “Today’s mobile advertising tends to be a bit schizophrenic.” She explained, “People don’t totally know what they want to say on mobile and, as a result, advertisers’ channel strategies tend to overrule strategy in general.”

To add to that, Joao Machado from Sabio Mobile posed a provocative question. He prefaced it with, “There’s no doubt – mobile has the eyeballs and is the most important tool we have in our lives with regards to consuming media. For years it’s been pulling in our TV habits, our radio habits, our reading habits.” To which he asked, “How do we [now] go back to brands to remind them how important it is to build experiences for today’s mobile-first world?” A question we should all spend time considering on a daily basis.

One brand that doesn’t seem to need much outside help answering these questions is the National Hockey League. Over the past couple of years, the marketing team at the NHL, led by digital native Heidi Browning, has been engaging hockey goers with innovative technologies that enhance the fan experience while providing more actionable data back to the league.

During her closing keynote, Heidi spoke to the importance mobile is playing at both the club and league levels. On the top of her list of mobile-first improvements was in regard to ticketing. According to Heidi, “Mobile ticketing has had a significant impact on the reduction of fraud, but it’s also had an equally significant impact on the understanding of identity of our fans.” Approximately 90% of the league’s teams currently use the technology and moving tickets from printouts to mobile devices now provides an all access, opted-in pass to the individual sitting in Section 103, Row J, Seat 13.

It doesn’t stop there! By working directly with arena architects, the league is re-imagining the fan experience [quite literally] from the ground up. Imagine unlocking your box suite through facial recognition or receiving free seat upgrades via a push notification. Imagine real-time stats updates streamed directly to your phone while sitting in a sports betting lounge or in-seat food and beverage ordering and delivery. Well imagine no longer! These are just some of the mobile-enabled upgrades arenas are already rolling out.

For those of you watching at home – the NHL hasn’t forgotten you, either. In an effort to improve the in-home viewing experience, the NHL has been working hard on new player/puck tracking technology. By placing sensors on the players and within the puck, the league has been able to enhance the viewing experience through augmented reality in the form of data-filled player halos that show real-time player stats. The sensors track at 200 data points per second, which has opened the door to virtual reality broadcasts as well. Whether you prefer to enjoy the game in person or from your couch at home, the NHL is using mobile-first technology to improve your experience.


Dan Wittmers head of digital for HB2 Group.

Tags:  2019  breakfast  mobile 

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Global Wednesdays March!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 19, 2019
It's big (ad) world, but we aim to make it feel even smaller by highlighting inventive, global ads, monthly which break the mold from the mundane, handpicked by ThinkLA Board Member and award-winning creative, Luis Camano. To capture that global spirit, we will feature inspiration from outside of the U.S.


Gud Brand / Brazil
Misspelled words when looking for a dog's breed? Very common mistake. And a great opportunity for the Gud brand in Brazil to do good.

KLM / German
According to Germans KLM is a… bank? A radio station? A restaurant? Huge awareness problem calls for an unusual experience.

Vodafone / India
Vodafone India helped women fight harassment with a very simple tool: a text message./span>




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