Reposted (and a bit revised) from our partner agency 360i’s blog. We were honored to help them fully produce this powerful experience.
To launch the highly-anticipated EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon and 360i gave four photographers an impossible challenge: only 24 hours after receiving the camera, they would have to display the images they captured at a full-fledged pop-up exhibit, produced by MKTG, at the white hot Whitney Museum in New York City’s Meatpacking district.
Just hours before the event, neither Canon nor 360i nor MKTG knew what images provided by Roberto Valenzuela, Jendra Jarnagin, Alex Strohl and Sue Bryce would look like. But confident in the camera’s abilities, they welcomed 130 prominent members of the media, influencers and New York’s photography community to watch as they were unveiled for the first time around the gallery. As guests arrived, every frame in the gallery was still empty. Then, while the audience watched, the photos were printed with Canon printers and mounted on the walls of the gallery over the course of the evening.
Our partners at Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) recently launched a series spotlighting leaders throughout our network called Time Out with…, and their first profile features MKTG’s very own Marlena Edwards, VP of HR. DAN North America Comms leaders Belle Lenz and Megan Madaris chat with Marlena, delving into her 11-year career with MKTG, from starting off in an entry-level role to leading her department. It’s a fascinating conversation that you should add to your reading list and will be a recurring series moving forward, found on Medium.com.
DAN: So let’s set the stage here. Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and how this all started.
ME: I’m from Rochester, NY, upstate. I’ve been in New York City since 2002 and can’t see myself living anywhere else. I live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. It’s one of those areas that’s just on the cusp of being gentrified, but you still get all of your services and it’s still pretty cool and edgy. I love it.
DAN: You run HR for MKTG. How did you find your way into it?
ME: That’s an interesting story. It’s really about being prepared for opportunity more than anything else. I didn’t go to school for it. Never imagined a career in HR. From the time I was eight I always thought I was going to be a lawyer. I got a scholarship to law school, but by the time I finished my first year I was questioning what I signed up for. It became really apparent that it just wasn’t that kind of idealized Law & Order kind of lawyer vs. the real life monotony of being in a court room and arguing the same thing every day. So I took some time off law school and I got a job to support myself and after a few years I needed to figure out what I wanted my career to be. I talked to a recruiter and at the time I was working in operations, but my manager had me involved in a lot of employee relations, doing some payroll, etc.
The recruiter asked me if I’d ever thought about HR and as opportunity would have it I was working in more of an operations role at MKTG. I submitted my letter of resignation to take another position more in line with what I was going for with HR in the non-profit sector. An HR employee at MKTG told me that they knew I wanted to be in HR and recognized how hard I worked and my determination and they wanted to give me an opportunity in HR at MKTG.
Literally, just like that they gave me my first opportunity as an entry-level HR person at MKTG, going on 11 years ago. Every year has been an education in HR since, but that’s how it all began.
DAN: So that was 11 years ago. Wow. What has that journey been like for you?
ME: So I think the journey for me has been really kind of significant and similar to a lot of our other MKTG employees. What I love is that MKTG really allows you to own your business and work autonomously and if you can step up to the plate and you’re prepared and you can show people that you’re providing a service and a benefit, there’s always opportunity. Whether it was working on small acquisitions; rebranding and thinking about our culture and what we want to change; introducing a new program in terms of employee recognition; doing surveys and listening to employees and understanding why we were having people thinking about leaving and understanding how important learning and development was… as long as I was able to build a case and present that to our leadership team, I was always given the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Year after year after year there was always some business challenge that called for HR support and I was able to provide a service to our leaders. And 11 year’s later, here I am!
DAN: Is it what you expected? What has surprised you?
ME: Absolutely not! People ask me all the time what makes me stay because 11 years in the advertising/marketing space is unheard of. But every day is a new day. We do a lot of experiential work rooted in events and having employees in 40 different states spanning a number of different industries from sports to wine and spirits, you have a lot of factors that can lead to so many precarious situations. So if it’s someone wanting an alligator at an event, I need to know what our liability is as a company for having that happen. That’s an HR issue because I need to understand our insurance policies and what that means. Or if we’re going to open an office in London, what does that mean about hiring people, and visas, etc. So really having the opportunity to spread my wings and learn and identify mentors — like other HR leads across the Dentsu Aegis Network — have allowed me to learn about situations I hadn’t experienced yet.
DAN: How has it been to grow as a leader within the same company? Some people move jobs every couple of years to get promoted or ascend but it’s different to do that in the same company.
ME: It is, it’s very different. It takes a lot of self awareness and hard work because when you are being promoted from within people see you in the role that you came in as and it’s a constant reminder. But if you have a manager or a support system that really believes in your contribution, like I have had, they are championing you 100%. They say, “she has a voice, it’s important and we need to make sure we’re listening to it.” It can be difficult but if you have the right team around you it can work. And if you find a place that you’re comfortable, why not stay there and grow?
DAN: Have you had any career defining moments that stick out to you?
ME: The one thing is definitely submitting my letter of resignation and having someone come to you and say they recognize something in you. That has always pushed me to make sure that I’m always doing my best and it’s not always easy. Sometimes you want to take the easy way out but someones always looking and noticing, so that was the most defining moment for me.
The other moment may be before MKTG was acquired, there was a more senior HR person and I remember being asked if I wanted to be considered for this potential role. I was less senior than I am now of course but I remember being all “yes, sure!” You’re young, you’re ambitious and you want to get it done. Well we had a board at the time and after a week or so the team circled back and explained that one board member thought I needed more experience before they could think about me for that role. I took it really hard and I had to sit down and acknowledge that to someone who didn’t work with me day to day and from the outside looking in I had only been at the company for five or six years, without a huge amount of HR experience, so it made sense.
Once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.
It was a blow of course. It took some time, but there were some challenges that came through the business and I was able to partner with some of our senior leaders and they saw that I could rise to the occasion, stand there in the difficult times and support them. And then once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Again, showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.
Two times that I didn’t think things would work in my favor but some how, some way, they did.
DAN: What would your advice be in that moment when you think you’re nailing it, at the top of your game, and someone says “you are, but you’re not quite where we need you to be”? How do you deal with that?
ME: One of the biggest things I’ve learned is you really do have to be self aware. You have to step outside of yourself and really listen to and hear the feedback that you’re getting. You need to be able to get that feedback and adjust and pivot as necessary.
DAN: And get visibility…
ME: Absolutely. Visibility is really really big. The larger the organization, the harder it is but you have to make that effort to get that visibility and make sure that people understand how you’re contributing.
DAN: Do you ever talk to your teams about executive presence? How do you think about that?
ME: I definitely think that it’s important at all levels to think about executive visibility. From an HR perspective, you never know how people are going to react to the information that you give them. You always want to make sure that you’re representing the department you come from and the company in the appropriate light. What’s good about our organization is that whether you’re talking about our COO, or our CEO, they’re very entrepreneurial people who ask all employees what the they think about different ideas. They’re really all about the think tank approach. So if our employees have ideas I always encourage them to take it to the table, but it’s really about how you take it to the table. Are you able to show the benefit to the company? It can’t just be us spending money all the time. What’s the value? Talking to employees about how they position themselves whether they’re entry or junior level, there’s still a contribution to be made. It doesn’t have to be this huge thing.
DAN: On the flip side of that, people say that HR is a people business and I’m sure you encounter individuals who are not at their best dealing with difficult situations. Do you have any tips for how you help people problem solve those sorts of issues?
ME: When you’re talking to managers who are having a difficult time with employees, they usually are just looking at behaviors. Counseling them on the factors that really lead to those behaviors, and that those factors are what you really need to address with the employee is what’s been most helpful in my experience. I find that when you’re talking to people honestly and transparently, they’re more apt to be honest and upfront and come to a consensus with you. We often get involved in “this is what I want, and this is what you need to do,” type of thinking, and that never goes well. The questions should be more like “What’s going on with you? What can I do to help you?” and a lot of times people don’t come from that “What can I do” perspective when they feel like the other person is in the wrong.
Also, just try to be objective and take all the personal out of it. I’m really proud of counseling people out of some really disastrous situations. There have been quite a few over the years and you’d think people would never be able to stand in the same room with one another again, and after sitting down, really laying everything on the table, as long as there’s mutual respect there, I don’t think there’s anything that can’t be overcome. Respect sometimes means, I need to address really difficult things with you and this just might not be the right fit. Even though that’s a tough pill to swallow, people respect it and they understand it.
It’s the age old rule, talk to people and deal with people the way that you’d want to hear and receive that information and it goes a long way.
DAN: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about HR?
ME: Ha. That you always have to be careful about what you say! When I meet people at different agencies or in different walks of life they always say they would never imagine that I would be an HR person. Or we go out to dinner or have cocktails after work and people will be like, “oh we can’t talk about this cause HR is here.” We’re not judging you. We’re not here to judge people, we don’t do that. You should look at HR personnel as a resource. We are here to help you get the work done; to help support the business. We like to have fun doing it and we are a part of the culture and the fabric of the business. Talk to us like you’d talk to anybody else. If you’re crossing a line or getting a little fuzzy, we’ll let you know, but utilize HR. I think a lot of people are a little apprehensive when they hear HR or they always thing it’s negative, and it’s not. I encourage people to seek out their HR partners because we’re working with the leaders of the organization to implement change and cultural initiatives and we can help push that forward.
DAN: What do you think makes a good leader? How do you foster a culture of leadership at MKTG?
ME: I think a good leader is somebody who hears their employees and listens to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings. A good leader allows their team to drive their business and hears out their concerns . A leader’s job is to listen to that real concern and figure out how to fix it. It might not be fixed in three days or three months, but they’re going to put a plan in place to make sure that the organization is supporting everyone. No good leader wants to do the work of the people on their team; they want to empower their team to run with it.
Listen to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings.
DAN: You’ve been with MKTG for 11 years. How do you stay engaged?
ME: I think our industry keeps me engaged. It is ever changing and every two years, it’s a reinvention. We have to make sure we are up-skilling our employees and that we understand what tools they need. What worked two years ago is no longer relevant so it keeps HR and the business busy. There’s so much data and information that we have to stay at the forefront of, that it constantly keeps me engaged. If I was working at a bank maybe I’d say nothing has changed in the last 11 years, but in media and advertising it’s constantly changing so you have to always be at the forefront to understand how to take you business forward.
DAN: Is that stressful?
ME: Haha. Yes, constant change is totally stressful. You have to break it down into bite size pieces and prioritize where you’re going to put your focus. It’s funny we have really focused on learning and development over the last year, and it’s super important to us. We’ve visited the MIT Media Lab, we use General Assembly, offer a Keynote course. It didn’t seem like a big deal if you weren’t a creative to know Keynote but now your client services teams are creating decks and they need to know about how to present. We’ve had to refocus on what’s important. It’s not necessarily about how to put a PowerPoint together, but about how to respond to client needs. We recognize that there needs to be a certain look and feel to everything that we present and that all of our employees need to be able to contribute at that same level. It keeps me motivated to see how engaged our people are with the learning and development opportunities we’re offering. It is stressful though, there’s no way around it. It takes a lot of time, energy and support to identify the people aligned with the company vision who will help you get the work done. That’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great team.
DAN: Is there anything outside of work that helps you destress?
ME: I love to travel. I just tried to take a trip to Bermuda in the middle of a hurricane, which I didn’t make it to… But I love to travel. For me, the perfect vacation is a little bit of beach/rest/relaxation, a bit of culture and a little bit of adventure. So I’ve taken some great trips, would probably say Turkey was so far the best one because there was just so much to do and see. I’ve been to Costa Rica, Morocco, Spain, Paris, London… every year I try to do one big trip and next year is the big 4–0 so I’m planning a big one.
DAN: Do you unplug when you go on these trips?
ME: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I commit to checking in just twice a day and at most an hour each time I check in. So I give myself very limited times. I think in our world you’re never truly able to turn off. If you plug in and there’s nothing major going on it’s fine to step away again but you kind of have to check in and see what’s going on because things change so rapidly.
DAN: What does a weekend look like for you?
ME: Generally it starts out in Manhattan. I work out, just because I have to! I joined ClassPass and some of my favorite classes are around here [Tribeca]. So the day starts with a workout and I am a firm believer in walking around local cafes and shops, so I’ll just put on my walking shoes and walk. Sometimes from Bed Stuy all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge and around Manhattan. One of my key rules is that I’ll stay at work as long as I need to (whether that be 8 or 9 o’clock at night) but when I go home, I don’t take my computer home with me on weeknights or the weekend. Everything can generally be answered by email on my phone, if needed. That is my firm rule to have some downtime. Monday through Friday, I’ll give you all the hours you need and then on the weekends and after hours I turn it off.
DAN: Have you ever had any resistance to that?
ME: Never. The model at MKTG is that as long as the work is getting done people don’t generally care about the hours or when or how you do the work, as long as you’re being responsive to the business needs.
The clothes that I wear are really my armor. Our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect.
DAN: Do you have any good luck charms or rituals that you do/wear before a big meeting or other important occasions?
ME: Not necessarily any good luck charms but I love fashion. The clothes that I wear are really my armor. As you know our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect. Coming up in the industry and being promoted from within, fashion has always been a way to project a confident exterior that leads the interior along, and pushes me forward.
DAN: Do you have any advice specific to women coming up in their career?
ME: My first HR opportunity was because someone saw that spark in me and it was because of that person’s mentorship that I am wear I am today. One of the things that I’ve learned is to always keep that door open. When I see talent or someone who is trying to take that next step I try to offer advice and pointers because it’s also about perception. People rarely tell you — especially if it’s not positive — how you’re perceived in an organization. Having a good mentor helps you get those pointers to figure out the changes that need to be made so that you can grow in your career. Even just making a connection with one person who you look up to and who can impart wisdom, who can give you real coaching and life advice, will be extremely valuable. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it has to be someone who understands where you want to be, your contribution and are willing to give you honest advice. If nobody tells you, you’re never going to learn.
I remember my mentor telling me that I always interpreted things as very black and white, but that in our industry there’s a lot of grey and you have to find out how you’re going to navigate in the grey. She warned me that you’re going to put a lot of people off by always saying no. You can be the best at what you do but if no one wants to work with you, there’s no point in having you here. It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I’ve had to learn how to live in the grey. And I still do to this day.
–Contributed by DAN North America Communications team and MKTG
MKTG UK Managing Director Michael Brown pens his monthly thought leadership for Event Magazine. This time, Michael looks at how brands are reimagining the concept of brand museums, utilizing an old idea to tell their history in the live space. He highlights clients such as Guinness for their highly-regarded brand museum.
Head to Event Magazine for the article here.
Article by: Michael Brown for Event Magazine
Fountainhead MKTG scooped up four accolades for their outstanding client work at the EEMAX Global Conclave & Awards 2016. Organized by the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), the ceremony was held from October 17-18 in Mumbai. The annual event, targeted India’s events and experiential industry, had experts from various parts of the world share experiences from their respective areas of focus.
Fountainhead MKTG won:
Best use of Technology for an Event or Activation (Silver): The Aditya Birla Awards for Outstanding Achievement 2015
Best New IP – Event or Activation (Silver): Aadyam
Best IP – Event or Activation (Bronze): Mahindra Blues Festival 2016
Best Integrated Communication Program for an IP (Bronze): Mahindra Blues Festival 2016
Read full coverage of the event here!
–Contributed by MKTG Global Communications Team
The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent this summer taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Andrew Leubner is a Regional Director based in Scottsdale, AZ, and was the lucky winner of a domestic trip. Andrew and his wife decided to spend their 5th wedding anniversary making the most of Lake Tahoe’s beautiful vistas hiking- and dining their way throughout this unique terrain. Read on for Andrew’s recap….
Looking for a change of pace from our usual major city destinations, my wife and I thought it would be nice to relax and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in the mountains, so we decided on Lake Tahoe. Our goal was to explore as much ground as possible and experience Tahoe from a local’s perspective.
On Thursday we made the quick drive from Reno Airport to Lake Tahoe. As we descended the peak of Mt. Rose, we drove into a snow flurry that followed us all the way down to Incline Village. We found our resort, toasted with a glass of champagne and got settled at The Hyatt Regency. It was the quintessential “luxury mountain lodge” experience. Excited to get as much hiking done as possible, we found a couple of short, close hikes to start with. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Diamond Peak and Stateline Lookout’s very different trails.
After a long day of hiking, we were ready for some good food. We discovered a favorite local spot, T’s Rotisserie, which we ended up revisiting throughout the trip. They serve up deliciously massive burritos stuffed with rotisserie chicken, tri-tip, rice, beans and everything in between. Sitting at the counter and watching the staff work their magic in close quarters only adds to the fun, laid-back vibe.
The next day we got up early and had breakfast at the lodge’s restaurant (which boasts amazing views of Mt. Rose). To our relief, the freak cold snap that followed us from Reno the day before was gone now and the weather was perfect. We decided on a scenic coastal hike to Secret Cove and then Chimney Beach. This was a definite highlight of the trip. There was so much to take in, from the crystal clear water that went on for miles, to the massive pines towering over us. There were blue jays, squirrels and chipmunks at every turn. It was like stepping into a fairytale….a fairytale that ended with a lot of naked strangers! It turns out that Secret Cove is a nude beach- and a very popular one at that! Suffice to say, our shore side lunch ended quickly.
While on the hike, we fashioned a pair of hiking sticks, smoothing them out on a granite boulder and left a pair at the trailhead for any future hikers that might have needed some extra stability. Once we made our way back, we drove to Crystal Bay on the California side of Lake Tahoe and stopped at Mellow Fellow Pub for some local-made elk sausage and pulled pork nachos. For dinner that night we chose a local tapas-style restaurant called Bite. We were quite impressed with the spinach and brown rice arancini and Indian spiced chickpea butter lettuce wraps.
On Saturday we drove to South Lake Tahoe, which is about 30 minutes from the North side, with stunning lake views along the way. We found ourselves in a bustling ski resort town with lots of touristy shops and a big gondola transporting visitors to the top of the mountain. Once we were full from a burger lunch we made the drive back to the much less touristy North side and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and walking around the resort’s beaches and parks. One of our favorite things about the Hyatt were the nightly massive fire pits throughout the grounds. We met so many interesting, friendly guests over campfire s’mores and nightcaps under the stars.
The following morning, we were eager to get out on the lake and quickly headed to Sand Harbor beach. We rented a tandem kayak and got paddling. This was for sure our favorite activity of the week, with breathtaking views from the middle of the lake. We kayaked away from home base for a good 90 minutes until the wind picked up and made it comically difficult for us to navigate. It doesn’t matter if you’re married five or 50 years- co-piloting a tandem kayak does not come any easier, or so I’m told!
Later that day we scoped out a local brewery called Alibi Ale Works. Any dog-friendly brewery is going to be at the top of our list, and after giving Abby (their resident pit bull) some well-deserved belly rubs, we were able to sample an assortment of their expansive beer selection in 4oz. offerings. Our favorite brew was the “Evil Jungle” Saison, followed by the “Dog Day IPA,” which donates a percentage of sales to their local Humane Society.
On the final day we said our goodbyes to the staff and the grounds, then made our way up the mountain for one last hike around Spooner Lake before driving back to Reno. It was such a great trip, we spent much of the last day discussing our plans to return. To MKTG and everyone who participated in the rewards voting- I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity to discover such an amazing new place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this unforgettable experience.
–Contributed by Andrew Leubner, Regional Director, Scottsdale, AZ
For the last 13 years, Matt Scheckner and his team at Stillwell Partners who founded Advertising Week in New York as a B2B event, have evolved it to be THE must attend advertising, marketing and media industry summit. It’s also grown beyond NYC to London and Tokyo and they’re hosting a smaller gathering later this year in Cuba. Yes, Cuba.
Once again, they somehow seamlessly pulled off over 280 seminars and workshops, breakfasts, concerts, comedy shows, breakfasts, dinners across 30 venues in NYC. For those who couldn’t be in two places at one time, they also streamed every single session online. In all honesty, I was unable to head uptown on the Wednesday but streamed the sessions, sometimes two at once, and watched on my laptop and monitor from my desk.
No surprise, as it is technically an “advertising” conference, the hot topics once again of the week were digital and the hyper growth of programmatic and of course content marketing. But, another major underlying theme of the week was WOMEN – not only how brands are marketing to (and sometimes objectifying) women, but also deep discussion on the disparity of women in senior leadership roles in our industry.
One of the most popular satellite events and my absolute favorite outgrowth of the ad/marketing conference circuit is The Girls Lounge. Founded by Shelley Zalis, The Girls Lounge is my “go to” destination from Cannes to AdWeek to CES. Shelley founded The Girls Lounge to create a place for women, and men, to connect, collaborate and empower each other. A place to check in, unplug (or charge your device) and take a break from the grind.
Each Girls Lounge is different per the conference, but every day is programmed with casual panels and keynotes featuring powerhouse women not only from advertising and marketing but entertainment, sports, and even finance. In addition to the panels each evening, they host networking events and parties that often go into the wee hours.
While at Cannes Lions they set up shop in huge penthouse suite at the Martinez overlooking the Croisette, at Adweek they tricked out a double decker bus and parked it right in front of the Times Center, the hub of the conference. The downstairs area of the bus was the primping area with experts there doing hair blow-outs and make-up touch ups – because power women have no bones about looking polished – and upstairs they set up couches and directors chairs for the talks. They also transformed a large suite within the New York Times building where they hosted talks and lunches. Another space, a pop up gallery called #SeeHer displayed empowering images from the past and present in partnership with the ANA’s Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE). The Gallery’s aim was to end gender bias against women in ads by 2020 by bringing attention to the issue – a formal initiative from the ANA AFE.
The crowing jewel of Girl Lounge’s presence at Adweek was a gala event sponsored by NBCUniversal and held in the main ballroom at Chelsea Piers’ Pier 60 overlooking the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty. NBC reached into its arsenal of powerful talent and Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal and Zalis interviewed Broadway and television starlet Kirstin Chenoweth. They were immediately followed by the uber-popular Bravo Network star Andy Cohen, who interviewed the one, and only, Kim Kardashian. The crowd of over 800, mostly women, hung on Kardashian’s every word as she talked about stereotypes and her personal focus to empower women, especially young women, to stand up for themselves and embrace their power and femininity. All in all, it was a hugely powerful night, not only due to the A-list talent on stage but the room of incredible women and the overall message permeating through the crowd.
In closing, Advertising Week in New York was a huge success and the programming was more diverse than ever. But for me, what came through loud and clear was that marketing to women and girls, as well as collectively supporting other women in business, is not a conversation that is going away. Men and women are talking about it openly and with platforms like The Girls Lounge being present at our industry’s main conferences, it’s only going to get louder!
–Contributed by Stephanie Rudnick, SVP Communications, MKTG USA | Global Brand Communications Director MKTG twitter and insta: @stephrudnick
So what exactly is the MIT Media Lab?
Actively promoting a unique, antidisciplinary culture, the MIT Media Lab goes beyond known boundaries and disciplines, encouraging the most unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. It creates disruptive technologies that happen at the edges, pioneering such areas as wearable computing, tangible interfaces, and affective computing. Today, faculty members, research staff, and students at the Lab work in 24 research groups on more than 350 projects that range from digital approaches for treating neurological disorders, to advanced imaging technologies that can “see around a corner,” to the world’s first “smart” powered ankle-foot prosthesis. The Lab is committed to asking the questions not yet asked–questions whose answers could radically improve the way people live, learn, express themselves, work, and play.
Read more about Eric and Caity’s insights below….
Eric Ginsberg, Director, Digital Strategy:
We had an amazing opportunity to tour the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. Overall, we were blown away by the level of innovation in such a wide variety of fields. One of the most impactful sessions was a meeting with Mike Bove, who heads up the ‘Object-Based Media’ lab. Mike holds an SBEE, an MS in visual studies, and a PhD in media technology, all from MIT.
The overview of this lab is as follows: Can the physical world be as connected, engaging and context-aware as the world of mobile apps? We make systems that explore how sensing, understanding and new interface technologies (particularly holography and other 3D and immersive displays) can change everyday life, the ways in which we communicate with one another, storytelling, play and entertainment.
As we think about the future of lifestyle marketing, the ‘Object-Based Media’ lab is a potential resource to help shape the future of how consumers interact with technology.
Caity Kauffman, Senior Manager, Digital Strategy:
The opportunity to visit MIT was amazing. What struck me most was how each individual lab had its own way of exploring and tinkering. Researchers didn’t always know what the end result was going to be or know how today’s development could impact tomorrow. Regardless of the lab, each person had a similar sentiment: sometimes their research fixes a problem they didn’t know existed.
At one of the labs, a researcher named Penny showed us a project where they were developing fabric that curled and shifted when it hit certain temperatures or precipitation. The entire purpose of this research was to simply experiment with ways to cause fabric to move and flex. Their team spent weeks, hours and months poking and prodding at triangle-shaped swatches of different types of fabric. Somewhere along the way, a major athleticwear company saw this as an opportunity to create a ventilated product that opens up when an athlete gets hot.
As someone who is always strategically thinking with a specific goal in mind, it was a unique opportunity for me to talk to thinkers who approach their work in an open-ended manner, and with the freedom to let their curiosity lead the way.
Thanks Dentsu Aegis Network for the opportunity!
–Contributed by Team Epic & MKTG Global Communications Team
Global lifestyle marketing agency MKTG has recruited Amy Kemp to the role of SVP, global hospitality, sport and entertainment.
In this global role, reporting to Matt Manning, MKTG’s head of international development, Kemp will lead the agency’s rapidly expanding international hospitality business, splitting her time between MKTG’s London and New York offices.
Kemp brings more than 25 years’ experience in sport and entertainment, including more than 10 years running her own UK-based global business hospitality agency, Kempster, and technology provider, VIP Experience. Over the course of her career, she helped pioneer how brands like Castrol, McDonald’s, Capital One, T-Mobile and BP harnessed the world’s biggest sporting events.
Manning said: “Given MKTG’s rapidly-growing global footprint and position within the Dentsu Aegis Network as a leading sports consulting and marketing resource, expanding our existing hospitality offering along with our sister agency Team Epic, was a natural next step in our evolution. There is a tremendous opportunity in the space and combining Amy’s experience with Team Epic’s 25-year track record, as well as our global network, will ensure solid, creative, sustainable growth.”
Kemp added: “I’m thrilled to be part of this incredible global network. Having founded my own businesses, and worked for entrepreneurs for many years prior, I’m excited about creating and innovating within such a strong, multi-faceted organisation. It’s a privilege to join the team, to grow a business sector in which we’re already so active.”
MKTG rebranded from PsLive earlier this year, as a result of its merger with partnership and sponsorship marketing agency Dentsu Aegis Network Sports and Entertainment.
–Contributed by MKTG Global Communications team
The MKTG Rewards program is designed for MKTG employees to recognize and nominate fellow team members each quarter for their outstanding work at MKTG. At the end of the year, quarterly nominees become eligible to win an all-expenses paid international or domestic experience. 2015’s winners were announced in June, and lucky recipients have spent this summer taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Joanna Solazzo is a Field Director at MKTG New York and was the lucky winner of a domestic trip. Joanna decided to explore Arizona (braving the summer heat), while taking her mother along for this very energetic and rewarding journey. Read on for Joanna’s recap….
My MKTG Rewards experience began when I surprised my mother with an invitation to join me on the domestic trip that I was awarded. As a hard-working mother of four, my mom has had few opportunities to travel. The MKTG Rewards program is an awesome way for MKTG to show appreciation to employees and, in turn, there was no better way to express the appreciation that I have for my mom than to share this experience. We created a solid list of potential locations, our criteria being a combination of adventure and luxury. We were soon on our way to the Grand Canyon and Sedona!
We arrived in Phoenix and road-tripped to the Grand Canyon just in time to watch a sunset that topped all sunsets I’ve seen to date. We had dinner at the historic El Tovar Hotel, where we loaded up on carbs to prep for our Grand Canyon hike the next morning. We were up before the sun, stocked up on supplies and met our hiking guide to begin our Grand Canyon trek. The hike began with amazing vistas from the top of the South Kaibab trail on the South Rim. As the morning went on we journeyed deeper and deeper into the Canyon. We slowed down as we approached a large snake (non-poisonous!), stopped to catch a glimpse from perfectly-named “Ooh Ahh Point” and took a break at the lookout over the stretch to Skeleton Point (the last point of the hike). Unlike most hikes, the Grand Canyon is tricky since the easy part (heading downwards) comes first. Our guide monitored how far we went into the Canyon, reminding us that we had to get back up eventually and that the sun would be at its strongest upon return. We made it about two miles deep into the Canyon before turning around. The way up was challenging both physically and mentally, and we kept each other motivated along the way. After seven hours in and out of the Canyon, we finally reached the top, which was a proud moment and an incredible accomplishment to share with my mom.
The most physically demanding part of the week was behind us and we then embarked on a short road-trip up to Page, Arizona. Page is a small town on the border of Utah with one of the only easy access points to the Colorado River, near the Grand Canyon. We celebrated at a local BBQ spot with delicious pulled pork and beer while a live country music band played on the outdoor stage. The next morning we were up early for a kayak tour of Lake Powell’s hidden canyons, right off of the Colorado River. We kayaked through the canyons and jumped off cliffs into the lake for the rest of the morning. The upper-body portion of our ‘total body workout’ vacation was complete and we were back on the road headed for the second segment of the trip: luxury in Sedona.
Three hours in the car and more amazing, colorful views later, we arrived at the Enchantment Resort among the Red Rocks in Sedona. This resort boasts a world-renowned spa, incredible dining options and a myriad of amenities that did not disappoint! We quickly found ourselves in the spa pool with cocktails being personally delivered to our floats. The second to last day of our trip was filled with spa relaxation and unwinding. Massages, dining, pool time, facials… and more pool time made it the best day. My mom had to pretty much peel me off the lounge chair when it was check-out time. On our drive back to Phoenix we stopped at a few energy vortexes that we heard about (beautiful and peaceful, but a lot of hype if you ask me) and then returned our trusty Jeep back to the airport.
The mix of physical activity, teamwork and well-deserved pampering was exactly how I envisioned spending my MKTG Rewards trip. Being able to share this occasion with my mom was the icing on the cake! We will forever remember our time together and share stories of our adventures. My mom couldn’t thank me enough, and, in turn, I cannot thank MKTG enough for this unforgettable experience!
–Contributed by Joanna Solazzo, MKTG New York