Archive for April, 2014

Keep Sailing With Johnnie Walker

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After completing successful tours in Asia and Europe, the John Walker & Sons Voyager tour embarked on its third leg heading to the Caribbean. MKTG INC was brought on to make sure this tour was just as successful as the previous two.

Diageo was on a hunt to find a brand new yacht suitable for the tour.  Our very own Matt Manning, Derek Cummings and John Demas led the search and ultimately went the secret agent route and chose the Regina, which was prominently featured in the recent James Bond film “Skyfall” (as seen in this entire clip

While John was busy beautifully redesigning the yacht, Derek worked on coordinating a routing schedule and managing port logistics at each tour stop with help from industry experts Brazil Yacht Services.

I was lucky enough to be on-board and truly live the Voyager experience for over 2 months. I made some lifelong friends, saw some amazing places (Antigua, Trinidad, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia) and worked with some wonderful people along the way. Not to mention I completely dodged a little thing called the Polar Vortex.


Living the Voyager experience meant not taking any short cuts. Sailing from port-to-port may have been the most unique thing about the entire tour for me. There were a few times where being out on the deck on the open seas meant complete relaxation and escape from every other human being on the planet. Miles and miles of blue water is all I’d see. No cell phone, no internet, no distractions. On the other hand our trips (ranged from 16hrs to 60hrs) were mostly filled with high waves, deep boat rolls and some pretty intense boat movement (getting tossed out of bed or soaked on the deck became pretty common place). I don’t think I’ll be quitting my day job for a life at sea any time soon.

Full event production mode started the moment we docked. We activated 2-4 event days in each market with about 3 events each day. Daily challenges, issues and changes in addition to the slew of people who would constantly come by the boat for tours kept things really interesting along the way. Escaping the madness was a tad bit difficult considering we were living at the venue, but thankfully everything worked itself out leaving guests with unforgettable experiences ranging from rough wave sailing trips to black tie dinners to high energy dance parties on-board.

For more John Walker & Sons Voyager Photos:
Trinidad Event Video:
Aruba Event Video:
Dominican Republic Event Video:
Colombia Video:

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Written by Admin

April 30th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Social Media: What Moves Your Audience

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Spaceballs_combFigure 1: Combing the desert in “Spaceballs”

There comes a time where photos of pancakes during Saturday brunch, random selfies in the park or outrageous political rants become too much handle on your social networks. It’s part of the reason why you un-friend someone on Facebook (in many instances on their birthdays), unfollow them on Twitter or block them on Snapchat. Simply put, it’s noisy and irrelevant.

Though we all crave constant interpersonal connectivity, many find that connection-based social networks and apps leave with you a tremendous rolodex of contacts and robust streams of content, but have shortcomings when trying to share with the people you really care about.

Matthew Bryan Beck, a NYC-based journalist and advertising strategist, exposes a timely topic of what he thinks is the future of social media: mobile tribes.

Just as tribes define membership by ‘different groups, movements, cultures or ideologies,’ we “band together in subpopulations of shared interests, tastes, demographics and marketplaces.” We, along with traditional tribes, then mobilize by choosing and controlling with whom we connect, communicate and share on a regular basis.

Brands and corporations – like consumers – seek to remain in control of how they engage their audiences. Where a Facebook ad spend or a Twitter buy may fall short in breaking through the noise, marketers invest in new platforms to camp out where their mobile consumer tribes roam. Though that’s much easier said than done. Beck asserts, “the age of the mega platform is over.” Consumers have become nomadic in their social-media sharing, app usage and content consumption, leveraging multiple platforms and devices simultaneously to tap into each of their disparate ecosystems.

At Bonfyre, we believe we align well with this trend. Each “bonfyre” is like it’s own ecosystem – an exclusive social network enabling brands to better engage their audiences with targeted, real-time consumer engagement around events and groups of people. The level of control is two-fold: participants “opt in” to the bonfyre – typically through a link, QR code or location-based invites – while the brand decides who’s invited, the content participants can receive and the manner in which they can share (“read-only” chat, moderation, etc.).

Ultimately, marketers should deploy an arsenal of apps, social media sites and experiences to better reach their tribes. There’s always a good story to tell, sometimes it’s just about camping out and listening in.

Seeking a mobile solution for your brand, client or organization? Contact us to learn more.

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Brands and the Audience Evolution

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Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.42.30 PM

Frank Bruni wrote an interesting piece in the New York Times about what Princeton prof. Daniel Rodgers calls the “Age of Fracture.

The idea is, as our knowledge has gotten more specialized, there is less common ground that draws us together. Everyone is taking in content with their own customized feeds. Even at Princeton, in a room full of geniuses, the average teacher struggles to find common cultural references.

In the mid-70’s, America’s top rated show, All in the Family, drew 23% of all Americans. That means that almost 1 in 4 Americans were reacting to the same thing at the exact same time. Today, America’s top-rated show, NCIS, draws 1/16th of all Americans (7%), including those who DVR it.

Sure, there are a few cultural events (like the Super Bowl) that draw up to 35% of us, but on a regular basis, there is no MASS AUDIENCE anymore. Everything is going niche and finding a very specific following. Some of us are watching HBO and Netflix Original Series, some are watching cable and network series, and some of us simply watch videos through our social feeds.

The same is true of social networks.

Parents and brands joined Facebook, so influencers switched to Instagram. Then they moved to Instagram, so influencers migrated to Snapchat. Fred Wilson, the legendary investor who wisely invested in Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, Etsy & Kickstarter, recently commented on this on a fascinating profile in Business Insider.

On Instagram, he says:

“A lot of the stuff that was on Instagram has now moved to Snapchat. It doesn’t mean that people are not using Instagram, but if I go back and look at my Instagram feed a year ago versus today, there’s a lot of people who were in my Instagram feed a year ago who aren’t there today. They’ve been replaced by brands.

So now my Instagram feed is full of things like the New York Knicks and restaurants posting amazing photos of food. The young Facebook user base who left Facebook to go to Instagram has now seemingly moved mostly to Snapchat and my generation (baby boomers) plus brands are what’s on Instagram now.”

So…what is the NEXT BIG Social network once all the brands and parents get to Snapchat? Maybe nothing! In an era of niches, there’s no next big network that has attained critical mass. Instead, there are a bunch of small communities forming that cater to specific interests with very devout followings. Here are a few of the communities that are developing:

There are communities for Musicians:  40 million musicians share their music with 200,000 listeners;

Communities for Students: a network of 34.2 MM students and teachers around the world that is dedicated to helping everyone become more educated;

…and even communities for Storytellers: 25 million people around the world writing and reading 40 million stories.

The landscape has changed, but there are still a lot of great ways to reach an audience. In fact, brands may have an easier job targeting their core consumers because these communities have done such a good job of singling out very specific demographics.

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Mad Men, The Final Season. Sort of.

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Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

It’s the beginning of the end for our favorite men on Madison Avenue, and I applaud AMC for giving us a gentle ride out for the series.  The first half will air these next 7 weeks, and we will get the final send-off in 2015.  I have grown fond of the 7-12 episode story arch; it gives me just enough entertainment without getting to the eye roll stage of using filler material.  Remember those flashback episodes that were popular on 80’s sitcoms?

Each episode moves the story along, and gives us the opportunity to savor Mad Men as a whole.  Now that we live in the days of binge watching, I make a proposal that we try to slow things down, enjoy and reflect.  Instead of racing to hit play on the next one, pause and think: “Is Roger going to hit Woodstock this year with his new hippie friends?”  “If I existed in 1969, would I smoke?  Live in the city?  Protest the Vietnam War?”

When an episode ends, I snap out of my time travel trance and look around.  Slightly disappointed that is it 2014, but I like to keep that 1969 feeling as long as I can and do some old school chores.  Usually some ironing, since hey, it is Sunday night after all.

Take your time, enjoy the warmer weather, and enjoy these last few episodes.  I look forward to chatting with you around the office bar, but only once a week.

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Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

April 21st, 2014 at 9:47 am

What’s In Your Wallet?

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Have you looked at your business card recently? If not you should. MKTG INC’s cards are known for their unique perspective and purpose (the latter being expressly to embarrass their bearer, natch). In our new column Business Cards Explained, we take a look at the business cards of our coworkers and hear the stories behind them. Get ready to blush.

They say it all began for Dan with a casual hand slap with Michael Jordan.
Not sure who ‘they’ are but I always liked that the first line of my business card kind of makes me sound like a stalker who got smacked by MJ (couldn’t we just say high five?).  The truth is the Bulls were playing an exhibition game against the NJ Nets in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse where I grew up, and I was lucky enough to get tickets right by the Bulls tunnel.  I high-fived him on his way out to the court and think I just stared at that hand for the rest of the game (a la Peyton Manning in that epic Mastercard commercial).  I also high-fived Bill Cartwright but somehow that copy ended up on the cutting room floor.

To compare that pivotal moment in Dan’s life to Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”, is way out of bounds, but nonetheless, that courtside half-second experience changed him forever. 
I remember saying I was never going to wash that hand again but thankfully that wasn’t the change they’re referring to.  This sentence seems like one of those ‘Not to throw anyone under the bus…but that’s exactly what I’m going to do’-type statements.  We’re not saying it was as important as the “Creation of Adam”…but that’s exactly what we’re saying.

And ever since, Dan became not just competitive but clutch.  If there are 2 clicks on the clock, you want the ball in Dan’s hands.
When I first got this card a number of my friends asked if this was referring to beer pong.  Not sure what that says about my hobbies (or my friends)…

When he’s not making last second victories from certain defeat, Dan can be seen and heard yelling at certain Big Ten rivals.
As a Michigan grad this comes naturally but this line actually had to be edited from the original copy.  There were a couple of specific schools called out (I’ll let you do the math) that I actually started working with as part of our NIKE activations.  Meeting new partners with the promise of me yelling at them didn’t seem like the best move.

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Are you a Nueva Latina?

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Cincinnati may not seem like the cultural hub of the universe – but we do some pretty cool work for Orgullosa – a US Hispanic community for women driven by Proctor & Gamble.

Orgullosa just launched their Nueva Latina campaign. It’s a new initiative that celebrates the cultural pride and undeniable bond that Latinas share by inspiring women from across the country to reveal what it means to be a Nueva Latina.

They kicked it all off with an event in NYC attended by the likes of Roselyn Sanchez from Lifetime’s Devious Maids and Lala Anthony of MTV DJ fame. There were amazing performances of their Nueva Latina Monologues, which were written specifically for Orgullosa.

MKTG INC will be taking these monologues into the digital stratosphere by creating content for [] and attracting new US Hispanic women to their community and encouraging them to share their stories of being a Nueva Latina.

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NCAA Brings Madness to MKTG INC

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Photo Credit: CBS

Photo Credit: CBS

Well, this is awkward.

We do an annual March Madness pool at MKTG INC. Traditionally, we’ve just done brackets – $20 to join, fill out your bracket, and then sit back and watch what happens. Some people grumble about the time it takes, so this year we added a second way to win: throw in $10, get assigned a school, and if your team wins it all, you take home the pot. Simple as that. No bracket, no paying attention to seeds, no weighing expert predictions. We found an app that scrambles lists and then randomly matched the participants with the top 48 schools.

I was responsible for sharing the bracket and the pool with the company – my name was on the emails, and I’m the person who collected payment from employees across the US (and even a few in the UK). When I was assigned a 7-seed, I figured “well, maybe next year” and moved on. I kind of stopped paying attention – it’s baseball season, after all.  So imagine my delight when I woke up today to see that my seven-seed – University of Connecticut – had won the National Championship game, making me look like the sketchiest bracket administrator in history.

Congratulations to MKTG INC’s Tom Tromba, who – despite having chosen Florida as the national champion – took home bragging rights on the bracket. As for me, I guess I’ll just say Congratulations Huskies!

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Escape to Hawaii!

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Hawaii Collage 2
Like everywhere else in the US, the Northeast has experienced a long, insufferable winter. I finally reached a point where I couldn’t stand the sight of snow anymore so I chose to cash in my MKTG RWRDS trip and go to Hawaii. I wasn’t sure what to expect besides leis, luaus & Hawaiian shirts, but if this mystical place could make Don Draper smile, then I knew it could bring me out of my winter funk.

My girlfriend Lillian and I started the trip with two nights on Waikiki Beach. We ate amazing Japanese food, relaxed on the beach and hiked to the top of Diamond Head State Monument for some incredible panoramic views. Once we had a chance to thaw out, we drove to the North Shore of Oahu. Along the way, we stopped at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the world-famous Dole Plantation to ride the Pineapple Express (James Franco not included).

My favorite experience on the North Shore was walking through a Banyan tree forest to the secluded Kawela Bay. There we spent the day stand up paddling through crystal clear waters filled with sea turtles, drinking fresh coconuts and eating fresh pineapple from a nearby fruit stand. The area is famous for their shrimp trucks and we aggressively sampled the different versions of shrimp scampi (our favorite was Fumi’s). I also cliff jumped at Laie Point, which some people might recognize from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I’m glad to report that my jump was slightly more graceful than the one performed by Jason Segal’s character (also named Peter).

To end the trip, we visited the beautiful island of Kauai, full of jagged mountain ridges and exotic plant life. Jurassic Park was filmed there and at times it felt like a dinosaur was going to jump out and spray blinding venom in my eyes. Luckily that never happened and we had a wonderful time hiking along the Napali Coast, which provided breathtaking views of the island. We woke up early on our last morning to take a helicopter tour, a first for both of us. We flew around the whole island and saw things that never would have been possible from the ground, including canyons, waterfalls and a breaching humpback whale.

While the weather and activities were amazing, the thing I miss most is the food. I’ve done my best to find Hawaiian food here in NYC, but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t crave Açaí bowls, Ahi Poke, fresh pineapple and coconut ice cream. If it’s not already obvious, my trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. I’d like to thank MKTG for providing the opportunity, my colleagues for selecting me and the entire House of Walker crew for their tireless support during my last year on the program.

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Written by Peter McCutcheon
Peter McCutcheon

April 3rd, 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Experience

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MKTG INC’s Gone Crackers for Mary’s Gone Crackers

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In our guest-columnist series, we share insights from some of our favorite staff, clients and industry experts. This month we highlight Mary Waldner, chairman and founder of MKTG INC client Mary’s Gone Crackers.

MARY_WITH_BOX[1]How did Mary’s Gone Crackers get started?

After my celiac diagnosis in 1994, I started creating gluten-free versions of baked goods. I developed the crackers and would bring a bag of them wherever I went.  Then others started asking for them. I woke up one morning with the clear message that we needed to manufacture the crackers. Thus began an incredible five-year journey that led to Mary’s Gone Crackers.

This is the company’s 10th anniversary. How has the gluten-free industry changed over the last decade?

When we first started, the gluten-free world was very small — determined and vocal, but not well known. Most restaurants didn’t know what gluten was. There are still very few organic choices in the gluten-free category, and most companies use the same highly refined ingredients. But some mainstream companies have gotten onboard: Rice Chex became gluten-free a few years ago, and Betty Crocker and King Arthur Flour have gluten-free mixes. But there is still the perception that gluten-free is somehow healthier, which is not usually true. Replacing gluten-containing refined food—bagels, pizza, cookies, donuts—with gluten-free versions is not healthier. People who are ill from eating gluten will feel better eating gluten-free, for sure. But that’s a long way from eating whole, real food.

You’ve brought some new products to market recently – new graham crackers and Everything Pretzel. How do you determine what’s next?

Generally we look for food that we’d want to eat. We consult data to find potential categories – there’s room in the gluten-free and organic sectors for great-tasting and more nourishing versions of popular foods.

Tell us about your new partner, Kameda Seika.

Kameda Seika is the largest rice cracker company in Japan, a publicly traded company. They bought 80% of our company and Dale and I have retained the remaining 20%. It has been wonderful partnering with them. They support our vision 100%. They also specialize in manufacturing, which is where we need a lot of help.

Women in business – how has that dynamic evolved in the last 10 years?

There is progress in that women are starting companies, at least in the food industry. At the same time, there is little progress in terms of how men treat women. Being the only woman on our board for most of our 10 years, I have been treated in ways that I think are familiar to other women — as invisible, as though I’m speaking a language that no one else speaks, and often as if I’m not speaking at all. It took me a while to understand what was going on and learn how to respond. There’s lots to talk about in this area.

Knowing the past 10 years have been an amazing journey; what is your favorite memory in building this company?

Wow, there are so many: winning the Most Outstanding Cracker award in 2008 and getting my picture taken with Jacques Pepin; listening to Oprah talk about her favorite foods including “my Mary’s Crackers”; reading thousands of emails from people grateful for how our products have improved their lives; getting to love an incredible team of people who are committed to growing our company; expanding my world in unimaginable ways.

What’s next for you and the company?

Some great new products — granola that is unique and fabulous; fig bars and other filled bars; expanding our market into Europe and other countries; improving production as we expand.

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Glory Glory Man United!

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Winning the Barclays Premier League Trophy is a HUGE achievement, winning 20…well that is INCREDIBLE!  In 2013 global football powerhouse Manchester United did just that and claimed their 20th Premier League Trophy.  The Red Devils have one of the largest fan bases in all of sports, and what better way to say thank you than to share the trophy with all of them.  Manchester United partnered with MKTG INC to travel the world with the Premier League Trophy to say thanks to fans, partners and supporters that were a part of the historical season.

Man U

MKTG traveled all over the world to put the Trophy Wall and Museum structures together.  Working closely with the local venues and partners throughout the tour to create a consumer experience like no other.  The tour has spanned over 152 days, traveled 96,000km and visited 31 cities in 24 countries across 4 continents.  Fans and partners in local markets got the opportunity to come out and meet Manchester United Legends and have their photo taken with the trophy.  Fans also got the opportunity to explore the Story Wall Museum taking them down memory lane through Manchester United’s history.  Showcasing artifacts from previous eras and allowing fans young and old to get an up close and personal look into the historical club.

The celebration might be coming to an end but the support for the Reds will carry on…Glory Glory Man United!

Shanghai Mall 5

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Written by Carter Parrish
Carter Parrish

April 2nd, 2014 at 11:57 am