IAN Takes Hot-Lanta

Twice a year, 12 advertising agencies from around the country gather in a pre-determined city to visit unique agencies & companies of note within the ad industry, listen to enthusiastic speakers, and most importantly, discuss agency successes, failures, struggles and opportunities. Speaking among peers, the state of the agencies is explored in a roundtable discussion and then finished with a show and tell of recent work. Each IAN member’s specialty ranges from banking and car dealers to food & beverage. Yet, the diversity of the group is its greatest strength; despite all differences, Team IAN always seems to find level ground. When you take a seat at the table, invaluable advice is liberally shared because one member, at one time or another, has likely been through it.

This month, the Fall 2015 meeting of the Intermarket Agency Network took place in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by member agency, Jackson Spalding. The agenda included a visit to Chick-Fil-A’s innovation center, Hatch, where symbolism of fostered creativity was sprinkled throughout the space. No interior elements were of permanence; the chairs, tables, walls were all movable, expressing an openness to evolving over time. Red cardboard boxes float, like ideas, into the air, then emerge into paper airplanes. Even the opening of the Hatch space in December 2012 included throwing of eggs filled with paint onto a canvas to represent Hatch’s vision that it’s okay to get a little bit messy. Dwain Cox, Director of Innovation & Design, walks Team IAN through the space where prototypes of Chick-Fil-A restaurants are built and supply chain set-ups are designed and tested.


His most insightful comments were, naturally, on innovation, for agencies:

Avoid the “Yeah, But…” mentality and maintain an open attitude of “Yeah, Obviously…”. Recognize when you’re becoming the resistance. Youthfulness is an attitude & demeanor you have control over.

The big reveal is a thing of the past. Show the work to the Client as its being created.

Set 5-month goals. Not just 5-year goals. Observe the short-term for constant course-correct.

Work in short bursts. Get feedback regularly.

The best way to bring an idea to life is with a prototype so the idea can be seen, touched, felt.

The day progressed with a visit to WPP-owned, Mindshare, a global media agency network and home of adaptive networking. After a tour of the open-plan, 2-floor office space, the team was sat down for a presentation of the “Culture Vulture” report: a look at top 10 consumer megatrends of the year that marketers need to know. These included the “man-braid” to replace the famed “man bun”, Brewtein, supplemental beer infused with protein, use of NASA announcements in marketing materials, branded selfie lenses on Snapchat, “phubbing” (partner phone snubbing), extreme phone pinching, limited edition Pepsi Perfect in honor of Back to the Future II and new people-rated app, Peeple.

Most fascinating about these megatrends are the interesting, somewhat contradictory, wants and needs of the Millennial Generation. There appears to be a theme of selfishness/self-serving tendencies around social media and reputation management in the public sphere, while Millennials also need brands to give back to the community and genuinely help others.


Day Two started out with a speech by Joey Reiman, named “one of the 100 people who will change the way the world thinks” by Fast Company and Founder and Chairman of global consultancy, BrightHouse, a company with a mission to bring greater purpose to the business world. One member’s mention of liking Reiman’s pants drove the trajectory of his talk beginning with the status: The most important thing today is humanistic appreciation. Connecting with another human being by trying to find out more about them. Deep knowledge means soul. After running his own advertising agency in the 80s and 90s, Reiman wanted to start over. Advertising and marketing is the command of language and business; how could we go beyond simply convincing people to buy goods but do good, he thought? How can we look at not just the next quarter but the next quarter century? By creating ideas with humanity. With purpose. Asking the “Why”. Creating an idea with purpose is accomplished by focusing on two quadrants of understanding: How Relevant & How Unexpected? Other highlights: Virtue Without Action Is Useless. Data is BS. Provide Human Truth. The intersection of your unique talents & the needs of the world is your purpose, your vocation, your calling. Timeless Purpose + Need In The World = Purpose Activation. Purpose Precedes Strategy.

Another successful IAN Meeting to check off the list, with inspired bites of knowledge to bring home with us. Next Stop: San Diego, Spring 2016.

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New Museums Signal A New Era of Creativity



Hard hats off to SFMOMA. Five years in the making, today the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced the opening of its monumental addition to this iconic institution on May 14, 2016. The expansion, which was stimulated by acquiring a 100-year loan of the prized Fisher Collection, will anoint the Museum as one of the preeminent venues for modern art in the world.


Photo: The Chronicle

We had the opportunity to take a hard hat tour and speak with the architects, just hours prior to the reopening announcement. The construction site, devoid of art, with the exception of the monumental Richard Serra sculpture “Sequence” wrapped in plastic, is breathtaking. The signature Mario Botta designed space and the Snøhetta addition meld together with a nearly unnoticeable seam that technically keeps the two buildings separate. The LEED Gold Certified construction incorporates wastewater recycling and a brilliant system of curved soffits with LED lighting to reproduce natural light balanced with the warm maple flooring. The pristine white walls will be punctuated by tract lighting, focusing on the works displayed in the galleries. A mock-up of the gallery lighting was created in South San Francisco to test the system and provide an off-site location to simulate gallery lighting. The signature of the new addition is the massive curtain wall façade. Cast from fiber reinforced polymers, the exterior appears to be sculpted from stone to resemble the movement of wind and water. It was clear in discussing the various details with Senior Designer, Lara Kaufman and Senior Architect, Jon McNeal, that they were rightfully proud of the firm’s accomplishments. This latest tribute to art and design is accompanied by a fresh new logo, brand graphics and website.



The approximately 450,000-foot building will include two new restaurants and a café. One of the restaurants will be adjacent to the sculpture garden, the other, named In Situ at the Third Street entry will be curated by three-star Michelin award-winning chef Corey Lee of Benu fame, who will be sharing the recipes of 80 renowned chefs from around the world including Réne Redzepi, Alice Waters and Thomas Keller.

SFMOMA may be the latest, but not the only new museum in this golden age of creativity. The past few months have ushered in some spectacular new temples to modern art, including The Whitney in New York and The Broad in LA.



San Francisco is perhaps the most creative and modern art centric city in the nation. The urban landscape has 30+ museums, many of which are dedicated to displaying modern and contemporary art. One of the great rising stars in San Francisco is the Museum of Craft and Design, a Gauger + Associates client. While tiny in comparison to SFMOMA, it embraces a bold commitment to works of the hand, mind and heart. The Museum of Craft and Design was recently named the Best Boutique Museum in San Francisco by San Francisco Magazine. And, if you can’t wait till May, you may want to explore the Museum of Craft and Design’s latest exhibitions, Art & Other Tactics and Without Camouflage, currently on display.


The Next Big Thing: MEAT.

The Agency’s expertise in consumer package goods, and client support, brings us to the Natural Product Expos East and West each year. We seek out trends brought to life through a wave of new product introductions at these meetings of granola-head visionaries and all-natural capitalists. Many of these trends go mainstream and become established, while others fade away. One year it’s low fat, another low carb, organic, non-dairy, non-GMO, probiotic, gluten free, and the list goes on.


Last week we attended Expo East in beautiful, balmy Baltimore. We were in search of the next big thing and found MEAT, and not just organic, hormone-free beef and chicken, but processed, shelf stable, “grab and go” jerkies, tubes and cubes. Who would have thought an industry built on a foundation of vegetarianism would have turned to highly processed, salted and flavored meat products, albeit 100% natural. But, there they were in all their glory, more than a hundred varieties – a clear response to the overwhelming acceptance of the Paleo diet as the current weight loss trend du jour.

Other interesting new products of note included vegetable flavored yogurts and desserts, and in response to the popularity of juicing, a plethora of green beverages such as Redwood Hill Farm’s Green Apple Kale Kefir. Perhaps the most unusual discoveries were powdered camel milk and edible (and biodegradable) cups in flavors like Citrus, Matcha and Cherry.

Along with furthering our education in packaged food trends and oddities, we explored a variety of exceptional restaurants while visiting the Mid Atlantic. Our favorites were vegetarian spot, Vedge in Philadelphia, as well as Woodberry Kitchen and Azumi in Baltimore.

IMG_7364IMG_7406In addition, we gained some interesting insights into packaging and display design, and met with many friends – taking the concept of “meat and greet” to new heights.