Monogram Group

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PART ONE: ‘ALLO.

It all started with a phone call one late Friday afternoon, toward the end of another Beer O‘Clock.

(British accent)
“Hi, I’m Lauren Bissett, calling from LA. Do ya have a moment? I’m a casting producer for a TV show called The Pitch on AMC. We’re looking for a few Chicago agencies who might want to appear in an episode next season.”

Really? Tell me more.

And so began a fascinating journey into the soul of our agency. Were we good enough, creatively and strategically, to make the cut? How would we handle the disruption to our work and our clients’ needs? Would we be leaving ourselves open to scrutiny, even ridicule, on a national basis by not being in control of the story?

After many discussions and a lot of reflection, we said Let’s Go for It.

A sizzle video to sell our story to AMC execs?                                Check.

20 minute Skype interviews with each partner and key staffer?  Check.

Lengthy legal documents with a few mentions of first-born
male children?                                                                                    Check (sigh).

Then, waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more.

We heard in mid February. You’re in. We’ll be there in early April to film for eight days. By the way, your client will be Fuller Brush Company.

 

PART TWO: THE FULLER BRUSH MAN.

We spent the better part of a month getting ready. We googled every article about Fuller Brush we could get our hands on. We prepped the staff for what to expect with cameras and a mike in your face every day. We made special flight arrangements to have Chip Balch, our Associate Creative Director, fly up from Charlotte on Saturday, fly back to Atlanta mid-week for 24 hours, then fly back to Chicago for the rest of the process. We even did some role playing, to be able to respond to challenging circumstances from within and from the client.

Finally, The Day arrived: Sunday April 7.

Be ready by 10am. We will film you leaving your office, then walking across the street to get the Brief in the client’s headquarters.

Once there, we met the other agency: Central Coast, a social media agency we’d never heard of. Seem like good guys. Dress better than we do. Then, the client: David Sabin, CEO of Fuller Brush, and his two assistants, Caitlin and Megan.

The assignment: “Create a social digital campaign for Fuller Brush, introducing the brand to women under 45. You must use the Fuller Brush Man. We aren’t telling you the budget. Just give us your best ideas.”

“Good luck. We’ll see you on Tuesday.”

And so started our week of late nights, pots of coffee, boxes of pizza, six packs of beer and bags of crunchy Cheetos.

On Day Two, we settled upon our Big Idea: turning the 1940’s Fuller Brush Man icon into a hipster for today’s Gen X and Millenial targets. Fuller B. Rushman. Think of Ferris Bueller going corporate. Then think of Corporate Ferris going gonzo, but bringing the goods with cleaning tips that enable the good life with Fuller’s cleaning products.

Just go with it, okay?

With the help of two quickly arranged focus groups conducted en suite, we deepened our understanding of the target segments and validated our creative strategy, repositioning the brand to an audience who had no clue about Fuller.

All in a week, including a complete integrated social media plan? Check.

But the energy and camaraderie in the office? Palpable, and at times—electric.

 

PART THREE: THE PITCH ON THE PITCH.

After a week in front of the camera, through 45 staged interviews and countless mike adjustments, we were ready.

We put on our Sunday best (in Harold’s case and mine that meant dressing like Fuller B. Rushman, even though most wouldn’t get it) and marched off to face the music.

We were selected to go first. Love that.

Our pitch on The Pitch went well. Jackie shared our research insights, and I walked the client through the Big Idea and our social media plan’s various components. Harold deftly answered the client’s probing questions.

And then, back in the green room to wait. And wait. And wait. Little signals came wafting in from our producer. I’m getting some hints it may be going your way, he said.

The client is ready for you. After a few restaged marches down the hall and into the conference room, we sat down with the client and Central Coast to hear the results.

An amazing thing happened, said the client. Both agencies presented THE SAME TAG LINE: Live Fuller. But how the two agencies built a campaign around the same idea was very different.

And the winner is…The Monogram Group.

J  J  J  (that’s Jackie, Harold and I smiling and high fiving each other, although we had to do it 4 times to get it just right for the cameras).

After our exit interviews, we plotted our strategy for telling the staff the news (you see, the producers had confiscated our phones so there was a 90 minute delay in sharing the news). We walked back and milked the moment for all of its dramatic effect.

YEAH! WOO HOO! HOW ABOUT THAT! OH MY GOD!

The team was ecstatic. What a glorious, unforgettable experience in the life of The Monogram Group.

That’s right. Beer stories for 10 years, in the books.

 To view a case study of the campaign we built for Fuller Brush, Click here: http://goo.gl/9NsHzz

 

Sometimes being in the brand business has its rewards. Nah, it’s pretty often. You meet some pretty cool folks, and you get to go places you dream about.

Which brings me to our upcoming trip across the globe to visit new client @lebuaHotels. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, they’re one of the leading boutique luxury hotel collections in the world.

Never heard of lebua? You may recognize their lebua at State Tower property. It was featured rather prominently in The Hangover Part 2.

Phil, Stu, Alan, Doug and Mr. Chow: here we come.

Once we arrive, we’ll undertake a total, thorough, complete, intensive and rigorous brand immersion for four days. We’re talking deep dive into fusion restaurants, a rooftop Sky Bar, sunken living rooms, poolside mixologists, Thai massages, and more.

You get the point.

But what I can’t WAIT to experience is the level of highly customized personal service, the trademark of this brand, that anticipates your needs and appears at every turn.

Hello Mr. Markman, there’s an orange robe waiting for you in your room. Mr. Woodridge, for breakfast we brought the mix of local teas you enjoyed at dinner
last night.

But best of all, we’re taking you along with us. That’s right, it’s the #famousnow Tour Part 2. We’ll be on a mission to capture every nuance, every memorable moment and every unforgettable face in our #Livinglebua Week.

So be on the lookout for tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts, blog entries and God-knows-what-else we cook up.

See you next week. And for now and evermore, we’re ที่มีชื่อเสียงตอนนี้

(that’s Thai for #famousnow)

It’s what we do best. #agencylife 

It’s comedy week here and they’re m’n f’n amazing! 

#agencylife #advertising #adagency 

The interns are… 

#agencylife #interns #advertising #adagency 

What would happen if Instagram and YouTube had a love child? That green eyed baby would be named Vine. Vine came into this world a couple of months ago and it has made a great first impression! If you have been living under a rock, it’s still hibernation season in Chicago, Vine is a mobile service that allows everyone to capture and share brief looping videos. The length of the video is about 6 seconds, but those 6 seconds can be ground breaking.

How does Vine and what we do collaborate? Well, Vine has recently spread quickly across multiple brands. Each brand has its own distinctive platform on how to engage its consumers to their products and/or service. Many have used Vine as product demos, behind the scenes footage and as teasers; we all fancy a little mystery. Vine encourages conversations, engages, and sparks a curiosity with the consumer.

Having been introduced to the world just a few months ago, Vine can speak the language that Rosetta Stone can’t teach, modern.  Everyone is reliant on technology and everything and everyone wants our attention. Hence, brands are devoted to present consumers content that is engaging, valuable, and fast.

Brands like Starbucks, GAP, adidas, and Marmite have been key players. However, we have a big contender and his adamantine claws are out to play.

FilmDistrict was the first studio to use Vine to release the first teaser of “Wolverine.” In just one tweet, the trailer was introduced to millions of waiting fans! 

Now that’s ground-breaking!

Tweet us your thoughts @MonogramGroup! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s March Madness time and chances are you already know about it even if you are not a big basketball fan. The NCAA tournament has everyone at the edge of their seats as teams battle through the last seconds to an exhilarating victory or an agonizing defeat.

With most bracket deadlines needing to be filled by tip off of the first game between Valparaiso and Michigan State, the odds of predicting the results of every game is about 147 quintillion to one. Take a second and soak that in…

That’s why we, Monogrammers, decided to complete the bracket based on the team’s branding and logo. Monogram Group NCAA Bracket is as follows:

Chip’s Final Four:

Louisville:  A bold modern font that has style. A classic icon of a cardinal’s head. This spring the birds are chirping.

Kansas Jayhawks: One of the best icons in basketball… The blue jayhawk! Timeless design that will rock the brackets.

New Mexico: The Lobos are a scary team to play and have a logo to match. 

Colorado: The buffalos. A nice stylized logo that has a fresh and memorable look. The “CU” works well inside the shape. Serious sleepers, these guys have a tough road ahead to the final four.

WINNER:  Jayhawks over Louisville.  The classic icon, great colors and awesome chant will have these Jayhawks cutting down the nets!  ROCK, CHALK, JAYHAWK!!!!!

Nolan’s Final Four:

Midwest: Saint Louis Bilikens. Why? Because I had to Google “Billiken” to figure out what the heck it was.

West region: I have to go with the Wichita State Shockers.

South: Georgetown Hoyas. I learned that the nickname Hoya takes its roots from a drunken fans bi-lingual chant at a game. 

East: I’m going with James Madison (said no one ever)

CHAMPIONS: Saint Louis Billiken because I’d be afraid the buddha troll would haunt me if I said otherwise


There you have it!

Your thoughts? Tweet Us @MonogramGroup. 

A company’s logo is part of a company’s branding. With every breakthrough, a company revamps their logo. Consumers rely on the logos as a recognition tool of the service, product, and experience of a particular brand.

A logo resonates well with consumers and can be the element that persuades the selling proposition. Hence, many companies and brands are never at rest, they are continuously reinventing themselves and their logos.

Over the years, companies modify and adjust colors, fonts, look, and feel to appeal to consumers. It’s impressive to see how some of the most recognizable logos have evolved to what they are now.

We took the time to ask our Monogramers their thoughts on these evolved logos.

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Vaiva Rimeika— Art Director

What are your favorite logos from each company? 

These brands have done a pretty successful job in taking the essence of the brand and simplifying it down to a recognizable icon without many moving parts.  

Is the most current logo always the best version?

No, sometimes the current logo isn’t the best version. For example, I think The Windows logo is stripping out what made it windows in the first place. Seeing those four blue boxes alone is not recognizable as Windows to me.

 

Benjy Blenner—Intern

What are your favorite logos from each company? 

One of my favorite logotype evolution is that of IBM. The mirror of the original complexity of computers and the intricacies of a business machine are almost mirrored in the original logos. As the logo has evolved it still maintains its complexity in its new simplistic forms. 

Do we see these brands reusing their classic logos again in the future?

Businesses will rarely go back to an older logo. They are too focused on new, and maintaining the impression that they are cutting edge, that a reused logo represents a step back. Now that doesn’t mean that aspects of the logo will return.

 

Your thoughts? Tell us by commenting or tweeting us @MonogramGroup.

The Super Bowl has come and gone and the Baltimore Ravens are your Super Bowl XLVII Champions.

Our Company President Scott Markman, a life-long Ravens fan, will have you believe that the champion has already been crowned, but there’s still one trophy yet to be awarded.

The “Ad Bowl” has yet to crown a brand champion and that’s why we’re here. I asked the gang for their opinions on last night’s spots and they delivered.

So wake yourself from that post-party food coma and read-up on which brands satisfied our appetite, and which left our Monogrammer’s craving more. 

Scott Markman, President

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The Best:

The BestBuy spot with Amy Poehler. Great writing and strategically spot on.

Calvin Klein. On brand in a big way. Beautifully shot. Couldn’t take your eyes off of the footage.

 GoDaddy spot with Bar Rafaeli. On brand. Shock value for its own sake (what they do)

Embedded Link:

The Worst: 

The homage to the farmers for Ram trucks. Insufferably long to make its point. And, what was the point? Creative as an end game. Beautiful masturbation.

Chip Balch, Associate Creative Director

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Sketchers commercial was by far my favorite out of mostly duds.

For the first 9 seconds or so, you’re not sure what this is for. Then the runner comes in and takes you somewhere completely unexpected. The point and wink at the end is perfect.

Jon Schutt, Intern

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I liked the Doritos tea party with the cross-dressing guys. It’s funny because it was a man having a tea-party with his bros instead of playing football. Also a grizzly man with Doritos in his beard wearing his buddy’s wife’s wedding dress is just hilarious.

I liked the Volkswagen Jamaican accent one also. Made me smile and feel like things shouldn’t stress me out. Oh, and they’ve continued the campaign! This morning a VW commercial ran with a real Jamaican guy going “don’t worry san fran, you still have the most beauuuutiful bridge in deeee world.” Thought that was simple and awesome.

Nolan Marker, Copywriter

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Sorry Scott, but I actually liked the Dodge “He made a Farmer.” commercial. The Paul Harvey monologue was emotionally strong, telling a story that made you appreciate farmers whether you’ve stepped foot in a field or not. They picked a niche audience as their target and spoke to them directly, showing respect for the work farmers do and establishing a relationship with them. It was the only moment during the Super Bowl where all the guests in my apartment shut up and paid attention. It made an impact. 

I also liked the Audi Prom spot for entirely different reasons. The concept is something out of every teenager’s dream. Dad tosses you the keys to his shiny new ride on prom night, and from there confidence soars. Steal the kiss from the most popular girl in school and you leave wearing a black eye like a badge of courage. The tagline is spot on as well (#BraveryWins), and works nicely as a Twitter hashtag. Well done.

So now that we’ve given you our take, what did you think about last night’s ads? Have a favorite? Wish some never aired? Let us know on our Facebook page and take a look at how USA Today scored the competition below. 

Top Ten Ads according to USA Today’s ad meter

1. Anheuser-Busch - Horse and trainer reunited                 7.76

2. Tide - Miracle Stain                                                         7.75

3. RAM - Farmers                                                                7.43

4. Doritos - Fashionista Dad                                                7.27

5. JEEP - Families waiting                                                   7.20

6. Kia - Space Babies                                                          6.74

7. Doritos - Goat 4 Sale                                                       6.71

8. NFL - Deion Sanders returns                                          6.68

9. Hyundai - Kid assembles team                                        6.65

10. Audi - Prom                                                                    6.64

 

 

I honestly can’t say what part of the Super Bowl I’m looking forward to most. Despite a decline in ticket prices and decreased buzz in comparison to recent matchups, we couldn’t have asked for more from the NFL’s premier game. In honor of my favorite day of the year, I’ve decided to list why this year’s Super Bowl WILL be the best in years.

Ray Lewis: Arguably the best linebacker of all time (and in-arguably the best pre-game pep-talker), trying to leave his legacy as a champion in his final game. Not to mention that he’s now (allegedly) part wild animal.

Harbaugh Brothers: Two brothers competing to win their first ring as NFL head coaches. There’s no purer joy than the experience of beating (up) a sibling at ANYTHING.

Colin Kaepernick: An unproven freak athlete of a quarterback, trying to pull off his best Tom Brady impersonation (Replacing an injured Alex Smith and leading his team to a SB win).

Tough Defense: A matchup of two of the league’s hardest hitting defenses will leave many players feeling woozy come Sunday night.

Crazy Prop Bets: Will the coin land on heads or tails? Will Alicia Keys take longer than 2:15 seconds to sing the anthem? Which color will the Gatorade dumped on the winning head coach be? These are all bets that bookies in Vegas are taking for Sunday’s game.

Beyonce: No big deal…Nothing to see here… Just the hottest thing on earth (besides this) as your half-time entertainment.

The Commercials: Being in the industry, how have we not already mentioned the commercials?  Assuming you haven’t seen them all already, all your favorite brands will be debuting airing their best and most expensive spots of the year.

The usual suspects will be in attendance. Budweiser, Go Daddy, Audi/Volkswagen, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Doritos, E-Trade, talking animals, funny babies, and scantily-clad super models.

New to the party will be brands like Subway (and Jared), Mio (energy drink from Kraft Foods), RIM (the artist formerly known as Blackberry) and Sodastream (Alex Bogusky’s return to advertising).

Brands have debuted their commercials online in recent weeks, trying to get the most buzz for their money, and in-turn leaking ~ half of the commercials set to air on Sunday.

Attempt to avoid these commercials and maintain the element of surprise has been difficult to say the least. If going viral before the game was the goal, then big brands have done their job.

I asked my fellow Monogram interns what their favorite spot was from last year’s game and what they’re most looking forward to on Sunday.

John:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/w4M9qja6qTU

Babies are funny. Nacho cheese flavored chips are delicious. What’s not to love?

Ilma:

www.youtube.com/embed/SeChAbQYSOU

Who can’t relate? Putting the car aside, the emotions in the commercial are spot on. Who doesn’t get disappointed when you receive a bad present! Plus, every teenager wants to be the owner of a brand new car, capturing the moment of being purely disheartened was great.

Me: 

http://www.youtube.com/embed/VhkDdayA4iA

Ferris Bueller is a comedic classic and Honda’s spot featuring older Matthew Broderick playing hookie brought back some great memories for me.

What commercials were looking forward to on Sunday:

Volkswagen:

Concept is based on what people complain about the most, their job and co-workers. Not only that, but there’s controversy surrounding the ad already.

Kraft’s Mio:

Anytime you combine Tracy Morgan with any script, its humor at its best.                              

Mercedes Benz:

Two reasons: John Hamm and Kate Upton. Need we say more?

 

So are you sufficiently pumped up yet? Finally looking forward to Sunday? I can almost hear the adrenaline coursing through your veins (maybe just his).

Whether you’re excited for Ray Lewis’ pre-game dances, the battle of the bros, Beyonce, an exciting young rookie QB, insane prop bets or the hilarious commercials one thing is for certain: This year’s Super Bowl WILL entertain. I’d even bet on it.

 

 

 

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Nature Relax is a brand of specialty bedding products designed to let people get a great night of sleep. Alex Xu, a friend of Monogram Group President Scott Markman, approached us with an opportunity to help create the brand for this line of specialty bedding products that he founded in China. The bedding products include pillows and cases, comforters, and bed sheets. These fabrics are treated with anti-bacterial and Aloe-Vera lotion, helping people with both allergies and skin conditions get a more relaxing night’s sleep.

SILPURE, as the anti-bacterial application is called, is a great achievement of research by Thomson Research Associates (TRA) who specialized in antibacterial treatments for over 50 years. SILPURE is a combination of natural antibacterial properties including silver ions and next-generation application technology.

Long before the existence of bacteria had been recognized, silver was valued for its ability to keep contents fresh. More recently, the antibacterial properties of silver have been used in medications for eye infections and burns. SILPURE enabled this fantastic feature to work on textiles. SILPURE -treated fabric has been widely used for lasting cleanness and freshness.

Nature Relax, the name of this specialty-bedding brand, launched products in China and Europe before making plans to launch in the United States beginning in 2013. They plan to begin selling products in the US using mall shopping carts and an online store as distribution channels.

Nature Relax products allow people to be comfortable in their own skin, even if it’s dry or hypoallergenic. With years of research and testing behind them, Nature Relax has sleep down to a science.

Look for Nature Relax products in bedding retail stores near you, as well as online at their Amazon Store.

For more information, please visit our client’s website at www.naturerelax.net

And if you have any questions, please contact Nature Relax customer service toll free at 1-855-2GO-NATURE or cs@naturerelax.net.

It’s been a busy, yet fulfilling end to the final quarter at The Monogram Group. A list of new client acquisitions and work for current clients have kept us thinking on our toes these past few weeks. 

The latest to throw on the orange jersey is TCF Capital Funding, a provider of senior secured debt to lower middle market companies throughout the United States. Their products include asset based and cash flow loans utilized for growth capital, acquisitions, buyouts and refinancings.

They joined the Monogram Team in November, and we’ve already begun work on an advertising campaign for them that will roll-out in early 2013.

The print campaign titled, “It’s the little things” will run in a variety of trade publications, including ABF Journal beginning in January.  The campaign will focus on TCF’s high attention to detail, always choosing deals that fit their clients needs just right.

With a heavy focus on the lower middle market, TCF will reach out to current and prospective small business owner’s and anyone else looking for some finacial help during tough economic times.

Look out for this campaign and more, as The Monogram Group works to propel brands forward into the New Year.

Have a Happy Holiday!

-The Monogrammer’s 

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The Monogram Group was recently selected as the agency enlisted to promote the 26th annual Rita Hayworth Gala, a Chicago fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research. The gala will take place on May 13th, 2013.

As part of our responsibility, Monogram has designed all content to be distributed to promote the gala (“Save the Date” design by our Art Director, Vaiva, can be seen above). The Monogram Group will provide this work pro bono, as part of our contribution towards fighting this painful disease.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan began this event in honor of her late mother, actress Rita Hayworth, who died as a result of Alzheimer’s. Since its inception, over $59 million has been raised through the fundraiser event. These funds, combined with other donations, have helped the Alzheimer’s Association work towards a world free of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala, held annually on Mother’s Day weekend and attracting more than 600 guests, celebrates and honors medical research in the treatment, prevention, and cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The evening includes a cocktail reception, three-course dinner, program, auctions and live music for dancing.

The theme for the 2013 Gala is “Step on Board”, which speaks to potential donors to seize the moment and rally together now to raise money and find a cure for Alzheimer’s. This theme will be accompanied with imagery detailing the glamorous life of traveling by express trains in the past, including event tickets in the form of boarding passes. The evening’s gala will host a similar theme, with staff dressed in train attendant garb and the hall decked with railway-themed accents.

It is the goal of the Gala Steering Committee to raise $1.1 million at the 2013 Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala for the Alzheimer’s Association.

If you would like to donate, please visit www.alz.org/join_the_cause_donate