Tag Archives: targeting

RAB’s Erica Farber: A Sound Strategy for Radio



In interviewing the Radio Ad Bureau’s CEO, Erica Farber, my worlds collided: it’s a podcast, but about radio, the medium I grew up in and started my career in. Certainly radio IS about community, but it was still surprising to discover zero degrees of separation with Erica and two important people from my past: my dad and my first female boss, Joan Gerberding as well as a recent Insider Interviews guest and radio aficionado, Carl Fremont!

Erica and I took the conversation from the evolution of radio to the present, to how it’s defined today – audio? is digital radio still radio? – to its challenges, success stories, and current career opportunities.

We discussed:
  • What is radio today?

It’s broadcasting, but Radio is also available on any platform: If you want to hear it on your smart speaker…If you’re sitting in front of your computer or in your automobile. It’s multi-platform and available in any form and full of diverse content. It is a companion. It is a trusted source of information, news and entertainment. It’s available 24 seven. And there’s no cost to access it.

  • The ways everything is audio-focused today – with sound and voice;
  • The power of personalities;
  • Why Theater of the Mind is still key to listener engagement/conversion;
  • How radio served — and recovered from — the Pandemic;

I’ve never been so proud to say I work in radio as I have since March 2020. No one knew what to do…But radio rose to the occasion and stations did what they do best: they put their arms around their communities, consoled listeners and brought some humor and information. …They said to businesses that were open, ‘let us help you communicate to the market your protocols’. How can we raise money to feed or clothe people, to help people keep their homes? We have example after example of retailers who said that if it wasn’t for local radio they would have lost their business.

And yes, host E.B. Moss finds a way to sing in yet another episode….


CMO Kim Wijkstrom: Start with the Brand Story not Silver Bullets



Joakim (Kim) Wijkstrom, SVP / CMO of Vanda Pharmaceuticals, has learned to “Think Different” and have “Lending Done Human.” He has sent little, teeny Absolut bottle-shaped Christmas sweaters to readers of the New York Times, and leveraged Andy Warhol style pop op to promote schizophrenia drugs. A Swede who grew up in West Africa, Kim also opened the Latin America markets for two TBWA\Chiat\Day clients. If that sounds like the start of a good story, then that’s the point.

Because for this marketer it always starts with the story, not the silver bullets.

Kim has developed a “cultural curiosity” from both moving around and a liberal arts degree, which has been a big asset in his marketing career: “I think advertising lends itself naturally to someone who is interested in how we shape and creatively express our worldview, how we understand the things around us, how perceptions are shaped. So, I think it made sense for me to land there. But as it turns out, I’m half a humanist, half of something more analytical. Perhaps I was never going to be the next Leonardo…[but] you figure out the way to take whatever you’re equipped with and put it to use where it is best applied.”

This attitude is also encompassed in his top performing article in The Continuum, the publication I edit about “brand and demand” marketing. In that, and in this follow-up conversation about the origins of his branding philosophy, Kim sticks with the story that brand always must start with the story! The delivery tactics — what he has called the silver bullets – are secondary.

But when you’re talking to a storyteller you cover a lot of ground. We also discuss:

  • How movies are an analogy for Kim’s point of view about storytelling first
  • Why our obsession with technological solutions to everything don’t drive brand loyalty (“You can now have your car tell you that you’re low on milk because your smart refrigerator is coupled with your car, and so forth. But are you going to buy the refrigerator based on that? Do you think it’s a quality refrigerator?”)
  • Why too much emphasis on bells and whistles and focus on demand or performance-driven marketing “offends” him (“Fundamentally, all marketing is for performance purposes… to grow your market share. You need to start with what is it you’re trying to say and why would it be compelling to people, as opposed to just being the method by which you can deliver the message.”)
  • Why even DTC companies’ product is often the story… such as Warby Parker’s design
  • How our obsession with metrics and attribution is not wrong but often misses the point entirely, focused on the ROI, as opposed to just “can you see if it’s working?” (“If people are talking about your TV spot or have a positive reaction to it somehow then that’s probably more important than any sort of little blip of metrics.”)
  • And, just as he learned from hovering around Steve Jobs, Kim offers advice for junior marketers.

But wait, as they say, there’s MORE!…

Kim also explains the story of Vanda, and his move from marketing men’s suits (Perry Ellis) or financial services (One Main Financial) to pharma. He gives an example of how the same story (for a particular drug) can be extended into different spaces, like digital to video without having to be, well, prescriptive! (And, yes, we discuss the challenge of pharmaceutical advertising and FDA constrictions. But check out their innovative approach to Fanapt for insider insights on  how it can still be impactful.) And I finally got to understand what’s behind drug NAMING!

So, how did Kim finesse his own “brand story” – or POV about storytelling? Well, that starts with a guy named Steve Jobs.

“I was really lucky I got to work on Apple when it came back to TBWA\Chiat\Day … and that was the launch of the now-iconic Apple campaign “Think Different.” I was a junior person then, so I’m not claiming any credit for the campaign…but what was amazing was encountering Steve Jobs and seeing the process by which that campaign came about. That was a ton of learnings about what actually really matters. He couldn’t give a crap about ROI or metrics, frankly. …if people react to it, that’s what matters’. And Apple sells a lot of product. So, it’s not like the brand doesn’t work in selling or performance.”

Kim shares the three-point “a-ha” takeaways he got from Jobs. And that, my friends, is how you do a cliffhanger.

So, I hope you’ll listen to the full conversation with Kim Wijkstrom. And if his learnings from Apple aren’t enough, wait til you hear what he says marketing an odorless, tasteless product: vodka. Or, how an MRI machine proves out his belief that the brand is what drives ROI.

Okay, okay, I’ll also share that he says when you DO add in those tactics for delivering the brand story, he’s still a believer in different forms of direct marketing.

 … [But] to me, the point of a brand in the mix is it’s going to amplify your ability to get pull through on those tactical pieces. Because if people receive something in the mail, whether email or online, it’s really easy, of course, to dismiss it and throw it out. If you have a brand, it’s not as easy. They may actually open it. So, it basically primes demand. That’s what a brand does.”

I hope you’ll get some good insider scoop from this episode of Insider Interviews with me, E. B. Moss, and I hope you’ll follow Insider Interviews on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. And let me know if you have a question or suggestion for our next guest. My theme music was composed and performed by the incomparable and Grammy-winning John Clayton.
Thanks again for listening.

RPA’s Joe Baratelli on Doing Good (Marketing) to Do Well



Thanks to Los Angeles-based agency RPA, “We Are Farmers, buh bi dum dum dum dum dum” has become a bit of a jingle earworm. Great awareness and brand recognition for the insurance company. Joe Baratelli, EVP and Chief Creative Officer of the agency that’s been his home for almost 35 years, walked me through that and other creative concepts and their business results. It starts, he suggests, with the mantra of the organization: People, Relationships and Results.

(Note: You can also read a summary of this conversation in the new publication, The Continuum.)

Now, in an era of ubiquitous focus on health, though, the AOR of Farmers and Honda wants to expand its portfolio to include more healthcare clientele. Joe also explained how RPA has started to accomplish that — and did well by doing good for UNICEF and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. It’s heartwarming work and their pillars of focusing on people and relationships definitely shine through.

Sample of UNICEF #VaccinesWork art

If you’re in advertising or #marketing, this is one to save as a download.
Joe and I talk about:

  • How respecting your co-workers AND the audience for the campaigns yields results
  • How they applied that to the UNICEF #VaccinesWork campaign and leveraged our inclination to protect our kids from danger to drive inoculations that protect them from dangers we can’t see. Brilliant!
  • The elements that went into a worldwide campaign and its efficacy in changing minds
  • How marketing #vaccines is similar to…or different from… marketing other clients like Apartments.com, Honda, or Farmers, for example.
  • How DID they evolve their Farmers campaign as times have changed over 10 years on the account?
  • What behavioral scientists can tell you about human nature…to inform creative campaigns
  • How pro bono work, such as for PBTF and the stunning collection of compelling animations they did to ease kids into understanding their diagnosis led to a healthy set of new clients…

Oh, and yes, I managed to sing the Farmers jingle.


JibJab’s CEO on Strong Brands and Floppy Jaws



For Episode 21 I spoke with someone who’s been an animated head more times than he can probably count: Paul Hanges is CEO of JibJab, which is famous for its personalized e-cards and satire animations that lets your head be the star! If you haven’t heard of JibJab you may have had YOUR head in the sand; they’re the OG of digital branded content. It was born in 1999 to brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, perhaps best recalled from their 2004 glory days of being featured on everything from The Tonight Show to ABC News for then viral political satire, “This Land.”

Hanges, who was promoted from COO 18 months ago, says they’re proud of being dubbed the “original online cockroach” for their longevity and survival of dot-com and economy busts. In our conversation he explains why JibJab is still hot more than 20 years since its inception. They’re even having something of a renaissance with the resurrection of their trademark Year in Review video after a six-year pause. (But how could you NOT do a recap of a year like 2020? For Chief Creative Officer Mauro Gatti and lyricist Scott Emmons it probably almost wrote itself! And I’m proud to offer my big head/floppy jaw cut here for your amusement by way of example!)

Hanges also explains the appeal of low-tech animation and their trademark “big heads and floppy jaws,” how they survive as a subscription model and why they walk away from brand dollars if not aligned with their mission – “to make billions of people happy by allowing them to be funny, wherever they’re having that conversation.”

Here are the highlights – but do hear all Hanges has to say in this very “animated” conversation:
  • How it all started – yes in the proverbial garage
  • Why, in a world of “deep fakes and augmentation” the appeal of JibJab is the personalization and NOT to replace reality. “We want to provide utility to help people say happy birthday or anniversary or other big moments.”
  • How personal micro networks add up to eyeballs at scale – and 1.3 million paying subscribers;
  • How they’ll leverage the rights to hits like “Old Town” or Mamma Mia the musical, but why they’ll walk away from 95% ofbranded opportunities;
  • Why politics and JibJab do not always make good bedfellows, but why they participated in the Facebook ad boycott in July to stand up to divisiveness;
  • How (self-plug here) they balance “brand+demand,” — as we promote in The Continuum;
  • The big data opportunity they’re sitting on to be a personalized service for people and how they’ve had to be nimble and “pivot” in their production and platform access.

And of course, for the last episode of 2020 we have to offer Hanges’ words of wisdom from the past full year as CEO to other new CEOs…and how to embrace your strengths and those of others as well. “I take a step back and look and say, ‘we have a very strong operating team that’s working towards a goal of making billions of people happy.’ …And I’ve been really proud to say I can lead this company with that mission.”

Personally, I could not have wrapped up my first year of Insider Interviews podcasts (AND my “It’s Quite a Living” personal podcast) with a better message than to “head” into 2021 with the inspiration of a JibJab to find the humor and spread the joy throughout this holiday season and into 2021.
 Thank you all for listening and hopefully sharing this podcast. I value your feedback and support. And if I can help you create content that spreads joy or opens revenue doors please visit Moss Appeal or write to me at podcasts@mossappeal.com.

Happy New Year!


IAB’s David Cohen with the Pulse of Digital Media & Marketing



When David Cohen joined the IAB as President, the US was two weeks into stay-at-home mandates. While that may have curtailed in-person conferences the industry association is known for, it upped the focus on all things digital. Not long after, the ante was also upped for Cohen personally when he was named CEO following the 14 year run of Randall Rothenberg. Pressure? Not to hear Cohen, who has helmed major agency divisions and had $20B in media spending under his purview during his days at MAGNA and UM. But pandemic-influenced strategy changes? Definitely.

In support of its mission to “empower the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy” – let alone during a COVID economy — Cohen has “brought an unprecedented number of industry captains into their leadership councils and transformed the timeliness of their strategic initiatives.”

Those words from Rothenberg’s commendation of Cohen on his promotion sparked a song from me. Of course. No one is safe. But that didn’t curtail a compelling conversation about more serious matters, such as Cohen telling me about the advantages that came with adapting to the digital world as early as the 90’s and how he – and the IAB overall – are continuing to innovate with today’s current technologies for marketers. I also put Cohen in the same hot seat he put recent panelists in when moderating a Reach Conference talk himself, asking what he would most like to see fixed in our current digital eco-sphere.

Cohen moderating Reach Conference panel

We also discuss:

  • Cohen’s A-ha! Moment – from the Yellow Pages!
  • The lessons he learned after joining the IAB family that every marketing agency should know
  • “Pulse studies” on changes in consumer consumption trends to media buyers/seller polls
  • The IAB’s Brand Disruption Summit
  • How to navigate through your Brand and Demand goals
  • The shift in how digital engagement is being accomplished
  • How IAB is helping in pushing cross-platform forward
  • Like his friend and recent Insider Interviews guest, Carl Fremont, Cohen has a pro-social personal mission. Hear how he — and ANA’s Bill Tucker — are helping push support of disadvantaged children.

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Please share the podcast and share how smart you are about media, marketing and advertising! To reach out to be considered for an episode or suggest questions or a guest — or to have your own bespoke podcast series produced and/or hosted by E.B. Moss — email podcasts@mossappeal.com. We’re “hear” for you!


VAB CEO Sean Cunningham on Why Video “Simply” Works



Sean Cunningham is the son of a radio personality and the husband of grammarian. That may be why he expresses himself so fluidly and works hard to offer clear explanations about the video landscape at the same time. Those personal aspects combined with deep professional experience in the ad industry and as a strategic media advisor help him helm the VAB, the source for insights-driven research and thought leadership about premium video. As its president and CEO, Sean is laser-focused on maximizing outcomes and championing the medium as a must-have for building high-value brands and driving growth.

It’s not easy in our changing environment, but the mantra at the organization is to simplify what is a very complex ecosystem and offer insights that help all those in the business of video to thrive. They’ve kept up a steady pace of conferences and reports even during trying times, even as consumers have made a steady diet of video during these at-home days.

In Episode 19 of Insider Interviews, Sean tells host E.B. Moss about the definition and best practices around marketing with premium video (spoiler alert: the VAB defines it as multi-screen content that’s professionally produced programming in any form — linear, tablet, laptop, mobile, etc.).

Sean and E.B. also discuss:

  • Our radio dads!…and what happens around Sean’s dinner table…
  • The lessons he learned on the agency side that all media sellers should know
  • The role of media in building your brand during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The power of including authentic messaging around diversity & inclusion
  • VAB and IAB – important bedfellows
  • The changes in consumer habits that marketers need to consider
  • How to put your best foot forward to advance a career in this industry.

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Please share the podcast if you liked this episode, and follow Insider Interviews on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can also reach out to be considered for an episode — or suggest questions or a guest — or to have your own bespoke podcast series produced and/or hosted by E.B. Moss. Email us at podcasts@mossappeal.com. We’re “hear” for you!