Success by Design

HOW Magazine
Success By Design

By Tiffany Meyers, January 17, 2008

We’re five years into the new millennium, and the gurus of modern business have at long last decided to agree with IBM’s Thomas Watson Jr., who said that good design is good business. The celebrity CEOs of Apple, Target and Procter & Gamble have carried that torch into the 21st century, leveraging design as a safeguard against the commoditizing forces of the global marketplace. Their stories have been featured in the most authoritative business publications on the newsstands, from Fast Company to BusinessWeek, not to mention in the design trades.

So everyone seems to agree: Good design equals good business. But there’s something about that word, it seems; it introduces a ghost of doubt. Because while CEOs Steve Jobs, Robert Ulrich and A.G. Lafley provide examples of corporate design ambassadorship, one could argue that they have pockets deep enough, and reputations solid enough, to afford taking risks on design.

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Ad Age: Marketing to Women As Your Lead Consumer

Advertising Age
Marketing to women: If she’s happy, then everybody’s happy.
By Tiffany Meyers

Author’s Note: Women expect a lot from their products and services. So when marketers create offerings to meet women’s criteria first, they’re likely to have something that other demographics will go for, too. That’s the premise of this piece, the cover for Ad Age’s 2006 special report on marketing to women.

For all that blather about alpha males, adult men are a beta demo. There are 6 million more women aged 20 or older than males. What makes the 21st century woman a consumer phenomenon is her own deep pockets, born of greater education and clout in the workplace. The rise of the female consumer phenom–or she-nom–merits an overhaul in strategic thinking. Marketers must keep feminine preferences in mind not just for “women’s products,” but for items ranging from digital cameras to beer, that have traditionally been pitched aggressively to guys.

“The concept of marketing to women as your lead user is the way of the future,” says Bridget Brennan, founder of consultancy Female Factor Communications. In virtually every category, smart marketers will put women in the bull’s-eye, not on the periphery, she says.

Many marketers fear that direct appeals to women will alienate men, but the opposite is true, Ms. Brennan says. Products with a feminine veneer are apt to turn off not just men but women who suspect these are watered-down versions of the real deal, she says.

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Marketing to Kids Under Attack

Special Report: Kids Marketing
Marketing to Kids Under Fresh Attack
By Tiffany Meyers, February 21, 2005

Assuming that it’s ok to market to 11-year-olds as if they were 16-year-olds is shocking to some media and advertising critics who have taken up the battle against marketing to kids.

Marketing efforts playing into tweens’ aspirations to adopt attitudes of much older teens are one alarming development that author Susan Linn sees. “The message they’re getting,” she says, “is that playing with toys and not being interested in the opposite sex is babyish and they ought to be acting out in sexual ways.”

Ms. Linn, associate director of the Media Center at the Harvard-affiliated Judge Baker Children’s Center, sees such efforts as part of a marketing maelstrom surrounding kids that puts normal childhood development at jeopardy. The question of whether marketing to children does them harm isn’t new, nor are efforts to curtail it. In 1978, the Federal Trade Commission earned the moniker “national nanny” by calling for a ban on ads to children under age 7, a proposition Congress overruled.

More than 20 years later, that concern has spread to even the most cutting-edge marketing tactic of “word-ofmouth.” The National Institute on Media & the Family this month called on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association to prohibit the “exploitation” of young people, after the association released a draft of an ethics code. Among the institute’s concerns are word-of-mouth campaigns that take place in Internet chat rooms.

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Frugal Urban Drivers Buy Into Flexcar Formula

Advertising Age
Frugal Urban Drivers Buy Into Flexcar Formula
By Tiffany Meyers, June 08, 2007

Price the cost of car ownership lately? Even before you get to the guilt of adding carbon emissions to the atmosphere, car-sharing is proving to be an economical alternative for young drivers who have better ways to spend their money. Flexcar ads urge drivers to “join the transportation revolution.” It’s an idea whose time has come.

For a $35 annual fee, members in 12 cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle, can reserve and use a Flexcar vehicle parked nearby, paying an hourly rate (about $9) that includes gas and insurance. At the end of their reservation, members park it and walk away, giving new meaning to the term “low-maintenance car.”

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Amex: Ad Age’s Marketing 50

Advertising Age
AmEx Members Project: Marketing 50
By Tiffany Meyers, November 2008

For American Express Co., it’s marketing that does good as it does well.

“Having the opportunity to do marketing and do good at the same time is a great feeling,” says Belinda Lang, VP-consumer marketing strategy, who oversees Members Project From American Express.

The online initiative solicits AmEx card members to submit and vote on ideas for humanitarian projects.

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NBA: Ad Age’s Marketing 50

Advertising Age
NBA Playoffs: A Marketing 50 Case Study
By Tiffany Meyers, November 2008

Nielsen ratings are one thing. But when Carol Albert saw a “Saturday Night Live” parody of the National Basketball Association’s 2008 playoffs campaign, “that’s when we knew ‘There Can Only Be One’ had made its way into popular culture,” says Ms. Albert, senior VP-marketing at the NBA.

To build excitement over the six-week NBA playoffs and into the finals, Ms. Albert, 45, laid out a strategy “to focus on the intensity of competition and players’ shared commitment to win.”

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Sicolamartin: Best Workplace

Advertising Age
A Pat on the Back Just Won’t Do at SicolaMartin

By Tiffany Meyers, September 20, 2010

Agency’s Management Style Keeps Morale High by Rewarding ‘Martians’ With Flying Saucers, Cash, Time Off

NEW YORK ( — In ad industry years, SicolaMartin’s average employee tenure of 7.5 years is tantamount to a lifetime. “A lot of us have worked together so long that there’s a personal bond,” said Cherie Cox, president and 19-year veteran of the Austin, Texas-based agency. “We care about each other.”

They have fun, too. Stress will always be a part of business, said Diane McKinnon, senior VP-exec creative director. So a little levity goes a long way in fostering a healthy workplace. “We take the work that we do very seriously. But we don’t take ourselves so seriously. That’s a fundamental truth about who we are as an agency.”

Employees call themselves Martians, for instance, and each of their business cards features a different Martian character.

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Mckinney: Among Adage’s Best Workplaces 2010

Advertising Age
At McKinney, Nice Guys and Gals Really Do Finish First
By Tiffany Meyers | September 20, 2010

Employees Work in a Renovated Lucky Strike Factory Where Involved Partners, Philanthropy and Professional Development Are Keys to Success

NEW YORK ( — If culture is a weapon, then McKinney follows a “no-jerk” policy (they use a stronger word) when stockpiling its proverbial arsenal, hiring talented people who also fit culturally. “We believe that there are too few great places to work, and that culture can be a competitive weapon,” said Brad Brinegar, CEO, McKinney. “The kind of people we work with matters — and we think that you don’t have to be a jerk to be talented,” he said.

“There’s an atmosphere of possibility,” said Art Director Nick Jones. “It’s about, ‘how can we make your ideas happen?’ instead of, ‘here’s why we can’t.'” In 2009, Mr. Jones was lured from a comfortable freelance life partly because of McKinney’s commitment to training employees to work laterally across media.

At McKinney, employees work among different disciplines and get their own darn mail to encourage interaction.Still more professional development happens at the in-house Blackwell School, named for the Durham-based agency’s street address. Courses include everything from HTML5 to “How We Make Money,” a show of transparency about a topic many companies prefer to shroud in mystery.

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The Resurgence of Hand-Made Design

HOW Magazine
A Show of Hand

By Tiffany Meyers

Recently, designer Kevin Grady came across a cardboard box. In it: Some of his work from the early 1990s-and a copy of Emigre 29. Published in 1994, that issue of Emigre featured a 12-page insert by the British collective The Designers Republic.

“I have to admit, I was kind of shocked,” says Grady, Partner of design firm Grady&Metcalf and Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director of Lemon. “When that issue came out, I remember being totally blown away by it. And it was one of the most celebrated issues of the magazine.” (Illustration by Janice Kun.)

No doubt, he concedes, it did break great big swaths of new ground. But in hindsight, Grady realizes that it was also a product of its times: That was a period in which designers were piling layers upon layers of vector art, stretching type, and throwing enormous ellipses around everything-just because they could.

“The typography of that era was very much about itself,” he says. “It was very apparent that designers were just figuring out the computer. It was like, ‘Wow, I can stretch type. So that’s what I’m going to do.’ ”

One turn of the century later, designers have fully figured out every feature and filter. The novelty of the Mac—the thrill of stretching stuff they couldn’t previously layer-has worn off. And in the past few years, they’ve rediscovered the process of working by hand, producing a marked surge of graphic design that incorporates diverse elements of handwork.

Some are using letterpress and silkscreen technologies to produce small-batch or one-off products like invitations, posters, and handmade paper. Others are feeding their handwork-like hand-drawn or painted type and illustrations, mixed media, and collages-back into technology, scanning and manipulating those elements in order to scale up the handwork for large print runs.

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Meet Barbara Turf, Ceo, Crate and Barrel

PINK Magazine
Crate Expectations: A profile of Barbara Turf
By Tiffany Meyers |  December 2008

If not for a few details – the cash registers, the sales associates – I’d swear I was a guest in Barbara Turf’s home getting a tour of the rooms she’s lovingly decorated.

Strolling through the Crate and Barrel home store adjacent to suburban Chicago’s Northbrook Court shopping mall, near the company’s headquarters, the new CEO and I stop intermittently to admire the things she loves most – textiles from India, a French table of solid oak. As in any home, her relationship to these pieces, many of which hold reminders of her family, is deeply personal. “My daughter just bought this sofa for herself,” Turf says as we sink into the Huntley, a couch with clouds instead of cushions. “You’ll have to tell me if you think it’s comfortable.”

Of course, in many ways, Crate and Barrel is Turf ’s home, one she helped build over the last 40 years. In one of the highest-profile succession stories of the year, Gordon Segal, who opened the first Crate and Barrel in 1962 with his wife, Carole, named Turf the company’s new CEO in May.

In one of the highest-profile succession stories of the year, Gordon Segal, who opened the first Crate and Barrel in 1962 with his wife, Carole, named Turf the company’s new CEO in May. With eight new Crate and Barrel home stores up and running this year, including the first international foray, Turf is leading with the same commitment to innovation that’s prompted Segal to describe his longtime No. 2, now the company’s No. 1, as nothing short of a “retail visionary.”

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Woman to Watch: Tara Walpert Levy

AdAge Special Report: Women to Watch
By Tiffany Meyers, May 30, 2008

Friends of Tara Walpert Levy said she was crazy to leave her associate partnership at McKinsey & Co. to become general manager of Visible World in 2005. She had a different perspective: It “leaped out because it was exactly what advertisers had been telling me they needed for the past decade.”

Visible World’s advanced video-advertising platform delivers intelligent advertising — or “IntelliSpots” — that can be swapped and edited on the fly automatically and from any location to reflect factors such as household profile, time of day, weather and programming.

For all the angst about the TV spot’s demise, she argues that consumers aren’t anti-commercial; they just don’t like irrelevant commercials. “The onus is on advertisers to keep commercials fresh, interesting and relevant. Our technology makes that possible, ” says Ms. Walpert Levy, who was promoted to president in 2006.

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Woman to Watch: Annette Stover

AdAge Special Report: Women to Watch
By Tiffany Meyers, May 30, 2008 


Growing up in France, where agency logos appear at the end of TV spots, Annette Stover devised a parlor game at age 10, guessing which shop produced each commercial before its logo appeared. Almost always, the petit advertising enthusiast got it right.

Though she investigated other avenues — including a stint in the West Berlin theater industry — Ms. Stover eventually hit New York in pursuit of advertising. “One well-known headhunter told me that because of my French accent, I’d never amount to anything in U.S. advertising,” recalls Ms. Stover, who’s also fluent in German and studied modern languages at the Sorbonne.

Clearly, that crystal ball was on the fritz. Ms. Stover’s first gig: the legendary Scali McCabe Sloves, followed by posts at JWT, Morgan Anderson Consulting and, in 1997, Euro RSCG Worldwide. In 2006, Ms. Stover rose from chief of staff to her current role as chief operating officer of Euro RSCG’s New York office.

In addition to fostering agency culture, Ms. Stover, 43, focuses on operations, communications and new business. In recent years, she was a key member of the teams that won the Charles Schwab, Reckitt Benckiser and Jaguar accounts.

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