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New Blog Address

The Kilgannon Blog has moved! You can now access the blog from our website.

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Shorter attention spans mean longer formats?

TV is dead. We all know that. We’ve been hearing that for years, anyway, so it must be true. As everything goes “digi”, we hear a lot of conventional wisdom talk about attention spans and eye tracking and the ever-measurable click-through.

But as a creative and an instructor at the local ad school, trying both to do right by my clients’ needs, and to guide my students to push past further than today’s business realities allow, I can’t help but notice that what still gets the most “buzz” are conventional pieces that look a lot like TV.

Some clients hear the death knell of TV blowing through the pop biz books, and are relieved. While TV spots give brands the legitimacy and prestige they clamor for, they are also seen as a tremendous drain on the ad budget– which they are. TV costs money. Media costs money. Talent costs money (and I don’t just mean the monkeys in front of the camera). Despite what that guy at the cocktail party in the black turtleneck says, YouTube and Red Cameras do not mean good quality TV gets a whole lot cheaper. Then the obvious question is Why produce TV when Twitter costs literally $0? I’m not going to answer that, because I respect you.

So TV moves to the Web. It gets longer. Or shorter. But mostly longer. (I was shown a study yesterday claiming the ideal length for online video is between 30 and 90 seconds. Content is a little in the grey area, but for optimum ROI, there is apparently a running time.)

This month, the world went crazy for Nike’s World Cup spot. As of Sunday night, in less than three weeks, more than 12 million people had watched it on YouTube alone. I have it on good authority it’s the spot that both the agency and the client are going to put down as their crown jewel for the year. Though personally, as I’m not much of a futbol fan but I am a giant nerd, I’m partial to Adidas’s work that launched last week just in time for kickoff. Both the Nike and Adidas spots are over two minutes, and clearly cost a boatload of money. And I don’t hear anybody complaining about attention spans, and I’ll bet come awards season, we’ll be seeing them again.

Can you do awesome long format video that doesn’t require the expense of David Beckham sitting down with Greedo at George Lucas’s house? Sure. As kinetic and absorbing and “spectacular” as the Nike spot is, I was much more moved by the 12 minutes I spent with Mother’s Docu-sponsory™ (I’m coining that) for Stella beer,  UP THERE.  It’s beautiful, moving, and probably cost what 2 seconds of the Nike spot cost. And it made me thirsty.

Here at Kilgannon, the agency recently produced some long-format work for Manheim. You can see it here, and you can read a much better explanation of it here. We’re pretty proud of it, and we think it’ll pull pretty hard for them. And as I sit here typing this, I’m looking at casting tapes for a TV spot. Yes, an actual TV spot that will run on that black rectangle in your living room. It’s not dead yet.

— Devon Suter, VP, Group Creative Director


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The United States of Analytics Test

Everyone seems to agree these days that having a handle on the numbers helps you more effectively manage an activity. In my earlier life as a practicing CPA, I was amazed by how few people had a handle on their own personal analytics. They didn’t know the amount of their net-of-tax income; the amount of their annual household expenses; their debt-to-income ratio; or their marginal or effective income tax rates. Needless to say, the people who didn’t know these metrics tended to have expenses in excess of their revenue and ended up financing their lifestyle with a high debt-to-income ratio.

This causes me to reflect on whether the average taxpayer has a handle on the metrics of their own country, so let’s have a test to see how well you know your own country’s metrics before you enter the voting booth. (answers below)

  1. GDP: What is the annual GDP of the USA? All measurement really starts here. We gauge our booms and recessions by how this number is growing (or shrinking). It shrank by 2.3% last year, and the private industry shrank a staggering 23% in investment spending. The good news is that the GDP has been growing the last couple of quarters, and we are still the big dog, as our GDP is three times the size of China’s (but they are gaining fast).
  2. Annual Government Expenses: How much do the folks in Washington spend? This year it is projected to be a staggering 26% of GDP, one-fourth of our entire nation’s output (a record high).
  3. Annual Government Revenue: Whoops! This figure is a lot less than what we spend. That generally spells trouble for individuals (or small nations like Greece). The gap between this and our expenses is called our annual deficit.
  4. Annual Deficit: Ouch! It’s the biggest it has ever been, and it’s a whopping 9.7% of our annual GDP.  Expenses are 166% of our income.
  5. Federal Debt: Yikes! I hope this has a teaser rate and is interest only. It is 89% of our annual GDP and six times our annual revenue. That is $41,000 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. Can you say overleveraged?
  6. Debt Held by Foreigners: Hmmmm… It is 23% of our GDP and more than our annual revenue. That can’t be good.
  7. Unfunded Liability for Social Security and Medicare: If you were a private company doing this, ERISA would put you in the slammer and throw away the key. It is $130,000 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. We have promised retirement pensions and health-care insurance to everyone, taxed them for it, and have no way in the world to pay for it.


  1. $14.5 trillion estimate for 2010
  2. $3.5 trillion estimate for 2010
  3. $2.1 trillion estimate for 2010
  4. $1.4 trillion (you just need to be able to subtract to get this one right)
  5. $12.9 trillion current estimate
  6. $3.4 trillion current estimate
  7. $39.2 trillion ($5.1 trillion for Social Security and $34.1trillion for Medicare)

So, how did you do? If you couldn’t answer these questions, you might want to consider my initial premise that it’s hard to manage an activity if you don’t pay attention to the metrics. If you want a handy URL to keep track of the figures, the U.S. Debt Clock has most of them.

Mike Reineck, Principal


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Passion: Food for Thought

I was checking out “60 Minutes” online the other day. After enjoying the much-anticipated Conan O’Brien interview, I saw another story that caught my eye. This one was about Chef Josè Andrès. Chef Andrès is world-renowned for his avant-garde approach to cuisine and is regarded as the father of molecular gastronomy. Being a foodie, I was instantly intrigued.

From the first phrase that came out of the chef’s mouth, I could tell there was something different about him. He spoke with such respect and child-like curiosity about everything about his profession, from the simplest of ingredients to the science behind the discipline of cooking itself. I found myself completely engaged just listening to him talk about something as simple and seemingly inconsequential as a pineapple.

It wasn’t even really what he was saying, it was the way he was speaking about his craft. You could just feel his commitment to making sure people have fun with his food and, more importantly, experience food in an entirely different way. He is an innovator, an innovator whose vehicle just so happens to be food.

After watching his story, I started thinking. What is the common thread that runs through innovators of any industry? It’s quite simply passion. Passion for what you do and passion for what you make. It’s not just about making “stuff.” It’s about breaking things down to their simplest form and building them back up in new and unusual ways. And you do this, not because you have to, but because it’s a part of you and because you couldn’t picture yourself doing anything else.

Passion not only applies to four-star chefs, it applies to everyone and everything. Whether you’re a multinational corporation talking about your brand to the masses or a janitor who swells with pride over the cleanest floors in town, passion leads with a higher purpose. I dare you to not feel good after hearing someone passionately talk about what they do. It’s nearly impossible. That’s because enthusiasm is infectious. It opens the mind to rethinking things it may have thought it had all figured out.

Passion gives an invigorated point of view.

Passion drives its possessor.

And passion, ultimately, inspires its audience.

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Is Your Company a Thought Leader? Take the Test.

Your company may be an industry leader, but not necessarily a thought leader.  According to commentator Elise Bauer, a distinguishing characteristic of a thought leader is “the recognition from the outside world that the company deeply understands its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader marketplace in which it operates.”

Does your company measure up?  Here’s a quick test to help you determine whether or not your company is a thought leader:

  1. Are company executives being tapped for speaking opportunities on a regular basis?
  2. Do reporters call executives at your company for a comment when they are writing a trend article?
  3. Are executives at your company asked to contribute bylined articles to industry publications?

If your company has not reached “thought leader” status yet, here are six steps you can take to help achieve that goal:

  1. Generate white papers.  A white paper is an informative piece, designed to educate a reader about a solution to a problem or to introduce new technology, innovations or products.  A white paper should include third-party research results, statistics and endorsements, wherever possible, and be limited in the number of company references.
  2. Develop and circulate case studies.  Case studies demonstrate experience and can be a very powerful sales tool.  Design your case study format to address the problem, challenges faced and solution your company provided.  Include photos, if possible.
  3. Write bylined articles. Make a list of industry trade publications, and contact the editors to determine guidelines for submitting bylined articles.  After an article appears, market it via your Web site, in sales materials, at trade shows, etc.
  4. Set up a speakers’ bureau. Make a list of local business meetings and national industry events where you want to have a presence.  Obtain the “call for speakers” information for each show.  Consider co-presenting with a client or another industry leader to increase your odds of being selected.
  5. Establish relationships with local business media. Regularly send local business reporters newsworthy information about your company.   Take key reporters out to lunch once in a while and stay in contact with them.  A good way to do this is to send an e-mail or leave a voice mail with a comment about a story they’ve written.
  6. Submit op-ed pieces and letters to the editor. Read your local paper on a daily basis.  Look for opportunities to submit a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece.

Establish a plan, set up a reasonable timeline and stick to it.  The payoff will be worth it.  Not only will the exposure help your company’s bottom line, but you are likely to see a boost in company morale and an increase in the number of qualified employee candidates in the pipeline.

— Debbie Dryden, VP Thought Leadership


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Big Presentations….WTF?

Have you ever been really nervous before or during a big presentation?  I mean WTF; that’s Why The Fear, to my texting buds following along.  What is it about “presenting” that causes the um… sweaty palms, um…tremors and the um…stttutttterrring?

Was your preparation substandard?  Doubtful.  If you’re a nervous presenter, you’ve likely rehearsed and know your material inside and out, so that shouldn’t be the problem.

Are you afraid of being judged by the audience, who are likely your peers and/or clients?  Possibly, but remember that your peers are in your corner and have been there before, and your clients hired you for the expertise you’re about to expound.  Own it.

Maybe you’re afraid of being put on the spot without an answer, like Miss Teen South Carolina.

Or how about thinking you’re prepared, but just a little too nervous, like this best man.

Perhaps really flubbing up over and over and over, like this broadcaster.

Yikes.  Colossal blunders, don’t you think?  But guess what.  Each presenter survived to present again, so relax, and thus the moral of the blog.  You will survive.

If you were reading this for tips or tools to be a better presenter, you’re reading the wrong article.  But the next time you’re preparing for your big presentation, maybe you’ll smile, think WTF, and remember it could be worse….well, hopefully, for your sake.

— Gary Sayers, Account Director


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iPhone Junkies Unite!

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...
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As a relatively new member of the seemingly elite “I own an iPhone” club, I am still discovering the joys (and challenges) of owning such a life-changing device. And no, I do not think “life-changing” is an overstatement — buy one, you’ll see. On a daily basis I am uncovering the hottest apps, pushing my personal status updates across various networking sites, reading news feeds about the economy’s latest mishap, downloading music, purchasing movie tickets…the list goes on. This thing has integrated itself into my life beyond the realm of a typical cell phone, and I may be slightly obsessed. However, it wasn’t until recently, when a friend encouraged me to read this article from the Huffington Post, that I realized “obsessed” may be a slight understatement. Seven words in, and I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty: iPhone Turns Users Into Junkies, Study Finds.

My initial reaction to the piece was to put up my defenses. Erroneous! I’m no junkie, no addict! But as time passed and I rattled off reasons to justify my “non-addiction”, I began to feel unconvinced. You see, I am one of those users you frown upon as I navigate the aisles of Publix with one hand on the cart, the other furiously typing away. I’m one of those users who sits down to watch a previously recorded television show, yet always has one eye on that little handheld screen. And though I am strongly opposed to texting while driving, I still get excited to hear that little beep en route, and upon putting the car in park sprint into response mode at full speed ahead. And these are just a few examples. So, I have finally come to terms with and accepted the reality of my situation: My name is Beth, and it is quite possible that I am an iPhone junkie.

But is that necessarily a bad thing? I must believe that I am not the only, nor even the first, to ultimately accept and embrace being eternally bound to a piece of plastic with internet access. The evidence is clear in what so many businesses are doing these days to promote their brands to “addicts” like me. I’m not watching live television like I used to, and skipping commercials as a result. My eyes and attention are glued to the screen, and not to your indoor signage all over the MARTA cars. I’m not surfing the Web and reading banner ads as traditionally as I used to. But, it doesn’t mean I’m not getting exposed to the same product information and messaging as those who are.

For example, I can’t play a game on my phone without first seeing a screen advertising Tim Burton’s new movie, or the hottest shoes to hit the courts since Air Jordans. Searching for a simple dinner recipe prompts my phone to ask me if I want to download The Food Network mobile app or receive 10% off a Martha Stewart cookbook. Companies big and small are making moves to embrace the reality that many of their best consumers are part human, part smartphone. Their marketing efforts are tailored to reach us mobile addicts in a variety of ways; and though I cannot quote anything verbatim, I know there is research out there to prove their efforts are paying off. Each day I discover new and interesting things on this device, and each day I am exposed to new and interesting methods of advertising. The possibilities are infinite.

I applaud the brands that have gone the extra mile to make their advertising more mobile-friendly, and challenge those who have not gotten there quite yet to also embrace this reality and tailor their efforts accordingly. There is still plenty of room on the bandwagon; we hope you’ll join us soon!

— Beth Madigan, Account Executive


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