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Looking Back on ADWKDC 2014

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It’s been just over one week since ADWKDC wrapped up and I’m still thinking about all of the great panel discussion and presentations I saw. Sarah Evans and I joined a few hundred of the Washington, DC area’s advertisers and marketer’s for the 11th annual event hosted by the DC Ad Club and came back with plenty to share with the office. Just like our time at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta a month ago ( see Sarah’s blog post here), storytelling was a big theme. Here are a few tidbits everyone can apply to storytelling that stuck with us:

  1. Make it personal. &pizza co-founder and President Michael Lastoria and DC Brau co-founder Jeff Hancock spoke about their journeys starting and growing two DC businesses that are successful in developing deep connections with their consumers. DC Brau’s beer cans are immediately recognizable by their design featuring the Capitol dome incorporating the DC flag. &pizza spends time in each new neighborhood meeting the local residents and immersing themselves in the local history prior to opening and then designs the location to reflect the local culture—such as incorporating brass to reflect a tradition of jazz music.
  2. Keep it simple. Vinay Shahani, Vice President Marketing at Volkswagen of America shared several VW ads from over the years from “Snowplow” in 1964 to “Feeling Carefree” in 2013 that exemplify that storytelling does not need to be complicated to be effective and connect with your audience. Personally, “Snowplow” is one of my favorite ads that simply asks viewer if they ever wondered what the snowplow driver drives to the plow—the commercial doesn’t even have to mention whatever specs the latest model had.
  3. But don’t forget the research. Kathy Crosby, Director in the Office of Health Communication and Education at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, shared her lessons learned creating advertising in the federal government. With such an enormous task as changing attitudes and behaviors, you can’t just cross your fingers and hope your story resonates; you need to have enough information to take a calculated risk. FDA’s current campaign, The Real Cost, aimed at preventing smoking initiation and experimentation among teens relies heavily on research at all stages to break down barriers to reach the teens who are most at risk.

A great job and many thanks to all the organizers of this year’s event - we are looking forward to having a much bigger presence next year!

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