Eicoff partners with the Spark Program

By: Stephanie Sidak

“The yucky, the divine, the best product of all time!”

How’s that for a line of hard-hitting DR copy? Confident, creative - but it didn’t come from one of Eicoff’s own. No, that gem (along with an entire :30 TV commercial about an imaginary product called Smell-a-Vision) is the handiwork of 13-year-old Dominique Jones, one of Eicoff’s first ever Spark students.

Eicoff and Spark, a non-profit organization that matches inner-city middle schoolers with volunteer mentors working as professionals in the city, partnered for the first time in the fall of 2014. Over the course of 10 weeks, two students from Mollison Elementary in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood got a taste of the Eicoff experience. There was copywriting, project briefs, and guest speakers on concepting and development. Plus, with every visit, they were taught a different “skill of the week.” From networking to teamwork to time management, each skill offered important insights to the business world at large.

The ultimate goal of the program is to give students - who might be at risk for dropping out of high school - a source of motivation to keep working hard and to see a future full of possibilities.

The experience, however, goes far beyond merely becoming acquainted with the ad industry and Eicoff’s unique role within it. We, as mentors, get to invest in these kids by providing encouragement and positivity on a personal level. And the students get the opportunity to see the inner workings of a major corporation firsthand - with access to ideas, people, and experiences they likely wouldn’t engage with in their school or community.  It’s a unique connection that they might not be getting from their parents and friends - and an opportunity we have come to truly cherish.  

Recently, we kicked off the fall semester of Spark 2015 and can’t wait to see what this year brings. In the meantime, enjoy the final video project from the 2014 Spark crew... “Smell-a-Vision.”  

A very merry media mix

By: Rob Schmidt

It’s October, and our attention turns to the scary season of… holiday retail. And while most of the heavy lifting may already have been done for your holiday media plan, it’s a good idea to step back and take another look at your media mix.

Here are two important questions to ask:

1. Is my media timed to create the greatest impact? 

You no doubt have the basics down about your primary consumer target – gender, age range, household income, and even where they do their research. And that is all vital information. However, here’s something else consider: Beyond who they are and where they are, think about when is the best time to connect with my target.

The reality is that consumers act differently during the holidays. They shop for gifts at different times based on what they’re buying and for whom they are buying it. (source: Google Trends).







A look at search trends reveals a peak in shoppers seeking deals around Thanksgiving. Categories like toys and electronics are highly dependent on this time period. Products that people wait to purchase – like jewelry – may be better off planning for that procrastinating consumer.

They call it the Holidaze for a reason. Targeting "when" you can make the most impact with your consumer makes a huge difference.

2. Do I have the right media mix to rise above the holiday noise?

If you’re relying purely on digital and social media to reach your consumer, this could be the time to pull out the heavy artillery of television.

Television continues to deliver terrific results for brands big, small, old and new. Adweek recently ran an article highlighting the importance of TV to tech start-ups like Uber, Jet, and Fitbit (“Why Tech Rebels Like Uber, Jet, and Fitbit are embracing Traditional Advertising” September 21, 2015).  With a short window of time to meet investors’ goals, TV helped bring them to the next level.  Whether you are a rising tech star, an ecommerce player, or a product sold at retail, the holiday season is a race against the clock as well. No medium can match the immediate scale of TV.

And while Q4 may be peak season for demand, there are plenty of cost efficient ways to approach your buy. Inventory is out there – more than you might expect - and a smart agency partner can develop a buying approach to meet your goals. Experienced buyers can take advantage of scatter and hybrid opportunities to maximize your budget.

You may have already made your holiday media list, but as Santa would say, “Check it twice.” Leveraging the power of TV, especially during high-demand periods, can give you a strong presence to lift all marketing channels.  It’s not too late to add television to support your marketing efforts and help make this holiday a very merry one.

For more information about how television can help your holiday marketing, call Eicoff's Sue Schell at 312.396.0322 or visit our contact page.

comScore + Rentrak = !!!

By: Amy Bickers

Customers always benefit from competition. That’s why the announcement of comScore’s acquisition of Rentrak is great news for the advertising industry. The merger of these two will no doubt create a more equal and fierce battle with Nielsen. With both powerhouses fighting it out, marketers certainly should see greater improvements in accuracy and depth of measurement across multiple screens.

Video content remains the highest reach vehicle for most advertisers. And with the proliferation of viewing options available to consumers, the need to improve the efficacy and efficiency of targeted video campaigns will remain a top priority for both clients and their agency partners.  This merger instantly creates a second major player that can measure set top box and digital video viewing data to go toe to toe with Nielsen Total Audience. 

While they duke it out, let’s take a look at the ways advertisers will benefit from the combined technologies of comScore and Rentrak:

Targeting Precision - Set top box data offers targeting past age/gender from a linear perspective.  Layering with digital data can help advertisers and agencies hone in on key target specifics.

Insight on Viewing Behavior - Based on target specifics, a combined viewpoint also helps identify where & what content target is consuming.

Growth of Addressability - Based on scale, opportunity to address target via first party matching via combination of set top box and digital data.

Regional Guidance - Assist advertisers in need of identifying key geographic support.

On Demand Measurement - Leverage Rentrak's experience in the ever growing VOD space to expand opportunities and evaluate audience strengths

Beyond the technology itself, a key additional benefit could be the expediting of certain advancements. Nielsen will have leverage to break through the red tape that has been holding back some of their proposed new products.  And Rentrak may be able to fast track accreditation of their existing platform.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a true winner in the battle between Nielsen and the combined ComScore+Rentrak.  We may get one leader that provides state of the art measurement, or two complimentary systems that provide advertisers with the ability to customize measurement and research services to their needs.   Either way, it’s a step in the right direction, and a win for an industry eager to harness the power of data and technology to improve ROI.

Let your graphics do the talking

By: Lisel Larson

Over 30,000 years ago, cavemen communicated through charcoal paintings on stone walls.  In Medieval times, churches told biblical stories through stained glass. Today, we teach our kids how to say dog and cat with the help of illustrations. We put up traffic signs to bring order to our streets. And in our social media world, we punctuate our posts with cute, little emoji’s to convey exactly what we’re feeling.

Visual communication plays a major role in our lives. And as television advertisers, we know its importance more than anyone. The right visuals are critical to our success. So in our hunt for the most powerful ways to generate a response from a TV commercial, we’ve found that all-graphic spots can be a wise way to go.                                                                                         

Here are 5 reasons that an all-graphic spot can be a real difference maker in your marketing mix.

1)  They can highlight your brand’s identity. Graphics are a great way to showcase a brand’s colors, make interesting use of its logo and bring out its personality. Whether you’re big & bold or sweet & simple, you can express your brand's character easily with a matching graphic look. Apple’s famous iPod campaign is a perfect example of how a brand’s character can shine in an all-graphic approach.

2)  They can help tell a difficult story. Many subject matters we advertise are not easy to understand. From complicated financial products to serious health-related ones, certain products and companies can benefit from the simplicity of an all graphic commercial.

For example, this Eicoff-produced spot for Neogyn took a very personal and hard-to-discuss subject matter and made it more approachable.

3)  They’re extremely adaptable. From a production standpoint, an all-graphic spot is inherently easy to change. Swap out an offer. Switch your target from men to women. Make it local. The flexibility of graphics enables you to test different messages without starting from scratch.

And if you want to bring your TV spot into other media – social, online or mobile – that’s easy, too. Simple graphic spots can allow you to generate more content for more places - faster

4)  They communicate without distraction. We’ve all seen commercials where the action overshadows the message. It could be the surrounding environment, the activity that’s happening or even the look of the actors. In these cases, the message can get lost. An all-graphic spot can help focus your attention on one thing and one thing only.

Delia Marshall, VP, Management Supervisor at Eicoff, says, “Eicoff has had graphic spots beat others with lifestyle footage by as much 30% in Cost Per Lead and Cost Per Sale.”

5)  They can break through the clutter. When evaluating your television commercial, you should picture it sitting in a sea of other ads – each competing for the viewer’s attention. A distinct graphic approach can help separate you from the crowd.

In this Amdro FireStrike TV commercial, Eicoff used animation and graphics to stand out visually while demonstrating with clarity the unique killing technique of this fire-ant product. A double win.








There’s definitely an art to creating an effective all-graphic television commercial. At Eicoff, we’ve had terrific results working in this world. We consider it one of the many great ways to tell a brand or product story. So if you’ve got a message that needs to be heard, consider a graphic approach. After all, it’s been a successful form of communication for a very long time. Just ask the cavemen.

Streaming Music - why advertisers need to tune in.

By: Tim Burke

Before I get into this article, I’d like to ask that we all bow our heads and pause for a symbolic moment of silence.



(still silence)

(almost there)

(okay, read on)

I make this tribute in honor of the all too apparent death of the album. Yes, the days of buying an artist’s entire record, listening to it from start to finish over and over and over is nothing but a nostalgic memory.

The state of things today is simple: no one is buying music anymore. Instead, they are buying access to music. It’s Spotify, Pandora, Google Play, iheartradio.com, Tidal and Apple. It’s playlists. It’s “What’s your mood?” music. It’s an app on your phone.

And just like Shakira’s hips, these stats don’t lie. From 2013-14, streams were up 54%, while digital tracks and CDs fell 13 and 15 percent respectively. On a side stat note, vinyl record sales are making a comeback with a 52% bump.








Now, don’t get me wrong. I have Spotify Premium and I love it. 30 million songs on my phone! And from an advertising perspective, these platforms are creating terrific new opportunities for brands to engage their audience with insightful precision, powerful placement and smart timing.

Here are 3 good reasons advertisers should tune into the world of streaming music.

1. Targeting

Most of the streaming platforms have useful segmentation data on their listeners. You can target your audience by age, gender, location, device (mobile or desktop), daypart, and music preference. For example, say you’re a fitness-related brand and have a new product for long-time female runners; you could filter your ad to play only for women age 40-50 who are listening to a Running playlist.
2. Share of Voice

Unlike traditional radio, television or many things online, ads on these streaming platforms are played in isolation. When your video or audio spot comes on, it’s the only one a listener will hear. This lack of advertising clutter allows your message to stand out more clearly and stay longer in the minds of your listeners.
3. Active Ears

When the Family Feud asks, “What’s the most common place people listen to radio?” The survey always says, “In the car.” However, with streaming radio, it’s a much different story. People are streaming on their phones, on the computer, iPads, through their Smart TVs and so on. They are switching playlists. Hitting “thumbs ups” or “thumbs down.” It’s a much more engaged listener. Thus, your ad won’t be as easily tuned out. And your consumer is often a click or tap away from your website.

Yes, the music world has changed drastically. And it hasn’t been without controversy. Taylor Swift told Spotify and their royalty percentages that they were never, EVER getting back together. Nice-guy Beck knocked the audio quality. “It's like watching Citizen Kane on your phone,” he said. And Neil Young, for that same reason, recently pulled tracks from Spotify.

No matter what your view on streaming music may be, it’s here to stay. And advertisers can’t ignore the areas of opportunity that are available. So take a look at how these platforms might fit into your marketing mix. Then, do me a favor. Go buy an album – digital, cd, vinyl, 8-track – and listen to it from start to finish. After all, even though there’s a lot to love about the future, we cannot forget what was great about the past.

For more information on all things streaming audio and video, talk to us at Eicoff. While we may be experts in television, what we care most about are results... wherever we can find them.




Lean Advertising

By: Mike Powell

In his insightful blog post "Lean Advertising," James Hurman contrasts the principles of "agile development" adopted by start-up incubators, with the now discredited "cloistered R&D processes" practiced by "lumbering pariahs."

He then wonders whether this approach could be applied to the advertising business?  After all, “as nice as luxuriating for months in our own thinking up and crafting of a beautiful advertising thing" can be, isn’t that the same mentality the old product developers had?

As I continued to read, there was a nagging familiarity to it all.

Start small, learn as you go, let the market show you the way.

Then it occurred to me: that's essentially what we in the performance television business - DRTV and the like - have been doing for decades.

For a relatively small investment it's possible to test the waters using the power of TV, with its obvious and proven sound + pictures benefits, not to mention its extensive reach. You can test multiple executions, with various offers and insights. Learn as you go. Refine, adjust, repeat. And with the advent of more and more precise targeting, the data just keeps getting richer.

Perhaps the most important aspect to Lean Advertising is letting the market show you the way, making improvements based on actual consumer behavior, instead of relying on "predictive" methods like focus groups or on-line panels; we've learned that what people actually do is much more accurate than what people might tell you they'll do.

Even the notion of a "minimum viable product," meaning an advertisement in this case, is one we embrace fully. This doesn't mean cheap or schlocky. It means finding the most efficient way to deliver the most impactful message, investing just enough to succeed.

So here's to the Lean method. It's today's hottest trend for the start-up crowd. And it's something we've been doing for years. Just didn't have a cool label for it. Thank you, Mr. Hurman.

Source: "Lean Advertising?" Warc.com

What's Up at the Upfronts?

By: Jacqui Singer, Katie Forrer

TV Network trends for 2015-2016.

#TGUAF, ThankGodUpfrontsAreFinished.

For those in the media industry, this is likely how you feel now that the Prime Time Upfronts have concluded. Yes, although informative and fun, the Upfronts can make for a really long week.

The final takeaways, however, are always interesting. The biggest trends this year include greater diversity, revamping of old shows and a giant push for both greater accessibility and transparency of audience data. Now in case you didn’t get to attend, we thought we’d summarize the highlights from each network.

NBC. Sports, special event programming and late-night shows continue to be the backbone of NBC.  Noticeably absent from the line-up are the strong comedies such as “Friends” and “30 Rock” that once defined the network. In keeping with in the theme of “what’s old is now new again,” NBC will bring back “Coach” and “Heroes Reborn.”                          

ABC. With hits like “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” ABC will continue to highlight onscreen diversity while appealing to a broader demographic. This year they will launch “Dr. Ken” and “Uncle Buck,” as they look to hold their position as the network with the most minority leads. ABC also unveiled its All Access Dashboard that allows, “targeting ads based on consumer attributes,” for media buyers and planners, says Geri Wang, president of sales at ABC. She also adds, “This takes television beyond the traditional demographics, allowing for more data and personalization.”

CBS. Calling 2015-16 the “Gold Season,” CBS plans for an exciting year with the 50th Anniversary of the Super Bowl and Stephen Colbert premiering as The Late Show’s new host. CBS will also make a push to bring in a younger audience. This effort can be seen with shows like “Supergirl” and a TV adaption of “Limitless.” Both are clear departures from typical CBS programming.

FOX. “Empire” “Empire” “Empire.” Fox’s midseason break out hit earned the spot as TV’s #1 series. The diversity of the cast and bold story lines has FOX proving that when it doesn’t play it too safe, it works.  In contrast to “Empire,” FOX lost shows such as “Glee,” “Mindy Project,” and in its final season “American Idol.” Hoping to bolster ratings, they’re attempting to repurpose movies and books like “Minority Report” and “Lucifer” for TV. And of course, they’re bringing back their own cult classic “X-Files.”

CW. When something works, stick with it. That’s the way CW is approaching their lineup. Remaining true to its younger-skewing audience, CW will return the existing superhero/comic book series, “The Flash”, “iZombie”,” Arrow” and “Supernatural”. And certainly they’re hoping for repeated success with “Jane the Virgin,” which earned CW its first-ever Golden Globe award. The only new series they announced was “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.”

Overall, the Prime Time Upfronts are a terrific reminder that TV continues to thrive. The networks keep bringing forth distinctive and entertaining content. Viewership across all TV platforms is increasing. And the reach and scale of broadcast still can’t be beat. It’s an exciting time to be a part of everything TV.


TV Audience Measurement: The Battle Wages On

By: Eileen Bousquet

While it may not be as hyped as a Mayweather v. Pacquiao bout, the battle for TV Viewership Measurement is in full force. Nielsen - the once the indisputable champ – has taken a few blows in recent years as technology and available data have evolved. The biggest threat to their dominance is the measurement platform developed by Rentrak.

Nielsen’s data still provides the ratings currency upon which TV advertising has been bought and sold. However, their system has not gone without criticism. On a local market level, industry experts have frequently questioned their sample methodology for smaller markets. And on both a national and local level, the standard age/gender viewership reporting is not sufficient in today’s data-driven world. Nielsen is developing products that address these issues.

Rentrak’s set top box (STB) measurement system may offer an alternative that provides more data in smaller markets. Additionally, they are able to provide audience measurement that goes beyond age and gender. Recently, the Media Rating Council (MRC) determined that Rentrak’s TV ratings are not ready to receive accreditation – but this is not unusual for an initial audit of a complex system. Rentrak will make refinements and the MRC will likely audit it again later this year.

It’s important to monitor and assess all available measurement platforms and data sources. While we continue to use Nielsen as our primary source for audience measurement, we also have developed partnerships with Rentrak and other providers to meet the needs of our clients.

The beauty of this battle is the advancements being made during every round. It promotes innovation and pricing efficiency, which benefit our clients and us. So it’s safe to say, the unanimous winner so far is the TV advertiser.

For more information on this topic, please see the following article:


The Distracted Viewer

By: Bill McCabe


To grab the attention of increasingly distracted viewers, advertisers are relying on more gimmicks and gags than ever before. Consider the recent Rob Lowe DirecTV spots. In them, the “real” Rob Lowe appears along side various freakish incarnations of himself—slick bodybuilder, geek and so on.

These spots are funny and likely got your attention, but to what end? After the weirdness wears off, you’re left with little reason to switch from cable to DirecTV.  So much of the spot revolves around the disquieting version of Rob Lowe that the selling message is subordinated. 

We’re seeing a growing number of commercials—from big budget branding spots to DRTV efforts--that use special effects (i.e. talking animals) and other forms of outrageousness to make people sit up and take notice. Here’s why.  A recent study by global research firm TNS shows that 48% of viewers are checking email, using social media and shopping online while watching television.  A 2014 Nielsen study also found a high rate of second-screen usage: two thirds of tablet users reported surfing the web while watching television, and 49% of smart phone users said they were also online while the television was on.

Television viewers are more distracted than ever before, and advertisers want to win back the primary focus of their audience. Startling imagery, black humor or emotional appeals may evoke surprise, laughs and tears, but they don’t always produce sales.  As soon as the shock wears off or the tears dry, viewers are left with little reason to pay attention—or to think about buying the advertised product or service.

Certainly some television spots are more concerned with brand building than generating sales, and they use a variety of methods—emotion, imagery and yes, shock—to create and maintain their brand.  That’s fine.  What’s not fine is overreacting to increased viewer distractability. 

Those of us in the direct response television business have contended with the challenge of keeping distracted viewers focused on commercials long before the advent of social media and mobile communication—the effectiveness of a DRTV spot depends on keeping viewers glued to the screen until the offer is made and the 800 number or URL comes on the screen.   The challenge of meeting this objective is even greater today.

Here are three options for gaining and keeping viewer attention: 

  1. Use the door-to-door salesperson technique.  Salespeople for an iconic brand such as Avon know that when you knock on someone’s door, you have only seconds before that door is slammed in your face; they use those precious seconds to describe the product’s benefits so convincingly that prospects don’t become distracted or disinterested. More than ever before, advertisers need to do the same.  Trust in a product’s or service’s value proposition and convey it creatively, demonstrably and clearly.  This will work infinitely better than an attention-getting gimmick.
  2. Make sure the spot airs at the right times, on the right stations and on the right programs.  Some spots shouldn’t appear in network prime time.  Viewers are easily distracted because they are general interest viewers seeing a niche audience spot.  The ever-expanding number of special-interest stations and programming provides a great opportunity for targeting, but it also requires tremendous media buying savvy to capitalize on this opportunity.
  3. Test your spot’s “stickiness”.  Most spots these days include a URL, even ones that aren’t officially designated as DRTV.  Measure how many clicks and click-thrus a commercial generates.  You know you’ve lost viewers to their other devices if few people are clicking.  Instead, find ways to capitalize on the devices television viewers are holding and motivate them to respond via these devices.

People aren’t watching television with the same focus as they had years ago, but they also are quicker to spot a come-on when they see it; they’re far more sophisticated than in the past and whether you’re using a scantily-clad body or a bizarre image, they may be turned off by your inauthentic attempt at attention-getting. 

If your objective is only to build the brand, that’s one thing.  But if you want to sell, have faith in what you’re trying to sell.  Believe that viewers who are in the market for the type of product or service you’re offering will give you their full attention if you do a good job of describing the offer and its benefits.  Have the courage to be genuine, to sell without hype or hysterics, and you’ll be rewarded with many attentive viewers… and customers.

Why advertising on Snapchat isn't about to disappear

By: Scott Ballew

This is truly a golden age for TV…and for TV advertising. Over roughly the last decade, there has been more innovation in how advertisers use television than at any other point in history. Only now are some of the most exciting developments coming fully into focus.

One of the most intriguing marketing developments of 2015 is the rapid rise of a new broadcast-scale video platform for advertisers. No – I’m not talking about YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix. I’m talking about Snapchat.

I’m sure at this point, many are raising an eyebrow at this claim. After all, Snapchat had inauspicious beginnings. For those who don’t know the service, it was conceived in 2011 by a group of Stanford undergrads as a way for them to “safely” send risqué pictures and messages to other users. The service automatically deleted the content after a brief period of time – so Snapchat users felt reasonably secure that their images and words wouldn’t wind up online for the public to view forever.

Over time, the service evolved into a bona-fide content delivery system. By 2012 – about 18 months after it was founded – Snapchat was growing exponentially, and outlining plans to expand into video sharing and content monetization. Huge investments from the capital community and even Alibaba.com followed, which further legitimized the company. High profile Silicon Valley executives were brought in to manage the growth and plot its future.

This year, Snapchat opened up its “Discover” series to advertisers. To say that the response has been tremendous is to put it mildly. Right now, ads are reportedly being sold at astronomical CPMs of $100 or more. That’s not just higher than most other online video ad products, that’s more than double what some video ad products can charge, and many times more than publishers can command for banner ads.

While this video product is wildly overpriced right now, just as Hulu was when it first started selling ad inventory, Snapchat is able to incite such a fever with advertisers because it is delivering something that no other online video platform can claim: broadcast scale.

Consider the most popular telecasts from broadcast and cable TV. In the top tier, you’re typically looking at an average of 15–23 million viewers. Last year, if you were willing to pay up for, say, “NCIS,” the show got you more than 20 million viewers on average. That delivery obliterates any view total you’d be able to get for your ads on a streaming site such as Hulu or another publisher.

But now, by advertising on Snapchat’s largest reach “programs,” marketers can hit the same number of viewers as they would by running on the highest rated TV programs. They might even be able to reach more – especially if they’re targeting the 18-24 age group. For years, it’s been all about smaller niches and precise targeting. But now, we are seeing the possibilities of scale and mass reach in video. And importantly, firms are starting to lean into that expanded role.

This will all continue. It may even speed up. Snapchat has already demonstrated that different story types – big news items, cultural movements and sporting events – can all drive massive viewership. And over time I’d think that delivery may actually grow. Snapchat certainly isn’t alone in its ambition. Surely Amazon and Netflix are looking at the success here and planning their own strategies to deliver content on this scale. Facebook and Apple likely aren’t far behind, either.

For advertisers, it is truly an exciting time. And as a TV advertiser, we at Eicoff continue to look at all avenues that can deliver results for our clients. So while it may not be right for many clients and their goals, Snapchat - with its TV-size reach - is definitely worth a look. 


Nielsen, 2015

WSJ, 2015

Slate, 2015