Brandathon - Brands That Endure and Outrun Competitors. A Marketing Insights Blog by Dongkwan 'DK' Kim

Building Better Client-Agency Relationships

Bam! Work is delivered, so all is done!
Booyah! That is not what was originally agreed upon, so no can do!

Any work between two parties are complicated. And more so when the circumstances are that you are working for someone. That’s why we have project agreements, SOWs, and briefs, and even trails of meeting notes, and e-mails. It’s always good to have everything in writing, so that clients don’t ever, ever change their mind in the end. A spectacular job at that is what makes a true account person, a stellar superstar of client services.

This mentality, makes me sad. It makes me rethink what advertising is all about, all richness and passion forgotten, all enthusiasm and motivation lost.

Walk into a restaurant. You order a club soda and a fettucine alfredo. The waiter kindly takes your order on a memo pad and gently leaves for the kitchen. Then you notice that all other tables seemed to have ordered the meatball spaghetti. Oh, a quick change of mind, you think. But the waiter comes back saying, “this is what you ordered, as per my order form, and you’ve already confirmed when I asked you again.” But you insist, and your waiter says that given the timing, the best they can do is to negotiate half-way between the cream-based alfredo and the marinara-based meatballs (fettucine meatbalfredo). At an extra charge. Quality not guaranteed due to timing.

Now of course, it’s a totally different story when comparing a $15 out-of-your-pocket meal to a multi-million dollar project from your employer’s marketing budget. But the underlying similarity is the attitude.

Waiter’s perspective: 1) Order was taken, clean-cut and simple. 2) Re-confirmed to make sure. 3) Customer changed order. 4) Negotiated to meet half-way. 5) Received extra-revenue. 6) Delivered final product.
CONCLUSION: Extra tip for coping with the mess?

Customer’s perspective: 1) Placed original order. 2) Waiter came back for confirmation of order, as if not trusting me. 3) Market situation made for change in direction. 4) Had to spend energy to persuade waiter to change order. 5) Had to agree to extra costs to meet deadline. 6) Did not exactly get what was asked for in the end. 7) Final product? Not to perfection.
CONCLUSION: No tip to waiter for the mess. Never coming back to this restaurant.

Now just imagine the arguments that could go on in the conclusion stage. However, in the end, the loss is bigger for the waiter. Why? Because the customer will no longer go back to that restaurant. Will maybe leave a few negative reviews on public domains for the rest of the world to read about. Restaurant then loses a valued customer, loses potential customers, and waiter loses job. What next? Restaurant must do 200% better and harder with their existing customers to rebuild their image.

The moral of this story isn’t to say that you should do everything as ordered by your client. This analogy is very far-fetched from reality, and yes, there are numerous solutions to make both parties happy. And I’m not saying that the waiter did wrong – in terms of what he did, he did the right thing. But it’s the attitude I wanted to discuss here. It’s that thought that comes to mind without thinking: “You said that and proof is written here,” “too late now, too bad,” “are you happy now?” kind of attitude. That puts the other party in a very cornered position, putting them under extreme pressure, making it easier to build tension. I’m sure the waiter did a great job of greeting the customer with smiles in the beginning, but he had lost his trust because he did not trust the customer. Even while he’s smiling, the way he takes down those orders, the way he re-confirms all building to this mistrust – the customer already knew what the waiter was up to. So do not doubt your client, but be sincere, honest, and truthful in order to win back their trust. It’s not just business. Business is business because it happens between businesses and the people comprised thereof; and without trust, that relationship will get you nowhere. Don’t be a pretend to do a service, do a service like you mean it.

So, always have faith in your clients, so that they can do so to you as well, and always put the client’s psychological process into perspective, as well as to consider the detrimental damage it might bring to you and your business otherwise.



How to Change the World through Viral Marketing

Great example of how a city in Russia was able to fix its pothole problems on the road. Kudos to

Integrated Advertising Defined

Great video on defining “Integrated Advertising,” from the folks at Saatchi & Saatchi Tel Aviv. Wonderully executed and explained.

My only concern is, in a true world, how many brands can allow for a holistic integrated campaign?

Because in today’s advertising, as brands become bigger, there is no longer the old model of an AOR (Agency of Record) handling all marcom activities for a specific brand. Brands now utilize various shops, whether at the global or local levels, or by medium.

For example, a promo microsite may be given to a digital shop, while the content of its main homepage is given to a bigger digital agency. It’s TV commercials may be created by a hot and rising boutique agency, while its online viral videos by a top notch digital agency. It’s social communications on Twitter/Facebook is managed by a PR agency, while it’s print creative is given to their old traditional agency, all the while the old experiential agency handles all of the retail and POP marketing materials. And let’s not forget all the media buy that happens in the background by the media powerhouses.

So while the video talks about how consumers may begin “conversations” about the brand that add up to earned media, how much of those conversations of the brand happens between the multitude of agencies? I doubt many, or, the more they do, the more they risk losing their competitiveness. Then how can a brand truly, have an integrated message?

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Lesson to Learn: Turn Around More Often

It’s been a while since I last wrote on my blog. While there are numerous reasons as excuses, I think one of my biggest conviction would be the lack of care, or the lack of time. Vice versa. They interpret the same to any third-party eye. That’s what I learned from working in multiple organizations throughout the past few years. And I must regret, that despite my personal goals to keep this a readable and cherishable journey of my views of brands and the world of marketing, I have, myself, succumbed to the world of ignorance and the ever-cliched notion of “I’m too busy to care for the little things.” Apologies to any readers (thanks if you are!), and more importantly, to myself.

It’s been a rough ride. Multiple roles, multiple projects, multiple responsibilities. Working 9AM to 2AM schedules on most days for the past 3 years. Some blame me for trying to do too much (and for doing a good job on given tasks). I blame myself for trying too hard to challenge myself. Either way, looking back, I realize none of it matters. I look back, and realize that everything that revolved around me has evolved. However, I am still here, where I was a year, two, three years ago. Why? Because I was “too busy” fulfilling my duties, where frankly, weren’t my duties in the first place. Meanwhile, the rest of the world were doing what they were specifically hired to do, and that is what helped them move on. I, on the otherhand, despite numerous applauds from those I worked with, was doing other people’s work, not my own. In the end, when those other people receive the hoorays or boos, they move on. End of my relationship with them. I no longer had any involvement whatsoever. I am an invisible hand. And in the end, there is no one left to tell the story of the unconditional helping hand I’ve provided to those in need.

I turned around and realized I was doing what would traditionally be a 4~5 person job. Or more. And that’s what made my engine run – I wanted to help the team, the agency, and the client brands grow further, at exceptionally efficient cost/humanpower. And in the end, for me, I could not be happier to have led on so many roles and responsibilities that cannot be achieved elsewhere. But I turned around… To find myself in the same place I was when I began. All those who worked with me advanced or was let go, and I’ve become a solitary figure.

Yes, there are always great people around, there are always those who will take care. Also, if there is one thing I do not regret is that I always took full responsibility (whether it be my work or other’s), and did my best to provide the best quality work at the earliest possible timing. Yet, what I have learned is that it’s always best to turn around and clearly “see” what’s happening around you, rather than doing what you “feel” would be the best for those around you.



Why Leadership is Pivotal in Fragile Industries


In today’s economy and rapidly-changing market, any company can be fragile. One moment you’re behind your competitors, and one little negative influence that really didn’t need to exist can cause your share prices to drop in an instant. Leadership, thus, has become more important than ever. And leadership, has more effect than ever.

With my recent efforts to land a job in the marketing / advertising / PR industry, I’ve been hit hard with a realization: I should have entered this industry when I had the chance, and I should have had a wider network with professionals in this industry. The job search process has been very difficult for me, as I couldn’t find the right opportunity that would accept my limitations (no agency background, an international, not a New Yorker). But I’m a very optimistic guy, and someone who just won’t give up. But as days turn into now months of hard labor trying to find an opportunity, my level of hope has been decreasing. In a way, it’s been very depressing.

As an effort to really try something new, I decided to contact the CEO of a major ad agency, Kevin Roberts at Saatchi & Saatchi. Didn’t expect him to respond or even reach him. But he read it. And he responded. And most importantly, he gave me hope. He gave me the reason to continue my search, the reason for me to even try harder. He gave me words of wisdom, of encouragement, of inspiration, and, of hope.

That is how one leader can change a person. My motivation to work for the ad industry is higher, my morality is at highest, and I will do my best – not for the prospect of earning an income, but for pure passion. In any organization, one may feel at risk, or feel vulnerable to the amount of stress and work. One great leader who encourages his/her team, can certainly change the way they work, and the way they feel.

So if you are a supervisor, say some motivating and encouraging words to your team. If you are working under a supervisor, respond to him/her with how much better you perform as a result. If you have a co-worker, encourage one another too. Make it a goal to do or say nice things to each other once a week. Pick a day. Wednesday perhaps. It will make team work more efficient, more prolific, and more stress-free. It will make an employee feel at home, feel the inspiration to be better.

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Embrace Life Campaign: Seatbelts

No words are needed. The visual does it all, coupled with the tagline, “embrace life.”

But it somehow feels like it’s directed towards men, fathers, who have families. But any how, whatever the case, it’s about saving your family, the people you love most. The part where the man gets in the actual crash is simply amazing: the glitters, like shattered glass, or like the glitter and love of a family torn into pieces.

What a wonderful piece. Actions sure did speak louder than words for this campaign.

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Dongkwan’s List of Personality Types (and how to approach them)

People have always told me that I have a knack for understanding people. Many of my little moments in life were based on understanding, and penetrating the sweet spots of people around me. I guess it comes naturally from my international living experience across various cultures (Korea, U.S., Tunisia, South Africa, Argentina, Romania). While the United States is one of the few countries in the world with a true mix of such various cultures, my experience so far has been that there are some general global traits in the way people behave and think. Here are just some of them (please, don’t use this in your college paper because this is just a few I’ve sorted, and has no scientific basis – Account Planners, please feel free to contact me should you find this interesting). And please, I have no bias against any of these types (it just happened I either had more, or less to write about). I sincerely apologize if anyone is offended by this generalization of personalities.

    1. The Douche-Bag:

Typically, this is the nickname we give to people with such traits. But the truth is, “douche bags” are actually much nicer than you think. These people tend to act as if they are the “macho man,” the true manhood exposed from every aspect of their behavior – even their stance, and the remarks that come out of their mouths. But these people are actually naive at heart. They tend to have a delicate sense of emotion, but they retaliate such feelings by acting as if they were nothing. And they detest other people with delicate feelings, simply because they think such a thing is not a thing for people like themselves. Often times, this is a result of early education or some point in life where they have experienced hardships for their timidness or shyness. It’s a defense mechanism to overcome their biggest fear, or a lesson from their parents to “don’t be a sissy!” To approach them, begin by being a fellow douche-bag. They will admire you, thinking you are a natural douche-bag. Then, show them that you too, have great emotion, and they will admire you even more, and open up to you with their true self.

    2. The Cynic:

They will criticize everything in their world from how a person walks to how things are detrimental to society. Because of their perspective on the world, they are often times very meticulous people – in order to state their expression of criticism, they will ensure that their own behaviors do not cross borders with such remarks. At the same time, they tend to be jealous of things. Positive things that they are jealous of, can become negative criticism. And they will have logical reasons for such things, and position themselves as the only people behaving correctly. But by and large, these people are… humans, after all. Their words tend to speak louder than their actions. And anything to prove them wrong, they will discover more criticism for doing so. So if you run into people who mock you for making it seem like you’re doing something really evil, simply, confide to their words. Never confront them, because they can argue with you for a long time, and your relationship will never last. Tell them that you’ve made a bad mistake, and say that you’re sorry. That will give them the sense of winning, which they love. But if you get sick and tired of hearing them mock others (which most likely you will one day), tell criticize them for the way they always criticize others. Find their weak spot. Perhaps simply telling them that they should act upon doing something rather than just criticizing can give them a small shot of awakening. That’s their biggest weakness, but just make sure you’re in a close relationship before acting upon so.

    3. The Dramatic:

Well, these people tend to be people who’d you might call a “whiner.” They consistently seem to have problems with the world, and how the world makes them the victim. They think that they are the only people on earth hurt on the outcome of an event outside of their control. Just as an example, these people are the people who go into a deep coma after the end of a relationship, thinking that what just happened could only be possible in a romantic drama movie. Often times, these people have become so accustomed to thinking that they are victims that others tend to take advantage over them through ridicules. Others make fun of them because The Dramatic people can’t defend themselves real well. These people also tend to have a pessimistic view, and often times, fall in deep regret. “Ah, only if I hadn’t done that back then,” are thoughts that often strike them. But the truth is, these people are always aware of the fact that they’re the victims, and while they might appear to be quiet, terse, and having a mellow character, one day, they will explode like an atomic bomb on Tsunami. To approach these people, it’s important to stand by them at all times, and to talk deeply about their problems, and in the end, to give them encouragement. Don’t offer advice like “you shouldn’t think you’re the victim,” but more like, “cheer up. Things like that happen in this world, and the world is a crazy place. Cheer up.”

    4. The Narcissist:

There are actually two types of these people 1) those who deliberately show that they’re the best in the world vs 2) those who believe in it in their heart. I’ll talk about the first instance here. These people think that all else is trivial to the stature of themselves. Things are repeatedly questions about “why would he do that? Why is she like that?” In a way, it’s an unbelief about how things are just lowly as they are. These people tend to have a very ostentatious behavior – not through their words, but through their behaviors. For example, these people would wear fashion brands that have huge emblems imprinted on them; these people will only consider driving a car in its highest class – the class that the general population would know about. (so, tweaking the performance of the car isn’t what interests them. It’s about the name and the make.) Everything has to be packaged perfectly to look good, and naturally, these people are very careful about what they say and do, and keeps everything organized and tidied up. These people are great planners – every thing they do is planned before hand. The best way to approach these people is to make them your king. Whatever these people do, they’re planned, as they are hoped to be acknowledged. So, acknowledge them, tell them they are the greatest, tell them their shirt is awesome, etc. Whatever it takes, just never insult them, and never disorganize what they have created – because it took them a lot of planning and effort to prepare.

    5. The Wannabe:

These people are also known as “flatterers,” people who tend to stick to the leader of the group. They are simply put, opportunity-seekers. They want the best chance to be at the top, and they will ensure this comes by great relationships with the king of the herd. While these people want the greatest, they have a tendency to at times, detest their situation. They are also wannabes. They will try and mimic those that possess qualities they admire or want to have. Because they are always following the pack leader, they feel that they are always second, and not the winner. And naturally, they are trend leaders, or early-adopters. They know right off the bat that something will be a buzz, and do their extensive research on them. They are consistently looking to find such new buzz, because they want to be part of it – faster than anyone else. And because of this trait, sometimes, a bad influence as being acknowledged as ‘being cool’ can blind them from what’s right and wrong. However, they are overly conscious of people despising them for their behavior of sticking (and switching) to the leader or trends. To approach them, the best way is to make yourself the leader of the group. Naturally, they will follow you. Otherwise, it would be really difficult for them to even notice you.

    6. The Conqueror:

These people are another form of The Narcissist group. While some may not have the leader-like quality, all of them for sure have one common trait: the belief that one is the best. Those with extrovert qualities tend to be the leader of the group. They are the people-person. The story-tellers. Those who can hang around with any group, and can entertain anyone. These people constantly want to be praised, want to be complimented. Any criticism is what they detest, and simply cannot take it. On the other hand, those with a more introverted personality tend to believe that they are worthwhile to be on top. They are often times very optimistic, because they know in heart that while others are being praised for, they know for a fact that one day, their time will come – it’s only a matter of time and luck for others to recognize their talent. Either way, if these people aren’t the center of attention, they feel left out, and will fall into a deep abyss of depression and disincentive. To approach these people, make sure to make them the center of attention. Give them all the praise and glory and responsibilities – and if done so, their performance will be greater than anyone else, as this is their natural habitat.

    7. The Rash:

These people are, under natural circumstances, are people that tend to act upon feelings. Thy are often abrupt, and always take into action whenever things come their way. One could call them hyperactive, simply because a small incident can turn out to be something far greater, and sometimes, malignant. But these people, on the other hand, are people who are truly loyal. Should you have a problem in a social situation, these people will be the leader to fight for justice on your side. They are proactive, and are those willing to die to save their closest friends and family. What makes these people really great is that they are down-to-earth, have a ‘straight from the gut’ attitude, and great honesty. But this doesn’t always turn out in the right direction. For business decision makers, this is risky business, as they can be focused on trivial matters and losing track of the big picture. To truly get mixed in with these people, it is best to be honest and frank with them. It’s what they truly admire, and betrayal is the last thing on earth they will tolerate.

    8. The Wanderer (and Wonderer):

These people always seem to live a mind of their own. At the same time, they seem to be curious of all things in this world. They are often times quite difficult to understand – “what are these people thinking?” They come and go like the wind, and there’s no real way of knowing what they are thinking at this right moment. Now this sounds like something out of a quirky person from a movie, but such people who tend to live and work in a more dynamic environment tend to be like this an emotional level – their moods change from hour to hour, and their logic seem illogic. Often times, they make arguments that seem out of the question and on a whole new level. These could be points of trivial matter, but after hours of argument, you could end up realizing their point of view – a view generally acknowledged, but they tackle it as if it was a whole new topic for argument. If in a place that requires a lot of decision making, these people can delay the process, or create moments of frustration. But on the other hand, they can view things from a whole new perspective that have been unthought of before. And what’s quite the most unique thing about them is that they only pay attention to things that they are focused on – all other things in this world are invisible to them. If you want to be noticed about your new hair-cut, it would be difficult to get a compliment from them. At the same time, they might notice a change of color of your shoelace. To be friends with them, you’ll need to understand and agree to their minds, and their own logical structure. It’s a whole new experience, which can sometimes be quite enlightening and fresh. The more questions you ask them to understand them, the better they will try to explain it in a logical format.

    9. The Wiseful:

These people, what could be a mutant form of The Narcissist + The Conqueror are people who believe that they know the world inside and out. They think they have experienced every storm, every facet of life, and are at a heightened level of enlightenment, where they see the world from a divine perspective. They admire the teachings of confucianism, of the holy bible, of the yin and the yang, and how balance is created through tranquility, inner peace, and inner harmony. But part of this is for an ostentatious effort to seem like one, and often times, find themselves contradicting their own words. They believe that every word they speak is like a quote from a nobleman. However, their weakness lies in that once they are unconscious of their wisdom behavior, they act in a total different way that would totally contradict their own words. Yet the greatest thing about these people is that they will continuously develop to become a wiser human being. They will find fault within themselves after regaining conscience, and will remedy that through hard meditation and seeking patience within. And they live to help others make the right decisions. They truly want to help others through words, and want to influence the world as they see it. They believe they have the answers, and often times, can get frustrated when their words are not acknowledged. To approach these people, it is best to seek for advice – the more advice one seeks from them, the more they feel enlightened, and satisfied for providing a guide to their fellows.

I know generalization is an evil things to do, but I just wanted to share some of my perspectives of a common trait I found during my multi-cultural life. People are people. No matter what people eat, speak, wear, or believe, people’s personalities tend to reveal many common traits.

Any more to add? Let me know at

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The Right Sales Techniques

Ogilvy’s digital agency, OgilvyOne recently began a YouTube competition to become the world’s greatest salesperson.

As part of the brief for this competition, they created some hilarious videos on some sales techniques.

However, contrary to such videos, many pitches I have faced were far from these – they weren’t hilarious, nor were they relevant. But in fact, they were intimidating. They were so intimidating that I would never, ever want to go to the same store again, I will never, ever walk receive such a call again. In reality, this sort of aggressive selling seems to be practiced more often, which in fact, seems detrimental to the brand. In today’s world of information, where one can gain the necessary information from a passive method, such approaches are surely overwhelming. While these videos are an exaggeration of good sales in place, perhaps they do provide some good examples of how today’s consumers can be better persuaded.

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