I have been working on a project that’s been very special and important not only to me, but to my Nonna and family. It’s definitely been a long-time coming, but Nonna is finally a published author!
I was sitting in her kitchen and she began telling me about how she had a written a short story. She told me how it was one of her dreams to publish a children’s book but that because she didn’t know English and never got an education, she wasn’t sure if it would ever happen.
If there’s one thing my Nonna has taught me, it’s to never give up.
After some research, I found that authors could self-publish on Amazon and that’s when it all began. I took her short story, translated it and published it! Today she has two books, a short story about a bunny named Giacomino (translated to English) and a book of poems she’s written (still in Italian), with a third on the way!
I’d also like to give a big thank you to my friend and wonderful designer, Ebony Walton, for her time and creativity in helping design my Nonna’s book of poems, “Poesie di Grazia Passalacqua.”
Thank you in advance to anyone who purchases and reads Nonna’s story or poems; we truly appreciate you!
I saw the post, sent a text to the number, had a conversation with a chatbot, added the person who runs the McDonald’s account to my contact list, downloaded the app, and bought a 20 piece McNugget and 3 Szechuan Sauces (The maximum amount I could add to my order). Why? To try the sauce!
Okay, there was more to it than just wanting to try the sauce.
I did want to try the sauce, but I was more interested in the feedback loop they created using the buzz of a re-released dipping sauce- Szechuan Sauce.
Mcdonald’s has always been a brand whose marketing fascinates me. No matter what plan they have, it’s always perfectly executed. When I found out they were re-releasing Szechuan Sauce, I knew that each part of this campaign would have a specific purpose.
They began by hinting that we should be paying attention because something new was about to happen. With a brand as large as Mcdonald’s and a tool like the internet, it was certain that this would generate some attention.
Then came the post. I saw it on Facebook first. Mcdonald’s shared a post that asked the public to text the number of “The person who runs the Mcdonald’s account” and ask about the sauce drop.
By this point, people are excited, they want the inside scoop. But not only are they excited, but they are also impatient- it’s human nature. So we text the number and hope we receive answers.
Immediately upon texting the number, you are enrolled in their SMS marketing.
Next, they keep you in this conversation with a chatbot for a couple of days before they finally give you the answer. Why? I believe they did this to get the consumer used to receiving texts from the brand. Had they provided you with the answer immediately, you could’ve easily opted out directly afterward. People are generally lazy, in a bout of excitement we texted the number, a couple of days later,
“Meh, it’s fine the texts are whatever at this point.”
This allows them to constantly keep their brand top of mind, to a consumer who is interested in their product, in a place, unlike their email, that they check every single day- their messages app.
Fast forward a few days, they finally let you know what the sauce is and you can purchase it. But there’s a caveat. The sauce can only be purchased through the Mcdonald’s App.
One of the most difficult things for a company to do is convince people to download their app. An app has to provide significant value for one to even consider using cellphone storage to download them. But McDonald’s tapped into the human brain once again. They made a valuable item available for a limited time only, thus creating a sense of urgency.
“If I don’t download the app, I might never get to try this sauce again.”
And now, the app has been downloaded.
The McDonald’s app had 2.2 million downloads in February, according to an article by Adweek.
Each step of this campaign allows the McDonald’s team to:
Continuously stay top-of-mind through their text messages,
Generate Sales in a simple and convenient way through their app and
Create feedback loops that help them improve their product and services through their social media channels, tracking an increase in app downloads, and tracking the opt-ins, or outs, of their SMS messages.
Overall, I would say this campaign was a win and definitely a campaign that I learned from.
Content creators are constantly trying to work Instagram’s algorithm in their favor, but when it comes down to it, no matter how many changes Instagram makes the answer is always “create valuable content that resonates and you will reap the rewards.”
Last Wednesday, March 23, 2022 Instagram launched its new feature allowing users the option to scroll through three separate feeds. The first feed is Instagram’s default, which users have been using for the past several years. The second is the user’s “Followers” feed and the third is their “Favorites” Feed.
How does one get to the second and third feed? By tapping on the Instagram logo in the top left corner. Tapping will provide you with the following two options “Following” and “Favorites”.
By tapping on “Following” the user will be taken to a feed set in reverse chronological order (throwback to early IG days) of posts by accounts they follow.
SideBar: I’ve spent several minutes scrolling through this feed and did not come across a single ad. If you are advertising on Instagram, be aware because that’s one less impression right out the gate.
By tapping on “Favorites” the user can select up to 50 accounts and curate an Instagram feed based on those 50 accounts they selected.
So, what should brands, content creators, social media managers, digital strategists, etc, etc, take away from this latest IG update?
There are two variables at play here, Instagram users- those who dictate which content is good, and Instagram content- what’s being judged by the Instagram users. If you are working for a brand, put yourself in your follower’s (Instagram user’s) shoes. The follower likely categorizes the accounts they follow into three categories:
If users adopt these new feeds in the next couple of years, the Instagram user will likely select friends/family as part of their 50 favorites, some influencers and some businesses. The rest will be excluded. When they are scrolling through their “Followers” Feed, the time of day that your content is posted will become increasingly important as the feed, as mentioned earlier, is in reverse chronological order. The upside to the reverse chronological order feed is that your organic content will have a higher chance of being seen.
With that being said, it has become more important than ever to truly understand your audience and make sure that your content is offering them value, is engaging and is timely because the competition just became increasingly high.
With all of the changes that happen in the digital world, a question I frequently have to answer is, “Which metrics should we track to ensure good performance?”
Through conferences, forums and Google, I realized that I’m not alone. Metrics are constantly swirling in the minds of digital strategists everywhere.
So, I thought to myself, why not list a few of the metrics that I keep up with for my clients and the reasons why in hopes that it may help someone else. And who knows, maybe it can spark up a conversation between social media/PPC gurus about which metrics are 10/10 and which are just fluff.
If you are interested in my opinion on which metrics to track and why, read on! And if you think something is missing, please let me know, as I am always looking to learn!
Page Likes or Followers:
You will hear many people say that page likes and follower count don’t matter. I believe in a balance. The argument is that the amount of followers or page likes you have doesn’t matter if they aren’t engaging with your content. It’s the whole “quality over quantity” argument. And I agree, however, I disagree when someone says that they “don’t matter”. Tracking Page Likes/Followers is important if you are trying to grow your brand. Ideally, you would like to see these numbers increase month over month. However, you want to see this happen organically. Keep in mind who the client is and monitor the engagement that their content receives so that you can adjust accordingly.
This metric is calculated through the following formula: Total engaged users/Total Reach. The benefit of knowing your account’s engagement rate is knowing whether or not the content is resonating with its audience. If the engagement rate is high, then great. If it’s on the low side it may be time to make some changes.
The caveat when it comes to this metric is that it can be difficult to find the variables needed to calculate it. For example, the formula I use to calculate engagement on Facebook is Lifetime Engaged Users/Lifetime Post Total Reach and there are several steps I have to take to find these two numbers.
To simplify the process of calculating this number across multiple accounts and platforms, I use an online tool.
This metric applies to the PPC side of the digital world. The click-through rate, or CTR, of a digital ad, is the percentage of users who click on the ad divided by the number of times the ad is seen. Depending on the industry that you are working with, you can typically find the average click-through rate for that specific industry on the specific platform that you are advertising for them on and use it as a benchmark. When evaluating my client’s ads, I consider a CTR above their industry’s average to be good, and anything below average needs some adjusting. I find this metric particularly valuable in A/B testing, as it’s a good indication of which message is resonating most with the client’s target audience.
Cost Per Click:
Cost per click is the monetary value of a user clicking on your ad. If your ad’s CPC is $1 and the ad gets 200 clicks in a month, you owe $200 to the platform that you are advertising on. There are a few reasons why keeping track of this number is important.
The first is because this number determines whether or not you will hit your budget or go over budget. The second is because when analyzed holistically with the other metrics of the ad, and especially in comparison to ads that are being A/B tested, you can determine whether the ad itself is worth continuing. For example, if one ad has a lower CPC and it also has a higher CTR, it may be safe to assume that that ad is working better than the other. Why? Because more people are clicking on your ad for a cheaper price. Third, a high CPC may indicate that there is more competition.
Again, these are just a few of the metrics that I find valuable in tracking for my clients. If there are any others you think should have made the list, please let me know in the comments and maybe we can start up a conversation!
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to type a blog that I felt comfortable publishing. Today, I realized that it was because I’ve been scared to. So much of my life has changed since my last post.
I’ve been out of school for a year and a half. I’d gone from writing long-form content every week about my life and interests, to writing very different content for my clients every day. Don’t get me wrong; this is in no way a negative situation, I love having the opportunity to be the voice of so many different industries, all within the field of work that I chose to be in but there came a point where I began to doubt my abilities. I began to wonder if it was possible to have lost the ability to simply write for fun.
Was that a foolish fear? Maybe. But either way, I was feeling it until just now.
I think it’s because of something I overheard my Nonna tell my brother today. for context, they were talking about his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
“Massimo, you can’t be afraid. You just have to be brave and do it sometimes,” she said.
I know that this is a common mentality and a common motivational sentence, but it felt different hearing it come from someone you love (and not directed at you) rather than from a GaryVee Instagram Reel.
So here I am facing the imposter syndrome and publishing this to my blog.
Remember my first move-in day? About 15 members of my family showed up. Two cars packed to brim. Crossing Paul Hardin dr. with a mini-fridge and stacks of boxes filled with clothes. It was raining. The room was more spacious than I thought it would be. My roommate, Kristen, showed about two hours into the move, with her mom, dad, and sister. We met on Facebook, but this was our first in-person interaction it went very well. Hardin Dorm, my first home away from home.
Remember that day on the first floor of the Student Union? I was sitting with my friend Phipps from high school. She introduced me to Anna. She said, “both of you listen to Justin Bieber, you should be friends.” And we still are to this day.
Remember my countless trips to advising, trying to figure out what I wanted to major in?
Remember when I stood in line for hours with my new friend Ezra to see former President Obama speak in Hooker Fields. How once we got inside we got stuck in a mass of people under the scorching hot sun? How they began passing around little cups of water for us to take a sip to keep us from passing out?
Remember the 2017 National Championship and the rush to Franklin. How Anna and I got lost in riot Tar Heels?
Remember all the amazing people I met the first year?
It’s my second year…
Remember meeting the late Dr. Rial, former geophysics and climatology professor. I wanted to combine my interests in geology and communications so I joined his project NARNEA. A model for a renewable energy system. I started out looking for journals to publish the transcript in and then began conducting my own research on the project with my research partner Ava.
Remember how that moment with Dr. Rial, led me to present our research to science professionals at national conferences in Florida and Washington DC? Even giving Ava and me the opportunity to host our own seminar at a conference.
Remember those nights I’d sit in our apartment living room and talk to Jaylyn and Idalis for hours. They are two of the brightest and most thoughtful people I know. I’m so glad to have them in my life.
Remember when I was sitting in MEJO 153, writing and reporting. I didn’t know it yet, but I was sitting next to someone who was going to become one of my closest friends. Her name is Nora, our first assignment was to write a feature story to present to the class. At the end of the class she turned to me and said “so should we be friends now?” I said, “Yea, I think so!”
Remember the snowpocalypse that had us out of class for a week? How my friends and I spent days playing in the snow without any cares? Until the third day when we started to get restless. Who would’ve thought that an unexpected week off of school would cause us to start working weeks ahead on class readings?
Remember all the amazing people I met in my sophomore year?
It’s my junior year…
Wow, I’m almost done. Four years are going by quickly.
Remember when a basketball watch party I was supposed to go to got canceled? Shortly after a couple of my friends called inviting me to a different one at their friend’s house. It was so much fun. There were about five of us. I actually met my bestest friend of all that night.
Remember formal? It wasn’t just any formal, it was geology club formal, also known as Synformal. Location: the rock garden outside of Mitchel hall.
Remember when I talked to Professor Lou Killeffer about how I was interested in finding an internship in strategy and he said I should talk to my professor Josh Carlton. How those conversations led me to Steven King and my year-long internship at Reese Innovation Lab? I can’t thank them enough for all that these three have taught me.
Remember all the amazing people I met in my junior year?
It’s my senior year…
I’ve had so many great memories thus far.
I went to New York this year with a group of people who love advertising just as much as I do. We visited a ton of agencies like Wieden + Kennedy, BBDO and Ogilvy. I was re-inspired by the lights of Time’s Square and the long line for a Popeye’s chicken sandwich. We said we’d start our own agency one day.
Remember finally getting into not one but two classes taught by Gary Kayye?! Our first semester I worked as a strategist on our Envision Carolina Campaign. Our second semester on our personal branding.
Remember the D00k game? I got to go this year! I won’t mention the ending, but my friends and I went to eat Bojangles afterward and that was a good time.
It’s LDOC today. My last one. No, I won’t get a “normal” graduation, and yea I haven’t been able to see my friends in a while. But I’ve been able to think a lot about all of my experiences and I’ve had so many positive compared to the negative. I’ve learned so much in my time at UNC and have met so many inspiring people.
It really is the people that make UNC what it is. So thank you to everyone who got me through 4 years of UNC and Zoom University.
Thank you to my parents, my extended family, my friends, my advisor and my professors. I couldn’t have done it without you all.
I remember asking my mom before bed if I could go to sleep in Nonna Grazia and Nonno Nino’s house. After a few minutes of begging she’d finally cave and say “okay let’s go.” I’d run out of the car to their house and knock on the door, “Areistu ca stasira!” I’d say.
In the morning we’d go into the kitchen and I’d have a breakfast of milk and cookies. I remember looking forward to it because Nonno would add a little bit of espresso to the milk and I felt like a grown-up.
I remember watching Nonno pick figs from the fig tree in the backyard and eating them together. Or going with him and my dad to our pizzeria in Queens. I’d sit in a booth with Nonno and help him fold stacks of pizza boxes. As my dad walked by the table I’d say “Lo posso fare veloce! And he’d stop to watch me fold the boxes as fast as I could.
When we moved to North Carolina, my Nonni and my cousins followed. To this day, I still walk across the street to my nonna’s house and have sleepovers or just hang out with them and eat (well COVID-19 has…you know, changed some of my habits).
While I can’t be with my dad’s side as often as we’d like we still have weekly Facebook messenger video calls. And we try to visit them whenever possible. My Nonno Filippo used to have a pony and carriage. I remember visiting when I was a kid and riding around town.
I’m grateful for having grown up in such a big, yet close-knit family. Something that I think about a lot is how grateful I am for the ability to communicate with all of them. Other than a few of my cousins in America, everyone in my family either learned English as a second language or never learned it all. The majority of my family speaks Italian, more specifically the dialect of Sicilian, even more specifically, the dialect of Sicilian that is spoken in Carini. Every city in Italy has its own version of the Italian language that they know.
It was important to my parents that, even though I was being raised in the United States, I knew how to speak our language. So for as long as I can remember I’ve been able to speak Sicilian very well.
A few years ago, my parents, my brother and I took a trip to Carini to visit my dad’s side of the family. I was able to meet some of my little cousins for the first time in person. The first thing I noticed was that they spoke to me in proper Italian, while my aunts’ uncles and Nonni still spoke Sicilian. My Nonna Maria said that it’s because that is what they are learning in school. She said it’s good to know Sicilian because its the language of our people, but it is also important to learn proper Italian. It allows you to communicate with others across the country.
Sicilian is a spoken language and while it can be written down it’s not common, as is the same for other dialects. One can’t google translate the English word for “chair” into Sicilian, or Barese or Fiorentino. Dialects are something you learn through listening.
What Nonna Maria said was true, it would be helpful for me to learn Italian. I could understand it and I could read it okay, but speaking it was a bit difficult for me. I wanted to learn the grammar, learn how to write and I wanted to build upon my Italian vocabulary.
So after years of taking Spanish in school, I decided my senior year of college, that I would take Italian 101. I’m now in my last week of class and it’s safe to say that I have learned A LOT. While I still have a little bit to go before I’ll consider myself fluent in proper Italian, I am 1000 times more confident in my reading, writing, and speaking abilities.
Communication in all forms is valuable and builds relationships. Learning a language is a step towards communicating more effectively or in my case, more properly. I still speak Sicilian at home, however, I am now one step closer to speaking fluent Italian. I am thankful to have grown up with the ability to communicate with my family. It has allowed me to be close with them, even if some are an ocean away.
I was first exposed to XR- Virtual reality, Augmented reality, etc- when I started working at the Reese Innovation Lab last summer. After a staff meeting one afternoon, my manager Alexis handed me a VR headset and let me play a National Geographic Oculus Quest that transported me to Antarctica. The first thing you do, after you get transported, is hop into a boat. I felt like I was going to fall into the water. Then you start paddling. As you paddle you see all sorts of animals around you. Eventually, I reached the whales and I felt so afraid. The ability that forms of XR give you to feel emotions fascinates me. That ability is why I believe they are one of the most engaging forms of technology.
We have found a way to experience things we might not ever experience in real life, like standing next to a tiger in our kitchen.
Google recently released a new augmented reality feature to its search function. To use it, all you have to do is grab a smartphone, type an animal in the search bar, click on “view in 3D”, aim your camera towards an open space in your house and wait for the animal to appear. Once it does you’ll be able to walk around the animal and view it, life-size, as if it were actually there in your house. Pretty cool right? The animal Google chose to promote this feature was the tiger, so that’s the one I tried first. It was awesome.
Tigers are my favorite land animal (manatees are my favorite marine animal, but unfortunately Google didn’t give them an AR button) and being able to see one incredibly up close and in relation to the furniture in my house was awesome. I even made my dog stand next to it so I could take pictures of them together.
The next animal I chose to see was a bear. The bear was huge. And… It moved and stood up on its two hind legs. Now, I know that the bear isn’t actually standing in front of me. And I know that it’s just a model of a bear. But I’m not going to lie, my stomach had some butterflies.
Playing around with Google’s new feature reminded me of a project that the Lab worked on a few months ago called “TIME Immersive.”
This is an AR app that allows the user to see what the Amazon looks like after it’s been affected by climate change and deforestation. Similar to Google’s AR, to emerge yourself into the Amazon rainforest you open the app, select a scene, point your camera towards a clear flat surface and wait for the Amazon to appear.
The app is fun to use because not only are you seeing the forest, but you also get to learn about it and interact with it. There are hotspots laid across each scene. When clicked on, an image or video hovers over the forest and Jane Goodall tells you about what you’re seeing. One of the last scenes in the Amazon experience tells the story of how the Karipuna tribe lost their land. For me, since more of my senses are evoked in a virtual experience, hearing the story in the app, while rather than reading it, allowed me to feel a stronger sense of empathy.
As I mentioned earlier, there is emotion attached to each of these virtual experiences. So my question is, if a picture is worth 1000 words, how many words is virtual reality worth?
Is it just me or does it feel like the majority of Instagram posts in your feed are some form of an ad and not of your elementary school friend’s ex-best friend who reunited with this other person in highschool who had a class with me and sent me a request?
Don’t get me wrong I do love talking about ads, but just like cookies, even ads are best in moderation. Realizing there wasn’t much I could about this content I decided to start paying a little bit extra attention to them, plus I think it’s important for anyone who wants to go into the industry to be aware of what’s happening in it.
So, there’s a feature on Instagram that allows you to save posts and organize them into different categories. I’m sure you know what I’m going to say next. Yep!
I made a category called cool ads.
I mean why not? Might as well store some inspiration am I right ladies?
One of the ads that caught my attention was for Billie Razors. Billie is a fairly new and trendy beauty brand. Similar to other new beauty brands it offers products with a sleek, aesthetic design and promotes the company’s simplicity.
I thought this ad was interesting because of the visuals it presents. It was the first time I had ever seen a razor commercial that showed the razor going over actual hair and not just gliding over smooth bare skin. Another reason I like it is that it doesn’t focus on just the shaving of legs. They made the ad relatable. Showing girls shaving their underarms, toes, and even having the parts of the legs that are exposed through the rips in jeans. I found that part to be humorous and unexpected.
Another ad in my cool ads category is one for Hulu. A tv show and movie streaming service. This ad features football running back, Saquon Barkey, wearing a motion-capture suit.
What captured my attention here was the script and the campaign itself, #hulusellouts. Essentially, the famous personalities who are in the ads of this campaign say that they are in the campaign for the money that Hulu is paying them. Weird? I thought so. In a way, I do like the campaign because all too often do consumers question the sincerity of celebrities promoting products or services and this campaign attacks that thought head-on. However, it doesn’t necessarily make me feel like those in these Hulu ads are sincere themselves. But, hey, it did make me stop, look, and talk about Hulu.
A third Instagram ad that stood out to me was an ad for Keurig. A company that makes coffee machines.
The ad was aesthetically pleasing. It was in a carousel format on Instagram. The ad showed the Keurig machine in a dorm room, an apartment, and at “your first real job.” As far as targeted advertising goes this one hit it spot on. As a coffee drinking college student about to graduate they showed me how that machine could fit into my life now and in the future. All while also showing the longevity and quality of the product.
Overall, those were my top three Instagram cool ads so far. Keeping to my normal trend, they caught my attention because of the narrative they each demonstrated. We all know how highly I value the concept of storytelling ads.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my favorite ad campaign and then I assessed its creativity using a creativity assessment tool I learned about in class. That sounds really official, but it was just something I did for fun. I’m not an art director, I actually want to be a strategist, but I did enjoy sharing my opinions on Give Extra Get Extra by BBDO. Since writing that post I’ve thought to myself and said: “Hey why don’t you do more of that?”
I mean, is there anything more fun than talking about advertising? I know my friends, Rob, Claire and Jacob, would say no. Whenever we’re together that takes up the majority of our conversations.
With that being said, I wanted to start a new segment of my blog and it shall be called ad talk … at least for now.
Just a quick disclaimer, I am not here to critique advertisements, I just want to share my opinions on what I like about them and why I like them. The ads I plan on sharing will be the kinds of ads that inspire me to work in the industry. The ones that have meaning, the ones that appear authentic in my eyes, and the ones that are interesting or just plain funny.
Like the ads from Poo~Pourri’s #GirlsDoPoop campaign.
I first saw this ad in NMTIFAMP, a class taught by Gary Kayye. Initially, the brand had a campaign called Girls Don’t Poop. It makes sense, the company is selling a spray that masks, you know, the smell of poop. What better way to do it than sell the product to girls by promoting the products number one feature. (Wow Never thought I’d be writing that word so many times as a college senior)
Girls Don’t Poop was really funny. However, it did perpetuate a stigma.
After that campaign, Poo~Pourri made a 180-degree turn and created Girls Do Poop. A series of three ads that attempted to break the stigma. And one of them, in particular, had me ROFL-ing. It’s called The Meet The Family Sh*t. Basically, it’s a woman sitting on a toilet telling the story about the time she… ruined her boyfriend’s mother’s sheets.
So why do I like this ad?
First, I like it because it’s truly hilarious and captivating, both of which are common characteristics of memorable advertisements. Second, it’s shocking, especially after their initial campaign.
Girls Don’t Poop was logical and while it was still funny, the concept was almost predictable. As I mentioned earlier, it makes sense to talk about masking the smell of something that some girls find embarrassing. It’s a whole other playing field to flip the switch and normalize the embarrassing thing, all while trying to promote the product that masks it.
Third, I love storytelling ads. In my opinion, they are the most effective. They allow the brand to explain themselves and build a relationship with their audience.
The Meet The Family Sh*t is one big, authentic, story. The product aligns perfectly with the message.
Chick-Fil-A, probably can’t make an advertisement attempting to change the stigma around girls using the bathroom.
Poo~Pourrii on the other hand, can. If I had to choose a dimension that is used in the creative advertising assessment to assess this ad I would choose Originality. It’s unique, it strays from stereotypes, and it is original.