Apr 11

Now, THIS is a happy, happy recap!

For the first time since the second Clinton Administration (talk about halcyon days), more New Yorkers root for the Mets than their dreaded, cash roll-rich, cross-borough nemesis, the Yankees.

Make no mistake, this is a very big deal.

The Mets seldom win anything, much less a popularity contest but, says a recent Quinnipiac College survey, the Mets won this game in a laugher. (Note: DeGrom must have been on the mound and I’m guessing Cespedes went yard in the late innings to seal the deal).

I could sense the reversal of fortune just by spying the percentage of drunk and disorderly passengers on New Jersey Transit trains. In recent years, a far higher number of Mets uniform-clad fans would race up and down the hallways, tell conductors to “F-off” and pound, kick and scream at locked rest room doors, before heaving their stomach contents onto the head and shoulders of an unsuspecting commuter.

The news must really get stuck in craw of Peppercomm’s Adam Giambattista, who brazenly adorns his cube with distasteful Yankees memorabilia.

It should also give pause to Deb Brown, who notoriously dumped her lifelong allegiance to the Mets after the Strawberry, Gooden, Hernandez team aged and the Jeter-led Yankees Renaissance began in the mid-1990s.

She simply woke up one day and decided it was time for a change and said “I’m now a Yankees fan.”

When pressed for her Benedict Arnold-like stunt, Brown shrugged her shoulders and said she wanted to root for winners. Makes one wonder why she’s stayed at Peppercomm for so long.

True Mets fans don’t disappear; we simply go into hibernation for 10 or 20 year stretches until the franchise once again re-captures the Big Apple’s imagination.

My all-time favorite Mets announcer was Bob Murphy who, along with Lindsey Nelson and the indecipherable Ralph Kiner, started calling Mets games in their inaugural season of 1962.

On the rare occasions during his career when the Mets actually won pennants and the World Series (1969, 1973 and, of course, 1986) Murph would wear his partiality on his sleeve and unabashedly root for the Metropolitans.

And, at the end of each Mets win, and before taking a commercial break, Murph would urge listeners to stay tuned for the post-game summary by ecstatically stating, “I’ll be back with the happy, happy recap after these messages.”

I’ll bet wherever they are at moment, Lindsey, Ralph and Murph are lifting their mugs of Rhinegold to toast the Mets, the most popular baseball team in New York.

Put that in your Tom Paine pipe, Deb, and smoke it. And, Adam, keep dreaming about once was. The king is dead. Long live the king. For now.

And a tip o’ RepMan’s Met’s cap to Carmen Ferrigno for suggesting this post. 





Apr 06

Flat Pepsi – Learning from Sodamaker’s Latest Formula

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Chris Barlow.

Have you heard about the new Pepsi commercial? Assuming you own a computer and don’t get your RepMan via delivery boy, you most likely have. It combines two of everyone’s favorite things: a Kardashian, and the exploitation of worldwide protests to promote the sale of a sugary beverage.

The internet was not a fan of this cringe-inducing, quasi-deep advertisement that made it seem like protesting is a bunch of fun, dancing and soda. And what did Pepsi do about it? Not much. At least not for a good 12 hours. In the big picture, this may seem like a quick response, but in internet time it may as well be an eternity.

So why did Pepsi take so long, especially after taking their time with their last crisis? In today’s day and age, holding out on a response gives the media time to write their stories, shows how unprepared your company is for these scenarios and only allows your negative story to echo on in the endless annals of the internet.

Having a PR crisis and waiting to do something is the equivalent of breaking your leg and, well, waiting to do something. It gives media outlets time to cover what happened. It has time to go from the outraged twitter user, to the outraged twitter reporter, and before you know it, a top-tier outlet is writing about your video. Do you know what any fair, respectable reporter likes to include in that article? A quote from the company that allows them to provide their point of view.

Maybe Pepsi took so long to release a statement because they really wanted to nail down what they wanted to say. Better to craft a bulletproof, people-friendly statement than to come out with one that only fuels the fire.

Unfortunately, this only shows just how unprepared Pepsi was for this backlash. It seemed they hadn’t even considered the possibility that this commercial would be met with a negative response. Any company, and certainly one as big and well-known as Pepsi, should see around potentially dangerous corners and prepare in advance. Otherwise you’re caught like a deer in the headlights while the internet turns you into a meme.

Finally, Pepsi came with a statement to combat the online onslaught. Defending the spot like Sean Spicer with a Trump tweet, they wanted everyone to know that they believe their message has the potential to unify everyone, and they hope everyone can learn to see it that way, too.

The public was not happy about this tone-deafness either and once again, let Pepsi know it.  Finally, within hours of that statement, Pepsi removed the spot from the air. This was probably done to put an end to the nightmare they had endured for the last 24 hours. That’s good. That shows that Pepsi listened to its audience and responded accordingly. Maybe some advance testing with real people could have guided them before the commercial ever saw air time. Because on the internet, the nightmare does not go away with airtime cancellation. The internet doesn’t forget. Seriously.

The effects of a PR nightmare can last a long time. Pepsi’s only hope is for another brand to release a potentially harmful ad with zero awareness of today’s social climate, and who knows how long that could take.

Oh.  Never mind.

Apr 04

When our rotting infrastructure ruins a little boy’s day

I routinely subject myself to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are included in my New Jersey Transit’s $485 monthly ticket.

I’m usually able to endure the total bullshit that’s doled out by the nation’s worst rail system for three reasons:

– I have an apartment in Manhattan that I use to break up the week’s transit nightmare.

– As the CEO and co-founder of Peppercomm, I often ask myself permission to work from home. I’m a great boss and have yet to turn down one of my requests.

– I’ll soon be moving very close to multiple ferry services that will transport me, by water, to the foot of E. 34th and First (thereby shaving off delays that add up to days each year from my train commute and a stress level that would measure at least 9.3 on the Richter Scale).

But, for once, today’s blog isn’t about me. It’s all about the outrageous stunt NJT pulled on unsuspecting Mets fans today.

Here’s what went down (or came to a screeching halt, if you prefer):

I hopped on a late train (the 8:42am from Middletown which “says” it arrives at Penn Station at 9:58am).

That was perfect since I could join my first meeting by phone and be in the office in time for everything else.

At this point I must add a key component to the narrative: I was absolutely surrounded by dads and their young (as is six or seven year old) sons. They were all dressed to the nines in Mets regalia and en route to see the team’s opening day.

I must admit to being a tad pissed to be sardined by these unwanted additional passengers but, hey, they were Mets fans (and I bleed the orange-and-blue).

So, I cranked up Tom Petty’s greatest hits and let the Mets fans run up and down the aisles, screaming, “Let’s Go Mets” without lodging my usual, formal complaint to an indifferent conductor.

And, then, NJT did its thing.

We stood perfectly still at the Woodbridge station for at least 15 minutes before a garbled message rang out: “Er, ah, so there’s been a derailment and all service into and out of Penn Station has been suspended indefinitely.”

That was it. No further explanation. No apology. Nada.

Immediately, the dads and their kids freaked out. The kids started crying and the dads began noodling on a back-up plan (i.e. car-pooling to CitiField, bagging the whole thing, etc.).

I felt terrible for the little guys who were so psyched to see what would turn out to be a Noah Syndegard tour de force (as he and the Mets destroyed the hated Braves at CitiField).

I’m hoping most dads and sons eventually made it to the game (thanks to their collective ingenuity), but the NJT conductors made it very clear they could give a rat’s ass about destroying an extra special father-son experience.

Trump may be able to fix the rotting infrastructure that’s turned our nation’s trains, planes and roads into a Third World joke, but it would take a miracle to change the attitude of NJ Transit and their work force.

Anyway, today’s experience inspired a brand new tagline for our country’s worst rail system:

“NJT: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

A tip o’ Rep’s conductor’s cap to Chris and Catharine Cody for inspiring this post.


Apr 03

When the sun sets on iconic brands

Imagine you’re the top marketer at a company that produces iconic board games and products that were once found in every American home and used by every man, woman and child.

Now, imagine that video games, robotics and artificial intelligence have become so ubiquitous that they’ve not only made your games and products seem quaint and antiquated in comparison, but they’ve they’ve converted your one-time base into computer addicts just as hungry to lose themselves inside ‘Call of Duty’ as they are to pop prescription pain killers or inject themselves with heroin.

Talk about every marketer’s nightmare. Holy hula hoops, Batman!

So, what to do?

Well, if you’re Hasbro, makers of the legendary board game, Monopoly, you reach out to what’s left of your audience and ask them to suggest new game tokens.

Or, if you’re Crayola, makers of those ubiquitous crayons, you hold a national contest to decide which color to drop. Sadly, dandelion (an underrated Rolling Stones song, BTW) was sunsetted (as consultants like to say).

Both stories garnered national coverage (which is no mean feat considering @POTUS routinely dominates the top three stories every single day).

But, it’s also sad to witness.

Monopoly is a board game that has ALWAYS taken way too long to play. In today’s ADD-addled, 24×7 world, what chance for success does it have? If I were a betting man, I’d predict the game will be sunsetted before the midterm elections put the Democrats back in control of both houses of Congress.

And, really, who cares if the thimble, boot and wheelbarrow tokens have been replaced by a penguin, dinosaur, rubber ducky (FYI, my dogs used to shred the rubber ducky I’d bring home with me from a certain Boston hotel).

As far as giving dandelion the boot, I’m guessing kindergarten teachers won’t even notice and still insist their students use Crayola crayons to draw barely recognizable windmills that their dads will dutifully pin on their office walls.

But, the handwriting is on the wall for Monopoly and Crayola crayons, as well as any other board game of 1960s-era.

The two iconic brands are vestiges of a time that has long passed. I’d put each in the horse-and-buggy category circa 1900. They’re holding on, but just barely.

It’s only a matter of time before some software manufacturer will create a way cool, much more user-friendly way for kids to color. And, Monopoly is a dead board game walking. I’m surprised it still has a pulse.

That said, a tip of the thimble and a last dandelion-colored love note to marketers forced to use CPR and paddle boards to maintain a pulse on two terminal patients.

Crayola and Monopoly: You had a nice run, but the hour is late and the last patrons are shuffling out of the bar. So, set ’em up, Joe. Let’s play one more interminably long Monopoly game and keep score with a dandelion-colored Crayola.

The kings are dead. Long live the kings.

Mar 27

To ignore or engage: That is the question when it comes to fake news

I just finished reading a fascinating analysis of the impact last year’s fake news about Pepsi’s CEO telling people not to vote for Donald Trump had on the company’s reputation, sales and stock price .

The answer is:  Not good.

In fact, even though the company responded fairly swiftly to deny the accusations, they waited just long enough for the original news to be amplified. So, instead of a small group of news junkies reading the outright lie, Pepsi’s fake news dominated the media for several cycles and did a real number on the company.

You can read the analysis, but the corporate reputation took a severe hit from which it still hasn’t recovered. Ditto with the stock price and sales. All because of fake news.

In Pepsi’s case, an instantaneous correction might have mitigated some of the damage or, at least, minimized the amplification. It’s the latter that can kill an individual’s or corporation’s image. Nowadays, once enough people have read (or spread) fake news, you’re dead.

That’s why the 22 CCOs and CMOs I just interviewed for an upcoming research report that will be published on The Institute of PR told me it’s one of the top three business issues keeping them up at night.

But, it’s not the fake news in, and of, itself that’s at issue. It’s the decision that needs to be made whether to immediately respond and correct (which will ignite additional news cycles) or to ignore the nonsensical report and hope it goes away. It’s a real roll of the dice.

We’ve counseled clients to ignore fake news if the source has a limited following and the likelihood of amplification is slim. I remember one blogger who tore the bejesus out of a client in a story chock full of falsehoods and unsubstantiated accusations. As you might expect, the client was enraged and wanted to go right after the blogger. We counseled them to wait and see if the story spread. It didn’t. But, if it had, we would have reached out across every channel to clarify and correct.

And therein lies the dilemma of fake news: Do you wait to see what the damage will be and, perhaps, suffer Pepsi’s fate or do you ignore the lies and hope they simply fade away? There’s no textbook or best practice to follow, so each CCO and CMO has to rely on her head, heart and gut to reach a decision (and hope it’s the right one).

That’s a heavy weight, especially if you’re at the communications helm of a global powerhouse such as Pepsi. The only approach on which all 22 respondents with whom I spoke agreed was constant vigilance and swift decision making.

Fake news has clearly made a marketing communications professional’s job exponentially more difficult (and tenuous). That’s why I’m hoping more and more corporations will share their strategies at sessions such as the upcoming Arthur W. Page Spring Conference.

The more we know, the better our chances of success. And, that’s the truth.



Mar 22

This is the world we live in

planeta-bizarroIt goes without saying that we are living in the bizarro version of an alternative America that one would have expected to read about in a Ray Bradbury science fiction novel. Sadly, fantasy has become reality and truth is simply no longer worth a plug nickel.

To wit, this exchange from yesterday’s Senate confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch:

– Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticized Tuesday President Donald Trump’s attacks on the federal judge who blocked his administration’s travel ban, saying for the first time publicly that he found them “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Gorsuch previously made those comments in private conversations with senators, but Tuesday marked the first time he went on the record with his disapproval of the president’s rhetoric when he called US District Judge James L. Robart a “so-called judge.”

“When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity of the motives of a federal judge, well I find thatdisheartening. I find that demoralizing, because i know the truth,” he said during his Senate confirmation hearing, in response to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal about Trump’s tweets.
Asked by the Connecticut Democrat if that “anyone” included the President. “Anyone is anyone,” Gorsuch said.

That statement was immediately followed by this comment:

– White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday pushed back against reports that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called President Trump’s attacks on judges “disheartening.” “Wrong and Misleading: he spoke broadly and never mentioned any person,” Spicer tweeted, linking to an Associated Press story that said Gorsuch “publicly calls President Trump’s attacks on judges ‘disheartening,’ ‘demoralizing.'”

And, so, once again, the fake news, post truth world has created yet another crazy spin on who said what, who to believe and my wondering whatever happened to honesty?

These are strange days indeed for the population as a whole and the chief communications officers and chief marketing officers of America’s top companies in particular. How does one deal with a Trump attack? How does one clarify a clear falsehood? How does one limit the news to a single cycle? And should one ignore a POTUS assault altogether?

I ask these questions because we’re about to publish an original research paper in conjunction with The Institute of Public Relations
that provides best practices, tips and protocols to deal with this anything but brave, new world in which we live. The research consists of 22 one-on-one interviews yours truly conducted with some of the top CCOs and CMOs in the country.

Stay tuned to this station for more information. We hope to share the findings as early as next week.

Mar 21

Will the New Uber Management Team be a rerun of Jobs/Sculley?

generationDepending on what you read or with whom you speak, when Apple hired former Pepsi CEO John Sculley to provide the ever-petulant Steve Jobs with adult supervision, the former fired the latter, the board fired Jobs or Jobs quit.

Whatever happened remains relevant since Uber finds itself in a similar, if not far worse, predicament than Apple did when Sculley was hired.

I don’t need to repeat each, and every setback, but several DO stand out:

– Misbehaving frat boy CEO Travis Kalanick admitted he needs an experienced executive to help him better manage Uber and himself (after engaging in a heated argument with an Uber driver caught on tape).
– Company president Jeff Jones quit after a mere six months in the position.
– The company was hit with countless sexual harassment suits and creates the widespread perception of an organization that not only embraces harassment, but rewards it.
– A worldwide #DeleteUber boycott.
– The recent departures of many other top executives who headed such critical areas as: research, development of the autonomous driving car and Uber’s artificial intelligence unit.

Talk about a brain drain and a ship listing heavily as it takes on more and more ocean water. This has all of the ingredients necessary for another Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet summer blockbuster!

Whomever Uber selects as their chief operating officer, she or he is going to need the following personality traits:

– The patience of Job.
– A soothing presence second only to Mother Theresa’s.
– An avuncular Wilford Brimley-type personality that will enable him to rein in the reckless CEO. (Note to Millennials: Please Google Brimley for reference).

She or he will also need the following executive skills:

– The managerial wisdom of a Jack Welch or Jeff Immelt who can oversee the operations of a vast global organization
– The gut instincts of Chicago Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein who can turn around a flailing enterprise by attracting new and superior talent
– The rah-rah motivational charisma of a Joel Osteen who can breathe life into a workplace culture that might be likened to Dickens’ Bleak House.
– The tech savvy of a Bill Gates who can decide which new projects to green light and which offerings to sunset (God, I love ConsultantSpeak)
– The courtroom charisma of a Johnny Cochran who can fend-off, settle or even win intellectual property theft lawsuits from the likes of Google.

Last, and certainly not least, the new COO MUST undestand the nuances of rebuilding a bloodied, bruised and battered brand. And, that takes years, not months or weeks (Note to new COO: I’m available to help you with the latter for the right price or enough free rides).

Uber’s board will obviously select the person they feel is best qualified to lead the brand out of the wilderness but, if I were a betting man, I’d guess either the COO or board will quickly reach the breaking point with Kalanick and send him on his last Uber ride.

That will unshackle the company to begin anew while setting loose the savage who built ground transportation’s version of “The Wolves of Wall Street.”

Kalanick will then start a new venture that will equal Uber in both its revolutionary and revolting ways. And, a new and unnerving story will unfold. And, such is life in the fast lane.

Mar 13

The high priest of hysteria

3Some might point to Sunday morning televangelists. Others may cast their vote for screeching home-town college basketball radio announcers but, for my money, New York’s WCBS-TV “meteorologist” Lonnie Quinn OWNS hysteria.

The blond-coifed Adonis wanna-be is unique in his ability to play viewers like a fiddle, add a pinch of pathos at exactly at the right moment and break the nail-biting tension with a completely unexpected lighthearted moment just when we all think Armageddon is at hand.

Lonnie reaches these highs and lows whenever thunderstorms approach New York City, triple digit August temperatures are beating the bejesus out of Amsterdam Avenue residents or whenever that evil villain, black ice, threatens our health and well-being.

I mention Lonny in today’s blog because yet another “powerful, late Winter storm is barreling its way up the Eastern seaboard packing winds in excess of 50 miles per hour and snowfall amounts he’s already calling “staggering.”

Thanks to Lonnie, and his lesser-known competitors, more than 1,000 airline flights have already been cancelled. And the first snowflakes aren’t expected to fall until, get this, midnight at the earliest.

This sort of potential weather carnage has Lonnie already shifting into overdrive. He’s moved his 11 suits and 34 crisply-pressed white dress shirts into his dressing room. The shirts are key to the Brand of Lonnie. That’s because he always rolls his French cuff sleeves as far up his arms as can. He does so to draw extra attention to how hard he’s working.

So, beginning sometime this afternoon, Lonnie will take command of the studio helm (a la Captain Kirk on “Star Trek”). He’ll already be in overdrive, thanks to a mix of what I’m guessing is Red Bull and enough Adderal to keep Three Stooges fans awake for a 72-hour marathon.

Lonnie begins his work by educating viewers on the state-of-the-art technology he’ll be using to keep us up-to-the minute on this latest winter wallop. He’ll then check-in with his reporting team: the 24,000 StormTracker2 correspondents who are moving into position faster than US and Iraqi forces are on the few remaining ISIS strongholds.

He’ll warn Maggie in Massapequa to alert us to the Long Island Sound’s first two-foot-high wave. And Patty from Paramus will already behind the wheel of her fully-equipped WCBS WeatherVan. Her responsibility will be to drive endlessly around Routes 4, 17 and 46 in northern Jersey and report on delays, spin outs and, if we’re really lucky, a 16-car fender bender.

As events warrant, Lonnie will dash from his main command center to go behind-the-scenes (with camera crew in tow), sit alongside the NOAA and Doppler Radar experts, peer into their respective screens and ask, “What new news can you tell us?”

Later on, Lonnie will even don his WCBS-TV snow parka and walk a full block or so into midtown to battle bone-chilling temperatures and biting winds to ask residents and tourists alike how they could possibly be outside. He’ll typically elicit such tear-jerking responses as:

– “I needed to get to work,”

–  “Well, there’s a movie playing a few blocks down I’ve been meaning to see”

–  “I’m from Orlando and have never seen snow before.”

After warning all three to be very, very careful, Lonnie will dash back to the studio where he’ll pledge to stay right by his computer screens and let us know what’s yet to come.

While Lonnie does provide a service, he does so in the same way Reggie Jackson used to deliver his services to the Yankees. Reginald Martinez Jackson would be kneeling in the on-deck circle, anxiously awaiting a cameraman to point his equipment in number 44’s direction. Then, he’d spit out tobacco juice, violently swing his bat and stride purposely to the plate. After going yard, Reggie would slowly trot around the bases, glare into the camera and give you a look that said, “I’m the best. You know I’m the best. And, so do Billy and George.”

When it comes to egomaniacal histrionics, Lonnie is weather reporting’s answer to Reggie Jackson. Hey, the guy even has his own theme song called, “Lonnie’s Always Getting It Right.”

But, Lonnie’s NOT always getting it right. In fact, I’d say his batting average rivals that of journeyman Mets First Baseman, Lucas Duda: .250.

None of that wouldn’t matter if Lonnie didn’t scare the bejesus out of viewers who flock to the nearest Walmart and empty it of everything up to, and including, a $1,000 snow blower.

That’s too bad because no one gains when Lonnie loses (except local retailers). But, hey, Lonnie’s become something of a cult hero, and cult heroes are judged by a completely different set of criteria.


Mar 08

Caution: Contents May Prove Fatal

B79TFM Vintage arsenic poison bottle on antique shelfAs faithful Repman readers know, I occasionally like to engage in a back-and-forth discussion with individuals who send me completely ridiculous or unintentionally laugh out-loud spam e-mails.

My all-time favorite remains my coming close to leasing a tug boat from a salesman who had me convinced employees would love commuting along the East River on one of his barges.

I think this next one finishes a strong second. It arrived unannounced in my inbox the other day.

The subject line was a real grabber: “Peppercomm + Arsenic”

I immediately wondered if the salesperson was suggesting I follow Jim Jones’ lead (Note to Millennials: Google Jonestown, cult and mass suicide). Nah, I thought, why would she want a complete stranger to poison his entire workforce? What would be her ROI on something like that? And who would still be around to pay her?

It turns out that her firm, Arsenic, bills itself as a digital media super-house (talk about superlatives!) that connects brands with people. Oh. OK. Well, then the name makes perfect sense. Not!

I must admit to having an immediate and negative visceral reaction. Who would use Arsenic for any reason other than to kill a pesky rabbit, garbage-raiding raccoon or hated spouse?

Could you imagine telling a key automotive client we’ve finally cracked the code that would enable them to reach those oh-so-iconoclastic Millennials, and the answer is Arsenic. Holy genocide, Batman! I can only imagine the facial expressions.

But, The Arsenic note was simply too bizarre and too funny not to respond. I was going to ask the saleswoman if she promised a full guarantee if the product wasn’t 100 percent effective. I was also tempted to suggest some pro bono tagline advice, such as Arsenic…

– “Watch us wipe out your enemies”

– “All’s fair in love, war and marketing”

– “Toxicity is the new orange”

And, my personal favorite: “The final word in strategic marketing”

But, I refrained from proferring pro bono advice and, instead, let her know we’d already engaged with one of her direct competitors: Rat Poison.

And, that’s when the fun began.

Please read from the bottom-up and see if you don’t agree with me that this young lady needs to loosen up a bit and realize her company’s name is going to elicit all sorts of ridiculous responses. Maybe she just needs a pinch of Arsenic in her next Tequila?

Anyway, remember to read from the bottom-up. Bottoms up!


Steve: Again, other partners have never been uninterested in partnering with us due to something as trivial. These partners include companies and brands such as Hakasan, Love Nation (an investor in Arsenic), Snapchat (we have one of the highest engagement rates on the app and a wonderful relationship with the company), the Honest Company, Rogers + Cowan, BBH, Grey Activation and many others. It also hasn’t stopped celebrities, influencers, and music artists from working with us, such as, Diplo, The Chainsmokers, Kylie Rae, Steve Aoki, Logan Paul, and many others. 

However, I would love to thank you for illustrating the small-mindedness of Peppercomm. It clearly wouldn’t be an authentic partnership.

(Note from Repman, I thanked her for calling us small-minded since I’ve been a long-time advocate of little people). 

On Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 9:04 AM Steve Cody <sCody@peppercomm.com> wrote:

The name is a tad off-putting, no?

Steve Cody | Co-founder and CEO

Sent: Monday, March 6, 2017 11:15 AM
To: Steve Cody <sCody@peppercomm.com>
Subject: Re: Peppercom + Arsenic

That’s too bad that due to our name there is no interest, seeing that our viewership is over 2M+ and we are trending with millennials such as Justin Beiber and Kylie Jenner. 
On Mar 6, 2017, at 8:01 AM, Steve Cody <sCody@peppercomm.com> wrote:

Love to talk, but we already partner with Rat Poison.



Sent: Monday, March 6, 2017 10:52 AM
To: Steve Cody <sCody@peppercomm.com>
Subject: Peppercom + Arsenic

Hi Steve,

Would love to introduce you to my company, Arsenic. I think there are so many ways we could work together.

Do you have availability to chat this week or next?

Arsenic is a digital media super-house that reaches millions of millennials via its social media platforms including Snapchat and Instagram. I think that we would be perfect partners – our audience is a very elusive demographic and we love to expose them to amazing brands that fit authentically. 

Arsenic currently has over 1.1 million followers on Instagram and receives an average of 500k views on Snapchat. Arsenic has gone viral with millennials – 96% of our audience is between the ages of 18 – 35. Best,Our audience includes celebrities and influencers such as Kevin Hart, Diplo, and Justin Bieber.


Mar 06

Do you finally understand Storytelling? Good. Forget it. It’s now all about Storymaking

storyThe lemmings otherwise known as public relations, advertising and marketing communications executives routinely jump from one buzzword or phrase to another every 18 months or so. Someone will coin a new phrase or service such as disruptor, data analytics, Big Data, behavioral science, digital-driven programs and, of course, Storytelling. And, within a week or so, every marketer in the known universe will be including the hot new word or phrase in every other sentence.

Storytelling was critical to every marketers’ earned, owned and paid media campaign, correct? It had to be because today’s consumer (whether she is a REIT manager or full-time mom) wants to engage with products or services that do the right thing, educate and entertain her and, most importantly, fit within her lifestyle. That objective was accomplished by crisp, clear and compelling storytelling. And, we were all Storytellers.

Not anymore.

Mastercard’s just changed the game. They’ve abandoned Storytelling and now focus on Storymaking.

Allow me to allow Mastercard’s CMO Raja Rajamannar to explain: “As recently as a few years ago, people sat in front of a TV, with the whole family gathered during prime time…Today, the world is very different. People still come together in the family room, but it’s a collection of individuals who are all in their own private worlds with their own connected devices.”

So, Mastercard has morphed from Storytelling to Storymaking. They now collaborate with consumers to slice and dice their legendary “Priceless” storytelling campaign to four categories:

  • Priceless Surprises, which gives cardholders unexpected experiences, such as meeting celebrities.
  • Priceless Cities, which curates one-of-a-kind experiences and exclusive promotions only available to Mastercard cardholders.
  • Priceless Causes, which generates donations to particular charities when consumers use their Mastercard.
  • Priceless Specials, which provides various offers and benefits.

The fundamental difference between Storytelling and Storymaking, says Rajamannar is this: “Consumers don’t want to hear brand stories; they want to be part of the story. We enable, create and curate experiences for consumers.” That change may seem subtle to some but it’s actually quite profound.

You can read more about Mastercard, Rajamannar and Storymaking here, but, as Sr. Maria Eucharia used to warn my fellow eighth graders at St. Francis Grammar School, “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Get a firm grasp of Storymaking ASAP and figure out how to use it to better connect with your target stakeholders. And, for god’s sake, begin including the word in your agency/internal corporate storytelling and explaining how it’s different and more relevant than yesterday’s buzzword.

Get used to Storymaking. It’s the new orange of marketing communications. That said, be prepared for it to be replaced by the next, new orange in 18 months or sooner.