3 Marketing Lessons from the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix

You might not think a Formula One auto race in the world’s richest country some 5,000 miles from America would have any practical lessons for marketing your business. But some interesting parallels can be drawn between cars barreling once a year through a timeless principality, and the race you are running to market your business or non-profit.

For starters, Monaco is generally regarded as Formula One’s most challenging circuit. It’s a little over two miles of hairpin curves with rising and falling elevations. Drivers of the world’s most magnificent racing machines have to rely on utter skill to navigate through narrow streets where it’s almost impossible to pass another driver.

There are all kinds of storylines coming out of 28-year-old Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo’s dramatic first-ever win at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. For me, at least three offer perspectives on long-term marketing success.

  1. To finish first, you must first finish. This was the advice given to winner Daniel Ricciardo before the race. His team was saying in effect “don’t focus too much on any single phase of the race. Focus instead on finishing. Keep that in the front of your mind.”

In marketing, there’s every temptation to make you divert your attention to enticing new tactics that really don’t pay off in the end. You can’t win if you don’t finish. Make your marketing investment, stick to your strategy and don’t panic when things go wrong. What will keep you going is the next lesson, which is to:

  1. Find your motivation. Ricciardo is a young driver but he’s not the youngest. He has had several major disappointments, and his win at Monaco in his own words felt like “redemption” from past failures at the Monaco GP. For instance, in 2016 a suboptimal pit stop cost him a Monaco win. A technicality robbed him of a pole position last year. He responded this year with a passion that blinded him to self-doubt, he used the failure as fuel, and it made him burn with determination to outlast everybody else.

If you don’t believe in your marketing, how do you expect anyone else to? If you aren’t happy with your marketing efforts, it’s often up to you alone to have the internal drive to push through and succeed. Find what it is that will make you burn inside with the will to win.

  1. You can win with what you have. Ricciardo had finished all three previous days of Monaco practice rounds as the fastest car on the track. But on lap 28 of the 78-lap race, the unthinkable happened. Formula One cars have 8 gears, but suddenly on that lap Ricciardo lost gears seven and eight, and never got them back. The three previous practice days meant nothing now. He finished well over half the race by gritty maneuvering through the narrow streets of Monaco with only six gears. He also depended on the advice of his expert team to radio him on the best times to shift the gears he had left.

Many times, you’re going to feel that you’ve lost power relative to your competitors. The race to tell your brand’s story is ever-challenging because you are competing with others for share of voice, mind and heart. That storytelling takes resources and it takes commitment. But it helps more than you know to have a trusted team around you who can see the bends and curves. You need to focus on finishing while they help to be your eyes, ears and hands.

You may not have the biggest advertising budget. But with a motivated focus on your vision, using past failures as fuel, and access to a great agency team to counsel and help you, you can be happy and win like Daniel Ricciardo did.

5 Powerful Productivity Tips

Ever feel overwhelmed at work? For me, it’s more of a surprise when I get through a workday without feeling totally stressed out. As an account executive, it’s my job to not only make sure my clients feel taken care of, but also to make sure my co-workers in the creative department feel like they have what they need to succeed. When your days are spent trying to keep both sides of the equation moving – and relatively happy – it can be easy to let stress overtake your productivity. When it really becomes crunch time, use these five tips to help you stay focused:

  1. Use a pen.
    I get it. When all anyone talks about is how “we’re living in the digital age now,” it might seem silly to rely on a pen and paper to help you maximize your production, but hear me out. It’s not productive to spend time searching through your email inbox for a due date/project number/detail/you name it. Things like attaching sticky notes to your computer monitor, writing down deadlines on a physical calendar or keeping a whiteboard with project numbers to reference all help you keep important details where they need to be – right in front of you.
  2. Make a to-do list.
    Every morning, no matter how busy or slow I am, I make a to-do list. As a non-coffee drinker, this is my version of a “morning routine.” I take my time and write down everything that I want to do that day. Big projects, briefings, lunch dates and even small tasks like “submit your timesheet” all go on the list. If I can get what I need to do in writing, then I don’t have to think as hard about what needs to be done throughout the day. Don’t worry about going in order, or knocking out tasks based on how hard they are. Just start with one and then tackle another. By the end of the day, you’ll likely have accomplished more than you thought you could. Bonus: being able to physically cross something off a to-do list is one of the greatest feelings ever.
  3. Don’t let email dictate your day.
    It can be easy to get sucked into the rhythm of responding to emails, but don’t let your desire to have a clean inbox derail your plans for the day. Get through the important emails, and then get to work.
  4. Limit how much time you spend on something.
    I once spent two hours trying to perfect an internal spreadsheet. Yes, it was a task that had been given to me by a superior, but my choosing to obsess over making it perfect wasn’t the best use of my time. My advice: Try to track and limit how much time you’re spending on any particular task. If you find that it’s taking you more than an hour to do a task, then take a break and start on something else. You can always come back later with fresh eyes.
  5. Take a break.
    Even on the busiest of days, everyone deserves at least some downtime. Don’t feel guilty for heading into the kitchen to make yourself a snack, or for spending 15 minutes scrolling through Instagram. Taking time to give your brain a break is essential to helping you make it through a long workday.

Every Kind of People

The past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to be among literally thousands of people every week. Mostly in airports all over America, in huge manufacturing facilities, and a packed major league baseball stadium among countless other venues both urban and rural.

Good Lord willing, that will continue to be the case. Because I am fascinated by the diversity – and yet the essential sameness – of all humanity. What I am seeing every day is everyday people just trying to get by. Whether just making ends meet, or getting to the next airline gate, getting healed from a sickness, or raising a child, everyone is trying to get to some destination either mentally, physically or both.

I can’t let go of a song.

“Every Kinda People” is a an older popular song by the late great Robert Palmer. It’s arguably the best song he had in his career. Over the years I’ve had different moods on it. When it first came out it was the coolest thing I had heard. Then later, sometimes I thought it was a bit sappy, but I still loved it.

Today, I love it even more than ever and it is so not sappy.

The song talks about how people of all races and creeds want to protect what they feel is right and fight what they believe is wrong. “Love’s the only goal that can bring peace to any soul” and “every man’s the same.”

“It takes every kind of people to make what life’s about,” the chorus concludes.

Today as shocking events unfold around the world, still it happens that everyday people must make it through this life. It’s essential to embrace the humanity of all people and not let our minds and pride trick us into thinking we are above – or beneath – anyone else.

It takes every kind of people. Let’s help each other.

5 Pillars of Managing Corporate and Agency Public Relations

In our last post, I talked about the process of gaining professional accreditation in public relations (APR). It’s key to developing senior management skills in public relations, and adds to the value you bring to your organization.

But once you’ve got your APR, then what?

I’d like to begin by sharing some of my experience of nearly 23 years of being accredited, the last 16 at o2ideas, where we have served great global, national and regional brands for five decades.

Having spent 12 years in the corporate world before coming to o2 in 2001, I can tell you there’s a difference between managing public relations for a corporation versus a traditional advertising agency.

In corporate PR, you’re really concerned with one client. That’s your employer. Everything you wake up thinking about and spend every working day doing relates pretty much to the success of your company, nonprofit or institution.

In agencies, it’s different purely because we serve not one client but many. Each one of our clients has a distinct brand identity, a different viewpoint on what PR means to them, and a different need for PR in general.

Some clients really need our help with media relations — like in getting news coverage and generating newsworthy stories and content, and using social media platforms to extend their media reach.

Other clients need us more for internal communications, like with digital employee publications, videos, informational and morale campaigns, and special events.

Regardless, I’ve found through nearly three decades of experience that there are five pillars for building a successful PR function, and they apply whether you’re managing PR for a corporation, nonprofit, educational institution or agency.

Ethics. There is no sustainable PR function if it is unethical, period. Ethics is to PR what safety is to an automotive plant. In a car factory, if it is an unsafe workplace, producing cars becomes impossible. Same with PR and ethics. A good PR organization can’t stand on shaky ethics. For more, here’s a link to the PRSA Code of Ethics.

Service. There’s a saying that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. All the strategy in the world can’t fix lackadaisical client service or corporate staff indifference to what your stakeholders need from your team. Make it your point every day to watch the service your team provides to your employer or clients, including the service you personally provide.

Strategy. Get to the “why?” of what you or your team is asked to do, before you develop the strategy required to get a job, campaign or program done. That is as much an internal question for you as it is for anybody on the outside. Drafts of strategic documents need to be vetted by as many viewpoints as possible, and you can’t be sensitive over feedback. A lot rides on strategy. Make it right the first time.

Execution. Put simply, this is doing what you said you would do. At the end of the day, nobody is accountable for your shop except you. If you develop a strategy that you don’t have the resources to execute, then either partner with the right people to get it done or don’t commit at all.

Education. Fiercely force yourself to keep improving. I scan as many different articles from as many different viewpoints as possible. Our team signs up for seminars and workshops even if we don’t have a pressing client need for it at the moment. Under your APR designation, you’re required to do continuing education, but things change so quickly every day in our industry, you’ve got to be fast and intentional about it.

Whether you manage a big PR staff or a small one, whether you work for a church, school, company or agency, and whether your firm has a big PR budget or not, keeping these five pillars in focus will help keep you on the right track as a senior manager in PR.


Accreditation: Learning the PR Playbook

A funny thing happened midway through my first true PR job in Montgomery, Alabama. My boss, who had been professionally accredited for years by the Public Relations Society of America, wanted me to do the same thing — become accredited in PR.

First of all, what was accreditation, and why did it matter? And why was he so strongly insistent about it?

I had already gotten involved with the Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA), during my first year in Montgomery. PRCA had great professional development opportunities like local, state and regional workshops with the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF). The SPRF is made up of similar associations from Louisiana, Mississippi and Northwest Florida as well as Alabama.

I had heard about accreditation — how it was for PR people who had several years of experience in the field. Accreditation meant you were serious about PR, that you could demonstrate advanced strategic thinking, and that you had dedicated yourself to the industry through study, practice and continuous improvement.

It also required you to go through a curriculum of study about as rigorous as getting a master’s degree.


I had already taken a crack at graduate work in Montgomery. I had to stop after a year because it was just too much to handle with a young family and a full-time job at BellSouth.

Yet, my boss must have realized that without making PR accreditation a part of my performance commitments, I would probably never make it a priority. He was right.

After more than a year of study, I earned my APR (Accredited in Public Relations) accreditation.

APR preparation taught me the other side of PR blocking and tackling — to the actual playbook mindset needed to guide brands, companies and clients in developing PR strategy.

Getting the APR was a key step in one day becoming president of o2ideas. It taught me the analytical mindset needed to help some of the world’s greatest brands through some of their greatest challenges and victories. We’ll talk about that in the next post.

Meantime, I encourage all PR practitioners to pursue your APR as soon as you can. Don’t leave it up to someone else to make that decision for you.

My PR Blocking and Tackling Lessons

When I was in college, I had no idea what “public relations” meant. “PR” was a fuzzy term floating inside the massive building where most of my broadcast journalism classes took place. I vaguely knew it was part of the Advertising and PR curriculum. I also knew there were some extremely attractive coeds who majored in those two fields. But that was it.

PR was never on my career radar. My life’s goal was to be a reporter on a major TV network. If you can recall the NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, that’s who I wanted to be. If you had told me one day I’d be at o2ideas working with some of the world’s greatest brands in PR, I couldn’t have believed it.

To not throw total shade on those days, there were early successes. A paid summer internship led to a full-time job at a major TV station after college.

But years went by and life brought changes. Soon it was about marriage, a house and a baby. TV reporters’ wages didn’t really cover the costs of a marriage, a house and a baby.

Desperately, I looked for another career. Just something. But what? I had no idea.

Brokaw was broken.

Then the term “public relations” floated back into my life, straight from the domed ceiling of Reese Phifer Hall at my alma mater. My former boss in TV news had found a job in PR with BellSouth (now AT&T). After a couple of years of preparing, praying and pleading, that triggered the jump from TV news to BellSouth Public Relations.

First, there was an intro job where they mercifully let me anchor an internal video magazine. But that got cut from the budget. Even more mercifully, they transferred me to Montgomery, Alabama, to learn PR from a true master.

My Montgomery boss had played football for University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and he sported a 1965 National Championship ring as a silent badge of honor. But my boss took the time and effort to teach me PR much like he had learned blocking and tackling from the Bear himself.

He taught me incredible things about engaging a community, persuading public opinion, organizing events, and setting stories straight. I learned how to write news releases, backgrounders and speeches through his countless red slashes on my copy. I learned patience, discipline, follow-through and accountability. I learned how to make crowds laugh, and yet how to inform them with convincing tone and messaging.

All of those early years of teaching came before social media and the internet of things.

But the Montgomery years taught me some basic PR fundamentals. Like working with real people on real issues, through thoughtful communications and honest relationships.

The platforms and tools of PR will always keep changing. But these fundamentals won’t.

Spontaneous Marketing Takes Planning

Monday night was a good night for Kevin Durant. Not only did his team, the Golden State Warriors, win the 2017 NBA Championship, but Kevin also took home the NBA Finals MVP. Last night was also a good night for o2ideas’ client, BBVA Compass, since Kevin is a BBVA Compass brand ambassador.

As Golden State started marching toward the Finals, we started discussing with BBVA Compass the opportunity to leverage the bank’s partnership should Kevin and his team win it all.

Three weeks before the Finals, we began developing video concepts congratulating KD on his (potential) achievements. At first, our discussions focused on social media promotions only. However, as Golden State sailed through the playoffs, with Kevin leading the way, we realized the stage for promoting BBVA Compass’ partnership with Kevin and the NBA could be much larger.

To realize this potential, we worked hand in hand with BBVA Compass’ media and sports marketing companies, as well as ESPN, to develop assets for TV and online. Knowing that the Warriors could win the series in four games, we had to finalize all of the assets in a condensed timeline. Complicating the situation was the fact that the Warriors could win without Kevin being named MVP. To make sure we had this contingency covered, we developed and sent two sets of creative to ESPN with slightly different messaging.

On Monday night, everything came together as planned: Golden State took the title; KD won NBA Finals MVP and our BBVA Compass commercial congratulating Kevin on his achievements aired after the game on ESPN.

While the congratulatory messaging communicated in our broadcast, social and online media felt spontaneous, it was the result of detailed pre-planning and unselfish teamwork – a recipe that worked well for Golden State and us.

Check out the tweet from one fan who seemed impressed with our (and Nike’s) “real-time” advertising.


In today’s crowded, always-on media landscape, riding the coattails of cultural events – as they happen – is one tactic to make your brand relevant and distinct. To discuss ways o2ideas can help make your brand relevant and distinct, contact Bill Todd, bill@o2ideas.com.

Long-Form Video – The New Way to Boost Your Brand

The video world is, in short, about to get long.

For years, the challenge has been to make videos as short as possible. Think Vine, Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and so on.

But there’s a change underway that could help your company’s brand, as long-form video emerges as a new tool in marketers’ playbooks.

It’s reported that Facebook is about to launch a long-form video platform that will go head to head with both Netflix and YouTube. This follows several months of growing investment by other online publishers in episode-length video formats that tie back to brands.

Mind you, short-form video formats aren’t going away; they will continue to be pillars of online content.

But it’s clear that larger audiences are preferring creative stories in longer formats. Major players are now banking on it.

What are the takeaways for marketers?

  • Stop automatically chasing ever-shorter videos, thinking that’s the only way. Consumers’ embrace of long-form video means they are looking for more meaningful and thoughtful stories than the sound-bite streams they see in their social feeds. Don’t forsake short-form video, but know long-form is getting huge momentum.
  • Consider creating ideas for long-form videos that can carry an audience over time and support your brand’s mission. If you build it right, the audience will come.
  • Get a good creative agency that sees the big picture and can help guide you into this new blue ocean. Here at o2, we can help you decide the best video formats for your brand, whether they include short-form, long-form, or a mixture of both.

Adding long-form to your video toolbox could be key to boosting your brand — and sales — in an ever-changing consumer landscape.

5 Signs You Need Another Ad Agency

You have an ad agency. Things are going fine. Or maybe they aren’t. Your agency’s client service may be great, the creative so-so. Your creative may be awesome, but client service is more order-taking than proactive with help and ideas.

In today’s blisteringly fast pace of change in media, technology, and service delivery, no one agency can give you 100% of what you need 100% of the time. Increasingly, companies are partnering with a number of agencies based on the agencies’ main strengths.

Here are 5 signs you’re ready to expand your agency roster.

  1. No diversity of thought.

Today’s customers are getting more diverse and savvy every day. Your advertising must also become more diverse and savvy – especially if you’ve approached your marketing the same way for years. Plus, there’s more competition for your customers’ attention and loyalty than ever before. Even if you like your current agency, consider expanding your agency mix to bring diversity to your marketing – and more customers to your business.

  1. Your agency simply takes orders.

When was the last time your agency presented you with a fresh idea? Something that could bring in new customers or create an additional revenue stream? The best agencies don’t deliver only what you ask for. They give you what your business needs.

  1. The competition out-hustles you.

Right now, your competition is doing everything in its power to take away your customers. Your company and its agency partners need to use every creative idea you can to stay one step ahead of the competition.

  1. Your agency is a navel-gazer.

Your agency is more concerned about promoting itself than promoting you. You’ll know if it’s true.

  1. You’re always waiting on your agency.

For decades, agencies have touted the mantra “Good. Fast. Cheap. You can pick two.” With the speed of commerce today, your company doesn’t have the luxury to allow your agency to live by this axiom. You can have it all – you just need the right partners.

Buying in to what you’re working on

In the fall of 2015, the first all-new 2016 Honda Civic rolled off the line at the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana plant in Greensburg, Indiana. A complete, from-the-ground-up remodel, it represented a huge leap forward in both design and aesthetic.


As the Creative Director working on the campaign for this particular vehicle launch, I had the opportunity to see the rebirth of this newly reimagined flagship brand up close and personal, literally seeing it being put together before my very eyes. If you’ve ever been in a manufacturing plant, you’ll know the sense of awe and wonder that comes with seeing first-hand the sophisticated process that produces these modern feats of engineering genius. Heading home from the launch celebration, the seed had been sown: I had to have one.

So it was, that almost a year later, I found myself driving one off the lot at my local Honda dealership here in Birmingham, Alabama. It took me an age to decide the style and level of accessories – heck, it took me two weeks just to decide on the color ­– but here I was, the decision made, behind the wheel of a beautiful Honda Civic LX in dark gray. It was everything I remembered it to be.


And that’s how it is sometimes. We work on a product so intimately, come to understand its value and beauty so minutely, that we become the ultimate brand advocates: We become owners.

Working as I do for a company that seeks to put smiles on the faces of its clients through the work we do and the way we go about creating it, it’s nice to have the feeling reciprocated. Making happy happen is what we do, but it sure is a great feeling when one of your clients can do the same for you.

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