68. Rares Vidican on Ad Blocking Software, Creating A Digital Media Strategy & The Intricracy Of Digital Ads

Rares Vidican, Data Manager for Group MTeam Leader and Tracking and Data Manager for Group M, Rares Vidican has +5 years experience creating, tracking and managing the analytics for media plans and digital campaigns. Continue reading “68. Rares Vidican on Ad Blocking Software, Creating A Digital Media Strategy & The Intricracy Of Digital Ads”

67. Damien Sterbecq on Strategic Planning & The Collision Between Uber and The Parisian Taxis

Business Director of Brand Activation and Digital for Cb’a, Damien Sterbecq has 20+ years experience helping brands succeed in product packaging, retail and digital: the three main consumer touch points.

How does your job fit into the branding process? CB’a is the brand activation and design agency specializing in the three consumer relationship touch points: product packaging, retail, and digital. As the Business Director, I am the one who guarantees the success of our agency’s work. Over the past 20+ years I’ve worked in customer experience, digital, customer relationship management, advertising, and currently brand activation and design.

How do you define brand activation? Brand activation boils down to entering the consumer’s life and creating a deeper engagement between the brand and its consumers. The end of brand activation is the beginning of the traditional marketing and advertising methods and techniques brands use.

Yes, brands can use marketing and advertising, but it’s important to recognize that consumers don’t share “advertising;” they share content that is entertaining and that has an impact on them and that they find interesting. The goal of brands today should be to increase top-of-mind by creating useful, engaging, and high-quality content that consumers want to seek out and, by extension, share.

Begin by creating a real consumer insight that leads to a unique idea that can become the foundation of a brand activation campaign.

What are some brands that you have worked with? LCL, Banque Populaire, Unilever, Pepsi-Co, Edition Francis Lefebvre, FMCG

As a small startup, should I invest my limited advertising budget on an advertising campaign or on a brand activation campaign? Strategic planning is the first and most important aspect of any campaign, brand activation or otherwise.

Advertising is reminding consumers that you are still in business; brand activation is pushing consumers to buy your product instead of your competitors at the crucial time when consumers are in the market to buy what you have to offer.

If you’ve a limited budget – and especially if nobody knows you exist, then I’d recommend investing your budget in the sales and customer service experience and bring in profit and revenue. Then you can begin focusing on advertising and brand activation.

Today, your brand’s clear, unique and decisive value proposition is what persuades consumers to purchase your product or service over your competitor’s.

What are a few misconceptions brands commonly have about your industry? That television advertising is still the most important means of staying top of mind with consumers. If your target consumers are older, then yes, television plus web is the most important. But with the younger generations, the internet is your best bet for reaching them and staying top of mind.

Further, ways of staying top of mind with your target consumers are constantly changing. This is one of the reasons why I love what I do – it is never boring!

What can you tell me about user experience design? You have customer experience, which includes each and every touch point between the customer and the brand. The brand user experience refers to the experience as it pertains to a specific digital interface – i.e. on your website. This user experience is very important because if your customers have a bad experience on your website, it’s your responsibility and your customers will hate you for it.

But if you sell a physical product then online user experience is but one part of the experience. Customers will likely have more experience with your product packaging design than your website user interface.

It can sometimes be complicated for agencies when brands have such strong convictions about who they have to be and the opportunities they have to take that they don’t take full advantage of our expertise and experience.  They meet with us and explain that:

  • “We HAVE TO be like this.”
  • “Why do you HAVE TO be like that?”

Often times brands and their agencies don’t always agree with each other and most times agencies have a difficult time explaining their ideas to their clients about why we disagree with how they “HAVE TO” be.

How long can a good branding strategy last? Bill Bernbach said that “A good branding strategy can remain untouched for decades.” Well, that statement was said in the 1950s before the internet and digital. Today’s branding strategy lifespan is less and less than it was before. You don’t want to rebrand your branding strategy every year, but I would recommend taking a serious look at your branding strategy every three years or so.

The Parisian taxi services have had the same strategy for over 20 years. Why would they change? However Uber’s business model and branding strategy has been met with an alarming success and has become a serious threat to the entire industry – revealing how antiquated and outdated their service has become.

If the Parisian Taxi Federation had been paying attention to what was going on in their industry, they would have seen Uber as a potential threat back when it was originally founded in 2009, and then an imminent threat when they launched UberX. Today the taxi federation’s success depends on how quickly and effectively they can update their branding strategy and business model to compete to this threat.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: As of 19 December, 2014, UberPop will be banned in France for ‘unfair advantage.’]

This is also happening to smaller and unknown snooty bars and restaurants who depend on a steady stream of tourists who have no way of alerting other tourists to stay away from the restaurant. Sites such as Trip Advisor is making all businesses and restaurants rethink their branding strategy.

What are some problems brand have distinguishing themselves from their competition? First things first, define your brand promise and selling proposition that ONLY you can offer people.

I have a small marketing budget, any advice? If you truly believe in your brand’s success, but lack the budget to advertise it, then seriously consider bringing in investors who are willing to put the necessary money into your marketing campaigns.

I want to do your job, any advice? Build your social network. It’s easier to find employment and move up in a company when you have other people recommending you.

64. Lewis Chalas on Digital Advertising, The Consumer Journey and The Power of ‘Click Here!’

Digital Coordinator for Group M and Co-founder of Razzia.co, Lewis Chalas has +6 years experience working with brands to most effectively reach consumers through digital media.

How does your job fit into the advertising process?  The commercial team creates the creative brief with the client and then hands it off to me. My job is to study the clients business and their consumers to discover the best way to reach their consumers. Typical digital solutions that digital agencies offer are:

  • Display ads – banner display ads.
  • Search Engine Advertising (SEA)
  • Tracking and analytics.
  • Mobile advertising campaigns.
  • Cross device campaigns – ads that cross from computer to tablets and mobile.

Digital coordinators manage all these different digital campaign options to deliver to the client the final product.

What are some clients you have worked for? Netflix, Les Furêts, BGL, Colgate, Fiat

What are some campaigns you have worked on?

Is there a digital screen size (desk top, mobile, tablet…) that you have found to be more profitable than others? This really depends on your objectives.

In terms of sales, consumers may feel more comfortable entering their credit card details into their desktop and laptop, however this is changing and I don’t believe that there is a battle between desktop and mobile. Honestly the size of the screen (laptop, desktop, tablet, mobile)  isn’t really the issue anymore. The more important question to ask is ‘Which screen(s) do your consumers interact with the most, and why.’ In short, ‘What is your target consumer’s journey?’

Tell me about the consumer journey. Two questions you need to answer for this:

  • 1. What do I want to say?
  • 2. When would my consumer be most receptive to my message?

Consumers may use their phone more in the morning before work to browse the news and quickly check their email, and then after work during the transit home. During the day they will work on their laptops and desktops. In the evenings after 6:00PM and on the weekend consumers may use their tablet to relax, read and browse their favorite sites, and thus may be more open to your message, likely to share your articles and making a purchase. Knowing this about your target consumers, you’re better able to focus your digital advertising when they will be most receptive to it.


Learn more on this chart on Campaign Live and Mec Global.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In our interview, Ivan Pejcic, strategic planner for Ogilvy goes into detail about how to incorporate the consumer journey into a creative brief.]

What is the difference between a sales ad and a branding ad in terms of look and feel? For branding objectives you want to go big to be sure the consumer cannot miss you – Half Page 300×600 ads or full-page ads that appear before the person can visit the website, and are thus more expensive because they’re pay per impression (PPI) and take up so much space. For branding ads you need something that stops and teases the user such as a video or image(s) as well as a call to action such as ‘Click here.’

The smaller ad formats don’t make for good branding campaigns. The smaller sized ad formats are generally used for sales because they provide more qualitative traffic – the consumer intentionally chose to click on those ads.

With sales-based advertising you should be engaging. For example it should say ‘Click here to get 10% off’ or another attractive offer to peak the consumer’s curiosity. Never underestimate the power of the words ‘Click here.’


If PPC gives you free advertising until somebody clicks on it, what is the benefit of PPI? PPI is more for volume objective such as placement – when you want to saturate a particular website or advertising network of websites during a short time – to be the ONLY advertisement people see. PPI isn’t the best way to drive sales; but it is the best way to get your brand in front of a lot of people very quickly.

What are some misconceptions clients commonly have about advertising? The separation of television and online; nowadays we can actually synchronize television commercials with digital ads.

Focus on one objective per campaign. Don’t try to mix a branding campaign and a sales campaign because the approaches are different. Often brands try to do everything with one campaign. If you have the budget then you can run a branding campaign and a sales campaign simultaneously, but don’t try to create one ad that does both. 

I have a small advertising budget, any advice? In no particular order:

1. Invest in a fully-responsive website that is both desktop and mobile friendly.

2. Have a landing page for your advertising campaigns to link to, but more importantly organize your website so that every page is designed to convert –so that on every page and blog post consumers are encouraged to purchase or sign up. Don’t clutter your website with so many extraneous share buttons, widgets, ‘related posts’ and text that people overlook the most important thing you want them to see – the purchase button.

3. From point A to point B, you lose traffic with every click the consumer has to make. So when running a sales campaign, don’t link your ad to your homepage, instead link directly to the specific page where the person can buy the product or service you are advertising in your ad. The fewer clicks possible the better.

4. If you’re selling several items, don’t advertise ‘check out our store’ and then direct the consumer to your store page. Instead, focus your advertisement on one item specifically, and then direct the consumer to that precise product’s purchase page.

Consider running a dynamic campaign where you split-test your different products to see which products sell the most and help you better segment your market.

5. Once your website is ready, just go live and carefully monitor your analytics to see how your visitors behave.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on how to run an analytics campaign, refer to my interview with Thomas Palugan, Data Consultant]

6. Get as much free advertising and buzz as you can through your friends and social network. Guest post on other blogs for exposure and reputation-building. Post informed comments on other people’s blogs and community forums.

7. Online – focus on SEA – search engine advertising to catch business and new consumers. Plus since you only play per click, you’re maximizing your exposure and impressions can act as branding.  This gives you a much broader reach.

8. Take advantage of Facebook’s very targeted advertising opportunities. For example you can launch a  pay per click (PPC) campaign that targets only members of your target demographic that have already made online purchases.

9. Offline expenses such as business cards and flyers can be more difficult to monitor because the price of one business card is roughly the same as the cost of a person clicking on your online advertising, but you can’t analyze the exposure of your business card. Consider that as you plan your campaigns.

10. Host an event around your brand. To do this you need money and/or friends network to help you diffuse it.

11. Consider raising money by bringing in investors to launch larger campaigns.

12. Force people to notice you. Blow up enormous balloons with your logo on them and place them in the streets. These balloons will attract photos which will (hopefully) be spread onto social media platforms.

58. Thomas Yve, Art Director

Art Director for Being, Thomas Yve has +5 years experience creating visual identities and packaging designs for brands.

How does your job fit into the branding process? I work mostly on visual identity: creating or refreshing logos, typography, and packaging designs – general and limited edition. Once I learn we’ve won a new client, and BEFORE I’ve received their creative brief, I like to do a search on the brand just to get a general overview of who they are and where they’re coming from. I look at the brand’s website, history, search results, their competitors, etc. I like to do this BEFORE I even receive the official creative brief for three important reasons:

  1. It allows me to view the brand objectively as a casual consumer and not as an art director hired by the brand.
  2. After I’ve received the brief, I can compare my previous findings with the brand’s objectives.
  3. With the general search out of the way, I can narrow my search and focus on idea generation.

During the initial idea generation phase, I sketch out as many designs and ideas on paper as I can before moving to Photoshop or Illustrator because:

  1. Ideas can come to you from out of nowhere and in the most random moments and places, and it’s easier to find a pen and paper than it is to find Photoshop.
  2. I’ve found that ideas flow more easily and freely when you free-sketch than with computers because you’re limited to Photoshop and Illustrator’s user interface to flesh out your idea. This has certain limitations. With pen and paper you have no limitations.

If you’re creative, you should have a sketch notebook and a pencil with you at all times.

Once I’ve narrowed down my ideas I’m in back-and-forth meetings with the creative director, commercial team and strategic planners to further refine the idea until it is ready to be pitched to the client.

From receiving the creative brief to pitching our solutions to the brand can take from one week to one month. Obviously the more time I have to generate ideas, the better my ideas will be. At the pitch we narrow all the ideas down to three maximum.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A pitch usually consists of a maximum of three ideas:

  1. An idea that is ‘on brief’ and exactly what the client is expecting.
  2. An idea that is ‘on brief’ and slightly more edgy than the client might feel comfortable with.
  3. An idea that is ‘on brief’ yet so wild that you’re sure the client will never take but makes them dream and consider the possibilities.

For more information about the pitching process and what constitutes ‘on brief,’ refer to my interviews with Gregory Ferembach, Art Director for Y&R and Olivier Hubinous, Account Manager for Pixelis.]

New and refreshed logos and product designs should be accompanied by advertising and public relations campaigns to get the word out.

What’s a campaign you’ve recently worked on? I’m never fully happy with my work when I turn it in, however here is one of my favorite from my portfolio:


Every creative I interview says they’re unhappy with their final work. Why is that? It’s normal because nothing is ever truly finished; everything can be improved upon. Finding improvements means finding weak points that can be corrected. As a creative and an entrepreneur you should always strive to take your idea one step further. The day you can no longer find any fault in what you’ve created, you should be worried.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his book Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH says that “It can be easy to settle on something that feels right. Something that seems to make sense of all the confusion. You’ll feel relief when you get to this point. You’ll think you’ve cracked it. You’ll feel good. But then you have to take a step back from what feels really good and ask: But is it great?”]

But that doesn’t give you permission to hold off launching your creation until it is ‘perfect.’ You must and should have time and budget constraints.

How often should brands refresh their logo, typography and designs? Brands should be refreshed around every 5 years. That being said, if you have a timeless logo and typography, NEVER change it! Nike, for example, has had the same logo “The Swoosh” since 1971. If it works, don’t change it.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Steven Dupuis notes in his book Package Design Workbook that humans see in the following order:

  1. Color,
  2. Shape,
  3. Photography, and lastly
  4. Words]

What tips can you offer on designing your visual identity? For a visual identity, I start with the logo. I spend a lot of time on the design of the typography and sign if there is one. It must be intelligent and encapsulate the brand personality. Everything must be simple; the more simple the better. For example, the logo and sign are the first thing you notice on a business card.

Then we put the colors and graphic shapes which accentuate the personality of the brand. Also, it’s very important to choose a good font (or fonts) from a reputable foundry. Typography is a very important graphic element that should not be taken lightly. A serif, sans-serif, or condensed version of the same typography can alter the entire identity of your brand.

After you’ve chosen your typography choose your color scheme. Your competitors will have already claimed a certain color scheme, so you want to choose colors that accentuate your brand identity without coming across as a copycat.

After you’ve chosen your color scheme choose the shape of your packaging design.

What tips can you offer on packaging design? Two things:

  1. Your product and packaging design is your brand’s story in the flesh.
  2. You cannot create your packaging design until you’ve created your typography, color schema and logo.

Then you must distinguish between designing packaging for a one-time limited edition package and designing for a product line. The point of a limited edition is that it stands out from your brand’s normal identity. But when you’re designing a product line you have to factor in congruency among the different packages. Packages must be different enough so consumers can distinguish among your different products yet close enough that they can clearly recognize your brand.

If you’re a startup launching your first product, you can’t expect to turn a one-time or limited edition design into a product line identity; you must plan far enough down the line to know whether you will offer extensions.

When creating your product line packaging:

  1. Consider the packaging material you’ll be using. Plastic? Paper? Metal? Will it be coated with a shiny or glittery substance?
  2. Keep the overall form, typography, layout and primary color of the packaging the same and then change the secondary color.

What are a few examples of brand identity designs you like?




What are a few websites you go to for inspiration?

What are a few of your favorite campaigns?

I have a small budget, any advice?

  1. A remarkable idea is the most important! If you’re creative and invest your time you can come up with a remarkable idea for free, then you can invest all of your money paying for placing your idea in front of consumers. But coming up with remarkable ideas isn’t easy.
  2. If you aren’t very creative then you’ll need to invest money in hiring somebody to create an idea for you. But if the person you hire gives you an idea that doesn’t turn out to be remarkable, then you’ve lost your money on a mediocre idea and the money you do invest in placing your advertising will be wasted because consumer’s won’t notice it.
  3. You need a strong logo before you need a strong packaging design and advertising presence. Consider Heinz ketchup. It’s likely that you know what their typography, color scheme and logo look like, but can you recall any of their advertising campaigns?
  4. You do need a strong packaging design and a strong advertising presence. But must you divide your budget between the two? What if you invested your entire budget in creating a product and packaging design so remarkable and strong that it could be the focus of your advertising campaign? Look at Apple’s advertising campaigns for thir iPhones; their product is so beautiful that their advertising campaigns are merely photos of the product.
  5. Product and packaging design influences price. Your product might sell for $10 today. Now imagine investing in a design so beautiful and remarkable that you could charge $15 or even $30 for the same product. That profit goes directly to your bottom line. That is the power of visual identity.

So to summarize, your typography, color scheme and logo opens or closes the creative possibilities you have at your disposal. Choose them wisely and everything else will come more easily.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Marine Soyez, Art Director explains in greater detail how to create a strong logo, and Timoni West, Freelance Product Designer offers a contrarian perspective on your logo’s importance when it comes to online startups.]

People learn by comparison.

They learn by comparing new things to the things they already know. That’s why redefining a category is much easier than creating a new one.

When you position your product in an existing category you’re essentially saying “it’s like something you already know but better”.

When you try to create a new product category you’re essentially saying “it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before”.

That’s a provocative statement, but hard to learn by.