Become a Member During the AMA’s Spring Campaign

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Give your career an advantage you won’t get anywhere else. Become a member.

Join NOW with code SPRING30 and we’ll waive the $30 join fee (offer good through June 6, 2014)

Charleston AMA Announces Spark! Winners, Marketer of the Year

Marketer of the Year Andressa Chapman and Suzie Barrow, Charleston AMA special events director

Marketer of the Year Andressa Chapman and Suzie Barrow, Charleston AMA special events director

The Charleston American Marketing Association awarded Andressa Chapman with its 2014 Marketer of the Year Award. Chapman has been the marketing director at Wild Dunes Resort for nine years.

Winners were recognized at an awards ceremony on March 20 at 39 Rue de Jean in downtown Charleston. Sponsors included the Charleston Regional Business Journal as a media sponsor and restaurant Rue de Jean as an event sponsor.

The Marketer of the Year Award honors exceptional marketing efforts by Charleston-area professionals. The award recognizes the person who, through innovation, strategy and communications excellence, has made a positive impact on his or her company or in the marketplace.

Chapman has been recognized among the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing” by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. She was recently an invited author for the Journal of Digital and Social Media Marketing, an educational journal for marketers in high level positions as well as universities. And in April, she will speak to industry marketing professionals at the 2014 Digital Travel Summit in Las Vegas.

The AMA Spark! Awards goes to companies that have developed and implemented measurably effective marketing campaigns over the last year. This year’s winners are:

  • Best Business to Consumer Integrated Campaign: Trio Solutions for its work on the Children’s Discovery Center integrated campaign.

  • Best Design Print: College of Charleston for its ads “Welcome to Class”

  • Best Design Collateral: Andrew Barton for designing the mailer for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

  • Best Design Out of Home: College of Charleston for “Gateways”

  • Best Design Digital: 2013 Charleston Wine + Food Festival

  • Best Non-Traditional Campaign: Le Crueset for “Pass it On Potluck”

  • Best Special Event Campaign: Touchpoint Communications for its work on ArtFields

Charleston AMA also awarded graphic designer Andrew Barton as its AMA Volunteer of the Year. Barton has been instrumental in volunteering his graphic design skills for Charleston AMA marketing projects and events.

Check out more photos from the event:


Raise Turkeys, Not Awareness

Are you paying attention? A whole lot of people don’t seem to think so. Much of the non-profit marketing profession appears hell-bent on raising your awareness — of cancer, child abuse, dental hygiene, the scourge of erectile dysfunction, and the like. They evidently believe that you cruise blindly through life, like the undead, without noticing the salient features of the world around you.

I don’t mean to belittle a devastating disease, but I’m guessing you’ve heard of cancer. You probably know an important detail, like, it’s bad for you. You might even wear sunscreen and eat broccoli in an effort to ward it off. Awareness.

(I am making many assumptions about you even though I don’t know who you are. Based on the AMA members I have met, you are a graduate of Lake Wobegon High School: savvy and intellectual, shockingly attractive, courageous and warm-hearted. If you are not an AMA member, hurry and join so you can share these characteristics.)

Visit the website of many non-profits and you’ll see “raising awareness” as part of their mission, as if you didn’t notice the gentleman in full winter regalia pushing a cart with his worldly belongings along the Crosstown on a summer afternoon.

No one needs some anonymous radio dork imploring them to care more about lung disease, irradiated food, boating while intoxicated or the plight of the endangered chuckwalla. We’re either sufficiently aware or not bothering the chuckwalla in any way ourselves.



Of course, much of this is the result of the common misconception that anyone can do PR and marketing, which require no particular expertise, like hanging a picture, or swallowing. Non-profit staff without any marketing expertise substitute “raising awareness” for real, measurable objectives because, well, they haven’t had their awareness raised.

If these benighted marketers want to devote the full measure of their talent to useful pursuits, may I suggest the following awareness raisers:

  • Mindlessly placing yourself in the way. Subcategories: Standing in the doorway at parties. Stopping at the top of a hill on ski slopes. Walking four-across on the King Street sidewalk. Walking in the bike lane (or biking in the walk lane) on the Cooper River Bridge.
  • Cognitive dissonance. Sub-categories: Advocating for a simpler, fairer tax code that maintains your favorite deductions. Hating steroid users unless they help your team. Demanding that Congress do something while voting against members willing to compromise. Complaining about the cost of heart bypass surgery required after a lifetime of eating Twinkies and melting into chairs.
  • Smoking while in a public pool. The tar and nicotine have apparently ravaged your cerebral cortex beyond repair. For your safety, you need to be removed from the pool permanently.
  • Waiting to drive across four lanes of traffic rather than merging into the right lane and working your way across. If you can’t see how you’re holding up everyone behind you, then you’ve been smoking in the pool.
  • “The F-word,” “the N-word,” “the L-word.” If you want us to know the word you have in mind, say it. If you’re afraid to say it, skip the juvenile reference to it. P.S. There are several words that start with “S.” I can think of four or five myself.
  • Using a phone while operating a mass of metal at a velocity well-past sufficient to cause death. If you’re going to text, dial, surf, converse with Siri or otherwise concentrate your limited brain power on your phone and not on your driving, please make sure your fatal accident is of the one-car variety.

I look forward to seeing what those sharp marketing minds can devise to combat… hey! Get out of the way!

–barry waldman

I Value Our Relationship. Send Money.

As marketers, we like to think we have “relationships” with names in our databases. We use the most exalted term to describe them: customers. But do they think of themselves that way? Often, the answer is no, but it doesn’t seem to affect company behavior.

The problem is a subset of the larger issue of PR and marketing: people going native. I like to remind myself daily that the non-profit for which I work is but a walnut in the batter of our donors’ lives. Our staff will say something that starts with, “People think we…” when most people don’t think about us at all. Even most loyal donors who love the organization’s mission, and contribute an amount of money that would shiver your timbers, are only obliquely aware of anything we’re doing.

And if you sell flavored, carbonated sugar water; or aggravating software; or diapers; your customers care even less about you. You might use condoms twice a day but that doesn’t mean you don’t hate them and the company that makes your soaring personal life possible.

Case in point: I have a credit card through The Nature Conservancy. If you asked my wife or me, we would say it’s our Nature Conservancy card. We don’t know or care what bank issues the card and we certainly don’t consider ourselves their customers. (Not to put too fine a point on it: We hardly use the card.)

This bank, whose marketing department “values our relationship,” in the same way that I value my relationship with the center fielder for my favorite baseball team, sends us regular emails and old fashioned mail. At least I assume they send us emails; I unsubscribed so fast the electrons didn’t have time to dry.

I couldn’t tell you what’s in the envelopes they mail to us. I open them only so that I can remove the recyclable contents and mitigate the damage they’ve done to the planet.

Except I’ve started to notice that they are mailing me blank checks in the vain hope that I’m stupid enough to accept their “free” money offers, the offers that come with interest rates that would make Rico “The Shirt Collar” Spenzino* envious.

*Any resemblance between the fictional character Rico “The Shirt Collar” Spenzino and a couple of guys from my New York City neighborhood is purely purposeful. The views here do not represent the views of the Charleston AMA, the national AMA or even the AMA that’s filled with doctors. Also, my family no longer lives in the old neighborhood, Vinny, so don’t bother.

If the bank is intent on profiting from the prying apart of fools from their money, that’s their business. What rankles me is that they are printing blank checks with my name on them, putting them in an open box at the Post Office – a nearly bankrupt subsidiary of the always-efficient Federal Government – and hoping they will be delivered to me and no one else after they pass through the hands of a dozen highly-motivated federal employees.

Blank checks. With my name on them. What could go wrong with that?

What did that marketing department discussion sound like? Wasn’t there anyone in the room who noticed that they were setting themselves up for big piles of thievery?

So now a question for the bank from one of their customers. What happens when a postal employee handling the envelope, or a neighbor who reaches into the wrong mailbox, or a random person on the street who also values my relationship with the bank, gets his paws on the blank checks and cashes a couple of them? There’s no court in America that would expect me to be responsible for mail I never received.

Which is why I’m looking forward to the day that some vagabond (or blog reader) intercepts a packet of checks (did I mention that they’re blank?) and enjoys a lovely weekend in a tropical paradise like Atlantic City. I look forward to learning how much the marketing department values its relationship with me then.

–barry waldman

Reading This Blog Will Save You Time!

From everything I’ve read, Abe Lincoln was an upstanding and sagacious man. He emancipated the slaves, held the union together and knew what sagacious means. That sagacity lead him to proclaim that one might be able to “fool all of the people some of the time.”

I commend to your consideration certain advertising campaigns that are so pungently false, so transparently the opposite of the truth, and evidently so strikingly effective that they boggle the mind, or at least the mind of the few of us paying attention to their mendacity. You might call this the “M&Ms® Effect.”

For those under the age of – well – three, M&Ms® claim to “melt in your mouth, not in your hands.” This is not only the exact opposite of the truth about this particular candy, it’s a problem unique to M&Ms. Unless you’re an anti-choclatarian you know what I mean. The whole issue with M&Ms is that you have to engage with them strategically or else you’ll have a green, blue and red palm that you’ll desperately want to lick but will instead have to wash, in the case of persons with Y chromosomes, eventually.

To enjoy these candy-coated chocolate morsels, which might be among the rare artifacts (pizza, baseball, the platypus, sweet tea, The Onion, Scarlett Johansson) that prove God’s existence, you have to employ one of the following tactics:
· pour them directly from the package into your gullet
· pour them so lightly into your hand that they barely make epidermal contact, then quickly whip them into your mouth
· pour them onto a napkin or plate and pluck them in a single motion one-at-a-time with your thumb and forefinger into your mouth

All of which reminds us that the advertising campaign feels as if it was specifically designed to remind you how irritating this particular candy is to handle, particularly when it’s above 70 degrees, which only occurs every day for nine months of the year in the Lowcountry.

How the “melts in your mouth” campaign ever made it past the spitballing phase back at the ad agency, much less into the American vernacular, harkens to the aforementioned boggling of minds. Of course, it’s not alone.

There’s an ad out there for a national cable company – or a satellite TV service, whatever – suggesting that use of their product will bring the family together, increase the kids’ knowledge and get everyone out of the house more. How they make this leap of logic, with a half-twist in the piked position, is far less interesting than how they manage to sell cable/satellite subscriptions with a claim so transparently false. One could hardly charge them with deceptive advertising: it would take endless TV-watching to rot the brain cells sufficient to believe their claims.

Similar but not exactly the same is the epidemic of “erectile dysfunction” ads out there. As you are no doubt aware by now, impotence used to be considered a natural result of men aging, like forgetting what you were going to say and, and, uh . . . anyway, there was no condition called “E.D.” until Pfizer accidentally discovered a treatment for it – while experimenting with a remedy for heart conditions. A cure can’t be marketed and sold without a disease, and so they have invented one, convincing millions of men they aren’t getting older, they just have a condition that can be fixed with a pill. And we’re buying it! I mean some people are but I don’t know who.

And of course tobacco companies used their monetary might for decades to convince us that sucking on poison sticks was cool and sexy, even though it led to yellow teeth, bad breath, inelastic skin and early death. That actually did involve outright lying, which is another story, but the point is that plenty of people who had to know better somewhere in their cerebral cortex nonetheless bought the product and transformed themselves into addicts.

It does make me wonder if my employer should stop wasting all its efforts to market strategically and just bamboozle everyone out of their money. The more you donate, the more you’ll have!

–barry waldman

New member Spotlight: Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith


Name: Kristin Smith

Company:  Motivated Marketing

Title: Director of Media/Marketing

LinkedIn, Facebook


Motivated Marketing is a full service ad agency based in North Charleston.  My role, since joining the company 3 years ago, has been to develop the Media Department, establish policy/procedure/best practices, and manage key accounts.

How are you hoping to grow your business/career
in the coming year?  

I am always seeking opportunities for professional growth and expanding my knowledge base.  In 2014, I plan to put more of a focus on our digital media arm to better develop that side of our business.  I am also increasingly interested in agency operations management. I have had the distinct pleasure of helping to develop the structure and process of day-to-day activity in my current role and I hope to continue to lead our agency through new process that inspires growth in 2014.

If you could connect with one marketer (local or
otherwise) who would it be and why?

There are so many influential marketers, it would be hard to pick just one to meet. Given the opportunity, I would throw a small dinner party and invite Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mary Meeker, Nisha Chittal, David Ogilvy, and Leo Burnett. It would be so interesting to see how the founders of the modern ad world would feel about the evolving media landscape of today.

Do you have a favorite marketing website, blog, guru?

I read most of the typical trades. Mashable is always a good go-to for bite-size content on a lunch break, though.

How has Charleston AMA helped you succeed (or how will it help you succeed) in your business/career?

As a new member, I look forward to making more great contacts and I also hope to take part in the mentorship program as that develops.


Happy Anniversary to the Outhouse: A Laugh-Out-Loud Marketing Primer

When I was a kid, “a long time ago” might have been five years. It was half a lifetime ago by my standards. When my local baseball team, playing in its eighth season, won the World Series, it felt as if they had gone forever without being good. (Technically, that was true; I’m only three years older than the team is.)

Today, my time horizon is somewhat longer, and lengthening. So it snuck up on me that we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of a textbook case of marketing – the Outhouse Springs water campaign. And it’s providing that textbook with a comedy section.

outhouse  Outhouse Springs was the brainchild of Jeff Taylor, Dale Lanford and the team at Cognetix Marketing in West Ashley. They had
been hired by Adams Outdoor Advertising to demonstrate the power of billboard advertising. So they created the concept of
Outhouse Springs and plastered it on boards around town.

But a hoax is just goofing around unless you sell it, and sell it they did. The Cognetix marketing machinery produced a fully
integrated campaign, with a website, news releases, product launch – the whole nine yards, fully branded with an outhouse and the
slogan, Truly Tasteless Water.

So driving down the road, you could see billboards announcing the following:

“People love us – but they won’t shake our hands!”

“Originally in cans [image of outhouse], now in bottles! [image of product]”

A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-[picture of bottle]

“It’s #1, not #2!”

Oh yes they did.

The buzz was incredible. Surveys showed that virtually everyone in the Charleston metro had seen and remembered the billboards.  People were talking about it across the country. Nationally syndicated writers and radio commentators mentioned it. Many wanted to know how they could buy the product.

Of course, there was no product. That Cognetix teamed up with Appalachian Springs to sell Outhouse Springs water for a couple of months at Piggly Wiggly, with proceeds going to save the historic Morris Island Lighthouse is merely a nice footnote. (it was the second-leading selling water for a couple of weeks.)

I don’t know if Adams ever quite leveraged their infamy the way they had hoped, but I know I had some fun conversations with the Cognetix team about their inspired campaign. I even suggested, post facto, another billboard.

“No one makes water like we do!”

Even then, their creative jets were burning rocket fuel. Turns out there were two great ideas that went down the drain:

[Picture of dog lapping at toilet] “Your best friend’s been drinking us for years!”

And my all-time favorite:

“Made in America, but tastes like European!”

Happy anniversary, Cognetix. Thanks for making us all pee our pants.

– barry waldman

Keep Calm and Read This Dreck

I’m not you. That’s a good thing, because if I were, there would be at least two more versions of me than are absolutely necessary. Or even remotely desirable.

But I’ve digressed, even before I got gressing in the first place.

The point is, even though you are not me, you are probably aware of the ‘80s band Huey Lewis and the News. And you’re probably well aware that they’re over. They’re so over that KC and the Sunshine Band has a good laugh with Bobcat Goldthwaite about them.


This is such a simple concept. Tide stopped bemoaning ring-around-the-collar. Schools stopped showing Reefer Madness to teenagers. Brett Favre actually retired.

Clearly, not everyone has grasped the concept. That is the only explanation for the sudden explosion of sayings, each distinctly less clever than the previous one, riffing off the British wartime exhortation to Keep Calm and Carry On.

At my non-profit workplace someone has a poster that says Keep Calm and Raise Funds. I saw a shirt that said Keep Calm and Bowl. There’s even a Keepcalm-o-matic website that allows you to match Keep Calm with anything you can imagine. Keep Calm and Eat A Cookie. Keep Calm and Be Belieber. Keep Calm and Love Ariana. Evidently, you don’t have much of an imagination. The only connection among these items, besides their transparent disconnection from keeping calm, is their utter lack of creativity.

In case you’re considering a Keep Calm t-shirt, poster, hat, tattoo, engagement speech or other further co-opting of this now malign saying, let me be the first to clue you in.

It’s over. Been over. Was over after about the third use.

You see, the original propaganda was clever. The first adaptation was mildly clever. The re-purposing of the first adaptation was a clever rip-off. All subsequent versions: total rip-off, not to mention the evil opposite of clever. Trite, brainless nonsense.

Which brings us to the Got Milk? ad campaign from 20 years back. A paradigm of advertising genius, most notably when paired with Oreos for maybe the most brilliant 60 seconds in television history. (Aim low, my friends!)

Got Milk? took off like a scud missile on mescaline . . . and then the copycats descended upon it. Got Jesus? Got Cocker Spaniels? Got Lawn? Got Comfortable Footwear? And people are still producing them. Can you imagine what these conversations sound like?

“I’ve got it! Let’s adapt that inspired Got Milk? campaign to our purposes and make it – ready for this? – Got Tomatoes?”

“Lester, that is magnificent! Your mind works in glorious and mysterious ways!”

“Yes, jaws will drop when such enlightenment reaches their eyes!

This doltishness is polluting our world and must be stopped! If I were King, or Robert Mugabe, I would not just outlaw any further use of the “Got” trope, I would institute the death penalty as punishment. And on second conviction, a hunting trip with Dick Cheney. Anyone unaware that “Got” and more recently “Keep Calm” are over, is criminally negligent and must be put out of our misery.

Of course, you might disagree. After all, Huey Lewis and the News are still touring.

–barry waldman

New Member Spotlight: Sheree Ciappa

Name: Sheree Ciappa

 Company: Blackbaud

 Title: Senior Manager, Product Communications

Website, LinkedIn, Facebook


Serving the nonprofit and education sectors for 30 years, Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) combines technology and expertise to help organizations achieve their missions. As senior manager of product communications, I am responsible for generating all marketing materials that inform our customers of the latest changes and updates to their existing products as well as informing the market when new products are launched into the market to help them better achieve their missions.


How are you hoping to grow your business/career in the coming year? As we continue to move toward becoming an entirely SaaS organization, I will be communicating the new products that fit that criteria as well as continuing to help customer understand the features and benefits that are constantly being improved and added to our existing software.


If you could connect with one marketer (local or otherwise) who would it be and why?

A guy named Keith Chambers of The Chambers Group in Los Angeles, California is one of my favorite marketing rock stars. He has written a book called “Pull: Marketing Secrets the Fortune 100 Use”. His innovative approaches/techniques used to find the extraordinary in any branding and marketing challenge are some of the most intriguing and innovative models in the marketing industry today.

Do you have a favorite marketing website, blog, guru?

I love MarketingProfs and MarketingProfsUniversity. The content they send and webinars they offer are always on topic and very useful.


How has Charleston AMA helped you succeed (or how will it help you succeed) in your business/career?

The speakers at the monthly luncheons always contribute something new to incorporate into my marketing box of tools regardless of the topic. I leave with at least one new idea or provocative thought that I can utilize in making my output more effective, engaging and exciting.

Chapter Leaders Head to AMA Leadership Summit

Our incoming President Ronii Bartles, president of Bartles & Associates, and incoming President-Elect Holly Fisher, owner of HAF Creative, were in Chicago April 26-28 for the American Marketing Association’s Leadership Summit. This annual event is designed to help chapter leaders discover and leverage their personal leadership strengths and those of their board. Our incoming leaders came back with all sorts of ideas for growing Charleston AMA. Plus, they embraced the summit’s theme of “Start Your Engines.”