Words and Numbers

So far, 2014 has seen a great deal of activity at MSK with the research and writing of new case statements for a wide variety of clients. These include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Saint Joseph’s University, Latin American Community Center, International Youth Foundation, and the White House Fellows Foundation & Association. Many have already moved to the design phase for print and digital applications.

Pages from MSK FFB

Our first campaign launch of the summer will be later this month in Denver, CO where the Foundation Fighting Blindness kicks-off Envision 20/20. Case materials are complete with iPad presentations and other communications in development.

In addition, having written and designed case statements throughout the campaign, we’ve recently completed the end of campaign report for Dream It. Do It. Drexel. – the Campaign for Drexel University. Completed 13 months ahead of schedule, the Campaign raised $455 million – $55 million above goal.

Why the Brain Prefers Paper

Here’s an interesting article from Scientific American on studies related to print versus pixels that, among other things, found:

1. Studies in the past two decades indicate that people often understand and remember text on paper better than on a screen. Screens may inhibit comprehension by preventing people from intuitively navigating and mentally mapping long texts.

2. In general, screens are also more cognitively and physically taxing than paper. Scrolling demands constant conscious effort, and LCD screens on tablets and laptops can strain the eyes and cause headaches by shining light directly on people’s faces.

3. Preliminary research suggests that even so-called digital natives are more likely to recall the gist of a story when they read it on paper because enhanced e-books and e-readers themselves are too distracting. Paper’s greatest strength may be its simplicity.


An Inspiration for Web Shopping

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article (and video) on the growing impact printed catalogs have on the sales activity of online retailers. From clothes to furniture and car parts to office supplies, retailers are increasingly using printed catalogs to drive sales activity online. The result? Consumers and B2B shoppers are finding ideas and inspiration in the print catalogs then going online to order what they’ve seen or something else.




Look Up in Piccadilly Circus

British Airways have a couple of new billboards in London that take interactivity to new heights. Created by the team at BA’s agency Ogilvy 12th Floor, the little boy really does know when it’s a British Airways plane. And that really is the actual flight number and where it’s flying.

These billboards, installed in London’s Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick, interactively display information about the flight that appears immediately overhead. Using custom-built surveillance technology the billboards display the flight number and route information in sync with a recorded video of a child who appears to be pointing at each plane as it soars above. A great way to engage viewers with the BA brand and demonstrate the many places the airline flies to and from.

Tuscany, France?

Congratulations to our good friend David Long and all the fine folks at the Tuscany Group – in Baltimore. It seems like 2013 was a great year for expansion and client success. We had the good fortune of working with David and his team for a year-plus on significant communications outreach for Learn It Systems. Tuscany provided a wealth of research and strategic support to Learn It – not just in communications – and provided MSK with the insight and analysis we needed to engage customers and prospects on behalf of Learn It.

Fundraising of Old

Eglantyne Jebb might be called the ‘mother’ of non-profit marketing – the deluge of fundraising ads that today scream for attention from TV screens, newspapers, the web, and our mail boxes.

Jebb was the founder of global children’s charity Save the Children – and pioneered the kind of communication techniques that modern charity marketers now see as the norm.

She was rather controversial. Jebb was taken to court in May 1919 accused of being a traitor for distributing a poster in Trafalgar Square, London showing emaciated Austrian children threatened with starvation because of an Allied blockade lasting beyond the end of World War 1.

The former teacher, though, showed what a persuasive advocate she could be. Despite being fined £5, she got a donation for her charity from the prosecuting counsel.

Jebb understood the value of publicity for what she did. She ran the first full-page charity ad in The Times of London, which helped raise £400,000 – the equivalent of about $13 million today – by the end of Save the Children’s first year.

And she was one of the first non-profit organizers to understand the value of sponsorship and celebrity endorsement by persuading Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw to give their support.

As she famously said: “The world is not ungenerous but unimaginative and very busy.”

Dare to Play Departure Roulette

Here’s an airport stunt from Heineken that seems to embody the brand’s adventurous spirit. Twice this week they set up a board at JFK’s Terminal 8 and dared travelers to play “Departure Roulette”—changing their destination to a more exotic location with the press of a button. They had to agree to drop their existing travel plans—without knowing the new destination first—and immediately board a flight to the new place.

On Tuesday, a man played the game and ended up going to Cyprus instead of Vienna. (He had been planning a six-week visit with his grandparents, but soon learned he would be headed to Cyprus on a 9:55 p.m. flight. Heineken gave him $2,000 to cover expenses and booked him into a hotel for two nights.) Perhaps Heineken should set this up in the Moscow airport. There’s a guy there who would welcome any chance to fly to oblivion. heineken-departure-roulette-hed-2013

On the Campaign Trail

Nationwide, the start of capital and comprehensive fundraising campaigns has risen dramatically over the past six months according to various indicators. Institutions and other non-profits have more confidence in their ability to raise significant funds than they did just one year ago. From the conversations we’ve had, many would have liked to begin a campaign last year but felt market conditions would not sustain such an initiative. We’ve certainly seen an upswing in clients seeking campaign communications – covering planning and identity to case statements and online/tablet components. We’re currently managing communications programs for campaigns with goals ranging from $10 million to $500 million for clients including Drexel University, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the University of Pennsylvania. Please contact us if you would like a confidential discussion regarding your campaign.

The End of the E-Reader?


In 2007, the must have gadget for any avid reader was either Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook. These E-Readers were revolutionary in that they allowed users to store and read multiple books on a conveniently sized device that was modestly priced. Although it seems like just yesterday that these devices were flying off the shelves, today E-readers are on the verge of extinction.

Two main problems are playing a role in the demise of these gadgets. First, users simply do not see the point in upgrading to a newer device. Julie Curtis from Ohio, was quoted in a Wall Street Journal Article as saying, “It works fine, I really have no reason to get a new one.”

Julie continued, “If I ever did want to upgrade, it would probably be to a tablet, like the Kindle Fire.” This brings us to the biggest problem, the emerging popularity of tablets. In 2007 the idea of tablets were still being tossed around a boardroom somewhere but that’s not the case today. Tablets, like Apple’s iPAD Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, are affordable and more technologically sophisticated than most E-readers.

The trends are showing that by 2015 E-readers might in fact be completely obsolete despite major advancements in the technology. The manufacturers of these devices will need to come up with a strategy to target a niche market, and keep E-readers afloat.

Click Here for the WSJ article

Click Here for the WSJ video

An Institution of Higher Marketing


Last week marked the start of a new year, and for many high school students it symbolizes the last semester before jetting off to college. Parents aspire for their kids to attend the most prestigious academic university, and kids aspire to move as far away from their parents as possible. This upcoming year it looks as though there is an exciting new university that offers it all; Monsters University.

No, Monsters University is not a real college but you wouldn’t be able to tell that by the look and feel of its website. Disney/Pixar launched this marketing campaign to promote the release of their upcoming movie: Monsters University. The site is complete with recruitment videos, a functioning school store and anything else you would expect to find on a legitimate college’s page.

Arthur Clawson, the founder of Monsters University said, “Knowledge must never be feared, wisdom must always be pursued, and excellence must be at the center of everything.” Clearly, Disney/Pixar’s marketing knowledge, wisdom and excellence are on full display with this site.