TEL P L E A S E E M A I L EMAIL L A U R A W I L S O N 0 8 @ G M A I L . C O M
LAURA V. WILSON
My professional experience includes both corporate and agency roles. I am a strategic thinker with an ability to lead
and work on cross-functional teams, translating insights to actionable strategies that help build brands, and connect
E D U C AT I O N
VCU Brandcenter, Richmond, VA, M.S., Communications Strategy
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, B.A., English
My tangible skills include: | meeting with and interviewing clients | writing creative briefs | preparing SWOT analyses |
leading focus group discussions | competitive reviews | utilizing various quantitative and qualitative research |
developing and executing strategy | preparing pitch presentation decks | giving presentations | working with a cross-
functional team |
PLANNING INTERN, ZIG CHICAGO, IL SUMMER 2007
•Strategized insights to be used when approaching potential new business clients.
•Led new business RFP research, insights and strategy for Chicago White Sox pitch.
•Presented research and strategy ideas to agency Strategic Director.
PA R T I C I PA N T, T H E M A R T I N A G E N C Y S U M M E R W O R K S H O P R I C H M O N D , V A S U M M E R
•Prepared advertising campaign for Kellogg’s.
•Presented to client and The Martin Agency, team won competition.
INDIVIDUAL THESIS: INCREASING ACCESS TO CREDIT HAS INCREASED OUR
R E L U C TA N C E T O TA L K A B O U T I T S P R I N G 2 0 0 8
•Suggested educational initiatives for credit card companies to refute increasingly negative perceptions of credit.
•Presented ﬁndings to class and The Martin Agency planner.
JAMES RIVER GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL SPRING 2008
•Prepared marketing plan for local chapter of USGBC non-proﬁt.
E T H N O G R A P H I C S T U D Y: H O W G R E E N I S T H E A V E R A G E C O N S U M E R ? FA L L 2 0 0 7
•Created formula to analyze consumers’ attitudes and behaviors towards green marketing to elicit a lifestyle change.
•Presented ﬁndings separately to author James Othmer, VCU PR Department and The Martin Agency’s Alliance for
Climate Protection planning team.
Knitting, traveling, celebrity culture, reading, cooking magazines, espresso drinks, green preservation.
Nintendo’s objective with the wii, according to CEO Satoru Iwata, is not "… about ﬁghting Sony, but about how
many people we can get to play games. The thing we're thinking about most is not portable systems, consoles,
and so forth, but that we want to get new people playing games."
Mario Kart wii:
Mario Kart wii supports Nintendo’s Wi-Fi connection. Therefore, players can play opponents in their own living
room as well as in living rooms across the country. It also comes with the Wii wheel, a wheel shaped peripheral
to house the Wii remote. MarioKart Wii is launching Spring 2008 and Nintendo wants to take advantage of
Mario’s enduring popularity to increase the number of Wii gamers.
Casual or Lapsed Gamers- They grew up playing Nintendo,
speciﬁcally the Mario Brothers games, but as jobs, kids and
bills have demanded more and more attention in their lives,
Nintendo has fallen by the wayside. They didn’t buy a
Nintendo 64. Or a GameCube. But they have noticed the
hype surrounding the Wii and its unique remote. They’re
starting to think that they can get their entertainment in a form
like they did back when they were kids.
Online gaming forums Connect the real world with Mario’s game world.
interviews with gamers, interviews with past Nintendo users
WHAT REASONS SUPPORT OUR POSITION TO THE LARGER AUDIENCE?
OBJECTIVES: Driving in a video game is an action that is accessible and relatable. That relatability can be used to attract those
-Gain more Wii gamers not currently interested in Mario games and keep Mario Kart top-of-mind even when not playing.
-Extend engagement with Mario Kart Wii
WHAT MEDIA ARE INVOLVED?
Online (community building)
Partnerships (Google Maps, Garmin)
Transportation vehicles (taxis and personal vehicles, soap box derby)
A downloadable program to your Wii syncs your scores
and data to the Mario Match Up site through the Wii’s Wi-
Fi. You can choose to race your friends or those with
similar or dissimilar interests. (i.e. political party, music
Players can utilize Google Earth tracks to import real
streets onto their Wii console. The number of real
cities provided for Mario Kart Wii will increase with
Players can also turn on real-time weather,
sponsored by weather.com to either mimic
the weather outside their window or the
weather in the real-life city they’ve chosen.
Game consoles will be placed in taxis in
major cities like New York, Chicago and
We will sponsor local Soap Box
Derbys and provide carts styled
after various Mario Carts in the
A partnership with Garmin will add a Mario
appearance to your GPS screen. Mario’s
voice can guide your route as well. It has
an on/off switch for days when you’re not
Two years after a rousing World Series win, the Chicago Interviews: Chicago residents, current
White Sox were in a slump. They failed to continue the
Creative Brief White Sox game attendants
momentum of their 2005 World Series win, and began
experiencing declining fan interest. In order to be Secondary: Baseball blogs, White Sox &
proﬁtable, they need to get more people into the stands. Chicago forums, White Sox and Chicago
Concession income, franchise opportunities and more all news articles.
ﬁlter down from game attendance.
South Siders: Either born and bred, or transplants. Many South Siders have an
inherent shame or embarrassment about their neighborhoods due to negative
stereotypes fostered by other northern or western Chicago neighborhoods.
Insight: Many South Siders are ﬁckle in their support of the White Sox. Like a
disappointed parent, they withhold their love and approval when the team is
doing poorly, but are affectionate when the team is doing well.
Opportunity: Strengthen sense of family among neighborhoods of the South
Insight: The South Side of Chicago has a rich cultural history which is To be from the South Side is like a badge of honor. It is not about being a criminal or a
often overlooked in favor of a reputation as a blue-collar, immigrant-heavy, hoodlum, as outsiders would like to suggest. It is about family. But these fair-weather fans
less desirable area of Chicago. need to be reminded of the meaning of the word “family.” That family encompasses more than
blood, it is about people coming together through love, similarities and background. The White
It originally was the historical home to Chicago’s rich with wide Sox can only be as strong as the combination of the team and the neighborhood together. The
boulevards, grey stone mansions and row houses. It was the home of team needs the support of their family, the neighborhoods, even if they sometimes disappoint
Chicago’s version of Harlem, Bronzeville, when millions of African- the fans. Because the South Side is a part of the White Sox every time they are up to bat.
American moved to Chicago in the early 20th century. It is home to houses They are all part of the same DNA.
built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the home to at least two city mayors.
WHAT MEDIA ARE INVOLVED?
Opportunity: Take advantage of the inherent history and commonalities STRATEGY:
Non-Trad.- exclusive to the South Side
of its residents to build a sense of family and community around the Outdoor, audio recordings at el stations in the South Let South Siders know that
diverse population inhabiting the South Side. Side they are all part of the same
In the spirit of Ritz’s recent campaign based on fun and Spam’s self-aware
acceptance and mocking of the qualities that made it a gross “mystery
meat” for so long in consumers’ minds, we want to reposition Velveeta as the
“unapologetic processed cheese product.”
-Hidden Velveeta lovers.
-Know current (healthy) food trends, but can’t give up foods they love.
-Velveeta is too good for them to stop eating; they just enjoy the taste too
-Don’t feel that it’s something they can admit to their friends.
“If I had a sudden craving for Velveeta, I “I am trying to become a foodie,
would ﬁrst pick up a few essentials— but there’s just something about
bread, OJ, coffee—to sort of mitigate the Velveeta that is so comforting. I
Velveeta purchase, like a timid teenager know that I should turn my nose
slipping a box of condoms among his up at Velveeta, cast it aside. But
toothpaste, gum, and deodorant.” I just can’t.”
-Matt, 25 -Jen, 28
WHAT MEDIA ARE INVOLVED?
WHAT DO WE WANT TO DO?
Expose the hidden community of Velveeta lovers.
Non-traditional (online, texting, outdoor)
In-store (ﬂoor decals, coupon dispensers, end-caps)
WHAT IS THE THING WE WANT TO TELL THEM? merchandise
It’s ok to like Velveeta. And there are more of you out there.
This interactive ad, shown here in a subway
station, videotapes confessions when you
push the button. The confessions are then
uploaded to the microsite.
Idea: Velveeta Confessions
Phase One: People confess
their love for Velveeta
You can only enter this microsite
by confessing something yourself.
“I eat Velveeta” T-shirts
Phase Two: People make
confessions about their lives.
People use the confession booths to confess about anything. Videos are
uploaded to the website.
Or text your confession to billboards.
You can also send/receive confessions by text.
Ethnographic Study: How Green
Is the Average Consumer?
With two fellow strategists, I conducted a study on
the average consumer’s thoughts and relationship
with the green movement. We read books and
blogs by distinguished authors in the ﬁeld, and
conducted primary research which was then divided
along generational lines.
There are very distinct attitudes and behaviors
towards green products and marketing, and we
found that many consumers were heavily inﬂuenced
by social and political events occurring during their
People are seeing, listening to, and experiencing the green movement in different ways. A
Attitude + Behavior =
living a healthier green lifestyle.
They are on the right track with their behavior, but we need to amplify their attitude and transfer their conservation
habits into other areas of their lives. They are turning off the lightbulb when they leave the room, but they could be
turning off a CFL light bulb. Ultimately, make them aware that their current lifestyle is green. It won’t require
too many changes.
They are in an excellent position in terms of both attitude and behaviors. They feel a sense of urgency and are do-
ing their parts, getting active in causes and trying to preserve the world for their future. We want to shift their arms’
length approach to adults on environmental issues. We should invite them to the table and let them know that we can
help them solve this problem. They don’t need to do everything themselves.
their sentiments toward the environment through consumption. Their attitude shift should be awareness through
education. It’s unrealistic that we can see an immediate change in behavior. We’ll start by getting them to buy more
Thesis: Credit INSPIRATION:
I read a letter-to-the-editor in which a man was writing to complain about the government
helping out sub-prime mortgage holders- risky borrowers who took out more money than they
could justify- who were in risk of defaulting on their mortgages. This man was upset because
he had purchased a house he was sure he could afford for years to come. And now this other
guy screwed up but would be affected minimally by his actions- and no lessons would be
I wanted to look at our relationship with money and how an increasing access to credit has
affected that relationship.
Survey (>100 respondents), one-on-one interviews, journals
Books, blogs, Newspaper/magazine/online articles
I divided my ﬁndings into the 5 categories below:
The American Dream
The American Dream
When I ﬁrst started this project, I thought that I would be researching the last ten years or so and the
recent real estate boom. Then I read that credit had been deregulated in 1978, increasing the availability of
credit, and I thought I’d be researching the past 30 years. Next I came across a book called Financing the
American Dream which further expanded my thoughts. It explored the idea that our entire country was
founded on a faith in the future. Going back to when our founding fathers immigrated to this country,
they were taking a risk that this gamble would pay off in the future. There's a longstanding willingness of
Americans to get ahead by using credit. Americans also have an innate optimism and believe that if they
want something they can achieve it.
To many people, the American Dream is about self-fulﬁllment, freedom, a better life, and security.
Unfortunately, sometimes the idea of the “American Dream” becomes subverted by the symbols of
that American Dream: the house, two-car garage, white picket fence, etc. Since the 1920s the pursuit of
the American Dream has been through consumer credit. And as a result of its increasing prevalence,
consumer debt has also become more accepted.
Unfortunately for consumers, 2/3 of the health of our country is
measured by how much we spend. Even as we are entering a
possible recession, our government encourages us to keep
spending to keep the economy healthy. And if we look at the
way our government deals with its own debt, it's easy to see how The fact remains that most people do not grow up having
hard it is to be responsible about our money. There’s a 1 in 3 educational or philosophic conversations about what money
chance that because of the involvement of both the real estate is and isn't, and what it can and can't do. Information-based
and credit markets the upcoming recession will be worse than the money discussions are so taboo that we usually reach
recessions in 2001 and 1991. Americans are unaccustomed to adulthood without a realistic sense of our family's
recessions, especially ones where they have to spend less. Both ﬁnances. As a result of the money taboo, most kids grow up
past two recessions had very minor slowdowns in consumer imitating their parents' way of handling money without even
spending for short periods of time. Also, during those recessions being aware of it. Unsurprisingly, people who rate their
people used credit cards mostly for discretionary purchases. parents high on ﬁnancially responsible have more of these
Now we use our credit cards on everything from groceries to gas.
And most people will keep using credit cards regardless of
the state of the economy- which is extremely dangerous.
Because often money isn't discussed while growing up, people are uneasy talking about money. Many people
consider debt and ﬁnances to be private and personal. Debbie, 50, stated that, “I was raised to think of money as
being a private affair. I never knew how much money my parents made. It wasn’t something that was acceptable to
Sometimes we don’t talk about it because of shame over our ﬁnancial habits. The more trouble some people get into
with their money, the more secretive they become. In addition, because the age at which people wed is rising,
partners bring extensive monetary histories to their union. Many individuals enter marriage with undisclosed
ﬁnancial allegiances outside the relationship. (67% of women and 74% of men enter marriage with at least some
debt.) Given the avoidance, accessibility and ambivalence that surround money, individual debt habits are adding an
explosive element to relationships.
Online shopping, to say nothing of new credit card offers arriving almost daily
in the mail have made keeping secrets about money easier, and ﬁscal self-
control harder than ever. The ability to spend and borrow money impulsively
can be overwhelming, with ubiquitous ATMs, and internet banking.
Household debt is almost 5% of a typical family's household income.
Consumer debt, excluding mortgages, has doubled in the past decade and
now averages close to $20,000 per household. Not only are we charging so
much of our income, we've stopped saving and, in fact, are saving a
negative amount of money, -$322 in 2006.
Obviously, money represents more than just money to people. Our
relationship with money is very complicated and it can represent People in all socio-economic levels are trapped in self-destructive behaviors.
love, self-worth, power, security, dependence, freedom, etc. Beth started a blog to discuss her attempts to avoid bankruptcy and
Studies have been done showing that people who are feeling sad discusses how she and her husband are more used to being in debt than
and self-focused spend more money to acquire commodities than experiencing prosperity. Her money problems became a self-fulﬁlling
those in a natural emotional state, because of their heightened self- prophecy. Judith Levine wrote Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping and
focus. When we borrow money, the reward portion of the brain purchased nothing but necessities for a year. She saved $8,000, was
is activated. Your brain thinks not of the long-term consequences sometimes bored and lonely but also felt liberated and began deﬁning herself
but the short-term result: You have more cash in your pocket. The more as a citizen than a consumer.
pain you are going to experience down the road of having to pay-
that's in the future, it's remote and abstract. Having money also
increases feelings of self-sufﬁciency.
An increasing access to credit has also
increased our reluctance to talk about it.
1) The more credit that is available to people, the more they will take it.
More restrictive countries are in better shape than countries with more open regulations. Issues with credit are
more pressing in Europe and the United States compared to many Asian economies experiencing robust growth
whose indebtedness tends to be lower. This is often because of the stronger role of the family and a more prudent
2) We need to become more conscious spenders.
Looking at things differently is a theme running through conversations of Americans at all income levels these days
as they review their spending habits. Nearly 2 out of 3 consumers intend to reduce indulgent spending in 2008
according to a new survey by HSBC Bank USA. 4 out of 5 want to increase the amount they save.
3) We need to start talking about money.
We’re not talking about money in our homes and we’re not talking about it in school. We need to begin that
conversation. Kids go to college and are assaulted by credit card companies and they don't know how to deal with
them. Friends are starting to talk about economic topics, and it is starting to become more of a social
conversation. People are starting to share experiences instead of giving expensive gifts or having a dinner party at
home instead of going out to a nice restaurant.
Because we're afraid to deal with money and ﬁnances, we've allowed it to take over and rule our lives and have the
last word on how we live our lives. Only when we begin having an open dialogue about our ﬁnances will we be able
to have that last word ourselves.
ADD P L E A S E E M A I L
TEL P L E A S E E M A I L EMAIL L A U R A W I L S O N 0 8 @ G M A I L . C O M
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