But I’m a poetAnd I’m bound to walkthe line between the realand the sublime Poet. Troubadour. “Best damn songwriter in the world.”* All describe Townes VanDavid Rodriguez Zandt, but I believe at his essence, he was a storyteller, one capturing and connect-Ballad of the Snow Leopardand Tanquery Cowboy ing his listeners to deeper, unburnished truths. I worship him simply because his songs make me feel found. Townes’ songs uncover that which is hidden, real, and true. With precise clarity, his deceptively austere lyrics articulate these hidden truths, the complicated ideas which most of us don’t even have words for. Planners at their best also mine and articulate this insight. Within the span of a four minute song, I feel transformed because Townes’ storytelling has connected me to a human truth, some- thing universal, sublime, and real with a capital R. Planners at their best also connect and create this shift. Feeling Found Planners listen, uncover hidden truths, articulate, distill, clarify, and simplify. Planners -when using their best storytelling magic - can also make us feel found. What Can Be Found in Me *Steve Earle once proclaimed,“Townes Van Zandt is the best Account Planner damn songwriter in the world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s Communications Strategist coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” Video Producer Writer Researcher Account Manager
Feeling I’m on the verge Of some great truthFinding the When I’m ﬁnally in my place Alexi Murdoch Wait Best Fit Politics is the business of constant persuasion, according to Tony Blair. That’s where I found my professional start and where I’ve remained since: the persuasion business. I worked as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill when I was a freshly-minted college graduate, and I was working as a Senior Director at a PR agency just before attending the Miami Ad School’s Account Planner Bootcamp. Between the two, I’ve had a few professional incarnations, - in politics, at a social marketing company, at a strate- gic communications ﬁrm, at my own strategic planning and communications company, and at a PR agency - but all have relied on the same talents essential to the persuasion business. At its most fundamental level, persuasion involves three actions: intuitively understanding the audience, using this insight to discover how to communicate and connect with them, and crafting a story so engaging that it shifts how the audience thinks and feels. For Account Planners, the Unifying Idea on occasion precedes the Insight. Such is the case with me; my profes- sional path’s Unifying Idea arrived ﬁrst. The truth I’ve uncovered during 14 years in the persuasion business is this: I’m a storyteller at my core, and selling ideas is what I do best. The part of the process I love best is the researching, insight-mining, synthesizing, imagining, and designing strategies to sell those ideas. Account Planning is what ﬁts me best - it’s the niche where I feel found.
CASE STUDY 1 BoBaby * WINNER OF THE WEEKLY CLASS CHALLENGE
Even though today’s dad is very involved in child-rearing,BoBaby is a new website that sells moms remain the primary purchasers of baby and childpremium/trendy baby and kid’s products. I initially cast my net wide to immerse myself inproducts. But, unlike most of the the baby product category and evaluate the competition.existing sites, BoBaby will target Through a series of consumer interviews with dads ofdads, not moms. They want to newborns and toddlers, I set out to ﬁnd out why most menlaunch in the U.S. and rapidly be- don’t buy baby products, even in this era of co-parenting.come a place where dads like to “It just hasn’t interested me that much,” said Alex, dadspend time and buy high-end baby to 2-year-old Jake.and child products. “I kind of geeked out on the whole thing. I think the buying of the baby stuff was, in some ways, an excuse for me to do the research/consumer/ dork thing. Buying the stroller and jogging stroller was akin to buying a CHALLENGE car: I read online reviews at retail sites APPROACH (like Amazon), on search engines (like Google), on consumer product sites INSIGHT (Consumer Reports), and watched product demonstrations (YouTube).” Ba, dad of 4-month-old Sara
TARGET AUDIENCE Gadgeteer dads (def.) a dad who is compelled to buy the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. What Is the Shift We Are Trying to Create? FROM: Baby products and ac- cessories aren’t interesting to men and that’s why moms buy most of them. Plus, Mom Knows Best when it comes to baby things. TO: Baby products are just like the gadgets that I “geek out on” for myself, except they’re for my kid.Why Should They Believe It? These dads enjoy “geeking out” on research when buying any new gadget. BoBaby makes baby and kid products interesting to gadgeteer dads by featuring them in the way traditional gadgets are presented.
Unifying Idea BoBaby: Where dads indulge their inner gadget geeks
During man-on-the-street interviews, consumers choseDurex is stuck in a challenger posi- Trojan four to one, yet when asked, virtually none couldtion in the U.S., as Trojan dominates articulate a reason for this preference. A clear openingthe condom category. The brand’s for Durex appeared after we discovered that Trojan’s“unprompted awareness” is too low, unprompted awareness status isn’t rooted in brandand they need to win the top-of-mind battle without investing too beneﬁts in consumers’ minds. Category research also re- vealed that condoms are available in ﬂavors spanning themuch. Create a bold campaign to spectrum, and most consumers we polled have “taste”make Durex more famous, using agreat PR tool: a new ﬂavored con- ﬂavor apathy.dom. It’s your choice to ﬁnd a ﬂavor What did this mean for Durex? We can make ﬂavor matter.that would surprise people, andwhat is meant by “ﬂavor” is open toyour appreciation. Why? We can create top-of-mind awareness for Durex by boldly standing for a meaningful cause. CHALLENGE “I don’t use condoms, but I would go APPROACH out of my way to buy a Durex con- INSIGHT dom if it helps me ﬁght Proposi- tion 8 and supports everyone’s right to get married.” Marie, a 20-something lesbian
Unifying Idea It’s not another ﬂavored condom- it’s my personal expression that I support marriage equality. TARGET AUDIENCE People who support marriage equalityRecent news headlines added social/cultural context to the data. “Proposition 8 Overturned: Gay Marriage BanRuled Unconstitutional” and “Fifth Gay Teen Suicide in Three Weeks Sparks Debate” ran in the preceding eight weeks. Is-sue research also revealed that California’s anti- and pro-Proposition 8 campaigns were more highly fund-ed than ANY state ballot initiative and EVERY campaign in the country except for the U.S. Presidential election.
PayPal launched their Student Ac- Although the client had provided a creative brief, a planner’scount product in 2009, and as of Oc- ﬁrst responsibility is to ensure that the problem is preciselytober 2010, teens are able to initiate deﬁned and that the question, “why are we advertising” isthe sign-up process. Drive sign-ups, answered correctly. Ninety percent of a planner’s role is accu-usage of and enthusiasm about the rately deﬁning the challenge. I set out to evaluate the brief’sStudent Account product by com- direction and, also crucial, to test the message for reso-municating the availability of the nance with the brief’s target audience.product and that teens can now start Consumer research, which included man-on-street and tele-the sign-up process. Target teens 15 phone interviews with teenagers and their parents, immediate-to 18 years old with the message, ly revealed roadblocks in PayPal’s creative strategy and uncov-“Enjoy the independence of having ered slightly-altered opportunities.your own student account card,”which is a debit card. Teens 16 to 18 years old CHALLENGE DISCOVERY APPROACH resonate with them as something unique that only a PayPal Student Account offers Teens 13 to 15 years old change this new life stage they’re entering
Reframing the Challenge FROM: Encourage older teens (16 to 18) to enjoy their independence by signing up for and using a PayPal Student AccountINSIGHT TO: Make PayPal’s Student Account a rite of passage - it’s the ﬁrst step on a younger teen’s (13 to 15) journey towards adulthood “Getting my ﬁrst debit card was a really big deal to me. It made me feel re- ally grown up and mature. It also made me feel like my parents trust me. My TARGET AUDIENCE dad signed me up for my “aspirationalists” PayPal account about six (def.) Teens 13 to 15 years old months ago, and who “aspire up.” Enthusiastic I have to be responsible about products that make about how I use the them feel older, more mature. money.” “Maturity” means “Freedom” AND “Responsibility” to them. Morgan, age 14 The best time for a brand to insert itself into a consumer’s life is when behavior is shifting, before rituals are formed. By targeting younger teens at this pivotal stage, PayPal has the opportunity to become part of an adolescent’s changing behavior.
Unifying Idea It’s not a student Creative Execution-Mobile account, it’s a marker Teens use mobile application to create their own inspirational collages by taking pictures of things that remind them of being “free” or “responsible.” of my maturity. Teens empowered to directly contribute to content on the microsite and create their own wallpaper. Creative Execution-Online Microsite www.choseyourlife.com linked to YouTube Teens create and upload declaration video confessionals “I am Free” and “I am Responsible.”
CASE STUDY 4 CHALLENGE P.O.V. * WINNER OF THE WEEKLY Write a critical essay about your favorite movie scene or a movie. It must include: what is it really about, what’s the CLASS CHALLENGE subtext, what does it do to them, where does the tension come from, what “theme” does it bring up/play with, what’sVoyeurs and Things Unheard ESSAY original about it, what other cultural objects (book, other ﬁlms, art...) does it resonate with, and anything else itThe movie’s premise screams trite: married man in the midst of a midlife crisismeets young ingenue stuck in a lonely marriage and lost in her own life. They’re inspires in you.in a faraway land, connect by happenstance and slowly fall for each other.On their last night together, Bob and Charlotte reveal feelings of attachment, with “I’llmiss you” and “I don’t want to leave,” but with just enough restraint and ironic detach-ment that the audience feels CERTAIN that the cauldron of unexpressed emotions willboil over any second now. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we know that the perfect Hollywood endingawaits. After they say a platonic and dispassionate goodbye forever, Bob leaves looking dejected, rejected and full of unrequited love. Hollywood steps in to work its movie magic! On the way to the airport, Bob serendipitously sees Charlotte walking down a crowded street, orders the driver to stop the car and jumps out to chase after her.
when Bob catches up to Charlotte. Her slightly damp eyes betray how forlorn she feels about his departure. The two consummate their love affair with a chaste kiss and--the most intimate and revealing act of all-- What Bob whispers is a mystery--his words are in- Bob whispers something to her. They say a real audible--and this exposes the ﬁlm’s subtext: it is a goodbye, he grins with his emotions requited and meditation on the private world that two people then they travel off in their separate directions. falling in love create for only themselves. The au- dience must be excluded from Bob and Charlotte’s private world in this ﬁnal act for the ﬁlm to be an authentic love story. We’ve witnessed the emo- tional intimacy develop between them, and now it’s timeLost in Translation is a ﬁlm about alienation, loneliness and displacement, all made more for thestriking because of the ﬁlm’s strangers-in-a-very-foreign-land setting. Bob emanates empti- voyeursness, while Charlotte radiates longing for connection and purpose. Both are searching, and to leaveAmerican culture has promised us that “romantic love” is the answer. Finding that one-and- the loversonly soulmate bestows feelings of belonging, attachment and home all wrapped up in one, alone.and usually wrapped with a pretty wedding bow. Movies like The Graduate have the audience primed to expect Bob and Charlotte to run away together, with Bob as the anti-hero who arrives at the last moment to rescue her from her empty, loveless marriage--and rescue himself from aimlessness. Any student of RomCom anticipates a When Harry Met Sally bold, unequivocal declaration of love to end the movie, and a child of the 80s might even secretly be wishing for a “No one puts Baby in the corner” dramatic ﬁnish, complete with elaborate dance scene. Even Jane Aus- ten would tidily package up this love affair with not a secret left or emotion unexpressed, just as she did in Persuasion. With Lost in Translation, the mystery abides.
RESUME EXPERIENCE McDonald Public Relations, Inc. 2008-2010 Austin, TX Senior Director · Directed agency’s health care and energy accounts; conceptualized and oversaw implementation of clients’ strategic communications programs · Designed integrated public awareness campaign for the Children’s Advo- cacy Centers of Texas; created campaign identity, produced PSAs for TV broadcast, and developed site architecture and wrote content · Rebranded and developed integrated marketing program for SpineAustin; created new positioning strategy, wrote message platform, and produced TV advertising and digital and print marketing collateral · Conceptualized and produced videos for multiple clients; conducted all phases of video production 2003-2007Katie Tobin Communications Co. Austin, TX A strategic planning & communications company; Principal · Performed qualitative research and mined key insights to conduct quarterly customer retention research projects for Frost Bank’s Research & Strategy Group; synthesized research results to inform bank’s business planning ·Designed ongoing Voice of the Customer Online Survey Program for Frost Bank’s Interactive Marketing Division · Conceptualized and conducted strategic assessment to determine reposi- tioning for technology company; strategy recommendations directed com- pany’s rebranding, repositioning, and new marketing plan · Provided External Relations counsel as member of team which developed State of Texas’ bid to win FutureGen, the $2 billion federal clean energy dem- onstration project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy M&R Strategic Services 2002 Washington, DC Program Manager · Directed feasibility assessment for the Pew Charitable Trusts to plan strategy for issue campaigns promoting reforms to the criminal justice system · Identi ed and interviewed stakeholders, including reform activists, legislators, academics, journalists, legal experts, and public o cials · Analyzed polling data and qualitative research results to evaluate level of public interest in reform
e American Institutes for Research- Health Care Communications Center 2000-2001 Washington, DC Account Executive · Served as primary contact for TeenReach branding project designed to build public awareness of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program · Wrote TeenReach Brand Book to guide integration of brand strategy into local marketing plans O ce of Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) 1997-1998 Washington, DCResearch Assistant· Researched, analyzed, and recommended policy positions in individual issue areas, includingtransportation, education, reproductive health, crime, civil rights, and a rmative action· Prepared Member for Commerce Committee hearings on health care legislation by conduct-ing background research, attending strategy meeting, dra ing Member’s statement and witnessquestions, and sta ng Member at hearing· Wrote speeches and House of Representatives oor statements EDUCATION Miami Ad School San Francisco, CA Account Planning Bootcamp, December 2010 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Principles of Marketing Certiﬁcate Program, April 2008 Davidson College Davidson, NC Bachelor of Arts, History, May 1996 Charles E. Lloyd Prize for Non-Fiction Writing. Semester study abroad at University of Valencia, Spain.