We'll be off next week, so Happy Thanksgiving in advance to those who celebrate!

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This article was originally published on The Wall Street Journal on November 16, 2015.


Marriott International’s $12.2 billion acquisition of rival Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.will create the world’s largest hotel company and a mightier ad spender.

According to data from WPP research firm Kantar Media, Marriott International Inc. spent an estimated $96 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2014. Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, meanwhile, spent an estimated $55 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, per Kantar Media’s data. Kantar Media’s analysis includes ad spending on traditional media and online display, but doesn’t include other fast-growing digital ad formats such as online video or mobile.

The combined company will have 30 hotel brands in its portfolio. Marriott is the owner of brands including its namesake hotels, the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Hotels. Starwood, which has historically been a strong performer in the high-end hotel market, owns brands such as St. Regis, W and Westin.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said he liked Starwood’s marketing and mix of international properties and noted the combined company will be the “strongest” in the lifestyle space.

Starwood’s roster of “cool” brands such as W may help Marriott appeal to a younger generation of travelers, said James Fox, the chief executive of branding firm Red Peak Branding.

“Starwood has been really successful at engaging younger business travelers,” said Mr. Fox, pointing to the company’s embrace of social media in its marketing.

Starwood, for example, was among the first companies to use Instagram’s “Carousel” ads option. The hashtag for Starwood’s preferred guest program, #SPGlife, is mentioned in more than 55,000 posts on Instagram, while the hashtag for Marriott’s loyalty program, #MarriottRewards, appears in just over 3,000 posts on Instagram.

Hotels aren’t the only ones ramping up their push to grab young people with the travel bug. Airbnb, a home rental service, has been ramping up its marketing presence as it gains traction among travelers seeking more unique and often lower-priced accommodations compared to the rooms offered by traditional lodging players.

Airbnb, which launched its first global ad campaign earlier this year, has spent $18.9 million on measured media in the U.S. the first six months of the year, according to Kantar Media. In 2014, Airbnb spent just $5.1 million on measured media in the U.S., per Kantar Media’s data.

Marriott and Starwood noted that bringing their large loyalty programs, with 54 million and 21 million members respectively, “should be even stronger” when the two companies merge. From a marketing perspective, that means more robust data available on travelers.

“Travelers want increasingly personalized experiences, so having all that data is going to be critical,” Mr. Fox said. “If they can leverage that in interesting ways and reward loyalty in interesting ways, that’s going to give them a real competitive advantage against the other hotel chains.”

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Sometimes I long for the days of the three-martini lunch, that long-ago industry phenomenon dubbed “the epitome of American efficiency” by former U.S. president Gerald Ford, who quipped, “Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful, and a snootful at the same time?” and popularized in recent years by “Mad Men.”

I have no idea if those lunches were effective, since my start in this industry, a mere seven years ago, came long after their demise. Business development ain’t what it used to be since Roger Sterling’s days. And even in relatively short experience, the game’s changed significantly. Consider that my first gig, at an outsourced new business agency in the UK, I had one day of training then told to “smile and dial” -- blasting out over a hundred calls daily to hit weekly targets. Strategic? No. Useful? Yes.

For insight into the acumen of an agency, look no further than its business development efforts. The hard work of keeping the pipeline full is crucial to every agency’s success, large or small. Having worked at both, from global consultancies (FutureBrand, Interbrand), to entrepreneurial shops (Red Peak), I can tell you that size has only a moderate impact on success. What matters most? Preparation, having the right resources, a great agency team, and persistence.

Even since 2008, when I started in new business, technological change has transformed how client and agencies prospect. Jordan Kretchmer, then VP of brand at Al Gore’s CurrentTV, grabbed headlines for a day or two in 2009 by issuing an TwitterRFP. More recently, this past June, Uber-challenger Lyft created industry buzz with a Tweet asking shops to submit videos and “get a seat at the table” in an ongoing review. Smartphones, social media and the endless access to information helps all of us – from new business execs like me to creative chiefs, brand directors and CMOs -- interact more effectively and efficiently.

Our messages have changed. I’ve seen a gradual transition from a business-to-business strategy to a business-to-individual one. Being able to connect directly with a marketing leader of a global brand through social media, combined with having greater access to information about them (whether via Google searches, CRM Databases or LinkedIn Sales Navigator) permits agencies of all sizes to compete on more of an equal playing field and be more concise and personable in an approach. And as for training, forget about smiling and dialing: interns today learn the ropes of outreach based on digital tactics, from SEO writing to improve page rankings on Google to making savvy connections on Twitter using Twellow or TweetFind.

Some good fortune – call it luck – helps. Will my new client be receptive to a Tweet or a post? Will our agency have the bandwidth to respond to a demanding RFP that’s due one day after Thanksgiving? But, as one wag said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In most agencies today, particularly smaller ones, new business success is the result of synergies between an effective marketing content strategy, social media activation and PR. It’s no longer ‘just’ about selling but more about planning a holistic strategy and encouraging the entire agency to behave in the right way across all marketing platforms.

Above all, new business success is a mindset. Selling is hard, and a skill unlike most others in the agency. It's a position that requires an individual who is positive, adaptable, resilient and determined no matter how hard times get. In the words of William Edward Hickson: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’. In addition to these personality traits, it’s extremely important to be humble, human and a great listener.  I've often advocated that the person responsible for business development is the agency brand ambassador – we are the face and voice of the agency. Like a 'first date' – first impressions matter and could potentially lead to a long-term relationship. Martini, anyone?

Damien Moore-Evans, Head of Business Development, Red Peak

Twitter - @BranD_M_E

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Check out our trends of the week! 

Away aims to be the Warby Parker of luggage (and was founded by former Warby execs).

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by Katie Conneally

Originally published on Mediapost.com on November 11, 2015.

Under new CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter has launched a slew of new initiatives, from buy buttons to content-focused Moments, all aimed at improving its appeal to marketers. It’s also promising to address complaints that it is too complicated -- even the company’s newly named executive chairman, Omid Kordestani, described in a recent Wall Street Journalstory as a “sporadic” user of the social media platform, has noted that “a lot of users who touch the service … perhaps don’t find it as simple as they should.”

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Celebrating a huge milestone this week as Red Peak Asia marks it's first birthday!



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Happy Halloween! We've got some spooky trickster trends in the spotlight this week.

Airbnb invited two brave souls to spend a night in the Parisian Catacombs.

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Take a look at what's been inspiring us around the studio this week! 

A photographer gives us a glimpse at a world without smartphones.

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In celebration of #BackToTheFuture day on October 21, 2015, we asked Red Peakers what 2045 has in store for us! 

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