06 August 2020
Author: Stephanie Meinberg
As a University of Alabama grad and Anderson Twp., Ohio native, Emily Meek has divided her post-collegiate years to exploring Europe and launching her career (often simultaneously). Stonehenge to Dublin to Paris, then Birmingham and now back to Cincy, she’s a hometown girl with a passion for football—she’s also the newest member of the St. Gregory media team. Q: You’ve joined us as our assistant media buyer—tell us a little about your media experience. A: I spent just over a year as an assistant traditional media buyer for the Martin Retail Group, an agency in Alabama focused primarily on automotive clients. My work was with General Motors—Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac—covering TV, cable, radio and print buys for my region, which was about 29 markets. It was basic media assistant work—with my strong background in PR, which was primarily earned and owned media, this role allowed me to transition over to the paid media side, which was really interesting to me … I was excited about learning more from that perspective. Q: So why the move back to Cincy? What appealed to you about St. Gregory? A: I loved Alabama—the school, not the state. [She laughs.] I was really looking for an agency setting, the next step after focused corporate communications where you’re working for the same client every day. The pandemic limited my options, of course, but then I spotted this opening—in my hometown—and with everything that was going on in the world, it seemed like the perfect time, the perfect opportunity, to make the jump. St. Gregory as an agency had a deep roster of clients, a lot of which were automotive, which was my current forte. So, it was that ideal next step—going from what I was doing on just the media side at MRG to a full-service agency that did that and more. It blended my previous PR experience with my current work … all in one job. Q: Thoughts on media—in general? Where it’s going in our highly digital, on-demand world … A: Obviously there’s a lot of focus on digital, but I’m more interested in traditional … more interested in what’s going on in the moment when it comes to advertising, like when I’m watching football in live action on TV (versus paying to skip ads on Hulu when I watch The Bachelor). I think you can go further, do more with traditional media—and I think a lot of people don’t realize all that encompasses … it’s not just TV, it’s also billboards and radio and more … Q: So, your primary role here … and favorite part so far? A: I’m only just now a month in, so I don’t have my own accounts yet. Currently, I’m helping with whatever [St. Gregory media director] Janet needs … forms, adjusting plans and media tools, sending traffic, working with budget sheets, printing invoices, scanning things in for co-op … literally every day is something different. I haven’t done anything twice yet. Which is one of the best parts—I love the option of being able to do different things in different systems with different forms and different setups … nothing is ever boring here.
25 September 2019
Most creatives exist in a paradoxical place of passion and feigned indifference. We work to commit the kind of brilliant, blinding energy every project or concept deserves, side-by-side with trying to keep the heart distant enough to protect it from being quashed if our copy or design gets altered. Or meh’d. Or (ugh) rejected entirely. It’s a realistic part of the agency process (insert “thick skin” idiom of choice). One that ultimately helps fan the flames of creativity from the hope that someday one of our glorious ideas will get the green light, carte blanche. Enter GECU—General Electric Credit Union. A brand-new client who, after decades in business and a jaw-dropping history of success, felt it was time to up their game on brand recognition—a need they pegged us to take the lead on. They wanted it all, across the board. Immediate sales spots for radio and digital (and a brand-new buy to better leverage both). Plus other offer-based versions to follow. But at the forefront, paramount to all others: a soup-to-nuts, full-scale brand awareness campaign that would not only boost prominence with their target audience, but would set them dramatically apart from competitor banks and credit unions. Online, outdoors, on the airwaves and the tube. It was big. Huge. A colossal undertaking that had the marks early on of being a genuine game-changer for them—and to a certain extent, us. Put simply, it was the kind of high-level, big-picture, push-the-limits chance that professional creatives dream about. The starring role, if you will, in building something from scratch with every ounce of talent and vision in our toolbox. Remember that early radio deliverable? A project we pressured ourselves to knock out of the park with new scripts, new talent, new music—finding and establishing a complete GECU voice before we had fully sunk our teeth into how to amplify it. In one of the spots, we came up with a compact couplet we thought described them (their difference) to a T: Member owned, so we can’t be bought. Member run, so our best interest is yours. Powerful, punchy and to the point. GECU loved this line. We loved this line. So much so that it landed a leading role in one of our “big idea” concepts for the comprehensive brand boost. One that also involved 3D props, on-location filming, and most challenging of all, actual GECU members. Not actors. “People just like you.” It was the most ambitious. Definitely the most complicated. And the client went for it. Wait, what? Oh yes. Not only did GECU choose our A-list idea-star, they chose the concept that would force us to stoke our creative embers to full, bonfire-level intensity (and trusted from the get-go that we had the chops to deliver it). It was the concept that also placed the bulk of the first stage of work directly on their own shoulders—finding real credit union members who’d agree to be on-screen and larger than life. The soul of the campaign hinged on being able to recognize and relate to each of these people. Someone you know. And trust. And can relate to. Our challenge was to draw out these everyman connections from the members GECU chose—and then hope that sincerity and “realness” translated on-camera. It did. Of course, there were delays. And second-guesses. Our window of time—with our production company, our photographer, our own creative deadlines, even our media buy—was closing swiftly, and there were bumps and roadblocks none of us could have seen coming. Wouldn’t it be easier to hire talent to play the part of members? It was a thought we briefly entertained as the clock ticked down. It was also a sticking point our ACD refused to budge on, an uncompromising stand we felt was integral to the campaign (remember, soul and all?). But then in the space of a week, it all came together. We found the final participant, secured the last two locations—setting in motion a full-scale shoot that was then only four days away. We scheduled everyone and everything down to the minute: three days, five scenes, five different parts of the city, with close to 20 of us on set at each location—plus editing, voiceover and design work to follow. The stars themselves—real GECU members with everyday lives and jobs and commitments—blew us away with their eagerness and excitement to be part of this. Then blew us away again as their natural personalities absolutely shined on film. From this, we built four unique TV spots, currently running on all major cable and local networks. One radio spot doing the same across the area. Three billboards in nearly 100 locations. Dozens of digital ads and sponsored social posts. Not bad, right? Suffice it to say, the client was blown away. Together, as a team, we created something bigger—better—than we ever imagined. More to the point, we reveled in the fact that we had the chance to do it. Dare we call it our magnum opus? Nah, surely not. (Well, maybe.) Thanks, GECU. We’d say more, but the orchestra has already started playing …