Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Wikipedia Shuts Down in Piracy Protest

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

By: Olga Gromova

Wikipedia, Google,, and Craigslist have joined forces in the fight against SOPA and PIPA.  Wikipedia has shut down their entire site for 24 hours and created a landing page that reads “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge. For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.” Google has blacked out its banner and posted a caption that reads: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” has shut down for 12 hours and Craigslist has changing its local home pages to a black screen directing users to an anti-legislation page.

Already the protest has caused waves in the media and raised great amounts of attention around the proposed bills. While 24 hours without Wikipedia is no walk in the park, I personally think that huge waves could be made if Facebook and Twitter jumped into the picket line. I bet if Facebook shut down for a day with a statement saying that they would re-open once a certain number of people reached out to congress these bills would be squashed in no time.

For more information on the SOPA and PIPA acts please visit:

How Coke Created Santa

Monday, November 28th, 2011

by Olga Gromova

Santa Claus is a famous man; he is loved in every household, is the star of countless movies, and has children leaving him milk and cookies every Christmas Eve. He’s the jolly old fella that we tried catching a peak of every year on the 24th of December, and is now the only thing our kids talk about when the Christmas season rolls around. His appearance is no big secret, we watch him in commercials, admire him on billboards, and take pictures with him at the mall. So it’s no surprise that when you ask someone for a description of the famous Claus, the response you get is always the same: jolly old man with a big belly, white beard, red suit with white fur lining, and a big smile on his face.

This may come as a shock, but Santa was not always “jolly”, in fact, back in the early 1900’s we was a bit of a creeper. If you saw him in person you wouldn’t let your kids get anywhere near him, let alone sit on his lap and ask him for presents. This is where Coca Cola came into play and re-created Santa into the man we all know and love.



The Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper’s Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union.



In the 1920’s Coca Cola began its winter advertising with shopping-related ads to remind people that Coke was a drink for any month, not just warm weather. This began with the “Thirst Knows No Season” slogan in 1922 and grew into a campaign connecting Santa Clause with the beverage. The first images of Santa associated with Coca Cola were more of the strict looking Clause, but in the early 1930’s Coke decided that the creeper had to go and commissioned Michigan born illustrator, Haddon Sundblom to re-create the image of Claus. Thus, the new, jolly version of Santa was born.




The Coca Cola Santa has had a powerful and enduring quality that continues to resonate today, so in a way, we can say that Coke saved Christmas. If it wasn’t for the Coca Cola brand, I would be terrified to think that a creepy old elf was crawling down my chimney every year, eating my cookies, drinking my milk and sitting on my couch. Instead I am pleased to see the happy, robust, old man who greets you with a “ho ho ho” and brings the goodies you’ve been waiting all year to play with. So this year I think I’ll toss out the milk and leave Santa an ice cold Coke next to the chimney instead.

Finding Your Voice

Monday, November 7th, 2011

A voice is a terrible thing to lose. It’s easy to take your voice for granted since it’s something that always seems to be there. But when you lose it, the world stops.  We use our voices to perform many common daily tasks such as; talking on the phone, placing orders at Chipotle, yelling at our kids, explaining a report to a client and communicating with our co-workers. We go about our day to day lives taking advantage of our voice until one day, poof, bronchitis. What now? You can make hand gestures in the Chipotle line but chances are you’ll get a veggie burrito instead of your fully loaded chicken and steak taco. You can write notes to your kids in all caps but it won’t have the same effect, and you can try to explain that report over email or Google Talk but your client will not be fully satisfied.   End result, stunted communication and the inability to clearly relay your message.

With changes in social climate over the past few years, many companies have caught “bronchitis” and are no longer able to properly relay their message. Those companies are either vomiting irrelevant information all over social media or hiding in their caves, cowering away from the “scary” world of technology.  Their identity as lost as a polar bear in a rainforest.

Depressing right? There is a bright side. Just like medicine can cure bronchitis, good advice can save a company. Here are some key factors to finding your business voice.

Figure out who you are – what does your company do, WHY do you do it, where do you get your inspiration, what sets you apart from everyone else.

Once you solve your identity crisis you can feel comfortable in your own skin. You are awesome, tell people how awesome you are, OWN your awesomeness, believe in yourself and others will start believing in you too.

Build your brand – now that you know who you are, what you do and why you do it, build a brand around that knowledge. What does your logo say about you, does it reflect your business identity? If it doesn’t then scrap it, there are tons of awesome graphic designers in this world that would be ecstatic to create a logo that reflects YOU. What do your colors say about you? Your branding should reflect your office/business/restaurant. If the walls in your store are orange you should have orange in your branding, otherwise pick a color that works better for your brand and re-paint your walls. Choose one to two fonts and stick to them. There is nothing more annoying than a company that uses 50 different fonts in their collateral and on their website.

Establish an online presence – identity, check. Brand, check. Ok, now it’s time to show you off. Do you have a website? If you do, you need to make sure that it reflects your brand (if you don’t then GET ONE designed ASAP). If you’re selling muscle cars you wouldn’t have fluffy unicorns hopping up and down on your webpage and throwing rainbow skittles in the air, right? Well then if your logo is blue and yellow and your font of choice is Calibri then you should not have a red background with purple font in 10 different font styles (yes, websites that don’t match the company’s brand are on the same level as fluffy unicorns who throw rainbow skittles).

Make sure your website describes your identity. Now that you’ve figured out who you are, you need to use all of the tools available to you to tell everyone about it.  Make sure your website contains all of the right tools for awesome SEO (this part can be tricky for some business owners, luckily you have agencies like TOMA that can help you out with stuff like that). Set up a Facebook and Twitter account and write relevant content to share with your fans (we can help you with this part as well). Get your business listed on Yelp, Google Places, Kudzu, City Search, Foursquare, Merchant Circle and LinkedIn. Create a Google adwords campaign and increase your search rankings. If you have an awesome voice but no one is around to hear it then you’re singing to yourself. Let’s make sure you have an audience to hear your beautiful melody!

Keep your content relevant - content is super important for your SEO and customer engagement. Make sure your content is relevant to your voice while keeping in mind who your customers are and what they are more likely to engage in. If you’ve branded yourself as a family man, then your customers may want to hear stories about your family. But if you’ve branded yourself as an activist who opposes higher powers then your audience may not really be interested in hearing about your kid’s softball game. Be creative but don’t stray from your brand.

Now let’s re-cap, figure out who you are, build your brand, show it off, and keep your content relevant. You are now on your way to taking over the world! Use your voice and shout from the mountain tops. Own your brand and you will succeed!

Streaming: A Real World Experience…

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

“This is the true story… of one person…addicted to TV programming…forced to live in a house with no cable…find out what happens…when I give up my cable boxes…and start to stream…”

Let me preface – I live for TV.  I am one of THOSE people who set reminder timers on my phone so I know what’s on when.  Every night I have a schedule of at least three or four shows I HAVE to watch.  Although the DVR has allowed me to have a life once again (okay, who am I kidding, it’s allowed me to watch MORE shows by recording and watching multiple shows at the same time), I would still rather watch shows the night they air. But, my luxurious cable habit also meant a steep cable bill!  A challenge was born.  Get rid of cable, and watch everything online.  I had no idea how long it would last but it was worth a shot.


The Good…


“Online video usage in the U.S. is up considerably from the same time last year, as time spent viewing video on PC/MAC/laptops from home and work locations increased by 45%.” ~Nielsen Wire, January 2011


From the beginning, I was well aware that September was “fall premiere” month – the network’s version of the “debutante ball” for TV programs.   September meant the debut of hot new shows, and the return of favorites. I needed to make sure I didn’t miss a beat.  I chose Hulu as my primary viewing source.

The time leading up to September 19th (fall premiere week) was rough. Most of the time I watched old shows on Hulu, and when I was completely bored – I splurged on one of the awesome dollar DVD’s at Redbox.  It wasn’t quite like reverting to the old days of sitting around a radio or playing board games, (although I did manage to pass all levels of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Rio, but that’s neither here nor there).

Premiere week FINALLY came and Hulu delivered for the most part. Nowadays, streaming technology is so flawless.  Gone are the days of buffering and stuttering.

While I would normally fast forward through commercials when watching on the DVR (okay not ALL the time, I do work in advertising and need to do my research), I was FORCED to watch the ads online.  Although there were only 30 seconds worth of commercials (either a 30 or two 15′s) they got annoying REAL fast.  It’s the repetition, the same ad over and over, that kills ya. But I DID find myself commenting and critiquing – some I loved, some I hated, and some were just plain creepy.

I counted.  I literally viewed this Toyota ad at least 12 times one night while watching various shows on Hulu. Is it weird or is it just me?  I guess it did it’s job and got my attention.


The Bad…


            “We are continually looking at opportunities to provide our pay distributers with content and products that enhance the value of pay television to subscribers.”

~ Michael Hopkins, President, Affiliate Sales and Marketing, Fox Networks.

Let me back up.  My little experiment was going great for the most part.  ABC and NBC had their fall premieres a bit earlier than the other networks, and their shows posted to Hulu the day after they aired.  Not bad. As difficult as it was for me, I could wait a day if it meant watching high quality video.

Then, Fox premiere week rolled around, and I couldn’t wait for the return of shows like “Fringe.”  I booted up the computer, went to Hulu, and was greeted with a note: “The episodes will be available to everyone 8 days after airing.”  It turns out not everyone looks at streaming video as the secret to success.

“Our new authentication service will continue to provide next-day access to FOX broadcast shows for viewers who subscribe to participating pay television providers,” saysHopkins.  Their “participating pay television provider” of choice – DISH Network.  Long story short – as a reward for subscribing to DISH Network, you get to watch FOX TV shows the next day, as opposed to having to wait the 8 days.  Ironically, when an MLB Playoff game went into extra innings, and fans of the new show “Terra Nova” were unable to watch the entire episode, Fox decided to post it online early so they wouldn’t have to wait.  New shows can use all the help they can get – and online viewing options offer even more exposure.

I was pleasantly surprised that CBS posted most of their shows the day after air, but they are adamant you visit their site.  According to CBS Interactive President Jim Lazone, “The notion of joining up and subjugating your brand to theirs (Hulu) just doesn’t make sense for CBS.”  He noted the decreased traffic to after they joined Hulu as an example.  The more traffic to the site, the more advertising you can sell, at a higher dollar.  In a recent article on, broke it’s prior records with 1.8 million video viewers and 600,000 referrals from social networks as a result of the premiere of “Two and a Half Men.”

The one thing that worried me about viewing shows on websites other than Hulu or Netflix was the quality of their streaming.  In the past, the edge that Hulu and Netflix had over others was their ability to offer seamless streaming technology that no one else could come close to.  This has all changed and I found CBS’ video player to be just as good as Hulu. Sure, they did have quite a few more commercial breaks (allowing them to sell a ton more advertising) but the instant gratification of being able to watch a new show right away outweighed the negative.  Minus the Fox setback, I was proud that I had made it a month and had not gone running back to my cable company.


The Ugly


            Four words:  “Syfy” and “Doctor Who.”  These four little words almost made my online experiment go down the drain.  On Syfy, I was mortified to find out I’d have to wait almost a month for a new episode to post, and BBC America programming wasn’t even available to stream.  It was a dark, disturbing discovery, and it forced me to sink to all new lows.  With the help of my husband, I tried out websites like that offered almost any full episode you could think of but only allowed you to view them for a certain amount of time before pausing and making you wait 45 minutes to start again (or of course, you could sign up for a paid membership and watch unlimited).  There were also the illegal sites where people posted their recorded shows, soon to be discovered and taken down for infringement.  The quality of the video was way worse than the now dreaded standard def, all the while you felt like your computer would contract a virus just by clicking on the link.  It felt dangerous…and dirty.

But when reviewing the numbers, Syfy seems to be doing just fine.  Some of my favorite Syfy shows “Eureka,” “Alphas,” “Warehouse 13,” and “Haven” all broke the 2.5 million mark in total viewers (courtesy of  I’ve always said Syfy’s the place to be. Even on a Friday night, you’ll find a demographic that doesn’t mind staying at home if it means watching a new episode of their favorite show.  The dedication is like no other (trust me I know, I am one of these people).  On the other end of the globe, the season finale of “Doctor Who” drew in over 6 million viewers on BBC 1.  Who knows if their lack of online streaming is helping by forcing people to watch shows on an actual TV.


The Future…


“We had this very traditional model where you bought 30-second timeslots and that’s what paid for all these television programs.  With people having the ability to watch something from Netflix or watch something from the web, it’s really changed the advertising model for television.”  ~ Kelli Burns, mass communications professor, University of South Florida.

Sample of Ad Swap On Hulu, where you choose the ad you want to see.


I hit my two month anniversary of being cable free, and if I could do it, I’m pretty sure anyone could.  With online viewing becoming ever more popular, companies are finding ways to make things more convenient.  Published on, networks such as HBO, Bravo, and Syfy will be providing programming to Xbox 360 owners later this year.  And if you have an Xbox 360, you can actually stream Netflix and Hulu directly, making it easier than having to connect your computer to your TV everytime you want to watch something on a bigger screen.  Hulu has just launched “Ad Swap,” allowing you to choose which ad you want to watch.  So if you have to watch commercials, at least you get to choose which ones.


Even with setbacks, I’d say that ditching my cable was worth all the money I saved. You can basically watch anything you want online, all you need is a computer.  Now if they can only figure out how to stream the NFL…


If everyone in a room is shouting, no one can hear the message

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Being in the advertising industry, I notice myself analyzing the ads I see on TV more and more. A trend that I have noticed in local, small-business advertising is that many advertisers seem to think there is only one strategy for lower-budget TV spots. You’ll see the store owner (or some face you can associate with the store name), and he or she will tell you about how long they’ve been in business, what services they offer, and which Wal-Mart their store is next to. Some advertisers take it a step further by being more animated, more “in-your-face”, with loud graphics and loud spokespeople. Oddly enough, some customers gravitate to these selling tactics, but I’m guessing that many people don’t.

Simply put, there are more than one or two marketing strategies available to small businesses without breaking the bank.

Think of it this way: if everyone in a room is shouting, no one can hear the message. The room feels crowded, chaotic, and you’d probably want to find the nearest exit.

Is this how you want your target audience to feel? The example above may be a bit hyperbolic, but local & small business ads have a tendency to turn into a shouting match for your consumer dollar. Each used-car dealer tries to outdo the other with louder graphics, louder narration, wackier salespeople. The analogy goes on and on, just pick your industry of choice.

Now, imagine a typical commercial break. Say you have two or three of the stereotypical commercials I’ve mentioned, followed by (for example) an iPad commercial. I’m sure you’re familiar with how relaxed, informative, focused, and inspiring those ads are. Which do you think will make the consumer feel the best about the company trying to sell products? I would argue that Apple’s commercials tend to be just as simple and straightforward as your typical local ad, but the ways and tactics they use are worlds apart. Most consumers, I’m sure, don’t enjoy feeling like their home has been invaded by someone shouting at them to buy something this very instant. The commercials that consumers enjoy and react positively to are informative, thought-provoking, and leave the consumer with a positive notion of the advertiser.

Here’s the key thought: just because Apple is a world-leading brand with tremendous resources doesn’t mean that your ads can’t have the same affect on your target audience. Identify the true nature and feel of your business, and bring it to life with your ads. Rely on these things to differentiate yourself from the rest of the spots out there. Don’t rely on trying to be the flashiest, loudest, most hard-selling spot in your market. I’ve been in many homes where the knee-jerk reaction to ads like these is to change the channel — wasting your advertising dollars.

Sure, some of the best ads over time have been explosive and loud (think Verizon’s initial Droid campaign). But the heart of the matter is identifying your brand’s true personality, and the personality of your target audience, and let it show in your ads. Reinventing the wheel with over-the-top, hard-sell ads will only take you so far before your audience tunes out.

If you’re a small business looking to expand your advertising to a new level, beyond that of your typical lower-budget ads, then you have come to the right place. TOMA has the ability to give you top-notch production value, quick turnaround, and a look and feel that will set your ads apart and make them memorable, all while being on budget. Best of all, TOMA has a production, marketing, and management staff that is ready and willing to take your ideas and your brand as far as you want it to go. All you have to do is ask.

Clients, or Partners?

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Having been in the advertising and marketing world for some 20 plus years now I have seen many changes in the way we attract, secure and conduct business; however the one thing that has remained almost constant is the way most agencies label their clients. Almost every agency I have ever been around or involved in has a Client Services team to handle the day-to-day needs of the agency’s clients. There are account reps, account executives, account strategists and senior account managers; all in place to service the client and their needs. This is an old, broken model but to better understand where I am going with this let’s get some help from my friends and First, let’s look at the definition of a client:

cli·ent klahy-uhnt


1.a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.

2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc.

3. a customer.

4. anyone under the patronage of another; a dependent.

 Two very interesting things jumped out at me the first time I made this comparison. First, “a person or a group that uses” and secondly “anyone under the patronage of another, a dependant”. Both of these things imply a one-way relationship at best and an adversarial relationship at worst.

Things are more competitive today than ever before, clients are harder to find and retain than ever before, we are all nervous about what tomorrow will bring and people wonder why customers do not want to “use” or be “dependent” on someone that has no real vested interest in their success other than future paychecks? So what’s the answer?  Well, let’s look at another word and see if this one fits better:

part·ner  pahrt-ner


1. a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor; sharer; associate.

2. a person associated with another or others as a principal or a contributor of capital in a business or a joint venture, usually sharing its risks and profits.


Slightly different word but whole new meaning. How powerful is it, in today’s economy for an agency, or any business for that matter, to do a quick reframe and lose the word client from their vocabulary…. Never again, get another client but instead have partners? Sounds easy right? It isn’t. Anyone can call a client a partner but for it to mean something and really make a difference in your customers lives and businesses you have to walk your talk. Prove to them you are willing to put some skin in the game, invest some sweat equity and care about their success as much as you do your own. If you can do this with honesty and sincerity you will take your business relationships to a whole new level. Just ask any of TOMA’s partners and they will tell you!

Habits and Routines

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

As humans we inherently get stuck in habits and routines. When you woke this morning more than likely you went through your routine. You took the same shower with the same process of brushing of your teeth and of course the same tired gaze into the closet for today’s outfit. The same habits and routines may go for your businesses and marketing. You get into similar routines including your; budgets, medias, spending levels and schedules.

Ask yourself these simple questions and answer honestly.
1. Do I understand all the marketing and advertising vehicles available to my business?
2. What are the costs or investment needed for each of these?
3. How should I be spending right now on marketing and advertising?
4. Am I using the correct mix of media for my business? Print, Broadcast Television, Cable, radio, direct mail, newsprint, inserts, online (and all its different components), outdoor, interior pop just to name a few.
5.How can the Internet and its cost effective opportunities create quality traffic in my store?

Only you know the answers to these questions. I certainly can’t say if you have it right or wrong but he odds are you haven’t varied your media mix or method much from a year or two ago (with the exception of volume or frequency changes). I can say with complete certainty that we are all human and often get stuck in routines and our marketing and advertising is no exception. This is intended to be a short and thought provoking blog to get you to slow down for a second and really think objectively about your marketing investments. Is that adverting medium running because I have always done it or maybe it used to work or maybe I just haven’t made time really find out what’s out there? Now that you have been poked what are you going to do about it?

Domenic Modica
Sr. VP of Marketing

Goldman Sachs Communicopia 2011

Monday, September 26th, 2011
Janet Robinson, CEO of The New York Times, warns of a decrease higher than 8% in revenue drops for this quarter. “It’s clear that that economic conditions have been very difficult and getting more difficult, certainly even since the second quarter, and global uncertainty continues to be in the forefront.” The expected decreases are hurt by a pullback in real estate, help wanted and national auto ads. “With that in mind, we are seeing softness in the advertising business, the advertising market is definitely under pressure, and we are seeing that advertisers are certainly less likely or less frequently committing up fronts, primarily because of the uncertainty in their business.”  It is easy for companies to be nervous with everything going on in the world: European debt crisis, stock market ping pong, job market jumble, housing market hum drum.
It isn’t everyone who is a nervous Nelly, big companies such as; CBS, Disney and Discovery seem to have a positive attitude about recent advertising. “I know the world wants us to say, ‘Gee, the economy is down and our advertising is down.’ That’s just not the case. The advertising climate is very strong,” said CBS CEO Les Moonves. Is this just hype at a convention held by Goldman Sachs? Are you putting individuals together in a room who are great with words and are getting you to buy what their selling? Are they trying to convince themselves? Or is the advertising market really good?
Discovery CEO David Zaslav had this to say, “The advertising market remains very strong, and it’s been strong now for a year and a half. We haven’t seen any slowdown. We’ve seen it continue around the world. Now there clearly is a disconnect between what the economy is doing and what we are seeing on the advertising side, but we have not seen any slowdown.” Is Mr. Zaslav talking about not seeing a slowdown since 2009’s spending drop of 16%, or is he speaking in terms of when advertising spending was at a more consistent level of marketing percentages? And what exactly is he referring (some would speculate deferring) to when he says disconnect between economy and advertising? In this world of marketing mumble jumble can anything be trusted other than the cold hard facts: numbers, numbers, numbers. I guess it will be seen at the end of this quarter when those figures are released whether it’s time to be calm or concerned.

Documented Thoughts of Steve Fusco

Monday, September 26th, 2011

It seems today’s standard of what productive television ads are, when aimed towards families with quality and entertainment value, have been on a declivous path. It was seen as an American past time for families to huddle around the television in the evening time, enjoy each other and TV shows or ads that generated laughter and told stories. Commercials filled with jingles that were not only sang sub-conscientiously but are being sung to grandchildren today. These are ads that succeeded on an advertising level, that are remembered word for word until this day, or ones that still give you a reason for buying their products all these years, and that were not only affective but effective.

Staying Smart in Social Media Spots

Monday, September 26th, 2011
Privacy is a privilege. As average citizens of the United States, we are allowed quite a bit of privacy, options, opportunities, and freedoms. We realize that people in countries surrounding us may not be so lucky. Knowing that we are more fortunate, are we willingly giving up this special privilege by getting involved with the internet? Or are we being robbed of our privilege by the internet? Entering into any social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace, you are inevitably giving up your privacy by simply being on there, in addition to the material you choose to share. When you enter into a site there are settings you set for yourself based on how private a person you are. The question that should be asked here is; do those settings really protect you?  Getting involved in the internet whether it is personal or professional is a gamble, and if you have both one could affect the other.  Anything you say, any group you enter, any pictures uploaded, can be used against a person or a company at any time. Hackers can easily get through your security setting and take what they want. Photos can be copied and used as someone or something else’s, even though they are yours. These problems have been circulating the news for quite some time now. New improvements are being tested and created on a regular basis to increase security.
Facebook is the latest to get involved in the fight for security. According to reports from the, “When the changes are introduced on Thursday, every time Facebook users add a picture, comment or any other content to their profile pages, they can specify who can see it: all of their so-called Facebook friends, a specific group of friends, or everyone who has access to the Internet. These will be indicated by icons that replace the current, more complicated padlock menu. Similar controls will apply to information like users’ phone numbers and hometowns and whether they like, say, death metal bands, on their profile pages. Users will no longer have to seek out a separate privacy page to tweak who sees how much of that personal information. Nor will they have to bother to remember what those settings were. Company officials say they hope the changes will simplify the process of establishing who knows what about your life on the Internet — and hopefully, save a few people the embarrassment of unwittingly sharing too much.”
Is it really the companies (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that need to save people from the embarrassment of sharing too much or does the responsibility need to lie in the fingertips of the typer? It is not just personal profiles that are being affected, big businesses with FB Fan pages, and employees entering LinkedIn are seeing similar security breaches. Make sure every step you take you will want to support later and surf smart.

For an in-depth look at our nations take on these on-going privacy problems: