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STEVE SMITH

Steve Smith is Editorial Director of Events for MediaPost

Articles by Steve All articles by Steve

  • Listening to Customers, Not Data: The Just Salad Blend in Brand Insider on 10/30/2020

    In the early days of the COVID lockdowns some restaurants and QSRs became makeshift grocery stores. They filled a gap for their customers when standard groceries ran low or just felt too dangerous to shoppers. But the self-descriptive brand Just Salad turned the idea into a new business to go alongside its 30+ store footprint in cities worldwide. This is but the first in a line of new business ideas CMO Andy Rooks and the management will be exploring in the next year. The impetus for all such innovation, Rooks says, is having genuine conversations with customers, not just harvesting data points. By virtualizing these conversations to accommodate the Covid crisis, this approach to research is bringing the Just Salad marketing team not only into people's homes but into their refrigerators. As he tells Brand Insider this week, the open-ended-qualitative approach to customer research pays off most when the researchers discover answers to questions they hadn't even thought to ask.

  • Urban Skin Rx And The Teachable Moments Of 2020 in Brand Insider on 10/23/2020

    It has been a wild ride this year for skincare maker Urban Skin Rx and its founder/CEO Rachel Roff. The company was launched around 2010 as an extension of her successful spa and laser treatment center in Charlotte, NC. It was driven by Roff's own passion for making skincare products more relevant to a wider range of melanin-rich skin. A decade into Urban Skin Rx, about half of sales are still D2C but its products are available at Target, Walmart, Ultra, CVS, and a number of other outlets. A surprise TikTok hit and the Covid-driven self-care impulse have helped sustain the company's meteoric growth. But as a white founder of a company with a 90% African-American clientele, the social protest movement this year presented Roff and the brand with a special challenge. They came under pressure and criticism from which it continues to learn.

  • Purple's Alchemy in Brand Insider on 10/19/2020

    How many mattress brands can the world support? That is a perennial marketing question, usually aimed at the massive clutter of competing D2C brands across all categories. It seems to me the Purple mattress brand, however, always had going for it three important "P"s to differentiate it among the me-toos. They had Proprietary technology, a Puckish humor to their ubiquitous video advertising, and, of course, they were Purple. Even so, the brand still has to contend with rising customer acquisition costs, and a physical retail channel that has become constricted at best. But Omnichannel Marketing Director James Brohamer is cooking up an evolving media mix that he playfully describes as a kind of "alchemy." He tells Brand Insider how Purple is exploring new channels, like OTT, influencers and even direct mail. "It's akin to "sitting in a dungeon mixing a bunch of unknown reagents," he says.

  • Saladworks Targets the 4Me Generation in Brand Insider on 10/09/2020

    Every marketer wants to crack the code on younger demos and the ways that digital entitlement has shaped Millennials and Gens Y/Z. But not many CMOs with whom I have spoken plot it as out as specifically as Saladworks' Mark Mears. He has pored over the research, and folded in his experience leading the marketing for Cheesecake Factory, Noodles & Co. and Schlotzkey's to create a concise profile of digital natives that informs all of the fast casual restaurant brand's efforts. Mears is tweaking every touchpoint with these cohorts, even the terminology he deploys across the franchise. His "4Me Generation" isn't hungering for brands to be loyal to. They are looking for brands that will be loyal to them.

  • "We Were Dark And We Were Still Doing Well": A&W And The QSR Surprise Of 2020 in Brand Insider on 10/02/2020

    While the COVID crisis ravaged the dining and restaurant sector, it was a very different story for many QSR brands within that segment.

  • GM Kicks the Advanced TV Tires in Brand Insider on 09/25/2020

    Test and learn, gather data, repeat. That seems to be the formula for GM brands pursuing their prospects across an increasingly fragmented video landscape. David Spencer, asst. manager, audience buying strategy, had been test driving the major and emerging video screen platforms for years. Spencer joined Brand Insider this week to share his thoughts on the state of the new alphabet soup of video (SVOD, AVOD, OTT, CTV, et al).

  • Haven Life: MassMutual's D2C Policy Covers Millennial Change in Brand Insider on 09/18/2020

    Trust is everything in financial services, and in insurance especially longevity matters. And yet many legacy brands have launched D2C spin-offs like MassMutual's Haven Life, which targets married Millennials with a life insurance model that bypasses the usual agent/broker channel. Building a fresh, nimble D2C image while pointing towards 150-year-old stability is the hat trick for these brands. But as Brand Director Adam Weinberg tells us this week, Haven Life aspires to change the conversation around life insurance. Think confetti and hero moments rather than the end-of life euphemisms insurance ads have used for generations.

  • Fazoli's Optimizes the New Off-Premise QSR Experience in Brand Insider on 09/11/2020

    The brand was quick to recognize that off-premise is not just a channel but an experience just as important as dining in.

  • 'B2B Marketing Is Dead': NI Rebrands In D2C Style in Brand Insider on 09/09/2020

    The dry, tech- and text-heavy approach to B2B marketing takes several pages from the D2C playbook in NI's deep rebrand.

  • Dashlane Says The Secret Word, Finds Value In A Super Bowl Buy in Brand Insider on 08/27/2020

    Going into its big ad buy at the 2020 Super Bowl, password and security manager Dashlane knew that one shot of exposure wasn't enough.

Comments by Steve All comments by Steve

  • 'B2B Marketing Is Dead': NI Rebrands In D2C Style by Steve Smith (Brand Insider on 09/09/2020)

    So true, Bart. I would love to heare about more b2b brands that are taking a b2c approach. 

  • 'Mad' Magazine's Famed Cartoonist Mort Drucker Dies At 91 by Melynda Fuller (Publishers Daily on 04/09/2020)

    Drucker's style was our childhood entryway to American TV and film for many of us. Everyone both at MAD and at all of its imitators tried to imitate Drucker. But even as a kid I could tell the real thing from the copycats. No one tutored us more effectively in how not to take these media industries too seriously. Like Jack Davis, Wally Wood, John Severin, Drucker's pemcil and brush had an outsized power in our lives and culture. Thanks Mort.

  • Obit: Pioneering Magazine Publisher Hugh Hefner, Dead At 91 by Joe Mandese (Publishers Daily on 09/28/2017)

    Malcolm X, Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Jimmy Carter, Alex Haley (who originally interviewed Malcolm X for Playboy), Erica Jong, Germaine Greer, Bella Abzug, David Bowie - just a few of the interviews that still resonate for me decades later becasue they went deeper.and got closer to the figure's voice than anything else available. All of it sat within a package that was also irredeemably sexist and unapologetically wedded to the shallowest material pleasures of consumer culture. Somehow they were all of a frightening, contradictory, delusional, brilliant, craven, dazzling, piece that was America itself in the last half of the 20th Century.       

  • GenerationVexed by Bob Garfield (Garfield at Large on 04/10/2017)

    This is the fake news we need more of.

  • The Trump-ification Of 2016: The Super Bowl Implodes by Steve Smith (Mobile Insider on 02/08/2016)

    Luke. Thanks for that. Nice evolution of the argument. Although post-mass culture is more manageable than post-mass politics. Democracy still demands majorities to move forward. Mutli-party systems worldwide have long had to rely on coalition-building among varied three and four parties. One argument goes that the American two party system is already now based on coalitions of unlike-minded segments, and have been since the late 60s and the original Nixon Southern Strategy. Reagan's coalition of the blue collars, evangelixals and country club has always been an uncomfortable marriage. We are now seeing the seams show.  

  • The Trump-ification Of 2016: The Super Bowl Implodes by Steve Smith (Mobile Insider on 02/08/2016)

    Thanks Jon, Peter and both Georges for your comments. But take heart. I may sound depresssed, and this may all seem very depressing. But I think there is a real hunger for creative thinking in both commercial and political fields. History shows (American Renaissance, Civil War, Progressive Era, Great Depression, Modernism, post-WWII pop and high art in America) that it takes a loss of faith in old institutions to make us receptive to new ideas.  

  • Remembering A Legend We Lost In 2015: Joe Franklin by Adam Buckman (TVBlog on 12/15/2015)

    The WOR TV show was integral to my own passion for pop culture and respect for the troupers who hoofed, crooned, astonished and touched us from the stage. Joe had a humbling envy/respect of performers. His hospitality to performers of all stripes was an object lesson for budding media critics like myself that the people we wrote about were putting themselves out there in ways we never would. 

  • A Mass Medium Without Mass Media: Live TV Losing Default Status by Steve Smith (Data and Targeting Insider on 07/27/2015)

    Hi all. I agree with your reticence over trusting self-reported data, which is why I mentioned that caveat. The research is a tracking study of 1200 US TV viewers with broadband access, so there is a skew built into the sample. But what I found most interesting in this research was the attitudinal implications - the ways in which users admitted to watching TV with different levels of engagement and attention according to situation and source. This part of the research I find very recognizable in my and my household's own behavior has to do wil how and why we choose different sources. OTT video is chosen much more deliberately I think and is my default source for content I am ready to pay attention to. On the other hand, most live TV is on because I have made a choice not to pay close attention while I peruse books or a second screen. 

  • Verizon's 'No Cord Required' Mobile Video Service Launching Soon? by Steve Smith (MoBlog on 07/26/2015)

    @JS Oops. Missing work. The phrase should read "an OTT video market that will not lack players." Corrected. 

  • A Modest Proposal: Truly 'Native' Mobile Advertising by Steve Smith (MoBlog on 07/16/2015)

    DanielYes some vendors tried on their own to do this, which is why I am suggesting it needs to be done at the OS level or as a common standard within the infrastructure. Single players trying to make it happen won't 

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