Bigeye’s Senior Strategist, Dana Cassell, examines the business of identifying, analyzing, and predicting trends in consumer culture on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

IN CLEAR FOCUS this week: consumer trends. Bigeye’s Senior Strategist, Dana Cassell, examines the business of identifying, analyzing, and predicting trends in consumer culture. We discuss Data Abundance and Ungendering – two trends identified in Rohit Bhargava’s new book, “Non-Obvious Megatrends,” and assess how marketers can benefit from successfully identifying and tapping into what’s trending.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. It’s the first month of the new year and the new decade, the perfect time to put consumer trends IN CLEAR FOCUS. Identifying trends in consumer behavior – and more broadly, their cultural context – is a part of the work that advertising agencies, marketing-oriented management consultancies, research groups and design firms undertake regularly for clients. But there are also many standalone trend agencies with a focus on helping organizations imagine, plan for, and navigate the future. One of the first examples of this kind of forecasting was a study commissioned by president Herbert Hoover. Published in 1933, the study was entitled, “Recent Social Trends,” and Hoover wrote the foreword, which noted, “the task was to inquire into changing trends, resulting in emphasis on elements of instability rather than stability in the social structure.” Today, trends are an accepted part of consumer culture, so much so that we use the word, “trending,” to acknowledge a rapid rise in popularity and often an equally fast fade. Consumer trend forecasting as we know it got its start in the 1970s, a particularly turbulent decade in the West, which saw major political, social and economic changes including feminism, environmentalism, civil rights, war and economic instability caused in part by the energy crisis. It was in this context that futurology – the study of the future and science of forecasting – first developed and motivated various government initiatives, think tanks, and policy groups. The bestselling book, “Future Shock,” by Alvin Toffler was published in 1970 and accurately predicted the Internet, the sharing economy and telecommuting. Fast-forward to today and there are now many trend forecasting firms. For example, Sparks & Honey describes itself as a “cultural consultancy.” Four days a week, its consultants livestream video of a 60-minute discussion on the latest trends from its New York studios. Other companies in this space include PSFK, Trend Watching and Cool Hunting. The Canadian uses a crowdsourced model leveraging a global network of almost 250,000 trend spotters, artificial intelligence, and its own team of researchers and futurists. It scores trends across multiple dimensions including popularity and “freshness.” And the largest research groups including Nielsen and Euromonitor also regularly offer commentaries on consumer trends. To talk about trend analysis and its practical application to marketing communication and brand strategy, I’m joined here in the studio today by Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s Senior Strategist. Welcome back to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Dana.

Dana Cassell: Thanks Adrian. Let’s talk about strategy.

Adrian Tennant: So what’s your definition of a consumer trend?

Dana Cassell: I think a consumer trend is the direction of change or development and when we talk about it in marketing we mean change or development in consumer behavior, preferences or attitudes. Do you have a different take on that?

Adrian Tennant: There’s a couple that I found that I do like. So one – which is a bit wordy – is: “a trend collapses the distance between the past, present and future, by showcasing how the world of tomorrow exists today.”

Dana Cassell: Do you have that stitched on a pillow at home?

Adrian Tennant: Sounds like it could be something we could put on a wall.

Dana Cassell: Christmas gift!

Adrian Tennant: Hmmm. Or as William Gibson may or may not have written, “the future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed.”

Dana Cassell: Hmm.

Adrian Tennant: So what’s the difference between a consumer trend and a fad?

Dana Cassell: I’ve spent some time on this one and I think it comes down to lifespan. I think a fad is in and out and has a less long-term influence. And I think trends are generally longer-standing behaviors or changes and have a higher potential to influence culture in the long-term.

Adrian Tennant: Now, to what extent have you identified and labeled cultural dynamics in your work with clients?

Dana Cassell: Well, cultural dynamics are always at play, whether it’s why a client has approached us or not. So they’re always around and I think, two different questions: to what extent have I identified them and labeled them. Identifying them? Always. This always is happening, as the foundational elements of understanding a brand or a client. So omnipresent, always should be understood. To what extent are they labeled, I think, is a more nuanced question. I don’t think cultural dynamics are always a top three priority in campaigns. Sometimes they are though and sometimes they’re the root of the reason a client has come to an agency. There might be some divergence of opinion on how important a cultural trend is for that organization internally. And we’re here to find some data to settle that score. So I would say always identified, sometimes labeled.

Adrian Tennant: Okay. Well, identifying trends can reveal of course, deeper insights about how future scenarios might impact consumer culture and of course consumption. In your view, are brands maximizing the potential of consumer trends?

Dana Cassell: Yeah, some of them. Some of them do, some of them don’t. But also some trends are easier to maximize. Like for instance, we’re in the middle of a shift to a consumer-centric model of customization and delivery, like all of our monthly subscriptions and our boxes and try on the clothes, send back the pieces you don’t want, and get your very unique box of crafted local produce delivered to your doorstep. This kind of very consumer-centric customization and delivery trend is easier to maximize for lots of brands than some other trends that are happening. Like the shift away from terrestrial shopping is much harder for some industries to maximize. Small boutiques have had a much harder time moving online into an e-commerce model. So some trends are nearly impossible to maximize for certain types of industry. Others seem more ubiquitous in their possibility.

Adrian Tennant:  In what kinds of ways might a client translate a newly emerging trend into a market opportunity?

Dana Cassell: I was thinking about the banking industry and video. So if the trend is brands using beautifully-told, compelling video to tell their brand story and then slicing that video into various parts of a content library. So some for TV, some for over-the-top, some digital, some in app, maybe some email, account-based strategy. So the trend being using beautiful video to create a generous video content library. How can a client maximize this trend? I think of our banking clients and our work in the financial industry, that’s not an industry that has typically spent a ton of money in high-produced, quality video. And we’re seeing some of our brands who are more interested in moving forward into a more modern phase of banking, adopt that and find ways of telling their brand story well through video and not just using maybe some old tropes that have been used in TV advertising for a long time in that industry, but really thinking about high production value in storytelling through video.

Adrian Tennant:  Mmm. I think that’s a great example. Also, I know I often mention the UK, but there are some parallels in the industry. Over there, a direct-to-consumer bank brand has launched a campaign that’s really built around the insight that one of the main stressors for young people is their financial health.

Dana Cassell: Sure.

Adrian Tennant: So the advertising campaign plays on that idea of health and wellness and particularly mental health, with some quite thought-provoking creative. So there’s a trend towards health and wellness with a particular demographic applied to finance.

Dana Cassell: Brilliant. So they’re bringing financial health into the health and wellness trend we’re seeing?

Adrian Tennant: Absolutely.

Dana Cassell: That’s great.

Adrian Tennant: Yeah. So that’s an example of how it can work.

Dana Cassell: I love that one.

Adrian Tennant: Have you found a framework or an approach that has helped you become more attuned to trends?

Dana Cassell: I think this is a really interesting question and I was trying to figure out what it is. I know I have a framework and approach for identifying them because I have a pattern of being able to look back and see trends and how we use them in strategy. So I know that we have found ways to identify them well, but I didn’t know exactly how so I appreciate that you asked this question. The only solid answer I can come up with, it seems to be real over time is when something becomes disruptive enough that I have to sort of put something aside and go figure out what this thing is. Like one example I’ve thought of is when filters started becoming really popular for people to use on photos and I was seeing enough weird cat ears, bunny noses, whiskers on people like, “okay, what is happening?” I need to, I’m seeing this enough that I need to go figure it out. I feel behind in something. And then I can go and absorb what’s going on and where it started and how it’s impacting people. And then extrapolating that from the just the consumer piece up into our brands, which I think is how I see trends happening a lot. I start to understand them as a consumer, and then as a strategist I start to think, “okay, if this is how people are relating one-on-one to this trend, what does that mean for the brands that serve those people?”

Adrian Tennant: Dana, in your world, what’s trending right now?

Dana Cassell: So my world… I think it’s important to define my world a little bit for people who might not know me. So I am 38, I am a mother of two young girls. I’m married, I travel quite a bit, and in my world what’s trending right now, health tracking is all over the place. So this could be a middle life thing. Age stage and trend is a fascinating question. What is related to stage versus what is it a broader trend? I think they also might be the same thing, but anyway, health tracking is a big deal. The watches. I’m getting reports from some people in my life about how many minutes of REM sleep they’re getting at night. I care. I don’t know how much I care. I care. He’ll listen. I care. The concept of a gender reveal as people are having babies, this is a thing that’s happened in the world. It’s a new, a trend. It’s not so much new anymore. It’s not a fad anymore. I think it’s a trend. The concept of screen time as a parent, as a human, that health as you’re talking about a holistic approach at house screen time and related to that cutting cable,moving from a cable-oriented environment to a very consumer-customized streaming approach. There’s also a trend in tiny home downsizing, a shift from thinking about “what can we amass?” to, “what exactly are we amassing in our home?” I’m seeing that happen a lot. Clean eating. I’m also seeing a trend in the podcast catch-up, whether you are an early adopter or not. Podcasting – it’s disruptive enough that I think if you haven’t been a podcast listener at this point, you’re probably like, “okay, what does this whole podcast thing about?” So I’m enjoying being able to help people onboard into podcasts and find their little custom feed that’s a great fit for their lifestyle. So I think the trend of podcast catch-up and then the last thing I think – this is bigger than my life stage for sure – is the trend of product food, kind of household everything, having a focus on craft or maker local, locally-sourced. So that trend of local craft artisan lifestyle, I see as a pretty substantial trend at this point. 

Adrian Tennant: Okay, so full disclosure, Dana and I received a pre-publication copy of a new book authored by Rohit Bhargava, entitled, “Non-Obvious Mega Trends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future.” This is the tenth edition in an annual series and has already reached bestseller status on There are 10 mega trends identified in the book, which in a tradition of trend consulting have suitably catchy labels applied including Amplified Identity, Ungendering, Attention Wealth, Purposeful Profit, and Data Abundance. So for our inaugural IN CLEAR FOCUS book club, let’s dive into a couple of the trends that the book identifies. Data is very much in the news these days, usually for the wrong reasons. Uh, we know from our own research that there’s growing anxiety among consumers about potential misuses of personal data. What then is data abundance?

Dana Cassell: Data abundance is – I think it’s the age we’re in, like the information age – I think we’re in the age of data abundance. The book notes that 90% of the data in the world has been collected in the last two years. 90% of the data in the world in the last two years. We’re just living in a time where we’re collecting data on everything all the time. And that’s a new idea. It’s only been about the last 15 years that collecting and using data has become important. So there are a few questions that come out of the age of data abundance, which is what’s the meaning of this data? How do we use it? Who owns it? And who’s entitled to profit from it?

Adrian Tennant:  So Dana, in what ways does this perspective offer fresh insights into data environments?

Dana Cassell: Yeah, in the age of data abundance, we have to understand that more is not always better. When we began collecting data in marketing, it was just lovely to have data and to be able to use it. But now we have all of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better. However, everybody can and should be understanding the data that they are collecting and how we can maximize it. For our brands. We do have a responsibility with data in many different ways and transparency to our clients and our consumers. And also balancing the integrity of using data with profit. So just that general understanding that profit is never worth sacrificing and brand’s integrity and the data abundant environment calls that line to question often.

Adrian Tennant: And how does Bhargava differentiate good data from bad data?

Dana Cassell:  Yeah, he talks about data pollution, and that being the point of differentiation between good and bad. And there are a few ways that data gets polluted. We can have an overflow of data, data manipulation, data sabotage, data contamination and data exploration. I feel with our clients, we see kind of two pieces of data pollution happening regularly and that in marketing we see more of these issues. Data overflow, which is really when too much data gets captured and our clients just don’t know what to focus on or data expiration: so when data is not updated as frequently as necessary and then loses its value because it’s not current.

Adrian Tennant: Okay. How practical were the book’s suggestions around making meaning out of data?

Dana Cassell: Again, it kind of depends on what kind of data you have about how practical his suggestions were. He told a case study about a car insurance company in China that uses images of damage to cars and images of car parts to analyze an accident and then analyze the price to have that fixed in order to make an estimate for repair. And obviously that’s a really meaningful way to use data. And they have a ton of data that’s informed that and so it’s saved the industry an insane amount of money. It has created an efficiency for clients as well. So I think that example is a great example of how to make meaning out of data. I’m always interested in how our clients can make meaning out of data. And I think that’s part of our role as strategists is to help our clients understand what is the most meaningful data that they’re collecting and how can we use that in a way that there’s high integrity and responsibility to consumers, but also interest for the brand.

Adrian Tennant: Dana, did this trend feel mega or non-obvious to you?

Dana Cassell: Mega! Data’s never non-obvious, come on!

Adrian Tennant: [Laughing].

Dana Cassell: So Adrian, for our chat today, you focused on the Ungendering trend and chapter in the book. What’s that all about?

Adrian Tennant: Bhargava makes the case that traditional gender divisions and labels are kind of getting replaced now with more fluid understandings around gender identity. That in itself is forcing a reevaluation of how we see employees, employers, customers, brands, and of course one another.

Dana Cassell: So does the trend change the way we need to think about gender-based roles?

Adrian Tennant: So in the 1970s, he talks about the fact that the ideal of femininity was a woman who kind of has it all, in other words, a job and a family and a household to take care of. Then women were celebrated for being the jugglers in chief and expected to uphold kind of impossible standards – right? – in the workplace and at home. And then this facade he talks about is also breaking apart at breakneck speed. And you have a much fiercer model of femininity now where women can be strong and serious at the same time, you can still be a mother or you can have this thing that he calls “otherhood” which describes women who by choice or circumstantial infertility don’t have children.

Dana Cassell: Uh-huh. So what is the book’s take on Gender X – and what is Gender X?

Adrian Tennant:  More than 10 US States have passed legislation allowing individuals to select a gender-neutral choice of X rather than the letter M or F when they apply for a driver’s license or an ID card. Um, and this has actually already been a thing for about a decade. Australia, Germany, Canada and India have also allowed for this third option on passports. So nonbinary gender identity is definitely gaining mainstream attention. So it’s a trend, not a fad.

Dana Cassell:  And what does being ungendered mean for consumer behavior?

Adrian Tennant:   Growing up, I knew what toys were designed for me because they would be blue.

Dana Cassell:  Uh-huh

Adrian Tennant:  And you probably grew up at a time when your toys were pink.

Dana Cassell: And purple. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant:  A lot of parents are questioning that, that whole idea. So toy makers in particular are deliberately designing much more inclusive packaging and avoiding attachment of a gender to the product itself.

Dana Cassell: Mmm.

Adrian Tennant: A great example that I found, not mentioned in this book, but you may recall, towards the tail end of last year, Mattel…

Dana Cassell: Uh-huh.

Adrian Tennant: …brought out a range of gender-neutral dolls for boys, girls and as they said in the press release, “children in between.” So super interesting. I really liked Mattel‘s summation of this – they said, “in our world dolls are as limitless as the kids who play with them. Introducing Creatable World, a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.”

Dana Cassell: Brilliant line. Great line.

Adrian Tennant: I love that. I love that.

Dana Cassell: Does this trend of ungendering feel mega or non-obvious to you, Adrian?

Adrian Tennant: Mega? Yes. When Reema Elghossain, who’s the VP of Talent, Equity, and Inclusion at the 4A’s Foundation joined us on IN CLEAR FOCUS recently, we actually talked about this very topic in the context of the changing workplace. Bhargava makes the point that biases take time, sometimes generations, to change. And I think we’ve seen that to some extent with LGBTQ issues, but gender identity feels like a whole new frontier. As for non-obvious, maybe not so much but that’s because I have the privilege of working in the city of Orlando. Last year the city received a perfect 100 out of 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which assesses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – and gender identity.

Dana Cassell: Hmmm!

Adrian Tennant: Dana, thank you very much for joining us again today.

Dana Cassell: Thanks for having me. Anytime you want to talk about strategy and research, Adrian.
Adrian Tennant: So of course, my thanks to Dana Cassell, Senior Strategist at Bigeye. You can find links to the resources we discussed on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under “Insights.” And please consider subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Flash Briefing. Thank you again for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.


Ad agencies are making diversity, and gender equality a priority. Reema Elghossain of the 4A’s Foundation and Maegan Trinidad of Bigeye join us on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

IN CLEAR FOCUS this week: How advertising agencies are attracting new employees and approaching retention, diversity, and gender equality. Reema Elghossain, VP of Talent, Equity & Inclusion at the 4A’s Foundation, shares her observations about how generational differences and attitudes towards gender and identity are changing how agencies engage with their staff. We also hear from Bigeye’s Digital Marketing Specialist, Maegan Trinidad, who is an alumna of the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP) and learn how it helped her enter the industry.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at the Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative- driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us today. The most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment is at 3.5%, the lowest rate since 1969. Filling vacant positions or newly created positions is a significant challenge for many employers – especially those seeking to grow – and competition for workers is fierce. Candidates with creative and media skills have many options when it comes to potential employers. Design, marketing and writing skills are sought by companies beyond advertising and media agencies. Consider tech companies and the growth of direct-to-consumer products and services, many of which have opted to develop creative and media buying capabilities in-house. The rise of digital media has also brought with it a new wave of tech savvy creatives and analytical thinkers, many of them working client side. Advertising agencies certainly compete for creative talent, but in addition, are challenged to recruit and retain workforces that reflect America’s ethnic and racial diversity. Almost half a century ago, the American Association of Advertising Agencies better known as the 4A’s recognized the lack of diversity in the industry. In 1973, the 4A’s launched its minority intern program to encourage students from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds to consider careers in advertising. And later the organization awarded scholarships to African American, Hispanic, and Asian American young professionals entering the industry. Nearly 50 years on the 4A’s continues to represent the marketing communications agency business. The organization’s stated mission is to empower agencies to thrive by advancing issues such as evolving agency models, but also talent, retention, diversity and gender equality. Joining me via phone from New York City today, Reema Elghossain is Vice President of the 4A’s Foundation and responsible for talent, equity and inclusion. Reema has 15 years of experience in education, talent development, and diversity and leads some of the industry’s most prominent diversity pipeline initiatives. These include the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program known as MAIP, which evolved from the original Minority Intern Program. Reema also oversees the 4A’s Foundation’s educational programs, scholarships and awards, as well as professional and organizational development opportunities. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Reema.

Reema Elghossain: Hello. Thank you.

Adrian Tennant: Reema, could you explain a little more about the Foundation and the part it plays within the 4A’s?

Reema Elghossain: Sure, absolutely. So the 4A’s Foundation was established in 1997, with a commitment to provide scholarships and awards for young people of color interested in getting involved in the advertising industry. In the last two years, the 4A’s made an intentional decision to move MAIP and our educational programs, which include our high school initiatives over into the 4A’s Foundation. So it really serves the industry, advertising and marketing at large, with all of their talent needs, especially when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. So we really try to support the industry from the 4A’s Foundation with finding diverse talent, with educating diverse talent, n what advertising is and the experience, and then really developing that talent once they’re into the industry.

Adrian Tennant: I mentioned during the introduction that the 4A’s had the foresight to establish an internship program focused on diversity back in the 1970s. In what kinds of ways does your work with the 4A’s Foundation today help young professionals in their careers?

Reema Elghossain: We do it a number of ways within our educational programs. We partner right now with two high schools in New York city that are predominantly students of color that actually have an advertising track within the high school programs. And so what we do for our high school students is we try to immerse them into the advertising industry. We connect to them with speakers and experts in the industry to share insight. We host events and competitions for them so that they can understand what it’s like to get briefed by a client and to do pitches. We train them on what every discipline is in the industry and really try to help slowly build a network for them while they’re in high school and show them opportunities to be able to major in advertising and have internships throughout their career. Through MAIP we do it a number of ways. We have our fellowship program and that runs annually and we do a 13-week virtual spring training for all of our fellows before they even enter their internship at their agency. And that again trains them on what each discipline is. But then also we train them on some transferable skills and then how to navigate the industry, especially from coming from a diverse place. And then we have over 3,500 alumni that have gone through our programs since 1973. And what we do is we partner with agencies and outside companies to provide any type of personal development, professional development, networking opportunities. 

Adrian Tennant: Fantastic. Now can you talk a little bit about the process for students who may be interested in applying for the 4A’s MAIP program?

Reema Elghossain: Around the end of August and into mid-October, we have applications for students to apply to be part of our program. It’s for juniors, seniors, and grad students across the country and it’s a pretty extensive application process. And we ask for essay questions, the video, letters of recommendation and really just want to understand, you know, what they’re interested in the industry. We then give them a screening process. We do coach them on interview tips and prepare them through the process. And then we have our community of volunteers in the industry that really support our initiatives, who will interview them. And once they pass through all of those stages, they then become finalists. At that same time, our agencies are applying to host fellows for the next year. And then we have a huge selection kickoff where agencies will then make offers to their favorite top finalists and they place an offer and that MAIP finalist has the opportunity to accept or decline. If they accept and it can be anywhere in the country, then they now become a fellow. Once they become a fellow, we actually support the agencies by taking care of housing and travel for all of the fellows. And then again, onboarding them with that spring training. And an orientation to get them really immersed into the program before they even enter their internship.

Adrian Tennant: Well, that sounds very thorough. And do you typically have that kickoff in New York City, or does it change according to where the students are coming from?

Reema Elghossain: Sure. So the actual live kick off is in New York City, but we live stream it, we live stream it through our Facebook page, our main page, and through Zoom. And so all of our agency partners, all of the finalists are alumni community. A lot will sign in and be able to watch it happening live. And so it’s really exciting. We invite all of the finalists that are in New York to be able to attend and they get to receive their offers live, in person.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s change gears just a little bit. So with the visibility of the #MeToo movement, there’s heightened awareness of issues around gender inequality, bias, and discrimination within the workplace. And ad agencies have certainly not been immune from scrutiny. From where you stand, has #MeToo been a kind of a wake up call for the industry?

Reema Elghossain: I think absolutely and in a lot of different ways. I think it’s something that everyone is aware of, but no one really knew what to do. And so when that movement came around I think it woke a lot of people up in the industry. And I think one, it scared a lot of agencies because they were whispers before and then now it just became something where there’s actually some accountability that’s going to be happening. And so I definitely think it shook up the industry in a major way. And I think it still is in a lot of ways and it definitely shifted the understanding and awareness, I think for the talent and employees to realize what their opportunities were and having a voice and being able to know what their rights are. So I definitely think it impacted just the industry and, and from the top down.

Adrian Tennant: Traditional gender divisions and labels, the binary choice of male or female are being replaced with the more fluid concept of gender identity. Thinking differently about gender identity also has, of course, potentially significant impacts on the work an agency does for clients. Everything from consumer insights research and brand strategy through to creative and messaging. In this context, how well are agencies addressing these long held assumptions about gender?

Reema Elghossain: That’s a great question. It’s a conversation that’s becoming louder and it’s something that’s becoming more important. And especially I think when agencies are looking at their employees and saying, “we have to be able to create a safer space and a space that’s more open for, for all.” And so looking at their people holistically, I think is allowing them to also be able to work with clients and say, “okay, our consumers also need to be looked at in a holistic way as well.” It’s a conversation that is happening to support who works in the industry, but then because I think that inevitably will impact how they support clients and their consumers.

Adrian Tennant: In addition to gender bias, discrimination, and identity, what are some of the other areas that you work with member agencies on?

Reema Elghossain: A lot of things. So talent development. We also talk to our agencies about supporting them with how to have a more diverse workplace, how to be more inclusive of what systems they can put into place that can support that. We talk a lot about retention. We talk about, “how do we move diverse talent up the corporate ladder?” And then also “what are systems and initiatives we can put into place that really can support their employees there?” Number one to bring in talent, but then also to make it a place where the talent wants to stay.

Adrian Tennant: Right. Have you codified these into a set of best practices?

Reema Elghossain: Yeah, we’d like to work with our agencies to produce those best practices. We all have a lot of ideas and I think it really depends on where that agency is. But we have maybe smaller to mid-size agencies that are really just starting their diversity initiatives. They might not even have a lead person in their diversity, equity, initiatives. And then there’s the larger agencies that might already have a DNI lead or team and they have different needs at the same time. So we do have some best practices in place and it really depends on what the agency is. And then I have my own opinion.

Adrian Tennant: Ah, let’s get to those. You referenced the fact that the 4A’s includes holding company agencies – which I’m guessing are typically in the major metros -as well as independently owned agencies, many of which – like ourselves – are in smaller markets. How then do you apply variations in how differently-sized agencies identify and approach these kinds of issues?

Reema Elghossain: I think for me it would be just doing a little bit of research and talking to each agency and finding out what their needs are and out what they’re, even, what their budget is, and where to start, right? So if they’re talking about, “we want to focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and the talent.” The first thing is how diverse is your agency? Now I don’t expect agencies to share their numbers, but what is your first goal? Is it one hiring diverse talent so that you can diverse, you know, add diversity to your pool? Or is it “we have diverse talent, we want to add more, but what can we do to be a more inclusive space?” And there’s definitely different needs when it comes to both. I definitely think every agency, whether it’s independent, small, all the way up to the to larger holding companies, all need to continue to hire more diverse talent. So that’s I think, a problem across the board. But depending on where they are and what their resources are, there are different ways that they can make a better environment.

Adrian Tennant: Specifically thinking about job candidates and young professionals, do you see any generational differences in how today’s young professionals maybe just starting out in the industry or have one or two years experience how their career decisions contrast or compare to older, more established workers?

Reema Elghossain: Absolutely. They are thinking of things that I never thought of when I was their age. They are thinking about, “what are your mental health and wellness programs that you have established at your agency?” They’re thinking about even things that might not even matter to them early on, but like, “what are your maternity and paternity leave programs? What is your work life balance?” They are thinking of things that are important to them that, I’ll be honest, at 37, I didn’t think of when I was their age and they’re holding agencies a lot more accountable. They’re looking at agencies and saying, “what can you do for me?” Not just, “what can I do for you?” I would say when they first get into the industry, there is that still that same fear and desperation of finding a job in a lot of places, especially for our MAIP, community. You know, as young people of color, there’s this fear of being able to find a job, but the questions that they’re asking are very much different. They’re not just, “what are the hours and the salary and the insurance benefits?” They’re also just asking about the experience, the environment. “Do you have any diversity inclusion initiatives? Do you even have a DNI lead? What programs do you have that can help support me? Do you have mental health? Do you have employee resource groups and do you have professional development opportunities?” These are questions that they’re asking and they’re also not afraid to be able to leave at a faster rate than, I would say, older generations. You know, they find a company and they want to stick with it for a long time. I think the young professionals now are saying, “if you’re not putting into me, I’m okay with getting up and finding a new opportunity.” And so I think it’s definitely forcing agencies to think a little bit differently about what they’re providing to their employees.

Adrian Tennant: Right. So to that point, continuing professional education, more the responsibility of the employer than the employees, is that fair?

Reema Elghossain: I think it’s a very competitive market right now. I think there’s a lot of young, amazing talent and I think the industry knows they’re losing talent really quickly. And especially because I haven’t been able to keep up with what other industries are doing from remote days to better work life balance to personal and professional development opportunities. And I think our professionals see that, I think they talk to each other and I think they know what issues there are. And so when they’re coming into interviews, they’re a lot more intentional with the questions they’re asking.

Adrian Tennant: Are you finding that younger professionals are considering freelancing right out of college?

Reema Elghossain: Yeah. I would say maybe after a couple of years, I think I’ve noticed that there are some of our alumni who have gone through the program maybe a couple years ago and they reach out to me a lot and they’re looking for freelance. I think they liked the comfort of being able to work from home, especially with industry that’s expected to work a lot more than 40 hours a week. And so if they are already planning to stay to do that, they want a little bit more freedom to be able to do that at their own time. This is definitely a non-conventional generation where it doesn’t have to be done at nine to five. It can still get done really well. And I think freelance is a really attractive option for them, especially because – and I can speak a lot more about our community -if they’re not feeling comfortable or feeling included at their agency, I think they would sometimes rather leave and leave some of that toxicity and be able to just work for themselves on their own and to be able to work on projects. And the industry is kind of set up so that it can do that. Right? You can work on a team, you can work on one project and then once that’s done, you can work on another one. And you don’t necessarily have to be, you know, um married to one agency to do that.

Adrian Tennant: Yeah. A great point. I just actually picked up some research put out by Statista. It says that there’s actually been a 78% increase in job posts mentioning workplace flexibility since 2016 and 37% of employees would switch to a job that allows them to work offsite, at least part of the time. And the trend, of course, being most pronounced among Millennial workers. That doesn’t sound too surprising based on what we’ve just been discussing.

Reema Elghossain: Yeah, not at all. I mean, I would love that too! I think there is a lot more flexibility in it. It creates a lot of space. I mean imagine you’re working until 10:00 PM at night and then to be able to come in at noon the next day. It does help prevent burnout. It helps prevent not just exhaustion but feeling overwhelmed. And I think it makes for more productivity. So I’ve seen a lot of other industries that I’ve been in that have been having more flexibility in that. And I just think it’s really beneficial and I think it’s almost necessary. I don’t know if the industry is even thinking about that just yet.

Adrian Tennant: Great discussion, Reema. Are there any resources that you’d recommend for people interested in pursuing a career within advertising?

Reema Elghossain: I read a lot of books on personal and professional development and I think that’s what I would suggest to any young professional. I read books from Eckhart Tolle or Michael Singer… 15 Steps for Conscious Leadership. Those I think are going to be great tools that are going to help set you apart in the advertising industry because I think it’s not just about your specific skill, right? I think people come into this industry with a certain craft and then they spend their entire careers perfecting that craft and you’re going to have all those opportunities to do that. And what I think is lacking sometimes as you continue to grow in that ladder but you don’t necessarily learn management skills, development skills,your communication skills and your styles, how to read and identify people. And I think what will set you apart and allow you to grow an industry is if you focus on a lot of those resources. And that’s usually the biggest advice that I do.

Adrian Tennant: Reema, that was great advice indeed. And we will include links to those resources on the IN CLEAR FOCUS webpage. For now, Reema, thank you very much for joining us today. Really appreciate your time.

Reema Elghossain: Okay. Thank you so much.

Adrian Tennant: As Reema explained, the 4A’s Foundation’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program – or MAIP, for short – helps people from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds enter the advertising industry. With some personal insights on what it’s like to go through MAIP, I’m joined now here in the studio by Bigeye’s Digital Marketing Specialist, Megan Trinidad, who is an alumna of MAIP. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Megan.

Maegan Trinidad: Hello!

Adrian Tennant: Firstly, can you briefly describe your role here at Bigeye?

Maegan Trinidad: I am a Digital Marketing Specialist and that entails doing a lot of reporting and optimizations for our client’s campaigns.

Adrian Tennant: How long have you been at the agency?

Maegan Trinidad: I actually started as an intern in the Fall of 2018 but I joined full-time in May of 2019.

Adrian Tennant: And I should mention too that Megan actually created the Airtable database that we use to track every step of the production process for these weekly podcasts. So we’re very grateful for that – thank you Maegan. So thinking back, in high school, were you more drawn to liberal arts or STEM subjects?

Maegan Trinidad: Interestingly enough, I was more STEM. I wanted to be more creative so I feel that advertising and marketing in general was a way for me to bridge those two because I got to touch the creative side at least a little bit and help with my analytical and mathematical background as well as my research background.

Adrian Tennant: Perfect. So was it high school – was that the time when you have the idea that advertising might be something you’d be interested in pursuing as a career?

Maegan Trinidad: I think so. I think I knew I wanted to do a business major and when I learned what marketing was in high school, that’s when I decided to pursue that in college.

Adrian Tennant: When did you first learn about the 4A’s Foundation’s program?

Maegan Trinidad: So one of my family members is actually also a MAIP alumna and she’s the one who told me about it before I entered in my sophomore year in college. Because she noticed that I could benefit from the program and seeing what it was like to work at an agency because I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do with my marketing degree. So it was something that was worth a shot – and I ended up really liking working agency-side, which is why I did MAIP two years and ended up at Bigeye.

Adrian Tennant: What was the application process for MAIP like?

Maegan Trinidad: It involved several essays, a video interview, and after those were submitted, there were two further rounds of interviews.

Adrian Tennant:  Wow. I think you said you did the program twice.

Maegan Trinidad: I did.

Adrian Tennant: Okay. What was the female-to-male ratio like? I’m curious.

Maegan Trinidad: I feel like it wasn’t a stark difference, but it was a little more female, I’d say.

Adrian Tennant: Okay. You attended the MAIP events in New York City. What were they like?

Maegan Trinidad: I feel like they’re a really good experience. We got to go to several agencies, like Weiden and Kennedy, I believe. And it was interesting to see what different types of agencies looked like in their different organization styles because obviously we could meet the different people who worked there and we got to network with them and we also got to see what their space was like and they were all very different.

Adrian Tennant: Hmm. Now it sounds like there was some competition amongst agencies for interns on that MAIP program. Where did you intern?

Maegan Trinidad: The first year when I was in New York I was at MEC, which is now Wavemaker. And the second year I was in Chicago at Mindshare.

Adrian Tennant: So what did you personally feel were the most valuable lessons you learned from each of those internships?

Maegan Trinidad: To be adaptable, to be honest, when I went through MAIP, I was selected to be a media planner and media planning wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to be a strategy intern because I mentioned earlier that I have a research background and I wanted to see what that was like to apply in an agency setting. But working in media planning did allow me to see what else was out there and when I got to meet my teams at my agencies, they were very welcoming and they worked with what I felt were my strong suits. So they adapted what they had me do based on my desire to branch out and see how I could bring my skill set to the agencies.

Adrian Tennant: Right. Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow fellows?

Maegan Trinidad: My fellow fellows? Yeah, actually I’ve made really good friends during MAIP. That’s another thing I really enjoyed. Most of you guys are strangers when you show up to your host city and since you live together you get to make some really good friends. I made some of my very closest friends during mate. Unfortunately now they live across the country, but…

Adrian Tennant: Well at least you’ve got people you can go visit and possibly crash on their sofa.

Maegan Trinidad: … That’s what I say!

Adrian Tennant: So Maegan, what if anything, do you think either MAIP, or you could have done differently to enhance the experience?

Maegan Trinidad: I feel that MAIP has a really good structure already and the only thing that I would change about it would be offering more of the, um, they’re called MAIP Labs where every or most weeks you go to a different agency and they speak to a different topic. I would offer those in more cities. I understand that that’s not really a feasible option in some of the host cities but I feel that in some of the, some of the larger cities like LA, they don’t really have as many of those opportunities as they do in New York or Chicago. So I feel like I would make more of an effort to make more MAIP events for those places or make something supplementary to them. 

Adrian Tennant: Maegan, would you recommend the program to others looking to enter the advertising industry?

Maegan Trinidad: Oh, absolutely. And even interns here, if I see that they have an interest and they’re qualified to join the program and have an interest in specifically some of the disciplines that they have offered through MAIP, I talk to them about the program and tell them about the application process and what I went through. And if they’re interested, I offer to tell them more about my personal experience. And I was a MAIP Ambassador at UCF before I graduated. So I feel like I want to be a resource for other students and if they want to learn more, they can contact me.

Adrian Tennant: Perfect. Great insights, Maegan. Thank you very much for joining us.

Maegan Trinidad: Thank you!

Adrian Tennant: Thanks also to Reema Elghossain, VP of the 4A’s Foundation, responsible for talent, equity, and inclusion. You can find links to the resources we discussed on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under “Insights.” Please consider subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. And if you like what you hear, please leave a review and a rating. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Flash Briefing. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.




Michael Schmidt, Managing Director of Strategic Innovations at Orlando Health, discusses creating a culture of innovation across a complex healthcare system on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

In Clear Focus this week: how to successfully create innovation competency and culture. Michael Schmidt, Managing Director of Strategic Innovations at Orlando Health, shares a practical framework for transforming ideas into startup businesses and commercial products. Michael speaks to the challenges of creating a culture of innovation across a complex healthcare system as well as the tangible benefits experienced by internal and external innovators, healthcare professionals, and patient communities.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye, an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us today. Over the past several decades, thanks to improved diagnostic and therapeutic options, healthcare has done much to improve life expectancy and quality of life. And the development of new diagnostic procedures , therapies, drugs and medical devices is something the US has traditionally excelled at. But within the next five years, the cost of healthcare here is predicted to reach 20% of GDP, so technological solutions and new approaches to delivery are of interest to many health systems. Managing systemic change is hard, especially when it comes to creating a culture of innovation. Joining me here in the studio today is someone with hands-on experience of managing just this kind of challenge. Michael Schmidt is the Managing Director of Strategic Innovations at Orlando Health, a network of community and specialty hospitals. Orlando Health is Central Florida’s fifth-largest employer with more than 20,000 employees and more than 3,000 affiliated physicians. Michael has built the Orlando Health Foundry, which develops internal ideas and concepts into startup businesses, or commercialized products, and helps to launch them across Orlando Health and the broader healthcare industry. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Mike.

Michael Schmidt:    Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant:     Mike, your title is Managing Director of Strategic Innovations. How do you define innovation?

Michael Schmidt:    People define innovation and specifically in healthcare a lot of different ways. The definition that has become my favorite. It’s actually from a partner of ours, Healthbox, based in Chicago. And I love it because it’s so simple. It’s “invention adopted.”

Adrian Tennant:    And why is innovation needed within an organization like Orlando Health?

Michael Schmidt:    So we’re at a really interesting time. 2018 was actually our 100th birthday as an organization so kind of at the same time celebrating the past and everything that we’ve accomplished and what it means to the Central Florida community, but also really looking to the future in the next 100 years. And how do we set ourselves up as a hospital system, caring for a broader community to make sure that we’re meeting the needs that the community has, but also making sure that in the increasingly competitive healthcare landscape, we are well prepared to serve those that you know, that we’ve set out to, to serve.

Adrian Tennant:     So Mike, how did you first arrive at the idea that has now become Orlando Health Foundry?

Michael Schmidt:    So we’ve had some fits and starts in terms of a formal innovation program. And so for a healthcare system of our size, that was really a gap. So not quite five years ago, David Strong became our CEO and he brought with him from his previous organization, a number of other senior leaders that now they formed the senior leadership team for Orlando Health. And I think pretty quickly realized that an innovation program is an excellent way to engage the workforce, especially the frontline clinicians and physicians who are directly caring for patients. So to not only make sure that we are tapping into the workforce to get the best insights and feedback on where change needs to happen, where product evolution needs to happen, where we need to to change our approach. But also to make sure that the workforce feels they have an outlet for those ideas when they come up with something, whether it’s a new product, purchase recommendation, or a completely new idea that someone’s come up with that solves some problems. And so we collectively surveyed a number of senior folks across the organization and asked the questions, “what would a, a good innovation program look like?” and “how should we include people from across the healthcare system to help us drive this forward?”

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. So in establishing Orlando Health Foundry, what challenges did you face?

Michael Schmidt:    So I think one of the biggest challenges for me was initially I was a one person team. And with such a large organization that’s spread out so much it, it has been a bit of a challenge to get the word out to make sure that people know that we have the Foundry program. And then kind of taking it a step beyond that. What is this program? How does it work? How can people participate, engage with it? What types of ideas are we looking for? Things like that. So it’s been a bit of a learning process. One of the best things we do each Fall is we hold workshops at each of the hospitals. And so anybody’s able to come there. They’re a few hours long so it gives people a chance to kind of settle in, ask me questions, get an overview of what the program looks like, but then get real-time feedback on any ideas that they might be working on. And so I always take a step back and say, “how did you guys hear about this first and are there better ways that we can communicate to make sure that we’re reaching everybody who needs to hear about this program that has ideas?” And so I’ve gotten lots of great insights and feedback over time.

Adrian Tennant:     Is the program open only to Orlando Health employees and partner physicians, or is it open to everybody?

Michael Schmidt:    That’s a great question. So the way we’ve decided to set up our program is to focus both on the internal and external environment. So the Foundry specifically serves our internal constituents, so employees, which we call team members and our physicians. And so the Foundry is where they can bring ideas for new products or services that Orlando Health can develop and then commercialize and spin out after using them across our system. For our external focus, we actually have a dedicated investment fund, which many large healthcare systems do now. And so we do direct investing into healthcare startups whose products and services we like to use.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. So how do people with new product or service ideas generally engage with the Foundry? What does the process look like?

Michael Schmidt:    It usually starts at the workshops. And so the program does run on an annual cycle. And so we’ll do an internal kind of marketing campaign around the program invite people to attend the workshops. And so that’s the first chance for them to dip their toes in the water. And oftentimes people sign up but they’re not really sure what to expect. And initially they’re a little hesitant to share the idea. But I think once they understand that, you know, my team is here just to support them, they are, you know, they are my customers. My job is to help them succeed and help them take the next right step with their ideas. It’s always really encouraging to see how the conversation kind of unfolds.

Adrian Tennant:     So what can you tell us about the framework that you’ve developed to help innovators either define or refine those initial concepts that they bring to you?

Michael Schmidt:    Yeah, so the Foundry program itself, the actual accelerator portion it’s about a two month sprint. So most of the ideas that are brought to us are very early stage. It’s kind of a sketch on a piece of paper or a PowerPoint presentation as to “here’s how this thing could work if we were to build it.” So we realized that people were pretty early in the process in terms of developing a concept. And so what we’ve established in this is kind of Healthbox’s framework is a series of four modules. So we build an internal team. If we’re building a medical device, we’ll bring someone from clinical engineering, we’ll get a frontline clinician who’s actually gonna use the device. We’ll get someone from our IT team just to make sure that we have a well-rounded perspective as we’re developing this project, just to make sure that we’re not missing anything. And so that group stays together throughout the process. And so the first thing we do is kind of take a step back from the product or the idea and we really start to diagnose and take apart the problem that they’re trying to solve. We say, “you have to fall in love with the problem first.” That’s the first big step. And so oftentimes the innovator that’s brought the idea forward hasn’t fully thought through what exactly their idea or their product is fixing. And so we start to pull it apart piece by piece and say, “look at who exactly is this problem affecting what is, what else is happening further down the line, if we don’t fix it today, what happens? How urgent is it? What is it costing Orlando Health? Or what is it doing potentially to patient outcomes if we’re not solving this problem?” And so most of the time, once we’ve gotten that part kind of on paper and thought through fully, we realized that at least some aspects of the new idea don’t address part of that problem. So it’s a good opportunity for us to kind of reframe, make sure that the idea addresses the problem that we’ve diagnosed. And so once we get past that, then start to get into product design, start to look at the market landscape, where would this fit? Just to make sure that we’re carving out a niche for ourselves where we feel we could have some success.

Adrian Tennant:     Got it. So moving to market fit. How do you typically determine a concept’s commercial viability and validate the market opportunity beyond just Orlando Health’s needs?

Michael Schmidt:    Yeah, so the, the review process for the ideas that are brought to us is, is actually a bit of a lengthy process. So of all the ideas that are submitted, we review those internally. And I have a group of about 30 frontline clinicians, physicians, leaders that review all the ideas. And so what we look for collectively is which of the ideas really is something unique that’s not on the market? Or if it’s similar to something on the market, do we think that we could build this in a different way or approach it differently that could impact, you know, first and foremost, how we deliver healthcare at Orlando Health and then would that appeal to the broader market. So we have a lot of discussion around the merits of pursuing each of these things. Some really interesting ideas aren’t pursued because of what the market landscape looks like. Medical devices specifically have a very long runway for development. Going through the FDA is not easy. It’s very costly so we pick and choose the opportunities to pursue those types of projects based on how successful we think we could be. And then I always make sure that we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves if we develop an idea that at the end of the day really just impacts how we do things at Orlando Health and helps us either improve our outcomes, decrease costs, reduce length of stay – the important metrics for a hospital. That’s fine. If it ends up getting to the market and is successful, that’s, that’s kind of a bonus. Just to make sure that we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. The average amount of time from the start of the program to when we anticipate something hitting the market – it’s probably between two to four years depending on what type of idea it is. So we just make sure to pace ourselves appropriately.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. So talking about hitting the market, does Orlando Health automatically become a shareholder in any of the new ventures that have been nurtured through the Foundry framework?

Michael Schmidt:    Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. Different hospital systems approach that differently. For us, the Foundry program is designed to identify and build Orlando Health’s intellectual property. And so it’s one of the first discussions we have with innovators is helping them understand why Orlando Health needs to assume ownership of, of the IP. And it’s really just how easy it is for me to put resources and structure behind something. And you know, it’s not really about control. We leave the innovator really in the driver’s seat for the project. So it’s, it’s really to, to build up our IP portfolio and then what we do once something is commercialized. So we have a very generous royalty sharing approach with the innovators. So they basically get to benefit in the profits after Orlando Health has, has helped them get to that point.

Adrian Tennant:     Got it. Bigeye is a healthcare marketing agency, as you know. How do you approach developing those plans for growth? Particularly go-to-market strategies and those potential external funding requirements.

Michael Schmidt:    So it’s different for each project. You know, we really tried to, to start with a templated approach, but when we get to certain points, make sure that we are, you know, kind of designing and building and moving each idea along the right way. So medical devices, you know, we have some good you know, biomedical engineering partners that we work with that that’s their niche. They know how to, you know, illustrate these ideas. Rapid prototype them with three D printing, you know, run a pilot program and then get them through the FDA. So a lot of times those processes are already defined based on the partner. So we feel it’s, it’s really important early in the process to identify who those partners are going to be and then do our best to just kind of follow the process that they’ve used. It’s proven to be successful.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. You mentioned earlier that you typically work in sprints. So have you fully adopted an agile project management methodology? 

Michael Schmidt:    Yes, we have in some instances. We don’t have a set approach really just because the projects are so different. So the four projects that went through the Foundry in 2019 that are in development right now: we have an iPad app to help patients who’ve lost their ability to speak in the hospital so it can speak for them based on inputs. We have a program that will, through some, some software connected to our electronic health record, will help pediatric patients transition into adult care. We have one that is, it’s really a pilot study to test how, how much we can reduce the risk of infection spreading in certain units by replacing the privacy curtains that are kind of standard fabric curtains with antimicrobial disposable curtains, just to see what the difference is there. And then the fourth one is a medical device which is built to irrigate wounds and the emergency department cuts and lacerations and stuff like that. So wildly different projects, completely different work teams, different partners that are helping us build or design all those things. And so again, it’s back to making sure we have the right team assembled and the right partners, helping us do these things and then figuring out which approach makes the most sense for that project and that team.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And I feel you’re ideally positioned to help them with those go to market strategies, because I know that earlier in your career with Orlando Health, you directed digital media.

Michael Schmidt:    Yes.

Adrian Tennant:     Does your experience with digital marketing influence or has it influenced how you approach the development of the Foundry?

Michael Schmidt:    Yeah, it does. And you know, I think a lot of people that I talked to say, gosh, your career path has been so strange. But I really feel like it has prepared me for this, this role, this job. One of the benefits is I always have kind of the branding product, marketing hat or lens that I’m looking through. You know, which isn’t always obvious to someone who runs in an innovation program, but just kind of having that lens to look through as we’re developing, knowing how we should position and market these things once they do get to market to help them be successful. Even to the point of being able to help with website design and development, video production, to make sure that we are most effectively communicating how these things work. The other thing that’s been really integral to our approach is just how much we combine storytelling, and effective communication into the innovation process. I think one of the aspects of the Foundry that surprises our innovators is how much we focus on their pitch and how they communicate. Their idea, the problem it’s solving, things like that. I think they feel like it’s kind of ancillary. They’re ready to get into actually building the product and “let’s go test this thing.” One of the things we helped them understand is, “you’re going to have dozens, at least or probably hundreds of conversations about this product from now until it gets to market and you’re going to have to talk to all kinds of people about all kinds of things. The more effective you can be at that, the more successful your idea’s going to be.” And I’ve seen how infusing storytelling, really powerful storytelling, into that process just helps everything else be that much more impactful and meaningful. And by the time we get to the end of developing pitches and actually having people practice, you can see the dots start to connect in their head and they can see that they’ve become really effective at sharing what their idea can do and what they hope to accomplish.

Adrian Tennant:     Staying with your digital media background for a second, and Bigeye’s experience in medical device marketing. As you know, consumers are increasingly concerned about the potential misuse of their personal data, in part because of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal. Yet, at the same time, it seems as consumers we’re quite happy to share data via our Fitbits and Apple watches if we think that data will support our health and wellness. So working in a healthcare organization under HIPAA, which sets strict rules around the use of patient information, how do you balance HIPAA regulations with innovations in digital? And I’m thinking primarily about data-driven technologies.

Michael Schmidt:    It’s a great question and it’s something we talk about frequently and it’s something we take very seriously. I feel like every week I see some headline about another hospital system that’s sharing data or doing something and they end up getting into hot water because of how they managed it or because of how their, their patients or the public kind of perceives what they’re doing. That’s another aspect to it too. So kind of on a case-by-case basis, depending on what the project is, we think through what are the inputs that the patient may have here or what is it going to need to access. And then we make sure that we are talking to everybody internally who needs to have a say in how that’s managed, how it’s stored, how things are connected to one another. We’ve got a review process internally for software applications that need to talk to one another, things like that. And in general, I try to steer clear of getting into too much stuff that’s HIPAA-protected unless we absolutely need to. If there’s a way to test something without gathering and storing all those different identifiers, that’s the path that we try to pursue. But it is kind of a moving target and you know, people worry about some things too much and don’t worry about other things. Like you said, they don’t worry about ’em enough. And so consumers and patients aren’t always thinking about every bit of data that they’re sharing and where it’s going, but it’s, it’s kind of an ongoing conversation for us.

Adrian Tennant:     How do you create and nurture that culture of innovation within such a large organization?

Michael Schmidt:    Yeah, it’s, it’s a challenge. You know, I think my goal selfishly is that this program and our team grows continuously over the next few years just to make sure that we’re kind of meeting the demand that our team members have brought forward in terms of ideas that they have. For now, we’ve had to balance the volume of projects and the type of projects that we take on to make sure that we’re doing justice to the ideas that we’ve taken on to make sure that they have the budget and support that they need. But over time, I would love to have some kind of parallel work streams that can simultaneously tackle different types of projects. So software has its software and apps have their own work stream to kind of get the attention and support they need; medical devices; and so on. And that each of those would kind of have a dedicated team that’s continuously reviewing ideas that are brought forward. At some point too, we would love to have a physical space where people can come either just to start white boarding and thinking about ideas, you know, bring a team that’s working through something, really print a prototype or just get feedback as they’re working on stuff. I think that would really help bring the right kind of traction that we’re looking for across the organization. And then as we grow, it’s important that myself and my team continue to just make sure we have a presence at the other hospitals and not be so focused on the main campus. That’s one of the reasons that we do workshops at the hospitals, just to make sure that at least a few times a year people have an opportunity where they work to come sit and talk with us.

Adrian Tennant:     And just remind me – how many hospitals are there now in the system?

Michael Schmidt:    We have 10 hospitals and then a number of freestanding emergency departments. You know, a number of outpatient facilities, primary care practices, things like that.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And I’ve seen, down by ChampionsGate, I’ve seen the sign, there’s something coming there as well.

Michael Schmidt:    Lots of new stuff popping up. We’ve been very busy on that front, so that’s exciting.

Adrian Tennant:     Alright, so working with startups in the Orlando Health Foundry, what has been the most rewarding experience for you so far?

Michael Schmidt:    For me it’s, it’s, it’s sitting down with someone who has an idea and the most consistent sentence I hear from people is, “I just don’t know what to do next.” They’ve had this idea sometimes for years talk to a number of people and just are kind of paralyzed because they’re not sure what to do beyond kind of sketching out what that idea looks like. So being able to help them take a step back and then give them a roadmap to follow step-by-step and just seeing the progress happen. You know, the first time someone gets ahold of, of their idea or see the, you know, the, the first rendering of what an app is going to look like, that joy and fulfillment that you can see on their face and you can hear in their voice, it is really rewarding. And for them just to know that they’re continuing to drive this thing forward and, and that’s what’s going to make it successful that they kind of stay in the driver’s seat. That’s really encouraging for me too.

Adrian Tennant:     Now, I think for me it would be a challenge to be seeing these other people making their ideas manifest. Do you have a little book somewhere of ideas?

Michael Schmidt:    No. And my wife is a pharmacist. She actually has several ideas that she’s talked to me about. So at some point we would love to make those happen. Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like just helping everybody else work on their ideas scratches the creative itch that I have. I’d like to do a lot of different stuff. And so working on the variety of projects that we do and helping people in so many different ways I feel is so fulfilling. I have yet to really come up with something completely unique on my own, but at some point…

Adrian Tennant:     Okay,

Michael Schmidt:    Well, we’ll see.

Adrian Tennant:     Well, we talked a little bit about how sometimes a career doesn’t appear to be a linear progression necessarily and yet each previous experience in some way contributes to the next and perhaps in retrospect you see an arc of some kind. 

Michael Schmidt:    I don’t know. It’s been a fun journey so far. I’m anxious to see where it leads.

Adrian Tennant:     Great discussion, Mike. Thank you. If our listeners want to learn more about the Orlando Health Foundry, where can they find information?

Michael Schmidt:    Orlando is our Foundry website and is kind of our landing page for the formal innovation program as a whole.

Adrian Tennant:     Got it. Mike, thanks very much indeed for joining us on IN CLEAR FOCUS today; really appreciate your time.

Michael Schmidt:    My pleasure. Thank you.

Adrian Tennant:     Thank you. What stood out to me from today’s discussion with Mike: innovation has really gone from being a nice-to-have to a necessity in an increasingly complex healthcare landscape. But creating a culture of innovation within Orlando Health has really helped attract and retain talent within the organization. And while concepts may differ wildly, it is possible to develop a framework to ensure efficient, successful exploitation of really life-changing innovation in healthcare. My thanks to Michael Schmidt, Managing Director of Strategic Innovations at Orlando Health. You can find links to the resources we discussed on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under “Insights.” Please consider subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Flash Briefing. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.



The Bigeye Creative Team joins host Adrian Tennant this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS to discuss creative trends for brands in 2020.

In Clear Focus this week: future directions for creative in 2020 and the decade ahead. Research firm Nielsen has reported that for CPG brands, 49 percent of sales lift from advertising was attributable to the creative. Bigeye team members Dominic Wilson, Erik McGrew, and Nick Hammond discuss what the new decade might mean for visual design and consider the challenges of crafting effective advertising campaigns in a fragmented media landscape.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye – an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us for our first episode of 2020. So this week we’re going to be talking to some of the creative team here at Bigeye about what a new year and a new decade might mean for design in marketing communications. A couple of years ago, the research from Nielsen analyzed over 500 consumer packaged goods brand campaigns that ran on all major media platforms, linear and addressable television, online, digital and video, mobile, magazines, and radio. Nielsen reported that almost half 49% of sales lift from CPG advertising was attributable to the creative. That is ad quality, messaging, and the context of the placement. And in a separate study conducted by the research firm Ipsos for Facebook, creative quality was found to determine 75% of advertising’s impact as measured by brand and ad recall. Joining me here in the studio today are senior multimedia designer, Dominic Wilson; designer, Eric McGrew; and designer Nick Hammond. So guys, let’s kick things off by considering how visual design has changed over the last decade. What are some of the greatest influences on visual design today, say compared to 2010. Erik?

Erik McGrew:        I think mobile has been a really big game-changer. I think kind of at the start of the decade it was sort of like an afterthought, you know, the main focus would be on the website and mobile would be great if you had it. I can’t think of a single website that doesn’t have a mobile version or an adaptive or responsive version of it.

Adrian Tennant:     Nick?

Nick Hammond:       It felt like recently we got into this gradient color gradient thing that everyone’s been doing, which is kind of the next adaptation of flat icons. I also think social had a huge role to play in a lot of it because now anyone can get on and start creating different things and put it out there and someone can see it and iterate on it. And so it feels like the design or art world in general fractured into these multiple different pieces of people putting different aesthetics together and mixing and mashing and it’s moving so quickly because you can see it instantly, and put it up instantly, and iterate on it instantly. Like as a tool that affected what design is.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. That’s interesting. So we have Instagram, we have Pinterest accounts. You referenced the availability of online tools – often free. Are we all in some way creatives now?

Nick Hammond:       I think everyone’s creative to a degree. And I think as a designer I see it having changed mostly in how I get direction from people. So it feels like you’re kind of getting more direction as a designer.

Adrian Tennant:     Erik, have you found that too?

Erik McGrew:        You know, everyone’s a creator and that’s great because it’s just more wells of inspiration to draw from. I always find myself going back and forth on how I feel about social because I think that’s great. And on the other hand, certain things can happen. Like Dribble’s a great website. I love going there, like checking out everyone’s work. But I think when you start associating likes to a piece of art, a couple of things can happen. One thing that seems sort of gets a little, I don’t know what the word is, like a little incestuous with like everyone doing the same design now because that’s what’s getting promoted to the front page. And then also just as an artist tying your own self-value to like, “Oh my gosh, this thing only got 20 likes.” I think that can be super detrimental. I find myself doing that a lot. So I think there’s really, really, really great things that social’s done. But I also think there’s kind of the tail end of that, um, is wrapping up like your own value as a creative in what other people have to say about your art.

Adrian Tennant:     So commercial photographer Chase Jarvis established CreativeLive and online creative education platform a decade ago and LinkedIn acquired the online software training company, a couple of years ago. Do you use any online resources for your own continuing education? Let’s start with Dom.

Dominic Wilson:     I used Lynda in the mid-two thousands but eventually moved on to demos and lectures found on YouTube and Vimeo, in addition to simply just experimenting.

Adrian Tennant:     Nick?

Nick Hammond:       The way that I think about what being a creative is, it seems like it’s continually being blurred. Where before I would’ve said, “Oh, because I have this experience, I feel like I’m labeling myself as a creative or as a designer,” and with these tools coming out now someone might, you might not see them as a designer or a creative because they’re using a tool as a first step. But you kind of also have to step back and say, “well, who’s to say that they don’t have some other form of thinking that they can bring to the table?”

Adrian Tennant:     Erik, your thoughts?

Erik McGrew:        I totally agree with that and I think for like a couple thousand dollars and buying a computer, you could teach yourself any of these skills at any of these colleges. I mean, I feel like every day I’m on YouTube or Google, like “how do I do this thing in Illustrator?” And there’s like a minute-and-a-half video that explains it. Yeah, I’m all for education and having it be free and collaborating and talking to people. I’ve worked with people who think they’ve discovered like some trick or like they some style that they kind of like act like a gatekeeper of and they don’t want to show you that how they do it. And I just, I just think that’s crap. Like I’m all about asking how someone did something.

Adrian Tennant:     All right. So every year Pantone announces its color of the year, which often influences fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design as well as product packaging and graphic design. In 2017, it was “Greenery” in 2018 “Ultra Violet” and in 2019, “Living coral.” So for 2020, Pantone has selected “Classic Blue.” The website states that, “as technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colors that are honest and offer the promise of protection, non-aggressive and easily relatable. The trusted Pantone classic blue lends itself to relaxed interaction.” So first of all, what do you think about their choice, Nick?

Nick Hammond:       I don’t necessarily ever really follow the Pantone color thing and I always think it’s kinda funny cause we were talking about the design trends thing earlier in it. It feels like to me more of just a marketing thing on their part. They already have kind of a stranglehold on color. I mean the color itself makes sense.

Erik McGrew:        Yeah. I mean I think there’s a reason you have these huge companies like social companies like Twitter and Facebook using blue. It’s easy. I have a weird relationship with blue. I think it’s sometimes I struggle with color in general and blue always seems like a cop-out. I’m always like, “Hang on, I wish they would’ve done something cooler.” I always find myself gravitating towards like weird, like ochre colors or like yellows and oranges and I think they’re more interesting.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s the influencer part of the Pantone reference. Okay, if you were tasked with selecting the next Pantone color, what would it be and what would be the rationale behind it?

Nick Hammond:       I think you’d have to throw a curveball in there and it wouldn’t be a color, it would be multiple colors. I’m not sure if Pantone has done that yet or not. I’m sure they probably have. But to me it’s just very earthy now, you know, and kind of muted and it’s like, that feels like where a lot of it’s going is colors that are a little more subdued and kind of have a vintage retro-y we feel to them.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. So Erik, any advance on multicolor…?

Erik McGrew:        I that would be super interesting. I didn’t even think of that. I would love to see like, I think kind of what you said, like a weird orange or like a mustard yellow thrown in there. The psychology of color is such like a weird, interesting thing. And I would love to see if Facebook had to re redesign all their stuff with an orange-based color scheme. Like what would that look like? I’d get weird with it. I don’t know. Something, some weird color

Adrian Tennant:     Hmm, Dom?

Dominic Wilson:     If you had kind of some hideous color choice, it wouldn’t be more exciting than just some muted pastel.

Adrian Tennant:     Right.

Nick Hammond:       It’s funny cause I feel like all of our answers to these things are just continually backing up. The idea that design is just fractured into a million different things and it’s you’re breaking the fundamentals of what design is. Ugly colors, weird different type, different structures. It just feels like it’s all over the place.

Adrian Tennant:     Let’s talk a little bit about video. Published research found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to just 10% when they read it in text. Last year, $36 billion were invested in video-based digital advertisements. Do you foresee video becoming even more dominant?

Dominic Wilson:     Definitely. Those stats you just read confirmed that there are significant opportunities for businesses that haven’t leveraged video and motion graphics, especially in regards to saturating their own social channels and in the digital ad space.

Erik McGrew:        A previous job working primarily with like social media stuff and being able to see the numbers. Yeah, there’s, it’s almost like you can’t even compete in the early days. We would throw out not even good videos and they were just outperforming everything. So yeah. And I think that’s why there’s been such a rise with like motion graphics and I think people just want to watch stuff move and you almost get, just can’t compete with it.

Adrian Tennant:     Yeah. I think I read somewhere that it’s like 80% of digital revenue ultimately use some form of video. And now we have over-the-top TV as well. Video absolutely is King. So Dom, you’re the senior multimedia designer at Bigeye and you handle most of our video and motion graphics projects. What changes or trends have you seen in motion graphics in recent years?

Dominic Wilson:     I’ve noticed that more and more shows, movies, live events, commercials contain three D design elements and a higher level of sophisticated animation. You can see various examples in title sequences, food and beverage products, consumer goods, especially in athletic footwear and automotive. I mean, you no longer have to only rely on live video capture. You showcase what it is you’re trying to promote, which is why you see a demand for highly skilled 3D artists.

Adrian Tennant:     Erik, what do you think about typography? Maybe thinking about ads but also products and packaging design.

Erik McGrew:        Typography is what I struggle with the most sometimes just because I think it’s such a, I mean it’s a whole world in and of itself. You could spend your entire life just focusing on typography and probably make a living off it. It’s kind of overwhelming and I think it goes back to, you know, everyone has these tools to make their own set of fonts now our what used to be like such a specific art form, anyone can do it now.

Adrian Tennant:     How has your own personal design style evolved over the years?

Nick Hammond:       Yeah, so my design style had kind of started via looking at more marketing material that was coming out of a lot of clothing brands at the time. So back when I was getting out of high school and into college I had, my whole background was with the apparel industry and I was doing some work for a friend. I had run a paintball apparel company for a while and I was playing competitively. So I was kind of constantly seeing these messaging, these different, I was constantly seeing different forms of messaging that were geared toward younger males. And so it was very aggressive, lots of hard lines, kind of what Dom was talking about with lots of things kind of exploding and hard edges and bright colors and stuff like that. And so I think that’s kinda how I entered what design was. And over the years it’s been more of the process of understanding how to pare it back and get more of that edginess through subtlety rather than hitting you over the face with it. So it feels just a little more of a, uh, kind of coming of age, like putting that into the work and understanding how do you pare back to the thing that makes it feel the most true to what you’re trying to get at instead of just adding, adding, adding. So I think balance, I guess would be what the process has been.

Erik McGrew:        If there’s been any change, it’s kind of a stripping away of certain things. I’m trying to be more refined. I struggle with sometimes I get anxiety that I feel like my work is too all over the place. Like again, kind of like coming out of school, you know, you want this nice clean portfolio that looks like everything fits and I don’t have that with my body of work. And I kind of in the past couple of years have like leaned into that and sort of realized that I think that that it’s actually like a strength and it’s been exhausting. But I think I would like, I think I equate it to like I’ve spent the past 10 years collecting all these weird tools that don’t necessarily fit together, but now I have this toolbox of weird tools that I can make things that I personally like, I really enjoy. So it’s been good. So yeah, I think just realizing that maybe having a weird array of different versions of your style can kind of be a string.

Adrian Tennant:     So excluding the work you’ve done since you’ve been at Bigeye, what is the most rewarding design project you’ve ever worked on and what made it so?

Erik McGrew:        I think mine was, and it wasn’t a big project, I got to design a beer can. Which was kind of like a fun, like a personal goal. Like I’ve always wanted to do that, but we got to work with a brewery out of North Carolina and it was daunting because one thing that made it really great was I got to work with my buddy Michael Forrest who is like next level, but he’s just, he’s incredible. Like I almost want to use the word savant. It’s just he’s such a good person to just talk design with and he’ll say things that I think are like so prolific. And I’m like, “Oh my God, I never would have had that thought.” But working with him was great and we got to design this can for King Canary Brewing. And I said yes to the project and then they sent the style guide over and I realize that this brewery had been branded by these two guys that I’ve looked up to forever. Like, and so then I’m like, “Okay, cool. No pressure. Like I just have to do something that at least is this good.” But it was fun. I think we came up with a really cool canned design and it was just a fun month-long project to work on and it was also just really weirdly rewarding. I think the lesson there is like sometimes it’s those small projects that feel you as a person and the ones that you think are going to be cool and bigger, like where you into the ground and it’s really difficult to get through them.

Adrian Tennant:     Nick, have you got a favorite?

Nick Hammond:       Yeah, so I did a project with one of my old employers that I was at. They’re called They’re kind of like a smaller REI. And when I got in there, we were building out our own in-house private brands team. And so we were responsible for creating a brand, basically, start to finish and kind of working through some of the brands that they had already created and the separations between the two and how you were working to market them toward different demographics. And it was cool because I was able to kind of weave in my background with apparel and help create apparel from start to finish, but also all the marketing around it. And so to me it was incredible to be able to touch pretty much every single endpoint from start to finish of what not only one brand was, but what multiple brands were and watch that go through different segmentation processes and how that was being received and iterate on it. And we were pulling everything in from, you know, social stuff at the time. This was when Instagram video or like the whatever that is, Instagram live stuff had first started coming out. So we were using a lot of that. Yeah. And then traveling across the US on scene on location to do a bunch of video stuff as well. So, yeah, to me that was incredible because it was not only moving fast but you were, you were touching everything and so if you messed up something at one point you would deal with your own difficulties later down the line. And so I think that really gives you an eyeopening perspective of what other people do and how different factors can come into effect. Any number of things in the creative process,

Adrian Tennant:     Dom, have you got a favorite?

Dominic Wilson:     I had the opportunity within the past year to create and develop a 3D design and dynamics rig for a new admissions look at the Savannah college of art and design. The work was so well received that it was used in their first-ever ad placement in times square in three locations running for a week, which then led to two additional campaigns that ran thereafter. The final approved creative originated from a 3D dynamics rig I had developed three years prior and didn’t really have any use for it at the time. I also use the program called Cinema 4-D, which I was entirely self-taught in. Someone did send back a video of the ads running in the location, which was cool to see.

Adrian Tennant:     So where is visual design headed in the decade ahead?

Nick Hammond:       Absolutely no idea. It’s wild. It feels like it’s going in a million directions at once and like there are things popping up where people are doing stuff with programs that you never thought they could do. Programs are being pushed. It just feels like there are so many new doors opening and you can’t possibly keep up with all of the doors that are opening. So it’s, you’re just constantly seeing all this crazy stuff and trying to figure out is there something from that that I can pull either – whether that’s a technique or a way of thinking about a project or a solution to a project and yeah, it just feels wild. I personally am interested in when we get to the point where it turns into “Minority Report,” and we have like a full 3D-like room with gloves and all the designers are just creating 3D everything all the time. But I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while.

Erik McGrew:        It does feel fractured, like in, you know, what works in print doesn’t necessarily work on social media, which doesn’t necessarily work in the video space. And then even inside social itself, like what works on Facebook doesn’t necessarily is a different tone than what works on Twitter than what works on Instagram. So yeah, I have no idea where it’s heading. I’m excited about where it’s heading. I think I’ve seen illustration really play a huge part in design over the past couple of years and I would love to continue to see it. I think we will probably continue to see illustration grow. Sure, motion graphics are just going to get bigger videos is going to get bigger.

Adrian Tennant:     Great discussion guys. Thank you. So design in the decade ahead is going to be a wild ride but we’re happy to go along with it. Okay. Thank you. Thank you to Dominic Wilson.

Dominic Wilson:     Yeah, no problem. It was great.

Adrian Tennant:     Erik McGrew

Erik McGrew:        Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant:     Nick Hammond

Nick Hammond:       Thanks. Hopefully, I get to come back in the future.

Adrian Tennant:     You can find links to the resources we discussed on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under “Insights.” Please consider subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. And if you have an Amazon Echo device, you can use the IN CLEAR FOCUS skill to add the podcast to your Flash Briefing. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.



Discover Bigeye’s favorite podcasts this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. We explore non-advertising podcast business models that generate revenues for podcast producers.

In Clear Focus this week: more favorite podcasts from Bigeye team members to wrap up 2019. We also take a look at the state of advertising within podcasts, forecasted to generate over $1 billion annually by 2021. Plus an examination of the roles that non-advertising business models such as subscriptions, crowdfunding, and live events are increasingly playing in generating revenues for podcast producers in the US.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us for our final show of 2019. In case you missed it, in last week’s episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, four Bigeye team members shared their favorite podcasts. This week we’re going to hear some more podcast recommendations and reflect on the current state of advertising within podcasts. Let’s meet our first guest to this week’s IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Emily Washburn:     Hi, I’m Emily Washburn. I’m an Account Specialist here at Bigeye. My role is to support our Account Managers on all the various accounts that we have. So I’m almost like the second line of defense which is really cool because I get to work with my internal team as well as be client-facing. So it’s a very unique role.

Adrian Tennant:     And Emily, how long have you been with Bigeye?

Emily Washburn:     Funny you asked. I actually interned at Bigeye a couple of years ago. I’m originally from Syracuse, New York and fell in love with the agency and after school I moved down here and I’ve been here for over a year and a half now.

Adrian Tennant:     How long have you been listening to podcasts?

Emily Washburn:     I kind of have a unique background. When I was in college, a friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to start our own podcast and obviously didn’t take off the ground because nobody knows who I am. But in school, podcasts started to become popular and we thought, “Why not try to add it to our repertoire?” So I started doing them before I started listening to them and then when I moved to Florida, I was traveling a lot going home. So I was trying to find a way to fill my time. And as much as I love music, I’m not a good reader when I travel. So the perfect supplement was podcasts, so I just started to stumble into a whole plethora of different podcasts.

Adrian Tennant:     What’s your preferred device for listening to podcasts?

Emily Washburn:     So it’s definitely my phone. I constantly have my headphones in. Just because I listen to them so much when I travel. That’s my number one. I listen to them in the car as well through my phone. I have Bluetooth, which is a blessing. I love Bluetooth. But yeah, definitely my, my cell phone.

Adrian Tennant:     And which player or app do you use most often to play podcasts?

Emily Washburn:     I love Spotify. I’m constantly, whenever I use it on my desktop, I’m looking at what everybody else is listening to because I follow people and that’s also where I find podcasts because I see what other people are listening to.

Adrian Tennant:     Now, when do you think you do most of your listening, if you had to guess?

Emily Washburn:     So most of my listening is during travel or in the car. I like to try to listen to them when I’m at my desk in the morning, but throughout the day I’m not typically a listener and just because it will distract me. I get so sucked into what they’re talking about. But for example, I’ll listen to The Daily by the New York Times in the morning if I get in early, just to just get caught up on the news.

Adrian Tennant:     So Emily, how many shows do you subscribe to?

Emily Washburn:     I like to download different ones. I’m not necessarily loyal. The only podcast I’ve been really loyal to is “The Daily,” by the New York Times. I don’t listen to every episode. I try to listen to it as frequently as I can. And then there’s one other one called, “Oysters, Clams, and Cockles,” – it was a Game of Thrones podcast. They’ve kind of adapted it since the show is over. But it was these two gentlemen who just would do a two-hour podcast about every episode and dive into every single line. And I just became absolutely addicted, never, never missed an episode. So that was like the only one I’ve really taken to completely. But otherwise I kind of jump around. The one that’s my favorite that we talked about, “Armchair Expert,” I do listen to a lot depending on who’s on the show.

Adrian Tennant:     Well let’s get to that. So you’ve actually chosen a show, as you mentioned, called, “Armchair Expert,” which is hosted by Dax Shepard. And how did you originally find this particular podcast?

Emily Washburn:     You know, I actually think it was one of my coworkers, Dana Casell. I don’t remember completely, but I love Kristen Bell. So ultimately I know who Dax Shepard is and I am pretty sure she mentioned to me, “Have you ever listened to this podcast?” Because she’s also a big podcast listener. So I checked it out before one of my flights home and this specific episode – Bill Nye – really caught my eye because growing up I saw science as my favorite, but he was such a huge part of my childhood. I was like, “Oh, this sounds interesting.” And then I just absolutely loved how Dax interacts with the people that he has on a show. I learned so much about Bill as a person. I love comedy as well. So I had really no idea how he had got into it. So it was really fascinating and really unique because I love learning about people, but I’m not necessarily the biggest book reader or autobiography person. So this is just kind of a nice supplement so I can get that information.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And for listeners, we should just explain that Dax Shepard is married to…

Emily Washburn:     Kristen Bell. Yes. And if you don’t know who that is, she is Ana from Frozen!

Adrian Tennant:     This is really all about Bill Nye, the Science Guy. But during the course of this podcast we learn a lot about Bill’s background and also a lot of about his opinions about science and education. What made this particular podcast a favorite for you?

Emily Washburn:     I love the style of Dax’s podcasts, like this piece, and I don’t always listen to the fact checks at the end, but the fact that they are so adamant on making sure that whatever you’re listening to is factual or nobody kind of tweaks it, I just really felt like I got to know Bill Nye and also Dax, there’s a lot of parts of this episode where you learn about when Dax was over in Afghanistan. And the science piece of how the airplanes work and they really dive deep into some random things. But they’re so knowledgeable and never would I have looked it up on my own. So that’s what I loved. All the knowledge that I gained just from that one episode.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. Now typically… I think this was like a two-hour episode, is that right?

Emily Washburn:     Yeah, it’s just under two hours long.

Adrian Tennant:     Is that the typical running time for the show?

Emily Washburn:     Yeah, they’re usually pretty long, which is why I listen to them when I’m flying. I’ll download a couple episodes in and listen to them, I don’t always listen all the way through. I get through most of it and then I’ll jump to another person, which I’m very guilty of. But this one, that’s why I can’t listen to it at work. It’s just so long and I would miss so much of it. So that’s why it’s perfect for travel.

Adrian Tennant:     Why do you think our listeners should try this show out? What’s your recommendation to them?

Emily Washburn:     I think that people should try this specific show out because if you like any type of talk show, he brings in such a wide range of individuals that there’s, I feel like you’re guaranteed to find someone that you either least know or you’re interested in getting to know and that you should just kind of scroll through and give it a listen. And I hope you love it as much as I do and that you find that it fills your travels with more insight.

Adrian Tennant:     Very good. Thanks, Emily.

Emily Washburn:     Thank you.

Nick Hammond:       Hi, I’m Nick Hammond. I am a senior graphic designer here at Bigeye. And I’ve only been here for a little over a month.

Adrian Tennant:     Could you tell us a little bit about your role here at Bigeye?

Nick Hammond:       Yes. So my role here at Bigeye, while some of the other designers are more focused on specific tasks, I guess in relation to illustration and motion graphics, mine is more so on the side of branding. So I work on pulling across elements throughout different end uses such as digital and print and social and things of the like.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. How are you enjoying your time at Bigeye, so far?

Nick Hammond:       I love it. It’s great. So I was in-house at a good handful of other brands for a while. And it was just moving too slow for me. And so it’s nice to get into more of the agency setting because it’s a lot more fast paced and I can come in and out of the weeds with different projects and really get more of a broader understanding of how different businesses work. And yeah, just exciting.

Adrian Tennant:     So Nick, how long have you been listening to podcasts?

Nick Hammond:       I think I’ve been listening to podcasts for a while. It has to have been several years at this point. My intro to podcast was through, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and kind of splintered into other smaller podcasts, just kind of listening one off here and there. So something would pop up in my feed that would be interesting and I would go look for it and then happen to stumble onto a podcast that was in relation to some topic I was interested in.

Adrian Tennant:     I know you’ve also produced podcasts, so which came first – listening to podcasts and then thinking, “Oh, I could do that” – ?

Nick Hammond:       Yes, I think that’s definitely how it worked out. I was kind of seeing a couple of other people that I had paid attention to online through my social circle, using it as kind of an excuse to get at people that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to in specific spaces. And so for me, that was in relation to the outdoor industry and how that related to sustainability. So that’s how the idea for the podcast started was I just wanted to learn more about kind of these intersections of different industries and how different, I guess “thought leaders” were thinking about different topics.

Adrian Tennant:     Where do you do most of your listening? Is it a home in the car at work?

Nick Hammond:       I typically focused more on listening during work while I was doing design stuff and so that was more of a desktop kind of experience. And then I would have like one-off listening episodes when I was on a longer trip or something in the car and now that I’m kind of moving at a faster pace and kind of having to come in and out of these different projects more quickly, I don’t necessarily have the time to do that.

Adrian Tennant:     So device-wise, are you talking about a phone now being the main source?

Nick Hammond:       Man, I think it almost fractured now because it more so just depends on what tool I have available in front of me. If my computer’s in a different room and have my phone right next to me, I’ll just pull it up and listen to my phone.

Adrian Tennant:     What app do you typically use?

Nick Hammond:       I started with Stitcher, which is funny because when I’ve talked to the other guests that you’ve had on, they had no idea what Stitcher even was. I think for them, they got into it through Apple. I never enjoyed from a design perspective, the user interface of the Apple Podcasts platform. And it felt like it was getting in the way for me of just trying to listen to a simple episode and it was constantly trying to update and change and all this stuff and I just didn’t want to deal with it.

Adrian Tennant:     And is that still the case today or have you migrated to something else?

Nick Hammond:       I do prefer, there’s something interesting to me about being able to see, uh, how people are interacting. So like a video aspect. So when I’m listening on a desktop, I like to have, if it’s on YouTube, I like to have a YouTube thing kind of playing because it’s interesting when you hear different aspects of a conversation show up to kind of pull up that window on the browser and look at how they’re interacting with each other because there’s something there that you don’t get when you’re just listening to the audio.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. You get the audio, but you don’t always get the visual context of facial expressions.

Nick Hammond:       Yeah. That kind of stuff.

Adrian Tennant:     So Nick, your selection for this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS is an episode of a show called, “Revisionist History.” Could you tell us a little bit about how you came across that podcast?

Nick Hammond:       Yeah, so I had been, not necessarily a fan, but a reader of Malcolm Gladwell in the past and there was some stuff in there that I enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed reading more psychology or biography type stuff. And so I’d been through a couple of his books and had heard his name a while and had kinda gotten to some other authors like him. And I think there was someone that had posted one of his newer episodes from Revisionist History and I had realized that I had never heard it and I didn’t know that he’d come out with podcasts. So yeah, just dove in.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. So this particular episode – what was it about this one that attracted you?

Nick Hammond:       Yeah, this episode in particular I as a designer and as a Gemini, which is funny, I feel like my life has kind of separated into two buckets all the time. And it’s always this push-pull thing. And so it was interesting to me because they dive into the difference between approaching a task or situation with a tortoise or a hare kind of mentality. And this, how are you thinking through tasks either more quickly or more slowly and then does that end up influencing your direction in life? They talk a lot in the episode about education and kind of higher education reform and that wasn’t what was interesting to me. It was more so the different thought processes of how people go into these situations and approach them from completely different perspectives.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And I think if any of the listeners have friends or family in the legal profession, I think some of the results – without wanting to give too much away – might be surprising.

Nick Hammond:       Definitely. And I didn’t want to give it away, but yes, listen to the episode.

Adrian Tennant:     So Nick, what made this episode of Revisionist History a favorite?

Nick Hammond:       So without giving away the ending, that’s kind of all I’ll say is the ending is not something that I think you would see coming. And that was what was interesting to me is because I’ve always pursued different avenues of work and decisions in life of what is the best decision or the better decision to make. And I think what you end up finding at the end of this episode is different than that approach.

Adrian Tennant:     Wow. That is such a cliffhanger, you’ve got to go and listen to this episode, everybody. For now, Nick Hammond, thank you very much indeed.

Nick Hammond:       Thank you.

Adrian Tennant:     Most of the podcasts selected by the Bigeye team included some form of advertising or sponsorship message. In June of this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PriceWaterhouseCoopers released their Annual Study of Podcast Ad Revenue. It reported that podcasts generated 479 million dollars from advertising in 2018, and forecasts that ad revenues will reach slightly more than a billion dollars in 2021. 

In 2018, the five most popular genres of podcasts in the US were news and politics, comedy, business, education, and arts and entertainment shows. These five genres together generated 66 percent of total advertising revenues. Generating the remaining third of revenues were the genres True Crime, Technology, Lifestyle, Scripted Fiction, Games & Hobbies, Children’s programming, Sports, and Health & Medicine.

The IAB research also indicated that two-thirds of all podcast ads last year were read by the shows’ hosts themselves, while pre-produced ads, typically read by a separate announcer, made up most of the remaining third. 

When surveyed, podcast listeners ranked host-reads as their preferred style of podcast ad. This suggests that maybe other types of ads could alienate a show’s audience.

Turning to the duration of podcast advertisements, about a third run for 60 seconds, which is the most popular spot length. 27 percent of podcast ads run for 90 seconds, and 23 percent are just 15 seconds. In 2018, a majority of ads – 51 percent – were edited into shows or “baked in”; the remaining 49 percent were inserted dynamically. 

Of 13 business categories measured, the top five represented nearly three-quarters of advertising revenues. Direct-to-consumer retail brands represented 22 percent of revenues, followed by financial services at 21 percent, business-to-business at 14 percent, arts and entertainment at 10 percent, and telecommunications with 7 percent.

About half of all podcast advertisements are direct response campaigns, while 38 percent are brand awareness, and 10 percent are considered branded content.

38 percent of brands purchase advertising in podcasts on a quarterly basis while about 25 percent make annual buys. Only one percent of podcast advertising is purchased programmatically – that is, via automated bidding systems. That’s in stark contrast to digital display, of which 80 percent is bought programmatically. And 86 percent of all podcasts sell their ad space on a cost-per-thousand or CPM pricing model.

It’s estimated that podcasts collectively represent around 40 percent of the listenership of online audio overall, but attracts a little less than 15% of the ad revenue. 

A new entrant to the world of podcast advertising and sponsorship is called Podcorn. It offers a self-service platform to podcast producers that acts like a match-making service. Producers can pitch their podcasts directly to brands and agencies who are looking for niche topics or audiences. There are no contracts, no exclusivities, and producers set their own prices for sponsorships. Podcorn handles payment processing and provides the tools for producers and brands to connect.

Of course, podcasters can monetize their shows in ways other than advertising. Some earn revenue directly from listeners by charging for subscriptions. Companies including Luminary and Stitcher Premium have adopted this model.

Another model is crowdfunding – the collection of contributions from listeners, either via standard online payment systems, or general crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Patreon is another crowdfunding platform which allows podcast listeners to set up regular monthly contributions or pay-per-podcast-episode. It reports that the number of podcasters using Patreon has quadrupled over the past three years, with an eight-fold increase in revenue.

And according to the online ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, the number of live podcast performances is growing rapidly. While the average ticket price of all shows sold by Vivid Seats was 63 dollars, some of the larger shows averaged more than 100 dollars per ticket sold. Vivid Seats’ data shows that NPR’s popular  “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” show charges an average $113 per ticket, while one of the podcasts we discussed earlier, “Armchair Expert,” charges $108 per ticket, on average. No wonder then, that live podcast events have generated an estimated 55 million dollars this year.

So, in summary: as podcasts become more mainstream, advertising revenues are growing, but so are non-ad based revenues from subscription, crowdfunding, and live events. 

IN CLEAR FOCUS will continue to track experimentation and innovation in podcasting in 2020 and beyond. If you have questions about how to advertise in a podcast or need assistance with ad production, please let us know.

Thanks to everyone at Bigeye who shared their favorite podcasts with us over the past couple of weeks. A quick recap:

If folklore interests you or you’re just curious about the origins of Santa Claus, you may like Associate Account Manager Karen Hidalgo’s recommendation – an episode of the podcast “Lore,” called, “A Stranger Among Us.”  And yep, it is a bit creepy.

If pop culture, sports, or nerdy stuff is more your thing, then you should definitely give the podcast, “83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff” a try. Bigeye Senior Designer, Rhett Withey, who confessed to being a World Wrestling Championship fan, recommended an episode entitled, “Fall Brawl 1998,” which introduced The Warrior to the franchise. 

Lauren Fore, who works with Bigeye’s president and leadership team, recommended National Public Radio’s podcast, “The TED Radio Hour.” The episode we discussed last week focuses on what makes humans uniquely human. With contributions from experts in the fields of neuroscience, genetics, and psychology, the episode is called, “What Makes Us … Us.”

The final recommendation last week came from Bigeye’s Senior Multimedia Designer, Dominic Wilson. The podcast is called, “Greyscale Gorilla,” and, as Dom explained, provides practical advice for getting the most out of leading computer-generated imagery software. The specific episode we discussed last week focuses on the use of a program called Houdini. 

This week, Account Coordinator Emily Washburn recommended the podcast, “Armchair Expert,” hosted by Dax Shepard. The guest on the show we discussed was Bill Nye, the Science Guy, whom we learned, briefly had a career as a stand-up comedian. Who knew?

And Senior Designer Nick Hammond recommended Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, “Revisionist History,” and in particular, an episode called, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which provides a surprising conclusion about the law profession.

You can find all of the episodes we discussed on a Spotify playlist. You’ll find the link on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under “Insights.” That’s also where you’ll find links to the podcast advertising data I referenced today.

My thanks to all of our guests in 2019.  We’ll be back next week with our first show of the new year. Until then, please consider subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

Featured Podcasts



The Bigeye team shares their favorite podcasts this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. We explore a variety of topics, from folklore to World Champion Wrestling history.

In Clear Focus this week: members of the Bigeye agency team select their favorite podcasts. We learn how shows were first discovered, and why particular episodes were chosen for inclusion in our Spotify playlist. Our featured selections this week reveal the origins of scary stories from folklore, explore the exciting potential of gene editing in medicine, debate why things went wrong when The Warrior joined World Championship Wrestling in 1998, and teach how to generate stunning imagery with CGI software Houdini.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us again today. A few weeks ago we discussed The Spoken Word Audio Report from National Public Radio and Edison Research. It revealed that the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio has increased by 20 percent since 2014 while time spent with music actually decreased 5 percent across the same period. Today, 22 percent of the US population listens to podcasts every week for an average of six hours, 37 minutes to about seven different shows. And 59 percent of spoken-word audio listeners are digital-first, meaning they listen mostly through computers, mobile devices and smart speakers. In addition to apps like Apple Podcasts, which is the most dominant player, listeners can access shows on streaming audio services, including iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Spotify, which recently redesigned its app to put podcasts front and center. So for this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS, you’re going to hear what some of us at Bigeye are listening to. We have a Spotify playlist for you to explore, which we’ll talk more about at the end of today’s show. So let’s meet our first guest to this week’s IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Karen Hidalgo:      I’m Karen Hidalgo, Associate Account Manager here at Bigeye. A little bit of what I do on my day to day is making sure projects and budgets are on track, making sure our clients are happy, projects are in production, making sure just everyone is happy and we’re treading along.

Adrian Tennant:     Perfect. How long have you been at Bigeye?

Karen Hidalgo:      I’ve been here for a year now.

Adrian Tennant:     So what’s your preferred device for listening to podcasts?

Karen Hidalgo:      Definitely the iPhone.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. And do you have a player or an app that you prefer or do you go to websites for your podcasts?

Karen Hidalgo:      So Spotify is my primary.

Adrian Tennant:     Now, when do you do most of your listening?

Karen Hidalgo:      I would say probably here at work, if the podcast is really good, that particular episode, I will listen to it on my way home. Okay. Usually maybe at home, doing some cleaning, but the majority of it here at work.

Adrian Tennant:     Do you have a favorite genre of podcast?

Karen Hidalgo:      Probably nonfiction. Most of the ones that I subscribe to. I love thrillers, definitely like TED talks.

Adrian Tennant:     How many do you subscribe to?

Karen Hidalgo:      Maybe a handful. Honestly, not many.

Adrian Tennant:     Now are you pretty religious about listening to those that you do subscribe to?

Karen Hidalgo:      Yes. When they come out – some of them are biweekly – I’m definitely there.

Adrian Tennant:     Today you’ve selected an episode of a show called, “Lore.” How did you find this podcast?

Karen Hidalgo:      So Lore was the first podcast I ever started listening to. It was right out of college and podcasts were starting to be very big in the market and people were talking about it. So I went and did some research and I said, okay, well I’ve always liked thrillers. Scary stuff. Um, so I just happened to run into Lore and it turns out it’s also a show. And it’s also a book which I’ve had the opportunity to do both. And that’s kind of where my obsession with Lore started.

Adrian Tennant:     Now you’ve selected an episode called, “A Stranger Among Us.” Sounds a little creepy, Karen.

Karen Hidalgo:      So again, one of the first episodes I listened to happened to be at Christmas time and this particular episode deals with Santa and what he represents in the folklore of kind of other cultures and other countries. Again, kind of hinting at the scary but history of it. So it’s very intriguing. It kind of gives you a campfire experience. And he’s great at providing the historical facts. And that’s also a plus for me.

Adrian Tennant:     I think I’m right in saying you were born outside of the United States as was I. Do shows like this give you kind of an extra insight into the workings of the American mind?

Karen Hidalgo:      Absolutely. And I love, I mean, I’m from South America, but I love everything that has to do with America. But learning about other cultures through a podcast has given me definitely that glimpse, something that I have loved the most about listening to a podcast like this.

Adrian Tennant:     Karen, why do you think our listeners should give this show a try?

Karen Hidalgo:      I guess if you’re looking for something different, thrillers are not for everybody, but if you like history if you’d like to spice it up if you’d like folklore like I do. I think it’s great, it’s a great episode.

Adrian Tennant:     So, Karen, I understand that Aaron Mahnke, who’s the host of this show, also has other podcasts. Have you listened to those as well?

Karen Hidalgo:      Yes, I actually have. I’m one of them. I just started listening to Unobscured. It goes into the history of the witch trial and Salem, again, very history. He puts his very good spin on it, gives you a lot of facts. Great. Great. It’s just a great addition to Lore.

Adrian Tennant:     Great. Thank you, Karen. Thanks for those recommendations.

Rhett Withey:       I’m Rhett Withey. I’m the senior designer at Bigeye and I’ve been here for almost seven years now.

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. Rhett, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here at Bigeye?

Rhett Withey:       Ah, let’s see. Well, I work with the Creative Director, Seth, on executing campaigns, logos, pretty much anything design and creative under the sun for our clients – and creative problem solving as well.

Adrian Tennant:     Excellent. So how long have you been listening to podcasts?

Rhett Withey:       Wow. Uh, I’d probably say right around the time that podcasts really started getting popular. I think it was like 2013, 2014, somewhere around there.

Adrian Tennant:     What’s your preferred device for listening to podcasts?

Rhett Withey:       I actually always almost exclusively listen to podcasts at my desk on my desktop.

Adrian Tennant:     So do you have a particular favorite genre would you say?

Rhett Withey:       I would definitely say that it’s pop culture and it’s sports, and it’s nerd stuff.

Adrian Tennant:     Wow. Yeah. Well, that seems to very nicely sum up your selection if you don’t mind me saying so.

Rhett Withey:       Okay.

Adrian Tennant:     I hope I’m going to get this right. So, Rhett, you selected an episode of a show called, “83 weeks with Eric Bischoff.” And I must confess that I didn’t know who Eric Bischoff was. So you might need to explain that in a second. But the subtitle of the show is, “Fall Brawl 1998 (Warrior in WCW).” You’ve got to explain – what is this show about?

Rhett Withey:       All right, there’s a lot to unpack here and I wouldn’t feel bad that you don’t know who that is because probably 90 percent of the population’s not going to know – it’s very insider. Eric Bischoff is the man that ran World Championship Wrestling in the mid-nineties and brought them to prominence and took over the number one rating spot from World Wrestling Federation at the time for 83 weeks. They had the number one show for 83 weeks, which is the name of the podcast. Fall Brawl is a specific pay-per-view event that they had and the Ultimate Warrior was a wrestler that they brought in. It was completely horrendous for what they were doing at the time and was pretty much the catalyst for them to no longer being number one.

Adrian Tennant:     There’s actually quite a lot in this show, which I think would probably deserve a broader audience. So I don’t want to make it sound like it’s too nerdy. Rhett, what stood out to you about this particular episode?

Rhett Withey:       Well the whole series is interesting because it’s kind of putting Eric Bischoff under a microscope and making him confess to his crimes. Right? So this particular one was interesting just because of bringing in and his explanation of bringing in this wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior, who is polarizing, even today. And why he thought that was a good idea and knowing that show and how much of a train wreck that pay-per-view actually was like hearing his explanations for things and why he went certain routes and, and trying to kind of listen to like, “Ah, I think you’re still covering your butt there,” was really fascinating.

Adrian Tennant:     Were you an avid fan of the show when it was on TV?

Rhett Withey:       Absolutely. Me and my, best friend Craig, every Monday night, we’re flipping back and forth between WWF and WCW. So we get to see the whole gamut.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. Now, what was it about this particular episode that made it worthy of recommendation?

Rhett Withey:       It really is just, it’s Eric’s trying to come to grips with especially knowing now how much of a terrible person the Ultimate Warrior was and him trying to rectify his choices by but still trying to come off clean and the in a sense. So it’s really an interesting listen to hear how he is trying to explain himself and trying to make everything seem not as bad as it actually was.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. Thank you very much indeed for joining us on IN CLEAR FOCUS today.

Rhett Withey:       Thanks, Adrian. It’s been great.

Lauren Fore:          Hi, I’m Lauren Fore. I am the executive assistant to our owner and the leadership team, which can be a variety of different things based on the day, the corridor, the need. And also I help with a lot of internal marketing initiatives as well, blogs, things like that.

Adrian Tennant:     Yes, you do. And everybody that’s listening should know that Lauren is responsible for uploading all the transcripts for this show every week and updating the website and the pictures and everything that comes with it. So thank you, thank you very much indeed Lauren – we appreciate it. Okay. Lauren, how long have you been listening to podcasts?

Lauren Fore:        So the podcast that got me into podcasts, which I would venture to say is probably the one that got a lot of people into podcasts, was called, “Serial,” back in 20- I want to say 2013, 2014. That’s Serial as in serial killer, not Fruit Loops.

Adrian Tennant:     Right!

Lauren Fore:        Just to clarify! Every episode – it just sucked you in and you had to listen to the next and the next and the next. And it was just incredible. So I had not listened to a podcast before that and I didn’t listen to too many after actually, but that was the one that really got me into it. And I think a lot of people,

Adrian Tennant:     So today, what’s your preferred device for listening to podcasts?

Lauren Fore:        I would say 99 percent of the time on my iPhone. Rarely on my computer at work. I wish I had a brain where I could multitask between working and listening diligently to a podcast, but I just can’t. So it’s usually the commute to and from work. Sometimes if I have a long drive I’ll definitely listen to them. Helps pass the time. But yeah, always on iPhone.

Adrian Tennant:     Do you have a favorite app that you use?

Lauren Fore:        I use the actual podcast app on my iPhone.

Adrian Tennant:     So how many shows do you subscribe to?

Lauren Fore:        I really only subscribe to, “The TED Radio Hour.” That’s really the only one. But I’ll tell you why – it is so incredible. And if you go through the list of the different episodes, I mean such big topics like the power of design, what is beauty, how we love, I mean just these crazy topics that are just so high level, but they’re just so intriguing. They’re amazing.

Adrian Tennant:     So Lauren, you selected The TED Radio Hour from NPR and the show title is, “What Makes Us … Us.” So what is the show about?

Lauren Fore:        So we’re introduced to essentially four speakers and they all have given TED talks in the past. So first we hear from Sam Sternberg who studies gene-editing technology and he talks about the letters of DNA. So A, G, C, T, and each human has 3.2 billion of these letters. And if you were going to fill up a dictionary with all of them, it would be 800 dictionaries per person. And then he talks about this gene-editing tool called CRISPR CAS nine that he has been working on. And he says, “You know, if you wanted to go into said dictionary just as an example and eliminate the few letters that make you a morning person versus not a morning person or the shape of your nose or if you have Parkinson’s disease, you know, it’s like your genes are responsible for everything and everything can really be isolated, but it’s a needle in haystack.” So this CRISPR CAS nine tool is letting scientists basically go in and try to pinpoint where these different things are. Now he does note the caveat that it hasn’t been conducted in an actual human, it’s been conducted in human cells in a Petri dish. So we should, we should make that clear. But he does say that there’s hope that one day we could potentially do this in humans. And then there’s the argument of, well, do you want to do that? Are you messing with natural selection? At that point, you know how, how much do we want to mess with that? So he talks a little bit about that. And then we hear from Steven Pinker, who is a Harvard professor in psychology, and he talks about our circuitry in the brain, but also the nature versus nurture argument. So are we all born as blank slates? And if so, he talks about social engineering. Could we engineer a certain type of humankind, you know, if we’re all born the same? So he kind of talks about the nature versus nurture debate. And then he talks about identical twins in this experiment they did. Identical twins that grew up in different parts of the world. So one was raised Catholic in, I want to say Germany. The other was raised Jewish in – and I want to say Trinidad. So they bring them into this lab in Minneapolis, and again, they’ve never met. They’re wearing the same shirt, same Navy shirt with the same epaulets. Then they start realizing that they’re both wear rubber bands around their wrist. They flush the toilet before and after using it, they dip their toast in coffee. All these little things and it’s like these are two people who have never met grew up in completely different environments, but they have the same genes. So there are arguments for both sides, but he goes into that. So that was really interesting to me. It’s so deep.

Adrian Tennant:     It is deep. It leaves you with deep thoughts about the human condition for sure. And I think a lot of the TED Radio Hour actually leave you with questions, but in a good way. Now, what made this particular episode a favorite for you?

Lauren Fore:        One of the first ones that I listened to, and this was probably one of the deeper ones that got me really hooked on this series.

Adrian Tennant:     So you would give this a strong recommendation for listeners?

Lauren Fore:        Very strong – if you want your mind blown!

Adrian Tennant:     Yeah. Okay. All right. Lauren, thank you so much for being on IN CLEAR FOCUS on this side of the microphone for a change.

Lauren Fore:        Thanks so much for having me. It was fun.

Adrian Tennant:     I’m joined today by Dominic Wilson.

Dominic Wilson:     Yeah. Hi. I’m the senior multimedia designer here at Bigeye and I’ve been here roughly a year.

Adrian Tennant:     Can you tell us a little bit about what your role is at Bigeye?

Dominic Wilson:     I create motion graphics, 3-D design and animation as well as video editing and photography for our campaigns.

Adrian Tennant:     How many shows do you think you subscribe to?

Dominic Wilson:     Zero.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay! Now I think your selection for today’s podcast is a little different from some of the other folks at Bigeye. I’m guessing you kind of do have a favorite genre of podcast. I would say kind of educational, right?

Dominic Wilson:     Yeah, that’s true. I suppose a, I mean it is in the creative field in regards to software and designs. So for me, I just am extraordinarily fascinated by those topics.

Adrian Tennant:     You have selected an episode of a show called, “Greyscale Gorilla Podcast,” and I should explain that the description is a show for creatives who want to learn about motion design, 3-D rendering, Cinema 4D, working with clients and much more. So how did you find this podcast?

Dominic Wilson:     I’ve been a fan of Nick Campbell going back to his Creamy Orange Portfolio days. And then he began creating little tips and tutorials, teaching you how to do things in a software program called After Effects. And then he just started doing libraries of tutorials on a 3-D application called Cinema 4D. And I was just hooked.

Adrian Tennant:     Well I dipped into this podcast but I was fascinated that there’s an industry insider who gives lots of examples right at the beginning of the podcast and movies that I’ve heard of that this software has been used on. So to help us orient ourselves, could you just give us an overview of what’s in the particular podcast episode that we’re linking to in the show notes today?

Dominic Wilson:     This particular episode spoke with Russ Gaultier who works with a software program called Houdini. And it was interesting to hear the insights whether or not it’s something that you have to learn as a motion designer. It’s kind of nice to hear someone who’s seasoned, kind of break it down for you.

Adrian Tennant:     Now this is an audio podcast describing software. So how well does that translate, because I think of learning software as a somewhat visual skill – how well do you think it translates to an audio format?

Dominic Wilson:     Well I think anyone who would probably seek out this particular podcast is probably going to have somewhat of a hands-on working knowledge of the program already. They do provide a lot of very helpful links to see the work that the artists did. They have an abundance of examples and things that you can see what they’re doing and if you’re familiar even in just some of the graphic design applications, they’ll still be a lot of things that probably can kind of connect some dots for you.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. What made this episode a particular favorite for you?

Dominic Wilson:     I simply love the artists that in my opinion make the unreal real like Russ Gaultier who was a guest on that Greyscale Gorilla episode as well as some additional Houdini users like Joe Pascal, Eric Ferguson, and the gents over at Entagma to name a few.

Adrian Tennant:     So there you go. Dominic’s recommendation is the Greyscale Gorilla podcast which gives you a peek into the world of those amazing visual effects. Thank you very much indeed for joining us today.

Dominic Wilson:     Yeah, no problem.
Adrian Tennant:     My thanks to everyone at Bigeye who shared their favorite podcast with us. To support this week’s show, we’ve created a Spotify playlist that includes all the full-length episodes of the podcasts we talked about today. You’ll find a link to that on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at under Insights. I hope you’ll enjoy checking out some of the podcasts we talked about. We’ll be back with some more listening suggestions next week for our final show of 2019. Until then, please consider subscribing to IN CLEAR FOCUS on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, or your favorite podcast player. And if you like what you hear, do rate the show and leave a review you’ve been listening to in clear focus, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening and until next week, goodbye.

Featured Podcasts


Heather Osburn and Jarrod Glick from Outfront Media discuss why out of home continues to see market growth compared to other traditional channels on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

In Clear Focus this week: out of home advertising. Industry experts Heather Osburn and Jarrod Glick from Outfront Media share their observations about the reasons why out of home continues to see market growth compared to other traditional channels. We learn how digital technology connects out of home boards with consumers’ smartphone screens, and hear how an art director’s experience with dating apps inspired a much-loved campaign for an Orlando animal shelter.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. In today’s show, we’re focused on out of home or OOH advertising. Out of home is also known as outdoor advertising, out of home media or simply outdoor media. So let’s start with a definition. Out of home advertising typically reaches consumers when they’re on the go, in public places, in transit, waiting, or in commercial locations such as shopping centers. There are various out of home advertising formats, but probably the best known are billboards. According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, the industry’s trade association, this type of advertising can trace its lineage right back to the earliest civilizations. Going back thousands of years, the Egyptians employed tall stone obelisks to publicize laws and treaties, definitely outdoor media! In 1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type printing in Germany, which led to advertising in the form of the handbill. The lithographic process was perfected in 1796 also in Germany by Alois Senefelder, which in turn gave rise to the illustrated poster. In 1835 the first large format posters appeared in New York advertising circuses and the first billboard was leased in 1867. Advertising has certainly changed over the centuries, but out of home is still a very prominent format for commercial communications today. If you live in a major metro area, you can see that many billboards are now like massive TV screens displaying messages that change frequently. Digital technology has also had an impact on the ways that billboards and other out of home can interact with consumer smartphones and other smart devices via Wifi and Bluetooth. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome two guests that live and breathe this type of media. We’re joined in the studio today by Heather Osborn, marketing manager at Outfront Media based in Orlando and Jarrod Glick, art director also with Outfront Media. Welcome to you both. Glad to have you here.

Heather Osburn:Thank you so much.

Jarrod Glick:Thanks for having us.

Adrian Tennant:Could you tell us a little about your roles with Outfront Media? Let’s start with you, Heather.

Heather Osburn:Hi, I’m the local marketing manager here in the Orlando market. I market Outfront Media on a local and sometimes regional and national level promoting our larger than life canvases, promoting our technology, our location, ACE platform, and creativity.

Adrian Tennant:Excellent. Jarrod?

Jarrod Glick:I’m the Art Director for Outfront Studios in the Orlando market as well and my job is pretty much to work on campaigns from concept to completion.

Adrian Tennant:So I understand that locally, Outfront Media reaches 98% of the market every week. I guess that most people are probably very familiar with billboards, but what other formats does out of home cover?

Heather Osburn:out of home is any canvas that exists outside of your home. So correct, digital and static billboards, but out of home also includes advertising within transit, like subway, commuter rail, and buses, walls. We have some beautiful walls in the state of Florida down in Miami, over a hundred feet high, bus shelters, airports, lifestyle centers, bike share, iconic locations like Times square or Sunset Boulevard, and we also consider mobile to be out of home at this point. So 68% of mobile use is done on the go. There’s a confluence between out of home screens, these giant canvases you see when you’re out and about and the screen that you hold in your hand.

Adrian Tennant:Now, traditional channels such as broadcast TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines are either static or actually declining in terms of the revenues that they attract from advertisers, yet out of home continues to see market growth. Why do you think that is?

Heather Osburn:Well, to start, our audience is growing. People are spending more time than ever outside their home, migrating to cities. This increases opportunities to connect brands with audiences when and where it matters most. Outfront is investing in the future, which means investment in technology. We’re deploying dynamic digital at scale and providing new creative opportunities. And in a digitally saturated world, there is new value placed on these giant in real life canvases. They’re trustworthy, impactful, and brand building. And these ads aren’t skippable but they’re also not intrusive in a way some digital advertising can be.

Adrian Tennant:Are there rules or regulations specifically covering what can or can’t be advertised out of home?

Heather Osburn: Yes, there are restrictions on outdoor advertising of certain products, services, and content and they may be imposed at the federal, state and local level. Some regulations as well as contracts with landlords, municipalities, and transit franchise partners. I mean the company has an internal copy approval policy to where the company reserves the right to reject copy or remove copy in certain circumstances. And as far as those rules and restrictions I mentioned at first, a good example of that might be not allowing an alcohol advertiser within so many feet of a school, something like that.

Adrian Tennant:Okay. So who regulates the industry?

Heather Osburn:We have multiple industry organizations that set best practice regulations including the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, also known as OAAA and Geopath, who provides ratings for out of home advertising via audience location, measurement insights, and marketing research innovation.

Adrian Tennant:I’ve lived here a while. So Outfront Media was previously known as CBS outdoor. What prompted the change of name?

Heather Osburn:So, right. We were previously under the CBS umbrella and in late 2014 Outfront split from CBS and became its own standalone company. The company went public as a wholly independent company, traded under the stock symbol, OUT. The name change to Outfront captured our identity and focused on innovative technology and creativity for our clients to take business to the next level.

Adrian Tennant:Alright. I mentioned in the introduction that out of home has become more digital. What does the application of technology in outdoor media mean for advertisers?

Heather Osburn:These are great advancements that allow for more opportunity in regard to a digital bulletin this can be as simple as day-parting your campaign. For example, a restaurant would have the ability to tease a breakfast or a lunch special to commuters making their way into work in the morning and then dinner options as they head home in the evening. At this point, even a static canvas is digitally enabled due to mobile, out of home being the best primer for all things digital, including social, mobile and search. We have about one in four Americans posting and an out of home ad to Instagram and massive digital deployment, which means more screens, more creative capabilities for advertisers, including dynamic campaigns with new sets of data feeds. We have these wonderful things called live boards in some of our bigger cities in New York and Miami and they can be used independently or they can be used together. So this is wonderful technology from a digital perspective where some of them are set up like triptychs and you can have motion video working across all three together. They can run independently, they can switch back and forth from that. They’re targeting people in these transit locations where they’re a captive audience. These advertisers are making the right choice as to who they’re trying to target and when they’re trying to target them.

Adrian Tennant:I mean audiences are a very significant part of our focus here at Bigeye but creative is super important. So, Jarrod, you’re the art director, can you describe some of the most effective or impactful examples of work that you’ve created with Outfront Media? I spend a lot of time on I-4 traveling between Orlando and the attractions area. You better talk to me about those rockets that I see by ChampionGate every day.

Jarrod Glick:That’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve worked on since I started with the Outfront Studios. That was about five months from concept to execution. The AE and I met with Visit Space Coast and they had put out a survey that asks one really simple question and that was how did you hear about us? And when 34% of the people responded, “We saw your billboards,” they knew it was time to invest a little bit more in out of home, so we decided we didn’t want to just create a billboard for them. We wanted to create a landmark. So we have this… It’s almost hard to describe. It’s a 30-foot rocket, which is a styrofoam prop. It’s built out of foam and steel. It has actual LED lights in the bottom that light up at night for the boosters. And I guess our goal for this was to… We wanted people to not say, “Hey, take the exit at ChampionsGate.” We want them to now say, “Take the exit at that big rocket.” 

Adrian Tennant:Jarrod, I understand the client for that project is The Space Coast Office of Tourism, but I’m kind of intrigued, how did you get that rocket in place?

Jarrod Glick:This was just an amazing collaboration between our creative team, our operations department, which were just incredible. They spent so much time measuring and measuring. We didn’t just measure twice. We measured a hundred times. They were in direct communications with this incredible prop manufacturer out of Canada and it just started with CAD drawings all the way… My sketch, which was horrible, I’m not going to lie, to some amazing card drawings to client approval and then literally down to the most micro portion of these billboards that you can imagine. They came to us one day and said, “We don’t think it’s going to work.” There was a 16th of an inch under one screw that they said would eventually start… The whole thing would start leaning forward. So we just kept adjusting and adjusting. And then otherwise… My favorite part of this was once it was done and it was approved and they had it on the truck and it was coming from Toronto and it got held up in customs. And I love this story because it literally looked like four missiles on the back of an 18-wheeler and they drove it in. It was in Toronto, I guess coming into the United States and they pulled it over. They held the driver for about 12 hours and we had to x-ray him. I love that that happened because I can tell that story.

Adrian Tennant:Super realistic looking and I can attest to that if you’re ever driving on I-4 from Tampa, so traveling eastbound and you are at Champion’s Gate, you will see this massive rocket and its boosters on a billboard, three dimensional, very arresting. The traffic’s usually pretty slow through there, so you get plenty of opportunities to look at it and enjoy it. So talking of which, since we are talking about spending a lot of time in static traffic on I-4, you’re currently running a campaign for Orange County Animal Services, I can only describe it as kind of like the concept of something like online dating for pets. What was the insight that sort of inspired that creative direction?

Jarrod Glick:This one has been… It’s a very personal one to me. We’ve been working on this for quite a few months now and when Orange County Animal Services came to us and asked for a billboard, just letting people know that they were out there, we did our research and when we learned that they have… That they rescue 51 animals a day every single day of the year on average. We knew we wanted to go a little bigger than just a static billboard. So they have these amazing… This great photographer on staff that takes these very personal, beautiful photos that really capture the attention, that really captures each one of these animals. And honestly, not that long ago I was online dating and I had all these photos of me and I’m picking the right photograph and I’m trying to write the right copy. So I thought these guys should have that… Sort of that same advantage to really speak to their audience.

Adrian Tennant:Right. I love it. I have to say as I’m often in static traffic. I appreciate the fact that those billboards are changing out and the messaging is different every day. That I really enjoy it.

Jarrod Glick:To that, I keep thinking we’re going to run out of ideas and we have written, I think 40 of them now, but we have this… It’s not just me doing this. I have a team of probably about eight to 10 designers. We brainstorm once a week. I keep thinking eventually we’ll just be able to go back and run some of the old ones, but we haven’t had to yet. Like they just they… We crack up we have a great time and it’s my favorite part of the job.

Adrian Tennant:Right. And of course, for the listeners, we’re going to provide links to some of these examples so you can see these for yourselves. So Heather, what excites you most about out of home advertising?

Heather Osburn:First of all, let me tell you, when you were saying static, you’re in a lot of static traffic, that’s actually what we call dwell time. So that’s allowing you to see those out of home messages while you’re in traffic, enjoying this out of home messages. What excites me most about out of home, 2019 has been a really amazing year for out of home. We are finally getting the respect the medium has deserved. There was a nice write-up on AdAge, we’re part of the 2019 predictions and what really excites me the most are the creative opportunities that come with out of home. Pretty much anything that you can think of we can make happen. 

Adrian Tennant:So Jarrod, what excites you the most?

Jarrod Glick:You know, we have some really cool stuff going on right now. We have a bus shelter that has a breathing man for Netflix’s Altered Carbon. It’s a little bit creepy. It’s kind of looks like a guy is sort of in a bag and as you’re just standing there it starts to breathe really fast gives you a bit of a fright. And then we have built this seven-story Amazon Echo in Times Square, which is the largest prop ever built in Times Square. It’s so realistic all the way to the little blue lights that circle around the top. Amazon leaned on our communications director to handle the PR for this which secured about 600 million impressions.

Adrian Tennant:Wow. That’s a lot.

Heather Osburn:It’s very exciting for us and exciting time for brands.

Adrian Tennant:So what does the future of out of home look like? What innovations do you see coming?

Heather Osburn:Many of them are already here. We have integration with augmented reality and social influencer to more precise audience targeting and we expect those to grow. Jarrod, from a creative standpoint…

Jarrod Glick:I have seen some really cool stuff with the augmented reality. We have these giant canvases out of the world. We have these small screens in our pockets and it’s just such a fun way to put them together. We’ve done some really cool stuff with Dogology, with Hims, I believe was kind of a fun campaign that we did in Times Square. So I’m really excited about the AR stuff coming down.

Adrian Tennant:So for anyone listening that wants to learn more about the creative possibilities out of home advertising offers, what resources can you recommend?

Jarrod Glick:You can check out our work at Outfront Studios on Instagram and we also have an Outfront Studios Behance page as well.

Adrian Tennant:Perfect. Well, it’s been a real pleasure. Some of the things that stood out to me from our conversation. Today’s out of home advertising can be really creative in concept and execution. The digital boards offer the ability to day-part with dynamic creative and integrate external data sources such as local weather or traffic information. I loved the story about the physical three-dimensional rocket advertising the Space Coast because it illustrates how an advertisement can become something of an iconic landmark. And of course, since Bigeye is an audience-focused agency, it’s interesting to learn how insights can fuel the creative process for out of home and how consumer behaviors can be tapped to marry Outfront Media physical boards with a mobile experience. So thank you to our guests, Heather Osbourn, marketing manager and Jarrod Glick, art director both with Outfront Media here in Orlando. If you would like to learn more about the history of out of home advertising, you might want to check out a video available on YouTube called The Past is Prologue filmed at Duke University and featuring a lot of visual examples as well as new interactive applications. We’ll include a link in this episode’s transcript. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. If you have questions or comments about the content of today’s show, please email us at and if you have ideas for topics that you’d like us to cover, please let us know. To ensure you don’t miss an episode, subscribe to IN CLEAR FOCUS on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, or your favorite podcast player. And if you like what we’re doing, please rate the show and leave a review. It really helps. You’ll also find a transcript on today’s show on our website at under insights. For IN CLEAR FOCUS, I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening and until next week, goodbye.

Episode Resources: 


Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry magazine, explains new innovations in the pet product industry.

In Clear Focus this week: industry innovations in pet food, packaging, and pet product marketing. Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry magazine, explains what’s new and notable in the world of pet care. In this episode, we learn about emerging trends in pet food packaging, the use of insect-based protein as an ingredient, and the kind of online content that engages pet owners the most. We also hear why highly personalized diets for pets, based on DNA testing, might soon be available.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. Bigeye’s pet marketing services, promote pet-related products and services through strategically targeted communications to engage with owners and veterinarians. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. If you’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS since our first episode, you’ll know that earlier this year, Bigeye undertook a national study into the behaviors and attitudes of pet owners. As a pet care marketing agency, we were interested in the findings that suggested new behaviors among younger pet owners, especially with regards to the kinds of foods they choose for their pets and how they’re most likely to seek recommendations. In today’s show, we’re joined by a guest who is truly immersed in the topic of pet food and a professional observer of pet food marketing. Debbie Phillips-Donaldson is editor-in-chief of the magazine Pet Food Industry. Debbie directs all content for the magazine plus the website,, e-Newsletters, Petfood Forum conferences, and related media and publications. Debbie has been in the industry and with Watt Global Media, the parent company of Petfood Industry since 2006. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Debbie.

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Adrian Tennant:Okay. Can you help us understand the industry and its economics? Who are the biggest players in the US pet food industry right now?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well, the industry overall, globally and in the US is very top-heavy. So you have some very large companies dominating the market. Close to 50% market share combined, and then a lot of middle-sized companies and then a lot of smaller and newer companies, which happens to be where a lot of the innovation comes in honestly. Not that the other companies aren’t innovating, but not to the degree I would say as these smaller companies. So anyway, in the United States, Nestle, and Mars – that’s Purina and Mars Petcare – are by far the biggest, and then followed by JM Smucker, which has brands such as Big Heart and Rachel Ray and then Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and then Diamond Pet Food, and Blue Buffalo. Blue Buffalo might be overtaking one or two of those other ones, they’re now part of General Mills and continuing to grow. We actually have a resource on our website called the top pet food companies database and it’s global, and we track the revenue of companies from around the world and we update that once a year. That’s where I’m getting that information from.

Adrian Tennant:That sounds like it’s a great resource. Thank you for sharing. Are there any new or challenger brands that you see having an impact on the industry?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well, I can’t really point to any specific brands. What I would do instead is talk about some categories, and these probably aren’t a surprise to you or any of the listeners. There’s all the quote-unquote newer formats. So traditionally pet food’s been dry kibble or wet canned pet food. But in the last several years, probably more five to 10 years, formats like raw, freeze-dried, fresh, egg, all of those have definitely caught the attention of pet owners and retailers and they’re some small parts of the market, but they’re growing pretty quickly. And I would also point to customized diets. Usually offered via subscription or direct to consumer models. That’s a new and upcoming category. Again, still small, but it seems like every time you turn around there’s a new company out there. And then you know, just the companies that are really innovating based on new types of ingredients and nutrition information. So one, for example, based on genomics or the microbiome. And you have products based around things like insect protein, which is not yet legal to use in the United States, but it’s definitely being studied and being tracked to become legal. And then you have culture products, there’s a brand out there called Wild Earth that bases its products on Koji, which is some kind of cultured fungus thing. I’m not describing it well, but it’s called Wild Earth and if you look it up, it’s a very interesting new concept.

Adrian Tennant:Wow. This whole area of pet food ingredients is really interesting. How has US consumer concerns about sustainable farming methods or organic produce kind of influenced how pet food ingredients are being sourced now?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:It’s definitely influenced by that. Not a lot of data on it and what I do know, it’s still a small part of the market, but it’s just like with every other product category, consumers are starting to care a lot more with their food, or the pet food about where the ingredients come from, how it’s produced, how the animals producing are treated. For example, one claim that is tracked is made in the USA, which is sort of related and that’s very attractive. It’s about 30% of dog and cat food buyers in the US say that’s a draw for them. And organic, even though it’s not, the sales numbers don’t show it about six to 8% say that’s attractive to them. Locally sourced and humane or ethically raised. And they come in about three to 4%. And this is based on a consumer survey for package backs by the way.

Adrian Tennant:Great. Now I can’t leave it, you mentioned insect protein. What’s that about?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:It’s a very interesting and growing part of at least as a focus and attention. Even though in the Western world most people think of eating insects as yucky, there are places all around the world where people, it’s part of their staple diet. South America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa. I mean, it’s really not a foreign concept everywhere. In the Western world, it’s starting to be looked at very carefully because insects can be raised at a scale to be processed and everything and they’re much more environmentally friendly in terms of how much land use, which is negligible compared to say livestock, traditional livestock. Use much less water, much less processing energy, et cetera, et cetera. Right now it’s not affordable at a scaled level because it’s still fairly new. Although in Europe it’s a little bit more advanced than here because it has been approved for use in a lot of different species. I think with all the innovation and development happening, it’s starting to become more … If you are in a place like Germany for example, there’s a large pet trade show every two years called Interzoo, and I’ve seen complete pet diets available that have insect protein. Here in the US, it’s okay to use in treats. And so you will see treats with cricket meal protein, the company that’s making that is called Jiminy’s. And they actually have developed the food and they’re trying to get it approved to sell in the different states. 

Adrian Tennant:Fascinating. In the human food world, certainly lab-based or plant-based foods from Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger for sure have captured the headlines, and I think the imagination of investors, it seems. Is there a similar kind of movement towards lab-based proteins in the pet food industry?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Very, very nascent. I’ve heard of one company for example called Beyond Animal that’s doing some, it does some cultural work with a probiotic and now they’re looking at something to do with mouse cells, and it’s very early on in the development, but that’s their end goal. I mean, dogs are technically omnivores. Some people say they are carnivores, but they’re really omnivores and so there actually are some vegan dog foods or vegetarian dog foods that are on the market that are safe. Cats have to have meat as a source because they just have a different physiology and they can’t force some essential amino acids from plants. They have to have it from meat sources. So none of that’s really been studied in terms of using all non-meat for pets overall, and especially it probably wouldn’t work for cats, I’m assuming. I don’t know that, but it’s not been studied at all.

Adrian Tennant:Interesting. Now you mentioned the lack of studies in this area. Cannabidiol or CBD – is that being embraced by large manufacturers or does that remain a niche only being exploited by smaller independent brands?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well, if any large manufacturers are using it, they’re probably not talking about it yet, because it’s really not legal. I mean technically it’s not legal for humans, and it’s definitely not legal for pets. Even though you will see if you go to a pet trade show, you will see hundreds of products having CBD and including edibles like treats especially. But I think it’s because the FDA just hasn’t caught up yet. I have started hearing that some companies are getting warning letters for marketing products with CBD and claims around it. The sort of approved way to use them for pets is with supplements because there is a separate process, regulatory process and certification process with supplements that some companies are pursuing with CBD. But I’m sure companies are looking at it because it has so much interest and play in the market. But at this point, the large manufacturers, why would they take that risk? They would get all the attention from regulators that they took that kind of risk. I don’t think they’re doing it. Except probably studying it behind the scenes and waiting to see if the regulations catch up.

Adrian Tennant:Interesting point. We have been tracking CBD quite closely in this podcast and in our publications. We found in the 2019 US pet industry study, that 17% of our respondents were already administering CBD products to their pets, and 42% who are not currently using CBD are very open to its use. So it seems like there is some, more than consumer interest, but consumer demand there. So it’ll be interesting to see when the FDA and the FTC line up on what is and isn’t allowed.

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Exactly. Yeah. Again, I think there’s so many out on the market that probably just couldn’t even keep up with it if they had an interest to try to crack down on people. That’s my guess. I know that there’s some things happening behind the scenes of trying to, the FDA especially trying to come to terms with it, but I don’t know where that process is. Regulatory bodies don’t tend to move very quickly.

Adrian Tennant:Now your publication reported that 34% of cats and 19% of dogs were a reported obese in 2018. How is the industry tackling this problem?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Honestly, and I probably will get myself in trouble saying this, but probably not as well or to the extent it should. There’s a lot of brands have weight control formulas of course, and for several years now regulations have mandated that pet foods will have calorie counts, but the problem is that the way that they’re posed, they don’t necessarily translate with pets the way they might when you see it on a human food package. And so it’s difficult for consumers to understand it. I mean, I don’t even understand to be quite honest. You have to do some math. And the thing about pets too is that they may be even more individual than we as humans are, and they can’t really tell you what’s working and what isn’t. So that is an issue and there actually is a very robust movement underway. Again, it’s within a regulatory body, so it’s not moving fast. But there is a movement to update pet food labels to make them more user-friendly for consumers. And I think that’s part of it, the calorie count aspect… the number of pets that are overweight or obese are coming from veterinarians, what they see in their practice. And if you combine overweight with the obesity, it’s over 50% for both cats and dogs. But when they survey pet owners to ask do you think your pet is overweight or obese, it’s much lower. It’s like 20%. So there’s a very big, they call it the fat gap. It’s a big misunderstanding about what the pet should look like and be at a healthy weight. What a healthy weight is. Or it’s a deniability. I think that’s part of the problem is that it’s really difficult for anyone to tackle this if you have this perception that’s just so off base. And it’s something that I think that the pet food industry could do more about probably concerted effort with veterinarians, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s just not there yet.

Adrian Tennant:So how far away are we from having personalized pet diets, maybe based on DNA testing, to maintain an optimal weight?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Pretty close, I think. Probably similarly close as to what it is in humans and my guess is five to 10 years at most. I mean some of the companies that are doing the subscription direct to consumer models are doing what they’re saying are customized and personalized diets, they’re not specifically … There’s one for example called Nom Nom Now, but from what I understand, a pet owner registers, they answer some questions about their pet and then they would get a recommendation for a diet. But it’s probably one of four or five that the company offers. They are, however, doing all kinds of research behind the scenes to get to the point of recommending and selling a very specific diet for a specific pet. They have a separate group of parents that they’ve incentivized to provide even more information plus the DNA samples of this test and they’re taking that and doing just all kinds of interesting things to learn more about not only pets, about pets in general, and their microbiome and genomes and everything. It’s fascinating stuff. And I don’t understand most of it because I’m not really a scientist, I’ve spoken to the scientists behind this and spoken at one of our conferences this past year and it’s really fascinating. And I’m sure they’re not the only ones doing it. I mean I know there’s some research evidence on the universities too, so I think it’s pretty close, much closer than you might imagine.

Adrian Tennant:And that service you mentioned, that’s a subscription or direct to consumer model, is that correct?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Yes.

Adrian Tennant:Do you think that’s where most innovation is happening kind of in the direct to consumer world right now?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:That’s one area I would say yes, because honestly if you look at the products themselves, you know there’s really not a whole lot of truly innovative new pet foods out there. We talked about some of the newer formats, but those aren’t really all that new. So I think the whole personalized, even if at this point is just a, hey, tell us about your pet and do one of our diets that seems most appropriate for it. I think that is an area of innovation. But you know, we live in a world of Amazon, and Maybe people like the subscription model and the direct to consumer. I think it’s very convenient. If you have a big dog, it’s really hard to go out and buy a huge bag of dog food and lug it home. Having it delivered right to your door helps a lot. So, I mean that’s a big growing distribution area too.

Adrian Tennant:What’s missing? You have a unique perspective into the pet food industry. Where do you see untapped opportunities for new product development?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:That’s probably the million-dollar question that everyone in the industry is asking. And I’m sure there’s lots of very smart people doing research and work at looking at that. From what I know, I definitely think that the whole microbiome and genome thing offers all kinds of promise. And that’s true for people too. You know, it’s just fascinating what they’re learning every day or every year about what our microbiome, how much it influences every part of our body and anatomy. That’s one. I think the whole ingredients, you mentioned and asked about the cultured meat, lab-grown meat, we talked about insect protein. I mean I think that’s really where a lot of the new stuff is coming on because it ties into the sustainability issue, which is becoming more important to consumers and I think they’re getting to a point where they’re willing to pay more for things they think are more sustainable and that means ingredients that can come from sources that don’t take as much land or water to raise.

Adrian Tennant:Okay. Let’s change gears a little bit. What are some of the most novel pet food packaging solutions that you’ve seen? 

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:You know Tetra Pak, which is not really new, but it’s somewhat newer to the petfood industry. So it’s the carton type things and you’re seeing more and more of those being used for different kinds of products. Often wet products, but also treats. You see at least one of the bigger categories and growing categories, I should say bigger growth categories in the industry, is toppers and mixers and things so that you can spice up your dog’s normal kibble or feel like you’re doing a little bit more for your dog or cat if you add something to their regular diet. And a lot of those liquid ones especially come in different kinds of packages like Tetra Pak. We’re also seen for canned products and things like that instead of being cans, you’re seeing a lot more of the smaller plastic containers that are a little bit more unique and interesting and a little bit more convenient to use and also to store. In cans if you don’t use the whole one at once. That’s where I’m seeing it. I’m sure there are other things out there being looked at that I’m not aware of.

Adrian Tennant:I did not know that we had pet condiments. So toppers are condiments on pet food, is that correct?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Essentially. I mean that’s one way to look at it. They’re usually, sometimes they actually can be complete and balanced meals, but they’re usually not. They’re usually, it’s sort of like a treat only instead of you feeding separately out of your hand, you would pour it on top of their food. Yeah, it’s a rising category.

Adrian Tennant:So what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve observed in the way that pet food is either retailed or marketed in the last decade or so?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well, definitely online, of course. I mean that’s having a huge impact on every aspect of our lives and every kind of product that we buy, and it’s certainly true in pet food too. And in fact in the US, according to sources like Packaged Facts, online growth is what’s keeping the industry growing, overall. Because the other channels, if you look at sales just you know, breaking down by channel, the other ones are flat to declining, and so online growth is really fueling it. Then the other thing I would say is that just in general, and again this is true, I think in a lot of categories, human food and everything is that you seeing all kinds of shifting and blurring of channel lines. So in pet food or pet products, it used to be that the more premium, higher-end products were sold in pet stores. And then you had in your more mass outlets, grocery stores and discount stores and things, you had the lower price things and stuff. I mean that’s really no longer true. There’s this phenomenon that’s been called mass premiumization in pet food where companies have figured out how to take a lot of those higher-end ingredients and different more specialized label claims like natural and grain-free, et cetera, and sell them at a price point that works at a grocery store or Walmart. And it’s changed things dramatically. And that’s even aside from what’s happening online, you know. So of course that also plays into product development for the industry and how brands segment their different product lines.

Adrian Tennant:So I’m interested to know more about your role as editor in chief of Petfood Industry Magazine. How did you come to be in your current position?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well, I’m a journalist by education and training and I have a background in both publishing and business publishing. I used to work in a previous life years ago for some consumer pet magazines. And then before I came to Watt, I was with an association that was geared toward business. And so it just kind of was a nice marriage of those two things.

Adrian Tennant:So what’s the most outrageous, amusing or just extraordinary pet food industry story that you’ve covered?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:There’s been a lot over 13 years. I’m not sure I’d know where to start. Some of the ones I said I probably would get in trouble talking about publicly. But I think one thing that’s interesting to mention is like I was saying, business to business media, but we do get readers, consumers reading our content because it’s online. We do use social media. A lot of our content you have to register to use, but it’s free. So we will get consumers reading and commenting on our content. So what’s interesting to me is that there are certain types of articles or topics that we know are always going to get a huge reaction. So for example, raw pet food. Not so much, we report on recalls and things like that, but if someone writes a blog post or a column about here’s why raw pet food is … You need to be careful with it. It just blows up. It’s unbelievable. And I mentioned earlier the fact that some people believe dogs are carnivores and they’re really physiologically omnivores. And we have a guest blogger who one of his very first blogs, it was a couple years ago, said your dog is not a wolf and that got by far, the most traffic we’ve ever received for any piece of content. And the most comments. I mean the comments just went on for days and miles. And a lot of the consumers, you know, you can usually kind of tell if it’s someone from the industry or not. It’s just to me, very interesting. And sometimes amusing, but you know, people feel very passionate about the pets and about certain ways to feed them. Some people have very strong beliefs about, I believe this is the best way to feed my dog or dogs in general. And they are not afraid to express that passion.

Adrian Tennant:I mean, exactly. In our 2019 US pet industry study, 95% of respondents said that they consider a pet a part of their family. So not too surprising to see that passion and the engagement that you’ve received online. So it sounds like you see a lot of press releases. How can PR professionals capture your attention as the editor in chief?

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Well I would yes, I receive dozens a day to be quite honest. And I’ve gotten on some lists that are not at all relevant, but I also get on a lot of lists that are not relevant specifically to us. I would just say, and I don’t know how much time PR professionals have to devote to this, but spend some time to target your list. We are very focused on pet food and treats so we don’t cover all the pet products. And I get press releases about every single pet product you can think of. Every book about pets that comes out and most of them are just delete, delete, delete. Plus we’re not a consumer. Even though as I just said, we do get consumers who are in our content army and our target audience is business to business and if you know, someone would bother to even look at the name of our website or magazine, Petfood Industry is pretty clear, at least to me. So you know, just spend some time to target who you’re sending these press releases out to.

Adrian Tennant:So it’s been very enlightening. Thank you so much for your time today, Debbie. If listeners want more information about your publication, where can they find you?

Debbie is our website. We also do have a group page on LinkedIn called, if you just search under groups for pet food industry community. We have a page on Facebook, which I believe is again, using the search for “petfood industry” and the same on Twitter.

Adrian Tennant:Excellent. Thank you very much indeed. It’s been a pleasure having you on Debbie, thank you so much for your time.

Debbie Philips-Donaldson:Thank you.

Adrian Tennant:Some of the things that stood out to me from the conversation with Debbie. Firstly we heard about the development of insect-based pet foods already available in Europe and possibly coming to the US soon. We learned about new formats in pet food packaging, especially the re-imagination of what’s possible with Tetra Paks. And high tech personalized diets for your pet based on DNA testing possibly here within five to 10 years. And finally what engages audiences the most? Controversy around pets and raw foods. Thank you to our guest this week, Debbie Phillips Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry magazine. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. If you have questions or comments about the content of today’s show or have ideas for topics that you’d like us to cover, please email us at You’ll also find a transcript of today’s show on our website at under “Insights.” To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to IN CLEAR FOCUS on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, TuneIn, Stitcher, and other top podcast players. And if you like what you hear, please give us a rating. For IN CLEAR FOCUS, I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening and until next week, goodbye.


Voice-over Artist Jodi Krangle joins us IN CLEAR FOCUS to discuss the magic of audio branding and how she launched her own podcast.

In Clear Focus this week: audio branding and the rising popularity of spoken word audio entertainment. Twenty-two percent of the US population now listens to an average of seven different podcasts each week, but what lies behind the growing numbers of podcasts and listeners? Voice artist Jodi Krangle believes the medium itself may hold the answer. In this episode, we hear why Jodi considers audio branding the hidden gem of marketing, and how she launched her own podcast.  

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. In today’s show, we’re going to talk about an aspect of marketing that’s getting a lot more attention as a consequence of the fragmented media environment and use of digital devices for entertainment. While all marketers are likely familiar with visual branding – the use of images, colors, logos, and typefaces – it’s also possible to create a palette of sounds and music that align perfectly with a brand’s attributes. Now, while jingles immediately come to mind, audio branding – also referred to as sonic branding – can be more than a catchy tune heard on a TV or radio ad. We’re talking about the use of auditory elements to reinforce a brand identity, just as you might use certain colors or words. These auditory elements can extend beyond advertisements and be incorporated within digital apps or interfaces – think of sounds associated with a smart speaker, when a computer starts up, or for different controls in a car. And there’s another aspect of audio branding that is maybe less obvious than music, but no less important. A couple of weeks ago, National Public Radio released their Spoken Word Audio Report. This study, conducted by Edison Research, found that the share of time spent listening to spoken word audio in the US has increased 20 percent since 2014 – while time spent with music across the same time period decreased 5 percent. This shift is led by a dramatic increase in spoken word audio consumption on mobile devices, especially among those aged between 13 and 34. About half of the US population – 51 percent – have listened to a podcast at some point, but 22 percent of the population listen weekly for an average of six hours, 37 minutes – to about seven different shows each week. So it’s in this context that we’re joined today by a guest who has a unique perspective on the business of audio branding for advertising and the growth of spoken word audio. Jodi Krangle has been a voice actor since 2007 and has worked with clients from major brands all over the world in industries including healthcare, charities and nonprofits, and the hospitality and travel market. But it was quite a journey to get there – from selling computers at a time when not many women were doing that, to teaching herself about the Internet and the world it opened up. In 1995, Jodi created an award-winning songwriting resource website called The Muse’s Muse, and began a business of her own, doing SEO and Internet marketing. When Jodi switched to voice-overs, she was well prepared for the new world of online promotions and getting her own work. Jodi is also a singer: in 2015, she put out her own album of jazz, blues and traditional tunes. And over the years, and doing what she does, she’s learned a lot about sound and how it influences people. Fittingly, Jodi is about to launch a new podcast called, “Audio Branding: The Hidden Gem of Marketing.” Now, since this is a podcast, we’re going to take advantage of the medium and listen first to some of Jodi’s work. 

[Audio: Jodi’s commercial demo]

Adrian Tennant:     I love that! Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Jodi.

Jodi Krangle:       Thanks!

Adrian Tennant:     Quite a bit of variety in that clip reel.

Jodi Krangle:       Thank you.

Adrian Tennant:     What percentage of your work is coming from traditional TV gigs, like voiceover narration for spots and shows versus newer formats such as streaming audio ads?

Jodi Krangle:       You know, it’s, you’d think that it would be skewing towards online a lot more. AndI’m seeing the trend going that way, but I’m still sort of seeing television and I’m still seeing a lot of corporate narration but for internal presentations or for their own website or for their own YouTube channel. So yeah, I guess that’s online. So yeah. It’s, I’d say it’s it’s probably 50/50 right now, but I can see it going really skewed in the other direction. Streaming media particularly, you know, like Pandora and iHeartRadio and that kind of stuff.

Adrian Tennant:     Now you say on your website that, and I’m quoting, “The voice you use for your commercial campaign can either make you sound world-class or have your listeners fleeing,” end quote.

Jodi Krangle:       Uh-Huh.

Adrian Tennant:     Explain why that is. Why is the voice so important?

Jodi Krangle:       Well, I think it has a lot to do with audio branding. So it depends on what your brand is and what kind of voice would fit with that. If your message is different than the voice sounds, people are going to be put off by that and they’re not going to maybe realize why. I don’t necessarily think this is a conscious thing with a lot of people. But if you hear something that is so different from the branding you’re expecting in the voice or the music or even the sounds within a certain advertisement, for some reason it’s going to rub you the wrong way. And you may not even understand why, but you won’t want to listen to it again.

Adrian Tennant:    So you’re saying it’s kind of working at a subconscious level?

Jodi Krangle:       I do think that, yeah.

Adrian Tennant:    So in a previous life I was in network TV production and I regularly had to direct voice artists at sound facilities back in the UK, in London’s Soho district. Now, in those days, voice artists, they had to be at the studio in person. So everyone working on a TV spot really worked in close proximity to each other, collaborating on edits to the script, revising timings based on picture edits, that kind of thing. Jodi, tell us, how does the process typically work today?

Jodi Krangle:       Well I know that in the UK there are people who hire off of the demo a lot more often than they do in North America. So these days, a lot of what I end up doing is auditioning. So once you’re chosen for a project, you know, it really depends. It depends on if you were dealing with the end client or if you are one person in a chain from an ad agency. It really all depends. But generally there’s a lot of emails exchanged. There’s a script passed along. Pricing is figured out, whether that’s through my agent or through me. And then the script is sent my way. I have a look. If there’s anything that I have questions on, I’ll send those questions through. We’ll decide on a day and time. And typically I work out of my own five-by-four booth here and I have things like ISDN and SourceConnect and ipDTL so that I can remotely connect with anyone around the world.

Adrian Tennant:     Now, do you typically speak to a picture edit or do you prefer to record without seeing the contents, so an editor then marries your sound to the picture later? Do you have a preference for the process?

Jodi Krangle:       I really like working what’s called, “wild.” So I guess that’s without having the picture in front of me in the moment, I can watch that video previously to getting in the booth and recording. But seeing it at the same time, hmmm, it’s a little distracting. And in the case of some of my jobs, it can actually make it impossible for me to speak. And I say that because I’ve had to do some really moving commercials PSAs, calls to action for charities and that kind of stuff that are just heartbreaking. And if I watched that video both like while I was doing the job, I’d never be able to complete a sentence. There’s just no way.

Adrian Tennant:     Well, that’s interesting. You know, you work out of a home-based studio these days, which I know is where you’re joining us from today. What are some of the things that you enjoy most about working from home, if I can put it that way?

Jodi Krangle:       Well, I really like the idea of not having to drive anywhere and spend half my day in the car, getting from one place to another.

Adrian Tennant:     Right!

Jodi Krangle:       It just means that I’m more efficient with my time. It means that I can book a session, you know, one after the other instead of having to drive to some other place and leave a buffer of say, two hours. I can go from, you know, with a buffer of a half an hour, I can do more jobs on a day. And that doesn’t always happen. I’m not always going to have five jobs in the same day, but it certainly does make for more efficient working.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. what are some of the challenges about a home-based studio as opposed to say, working in a dedicated facility?

Jodi Krangle:       I think it depends on what type of a worker you are. If you are able to buckle down and get your, your work done in your own space without needing prompting, then I think it can be less of a challenge. If you’re someone who needs someone looking over your shoulder, waiting for you to complete something to get it done, then you may not like the whole home environment thing. I’m lucky enough that I’ve been either telecommuting or self-employed since probably 1999. So I’m a little used to this now,

Adrian Tennant:     Right. I mean, some of us like the interaction with work colleagues in a physical environment and clearly…

Jodi Krangle:       Yeah. And it can get lonely. Yeah. It can definitely get lonely. I’m sitting here talking in a padded room. I mean like that’s what I do all day long, so…

Adrian Tennant:     A little bit of cabin fever there, perhaps?

Jodi Krangle:       Yeah.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. Well, look, I want to play some more examples of your work and then I want to interrogate you about some of these jobs.

Jodi Krangle:       Okay, sure.

[Audio: Jodi’s TV narration demo]

Adrian Tennant:     Again, a lot of variety in those clips. Jodi, tell us, how do you modulate your performance to match all those different types of content?

Jodi Krangle:       I think you kind of need to put your head into the space of where that is happening and what the pictures are going to be. I think you really have to have a good imagination. That’s really key here. Acting is learned. You know, like some people have an innate talent for it and all the power to them. I think a lot of people need to learn it. It’s like a muscle. You need to exercise and a lot of that muscle is exercised by your imagination just by being able to put yourself in a situation that would warrant using that voice. And I think that music helps a lot with that too. As a musician myself, I know that a particular piece of music can get me into the tone that I need to use for a particular spot really quickly. So that has a lot to do with it.

Adrian Tennant:     Jodi, I know that you are also an accomplished singer. You’ve put out your own album and how does that sort of musical background play into your role now as a voice actor?

Jodi Krangle:       It really helps with the musicality of a script and the beats of a script, I guess. So every script that I look at really has notes and beats. You know, you don’t want to be too samey throughout your speaking, but at the same time you don’t want to be too sing-songy, you still want to sound like a real person. So it can, it can be a challenge and it does take coaching. But the musicality of it really helps a lot. I can recognize the downturns and the upturns and where a certain thing should be more staccato or where it should flow. And a lot of those are musical terms and emotions, I guess. So it helps a lot. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant:     I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody describe a script, almost like reading a music score. That’s really fascinating. So I hate to ask this one, but you know, I’m going to, so can you, can you recall a situation, Jodi, when things didn’t quite go to plan?

Jodi Krangle:       Yeah, I totally can. In the very beginning of my career, I was doing a PSA for a company that was asking for donations for a particular program that they had and they were asking me to work to video and it was one of my first jobs and I had never worked to video before and wow, that was definitely a learning experience. And it took a lot longer for everyone concerned than it should have. I mean, nowadays a session, if it goes longer than 20 minutes, it’s usually, you know, that’s 20 minutes. It’s usually 20 minutes to an hour. It depends on how many takes the client wants. Then of course, you give the client what they want, but generally it lasts around 20 minutes for a commercial script. And this probably lasted almost four hours.

Adrian Tennant:     Whoa!

Jodi Krangle:       It was, it was really painful. And I mean for everyone concerned, you know – that’s kind of the first traumatic experience that I had working to video.

Adrian Tennant:     Okay. Now was that working remotely or is that working in a facility in those days?

Jodi Krangle:       That was actually in a studio. Yeah. I was face-to-face with these people and not giving them what they wanted. And that was, that was hard.

Adrian Tennant:     And I do remember the feeling of being on a time crunch and literally time is money and all of those people are there by the hour and you’re paying for them and there’s probably another client waiting to come in right behind you… Oh yes. I can relate!

Jodi Krangle:       It’s hard, yeah. I mean I’ve had experience since, because I’ve done some in-show TV narration and that’s kind of a similar deal, but it’s a lighter atmosphere, I guess, maybe? This was, this was pretty, pretty deep dark. So yeah, it was hard. It was really hard. I mean this business is a complete learning experience from start to finish. Like if there’s just, there’s always something new.

Adrian Tennant:     Well that’s why we love being in the creative industries, right? Because there is always something new,

Jodi Krangle:       Exactly, yes!

Adrian Tennant:     Now I don’t want to go all meta here, but for our more technically-minded listeners can you tell us what equipment you have in your studio?

Jodi Krangle:       My equipment’s pretty simple. I have a five-by-four sound-treated booth and I say sound-treated, not soundproof because soundproof would cost a lot more money and I would need like six-foot concrete all around me to really be soundproof. But it does a great job. It, it produces a nice dead sound so that the person on the other end gets audio that’s clean and they can add whatever color they want to put to it. That’s kind of the point. And I’m using a Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic, which is fantastic for the voice industry because it lets the voice pop a little bit. It’s typically used in film on booms, but many years ago, I guess the promo people in voiceover decided it was a great alternative and started using it and the rest is history. And yeah, it’s just a great mic and it’s a workhorse too. I mean, I could drop this and it would be totally fine. Not that I want to, but yeah!

Adrian Tennant:     I think if listeners have ever seen a film shoot and somebody is holding something oblong, that looks a little bit like a blimp – typically, that mic is inside of that blimp, correct?

Jodi Krangle:       Uh-Huh. Yeah. And other than that, I just have an audio interface. It’s a Motu Microbook. And it’s a pretty simple little interface. I’m actually using PC here, so no Mac stuff.

Adrian Tennant:     No Mac stuff? Oh my gosh. And you’re in the creative industries with no Mac? Tsk tsk!

Jodi Krangle:       You know what? I, like I said, I sold computers when the 386SX was new. And that’s quite a number of years ago. And I remember DOS, so I am so used to PCs that I just can’t consider using anything else.

Adrian Tennant:     I started this show introduction with some statistics from the new NPR/Edison Research study. Talking really about the growth in podcasting, which is really about spoken word. How do you, how do you feel about that growth?

Jodi Krangle:       I think it’s fantastic. Podcasting is not quite like radio because it’s a little more personal. It’s what I love about it and it’s a very creative medium where you can pretty much say anything you want to say. And you know, the only censorship you’re likely to get is people tuning out if they don’t like it. Right? You can’t make something for everyone, but it is a very personal type of way to reach an audience. Even more personal than radio and radio unfortunately, isn’t all that personal anymore. So I think people are just trying to fill that void.

Adrian Tennant:     Yeah. I noticed one of the stats suggested that those people who are listening to podcasts on a regular basis, weekly, I think I subscribed to six podcasts, but actually listen, listen to seven different shows each week. And did that, that number seems sort of in line with your own experience as a podcast listener?

Jodi Krangle:       Yeah, actually it seems pretty similar. I listen to a lot of podcasts that are voice-over-specific and I’m maybe atypical in the fact that I listen on my desktop computer instead of on my phone. Because I don’t tend to be traveling in my car long distances all that often. So I listen at home on my computer and doesn’t mean I don’t listen, but I’m not listening in the way that most listeners seem to be these days.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And certainly one of the through-lines for that report was that it is actually the obviously use of mobile devices, which seems to be really powering this, this renewed interest in the spoken word for sure.

Jodi Krangle:       Yeah.

Adrian Tennant:     So I also, I also mentioned at the top of the show that you’re about to launch a new podcast of your own called, “Audio Branding: The Hidden Gem of Marketing.”

Jodi Krangle:       I am. Yeah.

Adrian Tennant:     What motivated you to do that?

Jodi Krangle:       I wanted to talk about how audio influences us because that’s what I do every day. It just, it makes more sense to talk about what I know. So yeah, I just thought it was an interesting topic and I’ve come across quite a lot of very interesting examples of this in my own research and it’s really interesting and it’s amazing how much money big companies are spending on this kind of thing too. You’d be really surprised.

Adrian Tennant:     So, you know, the name of our show is IN CLEAR FOCUS. What does having a clear focus mean to you?

Jodi Krangle:       That is a very good question. I almost think of it as having a goal in mind, knowing where you want to be in a certain amount of time and following that path. Not to say that that past can’t change. But knowing what you want I like to equate this to just life in general, knowing what you want in life because if you don’t have some kind of clear focus on what that is, you don’t know what you’re working towards.

Adrian Tennant:     Well said. Jodi, if listeners would like to know more about you and your work, where can they find you?

Jodi Krangle:       They can find me on my website that’s at or just will get you there too and if they’re interested in the music then is where the CD is. Well, CD… Album, no one listens to CDs anymore.

Adrian Tennant:     Jodi, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. I know you are literally a very busy lady and time is money to you, so we appreciate your sharing your insights into the industry. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

Jodi Krangle:       Thanks so much for inviting me. I appreciate it.

Adrian Tennant:     Thank you. So, three things that stood out to me from the conversation with Jodi: it was really interesting to hear Jodi express the idea that, for her, podcasts offer a more personal form of media. I also found it interesting that Jodi was able to talk about the emotional power of the human voice as a kind of counterpoint for very emotionally-engaging visuals, perhaps even distressing visuals. And uniquely, Jodi’s approach to a spoken word script as a music score and being able to perform and adjust her expression accordingly. Thank you to our guest, voice artist Jodi Krangle. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising, produced by Bigeye. If you have questions or comments about the content of today’s show, or have ideas for topics that you’d like us to cover, please email us at Don’t forget to check out Jodi’s podcast – and you’ll find a link to that in the transcript of today’s show on our website at under “Insights.” To make sure you never miss an episode, subscribe to IN CLEAR FOCUS on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, TuneIn, Stitcher, and other top podcast players. And if you like what you hear, please give us a rating. For IN CLEAR FOCUS, I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening. And until next week, goodbye.


The US market for CBD is booming. Michael Law joins us on IN CLEAR FOCUS to discuss practical guidance for CBD marketing and retailers to maximize results.

In Clear Focus this week: the US market for cannabidiol. Michael Law of contract manufacturer Eagle Labs shares his observations about the opportunities and potential pitfalls for anyone introducing new CBD products to this booming market. With a background in traditional CPG sales and marketing, Michael offers practical guidance for CBD brands and retailers to maximize results. 

In Clear Focus listeners can exclusively take advantage of a special discount code to receive 50% off a purchase from Eagle Labs’ new line of CBD products: go to and enter the code BIGEYE at the checkout.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant:     You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. We provide audience research, strategy, branding, creative, media, and analytics services. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. A couple of weeks ago we talked about the legal considerations surrounding CBD product marketing. On this week’s show, we’re focusing on CBD product manufacturing. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. It’s used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike THC, its cousin, CBD is not psychoactive. Today, CBD is available in tinctures and pills intended to relieve conditions such as anxiety and arthritis pain, and you’ll see it as an ingredient in a growing range of consumer categories from food and beverages to beauty products and apparel. As a CBD marketing agency, Bigeye enjoys working with the entrepreneurial innovators in this space. And today it’s my pleasure to welcome a guest with a unique perspective on the rapidly growing market for CBD products. Michael Law is the Chief Commercial Officer of Eagle Labs, based in Saint Petersburg, here in Florida. Eagle Labs manufactures high-quality, rigorously-tested nutritional supplements and skincare products. The company provides formulation and manufacturing services for private label lines. Under Michael’s direction, Eagle Labs has quickly become a leader in the CBD category, not only manufacturing products on behalf of its clients, but also developing its own CBD product range. The company also offers packaging, design, consulting, and fulfillment services. And Eagle Labs is a Food and Drug Administration-registered facility. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Michael.

Michael Law:        Thank you Adrian. It’s great to be here.

Adrian Tennant:     I gave a summary overview of CBD at the top of the show, but could you give us a bit more of a detailed explanation of what CBD is and how it’s produced?

Michael Law:        Yes, absolutely. And to be clear, there’s a lot of confusion around what CBD is and isn’t. I’ll give you a layman’s explanation of what CBD is. CBD is really a naturally occurring compound as I think you said at the beginning of the podcast. It’s found in industrial hemp plants. It’s important to differentiate between the industrial hemp plant and marijuana. These plants are cousins, but industrial hemp is really what the Farm Bill, the federal Farm Bill approved for cultivation, transport, research, and sale. CBD can support a sense of peace and wellness in humans and animals, as it interacts with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system. It’s not intoxicating and that’s one of the biggest myths about CBD, so you can add it to your everyday routine without experiencing a high. A lot of consumers are also concerned about safety and we’ll talk more about what Eagle Labs is doing to ensure the safety of our products. But there has been a report from the World Health Organization that stated that in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. So they haven’t found any evidence of public health issues or problems associated with the use of pure CBD. So I mean, at the outset, I think it’s important to know that CBD has a very strong safety profile and that it is very distinct from marijuana in that it will not make you high. And it is federally legal.

Adrian Tennant:     Right, by some estimates, the US market for CBD will be worth anything between 16 and 22 billion dollars annually within just a couple of years. Why is the market for CBD products growing so rapidly?

Michael Law:        The reason that it’s growing so rapidly is that consumers are using the product and they’re experiencing the effects that they’re seeking. So the repeat purchase levels are very high. There’s a lot of online communication that’s happening where people are sharing their stories with each other. We get a lot of testimonials, even video testimonials from people that have tried our products are just indicating that the product has exceeded their expectations in terms of the benefits that they’re seeking either for themselves or for their pets. We believe that the category is probably in the one to two billion dollar range right now. Most of the category is not what we would call measured by agencies like AC Nielsen or IRI – syndicated data providers – because so much of the volume is done in eCommerce or in unmeasured channels like natural [food] stores, where there often isn’t syndicated data or reporting. The category’s much bigger than most people believe it is today because so much of it is unmeasured. Retailers have really not fully gotten into CBD in the way that they will as soon as it is regulated.

Adrian Tennant:     Michael, that’s really interesting. Just taking the pain-relieving CBD products as an example, do you see them as additive or will they eventually cannibalize sales of traditional pharmaceuticals?

Michael Law:        Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, anecdotally, as somebody who’s relatively new to this category… My background is with traditional consumer packaged goods companies like Johnson and Johnson. I’ve sold or marketed products in virtually every aisle in a drug store. But speaking to people anecdotally – I mean, I talk to  every person I sit beside on a flight, every person I have an Uber ride with or meet at a meeting if they’re not in the industry – and ask them if they’ve heard of CBD and if they have what their experience has been. In the anecdotal stories from people who have reduced the use of OTC products or drug products in favor of more natural solutions like CBD is just overwhelming. Again, one of the things that is really exciting to me about this category is the growth potential. The safety profile, as I said, from the World Health Organization and their research is very strong. We need the FDA to come out with a regulatory perspective on their recommendations for dosing and indicated use. I do believe personally that you will see some cannibalization from traditional OTC medications from pharmaceutical products as consumers try products like CBD.

Adrian Tennant:     And I think we should just clarify for listeners that are not familiar with the jargon, OTC stands for “over-the-counter,” correct?

Michael Law:        Yes. Over-the-counter. It’s basically means that it’s available for self-service, like in a pharmacy section.

Adrian Tennant:     Now, I know that Eagle Labs is very quality-focused. So it seems like a good time to segue to that. Can you tell us a little bit about how Eagle Lab’s services and the business fits into this broader CBD landscape?

Michael Law:        Absolutely. Yeah. So Eagle Labs had been making skincare and nutritional products for private label clients, large national retail clients, for about 10 years. The company was owned by a chemist with 40 years of experience formulating and Eagle Labs was purchased by an entrepreneurial pair of brothers that wanted to get into the CBD category, but in a way that would ensure that their finished goods would be nothing but the highest quality. So they’ve purchased a very good quality manufacturer with the chemist, as I said, with a lot of experience and then they set about ensuring that their manufacturing processes were going to be ahead of any potential regulations. Our batch records, for example, are over 20 pages long for both the cosmetic products that we manufacturer, anything that might be a nutritional supplement with a CBD. There’s extreme rigor. We qualify any new raw material vendor with three separate batch tests. We get certificates of analysis to ensure that the potency of the raw material for CBD is accurate, and that the safety is also assured that there’s no heavy metals, there’s no bacteria, there’s no pesticides, and so on. So very rigorous on testing anything that comes into our facility. Any new raw materials that come in are quarantined until they’re tested, then they’re moved into the area where they can be used for manufacturing. As we’re manufacturing – actually filling the tincture bottles, for example – we’re testing from the top of the mixer, the middle and the bottom to ensure that we’ve got a consistent level of CBD across the entire batch. And then when we get to the finished goods stage, we send out our samples from our finished goods to third-party labs for final testing. And we get what’s called a certificate of analysis or a C-of-A that shows the potency. So if it’s a 500 milligram bottle, we want to make sure that it’s got 500 milligrams in it and, that it doesn’t have any pesticides, any heavy metals or bacteria in it. So, I would say a very, very strong focus on quality as you mentioned. And in fact, we believe that it’s in our best interest and our customer’s best interest to actually be ahead of what we think the FDA will decide in terms of manufacturing regulations. So we’re moving towards OTC qualification, which would essentially mean we could make a drug in our facility and we would have the processes for making drugs. I think when the FDA does regulate, , there will be a lot of smaller manufacturers that either haven’t or aren’t willing to make those kinds of investments in quality that will disappear.

Adrian Tennant:     So what does a typical Eagle Labs client look like? Are they primarily startups or more established brands?

Michael Law:        Yeah, so great question. The foundation of Eagle Labs was really working with eCommerce clients that were good at eCommerce but didn’t have the capabilities to do manufacturing and fulfillment. We also own a fulfillment company – it’s called Full Stack Fulfillment with fulfillment centers in Florida, Utah and the UK. So we can really be a turnkey provider for anybody that wants to create a brand as we can obviously manufacture for them in a high-quality environment, put out a great finished goods product, we can fulfill it through our fulfillment centers. So we’re meeting with large companies that are already in the CBD business that may be looking for either alternate sources of supply or unique sources of supply in product forms that we can make that they aren’t currently available from their current contract manufacturers. And we’re also having a lot of discussions with retailers regarding creating their own private brands in most health and beauty care and OTC categories. The store brands have about 25 to 30 percent of the market share and believe there’s no reason that a store brands won’t achieve that level of market share if not higher within this category as well. So we’ve been talking to a lot of retailers about about that opportunity and I think a lot of retailers are still kind of sitting on the sidelines. It won’t be long before they’ll be ready to push go on strategies where they’ll have their own brand name in the store on CBD products.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. So it sounds like you’ve helped a lot of brands, or are in the process of helping a lot of brands develop their products. But Eagle Labs has also launched its own CBD line, which I believe you call IMPIRICA. Why did you decide to do that?

Michael Law:        We felt that there was an opportunity in the marketplace, as I mentioned a little bit earlier and a lot of consumers are sitting on the sidelines because they don’t trust the brands that they’re seeing today. But there’s a huge percentage that are very interested. Our research has shown that the reason they’re not trying it yet is they’re concerned about the safety of the product and whether or not they’re going to get a what’s on the label in the bottle and that it’s actually going to be safe and not have things like the heavy metals, or the pesticides, or the bacteria. So our brand positioning is all built around that consumer insight. Our brand positioning is the number one most-tested CBD brand. So as you said at the outset, this is going to be a massive category, upwards of 15 to 20 billion dollars. We feel there’s an opportunity for a brand that is focused on driving consumer trust. And so that, that’s the essence of our positioning.

Adrian Tennant:     It’s obviously great to hear that consumer insights are powering your brand development process. Thinking about your own experience of CBD product marketing, what has been the biggest learning from launching the IMPIRICA line?

Michael Law:        I think that, um, with IMPIRICA there’s an opportunity for many brands in CBD. I would say within the soft drink category, if you ask somebody to name a soft drink, they’d probably say a Pepsi or Coke. If you ask somebody to name a CBD brand or let’s say a wine brand, if you walk into a wine store, you’re going to see a massive assortment of different wines. I think that’s probably the path that the CBD category will take. There will be a lot of small brands, there’ll be a few large brands that will emerge, but there will be a lot of small brands that have either unique positioning, unique benefits, or unique consumer followings. One of the things that has been really interesting about this category, because I’ve worked in a lot of categories where a brand loyalty wasn’t that high and promotion was used as a tactic to drive consumers switching. And what we’ve seen is that consumers that try and brand the repeat purchase if they’re satisfied and many are satisfied, most are satisfied in this category. The repeat purchase levels are very high. So for our eCommerce customers that have their own brands, we don’t see many returns at all. And we see very high repeat purchase levels.

Adrian Tennant:     Now you mentioned that you’re working with several retailers on private label. What advice do you generally have for clients who are considering entering the CBD market with a new product?

Michael Law:        So let’s talk about retailers first. If you’re a retailer and you want to be in the CBD business, I would say be in the CBD business. Have a significant amount of assortment. My advice is that you should have all CBD products in one central location. If you move them into their various subcategories, I think it’s going to be hard for the consumer to know that you’re in the category. My recommendation would be to have all of the CBD products in one location. You can have secondary locations, for example, in the , pain relief aisle for the appropriate products. But I would still have a home location that is, has got everything together. That way you’re concentrating, um, the opportunity for education. I think that you should have in store signage and pamphlets and other forms of consumer education that are, are going to address the most frequently asked questions that consumers might have either on a new brand or on the category itself. I think having it all in one location allows the opportunity to have an in store educator nearby. There are some great best practices from smaller natural food stores and health food stores where there’s an in-aisle educator that comes right to you immediately when you enter the aisle. They come right to you and ask if they can answer any questions for you on the category that also retailers are going to be very concerned about shrink. Shrink is a term for loss – product that leaves the store without being paid for. Retailers, if they have an in-aisle educator, they’re going to have eyes on the product and they can ensure that they keep shrink to a minimum. Some of the larger retailers that are now entering the category have gotten very limited assortment and they’re putting everything in a lockup case similar to what you may see in some retailers for expensive razor blades where you actually have to get somebody from the store to come and unlock the case for you to access the products.

I think that retailers like that will sell some product, but they’re not optimizing the opportunity. I think the profit potential in this category is massive and I think it would be worthwhile investing in in-store educators in high volume stores so that you can have a broad assortment and have somebody that can drive consumer education and that’ll help drive conversion. Because once you get that consumer, once they make their first purchase at a given retail location, that product then becomes the destination where they go or that that retailer becomes the destination where they go for that product.

Adrian Tennant:     Right. And you mentioned that Eagle Labs manufactures skincare products. Are there any special CBD cosmetic marketing considerations?

Michael Law:        Absolutely. There are a lot of opportunities. Because the category hasn’t been regulated yet, it’s difficult to make claims. I think consumers are doing their own research. Consumers are looking at CBD as a potential product that’s got anti-inflammatory benefits. So there are a wide range of skincare benefits. Hemp seed oil, which is not CBD but it’s from the same plants just from pressing the seeds has got a lot of skincare benefits as a moisturizer. There’s a couple of key paths within CBD: one is the more medical side where you’re looking to help consumers with a health and wellness issue. And then there’s the cosmetic side as you said, where there may be a lot of skincare benefits that they can come from having CBD as an ingredient.

Adrian Tennant:     So what excites you most about working with CBD products?

Michael Law:        That’s a really easy one. I think the growth potential. So if I’ve got a two-pronged answer, I would say the growth potential and the reported health claims from consumers and the potential for a regulated category that is going to uncover significant  consumer health benefits from CBD at the right levels and the right level of quality. So the first is just I’ve worked in a lot of categories that were static, they didn’t have any growth and that’s when you see traditional consumer packaged goods categories that are struggling for growth, you see a disproportionate focus on promotion and that’s when you get the massive amount of coupons and free-standing inserts in the Sunday papers and all kinds of discounts and shelf tags. This category doesn’t really need that. There’s so much growth potential and I’ve never worked in a category that has the potential to grow five to ten times in the next three, four years. Let’s say that there’s a lot of research that says it will be 20 billion [dollars] – if it’s half of that, that’s still a massive amount of growth. And then on the other side, as I mentioned, the health benefits, the reported health benefits that consumers are conveying anecdotally and through the repeat purchases are just phenomenal and so I’m excited for the research to catch up with where consumers already perceive the benefits and I think that will really unlock the next level of growth in this category.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s great. Thank you, Michael. For more information about Eagle Labs, how can our listeners find you?

Michael Law:        I can be reached by email at You can see our brand website at and for any of your listeners that are interested, I’m happy to offer a special discount of 50% off your first purchase if you use the code BIGEYE at the checkout.

Adrian Tennant:     That’s great. I know our listeners are going to be really excited about that. Thank you very much, Michael. 

Michael Law:        Real pleasure. Thank you. 

Adrian Tennant:     Three things that stood out to me during the conversation with Michael… Firstly, he believes that retailers would do better to have all products containing CBD in one aisle location rather than having them scattered throughout the store. In the various subcategories we heard from Michael that consumer satisfaction with CBD is high and the brand loyalty is correspondingly higher in this category compared with OTC products. And finally, I think Michael underlined the importance of working with CBD marketing experts who know how to get products stocked by retailers and avoid a promotion or sales discounting strategy. Thank you to our guest, Michael Law of Eagle Labs contract manufacturing in SaintPetersburg, Florida. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising, produced by Bigeye. If you have questions or comments about the content of today’s show, please email us at, and if you have ideas for topics that you’d like us to cover, please let us know. You’ll also find a transcript of today’s show on our website at under “Insights.” For IN CLEAR FOCUS, I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening. And until next week, goodbye.