Margaret Johnson, ECD and associate partner at Goodby, Silverstein
& Partners talks design, marketing
technology, and social strategies
Q: What's the most dynamic vertical to do
work in and why?
A: For me, I wouldn’t say it’s cars or
beer or anything specific. It’s more
about the clients and how adventurous they’re willing to be. For
example, I work on Sonic, which is
a great example of a fun brand that’s
incredibly fast-moving. We do tons of
commercials for them a year. Then I
would contrast that with something
like Nest, which is a new kind of
beautiful thermostat created by a
guy who used to work at Apple. It’s
a learning thermostat, so it basically
learns your life patterns and then
takes over. It’s a small account, a
startup, but it’s really interesting
creatively getting to help them build
their brand from the bottom up.
Sonic and Nest are two really different accounts, but they’re equally fun
to work on.
tech story of
DMN’s iPad app
Q: What cool marketing technology has
caught your eye lately?
A: What immediately comes to mind,
even though it wasn’t conceived as
a marketing technology, is Pinter-
est, which is becoming the biggest
marketing tech story of the year.
People are gathering the products
they love on pin boards and that ends
up driving an unbelievable amount of
traffic. Retailers didn’t think initially
that would happen, but now people
are clicking on the images and then
trying to find out where they can buy.
Q: Where do you fall in the Big Data
debate. Does it boost or quash creativity?
A: I think it actually lets you be
more creative because you get highly
granular, constantly updated data
on exactly who you’re trying to talk
to—your exact target market—instead
of having to water down your idea
to appeal to the masses. You can get
very specific in your messaging
when you’re talking to a group of
super fans. I wonder if people are
saying Big Data crushes creativity
because they’re not comfortable with
the technology, so it seems over-
whelming. Everything at [Goodby]
is so tech-focused. Social is such a big
part of every campaign we do. But
that technology is moving fast, so
there’s a lot more work for us.
Q: What are some tips to help brands be
smart about their social strategies?
A: My advice would be to let the
social part of a campaign be as funny
and as daring as the rest of the crea-
tive is and to use social for what it’s
great for—and that’s interacting with
Q: You have a background in both commu-
nications and design. Does this make you
a more well-rounded creative?
A: I think it does in that I have a
good sense of whether a campaign
idea is “story worthy,” as in: Will
writers find it interesting? The design
side has always been with me and I’ve
always had strong opinions about the
way things should look. I love Pinter-
est for that reason. With journalism,
it was the major I decided on at [the
University of North Carolina]. But
with design, it’s less about a thing I
was taught in school and more about
my gut reactions. ■ — Allison Schiff
DELIVERED | What’s in our mailbox this month: Automobiles
Though Hyundai’s eye-popping
booklet features an “As Seen
on TV” unclaimed vehicle event
with a key fastened on the
back, images of vehicles are
eclipsed by loud graphics.
Toyota’s mailer, filled with deals
on parts and services for main-
tenance checkups, is targeted
at families who are featured in
photos enjoying the summer
season with “peace of mind.”
The straight-to-the point “$500
Trade-up Special” to purchase
or lease from Volkswagen is
clearly showcased to recipients
who are looking to swap in
their car for a brand new VW.
Honda’s direct mail piece has
everything its competitors offer
and more. Maintenance coupons, lease deals, and information on each car are featured in
a vivid fold-out poster.