New York Advertising Week 2018 Session Recap

Oct 04, 2018

It’s been an exciting and busy New York Advertising Week. In case you missed our sessions Transforming Miss America and The Empathy Gap, below is a recap

Transforming Miss America: The View from Backstage

Over the past months, Miss America and Y&R have taken on the challenge of rebranding a 97-year-old organization in a moment of cultural reckoning. From getting rid of swimsuits to reimagining the entire competition, the Miss America Organization and Y&R set out to align the organization with its original purpose: empowering smart, talented women.  

Leslie Sims, CCO of Y&R North America, Regina Hopper, CEO of Miss America and Nia Franklin, Miss America 2019 spoke with New York Times COO, Meredith Kopit Levien for a behind-the-scenes look into the journey towards a new Miss America organization.

Here are our key quotes and takeaways from the panel:

Regina Hopper, CEO, Miss America Organization

  • “We needed to turn around this brand. We now live in a society of cultural change, where people want to express their minds and feelings —and starting this year, the women of Miss America get to tell people who they are.”
  • The decision to remove the swimsuit competition was two-fold: inclusivity and scholarship. In 2018, women should not have to wear a bathing suit to get a scholarship. For every negative tweet we saw, we saw a hundred more from parents saying “My daughter can now be Miss America.”

Leslie Sims, CCO, Y&R North America

  • Based on our BAV data that showed sinking relevance and esteem, we dialed down the parts of this brand that were not resonating with culture, and dialed up the things that are more culturally relevant than ever -- like social impact and substance versus how these women look in a bikini.
  • We’re breaking things in the places they should be broken. And rebuilding them to be stronger in the places they needed to be rebuilt.
  • We stopped simply looking at these women and started listening to them.
  • This is a brand full of stories waiting to be unearthed, particularly in the #metoo era. These are amazing, accomplished women whose schooling has been funded by this organization.

Nia Franklin, Miss America 2019

  • As a composer and songwriter, my goal is for young women to see me composing and following my dream – and then for them to follow theirs.
  • I want to be an example of pursuing your dreams no matter what society tells you.
  • Going forward, there isn’t a mold for Miss America— it doesn’t matter how much history you have doing it, how much money you have. I just want people to embrace the new opportunities and support other women.


The Empathy Gap

Chief Strategy Office Yusuf Chuku presented Thinking About Feeling exploring how can we be deliberate in our approach to empathy. Yusuf  launched his discussion stating  “Not caring is at the heart of the bad communications out there.”

He then explored the state of empathy outlining:

  • We are empathetic by nature. 98% of us have the ability to empathize.
  • Today’s technologies are making us both disconnected and more connected which presents an opportunity to fill the empathy gap.
  • Some researchers are exploring if empathy is a choice. They hypnotize that empathy is not something that happens to us, but is something we elect to do.

The latter half of Yusuf’s discussion focused on examples and ways people can work to reach their empathy potential.  He said, “We are not doing it in as deliberate a way as we can. Empathy is a skill that needs to be practiced.”

He cited organizations such as Roots of Empathy and Human Library that are working to connect people in various ways to learn to recognize emotions, engage with others and practice consciousness and compassion.

He also provided a few tips for ways anyone to practice this skill including exercises such as Helicopter View (a perspectives exercise worksheet); Head, Seen, Respected (a deep listening exercise); and The Empathy Toy (teamwork and collaboration tool). He also cited a favorite exercise of our eXploring team – talking with Uber drivers.

Responding to a question on the role of empathy when today’s audience are trying to tune out advertising he shared, “Start from a place where people love brands, they can be open to us. Brands create things people are willing to consume. There is an exchange -  we have to give them something back. If you going to be a guest in someone’s home, don’t come empty-handed.”

Yusuf closed the session cautioning to be careful not to overdo empathy. “It’s important to remember you occasionally have to turn it off.”