AWSC: Dear Jorge Cortell, Tweets Have Consequences

On October 22 during the “Reverse” Demo Day (investors were pitching to entrepreneurs) Jorge Cortell, the CEO of a healthcare startup, publicly shared a controversial opinion, described by people as a creepshot:


Not surprisingly, the tweet caused a storm of comments and articles and very quickly people accused him of sexisim.

One of the most interesting comment threads can be found on Valleywag, from both defenders and the offended alike (Cortell called the comment thread “knee-jerk reactions”).

As some commenters have brought up, the internet has allowed bullying and public shaming without facing the issue or consequences in real life. The ability to diss someone on Twitter is quite powerful but cowardly at the same time. I’m not sure what this tweet was exactly.


Opinion sharing?

A display of power?

The one thing it sure was not was display of professionalism.

This is a man who is the CEO of a worldwide leader in open source healthcare organization who thought that composing and sending that tweet into the world was OK.

Aside from sheer unprofessionalism of the tweet, there are a number of assumptions that come through in those 140 characters (feel free to disagree with them of course):

  • Assumption #1: Entrepreneurs could not possibly be seen in heels
  • Assumption #2: Women who wear heels are dumb
  • Assumption #3: Women who wear heels, therefore, cannot possibly be entrepreneurs

So here are my questions: Is Mr. Cortell basing this on his personal life experience, that women who wear heels are not very smart and do not need any brains to get ahead in life?

Does he hire only women in flats assuming that they are therefore smart?

The wildfire that the tweet caused did not lead Cortell to an apology. Instead his attempt at settling the argument was saying that it could have been a man wearing those, which would be equally “absurd” and stating that wearing heels is not good for your health and therefore wearing heels makes you “dumb.”

There will always be heel haters, men and women alike. But amid the Cortell supporters came through a parade of other health-related comments pointing out things that are not healthy, which Cortell might possibly, in fact, do. like eating pizza, drinking coffee, smoking, having an alcoholic drink, etc. Multiple people inquired if Cortell had a library of pictures of people doing those other unhealthy things to which he indirectly responded by saying he encourages a healthy lifestyle in all of his employees. I wonder if that involves policing of unhealthy habits or premiums for eating salad and wearing flat shoes.

With the “self-inflicted health hazard = dumb” logic, would that mean that every CEO who smokes fits into the “dumb” category? Probably not.

I found reading the tweet, some of the comments, and Cortell’s responses personally offensive — as it seems many other people did too.

So, here’s a little feedback for Jorge Cortell.

I will not go ahead and say that I am smarter than you are. And as someone who is very open about her shoe addiction, I will probably fall into your “not smart” category quite quickly.

But here is what my shoes will not tell you: I have a double major BA with honors and specialized post-grad education. I am also an entrepreneur (no, not in fashion).

High heels are a personal choice – I like them, they elevate my confidence level, improve my posture, and unlike ballerina flats, high heels do not give me knee joint pains.

The language with which you write lacks intelligence regardless of Twitter’s character limitations. And your points are archaic and very poorly defended. Heels are not a deathly health decision, nor are they in any way a signifier of intelligence.

Here are some very smart and very well off women who have been seen in heels (just to name a few):

  • Diane Sawyer, Anchor of World News, ABC, Walt Disney. The heels come with the job description.
  • Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo!
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
  • Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, according to The Sun never leaves home without high heels.
  • Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, an investor at Accel Partners, a venture capital firm, who as the author of the Valleywag, Nitasha Tiku, points out was one of the investors pitching at the Demo Day.

I think it is safe to say that making assumptions based on someone’s footwear is prejudice. If you had a problem with that specific style of shoe you should have been clear about that.

The brave thing to do would have been to try to get to know the wearer, perhaps challenge your theory on her lack of intelligence (do you actually know what she does?).

If, on the other hand, you have a fear of women who are more successful than you are, as some other people opined, well, you’ll just have to learn how to live with that and, most importantly, how to keep it to yourself.

So, dear Mr. Cortell, tweeting such a statement was, in your own words, dumb.

I do hope that you will learn something from this experience and will, like many people have pointed out, issue an apology.

Not only to the woman who’s creepshot you took but women in general.
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AWSC: Where is the Future of Video

What do you do on YouTube?

Last week, YouTube’s Jamie Byrne showed me a whole new side of YouTube as a platform for a brand to exist on. I am aware that the site had been recently improved in many ways – such as channel subscriptions, branded pages and more detailed insights – but I have never thought of it as a place where I would go to watch TV.

During his talk at FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week Canada, Byrne asked people an interesting question:

Do you have a YouTube strategy?

Nearly everyone admitted that they did not.

While most people are still trying to figure out their Facebook and Twitter strategies, YouTube tends to fall back on the “must do” platforms for brands. You’ve been told that you should be on Facebook, you’ve been told that you should be on Twitter – but no one said you should be on YouTube.

A different way to think about YouTube is to approach it as another important platform through which you can not only create content, but also build new audiences.

Yes, new audiences.

With statistics like 4 billion hours watched per month, we can all agree that YouTube deserves more attention. 

There are already YouTube channels out there that produce original series strictly for online – often with much better production value than some of the top-rated cable shows. It is only a matter of time until YouTube channels become a part of your daily entertainment viewing habits outside of work procrastination, so it makes sense that brands should start implementing YouTube strategies into their marketing mix.

The obvious brands to be associated with YouTube are often publishers – Vice, for example, has done a fantastic job of creating their own YouTube content – but not a lot of domestic or, for instance, beverage brands find the YouTube presence as natural.

That being said, some are already doing an incredible job.

One of the examples that Byrne shared is the Gillette Football Club. Gillette saw an opportunity to curate content that their audience had to look for across different sites and jumped on it by creating Network Football – the world of football all in one channel. Similarly, Red Bull has been curating their own content on a highly branded channel for a while – which displays fantastic brand innovation.

The fact is: For a brand, YouTube channel subscriptions allow for more dedicated audiences and TrueView allows for better audience analytics so the ROI becomes a lot clearer – and as an advertiser, you only pay for the ads that people actually viewed.

Yes, it is more work for your marketing department. But it is a phenomenal way to improve your consumer relationships and build brand loyalty.


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AWSC: The Future is Not in the Flying Cars

Rory Sutherland

Last week I had an opportunity to see one of Rory Sutherland’s talks as a part of the Fast Forward Advertising and Marketing Week Canada. If you have ever seen Rory talk, then you know it is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Sutherland’s background is in behavioural economics, so it only makes sense that his talk was titled, The Next Revolution in Advertising Will Be Psychological, Not Technological.  Admittedly, the choice of subject matter was quite interesting – especially because the rest of the week was spent talking about the forefront of communication technologies.

“What’s the next big thing?” asked Sutherland right away. “I don’t actually know myself,” he said, “but it is definitely not the flying cars.”

While the majority of the communication industries place their bets on new technologies to be the bright blue future, Sutherland argues that behavioral insights are the best way to understand and influence economic behavior.

Through a series of examples Sutherland illustrated how we often over-think things when trying to figure out a forward solution. This does not mean assuming a dumber audience, it just means that the surface level often offers enough information to figure out a better outcome.

Human happiness and anxiety are driven by expectations, and exceeding these expectations is a sure way to build better and stronger connections.

This is where the conversation got really interesting: Exceeding expectations is as easy as setting lower expectations.  For example: If you are mailing a cheque that you know will arrive within the next 6 days, then tell people that it will arrive in 12 – when it gets there in half of the estimated time, people will be impressed. “If you want to make better wine, just tell people it’s really expensive.” I find this heuristic approach fascinating. Quite frankly:

I never thought of applying the placebo effect on a target group – what with all of the issues in regards to truth in advertising and all – but I have been convinced to rethink the subject matter with proper guidance.

According to Sutherland, marketing’s job is to turn human understanding into positive business outcomes – which is where marketing and innovation are kind of the same thing.

The bottom line – and the lesson that I took out of this talk – is that basic behavior patterns and reactions provide incredibly important information, which can allow us to predict and influence economic futures.


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AWIX: Fast-Track Int the Future of Advertising

Every year people ask me why I go to Advertising Week. In response, I often stare at people in confusion…I mean…why not? “Doesn’t it makes sense to go to Advertising Week when you work in advertising,” I wonder aloud. Then I remember that different people have different ways of staying relevant, and week-long conferences may just not be their thing. But it is mine.

I spent over seven years in postsecondary institutions and may have gotten addicted to school – so conferences are an easy and useful way of reliving college. No, not really. I’m just kidding. The truth is: Advertising Week is a great way to stay inspired.

It is the week during which you can fast-track through the latest and the newest in the industry, learn from people’s successes and mistakes, pick the brains of some of the most successful people in the business, and meet some of the most fascinating individuals out there. It is a week full of opportunities – and a week that gets my wheels spinning forward into the future.

We shared The Week with you one tweet at a time during the entire conference, but there is always one panel that stands out the most. Once I stopped giggling like a child full of cotton candy about JWT’s advertising funeral, I moved on to thinking about more serious things:

The future of advertising (appropriately enough).

As such, the last memory of Advertising Week that I have is The Tomorrow Awards Monster Judges panel. Each panelist was asked to give their vision on the future of advertising; this is the summary takeaway:

Robert Wong, ECD, Google Creative Lab

Wong juggled with a couple of ideas in his well-deserved five minutes.

First he insisted that the future of advertising lies in the hands of young creatives, because as digital natives, they can do things that you did not even know can be done. The second point that he ran off with was that we do not obsess over the why enough. We should focus less on what we are making and more on why we are making it.

“Great stuff comes from clarity and innovation.”

Colleen DeCourcy, CEO, Socialistic  

According to DeCourcy, the problem with digital is that people still do not know how to scale social. Digital is not good, not bad – it just exists because it was probably made on the fly. We should take ownership and responsibility over distributing the message properly.

Everything we do must be able to move around with legs.

Rei Inamoto, CCO, AKQA 

Inamoto presented five areas “where the future is already happening”:

1). Software is the future because it allows us to do more than TV and traditional.

2). Products, they should act as media; products are therefore the future (here I could not help but think of Alex Bogusky’s Baked In).

3). “Storytelling is bullshit” – it is a romantic way of pretending that we’re doing good stuff. The future lies in grand behavior.

4). Campaigns are the fields of the past; we should build franchises.

5). We keep concentrating on 360 degrees of communication, but with all the new options we should turn at 365.

Philippe Meunier, CCO/Partner, Sid Lee

Meunier argued that the future lies in the people.

We do not give the right tools to the right generation, we do not make them happy – and happy people do good work. We need to cut the boundaries between disciplines, be more open in our approaches, and create experiences for consumers.

“The future of advertising is based on creativity, open platform and rich content.”

Although these might be opinions of four individuals, they represent what The Week was about collectively. Everything they tossed into the mix was an in-depth discussion topic at one point or another during The Week.

So why do I go to Advertising Week? Because I like what I do, I’d like to do it better and I’d like to do it for a while. And according to these guys, I am – we are – the future of advertising.


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