You’ve Cat to be Kitten Me: A Quick Lesson on Cats in the Media

I recently switched desks, moving to another section of the office.

As I broke a sweat hauling a bookshelf, client folders, pictures and knick-knacks to my new space, I realized how much of my stuff is cat-related.

Cat butt magnets.
My day-by-day tear-off calendar.
A sticky note dispenser.

(Mind you, these things were given to me. Okay, except the cat butt magnets.) But it isn’t just the tangible “stuff” that’s cat related, it’s also my social media feeds, news sites, emails, TV news segments, GIFs and more.

We all know that dogs are America’s favorite pet. But, IMHO, cats are the ones that are dominating digital media… search algorithms and Google crawlers aside. Nearly two million cat videos were posted to YouTube in 2014 alone, resulting in almost 26 billion views. That year, cat videos received more views per video than any other content category.

For example, since being posted in 2007, Keyboard Cat has received more than 48 million views (and counting) on YouTube. These countless hours of watching cat videos have led to some interesting research.

In a survey of nearly 7,000 people, the Indiana University Media School measured the relationship between watching cat videos and mood. Overall, participants reported fewer negative emotions such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness after watching cat-related online media than before. They also felt more energetic, and the pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed the guilt they felt about procrastinating (#preach).

These views, videos and memes eventually led to the world’ first CatCon, held in Los Angeles in June 2015. Modeled after ComicCon, the “cat convention” attracted 12,000 people that year. This year, the crowd topped 30,000, plus 162 cats.

In the media, cat-related stories tend to go viral. Per BuzzFeed’s “Beastmaster,” the average feline story gets almost four times the viral views as canine. That’s not even going into the social media behind it.

Hashtagify reports #cat having a popularity score of 76.2 (never fear, #dog is right up there at 75) on Twitter. However, it looks like cats aren’t spending as much time on Instagram. On the platform, #cat has a mere 124 million posts, compared to #dog’s 147 million.

hashtags data by

So, what’s a marketer to do with all of this information?

  1. Cat content works – well, really anything furry and cute works. Users can’t resist liking and sharing animals on the internet. Even in terms of B2B social media, don’t be afraid to break through the clutter with furry content. A cat GIF is sure to spark more engagement and produce more smiles.

  1. Cats are your competition – there are thousands of memes, GIFs and videos out there competing for attention. Use this as a way to challenge yourself to think outside the box when it comes to your strategy. At EMA Boston, we do our best to surprise people. This GIF was sent agency-wide to express this idea… it’s the perfect example.
    1. Animals trigger the emotional appeal of your brand and there is a direct connection between sales volume and the emotional connection your consumers have toward a brand. Build a friendship with your audience by using good humor or a soft story – remember this Super Bowl commercial?



    1. Millennials love cats (or cat content). If your brand is looking for a way to reach millennials, a good cat-themed campaign may do the trick. According to a survey by Mintel, 51 percent of Americans in their 20s and 30s have cats. Just sayin’.


    1. Marketing can be fun, people. Do we need another super-serious graphic filled with stats about the user journey or decline in white paper consumption? If you enjoy your own company’s marketing, guess what? Others probably will too.


    1. As the winter grows darker and colder, and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder – Google it) begins to kick in, start watching cat videos. It’s cheap therapy. In the meantime, enjoy this cute picture of my feline friend.


Fighting Crime with Social Media

It was a typical weekday afternoon, my husband and I both were busy wrapping up our days at work when he received an alert of activity at home. He quickly asked if we are expecting a delivery and before finishing the sentence I hear “he’s trying to break into our house!!” We both looked at the security camera footage and could hear the intruder trying to gain access into our house by the front door, back slider and two windows. The burglar noticed the security cameras and quickly took off.

The police department posted the photos on Facebook and received and unbelievable response. Within an hour the post had 17,000 views, 187 shares and 6 phone calls to identify the man. Thanks to our security cameras and with the help of our small community social channel the burglar was identified, will be charged and is also connected to another break in within the area.


6 Things To Know When You Join A New Agency

Hello. I’m Alex, and as you might have heard, I’m the latest addition to the HB team.

After several years in another agency some 10,000 miles away, and as I prepared to become the new guy earlier this month, I did what any sensible millennial would do: I googled “tips for the new guy.”

But in a sea of “16 Tips for PR Agency Newbies,” “13 Tips for New PR Professionals” and even a “Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You,” there didn’t seem to be any tips for people switching agencies. So, after my first two weeks at HB, here are my 6 things to know when joining a new agency.


It’s easy to get caught up in a sea of new clients – sifting through acronyms, reading past coverage, learning what needs to be done. But that knowledge will be useless if you don’t know how to work with your brand new colleagues. Put down those campaign calendars and old press releases and get to know your surroundings, your teammates, the do’s and dont’s. After all, these are the people you want to do your best work with – it’s important to know who they actually are.


We all know there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but that’s only half the equation. Make sure that you’re not just asking, but are also taking in the answers that you get. Don’t be afraid to ask again if you didn’t understand the first time, or if you need something clarified. And whatever you do, write things down!


You’ve lived and breathed your old agency for years, and it’s those experiences that have brought you here. But this is a new environment, with new clients and new colleagues, and things are probably different than what you’re used to. So while it’s important to refer to your previous work from time to time, don’t try and fit everything into your old methods, practices and templates. A clean slate is a valuable thing.


This is the person who you’ll be able to rely on for almost anything. Not sure how those new-fangled phones work? Ask your buddy. Need to get some advice on email etiquette? Ask your buddy. Looking for a lunchtime recommendation? Ask your buddy! I’m incredibly thankful for my own HB Buddy, Christine McEachern, who’s been an endless source of valuable information from day one.


Remember when you were the experienced one, and a new team member joined? What impressed you about them? What did you wish they’d done? Take those memories and put them to good use. In my case, I always valued a new colleague who took the time and effort to be an active part of their new team from the get-go, and that’s the philosophy I adopted when I took my first steps into the world of HB.

6.       BE GRATEFUL.

It’s not all about you. Your new teammates have put in a lot of work to welcome you, integrate you and make you feel at home while also balancing their existing priorities and deadlines. You should know that – you’ve probably done it yourself. Show them you appreciate it. (Pro tip: brownies and cupcakes help.)

March Madness Ad Spend

For so many of us, March Madness is a yearly ritual: brackets, betting, beer and burgers. And now, the Final Four is just around the corner.

I was curious how much money was spent on advertising during March Madness, but I never would have anticipated what I uncovered. When I think of big-time sports advertising, the Superbowl is what immediately comes to mind. The game is punctuated by event-specific advertising that gets everyone pumped to see the new creative ads and messages. In 2015, Superbowl advertising spend was about $359 million.

capitolone-adBut to top that, television advertisers spend more than $1 billion on March Madness. And Americans spend almost as much gambling just on the Final Four than they to go to the movies in one year.

So it should be no surprise that March Madness is one of the biggest months for marketing opportunities spanning a range of industries: apparel, automotive, financial, food and higher education, to name a few. Because of this, the tournament provides one of the greatest social media marketing opportunities for companies. The NCAA Tournament has grossed a record 166 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter and 88% of people use their mobile devices to access March Madness information. The investment on return can be seen in the average game viewership: 9.9 million total viewers. The Kentucky/Notre Dame game peaked with 19.7 million viewers.

Much like Superbowl ads, there are those that are inspirational, sappy, nostalgic and funny. My favorite are the ones that feature past players. If you haven’t seen the CapitolOne ad series, it features Charles Barkley on a road trip with Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Hysterical!

So, as you watch Kentucky/Wisconsin and Michigan State/Duke this weekend, which ads stand out to you? Are they effective or do they miss the mark? Are they entertaining or informative? Share your favorite Final Four ad moments with us on Twitter @hb_agency. We’ll be sharing, too!

Adapting Our Behavior


A poison dart frog in Peru is evolving before our eyes. These frogs are showing a strong resemblance of two different species and researchers have reported that these frogs might be the first vertebrates ever observed splitting into two species because of distinct mimicry.

In the world of integrated marketing we are adapting every day. At HB, we are taking a new approach to how we present, concept, utilize modern technology and reach our audiences. Adapting behavior and looking for new inspiration, helps us focus in on new ideas. It keeps us on our toes and elicits friendly competition amongst ourselves.

Transforming the way we think about creative and how the end user will interact with our development opens a world of endless possibility.

#Thankful at HB

Turkeys are thankful... if you don't eat them

Here at HB we think it’s pretty awesome to work in such an innovative, creative, collaborative, and ever-changing industry. Everyday we’re privy to cutting-edge design, inspiring content creation and technologies that are literally changing the world. With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, members of the HB team wanted to reflect on what they’re most thankful for about their job this holiday season.

Allison O'Quin
Allison O’Quin: Patient, sweet, funny, & witty colleagues, my reverse commute, and responsive reporters I don’t have to stalk to get an answer. #Thankful

Amanda Jayachandran
Amanda Jayachandran: #Thankful to sit next to @hb_agency‘s talented, creative people that are crazy fun too.

Brette Querzoli
Brette Querzoli: I’m #thankful for our bosses that push our teams to be the best. Oh, and our fridge full of beer.

Catherine Ahearn
Catherine Ahearn: #Thankful to work at an agency that cares to know what I’m thankful for, @hb_agency

Christine Tesseo
Christine Tesseo: My clients: they could work with another agency but they chose HB and I am so grateful. #thankful

Chuck Tanowitz
Chuck Tanowitz: #Thankful that manual typewriters, whiteout faxes and reel-to-reel tapes are in the past, but bicycles & good coffee remain relevant.

Julia Bucchianeri
Julia Bucchianeri: This year I’m #thankful to work with colleagues who appreciate & encourage creativity, big ideas and teamwork.

Justin Hastings
Justin Hastings: Incredibly #grateful for the opportunity to solve challenges through design and bring wonder to a customer experience.

Katherine Eckenfels
Katherine Eckenfels: Thankful to be part of a team of professionals who love what they do, care about each other, and encourage impromptu dance parties. #thankful

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart: #Thankful to be surrounded by laughter, talent and amazing people – clients, partners and HBers.

Mark O'Toole
Mark O’Toole: The wealth of knowledge, collaboration and smarts among our #IPREX partners inspires me. #thankful

Matt Gustavsen
Matt Gustavsen: This Thanksgiving, I am #thankful for being part of a team which reinvents itself all the time to stay relevant in a competitive industry.

Molly Delaney
Molly Delaney: I’m #thankful for my creative coworkers, @twitter for keeping me up-to-date on news, @BuzzFeed when I need a laugh & friendly reporters.

Nicolas Boillot
Nicolas Boillot: #Cleantech, #medicaltech, #hightech offer opportunities for doing well while doing good. #thankful at @hb_agency.

Perrin McCormick
Perrin McCormick: Creative minds. Yoga pant Friday. Search engines. #thankful

Ruth Bazinet
Ruth Bazinet: Thankful for journalists who still see value in answering their phones. #thankful

Todd Van Hoosear
Todd Van Hoosear: I am #thankful for the very smart PR, creative and marketing professionals I’m surrounded by every day!

What are you thankful for this year? Tweet at us @hb_agency to share!

13 Not-so-frightening Facts About the New HB Team

Fresh Ground

In case you missed it, HB has acquired Fresh Ground, a public relations and social media agency. So what should you know about the newest additions to the HB team?

  1. In less than her first 4 months of PR, Brette Querzoli landed her first client a TV interview with Live From the Couch, CBS New York.
  2. In addition to running Fresh Ground with his partner, Todd Van Hoosear founded the Social Media Club Boston, is a fellow with the Society for New Communications Research and teaches PR and social media at Boston University.
  3. Ruth Bazinet is a self taught guitarist and song writer, and has played local Boston venues.
  4. Chuck Tanowitz was once a body double for Tom Brokaw.
  5. Brette Querzoli is a vegetarian who cooks meat for friends and family (and she’s good at it — ask them).
  6. Todd Van Hoosear has been called a doppelganger to celebrities including Judge Reinhold, Danny Kaye, Ryan Stiles and even Steve McQueen. You be the judge.
  7. Ruth Bazinet’s space art has been published in outlets including Harvard Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Kids, and
  8. Fresh Ground was named after Chuck Tanowitz’s coffee obsession. During one search for coffee in Seattle, Chuck met a bus driver who told the passengers that if they didn’t pay as they were getting off the bus, he would tie them to the seat and sing all 21 verses of “There are no drivers like bus drivers,” and then began to sing. A few minutes later a woman got on and declared that she had quit smoking, the whole bus cheered.
  9. Ruth Bazinet was inspired to pursue a career in public relations after meeting Helen Thomas at the White House.
  10. Chuck Tanowitz bikes to work regularly, but the new office means his commute dropped from 8 miles each way to 1.
  11. Brette Querzoli celebrates shark week religiously, and with a lot of Photoshop help.
  12. Ruth Bazinet once hired a PR intern through Twitter, having never met her. She was dazzling, even scoring a Wall Street Journal hit during her time working with Ruth.
  13. Despite these quirks, or perhaps because of them, the Fresh Ground team is getting along swimmingly with the HB team.

P.S. Happy Friday the 13th!

The Marketing Time Capsule – What has a place in the future? What should remain buried in the past?

In middle school I was given the easiest homework assignment ever – write a letter to my future self.

Years later, the summer before I went off to college, I received the note from the middle school me. With no recollection of what I wrote, I opened the letter to find myself gushing about my favorite boy band (no shame in admitting it, I was a huge ‘N Sync fan), my best friends and family, and what college I planned on attending.

I laughed when I read the questions I asked myself. Are Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake still together? Do you still hang out with your best friend Rachael? Where are you going to college?

Now that I’m a professional in the marketing and communications field, I re-read my letter through a different lens, and made a few conclusions my grade school self would not have thought of:

  • Trends don’t last forever. It’s still hard to conceive that ‘N Sync no longer rules the airways.
  • Relationships matter. Friends and family are as critical to me now as they were years ago. Even my best friend from more than a decade ago is still my best friend now.
  • Predicting the future is hard. My life and career path could have gone in so many different directions. The influences that brought me to where I am today were unknown to me, and I’m sure a different decision or two in the past would have changed me (though I’m very happy where I’m at now)!

FutureM will debate the future of marketing as we perceive it today. Topics range from digital marketing, mobile technology and social media measurement, as well as debating whether or not traditional marketing as we know it is dead.

But do we really know what the future of marketing holds? What are current hot marketing trends that will be obsolete in five, 10 or 20 years? Which marketing practices have staying power? Advertising? PR? Digital? All of the above? Or none of them? And what does the future hold that we just can’t accurately predict right now?

Share your thoughts below. Maybe your idea(s) will become a discussion topic at HB’s UnPanel at FutureM. Or maybe it will go into some sort of marketing time capsule that some future version of ourselves can enjoy years from now.

30 for 30: Lessons on life on a birthday milestone

Last week, I turned 30. Holy crap. Needless to say, I haven’t figured out much. However, I’ve learned enough to build a goofy list of tips to share. Here goes!

1. You can only have so many passions. You can’t do everything. Stick to 2-4 passions and really immerse yourself. And, yes, they can change over time.
2. Read as much as possible.
3. Stay in shape.
4. Get rid of your stuff. You can focus more on your goals and passions with less clutter and belongings in your living space. Now if I could only convince my wife…
5. Value sleep.
6. Enjoy an expensive bottle of wine from time to time.
7. Buy small – cars and houses – instead of large.
8. Vacation is for vacation. You can either work during your entire vacation, or not at all. Nothing in between.
9. Take care of your wardrobe.
10. Eat a healthy breakfast everyday. Better yet – eat multiple healthy meals everyday.
11. Mow your lawn.
12. Take pride in your manners. Please and thank you go a long way.
13. Spend money on books, not television.
14. Attend as many weddings as possible. They are the height of human emotion.
15. Keep a clean house.
16. Tell your parents you love them.
17. Store an extra toothbrush and toothpaste at work.
18. Embrace new technology offerings. Don’t complain about the latest feature or change on Facebook; test it and own it.
19. Challenge your loved ones and co-workers to be better.
20. Invest in a pet project outside of work – write a book, design a web site, or shoot photos.
21. Take up golf. Doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow… but it’s a lifetime sport that helps develop a sense of hard work and accomplishment.
22. Learn the basics of cooking.
23. Visit DisneyWorld at least once. It’s the happiest place on Earth.
24. Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
25. Walk with purpose.
26. Birthdays are overrated – offer unexpected gifts to friends and loved ones.
27. Volunteer.
28. Learn to solve problems creatively as well as analytically.
29. Drink the leftover milk in your cereal bowl.
30. Marry an amazing person. Thank you, Cheryl.

The Five-Year Plan

Recently, I celebrated my five-year HB anniversary. The time flew by and it’s fair to say, I’m not the same person I was five years ago. So much has changed in my life and HB has changed as well. Five years ago, I was childless, working in an HB office with window AC units, along with seven other Hart Boilloter’s on 760 Main Street in Waltham. Now I have two children, our office is Newton and HB has 16 employees. HB has been good to me and it’s a great place to work—filled with intelligent, creative, and wonderful people.

The infographic below shows a brief look at what I’ve experienced at HB over the past five-years.