February 5, 2016

A Prediction for 2016’s Big Game

that has nothing to do with football and everything to do with advertising.

On February 7, the NFL’s two most valuable living brands will compete in the 50th installment of the Big Game for the right to influence consumer preferences for everything from pizza to online brokerages for the remainder of 2016.

Oh, and they’ll be playing a football game, but I digress…

The traditional pocket passer, Peyton Manning, with his appeal to aging Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, will represent fading values: a single-minded focus on football (for this, he sacrificed knowing how to order Chinese food), leadership, sportsmanship and winning with class. He’s a Buick kind of guy.

The spectacularly athletic and strong physical specimen, Cam Newton, with his showmanship and swagger will represent the flash that always seems to appeal to a younger generation. It’s not a generational hallmark, but a symbol of youth. He seemingly orchestrates his in-gaFootballme dances to generate the kind of anger we saw from John Lithgow’s reverend character in Footloose. He’s a Pepsi kind of guy.

So while Manning will be “working so hard” and “punching his card,” Cam Newton’s “gotta cut loose” and “kick off his Sunday shoes.” Here’s where we see this year’s engagement with advertising in the televised icon of sports.

We won’t be watching as intently as the young phenom “hits the ceiling” and “tears up this town” following an intercepted wobbly pass from an aging hero. And we’ll only be passive spectators to the TV ads, in spite of the cumulative billions spent trying to pry our attention from our smartphones and tablets.

It’s quite possible we’ll remember this year’s 50th event as the game changer in advertising, the year nobody turned up their TVs during the commercial breaks. Instead, they pulled up Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to talk about the game and to share selfies-gone-viral from the corporate attendees who paid more attention to their phones than the field.

In this year’s Big Game, the best way to gain exposure won’t be through a wildly creative 30-second spot, but through a microbrewed beer bottle held up in an Instagram photo. If you’re looking for the next big thing during the Big Game, that’s how you’ll find it.

The Big Game this year will be the ultimate Snapchat of where advertising is, and where it’s going.

On the other hand, you might suggest this is quite likely the only TV programming where people DO watch the ads. And, given all the coverage those same ads get across the networks in the two weeks prior, advertisers arguably get as much or more exposure for their spots in unpaid coverage (before and after the game) than for paid positions in the game itself. So, perhaps ad placement in Sunday’s game is an advertiser’s game changer.

Yeah, maybe. But we’re putting our money on Instagram and Snapchat.

January 25, 2016

Valerie Freeman and Kathy Leonard Appointed to the Dallas Regional Chamber Executive Women’s Roundtable Board

Valerie Freeman and Kathy Leonard

Valerie Freeman & Kathy Leonard


We are proud to announce that our CEO, Valerie Freeman, and President, Kathy Leonard have been both appointed to the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) Executive Women’s Roundtable

The DRC’s leadership programs are focused on professional development across all industries and career levels. Through education, community awareness, and hands-on experiences, participants strengthen their abilities as professionals and community leaders to positively impact the quality of life in the region. The Executive Women’s Roundtable (EWR) brings together executive-level women from various industries and professional disciplines and gives them a forum to discuss business issues and challenges and broaden their professional perspectives. Learn more

January 20, 2016

Talent Talks – How Mello Yello Got Its Name


Music and art are appreciated through time for capturing the cultural zeitgeist of their origins. But nothing captures the essence of periods in “pop culture” quite like the names of our favorite soft drinks.

We may be slightly ashamed when we reflect back on what we’ve been creating for the past decade. As advertisers, we seem to believe modern soft drink consumers have just one disposition. They are ever-raging Red Bulls and Rock Stars who want to get AMPed, Hyped, and Jolted to the Kore.

There was a time, though, when America wasn’t all about being stimulated to the max. A mello-er time, heralded in (in no small part) by Freeman+Leonard’s own Gary T. Here is that story.

You know Mello Yello. It’s the highly-caffeinated, citrus flavored soft drink produced and distributed by The Coca-Cola Company.  The beverage was introduced in March, 1979 to compete with PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew.  The product was created before a name was registered and an Atlanta agency had the account for the new, unnamed drink. Freeman+Leonard talent, Gary T. was working at the agency and tells this story:

“Tom L., the creative half of the agency, asked me to come up with some names for the product; a very extensive name list already existed. I generated a couple of hundred names overnight, as requested. Tom asked me which name I liked best, and I said, ’Mello Yello.’  He agreed. Mello Yello would be the agency recommendation and Tom had a gaudy neon sign created with that name.

In the presentation to executives from Coke, when the name was unveiled and the neon started flashing, the Coke executives were stone-faced.  Tom said, ’Gentlemen, please say something.’

One of the Coke men said, ‘Mello Yello is catchy, but I think it has drug connotations. (The Donovan song, smoking bananas, Woodstock, etc.)   Do you think the name Mello Yello alludes to illegal drugs’

Tom, without hesitation, answered, ’Gentlemen, have you ever heard of the word… Coke?’

There was a brief pause, and then the Coke men began laughing and pounding the table like happy monkeys.

The new name was rescued, thanks to a very smart guy who could really think on his feet.  After the meeting, Tom said to me, Gary, coming up with a good brand name is half the game; the other half is selling it to the client.’”

Gary T. is a Freeman+Leonard Game Changer.

TALENT TALKS features stories from the rich experience of talent available through Freeman+Leonard.


December 18, 2015

Warm Holiday Wishes and Happy New Year


This holiday season, in honor of our clients and friends, Freeman+Leonard has donated a gift to Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas in support of helping girls ages 6-18 overcome barriers, grow into self-sufficient members of the community and achieve their dreams!

For the past eight years, we have partnered with our sister company, Imprimis Group, and Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas to hold a holiday greeting card drawing contest. Contest participants were asked to draw “What the Holidays Mean to Me.”

Each year, we are overwhelmed by the imagination and creativity of the entries.  This holiday e-card was designed exclusively for Freeman+Leonard by D-Yonna A., a member of Girls Incorporated of Metropolitan Dallas.

Below is a video of our 2015 Holiday Greeting.