BrandVerge 5 for 5 - Harmelin Media Spotlight

In our latest BrandVerge 5 for 5, we caught up with Corey Buller, Media Supervisor, at Harmelin Media. He not only shared insight into Harmelin's wealth of local market knowledge but also how B2B brands have harnessed branded content to engage and educate audiences with storytelling.

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1.     Introduction
Please tell us about your role at Harmelin Media and what makes your agency unique:

I am a media supervisor at Harmelin Media, specifically focusing on digital channels across CPG, QSR, & B2B industries.

Harmelin Media has been in business since 1982, beginning with a focus on regional media buying in the mid-Atlantic. Harmelin’s client roster now includes a divers mix of national and regional advertisers covering all corners of the U.S. However, we still understand that media is local and people in different markets consume media in different ways. We use national data sources to get to know the consumers and then we use our local market knowledge to put the best plans together.   Harmelin is headquartered in Philadelphia with service offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

We are very specific about the data sources we utilize, focusing on the most appropriate data source for a given industry. We use IRi sales data or Visa credit card data for our food and beverage clients.

We use mobile location data for our QSR and our auto clients. In our on-boarding process, we get to know our clients as deeply as possible so we can choose the best data to help guide our decisions.

2. How do you make sure you're embracing disruption to push your company and counterparts forward in the industry? 

Disruption always needs to be scrutinized. Even a fast-moving start up with all the resources in the world can still fail. As much as you need to keep up with the changing landscape, you also need to make sure these innovations will be around in a year.

 Harmelin works in the mid-market space. We work with $2 million clients and $100 million clients, but they all have limited resources that need to be spent wisely. It’s easy to chase the shiny new object, but it could just as easily lose its luster six months from now. 

 I am generally a fast-follower. Let the brands with the huge budgets figure out how to use something, and once it’s somewhat proven, jump in and make it work better for our brands. Once it is established, find ways to even take it a little bit further. Now that this innovation is proven, how can we take it to the next level?

3. What brands, in your category of not, do you believe are activating break-through and exciting work with media/advertising? What separates good brands from great?

B2B gets a bit of a bad rep for being dry and not as fun as consumer brands. Forward-thinking tech brands, like IBM, Oracle, and Unisys, are starting to push the boundaries. They realize that consumers and decision makers don’t want to see ads. We live in a world where we are absolutely inundated with ads. B2B brands find ways to integrate themselves into a consumer’s life without interrupting them so much. B2B brands are getting native advertising and branded content right.

I see a lot of branded content in the B2B space that is very much focused on education and information. Yeah, there’s a little bit of self-promotion and there’s a little bit of selling throughout, and you’re always going to include your client’s case study, but they’ve done a really good job of saying, ‘Okay, we have this thing that we do really well. Here is the story around it.” 

We’re working on a project with a B2B brand to promote two companies they have worked with. The article focuses on the world’s rapidly growing population and the story about what these companies are doing to ensure we have enough resources in five years to service 10 billion people. We worked in a case study about Unisys securing their platforms and ensuring their tools run as smoothly as possible. They hit the story -- the growing world, the need for more resources -- then a bit of ‘here’s how we help them,’ and ‘the services that we offer,’ and then closed it by promoting the brand’s clients and how they will help the world. I think that most B2B companies are doing that well. The branded content pieces provide value and are not just focused on selling the brand.  

 4. What channels/partners do you think are most exciting for the future of media and why? 

Any company that can make either media planning or cross-media measurement easier. There are more digital channels than I have fingers and thousands of vendors. That can be daunting to have to understand that landscape and try to connect everything together.

BrandVerge is doing a really good job with sponsorship and branded content. DOmedia is revolutionizing the way that you buy out-of-home. Those tools are making our jobs a little easier so that we can focus on analyzing data and driving business results.

Megaphone, in the podcast space, is bringing everything that we love about digital to podcasts. They are a tech platform that can behaviorally target on podcasts and sales and brand lift studies. Podcast activity will grow to a point where it will become another targeted inventory source that we buy along online audio, online video, banners, etc. Megaphone is positioning themselves well to be the go-to targeting platform when podcasts hit that tipping point. 

5. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself when you started in media? 

I would probably tell myself that mistakes are okay. You absolutely should care and want to get everything right, but mistakes are fine. Everybody is always learning and failure is the fastest way to learn. So the fact that you didn’t get something right the first time, or you didn’t understand something, it’s okay. You’re only 22. You have 40 to 50 years to get it right. You are going to learn a lot in that time. Mistakes are okay.

If you want to learn more about the team at Harmelin, visit their Linkedin and connect!

Lynn Browne