ALONE WITH COHN – Client Edition: Phillips Edison makes grocery “sexy”

April 24, 2017

Creativity in Retail Real Estate Marketing

Long time COHN client Cherilyn Megill, Chief Marketing Officer for Phillips Edison & Company, awaits the start of ICSC RECon, the world’s largest retail real estate convention held every May in Las Vegas, with more than 37,000 attendees representing 58 countries.

At the ICSC U.S. Maxi Award Ceremony, which recognizes best practices in retail, Cherilyn will learn if “they like her, if they really really like her.” In other words, she’ll find out if Phillips Edison’s corporate B2B advertising campaign has what it takes to turn the judges’ heads and win the coveted Maxi Award.

As the proud creators of PECO’s “Grocery Focused. Retailer Centered.” campaign, COHN spoke with Cherilyn to reminisce about the creation of the campaign and how this trailblazing effort has been received within the industry.

As the majority of advertisements in retail real estate publications featured ads showing physical properties, what prompted PECO to take a different course?

Our leadership team was looking for a more creative way to showcase our company that stretched beyond the formulaic approach of showing properties and storefronts. We wanted a brand-centric campaign that would achieve specific corporate goals, but would also “make grocery sexy.” COHN developed a few intriguing concepts for our consideration. In the end, the concept we selected was “Grocery Focused. Retailer Centered.”

It’s always a challenge to find creative ways to convey multiple messages. How did this campaign help solve that issue?

We knew from the beginning that we needed comprehensive messaging to convey the company’s unique strengths and to highlight areas of expertise in a memorable way. Whether acquisitions, leasing, re-development, a new initiative, or our culture, we knew that we didn’t want to try to fit everything into one advertisement. It’s difficult to be memorable when you’re trying to say too much, so the one-key-theme-per-execution approach really fit the bill here. Plus, our key positions in publications such as Shopping Centers Today and Shopping Center Business was advantageous for us.

What part of the creative process did you find the most interesting?

One of the reasons we connect so well with COHN is because we both share an appreciation for the value of collaboration. No egos. We bounce ideas back and forth liberally; and always remember that sometimes the best ideas come from the unlikeliest of sources. Associates at all levels of our company and from a variety of disciplines were asked for their input during all stages of the campaign process. I’d have to say that this cross-functional, collaborative approach allowed the COHN design team to draw on the expertise of PECO team members who interact with the target audiences daily.

What do you find most inspiring about working in the world of marketing?

I love the strategic and creative process that goes into building a brand and supporting other departments to achieve their business objectives. I especially value the relationships and friendships that I have formed during my 25+ years in this industry. The world of marketing is changing, and I continue to be inspired by my team and how we are addressing these changes. Jeff Edison says that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m one of the lucky ones that truly love what I do.

What was your first job and how old were you?

Officially, my first job came when I was 15 as a fast food worker at Arctic Circle, a Utah favorite. The job taught me a lot about hard work, providing great customer service and never to stand around when you are getting paid. Our manager’s favorite phrase of “Time to Lean, Time to Clean” still resonates with me. If you’re hired to do a job, you should always be earning your pay. Unofficially, when I was 12 my two younger sisters and I picked cherries to “make a ton of money.” My mom packed us a lunch and we took the bus to the cherry orchard. Getting paid by the pound was not very beneficial and I think we made about $2 each that day!

Name a company who you think is doing marketing right and why (from a holistic/branding level?)

Southwest Airlines comes to mind of a company that does it right. I commuted from Chicago to Salt Lake City on Southwest for many years and became a loyal customer. Southwest has creative ad campaigns, and they are very effective at social media. However, the key to their great passenger experiences are their employees. Some of their flight attendants make me literally laugh out loud, and it is evident how much they love their jobs. I don’t necessarily love standing in line to get my seat, but what I do love is the experiences that I have when flying Southwest, how they have handled issues and the occasional free drink coupons I receive in the mail thanking me for being a customer or wishing me a happy birthday.


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