Nov
01

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How is a book written over two hundred years ago still relevant to brand marketers today?

‘Twas the year 1813 when Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice first hit the bookstands and danced its way into the hearts of many a young woman (and man).  Two hundred years later, Pride and Prejudice has become one of the most popular books in English literature and spawned countless film/TV show adaptations. Truth be told, it’s actually my mom’s favorite book and we watch every series that’s ever been made or adapted.

How is it that a book written over two centuries ago, can still be found at the top of “most beloved books” lists today? It’s enduring power lies in its relevancy and recipe plotline. Human nature hasn’t changed, the characters you meet in Austen’s novel are people that can still be recognized today. They are relatable, and the reader forms an emotional connection with them. Similarly, brands that want to endure, must find that classic formula to stay relevant and form an emotional bond with their customers.

Making Your Brand Relevant To People’s Lives

Be Purposeful. Have a purpose, tell a compelling (but still genuine) story and deliver on it. Like Jane Austen via her classic novels to her readers, get your customers to become emotionally involved in your brand – to fall in love with you, to feel connected to your purpose and what you are trying to accomplish. Whole Foods – more than just a grocery store, has a greater purpose in mind:

Our motto—Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet — emphasizes that our vision reaches beyond food retailing. In fact, our deepest purpose as an organization is helping support the health, well-being, and healing of both people — customers, Team Members, and business organizations in general — and the planet.

Be healthy? Help the world? That’s something I can and want to support.

Be Useful. Be a brand your customers can’t live without. Cliched, but Apple comes to mind for this one. Personally, I’m not an avid fan of the brand (can get into this another time), YET, for my tech needs, I own mostly Apple products – MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod, iPhone. Why is that? Because Apple’s products are durable, they offer seamless integration, they are simple to use and make my everyday easier. I like anything that makes my life easier.

Be Unique. Show some personality. One that people can connect to and get passionate about.  Zappos always comes to mind for me – getting an email that says, “Your shopping cart is empty, and it’s a little sad,” never fails to put a smile on my face and I like a brand that can make me smile…emotional connection, see where I’m going with this?

Offer an experience like no other (brand). And make it uniquely yours. Walt Disney doesn’t just offer a unique experience, they offer customers an opportunity to enter another world. From media entertainment (movies, TV shows, radio channel, video/computer games) to theme parks and resorts, Walt Disney takes children, adults, families on adventures unmatched by any other brand. It’s no surprise they made the number one slot on APCO Worldwide’s Top 100 Most Loved Companies.

Be Real. We’ve become much more interested in doing business with (rather, in striking relationships with) companies and brands who we feel share our same ideals and values. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why should we care? Give us something real to believe in and that we want to be a part of, and demonstrate this through your actions. As our company focuses in the health, wellness and leisure industries, brands like Lululemon, Walgreens (on the corner of health and happiness), Philosophy Skin Care, Chobani and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Products pretty quickly come to mind.

Thanks to Jane Austen. I bet she never could have imagined the context in which we’d be talking about her book.

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Oct
29

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Many companies still haven’t figured out how to market to boomers, including P&G and its corporate, faculty and student partners in its Live Well Collaborative innovation lab – whose goal is to research and develop product ideas for consumers age 50 and over. While they’ve completed 37 projects, they’ve yet to commercialize a single product.

This article on bloomberg.com – Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Aching for $15 Trillion Prize – underscores the enormous (though still untapped) opportunity available to brand marketers who can crack the code on this still underserved segment of 50+ consumers.

Dimensioning The Opportunity

According to Nielsen, more than half of the U.S. adult population in 2017 will be 50+ and they will control a full 70% of the disposable income. By 2050, there will be 161 million 50+ consumers, a 63% increase over 2010. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to translate into a pretty sexy market. In spite of this, only about 15% of all ad dollars are spent against this demographic (though they account for almost 50% of CPG sales).

And beyond the sheer size of the market, consider just a few media consumption and spending statistics:
• Boomers watch 174 hours of television a month, 63% more than Millenials
• More than 50% are on Facebook
• They’re almost equally engaged to the same level of younger generational groups on all major social media platforms
• They spend $7 billion online annually, and this is quickly rising

So What’s Missing?

Existing 50-plus targeted products aren’t creating a lasting emotional connection with older consumers. Case in point is that nobody aspires to own products like adult diapers and denture adhesives. While some need to spend their money on these essentials (and they are, to the tune of $600 million annually on Depend), they have the dollars and the desire to spend (and splurge) on the things they truly want – the products and services that help them to not only feel better, but to look better and play better. That’s where companies so far have failed.

Cracking The Code

The challenge (and opportunity) is for brand marketers to make their brands more relevant to this massive market. But to do this, marketers need to view this market with a fresh set of eyes, and let go of some common misconceptions.

First. Even a discussion about the 50+ market in general can lead you down the wrong path, as it’s comprised of multiple lifestyle and attitudinal segments. Working or retired, in good health or in need of care, kids at home or empty nesters – these are just a few of the variables that distinguish these sub-groups and impact the relevancy of your marketing.

Second. Older consumers buy the same brands they always have. If that was true, says Ken Dychtwald, a gerontologist who’s been studying seniors for 40 years, ” I would still be driving a Chevy Impala and wearing English Leather.” On the contrary, Baby Boomers might just be the single most vibrant and exciting consumer group in the world.

Third. Boomers and seniors are cheap. Wrong. Boomers spend more than any other group on leisure and lifestyle. Same when it comes to their pets (their kid and grandkid fill-ins). And a survey of 3,000 60+ consumers by consulting firm A.T. Kearney found they’re not particularly price sensitive. Reinforcing this point, consider that more than 40% of Apple products are bought by boomers, according to Nielsen.

The lesson to be learned is that getting caught up in the stereotypes that surround the 50+ market are detrimental to your business. Rather, to your great financial benefit, learn how to cultivate the relationships with these people who have many more years of living and spending ahead of them. Do this by moving beyond their “must-haves” and reminders that time is winding down to creating experience-rich products and services that respond to their wants and aspirations.

Can you fill the elusive sweet spot and be the friendliest 50+ brand in your category? You only have a global market worth $15 trillion by the end of the decade as your prize.

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Oct
24

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By 2016 the organic personal care sector is expected to reach over $11 billion in global sales, according to Organic Monitor and Mintel Research.  Why the vast growth?

Consumers Seek Healthier, Environmentally Friendly Options

The organic and natural personal care market continues to flourish as consumers seek out products that are deemed to be more natural and environmentally friendly – reflecting aspirations for better personal health and growing consumer awareness about the hazards of synthetic chemicals.  The cause for concern –  60-70% of the products we put on our skin are absorbed, and most contain chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and aluminum salts that are not only bad for us, but the environment.

Meeting Consumer Demand, Building Trust

After several years of challenges, including misuse of the term “organic” in brand names and product labels, things are taking off again thanks to new retail policies, formulation advancements, and product regulations.  Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand as we continue to see many startup companies and established category players moving into this sector – and skincare is leading the way with a 32% market share, followed by hair and color cosmetics.

So what should brand marketers consider when entering the organic personal care sector?

• Seal the deal.  Consumer trust is essential if you want your product to be part of the consideration set – over 50% of safety minded consumers want to see independent certification marks on organic products.  And, they’re not alone as retailers are taking a stance.  For example, Whole Foods Market implemented its organic personal care policy in September 2012, requiring brands making organic claims to obtain USDA Organic or NSF/ANSI 305 certifications. As a result, companies wanting to sell at Whole Foods had to either drop organic or become certified.

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With this, brands have begun to take different approaches to certifying their products – it’s not a one-size, fits-all approach:

– Nourish Organic and classic Dr. Bronner are leading the way, providing body care that meets the same USDA Organic standard as food, using exclusively agricultural ingredients.

– And others, such as Pangea, aren’t choosing just one certification – they are certifying different products to the appropriate label, a growing trend we see in the industry.

• Clinically validated organics.  The science behind the brand has become more critical.  Looking beyond the seal, personal care manufacturers are creating higher-performance products that are backed by clinical research giving them the ability to make active claims –again, reinforcing consumer trust and market buy-in.  Juicy Beauty is one good example of a skincare and beauty brand that touts their clinically validated products.

• Packaging true to brand values.  As organic products continue to multiply and become more upscale, brands are using package graphics, structures and materials to differentiate from both conventional products and their organic/natural counterparts.  Ample consideration is being given to consumer preference for packaging that stays “true” to core organic values (as revealed in a recent EcoFocus Worldwide survey) – over 73% of natural and organic shoppers try to buy products in packaging that’s refillable or reusable, and 78% try to buy products in recyclable packaging.

• Alternative Distribution Channels. Up until recently, it would have been unheard of for a distributor like Vitamin World to have luxury personal care products such as Organic Doctor on their shelves.  But times have changed, and for the better.  Distributors are taking a broader approach to health and wellness and are stocking their shelves to support their customers overall lifestyle needs.

Lessons Learned

Organic/natural leaning consumers have become evermore sophisticated, and understanding their need for brands that demonstrate transparency and integrity is key. They are looking for straightforward, honest answers from their brands, and can easily see through a brand fabricating a story vs. telling a true brand story.  Following these basic, but important principles will help your brand get the attention and following it deserves…and possibly the shelf space too!

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Oct
20

Who would have thought that our healthcare branding work would make it to prime time? Not featuring our advertising, but for our branding work for Orlando Health.

We had the good fortune to partner with the organization on its system-wide rebranding a few years ago. So who would have thought that settling in to watch Parks & Recreation this past week, we’d see our logo – adapted for the fictitious Montesian Memorial Hospital.

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I’m hoping that one of the director’s from the show can give me the name of one of the senior executives from Montesian, as they really need a new logo

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Oct
17

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Do your prospective customers deserve better marketing? Only you know the real answer.

Step back for a moment. If you were on the receiving end of your healthcare marketing –– would it matter to you? More specifically, would it teach you more? help you do more? help you distinguish, believe and trust more? inspire you to act?

Consider all the “must-do’s” that find their way into your organization’s marketing and creative process. Do they really reflect what people want and what your brand can genuinely do for them? Are they the things that lead you to making ideas that people pay attention to, are motivated by and inspired to act on – that build value for them and your organization.

Here are ten ideas that are guaranteed to get more people wrapped more tightly around your healthcare brand:

1. leverage a killer consumer insight (like Dove)
2. do more, talk less (like AmEx OPEN forum)
3. be more involving and engaging (like BUD Light)
4. be more useful (like Nike+)
5. be more interesting and exciting (like AXE)
6. deliver a better, branded, experience (like Zappos)
7. create ongoing surprise and delight (like Sharpie)
8. encourage conversation and sharing (like AXE)
9. let them see behind the curtain (like Zappos)
10. be more purpose-driven, and find ways for everyone to participate (like Tom’s Shoes)

The key to winning is creating marketing that matters. Unearthing what people need to feel better, look better and play better and then giving it to them. Are you?

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Oct
09

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Living in the digital age, your customers and prospects are subjected to an endless sea of information each and every second of every day.  Cutting through all of this noise can be a tough challenge for any brand marketer. One effective solution is the use of infographics.

Just about everywhere we look these days we see Infographics.  They are commonly used to translate complicated statistics or information into something that is simple, easy and desirable to visually digest.  Beyond the relevancy of your content, the success of an infographic is based on how well the information is represented and how visually stimulating it is.

Here are some tips for ensuring your infographic is successful and stands apart from the crowd:

  • Simplicity – If your infographic is too complicated you chance losing the attention of the viewer (who is also your prospect).  Try not to get too tempted by all the fancy design bells and whistles when creating your infographic, keep it to the facts and information.
  • Branding – Create a visual identity for your infographic that aligns with your brand so that it can quickly and effectively be distinguished from others and supports all of your other brand-building efforts.
  • Good Design – Don’t let free or inexpensive internet tools tempt you into creating your own infographics. There are core design principles that should be followed.  If you are not a designer, seek the help of one, there are no short cuts to good design.
  • Animation – An animated infographic opens more options; not only will your factual information be conveyed, but the medium also allows for a visual story to be told.  In turn, this helps keep the interest of your viewers which ensures your message will be received.
  • Spread the word – Now that you have your awesome infographic, it’s time to get it in front of as many eyes as you can through blogs, news sites, other third-party sites and social media channels.  All the links back to you and the posts you create to promote it, will boost your visibility and your SEO.

With both brand marketers and consumers having to deal with information overload, infographics remain an effective way to garner attention in a quick and compelling manner. In fact, you probably did not get this far through this blog post… I should have created an infographic about infographics instead!

 

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Oct
01

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Back in the 1800’s, Charles Darwin said “In the long history of humankind…those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

Fast forward a couple hundred years, and one major way marketing, and advertising in particular, have been forever changed in the new digital and social world is the immediacy in which we can get our messages out to the world. This has opened up a whole world of possibilities for relevant, real-time creative content. Not only for those producing it, but for those who are consuming, sharing and participating in it.

Here are just a few great examples of brands that have taken advantage of the immediate nature of social media in order to make more of an impact with their advertising.

Old Spice Guy Responds to Your Posts Live

Back in 2010 Old Spice began a campaign that featured their shirtless, debonaire spokesman responding to facebook posts and tweets live on video. The result fit the tone of the original campaign perfectly and their social media following skyrocketed. The chance to have your tweet or post incorporated into Old Spices hilarious commercials just minutes after you posted it was just too good for fans to pass up.

Real-time Marketing and the Super Bowl Blackout

It’s football season. My time of the year. What do people do when the most watched television event of the year is delayed due to a blackout? They take to social media to discuss it of course. Many brands used this as an opportunity to create viral ads surrounding the big game mishap. The most popular of these came from Oreo which tweeted an ad that read “you can still dunk in the dark”. Tide, budweiser and PBS all got in on the act as well. You can view a collection here of some of the most clever tweets from brands following the blackout.

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Denny’s Planned Spontaneity

Denny’s tweeted an ad mocking the new Gold iPhone 5s moments after it was officially announced to the world. Clearly they had time to plan the ad, as rumors had been swirling around for several weeks regarding the new gold iPhone. But the fact that there was no certainty to the truth in these rumors meant a traditional print ad would not be feasible. Instead, Denny’s was able to create the ad and keep it in their hip pocket. If the Gold iPhone was announced, they’d quickly post it through their channels for an instant viral success. If it was not announced, all they’d lose was the time to hammer out the idea (which is really never a waste of time).

Capitalizing on Historic Events

Pre-planned ads were also created to coincide with the birth of the royal baby in July. Like the Denny’s tweet, these ads were planned, but needed to be held onto right up until the birth was announced. The social media obsession over the royal baby seemed like a great opportunity for brands to grab some of their own attention. Fans, however, had mixed reactions to those brands trying to selfishly capitalize on this historic event. Some brands did manage to strike the right tone, while other came off as overly self-promotional.

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I think Charles Darwin had a good bit of foresight.

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Sep
23

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My career spans advertising account management, client-side marketing, global brand consulting and for the past 13 years, owner of branding and marketing firm Trajectory. The common denominator has been a focus on brands – creating, managing, growing and nurturing them.

So this cartoon from Tom Fishburne – Where Complacent Brands Go – really hits home. First, because we pour all of our energy each and every day into helping clients shape and guide the trajectory of their brands. Second, because we’re not quite sure if this reciprocal “brand” passion and commitment (sometimes perceived as distinct, or as a discretionary add-on, from growing business) always resides in the hearts of brand marketers and their leadership teams.

As per the cartoon, the complacent brands graveyard is filled with tombstones that read:

– Analysis Paralysis
– Followed the Same Strategy Year After Year
– Didn’t Take Challengers Seriously
– Dismissed Anything New As A Fad
– Stuck In The Status Quo

Now for those gravestones off in the distance whose messages you can’t make out, here’s what they actually say:

– Thought Brand Was A Luxury
– Didn’t See It Coming
– Could’t Afford To Invest (R.I.P.)
– Didn’t Think We Needed To (And Didn’t) Invest
– Thought We Could Do It Ourselves
– Assumed That Will Never Work
– Maybe In The Next Budget Cycle
– But It’s Never Been Done Before
– We Know What Our Customers Want

But life doesn’t have to end this way. You steer the fate of your brands. Let these unfortunate outcomes be your guide. Let them inspire you to take the other path that can lead to brand (customer and business) prosperity.

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Sep
19

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Setting: A Dinner Party

At a recent dinner party (gluten-free fare I may add), a group of us were discussing the highly popular topic of how we are all trying to live healthier and more active lives – especially when compared to the (silent) generation that came before us. As a highly charged and active “beginner” boomer myself, I reflected on how I constantly remind myself that my physical and emotional health are inextricably linked to my quality of life, and ultimate longevity.

Advancing Total Health and Wellbeing

I, like others I know, proactively participate in preventive care and wellness activities to ensure I stay on course in managing my health. Because better health means better life (at least to me). And maybe this important lesson has been influenced by my years of brand marketing work for various health and wellness clients who are now increasingly focused on advancing total health and wellbeing (doesn’t hurt that health care reform is rewarding quality outcomes for this new model of care).

But I also know that better health (which enables active living) is only part of the equation for happiness (mine at least). In both my professional and personal life, how I look is also inextricably linked to how I feel (both inside and out). It can’t be overlooked that the ever-growing and ever fascinating world of anti-aging products and health services is geared to people just like me – those who want to feel empowered to take charge to ensure that what you see on the outside matches how you feel on the inside.

This idea is reinforced every day, at every turn (online, in beauty publications, on TV, at retail) as we see the endless barrage of consumer products and health-related solutions that promise to turn back the hands of time, or at least make them stand still. And many of them do, having branded and marketed several over the years, from the most advanced anti-aging skincare Remergent and Glissandra and beauty devices like the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser to the latest anti-aging hair care products, organic supplements (we’re launching a new line in 2014), and dietary trends (organic and gluten-free are just two of them).

Back To The Dinner Party

Now that brings me back to the original dinner party conversation that triggered the discussion of living a healthier and more active life. While sipping my cocktail (also gluten-free), an acquaintance asked me what our agency did. After explaining that Trajectory charts the course and creates the momentum, that vital energy, a brand needs to connect with its consumers (strategically and creatively) for businesses in three (discreet yet interconnected) sectors – health and wellness, personal care and beauty, and leisure and lifestyle – the next logical question was why those industries.

After underscoring our collective team’s experience and passion for these spaces (we do live what we market) – to me, the ‘sweet spot’ between these categories seemed obvious. But it was not, and the conversation then centered on the premise that the consumer for these different offerings (whether health carepersonal careleisure) is generally interested in some level of self-improvement, enhancement and/or fulfillment.

Feeling Better + Looking Better = Playing Better

There is common ground that we can learn from and appeal to. Feeling better (great health is key to so much in life), and looking better (feeling in control and the best possible you), allows us all to enjoy life and the things we covet doing (whether travel is your passion or golf or running – or all three for me!). These three principles aren’t mutually exclusive yet they aren’t necessarily required for every client we work with. It is simply a different way of looking through the lens to understand what impacts our quality of life (and mine as a boomer consumer) and how we (as an agency) can make a difference in the lives of our client’s brands, and their customers. In the end, it’s all about being a healthier and happier you!

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Sep
12

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Wellness – defined by the World Health Organization as “an optimal state of health,” concerning an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of being.  For reasons unsurprising (e.g. the obesity epidemic, outrageous healthcare costs, the 50+ segment which is the largest demographic in the U.S.), wellness living has made its way into the corporate and cultural mainstream. 

The healthcare industry is transitioning from a “fix-it” to a “prevent-it” model (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, account for 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent on healthcare).  Both Mayo Clinic and closer to home Morristown Medical Center of Atlantic Health System are just two of the many healthcare organizations offering wellness solution programs for corporations aimed at enhancing overall wellbeing of employees (and therefore leading to greater productivity and lower healthcare expenditures).

We’re seeing industries blending together to offer cross-discipline services.  Fitness centers now offer spa/salon services (in addition to nutritional counseling and recreational programs), grocery stores are opening spas, spas position themselves as places to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul versus a place to simply get pampered – even giving birth to “wellness tourism.”

Opportunities for Brands and Marketers

Positioning. Brands that position themselves as wellness-focused (with multiple benefits) will be able to capture a larger audience – both the already healthy, looking to live optimally, as well as the chronically ill.  As an example, Aetna has begun to position themselves as a “health solutions and technology company, rather than just an insurer.”  As part of its strategy, Aetna has developed and implemented CarePass, a wellness application for consumers, available to both members and non-members for free, and has spent the last several years acquiring IT-related companies.

Marketing Communications & Actions. Crafting a life of wellness is fun and exciting. This vibrant energy needs to be reflected (so consumers can see themselves) in all cross-channel communications. Marketers can also (and more importantly) help educate consumers about wellness living and create tools/applications to aid them through their journey to optimal living. I’m a personal fan of Kashi, and appreciate the education they deliver through their Natural Living Library and Recipes We Love.

According to a HealthLeaders article based on a survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, “employees love wellness programs.  Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.  And incentives play a big role in employee motivation—61% of employees credit the incentive as the key reason for participating.”

Partnerships. Having one singularly focused offering is not enough. Consumers want the whole package. They want to receive care for their mind, body, and spirit in ONE place. Companies that excel in one particular industry should consider creating mutually beneficial and value-creating relationships. For example, NATIRAR, known for it exceptional dining experience is teaming up with Miraval Spa so that the brand may aspire to its vision of providing nourishment for the mind, body, and soul to its customers.

A Change In Philosophy

Several years ago when I had worked for an integrative health practitioner (aka. a nutritionist), I was introduced to the idea of “wellness”.  At the time, I didn’t consider myself unhealthy, but I wasn’t living optimally.  So, I gave “wellness” living a try, reluctantly at first, but eventually embracing it whole-heartedly.  I began reading food labels, went from eating fast food/takeout to cooking almost every meal with organic/natural products, and sleeping earlier, made healthier lifestyle decisions that I knew would contribute to my overall happiness and wellbeing.

My philosophy for living has changed and with it, my purchasing decisions and behaviors.  I am not a singular phenomenon.  This shift towards wellness is not a trend, it’s a change in philosophy and it’s here to stay.

 

 

 

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