Voice of a Generation


Episode 12. Today, we are speaking with the diversely talented and always entertaining Erica Ehm, CEO and Creative Director at Ehm & Co. In this video, Erica discusses everything from her time as a MuchMusic VJ in the 80s to the launch of her Yummy Mummy Club empire. And, how being authentic, and earning consumer trust, is imperative for Brands.

You can access our full Cup of Jo playlist on Youtube. Be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel to receive notifications when we publish new content. Prefer podcasts? You can download every Cup of Jo episode on iTunes, Google Play or Soundcloud.

Grab a coffee and take it all in.

 

[Michael Chase]
You and I go way back so I’ll enter the way back machine for a second. What it’s like to be the voice of a generation in the 80s on Much Music.

[Erica Ehm]
I actually had no idea and I would walk down the street and for some reason people started to stop me in the street and say “Oh my God, I used to love you.” I’d say used to? “Oh my God, my husband had such a crush.” Tell him I’m still hot. I didn’t realize that the memories and the connection were so strong with people. It’s been great for my career because I think back then I earned a lot of trust because I was authentic before it was okay to be authentic. I think that at MuchMusic is what really resonated with people. Moses picked people who were the real thing.

[Michael Chase]
Culturally, and I know Moses was great at this, like going “you, you, you” and then putting together this community. When I say culturally, it’s really important in business today when you look at brands and marketing to find the right talent that supports and stands for what you do. How important was that with the collective like City and Much at the time?

[Erica Ehm]
What Moses did is he built a community, specifically a music community, pop culture community and then CityTV was the Toronto community. Today what brands want and really need is a real connection and you can’t fake connection. You can’t buy connection. It has to be real.

[Michael Chase]
Let’s talk a bit about your pivot to the world of your agency Ehm & Co, the Yummy Mummy Club. How did the pivot start? How did you get there?

[Erica Ehm]
I would like to say that I was a genius, but really I was a shitty mother or I felt like it and I do a lot of talks and I was at a talk and I was telling people that it was challenging for me as a former TV host that because I had a child and that I was a little older and perhaps not as beautiful as people remembered me that people weren’t that interested in what I had to say. I said you know I’ve built up quite an ability to be on camera, and I miss it. Someone in the audience said “I’m a TV producer,” and I said “like, you’re 12.” I went and she said “no really, I’m a TV producer” so I went up to her after and I said okay well what do you got? She gave me her business card, which in fact was scrunched up and had someone else’s phone number written on it and I pitched her an idea called Yummy Mummy.

The concept being that everyone is worried about the kids so there are all these parenting shows. How to take care of your children, but what about the caregiver? What about mothers? For people like me, type A, I didn’t hold a lot of babies. I never raised a child before. I had no idea what to expect. I wanted someone to help me survive the roller coaster of motherhood. This was 13 years ago, where at that time I think people were still perpetuating this myth that motherhood was completely natural and that you adapt to motherhood automatically and most of us were drowning and all of us feeling bad about ourselves.

The TV show went really well. I did it for a couple of seasons and when the show ended I was not done. Really that’s all it was. I needed to find community and my mom was saying why don’t you start a little website? It wasn’t a business. I just wanted to connect with other moms.

[Michael Chase]
Fast forward to today from that little idea and what does it look like?

[Erica Ehm]
The fact that people know Yummy Mummy Club to me is the greatest accomplishment of my life. I built it into a wonderful, important community for moms by moms. I find that in the world of advertising, and in life as well, moms get a bad rap. People look at moms as almost invisible so they’re not taking into consideration that these women are highly educated, who are taking care of a family-

[Michael Chase]
And humans, too.

[Erica Ehm]
… and full humans. I think that that was a big miss for a lot of brands. I think that they’re starting just now. That’s 13 years after I sort of got into the mom business.

[Michael Chase]
Who’s doing it right? What brands out there are speaking to moms the right way?

[Erica Ehm]
I think the first thing to note is that the brands who are getting it aren’t just speaking to moms, they’re speaking to parents; so moms and dads. For example, Cheerios had a really cool activation called the Cheerios Challenge. They had this really silly thing where they asked dads to build towers of Cheerios on their sleeping kids. It went, obviously, viral. It was so cute. All these beautiful sleeping faces with towers of Cheerios on them.

That was so great because what they’re saying is dads like to play and be silly and have fun, but there’s nothing more beautiful than a sleeping kid and dads we want to talk to you. That was great.

There’s a new ad from Tylenol with a man who’s getting ready in the morning. Someone knocks on the door and a woman is standing with her child and she says can you take him I have to get to work. Obviously, they’re divorced or separated and you see a new type of family, a new type of relationship where the dad happily takes his son, mom runs off to work, kid’s happy. That’s a new family.

[Michael Chase]
How important is “kidfluence” in the world of marketing, I won’t go to moms, to parents today?

[Erica Ehm]
There’s no denying that kids can push their parents to buy crap, no doubt about it. I think that as a marketer you also have to sort of attack both demographics because really, in the end, it’s the mom who has the control.

[Michael Chase]
You sit on the Mattel Global Advisory Board for the evolution of Barbie. That’s a massive amount of gravatas because you cannot screw up Barbie. What does that look like?

[Erica Ehm]
Mattel was freaking out because the market share for Barbie is plummeting. Their values that Barbie represents are not actually in keeping with mom’s wants for girls now so they had to change. What they did I think was somewhat revolutionary. They completely changed the shape of Barbie. Now think about that in terms of cost. They’ve had one standard cost for 50 years. They now had to build how many different models? Suddenly all the clothes don’t fit. That was a huge thing to take on, but I don’t know if it’s too little, too late.

[Michael Chase]
What do you think the one thing brands can do to change the way they engage with people?

[Erica Ehm]
Well, you just said the word: engage. Marketing today is relationship marketing. If you’re on their Facebook page, are they just showing you the latest crap about them or are they asking you questions? Are they giving you opportunities to be a part of their community in a meaningful way?

Now, tell us how we can help