Attending 'She Suite in Color' with ThinkLA

Shera White | Sep. 25 2020

This week I attended ThinkLA’s She Suite in Color event, and it was definitely a great start to my day. It was my first time ever attending a webinar—it was insightful and powerful. The panelists were a range of expert Black women who shared their stories, advice, and knowledge on growing in the industry. They started off with a discussion on dealing with a health pandemic and social injustice. They also talked about the fundamental importance of how to make sure you break the concrete ceiling, and the value of external mentorship, and teaching others. 
 
They touched on how media is constantly changing and the importance of staying educated and taking courses to keep up (it’s a must), and how networking is often overlooked because everyone is so busy, but building relationships with people is a good way to get recognized. 
 
As I was chatting with my colleague Maria Favela after the event, something that really resonated for both of us was a point made by Pauline Malcolm, Head of Advertising Sales, Western Region, at Quibi, which was to think of yourself as a brand and what you want people to say about you when you leave the room. It was about being able to speak up about your accomplishments and not shy away from “the humblebrag” — because you need advisors advocating for you inside and outside of the room, and for that to happen, you need to be bold, know your own value and speak to your own strengths. 
 
I also had the opportunity to ask all three ladies a question about something I’ve often experienced, “ Have you ever found yourself having to ask the same question over and over about inequities and concerns in the workplace or just in general? Women of color don’t get a serious response to our concerns. How can we be taken more seriously as women of color?” 

“I had to learn how to maneuver the conversation and ask the question. I would be asking questions, there would be a lot of conversation and I would leave the meeting and realize I didn’t have my question answered. So I had to learn (how to) not leave the room until those questions were answered. And developing the ability to do that in a way that didn’t make whomever I was speaking to defensive or angry was something that took me quite a while to learn."

That was Esther “ET” Franklin’s response, and that goes back to what Pauline emphasized. Learning that skill comes down to really understanding your value and the respect we all deserve to insist on our concerns being heard and addressed. Overall, I had such a great time and I would like to thank The (wonderful) Many for the opportunity to attend!! And now you can watch the full event below and hear my question for yourself at 56:09!
 
The Panelists:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QORkNXld_60

Shera White is project manager and front of house at The Many.

How Stress and Uncertainty Are Changing Media (and how media has saved us from quarantine)

Jaclyn VanSloten | Sep. 22 2020

I was recently inspired to pen another piece for Muse by Clio that sums up my observations as a media professional during these crazy, Covid times. Keep reading below for the story as originally published in Muse, or click on over to their site to learn about my “expressions of the fight against existential angst.”
 
When asked on a plane, I am always a little reluctant to reveal what I do for a living. For every wide-eyed, gushing response about how sexy an advertising job is in LA, I get an equally polarized response blaming me for the “annoying YouTube ads” that plague my flight companion’s daily consumption of cat videos. More often than not, my crusading response on how advertising plays a much larger philosophical role in society, falls on deaf ears. The good news is that I am not flying much these days, no one is.
 
On March 19th, California ordered the first “Shelter in Place” in the US; the remaining states’ orders fell like dominos. In an instant, we all went into quarantine. Our lives did a complete one-eighty, but we didn’t fully understand the impact. It was impossible for there not to be ramifications; we just couldn’t predict them, yet.
 
During every major global crisis, media has played an essential role battling a shared enemy; an eventual paradigm shift was the result. Media’s role in the 2001 “War on Terror” was to keep the public informed amongst national insecurity. Empowered with information, the public was willing to give up a degree of privacy, a shift that has become a “new norm” today. In the 2008 Great Recession, media exposed Wall Street, holding them accountable for their errors. Disillusionment with “the system” emerged and the paradigm shifted from career to the ‘gig’ economy.(1) COVID is unique in that there is no common, shared ‘enemy’. What role does media play in a global crisis that is as psychological as it is physical?
 
I am a firm believer that emotions drive action. This isn’t just media, this is life. We are not rational beings. Ask the psychology experts: Kahneman, Nisbett. Ask Dubner and Levitt. Principles unearthed from their research labs can be generalized to society at large. And the truth is: we are not really in control. One of the most significant outcomes of COVID was removing the facade of control and cloaking us in a degree of uncertainty, the very condition we try to avoid at all costs. We hate uncertainty so much that research shows we actually prefer predictable negative actions over uncertain outcomes.(2) 
 
In one important study, volunteers played a computer game where turning over rocks that may have snakes under them caused an electric shock. The researchers were able to ‘fix’ the probability of uncovering a snake. The main finding was that the greatest stress response (sweat) arose when players were the most unsure if they would uncover a snake; even more so than if they were almost certain they would find a snake. 

“As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground -- something predictable and safe to stand on -- seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.” - Pema Chödrön

To compound this effect, we know that uncertainty breeds stress, and stress breeds action. Think about this in your own life. I live in LA. Enter stereotypical traffic metaphor— when I’m early (admittedly, a rarity), I don’t think much about driving, I go “with the flow.” But if Google tells me I am going to be seven minutes late, this is where it gets interesting. I will do everything humanly possible to outsmart Google and cut time. I will weave in traffic, run that border-line ‘pink’ light, take that side road. Uncertainty breeds action. 
 
Everyone knows that stress response takes two relatively predictable forms: fight or flight. Since COVID is a ubiquitous, complex threat with no one source, the traditional forms of stress responses do not work. As a result, we try to control (equivalent to fight) or distract (equivalent to flight). Media habits are one form of how these drives are expressed. 
 
Think about your media consumption over the past four months. When quarantine hit, you were ready to crush quarantine life. You set-up your quarantine goals list, devoured the news, forensically researched DIY projects, gathered health and wellness info and hoarded recipes. You were vying for control using media. 
 
Maybe you also binged Tiger King, challenged the fam in a Blinding Lights dance-off, signed up for as many subscription services you could manage or connected the only way you knew how, through Instagram or Fortnite. Maybe you even got caught with a Wood meme (or two, if you were unlucky). These are all forms of distraction; a coping mechanism. 
 
You probably even oscillated between these stress responses, vying for control and distraction. 
 
The trends reflected that we were grasping for answers in a state of uncertainty; media consumption skyrocketed, especially in digital, connected TV and social. In an early April report, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans reported increased use of communications technology, especially video streaming on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other services.(3) How these channels were used may have differed, but it was all in response to the same emotion: uncertainty. Then something changed, people settled into their uncertainty; consumption flattening out. In late April, about half of Americans said they were limiting time with media.(4)  Uncertainty dissipated, at least a bit. The response actions became internalized; they have become a habit.
 
Lally said it takes 66 days to form a habit. What does this mean for the “new normal?” Quarantine has gone on too long to not have a permanent impact. It would be naive to believe things will return to how they were. But one certain outcome is that our relationship with media has changed. COVID is so ubiquitous that no one has been left unaffected. Day-to-day experimentation is sticking. Subscription sign-ups will be maintained. Heavy social and connected TV consumption will continue as the economy remains sluggish. The world will become increasingly digital in a way that we might not even recognize yet, especially in the realm of human connection. On-demand, personalization and ‘access’ will flourish. 
 
As old realities are brought back into the fold of our day-to-day lives, we will re-negotiate media’s purpose. Our new habits will become our lifestyle. Looking back, we might not be able to pinpoint the exact moment it all changed, but we will forever remember the “invisible enemy” that upended life as we once knew it. Ultimately, during this time, we have been at war with our own psychology, and media gave us a degree of certainty as the world stood still. Is it too big to say that media saved us as we fell into a cyclone of vast existential uncertainty? Am I being overtly biased, painfully self-interested and completely naive? F*ck it. Amidst a global pandemic, media saved us.  

(1) Canvas8 Pandemic Culture Powerpoint (2020)
(2) de Berker, A., Rutledge, R., Mathys, C. et al. Computations of uncertainty mediate acute stress responses in humans. Nat Commun 7, 10996 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10996
(3) Digital News Daily (April 2020); IAB, USC Study Reveals Rapid Shifts In Consumer Behavior Due To COVID-19
(4) Mindshare Wave 7 Report (April 2020) ;https://www.mindshareworld.com/usa/news/our-covid-19-research-wave-7?utm_source=podnews.net&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=podnews.net%3A2020-04-30

Jackie VanSloten is Associate Media Director at The Many

Why I Need a Creative Practice as a Media Person (and how you can have one too)

Caroline Tambling | Sep. 18 2020

Like many others, my experience thus far in 2020 has been a bit of a blur. Time seems to move so slow and fast simultaneously. By Wednesday, I feel I have lived 2 weeks in three days, and yet here we are already in September. Our agency made the decision to gift us with the full Labor Week off to take a mental health break. While we may feel like we can continue chugging along full steam ahead, the step of taking a pause to process and refuel on energy is so vital to a sustainable work life. Which is exactly what I did.
 
During Labor Week, I dove back into my creative practice. Perhaps I should mention I work in our media group, pulling raw data, crunching numbers, and gleaning insights from performance. And yet, I dedicated some of my free time to flexing that creative muscle.
 
The truth of media, and one of the reasons I keep coming back, is that it requires both left and right sides of the brain. It’s equal parts arts & science. Beyond the impressions and cost pers, there is a creativity to how we approach the planning process. How do we see beyond ourselves and understand the audience and what drives them? In a world filled with clutter, how do you capture someone’s attention in a way that feels authentic and genuine? We are problem solvers. We take puzzle pieces that frequently change shape and explore new ways to solve it. Creativity is table stakes for any successful person in Media.
 
Any sport requires practice. Long distance runners set their schedule with a mix of runs and strength training. Basketball players practice drills and shoot the ball hundreds of times. For me, I have to build up my creative practice if I want creativity to flow easily. To be clear, I’m not likely to win any awards or have an art installation in a gallery. My creative outlet is something small—I have to master how to dribble before advancing to layups. 
 
There are ways for all of us to fit a creative practice into the week. It could be so small—wake up each day and create a small doodle of what you dreamt. Take up watercolors and frame an abstract little painting on your desk. Find something that feels within reach that can help you build confidence in your ability to stretch your creative muscle. Over time your creativity will strengthen and grow, allowing you to explore new aspects in both personal and professional spheres.
 
I’m a firm believer that crafting should be two things: 1) accessible and 2) not-stressful. I suppose the third thing would be something that’s easy to start and stop at a moment’s notice. I recall one of my middle school art projects involved creating a loom out of cardboard for a simple weaving project. This is about the level of creativity I can invoke while working from home, so I figured I’d give this a shot. In case you too want to relive your formative creative years, here’s a quick how-to for getting set up.
 
DIY Cardboard Loom Instructions:

Step 1: Cut a rectangle out of cardboard. I’d recommend using one of those boxes from one of the products you bought off Instagram during the early days of quarantine. As the saying goes, size doesn’t matter here.

Step 2: Using a ruler and pen (or eyeball it if you are feeling confident), draw a ½ to 1 inch border on all sides of the cardboard. This ensures you have ample space for the tabs and offers forgiveness for the questionable ends of the cardboard you cut out with rusty scissors.

Step 3: From here it’s time mark across the top and bottom lines with ¼ – ⅜ inch lines. Cut from the bottom up to your border for each mark. These cardboard strips will be what holds your warp strings (the vertical string that is basically the foundation to your weaving).

Step 4: And that’s it! Your cardboard loom is constructed. You can now take a sturdy yarn and thread it through the loom. Tape off the starter on the back side and pull it through the first cardboard strip. Take the string from the first strip on the top and pull it through and around the corresponding strip at the bottom. Repeat this process until your warp string is set, taping the excess to the back or tying it off.

I’d take you through the weaving process with your weft string (the active string you are weaving across the warp string on your loom), but honestly I’m not qualified to teach those details as I’m still learning myself. There are tons of qualified fiber artists on the interwebs who offer incredible step-by-step instruction for this process. Many also sell starter kits in case you want to advance from cardboard to an actual frame loom. And in a year like 2020, finding ways to support artists while embracing your own creative practice seems like a win-win to me.

Caroline Tambling is a Media Supervisor at The Many.

AIGA LA Guest Speaker Jorge Andrade on Diversity in the Workplace

Amanda Cosindas | Jul. 10 2020

Tomorrow, Jorge Andrade, The Many’s Associate Director of Design, will be the guest speaker for AIGA LA’s Community Meeting focused on diversity in the workplace.
 
AIGA LA is committed to building a well-connected design community to have a stronger impact on society. Their community meetings are an “opportunity to connect with like-minded creative professionals, learn new skills, and discover new relationships and opportunities within the creative community.”
 
The event is free and will take place at 11:00AM PDT. Click here to register, and here’s a preview of what to expect:
 
“Join us from the comfort of your couch as we chat with award-winning designer Jorge Andrade, Head of Design at The Many Agency in LA. The Many recently shared the diversity of their workplace and committed to change along with Six Hundred & Rising. We’ll be discussing what an inclusive creative culture looks like and how to build it.”
 
To get to know Jorge a bit more prior to the event, read his story about being a Dreamer under the DACA program and how his experience as an immigrant amidst the ongoing shifts around immigration policy has shaped who he is today.

Transparency in an Industry That Hasn’t Done Enough

Christian Jacobsen | Jun. 18 2020

In 2019, our agency went through a transformation—rebranding ourselves from Mistress to The Many. That name change was born out of a spirit and core belief that our strength as creative problem solvers is the result of our many diverse experiences, talents, backgrounds and expertise; that greatness is never achieved in isolation.
 
We believe that mantra has never been more true than now. And that if we are to see true progress and the dismantling of systemic racism, it’s going to take all of us, together.
 
It’s become incumbent upon us to look at our own name, not just as a reflection of who we are, but who we still strive to become: an agency and industry of many more diverse voices.
 
Our commitment to diversifying our industry begins with transparency. So we’d like to share an honest look at the fabric of our agency. Not just to be open about who we are, but to be clear in our commitment about who we must become.
 
Together with Six Hundred & Rising, we commit to change.

Influencer Marketing and Brand Impact During COVID-19

Alyssa DeSangro | Jun. 2 2020

Amidst the smog of COVID-19, brands and advertisers have been reassessing their objectives and strategies. Along with first-hand experience in crisis management, we are leaning on news, research and reports to validate or debunk our thoughts. From linear to streaming to OOH, we’ve seen immediate implications due to our current climate and are being flooded with publisher trends on the matter. However, perhaps the one advertising tactic that isn’t as obvious, is influencer marketing. 
 
While brands reconfigure current campaigns, they should take a deeper look at the influencer marketing strategies they are using currently and have previously leveraged. In doing this, they can uncover brand perception, observe attitudinal shifts in influencer consumer relationships, and unlock ways to connect with influencers and their following. This is essential in providing more personal guidelines on how to step back into reality, whatever reality may be at the end of this. 
 
For brands with live influencer marketing campaigns, what are the risks and rewards of advertising during COVID-19?
 
What we know is that consumers have leaned more and more on influencers as a trusted source of information (no thanks to the idea that mainstream media is full of “fake news”). This makes it even more important to look at how that influencer is connecting with their audience. Is it sensitive? Is it a hard sell? What is the sentiment of their engagement? And how could this positively or negatively affect your brand’s perception through the eyes of that influencer’s following? For those who do this well, your brand is in excellent hands, as influencers are arguably the closest your brand can get to a consumer.
 
Furthermore, with production dramatically affected by social distancing guidelines, influencers are more powerful than ever as a resource for content creation. The more an influencer maintains their authenticity and vulnerability, connects with their following and curates content, the more trust they gain from those that follow. However, the consequences of those who fall short of this could be devastating for your brand. 
 
For brands with a long-standing influencer partnership, with no live campaigns, how could an influencer’s notorious association impact the brand? 
 
The implications for this scenario are the exact same, because as consumers, this relationship between brand and influencer never dissipates for us. 
 
So what does this mean for influencer marketing during COVID-19 and beyond? Right now, it’s important to keep up with your influencer network, past and present. Just as they’ve been a representative and voice for your brand up to this point, it is more important than ever that they are authentic, yet tactful. On the flip side, it is equally as important that brands show up and support their partners. This is a defining moment in time. The loyalty brands exemplify during a crisis builds much needed trust.
 
Looking to the future of influencer marketing, while it’s in flux right now, it’s not going anywhere. 
 
However, the current climate and looming grief hanging over society raises the possibility that this advertising medium will see a shift much like other mediums. There will be prevalence for those who influence effectively. But on the other side of that, we may find a bigger barrier of skepticism for brands and future influencer partners to overcome in order to gain the same trust that was more easily won by fans pre-Coronavirus. And while this is very likely the course in which influencer marketing was heading to begin with, COVID-19 will be the ultimate catalyst for change.

Alyssa DeSangro is Associate Media Director at The Many.

Unlocking the Creative Potential in Paid Social for Social Media Week's Virtual Conference

Kristin "KB" Busk | May. 15 2020

Tomorrow we’ll be participating in Social Media Week’s first-ever virtual conference, #SMWONE. We’re excited to return this year to host a panel — Breaking Ads: Unlocking the Creative Potential in Paid Social. As Director of Social Innovation here at The Many, I’ll be your co-host, along with our Media Director, Alex Barnes. (Alex and I also share a birthday, and more or less, are the same person.)
 
In addition to having a lot of fun, our goal is to challenge the entire industry to step out of the traditional day-to-day marketing mindset and expand the definition of the paid social ad unit. Joining us will be Sam Christie, West Coast Lead, Global Business Solutions at TikTok US, Tuck Ross, SVP Marketing at CareCredit, and Rob Schlissel, Marketing and Partnerships Senior Director and Senior Producer at Shorty Awards. 
 
Here’s a peek at what our session is all about, and if you’d like to join us, go here, click the button to attend and enter the promo code SMWKB1speaker at checkout for 20% off!

BREAKING ADS: UNLOCKING THE CREATIVE POTENTIAL IN PAID SOCIAL
 
You’ve been briefed in on the media plan and you’re off to start creative for your paid social posts. You’re sticking to best practices and creating your messaging hierarchy. You’ve featured the product, but only just enough. Your brand name is highlighted in the first five seconds of your ad, there’s a hint of lifestyle and a dash of tagline. You’ve followed the traditional steps to fit into the paid media mold depending on where you are in the funnel. But the question remains, did you tap into all of the magical possibilities that exist in social to make paid ads that break through and deliver value?
 
As marketers, it’s up to us to use each platform for its unique strengths and make ads that resonate in crowded feeds. With media consumption changing on the heels of COVID-19, paid social will continue growing to become more integrated into the human experience. And especially now, it should be just as aspirational, reassuring and entertaining as any other form of content.
 
In this session, we’ll analyze the paid social formula and discuss how to create an innovative new playbook infused with the creative edge that marketers and consumers crave. We’ll hear directly from the people who are throwing traditional practices out the window to set new, adventurous and innovative platform-specific standards. 
 
Tune in at 3:00PM PST tomorrow for more!

Why Coke in the UK Has It All Wrong

Jens Stoelken | Apr. 7 2020

Today, Ad Age published a story titled “History Shows Marketers Who Keep Spending During Downturns Fare Much Better.” I couldn’t agree more, and I’d go even further to say that, during a crisis, we need to go beyond what’s best for the health of the brand and look at the well-being of the consumer. Brands need to step up and step in where hope is needed, but not all of them are.
 
These are crazy times. With no concrete end to COVID-19 in sight, the long-term implications this will have on our daily lives are unknown. I understand that it’s extremely challenging for anyone to determine what to do next. Brands included. But that doesn’t mean the answer is doing nothing, like Coca-Cola Great Britain. That’s right, Campaign recently reported that Coke in the UK would be suspending all of its Q2 brand marketing efforts with Q3 currently “under review.”
 
Really? That can’t be the best they’ve got.
 
There are certain brands that we count on to make us feel good during universal moments that unite the world, and Coca-Cola is one of those brands. Whether it’s polar bears giving us that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling during the Christmas season or an ode to “America The Beautiful” drumming up Olympic pride across the U.S., Coke has the power to bring us together like few brands can. So, where is the rallying cry we need now? It must go beyond a new “socially distanced” logo.
 
Fight, don’t flight: I realize Coca-Cola in the UK is just one piece of a much larger network. But now is not the time for any division of a brand with such reach and size to halt all Q2 marketing activities. As a massive global brand, now is the time to lead the way.
 
People need leaders. Politicians are wavering and indecisive in action, and celebrities are exposed and criticized for their lack of emotional support and awareness despite good intentions (cue Gal Gadot’s assemble cover of ‘Imagine’ that became “proof that even if no one meets up in person, horribleness can spread” – yikes).
 
Enter brands, our everyday companions who are stepping up to be those leaders in today’s Coronavirus world. Burger King changed its sick leave policies, Crocs donated thousands of pairs of shoes to frontline healthcare workers, Sam’s Club handed the spotlight over to the real people working behind the scenes to keep the world moving, and one of our very own clients, Chameleon Cold-Brew, delivered coffee to hospitals across the U.S.
You can do this, too, Coke, even in the UK. In fact, you can be doing this everywhere.
Brand communication is more important now than ever. Inspire us, invest in us, teach us, help guide us. Live up to your reputation and even make it even stronger while you have the chance. And consider how your actions trickle down. This goes for everyone.
In a world that feels like it’s crumbling, it’s the Coca-Cola’s that can use the power of communication to become a beacon of hope to light the way. Maybe Coke has other plans to do something profound for the world—I hope they prove me wrong. In any case, it’s time to “open happiness” in a whole new way. We’re waiting.
Jens Stoelken is a founding partner at The Many.

Staying Creative While Working From Home

Amanda Cosindas | Apr. 2 2020

We are doing our part at The Many to “flatten the curve” in the fight against COVID-19 by working from home. While going to the office isn’t essential right now, creativity is. But some say working from home is good for productivity, not for creativity. As an agency full of creative humans, we say, nonsense.
 
In fact, creative director Josh Paialii says he’s up for the challenge, and that sometimes the best creativity can even happen in solitude. He’s done it before throughout his freelance years and while working remotely between The Many’s L.A. and Boston offices. According to Josh, some basics always hold true for staying both creative and productive. The caveat? It doesn’t always come easy at first, so remember to keep your optimism up.
 
Keep your morning routine:
Wake up, get dressed. Take the dog out at the same time as usual. Go for a run at the same time. Don’t change the way you start your day. It makes a difference.
 
Work your schedule:
Figure out when you do your best work, and block your calendar to prioritize your craft. Then schedule your calls and Hangouts around that. But don’t forget to stay connected to your team—video/FaceTime even if you don’t have to, even more important at a time like this.
 
Trade in “cooler time”:
There’s a fair amount of time spent at the office not really working, chatting around the coffee pot or in hallways. And that takes time and energy. Add that up and give yourself some quality time at home in exchange. Tuning in can be primetime for creative exploration—read, watch documentaries or rob banks in Red Dead Redemption 2. Sometimes that’s when you’ll do your best thinking.
 
Get back to basics:
Put the computer away and change your location. Write with a pen and paper. Get a whiteboard. Concept with and without the screen. You might like working from your patio that much more.
 
With all that said, it’s important to keep our spirits up. One of our agency values is really working for us right now—optimism wins. Because when things are outside of our control, the optimistic path is the way to go.
 
Read the full piece and what other industry leaders have to say in Muse by Clio.

Growing Up In Advertising, Literally: An Interview Between Daughter and Dad

Michael Chiem | Jan. 21 2020

Our director of project management, Iman Forde, has over 20 years experience in advertising. OK, we realize that doesn’t make much sense since Iman is just shy of 30 years-old, but that’s because she was born into the industry. Quite literally!
 
The daughter of Benjamin Forde, a young single dad who, at the time of her birth, was finishing art school, Iman spent her early years by his side. She walked with him during his graduation, and when he started out as a young creative, she ventured to the office with him to make “camping beds” for naps and eat late-night dinners with creative teams who spoiled her with hot chocolate. Little did they know, those precious early days would be Iman’s foray into her own advertising career.
 
What she (somewhat surprisingly) learned alongside her dad’s experience between France, Mexico, the Middle East, Asia and the US, was that the advertising industry can be a welcoming and nurturing place for those looking to balance single parenthood and a career, as long as you have the will and determination to figure it out. And despite a few rebellious teenager years during which she swore she’d never work in the industry, her fond memories were enough to bring her back to the ad world.
 
In this story for Muse by Clio, Iman interviews her dad about what it was like to raise a daughter on his own while finishing school and beginning his career. Give it a click for a sweet walk down memory lane, and some inspiration for following your dreams.

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