Monthly Archives: March 2015

How to channel your reach to today’s “TV” viewer

You can still reach the people who watch popular television shows. Just don’t use television to do it.

Many people are saying that we are in another Golden Age of Television. I can’t argue. It’s difficult to remember when there has been as much good, and varied, episodic programming available at any given time.

I’m even watching. I’ve just finished the most recent seasons of two great shows and right now I’m neck deep in two others. Just finished season 4 of Showtime’s Homeland and season 3 of Netflix’s House of Cards. I’m currently in the middle of AMC’s first season of Better Call Saul and HBO’s amazing six-part documentary, The Jinx. The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

I know. There’s nothing terribly notable about any of that. They’re all very popular shows, watched by many. But for me, the interesting thing is how I’m watching them. I saw downloads of Homeland on my laptop, mostly on airplanes. House of Cards came via Netflix and my Roku. I’m catching up with Better Call Saul using my cable company’s On Demand service after AMC has actually broadcast the episodes. And I’m seeing The Jinx on HBO GO, HBO’s anytime streaming service.

So, the final count is one via laptop, two using Roku and one from On Demand. Four series, and I haven’t watched a single episode of any of them on “traditional television” as we know it. And I’m 60 years old. Not exactly a “digital early adopter.”

Does that mean that − outside of live sports, news and special events − there’s no way for a marketer to reach someone like me using popular episodic television programming? Well, yes and no. Or maybe the answer is maybe. Traditional TV ads certainly won’t work. Netflix, Showtime and HBO don’t even offer them, and the ads on my On Demand replays of Better Call Saul get the “fast-forward” treatment every time (sorry Capital One and CarMax).

But I believe there are other routes to a television viewer’s mind. Because in today’s world of binge-watching, digital-streaming, on-demand television, many viewers don’t stop at passively watching the episodes. They like to read about them, talk about them and argue about them. Online. With the thousands of others who share their passion for the latest dastardly deeds of Francis and Claire Underwood, the infuriating loose-cannon behavior of CIA Station Chief Carrie Mathieson, or the true meaning of Rust Cole’s latest monologue (I’m wide open to any help I can get on that one).

But that’s just the beginning. Twitter is always filled with discussions after episodes of popular shows have aired. And I can’t even imagine how many subreddit threads are devoted to Game of Thrones. In fact, if all of the sites, discussion boards, threads and digital space devoted just to Game of Thrones were amalgamated in one place, it would constitute a “Westeros Internet” unto itself.

There are reviews, discussions, updates and news about television all over the Web. I know one of the first things I want to do after an episode of Better Call Saul or Homeland is go to The AV Club for the latest review and discussion of said episode. So if a marketer wants to find me and other Homeland fans, that’s where we’ll be – again and again. And that’s where you can market to us, if you do it right.

Which means not just throwing mindless banner ads or annoying pre-rolls at us. Understand why we’re there and tap into it. Use our interest in and devotion to Sons of Anarchy or Mad Men or True Detective or whatever else it is we’re there to talk about and engage us. Odds are good we’ll pay attention.

The point is, today’s popular episodic television constitutes a culturewide shared experience as much as it ever has. But instead of gathering around the water cooler to talk about last night’s installment of Twin Peaks or Hill Street Blues, we’re sitting at our keyboards or grabbing our smartphones to discuss the hilarious white linen “Matlock” suit Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) wore at the assisted living facility last Monday night.

Shared experience can also be shared passion. Which can be an open door for marketers who understand who’s watching what. And why.

A Grand Opening with Heart

The R&R Phoenix office hosted an open house to celebrate its recent move to Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District and to unveil its newly renovated home. What ended up happening was much more than a typical ribbon-cutting with an open bar.

At the heart of the celebration was 92-year-old Henry Ong Jr., whose father originally owned the warehouse in 1926 in what was then known as Phoenix’s Chinatown.

Mr. Ong spoke emotionally about his father’s legacy and what the revitalization of the warehouse meant to him and his family.

Mr. Ong

Henry Ong Jr. takes the stage to speak to the history of the warehouse.

The audience was not only left teary-eyed, but also left with a greater respect for the rich history that the Warehouse District holds.

Ong family

R&R Partners CEO and Principal Billy Vassiliadis (far right), CFO and Principal Jim King (fourth from right) and Vice President and Managing Director Matt Silverman (fifth from left) welcome the Ong family and show them the Ong wall, a dedication to the Ong family’s legacy.


Sharing the stage with Mr. Ong, R&R Partners CEO and Principal Billy Vassiliadis and Vice President and Managing Director Matt Silverman discussed the impact the project is making to help breathe new life into Phoenix’s Warehouse District.

The party was a full house with more than 300 attendees, including elected officials, clients and community members invested in the preservation of the neighborhood. Executives from across all R&R offices flew in to join the festivities and celebrate the past, present and future of R&R’s new space and the Warehouse District.


All nine R&R offices were represented at the Phoenix unveiling event. From left to right: Steven Horsford (DCA), Morgan Baumgartner (RNO), Matt Silverman (PHX), John Wells (LAX), Suzanne Hofmann Erickson (AUS), Sean Tonner (DEN), Cathie DeNaughel (SLC), Fletcher Whitwell (LAS) and Diego Velasquez (MEX).


The majority of the party took place in the warehouse parking lot, which was transformed into an upscale block-party atmosphere.



A local Fox Concepts food truck served pizza straight out of the oven, while guests enjoyed music by a local rock band, played ping-pong and captured memories in a photo booth.



The Rocket, a 700-degree, wood-burning pizza oven on wheels.

Inside the warehouse, guests were able to take a self-guided tour that highlighted the most interesting and historic features inside the 25,000-square-foot building.


In true R&R spirit, the Phoenix office has fully immersed itself into the community it lives in, and will continue to be a leading player in breathing new life into Downtown Phoenix.



There isn’t a photo booth the R&R Phoenix family doesn’t love.

Former Congressman Steven Horsford Enters Partnership with R&R Partners in Washington, D.C.

Office will serve as full-service agency, with emphasis on diversity marketing

Increasing diversity marketing reach through authentic and empowering voices isn’t just a win for R&R Partners. It’s an essential and exponentially beneficial victory for the people who matter most – our clients and their customers.

When we launched CMV/R&R Partners in Mexico City, it was more than a move into an international marketplace. It also marked the beginning of an agencywide focus to become an authority on diversity marketing.

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To do that, we need some of those key voices. The exciting addition of former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford to our Washington, D.C., office is another leap forward in the diversity space, giving R&R Partners a unique position in Washington, and indeed, in the national communications marketplace.

R&R Partners and Horsford’s company, Resources+, have joined forces to establish a full-service agency with integrated services, specializing in diversity marketing, media training and corporate communications, workforce and vendor/supplier engagement and international affairs. Horsford will serve as senior vice president of strategic integration and partnerships for R&R’s nine offices throughout the United States and Mexico City. He will also serve as managing director of our Washington office.

“Steven started his career with R&R, and in the many years since his departure, he has gained incredible experience in business and through public service,” said Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners. “The changing demographics of the U.S. coupled with today’s global interconnectivity make it essential that marketers speak to their customers in a voice that is credible. Our recent opening of a Mexico City office, combined with Steven’s strengths in diversity marketing, places us at the forefront of this new space in marketing communications, and will place our clients at the forefront of the diversified consumer and employee base.”

Steven will also chair the board of directors for Nevada Partners, Inc., a nonprofit workforce training, youth development and housing assistance agency. He served as president/executive director of Nevada Partners from 2001 to 2008, and was the CEO of the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, its sister agency, from 2001 to 2012.

Digital Content Developer Sal DeFilippo contributed to this article.

R&R Partners Foundation shines in 2014


2014 was a banner year for the R&R Partners Foundation. Across our nine offices, the Foundation helped more than 20 pro bono clients, each selected based on the passion and interests of our employees.

We volunteered our time. We donated money. We even altered our own appearances, whether it was by cutting hair (Pat Carrigan shed his signature mullet for charity and raised $10,000), or growing it (Movember mustaches netted more than $1,600).

In other words, we did what we do best: Give. Help. Love. It’s what we do.


Artificial Intelligence: Putting the Humanity in Programmatic Buying

For decades, science fiction writers and Hollywood have delivered tall tales about artificial intelligence originally designed to take over the mundane tasks for humans eventually launching attempts – sometimes successfully – to take things over. And through it all, the hero of the story must rediscover the humanity inside him or herself in order to prevail.

In the programmatic advertising space, we’re in the expositional flashback phase of that tale, where the technology is developing, and the humans involved haven’t yet fully realized the true potential – or calamity – in what lies ahead. I realized this while speaking on a Client and Agency Panel at Conversant’s Annual Sales Conference (who should be commended for bringing client and ageny-side people on board to give our point of view). Programmatic buying is at it’s tipping point, where it’s about to become mainstream (even print is getting in on the action) and deliver on it’s promise of automating much of what used to be solely a human decision: when and where to insert an ad in front of an audience.

But as powerful of an automation tool as it is, there are still three essential human elements that need to remain well, human, for programmatic to be truly game changing:

Goals are intrinsically human, and should be communicated by them

In the movies, the robots always have the simple goal of eliminating the humans (which is a bit preposterous when you think about it, because what will they do once they win?). But we as marketers have much more complex – and often conflicting – objectives. And whether you’re working with an agency trading desk or a managed partner solution, those need to be effectively communicated to the team managing the buy. You need to clearly prioritize goals, and provide or agree upon KPI’s by which you’ll measure those goals. And in speaking with many people on all sides of the programmatic buying landscape, the best way to do that is through human interaction: in-person meetings to define goals, memoralized in writing with a brief, RFP, or plan that acts as the guidelines for your campaign. The computers can’t achieve your goals until you tell them what they are, and how to prioritize. And if everyone on your team isn’t in lock step, the computers will be confused.

Machines make choices. Humans make decisions.

Machines understand the if-then logic of rules, and choose whether or not to bid on a specific user far faster than any human can. But they can’t make decisions unless you provide them with the logic to guide those decisions. You need a smart human to set the rules of the bidding structure based on the objectives, with very clear logic to prioritize multiple KPI’s. As the data accumulates, and the algorithms adjust their bids to hit your goals, you’ll need a human to review the data to look for patterns and set up new rules, and new logic, to enable the machines to make better choices over time. Many platforms are set up to learn over time and create their own new rules, but they need humans to review to decide fi those new rules are achieving the right objectives.

­Don’t forget the creative side

Most people involved in programmatic buying are probably left-brain brain people, crunching numbers to see patterns and using logic and reasoning to come to conclusions. But don’t forget that the consumer you’re reaching is human, and will most likely act based on an emotional trigger that happens to be very well-timed by your programmatic buy. So as you adjust the rules of your bids – the timing, the segment targeting, the sequences – make sure you’re working side-by-side with the right-brained people – your creative – to make sure the messaging speaks directly to that moment in the consumer’s path to purchase. Computers can optimize our buys, but they can’t write copy to appeal to our emotions.


Which brings us back to our science fiction story. During the climax, when the audience is sure the machines are going to take over (which by many media prognostications, programmatic should take over soon), some emotional tie to humanity – a love interest, the future legacy of a family, etc. – inevitably gives the main character the motivation or the knowledge to defeat the onslaught, and go on to rebuild and live happily ever after. Programmatic buying fits snugly into this fairy tale: if we fully realize the importance of the human side to it now, we can harness it to produce some pretty amazing results, and truly revolutionize the way we plan and buy media – both digital and traditional. And the machines will work for us, not the other way around.