Monthly Archives: January 2016


I was only at CES for three hours but I met a new friend. He wasn’t a person. He was actually a minibus. He was the VW BUDD-e.

The VW BUDD-e is an electric-powered minibus concept car that charges to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes which is twice as fast as a Tesla. And it can go a distance of 323 miles before a charge according to VW.

How connected is my new friend? Very.

What makes the BUDD-e concept great is the minivan part as much as the technology. It is basically an extension of the living room. It’s like a living room that stretches for miles. You have a television. You are still able to control your home. And the internal Siri-like being is your virtual butler/driver.


First off, he is connected to you in a very personal way. By integrating cell phones, tablets, tagging and the home, BUDD-e is a pretty influential friend. He knows who is in the car and who isn’t. Just in case you are faced with a home alone situation he knows how to open the garage door, turn off the lights in your house, show you who is at the front door on a 30-inch screen in the passenger section and adjust your air conditioning in the car and house through voice commands. Plus you can wave your hand in front of the door to open it. He also has a delivery slot of sorts for packages.

The BUDD-e won’t let you forget anything either. He will tell you if your phone is in the car. He will tell you if there is an umbrella in the car when rain is forecast. Everything is tagged and BUDD-e keeps track of it all.

And BUDD-e is made for a social experience. He is not only connecting the car to the home and the people, he is connecting the people in the car as well by creating a shared trip experience with shared music, destination facts, visuals, etc., that each person inputs before a trip.

What I love are the implications of connected smart cars like BUDD-e. I like to imagine the conversations that would ensue if they can talk. At the moment I am not sure BUDD-e does — but he should.

For instance…

Me:  “Hey BUDD-e, let’s clean the floor while we’re away.”

(LG makes a Roomba-like automated floor cleaner that has a camera.)

BUDD-e:  “Good idea.  The floor is a mess. It was last cleaned 5 days, 4 hours and 16 minutes ago.  And while we are at it, I’m gonna put the house in energy saving mode. Your carbon footprint is pretty heavy. Power companies shouldn’t let you humans control the air conditioning anymore.  WOW, look at that giant piece of dirt.”

Me: “That’s the dog BUDD-e!”

BUDD-e: “Oh, yes. Good point.”

Me: “Hey BUDD-e, do I look fat in this?

BUDD-e: “Yes.  According to your fitness device you haven’t exercised in a month and you’ve gained ten pounds.  So I am gonna have to go with YES.”

Me: “BUDD-e, I am not feeling that well.  I might need emergency assistance.”

BUDD-e: “That isn’t surprising since you opened the fridge seventeen times yesterday, ate fast food 12 times this week, and haven’t been to the doctor in six months.  I have alerted emergency techs and they are sending the Ehang 184 Drone Ambulance. I have opened the sunroof. As long as your heart doesn’t stop you should be able to climb to safety.  While you are at the hospital I will order more Orange Crush and assorted sugary sodas.”

(The Ehang is even more impressive and scary at the same time. It’s a drone that can automatically fly humans around so you may not even need a smart car. One of these can pick you up and fly you to safety with NO PILOT — someday.)


Samsung has digitally tagged clothing called the Smart Suit so BUDD-e will even know what you are wearing. Why does this matter? Because if you are wearing your business suit BUDD-e will put that together with your calendar and he will say…

BUDD-e: “You forgot your briefcase and your computer. You might need those for the big meeting.”

Me: “OMG I am an idiot.”

BUDD-e: “I can’t argue that.  You have 15 books on your Kindle and haven’t read any of them.”

Me: “OK BUDD-e, I get the picture. I don’t read.  I’m fat.  I’m unhealthy.  I get it.”

BUDD-e: “You should bring the bike then and your gym bag.  I’ll wait.  And oh, can I ask you a question?  You have no friends so why did you buy a social minivan?  I want to have group sing-a-longs and play slug-a-bug. You could take a golf cart to the Dairy Queen every day. You don’t need me.”

Cars like BUDD-e will feed your dog while you are on a trip (if you have a connected dog feeder). He will start the coffee maker. With the new Keurig Cold he could make you a piña colada (not sure the Keurig is connected yet but it will be someday). He will turn on the TV so that the show your kids were watching in the van is ready to continue on the TV when you get home. And he will obey your commands like a dog.

Just don’t ask him how much energy you are saving by driving a certain way. He has been known to lie on that one.

In the past I have talked about connections that are made at CES and the connections between devices. They are basically becoming the same. Anyone who watched the presentation that I watched on the BUDD-e is already running back to their labs and thinking of ways to be a part of this thing in a few years. Best of all by then, BUDD-e will most likely be connected to the other sensors that will make it self-driving. The connections between these tech companies are moving the curve quickly. And the companies that are open to these connections will move faster than others.

And the combinations of connections are endless for devices.  Your watch will tell you when your clothes are done.  It will tell you when your oven reaches the required degrees.  You will be able to start your BUDD-e by speaking to your Amazon Echo.  You might be able to send it out to pick up your kids without a driver.  “Hey Alexa (my Amazon Echo’s name), send BUDD-e to pick up the kids at the mall.”  Or you could ask Siri to talk to BUDD-e.  The only thing I worry about is BUDD-e getting a word in edgewise.  And if Siri and Alexa start fighting and BUDD-e gets caught in the middle… watch out!

If BUDD-e can keep up with everything that is happening in the connected world, he could make a great friend…maybe even one you can’t live without.

R&R Partners Foundation: 2015 Year in Review

It’s one thing to have values. It’s another to LIVE them.

Far from the apothegm “Do as we say, not what we do,” R&R Partners is a committed community partner that strives to live its values every day. As an in-demand, internationally recognized marketing communications and government affairs firm, it would be easy to toss about corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an empty business word du jour or something that we plan to eventually address. However, there’s nothing that R&R likes more than to brush past easy and set new standards for ourselves, inspiring others to do likewise.

Call it tenacity. Call it generosity. Call it a sound business strategy. We call it the good fight, and 2015 was another knockout. Here’s a look at our 2015 R&R Partners Foundation efforts.


Regarding the philanthropic pillar of our CSR endeavors, the Foundation continued to aid nonprofit organizations in all nine of our markets. Work completed on behalf of the Animal Foundation to increase pet adoptions received national recognition. Our employees, at all levels, provided in-kind donations of services roughly equal to $950,000. Coupled with direct donations of nearly $150,000, the R&R Partners Foundation is proud to have another year of million-dollar giving.Giving-Infographic2015


R&R’s internally driven Flip the Script Anti-Bullying Initiative also falls under the Foundation’s pro bono hours. In 2015, the Foundation completed an in-depth needs assessment process, which included primary research with more than 40 stakeholders across three states representing sectors such as business, corporate philanthropy, nonprofit, K−12, higher education and state government. While multifaceted, the issue of bullying in schools can be addressed to a significant degree by evidence-based programs.

Often, these programs face hurdles ranging from the program’s costs to adult and student buy-in. Given the enormous success in reaching students with the Flip the Script anti-bullying message in previous phases of the initiative, the Foundation knew that its greatest impact would be achieved through increasing student buy in for the evidence-based programs in their schools. We launched our current phase of Flip the Script in three Las Vegas valley middle schools, focusing on helping students drive campaigns of their own creation. In partnership with the Clark County Public Education Foundation’s Operation Respect/Welcoming Schools program and the Clark County School District’s Equity and Diversity Education, the campaigns of the middle school students at Becker, Fremont and Greenspun are well under way with launch dates set for 2016.


Working closely with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and his team over the course of the 2015 legislative session, R&R Partners’ government and public affairs team tirelessly advocated for a group of bills that have impacted, and will continue to dramatically impact the climate of our schools, increasing the safety of our students while protecting their opportunities for achievement.


Never afraid to try something new in order to benefit our employees, the R&R Partners Foundation moved away from the traditional executive director role in favor a new organizational structure that would allow more employees the opportunity to interact with, and make decisions for, the Foundation. This new structure includes a group of co-managers assigned to the Foundation’s three programmatic areas and an empowered employee board. While the co-managers have been active in their roles for months, the employee board recently completed its orientation and held its first meeting in December.

The R&R Partners Foundation’s board of directors also expanded by welcoming SVP for media and measurement and group managing director, Fletcher Whitwell, in the third quarter.


Board development will continue into the new year, as the board of directors will be expanding again to include more members from outside of the agency. Chairman Jim King expects to further engage the board in strategic planning activities as well.

With a roster of four new pro bono clients joining those we have supported in the past, the Foundation expects a busy year of contributing to several worthwhile organizations. Perhaps no teams will be busier than those of Flip the Script, as the aforementioned launches and campaign activations will be in full swing beginning in January. All of us are eager to see the results of the Operation Respect/Welcoming Schools evaluations for the middle schools with which we have partnered. Future phases of Flip the Script will also progress in 2016.

As in years past, the R&R Partners Foundation expects a certain amount of the unexpected in 2016. However, with a sincere commitment across our agency to our core values, and with “doing well by doing good” as our core objective, there is never a doubt that we will collectively rise to any task in order to serve our communities.

Las Vegas, a very appropriate place for western governors to discuss the drought

As an experienced advocate for Western issues such as energy, natural resources, public land use and water, R&R Partners was honored to attend the annual winter meeting of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 4 and 5. Founded in 1984, WGA represents the governors of 19 Western states and guides them in developing and implementing policy decisions of major importance for the West.

Why are there specific associations that are dedicated to Western issues? With its abundance of natural resources, and the fact that over 90 percent of all federal land is located in the West, the region is one of the most highly regulated in the United States. This makes the West vastly different from the East, especially when it comes to controversial issues such as water and public land use. Nothing sums up water issues in the West better than the famous Mark Twain quote, “Whiskey is for drinking, but water is worth fighting over.”

WGA 3This year’s annual WGA meeting was attended by dozens of elected officials and political influencers, led by governors Matt Mead (Wyoming), Butch Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana) and Brian Sandoval (Nevada). Important issues discussed that have serious implications on the West included drought, wildfires, endangered species, transportation and cybersecurity. The keynote address was delivered by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, who spoke of the importance in collaborating with the governors of Western states on key federal actions impacting the West.

R&R Partners’ depth of experience in the West gives it an understanding of the unique pressures and public scrutiny that governments and companies operating in the area face, and their need to communicate clearly and strategically to their constituents, customers, shareholders and regulators. Having opened its doors in the West and the fact that eight of its nine offices are still located in the area, R&R will continue participating in the ongoing conversation about Western policies and help bring together important stakeholders.