Yearly Archives: 2017

Lane Closure on the Super Information Highway

So, one guy in Michigan has caused 250+ brands to pause spending on YouTube, and he, ironically, has a patent to fix the issue if Google will buy it.

As news started to break two weeks ago about advertisements showing up next to hate groups and videos promoting terrorism, big brands like General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and Walmart have been quick to jump on the PR train and state that they’re pausing all YouTube spend until a fix is developed. There have been countless articles detailing all the happenings, pointing fingers, talking about the end of digital advertising as we know it, saying the entire approach is wrong and how to fix it.

Is this an issue? Yes, without a doubt. Should your agency and media partners be doing everything they can to stop this from happening? Yes, without a doubt. Does the issue run deeper than YouTube? Yes, without a doubt. Is this getting overblown in the always-on news cycle? Yes, without a doubt.

To understand the scale of YouTube, think about these stats:

  1. More than 1 billion people around the world – roughly a third of all people online – are YouTube users.
  2. YouTube is the second largest search engine, bigger than Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL combined.
  3. According to eMarketer, 180 million of those people are from the U.S.
  4. 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  5. The average user session is 40 minutes.

Anytime you run ads on a website that’s full of user-generated content, it comes with a certain level of risk. Realistically, the problem runs much deeper than YouTube and is more of an online problem, although TV, radio and print have all had their fair share of ads being pulled over the years. The majority of digital ads are bought against an audience, not specific sites. Therefore, you’re opening yourself up to run on millions of channels or sites in order to deliver an ad to “adults 25-54 who drive a Cadillac, use Crest and have a dog.” According to an article in The New York Times, Chase Bank had been running on 400,000 sites. Clearly an unmanageable amount for anyone to monitor; hence, the need for technology to help classify those sites and the content on them. That’s where these digital filters come into play. Platforms like YouTube have tools in place to allow you or your agency to apply a certain level of brand safety, such as to blacklisting/whitelisting sites; excluding adult content; and now, thanks to our political system, you can block “FAKE NEWS” sites. While it’s the accuracy of these very tools that is being called into question, you should always go beyond them to ensure brand safety. If you don’t, it’s as if you’re allowing them to grade their own homework.

We at R&R Partners have longstanding partnerships with third-party verification experts such as DoubleVerify. We routinely layer on additional safety measures to not only ensure our clients’ ads are being seen, but also to safeguard against questionable content coming into play. Now, more than ever, marketers need advanced technologies to identify and protect against unsafe environments while confirming they’re targeting [human] audiences in order to deliver reliable and effective campaigns. While we do monitor our clients’ online campaigns on a regular basis, we also push for 100 percent transparency from our partners and, in turn, we’re 100 percent transparent with our clients. It’s safe to say nothing in the digital space will ever be perfect. However, we are confident in our approach, always investigating new technology and applying those learnings in real time to our clients’ business. We’ve taken a deep dive into both our largest and smallest YouTube campaigns and worked directly with Google and have yet to find any instances of ads running against this negative content.

Again, this goes far beyond YouTube, even into TV. However, they’re just the 800-pound gorilla, so they’re rightfully getting the brunt of the backlash. Just the other day, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai announced they are pulling ads from The O’Reilly Factor due to sexual harassment claims and settlement payments totaling $13 million. This has now expanded to over 30 brands.

So, to the guy in Michigan, I say, “Thank you.” Thank you for bringing an issue into the limelight and continuing to push our industry forward. We all must demand transparency and brand safe environments on behalf of our clients. Simply put, if you won’t be 100 percent transparent and open about your technology and ensure brand safety, you shouldn’t be on anyone’s media plan. It’s our responsibility as agencies to ensure that the tech platforms we partner with are built on these same standards.

Our approach is simple − build the brand and protect the brand.

R&R Partners Sponsor the IC Summit in Mexico City

Last week, R&R was lucky enough to attend and sponsor the IC Summit in Mexico City. The summit featured over 250 international marketing professionals who discussed several topics currently affecting the Latin American marketing and advertising industry.

Questions discussed included, “How do CMOs protect their brands globally?” and “What challenges do they have growing their industry in the Mexican market?” On the first day, CMV’s very own Ruben Olmos sat on the panel and helped answer this vital question. He discussed R&R and CMV’s expertise in brand marketing and the role that GPA plays in optimizing a brand’s performance in international markets. On the second day, CMV’s Diego Velasquez spoke on the panel and discussed the importance of a strong client/agency relationship and the benefits of this type of a relationship.

Aside from having two speaking roles during the summit, R&R also sponsored two coffee breaks, where we were able to connect with conference attendees about their needs and what ways we can help grow their business. The booth also showcased our Hispanic creative work, R&R’s vast capabilities, and who we are as an agency. Additionally, it featured virtual reality headsets with some of our featured VR work, along with a photo booth for those who wanted to have a little fun!

This summit was a great opportunity for R&R to position ourselves as the cross-border agency with an expertise in Hispanic marketing that we have become. Companies present at the IC Summit included Bimbo, Aeroméxico, Interjet, LaLa, Telcel, Club Santos, OXXO, Kellogg’s Latin America, and many more.

Finally, check out our magician who was able to tell the R&R and CMV story in a very unique way here:

Destinations for Dreamers

Grupos Posadas, Mexico’s largest independent hotel company, has partnered with R&R to rebrand its Fiesta Americana Resort Collection, a group of 12 distinct resorts located in many of Mexico’s premier beach destinations.

Posadas is known as a hospitality leader throughout the hotel industry. Its history has been written with passion, dedication and hard work, and rewarded with nearly every significant recognition in the industry. However, the brand has had limited awareness within the United States, with this U.S. visitor audience comprising a significant portion of overall property visitation. Growing the resort collection’s brand profile among this consumer group is a critical step in driving future business.

With this challenge firmly in focus, R&R’s team landed on the brand position of “La Colección.” With luxury resorts situated in some of Mexico’s prime coastal destinations, La Colección, was created around the consumer insight that many of us daydream of our next vacation. Making sure the brand stands out from its competition, we identified an opportunity to inspire the dreams of vacationers through storytelling. Utilizing our brand platform, R&R crafted a compelling story inspired by the brand’s unique attributes, grounded in consumer and brand truths, and designed to create an emotional connection with the consumer. We launched Grupos’ new brand by developing a new website, digital content strategy, and a fully integrated digital and social campaign.

Winning a Win-Win

In a city constantly reinventing itself, the stakes were never higher for community leaders, an unlikely mix of hotel executives, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and thousands of local football fans. The future of two major construction projects was on the line, which would forever change Las Vegas’ skyline for the better. But this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move Southern Nevada to the next level faced heavy opposition. So they turned to R&R Partners for help.

Branded the Win-Win Nevada Coalition by R&R’s team, we would head up one of the toughest challenges in recent Nevada history in convincing 63 state legislators of the need to support a change in legislation that would benefit our city: passing new room taxes to help fund the renovation and expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center to keep our convention business competitive, and to help fund a new professional 65,000-seat, domed sport stadium.

The first challenge for the coalition was to secure support from two-thirds of 63 legislators to enable the governor to call a special session. The next hurdle would be securing passage of two intertwined bills that would change how room tax revenues would fund the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, and help in the construction of a new NFL-ready stadium to lure a professional football team to relocate to Las Vegas. This was no either/or proposition – we all got what we wanted, or we all went down in flames.

We started with only 22 votes out of the 63 legislators. We needed 42.

So how did we do it?

With the collaboration of every single discipline at R&R, we launched a targeted campaign that flipped the negative sentiment on its head. Our message was powerful: a vote for the stadium was a vote for 40,000 construction jobs, an injection of $1.5 billion into the local economy, and an additional $32 million in education dollars annually. And a vote for expanding and remodeling our convention center was a vote for keeping our lead as the No. 1 convention destination in the business.

In three very short weeks, we created a tagline, a logo to match, a website, out-of-home media, collateral and a social media campaign. We arranged for speeches, testimonials, a video … the list goes on. And it turned the tide. We created enough momentum for the governor to call a special session. We secured the votes needed, and we won. We even capped it off with a press conference to detail the negotiated workforce benefits for minority communities in Las Vegas, and a bill-signing ceremony with the governor. Our social, online and earned media numbers were off the charts, too – $69 million in PR value and 4.7 million online impressions, to name just a couple.

The bottom line: Our campaign wasn’t just about impressive metrics on a page. It was about winning triumphantly or losing completely. And with one of the most integrated, wide-ranging, kick-ass teams ever assembled at R&R, we declared victory.

 

Pitching Vegas Virtually

Journalists of the Digi-Vegas FAM also experienced the KÀ VR experience in the lobby of MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.

To promote Las Vegas as a leading technology and travel destination, R&R Partners’ public relations team recently arranged, scheduled and hosted the Digi-Vegas FAM trip on the cusp of the Consumer Electronic Show’s 50th anniversary this past January.

An additional view of the casino surveillance tour at ARIA Resort & Casino journalists experienced during the Digi-Vegas FAM.

Five journalists from the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico were recruited to attend this exclusive Vegas “familiarization” press trip. Representing leading travel and business publications,
journalists went behind the scenes of Las Vegas’ top attractions and entertainment venues, and experienced only-in-Vegas moments in both real time and virtual reality, including experiences in Vegas VR. While much of the coverage is slated to run in upcoming publications, the first article to result from this press visit can be found on Forbes.   

Pets Have Lungs Too

Recently, R&R Partners created a TV spot for WaytoQuit.org that tested among the top-10 most effective anti-smoking messages nationally.  The emotionally jarring spot was extremely effective at inspiring quit attempts, especially among parents with kids. Based on the success of that campaign, we’re now taking the message one step further.

Many smokers in Utah are young males without children who don’t watch much TV. R&R needed a message that would encourage quit attempts among this audience, too. Research showed that while many young males don’t have families, they do have pets that they consider family, and that secondhand smoke harms pets as much as it does babies and toddlers.

So, the employees at R&R Salt Lake City brought in their various dogs, cats, parrots and rabbits and filmed them right there in the office. Visual effects were then added to show the animals puffing on cigarettes, pipes and cigars. The message was simple, “If you smoke, your pets smoke.” The videos ran on social media and pre-roll.

The results have been impressive. During January/February, the first months that the smoking animal videos ran, visits to waytoquit.org (the website featuring tobacco cessation information) tripled from the same time last year, while time spent on the site doubled. Quit service enrollments, both telephone and online, also increased 30 percent.

The videos will be featured at a national tobacco prevention conference.

 

 

ANA Brand Masters Conference 2017

Imagine a stunning backdrop of cotton candy skies with a cool ocean breeze. Now, imagine that, but only seeing it from afar because you’re sitting inside a conference center in a hotel for three days. The trade-off was being able to take in all of the knowledge that was being shared by today’s top marketers. The sold-out ANA Brand Masters Conference was held in Dana Point, California, and included speakers from American Greetings, Taco Bell, Intel, Subaru and Allstate, to name a few.

Let’s dive into what these brands shared.

American Greetings, Alex Ho

We’ve all seen this ad: World’s Toughest Job by American Greetings. This is the video where it held fake interviews for a position that required the person to do “everything” and for no pay − only to reveal that the job was that of a mom. What’s interesting is how this company has remained relevant in a digital-forward world. Think about it. It’s a greeting card company. You can’t get more analog than that. American Greetings recently had an activation at CES. It teased its product and launch as a “Device Like No Other,” and partnered with Nick Offerman as the spokesperson (which, btw, who doesn’t love Nick Offerman?). Genius.

American Greetings did this by doing these three things:

  1. Define a purposeful position.
  2. Use research to determine a provocative insight.
  3. Have engaging creative.

Melissa Thalberg, Taco Bell

First off, I had to get my head straight and stop staring at her outfit, it was too cute. We need to embrace that there are brands that are positioned to be mass marketers, but that there are attributes that make them small and indie-cult like. The key is to embrace that you can be both. Its mass market side is all about the business: How many Naked Chicken Tacos did they sell this week? The indie-cult side is all about the brand behavior, what brings its brand to life; what people relate to; how people interact with the brand. And Taco Bell discovered this indie side through research. Went to a happy hour that lasted way longer than expected and now you’re hungry? Go to Taco Bell and get a large haul of Cheesy Bean and Rice Burritos, Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos Supremes and Nachos Supremes, and finish the meal with a Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze. (I’ve only heard of people doing this, not that I’ve done it myself.) ICYMI, to build on this mass-cult-like success, Taco Bell opened a two-story restaurant/retail location on the Strip and is holding a contest for the ultimate Taco Bell wedding.

Key takeaway: People are not one-dimensional and neither are brands.

Alan Bethke, Subaru

This was my favorite session because the story of the Subaru brand fascinates me. In 1968, Subaru came to the United States. In 2007, it only had 1 percent of the market share for automobile sales. That’s 1 percent of 17.5M cars sold annually. Of course, it wanted more than 1 percent, so it did a bit of research. Of the 99 percent of people who did not purchase a Subaru, two-thirds said it wasn’t because they thought the product was a poor product, but because they didn’t know anything about the brand. They had no idea what to think of Subaru. They also asked Subaru owners what they thought.

Here’s what was learned, regardless of what kind of Subaru model they owned:

  • Subaru owners lovedtheir cars and rarely had complaints about it. It was just a good, reliable car.
  • They were so reliable, they kept them forever. Even passed it downto their kids.
  • They were dog owners. Subaru owners overindexed in the dog-owner category.

Guess what? All of these insights led to some pretty great spots. Please note how each of the below directly ties back to the research above. The Love campaign raised awareness of the Subaru brand and increased car sales. Subaru went from 1 to 7 percent of the market share.

Carjam: New Subaru TV Ad “Love Stories” Commercial 2011 − YouTube

2017 Subaru Forester | Subaru Commercial | Making Memories (Extended) − YouTube

Subaru Dog Tested | Subaru Commercial | In the Dog House − YouTube

There were overarching takeaways from all of the brand/agency presentations.

  • They needed data/research to find the human truth that would tell the story. What are your audiences saying?
  • Be nimble. The only constant is change. You must be able to adapt to your audiences’ changing habits to keep your message from getting stale.
  • If you make a (brand) promise, deliver on it. Everything you say and do should deliver on that promise. 
  • Assess if your marketing dollars are working. If they’re not, reallocate them. 
  • Collaboration and integration between the brand and agency were fundamental for growth.
    • Brands respected and trusted their agencies.
    • Agency teams had a genuine interest in their brands.
  • Each and every one of them talked about purpose and telling their story. There was a purpose in everything they did.

It’s this last point that left me hopeful. These big brands and big agencies talked about the close relationship they had. It was because they thought of their agency as an extension of their marketing team and that they trusted them. They were seen as experts, providing valuable insight, research and recommendations to push the brands forward. They had purpose. Guys, we already do this. This is nothing new to R&R. This is the R&R way. We don’t need to be a big-name agency to get the win because we’re already winning. Every takeaway listed above is something we already do for our clients. We just need to practice it; make it better than the last; repeat. I feel like I’m about to go on some Jerry Maguire-esque rant, but I’m not a burned out sports agent who’s had an epiphany about our industry being dishonest, so I’m going to write a mission statement. No no. (Which, btw, if you haven’t read it, you should. It’s an interesting rant mission statement.) But, walking out of that conference had me pumped and rejuvenated and made me want to sing “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty. 

Iconic Work for An Iconic Brand

The Stanley Cup is arguably the most famous trophy in all of professional sports. And to celebrate its 125th anniversary, the National Hockey League selected R&R Partners to help promote the occasion.

R&R created and produced a month-long campaign that included two broadcast spots, a 360-VR activation at an NHL game, and a content film to be shared out with the NHL’s 4 million-plus followers. The most engaging aspect of the campaign was our activation effort. Our team concepted and produced a surprise and delight moment at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for the Penguin’s February 18 game.

Outside of the Stanley Cup VR Experience at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Fans were invited to line up before and after the game to step inside our 20-foot shipping container that housed our VR experience. Each guest sat down around a small, unassuming black table equipped with VR headsets and a tiny replica of the Stanley Cup. Each guest was set up with the headset by our brand ambassadors and transported to a VR world of historic Cup wins and clips of the Cup being hoisted by their favorite players. A final scene involved Phil Pritchard – the official keeper of the Cup– and an opportunity to virtually reach out and grab the Cup. But what the guests didn’t know was, while they were inside this VR world, Phil and the Cup were actually in the room.

The iconic Stanley Cup is placed in front of an unsuspecting fan while watching the 125th Stanley Cup VR video.

Once fans were situated, Phil quietly came out from behind a black curtain and replaced the tiny replica on the table in front of them with the actual Stanley Cup! The reactions, once headsets were removed, ran the spectrum. There were lots of tears, screams, and complete and utter shock that left some completely speechless. It’s truly amazing to see the deep connection the Cup holds with each person.

Working with the NHL was truly an honor for the agency and we created work that lives up to its legacy. View the TV campaign and a video of the fan experience below:

 

“If This Cup Could Talk”

 

“Perfectly Imperfect”

 

“The Real Thing”

Finding Purpose on International Women’s Day

For more than 100 years, people around the world have been striking, protesting and marching in support of women’s rights every March 8, on what is now recognized by the United Nations as International Women’s Day. And on this day, I’m reminded of the heartbreaking story of Madonna Badger, and how she chooses to “fight with hope and love.”

I first learned of Madonna when she spoke at The 3% Conference last year. When she took the stage, I expected her to impart wisdom gained from her life as a creative director and the founding of her agency, Badger & Winters. Instead, she opened her heart and shared her story of unfathomable tragedy. In the early hours of Christmas Day 2011, Madonna’s parents and her three little girls − Lily, Sarah and Grace − died in a house fire. Madonna was also in the home at the time; she wasn’t able to save her family.

After enduring a year of devastating depression, grief and survivor’s guilt, she emerged with a new purpose. She would use her considerable talents and voice to make the world better for women and girls. She would do this in honor of her daughters, and in the hope of making the impact she knew her girls would have made had they lived to fulfill their potential. The #WomenNotObjects campaign was born.

The mission of #WomenNotObjects is to end the objectification of women in advertising and support brands that empower women. Hundreds of years of systematic privilege, fear and prejudice have shaped society to hamper the rights, dignities and personal freedoms of women, minorities and anyone thought to be “other.” Today, objectifying and stereotyping in marketing are a couple of the more subtle ways in which these discriminatory ideas are perpetuated. These harmful messages, often cloaked as “art” or locker room humor, threaten to undermine the gains we’ve made toward true equality and, in doing so, weaken our society.

I’m very proud that we don’t do the kind of work that objectifies or stereotypes. We use our voices and talents to influence and move legislation, to inspire movements, and to create positive experiences. We know the impact our work and service can have on individuals, communities and culture. And so, let us support and spread the mission of #WomenNotObjects and continue to use our talents to fight with hope and love.

What a game?

Here is where I netted out on the ads −

Kia with Melissa McCarthy. I love this ad. Yes, it is silly. Yes, it is slapstick. But it has Melissa McCarthy getting tortured and it took my mind off all the hell of losing money on the game, personal crap, political crap, stuff I had to work on, and all the other serious things. She has this wonderful Belushi-type energy and, with the SNL piece, owned the Super Bowl weekend. There is some fun extra stuff with her that shows off car features as well. I have watched her hit the side of that ship 10 times now − AND I LIKE IT EVERY TIME. BETTER HER THAN ME.

 

Skittles. Yes. It was weird, edgy, very Skittles-like. And fun.

Bai − I liked it. I don’t drink the drink and I don’t think I will, but I love Justin and I have a love/hate with Walken. We wanted to do an LVCVA ad with him and he refused us. It’s not the first time I have been rejected, and it won’t be the last, but it hurts when it’s Chris.

Coke, Audi, Budweiser − INCLUSION ADS – These were the winners in the game of inclusion. Born the Hard Way harkens back to Bud’s immigrant beginnings. Nicely done, until the very end when he has the drawing of the beer bottle, which feels much less authentic than the rest of the ad. But I can forgive. Coke was way ahead of the game with an ad it ran two years ago. So Coke ran it again. It fit and I like when brands are ahead of their time. Audi went after equal pay for women and the ad was a nice surprise when everyone else was staring at the WALL. Instead, they focused on the ceiling. Still nothing brought tears to my eyes except Brady winning.

Honda’s ad didn’t really feel right when the car came in, but I still liked the way they executed the yearbook photos of the celebrities. It was different and interesting. It is weird though that both Bud and Honda have such a hard time once the product comes in. It’s like, “Story is over. Here comes the sell.”

Wix.com ads were really well done. They were solid and big, but somehow missing that Super Bowl “thing.” I don’t know why I didn’t think they were the best ads. They had action, decent idea, great performances and lots of money. Maybe it was the money. When you have Statham, Favre and explosions, I should care more.

Tide − solid with some really fun extras on the web featuring Gronk and Tambor. I have to say that I knew it was going to be a Tide ad after first seeing the stain. But most of America probably thought it was legit. It’s Bradshaw. I could see him sneaking a chicken wing or two between plays.

Hyundai did a really nice thing for the troops that allowed families to watch the game in 360 virtual surround with their families. Again, didn’t make we want to hug a Hyundai, but it was nice.

Mr. Clean’s butt − enough said.

BIG LOSERS

 

Brady. YES, HIS AD WAS HORRIBLE. So at least he was a loser there. It was like watching a piece of cardboard in 360.

Snickers – Total losers during the game with a live commercial that no one got. Total winners before the game by planning a live commercial no one would get.

T-Mobile − It had all those people, including the Bieber, and it was all bad. It would have been better off slapping them all together in some sort of Mashup ad. If I was working on T-Mobile, I would fake my own death right now. In other words, the Sprint ad was terrible too.

Mercedes – I would put our simple ad with Fonda against theirs any day. And ours cost considerably less.