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.
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.
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.
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:
Define a purposeful position.
Use research to determine a provocative insight.
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.
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.
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 rantmission statement.) But, walking out of that conference had me pumped and rejuvenated and made me want to sing “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Before we begin, let’s get a couple of non-advertising subjects out of the way.
First, the game ended up being very exciting. The first SB overtime ever. The biggest SB lead ever overcome (blown?). Some say the Patriots won it. Others feel they were simply there to accept the gift that the Falcons so generously gave them. I saw a little of both. And since I’m a fan of neither team, my hope was for a close game. Mission accomplished.
Second, Lady Gaga is really brave (and clearly not afraid of heights). Her 19-minute greatest hits medley was fun and predictably over-the-top. I always wonder where they find a place big enough to rehearse those productions. The drones were cool too. Drones are almost always cool.
Okay, on to the ads. My initial impression: not a great year, not a bad one. In terms of quality, pretty much in line with the last two or three. Not quite as many anamorphic animals. (Hey, Budweiser, no dogs and Clydesdales this year?) The usual boatload of celebrities – some used very well, some totally wasted. Lots of movie trailers for big, bloated summertime tent-pole action films. Not sure the world is clamoring for new entries in the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers canons, but the new Fast and Furious movie looks like it might be fun.
If there was one very noticeable trend, it was this – there are a bunch of big-money advertisers that spent a lot of money making the point that, regardless of the opinions held by many of the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, things like inclusion, diversity, understanding, equality, empowerment and the struggle of immigrants to find a better life are still an important part of our social fabric.
Air BnB led off with an in-your-face (literally) declaration:
Then, Coca-Cola did its Coca-Cola thing:
Google Home, with a very nice celebration of diversity and commonality:
No Clydesdales, but Budweiser did tell an (admittedly, somewhat embellished) immigration story. This is interesting because it’s almost exactly the opposite of the brash, bellicose, supremely annoying declaration of “all things ‘Murican’” it ran in last year’s game. Many, including Sarah Palin, are now calling for a boycott of Budweiser. Can’t think of a better reason to Buy Some Buds:
A10 warns of “four years of awful hair.” Good for them:
Audi talks female empowerment and equality, through a kick-ass little racer:
Finally, the ballsiest of them all. 84 Lumber, of all people, gave us this:
The original spot ended on a shot of a great big wall at the border. Fox Television said “no” to that (shocking, I know). But if you go to the website teased at the end (which crashed on Sunday evening, but it’s working now), you’ll see the end of the story – and the wall. I applaud 84 Lumber not only for the communication, but also for the fact that it is a lumber supply and hardware retailer based in Western Pennsylvania. As such, I’m sure a great many of its core customers may not feel really in sync with its message (see the Budweiser boycott above). Kudos to 84 Lumber for having the conviction to follow through with it.
Advertisers don’t usually view the Super Bowl as a spot to make political or societal statements. The costs and the stakes are usually seen as too high. Hence a lot of animals, celebs and playing it safe. Of course, there was plenty of that this year as well, but it was heartening to see some marketing kahunas (Coke, Audi, Budweiser, Google) put their money where their mouth is and make some waves. Clearly, this year is different.
Now, some random observations from the game:
Worst product category, by far: telecom. Sprint has a guy faking his own death to avoid Verizon fees, while the “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy appears from nowhere on skis (even though there is no snow). Meanwhile T-Mobile serves up actress Kristen Schaal making bad 50 Shades of Gray bondage and discipline jokes with a Verizon customer rep. T-Mobile also gave us Justin Beiber, and a bunch of other really famous people are doing I’m-not-sure-what. And then, naturally, Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart. Of course. Why not?
Enjoy (or not):
The ad that got the biggest reaction from the R&R Super Bowl party crowd:
Mr. Clean creeped me out. A lot.
The ad that won the annual USA Today Ad Meter Contest:
Pretty funny in a slapstick kind of way. Great choice of music.
The Coen Brothers did this one? Really?
Not really up to their standards, IMHO. Plus, how many people born after 1970 even recognize Peter Fonda? Nice looking car, though.
My favorite ad of the day. This one was a little bit lost in the shuffle. Great writing and acting, which get a little bit overlooked at most Super Bowl gatherings. The R&R party crowd ignored it completely. I’m showing you the long version, because it’s so much fun. Watch it more than once to catch all the jokes.
There you go. Another “Big Game” in the books. More social statements, fewer animals. Though I was happy to see the Ghost of Spuds Mackenzie for Bud Light. I always liked Spuds, and though not great, the ad was a big step up from last year’s Seth Rogan/Amy Schumer election year fiasco.
Recently, I attended the TEDxMileHighWomen, “It’s About Time,” speaker series in Denver, Colorado. Describing it as a “speaker series” would be incredibly dishonest. For me, and I think for all 2,800 female/male attendees, it was so much more; a spiritual awakening.
TED, created in 1984, came to be by Richard Saul Wurman. Three fields of study drove his inspiration for what would become TED: technology, entertainment and design. What was once a simple conference, TED rose to success in 1990 and quickly became a viral video phenomenon. Suddenly, a community of people with passion to change the world had a common forum to coalesce around. Presenters include scientists, philosophers, musicians, business and religious leaders, philanthropists and others.
I knew immediately I was in for something huge as I entered the TEDxMileHighWomen event. Something that would light a fire deep in my belly; I could feel the match falling fast down my throat as the venue’s lights dimmed and the event began. The energy was high and the room was full of individuals who attended this event for something we all crave in career and life: to be inspired. This particular event included solely women speakers from the Mile High City, and it was promised that all individuals would leave with another woman’s dream at the forefront of their minds.
As the evening’s emcee and host, Lauren Casteel, CEO of The Women’s Foundation (a woman whose career and leadership I have admired for years), approached the stage, she said this, “We’re here because women didn’t always have the platform they have today.”
She’s right. Though our country has come a long way as it pertains to women’s rights, there is still work to be done to ensure that all girls’ and women’s voices are heard, and not just because we are begging people to listen. TED empowers women to question the status quo while nurturing their passions, and it acknowledging their fears, without judgment. It also provides a community that gives a voice to the “thinkers” and “doers” – who often feel undervalued and unnoticed.
Out of all the phenomenal speakers (there were 12 total), the moment that hit me the hardest was the applause that followed Christen Reighter, who delivered a powerful presentation that recapped her journey to become surgically sterilized. With this decision, she relived with the audience her personal discovery that society desperately clings to a woman fulfilling the assumed role of mother, without a woman’s consent; that her identity and worthiness is not a choice she makes herself but is rather associated with titles that are forced upon her. She shared the judgment she faced from her friends, family and even her doctors—some whom even refused to perform the (highly legal) procedure for her. She felt dismissed, silenced and vilified – for doing nothing more than making an informed decision regarding her own body.
When her presentation ended, all attendees stood from their seats and gave an extended applause, causing Christen to bring her hand to her mouth as her eyes welled up with tears. When our emcee Lauren came back to greet her, she placed her hand on Christen’s shoulder and said, “If before you felt invisible, please look around this room and remember, you are not.” It was a beautiful moment I felt so honored to be part of.
As a gay woman, I certainly find myself feeling invisible in society’s eyes. In discouraging times, I remind myself how fortunate I am to work for a firm that celebrates and champions who I am. After the November election, our CEO Billy Vassiliadis assured our staff that R&R would always fight on behalf of its employees to protect their rights and well being. These were words I needed to hear. To hear them from my firm’s leadership was poetic and gave me hope for the future.
Ultimately, all people deserve to be seen. Whether it be attending a speaker series, or reassuring words from my CEO – these are the moments that show me that I am not invisible.