Celebrating our independence

I recently attended the Worldwide Partners Inc. (WPI) annual North America conference in Chicago. WPI is a network of independent agencies that have come together to leverage the thinking and resources of 70+ top independent agencies from across the globe. Besides R&R Partners, the network includes fine agencies like BSSP, Mering Carsen, Shipyard, Juice Pharma, Bailey Laurerman, just to name a few. In fact, collectively, WPI ranks No. 10 in terms of billings when compared to other large holding companies.

The conference really shed light on why being independent is really special and unique.


Our clients’ success is paramount – we are all-in for our clients. Creativity is at our core – typically with smaller budgets, we have to find efficient, yet effective and breakthrough solutions for our clients. We are also nimble and quick – structure and process exists, but isn’t a barrier to moving quickly in a fast-paced environment. We invest for our clients – we aren’t beholden to any holding company, so we do what’s right for our clients, not what’s in the best interest of our bottom line. And when needed, WPI agencies come together to scale up to meet the clients’ needs, whether it be geographical, resources or specialty areas.

Independence is at the core of R&R Partners. Our unique experiences and culture, coupled with our candor and empathy, deliver results for our clients. Clients that have been around 20+ years in most cases.


The WPI conference theme was Catalyst, and the diverse programming and content really stimulated some great thinking and new ideas. What follows are 12 things I learned this week:

  1. Programmatic buying is a great way for publishers and clients to take advantage of real-time bidding and traffic spikes due to timely and topical events. But the key to programmatic buying is being transparent to clients, both delivery and cost.
  2. Tongal, a creative, on-demand production studio, not only does great cost-efficient work, but a partner like Tongal could also serve as an alternative to freelancers or help supplement your social content program.
  3. “Your vision is your creativity … but change requires gut and grit … you are the catalyst …” – Jen Spencer, the Humanity of Creativity.
  4. Michael Farmer, author of Madison Avenue Manslaughter, shared with us that consultants have greater value than agencies, thanks most in part to holding company agencies who have squeezed margins so low. Consultants are keen on a desire for client results and shareholder value; meanwhile, holding company agencies are about their own bottom line. He believes big agency brands are becoming more and more irrelevant, and this is good for independent agencies who are similar to the consultant philosophy above.
  5. Doug Wood of Reed Smith law firm has a site called legalbytes.com with interesting information on issues facing marketers today – bot fraud, patent trolls, native advertising, programmatic, etc. – all too technical for me to further expand upon.
  6. Vertical networks, particularly in the B2B, but also in some B2C categories, make a lot of sense for clients and marketers. Spiceworks is the top network in IT; Doximity for doctors; Edmodo for educators; Showcase for marketing; just to name a few.
  7. Forbes has put forward the road map for managing, systematizing and optimizing the marketing content supply chain: Own -> Reorganize -> Systemize -> Operationalize.
  8. Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the incubator space in the Merchandise Mart, knows his stuff! He believes search is out, and answers are in … and data and accessibility is driving this phenomenon. He also says context is more important than what you’re saying; ritual and regular is more important than frequency; reach, resonance, reaction. Raise is a really cool gift card app where you can buy unused gift cards at really low prices and retailers aren’t balking as they would rather get some revenue versus rebating the unused gift cards based on recent regulations.
  9. Mintel talked about the iGeneration, 5−14-year-olds, since we’re all tired of talking about Millennials. Interesting statistics that prove our country truly is a minority-majority: 5−14-yea-olds are 40 percent diverse today, 25 percent Hispanic, 10 percent African-American and 5 percent Asian. We, as marketers, need to wake up to this; or should have woken up to this a while ago.
  10. rFactor showed us some interesting social trends and success stories: social connect to CRM, segment based on sales criteria, and align key sales and marketing stakeholders.
  11. One large consultancy company measures success in terms of its clients’ financial results. An interesting approach that should be considered for clients who are open to innovative compensation structures.
  12. I terribly missed my kids, Hudson and Sawyer. It was a powerfully packed two-day agenda, which I don’t regret being a part of at the very least, but I was glad to do the redeye in and out in order to limit my time away from my kids.




Is your brand on the path to irrelevancy?

Can you recall the last time you heard anyone speak of his unmentionable BVDs? How about the last time anyone asked for a Nuprin? How about Xerox? Has anyone xerox’ed paper lately? It was a very common function at one point.

Remember the good old days when Oldsmobiles, Plymouths and Mercurys traversed the country’s roads? How about when Nolan Ryan took Nuprin for his aches? Or when smokers and coffee drinkers knew exactly which toothpaste to use to maintain their pearly whites. Do you remember that premium coffee was available in a can?

There are many factors that contribute to the demise or irrelevancy of a brand. This is not about listing those factors — ultimately, bad brand management kills a brand. Rather, this is about another huge factor that is at the marketer’s doorstep and in due course will be the death of additional brands − demographic shifts in population.

You might know of demographic shifts. But do you know about the effect on your brand?

According to Census data, the percentage of foreign-born population is the highest in more than a hundred years. At almost 13 percent, it is the highest since the mass European immigrations at the end of the 19th century.

Now think of how we acquire brands. How does the relationship begin and how are we introduced to them? When young adults leave the nest and begin their acquisition stage, they don’t do it with a blank slate − the brands used at home are already embedded in their lives; the relationship with brands, not necessarily the use of them, is old. And who introduced the brand relationship? The parents. And if the parents lack a relationship with a brand that was introduced to the American public decades ago, then not only are they lacking a relationship with the brand, they are lacking awareness and understanding of the brand.

Let’s look at the Hispanic consumer segment as it relates to this topic. While 60 percent of all U.S. Hispanics were born in the U.S., the family history in the country is rather short. The generational relationship to American iconic brands is not well developed or is nonexistent.

Think of iconic brands developed 40 years ago in the U.S. How many of the death or dying brands mentioned at the beginning of this article fall into that category? Does Brooke Shields remind you of wearing your Calvin Klein jeans commando? Does the Pillsbury doughboy elicit the same emotional response with Hispanic consumers? What about Mr. Clean? Is Wonder Bread building strong bodies? All the efforts conducted in the past lack a reference and emotion; they are irrelevant.

Moreover, immigrants bring in the brands from their home countries, and these days, they are also found in the local grocers’ aisles. Hostess brands compete with the portfolio of Mexico’s Bimbo snack cakes. Mexico’s Picot brand is the go-to effervescent indigestion brand over Alka Seltzer − and it outsells Alka Seltzer in Walmart.

It’s OK then. Native-born Hispanics will speak English and know my brand, right?

Native born Hispanics will speak English because they are and will be educated in the U.S.; however, they will be unfamiliar with your brands. Branding is not about language. It’s about creating relevancy, about acquiring real estate in the consumer’s mind. And if the brand ignores the consumer, the consumer will also dismiss the brand.

It gets worse. Hispanic consumers are drastically changing the definition of mainstream consumers. Food items and customs previously thought of as Hispanic are now part of the mainstream. Think about that during your next Dia de los Muertos party as you dip into your guacamole, or the next time you indulge in your churros at Disneyland, or get ready to eat serrano-topped sushi rolls.

How do I learn if my brand will be affected by demographic changes?

Learn if the category is developed with the Hispanic consumer segment. Is your brand history seeded in the post-WWII baby boom? Is your brand steeped in 1950s Americana? Are you using Catskills humor to position your brand with consumers who think Catskills is the YouTube piano-playing cat? Are you tapping the emergent consumer markets not familiar with your brand? If you are, is the message relevant or simply a translation?

Think about your personal experience: Remember traveling in the old station wagon and spending the night at the Holiday Inn? Remember the familiar shag carpeting and Astro-Turf by the pool? The fun time you had while stretching your legs by the pool, the horseplay and the cannonballs? That’s a memory − a brand perception not shared by more than 30 percent of the U.S. population.

Your cellphone is ringing

Imagine a negative attack has been launched against your company by a well-organized and vocal collection of critics who are determined to inflict as much damage as possible on your company, your brand and CEO. The attack has gone viral and now the mainstream media is picking up the story – a firestorm has begun and your cellphone rings. It’s an investigative journalist with a history of going after companies like yours. Are you ready for that phone call?

For far too many companies, the answer to that question is no. They are not ready and the result will be corporate leadership resignations, a hit to your stock price, congressional investigations, prolonged litigation, and a barrage of bad media that will take years to repair. It’s often a situation that should have been handled better and, in retrospect, was entirely preventable. As Warren Buffet once famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” In today’s world of instant communications, dropping the ball on a high-profile event can undo decades of work. Fortunately, there is a way to be prepared in the event a crisis strikes.

There are a million excuses for not having a quality crisis communications plan in place. Some corporate executives view them as an unnecessary expense that will likely never be used. Others think they have one when in reality all they really have is an outdated plan and an internal communications team ill-equipped to modernize it and put it into action. Still others think they can just invent one on the fly should a crisis break out. These are examples of mindsets that lead to PR disasters and cost corporate executives their careers.



So what are the elements of a good crisis communications plan? For starters, have one. A good crisis plan should contain the following items:

  • A good crisis consultant with experience developing and executing crisis plans
  • An internal leadership team in place that makes crisis planning a priority
  • Previous crisis communications practice/simulations
  • Reliable and current spokespeople
  • An internal company protocol for handling crisis media inquires
  • Existing media relationships with priority press
  • A draft holding statement
  • Anticipated Qs & As
  • A reputation rebuilding plan post-crisis

Every crisis is unique (that’s what often makes it a crisis), but by having a plan in place and anticipating and practicing problems and solutions, your leadership team can rest easier at night knowing they are prepared for whatever comes their way, whether it’s an attack on your company from determined activists, a data breach, an employee scandal, a product malfunction or a fatality (hopefully not).

R&R Partners offers a range of services for managing crisis and high-profile events. Our team has a proven track record of helping clients weather the storm of a bad situation while protecting their brand. We can help you develop a plan and prepare for that day when your cellphone rings.

Your cellphone is ringing – are you ready?

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.

Art vs. Commerce

There is a new film – Wonderland – that features commercial directors talking about the difference between true creativity/art and commercial work. Bottom line from the film is that they find commercial work to be anything but artistic.

I have worked with a number of directors on commercials. Many of them went on to do feature films. Others were doing feature films when I started to work with them. From my experience, the best of these directors treat commercial film the same way they would treat an artistic film. The ones who didn’t did boring, lifeless commercial work. The ones who treated it as a piece of them and gave the endeavor their artistic soul always made better work.

Is a commercial work purely creative? NO, of course not. Many times in Wonderland they talk about the restrictions that clients and agency people put on the work. They talk about the money behind the work and how that affects it. Basically, they talk about how they can’t do whatever they want and how that differs greatly from artistic work where they decide what the subject and tone of the work is.

Having read both Coppola’s biography and numerous stories about Orson Wells and other film directors – I can tell you that projects with complete creative control do not always come out better than those where studios dictate a number of the decisions. Directors such as Woody Allen and Spielberg tend to have more control than other directors – and their films do feel more like art than some other films. But I am not convinced that having less control – they won’t make great work. They are great directors. They made great work when they had less control … they just didn’t like it as much. It is harder. It is frustrating. But if they didn’t make great work in the first place with studio collaboration, they would have never had the control the have now. So what comes first – the chicken or the egg?

It is easy to say that when it’s someone else’s idea, there is no art in it. Art comes from the heart and experience. It’s something that garners emotion from the viewer. Commercial work is not that different. … Commercial work comes from a brand heart. The experience is that of the brand and the creatives, while the emotion is felt by the consumer. And make no mistake – creating an emotional tie to a piece of work is extremely important for a brand. Without the emotion, there is no relationship with the brand. And that is basically what a brand is – the relationship with the consumer.

There is a reason why creative directors hire film directors to work on their commercial endeavors. They want art infused into their commercial piece. This is no easy task. The voice of the brand and the client are always repeating rules and strategies even in the most creative creative directors. There is no way around it. But when you add that voice of the artist to the project, you get a voice more concerned with the emotion than the voices in their heads. The best film directors will fight with the creative director to make that art. And the best creative directors will let go of some things and fight for others that he/she knows are necessary for the communication. In the end, the project will become a commerce/art collaboration.

Sometimes the balance goes more toward commerce and sometimes more toward art. Sometimes, the emotion that comes from the art transfers to the brand and sometimes the brand overshadows the emotion created by the art. The best of these collaborations gives you both a brand communication and emotion.

If you look at the two ads below, you will see both art and commerce in them. “Stiff Upper Lip” is as close to some modern art as you will ever get in a television ad. It is mysterious, weird, and definitely pulls different emotions from the viewer like any modern art piece. There are those who don’t understand it, those who love it and many who hate it … but they can’t stop looking at it. And I would say the commercial is art until the commerce ending. I would say the same for the POM Wonderful spot. If you turned off the sound and cut off the product at the end, it’s a very artful piece of film. The composition, beauty, interest and emotion are all there with a product at the end or not.

Also, the digital landscape has opened up the creative avenues tenfold. Think about it. … Now there are brand films where artists are asked to interpret the brand. They are given more freedom because the cost of such films is less and a certain freedom is expected on the Web that isn’t expected as much on television. And, of course, Web films need an authenticity to be shared – and that authenticity means more art than commerce.

Then there is the whole definition of what art is in the first place and how it came to be. Art from the beginning was not always meant to be art. As a form of expression, it has changed with the times. And often, great art was commissioned from great artists. How is getting a portrait of yourself painted different from having a commercial done for your brand? There are obviously rules for both subjects. The artist can’t paint a portrait of someone else when you paid for a portrait of YOU … although a portrait from Picasso might look like someone else – depending on your perspective. The beginnings of art come from telling a story, almost a journal, of early man’s adventures during hunting season 30,000 years ago. These early paintings on caves could well have been advertisements. “Check out Mogu. … He is best at finding meat. He has big weapons. He has a cool cave. Wild animals and women fall at his feet.” Painted by Gred. Gred lives outside Mogu’s cave on a rock. But he paints a mean story about Mogu.

The first artists lived by a set of rules as to how they painted subjects. When they broke those rules, then the needle of art moved. And along the timeline, more rules were broken and art moved again. This is very close to the commercial world, where the rules are continually broken and changing – especially with the advent of a digital landscape that continues to evolve commerce and art as well.

This excerpt says it all. …

“… the lessons of Egyptian art had not simply been discarded and thrown overboard. Greek artists still tried to make their figures as clear in outline as possible, and to include as much of their knowledge of the human body as would go into the picture without doing violence to its appearance. They still loved firm outlines and balanced design. They were far from trying to copy any casual glimpse of nature as they saw it. The old formula, the type of human form as it had developed in all these centuries, was still their starting point. Only they no longer considered it sacred in every detail.” – E.H. Gombrich, The Story of Art

That is what a great director does for a piece of commerce. They don’t regard a brand’s rules as sacred in every detail. They are still working from the strategy. They are still trying to get across the right message for the brand. … But the things you hold onto as sacred about your brand … are not in the mind of that director. If he’s good, he’ll try and get you to break some sacred cow that sits in your mind, grazing away at the grey matter. Once that happens – anything is possible. …


Politics and marketing make strange bedfellows

If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.

Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.

Ad So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.

At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.

It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.

Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.

whathapOne of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously

This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.

And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.

What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.

I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.

This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.

Why Brands Should Start Swinging with Vine

Currently, 87% of U.S. marketers are using video as means of content marketing. And in the next five years, mobile video is expected to present 66% of global mobile data traffic, so it’s only natural to expand our platforms to include mobile.

So, what is Vine?

Vine is a mobile app from Twitter that allows you to create GIF-like looping videos with audio – similar to Instagram – but with video. By setting limitations of six seconds of footage and character limit of 140, Vine inspires creativity in clearly communicating a message in an ephemeral video. Since its launch in January, Vine has been topping this list of free iPhone apps in the app store.

Here’s a great post from Mashable on how to use Vine to create and share videos.

How is Vine being used now?

Both brands and celebrities have been using Vine as a platform for engagement. Recording artist Jason Derulo used Vine to promote his new single, “The Other Side,” encouraging fans to create Vines using clips of the song (provided on his site) and upload them using the hashtag #TheOtherSide. The best clips will then be loaded into a special fan video for the song.

Last month, Vine launched trending hashtags, making exploration of content even easier. Trending hashtags display to users the Vines that are rising the fastest in popularity, not just the most popular overall.

How should you use Vine?

Before you begin Vining for your brand, a clear objective for your video is key. Here are 3 important things to remember:

1)     Have only ONE message to get across. Attempting to employ multiple messages will make the video choppy, messy, and confusing to the viewer.

2)     Make sure your description is clearly stated in one concise sentence, covering what you hope viewers will get from your vine.

3)     Keep it simple and most importantly, have fun!

From a brand perspective, Vine is a great app for visual storytelling that adds value to the brand. If executed correctly, a brand’s Vine will contain the simple core message in a visual manner that will result in high consumption. Here is a great example from Gap:

What shoes do you plan to wear with The 1969 Skimmer? #gap #denimevolved

There are many ways for brands to use Vine, such as:

–          Engage followers in conversation

–          Feature brand supporters/ambassadors

–          Promote work for a client

–          Excite followers about a new product

–          Educate

–          Amuse

–          Tell the brand’s story

–          Advertise or host a contest

How can you measure Vine activity?

Concerned about analytics? Rest assured, there are already companies out there tracking stats for Vines. Simply Measured offers free Vine analytics (for Twitter accounts with up to 10,000 followers) that tracks the popularity of your Vine account.

So how do you plan on using Vine for your clients?

Did 2012 live up the political hype? Yes!

As we are currently in the first political window of 2013 in Las Vegas and dealing with make-goods and LUR’s (lowest unit rate)….let’s review 2012.  We were all warned going into 2012 that it was going to be a strong year politically, with record breaking spend, etc.  Did it live up to the hype?

Short answer: Yes.  Additionally, both presidential campaigns spent heavily on advertising in Nevada and Colorado with Las Vegas and Denver media markets seeing the most presidential political advertising. According to the Washington Post and Kantar Media, Nevada as a whole saw $55 million in total TV political ad spend with Las Vegas (ranked #40 Nielsen TV market) accounting for $46 million. Colorado reached $73 million total TV ad dollars, with Denver (ranked #17) racking up $59 million of that take. See political TV advertising spend broken down by state and by candidate for the 2012 election with this interactive map!

The Wesleyan Media Project reports that in 2012, TV viewers were bombarded with more than 3 million ads related to the presidential and congressional elections.  Overall, there was a 33% increase in the number of ads and 81% increase in spend compared to the 2008 election.  While local news is always impacted heavily by political advertising and is the main focus, the Obama campaign also focused on talk and reality shows and niche cable networks more so than the Romney campaign. This explains why the Obama campaign was able to spend $4 million less in TV ad dollars in the Las Vegas market than his counterpart Romney, yet receive five thousand more total ads. This could very well have proved a critical strategy in Obama’s win of the crucial swing state of Nevada.

The TVB reports that local TV stations captured over 80% of total television spending in the political category during the 2012 season.  “Television stations total political revenue, in the face of increased competition, from new and social media, continues to boast a high growth rate: $1.5 billion in 2008, $2.1 billion in 2010 (+35%) and $2.9 billion in 2012 (+38%).”

Obama spent more on social campaigning than his counterpart by 10 to 1.  Obama spent a whopping 47 million dollars to target key constituents nationwide.

It was clear that the focus was much more important for the Obama campaign for driving voters to influence and create actions. Building this community proved vital as President Obama had more Facebook fans, more Twitter followers and more YouTube views than Romney.

So it appears that in the political TV and new/social media advertising game during the 2012 election, the Obama Campaign clearly had the smarter strategies. However both party lines continue to show the same trend with increasing their advertising spend each election year.

Pamela Payne and Cameron Partridge contributed to this article.

Contact, Content and the Consumer

According to a recent BtoB Magazine research study, in 2013, B2B marketers will likely spend on the channels they think are effective in getting content in front of prospects.  Of those surveyed by B2B Magazine, 93% said they would be updating their website as this was their highest source of information sharing.

The New YorkerBut no matter what, a flashy website will only work for so long.   And as cliché as it sounds, content is King.  And The New Yorker is continuing to build its empire.  Over the past several years, The New Yorker has launched numerous new Web channels and looks to continue the trend in the next couple of months with the launch of a Science and Technology channel as well as a Business channel.  The Science and Tech channel will expand the number of blog posts from writers such as Ken Auletta, Gary Marcus and Tim Wu.  While the Business hub will feature more infographics and video content and will feature the magazines most popular writers such as Malcolm Gladwell.

Another established brand looking to reinvigorate itself is NPR.  With the birth of digital radio, the organization is launching its first advertising campaign in four markets to push its digital radio assets this month in four markets: Dallas, Indianapolis, Orlando and San Diego.  The campaign will run for three months and include TV, billboards, transit, print and digital advertising and will be funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation.  While it doesn’t rely on advertising for support, NPR understands the importance of maintaining relevancy to its current audience and the need to expand its digital offerings to complete with the number of digital radio formats now available.

The Season

Powerful ads during the Big Game were remembered by some, but just a little more than a week after the game, most of us have forgotten most of the ads. Even with the power of social media and the YouTube Ad Blitz after the game, some brands scored bigger than others. Which poses the question: Is the game a platform for brands to kick off a campaign or a platform for one-offs.

The most forgotten spot is Audi’s Prom. It’s also one of the most conceptually sound spots in the Big Game. Who hasn’t thought back to that prom or dance where they did or didn’t grab that moment? The brand that lost its way was Coke. Coke is supposed to bring happiness to everyone. Making happiness a dog-eat-showgirl competition is not their brand. The best ads were Mercedes Benz Soul and Miracle Stain. They both had everything I need for a great commercial … a great epic story line, fantastic performances, and a communication at the end that seals an emotional tie to the message and the brand. Still, with all that money and talent, a tweet got the most play.

One note … even the worst advertisers during the Super Bowl reap the benefits. For many brands, awareness is a win-win, even if the ad is being touted as a disaster. Century 21 gets talked about for two weeks before the game and gets Web and customer traffic to make just being in the broadcast worth it even though the ads end up at the bottom of most lists. There are many other brands that feel the same way. Look at Audi. They had a pretty good ad and believe that a TV buy in the Super Bowl is the best way to go year after year … because it works.

It seems that, unlike the game itself, for most brands, the Super Bowl ad competition doesn’t end at the final whistle. Brands are clearly hopeful that their campaign kickoffs lead to long returns with their consumers.