The Internet of Listening

I am sure you are aware of the Internet of Things, but are you aware of the Internet of Listening. The Internet of Things takes your devices inside the home and sometimes on your body and connects them to the cloud. Nest, a smart thermostat, is connected to the cloud and adjustable by your phone on the same cloud. But it’s much more interesting than that. Nest is learning from you. It knows when you are in a room. It knows how long you are in said room. It knows when you leave said room. So it can almost gleam how you feel about said room. If you liked it, you stayed longer. If you didn’t, you stayed less. It is deducing such feelings from your interaction with the device. But what if it had more to go from? What if it heard you had cold feet? Of course,assuming it knows the difference between actual cold feet and the term “cold feet” it could turn up the heat. If it heard the sounds of amore, it could change the temperature accordingly … so if you like it hot, it can actually be hot. This may sound good to some and may sound creepy to others. However it sounds … this type of listening has already begun.

Your devices are already monitoring your conversations. If you read any of the books on Edward Snowden, you know that phones can monitor conversations even when they are off. This is not science fiction – it is in government documents. Snowden and the reporters involved would put their phones inside the hotel room refrigerators when they needed to talk about sensitive stuff. Thankfully, the refrigerators weren’t listening yet. … YET. But it’s not just sophisticated government surveillance. Samsung’s new smart TV allows you to give it instructions by voice. It also monitors conversations that aren’t telling it to turn on BETTER CALL SAUL (great show by the way). Of course, Samsung has since changed its terms to sound like it isn’t doing this.

Amazon’s Echo (I ordered one but don’t have it yet) is a device that sits in your living room and talks to you; keeps your grocery list; answers questions; plays music; and promises to learn to do many more things that I am sure I won’t need. But it’s someone else to talk to, so why not? The interesting part is the sophisticated microphone system inside it. Amazon claims it can hear your commands in a normal voice from anywhere in the room. You will forget it’s there until you say the wake up word … Alexa. But is Alexa really sleeping or is she pretending to sleep like an angry lover listening to every word and making plans? Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it, but who knows what Alexa really thinks or wants?

As I am writing this, Evernote is reading what I am typing. I wrote about Samsung’s TV and Evernote put the perfect link to the article at the bottom of this. Then it gave me a link to Amazon’s Echo when I was writing about that. Evernote is listening and adding context to what I am writing. I hope that is all Evernote is doing, but probably not. Adding context through a couple of suggested articles is one of the nice things Evernote does for me. But what if Evernote could actually hear what I was talking about in my home with my family? And what if it could take what it knows from what I’ve written and put it together with what I might be saying, doing, buying, and connect that to what other devices on the cloud are doing for me?

THE CIRCLE, by Dave Eggers, imagines a world where all is known by everyone through a connected social network with connected cameras everywhere that can hear and see everything except in the bedroom and bathroom. If you think you might be seen, you won’t commit a crime. If you are sick and alone, the world can help when they see you fall. If you want to know what the world really thinks should be done about ISIS, it’s a collective thought away. You can see the implications for privacy and it seems like future fantasy. But it is not. When they can hear what you are saying, it’s almost as telling as the cameras. And don’t forget – cameras are everywhere as well. Everything, from phones, to cams that watch your dog, to cams that watch your front door to hidden cameras all connected to the cloud. This world is becoming very transparent. Your hopes, dreams and actions are becoming more and more obvious to the cloud.

What does this mean to privacy?  There are three kinds of people in the world.  There are people who don’t want anyone knowing anything about them.  There are people who don’t care if anyone is watching them because they don’t think there is any reason why anyone would care.  In other words… the innocent people.  Then there is the group that realizes that it is all being done to sell you something…and they choose to accept that or they don’t.  It is amazing what consumers will accept in order to have the NEW.  Look at any of the app agreements and you’ll know what I am talking about.  Consumers will give up a ton to get what they think they need.

 What does this mean to marketers? Pretty simple. Your targeting is going to get laser. If someone mentions a desire for your product or service in casual conversation, it is going to show up somewhere very quickly. Your Echo, your TV, your speaker system that listens for ambient sounds, your talking refrigerator, or basically anything connected to the cloud with a microphone (remember Mr. Microphone – now think of Mr. Microphone Cloud Edition) will deliver the “context”/”way” to buy, book, get, order, find, embrace – whatever you are talking about in your home. Your Echo will send it immediately if you ask. And once every appliance is connected to every other appliance and connected to social and connected to your Apple Watch and whatever else the Cloud knows about your customer, then it isn’t selling anymore.

It’s the Internet of Listening.

What’s Next for the Opportunistic Bowl?

The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.

We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.

Newcastle’s Band of Brands

Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.

“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”

R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.

This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).

Doritos Gets Hijacked

Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.

Bud was also big into the hacking game. Just because they have that cute dog doesn’t mean they can’t be evil. They showed up a lot on searches for other brands to keep the conversation about the biggest advertiser in the game – super smart.

The Marshawn Lynch Game

Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.

Totino’s Early Super Bowl

Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.

So What’s Next?

More Brands Will Team Up

Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.

Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game

The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.

You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game  

This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.

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From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.

More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets

The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off.  Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.

Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year

Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.

More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation

Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.

Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.

The Rise of Millennials and Their Importance to the Future of Online Travel

If you haven’t heard the term “Millennial” yet, you may need to do some catching up to ensure you aren’t missing the boat on a generation that now outnumbers Baby Boomers. By 2020, Millennials are expected to account for $1.4 trillion in annual spending, and by 2025 to account for 46 percent of the nation’s income – the next economic powerhouse.

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What makes Millennials different than other generations? They are truly “Internet natives.” According to a recent report based on data from Experian Marketing Services, Millennials are the “most diverse, informed and digitally connected” generation. Simply put: They spend a significant amount of time online and on social media. How much, you ask? Millennials “spend 35 hours a week with digital media,” compared to 32 hours with traditional media.

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It is no surprise then that the most digitally connected generation may also be one of great marketing importance to those in the travel and tourism business – particularly online travel. According to Forrester Research, in 2013, 76 percent of U.S. online adult leisure travelers booked online. And eMarketer, an independent market research company, notes that individuals are spending more time online researching travel – with two-thirds of all travelers researching online before traveling. What’s more, with the number of travel bookings increasing on smartphones and tablets (up 121% and 48%, respectively, since Jan. 2013), coupled with data showing Millennials “use mobile most for travel content,” they make up a powerful, and growing, consumer segment for companies to consider as they develop marketing strategies to capitalize on this travel and tourism trend.

Sources: [The Wire, 5/23/14; Accenture, June 2013; MediaPost, 7/2/14; Forrester Research, 1/29/14; eMarketer, 6/8/12; Adobe, 5/23/14]

Marketing to the LGBT Community: Talk About Brand Loyalists

To some, the LGBT consumer is a “new” consumer demographic of affluent, educated and well-traveled people. R&R Partners has been marketing to the LGBT consumer since the late ’90s, so to us, they’re not new – more like old friends. Not only have they been an important part of our marketing mix for many years, but we have also put our legislative skills to work on successfully expanding the rights of LGBT couples in Nevada, where we’re based.

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Our most high-profile LGBT ad campaigns have been crafted on behalf of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), which recently included a tongue-in-cheek print campaign with the tagline, “Everyone’s invited. Even straight people.” Here is a look at our work as reported by Adweek, The Daily Beast, The New York Times and The Huffington Post below:

“We came to [LogoTV] and said, ‘We can organically be a part of this program,’” R&R SVP Fletcher Whitwell told Adweek of the LVCVA’s integration into RuPaul’s Drag Race-Season Six. RuPaul also talks about Las Vegas’ product placement and references the evolution of the Las Vegas brand. 

The Daily Beast asked David Paisley, senior research director at Community Marketing, for his thoughts on our LGBT work upon the release of a “What happens here, stays here” TV ad aimed at the LGBT viewer. “Vegas has done an incredible job at marketing themselves to the gay community,” said Paisley. “It’s spent far more money on LGBT media than any other gay destination out there. The biggest trend happening right now is that bars and major resorts are all doing a gay night,” he says. “Almost every major gay association out there has held its convention in Las Vegas over the last few years.” Added Arnie DiGeorge, R&R Partners executive creative director, on the goal of the spot, “The whole positioning is that Vegas doesn’t make any assumptions one way or the other. It’s the Mystery of Vegas. We don’t tell people how to feel.” Read more.

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In a recent article in The New York Times on LGBT travel, both R&R’s print and broadcast work was lauded by Merryn Johns, editor in chief of Curve, a leading lesbian magazine.

And a few weeks ago, when the Supreme Court finally overruled Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban, Las Vegas burst into joyous celebration, here, and here.

R&R’s Fletcher Whitwell has a personal stake in the issue as well.

LGBT consumers are estimated at 5 to 7 percent of the U.S. population or roughly 16 million brand-conscious Americans.

To learn how you can command a stake in this $835 million market, please contact Fletcher directly at 702-318-4336 or fletcher.whitwell@rrpartners.com.

Building Brands Across Borders

We’re making our international debut with the opening of CMV/R&R Partners in Mexico City. CEO Billy Vassiliadis made the announcement during a keynote address entitled “Translating Success – Learning to Do Business Across Cultures” at Austin’s BonusMX@ATX, a forum for creative industry executives in the United States and Mexico. It marked a long-anticipated move by our agency into Latin America, and represents our fourth new office in six years.

“The borderless economy is here and now,” Vassiliadis said. “When you look at American brands like Microsoft, Pfizer and Walmart, which are well-established in Mexico, you’re seeing how 20 years of NAFTA have helped erase many of the old trade barriers. Mexico is now the world’s 11th largest GDP and has a tech-savvy middle class that embraces the “Made in USA” label. The potential for U.S. companies to benefit can’t be overstated.”

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But why now? Just like in effective advertising, timing is key. When it came down to deciding whether to invest resources into an emerging international market with CMV, a full-service agency with clients ranging from Pfizer to Birkenstock, Vassiliadis and the rest of the agency brass felt like it was the perfect time – following suit with our expansion model to seek opportunities driven by markets with growth potential, such as our offices in Los Angeles, Austin and Denver.

Additionally, the components are in place: Technology is on the rise. Positive political reforms and deregulation of energy, financial and telecommunication industries have created opportunities. The GDP growth rate in Mexico is outpacing Eurozone countries. And from an economic standpoint, Mexico and the U.S. are more parallel than perpendicular these days.

In his report, “Working Together: Economic Ties Between the United States and Mexico,” Christopher Wilson of The Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars explains: “Mexico and the United States are no longer competitors, where one country wins and the other loses. They are partners. The Mexican and U.S. economies are now as deeply integrated as any on Earth.”

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A partnership with CMV and entry into Mexico City makes perfect sense. Sure, the stats figure into the equation – 53.6 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population lives in the Southwest, where we have the strongest presence, and nearly one in eight U.S. Hispanics lives in a city where we have an office. And we have plenty of experience conducting business in Mexico over the past decade, and more with our work with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Western Union, the 2012 G20 Summit and more.

There are other factors, too. The move will also yield more opportunities at home. This partnership gives us a better vehicle to create an authentic voice and vision to first- and second-generation Hispanic consumers in the U.S.

But ultimately, this bold move is about two things: the opportunities, and teaming with the right people. We’ve found that our partnership with CMV grew out of the recognition that our two agencies share a similar passion for tackling tough issues, developing creative work and having a strong internal culture of excellence. And sharing that passion across borders is something we can’t wait to accomplish together.

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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. …

 

Mission accomplished — and forever remembered

It took but only a moment for me to firmly decide in Group Therapy that winter morning, after falling in love with everything the Foundation is and stands for (R&R romanced me hard that day),  that I would be headed to Nicaragua this summer, to assist on Project El Crucero. It would cost some money and some PTO, but all of that could be sorted out later. I realized that this was the opportunity I had been itching for, and I had to take it. In a few short months, I’d bust out of the confines of my comfort zone and do what I could to improve the quality of life for another, even if only in a small way.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.01.13 PMMy wildest expectations were surpassed this past June when a group of R&R employees and Friends of Tonner made the trip down to El Crucero, Nicaragua. For most of us, it was our first mission trip. We arrived to Managua hours after the sun had gone down, sweaty and tired, but ready. Our emotions ran the gamut: excited, nervous, anxious. But then, after 40 long minutes of curves and bumps and sweating on the ride up the mountain to El Crucero, we pulled up to the clinic on that first Sunday, and everything was peaceful, and right. Our hearts had led us to this point, and would lead us through it.

Our days were filled with small construction projects on the clinic itself, painting, making and sharing any kind of lunch we could with the food we had, kicking the soccer ball around, arts and crafts, and for the teens in the group (and Roy), leading many, many rounds of “Down By The Banks.”

IMG_7215On the off day we had from the clinic, we found ourselves really missing the kids. The lake was beautiful, the market was a blast (ask someone else on the trip if shopping with me is recommended or not), and the rest and relaxation was probably necessary. But it wasn’t the same as having one of the kids run and leap into your arms when you piled out of the van upon arriving at the clinic. Or the look in the eyes of the boy you gave a new pair of shoes. Or the mother who was in tears because all of her children were fed for a day.

They say 80% of communication is unspoken. None of us are fluent in Spanish, or even close, but conversation never ceased. We filled the holes in our dialogue with hugs, and smiles and laughs. I’ll say these were some of the most instantaneous, meaningful connections I’ve ever made.

Nica 210On the last day, we were able to leave everything we brought: the clothes we wore, the shoes off our feet. I experienced the single most touching moment of my life after giving my tennis shoes to a young teen boy who owned but only a single pair of shoes. They were black dress shoes, with the sole flapping as he walked. After I said, “para usted” to him and handed him the shoes, the look of gratitude on his face, the way he looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Thank you” in English, made me instantly tear up. I will never be eloquent enough to put into words the impact of that moment on me, and the others, as we gave our belongings away. If that were the only moment of the whole trip, it would have been worth it.

We pulled away from the clinic for the last time on Friday afternoon, with some of the kids chasing our van down the dirt drive. We had just held a BBQ for the families of the town, and said our long goodbyes. At dinner that night we reflected on the week as a whole, unanimously agreeing that it was life-changing. One thing is for certain, we’ll all be back next year.

We welcome and encourage you to consider this as part of your personal journey as well.

 

Contemplating my 59th birthday at the Electric Daisy Carnival

If you know what the Electric Daisy Carnival is, skip this paragraph.  I’m going to use it to bring those unaware of all things EDC up to speed. I’ll meet you in a hundred words or so.  For those who don’t know, the Electric Daisy Carnival is, as far as I know, the largest gathering of electronic dance music (EDM) fans and artists in the country, probably the world.  For three consecutive nights in June, 115,000 people gather in the infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to dance, jump up and down, wander around and listen to more than 200 acts spread out over seven stages.  There are also a bunch of carnival rides, art installations and hundreds of actors roaming the grounds wearing incredible costumes, many of them riding on amazing contraptions.

edctopLast weekend, I was there for two of EDC’s three nights.  At this point, it’s appropriate to mention that I am 58 years old, which undoubtedly begs the question: What am I doing out there in the infield of a race track in the middle of the night with 115,000 people – most of whom are one-third to one-half my age – listening to the likes of Nicky Romero, Fake Blood, Dirty South, Destructo, Avicii, John Digweed and Tiesto?

Valid question.  There are a couple of reasons.  First, I am actually a fan of EDM.  Not every genre (and there are many genres.  If you don’t believe me, just search “EDM genres”), but I like a lot of it.  I listen to BPM and Electric Area on Sirius and my oldest son has actually been a DJ (mostly house music) for the last 12 years or so. I certainly don’t qualify as an expert, but I’m not a neophyte.

EDCI also enjoy new and distinctive experiences.  When something as big, overblown and bombastic as EDC is occurring literally 40 minutes from my front door, I’m going out of pure curiosity if for no other reason. In truth, curiosity is what brought me to my first EDC for one night in 2012.  I had so much fun, I returned this year for two.

So, what’s it like?  Big, overblown and bombastic.  What struck me the most was the sheer size and scale of it.  Most don’t realize how big the infield of a mile-and-a-half racetrack is – and EDC fills it.  Look at it this way.  The main stage, called Kinetic Field, was expanded this year to a capacity of 80,000.  One stage.  There are six others. Plus the carnival rides.  Plus the art installations.  Plus 115,000 people.  It’s big.  And in the course of a night, as you move from stage to stage, you do a lot of walking, mostly on concrete and dirt, and not a lot of sitting down.  Throw in dancing and jumping up and down, and it can be physically taxing.

imagexBut the fun never stops.  At EDC the music and the activity are constant. The stages are divided, for the most part, by genre: dubstep, drum & bass and other heavier stuff at the BassPod; clubby, danceable house and techno in the Circuit Grounds; harder, more aggressive techno (the kind that drills a hole in your chest) at BassCon; slower, more minimal and rhythmic stuff in the Neon Garden; a little bit of everything at the Cosmic Meadows; and the big guys – the Tiestos, Sander Van Doorns and Calvin Harrises – playing for crowds of 50,000 or more at Kinetic Field.  If you don’t like what you’re hearing at any given stage, there are six others going at the same time, all night long.  Off you go.

Yet still you might say, as many have, “You’re 58. Aren’t you just a bit… past that?”

EDC2I hope not.  First, let me say that the promoters of the event have done an amazing job.  Considering they are literally creating a throbbing, dancing city of 115,000 people crammed into one place for 10 hours a night, EDC runs like clockwork.  The sound and the lights at every stage are impeccable. The DJs start and finish on schedule. There are friendly, non-aggressive staff people everywhere to help with everything.  The police are cool. The medical personnel are professional and efficient.  And there are more Porta-Johns than I’ve seen at any event in my life. Not an insignificant detail. They’ve even addressed some of the parking and traffic issues that plagued them in previous years. There is nothing about it that isn’t professional and well managed.

imageWhich leaves the crowd.  I’ve been in crowds this large many times.  Led Zeppelin shows, rock festivals, NASCAR races, Superbowls, The Bay-to-Breakers. Never had any real problems. But I can say that the EDC crowd is the mellowest, friendliest, least aggressive group of 100,000 I’ve ever been a part of.  They smile, they laugh, they dance, and they take care of – and look out for- one another.  In two nights, I never saw a single person having harsh words with another, let alone a fight or any other nastiness.  Can’t say the same for many of the football games or rock shows I’ve attended (I once witnessed a fist fight between a guy and a girl at a System of a Down show at the Hard Rock. The girl beat the crap out of him. Female System of a Down fans are tough.).

The memorable thing about attending EDC was that many of them seemed genuinely amused by my presence.  I’m not saying I was the only person my age out there, but there weren’t many.  Still, I must have been asked more than a hundred times if I was having fun.  People smiled, offered me ice for the back of my neck (I declined), complimented my Daft Punk t-shirt and gave me a bunch of good old-fashioned high-fives.  It was as if I was some kind of old-guy mascot who had joined their tribe for the weekend. I felt absolutely no negativity. They were glad I was there to experience their music and they really wanted me to have a good time.  It was gratifying, in a neon bracelet, furry boots kind of way.

Of course, I did make some concessions to age.  The event lasts until 5:30 each morning.  I never got near that.  Bailed at midnight on Friday and 2:30 am on Saturday.  22-year-olds can go three days without sleep.  Not me.  But I did have a great time and have every intention of returning next year for EDC 2014.  I’ll be a few months from my 60th birthday then.  Maybe I’ll celebrate by going all three nights. Assuming I can find a way to get enough sleep.

UK Television Marketplace

Recently the LVCVA launched their new ad campaign in the UK, telling Brits to leave their stiff upper lip at home and come to Las Vegas. Here’s the video

As part of the plan, the LVCVA was able to enter back into the TV marketplace after 5+ years.  Through the planning process, we learned that the UK TV marketplace has some nuances to keep in mind when planning/buying. 

Some major differences:

  • The UK has a dominant state broadcaster, the BBC.  It draws large viewership, but they do not allow any advertising.
     
  • It is not unusual for some high-profile programs to deliver ratings in the 20+ range!
  • TV is reconcilable – if a program over-delivers in rating, advertiser pays the difference

              If The X Factor is forecasted to deliver 29 TVRs (same as TRPs in the US), and it delivers 36 TVRs, advertiser owes the network.
              If Coronation Street is forecasted to deliver 15 TVRs, but only delivers 12, network owes the advertiser 3 ratings

Some similarities:

  • There are both “Terrestrial” and “Multichannel” buying options:

          Terrestrial – similar to the major broadcasters in the US (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC), their major broadcasters are ITV1, Channel 4, Five and ITV Breakfast

           ITV Breakfast is similar to the morning show daypart in the US (Today Show, GMA, etc.) but for whatever reason, the government thought there was going to be corruption when they started selling this, so it is its own separate entity.

            Multichannel – the equivalent of cable TV.  Like the US, there are a multitude of channels to pick from and many fall under larger saleshouses. 

            For instance, Sky Media owns Sky 1, FX, E!, Comedy Central, Style, Vh1, etc.

  • Like the US, share has been shifting from terrestrial to multichannel
  • TV generally skews female, old and lower income; however buying on certain multichannel networks allows for more refined targeting
  • Networks are motivated primarily by share-of-revenue, volume is less important

Season of Giving

“Life’s most persistent and urgent questions is: What are you doing for others? – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Reno office helps package food in the local food bank.

R&R Partners has again opened its hearts this holiday season! We are so proud of the kindness and generosity of our employees in every office and the charitable efforts of the R&R Partners Foundation.

R&R’s helping hands reached out from coast to coast! Our Washington, D.C., office chose two charities to assist: The Greg Gannon Canned Food Drive and Martha’s Table, both of which do incredible work for the hungry and underprivileged in our nation’s capital. For the Greg Cannon Canned Food Drive (in its 25th year), our folks in D.C. collected 85,000 cans and boxes of food. For Martha’s Table (where President and Michelle Obama served food the day before Thanksgiving), we donated a huge box of winter coats, toys and books.

Our Los Angeles office showed its holiday spirit with a toy drive that provided more than 50 toys for the Children’s Bureau.  In Reno, our team packaged food at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

In Las Vegas, R&R helped 68 children of Child Focus (a program of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children) receive gifts this holiday season, and many of our employees volunteered their time to help the local food bank, Three Square, and build a house with Habitat for Humanity. We also held a food drive for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

R&R employees in Las Vegas help local food bank Three Square.

The R&R Partners Foundation has touched many lives throughout the holiday season (more on that soon). Although the year is coming to a close, R&R is committed to keeping that giving spirit all year long.  Here’s to giving in 2013!