What a game?

Here is where I netted out on the ads −

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Clean’s butt − enough said.

BIG LOSERS

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

When You Buy the Chance to Speak to 100 Million+ People, What Do You Say?

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.

Until next year, I’m out.

TEDxMileHighWomen

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.

GABBCON Recap

I was fortunate to attend GABBCON (Global Audience Based Buying Conference & Consultancy) in Los Angeles in early November, with the day focused on “The Future of Television and Video.” In the company of other agencies, brands and sales reps from various sectors of the media world, it was an interesting day of debate, conversation and learning.

The long and short of things is that the world we live in continues to get more complicated for marketers − duh. With the proliferation and adoption of technology into our lives, we live in an on-demand world, and because technology allows us to live that way, advertisers are more and more able to reach the right consumer at the right time. People-based buying has been incredibly buzzy this year, and will only continue to be as brands continue to feel the ROI squeeze and demand more accountability for their spending.

In the morning sessions, it was a focus on television − linear, IP delivered, VOD, addressable, PTV, SVOD, FEP, CTV. Enough acronyms? TV buying has become increasingly complicated due to changing viewing habits. Traditional linear buying remains the mainstay, but advertisers are showing steady growth and interest in these more audience-driven buying methods. Overall, sentiment among the group was that traditional television still has its place, driving mass awareness, but augmenting with other buying techniques has shown an upside for various brands. The other universal truth − programmatic or any data-driven TV buying is not truly programmatic; there is nothing easy or automated as the name implies.

Columbia outerwear shared an interesting case study regarding its spring campaign in which the company had a reduced budget but raingear sales goals to meet. At a time of year when rain is prevalent nationwide, but a budget that cannot afford its national plus-18 market approach, Columbia employed a programmatic TV solution. It has defined PTV as a combination of addressable, high-index linear and DVR/VOD, and connected.

With strong distribution as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Columbia used credit card data to target those who had previously shopped at Dick’s, in addition to a weather trigger to most efficiently employ its budget. In the end, this was a more cost-efficient approach that increased (relevant) reach, drove lifted consideration, and increased rainwear searches and product page views.

One of the more thought-provoking parts of the conference was centered on the idea of attention. Sony Crackle posed the question: “Is attention the new currency?” Sony Crackle commissioned a study with Nielsen on the effectiveness of its Break Free product, where viewers have a lower ad load within their Crackle original series. The results revealed that buying the more premium offering drove greater attention; viewers were seven times more likely to recall the ad than in their traditional pod. Hulu has been operating with this mentality for a few years now with its product offerings of user-pick creative carousel, sponsored viewing (commercial-free after :60 spot) and interactive spots. While there is a premium for these deeper engaging units, Hulu has reported stronger results compared to its standard ad pods.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more critical of the value of an impression. When you look at a yearlong campaign and the total number of impressions purchased, how meaningful is that number?  Honestly, not much. With banner blindness, ad avoidance and multitasking, just how valuable is an impression if a consumer isn’t noticing you? While I don’t think we’ll ever fully transact on the metric of attention, as an industry, it’s time to take a harder look at our methodology of measurement and what kinds of impressions we really want to make.


Winner, Winner Cynopsis Star Dinner

While winning awards in communications marketing is usually a team effort, there are awards out there that more than deservedly shine the spotlight on one specific person. That standout is our own Kris Cichoski, R&R’s digital associate media director, who was recently named a winner in the 2016 Cynopsis Rising Star Awards. This awards program is meant to recognize the best and brightest rising media stars in the ad industry. Way to shine, Kris!

 


A Plea to Share Your Passion

Clark County Department of Family Services needed help getting more people to consider becoming a foster parent. So, how do you show everyday people what a rewarding experience fostering a child can be? You make it relatable by speaking to things they’re already passionate about.

      

We created a campaign that featured familiar hobbies and interests being shared with a foster child. These miniature stories tell how there’s nothing greater than experiencing a child discovering something new. Images simply captured how a hobby or interest can open up both foster parent and child to a whole new, unforgettable experience. The ultimate goal is that audiences might even find that sharing their passion becomes their new one as a foster parent.

              

Budget constraints can often complicate the creative execution of a campaign, but when people are passionate about the subject matter, amazing things can happen. Eric Klein, a photographer based out of Chicago, offered to waive his fee so we could afford to have the campaign shot professionally. He was happy and willing to do so because he was involved with the foster community himself. Which just goes to show the level of passion and dedication that fostering a child can bring.


Turning Bad Gifts into Something Good

Just in time for the holidays, R&R launches badgiftsforgood.com. Ever want to send an unwanted fruitcake to the great beyond in pieces? Now you can. And, for every bad gift you destroy, something good happens: R&R Partners Foundation makes a donation to Communities In Schools, a non-profit working to keep at-risk students in school and on a path to graduation.


Nielsen VR Study

Selling Vegas in a new reality.

If you build it, they will come. One of the great lines in movie history is a nice fit with our VR efforts over the past year. The team at R&R Partners has been busy developing virtual reality content for our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) client at an exhaustive rate, while consumers ate up the experience.

And while industry professionals have recognized our latest efforts in marketing the destination, most recently, the research community has taken notice. Early in 2016, we were approached by YuMe, a global audience technology company that was interested in using our VR content for a study being commissioned with Nielsen. The study was a neuroscience-informed research report based around emotional engagement across mobile VR and 360 video as compared to TV. Nielsen’s neuroscience team studied 150 people as they consumed VR content from Las Vegas and Disney across these three platforms.

The results were great and provided much needed insight for our industry on a new platform. Not only will this study help R&R Partners keep delivering impactful content, it will give guidance to the entire advertising industry.

A few of the key findings include:


  1. Likeability is higher for VR and 360 video.

 


  1. Guided exploration is key for brands and consumers.

 


  1. Emotional engagement in VR is up to 34 percent longer compared to 2-D.

A Great Place to Work

R&R Partners earned a spot on PR News’ list of Top Places to Work in PR in 2016! According to PR News, 2016 was one of its highest entry years ever and the competition was fierce, so making the list was no easy feat. We are included with an impressive list of winners, including Ketchum and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. PR News honored the selected workplaces at PR News’ Winter Awards Luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on December 6. Be sure to check out part of the Phoenix, Arizona office shown here!


 

Solid Work. Solid Foundation.

Throughout 2016, the R&R Partners Foundation has been on the move, continuing our work of transforming lives and strengthening communities. Of the great work being done for our Foundation clients, here are a few examples we just had to share.

Santuario De Luz

The first pro bono collaboration with our Mexico City office produced a beautiful and touching video for a hospital in Autlan, Mexico, which is supported by Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation. In addition, we produced a fundraising brochure for Milagro Foundation’s telemedicine program that will seek to provide the best medical care possible for patients of Santuario De Luz.


The Animal Foundation

We saw the completion of our two-year engagement with the Southern Nevada nonprofit that produced the award-winning “In-fur-mercial” campaign.


Flip the Script

Our anti-bullying initiative is alive and well, completing our first school year of working directly with local middle schools to create customized respect campaigns. Becker Middle School, Fremont Middle School and Greenspun Junior High School all had the opportunity to work with R&R employees to create their own student-led anti-bullying campaigns. All were a great success and have become works-in-progress as students continue with their R&R teams for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition, we have selected three new middle schools to work with this year: Brinley, Swainston and Findlay. We’re looking forward to launching their new campaigns in January.


Lastly, we’ve also made some exciting structural changes to our Foundation, including:

Our Employee Board

Because our Foundation is a reflection of the culture and generosity of R&R Partners, we created a board of employees to help ensure that our Foundation stays true to that culture. They have done a fantastic job this year! We wish to thank R&R team members Catherine Cole, Nick Vassiliadis, Piper Overstreet, Bruce Wilcox, Mark Sundermeier, Steve Wright, Monica McCafferty and Courtney Barrett for their service. We also want to congratulate and welcome our new employee board members – our chair, Jennifer Lopez, James Coleman, Melissa Keegan and Mandy Walsh.


Employee-Directed Giving Fund

This year, the Foundation established an employee-directed giving fund that matches the amount of money an employee chooses to donate to a charity, up to $100. We expect this fund will benefit some great causes that our employees care deeply about. Go R&R!