4 BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DENVER DIGITAL SUMMIT

The digital landscape is always evolving and R&R Partners is dedicated to ensuring its clients are on the forefront of those innovations. Recently, several members from the Denver digital team had the fortune of attending the annual Denver Digital Summit. Jessica Hunt, Katie Fisher, Erin Mowry, Kellie Starr and Brian Kelley attended the two-day summit in downtown Denver to hear about the latest trends in digital and to stay on top of the various categories within the industry. This year’s sessions focused heavily on SEO (mobile first!), Snapchat, the importance of video in social media, content marketing and customer experience. The five of us often split up into different sessions to ensure we were getting exposure to every relevant topic. Later in the evenings, we rubbed elbows and clinked glasses with some of Denver’s digital finest. We’re excited to continue investing in the capabilities of our people and are confident that many of our learnings from this opportunity will help us to keep on #winning in digital for our clients!

Below are Kellie Starr and Brian Kelley’s four key takeaways from the summit:

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R&R at Project El Crucero in Nicaragua

This past week, I had the pleasure of joining Sean Tonner and Bruce Wilcox on their annual trip to Nicaragua. As first-timers to the Nicaragua “Project El Crucero” service trip, my daughter Olivia and I didn’t know what to expect. Project El Crucero is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit, volunteer-led organization and has been operating the Susie Syke Medical Clinic in El Crucero, Nicaragua, for over six years. The clinic’s team has treated thousands of patients and provided thousands of meals to the hungry children. It operates four days per week with medical, dental and feeding programs. The total cost to operate the clinic is less than $3,500 per month, with nearly every dollar spent on serving the community.

IMG_9455I can truly say it exceeded our expectations and my fears were quickly put to ease. To see the beautiful children and their families in the small, impoverished community of El Crucero truly took our breath away and brought us to tears. They have so little, yet are so happy and grateful. What an unforgettable lesson in gratitude and the importance of serving others. Seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when we arrived was so powerful. To see the young men so eager to work and the obvious pride they took in their workmanship was inspiring. And on a personal note, seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she bonded with the children filled my heart with love and a renewed perspective of what really matters.

It was so astonishing and moving to see what a huge impact this group was able to make in five short days. The accomplishments of the group varied during our time there: we moved tons of rock and gravel to repave the property and the driveway; fixed the swing set for the kids; built a wall around the outside door of the clinic for weather protection; reinforced the water tower; and mounted a basketball hoop. Our volunteers conducted the meal program for the children—which is the best meal they will have all week—and delivered 22 food baskets to a few families in need in the surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, we created art out of old window panes; repaired the leaking roof; conducted English, as a second language, classes for the kids; painted the walls; fixed the clinic signs; repaired the septic line; and repaired leaking window seals.

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Even with the above jobs, we endlessly played with the sweet children of El Crucero, which brought delight to them and the teenagers on the trip; and most importantly, we treated several hundred patients who otherwise would have no access to health care. Bruce Wilcox, R&R’s VP of technology, has been on the annual trip four years in a row, and he says, “The reason I keep going is for perspective. Even my worst day is multitudes better than their best days, yet I always come back, gaining more than I’ve given.”

I can’t say enough about the Project El Crucero Foundation, headed by Jamie and Sara Hendren and my R&R Partners colleague Sean Tonner and his wife Laura. What an incredible and inspirational group of people! They truly believe in serving others, and that was so evident in working with them and their children. There were 33 of us in the group. The majority of the group was from Denver and have been on this trip together many times. Olivia and I were two of the few rookies. From the beginning, the families welcomed us to their tight-knit group and made us feel part of the family. I was so appreciative of that kindness.

“Project El Crucero and its clinic are a beacon of light for the community,” shares Sean, who is the president of R&R Partners Denver. “I, and the many R&R employees who have traveled to El Crucero over the years, have witnessed firsthand what a difference it is making every day for some of the most needy people in the Western Hemisphere, as The Beatles famous sang, “the more you give the more your get.” I always come away from El Crucero with the soul bucket a little fuller.”

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Even though my work at R&R brings me close to many nonprofit organizations with cause marketing campaigns, it was very rewarding to work directly within the community. For those of you who have considered taking a trip such as this one, I highly recommend it.  It is an experience that will affect you in ways you never can imagine. And you will have lifetime memories of service, joy, love and gratitude.

Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should: The Internet of Things and Its Impact on Advertising

About 20 years ago, Edward Tenner wrote a prophetic book, Why Things Bite Back: The Revenge of Unintended Consequences, in which he identified the “revenge effects” that result from some of the technology advances that have defined our improvement-obsessed society. Things like superbugs emerging from antibiotics, carpal tunnel/back pain from computer usage, and crop control that actually attracts pest populations rather than eradicating them.

It’s a case study of Murphy’s law. So as we continue to live in the exciting world of the Internet of Things (IoT), the question of revenge effects looms large. It’s the “Jurassic Park” conundrum of “can” or “should.”

IoT is both the chaotic bleeding edge of technology and the absolutely certain path of how we will conduct business and commerce in our connected future.

According to a recent Forrester study:

(IoT) solutions help companies bridge the physical and digital worlds, ingesting information and context through sensors from the physical world into the digital and taking actions in the physical world via actuators based on digital insights.”

What that means in plain English is that virtually every interaction you’ll have with a product, service or piece of technology will eventually be tracked by sensors and transformed into data on the cloud. The data then will be harvested by companies, service providers, marketers, insurance companies and government agencies who will slice and dice it into the products, services and information your profile says you want and need.

To be clear, IoT is not something in our far, far off future. Adoption is happening at a blistering pace, right now. Market research company Gartner estimates that “6.4 billion connected gadgets will be in use worldwide by the end of (2015), rising to almost 21 billion by 2020. Roughly 5.5 million devices are hooked up to the Internet of Things every day.” The New York Times recently reported that within a year of starting its operations, “Microsoft cloud handles a trillion sensor messages a week.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Then multiply that number by the immense server capacities of Google, Amazon, Apple, the Telcos, and literally thousands of worldwide data centers, and you have an inkling of the sheer scale of this transformation.

For now, most of the activity in IoT is happening behind the scenes—supply chain management, inventory control, shipping and tracking. But the frenzy over this technology among consumer businesses is mind-boggling. B. Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement for snack food juggernaut, Mondelez, has stated that, “Mondelez might become one of the biggest technology companies in the world.”

Here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Mondelez puts sensors on its products, like Chips Ahoy! and Oreos. These sensors can track inventory, sales velocity and replenish rates, freshness, store locations and much more. When you pick up that package of Oreos at your local Kroger, it’s scanned at checkout and merged with other sensored and scanned purchases you’ve made. Those purchases could be linked to your debit card, which now inexorably links the Oreos to your household, personal data, bank account, contact info and, ultimately, your smartphone.

From here, depending on your view of push marketing, you’ve either entered the kingdom of heaven or all hell just broke loose. Kroger could aggregate your data into a personal shopping list that includes all of the items you typically buy. They’ll send you a text to confirm the items and price—the items will be delivered to your door within the day (by drone or driverless car) and the balance due will show up on your debit or credit card.

Couldn’t be easier.

But as Guthy-Renker says, “Wait, there’s more!” With emerging machine-to-machine interactions (M2M), this data can interact with data from other devices. For example, if your home is secured and heated by Nest, Google knows which rooms you enter, when. It knows when you’re home, which lights you turn on and for how long, when you use your washer/dryer and how long it takes to blow-dry your hair. Which can then be tied to personal care products, laundry soap, travel and leisure among myriad other things—all of which have sensors of their own that generate even more data.

Nest could also know when you open your refrigerator, which is tracking the contents inside, including the Haagen-Dazs chocolate gelato that’s almost empty. At some point, you’re going to get a message on your smartphone stating that it’s time to restock the Haagen-Dazs, and most likely the Oreos. If you restock your gelato every other day, the frequency can be noted by the home health care app on your phone, which relays that data to your health care insurer, which recommends a fitness program or raises your premium. Even with this seemingly absurd hypothetical, you can see how interconnected data can become a lot more than a convenience.

Fortunately, we’re not there. Yet. Because of the enormous range of sensors, customer scenarios and providers, there are no industry tech standards, or worse, privacy guidelines or security protocols. But they’re coming. As this blizzard of sensors and data hits us, there will be a ton of profound questions.

Setting security aside, the implications for advertisers, marketers and society at-large are unprecedented and profound. From a marketer’s perspective, exactly what should a brand target, a living human being or his/her data set? If purchase behavior is so granularly tracked and reliably predictive, why market to people at all if they’re satisfied with what their data is delivering? Will our notion of choice be redefined? Is there any need for advertising, branding or marketing of any kind if the purchase process is predetermined by data and the efficiencies it delivers?

IoT could become both a micro-segmentation and rationing tool to develop highly calibrated marketing campaigns. The idea of affinity groups of consumers becomes irrelevant in the context of a technology that can efficiently target millions of consumers one at a time. Marketers can pinpoint geographic product distribution as part of a penetration strategy to either flood a market to kill a competitor or create product scarcity to raise prices. Taken to an extreme, IoT could even become a vehicle for social engineering. Consumers’ preferences and credit ratings could dictate which products are made available to them, creating new exclusivities and inadvertent social divisions. Regardless, the role of marketing, brands, consumer choice and control will be revolutionized and dramatically different from anything we know right now—with potential revenge effects that are too numerous and daunting to begin to contemplate.

Sponsorship Marketing: #Winning with the NHL

Sponsorship marketing: the frosting on a brand’s overall marketing mix and the multibillion-dollar industry that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Due to the continued fragmentation of media (I’m talking to you cord-cutters) and shifts in demographic buying power (hey, millennials!), sponsorship marketing will continue to increase in overall advertising spend for brands all over the world.

One current client of R&R Partners who uses sponsorship marketing as a large part of their media strategy is the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. Las Vegas sponsors an array of events throughout the year spanning awards shows, culinary festivals, sports championships and more. One of its longstanding sponsorships with the National Hockey League features a season-long media partnership, as well as the NHL Awards broadcast live from Vegas each June.

A sponsorship can begin to die a slow decrease-in-ROI death unless the parties involved continually evaluate, evolve and challenge each other to push the envelope each and every contract renewal.

Previous digital initiatives for the NHL/Las Vegas partnership focused on a league sweepstakes as a mechanism for database acquisition. But with the digital landscape constantly changing and evolving, content started to take more of a strategic front seat.

Knowing that reaching sports fans when they are most engaged is the best time for brand messaging to be consumed, our team determined real-time hockey content was the best avenue to explore in replacement of the sweepstakes initiative. We wanted the brand to be organically attached to a platform that hockey fans would seek out, versus the brand doing the heavy lifting in seeking out fans. The goal (no pun intended), was to completely reverse the brand consumption flow.

Enter Las Vegas’ first ever video content component of their NHL sponsorship: Road Warriors.

Using a pillar of Las Vegas’ sponsorship strategy, “All Roads Lead to Vegas,” (in recognition that Vegas is the city where champions are crowned), Road Warriors paid homage to players and teams who had stellar plays while on the road.

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The platform followed a succinct distribution strategy. A spectacular road play would occur during a game, the video footage would be clipped and edited together, and then posted to both the NHL’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A branded website on NHL.com housed all of the Road Warriors content throughout the season and also included 100% share-of-voice for Las Vegas creative. To create a fully integrated platform, Road Warriors highlights were shown within nightly sports programming on NHL Network.

The framework was there, but, would NHL fans dig it? Short answer – they did.

Launching in February to coincide with NHL.com’s website redesign launch, Road Warriors saw double digit growth in fan engagement through the end of the 2016 season. An impressive feat when you think as teams start to become eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, those fan bases organically become less engaged, reducing the overall audience who would be interested in hockey content. Road Warriors broke through that trend.

The social posts garnered more than 8.1 million video views and 188,000 engagements. Webpage visits were almost 800,000 with visitors spending on average more than two minutes per visit. This was all accomplished with zero paid media support driving to any of the content, proving the platform was relevant, engaging and organically executed.

But the most impressive stat? Road Warriors was the #1 NHL sponsor video program of the year. SCORE!

As part of the festivities hosted around the NHL Awards, the league holds a morning summit with their season’s partners. I was honored to have the opportunity to share Road Warriors with the group, alongside our NHL account executive, Josh Cohen. We held great company with Tim Horton’s and MillerCoors being the other two brands who presented their NHL initiatives for the year. Brands like Honda, McDonald’s, Samsung and Visa were in attendance to learn how they could craft winning programs similar to ours.

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Not only was this a great platform to showcase one of our clients, we were able to showcase R&R Partners as an expert in partnership marketing. Oh, and we were also awarded a Las Vegas hockey team that afternoon, too—obviously not due to Road Warriors’ success.

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R&R Partners Welcomes Four Rock Star New Hires

It’s no secret that finding top-tier talent can be challenging − but definitely not impossible. We’ve certainly been winning with our hires this year, and we’re happy to share that we’ve recently been joined by the best of the best, cream of the crop, in-it-to-win-it type of people. We’d like to officially welcome Steve Palmer, Mary Kay Hogan, Monica Bouldin and Michon Martin to the R&R family. With over 60 years of combined experience, they’ll prove to be incredible assets in multiple areas of the company. With varying expertise in government affairs to marketing communications, we’re thrilled to have them on board.

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Serving previously in senior positions for Grayling, Steve Palmer and Mary Kay Hogan come to us as national government affairs strategists based in R&R’s Denver office. While Steve will focus on national clients, Mary Kay will focus on her specialty: state government affairs. Prior to her time with us, Mary Kay was a legislative director under former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. As R&R’s foundation is rooted in politics, it only makes sense to continue expanding our government relations department to thrive with the dynamic political times and help our clients to pave their way through them.

Our next rock star is an elite marketing communications executive who brings quite a few prestigious awards with her. She’s not only a multi-award-winning marketing communications leader, she’s also the recipient of the 2016 Pat Tobin Award from the Black Public Relations Society, as well as the chairperson of the Advisory Council for Dress for Success West. Monica Bouldin, now serving as vice president in the Los Angeles office, is nothing short of an expert in the industry. With experience at mega companies like Warner Bros., FOX Broadcasting Company, and H+K Strategies, she’s developed profound knowledge in numerous aspects of marketing, brand strategy and communications − all of which will lead Monica to excel in her role at R&R Partners.

Lastly, coming to us from Resorts World Las Vegas as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of public affairs, Michon Martin now serves as vice president and strategic adviser for R&R’s offices all throughout the nation. With Michon’s skills as a policy adviser and negotiator, she makes an incredible addition in growing and diversifying the agency as well as facilitating client wins. She’s been dubbed “Most Valuable Player” of the 2015 Nevada legislative session, has served under Governor Brian Sandoval, and was influential in shaping the language used for Nevada’s human trafficking bill. Michon says she is thrilled to join the R&R family and sees herself as a natural fit, considering that #winning is ingrained in her DNA too. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

When Diversity Is Literally a Matter of Life and Death

All of us are at least somewhat familiar with this country’s history when it comes to racism; however, not everyone has experienced it. If you have spent most of your life shielded from overt racism, discrimination or bigotry, you can’t possibly relate to those who have.

This fact has become abundantly clear in the various reactions to the most recent videos of Black men killed by police in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn. There seems a gap in understanding the lived experiences of marginalized groups by those in the majority culture.

As a Black woman, I could cite a dozen personal experiences to illustrate my point here, but I’ll only use one. I attended majority white schools growing up in Anchorage, Alaska. The Black student population represented less than 3 percent of the total student body of my high school. While Black students had been experiencing and speaking out against incidents of racism and bigotry in the school for years, the school administration and the PTA only took notice when a small group of “skinheads” enrolled in the high school. After several violent fights perpetuated by these students, including an attempted attack on a Black teacher, the school leadership scheduled a town hall meeting.

It was during this town hall that I realized that those who either refused to acknowledge there was a problem because it didn’t affect them directly or were simply oblivious to it, were just as much a part of the problem. It took acts of violence perpetuated by this small group of new students to bring attention to the issue of racism in the school for others to even acknowledge what we had been experiencing for years.

When the Black Lives Matter movement started gaining traction, I heard it dismissed as everything from reverse racism, to unnecessary. Then there was the counter #AllLivesMatter hashtag that insinuated that Black Lives Matter supporters only value lives of Black people. Rather than trying to understand the catalyst for the movement, many people trivialized the message because they couldn’t relate or didn’t care to listen. A recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Fatal Shootings by US Police Officers in 2015: A Bird’s Eye View”  confirmed what the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement already knew: unarmed Black men were shot and killed last year at disproportionately high rates, and that officers involved may be biased in how they perceive threats. Mind you, this is just in 2015. How many incidents went unreported for decades? How many incidents occurred before the advancement of technology and the advent of social media? To add insult to injury, the officers involved received what amounted to a slap on the wrist leading those of us in the Black community to believe that the lives of Black Americans are somehow less valued.

One might wonder how this relates to an ad agency? A specific example is the travel warnings that other countries are issuing based on what is seen as civil unrest. The Bahamas, a predominiately black country, issued a travel warning aimed at their young, Black, male citizens urging caution. The bigger picture is that as an industry, we have a voice, we influence behaviors, and we represent clients who we can encourage to value diversity. Wieden+Kennedy, the global ad agency responsible for Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” campaign, recently took a bold step to acknowledge the experience of those in the Black community and used its home page to send a message.

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To this end, while I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to how we move forward to a place where everyone’s experiences are valued, I do know diversity plays a role. At its most basic level, this is exactly why diversity is important. I realize that diversity has a much broader meaning than simply checking a box for race, gender, sexual orientation or religion; however, having people from these various groups at the table better ensures you will hear their differing perspectives and experiences.

This principle can be applied to any industry, situation or discussion. Hiring more law enforcement officers who come from the communities they are helping to police is a start. Including diverse perspectives in and around the policy discussions currently taking place is a start. Supporting causes, like Black Lives Matter that may not directly affect you but strive for equity, is a start. Sharing our experiences through conversations, blogs, social media and so on is a start. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge last week’s events in Dallas where five police officers were killed and several others wounded. When we’re all paying attention and engaging, we are more likely to achieve positive change. And perhaps there has never been a time when more positive change is needed than now.

New Roads in Automotive Advertising

R&R Partners and the transportation market have a great history together. From our work redesigning Boeing.com to our highway safety efforts, our agency has continued to produce successful results for all of our transportation clients. Most recently, we helped Ford enter the European market. What does it take to have this type of sustained success in an industry?

In today’s transportation market, there are very few segments more crowded and competitive than the automotive industry. This market competition leads to an endless supply of advertising targeted toward potential and current customers. So what tactics allow brands to rise above their competition? Here’s a look at some of the latest ads and tactics that are shaping the automotive advertising and marketing industry.

Out of Home

What better way to convince a car owner to upgrade their old car than by targeting them while they’re in their car. This fall, a billboard in Tokyo will automatically identify the make and model of vehicles driving by and customize the billboard message to the consumer driving by.

How does the billboard accurately project the vehicle make and model? It uses an AI called deep learning, which allows a computer to recognize patterns in huge piles of data – or in this case, hundreds of thousands of images of used cars.

When a market is flooded with ads, one of the best ways to stand out is through personalization. Consumers pay more attention to an ad that speaks directly to them, so this new technology will allow auto brands to increase their visibility during the customer acquisition and retention phase of the purchase process.

While being able to directly target a segmented consumer group is great, increasing the number of test drives is another key benchmark during the consumer purchase funnel for any automotive company. With this in mind, the Range Rover Evoque took the test drive away from the dealership and into the city.

An ad in Singapore placed a real vehicle inside a billboard with a “Test Drive This Billboard” call-to-action. The eye-catching motion of the vehicle pulling in and out of the billboard created a sense of excitement about the test-driving experience − something that isn’t always seen favorably by today’s consumers. Once the car was on a test drive, a clock would count down the time until the vehicle would return. This created a level of intrigue and excitement that led to an increase in test drives five times over, compared to the number of test drives from the showroom.

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In a segment where a test drive is a key point in the path to purchase, finding new ways to get people into a vehicle will be essential. As consumers get smarter and continue to value ease of accessibility, bringing the test drive to the consumer will be an effective tactic for any brand.

Social

The automotive industry continues to be one of the most active industries across social media advertising. Consumers want to engage with brands before, during and after their purchase process, and finding ways to leverage this desire to share will help increase brand loyalty and prominence.

Buying and owning a car is something that everyone can take pride in. Your car can be your go-to audio system, your place of serenity and everything in between. Toyota’s more than a car campaign uses this personal connection to collect social posts from all of their drivers, rewarding them with personalized nameplates for their Toyota.

By encouraging and compensating social engagement, Toyota continued to build a brand loyalty that positioned them well with their audience and encouraged customer retention.

Digital

As consumers continue to spend more time online, digital media consumption will rise. With consumers who are using digital tools throughout the entire purchase funnel, having a strong digital presence is essential. Before heading to the dealership, users will spend the time researching vehicles online and even purchase directly on site. This provides brands the opportunity to build engaging content, in multiple languages, much like R&R Partners’ Ford Vignale site.

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Every car has a varying version of design highlights, 360 tours and more. These assets continue to be consumed during the research phase of the purchase process, but the best brands are using the assets to tell a complete story for their potential customers.

BMW recently built an interactive showroom that created a unique digital experience that encouraged engagement and differentiated their brand from their competitors.

While the final assets created were similar to those of its competitors, BMW’s digital showroom built a complete picture of their brand, vehicle fleet and key features, all in one medium. In the digital space, the most successful brands will continue to have multiple digital assets that work together to tell a cohesive brand story.

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

One of the hottest content forms that consumers continue to digest is virtual and augmented reality. Trust me, we know. Brands continue to find the benefit of creating virtual and augmented reality content as it provides unique and new experiences for a consumer. For the automotive industry, this new technology can help brands provide consumer-focused content throughout the purchase funnel, either at home or in dealerships.

Audi has recently taken a dive into the VR space by creating a VR showroom for their customers at select dealerships. This showroom will let the customer view an Audi in a number of different exciting environments, such as space, while giving them exclusive looks at the vehicle (X-Ray vision, anyone!?).

As automotive brands continue to pursue the latest technologies, the use of VR will help give a brand the perception that they are at the forefront of the tech race. Consumers want as much information as possible before purchasing, and VR will help inform and excite a consumer before making a purchase.

While VR is becoming more mainstream, augmented reality (AR) is just beginning to make its mark. Volvo recently announced a partnership with Microsoft’s HoloLens – one of the newest AR headsets on the market.

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Augmented reality will help Volvo create a car-buying experience unlike any other. Using AR, Volvo will be able to project virtual images while still allowing the user to interact with the real world around them. This means consumers will one day be able configure a car’s color, wheels and other specifications without ever having to see the real vehicle. Don’t like those rims? Simply swipe them away from your augmented vehicle and put the next set on. Other safety features can be highlighted as well, and pieces of the car that are normally difficult to see can be easily projected.

Ultimately, AR will help the automotive industry give more information about their vehicles and their brand than ever before.

Asset Production

Whether it’s car availability, model revisions or access to locations, creating an awe-inspiring car commercial is not an easy production. However, a company called The Mill has recently created The Blackbird that allows advertisers to shoot and repurpose a car ad without needing the car. From TV spots to digital assets, including VR and AR, this new technology can help change the way all automotive brands advertise.

Ultimately, all of these advertising tactics will help automotive brands improve brand perception, awareness and loyalty. There is a real strength in having advertising that tells a story across a diverse set of content. The race among the automotive industry will continue, but the brands that continue to explore new marketing roads will be the ones that win the race.

R&R Denver’s Top 10 TED Talks

Over the past year, R&R Partners’ Denver office has been meeting once a week to enjoy lunch and watch a selection of TED Talks. It has been an inspiring year of talks, so we thought we would share our favorites with you. Our 10 favorites cover a variety of topics including leadership, motivation and how our world is changing. We hope these talks inspire you and fuel your creativity as well.

Try something new for 30 days – Matt Cutts

Katie Fischer, Media Planner Buyer – “This talk inspired me to tackle several goals that had been on my “far future” to-do list. In realizing that I could accomplish a goal or create a new habit in 30 days, it changed my perspective on these seemingly impossible goals. Thirty days is a short window of time − way less daunting than I had built up in my own head. We really can achieve our highest goals if you truly put in the work day in and day out without quitting!”

Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast. – Tom Wujec

Jacqueline Meason, Account Director – “Love how this TED Talk reminds us that every person thinks differently. Some people like to really spell things out and others like to be concise. The idea behind breaking down a complex thing into a number of steps through visuals is a good one for agencies. I plan to put my white board to better use and have some drawing sessions with the team.”

The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. – Jane McGonigal

Katie Fischer, Media Planner Buyer – “Learning about gamer mentality completely changed my outlook on the importance of gaming. Not only were my eyes opened, my preconceived notions about gamers were shattered. This talk helped me understand my own brother and his affinity for gaming, and helped me to find a way to better connect with him! Gamers unite!”

The future of news? Virtual reality. – Nonny de la Pena

Monica McCafferty, Director of Public Relations – “As a journalist, your goal is to connect with people on an emotional level, educate them and challenge preexisting perceptions. If people can experience the story for themselves, which VR allows, reporting will take on a whole new dynamic. Vietnam was the first television or “living room” war, bringing the reality of war into people’s homes. If VR takes on today’s modern wars, I think it will have a profound impact on embedded journalism as well as on how people consume news.”

How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek

Sean Tonner, President – “This quote from Simon Sinek says it all, ‘If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.’”

The power of vulnerability – Brene Brown

Monica McCafferty, Director of Public Relations – “When I was 20, I traveled solo throughout Europe. What I found was that when I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I was rewarded. Whether it was connecting with a local who took me in as a guest, or connecting with other Americans, Canadians and Aussies also with the token Eurail pass − the ability to put yourself out there to strangers and find a family in return was oddly easy. Of course, one must do this in a smart manner, but I left Europe with a strong sense of being able to read people’s body language, have empathy, and look for the similarities, not the differences. These skills have transferred into my professional life as a PR professional, where courage, compassion and the ability to connect are essential. ‘Spin’ is dead.”

How to build your creative confidence – David Kelley

Kellie Starr, Digital Project Supervisor − “This TED Talk spoke to me because I think we oftentimes forget that a good idea can come from anywhere. Surprisingly, through a series of small steps, you can build your confidence in being creative and in other areas as well. So even though my role is not typically a creative one, it reminded me that I have the ability to be naturally creative and therefore support my project team in the ideation and visual process as well.”

How Christmas lights helped guerrillas put down their guns – Jose Miguel Sokoloff

Brian Kelley, Digital Strategist – “As advertisers, we love it when an idea inspires action. Jose Miguel Sokoloff shares a powerful idea with us that helped encourage Colombian guerrillas to put down their weapons and come home. There truly is power in creative ideas.”

Never, ever give up – Diana Nyad

Erin Mowry, Public Relations Coordinator – “In 2013, at the age of 64, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim 111 miles from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. Her TED Talk says it all in her title, ‘Never, ever give up.’ Not only did Diana accomplish her dream, she did it later in life when many people said there was no way. This TED Talk was motivating and inspiring to say the least. I loved this talk because it proved that no matter the adversities you face in life, you just keep swimming to accomplish your goals.”

The way we think about charity is dead wrong – Dan Pallotta

Brian Kelley, Digital Strategist – “Are our ideas of how charitable organizations should be run handicapping their ability to be successful? Dan Pallotta offers new ways to think about the way charities spend their funds to accomplish big goals. This talk challenged some of my preconceived notions about charities and reminded me to challenge my notions about other industries as well. Only by truly analyzing the situation can we identify game-changing strategies and ideas.”

 

 

A DECADE OF KEEPING KIDS ALCOHOL-FREE: How R&R Partners Continues to Prevent Underage Drinking Through Innovative, Researched-based Advertising

Experience is what you get when working with R&R Partners to prevent underage drinking—and a lot of it.

Since 2006, R&R Partners has worked with the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) to eliminate underage drinking in Utah, a state that historically has the lowest underage drinking rates in the country. But, with the help of R&R Partners, Utah has found a way to further reduce the underage drinking numbers at a rate faster than the national trend. With the evidence-based advertising and communications of R&R Partners, Utah’s efforts have been incredibly successful, building not only the premier prevention program in Utah (Parents Empowered), but arguably the foremost underage drinking prevention program in the nation. In fact, 1 in 5 states has adopted Parents Empowered media materials or strategies to combat underage drinking.

So how does a state with such low underage drinking rates continue to push down the numbers? Below, we share a few of the secrets behind R&R Partners’ nationally recognized Parents Empowered program.

THE HARMS OF UNDERAGE DRINKING

R&R knows that the longer one can stave off a child’s first experimentation with alcohol, the more likely they are to prevent kids from a lifetime of alcohol abuse or related negative social behaviors. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, persons reporting first-use of alcohol before the age of 15 were more than five times as likely to report alcohol dependence as persons who first used alcohol at age 21 or older. And, if a child began experimenting with alcohol before the age of 15, they faced a 67 percent chance of suffering from alcohol-dependence. (SAHMSA, 2003, NSDUH)

As such, R&R understood the need to communicate the harms of underage drinking to parents, who may or may not see the associated risks. For some, drinking is the least harmful substance their child could use, and it may be considered a rite of passage, or even innocent experimentation. And while less than 10 percent of parents say they “agree” that it is OK if their child drinks alcohol sometimes, almost a third of parents feel there is very little they can do to prevent their kids from trying alcohol, and almost two-thirds believe their kids have never tried alcohol at all. (2015 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, April 2015) We leverage these findings, creating messages that empower Utah parents with the knowledge that they can affect their child’s decisions and their likelihood of experimenting with alcohol.

EFFECTIVE SOCIAL CAUSE ADVERTISING

Now, R&R is very proud of the public service messages/advertisements created for Parents Empowered, as well as the national and state recognition, we’re more excited that the advertisements created to prevent underage drinking are effectively motivating parents to set clear rules against underage drinking.

R&R is very proud of their work on Parents Empowered, as the work is both impressive and successful, but even more significant is the continual decrease in underage drinking across Utah over the past decade.

Across Utah, R&R has been incredibly successful in educating parents/guardians about the consequences of early alcohol use and teaching parents the most effective researched-based behaviors proven to help kids grow up alcohol-free—bonding, boundaries and monitoring. Research shows that close to 90 percent of Utah parents now view themselves as the person primarily responsible for their children’s decision whether to drink or not—this is fantastic news. Additionally, underage drinking in Utah has steadily declined since the state began working with R&R Partners, and more parents now report setting clear rules and expectations to keep their kids alcohol-free.

“We needed an agency that could build a program the size of a 747, and launch it from a short runway. R&R Partners has delivered a successful campaign for more than a decade.” − Art Brown, President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Utah Chapter

R&R Partners’ promise to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control—and to every client—is simple, “We will help you win in ways you haven’t yet imagined.” Providing creative, measurable and effective solutions is what we do best. Parents Empowered continues to receive a steady stream of new, unique, effective ideas that raise awareness among parents of the harms related to underage drinking and what parents can do to prevent it.

INNOVATION IS IMPORTANT, BUT EFFICACY IS VITAL

As a general rule of thumb, innovation isn’t R&R’s primary measure of success—it’s efficacy. Aiming to be extremely innovative doesn’t always lead to effective solutions in social cause marketing, whereas aiming to be extremely effective almost always results in innovation.

The efficacy and innovation of R&R’s work on Parents Empowered has twice won the “Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Media Award for Outstanding Community Awareness Campaign,” and has been recognized as a Prevention Best Practice by Service to Science, with additional recognition from the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) for Innovation in Prevention.

To build a campaign that is both innovative and effective, R&R knew research-based messaging needed to serve as the campaign’s foundation. Since the inception of Parents Empowered, R&R has helped to lead the campaign strategy by grounding all message recommendations in academic research and proven prevention practices. R&R’s past 10 years’ experience working directly with national and state prevention networks, and leveraging federal prevention best practices, has prepared us to motivate long-term sustainable change among key audiences, but also positions us to evolve the campaign using new trends and target audience insight.

For example, we capitalized on research-driven messaging in the development of the “Halo” ad that addressed parents’ mistaken perception that their child is immune from underage drinking. Halo delivered the message to parents that even good kids need help to remain alcohol-free.

More recently, the “Bobble head” broadcast message was developed in response to new research that identified a disconnect between fathers and mothers (especially in single-parent homes) who may not have the same attitudes about alcohol and underage drinking, and often don’t share the same rules and boundaries to keep kids alcohol-free. Many parents in research focus groups expressed the belief that underage drinking was dangerous, but felt their spouses may not feel the same way. This ad works to change the social norm and urge parents to agree on clear rules to prevent underage drinking.

Not only does R&R Partners have more than 10 years of success working on underage drinking prevention, but it has truly become the agency’s way of thinking—it is now our approach to our business and our way to give back to our communities. It is no surprise that more than a dozen states have solicited the help of R&R Partners to address public health and safety issues and change social norms.

WE BELIEVE IN CHANGING SOCIAL NORMS

Just as the Utah DABC and other community partners feel ownership in efforts to improve the health and safety of their communities, so does R&R Partners. We believe in the need to be socially responsible, helping to improve the communities where we live. The social causes we back are as much our passion as our clients’.

“R&R is not our vendor, but an equal partner. It is rare to find an advertising agency that believes in your cause as much as you do.” – Doug Murakami, Director of Alcohol Education, Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

We’re committed to eliminating underage drinking with everything we have in our toolbox—strategic planning, advertising, digital marketing, mass media, nontraditional media, social media, public relations, and government and public affairs. And with all our expertise under one roof, we can, and will, continue to deliver powerful ideas and solutions for each social cause marketing campaign we build. We invite you to leverage R&R Partners’ passion and expertise to help launch your innovative and effective social cause marketing campaign.

 

Colorado Marketing Summit – The Colorado Brand

Your state is much more than a place to call home. It’s also a brand. A very important brand.

This is one of the many things I learned at the Colorado Marketing Summit. After all, who doesn’t like the opportunity to get out of the office every once in a while and connect with like-minded marketers? I just had that experience when I attended the summit at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver.

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It was a gathering of marketing professionals, creative agencies, media technology experts and community leaders. What was unique about this summit is that every company represented was based in Colorado. Some of the organizations that people will recognize include Western Union (an R&R Partners client), Arrow Electronics, Ball Corporation, UCHealth, MapQuest and HomeAdvisor. Those were rounded out with a few familiar folks in the food and beverage industry as well, including Smashburger, Qdoba, MAD Greens and WhiteWave Foods.

The summit was structured into eight panels and you were able to hear all eight without having to choose which ones to attend. Topics included leveraging smart data, social media strategies, content marketing, optimizing customer experience, meaningful digital engagement and others.

But the panel that stood out the most was called The Colorado Brand. Panel members included the chief marketing officer from the state of Colorado, the director of citywide marketing for the city and county of Denver, and the vice chancellor for strategic relations from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Impressive group − and all female. Girl power!IMG_1512

It’s no secret that Colorado is a great place to live. It’s consistently ranked in “best places to live” articles, including this recent first-place rank in U.S. News. More people are moving to Colorado now than during the Gold Rush in the 1850s. The panel highlighted that the Colorado brand is an amazing combination of outdoor activities, progressive lifestyle, entrepreneurial opportunities and a diversified economy. Colorado consistently ranks as a top-performing economy and currently holds rank No. 1 on the Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers list. The panel also highlighted that Colorado offers a great balanced lifestyle where people can truly work hard and play hard. To many outsiders right now, Colorado stands for one thing: marijuana. With the recent passing of recreational marijuana distribution and use, the panel pointed out that the Colorado brand needs to remind folks about all the other things Colorado stands for. Of course, that conversation can shape the brand, but it is important that we as a state build the right stories about the brand: Stories about its outdoor amenities, its art scene, growing chef-led restaurants, and the economic and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Colorado, as a brand, needs to continue reminding large companies why they need to do business here. In the 1980s, things were very different in Colorado. The town was mostly known for one industry: oil and gas; and there was the dreaded Brown Cloud pollution air-quality issue. Well, times have changed. A number of groups got together and created public/private partnerships to really change the future of Colorado and help diversify the industries. Brands start here and move here. There is a great, young, active workforce for these companies. Millennials are moving to Colorado in droves and that is changing the work ethic on a cultural level, but Colorado is embracing that change. There is a real understanding of having great pride and passion for work being done here, as well as equal balance with play time. One great benefit coming from this growth: new companies wanting to work with local agencies. This is a great opportunity for the R&R Denver office as we continue to build awareness and grow our footprint. We can be part of shaping the Colorado brand.