3 trends from Digital Summit 2015

Hashtags, culture and trends, oh my! The world today is a fast-paced, ever changing marketplace that we continuously strive to understand. R&R Denver attended Digital Summit 2015, and left with these three integral industry trends:

1. “Unperfection”
Long gone are the days of perfect people ruling the planet. Our culture is obsessed with documentation (because if it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen, right?), and we have come to accept that not every “in-the-moment” moment is picture perfect. We find failures and flaws to be funny, and encourage behaviors that showcase humanity. Campaigns like #nofilter and the Don’t Judge Challenge succeed because the general public now values hilarity and honesty over posed and processed media. What does this mean for brands? Wrong theory (an intentional asymmetry) can finally be utilized to our gain and, finally, mistakes will be embraced … as long as you catch them on Snapchat and they go viral and they are actually completely hilarious.


2. Everyday Stardom
Consistent with our obsession to share, we also believe that we are the stars of not only our own story, but everyone else’s too. We Snapchat our road rage and Instagram our protein shakes because we think that everything we do is worthy of being shared. The growth of personalization and everyone’s secret desire to become “instafamous” means that brands need to find new ways to make everyone feel like a celebrity. The takeaway? Offer your clients a VIP experience based in reality to ensure that they know they are a celebrity − at least to you.


3. Branded Benevolence
Being a globally conscious brand is SO IN RIGHT NOW. Research shows that young people take a big issue with brands who only value their bottom line. Even more, young talent actively searches for charitable actions in future employers. Our challenge? Find tangible ways to give back that align with our brands’ values. Even better, make these efforts visible, fun and contagious. Now let’s go change the world!
With these insights, we feel armed and ready to reach people in thoughtful and innovative ways. We now understand that 1) unperfection is not only acceptable, but embraced, 2) everyone wants to be treated like a star, and 3) the heart and soul of what we do is now more important than ever. Armed with these insights, we’re ready to connect, understand and conquer!

Recapping the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session

As is the case every two years, R&R’s Nevada GPA team was deployed to Carson City for the Nevada Legislative Session.

And while this in now way comparable to the troops to who protect our freedoms daily, whose service we can never repay – we can in some ways relate to what it’s like to spend several months away from home, on a mission to protect our clients and what we believe in. And we did go through quite a few battles in the process.

The 78th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature began February 2, 2015 and concluded in the early morning hours of June 2. Throughout the session, the Assembly introduced 498 bills and the Senate introduced 515 bills, for a total of 1,013 for the Legislature to consider.

The 2014 general election had a strong impact on the 2015 session. While the “red wave” caused an unprecedented number of Republicans across the country to be elected, Nevada experienced some of the highest turnover in the nation. For the first time since 1929, Nevada has a Republican Governor and Republican control of both Houses.

The makeup of the Legislature became very important since the main priority of the Governor, most of Legislative leadership, and much of the business community was to raise additional revenue to ensure that education and essential services were properly funded. With a two-thirds supermajority required to pass any revenue or tax proposal, the Senate needed 14 votes of its 21 members, and the Assembly needed 28 votes from its total of 42 members.

During the State of the State speech, the Governor presented his vision for a “New Nevada,” declaring education to be a top priority, outlining reforms and calling for a significant tax increase to fund those reforms. Consequently, the session primarily focused on various K-12 education reforms, including: expanding school choice; improving under-performing schools; increasing English Language Learner (ELL) programs; creating a “read by three” program; enhancing teacher incentives and professional development; reducing class sizes; and expanding breakfast in the classroom, among others. The 2015 Legislative Session was historic due to passage of a nearly $7.4 billion budget with between $1.3 and $1.4 billion in additional revenue with a focus on investing in education.

The Nevada Revenue Plan, the Governor’s compromise tax plan, blended elements of the many different proposals considered during the session. The new plan sets the Business License Fee at $500 for corporations and $200 for all other businesses, increases the Modified Business Tax to 1.475 percent of the total wages paid by businesses that exceed $50,000 quarterly, and increases the payroll tax on mining companies to 2 percent. It also enacts Nevada’s Commerce Tax, applicable to businesses whose Nevada revenue exceeds $4 million annually, but allows a 50 percent deduction of the Commerce Tax for businesses which also pay the MBT.

One of the major issues of the session was whether or not transportation network companies (“TNCs”) such as Uber and Lyft could legally operate in Nevada. Met with strong opposition from the heavily-represented cab companies, the Uber lobbyists were ultimately successful in legalizing TNCs, with widespread support from Nevada residents and bipartisan support from Legislators.

The GPA team hit the ground running, covering several hundred bills for approximately 25 clients during the course of the session.

A few highlights include:

Passing laws to help children…

One of Governor Sandoval’s signature legislative priorities this session was strengthening Nevada’s anti-bullying laws. The Governors proposal created the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment within the Nevada Department of Education, established a 24-hour hotline to report incidents of bullying, and imposes strict requirements on school officials to investigate and report bullying. The budget allocates $16 million for a grant program for schools to provide a social worker in each school to help carry out the new provisions, while a companion bill created the “Safe to Tell Program” which requires the Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment to establish a program enabling any person to anonymously report any dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity which is being conducted or threatened to be conducted on the property of a public school.

Passing laws to help animals…

To create consistency with federal guidelines, Nevada limited the state definition of “service animal” to conform to the federal definition under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Only dogs or, under certain circumstances, miniature horses can qualify as service animals under this definition. This prevents people from seeking to bring animals ranging from cats to pythons into hotels and casinos and claiming that they must be allowed to do so because they are service animals.

Even passing laws on ourselves…

The legislature also placed significant limitations on lobbying expenditures. The bill prohibits (effective January 1, 2016) a lobbyist from making a gift to a member of the Legislative Branch or a member of his or her immediate family, whether or not the Legislature is in session. “Gift” is very broadly defined to include “any payment, conveyance, transfer, distribution, deposit, advance, loan, forbearance, subscription, pledge or rendering of money, services or anything else of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received.”


Media: Monthly media trends & insights

What trends are shaping media buys and our clients’ industries? We’re taking an inside look at online gaming legislation, Nielsen’s findings on the LGBT consumer, Millennials and their media consumption habits, and a recent press release event hosted by the agency.


California Skies Blue, Online Poker Gray

Currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are the only states with legally regulated online gaming. January 2015 saw California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduce a bill known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015, hoping to bring California out of the gray area, described as not illegal but unregulated. Simply, the bill would regulate online gambling while ensuring the protection of California players. In the beginning of August, many world-reknown poker players gathered for a tournament in American Canyon Napa to support the initiative “Let California Play.” However, with all the support this movement has gathered, there are still many obstacles in the form of Native American tribes, backlash from opposing politicians, and even disagreement within the pro-iPoker camp. While progress has been made, California still faces an uphill battle.


Millennials, Growth and Media Consumption

Once a neglected and possibly underserved target demographic, the latest U.S. Census data reports that Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) now outnumber Baby Boomers 83.1 million to 75.4 million. Representing more than one-quarter of our nation’s population, Millennials are more diverse than previous generations with over 44 percent belonging to a minority race or ethnic group.

The currency of the media industry is attention and with media consumption habits varying across different age groups, it is imperative to recognize and then segment the target demographic(s) accordingly rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The following graph displays the percentage of time spent per day with each medium, comparing Millennials versus the overall population.


Proudly Setting Trends, Nielsen’s 2015 LGBT Consumer Report 

Nielsen recently released its LGBT Consumer Report in honor of this summer’s Pride celebrations. The goal, highlights the LGBT consumer and displays the impact they have on numerous industries. These consumers are described as trendsetters and tech-enthusiasts, showing “unique levels of engagement across various consumption areas.” This update illustrates the LGBT audience’s impact on media combined with their purchasing behavior as consumers in relative fields to the resort/hospitality industry.

Content is key in capturing an audience, cable and network TV and recognize that 72 percent of viewers are watching a show containing a lead, supporting or recurring LGBT character as outlined in the following graph.

















Across all music channels, the LGBT audience shows higher levels of engagement than non-LGBT. Overindexing in subscribing to streaming music services (126 i.e., 26% more likely) and going to see a DJ they know perform (150 i.e., 50% more likely) further solidifies their description as tech-forward trendsetters.

Transitioning from media consumption to a hotel-related consumer field, there was one purchase category (useful for when you have acquired this guest on property) that cannot be ignored − food and beverage. Alcoholic beverage categories within the audience showed a significantly higher household spend when comparing against non-LGBT households. Wine indexed at 148, liquor at 135 and beer at 127, prompting the question of whether there could be an introduction of a more diverse creative and content campaign in the F&B segment.


R&R Resources+ MGM National Harbor Press Release Event 

Former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford recently announced that his firm R&R Resources+ will lead the brand marketing efforts for MGM National Harbor, the $1.3 billion gaming resort under development in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2016.

Through its status as an independently owned minority business enterprise (MBE), R&R Resources+ will be charged with a specific focus on diversity marketing, corporate social responsibility and workforce strategy, assisting MGM Resorts International (MGMRI) in developing authentic minority outreach and partnerships in the capital region. MGM National Harbor joins the R&R Resources+ portfolio of clients.

As a minority investor in R&R Resources+, R&R Partners will also join the MGM National Harbor project, bringing its unique brand of travel and tourism expertise. In honor of the new partnership, R&R Resources+ joined R&R Partners to host a launch event on the rooftop of the R&R Resources+ headquarters in downtown D.C., overlooking the Capitol Building. Among the guest list of more than 300 confirmed attendees were esteemed members of the media, political figures and MGMRI executives, all who gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion. See photos from the event below.

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Media trends: A look at luxury purchasers, usage and more

What trends are shaping media buys? We’re taking an inside look at luxury purchasers, spot radio and some facts about how dialed in the 18-34 crowd is to radio that could surprise you.


All luxury purchasers (adult consumers age 18+) who bought one or more luxury goods or services in the prior 12 months constitute almost 20%, or about 46 million, of the 239 million adults in the United States. Luxury marketers would be correct in surmising that as household income increases, the proportion of luxury purchasers rises.

Notably, though, luxuries were bought by almost as many mass-market consumers whose household income is less than $75,000 (20 million adults who are not typically classified as affluent by marketers) as by those with household incomes of $75,000 to $249,999 (about 22 million affluent consumers), plus the four million luxury purchasers in the upper-income segment of $250,000 or more. This being so, it’s our point of view that the luxury market is actually much larger than many luxury marketers currently believe.

As might be expected, a relatively large proportion, one in five (21%), of mass-market luxury purchasers bought luxuries just once in the past 12 months. In contrast, more than one-third of very affluent luxury purchasers bought luxuries six or more times.














Source: Mediapost.com


Spot radio: Raring for a rebound

Spending and pricing were down in many of the top 10 markets during the first half of 2015, and inventory was readily available and negotiable in most cities. The second half of the year will see increased spending and perhaps higher pricing in a couple cities. Summers are generally tighter on radio, unlike TV, because people can listen while they’re doing outdoor activities such as going to the pool or having barbeques. This spending surge will continue into the fall, with back-to-school spending dominating late summer. Political will also give a year-end boost to a few markets. San Francisco and Philadelphia, for example, are holding mayoral elections this November.

Source: MediaLifeMagazine.com

Surprising facts about media usage

More 18-34s listen to radio each week than use a smartphone. Nielsen’s most recent total audience report, a quarterly document that tracks media use by different age groups, shatters a number of misconceptions about new and old media use. For example, it might surprise you to know that more Millennials listen to traditional AM/FM radio each week than use smartphones. Nielsen found 93 percent of adults 18-34 listen to radio weekly, while just 80 percent report using a smartphone. In fact, radio is the most frequently used medium among Millennials. It’s well ahead of TV at 76 percent and PCs at 49 percent. Radio has been a part of people’s lives for so long it’s easy to take for granted. New technology has definitely become a staple of today’s media use, but it’s important to remember it’s not the only option young people turn to. Overall the report found that radio has the greatest reach of all media among adults, with 93 percent saying they use it weekly, compared to 87 percent for TV.
































Source: MediaLifeMagazine.com

15/16 Broadcast Upfront

Every year in mid-May, agencies and clients flock to New York City to catch the new programming announcements from the major TV networks (and stand in lines to get their photos taken with celebrities). In the last few years, there has been rumbling that TV is dead and digital is the way of the future. Let’s review some stats, then dive into some programming updates.







































Viewing Trends

There is no question that the media landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, and with the evolution comes changes in consumer behavior. TV content is no longer being consumed just on a TV. There are countless ways to access it, although the TV still remains number one. Although number one, in the last few years, research shows that time shifted and smartphone usage is growing and taking shares from live TV viewing (albeit still the most heavily utilized).

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The technology boom has had its impacts on the broadcast world in many ways. The rise of socially interactive programming (voting, checking in and show-specific hashtags) is one way in which consumers are encouraged to multiscreen. According to the iab, 78 percent are using another device while watching TV – most commonly a smartphone (69%); computer and tablet nearly tied (54%/53%).   While show engagement is one type of multiscreening usage, two research sources show that what people are doing most, while using multiple screens, is not interacting with the TV or its content – they’re doing nonrelated tasks. This multitasking activity poses a challenge for advertisers across all platforms – not just TV, where creative must be attention grabbing and engaging and media placements must pop in front of engaged viewers.













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Upfront Announcements

So, onto the fun stuff … what will you be watching this fall? There were some themes that emerged across the week of presentations:

  • Everyone was No. 1 overall in something (except Fox, although Empire was the No. 1 new program):
    • NBC is No. 1 in adults 18−49.
    • CBS is No. 1 in total viewers and adults 25−54.
    • ABC is No. 1 in 18−49 when you remove all sports shows.
  • Networks taking on digital
    • If we had a dime for every time a presenter said the words “data,” “viewability,” “premium content,” “transparency” and “no bot traffic,” we’d be able to throw one hell of a party.
    • ABC spent time discussing its On Demand viewership and equated it to the third largest cable network.
    • Turner/TBS went as far as to say “dayparts are dead” and pushed audience guarantees, data, analytics and advanced targeting.
  • Programming trends:
    • Live shows
      • NBC
        • It’ll follow its formula with the Sound of Music and Peter Pan, and release The Wiz.
        • Undateable (comedy) – after the success of its live show a month ago, it’ll do this next season.
      • Fox (stealing from NBC’s playbook) will have a live performance of Grease.
      • ABC will celebrate Disney’s 60th anniversary with music.
    • Sports – key to live viewing since it’s DVR-proof.
      • CBS hung its hat on the NFL.
      • NBC is proud to have the Olympics in Rio.
      • ABC will air ESPN programming.
    • Even more diversity (from 14/15 season)
      • Success with Empire, Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat has pushed networks to add more diverse cast members in a variety of shows.
    • Reboots
      • X-Files, The Muppets, Supergirl, Coach, Limitless and Minority Report will all get a second go-round on TV.
    • Less reality
      • Not one new reality show is on the fall schedule for any network.
      • Continuing series such as Dancing with the Stars, The Voice and Survivor will be back.
      • Has the day really come?! American Idol will end its run in the 15/16 season.
    • Fewer comedy blocks
      • NBC has nearly abandoned comedy after many failures.
    • Rebrands
      • TBS/TNT are doubling original programming over the next three years.
      • TBS repositioning itself to be younger and more male, closer to Adult Swim and its Millennial core.

Happy viewing!



Still Flipping the Script

It’s been more than five years since our CEO, Billy, came into the office after a rash of teen suicides caused by bullying, and said “we need to do something.” Flip the Script was born, and dozens of employees from across disciplines and offices got involved with this R&R-created campaign that is still near and dear to our hearts.

While the creative team came up with ads, the media team got space donated, and the PR team got press coverage, the Nevada government affairs team worked to strengthen anti-bullying laws in the state. In baby steps, we helped pass legislation that proclaimed the first week of every October the “Week of Respect,” established school safety teams, strengthened reporting requirements on bullying incidents, and more. But it wasn’t enough. Parents weren’t hearing of incidents involving their kids, and the new laws were tough to enforce.


On May 20, Governor Sandoval signed into law Senate Bill 504, the strongest anti-bullying legislation Nevada has ever had. The bill revises the definition of bullying, creates a separate anti-bullying office within the Nevada Department of Education, strengthens reporting requirements for bullying incidents, and creates a 24-hour hotline and a website for submitting complaints. R&R’s efforts kept this issue front and center in the last three legislative sessions, and working with the school districts and elected officials, we helped make changes that will directly impact Nevada students.

There are many campaigns of which we are incredibly proud. Flip the Script symbolizes the passion of our employees for social causes that create real, meaningful change and help the communities in which we work. Below is a link to a story on Governor Sandoval’s signing ceremony for the bill:


The Return of the King

Content is King. But it hasn’t seemed that way. As we crossed into “Web 2.0,” every user with an opinion was King. Not long after, we entered into the “Age of Apps,” which created a true give-and-take between brands and consumers. Simultaneously, consumers started having conversations with the universal megaphone of social media. These empowered consumers started talking about our brands more loudly than our brands were talking about themselves. So we joined in, bringing every brand that might have something to say to the social media party, jumping into conversations, hoping not to get kicked out for rudely interrupting. But the rest of the world figured out that we were only waiting for someone to ask us “what do you think?” so we can reply with “we think you should buy Brand X!” So now what do we do? We return to the universal truth …

You have to give before you get.

Content marketing is generous King. But it’s rarely been the first thought of any brand; “How much can we give away for free?” We know the Groupon Effect causes a temporary bump in sales without a gain in long-term clientele. Giving temporary deep discounts is really only an effective short-term strategy. Giving away product in a sweepstakes is GREAT for lead generation, but who’s going to buy if there’s a chance they’re going to win? So that is how we’ve returned the marketing crown to its rightful owner, content. But remember …

The value of content is that it informs, entertains, or reflects an identity. But it does not sell.

Content marketing is not direct response. It’s not instant gratification; it’s the long game. Content does not inspire conversion it inspires conversation. Good content inspires consumers to talk to the brand, about the brand, and even for the brand. Better gets a Like, Favorite, stars and hearts. The best gets the envious Share, Tweet, Post, Repost, Retweet, Wundertweetpostbump, etc., until the amplification turns your initial $1.25 per engagement of paid media spend into an $.04 eCPE (effective Click Per Engagement). These numbers happened for our Las Vegas Kiss Cam animated gif on Tumblr.


We entertained. And for a brief moment in time, some users out there laughed enough to share us with their friends. All over the world, even in China where our client didn’t spend a dime, Las Vegas brought a smile to people’s faces.

That’s the real way to a consumer’s heart. Give without asking, entertain without selling. Because our only focus was on the giggle chamber (the left ventricle, technically) of the consumer’s heart, our content succeeded. We weren’t kicked out of the social media party; we were passed around like a [insert inappropriate party drug reference].

Campaigns succeed by converting. Content succeeds by being engaging.

Of course, sales matter. You don’t win Effies by not moving the needle. But we can’t push our sales messages into conversations anymore. There are tons of bad blogs out there, brands telling only their own story, tricking people into swallowing a soft yummy shell of content around a hard-selling nutty center. We can’t do that to our consumers anymore; they’ll choke. Then they’ll sue for negligence because they have nut allergies and we didn’t warn them first. They, at least, sure won’t take anything we give them in the future without questioning our motives.

Corporations are now people; brands are now friends. Social media made that happen long before SCOTUS.

You do not have a single person in your life with whom you do not have an emotional bank account. Every relationship is ruled by these accounts. Every brand has one with consumers too. Your next sale isn’t just about quality anymore, or value, or cost, or history, or whether your widget weighs a quarter gram less than your competitors. Your next sale is about your relationship with your consumers and your potential consumers. Do you make them laugh? Do you inspire new ideas? Do you bring them flowers “just because?” When you give good content, listen and tell their story, without asking for anything in return, that emotional bank account grows an until that consumer just loves you. Then comes the conversion.

“Business moves at the speed of ideas. And you don’t have to like it, but you can’t ignore it.” – Gottfrid, Happyish (Showtime)

Happyish is showing off agency life in a way that’s both current and OMG too real. The young bucks are brought in to usher a long-established, large agency into the digital world, and the old guard has two choices: pivot or perish. Being a user experience designer of a certain age, I find myself identifying and empathizing with both sides. OF COURSE our brands need social media accounts and strategies, but I reacted like Thom (the protagonist OG) in that I couldn’t understand why a brand like Pepto Bismol has a Twitter account or why 7,400 people would want to follow them. But then it hit me like a burrito bomb. And I have to give Pepto’s agency respect for both responding smartly to Happyish and for having the most subversive social campaign I’ve ever seen. Pepto, as you might imagine, doesn’t have a lot to say about or to the world. But it doesn’t fall into the trap of selling its product on social either. Instead, it creates observational (and occasionally funny) content. A lot of it is about pizza. A LOT. And sausage and bacon and quesadillas and all kinds of delicious food that, if you’re inspired to eat it, will make your stomach revolt. Should you indulge, you’re eventually going to need Pepto Bismol. And THAT is the long game of content marketing, the game we all had better be playing now.

Long live the King.

How have you enacted content marketing for your or your clients’ success? If you haven’t yet, what’s holding you back?