April 20, 2018

A Win Win Situation

Not only is Reservoir Distillery winning awards for whiskey, but winning awards for design as well! We took home Gold in the design category of The Richmond Show this year. Cheers!

March 13, 2018

VCU's 2018 CreateAthon

BMA Account Executive, Michael Foster and Jeff Smack, our Director of Interactive Media, were invited to be team mentors at VCU's annual CreateAthon this year and had a great time getting involved.
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March 2, 2018

Lacoste’s  Alligator Steps Aside for Conservation

Lacoste, formerly IZOD- a brand that peaked in the 80s and 90s but has faded out of mainstream fashion is hoping to draw some attention  through a new campaign partnering with Union for Conservation of Nature. An article by Fast Company tells us the campaign will feature limited edition polos that replace the iconic alligator logo with depictions of 10 threatened animals in efforts to help protect the remaining wildlife. The shirts can be seen in detail on the Lacoste France website. We also like the simplicity of this shot from Creative Review's instagram feed.
Lacoste is only creating the quantity of polos that corresponds to the number of each species recorded in the wild. “Since there are only 350 Sumatran tigers, there will be only 350 tiger logo polos for sale. The gulf of California porpoise only gets 30 shirts, due to its dwindling numbers.”
Take a look here.
Cause marketing continues to gain steam as brands develop their social and political voices. But the incentives can’t be ignored. Is the true alignment to the cause as strong as the benefit for the brand? Is the brand exposing issues that would have been unnoticed by the general public?
These questions have to be taken seriously to work authentically. For now we can be appreciative of brands taking steps to tackle the issues that define their position in an ever complicated world.
Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

February 27, 2018

Were The 2018 Winter Olympics World Class?

This year’s Winter Olympics were more connected than ever, and there were more ways to watch them than ever before. Viewers could even receive text updates from NBC when their favorite athlete made his/her debut.
The number of people using NBC’s app to stream the Olympics this year was impressive. 11.6 million users have been reported along with a 174 percent increase over the 2014 streaming audience (NPR). But despite these media factors, viewership was still down from the last Winter Olympics held in Sochi.
An article from NPR states, “overall in prime time, from the start of the games to Monday, the boost from total audience delivery was just 12 percent. This data suggests that traditional network TV viewing is still the way most viewers watch the games. And like much broadcast TV, there is an erosion in prime-time viewership.”
This is an interesting problem to solve. Most people want to watch the Olympics on TV, it’s a  tradition people are used to. But that tradition doesn’t line up with modern media habits. People don't want to adjust their schedules to tune in to the event  they want to watch in real-time.
Streaming is more popular than ever and traditional television viewership is declining. The decline in overall viewership seems mostly attributable to the rate of change in the TV and video user experiences combined with totally different media consumption behaviors. As mass audiences get used to viewing on their own terms in their own time — what’s the incentive to go back and watch an event if the outcome is already in the headlines? 
The media environment is changing too fast for the Olympics' media partners to iron out the best viewing product? We'll have to wait two or four more years to see if the program offering catches up with audience behavior and viewing preferences.
Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

February 22, 2018

LinkedIn, J. Crew and WeWork – Unlocking Personal & Professional Brand Potential

It’s a fascinating time to be alive. As a society, our connected experience is no longer straddling the line between “the real-world” and online — it’s distributed through both and fully interwoven.

Anchoring this point, a new alliance has caught our eye. Linked In x WeWork x J Crew have joined together in a very interesting partnership. Each partner has a different reason for existing, but all three merge elements of the other’s primary customer experience.

The fashion brand J Crew, is searching for a radical shift in strategy to succeed in modern retail world. Partnering with LinkedIn and WeWork, they benefit from direct access to entrepreneurial customers who already understand the value of looking clean and stylish.

WeWork and LinkedIn view this opportunity as another way for their brand to serve their customer’s professional image and meet the needs of their mutual audience segment.

Whether this experiment takes off or not, we expect to see more of this kind of corporate teamwork, as brands strive to unlock their experiential potential.

More on the story over at Retail Dive.

Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

February 13, 2018

3000 Years of Valentine's Day History

“Valentine’s Day is a marketing holiday manufactured by the gift card industry.”
We've all heard that position stated before. Okay. Fair enough. Let’s take a look at this anti-sentimental view of an otherwise tender holiday.
Is Valentine’s day a consumer holiday? Was it invented by greeting card companies? Where did it come from? And how did it become what we know it to be today?
According to history.com, 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year worldwide. This makes the holiday the single most popular greeting card holiday and the second most popular greeting card giving occasion behind birthdays.
The average person spends $146.84 on the holiday, according to Time Money. Between these two facts the consumer marketing angle seems well reasoned. So people are definitely buying cards, flowers and candy. Where did all of this start? Let’s take it back to the beginning.
V-Day is named after St. Valentine, a third century Roman saint. But the holiday is believed to have origins in traditions that pre-date St. Valentine himself. Hmm, let’s go all the way back...
February finds its meaning — 800 BCE
The ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia is a pagan celebration anchored to February 15th. It was a holiday of health and fertility, alternatively called “Dies Februatus” or “purified day” and gave the month it’s name.
Valentine’s day gets its name — 250 AD
Next on the calendar we have the execution of St. Valentine on February 14th in the third century AD. Legend has it that the saint wrote a letter to the daughter of his jailer the night before he died and it was signed “from your Valentine.”
A couple centuries later the church named St. Valentine’s Day a holiday to memorialize the saint and further subdue the pagan traditions of courtship and matchmaking from Lupercalia.
Flowers take on symbolic meaning in the West — 1714
The modern tradition of flowers as messages is credited to King Charles XIII of Sweden in the early 18th century. He learned of flower arranging in Persia and identified the various meanings of different flowers when presented as gifts.
Manufactured cards and candy take off! — 1800s
The tradtion of St. Valentine’s day remains largely focused on romance and hand-written notes until the 1800s when the industrial revolution hits and “fancy” cards manufactured in Europe are newly in vogue.
This is also around the time that Cadbury Chocolates was founded in England and chocolates were introduced on a large scale as a quintessential gift for sweethearts.
Conversation hearts were introduced in 1866 and were not heart shaped until almost 40 years later. This is when the full-on marketing hit, the early twentieth century.
Hallmark is born — 1900s
In 1910 Hallmark was founded and they produced their first Valentine’s Day card shortly after. 1910 is the same year that “Florists Telegraph Delivery" was founded, still around today as FTD, Florist’s Transworld Delivery.
A look back through ancient history to the 20th century confirms that Valentine’s Day, as we know it, truly came together in the first decades of the last century. So what we view as a traditional approach to Valentine’s Day, flowers, chocolates and cards is really only the last 100 years of a 3000 year old tradition.
In the 21st Century consumer audiences are participatory, not passive, and marketing of all kinds has become very self aware as social attitudes evolve. Will this post-modern progression take Valentine’s Day somewhere it’s never been? Only time will tell.
However, maybe it’s already gone irreversibly into a bizarro future.
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

February 6, 2018

Which Ads Won The Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl ads this year were up to par with the previous years. They were clever, real-time relevant, funny and featured a ton of our favorite celebrities.
But let’s talk about what was new and different.
The spots that grabbed my eyes were the ones that spoke directly to the customer. And not figuratively as used in the common marketing saying, but they actually addressed the audience as viewers of an advertisement.
Advertising during the Super Bowl has come a long way over the years. What started as a break for the sponsors, has grown into a supporting act of the game itself — a highly anticipated component of the entertainment. In these hours, marketers are putting forth their very best content to appear in front of the largest audiences. But let’s just say,  by this point people are 100% aware of they are being marketed to, no matter how creative these ads have become.
The brands this year that decided to own up and acknowledge, “yes, we are marketing to you right now,” were the ones that made me appreciate them and their transparency. It was nice to have a good laugh knowing that they understand, and give them a nod of approval. Here are some favorites:
Tide: Did a comical mash-up spoof of familiar Super Bowl commercials from other industries. Mimicking the vibe of each commercial, Tide would stop and reminded the customer that every ad with clean clothes is a Tide ad.
Jeep: Decided to expose the marketer’s thoughts behind the average car commercial. They stated that they don’t need some “overarching human truth” to sell their vehicle, and they don't need a manifesto, all they need is for the customer to see what the Jeep itself can do.  

Skittles: Decided to take an unconventional route and go live on Facebook during the Superbowl. The idea was to create a story leading up to Sunday explaining that Skittles would only be advertising to one single boy during the Superbowl.
Michelob Ultra: In this hilarious spot, Chris Pratt gets the part to “star” in a Michelob Ultra commercial but later finds out what that really means in a second Michelob Ultra commercial.

Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights

February 1, 2018

The Big Game — Super Bowl LII Ads

AdWeek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker received a fresh round of updates this week giving the world an early glimpse of what will likely be some of the most talked about brands of the year.
Personally, I try not to do too much "teaser" viewing before the event because I still like to experience the ads in the traditional environment and evaluate the impact with other folks, who don't work in advertising.
It's fun to see which spots demand attention and what may get missed in real time.
Also, there's no way I won't see every spot by early next week so I try pretty hard not to get too far in front of game-time unveiling. However, the Avocados from Mexico spot got me curious. It's arguably the most relevant product for the experience. They've done some pretty absurd and inventive things in the past, so I just had to check it out.

The spot is pretty clever and goes a long way to make a really simple point. But what really got me was the peculiar Chris Elliott cameo. I'm a big fan (See Get a Life and Handsome Boy Modeling School). His absurd presence in the ad forced me to YouTube which paid off with another Chris Elliott spot that sets up the first one.
Bizarre, entertaining, and well received with this focus group of one. This foray into Super Bowl sneak peeks should whet the appetite and keep me satisfied enough to wait for the full course on Sunday.

Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

January 26, 2018

What, exactly, is the media value of Snapchat?

We can go ahead and just air that question out loud. It’s okay to ask.
By now most folks are aware that Snapchat is a bit of a wildcard in the arena of media. Five years ago it was the up and comer. Two years ago it was threatening to be the future of social media. One year ago it was the Facebook Ad killer — and none of that has actually panned out. But the platform continues to hold solid ground while anyone that isn’t a daily user continues to scratch their head.
Snapchat has 170 million daily users at last count. That’s their flagship statistic. By comparison using late 2017's figures, Facebook has 1.3 billion, Instagram has 500 million, and Twitter has 330 million. And when you know that Snapchat’s audience of daily users is almost entirely between the ages of 13 and 30  you have an audience platform that can't be ignored. And now we can begin to understand the hype.
However, what is the platform doing to deliver on that value and monetize that opportunity? We aren’t sure. The data on how users are using Snapchat is extremely limited as of now, but in the meantime, Snapchat can tout the daily users and the valuable makeup of that audience to advertisers.
Putting the advertising value in perspective, Instagram’s Story feature alone has more users than Snapchat has total users, that’s 180 million. The makeup of that audience leans older but the volume and behaviors of Insta’s audience makes it more practical as a “planned, bought and measured” ad platform. The ad units available through Facebook and Instagram are more versatile and more adaptable to different objectives as well.
We call it a social media community. And social advertising is a commodity, but Snapchat is  really more of a messaging application. First and foremost it's a space for young people to send video and images to each other in privacy. But are these young people interacting with the publisher content in the Discover section of the app? Are they engaging with the ads in a meaningful way? According to a recent article on The Daily Beast, the data is not made available by Snapchat, but the simplest answer is “not much.”
So what exactly is the value of Snapchat? It’s what the kids are doing. And that’s cool. It’s setting new trends and inventing new rules. It was the first to favor vertical video and gave the world face filters. If a brand can do something organic and innovative and it gets noticed, then it can help your brand gain some favorable press, and it’s definitely fertile territory for cool points in the industry.
The data is still out on whether the ad product matters with the audience and whether the audience is who they say they are.
At this point, among a variety of very effective pay-and-measure ad channels, it’s still a variable. We believe it’s absolutely a worthwhile experiment for brands that are committed to the channel and able to optimize on performance. It’s definitely a testable variable that’s well positioned to generate word of mouth (and industry PR) for a brand that’s authentically participating in the culture of the community.
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

December 26, 2017

Out With The Old. In With The True.

As many of you know, we recently moved from an outmoded office park to a trendy and modish neighborhood.
Excitement and anticipation lingered as we packed up and prepared to move into a wide-open, newly renovated warehouse with soaring ceilings. Knowing my space would be smaller in the new digs, the daunting task of editing the flotsam I had collected over the years was upon me. I could no longer ignore the need to part with decades of stuff. The “stuff” that had just gotten boxed up and unloaded down the hall in another office now had to be addressed. And boy, I felt a purge coming on. This was my chance, (cue Lynard Skynard Free Bird). Though as I began the process some questions emerged.

  1. How do I distinguish what I need and let go of the rest?
  2. How do I make the old and the new compliment each other?
  3. How do I keep the authentic self, shaped through the years, but meld it with the need to embrace ever constant change?

These same points should be considered when reviewing your marketing. Are you hanging on to your “stuff” because you don’t know what to keep or toss? Afraid to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak? To that I'd say, don’t automatically continue every past campaign that you’ve done over the years simply because you’ve “always done it.” Truth is, some of the things we do in marketing and in life are predicated by our comfort level.  Don’t box up your stuff and move it. Weed it out.
I’m not suggesting that every program, sponsorship and campaign you’ve ever done be scraped. I am suggesting you embrace change! First, separate the bath water and save the baby. As you move forward, identify the “baby;” your goals, culture, or mission statement and get rid of everything that doesn’t align with or support them.

  1. Make your public image work for you while staying true to the goals you’ve outlined in  your short and long term plan.
  2. Decide which of your past efforts should be combined into a new direction and which ones need to be abandoned or at the very less updated.
  3. What “stuff” do you need to let go of? Are you hanging on to old marketing points? Strip it down.

You may have to dig deep to find the best avenue to market your business. And recognize that it’s going to be a process. Change is gonna’ come. But with diligence and a fearless attitude, you can meet it head on.
Shelley Sergent
Senior Media Buyer & Planner

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