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Life’s Rich

Living a rich life doesn’t come as a result of the size of a bank account, but from the shared moments, relationships and interactions you have that matter most. That’s the idea behind RITZ’s new "Life’s Rich" brand platform. So celebrate the road trips, pillow fights and movie marathons, all those moments where RITZ crackers fit naturally. Because buttery rich is a good kind of rich, too.

Life’s Rich


Pre-roll ads are annoying. We all share that feeling of wanting to click "skip" as soon as humanly possible. Thankfully, we found a solution. These ads are impossible to skip, they're already over. 


Play with OREO

Twist, lick, dunk, roll, stack and dip, there's no limit to what your imagination can do when you play with OREO. And from working with electro-pop duo Yelle to seeking out 10 emerging artists to share their creative OREO expressions of “play,” this new campaign inspires imagination and play around the globe.

Play with OREO

Life’s Rich

Living a rich life doesn’t come as a result of the size of a bank account, but from the shared moments, relationships and interactions you have that matter most. That’s the idea behind RITZ’s new "Life’s Rich" brand platform. So celebrate the road trips, pillow fights and movie marathons, all those moments where RITZ crackers fit naturally. Because buttery rich is a good kind of rich, too.

Life’s Rich

Supreme Court Justices Will Be Invited to So Many Same-Sex Weddings

1 April 2015, Creativity-Online, Editor's Pick

Tie The Knot, a non-profit organization that supports marriage equality founded by "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, is turning the traditional wedding "Save the Date" into ammo for its cause.

Along with the Martin Agency, Tie the Knot has launched "Supreme Save the Date," targeting the 14 U.S. states that have yet to legalize same-sex marriage. It will feature a "Save the Date Builder" that helps gay couples who hope to marry create their own Save the Dates and send them to Supreme Court Justices before they make their ruling on same-sex marriage in June. The idea is to potentially inundate them with wedding plans that can't move forward without the Supreme Court's help.

Continue to Creativity-Online for video and full article

Supreme Court Justices Will Be Invited to So Many Same-Sex Weddings

Benjamin Moore Debuts Its Biggest Ad Campaign Ever

24 March 2015, Adweek, By Noreen O'Leary. 

Benjamin Moore is launching its most aggressive advertising campaign ever, spending $50 million to differentiate the brand in a commodity category where paint increasingly is just seen as color on the wall.

Ron Schuller, who joined Benjamin Moore as CMO last November, said the initiative emphasizes its two strongest attributes: Consumers' perception of Benjamin Moore as a premium brand; and its distribution through smaller merchants, rather than big-box stores.

"In the first phase [of the campaign], we'll talk about product quality where the product is the hero," said Schuller, "while in the second phase we'll focus on our independent, expert retailers who give you the right advice and help you through the process."

The 132-year-old company's pitch, from The Martin Agency, uses TV, radio, print and digital and introduces the brand's new tagline—"Paint like no other." Benjamin Moore previously leaned on a more locally-focused approach. Schuller said the company had to turn up the volume with a clear positioning in a category where there's been "a lot of noise" in recent years, especially as the economy has improved and consumers return to do-it-yourself household projects.

The first phase of the campaign, "Feats of Can," which just broke, highlights paint coatings that correspond to different product offerings. Benjamin Moore lays claim to industry firsts like creating a product that combines paint and primer, and one with zero VOCs (symptom-producing solvents) and no emissions.

Continue to Adweek for full article

Benjamin Moore Debuts Its Biggest Ad Campaign Ever

Penske Truck Leasing Debuts First National B-to-B Campaign

16 March 2015, Advertising Age, By Kate Maddox

Penske Truck Leasing today is launching its first national b-to-b campaign, designed to raise awareness of its truck leasing, rental and logistics services for businesses.

The campaign, which has the theme "Moving Forward," includes print, online and social media. Online videos break today on around coverage of the NCAA "March Madness" men's basketball tournament.

The ads use humor to show what can go wrong when businesses don't use Penske for their critical shipping and transportation needs, from chickens hatching out of egg cartons to truckers with lousy horns. The campaign was created by The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and the budget was not disclosed.

"We have done a lot of advertising around our individual product lines -- primarily in trade-specific publications -- but we wanted to tell a broader story of what we do," said Sherry Sanger, senior VP-marketing at Penske Truck Leasing.

Penske has three main b-to-b product lines -- commercial truck rentals for businesses' short-term needs; full-service truck leasing for longer-term needs; and logistics, such as handling businesses' transportation and warehousing operations.

The company also provides truck rental services to consumers, although that side of the business makes up less than 10% of the company's total revenue, Ms. Sanger said. Penske Truck Leasing had total revenue of $5.6 billion last year.

"The consumer side is the most visible part of our brand. People are used to seeing our bright yellow trucks," she said. "What we really wanted to focus on is the commercial breadth of our offerings."

So Penske turned to The Martin Agency, its agency of record for the past three years, to develop an integrated campaign that would reach a national business audience.

"Many people in the b-to-b space forget that they are really talking to humans," said Cliff Sorah, senior VP-creative director at The Martin Agency. "We are showcasing the humanity behind the brand and connecting to the audiences with humor."

Continue to Ad Age for full article

Penske Truck Leasing Debuts First National B-to-B Campaign

Play with OREO in the Press

As part of the "Play with OREO" campaign, we sought out 10 emerging artists from around the world and asked them to share their creative OREO expressions of “play.” The results were showcased around NYC, LA and Indianapolis and were featured in Adweek, Creativity and Fast Company



Play with OREO in the Press

GEICO Unskippable is Unstoppable

Apparently not everyone hates pre-roll. GEICO's latest "Unskippable" campaign garnered widespread attention in Adweek, Creativity, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Forbes and USA Today. Carson Daly and the Today Show team even gave it some love. 



GEICO Unskippable is Unstoppable


Pre-roll ads are annoying. We all share that feeling of wanting to click "skip" as soon as humanly possible. Thankfully, we found a solution. These ads are impossible to skip, they're already over. 


Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

A group of valuable new employees you’ve diligently recruited shows up for their first day at the agency. They are eager, and maybe even a little anxious, to start their new jobs. Until now, they’ve known the agency by reputation only and they can’t wait to be wowed by the most exciting, welcoming first day ever. 

Instead, they get a quick introduction to their new teammates who are running late for a client call. They may even hear the refrain: “It’s not always like this but today is crazy busy.” Then they’re ushered into a conference room where they face a mountain of health insurance and orientation paperwork and a cold box lunch.

Sound familiar?

Far too often, in hectic agency environments that are increasingly time starved, new employee onboarding simply doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Yet, a recent Aberdeen Group study found that “new employees are 69% more likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding.”

That statistic was the nudge we needed to completely overhaul our onboarding program. We shifted our mindset and worked to make orientation a personal, enjoyable immersion in our business and our culture. This allows new employees to actually hit the ground running and contribute more quickly, which, as we all know, is one of the great joys of work. Most importantly, we’re hearing from our new hires that this process is helping reinforce that they made the right career choice.

Here are a few changes we’ve made that are making a big difference:

You Told Them You Wanted Them, Now Show Them. Rather than a dull conference room, orientation takes place in our gallery, which is a bright, busy, open space at the center of the agency. During the next few hours, new hires hear from our CEO, Matt Williams, about our culture of “Good & Tough” and our Chairman, John Adams, talks to them about our company values that he penned in 1996. Next a creative director pops in to talk about our approach to the work followed by a seasoned project manager who explains in detail how work moves through the agency. By the end of these sessions, new employees know exactly who we are, what we do and how we do it. Finally, at the end of the day, they are invited to an informal mixer where their supervisors and colleagues gather to welcome and get to know them.

Throw the Book at Them. Our new hires say our Welcome Book (onboarding journal) is one-of-a-kind. It arms our new employees with a personal map for their adventure at The Martin Agency, guiding them through a four-month immersion into our company. It gives tips and ideas for engaging with supervisors and teammates. And to show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, each tab features doodles and notes sections with page 34 even encouraging ‘your best conference call art.’ The book was conceived and written by a team here at the agency with a production assist by The Frontier Project.

Save HR & Paperwork for Day #2. HR plays an invaluable role in the new hire process and we’ve got a fantastic HR team.  But we made the decision to minimize their involvement on the first day by engaging employees from across departments to lead the orientation charge. It can be a project manager and an AV specialist working together, or a copywriter and a producer teaming up. They’re given basic guidelines and material to cover, but are encouraged to put their own personal touch on the day.

Show Them the Ropes – No Excuses. When we asked some relatively new employees about their onboarding experience with us, we learned we suffered from another common onboarding faux pas. New hires couldn’t contribute right away because no one had time to train them. The solution was simple: Have a training plan and stick to it. Now, departments customize specific plans for onboarding new talent that are faithfully completed during the employees’ first few days at the agency.

Play Matchmaker. Nothing makes new employees feel more welcome than other employees. And if these new friends are folks they might not otherwise get to interact with in their first 90 days, all the better. With our new buddy system, we find out our new hires’ interests and hobbies, how old their children are, where they’re going to live, etc., and connect them with like-minded employees. It’s like, but for work friends (and without the .com).

Tell Us What Your Fresh Eyes See. We love new hires; they bring an invaluable fresh perspective and we find it invigorating to talk with them. From the beginning, we go to great lengths to make sure their voices are heard and to remind them that we really want their opinion. At every orientation, an executive committee member welcomes the group. We share our story and talk candidly about the agency and the industry. We remind them that they’re bringing something to the table that the rest of us can no longer bring and that’s a fresh set of eyes without a Martin filter. That’s critical to us and we encourage them to be vocal and have a point of view on what we could be doing better. We tell them our doors are always open and to stop by often. In fact, our CEO meets with new hires monthly.

“The onboarding process was ground-breaking for me when I started The Martin Agency,” said Lauren Prociv, an Experience Planner in our strategic planning department. “Not only did I meet people that became good friends, I learned about the Good & Tough culture of the agency – good to each other and tough on the work – which instilled in me the confidence to immediately share my ideas despite being an ad rookie.”

While none of these steps may sound individually earth-shattering, we’ve found that when everyone faithfully does their part, the combined effect really does make a big difference both to new employees and to all of us who welcome and learn from them.

Beth Rilee-Kelley is the chief operating officer of The Martin Agency and has been with the company for 31 years. She has worked in the account management and creative departments, and right before stepping into the COO role she was head of the company’s human resources group. She is a tireless mentor and sponsor for women.

Common Sense Simple and Still Crazy Hard: Agency Onboarding

Top Five Big Game Ads, Live from London

The big game kicked off at 11:30 pm here in London, and we didn’t see the double-cliffhanger ending until almost 3:30 am Monday morning. Even so I wouldn’t have missed it, instant classic.

However, in contrast to the prime-time eyeball magnet that is the US broadcast, here it’s a late-night showing of a game no one much cares much about, so naturally the quality of the ads they showed was a bit different. Nevertheless, there were some standouts.

Here are my Top 5 ads from the UK broadcast:

1. Prof. Alistair Collingsworth-Whitehead’s School of Fisticuffsmanship for Lads
“I Dare Say Sir, How Rude!”
Well art-directed Victorian setting, great dialogue. I guess everyone eats mutton? Weird.

2. Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy Oven and Countertop Cleaning-Up Liquid
“Might we disinfect your kitchen if it’s no trouble?”
Who would have thought a kitchen cleanser would inspire such an extravagant musical number? My kids will be doing this dance for the rest of the year, thanks Mr. & Mrs. Squidgy, sheesh! :(

3. Miss Rose Marblehead-Winterbottom's Hand-Crafted Lavender Shoe Trees (:90 anthem)
“Shore is summin innit, wooncha say missus, I’m well chuffed”
I could barely understand a word through the thick accents and heavy rain, but the claymation chicken & leek pies made it fun.

4. City of Westminster Ministry of Unfortunately Unavoidable Billings
“No One Likes A Rate Increase But We Are Terribly Sorry To Announce Tariffs Will Increase From March 1”
CGI world made entirely of clotted cream, so inspiring. I will forever see Victoria sponge cake as a villain now.

5. Lady Agnes’ Undergarments For Polite Ladies Who Place Decorum Above All Else
“Help! I’ve had a poo”
A difficult topic well handled, I say. Not sure it was necessary to have the diaper voiced by an Italian man, but I am new to the UK so what do I know?

Top Five Big Game Ads, Live from London

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham
Three Ways Brands Can Find and Use their True Voice

By Anne Marie Hite

I recently read an article in which HBO's "Girls" creator Lena Dunham talked about what it was like growing up in New York's most exclusive schools. "I didn't feel chic. I didn't feel special…I was bad at sports. I wasn't the girl that boys liked. But (writing about it) made me feel like I had something."

Something indeed. By baring her soul, and a few other things too, Ms. Dunham found her true voice, which she was then able to amplify across a wide range of mediums -- from a TV show to a book -- and connect deeply with millions of young women. And quite a few of us slightly older women, too.

It occurred to me that brands can learn a lot from Ms. Dunham. And don't worry; it doesn't involve taking off your clothes in front of a national audience. Well, perhaps in the metaphorical sense.

1. Be honest about who you are not.

We don't like people who go around talking about how great they are. And yet, brands do this all the time. I'm not saying you need to dis your brand. Just spend a bit more time exploring its struggles and flaws. Chances are, you can turn them into something positive and in the process, lead your brand into much more interesting, authentic territory.

This reminds me of an old Dudley Moore movie about advertising, where he presented an ad for Volvo that said, "They're boxy but they're good." He was immediately committed to a mental hospital but I actually think he was onto something.

Dove was a pioneer in this honest approach by admitting their products won't make you look like the women in magazines. Their brilliant spin was that no product can do this because even the women in magazines don't really look like that.
Another great example is Toyota's "Swagger Wagon." By openly stating what they knew we were all thinking -- that minivans are the ultimate sign that you're no longer cool -- Toyota's Sienna made driving its minivan actually seem kind of cool.

More recently, Newcastle Ale's series of online "Super Bowl" ads -- which they openly admitted they couldn't actually afford to run on the Super Bowl -- became the most talked-about ads of the Super Bowl.

2. Use "who you are not" to find your authentic voice.

Brands have come a long way in trying to define themselves, but there is still work to be done. Some of today's more common positioning statements include the tech-savvy "innovative," the health-conscious "pure," and the No. 1 choice of female brands everywhere -- "empowering!"

There's nothing wrong with these statements, but there's nothing ownable or differentiating about them either. However, combine them with a perceived flaw or even an attribute that's authentic to the brand, and suddenly things get interesting.

One of my favorite commercials is Nike's "Find your Greatness," which ran during the Super Bowl a few years back. In it, we see a chubby kid panting his way down the road --albeit quite determinedly -- while a voiceover talks about all the things greatness is "not." For the millions of us sitting on our sofas drinking beer and eating cheese dip, this was much more relatable and even more motivating than seeing a star athlete sprinting down the street, talking about all the things greatness "is."

3. Use your authentic voice to build a community of like-minded souls.

I imagine Lena Dunham gets invited to a lot of dinner parties. And it isn't because she was the most popular girl in school. It's because she wasn't. I also imagine that at these dinner parties, there are quite a few people sneaking into the dining room switching their place cards for a chance to sit next to her. Our brands should be so lucky. Again, it comes down to having something to say that people connect with, which is especially important when trying to build a presence on social media.

As the mother of a 12-year-old boy who leaves for school every morning smelling like Old Spice Swagger, I can say with authority that moms don't care too much for Old Spice. Rather than ignoring this fact, Old Spice took it head-on with "Mom Song" and instantly connected with the millions of moms out there lamenting their boys becoming men -- this from the brand that's basically aiding in this abomination. I still don't like that my son is wearing Old Spice, but I love that Old Spice gets that. And judging by the responses from moms in the comments section of YouTube, I'm not alone.

The secret to success

I think back to that episode of "Girls" last season where Lena Dunham spent the entire episode walking around the Hamptons in a green string bikini. She wasn't flaunting her perfect body. She was flaunting a body that 99% of women can relate to. And it was glorious.

Yes, it takes bravery. And no, it's not always comfortable. But a little bit of vulnerability never hurt anyone. In fact, it could be the secret to your brand's success.


Link to story.

Full Frontal Nudity: What Brands Can Learn from Lena Dunham

Play with OREO

Twist, lick, dunk, roll, stack and dip, there's no limit to what your imagination can do when you play with OREO. And from working with electro-pop duo Yelle to seeking out 10 emerging artists to share their creative OREO expressions of “play,” this new campaign inspires imagination and play around the globe.

Play with OREO

Joe Alexander Picks His “Desert Island Ads”

Joe Alexander, CCO of The Martin Agency, picks his Desert Island Ads

When you make a list like this, you inevitably leave off so much great stuff. Apologies.
I also didn’t include radio, digital, outdoor, social, etc. I stuck to print and TV – with one exception – to keep the list from getting unruly.
Two things I would say about everything here: One, the ideas and executions are timeless. They are just as relevant today as they were when they first appeared. Two, I wish I had them in my book.

VW: Snowplow
The most perfect campaign in ad history. Maybe I love this one so much because I grew up shoveling snow.

Canal+: The Bear
A bear rug turned into a walking, talking directing ass.
Yelling at the PA – gets me every time.

Rolling Stone: Perception vs. Reality
Fallon McElligott was always amazing at creating print constructs that had endless executions.

Economist: I never read the Economist.
David Abbott’s best.

Ikea: Lamp
The music. The edit. The rain. The crazy Swede. Spike Jonze crushed this one.

GEICO: Caveman Series
The contempt the cavemen had for present day humans. Brilliant twist on the cliché.

BMW Films: The Hire
Digital content, book one, chapter one, page one. The definition of gamechanger.

California Milk Processors: Got Milk/Aaron Burr
The strategic insight here – what happens when you take milk away? – one of the greatest of all time.

Apple: Think Different print series
When ads become art.

ESPN: SportsCenter
The very first “mockumentary-style” campaign. I’ve always loved how W&K just embraced the bad acting of the athletes and anchors.

Nike: Just Do It.
The very first time the line was used was in this spot. The humble beginnings of greatness.

Joe Alexander is managing partner and CCO of one of North America’s finest agencies The Martin Agency. Based in Richmond and New York, Alexander oversees a department of 200 creatives and producers. Major accounts include Walmart and Geico (see below). Martin has also won an Emmy for its work for The JFK Presidential Library, the first ad agency to be so awarded in the News and Documentary category. Martin is owned by Interpublic and recently opened its first office outside the US, in London.

Link to full article. 

Joe Alexander Picks His “Desert Island Ads”

New Stoli Work Featured on Campaign US

Campaign US features the latest work for Stoli.

Link to full article. 

New Stoli Work Featured on Campaign US

Credit Swagger

Credit scores and swagger go together like…

Well, they probably haven't ever been used in the same sentence…until now. The latest campaign from Experian shows how you can "get your credit swagger on" by utilizing Experian's Credit Tracker.

Credit Swagger

Helsinki Holiday

First of all, if you’re ever in a karaoke bar in Helsinki at 2 am in the depths of December, Duran Duran’s “Rio” is a huge crowd-pleaser. Second, if you’re slated to sing gentle Oreo songs in front of 250 people at 2 pm the next day, belting out 80’s tracks at the top of your lungs the night before is hugely stupid. Fortunately for me, a good portion of the audience at my Eurobest session seemed to have been in that karaoke bar with me, so when my voice cracked like a boy in the throes of puberty, it was met with sympathy. Maybe even approval. If there’s one thing the Finns admire, it’s the ability to drink whatever’s put in front of you.

But if there’s another thing they admire, it’s creativity. Finland—and really, the whole Nordic / Scandinavian region that includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark too—is, at the moment, probably the most design-savvy, teched-up, dialed-in place in the universe, which made Helsinki an ideal place for a conference dedicated to showcasing the coolest work coming out of Europe. Held in the Aalto-designed Finlandia Hall, Eurobest was four solid days of meeting people with names that had no vowels (i.e., “Pyry”) and seeing work that I wish I’d done. Simple, elegant, brilliantly executed stuff that reminded me of why we do what we do.

There was the “direct mail” campaign for Audi that sent mysterious cubes to prospects. Push a button, and a timer starts counting down from 90 minutes. When it hits zero, an Audi A8 arrives in your driveway and it’s yours for 24 hours (18% of prospects bought the $100,000+ car).

There was the Google stadium wrap for Manchester United that used webcams to broadcast the cheers of fans in distant lands directly to players on the pitch.

There was the branded content series out of Spain in which a fictional ad agency makes ads for real brands, who essentially bankroll the production—ads that are far more creative and edgy than the brands would normally be able to do.

And then, there were a couple old-school TV spots that were simply stunning. A spot called “The Leap” for Lacoste, out of Paris, brilliantly dramatized the inner struggle of a guy as he decides to tell a woman he loves her; it was simultaneously ultra-stylish and emotionally moving. Yep, a heartwarming fashion ad. That can happen.

Of course, since I was showing work, Eurobest was also a chance for me and Dean to see how the rest of the world reacts to the work we make here at Martin. I wish everyone could have seen the smiles on people’s faces when they saw the Oreo work animated down at Hue & Cry, or the new Walmart holiday spot that Deb Hagan CD’d (although, Finland being the birthplace of the Santa Claus legend, a good Christmas spot was bound to go over big). It’s always been a strength of Martin to make work that speaks to a broad audience, but you realize just how broad that audience really is when you’re making Estonians giggle.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to an authentic Finnish sauna. I didn’t eat reindeer meat, although we saw it on a menu or two. And while I did catch a glimpse of Santa—he was hanging out near a big H&M store—I can’t say with certainly that he wasn’t an imposter.

But I can say that inspiring, surprising, brave, innovative and delightful ideas are alive and well in the frozen north. And thankfully, back here at home too.


Helsinki Holiday

Martin Wins Tic Tac Business

The Martin Agency announced it has been chosen by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. as the new agency of record for the Tic Tac brand.

Link to Full Story. 

Martin Wins Tic Tac Business

More Ways to Christmas Joy

Saving money to help folks live better is the heart and soul of the Walmart brand. And this holiday is no different as Walmart finds even more ways to spread joy this Christmas, starting with a song. 

More Ways to Christmas Joy

Martin Wins Sabra Account

The Martin Agency is now lead creative agency for the Sabra Dipping Co. 

In selecting Martin, Sabra director of marketing Eric Greifenberger cited the shop's "keen understanding of our consumer, the fresh dips category, and Sabra's brand potential," adding that it provides a "depth and breadth of talent uniquely suited for supporting our needs going forward." Martin CEO Matt Williams, in turn, described Sabra as an "amazing brand."

Link to full article.

Martin Wins Sabra Account

Brewing a Movement: Being Heard When Your Voice is the Smallest

Brewing a Movement: Being Heard When Your Voice is the Smallest
By Corey Lane, Account Supervisor

The Fulton community just wanted a seat at the table.

The community had heard about the corner lot at the foot of Fulton Hill that was being eyed as a site for Stone Brewing Company’s first East Coast operation, a mammoth production facility that would effectively double Virginia’s annual beer production. They’d heard about the social media groups of beer enthusiasts that had bubbled up by the thousands practically overnight to voice support for the proposal. They’d heard the rumors about closed-door pitches and confidential meetings between City and State officials, clamoring for job creation, tax revenue and neighborhood revitalization.

But what the community did not hear was an invitation to weigh in. And to the community of Greater Fulton, this silence is deafening. Once a thriving blue-collar working neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century, it declined steadily as riverfront jobs dried up and sprawl pulled more Fultonites to the suburbs. In the 1960s, Richmond officials enacted Jim Crow-era legislature, citing the right for cities to “serve public welfare” and “challenge blight” by buying out and relocating citizens from under-resourced neighborhoods. Low-income persons in Fulton were displaced, and their homes were razed under the promise of shiny new development that never fully came to fruition.

But the people of Fulton were and remain to be a dynamic and close-knit community, balancing the stoic patience that comes from generations of hard working laborers with an indulgent flair for culture, music and art. When Stone Brewing Company ultimately did choose the corner lot at the foot of Fulton Hill for their facility, the Fulton community heartily—albeit cautiously—made the collective decision to roll out the welcome mat for their highly sought after new neighbors in an attempt to establish partnership early on. 

The challenge for the people of Fulton was being heard among the many voices competing for Stone Brewing Company’s attention. A task force was formed to speak on behalf of Greater Fulton, consisting of civic association leaders, community organizers, and business owners. They looked at the efforts from other cities—rowdy block parties, bikini model contests—and decided that they were going to cut through the noise by being true to their collective identity. They were going to get Stone Brewing Company’s attention by being welcoming neighbors.

They worked with a local artist to design an installation 40 feet in diameter: a frosty mug of beer made from branches, hay and—of course—stones, with the hashtag #STONE2RVA, which had been popular with the fervent social media groups. Over 50 Fultonites came together on a Saturday afternoon to assemble the installation on the future site of Stone Brewing Company. Cathartically, they wrote their hopes, fears and well wishes to Stone Brewing Company on the very stones that made up the installation. An aerial photographer captured imagery from a drone and local news stations came out to cover the event.

Footage and interviews from the event were made into a short video, which was posted on the websites and social media pages of various Fulton community groups. Shortly thereafter, it was picked up by beer enthusiast groups via the #STONE2RVA hashtag. Ultimately, it caught the attention of Stone Brewing Company itself, where it was reposted onto their Facebook page, receiving 95,000 impressions and over 700 video views in the first week it was posted. On the video’s YouTube page, Stone Brewing Company left a heartfelt thanks to the people of Greater Fulton and the CEO commented from his personal account a commitment to meet or exceed the expectations that the neighborhood has from his company.

On October 28th, just four days after the video was posted, executives from Stone Brewing Company visited Richmond to meet with City officials, making a special stop at a Fulton community center to meet with neighbors one on one for over two hours. Many factors are at play with the negotiations between Stone Brewing Cmpany and the City of Richmond, but it was clear that the community’s efforts had struck a chord with brewery’s owners.

The community of Greater Fulton successfully circumnavigated the political machine and formed a relationship with Stone Brewing Company because they created a mini-movement. They engaged residents by tapping into the passions at the heart of Fulton: art, music, history and camaraderie. They broke through the clutter by being authentically raw, with intentional choices made in their communication channels, partners, production value, and music. At the same time, they introduced touches of excitement, like cutting edge drone photography and high profile media partnerships that helped amplify the organizers’ energy. Even the simple act of residents expressing themselves on the stones and collaboratively creating art helped individuals feel invested in the cause, and tapping into existing social media activity helped scale that investment.

In less than a month, and with no media spend whatsoever, the community of Greater Fulton avoided being relegated to history’s sidelines once again and took their rightful seat at the table, right beside the founders of Stone Brewing Company. That’s an accomplishment to which we can all raise a glass.


*Corey Lane serves on an advisory board for Virginia Local Initiative Support Corporation, a community development nonprofit heavily invested in Fulton. 

Photo Credit: Scott Strimple, CinemAerial Visuals

Brewing a Movement: Being Heard When Your Voice is the Smallest

Production Cost-Cutting: How Low Can We Go?

Production Cost-Cutting: How Low Can We Go? Five Tips to Help Save the Budget and Concept
Steve Humble for Ad Age, October 31

As marketers increasingly use video to engage with customers and work to keep a steady stream of relevant and engaging content in the marketplace, conversations about production costs are reaching a fever pitch.

With advances in technology, marketers are seeing amateur camera buffs capturing some pretty impressive footage with their smartphones, GoPros and remote-control drones. So why aren’t ad agency and content provider production costs going down faster?

Ad Age reported recently, for example, that in an effort to trim more than $1 billion from its marketing budget, P&G had reached out to NASA “seeking a new way to produce moving images for TV commercials and digital video at costs significantly lower than today’s averages.”

Looking to a different industry for fresh ideas is interesting in theory, but great commercials and content won’t come from Excel spreadsheets and process documents. Rocket scientists are clearly some of the smartest people around, but  finding the right balance between cost and quality really comes down to these five simple areas:


  1. Trust the client/agency relationship. Our best client relationships have a high degree of trust. Some of our best, most cost-effective experiences are when we work with the client at the beginning of the year and develop and work with their year-long budget together. Oreo is a great example of a client that approaches production budgeting this way. We work the brand at the start of the year and plan out the production budget based on the marketing and media calendar. We bucket money for specific initiatives, discussing where we can make creative choices that can save money in some areas to make sure we fund others. We even budget for working with musical artists, such as Owl City, Kacey Musgraves, Tegan and Sara, Chiddy Bang and others. Working this way, we took the client’s previous budget and doubled the number of executions.
  2. Create tight concepts. We regularly try to focus on ideas that are based on one location and can be shot in one day to try to contain costs. Our most cost-efficient productions come from getting specific parameters in the beginning and then letting our creative teams concept accordingly. But even when parameters are tight, our best clients allow us some flexibility on set to take advantage of impromptu takes and grab additional content as it presents itself.
  3. Remember that spending less means more risk. Choosing to work with tight production budgets often leads to more risk in the finished product. Opting to go with a director who has been shooting for years and has a track record of success is more expensive than choosing a novice just out of film school to direct.  Can that new director shoot an amazing spot? Hopefully. Will you save money shooting with him or her? Yes, but the amount of risk you and the client take on goes up with this approach. We can make choices with our clients to reduce budgets, but everyone needs to be clear about the risks that come with those choices at the beginning.
  4. Know that change orders are expensive. If you’ve ever been involved in a construction project, you know that contractors use a little device known as a change order for each deviation from the original plan. One change order for every single change, including the additional cost. Big changes at the pre-pro meeting or on set are expensive, too. Changing the script at the last minute puts everyone in a risky position to be able to do the best work and bring the spot in on budget.
  5. Crew size can affect the work and the cost. Some believe that the fastest way to save money on production is to reduce the crew size. But this choice typically results in one of two things -- a spot that looks less polished because there were fewer people to light and tweak the set, or fewer options in the final edit because you had to agree to fewer shots and fewer camera setups. Some creative concepts work fine with a smaller crew -- just make sure you’re choosing crew size for the right reasons.

Great content comes from talented people understanding a core insight for a brand and communicating it in a way that connects with its target audience. How something is executed and how much you spend is a choice the agency and clients do have more control over than they think.

Production Cost-Cutting: How Low Can We Go?

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