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posted by Kevin Smith Feb 27,2012 @ 02:00AM

Three Questions Every Brand Should Ask Itself

Consumers are demanding more all the time. Yet they seldom get all they want. As a result, it often takes very little to delight them.

In light of our economy’s shaky recovery, nonprofit and socially conscious brands alike need to innovate. This needn’t be difficult or expensive. Let’s examine Nabisco’s Premium Saltines brand. More than 100 years old, Premium is not complacent. It asked three simple questions.

1. How do people interact with our product?
The product has been packaged in boxes of two or four sleeves for decades. Most Saltines are consumed with other foods like soup, salad, cheese or peanut butter. Thus, an entire sleeve is rarely consumed in one day.

2. What do they think about us?
Saltines are wonderful, but they go stale quickly. Most people don’t eat stale crackers. They throw them away. No one likes throwing away food.

3. How can we make it better?
If your crackers go stale, you need to buy more crackers. If consumers kept their Saltines longer, they’d buy less. No actually. Saltines go stale, and consumers switched to another brand.

Fresh Stacks provides a reason for reconsideration. Repackaging resulted in a reason for trial, and ultimately, a shift in brand perception. Even better, the Premium brand shows consumer empathy, a catalyst for brand loyalty.

The next time your organization’s brand is stuck, make empathy your goal and start with the most basic questions.

posted by Apprentices Feb 24,2012 @ 02:30AM

On combinations.

What's your favorite combination?

Ryon Edwards
ink + paper

Jody Piland
A glass of white wine and a medium rare ribeye

Julie Turner
A couch, a blanket, Caddyshack and a disco nap.

Teresa Coles
Ice-cold orange juice (Simply Orange, no pulp) and Fig Newtons.

Kevin Smith
Blue and brown

Will Weatherly
Cheez-its and Cran-Grape. Childhood in a snack.

Kevin Archie
Jameson and rocks (after 5pm, of course)

What's yours?

posted by Kevin Archie Feb 22,2012 @ 06:20AM

Humor has it: Old Spice

"If your grandfather hadn't worn it, you wouldn't exist."
- a bottle of Old Spice

Old Spice has long been considered a staple in the musky shaving kits of dads and grandfathers everywhere. However, it has recently taken on an entirely different role as the harbinger of red-blooded masculinity to younger men across America who long for hairier chests, lumberjack beards, or biceps the size of Mount Rushmore. Luckily for these men, Old Spice has just what they need — and it's not a 2-year gym membership or a year's supply of Rogaine, either — it's a healthy dose of humor.

Two years ago, Old Spice began a series of commercials in which masculinity was personified through the likes of one muscular, smooth-talking man who, with the help of some common stereotypes, attempts to persuade viewers to buy Old Spice body wash. These ads use just the right amount of humor and irony to appeal not only to the woman buying smelly soap for her significant other, but also to the man who wants to smell decent without sacrificing his masculinity. The original commercial, which won the Film Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival at Cannes in 2010, has certainly contributed to much of the company's growth since then. The popularity of the commercial has grown so much that it's YouTube video has now reached nearly 40 million views and there have been several parodies of it as well.

Old Spice has continued to sail the ship of satirical humor on into 2012. In one if their most recent commercials, former football player Terry Crews literally bursts onto the set of a Bounce Dryer Bars commercial via explosion and a giant jet ski, loudly proclaiming (or yelling, really) how Old Spice Body Spray is "so powerful, it sells itself in other people's commercials." These commercials, while very different from the other series in terms of content, are so unique that even the most curmudgeonly viewer couldn't help but remember them.



Broadcast is not the only form in which Old Spice is appealing to its target audience. Their sense of humor trickles down to the packaging as well. Each item is adorned with a classy desaturated illustration, bold modern type in all-caps, and sleek matte packaging. All appealing looks aside, when a stick of deodorant is named after a 14,690-foot mountain in the Swiss Alps and purportedly smells of "ice, wind, and freedom," the target audience is obviously a little more specific than just any old man.

This sense of humor appeals to a younger audience of men whose hands have not been calloused from hard labor like those of their fathers and grandfathers. They don't take life too seriously because they don't have to yet. Therefore, they laugh about their scrawny arms, baby faces, and complete inability to understand their girlfriends, as if it were something that couldn't be helped. And Old Spice, bottling up the romantic ideals of a generation into one concise container of manliness, tells them that's alright.

posted by Teresa Coles Feb 20,2012 @ 02:00AM

Collaboration is the New Competition for Nonprofits

According to the Internal Revenue Service, there were over 1.5 million registered nonprofits as of December 2011, and nearly 60% have revenue of under $100,000. Even if you divided that up equally among all 50 states, that’s 30,000 nonprofits per state.

Take that in for a second.

Nonprofit organizations are filled with the very best people you would ever hope to find: hardworking, passionate, committed to making a difference. Doing everything they can on a daily basis to lessen the negative impact of various social crises. All while fighting the odds of too little time, money and manpower to affect the real kind of change they want to see around their particular issues.

While growth in the nonprofit sector may reflect a more noble nature among us all, the result is increased competition for limited resources. This reality means we’re looking at more nonprofits competing for the same dollars to treat more symptoms — without necessarily solving the underlying problem.

Attacking the root problems that are causing a preponderance of negative social conditions demands not more organizations developing more programs, but more organizations coming together and building the kind of scale that can address the real problem. This type of collaboration can take place in several forms:

  • Nonprofits that partner with each other in community initiatives around an issue
  • Nonprofits that formally merge with other nonprofits that share a similar mission
  • Nonprofits that build programs that can be replicated by other nonprofits in the country

Whatever the model, one thing is certain. We will never break the cycle of social ills that exist in our country until we step out of a parochial, separatist mindset and acknowledge that collaboration is the only way forward. A simple concept, but one that falls short of execution all too often, given too many competing agendas.

I’ll stop at that, and leave you with this look at two models for consideration. Which do you think has the most potential to solve the big problems that plague our communities? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



posted by Apprentices Feb 17,2012 @ 02:00AM

On crayons.

What crayon color are you?

(most personality traits from Crayola's web site)

Teresa Coles
Brick Red
hot, energetic, loud

Kevin Smith
Blue Violet
imagination, fantasy, playfulness

Jody Piland
I'm Caribbean Green. It reminds me of happy island life.
cool, crisp, fresh

Kevin Archie
Robin's Egg Blue
serene, gentleness, sincerity

Will Weatherly
I try to be Burnt Orange. I'm probably Olive Green.
cool, crisp, fresh

Julie Turner
simple, effective, brain-grabbing

What crayon color would you be? Use this list for reference or make up your own color.

posted by Ryon Edwards Feb 15,2012 @ 05:33AM

New Work: Central Carolina Community Foundation 2011 Annual Report

What is a community, if not the sum of its stories?

Thus begins the 2011 Annual Report for the Central Carolina Community Foundation. We were thrilled to work with photographer Jeff Amberg and Crowson Stone Printing on this project. Thanks, also, to CCCF's Tonia Cochran, who wrote the profiles and was equally masterful in managing the project's many moving parts.

(Turns out it does, in fact, take a village.)

posted by Apprentices Feb 10,2012 @ 02:00AM

On Super Bowl Ads.

What was your favorite Super Bowl XLVI ad?

Kevin Smith
Chrysler - 2012 - It's halftime in America

Will Weatherly
Hyundai – All For One (Featuring Rocky Theme Song)

Julie Turner
No U.S. spot did it better than Budweiser's Flash Fans spot. It ran in Canada, eh.

Jody Piland
The M&M's Just My Shell commercial. I could watch it a thousand times, and laugh every single time.

Cathy Monetti
Chrysler / Clint Eastwood

Ryon Edwards
Volkswagen - The Dog Strikes Back

Kevin Archie
The Chevy Truck Apocalypse commercial.

posted by Cathy Monetti Feb 09,2012 @ 02:22AM

Ethics, Gratitude and Crowson Stone Printing

A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since I first opened the doors of the company now called Riggs Partners. I couldn't begin to count the relationships that have come and gone in those 25 years: clients, consultants, employees, vendors. But there have been two constants since that very first C.C.Rigg's day in 1987. Me. And Crowson Stone Printing.

The partnership between an ad agency and a printing company is a significant one. The Riggs/Crowson relationship is built on a foundation of deep trust and mutual respect; in all these years, neither has ever had to look over the other's shoulder to inspect for quality, ethics, intention. Never.

In 1998, our company founded a little pro bono initiative called CreateAthon. In one phone call, Crowson quickly agreed to become a part of our "printers confederacy," providing free printing for a number of CreateAthon nonprofits. In 2001, they stepped up with an offer to print it all.

Since then, Crowson Stone has provided free printing for more than 75 CreateAthon clients, with a market value that surely tops the $1,000,000 mark. (We don't know the exact amount since Crowson doesn't keep score.) And that number doesn't take into account the countless projects they produce outside the scope of CreateAthon, either pro bono or at a nonprofit rate. It doesn't take much of a leap of faith to suggest Crowson is among the most philanthropic companies in their industry. Certainly they are in South Carolina.

The past few years have not been easy for those in the printing business, and Crowson Stone is no exception. In spite of visionary leadership and significant (early) investment in digital, challenge after challenge piled at their door. Still they remained committed to their customers, refusing to compromise on quality, integrity, ethics. Under the leadership of John deLoach, a man among men, they continued to serve their clients with honor.

Like so many who love Crowson Stone, I was beyond happy to learn INDEXX Printing from Greenville, South Carolina, is stepping in with support. I believe this is a good business move for INDEXX, yes. But I also believe that when they looked at Crowson, INDEXX saw a company with a soul worthy of saving.

Thank you, Crowson Stone, for all you have meant to me, to Riggs Partners, to the Midlands of South Carolina, and to the nonprofits you have served. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

And we extend a warm welcome to INDEXX Printing. You have not only demonstrated great business acumen in your partnership with Crowson Stone, you have already served this community well.

posted by Julie Turner Feb 06,2012 @ 02:00AM

Media Consumption Takes Super Bowl Ads Into Overtime

In the days of yore, Super Bowl ads were top secret. There were no extended versions or pre-releases. The time-honored strategy was to keep the high-dollar spot under wraps until the moment it ran. Then you either basked in glory or withered in shame the next day when Monday morning quarterback Donnie Deutsche rehashed the winners and losers on the Today show.

Those days seem to be passing. This week we saw the release of an extended two minute, twenty-five second Honda CRV Ferris Bueller-themed commercial. The spot, starring actor Matthew Broderick recreating his famous 26 year old character, will run in thirty second form on Super Bowl Sunday but by the time that spot airs most people will have already seen the extended commercial multiple times. In fact, it got more than 10 million views by the Friday of the big weekend.

Also grabbing viral momentum was a spot United States viewers normally wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing. Budweiser’s heartwarming two-minute Flash Fans spot, which will air in Canada during the Super Bowl, became a pregame sensation three days before kickoff.

There’s great post-game action right here at the University of South Carolina, where faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Journalism School gather annually to vote their favorite Super Bowl spot in Cocky’s Super Ad Poll (on Twitter at #UofSCAdPoll). You can get in on the action, too. Vote here (from the end of the Super Bowl until 10am Monday morning). Once voting ends, the winning spot’s creative team will be recognized and invited to visit USC to get their coveted Cocky Award. What a treat for aspiring students to have the opportunity to talk shop with standout creatives! Maybe if I sweet-talk Ad Poll founder Professor Bonnie Drewniany she’ll let me sit in the back row.

Personally, I’m glad some of the cats are being snuck of the bag. There will always be surprise spots during the game. But I love that we get some overtime action out of Super Bowl commercials these days. Even better, we see ones that we’d never get to see in the first place.

It was always hard to get people to be quiet during the game-time commercials anyway.

What do you think? Should they be kept under wraps or enjoy an early release?

posted by Apprentices Feb 03,2012 @ 02:00AM

On childhood dreams.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Cathy Monetti
I only remember NOT wanting to be a nurse. Ever.

Teresa Coles
A Barbie doll fashion designer. Evening gowns were a specialty.

Kevin Smith
I wanted to drive an ice cream truck.

Ryon Edwards
An architect.

Julie Turner
A medical examiner just like Quincy.

Will Weatherly
Frontman for a world-renowned rock band.

Kevin Archie
An artist, according to the drawing I made in first grade.

Jody Piland
I wanted to be a lawyer. I could argue, no matter how wrong or right I was, until I was blue in the face.

What did you want to be?

posted by Kevin Archie Feb 01,2012 @ 06:16AM

Consider Your Audience

My mom recently told me a story about one of her 4th grade students interrupting class to ask about a picture of her on Facebook. Other students immediately chimed in as well, revealing their extensive knowledge of her family, where she went on summer vacation, what she did on her birthday last week, her favorite inspirational quote, and so on and so forth. Her profile — which she thought was set to private and could only be viewed by friends — was Facebook-stalked by a bunch of 10-year-olds with nothing better to do.

It's scary to me how easy it is to make our personal lives public in today's digital world. We market and brand ourselves daily via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook without truly considering our audience. With over 400 million people connecting to Facebook every day, we now have the chance to share our personal lives and opinions with an audience 10x greater than the one President Barack Obama had for his recent State of the Union address. These onlookers could include anyone from your grandmother to your future boss to your creepy next door neighbor who strolls to the mailbox every morning wearing nothing but a bath robe, so it's comforting to know that there are options available to minimize how much of our lives we share online.

However, the method of securing our privacy through these social networking sites is constantly changing: either being made simpler for the sake of clarity or more intricate for a more personal approach to your privacy. While it is beneficial for companies to update their policies for the sake of the user, it can often lead to consumer confusion in the process. For example, I helped my mom update her Facebook settings and found the new options far too verbose and confusing. By the time I'd finished, I wasn't even positive that I'd checked the right options.

Google recently updated their privacy policy by getting rid of 60 different policies and combining them into one that is more concise and easy to understand. Perhaps some day other companies will follow suit. But until that happens, I think we should all take another look at the information we are sharing with the world — literally, the world.

To see just how much the internet has invaded your personal life, click here and type in your name and city.




By the numbers

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