Category Archives: R-blog

a reflection of brand values

Volvo has long been a company intent on making the world a safer place. Responsible for such innovations as the 3-point safety belt, rearward-facing child safety seats, the Lambda Sond (a device that reduces harmful exhaust emissions by 90%), side-impact airbags, and smart technology systems that can detect objects in blind spots or even pedestrians near cars—Volvo has stood by its philosophy to always put people first. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Volvo’s latest innovation has nothing to do with their cars—at least not directly.

BikeAnimation

Enter LifePaint, a unique reflective safety spray invisible by day but bright and reflective in the glare of headlights at night. This clear removable spray can be applied to a cyclists bike and gear to increase visibility on roads. In other words, a multi-billion dollar car company invented a can of spray paint to help protect cyclists from getting hit by the very thing that company creates: cars.

LifePaint is yet another demonstration of Volvo’s relentless commitment to safety for all—even those who choose not to buy their cars. This commitment extends even further with the company’s bold vision to see no person killed or seriously injured by or in a new Volvo by the year 2020.

How refreshing it is to see a company so in tune with its core values that everything it says and does perfectly reflects those values; to see the inner workings of a brand brought to light through the very way it interacts with the people around it, whether they buy its product or not. Our aim here at Riggs is to achieve that same brand clarity for every client.

Lend Your Voice to Change Public Policy

Statehouse

This week, more than 100 South Carolinians who are passionate about women’s health issues convened at the SC State House for Tell Them’s annual Bee Day, a grassroots lobby day event.

Bee Day enables Tell Them’s statewide network of advocates to come together to discuss issues, share resources and meet with their state Representatives and Senators to ask them to provide leadership and support on a wide variety of issues.

This year, Tell Them’s key messages focused on the issues of reforming the state’s 27 year-old sex education laws, protecting birth control and in vitro fertilization from legislation that could potentially make them illegal; cervical cancer prevention through expanding the availability of HPV vaccinations; and prevention of domestic violence.

Tell Them is just one of dozens of organizations that hold lobby day events each year at the South Carolina State House. What kind of impact do these events really have on public policy decisions?

A cynic might say that they don’t have any effect at all – that legislators make decisions based on their personal beliefs, pressure from their political party or influence from paid lobbyists. However, grassroots advocacy remains a key tool in the toolbox of public relations strategies. Why?

Effective two-way communications models state that information flows both ways – that both parties have an opportunity to receive information, adjust and distribute information back to one another. This concept is truly at the heart of grassroots advocacy. Constituents meet with their legislators to share their perspectives on issues. Legislators listen, share their own perspectives and discuss possible outcomes. Hopefully, both parties leave the meeting feeling that their voice has been heard and that mutual understanding of one another’s opinions has been achieved. From there, it’s up to the legislator to determine if they will vote based on the desires of those who put them into office, or on the basis of their own opinions and the “party line.”

Consider that in any given legislative session, legislators could have hundreds of bills cross their desks. While they have dedicated staff members who help navigate them through the process, surely they don’t have the time to read every word of every bill. Education and advocacy could make the difference in a legislator understanding the intent of a bill or even becoming the person to champion and shepherd it through the legislative process.

(Just in case you need a refresher on the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFroMQlKiag)

The next time that an organization you follow asks you to take action by calling, writing or visiting with an elected official, keep in mind that these opportunities might enable a significant increase in the official’s understanding of issues of importance to the communities he or she serves. The voice that changes their opinion – and that helps legislation get passed – just might be yours.

a lesson in simplicity

A few bare-shouldered days, the first dapples of pollen along my windshield’s edge, the ammonia-laced scent of Windex… these are spring’s true signifiers.

The urge to spring clean is perhaps the most instantaneous, the most bewildering effect of spring’s first blush. Through the winter, I make peace with the disorder of my desk and closets. Stray papers and forgotten tchotchkes go unnoticed, or perhaps excused as yet another layer of insulation against the cold. It’s only when the season turns and the evening light lingers that the charming disorder is illuminated for what it really is—a mess in dire need of fixing.

In my own march toward madness, clothes are boxed for donation, surfaces scrubbed, shelves dismantled, dusted, rearranged. And so it happened that I found myself deep in the dust of college keepsakes last night.

Between empty folders, old photographs and half-filled composition books, there it was: one thick, two-inch binder containing every upper-level English lit paper I had ever written. Including one particular critical theory essay with the following comment scrawled toward the bottom:

There’s a kind of reliance here on your own good writing that both saves your essay and prevents you from examining the question more tellingly.

Put another way, “If your sentences weren’t quite so prettily strung together, you’d be in a heap of shit.”

I’ve always been particularly adept at manipulating language. I love the way crepuscular crinkles and ameliorate stretches like taffy. I love the crests and troughs of English, the fussiness of its rules, and the ability of well-placed punctuation to lend starch to a sentence. I know how to use these rhythms to my advantage. What I like to forget is that all those lovely syllables should add to a meaningful thesis.

As we work our way through no small number of annual report assignments, this reminder to examine the challenge at hand couldn’t come at a better time. It would be easy enough to write a few “Look at all we accomplished!” pages on behalf of our clients. But to accurately put the year in review, to tell a story unencumbered by needless superlatives and bloated prose, takes a little more effort. It takes an unsentimental eye for what’s worth keeping and what doesn’t need to be there. And, maybe, just a little seasonal zeal.

As for all those old essays, professors’ comments scribbled down margins and in between paragraphs, I think those I may just keep.

The Power of No

Guinness, the iconic brand of Irish stout launched a blonde lager brewed in America. The brand’s roots date from 1759, the tone of its witty advertising initiated in 1794 and the “Guinness is good for you” tag line is over 80 years old.

I believe one of the most powerful brands in the world has just sacrificed itself at the altar of more. Sadly, we see it all the time. No brand wants to inhibit growth; therefore, no company wants to exclude a potential customer.

To Guinness, finding any way to increase sales in the US trumped its heritage, product niche and brand equity.

We believe that sometimes, companies need to say no. That means knowing:
a) What you stand for
b) The value of your brand
c) What you are unwilling to do

Guinness will likely have some success with its US blonde lager. In the short term, it may even prove a good move. Long term, my bet is that they’ll regret it. Riggs Partners believes in longevity, being true to yourself, and being true to your customer. If you’re struggling with short-term gain versus long-term value, give us a call.

A Vibrant Spirit

I was making my way through the rows of booksellers at last year’s South Carolina Book Festival when I saw a familiar face at a booth just to my right. The smile was unequivocally Marvin Chernoff—broad, joyful, genuine—and I walked closer to discover he was promoting a recently released book he’d written about the ad industry. I bought a copy and told him I’d be honored if he would sign it.

I don’t know that we’ve officially ever met, I said as he wrote. But I’d like to tell you something. Not only are you responsible for the development of an entire creative class in Columbia—but every person I know who ever worked for you continues to hold you in the highest regard. Every single one. I aspire to that. And I thank you.

He smiled again, and then said something funny and self-deprecating. I walked away, my new book in hand, and thought how deeply I regret never knowing him well, how I wish I’d had the opportunity—like so many talented ad folks who have done and continue to do great work—how I wish I’d had the opportunity to learn from this trailblazer, a man fearless and committed. Marvin Chernoff served this community, the agency he founded, and every person who ever had the honor of working with him with great aplomb. How the world will miss his vision and passion. But how lucky we are his indomitable spirit will live on in the many, many lives he shaped.