Category Archives: R-blog

the [cross]road ahead

Is this worth it? I could do hot yoga. I could go to a normal gym. I hear Piloxing is a thing. My ponytail is a mess. Good lord, even my hair follicles are sore. Maybe it’s time for something different.

I hit the floor for yet another burpee during today’s WOD (for the uninitiated: workout of the day). If I were to stretch my arms wide and wiggle, I’m fairly certain that I could create a shadow angel out of my own sweat. I push up, halfheartedly clap my hands above my head, repeat, repeat, repeat … I’m tired, and I just want to get this done.

It wasn’t always this way. I fell in love with CrossFit fast and hard, the way I imagine all cultists do when they find their raison d’être. I’ve never developed runner’s high (I find little joy in forcefully separating my shinbones from their tendons), but I regularly experience the CrossFit delirium. An intoxicating cocktail of Olympic weightlifting, high intensity interval training, and metabolic conditioning, CrossFit demands a lot of its devotees. That said, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. With its climbing ropes and rows of colorful medicine balls stacked like candy buttons, my box is essentially a jungle gym for big kids.

But what happens to the little girl who, after one too many falls from the monkey bars, becomes disenchanted with the jungle?

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In answering this question of disenchantment, I find myself comparing the personal and professional, one not-quite-new-anymore experience to another. I joined CrossFit nine months ago; I began work at Riggs Partners shortly thereafter. Although the challenges are different—writing perfectly crisp copy is hardly equivalent to a series of hanging squat cleans—postgraduate life and gym-goer ennui make interesting bedfellows.

My first few months at Riggs were nothing short of wonderful, albeit occasionally overwhelming. Every week, I grappled with a distinctive new challenge, a new learning opportunity, a new means of stretching my creative abilities. By contrast, the last few days have blurred together, one round of client edits into the next conference call into the next staring contest with a blinking cursor on a white page. I’ve begun wondering if I’ve finally settled into a certain rhythm and familiarity with the work, or if I’ve just settled. The writing comes more easily now than it did in January. But is it better? Have I embraced my most recent projects with the same intensity and curiosity that characterized my approach to earlier assignments? Has getting it done taken precedent over doing it well? Is comfortable synonymous with complacent? I don’t know, exactly.

What I do know is that some projects, much like some workouts, are more challenging than others. I know that sophomore slumps are real. And I know that meaningful self-evaluation is a necessary exercise in jumping this most recent hurdle. Perhaps the way to achieve something different is to forge our own gauntlet, to challenge ourselves to meet a higher standard. Perhaps we’re complacent only when we stop asking questions.

Disenchantment, then, is a misnomer: in freeing ourselves from the illusion of the new and exciting, we reach a place of greater honesty and a better vantage point from which to view the playground. We’re a little smarter, a little more experienced, and our eyes are open to the magic in the everyday.

So, here’s to disenchantment. And magical storytelling. And sweat angels. Here’s to the projects that are worth it.

How One Brand Ignited A Spanish Revolution

I have just returned from a life list vacation. Four days in Barcelona, four days in Madrid, four days in Valencia. I was overwhelmed with the immersion in history a trip like that provides; it’s simply impossible to wrap your head around tour-guide comments like during the Roman Empire and in the 8th century, after the Moor conquest. And yet history was there, in crumbling city walls and decaying columns and guarding gargoyles of every attitude and style. It was there—not a homework paragraph in a World History book, but carved in stones you could reach out and touch, rubbing your hands along the ancient surfaces.

 

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one of a thousand streets in the ancient city of Barcelona

 

There is this aged history you see and feel and know in all three of the cities we visited. What I found surprising—and, quite frankly jarring—is the contrast between this history and a distinctly 20th century art form wildly prolific there.

 

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Graffiti. Graffiti is everywhere. Graffiti is so profuse in these cities and along the rails as you travel by train it overwhelms the senses and seems to somehow leave Spain’s remarkable beauty in shadow.

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When I first arrived in Barcelona, I made my way through the city thinking:  Obviously the Spanish embrace graffiti as art. What a great example of the wonderful, easy-going European attitude! But it didn’t take long until a growing irritation began to color my thoughts.

How on earth did they let it go this far?

 

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Here’s what I have learned.

  • In Spain, graffiti is illegal and considered vandalism.
  • The graffiti movement is a counter-cultural revolution that began in the first years of Spain’s transition from a dictatorship to a democracy during the early 80s. According to Skate and Urban Street Culture Barcelona, “Young people began to write their names everywhere, on walls in the street, in the metro, wherever. The materials they used were from a view of nowadays rather rudimentary. Among them were ‘Edding’ felt-tips, shoe polishes and paint sprays. Also they made their own utensils, adapting for example pens with a wider tip using gasoline burners to create this effect or they prepared the nozzles of the sprays to achieve a wider marking style. During this time it was more common to steal the equipment from big warehouses, car shops or stationers. Today there are still some artists remaining that practice this kind of style.”
  • “The art form changed” in 1994 when a new type of paint spray can was developed specifically for graffiti writers and introduced by a company called Montana Colors.

According to the Montana Colors website:

In the early ’90s, graffiti was considered, by all of the American and European spray paint companies, to merely be an act of vandalism. It was of no interest to any of the companies, because it wasn’t yet considered to be profitable. At that time, the discovery of this passionate cultural revolution was what propelled the founders of Montana Colors to lay the groundwork for the creation of the first spray paint made especially for graffiti and, in that way, fill that hole in the market.

Today, Montana Colors is a major brand. Again from the website:

All brands have a path and a record in history, as well as an appellation of origin which guarantees its authenticity. Ours began 18 years ago in Barcelona, at a time when, after the launch of our first spray product, the word spread across Europe, and writers and artists from France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy began to arrive to fill their car trunks with Montana and bring it back to their countries. From that moment up until now, the Montana Colors brand has expanded to a presence in more than 30 countries in the world and to 15 official points of sale: Montana Shop & Gallery, in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Montpellier, Brussels, Amsterdam, Nottingham, Lisbon, Montreal, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and San Paulo.

The root of the proliferation of graffiti in these ancient Spanish cities comes down to two things: (1) personal statements of rebellion and independence following a dictatorship, and (2) the introduction of a product that “filled a hole in the market.”

And if that’s not a statement about the cultural power of branding, I don’t know what is.

Calls are the New Clicks: Seven Secrets to Beating Competitors

MarketingProfs recently held a webinar called Calls are the New Clicks: Seven Secrets to Beating Competitors.

This informative webinar had so many interesting take aways, that we thought we would share.

  • More smartphones means more mobile searches
  • These will pass desktop searches by 2015
  • Tapping on a click-to-call link is easier and faster than filling out a web form on a smartphone
  • Google says 70% of mobile searches have clicked “call button”
  • 61% of mobile searches result in a phone call
  • Clicks are easy to track and manage

Secret #1: Track the Source of Inbound Calls

Track calls back to the exact source that originated them- and through to revenue; works for any marketing source.

Knowing what keywords, PPC ads, and landing page variations lead to calls and sales improves bidding and ROI

Secret #2: Assess your expected traffic for most appropriate segmentation

Evaluate what kind of traffic you are bringing in and by what means

Secret #3: Measure revenue from PPC not just conversions

Not all calls are high-quality sales leads

Optimize campaigns on sales, not clicks

Measure ROI by revenue generated, not raw lead totals

Secret #4: Segment your data to identify key insights about performance

Secret #5: Analyze Clicks and Calls Together in Universal Analytics

You can add mobile analytic data to Google Analytics

Secret #6: Messaging to Improve Call Response

Ad Copy = The gateway to your customers

As you continue with your tests, whether testing your creative or your landing page, segmenting your call traffic allows you to make a fuller comparison of actual call performance.

Secret #7: Marketers Should Control How Calls From Search Are Routed

What are you doing to make the phone ring?

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Bélo, Bélo

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The past week or so has seen Riggs Partners’ Inbound Marketing division do more globetrotting than these guys. It seems only fitting that popular home-renting service Airbnb decided to roll out their new brand platform today, with a focus that shows a Airbnb hosting as your home away from home. The service never had a particularly stunning unique brand identity (their previous logo was straight forward and bland, but worked well for a company that was in a hurry to get their service off the ground). Not anymore. Enter: The Bélo.

In the few times that I’ve mentioned Airbnb to friends, some have rejected the idea of staying in another’s home. The Bélo looks to change that – showing users that wherever they see this logo is now home. According to Fast Company, Airbnb is looking to expand into new products and services (including a new key-exchange service, ride sharing, or even a banner outside restaurants to let guests know they’re Airbnb-friendly) and the Bélo looks to capitalize on that idea of sharing, community, and home.

Time will tell if the Bélo will become the ‘universal symbol of sharing’ the company wants it to become, but it’s certainly an inspired step in the right direction.

Spirit of the Lowcountry In New Spots

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Went in search of some Lowcountry soul and met great folks with unique perspectives on patient care at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Hope to have done both justice with these new spots.

 

Suzanne Larson from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Mike McCarty from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Jo Anne Tudor from Michael Powelson on Vimeo.

 

Special thanks to director Joanne Hock and GreyHawk Films, our partners in crime on this rewarding project.

 

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