Barber Martin Makes Ad Age

Elephant Auto Insurance
“The company’s latest TV ad features Tai, an elephant who appeared in the movie “Water for Elephants.” In the spot, a man spots the pachyderm in his front yard. “It’s just hanging out,” he says. His wife replies, “Honey, it’s auto insurance. It’s supposed to be there when we need it,” while the voice-over steers viewers to Elephant.com. The spot is by Barber Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., where Elephant is based.

Still, Elephant is not interested in matching the ad spending of its big rivals or does it come anywhere close. The marketer spent a mere $3.35 million on measured media in 2011, according to Kantar Media.

The big marketers have “almost created this expectation that you’ve got a have a flashy new ad every week, and that gets really expensive,” Mr. Minkler said. “You’ve got to have a presence and it’s got to be memorable on TV” but “there’s a point at which it becomes overkill and it becomes about agencies trying to win awards or a company trying to say they’ve found the cool next character people will talk about.”

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Online Bullying

Five different speakers addressed the sensitive topic from personal and professional perspectives. TMI Diversity, Inc. (@RVADiversity), specialists in civic engagement and inclusion, sponsored the gathering and moderated the discussion, with audience members providing instantaneous feedback through “clicker” response technology to further fuel the discussion.

The news organization’s view was presented by Kevin Clay, Editor of GayRVA.com. Getting the group to focus on “What kind of community do we want to be?” was Richmond’s ‘KindnessGirl’ Patience Salgado. Salgado’s KINDNESS CHANGES EVERYTHING message never wavers, but it was somewhat of a shocker to hear the beloved Kindness Girl confess that she sometimes feels anything but kind! And turns out that’s okay – she’s still loveable and we are too.

It might take effort to be kind. Make the effort.

Perhaps the most personal story of the night came from Chad Brown, who came to this issue from the other side. Brown relayed his own history as an internet troll and explained why for several years he actually thrived on clever put-downs and high-tech hijinks orchestrated at the expense of others. Although he never meant any true harm, he explained he did not really consider consequences of his actions, outside of thinking it was all highly amusing. Until his online actions seriously impacted his life. And ruined relationships. Now, Chad has a new perspective:

You can still have fun on the internet, have a sharp sense of humor, and not be mean. What you say will impact people – so think about that when you post online.

For more about this story here.

“Simple Survey”

RVA Startup Weekend
Chances are you’ve never heard of Simple Survey, a startup that makes it easy for restaurants to get feedback from customers.

After all, the company didn’t even exist at 9 p.m. Friday night.

But marathon sessions of strategic planning, Web development and customer surveys this weekend brought the company to life. A group of entrepreneurs who spent the weekend developing Simple Survey pitched their concept Sunday night during the conclusion of Richmond’s first Startup Weekend at the Virginia War Memorial and took first place.

The idea for Simple Survey grew out of separate pitches Friday from Rob Forrest, who was thinking about new ways to do surveys, and Martin Romero, who pitched an idea for creating paperless receipts that could be sent to phones.

Once they recruited additional team members, the group spent Saturday talking to local restaurants. Owners and managers told the team they struggle to get consistent feedback from customers and want an easier way to get that feedback.

Helen Dow, an accountant on the team, said she was impressed by the product’s financial viability.

“I think the customer research we did was key,” she said. “We’re going to meet soon and set up the corporate structure. We definitely plan to keep going with this.”

The other team members were Chase Worthington, James Goodwillie, Lee Gimpel, Joey Figaro, Hope Norman and Tim Masterson.

Startup Weekend is a global series of events backed by The Kauffman Foundation”

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Kicking Off a New Campaign

“Until now, [VCU] has kept a fairly low profile and done a poor job of telling the story — locally and nationally — that it is a major research university with top-tier programs, including its medical school, arts school, the Massey Cancer Center and the da Vinci Center for Innovation, Lepley said.

To send the message it wants, VCU had to find a single voice that it could use as it recruits students and faculty as well as communicating with alumni, donors and lawmakers.

“We’re a very large, complex organization, so bits and pieces of it have been communicating on their own,” she said. “All of this is to have us have a consistent and relevant brand.”

Communicating its message under a unified brand and showing off what the university has to offer students and faculty, in and out of the lecture halls, is a major component of the campaign.

That is essential if the campaign is to succeed, Rust said.

“Every school is trying to do this,” he said. “To cut through the clutter, schools must have something unique and verifiable to communicate, not just happy talk or grand, but vague, pronouncements. ‘We are great’ won’t sell, but ‘We are unique and interesting’ might.”

The rebranding is scheduled to last for five years because it takes time for a campaign of this magnitude to take hold, Lepley said.

VCU turned to two advertising and marketing agencies to help it come up with the campaign: Massachusetts-based Fuseideas and Richmond-based CRT/tanaka.”

VCU Rebranding Campaign Video

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