Rodgers Townsend News / Views

RT Team Scores Cyber Win in U.S. Cannes Young Lions Competition

Rodgers Townsend creatives Angela Bode and Erin Holcomb have won the U.S. Cannes Young Lions cyber competition. Out of all U.S. entries, Bode and Holcomb took the prize in the cyber category and will be representing Team USA at the 64th Annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June. 

The team was tasked with creating an innovative campaign for Brave Beginnings, a program that provides healthcare professionals with life-saving neonatal equipment for premature babies within the U.S.

To check out their winning entry, click here.

“One of the proudest achievements we’ve ever announced. These two are ferociously talented and proof that a roar can be heard from anywhere,” said Michael McCormick, chief creative officer at Rodgers Townsend.

The Cannes Young Lions awards celebrates the next generation of creative stars, and highlights some of the best talent in advertising. To view the full list of winners, click here.   

ST. LOUIS, APRIL 20, 2017 – Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24. And 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.1 To reduce these startling statistics, it’s imperative to eliminate the stigma of mental illness and start the conversation that could save a life.

Project Wake Up, a federal and Missouri state 501(c)3, is working to eradicate the stigmas of mental health and suicide. The organization was started by Alex Lindley in September 2014 after he delivered a eulogy at the funeral of his close friend, Ryan Candice, a University of Missouri student who took his own life that same year. Candice was the second friend Lindley lost to suicide.

Today, Project Wake Up launched a brand new commercial to create awareness around the current climate of mental health in the United States. The spot depicts a high school student, David, who goes through his day with a large wound on his side. The wound, completely unnoticed by David’s family, peers and even the school nurse, is later revealed to be representative of David’s struggles with mental illness, demonstrating that mental health issues often go unseen before it’s too late.

“Nobody just wakes up one day and decides they want to have a mental illness,” said Lindley, founder of Project Wake Up. “The only difference between a physical injury and mental illness is the ability for people to actually see an injury. If we start perceiving mental health in a different light, we can shift the conversation and those struggling can begin to receive proper treatment.”

The commercial is not the first endeavor that Project Wake Up has created to increase awareness. Two years ago, the organization started its journey with this 13-minute short that shed light on the impact suicide has on loved ones. “To my knowledge, Wake Up is the only mental health organization to tackle the issue from both a documentary and drama standpoint,” Lindley said. “With our initial 13-minute teaser, we proved that we have the ability to do something special. This commercial solidifies that and shows we have the knowledge to talk about mental health from a wide range of angles.”

Project Wake Up intends to continue this important conversation by creating a documentary that dives deeper into the effects of mental illness and suicide. Earlier in April, Wake Up held their second annual silent auction and trivia night and raised an additional $67,000 towards this endeavor. They now plan to begin production on the documentary this winter.

“It would be irresponsible for us to not thoroughly study the many industries that have a hand in the current mental health climate before moving forward,” said Danny Kerth, vice president of Project Wake Up. “We constantly remind ourselves we only have one shot at doing this, so let’s make sure we do it in a way that has a true, lasting impact on everyone affected, as well as those who determine how mental health is treated.”

Rodgers Townsend, an advertising agency in St. Louis, developed and created the commercial. Nate Townsend, a director/editor at Rodgers Townsend, is the director of Wake Up’s 13-minute short, the commercial and the upcoming documentary.

“I’ve seen PSAs and spots that cover mental health in the past, but this takes the conversation to a whole new level,” Townsend said. “Too many families and friends have experienced the harsh realities of suicide, but things still aren’t changing. That’s why this piece is so gripping and real; like the rest of Project Wake Up’s work, it’s rooted in the experiences of the people who are a part of the organization.”

Michael McCormick, chief creative officer at Rodgers Townsend, said, “In many ways, the era of social media has given us more ways to disguise how we really feel about ourselves. We form surface-level social connections. With this film, we are proud to put something out into the world that starts a deeper conversation. Where we can look one another in the eye and really, truly ask ‘how are you doing? I want to know.”

Suicide and mental illness are topics no one wants to talk about—but they need to. It’s time to start the conversation. Visit and donate today.

About Project Wake Up

Project Wake Up is a nonprofit mental health organization created to expose and eradicate the stigmas behind mental health and suicide. Created in 2014 after the loss of two friends to suicide at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Wake Up aims to change the tone of the conversation around mental health through a feature-length documentary that will highlight inadequacies in treatment, funding and overall perception of the issue.

Project Wake Up is a federally recognized 501(c)3 and is also registered in Missouri. To learn more, visit or their Facebook page at

About Rodgers Townsend

Rodgers Townsend is a St. Louis‐based integrated communications agency, expert at helping marketers achieve market share that far exceeds their share of voice. RT’s services are holistic in nature and tailored to meet each client’s need, with specialists in strategy and brand development; digital, traditional advertising and direct marketing; social media strategy and management; brand identity, sales support and employee engagement.

Rodgers Townsend clients include: AT&T, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 39° North, Enterprise Rent‐A‐Car, Great Circle, The Hartford, LouFest, Luxco Spirits, Mayflower and United Van Lines, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Saint Louis University, Scottrade and Spectrum Home and Garden and Pet Brands. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016, RT is part of the Omnicom Global Agency Network. To learn more, visit


1 – Statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health,

RT brings home 13 District ADDY Awards

Today we’ve been honored with 3 Golds, 9 Silvers and 1 Judges’ Special Citation in the District 9 ADDY Awards. The awards span across 5 clients—local as well as national. Here’s the complete list:



The Black Rep – Miss Julie – Poster

The Black Rep – The Black Rep Poster Campaign

Museum of Transportation – Chevy Show Poster Campaign



AT&T – #AgilityIs Integrated Campaign

The Black Rep – Lines In The Dust – Poster

The Black Rep – Seven Guitars – Poster

The Black Rep – The Black Rep Poster Campaign – Illustration Series

The Hartford – Brad Snyder Video

The Magic House – Magic House TV


Judge’s Citation:

Museum of Transportation – Chevy Show Poster Campaign


Thanks to our clients who empower us to do our best work every year. Next up: Nationals.

SXSW 2017 Recap

During a whirlwind 68 hours in Austin, TX this past week, information, inspiration and lots of tacos were on the menu at SXSW, one of tech’s premiere conferences. The global celebration of innovation and interactive trends is a melting pot for marketers, entrepreneurs and the generally tech-savvy. And while I experienced just a small slice of the weeklong festivities, I flew home with a notebook filled with new ideas for my team and my clients. Below are my top 10 takeaways, in no particular order.

  1. Virtual Reality is Very Real.

VR experiences dominated the panel discussions and the tradeshow flow at SXSW this year. It seemed that every. single. booth. was selling a VR solution, or demoing VR hardware or using VR to invite visitors to immerse themselves in a branded experience. Whether you were virtually flying over rooftops around the world, playing a virtual turntable as a virtual DJ or diving into a 360-degree virtual beer tasting, you couldn’t escape the virtual experiences. VR is undeniably the new playground for marketers to provide a branded experience for consumers – but the challenge will be to do it well, with purpose, and in a way that stands apart from the crowd. And that’s still a very high bar.

  1. ROAS is the new ROI.

Because we don’t have enough acronyms in our lives, social media scientists spoke of “Return on Ad Spend” as the new primary metric. A small but important shift from traditional ROI measurement, ROAS puts marketing at the forefront of the investment, measuring the revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising (vs. the profit relative to the cost).

  1. We all just need to take a minute to breathe.

SXSW 2017 had a heavy focus on health and well being, so I attended a panel moderated by Ferny Barcelo, a local therapist, who offered tips and tools to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into everyday life. As a budding meditator, I was inspired to make the practice a part of my routine, taking the time to be present and to be proactive in my own wellness. Research shows that as little as 5 minutes a day can have a profoundly positive impact on stress, anxiety, depression and self-esteem. And who doesn’t want that? Namaste.

  1. Instagram is innovating.

One of the best panels during my time in Austin was moderated by Michael Hondorp, the retail category lead for Instagram’s Brand Development team. Michael highlighted the new tools that Instagram is offering to advertisers – Stories, Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout, to name a few – that enrich the connection between user and brand. He also showcased the new “Tap to View Products” functionality that invites brands to create an immersive shopping experience that mimics the brick-and-mortar approach. It’s more than just selling a product – it’s a fully merchandised store experience, offering inspiration, discovery and story telling.

  1. Tacos are appropriate for every meal.

Breakfast. Lunch. Appetizers. Dinner. I did it all, and I don’t regret it. My personal favorite is the fried avocado taco at Mighty Cone food truck. But in Austin, you really can’t wrong with any taco, any time.

  1. Predictive modeling is the future of path-to-purchase.

Both Diageo and Kohl’s shared case studies on the use of data (big and small) to drive a better experience for consumers in the store and at the bar. While the collection of data is up for debate (see #7 below), savvy marketers recognize that micro and macro trends can enrich a brand’s connection with consumers at retail and increase the basket ring.

  1. Big brother is watching.

Retailers are tracking your movement around the store via their Wi-Fi network, to better merchandise the floor. Facebook is monitoring how you react to big events like the Super Bowl and Academy Awards, to understand why you’re using the platform. The University of Pennsylvania analyzed your tweets to better predict your risk of heart disease – and did so more successfully than the CDC. So if you weren’t paranoid before, you should be now. But (for the most part), these prying eyes are using data to enhance our lives, our brand experiences and our social outreach. That said, the collection and analysis of this data is hotly contested; most panelists agreed that consumers should “opt in” to data collection. Though none really spoke to exactly how that process works for their brands.

  1. Do good and be happy.

That advice from Aristotle was central to a panel presented by Austin entrepreneur and unofficial spokesman Roy Spence, a longtime friend of RT and a co-founder of GSD&M. Roy shared advice on finding purpose in business and in life, with anecdotes from his decades in advertising. His belief that we must ladder up to a higher emotional purpose, that we need to shift from what we do to what we stand for, was a rallying cry for anyone looking to make a difference in their organization and in the world. That’s some good ol’ Texas inspiration, y’all.

  1. The gap between Facebook and Instagram is widening.

A team from the Marketing Science division of Facebook and Instagram shared a multifaceted research study that identified the differences and similarities in user behavior on and attitudes toward Facebook and Instagram. Not surprisingly, Facebook is the place for “real-time information and opinions” while Instagram users seek “inspiration and exploration.” And while the two sibling platforms now offer more integration than ever, a separate yet complementary strategy that plays to the strength of each can have a significant impact on results – with Instagram delivering upper-funnel metrics like recall and awareness, and Facebook delivering lower-funnel metrics like preference and sales. The one-two punch offers advertisers a larger, more active audience than any other channel available.

  1. Walter White would be jealous.

The hands-down best activation of the week was courtesy of AMC, promoting its “Breaking Bad” spinoff series “Better Call Saul” (that you should watch, immediately, if you don’t already). Without giving away any spoilers, a fast-food chicken chain called Los Pollos Hermanos is central to both shows – and for three days in Austin, fans were transported to Albuquerque via a real-life brick-and-mortar popup restaurant. Anyone who braved the long line was treated to free curly fries, and stars of each series even signed autographs and took photos behind the counter. It was a fan’s dream come true, and if the hashtag search is any indication, it was SXSW’s most popular exhibit.


AT&T and RT go Bragh

Twenty years ago today, we began a long and proud journey with a company that would become our longest client relationship.

 On that day in 1997, Southwestern Bell selected Rodgers Townsend to handle their small business advertising. Less than a month later, SBC purchased Pacific Bell and moved its Business Sales division to San Francisco. We went on to make a lot of new friends there, too, as well as at Nevada Bell, Ameritech, Southern New England Telephone, Cingular, Yellow Pages and, in 2005, AT&T. 

 After twenty years, five different headquarters locations, and more logo changes than you can count, we’re still celebrating our partnership.

 And still thankful that Irish eyes were smiling on us that day.

Who run the world? GIRLS

International Women’s Day invites us all to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of women around the globe – and within our own organization. Our executive team consists of 10 strong, successful women from diverse backgrounds, each bringing a unique perspective and set of experiences. And this year, more than ever, we recognize the need to foster support and community, from one generation of female professionals to another. So we asked each of RT’s female directors, in her own words, what advice would you offer to your 22-year-old self, just starting out in your career?

“Remember that what makes you different makes you special. And soon, you will find your people.”

-Kay Cochran, Group Creative Director/Copywriter


“Ask for help when you need it. No one expects anyone to have all the answers. Too many times people are afraid to ask for help because they might seem weak but the truth is – people want to help out others – it’s in our nature. But it’s also in our nature not to force help on someone else.”

-Cheryl Sparks, Director of Production


“I would say a couple of things: first, that you can’t be naïve that, in business, you have to figure how to play the ‘game’ of being a woman in the workplace. And second, you should always know that you can ask for help, and be unafraid to delegate.”

-Debbie Steppig, Director of Direct Marketing Production


“Have a voice. Be bold, be brave, be heard.”

-Patty Ivey, Account Director


“1. Have more fun and try to have a life outside of work. 

2. Believe in yourself. You are worthy. You got this.

3. Reject the myth of the Strong Black Woman who has to bear all the burdens like the mule in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

4. Cherish the work-place sisterhood.

5. Don’t spend all day Saturday in the beauty shop or at the office.”

-Crystal Merritt, Director of Account Planning


“Learn to listen. You’ll uncover insights, better understand concerns and opportunities will present themselves. Oh, and ask questions – smart questions. You work with talented people with rich experience (both clients and agency colleagues), soak up as much as you can.”

-Laura Duplain, Account Director


“Be kind, and treat every person – no matter their role – with a spirit of collaboration and inclusivity. Embrace bold lipstick. Talk less, listen more, read a lot more. Invest in a ‘forever’ bag that can hold a laptop, a pair of flats and an umbrella. Say yes to every opportunity and every project, even when you’re too busy already. And most importantly, understand that every job has its ups and downs, its challenging moments and rough days. But if you work with people that you love, a team that becomes your tribe, then you’re super lucky – and you should do everything you can to enjoy every day with them.”

-Laura Yarbrough, Account Director


“- Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter when you’re 40. I promise.

– Don’t burn bridges. Advertising is a small, small world. 

– Continue to self-educate yourself after college. 

– Clients are people, too. Treat them that way. 

– Experiences outweigh objects.”

-Suzanne Lange, Account Director


“Relationships are the foundation for everything. In a way, it’s more important than the work itself, because without strong partnerships internally and externally – the best work won’t ever be created or sold in. The key to strong relationships is simple: sincerity + trust + the golden rule. And learn how to be brave enough to be honest with yourself and others about your mistakes so that you can learn from them. It will create an atmosphere where it is okay to fail. Without failure and honesty, you won’t experience growth – personally or with your team.”

-Melinda Christman, Director of Digital Production


“Don’t be afraid to use your voice. You have a point of view that will be valued and respected. And don’t worry, you won’t have to wear pantsuits your entire career.”

-Carrie Muehlemann, Director of Talent and Agency Relations


Presos, Panels and Plexi

ADDY Week is our annual rite of self-congratulation, and self-evaluation.

It also serves as a demarcation point from one year to the next—and sometimes in our business, from one era to the next. ADDY Week is always cause to stop and reflect, which none of us seem to have enough time for anymore. It’s also a time to renew old acquaintances, see new possibilities and form new alliances.

This year, I was honored to present at the ADDY Student night, where I did my best to convince them that a life in advertising can lead to happiness, and that the qualities that help you succeed in advertising can lead to a fulfilling life beyond it. Though I can’t be sure I was convincing to them, talking with our next generation convinced me the future is in good hands.

The topical panels that followed over the next three days were insightful and motivating as well, and the many RTers who participated got as much as they gave. Anyone attending those sessions had to have come away thinking there’s work to be done, both in St. Louis and in our industry, and that advertising and marketing continue to offer limitless possibilities to those who are willing to work for it. It’s interesting to note that just this week in Money Magazine online, Mark Cuban said, “In ten years a new skill will be more in demand than it ever has been: creative thinking.”

The highlight, of course, was the ADDY Awards ceremony, which was held this year at the spectacular Bissinger’s Caramel Room—itself a testament to creativity and rejuvenation. Socializing on their spectacular outdoor deck with February temperatures in the 60s, it seemed the gods were indeed favoring our passionate pursuit of the coveted plexiglas idols.

Congratulations to all of the other winners, and to the breadth of work recognized. In our case, our 24 Golds, 19 Silvers, 2 Best of Shows and a Special Judges Citation represented clients including AT&T, Black Flag, The Black Rep, Cutter Insect Repellent, Everclear, LouFest, The Hartford, the Magic House, Museum of Transportation, Rebel Yell Bourbon, Saint Louis University, Scottrade and Spectracide Bug Stop. Most importantly, this recognition is testament to those special bonds between client and agency that nurture and nourish great work.

To all of the Ad Club people who worked long and lovingly to pull it together – you more than hit your mark. And the rest of us leave this glorious week behind more inspired, more determined, and more certain than ever that this is the only profession we want to make our own.


RT wins Gold and Silver Graphis awards

We’re proud to announce we’ve been recognized in the Graphis Advertising Annual 2017, with 1 Gold and 4 Silver awards across three different clients. Our “Cork” video for The Hartford took home gold, and these four pieces took home silver:

The Hartford “Skinny Jeans”
The Hartford “Extra Zero”
Discover Pearl Series
Spectracide “Bug Stop”

Check out all of the awarded work here.

The Super Bowl may be over but the commercial critiques are still going strong. Check out our CCO Mike McCormick’s recent interviews with KSDK, where he offers up his thoughts on this year’s commercials—including his favorites (and not-so-favorites).

Direct response: What’s hot and what’s not

Our industry changes as quickly as the technology that supports it, and we all know that the pace of change continues to accelerate exponentially. Increasingly, we are seeing how tried-and-true, “always works best” tactics have become “tired and untrue.” We can no longer count on them to deliver the results of old. Looking at the current B2B landscape, here are some key trends we will be keeping an eye on:

What’s Hot:

  1. What’s In a Name?: Today, “personalization” must go way beyond printing someone’s name throughout the piece. To persuade them, we need to know about, and write to, their particular motivations. That’s how we can put muscle behind getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.
  2. A Tale of Three Emails: Our research has shown that most small business owners have three email addresses: one for business, one for personal, and one they use when they want information or promotional literature, but they don’t want it clogging up their main account with ongoing sales pitches. That means we need to be vigilant, and potentially “pay more,” to get their active business email address via gated content or other more restrictive appeals.
  3. Three-Stop Shopping: Small business owners tend to pick up the phone once they’ve made their buying decision, but usually after researching online and speaking to friends and associates. This points to the urgent need for integrated social and search programs along with DM, EM and OTM.
  4. It’s the Friendly “From”: More important than the subject line or promotional offer, the most influential element in email open and click rates is the name of the sender. If it’s a name the business owner knows and trusts, he or she will engage.
  5. C-Suite Execs Like Shiny Objects: High production value, dimensional direct mail gets the attention of recipients and their administrators at much higher rates than traditional formats. The higher cost of these tactics demands that the targeting be sound, the calls to action have clarity and urgency, and the personalization be letter-perfect.
  6. Lock In on LinkedIn: Targeted LinkedIn placements enable more efficient lead generation based on title or vertical industry, getting us close to the real decision-makers and influencers in a business environment.
  7. ’Tis the Season: We need to recognize that certain industries have no time for us marketers at certain times of the year. Their already-short attention spans are focused on driving revenue when they need to make hay; not considering new technologies or approaches that could drive their business haywire.

What’s Not:

  1. Traditional Webinars: If we build it, they may not come. In fact, they probably won’t come. We need to serve up shorter, mobile-friendly, personalized on-demand content.
  2. Limited-Time Inbound Call Centers: Are limiting, and infuriating. Nobody works bankers’ hours anymore, including bankers. And any marketer who is just realizing this, well, never mind.
  3. One-Size-Fits-All Formats: The #10 business envelope isn’t dead, but it’s best saved for official notifications, not selling.
  4. The Desktop Computer: In the first half of 2016, 70% of emails were opened on a smartphone. Think small format for small business.

The Value of Brick-and-Mortar in an Online World

Last week I was searching for e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar statistics. Depending upon the source, brick-and-mortar retail is either thriving, making a comeback or dead and buried. Wading through the bias and hype, I found several white papers from reputable sources in our agency library.

Based on metrics from the US Government, in Q2 2016, US e-commerce sales represented approximately 8% of total retail sales. And, according to several national retail analysts, over 55% of shoppers would prefer to buy from a merchant with a physical store presence. Among younger consumers, 80% of Gen Z and 82% of Millennials prefer a brick-and-mortar experience to online shopping.

So, brick-and-mortar is still a viable channel in the purchase process, but does it provide any consumer insights in addition to the revenue stream? The value of digital in an omni-channel environment is fairly transparent. Digital provides a steady source of data and insights that refine and enhance the shopping experience. But, what does brick-and-mortar bring to the data table? Quite a lot, actually.

First, brick-and-mortar locations enhance 1:1 targeting and ROI. Every brand has a trade area. This trade area is where a brand’s best responding customers and prospects reside. Brick-and-mortar locations anchor these trade areas, providing a strong geographic center. Targeting the top traffic-driving zip codes that surround a brick-and-mortar location can double or triple 1:1 response.

Second, brick-and-mortar visits are stronger predictors of loyalty. Online visits are great for measuring the potential success of a retail site, but a true brand interaction can only happen in store. The ability to touch and feel a product while having a detailed conversation with a knowledgeable brand representative increases conversion and satisfaction rates, which are key metrics in predicting customer retention.

Third, brick-and-mortar locations are better at driving net revenue per visit. Online returns are usually handled via free shipping and a return box. There is little to no interaction with the brand after the product is sealed and mailed. But, in a brick-and-mortar environment, returns provide an opportunity to cross or up-sell a customer along with creating a positive brand experience. Within the group of retailers that I’ve worked with over the years, over 40% of returns resulted in net increase in revenue within the same visit.

What is Twitch, and Why Should I Care?

If you’ve heard of the game streaming platform, Twitch, you may be amongst those wondering, “Why would anyone want to watch a stranger play a video game?” The stereotypical persona of a “gamer” doesn’t provide many answers – the word “gamer” can still conjure an image of a guy who hasn’t bathed in months, lives in his parents basement, eats a lot of Cheetos and “trolls” other gamers on the internet. Who’s watching that guy? With an estimated 9.7 million daily active users per day on Twitch, it would appear that a lot of people are.

That Cheeto guy is not the reality of the gaming industry’s audience. Today’s gamer is anyone. According to a 2015 annual report from Entertainment Software Association, 63% of all US households include at least one frequent gamer – and 41% of all gamers are women. If you play games on your Xbox or on your phone, you technically count towards that number. And Twitch covers all of those bases, with personalities and programming that appeal to a much broader audience than most might suspect.

Twitch, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014 and recently added into its Prime offerings (a.k.a. Twitch Prime), is the world’s leading social video platform and community for gamers and video game culture. And it’s not just “games” being streamed anymore – there’s Twitch Creative, which has broadcasters streaming cooking shows, art tutorials and home-brewing shows.

But what is the appeal – as a viewer, a streamer or an advertiser? Let’s break it down (drums please!):

A Twitch Viewer

Like any other popular social channel online, Twitch is a place where like-minded users can communicate and commiserate. Choosing a channel to engage with can lead a user to conversations about games they enjoy. Also, like professional sports or reality shows, this is a form of entertainment. Many streamers are highly skilled players, or have engaging personalities, or both. On top of all of that, Twitch users might just really love gaming and be looking to spend time with games they already love – or discover new ones to buy.

A Twitch Streamer

The “streamers” (or the users who choose to record and share video of themselves live for an audience) are growing in number and gaining ground as web personalities. For many streamers, Twitch broadcasting is a way to have fun and connect with friends (and fans) about their mutual love of games, cooking, sewing or other creative endeavors. It can also be an opportunity to entertain and engage with audiences for money. Whether it’s through donations, advertising or channel subscriptions (which is where Twitch Prime comes in, giving members one channel subscription for free – but paying the streamer),there are popular streamers now making a living by playing video games. For real.

A Twitch Advertiser

Opportunities for advertisers continue to grow and expand as much as Twitch does. Each day, users watch and talk about games being played by more than 2 million streamers per month. Currently, Twitch claims to reach “half of millennial males in America” – 75% of its users are male, and 73% of them are between ages 18-49.

With these statistics in mind, the appeal for game makers and developers to have streamers play their games is obvious – attracting new fans and buyers to new and existing games and building buzz. For non-gaming brands, there’s also a growing opportunity with everything from traditional display and takeover ads to having high-profile streamers act as influencers to their specific audiences. Amazon is actively growing this list of mainstream advertisers, and has already attracted brands like Coke, Bud Light, Pizza Hut, Old Spice and more.

Similar to YouTube and other native video platforms, Twitch also serves video pre-, mid- and post-roll ads. To make those video options even sweeter, Twitch is currently rolling out its SureStream video technology platform, claiming ads on it cannot be blocked by third-party ad-blockers.

Twitch’s longevity and overall growth potential remains to be seen, and its unfiltered UGC nature certainly presents some concerns for many mainstream brands. However, with Amazon continuing to push this platform forward and find new ways to manage how content and ads are being seen, it’s definitely setting itself up as a media powerhouse worth keeping an open mind towards.


“It was twenty years ago today…”

Looking back, 1996 seemed to be a more quaint, unmuddled and innocent time as Sgt. Peppers was meant to conjure. In truth, it was a generation ago, though the changes in that time to our world and to our industry could be more accurately described as an epoch.

There are so many memories going back 20 years, and I won’t attempt to recollect them here, or try and thank all the people who deserve it.

But as this anniversary approached, people have been asking two questions:

“Did you think you’d be in business for 20 years?”

The answer is no; you can’t even conceive of twenty years when you start a business, and know the odds are greater that you’ll be back at your kitchen table within twelve months. It takes a lot of luck, and it takes a lot of great people, like the ones I’m lucky enough to saddle up with every day, and the clients who entrust us with their voice.

And, “What’s going through your mind when you think back on 20 years?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of my thoughts have been about the accounts or awards we’ve won. I recall the zany stories and courageous stories, but mostly it’s the stories of being there for each other. Of caring for each other.

Of our current RTers, nearly a quarter of us watched together as the towers came down on 9/11. Another 15% have been with us 10 years or more. We’ve shared countless laughs, tears, births, deaths, promotions and retirements.

Those aren’t measures that define mere employees, personnel or associates; those are milestones you associate with genuine friends, family and relationships you know will last a lifetime.

The winning that mattered was winning over a group of talented people, and even better human beings, to a unifying cause and purpose: Simply to be the very best for our clients and each other, and to care for one another with equal abandon. That’s worth getting up for each morning, and helps you sleep soundly at night.

We’ve put together a brief video that captures glimpses of the blood, sweat and tears expended, spanning most of those twenty years. I wish we could have captured more of the amazing work we’ve done in DM, social, digital, print and posters, but even in this condensed version, I can see and feel the fingerprints of every RTer who’s graced our halls reflected in the work.

And I can tell you that like the last twenty years, if you blink, you’ll miss it.

How do you like me now?

Social media: selfies, vacation pics, memes-and ads promoting your favorite local café? Yep, 2016 is officially the year that brands are taking over the newsfeed.

Connected World

Social media marketing generated $16B in revenue last year, and marketers are making it a bigger priority in 2016. 70% of advertisers anticipate spending more this year than last, and total spend is expected to exceed $35B by the end of next year. Even small businesses are getting in on the game: a recent Constant Contact survey reported that 66% of small business owners use social media to acquire and engage customers.

With so many prospective advertisers ready and willing to spend marketing dollars in social media, the platforms are taking notice. Throughout 2016, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have made it easier than ever for brand managers to play the role of Chief Content Officer, allowing greater access to and connectivity with current and prospective fans. Through enhanced analytics capabilities, lower costs-to-entry and simplified dashboards that make targeting users and boosting posts easier on less-savvy community managers, brands now have a bigger voice in the top social channels.

The upside: as marketers become savvier, using technology to connect with customers, they open the door for new low-cost/high-engagement avenues of communication, driving customers to interact with more branded content across all channels. The downside: the newsfeed becomes noisier and more crowded every day, and every marketer will need to work harder and smarter to stay relevant, stand out and drive engagement.

To make sure you’re on top of the latest trends, check out the new offerings from the industry’s biggest social media players:


Meet the RT Dog Pack

It’s Pets at Work Week. Did you know that only 10% of employers allow pets at work? Once a year, this #PetsAtWork movement hopes to bring cuteness and cuddles to cube dwellers everywhere. We’re behind it 100%.

Every day is Bring Your Dog to Work Day at Rodgers Townsend. We have an informal pack that’s as diverse and interesting as the people who work here – big dogs, little dogs, old dogs, young dogs, quiet dogs, crazy dogs, pure breds, rescue dogs, obedient dogs and dogs that consider themselves free spirits.

We’ve noticed some interesting outcomes since the pack took over and made itself a cultural force within our walls and out in the downtown St. Louis green spaces:

– Delighted Clients. Some of our clients request puppy play time when they visit. Usually we keep dogs away from the fancy, formal conference room, ceremonially named “5D.” It’s hilarious to watch our guests flee the gilded cage of 5D to roll around on the floor in the lobby with a dog.  Important note: All dog hours are non-billable because cuddles are free.

Laura and Alex Samoyeds

– Strategic Insights. We tried the FURminator product on Ollie and Riggins. If a de-Shedding tool works on Samoyeds, then it’s a great product. It works miracles. But the fluffs of fur everywhere were the beginnings of a strategy and campaign idea. We credit their thick, white coats for the insight that lead to the Shedlings campaign for FURminator.

– Happy Employees. Advertising is stressful. The deadlines are crazy. Sometimes, you just need a dog to help you put it all in perspective. Cheryl, our miracle worker head of production, is less stressed out when there’s a dog about. Internally we call the phenomenon#DogsOnCheryl

– Casting Dog Talent. Otis was featured in this adorable, I mean highly effective, Cyber Security Awareness Month post for AT&T as part of the #GuardPets campaign. He is not just a model. He’s a certified service dog with the official jacket and special skills.

Otis the Guard Pet

– Attracting Top Talent. Several of our recent hires cited the dog friendly work environment as a reason to work at RT. The new hotshot developer said something like, “I can bring my dog! This is awesome.” The new account guy actually said, “As a single guy, that flexibility in a workplace allows me to both work longer hours when needed as well as be more social outside of work. If I can bring Dash, I don’t have to feel guilty working late to get things done or going out without him after I’m off the clock. I’ve been fortunate to only ever work at pet-friendly places, and I hope to keep it that way.”

– Giving Back. Last week our dog policy enabled us to give back to the community and help Stray Rescue by fostering a dog during a power outage in a heat wave. You can learn more about Ken and spread the word about finding him a forever home on our Facebook page.

If you check out the #PetsAtWork hashtag or watch the news on Friday you’ll see stories about how pets increase morale, boost productivity, appeal to Millennials and boost your employer brand. That’s all terrific. But we do it because we just love dogs.

Outlier or Opportunity?

Several years ago, I was visiting an old colleague who works for a large technology company. Over dinner, our conversation slowly turned to work and he asked me about data modeling and outliers. Apparently, his team views data outliers as noise that should be removed from all models to increase confidence and predictability. For some outliers, that is the correct process. But, pruning every outlier can severely limit your potential for growth. Sometimes, an outlier is an opportunity.

Opportunities masquerading as outliers can take many forms. In the database, they could be customer attributes that don’t match the target profile or product sets that don’t correlate to the standard mix. Outside of the database, they could be an engagement point that differs from the current conversion path or a new media channel. At the surface, these outliers may seem interesting, but not worth the effort to pursue. However, spending a little time and digging a bit deeper could yield quite a bit of gold.

A while ago, I was helping a large retailer with their loyalty program. The member base was mostly moms who were purchasing apparel for their children. Via profile and purchase analysis, an outlier appeared in the transaction mix: during major traffic periods, like Back to School, moms occasionally purchased something for themselves. The retailer knew about this behavior and attempted to capitalize on it by including a few additional product shots of apparel for moms in each mailing.

After a bit of convincing, we tested a different approach. We pulled the best target and tested a separate, additional communication stream focusing on moms. The ROI was similar during key traffic periods. But, outside of the key periods, the ROI skyrocketed. Incremental store and online visits increased from three times per year to five times per year. These additional visits drove stronger ROIs per piece and dramatically increased lifetime values.

The biggest hurdle with outliers is not the identification, but the justification of pursuing them as opportunities. Once an outlier is found, we use primary and secondary research to add qualitative insight to the outlier. Via the combination of quantitative and qualitative insights, we are able to determine the value of the outlier and propose a plan of action. This plan usually contains a test-and-learn process along with a detailed ROI expectation generated via our proprietary calculator. This calculator combines objectives, KPIs, target quantities, revenue and cost expectations based on several what-if scenarios. We like to call it our Return on Dare calculator. You can call it your justification for pursuing a different path.

The Magic House is about child’s play.

ST LOUIS (May 23, 2016) – Today’s children are experiencing a very different childhood than those of generations past. With their time filled with nonstop structured schedules on top of hours of screen time each day, there is a growing concern that a key component of child development is disappearing from children’s lives: Play. Numerous studies have shown that play is important for developing social skills, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills, all important for academic as well as professional and lifelong success. The Magic House hopes to combat this growing trend by partnering with two of St. Louis’ most influential creative companies, Rodgers Townsend and production company Bruton Stroube Studios, to create a community-wide message encouraging families to “take time to play.”

“Children learn through play, yet research shows that they are not getting nearly enough opportunities for hands-on, exploratory free play,” said Beth Fitzgerald, President at The Magic House.  “As a children’s museum, we feel a responsibility to be an advocate for play. This summer is perfect time for encouraging families to take time to play, and in the process enjoy the many benefits associated with it from physical well-being to social, emotional and cognitive development.”

The “Play to Learn” campaign will launch this summer with messaging at The Magic House as well as on billboards, radio and television. A video will also appear in movie theaters and be accessible through a variety of social media sites. “As parents who grew up going to The Magic House, we love being able to share the message that play is important,” said Jake Edinger, writer and creative director at Rodgers Townsend. “It’s a good reminder for all of us.”

Learn to Play. Play to Learn. Video Link

Find more details on the benefits of play through these resource links:

About Bruton Stroube Studios

We are an independent studio of creative collaborators working together to create beautiful imagery through still photography and motion – all under one roof. We have a squadron of more than 30 full-time employees. Our 55,000 square foot work space was originally built in 1896 as a Beethoven Music Conservatory on the outskirts of downtown St. Louis. It houses three shooting spaces (each with a full kitchen), a retouching/3D department, five editing suites, audio engineering and custom composition, an entire floor dedicated to prop and wardrobe storage, and an Elton John-themed pinball machine. Check out what we make at

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

The Magic House is a not-for-profit participatory museum that provides hands-on learning experiences for children and families and encourages experimentation, creativity and the development of problem-solving skills within a place of beauty, wonder, joy and magic. Regular Museum admission is $10 per person. Children under the age of one are free.

The Magic House is located at 516 S. Kirkwood Road, one mile north of Highway 44 in historic downtown Kirkwood, Missouri. Summer hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; Friday, 9:30 am to 9:00 pm; Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; and Sunday, 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Parking is always free at The Magic House. For more information, please call 314.822.8900 or visit The Magic House online at

#LearnToPlay #PlayToLearn #TheMagicHouse

Never Say Always

More and more, brand executives are pressured to be in market faster, especially in demand generation campaigns where there are revenue expectations within a specific time frame. They, and by extension as their agency partners, we, push every level to squeeze more time from a hasty schedule to think, design, react and revise our creative solutions to the business problem.

One common approach to save time is to use design templates in which the layout and graphic elements are already established. Depending on the template,  the theory goes, the art director would simply (and efficiently) swap out the visuals and the writer would provide copy to be placed in the space allocated. Once the original template is designed (and tested for consumer response in the marketplace), it’s reasonable to expect that the development process would be significantly reduced, especially in direct marketing. Direct mail templates would allow for advance production of envelopes and letterforms. Email templates for tablet, mobile phone and full screen consumption would take the guesswork out of what goes where.

The University of Texas at Dallas Marketing Science team shared a research study showing the wearout (and, interestingly, the wearin effect) of a repetitive advertising formula. While it works well for awareness, it has a diminishing effect on demand. If the campaign is taken out of media for a period of time, awareness decreases, but demand increases when it is re-introduced.

It’s tempting to say certain tactical elements, once proven, should be always applied based on one’s experience with it. But our experience, along with that of various other agencies and institutions, show that “always” is a dangerous word. One of our B2B clients tested the use of a Starbuck’s gift card in a demand generation DM campaign with terrific results. We applied the same tactical approach to a slightly different segment and found significantly higher preference for the Amazon gift card, which was tested against the Starbucks version in an A/B split test.

Some of the most memorable campaigns are indeed templates, but they’re conceptual templates around a common creative approach as opposed to efficiency-based design. My favorites include Goodby’s “Got Milk” for the California Milk Board featuring white mustachioed celebrities, Penn’s “Official Ball” series showing various interpretations of their tennis ball at the French and U.S. Opens, and the Tiffany jewelry ad that appears every day in the New York Times – same size, same layout, same amount of copy, but the surrounding environment helps it stand out, as noted by Ross Bleckner in A3: Our Lives in the New York Times:

Every day, on page three of The New York Times, section A, an ad for Tiffany jewelry appears in the upper right corner of the page. Because of its placement in the paper’s first news section, the advertisement generally appears alongside a major new story, most frequently an international disaster or tragedy of some kind. The effect of these juxtapositions, for those alert and lateral-minded enough to notice them, are variously humorous, tragic, tragicomic, ironic or subversive. An ad for a pair of Tiffany earrings is titled “Gold Rush”; to its left is positioned a photograph of a line of Palestinians at a cash machine, after Israel had begun to release frozen Palestinian Authority funds. An ad for a Tiffany bracelet bears the tagline “A Charmed Existence,” and across from it the headline reads “Despite Embargo, Haiti’s Rich Seem to Get Richer.” An ad for four Tiffany rings carries the title “The Masterpieces of Engagement,” and to its left, below an image of the president, is the headline “Obama Chastises Wall St. in Push to Tighten Rules.”

That said, here are thoughts on where and how to use efficiency-based advertising templates.

When we SHOULD (nearly always) use tested templates

  • Reaching a fresh audience of consumers who fit the same prospect profile as the  originally tested template
  • Fulfillment of requested content, such as newsletters or white papers, to people who  request them, allowing the recipient to become familiar with content style and to build a  sense of continuity
  • Providing official notices regarding legal updates, change in pricing or other elements of  service agreement

When we should NOT (nearly never) use tested templates

  • Attracting the same prospect base with the same or similar message within a close time  frame or space proximity
  • Reaching a different prospect base whose attributes are not the same as the originally  tested group
  • Facing significant shifts in the competitive landscape or consumer preferences
  • Introducing a new product, service or offer that deserves a different approach to stand  out in the mailbox or on screen

In other words, we use templates to save time when we don’t risk losing touch with our audience, or losing sales for the sake of efficiency.

Rodgers Townsend Imagines a Bug Apocalypse in Spectracide Spot

When we last heard from Rogers Townsend and its client Spectracide, the bug spray’s new Accushot technology played stand-in for a certain male body part as a very excited homeowner looked on.

Earlier this week someone sent us the latest work for that client, and it’s a bit more subtle. In this case, the agency imagines a bug apocalypse of sorts.

That was pretty effective. We also appreciated the English folk song, which led us down a primrose path toward the Fairport Convention.

The spot was filmed in Vancouver with the help of production company Tool. It marks a new stage in the campaign, which still focuses on the guy with the ripped thighs and the green beard from the last ad on social.

The new work is so far only visible online, but it should begin airing on network TV later this month.


Agency: Rogers Townsend
Client: Spectrum Brands

Chief Creative Officer: Michael McCormick
Account Director: Laura Yarbrough
Associate Creative Director: Jon Hansen
Senior Copywriter: Conor Barry
Producer: Marianne Daniels
Senior Account Planner: Alex Kerlick
Media Specialist: Christy Bockler

Production Company: Tool
Post-Production: Coolfire

Original Article: