Putting sewer controversy in the past

Putting sewer controversy in the past

Overview

Clackamas County Service District #1, governed by the County and managed by Water Environment Services (WES), came to a dead end in 2007 in its effort to increase sewage treatment capacity. A group of well-organized citizens had stopped a proposed regional plan, leaving the community divided and deeply suspicious of the county commission.

Challenge:

All the proposed options were expensive – demanding significant increases in sewer rates. And, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality threatened to impose controls on development if new capacity was not built.

CFM was retained to help the county re-start the public dialogue about wastewater treatment investments and to work with county leadership, creating a regional agreement about how to move forward. The ultimate goal was to build a major sewage plant to meet the District’s needs for 15 years.

Approach

CFM fielded two telephone surveys to assess customer values and concerns. Next, CFM and WES staff created a stand-alone issues-only website – www.Riverhealth.org – and launched the county’s first e-newsletter targeting opinion leaders. At the same time, CFM reached out to activist citizens who opposed recent county wastewater decisions. A new citizens’ advisory committee was started. CFM also developed a two-step strategy to build a long-term regional agreement.

Results

A new state-of-the-art, $130 million wastewater plant will be opened in Oregon City in early 2011, successfully financed through long-term bonds supported by hefty rate increases for District customers. Once-hostile citizen activists are satisfied the County Commission listens to their opinions and it has made the best decisions possible. A regional advisory committee is looking to the future and the County Board has demonstrated its ability to provide strong and decisive leadership. 

Oregon Winegrowers Association: A Winning Hand for Wineries

Oregon Winegrowers Association: A Winning Hand for Wineries

Overview

One of Oregon's most prominent wineries had been told to close its kitchen and stop hosting weddings. Influential legislators decided to introduce a bill in Oregon's special legislative session in February 2010. Oregon wine industry members reflected divergent views on commercial events in farm zones, and there was no time for a consensus-building process.

Challenge

Legislation would be heard during a short session in which any significant opposition could derail it.

Approach

Working with legal counsel for the Oregon Winegrowers Association, CFM developed draft legislation that struck a moderate position on the issue of commercial events held by wineries. CFM worked carefully with the OWA board, county officials and key legislators to eliminate most objections. One fear was that wine industry officials would avoid participating in interim discussions about a broader solution. CFM provided assurances the wine industry would be an active participant in those discussions.

Result

The legislation passed comfortably in both the Oregon Senate and House and was signed into law by the governor. OWA and CFM kept their word and participated constructively in interim discussions. The industry also surveyed its members and developed a consensus process to bring a more refined set of proposals to the 2011 legislative session.

Providence Health & Services: Protecting Health Care Benefits for Seniors and Children

Providence Health & Services: Protecting Health Care Benefits for Seniors and Children

Overview

When federal legislation threatened to severely reduce health care benefits for seniors covered under Providence Health Plan, the CFM Federal Lobbying team crafted a comprehensive strategy to avoid the cuts and loss of member benefits. The goal was to preserve Medicare Advantage, which provides coverage to the majority of Oregon seniors. CFM’s plan enabled Congress to preserve benefits to Northwest seniors as well as extend children’s health care coverage to 15 million more kids.

Challenge

A cut of $150 billion to Medicare Advantage was proposed to pay for an expansion of children’s health insurance. Because Medicare Advantage traditionally is considered a Republican program, most Democrats were eager to dismantle it. That political dynamic – along with the unpopularity of for-profit insurance companies and the laudatory mission of providing coverage for children – created significant momentum for these cuts.

Approach

CFM mobilized Medicare beneficiaries, as well as state and local leaders, in a coordinated effort to communicate how the proposed cuts would disproportionately harm Oregonians. CFM also worked with the Governor’s office to demonstrate that preserving benefits for seniors was truly a non-partisan issue. Working closely with our delegation, CFM helped devise an alternative pay-for, in the form of an increased tax on tobacco products, to expand children’s health insurance.

Result

As a result, CFM helped create a coalition of Democratic Members of Congress to go against their party leaders and support the Medicare Advantage program. Congress ultimately passed a significant tobacco increase to pay for children’s health insurance expansion. Funding for Medicare Advantage and benefits to Oregon seniors were preserved.

Helping Fund Innovation at Oregon Institute of Technology

Overview

Helping Fund Innovation at Oregon Institute of Technology

When the Oregon Institute of Technology needed federal funding to build a Geothermal Power Generation Facility, and construction and equipment for the new Center for Health Professions, the CFM Federal lobbying team answered the call by delivering more than $4.5 million.

Challenge

Over the last three years, federal funding for congressional earmarks has become more competitive, and the number and amount of earmarks has been reduced.

Approach

CFM worked with OIT to showcase the unique nature of its requests and demonstrate the exciting benefits that could be derived from federal investment. The Geothermal Power Generation Facility would be the first of its kind on a university campus. The Center for Health Professions project would address the health care workforce training and education shortages that will plague the entire state of Oregon for the next two decades. These two projects are emblematic of the progressive, problem-solving spirit that Oregonians appreciate.

Result

Working with the Oregon delegation, CFM helped OIT secure $3.6 million over three years for its Geothermal Power Generation Facility and $950,000 over three years for the Center for Health Professions and health related equipment. CFM also crafted language and included authorization for a $2 million grant program for the Geothermal Power Generation Facility in the 2007 Energy bill. 

Providence Health & Services: Health Care for Low-Income Persons

Overview

Providence Health & Services: Health Care for Low-Income Persons

Providence Health & Services, the largest health care system in Oregon with eight hospitals spread throughout the state, as well as a number of special programs for children, families and senior citizens, has a long and intentional mission to serve the less fortunate in the state. It is a commitment that dates back to the founding of the system. For health care in Oregon, this sense of mission means, among other things, serving persons covered by the Oregon Health Plan, which is the state's name for Medicaid.

Challenge

As the recession choked off the supply of general funds for state programs, legislators turned in 2003, 2007 and 2009 to a desire to enact hospital and health insurance taxes to raise money. Providence had questions about the policy justice of taxing providers, but in each of those years participated in good faith to design the best taxes possible – taxes that would be charged to hospitals and insurers, with assurance that the proceeds would go to fund low income health care.

Approach

CFM's role was to advise Providence on the tax policy, plus monitor negotiations in Salem, with an eye toward being able to give executives a clear sense of the political give-and-take, as well as the final outcome. If the health care taxes made policy sense, the money had to go for two purposes – fund low-income health and reduce the cost shift to private health insurance bills as a result of state government underfunding of the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid).

Result

With CFM's help, Providence, along with other hospitals and insures throughout, produced consensus versions of both the hospital and health insurance tax. On the hospital, the most recent version of the tax, negotiated in the 2009 legislative session, resulted in an increase in reimbursement to hospitals under the state's Medicaid program, thus reducing the cost shift. On the insurance tax, the proceeds were directed to funding increases in children receiving health insurance, perhaps in the range of 80,000 new covered lives.

Wordstock Literary Festival: Spreading the Word about Wordstock

Wordstock Literary Festival: Spreading the Word about Wordstock

Overview

Portland, Oregon is a book-loving place and CFM has played a crucial role in promoting Wordstock, the community's recently established annual literary festival.

Challenge

The mission of Wordstock is to create an annual literary and cultural event of regional and national impact, to inspire readers and writers, and to support Community of Writers Inc., a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing students’ writing achievements.

Approach

The public relations program – a combination of grassroots outreach and media relations – attracted 100 percent of the major Portland print media both years. Sixty percent of the broadcast media in Portland covered the event in 2005. In 2006, all Portland TV stations covered the event.

Result

CFM's efforts are credited with helping the festival exceed expected attendance in the event's inaugural year in 2005 and again in 2006.

Oregon University System: Seeking Information with Technology

Overview

Oregon University System: Seeking Information with Technology

On the surface, it was a classic business-to-business survey – a manufacturer asking end-users about product quality and market conditions. But in this case, the "manufacturer" was the Oregon University System's Vice Chancellor for Engineering and Computer Science, the "customers" were business professionals from around the state of Oregon and the "product" was recent engineering, computer science and technology graduates from Oregon's public universities.

Challenge

On one hand, the client needed to get customer feedback to plan programs and refine curriculum. On the other hand, the customers would be hard to reach and pressed for time.

Approach

CFM's conducted an Internet-based survey, and the results were impressive. Almost two thirds of those contacted participated in the survey. Industry professionals gave good grades for graduates' skills in a variety of areas such as teamwork, computational skills, the ability to solve problems and the ability to collect, analyze and report data. However, Oregon's business professionals were less impressed with graduates' oral and written communication skills, their familiarity with new technology and their ability to work in large teams.

Result

Engineering educators stepped up efforts to teach basic business communications skills. In the meantime, the survey gave hope to students. Oregon business professionals confirmed that jobs would be there for graduates in engineering, computer science and technology. Roughly four in ten said their organizations would increase hiring in engineering and technology fields over the next year, and more than half said hiring would remain the same. 

Mariel Zagunis: Helping an Olympian Get Her Point Across

Overview

Mariel Zagunis: Helping an Olympian Get Her Point Across

Mariel Zagunis knows how to get her point across. The 25-year-old Beaverton resident has won two Olympic gold medals in fencing. But when it came to getting pointers on conducting a social media campaign, she turned to CFM's Marketing PR team.

Challenge

Zagunis wanted to connect with her dedicated fans. As the first woman to win the Gold Medal in Olympic sabre fencing, Zagunis has developed a loyal following of fans who call themselves 'Zagoonaloons.' However, these fans had no way to connect directly with their beloved fencing phenomenon.

Approach

Given the several 'Zagoonaloon'-created groups on Facebook, CFM built an integrated online presence that featured both a Facebook page and website. Account Executive Hannah Smith simultaneously built the two portals, first launching the Facebook page, followed by the website. The website can be viewed at www.marielzagunis.com and the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MarielZagunis.

Result

The response to Mariel's web presence has been incredible. Less than two weeks after launching the Facebook page, Mariel already had surpassed 1,000 fans. The page continues to grow and is expected to reach 3,000 fans by April 2011. The website has received steady traffic, and helped Mariel to secure additional sponsors.

Tillamook Cheese: Extending the brand

Tillamook Cheese Social Media

Tillamook County Creamery Association, the cooperative that runs Tillamook Cheese, blended two CFM services:

Public Affairs: CFM facilitated a reputation management audit with the dairy cooperative’s leadership, an enormous opportunity to enhance Tillamook’s brand and good name. Wanting to stay ahead of consumer preferences, Tillamook decided to eliminate rBST in the herds of more than 150 dairy farmers. Tillamook planned a quiet transition, but when agribusiness giant Monsanto – maker of rBST – loudly protested and attempted to divide cooperative membership, a huge public fight broke out.

CFM helped Tillamook with an aggressive program of member relations and media outreach that gained national attention, further enhancing Tillamook’s reputation.

Marketing Public Relations: CFM conceived and executed a comprehensive public relations program for Tillamook Cheese. The program also worked to enhance Tillamook’s reputation and build authentic relationships with target consumers.

Key programs included:

  • Development and execution a Mac & Cheese recipe contest in several key markets;
  • Raising brand awareness of target consumers through strategic partnerships and sponsorships of high profile community and industry events;
  • Using an online strategy to create and grow a community of brand advocates through a special Tillamook Fan Club microsite and the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter;
  • Staging vibrant interactive Tillamook centennial events; and
  • Pitching Tillamook Cheese stories to key local and national media and bloggers resulting in valuable publicity.

Del Monte Fresh Produce: Building a reputation

When we started our partnership, Portland’s Del Monte Fresh Produce was facing several lawsuits. Memories of the 2007 ICE immigration raid remained top-of-mind for many, dominating Google search results. Some in the media and Oregon’s Department of Justice targeted Del Monte. These events put Del Monte on the defensive. CFM partnered with Del Monte to move beyond unfavorable publicity of the past and positioned Del Monte favorably as a valuable, forward-looking member of the community.

Our program was designed to protect and build Del Monte’s reputation in Oregon, focusing on building relationships with policy makers, media and local consumers. The CFM team met regularly with General Manager Warren Wojiski and key staff to identify ways the company could contribute to the community and healthy lifestyles. CFM provided counsel and coaching each step of the way.

Marketing Public Relations: The leadership group assessed media opportunities and undertook community outreach and engagement. CFM recommended strategic cause‐marketing events to engage policymakers and health-conscious consumers and connect Del Monte with worthy efforts and organizations. CFM organized and coordinated free fruit samples and giveaways at events such as:

  • Healthy Snack Day at the Oregon Capitol;
  • KGW-TV Live Well Challenge;
  • Susan G. Komen Portland Race for the Cure;
  • Susan G. Komen Eugene Race for the Cure: and
  • Pacific Northwest Diabetes Week: Circle on the Court.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: CFM led a reputation management effort that included a crisis communications and issues management plan. When a salmonella outbreak was linked to imported cantaloupes, resulting in a Del Monte voluntary recall. CFM assisted with issues management by preparing a statement for Oregon media, and working with national media.

After a decade in Oregon these first positive communications steps accomplished in 2011 began to demonstrate Del Monte’s commitment to the community and as an advocate for food security.

Transit funding for Salem Area Mass Transit District

Overview

In late 2010, the Salem Area Mass Transit District (SAMTD) realized it had a funding gap to build the Keizer Transit Facility. Faced with few financing options, SAMTD needed a plan. CFM answered the call by developing a comprehensive strategy, which led to a $2.8 million Federal Transit Administration grant, the largest grant SAMTD had received in recent memory.

Challenge

With Congress suspending the time-honored use of earmarks to fund special projects, federal transportation administrators would use discretionary grant programs to distribute all transit funds. Because of the shift in policy, competition for these funds increased. In addition, smaller entities such as SAMTD, would find it more difficult to secure grants because the playing field was skewed toward larger applicants.

Approach

CFM organized meetings between SAMTD and key Federal Transit Administration (FTA) officials, allowing our team to fully understand the criteria and objectives of four grant opportunities. CFM also scheduled meetings with the congressional delegation, coordinated tours at the site and created partnerships with regional and national organizations such as the Clean Cities program. When grant notifications rolled out, SAMTD had already put together pieces of its application and had stakeholder support lined up. CFM also contributed by drafting much of the grant language in concert with SAMTD staff.

Result

In less than a year, CFM’s innovative and comprehensive strategy paid off with a $2.8 million grant. This project will be a model for other transit providers in Oregon. The transit facility will be a state-of-the-art, LEED certified building with solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling and EV charging stations. Slated for construction in 2012, the project will have a positive impact on riders and the livability of the community, as well as boost the local economy.

Fort Clatsop Burns

Overview

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Imagine thousands of history buffs lining the Plymouth, Massachusetts harbor in 1957, waiting for the arrival of a Mayflower replica. The ship sinks before Pilgrim re-enactors can board. That never happened, but in essence, something similar occurred to the replica of Fort Clatsop on the Oregon Coast. In October 2005, the fort was set to be center stage for the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark’s arrival at the Pacific. But the fort was destroyed by fire. 

Challenge

The goal was to preserve the reputation of the newly formed Lewis and Clark National Historic Park headquartered at the fort. A beloved Oregon icon, news of the fort’s early morning blaze captured the lead spot in local news coverage. It was an intensely covered story in the Northwest for weeks. Complicating matters, the park service and the State of Oregon were rushing to complete the six-mile Fort-To-Sea Trail as a legacy of the bicentennial. 

Approach

Less than a year earlier, CFM helped the park service and Fort-to-Sea Trail team create a crisis communications plan. Bad news scenarios were created for the trail building project. Key messages, contact lists and staff assignments were developed. The park supervisor took the plan to heart, and thoroughly discussed it with staff. When the fort replica burned late at night, the fort staff borrowed pages from the trail crisis plan and put it to work. 

Result

TV crews, newspaper reporters and Oregon’s Governor arrived at the park early the next morning. Park superintendent Chip Jenkins commanded a calm, clear set of messages despite experiencing a profound sense of loss. The park service maintained its credibility, even when it was discovered a spark from a candle accidently started the blaze, and not arson as first thought. The National Park Service says CFM’s advance work helped it survive the crisis and preserve its reputation.

Oregon Association of Broadcasters: Preserving Access to 9-1-1 Tapes

Overview

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For the Oregon Association of Broadcasters (OAB), a group of more than 200 radio and television stations around the state, CFM has worked to avoid legislation that would have banned media access to 911 tapes or limited media coverage of crime scenes.

Challenge

Broadcasters, in their role imparting news and information to viewers and listeners, believe it is important to have unfettered access to news sources and information. Often, this has put broadcasters in opposition to members of the public or law enforcement agencies.

Approach

CFM has emphasized that Oregon Association of Broadcaster member stations are well able to police themselves, without government intervention, to strike the right balance between the public's right to know and the public's right to privacy. Further, CFM has emphasized that OAB-member stations are enterprises with substantial links to communities around the state and thus are interested in preserving, not embarrassing, those communities.

Result

CFM's effort, with grassroots help from all of the broadcasters, has avoided infringements on access to 911 tapes and crime scenes.

Coalition of County Children and Families Commissions Funding County Services for Families

Overview

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The Coalition is an unusual entity -- a group of 36 very disparate county programs with a united goal: To fund local commissions adequately in each of the counties despite all of their differences. Before the 2007 legislative session, the Coalition turned to CFM to represent it in Salem. The result? In 2007, CFM worked with Coalition members to convince legislators to provide additional money for Coalition programs, especially "basic capacity and local flexible funds" that local staff use to mobilize volunteers, leverage local and federal money and serve children and their families.

Challenge

The recession in Oregon, with its resulting loss of state revenue, has made it difficult to fund important state programs -- K-12 education, higher education, public safety, general social services -- and specific services provided by the Children and Family Services enterprise. In this context, all-important state programs would have to compete against all other state programs, especially because, with only a few exceptions, taxes were not increased.

Approach

CFM capitalized on its existing relationship with legislators on the Joint Ways and Means Committee, as well as asked local Coalition members to contact their local legislators directly as constituents. In two cases, the good news was that local Coalition members had relationships with key members of the Ways and Means Committee, including the co-chairs of the full committee and the chairs of the Human Services Subcommittee. In a series of private meetings and public contacts, CFM emphasized the importance of the Children and Families system, the commitment to prevention as a hallmark of services and return on investment generated by state dollars.

Result

CFM helped to increase awareness and support among legislators while, at the same time, increasing dollars in 2007 and holding the line against cuts in 2009. 

Seattle Northwest Securities, Inc.*: Assessing Information Sources for Public Education

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*Seattle Northwest Securities, Inc. is now PiperJaffary.

Overview

Since 1992, CFM has tracked opinions about public education in Washington. A client wanted new information to help school districts communicate better with communities.

Challenge

Determine changes in communication sources about education and identify if Washington voters are using new social media tools to get information.

Approach

New questions were added to a statewide survey to assess how voters are getting information about education.

Result

The survey found information sources have fractured. Voters continue to use traditional media – newspapers, TV, radio – to get information about schools, but other sources have entered the mix. Word of mouth, Web sites and social media are sources people are using to learn about activities in schools and form opinions about education. CFM recommended that school district communication campaigns need a more complex strategy to be effective, using both traditional and new media.

Celebrating Tillamook Cheese’s 100th Anniversary

Overview

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Tillamook® Cheese had an opportunity that comes once every 100 years – the chance to celebrate a century as a farmer-owned co-operative, providing high-quality dairy products to consumers. CFM helped Tillamook take advantage of the yearlong opportunity, leveraging its 100th Anniversary, by communicating key brand messages as well as engaging the community.

Challenge

Operating during the economic slowdown of 2009, the challenge was to create a series of events and stay within a limited budget. There also was the challenge of managing relationships with multiple stakeholders and ensuring 100th anniversary messaging remained consistent throughout events and traditional and social media outreach.

Approach

CFM developed a comprehensive public relations program. It centered on: 1) four interactive community events; 2) traditional and social media outreach; 3) a community relations component; and, 4) a partnership with the Portland television station, KGW-TV (NBC). All events appealed to adults as well as children, in areas with high foot traffic. This included a special “Tillamook Cheese Day” event in “Portland’s Living Room,” (Pioneer Courthouse Square), that served as the capstone of the year’s events.

Result

CFM’s tactics created lasting impressions for consumers. Thousands of local consumers attended community events and shared overwhelmingly positive feedback and personal stories about the brand. Large-scale events positioned Tillamook’s anniversary as newsworthy, garnering coverage in most of Tillamook’s target markets. The value of the coverage was equivalent to $664,002 in advertising.

Revitalizing Downtown Vancouver, Washington

Overview

One of CFM’s most successful projects during the last few years, Vancouver’s Downtown Waterfront Redevelopment Project, epitomizes CFM’s way of doing business. We look under every rock, work every angle and clearly communicate with elected officials about the needs and benefits of worthy projects.

Challenge

The City of Vancouver was operating under tight timelines to secure millions for infrastructure improvements linked to a $1.3 billion downtown redevelopment project.

Approach

CFM helped the city target and apply for funds in five separate federal accounts, lobbied the congressional delegation and agency officials on behalf of the project, and coordinated a grassroots effort to mobilize support.

Result

In just two years, CFM helped Vancouver secure more than $7.6 million in federal earmarks, stimulus funds and other streams of federal funding to revitalize the downtown area and meet the project deadlines. 

Marion County, Oregon: Creating a Safe Environment for Kids

Overview

Marion County leaders needed to stem the plague of youth issues caused by drugs and parents who cycle through the criminal justice system, leaving hundreds of children without proper parental attention. CFM met this significant challenge by helping to create, brand and, ultimately, secure millions of dollars for Marion County’s “Kids First” initiative, a comprehensive network of local programs that serve children in high-risk families affected by methamphetamine addiction.

Challenge

Marion County has unique child welfare challenges not shared by other Oregon counties or across the nation. As home to five of the state’s 14 correctional institutions, Marion County faced a significant problem with intergenerational issues of drug abuse, criminal history, child abuse and poor parental attention and care. The county had a serious drug problem, particularly with methamphetamine abuse. For more than eight years, Marion County had been designated by the federal government as a “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.”

Approach

CFM worked with community leaders to highlight the innovative, evidence-based approaches Marion County developed to break the cycle of intergenerational drug abuse, crime and family violence affecting local children. Kids First represented a partnership of more than six local agencies and programs. Leveraging this partnership, CFM worked to brand and market the project to Congress as one comprehensive initiative, with the ability to achieve results.

Result

CFM achieved name recognition for the Kids First project among the delegation and was successful in securing funding for the project four years in a row. Total federal funding for Marion County’s Kids First initiative now tops more than $2 million. 

Combining Social Media and Traditional Research

Overview

Young adults are a key part of the consumer market. A client wanted to know what this important demographic groups thought about a new health care product.

Challenge

Finding, recruiting and getting young women and men to participate in live focus groups. The demographic group moves often, typically does not have a landline telephone and does not use traditional media to get information.

Approach

Recognizing young adults are more likely to be online than have a landline, CFM used Facebook ads to recruit two focus groups among men and women age 19 to 29. Using Facebook’s administration tool, CFM found more than 35,000 young adults in the Portland market interested in health care. We were able to place ads where our target audience would see them. An online screening survey helped to identify the type of young men and women wanted for the research, including questions to ensure participants were communicators.

Result

The initial feedback from the client…”Wow we learned a lot.” Using Facebook ads, CFM was able to recruit 15 men and 15 women for two focus groups. In the sessions, the young adults described the product features they preferred, how they wanted to use and not use social media to learn about health care and why some young adults don’t have health insurance.

Regional Health Care Provider: Including Customers in Designing Ad Concepts

Overview

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At a time when marketing dollars are tight, companies can ill-afford making mistakes by not thoroughly vetting every phase of their marketing efforts. Advertising is no exception. A health care client wanted to be sure its proposed new advertising campaign motivated targeted groups to switch to their services.

Challenge

Test several advertising concepts among narrowly defined groups of people to assess creative concepts and determine the effectiveness of the ads.

Approach

Focus groups are an effective way to test advertising concepts. CFM planned and conducted seven focus groups, among consumers and business decision makers in several markets, to determine how well advertising concepts met goals and objectives.

Result

Groups liked but didn’t love the ads. Basic concepts were sound, but group participants recommended changes to make the ads believable, relevant and motivating. Armed with the customer information, the creative team redesigned the ads with positive results. Sales increased, requests for proposals increased and hits on Web-based marketing increased. The ad campaign also won regional and international awards.