Taking an Internet Market Tour out of this world
Posted September 18th, 2013
"We’d like to bring an actual, life-size UFO to your county fair"
That opening line has taken a traveling advertisement for Exede high-speed internet
on a tour of fairs and events in the company’s target markets.
Taking inspiration from the company’s slogan – "Internet so fast it must be from
outer space," we traveled the galaxies of our imaginations. What resulted was the
idea for an actual life-sized spaceship that could roll into events and generate
some serious buzz.
The spaceship was ultimately crafted to sit on a military convoy vehicle with help
from Michael Swendrowski of Vehicle Success Services, LLC. The space craft measures
about twenty feet long and stands eight feet high, complete with an accompanying
statue of Exede’s alien mascot, Brian.
A visit from the spaceship at your local county fair or event involves more than
simply "Oohing" and "Ahhing" at the massive abstract advertisement. The spaceship
is accompanied by a tent where potential customers can experience demonstrations
of Exede’s super fast internet, sign up for the service, and even snap photos with
Brian the Alien to be shared on social media sites for prizes.
So what were the results? Stay tuned to our blog to find out!
In the meantime, you can follow the spaceship’s progress from town to town on Facebook
at – facebook.com/exedebroadband.
And remember to keep an eye out for UFOs, you never know when one might appear in
For more information about Exede Internet Services please visit
Johnson Group Boat Day 2013
Posted August 26th, 2013
Company picnics? No thanks. Team building exercises? Not here. Casual Fridays? You
can keep em.
We've got Boat Day.
Yes, Boat Day is a hallowed tradition here at the Johnson Group. The one day every
year when laptops give way to flip flops as we head out to the lake for a good old-fashioned
JG throw down.
This annual summit of pontoons and foam noodles is our way of getting in one last
hoorah before summer slips away.
Each year's Boat Day seeks to be more epic than the last—usually providing enough
embarrassing/hilarious stories to hold us over until next year.
And this year did not disappoint. Departing from our recent trend of revelries at
a rented lake house, this year was a throwback to the old school JG Boat Days, in
that it took place on actual boats.
There were jet skis to cart co-workers to and from our floating slices of paradise.
Once on the boats, libations of junk food and adult beverages abounded.
And as with any Boat day, there are always at least a few moments when the party
brings out someone's daring side (Luckily, we're quick to capture them on camera).
But, Boat Day isn't just about a refreshing dip down the water slide. It's about
making the kinds of MTV-worthy memories that can keep you going through even the
cold months we all know are on their way.
So, if you visit the Johnson Group in December, don't be surprised if we're all
still talking about this year's Boat Day—or getting ready for the next one.
Ads That Give Back – A Project for the Boys& Girls Clubs of Chattanooga
Posted July 1st, 2013
Someone once said that if you have a talent, you should use it to help better the
world around you. As advertisers, we think that's a GREAT headline (why didn't WE
come up with that??). As people, it's a sentiment we like to get behind whenever
That's why we are always so excited when we get the opportunity to lend our services
to folks at the Girls & Boys Clubs of Chattanooga. Because we can't think of many
people who do a better job of bettering the world around them than the local BGC.
For the second year in a row, we got the opportunity to help develop materials for
their Annual Stake N Burger Dinner—a great event that honors the outstanding young
men and women who were named Leaders of the Month over the past year. This event
is also one of the club's biggest annual fundraisers, so we really wanted to help
make it a success.
The club's national marketing campaign is rooted in their "Opening Doors" concept,
featuring a soon-to-be iconic Blue Door. The Blue open door is a symbol of the welcoming
nature of Boys & Girls Clubs, and how they create positive opportunities for kids
It's a strong icon. We like it a lot, and knew we wanted to use it. So, of course,
we built it.
Because, what better way to demonstrate that the Girls & Boys Club opens doors,
than by having an actual door, painted their signature blue, that event honorees
could physically open and walk through?
This door was incorporated in the meeting's décor along with table tents that had
small paper doors which opened to reveal pictures each of the night's honorees—so
that guests could literally open the door for, and interact with the kids who have
worked so hard all year to embody what the club is all about (we said we liked the
door, right?). We also hung life-sized posters with pictures and quotes from all
the honorees, making sure they knew this special night was all about them.
It was great to give back to such a great cause. We can't thank the Boys & Girls
Clubs of Chattanooga enough for the opportunity—and for all they do for this community.
Another big thank you goes out to the vendors who donated their time and materials
for this project: especially Graphic Works and KDM POP, who printed all the event
Kickball, the Game of Kings (and admen).
Posted May 8th, 2013
Tension hung thick in the air of the war room as an impressive array of strategic
firepower was brought to bear on a critical assignment. In turn, each participant
would present a possible solution to the challenge at hand, followed by a firestorm
of debate as to whether the suggestion was on strategy. The process was by all accounts
a veritable crucible, but ultimate goal was achieved: the new Johnson Group kickball
team had a name.
The arduous process began when a few Johnson Groupers were inspired by a Facebook
ad promoting the Chattanooga Sports and Social Club's Spring Kickball League. And,
after a few rousing inter-office emails and some spirited recruiting amongst friends
and spouses, we were a team of 19 strong—even if many of us weren't particularly
The strategic brief for the naming assignment was comprised of three things:
- The name must be indicative of the
organization the team is representing.
- It must hint to the fact that the
group is indeed a kickball team—preferably in the form of a kickball pun.
- It must be humorous, vaguely offensive
and sound like a group of 8th graders came up with the name in their gym class locker
The result? We are called Big Johnson the Longballs.
One of the greatest things about working in advertising (aside from wearing jeans
to work) is the chance to work alongside some really interesting and cool people.
And, more often than not, they're the type of people worth hanging out with AFTER
work…at least that's how we roll (kickball pun!) here at the Johnson Group. Our
moniker was even approved by our agency namesake, president and member of the team.
Forming our "company" team really had nothing to do with corporate empowerment jargon
like "synergy" and "team building exercises." It wasn't a directive from HR passed
down to encourage a "more dynamic corporate culture." And our kickball team most
certainly was NOT the result of "out-of-the-box thinking" to help "integrate positivity"
to or "add value" to our "collective work experience."
Not. At. All.
Creating Big Johnson and the Longball had EVERYTHING to do with a fun-loving group
of folks who simply wanted to kick it (kickball pun!) while enjoying the lovely
Chattanooga spring weather and participate in the great, American tradition of kickball.
Sure, it's likely we'll all grow closer as a result of dominating other teams on
the kickball field. And we'll certainly come away with a better appreciation for
the unique, awesome and creative personalities that make up the Johnson Group. But
for us, kickball is really all about having a great time.
Plus, cold beers ALWAYS taste better in the company of good friends celebrating
Facebook's Facelift: News Feed and Timeline Getting Redesigns
Posted March 25th, 2013
You're getting comfortable with Facebook again – they can tell. You're logging on
daily, uploading your pictures, keeping up with your friends and family. All is
quiet on the western front. Then….BOOM! You've been Zuckered. (I should probably
copyright that term.) Being Zuckered = that rare occasion when Zuckerberg pops his
head out of Facebook HQ to announce a new social media forecast that inevitably
rocks your world.
Well ladies and gentlemen – prepare to be Zuckered.
After the huge timeline revamp in 2011, don't think that Facebook is slowing down
the changes. They are constantly adding and taking away things, tweaking to make
the Facebook experience more enjoyable for brands and users (or more profitable
for the company).
These are some recent changes that Mark Zuckerberg announced at a Facebook press
conference Thursday, March 7th. Prepare yourselves:
1. The News Feed Switch-A-Roo: Rolling out over the next couple months will be the
new and improved News Feed design. You will still have your classic News Feed; however
you will also have options of viewing separate News Feeds that will focus on different
things such as brands, bands, or photos. Check out the full News Feed filter lineup
2. Pictures and Videos Took the "Drink Me" Bottle: That's right – there will be
even more of an emphasis on photos and videos in the News Feed. For example, a picture
shared on the News Feed by multiple people will show profile pictures on the left
of everyone who has shared it, and if you make a post with an image your words will
appear on top of the image. Check it out below:
Everyone's Facebook will get this makeover eventually, but if you want yours sooner
you can sign up for the wait-list, or see a walkthrough of the new design here:
Zuckerberg says the change won't impact brands, but of course any change to the
user experience, especially the News Feed, can affect content strategy. When planning
what to post, brands will need to keep in mind the visual emphasis of the new News
Feed. Brands may want to focus on sharing more high quality appealing images than
before. Or, this could mean testing more text-only posts to see if they stand out
in an image-heavy News Feed.
But, one thing is for sure - Zucker likes to keep us marketers on our toes, and
this overhaul won't be the last. The real trick in navigating the ever changing
Facebook landscape is how you deal with it.
For us, the key is having a social team that's in tune with what our brands' consumers
want on social, and that can adjust like ninjas to Facebook's changes as they come.
So how will you use this new round of changes as a marketer? Will you spring into
embracing this next Facebook phase, or will Zuck's predictions mean 6 weeks of social
winter, struggling to adapt to this new Facebook era?
Will you let yourselves be Zuckered? Or will you make Zuck's changes work for you?
A Market Research Journey
Posted March 8th, 2013
What's the difference between market research conducted from behind a desk, and
research we recently conducted over frothy pints at "Pies & Pints" in Charleston,
WV? Well, one approach involves pies -- and pints – which makes the experience exponentially
more enjoyable. But, more importantly, it also makes our understanding of consumers'
behaviors exponentially more effective.
It's never been easier for all agencies, including ours, to mine an endless steam
of market and consumer information from the comfort of our offices. But, how we
see it, it's also never been easier to get caught up in researching a market and
lose sight of actually working to understand the people who live there. After all,
raw data and statistics can never truly capture how products and services fit into
the real, everyday lives of real, everyday people.
So how do we get a more complete picture? The answer, though maybe not as convenient
as some advertisers might like, is simple – We go there.
Our most recent adventure lead us to West Virginia, where we were getting a feel
for what it's like to have little or no broadband connection in rural America.
The mission: drive through the rural counties of West Virginia (the highest concentration
of counties without broadband service in the United States), and talk to the locals
about their current internet service as they went about their daily lives. We were
eager to survey the depth of their frustrations, and gauge how they would react
to faster internet service coming to their area. Armed with point-and-shoot cameras
for filming and photographing, we were ready to document every nuance of every response.
So, we pushed a squeaky shopping cart through the Big Lots in Mercer County, we
picked through the produce in a local grocery in Summers, we perused the cassette
tapes at a roadside stand somewhere in between and, yes, we had a few pies & pints
in Charleston. All the while, we talked some. And listened at lot. Hours of footage
emerged—footage of genuine conversations with genuine people, all recorded where
they lived, worked and played.
Is this intensive first-hand research grueling? Yes. But, by the end of the our
sojourn, we had assembled mosaic pieces from people's daily lives that we glued
together to form a complete picture of a market.
Looking up what consumers needs is easy. But understanding what consumers needs
comes from being there, putting your finger on the pulse of their needs and feeling
That's the kind of "market research" we believe in. The pies and pints? Well, that's
just an added bonus.