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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 your town.

For more information about Exede Internet Services please visit www.exede.com.

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 we can.

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 everywhere.

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 materials.

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 strong.

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 room.

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 a victory.

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 here:



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: https://www.facebook.com/about/newsfeed

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? You decide…

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 the beat.

That's the kind of "market research" we believe in. The pies and pints? Well, that's just an added bonus.