Fueling Good Road Trip.

How do you change the image of a brand that is outspent 50 to 1 by it’s competitors, and exists in a world consumed with fluctuating gas prices and general apathy towards gasoline brands.

When BVK tackled that challenge for CITGO, they found the real difference for them, was that every station is locally owned. So BVK put a spotlight on all the good things that CITGO does in local communities with the “Fueling Good Road Trip.” The Road Trip, features two young social media saavy guys, who set out to travel across the country meeting local residents, CITGO owners, customers and talking to the many recipients of CITGO goodwill.

Travelling in the CITGO Fueling Good Van from Texas to Maine, a website was built to track the adventures of Adam and Diego. At the same time, CITGO’s social media engagement from the start of the campaign exploded. As Adam and Diego shared their adventures through pictures and video on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Pinterest all along the way.

Almost immediately, the Fueling Good Road Trip had a major impact on the perceptions of the CITGO brand. Besides increasing awareness for CITGO’s core values, as well as extending the reach of the brand to many new audiences, those who were exposed to the Road Trip were 75% more likely to purchase gas from their locally-owned Citgo. And consumers got the opportunity to see CITGO as more than just a gas station, but as good, caring people who are an integral part of your neighborhood. Giving new meaning to the term, “fueling good.”

Bold Campaigns Help Reduce Teen Pregnancy by 50%.

Milwaukee’s provocative teen pregnancy prevention campaigns have been honored by organizations nationwide, from the Worldwide United Way to the White House. But its highest honor came October 23, when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced that the city had achieved a 7-year goal of lowering teen pregnancy by 50%.

In his historic announcement, the Mayor said the aggressive marketing work of BVK and Serve had a huge impact on the decline. BVK volunteers created 30 individual campaigns over a 7-year period, aimed at teens and their parents. Many of the efforts have stirred local and national news headlines with their unique and sometimes controversial approaches, which have ranged from putting pregnant mannequins in prom dress stores and launching fake movies to posting images of pregnant boys and public scratch and sniff dirty diapers

The effort was part of a historic collaboration, organized and funded by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, in conjunction with many inner city social service groups, Milwaukee Public Schools, faith-based organizations and local political, public health and business leaders.

Increased Visitation Is the Maine Thing.

Maine maybe known for its lobster, Whoopie Pies and as the the first state to see the sunrise everyday. But the thing that really sets this amazing tourism destination apart is its people. Something that BVK, in it’s newest campaign for the Maine Office of Tourism, refers to as, “The Maine Thing.”

To bring the campaign alive, BVK embarked on a 2 week road trip across Maine interviewing amazingly passionate “insiders” about the state they love. Not only did this unique collection of residents become the inspiration for BVK’s complete rebranding effort for the Maine Office of Tourism.
The heart and soul of the campaign is captured online with their unique video stories at www.visitmaine.com. The insiders, who range from surfers, snowboarders and Schooner Captains, to outdoor guides, fashionistas and farmers, leave no mossy stone unturned, as they blog about the their own favorite places and things to experience in Maine.

A print, outdoor and digital media campaign targeting regional travels publications as well as niche outdoor enthusiast markets round out the campaign. And the Maine Thing is working, with visitation up and request for visitor’s guides up nearly 20%.

Does Your Family Need A Tech Timeout?


Technology addiction is fast becoming one of the biggest threats to family well-being across the globe. Parents and kids wake up and check their cell before they brush their teeth. Texting and tablets at the dinner table are now commonplace. But thanks to BVK, one company is doing something about it. Foresters, an international financial services provider, whose brand is built on the values of family well-being, has launched an effort to encourage families to take a daily Tech Timeout.

The innovative movement launched with a simple youtube video that has garnered almost a quarter million views. The funny video shows how technology has taken over family’s lives and is distracting them from spending quality times with the ones they love. The spot then encourages families to download the Tech Timeout Pledge, and disconnect for just an hour a day and spend quality time as a family. A website, TechTimeOut.com was also created for people to share stories of their Tech Timeout experience, and offer tips on tech-free family friendly activities.

The campaign has already inspired tens of thousand of people to join the movement in United States and Canada, and it is starting to garner the attention of the national news media.

Eye-Opening Sex Myths Campaign Uses Social Media to Give Parents a Wake-Up Call.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, in terms of provocative teen pregnancy prevention PSA’s, Serve has done it again. This time with their new campaign for the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, titled, “Sex Myths.”

The effort is designed to start a conversation between parents and youth about sex and the many myths surrounding teen pregnancy. The campaign features kids proliferating many sex myths, and depicts them spreading throughout a school without any attempt to debunk or call into question the validity of the myths.
“You can’t get pregnant if we have sex in a hot tub,” advises one boy to the teen girl he is talking to. Another teen says assuredly, “you can’t get pregnant if you use your sister’s birth control.” One even goes as far as saying he heard “Mountain Dew lowers your sperm count.” A super then implores parents to talk to their kids about sex, because if they aren’t, then someone else is.

The goal of the campaign is to reinforce the point with parents that the first line of defense against teen pregnancy is keeping kids informed about sex. And when kids aren’t informed, misinformation and myths about sex spread.

The heavily digital and social media-based campaign, features an interactive YouTube quiz and website, heavy social media promotion on Facebook and Twitter. Teens and their parents will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion using the hashtag #SexMyths. Users will then be encouraged to share the videos and visit GetTheSexFacts.com for more information on the campaign. Other elements of the campaign include :30 and :15 TV spots, and bus shelters.

The multi-pronged campaign is the latest tactic in the United Way-led Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. Milwaukee’s teen birth rate has dropped 35% in the past 5 years to historically low levels.

That’s one Smoking Billboard.

There are a lot of ways to get people’s attention in outdoor. A smoking billboard however, is not something drivers see everyday. For two days, people honked, stopped and craned their necks to get a better look at the board everyone was talking about in Sioux Falls, SD. The billboard campaign, for Avera Health, was created by BVK to draw attention to the importance of having an emergency medical plan for your family and create awareness for Avera’s emergency services. The boards showed a woman sitting on a gurnee in front of a terrible car crash, with one of the cars smoking behind her — smoke, that billowed off the photo into the sky, thanks to a hidden smoke machine behind the board.

TV, radio and newspapers all covered the effort that had the people of Sioux Falls buzzing. The campaign also drew an unintended consequence. It got the attention of the Sioux Falls Fire Department which asked Avera to eventually shut the smoke down. So now, the campaign continues sans smoke, but still driving people to the website WhyImAlive.com, where consumers can read about more of the amazing life and death stories of people saved by Avera’s emergency department.

A Little Bird Told Us To Do It

As the entire for-profit education category nationwide continues to slump, one college brand is soaring. Thanks in large part to a branding campaign from BVK that uses a couple of birds, named Blue and Goldie to tell their story.

The one of a kind campaign is a bold departure from the way schools typically market to prospective students. Launched originally as a simple animated TV spot featuring these two feathery friends as the iconic symbols of caring for upstart brand, Carrington College. The birds, which became an overnight sensation among students, quickly developed lives and personalities of their own. They soon began appearing in print, web banners and outdoor as well as a social media campaign. You can even follow @BlueCC and @GoldieCC on Twitter. Yes, no surprise that they tweet.

While enrollment at the majority of schools is down for the year, the Wall Street Journal reports that its subsidiary Carrington College is one of the company’s lone bright spots, up 17% year over year.

I am a Google Explorer

Well, technically my boss is, but I played one on social media for a week. Before I go any further, I would like to classify myself as a “Fair & Balanced” early adopter of new technologies. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

I am the one who stands in line for Apple releases.
I am the one itching for the final version of Oculus Rift.
I am the one who knocks.

Breaking Bad reference on that last one. If you haven’t watched the series, stop hating all that is good in this world and absorb its dramatic goodness into your brain.

Now then. Onwards to the day I got Glass on my face.

It was a brisk Wisconsin afternoon in late March. My partner in social media crime, Bruce, handed me the goods. I rushed back to my workspace and, like a child on Christmas morning, unzipped the plush grey case. Carefully, I donned Glass upon my nose and over my ears. I then rushed to snap a photo of myself sporting it. After uploading to Facebook, this became one of my most viral personal posts of 2014 — second only to a picture of my newly born niece in a wee Irish cap on St. Patrick’s Day. Absolutely adorable.

I spent a solid week with the technology. We’ll do the bad news first, then go out on a high note. Now, in a list format exhausted by Buzzfeed, here are my observations: Continue reading “I am a Google Explorer”

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Social Media: Science or Art?


This story should contain no more than 150 words. The title of this post should be Try Not To Cry After Reading The Final Paragraph Of This Story. Sorry, this story should actually just be a video. No more than 35 seconds. One Feline Minimum.

In the social media world, which is really just the online world, which is really just the world, we are frequently asked to create content that attracts “likes” and “engagement” and “visits”. Clients want this. Management wants this. You want this. (I want this.)

That can mean a temptation to create content that ends up looking something like what is described in that first paragraph. Something that is shiny and amusing – but maybe not meaningful for the brand or memorable.

As content creators, we are encouraged to constantly optimize – see what works, look at the numbers, test different types of content. The scientific approach.

In essence: Give the people Continue reading “Social Media: Science or Art?”

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Why a three-year-old should lead strategy on your next campaign.

Some agencies perfect the art of the “yes man.” With a cheery nod and an overly energetic pep to their step, the company scampers off and does exactly what the client has outlined for them. Best. Agency. EVER. Right?

Maybe for the project launching, but a go-live isn’t the full barometer for success.

After all, if you open a business and a bunch of people walk through the front doors but you overlooked good workers and functioning cash registers, that bright-shiny open sign and packed house won’t actually keep you in business. Just like the number of Followers on the various social media channels don’t really matter; if you have a million Followers or Likes of your page but nobody responds or shares your messages, you’re probably missing the mark and aren’t actually going to see any residual real world benefit from your efforts.

You’d be better off hiring a team of three-year-olds to lead strategy on your next project. You may just have a better chance of success and an ongoing project relationship.

Why? Continue reading “Why a three-year-old should lead strategy on your next campaign.”

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Social Advertising’s Blurred Lines

Tumblr ImageYou could hear the collective angry, purpose-filled tapping of keyboards and smartphones worldwide as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube shifted away from the ad-free platforms we got hooked on. Statuses and tweets declared that its users were leaving and would find another social network, because of it.

As we all know, the “Big Three” social networks saw no such mass exodus of users from this. And so, it’s no surprise that the up-and-comers saw this eventual user-acceptance and jumped aboard the ad revenue train, themselves. Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr – they all began implementing ads into users’ feeds within the past year.

I’ve been an active Tumblr user for five years, now. Tumblr has enjoyed being somewhat underground, as far as the major social networks go. But as celebrities begin setting up Tumblr accounts and, most importantly, as younger users begin to move to Tumblr, suddenly brands are starting to pay attention to the network. And that’s why Continue reading “Social Advertising’s Blurred Lines”

How Would You Make Healthcare Better?

A lot of health systems claim to want to improve healthcare. But one health system in Southeast Wisconsin is actually putting their money where their mouth is. ProHealth Care partnered with BVK to launch an advertising and social media campaign asking what they would change about healthcare.

The campaign launched with a series of teaser billboards, direct mail and teaser newspaper ads, asking people to fill in the blanks of questions like. “I wish my doctor could ___________.” And “Healthcare would be better if __________.” Viewers were then directed to post their answers on the website, MakeHealthCareBetter.com.

Two weeks later, light-hearted :30 tv spots hit the market, showing exaggerated ways consumers would like to improve healthcare. One spot showed a tailor making a hospital gown with a zipper on the back, while a second shows a waiting room full of doctors all waiting for the patient.

Over a thousand people went online to make their suggestions. And the health system has promised to reveal what it will do with the feedback in the second phase of the campaign scheduled for launch in October.