RP3 is excited to announce our mid-year new client roster. Follow us on social to stay up to date on all of our newest work with this group in the months ahead.

We are so excited to announce promotions for two of our high achievers.

Jina has elevated her role to Operations Manager, where she will continue to oversee client project management while taking on additional responsibilities to ensure seamless and effective internal operations.

Chandler will be advancing her role to an Associate Creative Director, where she will help lead creative development and execution of campaigns across RP3’s roster of clients.

Congratulations to both!

Tim Hurt joins Bethesda-based RP3 as Director of Creative Technology, further strengthening RP3’s commitment to deliver powerful, seamless, effective creative across the entire brand experience. Hurt will oversee all digital deliverables, including interactive, mobile and web-based media.

Hurt is known for digital production of complex projects for top-shelf brands using classic advertising tenets combined with the latest platforms and techniques and says the term “creative technology” can seem redundant, as most creative solutions have a digital component. “Sometimes technology needs to be invisible, playing a background role in a user experience. There are also moments when technology can surprise people in unexpected and memorable ways.”

Executive Creative Director Dylan Bernd lauds Hurt for his creative intuition, saying, “He is an innovative thinker, foremost, wrapping his head around an idea first, then executing it.” Bernd, who leads the agency’s creative vision, adds, “Tim knows how to take content and deliver it how and where people consume it. He will have a touch point on everything we do for our clients to bring culturally relevant communications to as many people as possible.”

RP3 is one of the D.C. area’s leading integrated agencies whose roster includes well-known brands such as Giant Food, Children’s National Hospital, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Norfolk Southern. 

Hurt, who holds a B.A. in visual arts, computer animation and interactivity and a master’s degree in advertising and digital technology from the VCU Brandcenter, has a deep resume that demonstrates his comfort level on both the client and agency sides of the house. Former clients include PenFed, Boys & Girls Clubs, WMATA and Capital One. 

He says, “With new channels and platforms appearing all the time, we have exciting new ways to connect with audiences in a more tailored, data-informed way, creating reciprocal relationships with consumers.” He adds, “RP3 has great clients who take the opportunities created for them” and says he looks forward to “engineering serendipity” for all of them. 

Hurt’s first day was July 26, 2021.

RP3 Agency is honored to announce winning a SILVER Telly Award for our work on Giant Food's "Little Things Are Giant" campaign. RP3 is grateful for the trust that our clients share with us, making accomplishments like this possible.

The Telly Awards honors excellence in local, regional and cable television commercials with non-broadcast video, television programming and digital video. Receiving over 12,000 entries annually, from all 50 states and 5 continents, Telly Award winners represent work from some of the most respected advertising agencies, television stations, production companies and publishers from around the world.

View the Awards Page

It wasn’t too long ago that the old saying, “don’t let a good crisis go to waste,” might have elicited a laugh or a benign knowing sigh of agreement. Then the COVID-19 pandemic and the grim results over the past year gave this phrase new meaning. The stakes for a long-term, healthy (in all senses of the word) recovery from the pandemic could not be higher, or more final. “Not letting a good crisis go to waste” is no longer a wry aphorism, but something deeper, more personal. We have nothing short of an obligation to rebuild in a fundamentally different way. And build something newer and better than before.

Which is why the response from the travel and hospitality industry is all the more puzzling. Countless jobs lost, businesses closed for good, entire sectors such as in-person meetings and events that might never fully recover. And what has the industry done? If you read even just a few posts on LinkedIn from travel industry professionals, what you come away with is a sense that the recovery is being driven by collective wishful thinking — “say it and they will come.” Influencers are taking note and heading back to Instagram posting the very same type of content they did into early 2020, hopeful that their somewhat questionable livelihoods will return with the click of a shutter. The entitlement cabal between points bloggers and loyalty programs is busy snapping up discounts and freebies, more concerned with the “stuff” than the memories. And they’re getting less too, as customer service contacts are either being stripped away or it can take up to 41 hours to reach a live elite customer service rep (Source: View From The Wing, 5/11/21). Not to mention that basics such as housekeeping might suddenly be confined to by-request-only (Loyalty Lobby, 5/24/21), if they can even find staff to answer the request (The Wall St. Journal, 5/18/21).

The reality, though, is that while travel brands would like their guests to think that everything will soon be back to “normal” (my winner for the latest word to lose all meaning), these same brands have used the crisis to scale back in favor of greater profitability. Some executives cite “green shoots of optimism,” referring of course to booking data on a report or maybe additional flow-through from the reductions in service, not really focusing on the fact that the data is a real person just wanting to be taken care of (didn’t we learn over the past year that behind the staggering numbers were mothers, fathers, grandparents and friends?!). Some in the C-Suites have proudly proclaimed they will drive for higher margins, while others are shifting their strategy toward more of a franchise model, offloading direct responsibility for pesky concepts such as brand standards, which in practice have always been viewed more as a cost — especially in the upper end of the industry — than a source of competitive advantage.

Which is also why the latest forecasts from industry leaders that the luxury segment will come roaring back to pull the industry out of the chasm are also puzzling (The Future of Travel, Tripadvisor/Accenture, 5/21). First, it’s hardly news — anyone who has looked at historical data from The Luxury Institute and others knows that the affluent segment has always come back first and most strongly. Second, they are trying to retrofit the same old offerings to a “new” emerging guest, when the guest really isn’t “new” at all. Upscale travelers have known that suites and villas offer more space and privacy for some time now. And third, what these executives are really hoping is that the affluent traveler has somehow forgotten the traditional aspects of craftsmanship, quality and service, and become fully conditioned to less.

The one perspective that seems to be missing lately is that of the guests themselves. The hospitality business is becoming far more the latter than the former. Even brands such as Rosewood and Belmont, with unique pedigree and backing, seem content to largely play by the previous rules, confining the introduction of new experiences to opening those properties that broke ground well before the crisis. These are brands that once — and that could and should once again — capture the traveler’s imagination rather than just her wallet. I can’t help but think of Aman and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, maybe even Auberge, as they seem to be playing a Hermes-like long game, and wonder what brilliant surprises they might have in store, even if it’s a continued focus on excellence, which would be a surprise indeed in the current environment.

Against this increasingly impersonal tide, the exceptions easily stand out, even the small ones — the real “green shoots.” A story from a single Kimpton property about a poet seated in the lobby, before an old typewriter, waiting to do nothing more than listen to a guest’s story before turning it into something even more magical. Auberge thoughtfully noticing and acting on guest behaviors with personality and sincerity — an idea for a new snack here, a perfectly laundered and returned shirt left behind there (Auberge Resorts Carves Out Luxury for These Times, Skift, 2/23/21). And American Express Centurion Lounges initiating new policies to try and return some semblance of serenity to their airport lounges.

If fresh thinking were as plentiful as wishful thinking, travel and hospitality would be poised for a bright future and sustained, strong growth. What one cannot help but wonder is what will happen after the first few trips when travelers realize they’ve come back to less than they had before.

Some fuel for thought as we head into a crucial period:

In the end, the travel industry will of course survive. Maybe even thrive in the immediate post-COVID environment. The desire to escape, explore, learn, be pampered, gather with friends and colleagues, is simply ingrained too deeply in our collective psyches. Long-term success, however, may only come when industry leaders, including key stakeholders such as hotel owners and asset managers, start demanding more of their brand experience and marketing teams and less of their customers and guests. Because in a post-crisis world, less is unfortunately what we might be giving them.

Interested in exploring a “more” mindset and how RP3’s approach to breaking category conventions can help ensure your brand doesn’t end up with less? Contact agutierrez@rp3agency.com.

Beth Johnson and Dylan Bernd nudge us out of our comfort zone and teach us how to become more adept at breaking category conventions to drive truly great work.

Listen To The Talk Here

As we mark the one-year anniversary of a difficult journey we have yet to complete, the COVID-19 pandemic has done more than wreak havoc on our economy, families and lives. It has also exposed a widening gap in public trust that goes beyond politics and the media.

Trust in science and those in public health, while certainly higher than politicians or members of the media, has been eroding over the last several years. 3M’s “State of Science Index” has tracked public confidence in science and seen an alarming increase in the public’s distrust in science over the last three years. It found 35% of Americans were skeptical of science pre-pandemic 2020, up from 29% in 2018. Although skepticism has dipped a bit during the pandemic, more than one in four Americans still question the scientific community.

This has been a challenging hurdle for communication professionals with clients in the health and science space, especially during the pandemic.

As we have seen this past year, a lack of trust in our science and health leaders can have a deadly effect. Over 527,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and early mistrust of the scientists warning about the virus most likely contributed to these deaths.

Even the incredible news that there are now several approved vaccine options, which may hold the key to us returning to relatively normal lives over the next several months, has met with resistance. According to a study released last month by Carnegie Mellon University, an alarming one in four Americans are currently hesitant about receiving the vaccine. These numbers are even higher among people of color and those who identify as Republicans.

As communicators and marketers, it is not enough for us to expect statistics and other data points alone to carry the messaging, no matter how compelling they may be. We need to use our skills as storytellers to make it personal. We need to show the audience the impact behind the numbers. In short, we need to turn science into a story.

According to Jessica Peeler, an Ecology Ph.D. student at Penn State University, storytelling may be “the antidote to Americans’ mistrust of science.” Peeler goes on to say, “When we are immersed in a story, our brains release a neurochemical called oxytocin. As oxytocin flows, we experience feelings of connectedness, generosity and empathy…Our affinity for storytelling transforms how audiences comprehend messages. As a result, storytelling allows scientists to deliver complex information in engaging and understandable ways. It takes audiences on a journey using characters and the scientific process. In focusing on people and process, storytelling moves science beyond data and helps audiences comprehend why the work is important.” 

A great example of this is a segment on the January 31 episode of 60 Minutes that told the stories of people from diverse backgrounds dealing with the tragic loss of family members from COVID-19 and the horrible impact on those left behind. The segment hit home with viewers about the pandemic's seriousness in a way that other stories filled with charts and graphs simply could not.

Another critical thing for communicators to remember when building trust with a skeptical audience is that the messenger is just as important as the message itself.

RP3 is currently working with Pharmacists for Healthier Lives to promote the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, especially among those who are vaccine-hesitant. Since pharmacists are among the most trusted and accessible healthcare professionals, especially in underserved areas, we have been able to work with these medication experts to provide messaging and materials to help dispel myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and provide facts to help these audiences make informed decisions.

Another example of the importance of the right messenger has been the higher-than-average vaccine hesitancy in the Black community (with historically good reason). Science and health professionals have enlisted the help of America’s Black churches, which have been “indispensable” in helping to remove doubt and stigmas about receiving the vaccine.

Being able to turn your messages into a great story and then finding the right voices to tell that story are critical for success no matter what issue is important to you or your clients. This approach is core to RP3’s strategy, whether we are helping a 180-year-old transportation company “reimagine possible” in the 21st century or working with a major grocery chain to connect with its communities over “the little things.” 

By creating engaging narratives and amplifying them through trusted channels, communicators and marketers can do more than just achieve business goals – they also have the ability to restore confidence in science and fact.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House and legendary politician Tip O’Neill was fond of saying, “all politics is local.” He often said it to junior members in his caucus, advising them to always communicate to their constituents how their efforts would help them in their daily lives. 

As U.S. consumers continue to deal with the health and economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 virus, brands would do well to heed Mr. O’Neill’s advice.  

A survey from Mimic News showed that 70% of consumers are supporting local businesses by shopping online only, or a mix of online and in-store.

The same survey showed that more than half of those surveyed say they shop locally to keep their money close to home, and 38% support local businesses to feel connected with their community. Additionally, one in three surveyed said they wanted to support local creators.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the survey is that nearly three in four consumers will “make a greater effort” to support small, local businesses this year. This will provide local businesses with an opportunity to re-engage former customers and attract new ones.

The long-term effects of COVID restrictions on consumer behaviors are still being determined, but definite patterns are developing that will have consequences to national, regional and local brands throughout 2021 and beyond.

The good news is that despite concerns from health officials for 2021, consumers are raring to go. According to Constant Contact, 52% of consumers say they will feel comfortable returning to physical businesses regularly within the next six months. Interestingly, four in 10 say local restaurants, markets and grocery stores will be the first businesses they will return to when ready.

In short, brands that highlight how they are entrenched within their communities and demonstrate how we really are ‘all in this together’ will help drive consumer loyalty. And this is likely to go on beyond the pandemic. According to ZypMedia, 68% of consumers will continue to make purchases at local businesses post-pandemic.

Not surprisingly, one clear pattern emerging is that consumers are becoming more comfortable with online shopping than ever before. According to McKinsey and Company, nearly three quarters of consumers prefer online purchasing and remote customer service to in-person shopping, and that trend is unlikely to change anytime soon.

This has greatly benefited mega-retailers such as Amazon (which saw a 39% increase in year-over-year sales in 2020), but consumers are looking for ways to connect with companies on a local level and support those brands that are seen as benefiting their communities.

While providing outstanding products and services at a competitive price will always be important, consumers in 2021 are also looking for their brands to serve as cultural touchstones for shared experiences that can bring their community together.

One great example is the success of Shop Made in DC, a retail outlet with locations throughout Washington, DC that sells products such as apparel, art, furniture, jewelry, home decor and stationery from local artists and manufacturers. 

To date, Shop Made in DC supports over 200 local makers and over 5,000 products made in DC.

Another example of a DC regional brand utilizing its deep connections with the local populace to help build a sense of community is Giant Food.*

Just this month, Giant announced a $2 million donation of toilet tissue and hand sanitizer to 11 local, nonprofit organizations, including local food banks, USO-Metro, Salvation Army, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the United Way.

Giant also raised $550,000 to help battle local food insecurity and support local food banks this past holiday season through its "Lend a Hand for Hunger" campaign, allowing its customers to get involved in helping their neighbors by rounding up change to the nearest dollar at checkout.

By being a true partner to the communities they serve, Giant Food has grown its customer base and is thriving in a highly competitive region for supermarkets.

No one has a crystal ball that can tell us when we will get back to “normal,” or even what that “normal” will look like whenever it does occur. But for now, brands should reflect on Tip O’Neill’s sage advice and start thinking local.

To learn more about issues affecting national and local brands, we encourage you to check out RP3’s new podcast, launching this spring. “Hello, CMO” will explore the latest trends in advertising, marketing and strategic communications with leading CMOs and communication experts from a wide array of industries.

(* Giant Food is a client of RP3)

There is one thing we can all agree on this past year — it kept us on our toes. The new year holds tremendous promise as we continue to make strides in defeating this pandemic and work toward bringing back a sense of normalcy to our communities. As we turn the page to 2021, brands will find themselves in uncharted territory. They will need to find ways to connect with their audiences while still so much uncertainty looms.

RP3’s strategic, creative and media experts have developed a few predictions for 2021 that may provide guidance to brands looking to get a leg up in the new year:

Doing Good Will Be Expected in the ‘Shakeout After the Shakeout’ 

After what might be a post-vaccination surge for many industries, even those hit hardest by the pandemic, there may well be another wave of reckoning when consumers reflect back on what truly is differentiating and meaningful in their lives. As a result, companies in 2021 will be expected to take concrete actions that better benefit our society and our environment. 2020 exposed the fragile state of bothand has put more responsibility on brands’ shoulders. This means that producing sleek Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports will no longer be enough. Customers will be increasingly scrutinizing companies’ actions and holding brands accountable. 

Trust Will Continue to Be King

After 2020, marketers will have to find ways to bridge the “trust gap” between the media and consumers. A Gallup poll from this past summer found that a majority of Americans (six in ten) have little or no trust in the information they are receiving from media outlets. Social media fares worse with about two thirds of Americans feeling it has a mostly negative effect on our culture, according to Pew. Brands will have to look beyond the standard top-tier media and social platforms to carry their message and focus on smaller, more targeted media outlets and other information platforms that their audiences trust.

Meeting Consumers’ Insatiable Demand for Content Will Continue to Be a Challenge for Marketers

Re-thinking your media targeting is only the first step. Marketers will need to continually produce engaging, culturally relevant content and storytelling that is authentic to the brand and to consumers. Just posting content and being on every social channel will no longer be enough to move consumers to action. Brands who are not authentic with their content will stick out since consumers will be looking for brands with more closely shared values. This is not only important for creatives, it also means that we will likely see better data, tools for social data analysis and survey creation, as well as other tools to help target audiences for media planning and buying. 

And What Will Likely NOT Happen, but Should…

... are fundamental changes to algorithms dictating what content news and social media feed us. If we want to live in a less polarized and more accepting world, we need to get out of our echo chambers and ensure we are regularly exposed to different points of view. We will likely start seeing some pressure put on tech companies to do so, but the tension between platforms making money as more people stay engaged for longer and creating a more stable society will be increasingly at play. 

BETHESDA -- RP3 Agency, a leading integrated creative agency in the Washington metro area, announced today the addition of Nick Teare as Executive Director of Client Services. In this new agency position, Teare will play a leading role in overseeing the agency’s growth and the delivery of strategic communication and creative services to clients. The addition of Teare follows a series of recent leadership hires who join the award-winning agency as it continues to grow in this challenging environment.

“Given the unique economic hurdles our clients and brands throughout the country have had to face this year, we are fortunate to be able to welcome new team members who will help us guide our clients during this time and position our agency for future growth,” said Beth Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of RP3 Agency. “We are excited to bring on someone with Nick’s rich history of management and caliber of experience working with prestigious global brands both in-house and on the agency side. Nick truly understands the challenges clients are going through now and will be an added asset to them during this difficult time.”

In addition to his role in providing high-level strategic counsel to clients, Teare will oversee the agency’s account leadership, strategic planning, media and public relations departments.

Teare joins RP3 Agency with more than 20 years of marketing and communication experience in both in-house and agency leadership roles. He most recently served as Marriott International’s Vice President of Global Brand Marketing for The Ritz-Carlton and the St. Regis Hotels & Resorts brands. Before that, he held leadership roles at top-tier agencies on both the east and west coast including Team One and Arnold Worldwide, where his clients included Amtrak, JW Marriott, HSBC Premier and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

“In addition to the great creative opportunity, what really interested me in coming to RP3 was the agency’s commitment to the core values that have driven me for much of my career,” said Teare. “Curiosity, seeing beyond the assignment and, of course, ‘seeking the good’ in the work we do is something that has helped me deliver my best work to clients and is needed now more than ever. After more than 15 years working with leading hospitality brands, my philosophy to client service is grounded in going above and beyond what a client needs, and I am looking forward to helping RP3 continue to provide exceptional service to its valued clients.”