2012 Reno-Tahoe AMA Ace Awards Preview

This year the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association has turned its annual marketing awards event inside out: rather than have locals submit a fee along with a list of reasons as to why they think their marketing efforts rule, the Reno-Tahoe AMA board instead chose to get their hands dirty and dig around for some “diamonds in the rough” (hence the diamond theme, plus the fact that it’s our local chapter’s 30th a.k.a. “Diamond Anniversary” year.)

By coming together as a board and diving into our respective marketing networks, as well as through crowdsourcing, we were able to uncover some of the more notable examples of marketing around town.  In total there were 30 nominees recognized across 10 different categories including cause-related, integrated, guerilla, mobile, public relations, print, radio, social, video, and web/digital.

Once additional information was gathered from each nominee, details were submitted to our sister chapter in North Carolina for final judging. In just three weeks, the results of the judging will be announced at our Ace Awards event on Thursday, June 21st at The Siena Hotel and Casino. Below are the defining nominees who stood out for us in each of the above-mentioned categories. Please note we are also soliciting feedback from the community at large for a “People’s Choice Award.” To cast your vote for the “People’s Choice” award please click here.


  • Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe (HSTT)  – The HSTT raised money to build a new $3 million shelter through a two-pronged public marketing campaign geared toward reaching previously untapped and/or unidentified potential donors. This included one $250,000 donor who came across the HSTT solely through public marketing efforts.
  • The Atlantis’ “Green Campaign” – The purpose behind The Atlantis’ “Green” campaign was to  showcase green efforts being pioneered by Atlantis Team Members. With the goal of creating more efficiencies in composting and recycling to benefit the environment and local community, The Atlantis diverts an average of 120+ yards of organic waste from the landfill monthly.
  • Veterans Guest House – The campaign’s goal was to win $25,000 in gift certificates from Home Depot’s Aprons in Action Facebook contest, in order to have the chance to win $250,000 in cash in March. The campaign’s strategy was to raise awareness of the Veterans Guest House and the Aprons in Action Facebook contest. The Veterans Guest House won both competitions for $25,000 and $250,000 in cash respectively despite Reno being one of the smaller communities to participate.


  • Downtown Makeover – The campaign’s ongoing goal, not just in 2011 but every year, is to promote downtown Reno in a way that bypasses the traditional marketing channels or organizations that have never quite got it right in terms of marketing downtown. The web site receives in excess of 15,000 views per month.
  • Squeeze In – Known for “the best omelettes on the planet,” Squeeze In made it their business in 2011 to find and connect with existing and potential guests digitally. Their goal was to increase the viability and reach of multiple communication channels and build on their existing database of nearly 25,000 guests.
  • Tahoe Rim Trail Association (TRTA) The Tahoe Rim Trail Association is a volunteer, non-profit organization whose purpose is to plan, construct, and maintain the Tahoe Rim Trail. Through achieving marketing objectives collectively as a staff, the TRTA saw more volunteer hours in one year (19,230) than in the previous 30 years and was able to hold their membership income steady for three years in a row … quite a feat given the fact that renewal rates has fallen from 70% pre-recession to 53%.


  • Peppermill – The purpose behind the “Lucky to be a Local” campaign was to build local awareness of the dining, entertainment, accommodation, and recreation opportunities that the Peppermill has to offer. The goal was to increase local market awareness and patronage.
  • Renown Health –  The “Remarkable” campaign was designed to solidify Renown Health’s position as the leading healthcare network in the region; to showcase the leading edge technology and services Renown has brought to the region; and to show how Renown is able to place that advanced technology into the hands of the region’s most skilled physicians. After running the cancer focused messages of this campaign, the amount of calls to the Renown Institute for Cancer increased by 400% in one month.
  • Ski Lake Tahoe – This campaign sought to raise awareness of Lake Tahoe as a destination ski vacation to the Los Angeles market by not only maximizing reach and frequency of messaging, but through generating brand engagement. The campaign specifically involved providing KROQ DJ Ted Stryker with a  tour of Tahoe so that he could discuss his experiences on air and resulted in exposure well beyond what any radio ad could buy.


  • City of Sparks (mobile site) – The goal of the campaign was to develop a dedicated mobile version of the website to make it easier for people viewing the site on a mobile device to navigate and find the information they needed.
  • Dibbs (mobile app) – To find events and entertainment going on around you is difficult and time consuming. Dibbs provides a one stop resource to find all events with a single tap going on around you!
  • Go Outside  – Built at the Hack4Reno civic hack-a-thon in just 24 hours using park and outdoor location information provided by the City of Reno, City of Sparks, and Washoe County, GoOutsi.de has used social media and local news media to spread the word about its project, which aims to educate people about the area’s wonderful outdoor offerings.

Public Relations

  • CommRow – In 2011, CommRow opened as Reno’s first non-smoking, non-gaming, pet friendly property featuring the world’s tallest rock climbing wall. The CommRow PR campaign sought to help change the local, regional, and national perception of Reno and featured an enormous amount of print, broadcast, and online media exposure. The property’s grand opening celebration surpassed building capacity.
  • Great Basin Co-Op – Through a variety of techniques, the Great Basin Co-Op was able to successfully inform the community about their relocation to Downtown Reno despite working from a vague timeline with minimal funds. Thus far the Co-Op is performing well above its six-month projections.
  • Shortstack Labs –  ShortStack is a Facebook application that was initially launched by Reno-based Shortstack Labs in 2010. The 2011 PR campaign sought to position the ShortStack team as experts in the field of social media marketing and strategy.


  • Atlantis “The Hot Spot” – The objectives of “The Hot Spot” campaign were to create awareness and interest about The Atlantis as “Reno’s Newest Hot Spot” among a captive target audience at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport through a simplistic but elegant print advertising campaign. Over 1.3 million impressions were realized.
  • Design Matters – The purpose of the campaign was to launch an entirely new and unique event to Northern Nevada known as “Design Matters.” With a target audience of designers and advocates of design, a sold-out event was successfully launched at the Nevada Museum of Art in 2011. More info at www.designmattersnv.org.
  • EDGE – EDGE is an award-winning nightclub at The Peppermill that fuses a sensual atmosphere with exquisite décor. To generate excitement about the “Circus English” event, which set the precedent for themed costume parties in Reno, EDGE released a poster each week leading up to the event, creating a buzz on social media. EDGE staff also created costumes and props, operating as a “street team” to distribute marketing materials locally and via social media.


  • Bully’s Sports BarBully’s had earned a reputation as a fun sports bar. However customers didn’t think of Bully’s as a fun summer hangout. Through a :60 radio commercial that led into the summer months, Bully’s promoted their outdoor patios as a fun and casual hangout, with a summer vacation giveaway that drove traffic to on-site video poker machines while visiting.
  • Burger Me – Burger Me is an all-natural, all-organic, and locally sourced burger joint that originally started in Truckee and opened a Reno location in September of 2011.The goal of the Burger Me “Build a Burger” radio campaign was to drive traffic to the new location. It specifically targeted women looking for a healthier, fast food option for their families.
  • Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) – Because of the fact that pedestrian injuries and deaths were on the rise, the RTC created a marketing campaign that focused on pedestrian education. Through creative messaging approached with a classic/retro feel in both English and Spanish, the overall campaign had a reach of 700,000 on a very modest budget.

Social Media 

  • GourMelt – Gourmelt is a new Reno business and food truck concept that opened in May of 2011. The owners used social media—which they rely on to spread awareness about their daily specials—to create a buzz about their business, and as a result have exceeded their growth expectations.
  • CAMPO – CAMPO was a welcome restaurant to downtown Reno in 2011, having opened its doors alongside the Truckee River in the midst of a down economy. With the goal of raising awareness and creating a buzz within the community, this successful PR effort through engagement on social media has not only resulted in high traffic volumes, but favorable news coverage, positive sentiment within the community, and a high number of reservations via Open Table.
  • Camie Cragg Fitness – With the goal of attracting and retaining as many new clients as possible, personal fitness trainer, mother of two, and gym owner Camie Cragg successfully used social media to build her business from the ground up when she opened Camie Cragg Fitness in 2011, which she has transformed into a successful endeavor. She uses social media to build and maintain relationships with clients and share information about her business.


  • Greater Nevada Credit Union (GNCU)  – In 2011, GNCU wanted to continue building upon Greater Nevada’s brand presence as the financial institution that is eager to help both members and non-members live greater, while also broadening its pool of potential loan borrowers. Through their memorable “Embarrassing Car Syndrome” campaign, they closed $4.1 million in loans in November of 2011 as compared to only $1.58 million in November of 2010.
  • Reno Aces – Reno’s Triple-A baseball team showed, in an exaggerated way, that deciding to attend an Aces game can be a great impulse choice for a family outing. This campaign led to increased attendance and walk-up sales for early-season games, especially Sunday through Tuesday.
  • “Why I Love Reno” Video – The “Why I Love Reno” video was created and produced by Reno locals as a grassroots marketing effort to spread positive publicity about the City of Reno, with the ultimate goal of encouraging tourists to move to Reno. The video has seen over 21,500 views on YouTube and is linked to various tourism and local government web sites.


  • Jimmy Beans Wool  – Inc. Magazine named Reno-based Jimmy Beans Wool one of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for 2009, 2010, and 2011. Through the “Stitch Red” campaign, Jimmy Beans Wool was able to partner with a non-profit, The Heart Truth, to form key partnerships with manufacturers, designers, retailers, and consumers to sell yarn through its web site for a good cause, in which a portion of proceeds would be donated to heart disease awareness.
  • KPS|3 – KPS|3 is an integrated marketing communications firm based in Reno that redesigned their own company web site in 2011 to better reflect their capabilities. The KPS|3 team set out to develop a HTML5/CSS3/JQuery web site that used nearly every technique that their clients’ request. Since the launch, overall traffic has increased by 22%.
  • Tahoe South – This was a tremendous re-branding effort for the destination – identifying the target audiences and modeling the website and content to serve their needs.

Now it’s your turn! Who will you vote for? What campaigns would you like to learn more about? Please feel free to share your thoughts below on what you think makes a strong marketing campaign or strategy.

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