A Recap of Reno-Tahoe’s Top Marketing Initiatives of the Year

Last week the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association held its 27th Annual Ace Awards, which recognizes brand engagement excellence within our community. This year, over 140 nominations were submitted across 12 categories, the highest volume ever received!  We also hit a record with the most votes ever for the People’s Choice award, at well over 1,500.

Ace Awards

One of the things I love most about this event is that it’s crowd sourced, which always leads to digging up so many great marketing initiatives from throughout the community. Ultimately, total nominees were narrowed down to 52 finalists based on the board’s review of the submissions, which were then voted on by our judges to determine winners. This year’s judges included the board members of our sister chapter in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Reno-Tahoe AMA professional members. Here’s a link to the presentation featuring all of the finalists and award winners:

With so many great marketing initiatives to choose from this year, how can anyone pick a few favorites? In no particular order, here were a few of mine, and why:

  1. High Fives Foundation, “Edge of Impossible” (Best Video) – For the second year in a row, the High FIves Foundation took home the “Best Video” award. Their videos tell compelling, raw stories in a beautifully edited format that beg you to keep watching more. Click here to watch “On the Edge of Impossible.”
  2. #NotaCronut, Ashley Brune Communications (Best in Social Media) – When Rounds Bakery was sent a cease and desist letter from a New York bakery alleging that Rounds had used their trademark name “cronut” for their croissant donuts, when in fact they never did, the hashtag #notacronut was born. The Twitter feud was picked up in national news, including in such publications as Huffington Post and USA Today. I liked the fact that this simple and creative hashtag quickly sparked an entire public conversation about the issue.
  3. Butter and Salt Gatherings, Boost Creative (Best in Web and Digital Design) – Simple, straightforward, clear website featuring only the concise and essential info about the private chefs and their business. While the website didn’t win in its category, I liked it for its simplicity, design, tone, and straightforward messaging.
  4. Reno Startup Deck, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, The Abbi Agency, Boost Creative (Best in Print & Best in Cause Related Marketing) – Creative and unique approach to economic development marketing. The Reno Startup Deck is a playing card deck with a total of 52 key entrepreneurial people, programs, events, and places listed so that anyone new to the region, or unfamiliar with the network, can quickly become engaged. Focus is on bringing entrepreneurs to Reno, and the innovative approach works well to accomplish its goal of connecting entrepreneurs to Reno on many levels.
  5. Personalization Beyond First Name, Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows (Best in Direct Marketing) – The goal  of this direct email campaign was to use CRM to personalize emails beyond %%First Name%%. By personalizing emails based on a guest’s behavior, Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows sought to increase email engagement metrics as well as revenue via an increased passholder renewal rate. Result? They achieved a 75.73% increase in open rates, and a 59% increase in renewal rate. Personalization took into account season passholder user photos and # of days a customer had skied in the season. I liked how a simple tweak on email personalization opened the door for sparking new communication with existing customers, while also sticking to the business goals of realizing high returns on investment.
  6. Dear World Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno (Best in Event Promotion) – The Reynolds School of Journalism and ASUN organized an event in September of 2014 featuring portrait photographer Robert X. Fogarty and his project Dear World. More than 250 members of the community participated in the photo shoot, which had a broad reach across social media, resulting in hundreds of user generated posts containing #dearworldnevada. The keynote address was livestreamed and met capacity. I liked that this campaign was unique, positive, and had a broad reach within the local communitiy.
  7. North Lake Tahoe Human Powered Sports, The Abbi Agency (Best in Integrated Marketing) – Goal of the strategy was to position North Lake Tahoe to become known as THE premiere recreational sporting destination 365-days-a-year, but especially in fall, by leveraging an existing audience through owned channels. Achieved through such tactics as an online quiz, infographic, eBook, how-to videos, blogs, newsletters and branded images for social sharing. For this campaign, I really liked the quality of the content that was produced and the clean, clear messaging. Read the case study here.
  8. Nevada Sesquacentennial Celebration, The Glenn Group (Best in Public Relations) – I liked this PR effort becuase of its sheer reach, which generated 1,516 print stories, 369 broadcast stories, and 851 online stories. What a way to celebrate and share about Nevada’s 150th birthday, while at the same time engaging the community to participate in various events. More detail available here.
  9. Reno Ronald McDonald House Norvell Family Story, Northern Nevada Ronald McDonald House Charities (Best Video) – At first I wasn’t going to watch the video for very long, but I was soon pulled into the story and felt the need to continue watching, and by the time the video was over, I felt like supporting the Reno Ronald McDonald house! This video won the 2015 “People’s Choice” award. What I liked most about it was the fact that the video conveyed a simple raw story about one Ronald McDonald house guest’s personal experience, and how this story clearly communicated the mission and purpose of the organization.
  10. University of Nevada, Reno Recruitment Campaign, University of Nevada Reno (Best Integrated Marketing Strategy) – While this campaign did not win in its category, I loved that this recruitment campaign lined up with the launch of a new, world-class responsive website to serve as the core of the University’s marketing efforts. The integrated campaign spooled out through dozens of channels, including coordinated direct mail; digital display advertising; an institutional TV spot for halftime broadcast at nationally-televised football games; a suite of custom videos-for-web showcasing Reno as #BiggestLittleCollegeTown; branded receptions and events; 40,000 telephone calls annually from their outbound call center; unique regional promotions to attract National Merit and Presidential Scholars; coordinated suites of marketing materials from brochures to branded PowerPoint presentations for each of the University’s eight Colleges and Schools; and so much more. What’s more, it achieved impressive results including record enrollment at the university. Overall, very well thought out, designed, and executed.

People’s Choice & Influencer of the Year

In addition the winners named among the 12 award categories, as previously mentioned, the Northern Nevada Ronald McDonald House Charities won the 2015 “People’s Choice” award for their Norvell Family Story video (which you can view here). And, Dr. Bret Simmons at the University of Nevada, Reno was named “Influencer of the Year.”

BretDr. Bret Simmons is a true marketing influencer. As a professor at University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, he started teaching his Personal Branding course as an elective to both MBA students and undergraduates around 2009, which today remains UNR’s most popular MBA elective. He was also instrumental in creating the university’s first “Social Media and Digital Marketing Certificate” program after teaching the 2008 course, “Google is Your New Business Card,” which today has certified hundreds of professionals. What’s more, he’s the producer of the popular TEDxUniversityofNevada program, where he produced the 2nd highest viewed TEDx talk of all time, and is also an active blogger and engaged user of social media who has produced countless educational videos. Having also given his own TEDx talk, he’s adept at marketing himself, teaching others how to market themselves and their businesses in the digital age, and is skilled at making connections that lead to real growth and results.

All in all, it was so much fun to learn more about some of the area’s top marketing initiatives of the year! To view all of the photos from the evening, please click here. And, to hear more from our event’s emcee about the categories SHE THOUGHT should have been included, I leave you with this video below:

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