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  • 24 Days To Air

  • Hong Kong

  • Greetings from White Hart Lane

  • Small Reward

  • A Cowboy By Any Other Name

  • A Newbie's Retreat

  • Some Stories Tell Themselves

  • Steve N Steve 2

  • 2wenty5ifth Floor

  • Why Is Our Logo a Cowboy?

  • Twist. Release.
    Let there be 989.

  • A Tale of One Thompson

  • Steve N Steve

  • Finding UNDENIABLE

  • Welcome to Palisade, Colo.

  • A Pret-ty Pret-ty Pret-ty Good Stunt.

  • Camp Dirt: The Filthiest Paradise on Earth

  • Welcome to Boomtown. A look at our year so far.

  • February 2nd. FourSquare. And the power of a groundhog.

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Looking to ride with us in Philly or Venice? here.

This is the story of how we launched a Father’s Day effort for Dockers. But before we begin, we’d like to suggest that while you’re reading this, you should imagine the intro and outro sound design from the show 24 is playing in the background. If you don’t know what it sounds like, make a quick pit stop over at YouTube to find out. We’ll wait….

Got it? OK. Go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

So Dockers, who we’ve been working with for the last few months, calls us and says –Sarah Harbaugh, wife of San Franciso 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, has been on the radio talking about how her husband has a terrible sense of fashion. Anything we can do with that? And if so can we get it done for Father’s Day?

We say, sure. Father’s Day is in about three weeks. But sure. Let’s us think about it for a day or so.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

We forget the usual process of a formal briefing for creatives, etc. There’s no time. So we take a deep breath, check our gut and get right to work. In 48 hours we go back to the client with a big idea. A movement, aimed at Stopping Dad Pants. We had two ways to go. One direct. One indirect. The client loved it all. One was more perfect for the Harbaughs. But the other direction needed an additional personality in the same vein. A few days and phone calls later and John Gruden was at the table. He liked what we were doing. And wanted to join the party.

So now we had two videos to produce. With three key talent. In two different cities. Countless versions to edit. And a website and sweepstakes to build out. Everyone was stoked. We just had to figure out a way to get it done.

19 days to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

Revisions. Director calls. Extra casting. Location scouting. Wardrobe styling (which we had a leg up on, because, you know, this was for Dockers). It all moved at lightening speed.

We flew to San Francisco to film the Harbaugh family. Who were a delight. And even though this was the first time Sarah Harbaugh had ever done anything like this she nailed it. We couldn’t have cast a better actress for the part. Score one for doing things on the fly.

A day later we flew to Tampa and filmed Gruden. Who also walked right into the role and performed like a pro (Well, he is a pro, but we were impressed none the less). Even revised scripts didn't throw him.

2 shoots in the can and we were into post-production. Having in-house editors was even more clutch than usual. Cue two editors cranking round the clock and round the weekend.

And other folks in the agency were jamming on making the Scourge of Dad Pants come to life too. Digital folks on digital things. Social peeps on social things. Account folks on keeping the whole train on the tracks. And the client was beyond excited. Gotta come through.

6 days to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

We were in full-on-hunker-down-meals-brought-in-round-the-clock mode. We’re not positive, but there’s a chance one of our editor’s wives put out a missing person’s report and one of our digital designers may have started hallucinating.

1 day to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

The final 24 hours were swarming with details and refinements and approvals. And then suddenly…

Launch Day

And boom. Consumers loved it. Press loved it. YouTube views climbed through the sky (It actually became one of the months most watched ads on YouTube). Social hummed. And before you could say Stop Dad Pants, quite a lot of people were talking about Stopping Dad Pants.

So what’s next? How can we continue to fight the scourge? How can we #StopDadPants? No more time to write. There’s work to be done.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

First Impressions

When you exchange business cards, present your card with 2 hands and bow.

A little tip someone offered before we left for Hong Kong and it was stuck in my head as we neared touch down.

We were on our way to help lead a brand summit with our partners at William Grant & Sons on behalf of Reyka Vodka. We’ve been working on the Reyka brand for about a year now but this was our first opportunity to rally markets in the east around the vodka from Iceland.

We’d heard “they’ll have a more rational view of marketing, less about the ‘emotional side’ of brands” and “it will be more formal.” I guess that was the reason the “business card custom” was dancing in my head. Don’t get us wrong, we’re as rational as they come when necessary and we’re told we look pretty good in a suit. But we’re really excited about Reyka and we were excited to make them excited. So we didn’t want anything to get “lost in translation.”

After stepping off the plane and into the city that looks like a mash-up of New York, San Francisco and the city in Total Recall, we kicked off 2 days of meetings. Yes, everyone handed off their business cards with two hands and a little bow (which we must say, adds a bit of lovely grace to that old business ritual) but probably the more relevant thing we quickly found was that on the rational to emotional scale, our new friends from Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and China were – how should we describe this – more amped than we were. We quickly became one big Reyka passion machine. And formality was kept to the business card thing.

And then they took us to dinner. But that’s for another post.

As we stepped outside, after spending two days of working in a dimly lit tunnel, we got a chance to stand back and look at what we had just created. Sure, it was for our client, but it told us something about ourselves as an agency too.

But before we get into all of that, let's go back to where it all began.

Last summer, Under Armour asked us to help them build some excitement around the reveal of the new kit they designed for English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur.

What we presented was a digital experience that called on Spurs fans everywhere to don their team apparel and upload photos of themselves proving that they are the most passionate fans on the planet. Their reward? The chosen photos would forever become a part of White Hart Lane. The home stadium and hallowed ground for Spurs fans everywhere.

But once we had the idea, the fun began - how the hell we were going to pull it off?

We constantly find ourselves trying to do things we've never done before. It's always a challenge. Because, basically If we've never done it, how do we know that we're doing it right?

For this project we fittingly had the help of two guiding principles: "I Will." The mantra of Under Armour. And, "To Dare is to Do." The motto of Tottenham Hotspur. And with those words to inspire us, we charged forward.

A project that at the onset seemed like it would be handled by a small team slowly built into something that brought together nearly every part of our agency. Strategy, account management, creative, digital, social, print production and everyone in between.

Over next few months, we saw the project come to life right in front of us as images of cheering fans flooded in from all over the world. And then it was in the hands of a small RTO+P team who sat on planes ready to cross the Atlantic and complete the final phase - literally building the new wall of fans inside The Lane. It was to become a monument to the most passionate Spurs fans in the world in the form of 2400 individual photos. 

Inside the player's tunnel we began, one by one, placing the photos on the wall in the exact spot digitally chosen by the fan in each photo. Seeing the pride in the team that each of these photos represented made the whole experience truly memorable. It was as if they were right there with us.

Two days later, the installation was complete. The photos of 2400 fans are now the first thing seen by Spurs players as they exit their locker room to take to the pitch before a match. A first of its kind monument to the passion that fans bring to the game and an enduring message to the Spurs, forever showing fan gratitude for their heroes.

But our work wasn't finished.

After a brief step back to admire what we'd pulled off, we headed back to our hotel which became an editing suite for the next few days. The final feather in the cap of this assignment was a video revealing the completed wall to the world prior to the Spurs match in just three days time. And it was watching that video on the Jumbotron sitting amongst tens of thousands of cheering Spurs fans before the match that we knew we had helped create something truly special.

And with the cheers ringing in our ears we flew back home. And on to the next thing.

P.S. Click here to watch the video

We were recently named Ad Age's Small Agency of the Year in the 11 to 75 employees category (which we squeaked into at the top end with 72 peeps).

It was really great.

But what made it even greater was being in Portland, OR, where the awards ceremony was held, which you might know is the home of an ad agency called Wieden + Kennedy. And before the awards show we heard Dan Wieden give a little talk and describe his once small agency.

And a lot of what he said reminded us of... us.

Now we're not writing this to compare ourselves to one of the greatest agencies of the last 30 years. No, what struck home was how he described the early days of Wieden and the freedom and exhilaration that comes from running full tilt and maybe just a little out of control. The courage that grows out of trusting your gut and flinging yourself forward. The giddy feeling you have when everyone in the building takes turns raising each other's game. That's the groove that you live for in this business.

It's not easy to get there and we've been around long enough to know that once you get there, you still have to fight like hell to stay. We like to say you have to bury your fear and commit to the wave.

But to have one of our heroes describe his agency's culture and have it feel even vaguely familiar made us feel pretty damn proud.

And that night we went up on stage and picked up a little carved glass statue with our name on it. And that was pretty sweet too.

Standing at 1354 ½ Abbot Kinney Blvd. in the heart of Venice, CA we gazed up at the guy in the bucket truck bolting our cowboy logo onto the wall. And it was sort of like he was bolting an exclamation point onto our summer.

Because our summer has been pretty exciting so far. More about our logo going up in SoCal in a minute.

But first off we’ve changed the name of our agency. Well, actually we’ve added to it.

Red Tettemer + Partners will now be known as Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners or RTO+P. The names of our past and present creative partners in the agency name reinforce our belief in creativity above all. So seemed like a natural to add Partner and ECD Steve O’Connell’s name to the door. This shift forward is significant. (And we don’t just mean to O’Connell’s mom, though she’s very smiley and proud at this moment.) Because we’ve always said that it’s not about the individual names on the door but about what those names stand for together. And Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners is our signal that we’re taking the brand that we’ve built for the last 17 years to an entirely new and unforgettable place. And helping us get there will be our more gregarious and business-minded Partners, Carla Mote and Jared Scott who will continue to wrangle the account, business development and operations side of RTO+P.

And despite the additional name, we promise that we will continue to act nothing like lawyers.

So now, back to the story about our logo in Venice, CA.

In order to have another brand new door to put our brand new name on, we’re opening west coast digs - Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners West. Yep, right smack in the middle of Venice, CA. Just a flip-flopped walk from the beach. The office will be headed by Perry Morris who has been promoted to Managing Director. Perry worked with us back east but she’s an LA kid through and through.

Our left coast doors have only been open for a few days, and we’ve already received a flood of talented folks asking about jobs (thanks we’re flattered and yes we’re also hiring…on both coasts). Plus we’re close to announcing the first big win for RTO+P West. (Stay tuned for that one.)

That’s right, Venice. There’s a new cowboy in town. And we’ve got a big logo on the side of a building to prove it.

Let's ride.

Catie Borzillo, Digital Strategy and RTO+P Newbie,

I showed up embarrassingly early to the site of the RTO+P Retreat in Cape May, New Jersey (turns out the 9am start time wasn’t as strict as it sounded). So I had plenty of time to sit, sip coffee, and prepare myself for the unknown. I’d heard stories of past Retreats (this was number 18 apparently): lots of work, presentations, inappropriate content and maybe a little alcohol. And I was nervous. Not sure what I was nervous for. But I was. Nervous.

It all started with us all drinking the Kool Aid. Literally. We all drank a cup of grape Kool Aid. Then Steve Red stood up and read a few words about who WE are. It gave me goosebumps and got me excited. At that point, I knew there was nothing to be nervous about, we were all in this together. The rest of Retreat was packed with work - but it was fun work, creative work…some weird “work”. I got to know people that I don’t typically get to. And I felt like I got closer to a lot of people. Sure, most of what happened I could never tell my mom about, but one important thing that I took away was that everyone here is special. And I mean “special” as in being-a-little-quirky. Going against the grain. Having a different way to look at the world. But then again, so do I. And I realized that’s why I fit here, why the people that are here, fit here. That’s why RTO+P will always be a one-of-a-kind place to work. I left retreat with a new sense of RTO+P pride (and some slight sleep deprivation).

I know I didn’t go into much detail about what Retreat actually was, so here are some key words that stick out to me: talent shows, videos, creativity, heroes, money machine, puzzle contest, PT Cruiser crunch, Down-the-Stretch Buckups, memes, #koaloing, pizza, survival, and the future.

In this biz you’re always looking for the story to tell. And how to tell it so people remember it. Sometimes you have to dig deep for a brand’s plotline and other times it comes flowing out like liquid, hot, magma. Now watch this segue...and speaking of magma and stories, we just won a new piece of business. Reyka Vodka. And Reyka has quite a story to tell... and of course it involves magma. Well, it involves lava rocks, which is what liquid hot magma is when it isn’t liquid and hot anymore.

To find out about Reyka we took a little field trip to Iceland.

Reyka was born there and is exclusively distilled in a small town about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik. On our trip we found glaciers. Volcanoes. Lots of sheep and goats. Really nice people. Lots of woolen hats with ear flappy things. Northern Lights. Stunning, treeless, windblown landscapes. And Bjork. (actually we didn’t find Bjork, but she’s a famous Icelander and her name is funny to say in a sentence. Bjork. Bjork. Bjork.) And all of those things we found, play strongly into the story of Reyka Vodka.

We discovered that you develop a unique perspective on the world when you’re surrounded by a landscape that could kill you or thrill you at any given moment.

For that reason, people from Iceland are a creative and resourceful bunch. And lucky for the world and fine spirit lovers everywhere, our new friends applied those characteristics to the job of vodka making. They use lava rocks as a filtration system (we weren’t lying about the magma thing) and they built a special still called a Carter-Head Still that actually looks like a giant piece of drug paraphernalia (the reason we know this is we once watched a movie called Pineapple Express, which had many depictions of such paraphernalia) but it has nothing to do with smoking and everything to do with transmogrifying glacier water and grain into really tasty vodka.

There was a lot more to our journey, like a night drive to see the Northern Lights that felt like something out of Jurassic Park. And a cocktail that came in vacuum-packed plastic pouches with a straw attached (sort of like an adult Capri Sun juice pack). And we met our new partners from the UK, Colombia, Sweden, US and Iceland. They were all excited and very nice. We saw hipster haunts and charming, cozy hangouts. We listened to great music. And there were Puffins…sort of adorable miniature penguins. Then we saw the sun rise over the completely frozen ocean from the plane as we flew home. You can see, there’s really quite a story there for the telling. And we’re going to begin doing that straight away…starting this April. Oh, we’ll also be drinking some Reyka now and again. And again and now.