Two Rivers Marketing was recently recognized by the American Advertising Federation of Des Moines at the American Advertising Awards, where we received not only a Gold Award in the Cross Platform category, but also Best of Show. It’s an honor to be recognized for hard work and exceptional creativity — from the strategic thinkers and writers to the designers and tactical execution team, it’s a large, coordinated effort.

This was this team’s first American Advertising Awards Best of Show, so it got us thinking, “What differentiated this campaign from all the others we’ve done over the years?” It boils down to three things: research, risk and fun.

Often, budget or timing can limit how much research we’re able to do up front before we concept our ideas. In many instances, it works out and the outcomes find a good rhythm. But in some, it leads to clunky, hard-to-manage efforts that may not resonate with an audience.

But when budget and time are not a constraint, we can recommend digging into exactly who our audience is, what they care about and how they want to be communicated to. Our public relations and marketing insights teams then collaborate to ask the right questions, dig a little deeper, when necessary, and uncover intelligence telling us exactly what we need to say and to whom. With that information in hand, we organize internal meetings with our creative team to concept ideas and develop our message.

Years ago, we were in the habit of selling ideas to clients we believed were “safe.” Concepts that either strictly adhered to brand standards, or simply used consistent photography and messaging we knew would appropriately appeal to everyone. The problem with that is you oftentimes end up creating a broad message that tries to resonate with everyone – but ends up resonating with very few. You lose focus and impact. Or you automatically eliminate ideas that may not have been implemented exactly as they were conceived but could have evolved to become a success.

And in this regard, we’re lucky. We have clients who expect our team to come together and throw all possible ideas on the table because they know there’ll be value in the end. All ideas and concepts are welcome. In a recent brainstorming session, someone threw out the idea of sending an excavator to the moon. Where do you begin to quote that expense? Anyway, we laughed, as we typically do in these meetings, but we didn’t dismiss it. We added the idea to the whiteboard, and it served as inspiration for ideas that kept us thinking outside the box.

Have Fun
Our team isn’t unique, but we do an excellent job of ensuring everyone feels included, respected and valued. We thrive in our agency’s culture. This type of team dynamic leads to increased trust, which in turn means we open up to each other more often than not. The outcome is a natural camaraderie that just feels unique. When our team takes on a new assignment, people get excited to get in a room, collaborate and hear everyone’s ideas. We laugh — a lot. We’re shocked — a lot. But in the end, we always look up at the ideas thrown on the board, and we can see the long-term vision of concepts that we know our clients will love. And because we’ve done our homework, they’re ideas we’re confident will work.

Having great ideas publicly acknowledged is rewarding, and our team is certainly grateful. But having fun every step of the way is what makes it all worthwhile.

About Barry Bruner

You can take the boy out of Oklahoma, but if you’re smart you’ll keep him around. Barry is Two Rivers Marketing’s consummate account manager: immersed in the industry, up on the trends, and instinctively aware of what moves an audience. Catch up with him at