June 11, 2021 / Thought Leadership

CP Recap: Williamsburg Tourism Council and CP Take to the ANA Stage

Steve Connelly, President and Copywriter & JoAnne Borselli, Group Brand Director

Did you miss our presentation at ANA’s Brand Management Committee meeting? Not to worry. Here are the Cliffs Notes version.

The team at Connelly Partners spoke at the ANA Brand Management Committee meeting to bring attendees through the Williamsburg Tourism Council case study and the importance of investing in your brand and maintaining ad spend during a downturn.

 Being Quiet Gets You Nowhere

Most travel brands and destinations were staying dark, watching and waiting to determine when to come back. WTC had the courage to keep investing because they knew that the best time to spend is when others are not. 

From an advertising perspective, we counsel clients to think hard before pulling out of the market. Why? According to Nielsen: “on average, it takes three to five years to recover equity lost because of halted advertising, and long-term revenue can take a 2% hit for every quarter a brand stops advertising.”  

The recovery period on the other side kills a lot of brands. Colorado tourism learned that the hard way back in the 90’s.

Value Anthropology as Much as Data 

Together with the client, we conducted a mix of quantitative, qualitative and observational human behavior research to better understand the perspective and concerns of our audience. But beyond the “traditional” research, we believe in digging deeper and observing people in their day to day lives. Watching them as much as asking them.  

We learned things that are obvious to us now, but weren’t back then. Life was feeling hectic is a way that was uncomfortable; people were anxious to fly; road trips took on a nostalgic feel and began to increase in frequency and distance; people missed being with family and friends; and were embracing outdoor activities like never before.

This Isn’t About You

The research helped us to better connect with our audience. Because the reality is, it’s about finding a way to fit into our customers lives, not the other way around. We heard what they were concerned about and what they felt comfortable doing. Since much of what the region offers was outdoors and easy to drive to, WTC would be a great choice for the first post pandemic vacation destination. We wanted to be first in line when the world started to open. 

While other destinations were focusing their messaging on soft-sells about being there when consumers were ready to getaway, Williamsburg Tourism Council to take a took a more direct approach about being there now for how consumers wanted to get away. The Life. At Your Pace. campaign was born.

It featured TV, Digital, Search and more. We also met our audience where they were as time on social media had increased. We knew they had safety concerns. Beyond inspiration, they needed validation when they were starting to make travel decisions. So we leaned in hard on Influencer Marketing as a big part of the awareness strategy and were third party ambassadors who could tell a genuine story and to show by example what the experience was really like, the safety protocols in place and to answer any questions from their own follower base. 

Things Will Go Wrong  

We knew from the start that we weren’t going to win on overnight stays. Occupancy was still in the tank, restaurants were sometimes empty. We had to drive awareness and manage stakeholder expectations. We had to be in this for the long-haul. This wasn’t just about 2020, it was about how we were going to recover over the long-term. 

Since June 2020 when the campaign launched, the work kept going. The launch itself was really only the beginning. On top of this campaign, we had to be constantly listening to the market and to our local businesses to anticipate and quickly respond to changes. It was all about trying new things–and knowing some would stick and others might not.

We created a local print and digital campaign that ran over the winter to encourage the local market to support restaurants and retail stores. We hosted a webinar for local businesses to educate and guide them on social and influencer marketing opportunities. We created a campaign “subset” to support families managing their kid’s education at home.

Data Is An Action, Not A Number

All of the work we did was rooted in data–from the research that led to the concept and to the media strategy. We had a measurement plan in place from the beginning and we are reviewing performance multiple times each month. 

But what is imperative is not just capturing the data (there’s always more than any marketer knows what to do with), and rather, using the data to ask “so what?”

What action will we take with this information? Is it going to drive a shift in targeting? Do we need to shift dollars from one market to another? Is it time to rotate out creative?

Data that’s not tied to action is useless. 


Needless to say, it pays to invest during a downturn.

Williamsburg Tourism Council’s web traffic is up 78% from same time in 2019 (considered peak period for travel in recent years). 80% of that traffic is from first-time visitors to the site – opening up new opportunities.

With an ongoing advertising investment since June 2020, we’ve driven an 16% increase in awareness, 18% increase in positive perception and 157% increase in “likelihood to visit in the next 12 months”


June 7, 2021 / CPOVs

How spending a year in client service has shaped me as a creative

Donal Gaughran, Copywriter

As I sit here at my beautiful wooden desk in my home office (bedroom) on a sunny day in Dublin city, I can’t help but think of the desk’s origins. 

When I was 7 I lit a box of matches, stuck them in the microwave, slammed the door shut, and ran. I’d been watching a show called Brainiac: Science Abuse on TV where they would ‘do’ science. Science like placing sticks of dynamite in microwaves… The kitchen was obviously destroyed, completely scorched, but hey… 15 years later and I have a beautiful desk, so not a total disaster.

Like my kitchen’s pathway to becoming a desk, my pathway to becoming a creative is a rather unique one, given I spent the first year of my young career as a suit.

I had always wanted to work in a creative department, but I studied a broad business degree, so figured I wasn’t really qualified for that kind of role. After college, I managed to get my foot in the door at one of Ireland’s most creative and well respected agencies, Chemistry.

I found a home in their client service department, working with really talented, fun and sound people, and was happy doing it. I also wasn’t totally useless at it, which helps. But as the weeks and months went on, I knew I wanted to be a creative. 

Connelly Partners gave me an opportunity to prove myself as a copywriter. 12 months later and I’m still doing it. I do suffer from the occasional bout of imposter syndrome, and feel about as useful as a chocolate teapot. But generally speaking, I’m doing alright. 

There’s 3 things in particular I’d say I’ve learned having spent time on either side of an agency, and it’s definitely made me a slightly ‘different’ creative for it.


1. We’re on the same team

Being told your totally perfect, amazing idea that you put your heart and soul into isn’t being chosen for a campaign sucks. Having to tell someone that their idea, that they put their heart and soul into, also sucks. 

There are of course situations when as a creative you’ve got to push back, but sometimes you’ve just got to move on. Having been on the client-facing side, and understanding that sometimes no matter what you say the idea is doomed. Knowing what fights to pick certainly does make tantrums a little less likely.

That’s not to say I haven’t had any (I have), but I try and make sure not to shoot the messenger in the process.

2. We ALL crave flow

Whether you’re a copywriter, an art director, an account manager, or Barry, our Finance Manager in CP Dublin, we all perform at our best when we’re in the zone.

Flow state is a “focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback,” Csikszentmihalyi said in a 2004 TED Talk

As an account executive, organisation was key to finding flow. I’d block off hours and do all of my billing, becoming one with my computer. As a copywriter, it’s a little different. As well-respected adman Sir John Hegarty’s book, “Creativity: There Are No Rules” has already told you, there are no rules.

I now find flow scribbling in a notebook or talking into a voice recorder, at times of pure chaotic thinking and at times of organised thinking. There is rhythm, but there is no rhyme. 

Having found flow in both sides of agency life, the big takeaway for me is that flow looks, and is, very different for different roles. The sooner we recognise that we both need it, and the sooner we help each other find it, the easier our lives will be.

3. We can disagree, we can’t be disagreeable

When everyone is invested in a project and trying to make the best work possible, disagreements are inevitable. We all might have different ideas for a campaign but we can’t run them all. As an account executive I always feared giving the ‘wrong’ feedback when it was my turn to speak.

I now realise that every voice, opinion and perspective is valuable, even if it disagrees completely with the creative’s idea.

If the idea is good, it’ll be able to stand up to inspection and there will be a strong rationale for it. Pushing back should be easy. As a creative, it can feel like you and your idea are under attack when an account manager is feeding back, asking questions, and being what feels like a little too pedantic. They’re doing it for the right reasons. Trust me, and them. 

I firmly believe that the ability to disagree is integral in making interesting and impactful work. Although, if you’re being disagreeable, to quote Walter White from Breaking Bad, “I am the danger”. 

Just kidding, but do be pleasant… please.


While you obviously don’t need to work in client service to be a great creative, it definitely has made me a better creative than I would have been otherwise. I’m more patient than I might have been, I’m more critical with my thinking and I’m comfortable presenting to clients. I wouldn’t swap that experience for anything.

That said, I’m not sure I could raise a purchase order without bankrupting the entire company…. so probably best I stick with the writing.

And as the sun continues to shine through on me and my kitchen countertop desk on what is now a sunny summer’s evening in Dublin city, I shall bid you farewell.

June 7, 2021 / Thought Leadership

CP Insights: IAB 2021 NewFronts

Michelle Capasso, Director of Media Services, Mallory Bram, Media Director, Allie Umlah, Associate Media Director, Chris Corrado, Associate Media Director

CP attended this year’s IAB NewFronts – a week of programming and presentations from major partners in media and entertainment. Companies such as Amazon, TikTok, Twitter, Snap Inc., CondeNast took to the (virtual) stage to present their latest and greatest content line ups and what advertisers can expect in the coming year in terms of new programming, advanced targeting, and innovation. Below we share some of the insights from the week. 

1. Storytelling and the rise of content creators

Just as streaming services are leaning on exclusive content for differentiation, social short-form video platforms are leaning on creators.

Propelled by consumer behavior during the pandemic, platforms from TikTok to Snap to YouTube took a moment during their respective sessions to highlight the significant increases in time spent across their platforms last year and what those trends mean for the future of content creation and social platforms. 

Both Snap and Twitter touted over 30 percent year-over-year increases in time spent with their respective content lineups. As a result, both companies will be investing even more in developing partnerships that deliver high-quality, premium content on their platforms.

Meanwhile, TikTok continues to dominate the influencer landscape, signing high-profile creator partnerships with established and emerging talent. This year, TikTok focused on merging discovery and e-commerce by ramping up advertiser awareness of how to leverage its wide base of creators, highlighting user-driven trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, a hashtag where people show off new purchases that were influenced by other users on the platform. 

Coming out of this year’s NewFronts, social platforms are betting big on high-profile creators and influencers to continue fine-tuning their storytelling capabilities and sharing entertaining content that attracts advertisers and drives user engagement and audience growth.

2. Video continue to take the lead

Video has been at the forefront of digital advertising over the last few years, but now more brands and partners are looking at video through the lens of scale + exclusivity. 

In addition to their Prime Video offering, Amazon has made giant strides into the content ownership space with their exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football agreement, original programming on IMDb TV, and more recently their acquisition of MGM. 

Other publishers, those you wouldn’t typically connect with video content creation, are entering the custom content space full-on. 

CondeNast, Tegna, Verizon/Yahoo, Snap, Inc., and Twitter are all shifting their offerings and partnerships to align with the growing video consumption trend, by offering live streaming, custom content, or video on demand options. 

Even further, as seen with a collaboration between KitchenAid and Hello Sunshine, with the help of Digitas – content partnerships and storytelling via digital video, create opportunities to showcase media-fueled creativity. 

“…audiences don’t watch platforms, they watch content” – Agnes Chu + Pamela Drucker Mann, CondeNast 

3. E-commerse everywhere

While retail and ecommerce habit shifts have been one of the biggest consumer stories over the past year or so, this year’s NewFronts mirrored an increasingly blurred line between “shopper” vs. “consumer.”   

The closed loop attribution value proposition that has long been the mainstay of the shopper marketing space has become even more compelling and desirable as 3rd party cookie-based attribution models have shifted, and as consumers lean into ecommmerce for convenience.

With this accountability, it’s no wonder that many NewFront presentations introduced shoppable integrations, from Verizon’s cooler screens in Kroger’s to Conde Nast’s shoppable video.

It’s incumbent upon media buyers to see beyond the walls of our shopper vs. consumer space, and embrace the opportunity to merge these two disciplines (and budgets!)  

June 7, 2021 / News

CP & Williamsburg Tourism Council Take to the ANA Stage

June 4, 2021 / News

Uno Pizzeria & Grill Humorously Celebrates Getting Back To Normal

May 6, 2021 / CPOVs

A Producer’s Path to Productivity

Lauren Lukacsko, Broadcast Producer and Creative Services Manager

Working from home, from a confined space without distraction forces you to take a serious look at not only what you do but how you do it.

When I’m surrounded by people in an office, or at a cafe or even bar my normal working spaces⏤I know I have my quirks. I like sitting on the floor. I like working at kitchen and bar tables when everyone else is done and socializing for the evening. I like listening to music through my headphones and I like taking coffee walks, a lot of coffee walks.

These are things I like and that is all I thought they were, until all the other distractions⏤people working around me, meetings to go to, life’s white noise⏤stopped.

At the beginning of the quarantine I actually felt relief. All of a sudden projects that before were blowing up dwindled to mere blips. I had needed a break and this was it. Thank heaven.

But when you are a person who likes being busy, needs to be busy, the break gets old. Work was slowly building back up – productions needed bids, our editors were getting busier; with the burgeoning of some normalcy on the work front I thought my productivity would follow suit.

It did not.

I tried waking up, making my coffee, reading a bit…. Doing all those things I used to do to prep for the day before quarantine, just this time instead of heading to an external workspace I plopped myself on my couch or kitchen table.

I’m normally a fast and motivated worker. I love work. So when an estimate that would take me maybe thirty minutes to pull together took me two hours; when timesheets were taking me double the time; when I simply did not care about anything I worked on… I was frustrated to say the least. Not unlike plenty of my coworkers during this time, I found myself sitting staring at my computer for over twelve hours “working” with limited efficiency and outputting maybe half of what I used to accomplish in half a day.

Twyla Tharp, a renowned choreography, wrote a book called the Creative Habit where she outlined how to deal with creative roadblocks: determine the problem, determine the assumptions about the problem, challenge the assumptions, act on that challenge.

When I read this book months before I read it as an artist⏤which is my side gig. In my head this thinking did not apply to my work as a producer. Sure I’m a creative thinker and sure I work at a creative agency with creative people, but I wasn’t a “creative”⏤who was I to have the luxury of a creative process?

But when I looked harder at my “problem”⏤my inability to get to work with my usual rigger⏤it hit me that the denial of being someone with a creative process was the assumption I needed to challenge. And maybe all those things I called quirks⏤working around noise and people, sitting on the floor, all my coffee breaks, my music⏤were not just things I enjoyed doing but necessary parts of my productivity.

And like someone craving sweets who realizes that endulging actually helped them get past the craving, I let myself do what my gut wanted.


I can take upwards of twenty minutes to find the right album, the right song. A distraction, an avoidance of getting to work⏤I thought. But no. When I allowed myself to “find the vibe” I realized it was like taking extra time to make sure your shoes are tied just right⏤you’ll run faster in the long run. All of a sudden my mood began to improve.

White Noise

It’s a common understanding that you should not watch tv or movies while you work. And yet since high school I have found that if I put on a movie while working on a paper or my math homework, I actually was able to work better. As I moved through college and then into the real world⏤this moved from movies to real life scenes: cafe’s, bars, a noisy office. I need the distraction to distract me from over thinking⏤I need to feel productive when some other type of “life” was going on.  I needed something to drown out. And so when the music stopped working I turned on a movie and amazingly was able to get through whatever it was I couldn’t quite figure out. I found this only works with movies though. TV shows are too distracting unless I’ve seen them a 1000 times.

Changing the Environment

I’ve always liked working in a variety of places depending on what I was doing. At work no one knows where my desk is because I never sit there, or at least not for long. At home this isn’t much different – Im constantly shifting from working on the floor, to the bed, the couch, the kitchen table, kitchen counter, etc. This Ive always known and never thought much of. But when you are stuck in a single space and have a need to be in different spaces, the only logical solution is to change the space. I would be in the middle of sorting through production needs on an upcoming job and get stuck. Even though my notes were due the next morning, I found that stopping and re-arranging my apartment, doing my dishes, sorting through my closet… and all of sudden with a place that looked different, I would see different problems with my production prep and my notes become stronger.


I’m a procrastinator. Always have been. In college I’d start a research paper the night before it was due. I would also do very well on the paper, so no need to change my process (although the stress I could probably do without). And of course⏤we are told we are not supposed to procrastinate.  But during quarantine, I found that I would naturally pool my work and do only what I needed to do when I needed to do it⏤often waiting until I had enough work to truly keep me busy. I figured there must be something about this stress I not only liked but needed in order to work. Now the trick is to procrastinate earlier to avoid this stress boiling over which unfortunately happens far too often. But first step is acceptance right?

Bottom line, the way I work is a process and now I’ve accepted it as a creative process no matter what the output is. And it is these quirks that may often seem unrelated or even counter intuitive to productivity that often make us the strongest, that are often essential to good work.

April 29, 2021 / News

10 Great Album Covers, Chosen by Tinu Mathur of VRX Studios

April 7, 2021 / Thought Leadership

Balancing Data & Anthropology in Marketing: It’s Good For Business

Steve Connelly was a keynote at the 2020 Think Global Conference where he discussed balancing data and anthropology in marketing. In his session, Steve shares:

1. How data is powerful, but should inform better questions, not provide black and white answers in a business that’s grey.

2. Rational thinking doesn’t always determine purchase behavior because people are more emotional than logical, more right brain than left.

3. It’s human nature to have a gap between what we say and what we do, so create opportunities to better get at the heart of what people want.

4. “Why” is the biggest question that’s missing in marketing and the most valuable question to understand your audience.

5. In a world of immense polarization, don’t lose site of the things that make us all the same; celebrate those universal human truths.

6. Observing cultural and societal behaviors is far more valuable than solely listening to what people say.

7. It’s time to balance the surge in data with a commensurate surge in anthropology. When they work together, magic happens. It’s good for business.

You can watch the full key presentation below:


April 1, 2021 / News

Boston ad agency expands into Canada

March 26, 2021 / News

Vancouver-based Global Content Agency VRX Studios Acquired by Connelly Partners