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Reminding the US That “Pull That Up, Jamie” Isn’t Journalism


Creatives from Cornett discuss the campaign that forewarns of the consequences of a world without local journalism, writes LBB’s Ben Conway

Reminding the US That “Pull That Up, Jamie” Isn’t Journalism

Working with Gannett, the largest US newspaper publisher as measured by total daily circulation, Kentucky-based agency Cornett created an ambitious campaign to promote local journalism in three of Gannett’s largest markets, Nashville, Austin and Phoenix.

Using market-specific, 30-second hero videos and witty, eye-catching OOH posters, the ‘Here For It’ campaign aims to be a disruptive, rallying cry for local journalism that facilitates real-world interaction and community engagement, in a time where distractions and news fatigue have never been so prevalent. The films and posters challenge locals in the three markets to think critically about local journalism and the democratic and social costs that a community can incur without its presence.

To discuss how the engaging campaign was created and produced in three different cities with an extremely tight turnaround, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with Cornett’s ACD, Jonathon Spalding, senior copywriter, Coleman Larkin, and ECD, Whit Hiler. Among other things, they talk about why local journalists are “the real heroes”, what is at stake in the absence of local press, and potentially upsetting some Joe Rogan fans in the process.

LBB> How did the Gannett/Cornett collaboration arise? Have you worked with the publisher before? What is their presence like in Lexington, Kentucky where you are?

Whit> This was our first time working with the wonderful folks at Gannett. They don’t have a local presence here in Lexington, Kentucky but do just down the road from us in Louisville with the Courier Journal. Their executive creative director, Spencer Mandell, reached out via LinkedIn to see if I could chat about a potential project. We had a really great call and that was followed by both of our teams having several really great calls. Our teams had really great chemistry and the rest is history. 


LBB> Where did the initial creative spark for this campaign come from? What was the brief like from Gannett?

Whit> Gannett came to us to help with a pilot campaign to bring awareness to three of their legacy brands – The Tennessean in Nashville, The Austin American-Statesman in Austin and The Arizona Republic/AZ Central in Phoenix – driving home the importance of local journalism. Being big fans of local journalism and its importance to a community, this got us super excited. Initially, we hit them with a bunch of ideas and after collaborating with their team on several rounds, we eventually narrowed in on ‘Here For It’. 


LBB> What were some early concepts or key ideas that helped form this campaign? How did you identify how you needed to frame and market local journalism?


Jonathon> The idea behind this campaign really came from the realisation that communities suffer when local journalism goes away – increased corruption, political division, and people feeling out of touch with their community. It’s a big problem that most people aren’t even aware of.

Based on that insight, we honed in on this tension that people are more distracted than ever by social media, world news, endless entertainment options, etc. We all need a reminder to be more present, engaged and involved in the place we call home. Local journalism helps us do just that. 

LBB> How did you find the ‘Here For It’ tagline? How does it influence the rest of the campaign?


Jonathon> When you think about all the ways people get their news nowadays - from national publications to social media – what makes local journalism different is that it is local. These journalists are in-market, working day and night to report on what happens in their own community. Local journalism is quite literally here for it…whatever ‘it’ is.

That platform worked so well because it allowed us to speak to all the different ways local journalism can impact a community, writing headlines that feel super local to each individual market.

LBB> The films show real journalists going about their work - how important was this human element and showing the real journalists behind the publications?


Jonathon> It was fundamental. The journalists are the real heroes. We wanted to show consumers that these journalists live and work here, and that they are doing everything they can to make their communities a better home for everyone.


LBB> Who did you work with for the production of these films? How was that process? Were you on-set for any of the shoots?


Jonathan> We brought together a dream team for this one. We had a super tight turnaround and needed to hit three different markets all within a few days. It was a haul, but a ton of fun getting to truly experience these three cities and meeting arguably the most in-the-know people who live there — the journalists.

Our film crew was led by producer/director Colin Doherty of HOOK INTERACTIVE. We flew in two incredibly talented videographers in David Cleeland and Wade Dunstan of WRKSHRT. We also enlisted the services of three local DPs in each market to go out and capture b-roll throughout their city.


LBB> The posters are a witty element to this campaign - how was the process of writing the copy for each of the different publications and its area?

Coleman> Thank you for noticing. We talked to the various newsrooms and did some independent research to get a sense of what excites/annoys people in these markets. Some of the headlines tap into that kind of thing and some of them lean more on an amped-up attitude that I think stands out in an industry that’s pretty stoic. Journalists are cool people that take a lot of pride in what they do. We wanted that to come through. Overall, they’re meant to turn heads and get people talking. It’s working so far.

LBB> The poster for the AAS in Austin targets Joe Rogan - perhaps Austin’s most famous new resident – how did this idea come about? Has there been any pushback on this design?

Coleman> I was eating raw elk organs in an ice bath after a vigorous Muay Thai sparring session and my Alpha Brain pills triggered an intense DMT flashback. Suddenly I was pure consciousness in an infinite cathedral of fluorescent fractals. For what seemed like a lifetime, I went from room to room before finally arriving in some sort of sacred chamber where a three-eyed gremlin sat upon a sparkling throne of jewels. He didn’t speak, but I could clearly sense him communicating with me telepathically. He said, “A Rogan headline would totally blow up on Reddit, bro.”

Yeah there’s been pushback. From the type of dudes who never cleaned their toilet until Jordan Peterson told them to.

LBB> Who designed the posters’ visuals? The highlighted keywords and use of blank space is very eye-catching and clean. What were the different iterations of these posters like?


Jonathon> Our associate creative director, Randy Steward, whipped up these posters. We loved that idea of letting our headlines be the hero for this campaign, and we found that the more we let the copy shine, the more impactful the ads became.



LBB> What has the public reaction been to the campaign? How do you hope the perception of local journalism can be changed?

Jonathon> It’s been very positive. What’s kind of crazy is after a month, we saw that our YouTube ads had a 61% view completion rate…for 30-second spots. We also saw our digital ads performing well above industry average and on social we’ve gotten over 17,400 engagements. 

My favourite reaction has probably been to the Joe Rogan poster. Jaime Vernon, the producer of the Joe Rogan Experience (which one of our posters mentions), posted a reaction to it on his Instagram. A photo of the poster also landed on the homepage of the Joe Rogan subreddit for a couple of days so that was pretty cool. 


LBB> What was the hardest challenge you faced on this campaign – and how did you overcome it?

Jonathon> Beyond shooting in three cities and a tight timeline, our biggest challenge was how to create a disruptive campaign. That was at the top of our list. We needed people to pay attention and think critically about local journalism. 

I think we were able to do that in a couple of ways. First, by striking a chord emotionally. Hopefully, our spots hit on a tension that is somewhat universal - that we are distracted - and provide an actionable solution to be better about that. Secondly, this campaign features some stellar, provocative copywriting intended to grab the attention of locals in each market. I mean, it’s hard not to notice an ad that says, “Woof, woof.” 


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Cornett, Tue, 20 Sep 2022 15:43:00 GMT