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We’ll just come right out and say it: we LOVE Beantown! As one of the most historic cities in the country, Boston has a lot to offer from unique activities, great food, and lastly, is home to some amazing brands.

Throughout the year, we routinely invite editors and influencers spanning a variety of lifestyle, food, and travel publications to join us for brand excursions to aspirational places like Santa Barbara and Sonoma County. While these locations are breathtaking in their own ways, we decided it was time to take advantage of our own backyard and prove that Boston in fact is a great travel destination.

This is why we invited 10 editors to come experience all of Beantown’s unique qualities in our first Boston Experience, a new program added to our House Program series.

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Take me out to the ball game

It wouldn’t be a trip to Boston without a chance to watch the Sox play at Fenway Park. As soon as the editors landed in Logan Airport, we made our way over to Fenway – in Safr vehicles, a new Boston-born ridesharing app – to watch the Boston team play the Blue Jays (spoiler: they crushed the Jays). Even though some of our New Yorkers were hesitate about sporting those Boston B’s on their caps, everyone enjoyed a Fenway Frank, or two, and were psyched to be able to experience a ball park that has so much history – Green Monster and all.

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Best view in Boston

For their weekend in Boston, the media had the pleasure of staying at one of Boston’s newest boutique hotels, The Envoy Hotel. Situated along the water in one of the city’s fast growing neighborhoods, the Innovation District, the views from this hot spot are unmatched.

After a Red Sox game, we rounded off the evening with a boozy social on the Envoy Hotel’s stunning rooftop, drinking in the city skyline as well as a few signature cocktails.

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Unforgettable brand experiences

The next morning, we were up at the crack of dawn to watch the fishing boats at Boston Fish Pier unload their daily catch. Legal Sea Foods gave us the behind the scenes scoop on how they choose their premium fish and what goes into making sure all their restaurants are getting the best and freshest fish.

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Later that evening, our group dined with Legal Sea Foods at their Harborside location in the Seaport. It all began with Executive Chef Rich Vellante’s oyster shucking demo – that you can find live on Food Network’s Facebook page.

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And the night concluded with a true sea-to-table dining experience where the media tasted Legal Sea Food’s freshest seafood dishes. Also at the table, was Legal Seafood’s CEO Roger Berkowitz who dined with the media and chatted about his journey with the brand.

Demarco Williams, Forbes Travel Guide editor, wrote about his experience with Roger Berkowitz. Check it out here.

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After a classic duck tour excursion, the best way to get up to speed on your Boston history, the day peaked with a surprise trip to Ocean Spray’s cranberry bog just outside of the city. Knee-deep in cranberries, the media learned about cranberry harvest and finished off the experience with a bog-side luncheon. Needless to say, the group was berry pleased with the amazing Instagram pics they got from this adventure.

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Feasting, beasting and sight-seeing

The next morning we kicked off the day the right way with a scenic run along the freedom trail in Hoka One One kicks!

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And followed it with a lunch rendezvous to ArtBar in Cambridge where the staff pulled out all the stops – oysters, shrimp, mini tacos, a s’mores bar, and a sorbet bar!Picture1

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And from ArtBar’s patio, a boat picked us up for a little rosè and a cruise around the harbor with 90+ Cellars and Discover Boating.

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We sent off our media with a restful rooftop yoga class, hosted by Boston- born brand Crane & Lion.

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Who knew there was so much to do in our very own backyard? Check out the social chatter from this experience on Instagram at #CBCBostonExperience.

 

Over the course of eight days, 20 editors, bloggers and journalists from top-tier publications attended Cercone Brown’s 11th annual Fall House in Santa Barbara.screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-2-56-04-pm

From October 16-24, attendees from publications like People, The Huffington Post, and SELF immersed themselves in the Santa Barbara County lifestyle as they lounged by the pool, explored picturesque California beaches, and participated in adventurous excursions all hosted by our brand sponsors.

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This year, brands like Buick, Miraclesuit, and Lather organized unique brand activations and experiences. The key to our success with our House Programs, we let the products speak for themselves. Buick kicked off the 2016 sessions with an iconic, self-guided road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway while Mircaclesuit hosted a pool party at the house.

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After all the excitement, Lather helped the editors unwind with facials and massages.

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Other brands like Sabra and Jackson Family Wines indulged the media influencers with delicious food and cocktails throughout their stay. They were even treated to a mixology class with blogger and author of This Girl Walks into a Bar, hosted by Bolthouse Farms.

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While Fall House is certainly fun for media influencers, it also encompasses a series of tailored experiences designed to give each brand meaningful exposure to media in a natural setting. Editors are experiencing a product in the way it is intended to be experienced – and without being clouded by the competition as each brand is offered exclusivity in its product category.

But enough about what we thought of Fall House – let’s let the attendees speak for themselves:

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Check out all of the social buzz from Fall House online at #CBCfallhouse.

It’s official – Garnet Hill has packed up a collection of its most beautiful home and apparel products and set its sights on the open road! Their mission? To connect with their customer in a tangible way and provide a unique touch-and-feel experience in the comfort of her own backyard

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This August, we’re celebrating the launch of Garnet Hill’s Mobile Boutique – a pop-up store that truly takes the concept of “experiential marketing” to a whole new level.

Built to feel like a tiny, natural home where you can literally touch, feel, and shop all of the beautiful Garnet Hill products, the boutique is equipped with all of the homey essentials – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closet, and a roof deck.

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The pop-up is an homage to the brand’s Beautiful, Naturally mantra and was stunningly designed by ModEco Founder and HGTV Container Home personality Drake Boroja from a converted shipping container. It showcases an array of the most beloved Garnet Hill products, and serves as a venue for community events including wine tastings, farm-to-table meals, and other demonstrations.

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The mobile store began its pilgrimage in Franconia, New Hampshire, is currently moving south through the state via Exeter, and will end in New York City.

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Join the journey! Follow along with #GHmobileboutique or visit their Events Page on Facebook for information on how to experience the boutique yourself.

There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.

The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.

Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.

The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha Steaks, Sambazon, Stonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.

But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through the amazing photos posted by our guests on the hashtag #CBCcottage on Instagram.

Until next year, Cooking Cottage!

J.Jill "Uncomplicate" Print
J.Jill “Uncomplicate” campaign honored for breakthrough brand strategy and creative

NEW YORK CITY (March 26, 2014) — CerconeBrownCompany and its creative agency partner The Fantastical took top honors last night at the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) prestigious 2014 David Ogilvy Awards for “Uncomplicate,” an integrated national brand campaign for the women’s clothing retailer J.Jill.

Other winners last night included The Coca-Cola Company “Let’s Go Crazy” (Ogilvy & Mather), HP “Printing that helps your Child Shine” (BBDO Singapore), Reddi-wip “Unleashing the Joy of Reddi-wip and Fruit” (DDB California), and Ford Fusion “It’s in the Game” (TDI).
Named after advertising legend David Ogilvy, The ARF David Ogilvy Awards for Excellence in Advertising Research annually celebrate his spirited advocacy of research in making good advertising better, recognizing the role of consumer research in creating successful advertising. The Awards honor extraordinary and/or creative uses of research in the advertising development processes of research firms, advertising agencies, and advertisers. The winning campaigns provide a keen understanding of how research can be used to create powerful, profitable campaigns.
The “Uncomplicate” brand platform was conceived entirely through research and deployed across national advertising, PR, online pre-roll spots, promotions and through all of J.Jill’s channels, including retail stores, packaging, catalog, customer service and at jjill.com. And the platform is successfully resonating with customers: J.Jill has experienced increases in brand engagement and revenues.

CerconeBrownCompany’s partner agencies that share the Ogilvy Award are The Fantastical (creative), Added Value (consumer research), Kathy Hart Planning (research) and PGR (media).

For several years, CBC Summer House (Nantucket) and Winter House (Park City) has seen producers and editors from the likes MTV, NBC Today, the New York Times live with the best new products from companies ranging from Ford, Honda and Subaru to Columbia, Pepperidge Farm and Wente Vineyards.  The result is an indelible, authentic experience that fuels coverage online and off.

Now the scene moves to a Net-Zero community in Boulder, Colo. for the Green House in August and feature all eco-friendly products ranging from innovative building materials, smart appliances, electric cars and many other objects of Smart Living.  We expect the elite of the green media in attendance, and many household names are getting on board (we’ll drop names soon.)

More than a media experience, the Green House will also feature the results of an ambitious research project conducted by our partner on the program Kickstand that seeks to identify the trigger points for companies to move consumers from green intentions to green buying.  The results and house products will also be reach the masses through a consumer-facing, multimedia website and social media campaign.

Visit cbcgreenhouse.com or contact Caroline Budney at to learn more.

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This is the second of three entries on Word of Mouth techniques for PR agencies and professionals. In the last entry, I talked about the first word of mouth tool, guerilla marketing. Today, it’s the publicity stunt. Granted, one could argue that they are very similar, but in my book there is one basic, but important difference: the stunt is about media coverage, including consumer generated media.

A stunt is an unabashed and often brazen play for publicity. Again, Red Bull has a great example: the Flutag. Otherwise normal, semi-emotionally balanced folk leaping from great heights in a hilarious, self-effacing attempt to fly on contraptions of their own design. You can’t help but look, and it makes great TV.

Stunts are easy to spot: skydivers, streakers, even the ol’DJ-on-the-billboard are stunt stereotypes. But to be successful, stunts have to do more than just grab attention. They must create compelling images, a can’t miss photo op. TV and print photo editors think of what looks good on the screen or a page, and it doesn’t always need to be outrageous.

Before baseball player Johnny Damon defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Gillette had extensive coverage for the launch of its new razor thank to him. Johnny agreed to shave his Grizzly Adams beard in public for a local charity. Complete with attractive female barbers (it’s a man’s razor, after all), they captured the city’s attention. Johnny’s clean-shaven face looked great on the evening news, leading all to believe that the M3Power must be one helluva razor.

But the best part of stunts these days? You don’t need the traditional media to be successful. We have YouTube. Still, it’s a crowded viral world out there. To be successful, you should the same press-savvy thinking to your viral videos as (good) PR pros have for years with the Stunt.

And in a shameless plug, check out a video of a stunt my firm, CBC, did for Nantucket Nectars back in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. The World’s Largest Thank You Card brought thousands together from around New England, and made it all the way to the network news. Enjoy!

Next Up: Grassroots marketing.

PR agencies spend so much time talking about PR 2.0, bloggers, online media, social media and the like, as marketers we forget that we live in the real world, too.  And often, what we do in the real world is the very fire that fuels success in online marketing and spurs word-of-mouth across it all.  

To this end, I overheard a conversation at lunch where two marketing execs were talking about what they could do to drive Word of Mouth.  Aside from the fact that they shouldn’t talk about plans in an Au Bon Pain, it was clear that these guys were confused on some of the basic tools, such as guerilla marketing, publicity stunts and grassroots programs.  The terms were jumbled together in a mashup of craziness and swag, seemingly with very little direction.  Never mind they seemed to be clueless how to translate their ideas to online or social media marketing.

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d take a shot at providing some context to the conversation.   Hey, I may be completely full of s**t; talk to 50 marketers and you may get 50 different definitions for these same words. But defining these tactical kissing cousins is the key to having a good reference point to begin a plan.

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