There are some things more important than advertising at The Next Wave.
We’ve lent our hand with issues in the past dealing with social justice, freedom of speech, single-payer healthcare, urban schools, veterans’ issues, fair taxation, and directly helping those to whom the struggle is real.
We don’t have a foundation, nor do we give a set amount to ease our souls (read: wallets) come tax season. No carbon offsets here. We believe in direct action, providing our skills and tools of our trade to make an impact. We help candidates we believe in—not based on a D or R next to their name—but on their principles and character. Yeah, most of us here lean left, but we’re not ideologues. We know a good idea when we hear one, and reach out to conservatives who have them.
This means our business occasionally experiences the cold shoulder in certain circles of the community as a result of our actions. That’s fine with us. We’d rather make a difference than have everyone like us.
Propaganda works. Good campaigns need even better messaging. Listed below are just some of the examples of things we’ve done. Not for our bottom line, but from the bottom our hearts.
And hey, if you prefer the agency with no soul, we’ve got a list you can check out.
It wasn’t just any client, it was one of our oldest. One who we helped them birth their business, outgrow a location, move, go through many management changes. Dropped everything to make things happen for them- without rush fees. Their business was like a second home, comfortable, inviting. We know the staff by name and they know us.
Getting the dear john email hurt. The conversation that followed hurt more. The client was crying.
Our activism had collided with their politics.
For almost 20 years we’d been their champions, and they’d been ours. But, now that was all coming to an end. Because we won’t sell our soul to the machine, and they became a part of it.
The loss of their account won’t damage us at all financially. They may find out that they will pay a lot more to work with the competition. They may find out that the drop everything and get this done costs a lot more. It might not get done as quickly. They may pay for the learning curve of a new agency- or, they may just listen a little more, and do things outside what their comfort zone allowed before and feel absolved. These things happen.
But, when it comes to our soul, if anything, we’ve hardened our resolve to continue to fight the machine, to make things better in our community.
Dayton is the county seat for Montgomery County. That means the county lock up is here. And, it’s run by the local sheriff. He’s also the chairman of the county Republican Party, which is sort of a conflict of interest, since in Ohio, on election day, the Sheriff has the last word on election issues.
We’re engaged in the community. Our Chief Creative Officer, David Esrati, has maintained a blog since 2005 that is widely read. It’s part of our “practice what we preach” philosophy, using WordPress for content management. Because of his provocative and informative, take no-holds approach to covering local issues, he’s developed a network of confidential sources. When the local jailers got caught in a cover up over pepper-spraying a restrained inmate the Sheriff called it an “isolated incident.”
A month later, it happened again, and a source asked David to investigate. Finding a way to get the video that the victims lawyer couldn’t, we put together a video to expose this heinous practice and begin the push for a full fledged investigation into the conditions in the jail. The post is www.esrati.com/deadly
As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, the oath to uphold and protect the constitution is inviolable, no matter how it risks keeping our doors open.
You won’t find a team of people at The Next Wave that believe educational “drill and fill” is the answer to solving tomorrow’s problems. But, that’s what our schools have been reduced to. In poor urban districts, like Dayton’s, they bought chromebooks for a 1 to 1 initiative, but won’t let the kids take the computers home, won’t teach them to code, and won’t encourage media/content production, the keys to the future economy.
We want to see kids engaged in creative personal exploration, but the currently mandated educational standards are all modeled on tested proficiency of a “common core” which leaves little room for creativity. The district is plagued with funding issues, high teacher burnout/turnover and challenged to compete with charter schools.
Our Chief Creative Officer sits on the Technology steering committee, and has tried to push for open source tools, providing the infrastructure to bridge the “digital divide” and to make the district differentiate itself from charters. Somehow, the message just isn’t getting through, nor is the district capable of selling its strengths to the community, causing a loop of bad PR, lower housing values, lower property tax revenue, less resources, more bad PR.
We crafted a video giving an overview of our turnaround strategy- one that involves rethinking the school year, how we approach the common core, and how to sell our community on a different way to learn. We did this on our own dime. It started a conversation. We’ll see if the discussion moves forward.
Every large institution in Dayton, our home town, decided it would be a good idea to raise income taxes on the poor people who live in Dayton. And put a ton of money behind the campaign to pass the tax levy.
There was “no organized opposition” to the levy, which diverted $4.5 million a year to a private school board for pre-schools. We thought that the money would be better spent by the local public school board- that we could at least un-elect. And, our school district actually runs really great free pre-schools.
How to get the message out, with no budget, no time, and overwhelming odds? Facebook. Our campaign spread like wildfire, and while the levy still passed, it was much lower than the passage rate of any other levy they’ve put on the ballot. We still don’t know how much they spent- since the secret PAC that ran the big dollar campaign never filed their after election campaign finance report. We know their average donation was $1873. That’s more than three months rent for most Dayton residents.
We spent $300 running the ad on Facebook, 15,000 views in less than 4 days. 150 shares. Just imagine if we’d had a tenth of their $218,478.19 pre-campaign spend. And, they spent a lot of it outside the city, despite plenty of local talent.
Anyone in the business of advertising in the decade from 2000 to 2010 should have been keeping a close eye on Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the darlings of the industry. Adweek even made up a new award- Creative Director of the Decade to give to Alex Bogusky at the end of 2009. So when The Next Wave Chief Creative Officer David Esrati had seen Alex introducing B-cycle, a joint venture between CP+B, Trek Bicycles and Humana Health Care, he reached out to Alex and asked what it would take to bring B-cycle to Dayton Ohio.
Through one-on-one selling to university presidents, economic development gurus, the director of metroparks, and bringing a prototype of the early bike to the first Miami Valley bike summit, Esrati built the case for bike share. His blog posts built awareness, and his constant lobbying for the program brought the system to town, 6 years after he started talking about it.
Alex Bogusky left the industry, and Trek is the only remaining partner, but David and Alex stay in touch about other things, looking for opportunities to collaborate.
And Dayton’s Link bike share system is being well used, and growing.