We traded up to E*Trade

We’re helping the pioneer of online financial services expand their engagement with investors.  But why are we telling you when you can read all about it in Adweek?


Brad Kay on the Rising Cost of Super Bowl Spots

SS+K’s President Brad Kay was quoted in a recent article about the rising cost of Super Bowl spots:


“It’s really hard to argue against [the Super Bowl] as an incredible awareness vehicle; an incredible vehicle to generate talk value and chatter,” said Brad Kay, President of the creative agency SS&K.

While carriers clearly benefit from costly Super Bowl ads, it would also seem that it’s in the interest of advertising agencies to convince their clients to shell out for the big game.

“I would hate to think that we’d be the agency that immediately goes behind closed doors when the clients leaves and says, ‘we have an opportunity to be in the Super Bowl, who cares if it this is really money well spent for the client,” Kay said.

Kay believes that while a Super Bowl ad has the potential to be tremendously beneficial, marketers might be more successful if they took a more “holistic” approach to their campaign – one that leverages the high profile TV spot to create more conversion opportunities online.

“Marketers need to be sure that it’s not an ego-driven decision but a really smart business decision”.

You can read the full article at



Lenny Stern Talks Financial Services Marketing

SS+K’s Founding Partner Lenny Stern spoke with Ad Week about the evolving landscape of financial service marketing.

“No one is in the mood to treat finances as a joke,” said SS+K founding partner Lenny Stern. “This category is looking for a new vocabulary [and] new reference points to be authentic. People feel wary and frustrated—mistreated by institutions—and are willing to switch to brands that will include them.”

Read more about the evolution of financial services marketing at Ad Week.


Rob Shepardson on Bloomberg TV

SS+K partner Rob Shepardson was on Bloomberg TV this week speaking about challenges the White House is facing with healthcare and the NSA surveillance program:

White House Needs Results, Not Messages


SS+K Leads Digiday Sammy Awards Finalists

SS+K leads this year’s Digiday Sammy Awards finalists for its work with the Obama for America campaign:

SS+K Leads Sammy Awards Finalists

The finalists have been decided for the annual Digiday Sammy Awards, which recognize excellence and breakthrough achievement in social advertising, media and marketing. Three finalists were chosen in most of the 12 categories, and five categories were narrowed down to four or five. See here for our panel of 10 judges who determined the finalists.

New York-based social engagement agency SS + K’s work with Obama for America was recognized in four categories for two campaigns. The “For All” campaign is a finalist in the “Best Social Engagement Campaign” and “Best Social Creative,” the “First Time” campaign was recognized in “Best Branded Viral Video” and both campaigns emerged as finalists in “Best Use of Social Media for a Cause.”

Read more here.


SS+K Joins Coolhouse Labs in Advisory Role

You might see SS+Kers in an unexpected spot this summer – right on the shores of Lake Michigan. SS+K is spending the summer mentoring startups of the inaugural class of Coolhouse Labs, a brand-new business accelerator founded by former SS+Ker Jordan Breighner, a Michigan alum.


Throughout the summer, several SS+Kers and SS+K alums have been spending time on Skype with the each of Coolhouse Labs’ five teams, working on business and product positioning, messaging strategy and communications planning. SS+K alum Nathan Phillips, a copywriter, comedian and founder of The Oratory Laboratory, has even been coaching teams with their presentation skills.

In July, SS+K founding partner Lenny Stern and I took a trip to Coolhouse Labs to meet the teams in person. We gave a talk on SS+K’s approach to brand strategy + social engagement, and met with each of the teams daily to work through challenges each were facing at their particular stages of development.

Engaging with the teams at Coolhouse Labs, we’ve been fortunate to meet a host of smart and ambitious people – and can’t wait to see what Lorious, Novi Times, TRNK, Project Travel and Every Last Morsel have accomplished by the end of the summer and beyond. If you’re interested in learning more about this first class of graduating companies, or are a member of the Michigan creative and technology community seeking an opportunity to share your work, join Coolhouse for their special culminating event August 23rd – 24th.



SS+K’s Brad Kay in Digiday on Publicis-Omnicom

SS+K Partner and President Brad Kay was quoted in Digiday on the merger of Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group and how small, independent agencies should respond:

Rivals: Smaller agencies will gleefully point to the 130,000-employee behemoth as all that’s wrong with the mechanized, commoditized ad world. The sheer amount of bureaucratic infighting during an integration will provide an opening for rivals. What’s more, the clear conflicts this presents will provide an opening for WPP and other rivals to swoop in to woo away big clients. Brad Kay, president of independent shop SS&K, summed it up this way: “To-do’s for small, independent agencies: 1) review client list of Omni-Pub; 2) identify top talent; and 3) exploit six months of utter distraction.”

Read more here.


Breaking Ground at Mondelez’s Fly Garage Incubation Lab

This week, SS+K partners Brad Kay and Lenny Stern participated in Mondelez International’s Fly Garage project, a weeklong experimental ideas session and innovation lab with industry leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The lab, sponsored by Contagious Magazine and brought to life by the innovation house Castro, helps the global snacks leader think in new ways about how it does business, shapes the snack world, engages consumers and tells brand stories. The industry thinkers invited were tasked to help Mondelez crack the code of what the future holds for its global businesses, and how consumers’ expectations, experiences and brand relationships will evolve in the coming decade.

Brad and Lenny are looking forward to putting Fly Garage’s ideation and open thinking models to work at SS+K. Here are some snapshots from the week:

IMG_6554 IMG_6641





Partners Featured in Contagious Magazine’s the Feed

SS+K partners Rob Shepardson and Bobby Hershfield were featured in Contagious Magazine‘s the Feed last week, in an article on our For All and First Time campaigns for Obama for America. Read the article, by Lucy Aitken, below.


When President Obama was re-elected in November 2012, SS+K, a New York-based agency specialising in creative social engagement, helped the Obama/Biden ticket reach out to younger voters. To start with, it launched an effort targeting first-time voters with writer, director and actor Lena Dunham, best known for New York millennial drama show Girls, at its helm. She produced a video, First Time, which was viewed more than 2.5 million times. According to SS+K, that made it the most viewed piece of YouTube content of the entire campaign.


A second effort, called For All, tapped into visual culture and was based on the Pledge of Allegiance. People were invited to write an issue on their hand, take a photo and post it on Instagram. The For All effort was helped by celebrities getting involved and was picked up by 76,000 Twitter users who used the #ForAll hashtag. Details of both campaigns can be found in the film above.

On polling day, young people made up 19% of the electorate in 2012, an all-time high, and 60% of them voted for President Obama. Analysts have said the youth vote made the difference in four key battleground states that helped keep the President in the White House.

Contagious interviewed Rob Shepardson, a founding partner at SS+K and Bobby Hershfield, chief creative officer, about the campaign, which was this week awarded a merit for integrated branding at the One Show awards in New York and is one to watch in Cannes.

What were the big differences between the 2008 and 2012 elections?

2008 was a historic elec.on and it was incredibly exciting. We s.ll had the educa.onal challenge about how to get younger people to vote, but they were thrilled with the opportunity not just to throw out Bush but also to elect a figure like Obama. In 2012, it was an entirely different scenario. People were hammered by the economy and young people were alienated from poli.cs and disillusioned by it. The challenge for us was to remind them that the president had made a lot of progress on issues they care about. We just had to remind them that they shared these values and that was a big part of the campaign.

How important were celebrities in engaging younger voters?

With ‘For All’, celebrities could reach out through their social media profiles and express their own values. Many were interested in getting engaged and this was an opportunity for them to do that. Because it was about ‘for all,’ we shot it with iPhones, not high end photographers, so it was done in a very grounded way. The thing was to make it feel about equality, so celebrities and everyday people were treated exactly the same.

Lena Dunham engaged in the For All campaign by tweeting a photo about gay marriage. Given her obvious appeal to this demographic – almost more than any other celebrity at the moment – she helped attract 18 to 22-year- olds who hadn’t voted in 2008 with a film that equated the first time voting with losing your virginity. We were aware that this was a controversial approach to and the right wing would be upset and we’d get some criticism about it. But that helped prove to our audience how out of touch the right wing was: the values that the president shares with millennials are in stark contrast to those of the extreme right wing. This was a very creative manifestation in the voice of Lena Dunham and it created that clear divide. The right wing responded in the way we predicted they would and went crazy: Fox TV had shows criticizing it. It proved a point and stayed in the media for 10 days.

How are you preparing for the 2016 election?

We monitor younger voters and millennials and how they share a very strong set of progressive values around tolerance and open-mindedness. No candidate would ever be advised to take them for granted.



SS+K’s Campaign a Webby People’s Voice Winner

We’re excited to announce SS+K was named a Webby’s People’s Voice winner in best copywriting for our Obama for America For All campaign. Kudos to the SS+K teams that helped make the campaign a reality, from the creative thinkers who first hatched the idea and the producers who brought it to life to the account teams that managed the process. We also owe a tremendous thank you to our external teams – including the folks at Chelsea Pictures – whose efforts helped inspire voters and move people.

We also must thank the Webby voters who clicked endlessly for the win. Congratulations to all of the Webby winners; we can’t wait to deliver our 5-word acceptance speech in May.