Happy Holidays From SS+K


Obama/Biden 2012

We pride ourselves on producing campaigns that get people talking, thinking, acting. And the Obama/Biden 2012 presidential campaign got people talking, thinking, and acting like no other effort in modern American politics. Thousands of campaign staff, hundreds of organizations, and many other agencies worked on advertising and media. We’re incredibly proud to be counted as a small part of the team.

As the campaign’s youth agency, we developed two campaigns to reach young Americans.


The first campaign – “First Time” – aimed to convince college students their first time voting was an important, life-changing decision. Moreover, we emphasized their ‘first time’ should be in support of the President.

We even got Lena Dunham in on the action. Through a video that’s been viewed more than 2.5 million times, Lena sparked a national conversation about the issues that matter most to young people.

The second campaign – “For All” – used the Pledge of Allegiance as its foundation. The campaign underscored both the president’s vision that we’re greater together and the values that connect young people to him. It provided young Americans the opportunity to share their own visions for the future. The idea was simple: write an issue on your hand, take a photo, post it on Instagram and spread the word. You might recognize some of people in the shots below. We think it was the first Instagram-based political advertising campaign and it reached deep into our target. More than 76,000 Twitter users tweeted with the #ForAll hashtag, potentially reaching more than 150 million people between September and election day.

The result? The numbers tell the story. 18% of young Americans turned out in 2008, with 66% voting in support of the President. This time around – even amid concerns about the economy and disenchantment with the political process – they turned out again and in record numbers. 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 VA, OH, FL and PA, key battleground states that put the President over the top. Moreover, the ad was named Time’s #3 ad of the year.



NYC Taps Twitter to Power Through Sandy’s Aftermath

In the wake of the craziness that was Hurricane Sandy, I’m really impressed with how Mayor Bloomberg has used Twitter to keep New Yorkers as up to date as possible on what’s going with the city.

I’ve been following real-time updates all week via @NYCMayorsOffice, @MikeBloomberg, @MTAInsider and @NYCGov accounts.

Then this morning I noticed promoted tweets (which Twitter is providing for free to emergency services accounts) appearing in my Twitter stream highlighting the most recent city update tweets from the @NYCMayorsOffice.

And just now we were all invited to watch a live stream of Mayor Bloomberg’s upcoming press conference via an embedded inline YouTube feed (see the screenshot above or the embedded tweet below).

Thanks Mayor Bloomberg, and your whole staff, for doing what you can to keep us informed!

This content is cross-posted from Kevin’s personal blog.


On the Convergence of Politics and Advertising

SS+K founder Lenny Stern shares insights on politics, creativity + saving the world in Adweek’s Big Players, Big Ideas interview series.


Why is everyone at SS+K smiling?

Kids back in school?
Hedged against the euro?
Clint Eastwood called?
Bobby Hershfield?

Correct answer:
Bobby, our new partner/chief creative officer.

Bobby just joined SS+K last month and yet he’s had an immediate, energizing effect on us and our work.

See Bobby’s profile

He came from Mother (don’t we all?) and other great agencies, notably Wieden + Kennedy, where he went from being a good account guy to being a great creative guy. Thank you, Dan Wieden.

You can see a bit of Bobby’s work here and the announcement here – or, better yet, come by 88 Pine & see a bit of Bobby. You’ll smile, too.


Summer School

While most people spent the summer thinking about anything but school, we thought about it a lot. Great new clients Kaplan and American Student Assistance kept us in academic gear. And, in June, we launched the College Board’s Don’t Forget Ed campaign to keep education from being forgotten during the election cycle.


We put 857 empty desks underneath the Washington Monument to symbolize how many high school students drop out every hour of every school day.

The installation rocked, and made its way to the front section of the New York Times.

Next, we piled $1.5B in hundred dollar bills on Wall Street across from the New York Stock Exchange to represent what we gain by reducing the high school dropout rate by just one percent:


And it ain’t over yet. Hint: watch the debates


Get Old

It’s not what you expect to hear from anyone, least of all from the world’s leading pharmaceutical company. And that’s the point of our new effort with Pfizer.

Get Old may not be what we expect to hear, but it’s what we all hope to do: live longer, do more, see more. It’s a call to rethink our assumptions about our futures in light of medical science’s promise combined with our own potential.


Get Old
is a unique, provocative platform built on a core human truth – that everyone wants to live the longest, fullest life possible, at any age. This platform encourages dialogue, celebrates experiences and provides a space to share the wisdom and knowledge that come with getting older. Get Old represents a new bottom-up, listening-based approach for Pfizer, an effort to support a very important conversation in channels where people are already conversing.

Developing this with Pfizer has been a fascinating outing for us. It’s news we want to share with our friends, but we also invite you to join in:

  • Visit to tell us how you feel about getting old and to dive into the stories, videos, tips and information shared by Pfizer, their partners and ordinary people.
  • Join the conversation by liking the Get Old page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @GetOld and under the hashtag #LetsGetOld.
  • And If you’re near Pfizer’s worldwide headquarters in New York, at 42nd Street and 2nd Ave, come see our window installation.

We have the privilege of doing a lot of great things for a lot of great clients, but, every now and then, we get the chance to do something that brings together all of what we do best. For us, this has been one of those.












Rediscovering the Joy of Social Media With Path

Sometimes you don’t realize you ever had a problem until you have the solution.  For a while now, without thinking about it much, most of my social networking has practically been the same experience as building a resume.  Every post on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr was curated knowing that, besides my friends, hundreds of co-workers, clients, perspective employers and more would potentially be viewing.  When Klout launched, it was the ultimate manifestation of the symptom I didn’t know I had: living in public had driven me to focus too much on the necessity of perception.

Then a few months ago, enter Path. A social network that defies everything that defines every other social network.  Want people to see your content?  Too bad, it’s only on your phone so there’s no place for most people to view it.  Want to post a link you think will make you look smart?  Too bad, you can only share original content.  Want hundreds of friends + followers?  Too bad, you can only have 150 (which is based on Dunbar’s law of the number of real relationships you can mentally manage).


What you can do? Share the song you’re listening to at that exact moment on your iPod, or the location of where you’re standing, or the thought you just had, or the moment you’re about to go to bed.  Stuff that only a few people care about.  Stuff that you have to create with your phone, the most intimate application you have, by yourself.  Stuff that no one will see.  And did I mention Path was created by one of the first Facebook employees, after he helped build what is now the most public platform on the planet?

But Path, a mobile only social network defined as much by its limitations as its capability, is an absolute pleasure to use.  It’s the  antidote to the sickness of public sharing.  It’s designed with precise care to enforce an intimate experience between you and the people you care about.  It strips away the fear of something not being smart enough for the pleasure of knowing that you shared a moment with the people that matter.  It provides a freedom from the public I’d forgotten I wanted, and as such has become the social network I want to use more than any other every single day.

In exchange for the ability to make you famous, Path focuses on making you happy (in fact, their internal motto is something like “design happiness”).  When you share something on Path you see the faces of every friend who looks at it, giving you instant viseral feedback.  It’s easy for people to smile, frown, heart or gasp at your content.  Everything is plotted on a timeline of your day, giving you a journalistic feeling.  If you connect Nike+ to Path and share your work-outs, when someone smiles at your run on Path, you hear cheers in your headphones like your friends are there with you.

With Path, I no longer worry about credibility because there’s no way to earn it.  Instead, I focus on sharing personal moments, and the reward is a closer relationship with the people I’m connected to.  It feels a lot like what social networking was probably originally meant to be.  And it’s really enjoyable again, in a way much of my experience with Twitter and Facebook isn’t.  Thanks Dave Morin, for learning to build great things at Facebook and then turning around and building exactly the opposite but better.

This content is cross-posted from Kevin’s personal blog.



Awards: One Show pencil times two


SS+K took home two silver pencils from last week’s One Show awards:

We’ve embraced yogurt from Korea, so why not pizza? Based on that preposterous allegation Marco Polo stole the idea for pizza from Korea (he stole pasta, didn’t he?), our cheeky ‘True Origins of Pizza’ drew 2.2 million views to an online video that got people talking about our client, Mr. Pizza, a Korean-based chain expanding here in the U.S. A multi-lingual blog, a Twitter account, protest T-shirts, downloadable posters and stickers with QR codes provoked millions of views and cross-cultural laughter. ‘True Origins’ nabbed the silver pencil for long form advertising/cinema at last week’s One Show Awards.

The silver pencil from One Show Interactive went to our AFL-CIO site, which reminds people what it’s all about: the work. Work is what binds Americans together, whether union or not, blue collar or white, even employed or not. We Americans define ourselves by what we do and invest ourselves in doing it better, with a profound effect on the world around us. From that core connection, is an interactive web experience where users list what they do and are rewarded with a custom animation that shows how their work inspires and influences others – we invite you to log in, explore your connections through work and how those connections affect the world.


Our 19th: a new partner + SVP

Sorry if the noise kept you up, but that party at Tribeca’s Locanda Verde on May 3rd was to celebrate SS+K’s 19th anniversary. The partying spirit peaked when it was announced Kate Rothen had been made a partner and John Swartz a senior VP.

Kate runs the consulting group and some of SS+K’s most significant accounts, and she does all with exceptional talent, dedication and integrity. John runs production at SS+K, which means he’s the calm amidst the storm of a very busy agency. He’s raised our game in ways that are reflected in things like, well, those One Show pencils.

The party’s over, and Kate, John and the rest of us have our hands full gearing up to launch cool new work for clients like Pfizer, jcp, Kraft and College Board.  And, to top things off, we were named Political Agency of the Year by OMMA.

That’s all for now. Thanks.