Blur Communications is a full-service communications and strategic planning boutique that offers big agency prowess with a specialized edge. The Blur edge combines deep critical thinking, creative artistry, and advanced technology to communicate our clients’ vision for a better future for their customers and the world. What makes us unique is that we only develop campaigns that have “intrinsic human benefit.” In other words, if it adds value to people’s lives, we love to market it. Working with a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit clients who share our beliefs, we become evangelists and spokespersons for their brands. Over the last 11 years we have had the pleasure of working in the areas of financial services, education, tourism, economic development, global human rights, LGBT equality, energy, media and entertainment, and spirits.
Let the Learning Begin The National Education Association is at a pivotal time in its history. Research indicates low awareness of the teachers union’s mission in
Changing History Through Advertising White American evangelists have partnered with Ugandan politicians and clergymen to create the Bahati Bill, which would allow th
We Use the Blur Edge to Change African LGBT Rights United Methodist advocates asked Blur to reach out to African delegates concerning their vote on the inclusion of
Turning An Insight Into Growth You could hardly ask for better market conditions than those of the African-American cognac market when Blur began work for B&B. Th
Creating a Symbol for a Safe Space in a Land of Ceaseless Danger In 2009 American evangelicals partnered with Ugandan politicians and faith leaders to plant the seed
A Challenge With A Twist
The Department of Tourism faced a serious decline in the number of U.S. visitors to the Turks & Caicos Islands.
How does one boost tourist numbers without damaging the “undiscovered” image of a pristine destination?
Blur solved this dilemma by avoiding traditional “product attribute” travel advertising. The campaign focused on what the choice of destination said about the consumer, prompting vacationers to appoint themselves to a “private society” of “travelers in the know.” Appoint themselves they did. A communications platform based on one strategic insight saw declining figures reversed, with a visitor increase of more than 37 percent in the first year of the campaign.
Let the Learning Begin
The National Education Association is at a pivotal time in its history. Research indicates low awareness of the teachers union’s mission in multicultural communities, and states have moved funding from public schools to charter schools. The NEA asked Blur to increase minority involvement with the organization, advocacy for public education, and votes in favor of the union’s policies.
Blur created “This is why we are,” a campaign to introduce diverse audiences to the NEA’s mission, particularly Hispanic, African-American, Asian Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native markets. The firm created advertisements, a public relations campaign, and grassroots outreach to give NEA a face in multicultural communities. Campaign elements included: radio, outdoor, direct mail, print and Internet, focus groups and polling, message development and testing, grassroots outreach, and media relations.
The campaign is currently under way, and early results show that the targeted audiences are learning the NEA’s understanding that knowledge is power.
We Use the Blur Edge to Change African LGBT Rights
United Methodist advocates asked Blur to reach out to African delegates concerning their vote on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the church. Blur associates met with high-level and grassroots clergy, advocates, and HIV/AIDS specialists from four African countries to understand African views on LGBT issues. Through conversation and focus groups, this groundbreaking research revealed that many Africans perceive homosexuality as an oddity but seek to learn and understand more about it within the context of African cultures.
Blur used this insight to create "Africa, Let Us Talk About It," a video campaign in French and English that introduced Africans who are gay, lesbian and bisexual and showed traditional Africans in transition about their views.
The results of this historic campaign include the Kenyan government and a Ugandan radio station adopting the phrase "Africa, Let Us Talk About It." Local radio shows, the main vehicle for communication in Africa, asked members of the LGBT community to appear on their shows and an ad on a top radio station web site with a primarily young audience in Cote d’Ivoire generated over 3,000 views. The Daily Monitor, an influential newspaper, wrote a series on sexuality that focused on straight allies in Uganda—a milestone in a campaign that is changing African perceptions of LGBT people.
Is there a need for Black Americans to use a bank that is “customized” for them?
Blur implemented research that lead to the strategic insight that Black consumers wanted a bank that was competent. Black consumers will prefer a “Black” bank based on its being competitive while having unique features which benefit the community. Blur expressed this by crafting the strategic communications hook: Advance and Connect.
Blur's Solution – Develop a logo to position Carver as THE bank that, given its legacy, is purposed to and positioned to advance African and Caribbean Americans personal and collective evolution as they seek to be linked to the nation’s financial markets and thus their individual and collective financial freedom.
Turning An Insight Into Growth
You could hardly ask for better market conditions than those of the African-American cognac market when Blur began work for B&B.
The consumer base was maturing. Affluence was exploding amongst African-American communities. Even though they only represented 14 percent of the population, African-Americans accounted for a staggering 50 percent of cognac consumption. Why on earth were B&B sales volumes declining in the midst of such favorable conditions? Blur recognized a problem common to much of the marketing targeting this community.
Advertisers have often made the assumption that affluent African-Americans respond to the same communications as the broader African-American population. That they all share similar aspirations. Nothing could be further from the truth. By identifying with only the “anti-bling” section of that population—the “calmly affluent”—in a tone that respected their standing in society, we found them responding with their wallets. Within one year, brand recognition grew 18 percent, trial grew 17 percent and purchase increased 14 percent. We’ll drink to that.
Harnessing Cultural Shifts
When KeySpan was confronting some seemingly inexplicable trends in its business, Blur was called upon to “explain and fix.”
First, we needed to identify the problems and opportunities by developing and mining research. Some of the conclusions were expected; some were not. Home ownership in the African-American community was growing. African-American homeowners were becoming increasingly concerned about environmental issues. Our response was to draw on the genuine involvement and respect KeySpan holds in the community to present a retail offering that satisfied an environmental demand (heating homes with natural gas rather than oil).
Thus, several complex social issues were distilled into an opportunity for the brand. Community demand confirmed this thinking. In the first year, direct response inquiries reached a healthy 4.1percent. Even better, the resulting sales leads have since grown threefold.
Substance Over Style
Despite its name and formidable reputation in design-oriented fields, FIT is also a powerhouse of serious education in business and technology. That’s right. FIT graduates are sought after in almost all industries. To business leaders, the quality of FIT’s alumni is unquestionable.
Yet, to the potential student seeking a business or technology degree, it all sounds suspiciously like the ideal destination for dressmakers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Every communication we create for this client promotes the expansive nature of the FIT curriculum without lessening its well-earned reputation as the paramount education facility for industrial designers, fashion designers, textile designers—any kind of designers. Especially successful ones.
Have we gotten it right? Yes. Inquiries have grown 90 percent this year.
Deliver a brand marquee which drives transactions while not discounting the brand itself. This requires a fine blend of aspirational and accessible sensibilities.
Blur developed the strategic communications hook: An invitation to step up!
Blur's Solution – Develop a logo which holds the positioning that:
"AWM is the accessible destination where I am exposed to and learn about wine and then knowingly choose from the store’s distinct selection."
Creating a Symbol for a Safe Space in a Land of Ceaseless Danger
In 2009 American evangelicals partnered with Ugandan politicians and faith leaders to plant the seeds for anti-gay legislation known as the Bahati Bill. This law would allow governments and citizens to terrorize the LGBT community. Beginning with Uganda, homophobia has spread across the African continent.
The Ugandan Anglican minister Bishop Christopher Senyonjo opposed the faith leaders. He stood with the LGBT community and was subsequently thrown out of the church.
Blur went to Uganda to assess the situation and help Bishop Senyonjo brand and create a strategic plan for the St. Paul's Reconciliation & Equality Centre, a safe space for the LGBT community. Blur created a logo for the center that has become a symbol of refuge from the violence Ugandan LGBT people face every day.
Blur created more than a logo. It is now a symbol of hope for Uganda’s LGBT community.
Revealing the Truth About Politics to African Americans
The National Organization of for Marriage and other conservative lobbying organizations have driven a wedge into Black communities, picking off black votes by appealing to Blacks' “conservative” opinion on a single issue—gay marriage. This division could prevent politicians from passing progressive legislation that would benefit African-American communities.
Blur Communications formed a coalition of Black faith leaders and activists, NoWedge2012.com, to stop that. The organization has formed a Black agenda that promotes affordable health care, education, childcare, awareness of the high numbers of black men in the penal system, and other policy matters beneficial to the community. The campaign provides a zone for Black Americans to declare that we have more in common than what divides us.
To promote the campaign the firm used public relations efforts to gather signatures from high profile religious figures. Blur knows organizing is about people communicating with one another. Blur planned town hall meetings with several media personalities and clergymen to educate Blacks on how lobbyists have divided their communities.
Of course, Blur didn’t just host events in any city. Blur planned events in the ten cities that have the largest African-American populations in America. To drive citizens to the town hall meetings, the firm created online videos and reached out to Black social networks, churches, LGBT pride events, and colleges universities.
These efforts garnered significant media attention—national appearances on CBNTV and local appearances on ABC and Fox News, as well as several local radio shows. Blur engaged the NAACP to participate in the campaign, reaching large amounts of Black America.
How can the largest for-profit charter school management-company create a brand that implies the depth of its resources while communicating its clear focus on delivering college-prepared students?
Blur developed the strategic communications hook: Intentional Delivery.
Blur's Solution – Develop a logo which holds the positioning
Intentional Delivery: This is what allows NHA to not just say it will make a positive impact, but in fact do it. Everything NHA does is intentional – its resourcing, structure, outreach, partnership development, discipline, efficiency, organization, and methodology. NHA has intentionally designed itself as a powerful multi-dimensional engine. At the same time, NHA has also kept itself human because the driving force behind all of this intentionality is the unwavering passion and care for every student’s success. This ambition and pride behind NHA’s endeavors is derived from its desire to provide leadership for American education.
Changing History Through Advertising
White American evangelists have partnered with Ugandan politicians and clergymen to create the Bahati Bill, which would allow the government to persecute LGBT people. Blur has brought the fight against the Bahati Bill to America. The firm created hopeinuganda.com, an online petition to convince Ugandan clergy to reconsider their support of the bill.
Blur saw African-American clergymen’s neutral position on the Bahatti Bill as a chance to change history in Uganda. The firm reached out to popular black clergy and reminded them that to kill a man or woman because of whom he or she loves contradicts Christian doctrine. Blur’s message convinced twenty-five prominent African-American faith leaders to sign the petition.
Fifteen of these faith leaders identify as conservatives—a sign to the Ugandan religious community that conservative doesn’t mean homophobic. These signatures are a huge steppingstone towards ending homophobia in Uganda.