Editor's note: This new column will cover the advertising and public relations industry in Los Angeles. It will be published every other week.

Advertisers who worry that consumers will TiVO through their spots can now resolve or confirm their angst.

A new tracking service from TiVO reveals "the least fast-forwarded brand campaigns," and the first winner is a campaign from Long Beach-based production house Nista Hancock and Knapp.

The ads for the AlmostGolf practice ball beat out all the big brands on 15 networks. While the major household names fared better among time-shifted commercials (where Ford and Sony took the top spots) and in the total viewing category (where Dreamwork's "Disturbia" won), the least fast-forwarded competition favored direct response ads.

But according to NHaK, the AlmostGolf commercials use a hybrid format between traditional direct response and brand awareness. Instead of a voice-over shouting praise for the product, the ads visually depict golfers having fun practicing their game. While the commercials include calls to action via telephone or online, they usually push retail sales more than anything else, showing that the hybrid formula can sell across channels even to the TiVO generation.

"I wish I could say that I had some secret weapon in making a TiVo-proof ad, but the reality is that we produced a commercial that directly sells to the consumer without typical annoying tactics," said Jim Nista, chief executive at NHaK. "Sometimes agencies forget that 'cutting-through' isn't synonymous with insulting the viewer."

Marketers looking to beat the TiVO machine also should carefully consider their media placement. "AlmostGolf doesn't have a limitless budget, so we don't shotgun their ads everywhere. We buy where they are relevant to the audience, meaning people are more interested in the product and less likely to fast-forward," said Gretchen Gray, media planner for the AlmostGolf account at NHaK.

Russian Campaign

Just as Los Angeles was losing its Olympic bid for 2016, an L.A.-based agency was helping another city win. On July 4, the International Olympic Committee voted Sochi, Russia as the host city for 2014 Winter Games, thanks in part to a marketing campaign by local ad shop Canvas Atelier.

Titled "Russia the Door Is Open," the promo campaign aired in 142 countries. Sochi is a resort city on the Black Sea. Although Russia has won 293 medals at Winter Olympics, the country has never hosted the Games until now.

The campaign emphasized the tourism opportunity of the Games by showing classical Russian art as well as exteriors around Sochi. Parts were shot in Red Square and inside Kremlin ceremonial doors that have never been accessible to filmmakers. Behind the camera, Canvas Atelier put director Rupert Wainwright, most famous for his feature films "Stigmata" (1999) and "The Fog" (2005).

"It's unbelievably rewarding to see the positive impact of your work on a scale this large," said Lee Nelson, the founder of Canvas Atelier who wrote and produced the spots during months that he and Wainwright lived in Russia.

However, the company admits that Olympic contests are a team sport. The other agencies on the account included FCB-MA Moscow and the production houses DTV-MA in Moscow and XOVR in Los Angeles.

Latina Power

Five Hispanic women who run their own marketing agencies have formed Latina Agency Alliance (LAA) with the aim of pursuing new business opportunities, referring clients to each other and mentoring other Latinas who hope to start their own companies.

The local presence of LAA is Zully Gonzalez, president of LatinSolutions in Long Beach, an event and promotions agency. "Our group includes some of the most creative and strategic events and marketing thinkers in the business," said Gonzalez. LAA will function more as a business alliance rather than a trade advocacy group.

"Corporate America sometimes bases decisions to allow companies into pitches on revenue alone," said Yvonne "Bonnie" Garcia, owner of Market Vision in San Antonio. Our alliance agencies have the talent, creative energy and track records to participate in pitches. Now our combined resources both revenue and human will provide us the opportunity to make it into requests for proposals where the bar is set very high, precluding smaller shops from making the cut."

Agencies & Accounts

Ad shop 72andSunny won the creative agency of record title for the Discovery Channel. The agency will oversee all U.S. strategic and creative duties for the cable TV channel, including a re-branding campaign to start in October. Santa Monica-based Palisades MediaGroup has opened a New York office. The move complements Palisades' strategic shift from an entertainment-heavy shop to general business clients. The agency has about 80 employees and annual billings of $600 million.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com , or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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