High speed, high profile.

Challenge: To launch America’s first high-speed train, Acela, in a way that not only maximized press attention, but highlighted the train’s twin features, speed and luxury.

Solution: Taft produced two years’ worth of events—including a high-profile New York brand launch—that culminated in a mediagenic inaugural run featuring a champagne “christening” in Washington and an on-time arrival to fireworks in Boston.

Business Outcome: Intense media coverage—including a “money” shot of the train’s early arrival in Boston—made Acela the lead story nationwide. “By understanding that visuals drive coverage, the events you created...earned us tens of millions of dollars in [free] media.” — Amtrak

Controversy overcome.

Challenge: Barr Labs commissioned Taft to help win approval for Plan B, a new emergency contraceptive, at a highly visible public FDA Advisory Committee meeting. Because of the sensitive nature concerning the introduction of this new contraceptive, the hearings were covered extensively by the press.

Solution: Working closely with Barr’s team, Taft prepared them for the hearing by helping them develop their communications strategy, respond to agency input, write and deliver the core presentations, and learn critical Q&A techniques in lifelike “mock panel” rehearsals.

Business Outcome: Barr delivered a flawless presentation, and the joint panel approved the drug, 23-4. “Our president was floored by the authenticity of [the rehearsals],” said Barr’s senior director of regulatory affairs. “It could not have been accomplished without your efforts.”

Understanding AIDS.

Challenge: To increase the awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s response to this crisis.

Solution: Taft coordinated and produced the personal stories found among patients, families, government reps and leaders in the local medical communities by visiting homes, clinics, special events, schools and tribes. The finished product was a short film that was shown to those en route to the World AIDS Conference in Bangkok. A more extensive film was created for media outreach and internal communications.

Business Outcome: Taft broke through cultural barriers and guided our client to the heart of the story-the voices of the children, women and families of sub-Saharan Africa. Segments of the film were shown at a White House awards dinner celebrating best practices from several US Corporations.

Curiosity Kits.

Challenge: Taft participated in a venture capital backed turn-around effort to research, evaluate, and propose alternatives to improve the value of a toy kit company for resale by a global communications conglomerate.

Solution: Taft's role on the team included consulting on marketing trends, competitive advantages, motivation for purchase, and the requirements for developing a more successful brand. After the venture capital team completed its turnaround recommendations, Taft stayed on to train the creative staff and worked with the president to develop new lines of toys for the company, while expanding its graphic, design and manufacturing options in the US and abroad.

Business Outcome: Taft helped generate 25 new products the first year, and 50 new products the second year, several of which were nominees for Toy of the Year Awards. The third year, Curiosity Kits was successfully sold to a larger toy manufacturer. Wrote the client, "Your extraordinary editorial and graphic product input has greatly increased the overall consumer appeal of our products. Our sales are up 23%. You taught the staff how to use data to drive their recommendations. As a very wise person said, 'You taught them how to fish.'"

Listen and learn.

Challenge: With a half dozen similarly-named orchestras in the state, the board of The Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey needed to get on the same page re: the benefits of embracing a possible new name in order to help lead its perennial push for fund-raising and public awareness, and to avoid confusion with its competition.

Solution: Taft consulted with the Executive Director and Maestro to help identify the unique benefits of the orchestra; and lead key board members and the full board through a series of steps including a brainstorming workshop designed to underscore issues of the existing name, define the potential, and imagine the benefits of a proposed solution.

Business Outcome: The board was won over. The exciting new name, "The Discovery Orchestra", instantly communicated the adventure of the listening and learning in store for the audience, as it set the orchestra apart from a myriad of others with which it competes for funding. It is now positioned to expand its reach and win more television and video time for its dynamic productions, including "Bach to the Future.” “It’s quite enough that you show such sparks of genius in small groups, but to see you facilitate the (larger) room today was breathtaking. You can’t realize the gigantic, incredible, unbelievable, fabulous difference from the last three years of workshops,” wrote the Executive Director.

What’s in a name…

Challenge: Congressman Rush Holt had an innovative agenda for his upcoming economic summit meeting: He wanted to lead the way for central NJ business, industry, military and university communities to be able to market their region as a dynamic locus for new technology.

Solution: Taft consulted with Congressman Holt to create a captivating moniker that built on the area's unique heritage as a place of outstanding intellectual endeavor and performance. Taft believed the name "Einstein's Alley" could do more than simply name a summit; it could help put this corridor of New Jersey on the map. The Congressman agreed.

Business Outcome: Press fell in love with the name instantly and plastered it all over headlines; it generated scores of free media hits in press, radio and TV. The name stuck. The Chamber of Commerce, realtors and entrepreneurs started using it, and it spun off a development initiative with Taft’s theme, “It’s right up Einstein's Alley". Today, the name is helping central NJ strive to compete with Silicon Valley, Boston's Route 128, and the Research Triangle of North Carolina. “I couldn’t ask for a more insightful, creative and effective solution,” said Holt.

Defining the moment.

Challenge: Lockheed Martin hired Taft to produce a film about its 30-year history, which after several important mergers, had never been told.

Solution: Through extensive brand research, interviews and brainstorming with the client, Taft redefined and brought to life a contemporary brand message—that Lockheed Martin was a company “Of Freedom Made.”

Business Outcome: The phrase “Of Freedom Made” has become a mantra for the organization. The film’s opening, which features a soaring eagle revealing the company’s name, precedes many of the presentations Lockheed Martin now gives, both inside and outside the organization. “Lockheed invested in a brand revitalization that served as a beacon for our employees and has unified the company and motivated our people to become true brand ambassadors,” stated the Project Director.

Relaunching an original.

Challenge: Ferrero USA, makers of TicTacs, asked Taft to consult on the repositioning of a specialty import food brand, Nutella, for relaunch to the American market. In Europe, chocolate was considered a healthy food for kids—would American moms ever approve?

Solution: Working closely with the client, Taft developed and tested a series of positioning options with our consumer groups. Our storyboards explored the language and visuals needed to adapt this relatively unknown import to existing American snack attitudes and usage. We focused on kids' loving it; on moms' purchase for after-school snack time; and featured the chocolaty product in a healthful setting on fruit, crackers and bread. It worked!

Business Outcome: Nutella was re-launched with Taft's recommended positioning—“The original creamy, chocolaty hazelnut spread.” The launch advertising, like the product label, featured Taft language and recommendations. The rest, as they say, is food history. Today, Nutella is as much of a megabrand in the US as it is in Europe.

Power presentation.

Challenge: Brussels-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals was called by the US FDA to describe its approach to a revolutionary cell-based vaccine technology at a public Advisory Committee meeting in Washington, DC. The company’s chief competitor also presented its approach at the hearing; at stake was a $300 million grant to continue research into the process.

Solution: Working with a global team located in Amsterdam and Atlanta, Taft helped craft the company’s argument in a “briefing package,” then organized the presentations, developed the slide graphics, coached the presenters and trained the team in Q&A techniques—all in an effort to differentiate both its product and its process from the competition.

Business Outcome: Solvay dominated the hearing, impressed the panel, and was ultimately awarded the grant. “I am convinced that the presentation had a lot to do with this fantastic outcome,” said a senior regulatory executive.

Sweet success.

Challenge: McNeil Specialty Products, a division of Johnson & Johnson, working with Tate & Lyle, was evaluating the potential of marketing a revolutionary new sweetener that started with a sugar molecule, but contained zero calories. McNeil hired Taft to serve as the creative consultant on its core product development team to help create and position this potential brand and its benefits within a highly competitive category.

Solution: After 4 years, hundreds of focus groups, product testing, copy development, graphic and naming explorations, Taft assisted in all aspects of creating the Splenda brand “personality.” We teamed with the product management group to help them articulate the product benefits in a way that was accurate, compelling and creative—paving the way for a new megabrand.

Business Outcome: Today Splenda is the number one brand among artificial sweetener users. “The Taft team were excellent listeners and responders to consumer nuance. Naming is always a challenging process and Taft hit on the name and distinctive yellow and blue packaging that brought the brand to prominence and set it apart from its competitors. They worked seamlessly with us to build a remarkable new brand.”

Case Studies
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