Photos by Hal Yeager, Governor’s Office

In September of 2017, Alabama was one of only six states in the U.S. without statewide ridesharing legislation. Ridesharing giant Lyft wasn’t satisfied with “almost,” though, so they enlisted Big’s proven public affairs team to put the pedal to the metal here in the Heart of Dixie.

It wasn’t as simple as putting butts in car seats, though; this plan had to pass the Alabama State Senate and House, where a similar bill had just failed. So we aligned with Lyft and Montgomery-based lobbyist firm Fine Geddie & Associates to create a statewide coalition of third parties to educate legislators and the public on the many benefits of a statewide ridesharing network. The ultimate goal? Present a bill during the January 2018 Alabama Legislative Session and get it all the way passed.

To start, the coalition needed a name, an online presence, and a digital community. “Ride For Alabama” was born, launched, and galvanized all in a matter of weeks, including a Big-designed coalition website, an educational video, various social assets, and a complementary one-sheeter that was distributed to both House and Senate members prior to voting. Additionally, we put together a media tour and a coalition kickoff event (featuring a key address from Governor Kay Ivey herself) to generate coverage and introduce ridesharing representatives to influential reporters. The result? More than eight million media impressions statewide—and a very big win for the Ridesharing Bill.

According to the testimony of John Horton, public affairs representative at Lyft, we passed their challenge with flying (or maybe driving?) colors: “This bill was previously attempted to be run in Alabama the previous legislative session. It failed. It did not make it to the Senate. Once we hired Big, we were able to file the bill, pass it out of both chambers—28-0 in the Senate, 97-3 in the House—and signed on the Governor’s desk within 11 days, which is a new record for us as a company as far as how quickly we are able to move legislation through a state capital.”

In fact, Lyft was so pleased with our work here at home that they brought us on board to get a statewide ridesharing bill passed in our neighboring state of Louisiana. And we have to say, after the big win in Alabama, we like our chances.

In September 2017, Amazon announced it was in search of a second headquarters, setting off a frenzy among cities hoping to capture the tech giant’s gaze. The appeals for attention ranged from off-the-wall to more mundane, and right here in Birmingham, a group of economic development leaders tasked Big with crafting the city’s own response. Big envisioned a campaign that would not only work to attract Amazon with its creativity, but one that would mobilize our entire city behind it, both on and offline. And so the BringAtoB campaign was born.

We had to ensure the launch of BringAtoB caused a splash—a big one. The core idea from our chief creative officer, Ford Wiles, was simple but bold: Place a series of giant Amazon replica boxes in prominent spots throughout the city.

To give that unveiling a jolt of media presence, our PR team organized a press conference at Railroad Park, where city and county elected officials and business leaders, flanked by one of the giant replica boxes, announced Birmingham’s intention to go full-tilt at Amazon’s RFP.

With media relations in place, we turned our creative focus to a modern, social-driven component to help bolster the campaign. Utilizing Big web developer and technology DIYer Robert Brodrecht, Big assembled two oversized Amazon dash buttons for installation in key, high-traffic areas of the city. Passersby could then “press” the buttons, initiating one of hundreds of pre-generated tweets from the BringAtoB account. The tweets, speaking directly to Amazon, contained reasons why the tech giant should consider the city for its second HQ.

In addition to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts were also created, helping to popularize the #BringAtoB hashtag. To give the campaign a community element, locals were encouraged to use the hashtag and give their own reasons for why Birmingham should be considered. Through the duration of the campaign, the three social media accounts attracted over 4,600 followers, 874,000 impressions, and nearly 2,500 uses of the #BringAtoB hashtag.

And of course PR played perhaps the most significant role. The unconventional elements of this campaign naturally drew a lot of attention and struck a chord with a national media that was growing weary of Amazon news and gimmicks. This BringAtoB campaign was unique enough to cut through the noise, receiving mentions via USA Today, NPR, Seattle Times, Washingtonian and Good Morning America, among countless others. In all, an astounding 802 million media impressions were generated via print, online and broadcast media throughout the U.S. and abroad.

The campaign was so successful that it took us from the bottom of the considered set list to the the top of everyone’s most talked about list. And more importantly, the campaign helped Birmingham land an Amazon fulfillment center, which for the city and the state, is a huge win. One that results in jobs, new opportunities and progress – all boxed up and delivered on Birmingham’s doorstep.

Go Build Alabama has been building a presence in the Yellowhammer State for a few years now. But we couldn’t sit around and wait for interested students to come to us—we had to bring the message to them.

Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications

As part of a rebranding effort for the Alabama Department of Commerce, we created an identity that would be smart, yet approachable; one that proudly expressed Alabama’s point of view as a workforce, a people, and a state. Instead of an elaborate logo and identity system that would date itself over time, we created a mark that stands for what we value most in Alabama—both as a manufacturer of industry and ideas.

Made in Alabama | BIG Communications
Made in Alabama | BIG Communications
Made in Alabama | BIG Communications
Made in Alabama | BIG Communications

Most people think the key to a successful career begins with a four year degree. While a college education is a great start for many people, the long term effect of that preconception has been a serious depletion of younger workers into the skilled trades. Now, for every four tradesmen set to retire in the next few years, there’s only one in the training pipeline. That means the industry is about to be hit hard by a supply/demand ratio that will drive up the cost of labor and create serious logjams in construction queues.

Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications
Go Build Alabama | BIG Communications

A category five hurricane, two seasons of drought and a full summer season of closed waterways due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit Alabama’s seafood industry hard. Concerns of safety and upward price-pressures were causing business to dry up, putting numerous fishermen out of business and pinching fleets, personnel and profits for everybody. The industry needed to create new demand for Gulf product, plain and simple.

Big’s strategy was to shorten the distance between consumers and the hardworking folks of Alabama’s seafood industry, the group that research told us people found most trustworthy. Doing this not only helped insert Alabama Gulf Seafood into the buy local conversation, it fostered a genuine sense of pride in the product for everyone in the Yellowhammer State. It also created a brand that embraced the hotness of the South in a way that would make even the most ardent Yankee yearn for golden fried shrimp.

Alabama Gulf Seafood | BIG Communications
Alabama Gulf Seafood | BIG Communications

While the creative was picking up awards (like Best of Show at the District 7 Addy awards against major national campaigns), the brand continued to pick up incredibly valuable partnerships. We got up with 2012 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Billy Reid to make a line of Alabama Gulf Seafood merchandise benefiting the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, both in 2012 and again in 2014.

We partnered with the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores for two years running to feature fresh, Alabama-sourced seafood in the only air-conditioned tent on site to serve artists and VIPs from all around the world. In 2014, we expanded our Hangout partnership to feature the Alabama Gulf Seafood courtyard at the BMI stage. We passed out branded shirts backstage that ended up on the cover the Alabama Shakes iTunes sessions album. We joined forces with nationally recognized chefs Frank Stitt, Chris Hastings, John Currence, and Wesley True to make sure there was no stone left unturned when it came to making Alabama Gulf Seafood a household name.