National Grocers Association “Salutes” Tombras Creative

The Tombras Group received national recognition when “Salute”, a 60 second Food City branding spot, won Best of Show at the 2014 NGA Creative Choice Awards. It also won Best of Show at the recent 2014 Knoxville American Advertising Federation Awards.

“Salute” honors the generations of families who have served and sacrificed. With an original music score and visually driven storytelling it connects at an emotional level rarely seen in advertising. Since it launched in July “Salute” has gone viral in a big way, receiving over 3 million organic views on social media.

Match Made in Tennessee: Activating Farm Bureau Insurance’s Partnership with The Vols

Farm Bureau Insurance covers more homes in Tennessee than any other insurer and is second in auto and individual life insurance policies. And, the ongoing Farmer Charlie campaign has created higher awareness in Tennessee than Geico, Progressive or State Farm.

So to continue to build its brand dominance in Tennessee, Farm Bureau Insurance became the Official Insurance of the Tennessee Vols. To activate that sponsorship Tombras paired Farmer Charlie with University of Tennessee Football and Basketball coaches to create a multi-channel campaign using TV, radio, digital advertising, in-venue graphics and social media.

The campaign has gone viral, reaching over 150,000 Tennesseans on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Watch Brick By Brick and Blue Chips below:

Corporate Culture Matters To More Than Just Millennials

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

There’s been much ado about Gen Y’s need for work/life balance and connectivity, the millennials’ Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and their eagerness to carry work friendships over into life outside the office. Turns out millennials aren’t the only ones who like to mix work and play. Let’s face it, the workplace is where we spend most of our time. The camaraderie we build among our co-workers – our shared context – makes the office a natural extension of our personal lives, regardless of our ages, genders and backgrounds.

Consider the long-running sitcom “The Office” and the shenanigans of the loveable oddballs at this fictional paper company, whose motto was, “Quabity First” and “Get Your Scrant On.” There was no real story line, and each episode was self contained. What I liked best about the offbeat mockumentary was the genuine fondness the characters seemed to have for their officemates, even when they got on each other’s nerves.

The Tombras Group is a far cry from the dorky awesomeness of Dunder Mifflin, but the relationships we build here are real. And we have our own brand of office hijinks to offset the fast-paced, deadline-driven, creative frenzy that is advertising.

I’ve met people here at Tombras I wouldn’t have met anywhere else. Our paths simply wouldn’t have crossed. In fact, there was a time in my life, when if you weren’t a soccer mom with a 37919 zip code, you might as well have been an alien from outer space. Now I count hipsters as friends, baby boomers as colleagues and West Coast transplants as collaborators. It’s a fertile ground for success. Creative people need to feed off each other’s energy and riff off each other’s ideas. And sometimes we just need to share an elk burger, a craft beer or some imported dark chocolate.

During my time here at Tombras, we have accomplished much as an agency. Our client roster is diverse, our creative work highly regarded and our digital prowess second to none. My specific area of responsibility has been to build our social media and public relations business. We’ve been successful in these efforts on behalf of our clients as well as on behalf of the Agency.

Here are some of my takeaways from the past three years:

Tombras peeps can flat out bust a move. Yup, we like to raise the roof and dance it up.

We’re adorably quirky. Whether it’s the life-size cutout of the Most Interesting Man in the World looking over our shoulders or the pet names we give our workspaces (Social Grotto?), or our impromptu Instagram videos, Tombras’ deadpan humor is always on display.

Buzzwords matter. If we’re not circling back to the low hanging fruit at the end of the day, we’re connecting Big Data and creativity for business results. And we heart acronyms. We’re SMEs on RTB, SEM and KPIs.

So cheers to Team Social in its many iterations: Cole, Taylor, Chance, Lindsey, Caitlin and now Amanda. Props to the media girls – you know who you are – who place tens of millions of dollars of paid advertising every year. AEs, analysts, project managers, digital designers, programmers, back-hall creatives, plus Larry, Marie and Teresa, the unsung office heroes – I salute you all! It takes a village to run an Agency. And here’s a special shout out to Ellen, who epitomizes our #streetsmart philosophy and to Charlie and Dooley, our indomitable father/son dynamic duo. Whether we’re pitching, planning or making it happen, Tombras does it with swag.

And we manage to have a lot of fun at the same time.

Laura Mansfield Bower

Laura Mansfield Bower is Executive Director of PR for The Tombras Group. – See more at:
Laura Mansfield Bower is Executive Director of PR for The Tombras Group. – See more at:
Laura Mansfield Bower is Executive Director of PR for The Tombras Group. – See more at:

Coercion + Crickets: Why I’m Leaving Google+

Since its heralded debut in June 2011, Google+ has been the spoiled child at the birthday party – born with a silver spoon and hovering parental support, but the cool kids still don’t want to play with it. Now Big Brother Google is requiring everybody who uses Gmail, YouTube, Zagat or other Google services, to set up a public Google+ page. Well, count me out. When the arm-twisting begins, I take my cupcakes and go home. Just call me a party pooper.

A year and a half ago, I was an early adopter of Google+, drinking the Kool-Aid and eagerly setting up my Circles. When now-defunct Google Wave launched, I refused to wave back. I ignored the pesky Google Buzz as well. So I thought I owed it to Google to opt in to the much-hyped social network that was supposed to rival Facebook in its functionality and user-friendliness. We were going to share photos and thoughts, hang out, group chat and “+1” each other’s posts. It was all hearts and unicorns with ad dollars at the end of the rainbow for Google.

The “Google+ project” was the fastest growing social network in history, amassing 25 million global members in its first five weeks of existence, outpacing the meteoric rise of Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, according to comScore. Usage skewed male and techy, as it does with new digital toys.

I dutifully repurposed content from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to my Google+ page. Facebook was my front porch. Twitter was my cocktail party. LinkedIn was my Rotary Club. All my social needs were met, but I wanted to support Google+. I guess I felt sorry for it. And there’s that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) thing – even though I wasn’t having fun, I didn’t want to miss the party.

Google+ launched brand pages in November 2011, spiking total U.S. visits from 5.1 million in October to 6.8 million in November, with 61 percent of the top 100 global brands represented. For privacy reasons, Google refused to disclose metrics regarding traffic sourced from Google+ to external websites. In other words, hyperlinks embedded in content posted to Google+ generated click-throughs to a brand’s site, but the website visitation wasn’t measurable.

Then it got quiet. You could hear a pin drop on your page. Bime Analytics said 83 percent of Google+ users were inactive. No one was hanging out but the crickets. And even the crickets were bored, spending only three minutes a month on the site, versus 400 minutes a month for the average Facebook user, as reported by comScore in January 2012.

Suddenly, Pinterest burst on the scene, like the Indie film that is promoted solely via word of mouth. And it took off. Moms were pinning at Panera. Teens were pinning from their bedrooms. In fact, predominantly female Pinterest users were spending more time on their Boards than they were on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ combined. Suddenly Pinterest was the fastest social networking site to reach 20 million users, driving referral traffic and e-commerce. Brands like HGTV and Nordstrom embraced the platform, and it blew up. Virally. Like a social network is supposed to. Then Instagram followed suit.  And lo, they were fun!

Meanwhile over on Google+, the crickets sighed. There was some data that astronomers used the site a lot. Then there were rumors about SEO torque for brands and again, the dreaded FOMO thing kicked in.

Google’s forced integration has helped increase Google+ usage, according to the Wall Street Journal. In December 2012, Google reported that 235 million people used Google + features, up from 150 million in late June. Google is building a user base in order to leverage future ad sales, even if it has to strong-arm people to do it.

Call it persuasion instead of coercion, if you like. Regardless, this post will be my last to share via Google+. There’s no one in my Circles who can’t find me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – or, wait for it, – in real life.  It’s my party, and I’ll leave if I want to.

Image Credit: []


Laura Mansfield Bower is Senior Vice President and Director of Public Relations and Social Media for The Tombras Group.



A Plateful of Thanks





We went up to the buffet and grabbed a plateful of things we’re thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at   The Tombras Group!





“I am thankful that when someone asks me what I am thankful for, I am overwhelmed with possible responses. Hot coffee, home, my job, doctors, changing fall leaves, peace in the midst of crisis, red velvet cake, laughter.”

– Sarah






“A bottomless cup of coffee.”

– Doug







“My kids.”

– John








“The capacity to be thankful.”

– Heather







“Electricity. It should never be taken for granted.”

– The artist formally known as Michaela








- Derek







“Numbers (the program) and real-time dashboards.”

– Cole and Marc







“Support and a big glass of wine at the end of the day.”

– Sonia







“All of the cliches, family and health … and, the Smokies are pretty rad this time of year.”

– Isaac





Collaborative Space On Concord Street

Clean lines, open-space and a collaborative environment define The Tombras Group’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. Form follows function at this former doctor’s office. The retooling is ongoing as Tombras expands staff and resources. The intent is to create a workplace where the work, itself, is what matters most. The building serves as both backdrop and incubator for dynamic creative ideas.

Photography © 2012 David Massengill


Getting The Big Catch: How Charlie Tombras Reels ‘Em In

Those who know Charlie Tombras, credit his vision and results-oriented business philosophy to the success of what has become one of the Southeast’s largest full-service digital ad agencies, according to a recent Knoxville News Sentinel article.

Here’s what some of his friends, colleagues and clients said about this iconic ad man.

“His advertising agency represents some big-time operators,” McDonald’s franchisee Tom Cochran said. “Charlie took it to a dimension that no one in this community would have ever anticipated.”

Long-time friends of Tombras describe him as a natural-born leader, who is hardworking and competitive yet compassionate and loyal. He displayed those characteristics while a student at UT, where Tombras held leadership roles in ROTC and his fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

“When I pledged, Charlie was the rush chairman. The fraternity had the biggest portion of the Knoxville freshmen that year,” said Bill Thomas, president of TIS Insurance Services.

“If Charlie says something, you can trust what he says,” he added. “You can’t give a man a higher compliment.”

“He does it very quietly. It’s a very personal thing with him,” said businessman Sam Furrow, a fellow member of the ROTC at UT. “If you had to compare him to someone on a national scale, I would say he reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt because of his leadership and love of the outdoors. His contributions and talent have been exemplary.”

Read the full article here: Ad man Charlie Tombras meets the challenge

Charlie Tombras Speaks Digital

Photo by Saul Young/News Sentinel

The Tombras Group’s President & CEO, Charlie Tombras, is profiled in an extensive article in the Knoxville News Sentinel. The story describes the ad agency’s evolution during Tombras’ 46-years-and-counting career. He’s still exploring uncharted waters both personally and professionally. Here’s an excerpt with his perspective on digital.

Balancing traditional creative with new digital:

I like to say we’re connecting data and creativity for business results. What we’re doing is really reaching out to our clients’ customers across all kinds of platforms both traditional (radio, television, outdoor and newspaper), guerrilla (bus wraps, signs on side of buildings, nailed cars being placed around the state) and then Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, microsites, websites, mobiles sites and apps. We’re developing integrated digital and traditional brand campaigns for clients, and then we’re engaging our clients’ customers across all those platforms and getting them so engaged that we can capture data from those people.

On measuring results:

I went to a three-month course in 1967 at the Harvard graduate school of business for future advertising agency presidents. It was taught by Harvard graduate school professors who said at the time the Holy Grail of advertising was being able to measure results. Digital has allowed us to do that. We’re putting custom URLs and phone numbers on all of our ads now. We’re able to track everything that we do digitally so that we can measure the ROI on everything that we’re doing for our clients. We’ve got a whole analytics department that never existed before, with people who do nothing but measure results for our clients.

The changing ad cycle:

In the old days, you could run a campaign. You could create it, produce it, plan it and place it and then you could sort of sit back and maybe plan next year’s campaign. It was what I call “the plan it and forget it,” and those days are long gone in the successful advertising agency business. You no longer plan it and forget it. You constantly optimize. You’re measuring everything that you do every week. You’re constantly trying different messages. You’re constantly remeasuring the results, and you’re constantly fine-tuning and tweaking the program. So it never ends. The buy never ends.

How digital provides value:

I like it because it makes us not only responsible but also accountable for producing specific, tangible business results for our clients. And so I think we’re providing a real value now. There was an old saying in advertising when I first started in the business that half of what you spent was wasted. The problem was you didn’t know which half was wasted. Now, really none of the money is wasted. In fact, you’re constantly measuring what you’re getting for it and even improving it.

Read the full article here: Ad man Charlie Tombras meets the challenge

Motion Graphics Come Alive

“Motion graphics can be whatever you want or need them to be. They’re a communications tool as powerful–or as mundane–as the minds of the people who wield them.”
-Rob Simpson, Creative Director at The Tombras Group

Motion graphics. You’ve seen these animations in more places than you even realize with their eye catching actions and story-telling capabilities, and they’re becoming even more prevalent. The idea behind this tool is to bring thoughts and images to life, giving them movement and dimension. These moving animations can be used effectively for advertisements as well as content marketing. Check out this video showcasing the motion graphics and video production work that we have done here at Tombras.

Re:Generation Media Project

Our social media department had the opportunity to present at The University of Tennessee’s Social Media Week this past week. The following is a summary of that presentation.

If you’ve seen the movie Re:Generation Music Project, you know the premise: mashing up artists of different backgrounds to produce something new and push the boundaries of traditional music genres. Re:Generation Music Project is itself a mashup – a movie about music, and one that was advertised and promoted almost exclusively via social media.

Lately we’ve seen media take a similar turn. Traditional media like print, radio, outdoor and TV, have integrated new media like social, web video and guerilla marketing to create one cohesive strategy. This isn’t to say that traditional media is dead. In fact, it’s just the opposite; it’s evolving and regenerating with the use of new media and technology.


Music may be one of the oldest forms of broadcast media, but that also means it’s arguably come the furthest. From the first music broadcast via radio in 1917 to the internet radio boom in 1994 and beyond, our want for the ability to listen to our favorite tunes hasn’t changed much. But since then, we’ve seen a constant evolution of one of our oldest forms of media.

There are now web-based communities of bands like Reverbnation, music celebrities taking up 7 of the top 10 spots on the list of most-followed Twitter accounts and musicians like Lady Gaga starting their own social networks. The music world is all over social media, promoting shows and engaging their biggest fans.  There’s also Spotify, an online music source that can be shared on Facebook and among your friends making music more viral and integrating social more with this traditional medium.


TV has also had to change the way it holds its audience’s attention. The rising popularity of affordable technology has introduced distractions and competition to this traditional medium in the form of web content and second screening. Television has been forced to make a transition, integrating social media into the viewing experience.

Shows like American Idol, a show which has had to make a complete transition to social media having started before it took off, and The Walking Dead have incorporated Twitter handles and hashtags into the viewing experience to create conversation surrounding the show. TV icons like Conan O’Brien have also taken to social media to create conversations about their show or persona. During O’Brien’s television hiatus, he took to as many social media sites as possible, created a team of brand advocates (Team Coco) and dominated the TV talk show ratings when he returned.

Services like GetGlue and HBO Go, as well as Netflix have been created around the integration of social and television. GetGlue gives users the ability to check in to their favorite shows in order to gain physical prizes—visually appealing stickers that are sent in a sheet of 20 after 20 check ins. HBO Go has taken the normal subscription to its service on television and has turned it into a behind-the-scenes experience for fans of the shows online. Netflix is entering into the field of content creation, releasing new episodes of Arrested Development airing exclusively online.


Because movies are more of a one-time thing than music or TV shows, their releases are often planned years ahead of time, which means big budgets, and even bigger ideas. Movies have always relied on advertising to sell tickets, from the lighted marquis and personable street promoters, to high budget teaser trailers. Now, with movie prices through the roof and a looming on-demand market, movies have had to change their game and offer audiences something they can’t ignore, live without, or get at home.

Movies like The Hobbit, Chronicle and Ted have been teasing their release for a long lead-time now. The Hobbit director has been publishing 10-minute videos of behind-the-scenes footage as a teaser to draw audience attention to the forthcoming movie. The Chronicle used guerilla marketing to promote its release by flying 3 RC airplanes that were converted into “flying teenagers” and sent into the sky in NYC. Ted has created a Facebook page promoting the movie by having the stuffed animal bear in the movie talk in first person to its audience. And The Five-Year Engagement even went so far as to create a blog with no movie branding about the main characters acting like they were getting married.

These examples are setting a precedent for traditional media to regenerate to include a more interactive social experience. As social and traditional mediums continue to collide, everything that is done offline will have some sort of online connection, redefining everything marketers and advertisers have been doing for years.

Presentation compiled by Cole Mauer, Digital Analyst; Taylor Griffin, PR & Social Media Specialist; and Chance Vineyard, Social Media Specialist.