Honestly, it’s a relief and a privilege to be here writing the final quarterly agency news of 2020 – because, from both a professional and personal perspective – it signifies an end to what has been one of the most bewildering, challenging and sometimes upsetting years that most of us have seen in our lifetime. Here at the agency, and like most of you, we’ve experienced a lot of change. Shifting goals and budgets, overhauls to marketing plans made on the fly, company-wide revisions to our daily environments, workflows and procedures.

But certain things haven’t changed. Some things have held as steadfast as they always have inside our doors — our strong and passionate team, its creativity in the face of a challenge and our relationships with those we work with every day.

We’re incredibly fortunate to say that our agency stayed busy. Fortunate that the relationships we’ve built over the last two decades have led us to not just continued work during a downturn, but to meaningful and impactful work for the greater good of our state. And fortunate that our co-workers and their families have come out of this year happy, healthy and safe.

Stay Informed and Stay Safe, Tennessee

One of the more Herculean efforts here at the agency in the last quarter was launching the State of Tennessee’s COVID-19 information hub and dashboard in partnership with the Tennessee Governor’s Office and Department of Health. Once greenlit, it was all hands on deck as our team developed the website from the ground up, and at an incredible speed. Easy-to-use functionality, ADA compliance, attention to detail in design and simple integrations for consistent and rapid data and information updates were the key focuses of this site. We’re proud to have been selected for the project by the State, alongside our work with the current COVID-19 PSA campaign. You can check it out at www.covid19.tn.gov. In fact, you may even want to bookmark it.

If you’d like to hear more about some of our other COVID-19 specific work this past year, check that out here.

However, that’s not the only state website we launched this quarter. Our tech team was also able to get a revitalized College For Tennessee website off-the-ground. The site serves a free college and career planning guide for Tennesseeans and is an initiative by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Department of Education to encourage more residents of the state to pursue secondary education and certification.

Welcome Ashley, Lisa and Lori

A quick pause on the campaign and creative discussions to talk about some of the new faces behind that work. Please help us welcome Ashley Austin, Lisa Schweikert and Lori Herron!

Ashley is taking over as the Media Director here at the agency, and she comes to us with over a decade of marketing experience at the Phoenix Suns and time at Starcom Mediavest Group, working with brands like Wrigley, Mars and Heineken. A Chicagoan, Ashley holds her Masters in Integrated Marketing Communication from Roosevelt University. Learn more about her over on our team page!

Lisa joins Designsensory as a Graphic Designer with illustration and motion chops. Originally from Philadelphia, Lisa headed down south to St. Augustine, Florida for school and her early career before landing somewhere in the middle here in Knoxville. Lori is an artist at heart, pursuing design, writing, singing and dancing.

Lori will be adding some firepower to the accounts team as a project manager. Lori got her professional start at Middle Tennessee State University before dipping a toe into sales and client relations, she’d go on to spend a decade at an advertising firm on the accounts team. She most recently worked at an international tech company in consumer insights, and now, we welcome her back to the world of advertising.

Campaigns to Round the Year Out

You might want to open your calendar for this one.

We helped some of our favorite weekend destinations launch seasonal campaigns with a mix of design, social media, content development, public relations, photography and even installation support. Two of which, just want to bring a little light to you this holiday season — Zoo Knoxville’s Zoo Lights event and Gatlinburg Skylift Park’s Lights Over Gatlinburg event. 

Zoo Lights runs now until January 3, 2021, and sees the zoo covered in glowing silk lanterns of exotic animals and a forest of trees wrapped in lights and twinkling Moravian stars. While Lights Over Gatlinburg runs now until January 31, 2021, and offers more than 40,000 lights around the park and a 300-foot tunnel of lights along its record-setting SkyBridge. See you out there?

If you’re looking for something for the whole weekend, we’ve recently partnered with Visit Cookeville for a social media campaign promoting safe travel under its #MaskYourMuzzle campaign. The city might as well own the term “fitcation,” so if you’re looking for a way to get active after the holidays, pay Cookeville a visit. But if you’re looking for a more remote retreat, Roane County is just around the corner from Knoxville. We recently partnered with the Roane Alliance – the umbrella organization for its ECD, tourism, commerce, education and other initiatives – to develop a testimonial video series promoting individual arms of the organization.

Oh, and we can’t forget our yearly holiday campaign. You can get a taste of the “2020 Twists and Turns” over on our blog by making your own 2020 Toddy or making these easy Cinnamon Twists.

2021 and Beyond

While we may have mentioned quite a few projects already, there’s certainly more that we haven’t. I’d like to take a quick moment to thank the brands who stayed with us to get through this year, joined us for the wild ride and those who are already looking ahead to the wonderful work we’ll do together in 2021. Thank you, everyone!

One of those projects that we’re excited to share with you is the recent announcement of the HGTV Obsessed Podcast, which we’ll be producing and scripting in-house. As the name of the show suggests, we’re equally obsessed with this project, so you’ll be hearing much more about that in the future from us. Until then, check it out here.

It’s admittedly quite nice to have to write about 2020 one last time, hopefully. And to make it through this piece without saying “new normal” or “unprecedented” or even “pandemic.”

Have a safe and happy holiday season, everyone — we’ll see you in 2021!