Thoughts from the Elevation Team

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When a conversation is indelibly inked in your mind, it’s because what was said and who said it, mattered. Maybe not to everyone... But it mattered to you.

And, when you have something important to say – regardless of whether it’s to a good friend or a customer – you want people to stop and pay attention.

That’s been our approach to serving clients through more than 20 years in business, even though how we shape those conversations has changed over time. Where once we perhaps relied on focus groups, interviews and a dose of intuition, today we find ourselves utilizing and incorporating unique ingestion of data and modeling to inspire and spark our creativity.

When it comes to the issues that matter to your organization, what is it you need to say?

Let us help guide and define your unforgettable conversations.

— Jimmy Learned, President

We never lead with the plumbing.

We always lead with the poetry.

We believe good and effective communications are grounded in opening our eyes, ears, minds and hearts. Science uncovers the insights to inspire original creative thinking. Today, we rely on vast quantities of data from non-traditional sources, from social listening and scraping techniques to psychosocial factors and cultural intelligence models. Such data is so essential to our ability to marry science with art, that we have formed a sizable data analyst team and forged long running alliances with first-rate partners.

As an eclectic mix of writers and artists, data nerds and strategists, dreamers and doers, we have a robust set of proprietary tools at our disposal. Our approach to any initiative is to first build trust with a client, so that we become intimately familiar with all aspects of an issue. Then, armed with data-driven insights, we can deliver the unexpected.

But it takes more than spreadsheets, metrics and percentages to get through to an audience. For that reason, technology is merely a tool to deliver the data and insights we need to inspire original creative thinking. These tools unlock human truths, in much the same way that poetry gives rise to an intensity of expression.

Resurrecting a Brand

Elevation has directed many rebranding initiatives, all of which go far beyond simply updating a strategy, website and logo. Efforts must infuse a sense of belief, vision and conviction to a mission. One example is our work for the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) and its legendary Preakness Stakes, which in early 2000’s, had devolved from an Internationally renowned event to a day of debauchery and overflowing Porta Potties. So much so, that it was evident that from a partnership/sponsorship side of things… Corporate America wanted nothing to do with it.

At its lowest, the state of Maryland was in jeopardy of losing the event all together. To resurrect MJC and The Preakness brand, it became evident that mindsets needed to change from the inside, out first! We simply had to remind the dedicated employees of MJC of the intrinsic value of event they brought to the world each and every year… to indeed believe that it was the “Middle Jewel” of Racings Triple Crown and more importantly, that IT WAS the most important of the three races.  Beyond that, we celebrated its iconic truths and presented it to the public in fresh, new, irreverent, classy, memorable and positive tones.

From the development and introduction of the International Pavilion, the birth of INFIELDFEST, Turfside Terrace and Mug and Vine and Kegasus…  the results and buzz began from the get go.  Fortune 500 partners soon jumped on board and the pride of Maryland was once again The Preakness Stakes.  Proudly, we state, that once Elevation joined the family… attendance at the Preakness Stakes climbed from 78,000 to over 130,000.

Connecting the Human Experience

Campaigns that connect to our collective struggles, emotions, and dreams make people stop, listen, and react. Elevation’s ability to transform research-based insights into compelling campaigns is seen in our work on the No Mas Cruces en la Frontera (No more crossings/crosses on the Border (NMC) campaign for the U.S. Border Patrol.

What began with weeks in various parts of Mexico, doing anthropological research, led to an award-winning and internationally revered campaign filled with the honest emotions of the human plight. From memorable PSA’s to the creation of the renowned and stirring Migracorridos, or folk songs, that told the heart-wrenching immigrant story and which gained substantial free airplay throughout Mexico – two songs were even nominated for Mexico’s grammy’s. This success led DHS to task Elevation with the development of an International campaign that confronted human trafficking head on.

To re-brand and re-introduce its BLUE CAMPAIGN as the definitive Protagonist in the fight against this insidious atrocity. Most recently, as the Southwestern border crisis escalated, Elevation responded with a turnkey solution for DHS and CBP to address nuances of the crisis and its expanded markets. The release of “La Bestia” – an outgrowth of the Migracorridos strategy – hit number one on the charts. The NMC campaign has proven to be adaptable, iconic and effective even now, years after its launch.

Swaying Opinions

While our creative may end up being humorous or lighthearted, our strategies are always deeply rooted in substantive insights gleaned from tangible data… we call it Inspiration with Insight!  As an example, CBP’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was about improving border security. But research showed that the critical pain-point for travelers was the time and hassle of crossing the border. So, it quickly became clear that a “fear-based” or heavy-handed law enforcement approach would not succeed. We advocated for an effort that focused on the efficiency and ease of travel that the WHTI documents would deliver. When CBP initially launched the campaign in 2008, less than 25% of frequent travelers had heard of WHTI. By 2011, our efforts resulted in more than 10 million travelers obtaining radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled, WHTI-compliant cards; and average compliance rates as high as 98% nationwide.

Making it Matter

Frequently, Elevation’s challenge is to influence a range of audiences to take better care of themselves and to develop healthier habits. Such was the case in our work for the American Lung Association (ALA), where we were charged with targeting African Americans, Hispanics, Lesbians/Gays/Bisexuals/Transgenders (LGBTs), and at-risk youth. Because each audience had distinct motivators and a different set of values/beliefs, Elevation pursued a uniquely targeted approach for each. In all of these distinctly different campaign approaches, Elevation made it matter for each target audience.

About Us

One thousand mothers, one family.

The Elevation family hails from over 12 different countries – a rich mosaic of backgrounds that brings a world of relatable experiences and perspectives to the work that we do. Lima to Atlanta. Mexico City to Zurich. Philadelphia to Buenos Aires, and beyond.

Our innate “cultural intelligence” means we excel in diverse settings, a factor reflected in how we adeptly create and steward international campaigns. All of this speaks to the human touch. And our ability to spark the types of conversations that elicit true and significant change–in any corner of the world.

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