A Tale of Two Scooters
I am fascinated by “disruptors.” Companies who take bold and innovative steps to disrupt the status quo. Starting a company from scratch takes risk, but introducing a new product or service that completely shakes the foundation of business-as-usual takes huevos the size of Texas.
Three years ago, Bird started dropping off ride-share electric scooters in major markets and logged 10 million rides in its first year. Proving that “imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” companies like Lime, Spin, Jump, and Bolt quickly followed. Last year Bird dumped 500 scooters onto the streets of Richmond, without asking anyone for permission. Students, hipsters, and middle-aged ad executives tried them out. They were a novelty, but soon they found themselves rolling in another direction, as Richmond work crews set out to confiscate every scooter and auction them off for $105 a piece.
Bolt showed up next and got a permit after they explained their scooters wouldn’t take any money away from the city’s bike ride-share program. After all, Richmond loves revenue, and by revenue I mean taxes, and by taxes I mean your money.
And while Birds are flying back into Richmond, the company has reduced the size of its scooter fleet, while Bolt doubled down and added 500, the max allowed by Mayor Levar Stoney’s new law. Bolt was willing to pay a whopping $1,500 fee for a permit and an additional hefty $80,000 tax for the privilege of adding scooters to RVA sidewalks. Part of the deal mandated that 175 of these scooters must be left in low-income neighborhoods.
Bolt’s ride into Creighton Court was a bumpy one, as some residents thought it would be fun to cut them in half, throw them in the James River, or burn them in the streets. Welcome to Richmond — the scooter murder capital of the world.
While half a dozen electric scooter companies are raising money and fighting for a share of the projected $300 billion dollar global scooter market, it’s important to see how these companies fought adversity — vandalism, bureaucracy, and high taxes — because I think this gives us a clue as to which brand will ultimately prevail. Bird had a chance to make its mark, but retreated. Lime came, looked around, and then left. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, so Bolt went all in. They lobbied the mayor, paid the hefty fees, advertised boldly, and went on a big PR blitz. Then they upped the ante again. They installed a loud app feature that screams, “Stop moving the scooter without unlocking it first or I will call the police.” Then they brought in bigger, better scooters that now go dangerously fast, up to 30 mph.
As you know, I like to say Bold Brands Win and as far as the scooter wars go, I think Bolt Brands Win.
This week, Communications Direct Kent Brockwell flipped the Bolt. At least he didn’t flip the Bird.
Monday, January 27 – Work Of Art
On Monday we celebrated Creative Director Art Webb’s 4 Year Anniversary with Madison+Main. I figured after 1,460 days of work the gluten-free guru earned himself a gluten-free meal, so we grabbed a bite at Boulevard Burger & Brew. Apparently that’s where the hipsters hang when they aren’t buying pre-ripped jeans and PBR t-shirts off Amazon. But the most amazing part is that Art told everyone in the office that he’d been here five years. #TimeFliesWhenYoureHavingFun
Tuesday, January 28 – Dogs and Spiders and Rams, Oh My!
On Tuesday Director of Business & Marketing Leanne Ferry and I jumped in the company Jeep and maneuvered to Midlothian. We met with our friends and clients Cabell and Taryn Singleton of Sycamore Vet and presented their 2020 Marketing Plan. It was a great meeting and we have some exciting ideas in the works. #Purrfect
Tuesday night my beloved VCU Rams improved their record to 16-5 after severely stomping out the Richmond Spiders. A 19 point spread isn’t too shabby for the first Capital City Classic of 2020. The Ram stands were full of Madison+Main-iacs (and their little ones) including Kent Brockwell, his daughter Bonnie Sue, Copywriter Derek Fair, Art Director Carissa Ghaffari, her husband Mike, and their baby boy Donovan. We’ll run it back on February 15 at the Robins Center where I can guarantee you there will be more VCU fans than Spider fans. #GoRamsGo
Wednesday, January 29 – YOGA! YOGA!
On Wednesday Kent and Leanne attended the Richmond Chapter PRSA January Luncheon. They swung by the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club, enjoyed capricious chicken caprese, and learned more about online reputation, search engine optimization, and Wikipedia. Special thanks to CEO of The Mather Group, Josh Greene, for an excellent presentation.
Meanwhile, Art, Kaitlin, and I jogged down I-64 and met with our clients at Williamsburg Landing, Lisa Bates, Senior Director of Marketing & Sales and Sally Wolfe, Senior Director of Development. We ate at a great little restaurant called Culture Cafe, a new spot across from College Delly. Good food, great meeting.
Later in the afternoon, Kent snapped a few shots of seniors at Lucy Corr attending the Find Your Zen yoga event. Proving it’s a small world after all, Kent’s lovely, talented wife Sarah taught the class and residents learned some yoga-inspired chair exercises to help them increase flexibility, posture, and stress reduction. As for me, I prefer toga parties to yoga parties.
Thursday, January 30 – Thirsty Thursday
Our very own Account Executive Allison “Call Me Allie” Nida was invited to conduct a webinar for our clients at Virginia Diabetes Council where she shared important research we conducted on their behalf in 2019. We are using the findings to ensure that more people get access to educational resources regarding pre-diabetic conditions and diabetes.
I kept my head down, ate lunch at my desk, and barrelled through a mountain of market research for several of our clients. Around 4:15 p.m. I hit a wall. My brain was fried and I just couldn’t squeeze out anymore genius. It was at that exact moment that my friend Mark Remes from BES Studios called and invited me to try some good bourbon at The Tobacco Company. I grabbed Derek and we skipped out of work a half an hour early to go drinking. Shh, don’t tell the boss. I was happy to introduce mark to John J. Bowman, the premium aged bourbon from our friends at A. Smith Bowman Distillery. They do business with us and I do business with them, ordering it every place I go.
Friday, January 31 – Media Blitz
It’s Super Bowl weekend and my annual media blitz is on. This afternoon I stopped by the WNTW studios to talk about Super Bowl ads and other things with Mike King from On The Mic with Mike. On Sunday, I will not be able to watch the game because I will be focused almost exclusively on the commercials. Be sure to tune into WTVR on Monday morning, where I will be appearing on Virginia This Morning at 9 a.m. I’m also set to talk with WRVA‘s John Reid and the lustrous Jeff Katz.
A Few of Our Favorite Events
Virginia Spirits Roadshow: A. Smith Bowman Distillery
1 Bowman Drive | Fredericksburg, VA
February 8, 2019 | 12 – 5 p.m.
Come join us for the Virginia Craft Spirits Roadshow at A. Smith Bowman Distillery! Tickets will include all samples of artisan spirits as well as craft cocktails from numerous Virginia distilleries; while guests can mix, mingle, and engage with Virginia distillers firsthand! Purchase any bottles you enjoy to take home — they’ll even store them at their concierge station while you enjoy the event. Save money by purchasing your tickets at the advanced promo prices vs. the day of: $20 for one general admission, or $35 for two general admission tickets.
CowanGates & Salisbury Country Club Memorial Blood Drive
13620 West Salisbury Road | Midlothian, VA
February 18, 2020 | 2 – 6 p.m.
The American Red Cross states that every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Make a difference and schedule your blood donation by contacting Morgan Barclay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities