The glorious Austin sun decided to grace us with its presence on Sunday which made running around the city from panel to talk to session a lot more enjoyable. The Grafik team continued their live-tweet and live-blogging coverage, but in case you missed it, here is a rundown of what we attended and our key takeaways:
By far one of the best panels Brad has attended in his two years at SXSW, Jimmy Fallon hosted a panel consisting of Stefan Olander, VP of Digital Sport at Nike, Andrew Wilson, Executive VP of EA Sports, and even an Olympic gold medalist! The purpose of pulling together such an interesting group of people was to discuss how technology is evolving how consumers engage with sports, using real life examples ranging from the use of Nike+ while you workout or the incorporation of live stats into video game play. Some of the key takeaways included:
- Technology has broken down barriers, making information that was only available to elite athletes available to the every day athlete.
- Technology is influencing real life. Manchester City youth soccer players are required to play FIFA on the EA console to learn team strategy and tactics.
- For Nike to grow, they must evolve from being just a product company to becoming a service company, and Nike+ is leading the way.
Between the foot race contested between Jimmy Fallon and an audience member, and several questions from black level Nike+ members, it’s safe to say that this panel go-er felt slightly out of shape and in desperate need of the new Nike Fuel Band!
Based on just reading the title, you may ask why I would attend this panel? Planned Parenthood Federation of America is known to have it’s own share of controversy and they’ve utilized social tools for crisis management. All the five panelists were involved with the “Stand Up for Planned Parenthood” campaign which targeted the negative reproductive healthcare conversation that erupted in the House of Representatives last year. There’s an balancing act between the right information/message and timeliness when tweeting on behalf of an organization or brand, especially during a high-pressure situation. Here are some of the top tips/insightful quotes the panelists gave:
- Inform and educate as much as you can. When it’s your issue or cause, it’s easy to believe that others know and care as much you do. That isn’t always true
- Get control of your message early. Old instinct is to wait to respond, but new media doesn’t wait.
- Because a crisis may require an all hands on deck responding, EVERYBODY in an organization should know social media social media.
- Have a plan. Everyone in the organization should be on the same page. It’s very difficult to do constant checks in during a crisis so make sure the entire team know the messaging and stick to it.
This session was a packed house as it attracted people from branding, social media, video production, marketing, journalism as well as both online and offline strategists. In the advent of social media, any one person has numerous channels and platforms to consume content, whatever that type of content may be. This session focused on the importance of maintaining authentic voice across the different venues of content. Coming into this talk I defined an authentic social voice as a transparent one that stays true to the brand it represents. I still believe in that definition, but panelist Sean Amos, Founder/Managing Partner of Amos Content Group also expressed different angle to the definition. He said “a beer company and it’s beer-drinking customers share beer as a common interest. However, it’s likely that there are other common interests. Identifying those interests and speaking to them in line with your brand is what authenticity is.” I agree with Amos. Social media is a two-way channel and finding a way to actively listen to your audience and learning what they need and want, before engaging is an “authentic” way of communicating on behalf of a brand.
This panel discussion dealt with how the rise of mobile photography was effecting our creativity and what it now meant in this post photography era. The panel was composed of four diverse individuals—an associate professor of New Media from Berkeley, a curator of photography for the Library of Congress, and the founder and CEO of Instagram.
Overall, the panel was in agreement that mass of photography may at times appear mundane and thoughtless, but we are indeed in a golden age of storytelling. As Vernas Curtis (curator from the Library of Congress) puts it, “the mundane helps capture our world today. This mass collection of photography will serve as a form of documentation when we look back in history on things such as what we buy, eat and drink. This very act of personal expression is important in knowing who we are as people now more than being artsy. Applications such as Instagram will not only helps us see more of the world, it allows us to share it with the rest of the world.” Kevin Systrom (founder of Instagram) also adds that his company is constantly looking at ways to apply value to this documentation with building off new technology. Richard Koci Hernandez (the associate professor from Berkely and journalist photographer) is also a big fan of Instagram and encouraged us to use it, but also quickly advices and points out to the crowd, “it’s not about what we keep, but what we throw away.” And Mila interpreted this as, even if the world has gone camera-mad and we can photograph everything we want at anytime, it’s also good to filter through our photos and keep what we really feel is worth keeping. This editing process is still a very important aspect in your creative process.
When it came to question and answer time, an interesting question was directed to Kevin Systrom from Instagram, “which brands are using instagram successfully?” He quickly listed the brands below. We’re looking forward to see how some of their best practices could apply to some our clients.
And finally to top it off, Koci Hernandez ended the session where he hooked up his iPhone to the screen and walked us through a quick tutorial of how he creates some of his photos and showed us some of the cool apps he was using.
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Here is a rundown of the sessions the Grafik team was able to attend and our key takeaways:
Speaker Aimee Roundtree is an associate professor at the University of Houston who teaches social media among many other courses as well as devises social campaigns for a number of organizations. She focused a lot on what some of the social media best practices are for large, top corporations are and how it may not necessarily be best suited for smaller organizations. An interesting point she made was that for smaller organizations, sometimes you don’t need a a formal “strategy” in the beginning. With limited resources, sometimes you just have to be free to experiment with choosing platforms and tools to see what works, and then zero in on what makes sense and what the organization can handle. Sounds logical, but not always followed.
This was a very informative yet entertaining session. Amongst the oohs, ahhs, and laughs, the very reputable and very humorous panelists made some simple but profound points on content strategy. The one that struck me the most was the conversation about metadata and how it’s almost as important as the content itself. Panelist Joe Gollner, Director of Gnostyx that specializes in integrated content solutions for companies, made a Matrix movie reference and said that we are the intelligent creatures and that we have to be the ones to feed the machines information in order to effectively work, and that information is metadata. There is a wealth of content out there that is no longer limited to just words (video, photos, etc.) and if it doesn’t have the appropriate metadata, it won’t reach it’s exposure potential on the web.
There was a resounding theme throughout the entire session and that is corporate culture should always be top of mind when delving in social technologies. Panelists Luis Benitez and Heidi Ambler of the IBM social software team say that each social platform or tool highlights a different behavior and not all companies want to or can highlight those behaviors so it is important to pick and choose which to take on. More and more CEOs now know the benefits of embracing social media and how crucial it is to growing business, but social strategies should always embrace the existing culture of the organization despite what the newest trend in the market is.
An experienced panel, anchored by a heavy-weight representative from Google Maps, Chris Broadfoot, discussed how indoor maps are being used to create contextual awareness for the end consumer. The panel viewed indoor maps as the next frontier of opportunity since 80% of our time is spent indoors, yet, at the moment there is no way to accurately and reliably provide indoor location data. The challenge of indoor positioning companies is to fill the large gap between the CADD drawings that exist for every building in the U.S. and outdoor maps that are aware of the building footprint. And while many companies are creatively using different forms of technology to isolate an indoor position ranging from WiFi to sound signals, no one company has completely met the challenge. However, the panel promised that in the next few years, the indoor positioning problem would be solved since all manufactured phones will be capable of transmitting the needed information by 2013.
While the focus of the session was supposed to be around the Glocalisation of the Internet (think globally, act locally) the panel comprised of representatives from Spotify, Foursquare, Zendesk, and Smartling meandered their way through topics ranging from cloud security to presidential playlists. As a cloud fanatic myself, I was particularly intrigued when an audience member asked whether or not they felt the Cloud was reducing the need of the operating system, but all panelists felt that while the role of the OS is definitely evolving, most applications, whether their data lives in the cloud or not, still need the processing power of the OS to serve up the data in the complex application interfaces. Also discussed was the concept of “frictionless sharing” and whether or not it’s a good thing (think Facebook newsfeed automatically sharing your music with your friends via Spotify). In the end, it’s a balance of user choice (having the ability to turn the feed on and off) and the benefits of random discovery (your friends learn of a new band or new track). As long as everyone involved is aware of their user rights, whether or not they own their data, and have the ability to opt out, the beneficial opportunities will only increase down the road.
A more intimate panel, consisting of founder of Ogmento, Brian Selzer, and Peter Gould from PDP Mobile promised to be an interesting discussion since Ogmento overlays a digital experience in the real world via augmented reality while PDP focuses on creating devices that enable us to experience this new reality. However, after a brief discussion around how we should view life as a game, we experienced our first “panel bomb” (where someone in the audience unexpectedly takes over the presentation) of the trip where the entire discussion was quickly taken over by an audience member hawking their new augmented reality application. And while the panel members did their best to get the talk back on track, I think most momentum was gone, given that it was the last talk of the day. However, the topic of the Google Glasses came up, and it led Mila and Brad to talk about what life will be like if people start walking around with glasses where content is constantly being placed in front of their eyes. Will we have an “eyes-free” law, similar to the hands-free initiative where police are now responsible for ensuring that drivers are not driving with these glasses on? Will it make us more disconnected in this always-on, connected world? Time will tell.
Despite the craziness of the rain the first few days, I was finally able to attend my first session which asked how come rappers have turned their personal brands into successful marketing platforms and how can we learn from it? Led by two creative directors from SapientNitro, Bill Pauls and John McHale, they kept the discussion informative, interactive, and not to mention fun.
I don’t listen to a lot of rap, but I chose this panel because the topic sounded entertaining and the room was completely booked. I also appreciated that the guys from Sapient were creative in coming up with a unique topic which also was pretty smart since they knew that their target audience were rap enthusiasts. I mean, who doesn’t like Jay-Z?
So my quick takeaways for how brands can better learn from rappers:
- Stay legit/project a consistent brand image
- Always be on the lookout/market to new audiences (rappers have been doing this well since RunDMC met Aerosmith)
- Master the social/innovate in a digital world (T-Pain’s popular Autotune App, for example)
- Name check/cross promote with advertisers
- Leverage product placement (mmm, Cristal, bling bling)
- And drive culture
Overall, Rappers truly understand their audience better than their audience understands them.
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Last year, I discovered that one of the charms of SXSW is that you never knew what kind of random scene you would stumble upon as you made your way from one campus to the next. This year has been no different. Below are a few random photos and videos collected from the past few days:
Ask.com provides free power, sugar and caffeine on a daily basis to keep the festival goers charged and moving forward. While recharging their phones, Lahaina and Mila made a new friend.
On Sunday, Jimmy Fallon hosted one of the top panels for the interactive festival, focusing on the digital sport. In typical Jimmy Fallon fashion, his introduction of the panel was clever AND entertaining.
One thing I’ve been impressed with this year is how accessible they have made the festival to attendees of all ages…
Then, on your average walk between sessions you might stumble across one of the most famous competitive eaters in history…
And if you’re lucky, they will pose with you for a picture.
Then, just as you think you’ve seen it all, you stumble across Wonder Woman changing a flat tire on her invisible… pedicab?
Needless to say, when you mix this many unique personalities from all over the world in one location, you are bound to experience some entertaining memories that will remain with you for a very long time. I can’t wait to see what next year holds!
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This year at SXSW, we rented out a small three-bedroom house through airbnb.com instead of a hotel suite. Although it has its quirks (blog post to follow), we have settled in quite well and definitely made it our new home here at Austin. Located in an up and coming, residential neighborhood, we’ve discovered hip restaurants in the vicinity, scenic running paths, and really hospitable neighbors. Oh and the best part is it’s only a five-minute drive to and from the Austin Convention Center.
So maybe we’re not right downtown in the thick of things, but there’s something to be said about living amongst the locals, and being able to escape the city at the end of each crazy SXSW day.
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Day one of SXSW was certainly an interesting one for the Grafik team. And while nature and other circumstances prevented the team from picking up our registration badges and attending the handful of panels for the day, we had a busy day nonetheless. Here’s a little summary of how our day went:
8:00 am – Rise and shine! The team is up and ready for the day. The plan is to head out at 11:45 thinking we will get our registration badges, have lunch and make the 2:00 pm panels. Boy, were we ambitious.
9:00 am – Will go grocery shopping in the afternoon. Rely on host’s espresso machine (which took us a while to figure out) to hold us over till we can grab breakfast downtown.
10:45 am – Mila calls a cab. And even though we rented a house five minutes from downtown (driving), freak thunderstorms prevented us from walking there, so alternative transportation is required.
11:30 am – No sign of the cab.
12:00 pm – Still no sign of cab. Mila follows up and the cab company reports that it will be another hour. We busy ourselves by attending to our normal Grafik obligations.
12:30 pm – Hunger sets in. We start snacking on leftover M&M’s that were purchased from the airport the night before. 2:00 pm panel is more than likely not going to happen.
1:30 pm – Still no sign of our cab and the ladies’ toilet backs up.
1:35 pm – No plunger in the house. According to landlord, “this has never happened before”.
1:45 pm – I walk over to borrow plunger from neighbor. Awesome, right?
2:30 pm – Break open a box of Wheat Thins discovered in pantry and make executive decision that a rental car is required if we are to actually participate in SXSW.
4:00 pm – After instructing cab company we would need transportation back to airport and rental cars, the cab arrives within 10 minutes (think double fare).
4:15 – 4:45pm – Sit in traffic from rain-caused accident.
5:00 pm – Rent our wheels for the duration of our stay.
5:10pm – Grab breakfast/lunch/dinner and proceed to Walmart for groceries. We had learned lesson. Supplies were warranted.
5:45 pm – Visit Starbucks for first time for much-needed coffee.
6:00 pm – Drive through downtown to get our bearings.
6:30 pm – Arrive back at the house. To our chagrin, rain is still pouring and we start discussing if we attend any events at night.
6:30 – 9:00pm – Snack, check work email, nap, and veg.
9:00 pm – We eventually decide to stay in for the evening and have a few SXSW friends over to our house.
10:00pm-12:30am – Entertain friends.
1:15am – Call it a day (night).
We can’t wait for Saturday and will summarize our adventures on the blog tomorrow! Until then, please follow our adventures at www.grafik.com/sxsw!
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Washington Area is Key Destination for Strategic Communications
WASHINGTON, DC, January 6, 2012 – The DC Ad Club, metropolitan Washington’s chapter of the American Advertising Federation, announced yesterday that Teddi Alyce Segal is chairperson of Advertising Week DC 2012 scheduled for this September. Segal is vice president of marketing and business development at Alexandria, VA-based, Grafik, the creative agency for the event. Advertising Week DC attracts communications professionals to a four-day event engineered to keep practitioners current on all aspects of marketing communications. Although major metropolitan areas such as New York and Los Angeles have more employees in the advertising and marketing sector, the Washington area has the highest per capita among all the major metro areas in the nation.
According to IHS Global Insight and the Greater Washington Initiative studies, the Washington metropolitan area is home to over 300,000 advertising-related jobs and is the highest per capita employer in the advertising sector. Over 21% of the $489 billion economic output in the Washington area is attributable to advertising expenditures.
“The high concentration of communications professionals is indicative of the demand for top-notch, strategic talent in our region for a breadth of communications disciplines, including marketing, advertising, public relations, advocacy, digital media, social media, and more. Our program is developed to serve the needs of all marketing communications professionals,” said Segal.
Every fall since 2004, Advertising Week DC celebrates the best of the advertising, marketing, and media community with a week dedicated to networking, professional development, and education. It is the area’s largest professional and networking event for advertising, marketing, public relations, and media leaders. The Advertising Week DC Steering Committee is comprised of key players from companies in the Greater Washington advertising, marketing, and media industries. The event will feature nationally recognized marketing experts in an extensive program of discussions and presentations focused on best practices in the rapidly evolving field of marketing communications. The conference will be attractive to client- and agency-side junior talent and, of course, the mainstay of seasoned professionals, and those currently in college studying communications.
“Advertising Week DC is the place to listen, learn, contribute, and engage in lively discussion around our profession. Our objective this year is to raise national awareness that the Washington area is the “go-to” market for strategic communications because of the breadth of marketing work being performed in the region,” said Sherri Anne Green, president of the DC Ad Club. “We’re excited to have Teddi spearheading the effort.”
Segal served on the Advertising Week DC Steering Committee in 2010. She joined Grafik in October 2008 and is responsible for business development and marketing efforts, as well as all public relations and social media on behalf of the agency. She previously served on the American Marketing Association-DC Chapter Board of Directors and is currently serving on the DC Ad Club’s 2012 ADDY Award committee.
Prior to coming to DC, Segal was with several agencies in Miami, FL, including Zimmerman and HDC. Advertising Week DC is a mix of professional development and networking. Both events have taken place annually since 2004. Past speakers have included Joe Grimaldi, Chairman & CEO, Mullen; Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather; Liz Dolan, former Chief Marketing Officer of The Oprah Winfrey Network; Stuart Elliot, Advertising Columnist of The New York Times; and Miles Nadal, Founder, Chairman & CEO, MDC Partners.
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About The DC Ad Club
Since 1918, the DC Ad Club (a.k.a. the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington) has served as the premier industry organization for area advertising professionals. As a chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the DC Ad Club promotes integrity and excellence in advertising through professional development seminars, recognizes industry leaders andoutstanding work, and serves as the leading networking venue for the industry. The DC Ad Club membership represents all segments of the industry—clients, agencies, production companies and the media. Ad 2 DC, a subset of the DC Ad Club membership, represents and provides programming for young professionals (age 32 and under) in the industry.
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It seems that this year the 99% stood in line to open up stores at midnight while the 1% comfortably slept in.
Black Friday no longer started at an un-Godly 4 a.m.—it now started at the stroke of midnight. It all started with Target, and was rapidly followed by several other retailers. Kohl’s and Best Buy all jumped on the midnight Black Friday bandwagon. Walmart and Toys“R”Us are opened even earlier at 10 p.m. the night before. Some of the affordable brands like JCPenney, Sears, RadioShack, H&M and Staples all let their buyers sleep in until 4 or 5 a.m. Mall also jumped on the bandwagon and in the DC area, The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City opened at 5 a.m.
It seems as you go up the food chain you are allowed more sleep and the hour of shopping is correlated with the level of luxury brands. Barneys and Burberry did not open their doors until 10:00 a.m., as well as Saks, Tory Burch, and Cartier. Many of the luxury brands anchoring the malls followed their landlord’s guidelines. Mazza Gallerie, home to luxury brands like Neiman Marcus and Sak’s Men’s Store held their opening steady at 9:00 a.m.—only one hour earlier than normal. It seems that the luxury brands are catering to a clientele that understandably does not care about saving $200 on an off-brand TV set, but also wanted to have some of the Black Friday “fun.”
Many of the luxury brands are promoting more goods online, and they are not waiting until Cyber Monday. Astute online marketers have been working with luxury brands like Zegna to build up enthusiasm and awareness for their Cyber Monday sales. In some uber-elite stores, they are not expecting their clients to lift so much as a finger—either to shop online or to stand in line. Just call for your personal shopper and everything will be taken care of.
Early shopping or not, I for one hope that the shopping mania did not seep over into Thanksgiving Day, a day normally reserved for family, food, and football. Imagine if the beloved Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving scene with family gathered around the table was altered to show the seats of missing family members who are in line at Best Buy counting minutes till opening instead of counting their blessings.
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What you get is a conversation about where the creative industry is, and where it is going. This week, DC chapter of AIGA, the American Association for Design, is holding DC’s Annual Design Week. A few of Grafik’s creatives attended their event last night, “Download” which consisted of a panelled discussion from some of the top winners of the AIGA 50’s contest last year. Panels included Jefferson Liu of AKQA, Karen Zuckerman of HZDG, Andrew McClellan of Fleishman-Hillard, and Stefan Poulos of Pappas Group. The panel was moderated by Bill Colgrove of Threespot.
The ongoing theme of the night was interactive design. The panelists presented design challenges their studio faced, and how they were able to solve the communication and format challenges. It was a presentation of iPads, motion graphics, videos, mobile apps, and many other components that make up the exciting field of interaction design. To hear from experienced designers and how they made the transition to interactive media was a testament to the versatility that designers must have.
Andrew McClellan of Fleishman-Hillard said, “Ideas drive technology.” This one simple statement sums up the challenges of the design industry today. As technology rapidly advances and things that were awesome yesterday become mundane today, it is imperative that concept remains at the forefront of the design profession. Concept will always be the staple of good design.
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Title: Doing Good is Good for Business, Event Branding
Exposure: Logo / Save-the-Date Email / Invitation / Event Signage / PowerPoint / Additional Event Collateral: T-shirt, napkins, name tag, and photobooth artwork
The Challenge: Generate interest in attending an annual informative event on corporate social responsibility hosted by Anybill on the rooftop of Charlie Palmer Steak
The Solution: Brand the event — “Doing Good is Good for Business”
The Result: Drawing in nearly 100 guests, this was Anybill’s most successful event in their philanthropic series to date. The overwhelming feedback leaves a lot of anticipation for next year.
“Doing Good is Good for Business is an effort to bring together the local business and social community for a common cause and purpose. That purpose is to highlight and foster the relationship between business and community, while recognizing that one cannot exist without the other. In fact, it is a co-dependent and symbiotic relationship. When local business supports the community, the community in turn can better support local businesses. We believe this to be true and have demonstrated our commitment to this principle through our support of Companies for Causes, the Catalogue of Philanthropy – Greater Washington, and our own in-house Corporate Social Responsibility program, Pay It Forward.”
Peter Bepler, President/Co-Founder of Anybill
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The President of the United States (POTUS) reached out to Americans, and the world at large, by calling for questions regarding important topics affecting the United States. The questions were posted by using #AskObama, which allowed for all tweets to be gathered and monitored. The event was sponsored and hosted by Twitter (http://askobama.twitter.com/) and questions were asked live by Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and answered by POTUS himself at a press conference in the East Room of the White House. Tweets began to pour into the #AskObama hashtag hours before the event even began. Twitter employed the aid of Mass Relevance, an organization who, according to their website:
Creates relevant and real-time content experiences to engage your audience on TV, web, mobile. [source]
The questions were selected at random using curators. The formula is unknown at the time of this post, but according to the Twitter Townhall homepage yesterday:
Retweet questions you support. Seasoned Twitter users with experience discussing the economy will also retweet questions. Twitter Search algorithms identify the most engaged-with Tweets. [source]
This event marked the first time in history that the POTUS live-tweeted during the event. It is worth noting that “- bo” is the signature of tweets posted by the POTUS himself.
What exactly are the implications of this event, besides the POTUS answering questions from his constituents live via Twitter? It isn’t a mystery that Twitter is a medium that is globally utilized by many companies and organizations to facilitate dialogue with their audience(s). I think the echo of this political event powerfully demonstrates the interfacing capabilities that Twitter can afford and signals the potential for another huge shift in the political sphere and perhaps the marketing sphere as well.
CNN posted an observation that struck me:
[Updated at 3:06 p.m.] Another interesting observation from CNN’s Shawna Shepherd: Obama answers at least twice as many questions at twitter @townhall than he usually answers at news conferences in same time frame. [source].
In the age of Twitter, it is easy for a web/mobile service to become obfuscated by varying objectives and mass amounts of users. For the POTUS to take this opportunity to interface with Americans from all walks of life and along both party lines, makes it clear that Twitter is a force to be reckoned with — a place where anyone’s voice can be heard clearly amidst clutter.
Moreover, it is important to consider the implications of the Twitter Townhall event. Is this the new face of townhall meetings? How can brands of all sizes utilize this form of live exchange as a way to reach their communication objectives? This event raises these important questions regarding new media and its effectiveness. For the first time in history, the POTUS was able to answer questions from Americans of all ages and all locations in a manner that was fast, streamlined, and easy-access for all levels of involvement.
At Grafik, we encourage all of our clients to embrace the dialogue opportunities Twitter can help foster (reminds me of Brad’s Twitter customer service blog post). As seen in this event, Twitter can be used not only as platform to distribute information, but also as a powerful tool that allows you to cut through all the noise and directly converse with your audience whether you are an individual, company, organization or governing body.
If you missed yesterday’s press conference, the video is available at whitehouse.gov.
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