Jonathan Semans, division manager at CDI Contractors was the inspiration behind Little Rock’s recent “break up” with Amazon.

The city abandoned its bid for the retail giant to open its second headquarters in Little Rock in a full-page “breakup” ad in The Washington Post, a newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.

Semans says that as soon as Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce heard him pitch the idea of the “breakup,” Chesshir said, “You know what, that’s it.”

Chesshir then enlisted the help of media powerhouse Millie Ward, president of Stone Ward to work on the chamber’s “Love, Little Rock” initiative. The two arranged a strategy meeting involving a number of city influencers and the outcome was pure genius.

The rejection letter “Dear Amazon: It’s not you, it’s us.” suggests that while Little Rock and Amazon are not suited for each other, Little Rock has a lot of attributes that are good for business. The strategy produced an effective media campaign to rebrand Little Rock and the plan created immense media attention.

Semans says the tone and positivity behind the letter were what was important.

“I think they did a wonderful job crafting the language in branding something,” he says. “If you’re just doing what everybody else does, there’s no separation.”

He says the campaign’s creative team wanted to generate a media blitz.

“When I think about things I think, ‘What would be the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing?’ The exact opposite is obvious. It’s to say ‘no’ and to decline and to do an anti-campaign,” Semans says. He thought on his campaign idea for about a week and a half.

“It’s kind of one of those things where you throw some information around and then try and bring it to a point,” he says.

The Little Rock Regional Chamber created LoveLittleRock.org to highlight the city’s positive attributes and the advantages of living and doing business in Little Rock.

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