Year in Review: Cassie Roma, CR&Co

Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. Here’s what Cassie Roma, Founder & Director at CR&Co, had to say.

1.   Favourite local campaign

Colenso BBDO – the entire Covid-19 partnership with our government.

All of it.

Every word.

Every post.

Every ad format.

Every yellow & white sign taped up in a shop front.

Every QR code on a bus seat.

At my core I don’t like calling the work done in service to New Zealand a “campaign” because the work itself played such a big role in keeping us safe. The task was mammoth, the road unknown, & the end is still nary in sight.

But, if anything’s going to be awarded for putting humans at the core, connecting contextually, & being built inherently to better the world – then this is the one I’d give my vote to.

2.   Favourite international campaign

A lot of beautiful work came out this year – but if I’m honest, I didn’t pay attention to the bright & shiny ads or campaigns. Oreo’s Proud Parent story had me in floods of tears.

Glennon Doyle’s work with Together Rising has helped so many people & is a tide that helps all ships rise. Music Cares in conjunction with the Grammy’s.

The things that resonated with me this year all had one thing in common: giving.

3.   Least favourite campaign

Every single “We’re all in this together in these unprecedented times & that’s why we’re giving a shooooout out to all of the essential workers who we’ve supported since 1909” ad made this year (there were A LOT OF THEM!)

Sometimes, as marketers & creatives, we need to STAHP MARKETING & simply watch, listen, & understand.

Special mention goes to the “Karen’s Campaign” that a local pizza chain thought was a good idea at the height of the BLM movement. Yeeesh.

My hope for 2021 is that we’ll all be better at understanding cultural context before we put any communications/campaigns into the world.

4. Pick three words to describe 2020





Pivot – no longer a word that simply revives memories from my basketball playing years in highschool & university, “pivot” is the new “viral” for 2020. Overused. Under-adorned. I once counted someone sprinkle this little goodie into a campaign conversation 19 times over the course of a single meeting.

Unlearn –  The more I have made my heart & mind open to “unlearning” the more I realise just how liberating it is to truly see people for who they are. The depth of our unknowing, & getting comfort with the discomfort inherent in it, is a super power. May we all continue to unlearn, deeply. Indefinitely & infinitely.

Kindness –  This is a hill I will happily die on. For years I’ve had people laugh in my face when I say that kindness is a strength in business, creativity, & life. It feels like the idea is catching on. For that, I am thankful.

5.   Most memorable moment from lockdown?

Auckland’s BLM March.

Hands down my most memorable moment of the year at a macro level.

My nieces marched alongside me & 30,000 other people in Auckland to show our support for equity, equality, & the turning of a tide globally. Standing up against racism will stand up in my mind as a defining moment for the rest of my life.

The job to do now is to continue.

To carry on.

To act.

6.   First thing you did in Level 1?

I hugged people.

Friends, family, colleagues, strangers at events, our barista.

My love languages are time & touch – so not being able to hug people (or to be in rooms full of buzzy humans) for so long really drained my happy-tank for a lot of 2020.

We’re so lucky to be together.

To fill rooms with laughter & learning.

I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the Keynote Speaker & workshop life again since our second lockdown ended.

7.   First place you’ll travel to when borders open?

I’ve got a ticket home to California/Michigan for early April of 2021. Try as I might, I can’t go another year or more without hugging my parents or seeing my little nieces back home. I yearn for them daily now. Their aura. Their presence. Their nearness.

So, beyond April next year & the government isolation on the other end of my trip – I look forward to heading anywhere. In the meantime, adventuring closer to home is keeping us filled with awe & joy.

8.   Heroes of 2020

Artists, Singer/Songwriters, Storytellers. Poets, Authors, Activists.

Creative humans saved us in so many ways this year.

Music saved me.

Because I was working from home & had the time to tune in, singers like the legendary Melissa Etheridge (who livestreamed daily #concertsfromhome for almost two months before tragically losing her son), our local beloved song-bird Anika Moa (who livestreamed some of her Songs for Bubba’s for little humans to dance to on Sunday mornings), & Nashville’s Brandy Clark (a new “discovery” of 2020 for me who kept busy with book clubs & a cool show of interviews entitled You Can’t Come Over, But You Can Come In) reminded me that the power of social media is in connecting & sharing.

Imperfectly. Often. Openly.

9.   Villains of 2020

Figureheads masquerading as leaders.

I’m not usually one for vengeance, but I hope 2021 will be a reckoning for them.

Watching our best friend mourn the death of her mother from 10,000 miles away during Level 4 was a horrid experience. Not being able to comfort her in any way other than sitting outside of her window & weeping sucked.

And, the truth is, it didn’t have to happen like it did.

10.  What have you learnt about the world this year?

It’s small.

Really, really small.

If one virus can become the defining villain of our world in a matter of weeks – it goes to show just how interconnected we all are.

11.  What personality trait got you in the most trouble this year? 

My wife’s answer is: My addictive nature.

Most notably, my love of potato chips.

Since February 1st I’ve eaten some form of potato or corn chip daily.

On particularly rough days I ate both the potato & corn varieties.

Looking back, I’m not mad about causing this kind of trouble because it tastes damn good.

My answer is: My gypsy heart.

Sitting still is not my forte & I am longing to get out & explore the world.

Before Covid hit I had travel & work plans to The Middle East, Australia, the USA, the UK, & South America all on the cards – & that was all before June! My heart beats for humanity & discovering music, cultures, stories, & similarities between us all.

12.  What achievement are you most proud of this year?

Being a present mother & wife top my list.

We all navigated a stormy sea in our little bubble together & have grown closer because of it.

After whānau, it’s gotta be launching my own business (CR&Co) & sticking with it through the rough times. The first year of launching anything is a wild ride, add a pandemic into the mix & it’s become THE WILDEST RIDE of my life.

Also, my dedication to seeking out strong people & sharing deep conversations with them via my Kindness Warriors podcast.

Wait! One more. Banana bread.

My Grandma Roma would be chuffed as with my progress over the course of the past 365 sleeps.

13.  Silver lining of 2020? 

Taking stock (of everything).

Unlearning (everything).

Taking up space (IRL & online).

Listening more, speaking less.

Time with family.

Digging deep to understand what success actually looks like for me.

This has been a year for silver-linings.

14.  Best brands of 2020

Brand New Zealand:

Our country.

Our leadership.

Our team of five million.

Our dedication to small business & local tourism.

Our ability to collectively look after each other.

Special mentions to:

Wildfang, Nike, Kiwibank, New World, & small local businesses just keeping their heads above water.

15.  Lamest trend of 2020

Politicising kindness & disregarding science.


16.  Best innovation

Well, if they turn out to be effective, I’ll say the Covid-19 vaccines might be the best innovation yet in the history of innovation.

It’s amazing what happens when science gets adequate funding (without red-tape & faffing about), whilst also having the impetus to focus on a singular problem, innit?

17.  What died in 2020? 

Normalcy – or the illusion of it.

The term “new normal” really grinds my gears because the “old normal” was an obsessive view of success in which we all suffered.

Depression, anxiety, & suicide rates in the advertising/marketing industry alone was through the roof in 2019. Why would we want to jump back onto a horse that was consistently bucking us off of it?

Bring on conscious work. Bring on balance. Bring on a world that truly sees compassion & kindness as a pillar of business growth & sustainability.

18.  Guilty Netflix obsession?

All of it. At one point it felt like we’d seen everything on offer.


19.  Twitter or Instagram?

Neither & both. As always, the platform is always dependent on the story, the audience, & the reason for putting anything out into the ether.

Special mention to TikTok & Cranberry Juice Dude for reinvigorating a delicious Vodka mixer & getting Fleetwood Mac back to the top of the charts for the first time since 1972!  

20.  What should be uninvented? 

The 9-to-5 workday.

21.  What’s the biggest mistake marketers will make in 2021?

Thinking in a pre-Covid-19 way. Humanity has changed. Our global narratives have changed. Our local needs & wants have moved beyond a hungry consumption of content model.

Add value, add value, add value.

Be bold in your caring about people & your business will grow from it.

Year in Review is brought to you by Discovery New Zealand.

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