In Case You’re Bored During the Storm
Last weekend, as I wrote my “stay safe” emails to friends and family in the Northeast, it dawned on me that people would be cooped up for hours, days even, as a result of Hurricane Sandy. What would they being doing with all their spare time? [If the East Coast sees a population surge in 9 months, we know why.]
Of course, being who I am, my marketing brain clicked on and I thought about how we only had a few more days to promote our Hubba Hubba Halloween Collection. So to my emails I quickly added, “P.S. I helped develop this fun iPhone App. Download it and hopefully it’ll provide some entertainment while you are stowed away.”
Then it dawned on me. Online shopping is probably going to go through the roof! If the marketers did their weather forecast homework right, banner ads for cozying products, crank radios and warm-weather vacations will be flooding the interwebs. It’s the perfect chance for marketers to tap into the wants and needs of people waiting for Sandy to hit.
To recoup the loss of retail sales in the East, marketers have taken a targeted approach to reach those impacted by Sandy with online offers. And it hasn’t gone over too well. This Adweek article puts it best: “Clothing brands appear to have committed the biggest brand fails of Hurricane Sandy, with both American Apparel and Gap forgetting that death and loss make a poor springboard for promotional messaging.”
It’s one thing to take advantage of a natural disaster to fill a need and boost sales, especially when there’s a big opportunity. It’s another thing to make light of it with a glib coupon code.
Do you think American Apparel was just seizing an opportunity (AH) or did they take it too far (BLAH)?
SOCIAL MEDIA FTW!
I am a Greek yogurt fan. I use it for everything. I substitute it for crème fraiche, for sour cream, I make dips out of it, put it in chili, eat it with granola, cereal, nuts and fruit… you name it, I’ve done it. I even eat it plain (shocker).
Also, my favorite meal of the day is breakfast; there is rarely a day that I miss it.
Anyway, that’s not the point.
A couple weeks ago, in the office, I tried a strawberry banana Chobani yogurt and it was a revelation. It was SO. DELICIOUS. I looked up from my desk to tell someone about it (ANYONE), and everyone was either on the phone or engrossed in work. I thought about posting something on Facebook about it, but decided that I didn’t want to be that guy (you know, the person who posts what they’re having for breakfast). The only alternative? Twitter. So I logged in to my Twitter account and posted the following: “oh holy moly. @chobani #strawberrybanana is the best thing i’ve ever tasted.”
You won’t believe what happened next.
Not 5 minutes elapsed before I had the following tweet from Chobani written to me: “Ding, ding, ding! You’ve earned yourself a case of Strawberry Banana! Email us at fans[at]chobani dot com.” Of course I nerdily responded with my mailing information and an enthusiastic, “Wow, thanks! You’ve definitely made a brand advocate out of me!” (#sorryiminmarketing)
I thought that was the best day ever. I was mistaken.
The best day ever in fact came when the case arrived in the mail last week! The inside flap of the case read, “If this moment isn’t nothing but good, we don’t know what is.” And the moment was good. Unsurprisingly, it’s been pretty great having free breakfast every day. I could really get used to this.
The whole experience was exciting and rewarding, but it does beg the question – did I sell out? Not only did I send @Chobani a thank you shout out via my personal Twitter, but I’m blogging about it on my company’s website.
I guess that’s how and why social media works. Companies utilizing Twitter and other social networks have figured out ways to incentivize their followers to recommend (read: market) their products. I was no exception.
Part of me wants to think that no, I didn’t sell out. I liked something, I talked about it, the company thanked me for talking about it by gifting me free product, and I acknowledged their generosity. But knowing what I did was exactly what they wanted me to do makes me wonder…
Is Chobani’s Twitter approach a legitimate form of social media marketing where everybody benefits (AH)? Is it opportunistic and inauthentic (BLAH)?
Unlocking your inner 007
You’re at a train station buying a Coke Zero from a vending machine. All of a sudden the machine tells you that you have a chance to win tickets to the new James Bond movie. You enter your name, and the following message appears: “GO TO PLATFORM 6. YOU HAVE 70 SECONDS TO UNLOCK THE 007 IN YOU.” That’s when you notice that the busker playing the violin next to the machine is actually playing the theme to the Bond movies.
So. Do you accept the mission? I mean, it sounds easy enough, and personally, the theme music alone is motivation for me. I can see it now – my klutzy exterior crumbling away to reveal a fierce daredevil in an awesome outfit with great hair, fighting off foe after foe. HI-YA! Out of my way, I have to get my free movie tickets at platform 6, and look fabulous while I’m at it!
Ok. That’s not exactly what happened when Coke Zero posed the same challenge for lucky unsuspecting participants. But what ensued was as (if not more) entertaining. [Quick sidenote here: As much as I love the video, I was miffed to see that not a single woman was selected. Hello? I for one would have been awesome had I participated!]
Belgian agency Duval Guillaume Modem staged the challenge at Antwerp Central Station. Each participant was confronted with obstacles along the way that included everything from an attractive woman in a red dress (00:45) to spilled luggage (01:21) to a couple of glaziers lugging a pane of glass (01:05). All the while, musicians played the Bond Theme on their various instruments at different spots along the way.
From the awkward hobbles (00:40) to the unexpected nuggets of badassery (01:11), this video nailed it when it comes to comic suspense. It also succeeded in making people (including me) smile, which is the number one goal of marketers – positive association with the product.
I was talking with a friend yesterday from the UK about how horrible Coke ads are in Britain – how ineffective, unimaginative and unoriginal he thinks they are. But as horrible as the ads may be, I argued, I think that videos like this one, which are not meant for television (or anything, really, except for people to share with one another,) are in fact very effective in positive brand association. And I think that Coke has realized the importance of this.
That’s not to say that traditional media is not important – of course it’s important. If a company airs an ad during the Superbowl or sponsors the Olympics, that company can most likely expect a return on the investment, at least in terms of exposure. However, it’s extremely expensive, and any misstep could lead to dire consequences, ranging from parody or critique at the best case, to the worst case – negative association and ultimately, a negative investment.
For that reason, Coke is tapping into nontraditional media, taking more creative risks in their social media, philanthropic, and integrated branding campaigns than they would with their tv commercials and print ads. Traditional media isn’t necessarily dead, it just isn’t getting the same creative attention that nontraditional media gets. And that, I concluded to my friend, is why a single company’s tv commercials can be so bad, and yet so many of the YouTube videos they put out go viral.
So what do you think? Has traditional media taken a back seat to nontraditional (i.e. social, video, etc.) media? Is the potential for sharing (aka the potential for a video or campaign to go viral) more important than initial exposure? And is Coke on the right track?
Parody is “Inevitable” with Chanel No. 5
A man has been chosen as the new face of Chanel No. 5. That man? Brad Pitt.
Have you seen the ads? If so, think about your reaction to them, and I’ll tell you mine.
The print ads are beautiful. There’s no way around that fact. Brad Pitt is the Sexiest Man Alive, and Chanel No. 5 is a classic. It tells me, Buy this perfume, and Brad Pitt will magically appear (preferably shirtless) in front of you.
And then Kristin showed me the commercial.
It is monumentally bad. It’s almost as though the geniuses at Chanel have taken the commercial, wrapped it up, put a bow on it, and presented it on a sterling silver platter to the writers at Saturday Night Live.
Have I mentioned it’s bad?
On the other hand, I can see why Chanel thought this would be compelling. The Sexiest Man alive, in all his long-haired, goateed glory, talks about the woman he will never get out of his head: “Wherever I go, there you are – my luck, my fate, my fortune. Chanel No. 5. Inevitable.” Don’t we all want to be her? (I do.) To elicit those words from his lips? (I do.) Maybe if we wear Chanel No. 5, we’ll make that kind of impression. Rather than featuring captivatingly beautiful women we all want to be, like Kiera Knightley or Marilyn Monroe, the Chanel ad features the man we all want to be with talking about the woman we all want to be. I want to like it. I really do.
Still, I can’t watch it and take it seriously.
But who cares about my opinions? What do you think, did Chanel do something revolutionary and beautiful (AH), or did they completely miss the mark (BLAH)?
In San Francisco, the lanyard is the new power tie
For those of you who don’t know, the WHM office is located on Mission, between 5th and 6th Streets in San Francisco. It’s 2 blocks away from the Yerba Buena Center and about 4 blocks from the Moscone Center. That means my colleagues and I share a Starbucks, a Chipotle, a La Boulange, a parking lot, and countless other amenities (and headaches) with visiting conventioneers.
The last week of September and the first week of October mark the presence of two large (yeah that’s an understatement) conferences: Salesforce’s Dreamforce and Oracle’s OpenWorld, respectively. During this time, each attendee is easily identifiable with telltale signs: lanyard around the neck, tote hooked over the arm, and head buried in the iPhone, hurriedly locating the next breakout session.
The thing is, I see a lot of conferences come and go around here, and for the most part, I’m used to it. But Dreamforce and OpenWorld are on a whole ‘nother level. Complete with A-list musical performances (Salesforce brought the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Civic Center, while Oracle put on a full-on music festival with headliners Joss Stone, Macy Gray, and Jimmy Cliff in venues all over the city), impossible-to-ignore signage (animated billboards, wrapped buses, branded pedi-cabs), closed streets, and enthusiastic attendees, these back-to-back conferences have the most cachet of any I’ve seen.
What stood out more than anything was the pride with which attendees wore their nametags and branded swag. With most conferences, I can identify attendees only during work hours. Once they’re off the clock, suits and nametags are replaced with jeans and t-shirts, and they blend into the SF hive. With OpenWorld and Dreamforce, however, lanyards were still hanging late into the night, less to identify than to advertise. People became walking billboards for the conferences and their sponsors: I’m attending Dreamforce. Check me out. It was almost akin to saying, “I work at Google.”
To which I say: Kudos, Salesforce and Oracle. You marketed the bejeesus out of your gigs, going above and beyond the expected, and managed to make your corporate, tech conferences sexy. Next year, I’m going.