Who watches LOST? According to the advertisers…

January 22, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Lost owned three hours of ABC primetime last night and the attention of enough fans to give it a 5.0 rating among the 18-49 age group over the two hours of new programming. (The first hour, a recap with comments from the producers, snagged a fair 3.3 rating.) Between scenes of time-jumping islanders and the desperate Oceanic Six, marketers rushed to seduce the faithful fans with a total of 112 ads in three hours. While we may not know whether Jin is dead or alive, or who the white-haired woman is, we can figure out something a little bit less mysterious: what type of people do marketers think watches Lost?

 

Lost Cast – Season Five

Lost Cast – Season Five

The first revelation? Lost fans must drive, and mostly upscale cars. There were 15 automobile ads during the three hours, about 13% of the total. BMW and the Lincoln MKS made repeated appearances, but Mercedes-Benz ruled the night, with five spots plus special mention as sponsor of the preview of next week’s episode.

Mercedes-Benz GLK

Mercedes-Benz GLK

Next deduction? Lost fans go to the movies! Eleven movie ads tried to entice the audience to head to the nearest theater this weekend. The breakdown skewed heavily toward the horror and action genres, with slim representation of mainstream drama.

Third, Lost fans would rather pick up food and bring it home than cook, judging from the abundance of Domino’s, Little Caesars, and Quiznos ads. The Olive Garden made a couple of appearances, as did Stouffers, so apparently marketers think Lost fans don’t spend much time in the kitchen. Maybe they’re too busy watching Lost and trying to figure it all out?

Other trends in the advertising indicate that Lost watchers use cell phones and are concerned about the safety of their banks. Hmmm, no real segmentation there! One last observation: if the pharmaceutical ads are to be believed, then Lost fans are arthritic women suffering from sinusitis and depression and uninterested in becoming pregnant. Or maybe they are just influencers of such people. Who knows? At any rate, it’s nice to see that Lost is in no danger of losing its ad support.

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Change-up in Headless Ads

January 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The pharmaceutical industry sometimes presents us with some pretty strange approaches to communicating medical messages. When it comes to strange, though, you’ve really got to take your hat off – or maybe your whole head off – to the latest migraine medicine campaign from Treximet. 

Have you seen the TV spots? (Click here if you haven’t; as of this writing the first version is still showing on the brand’s Web site.) Think they’re creepy? Apparently some others do, too. Today I noticed that altered ads are airing; now instead of looking so realistic, there is a torn paper effect, as if the person were appearing on a two-dimensional sheet of paper and just the part with the head on it was torn out. No less creepy, in my opinion, because the person is still in motion, which implies life. Still, a change like this is costly, so the brand managers probably have some evidence to show that part of the target audience is being seriously turned off by the original ads.

Is it possible that the original ads were produced and aired with insufficient research into the target audience? If that was the problem, then was there possibly time to conduct tests on the new, “improved” spots? Or has Treximet rushed to tear out a bandage for the problem without making sure that the changes are heading the same direction that the audience would drive them?

It will be interesting to see the future of this campaign and this brand.

Brand Profile – Dunkin’ Donuts

January 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The yummy brand with the retro colors has IMC practices that are anything but retro. While maintaining its commitment to the comfort snack base of its business, Dunkin’ Donuts has added some “better-for-you” options to its menu, in keeping with current health interests.

Egg White Veggie Flatbread Sandwich

Egg White Veggie Flatbread Sandwich

At the same time, Dunkin’ has updated its mar-com strategies to incorporate emerging media such as Twitter and YouTube. Brand Marketing Officer Frances Allen will be speaking at the 2009 Annual Integrated Marketing Conference on how Dunkin’ Donuts took on Starbucks in the coffee wars of 2008. The company’s new “You Kin’ Do It!” campaign for 2009 will incorporate just about every possible medium from network television to outdoor to special events to online and beyond, according to Allen. All communications will play on the “Kin’ Do” phrase as part of the Dunkin’ Donuts name and will emphasize the positive message that “encapsulates the spirit of Dunkin’ Donuts and the brand’s understanding of what everyday folks need to keep themselves and the country running.” If executed well, this message could find a great reception among America’s battered work force, reminding those who feel unappreciated by their employers to reward themselves with coffee and a baked goodie from the local Dunkin’ Donuts.

On the other hand, the hick factor of “kin'” in “Kin’ Do” may prove to be a turnoff among the target audience. As a concept, the line is clever but risky. The company is investing over $100 million in the campaign, but I say execution will determine its success or failure. Make your predictions here! Check out this ad and comment here. What do you think will happen? 

Black Friday Success – short run, long run or no run?

November 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Black Friday 2008 has come and gone, but we are still in the throes of the big shopping weekend, as financial analysts and marketing managers across the country wait to see what kind of return on investment in advertising and promotions retailers will see. Last year, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving saw 147 million shoppers shelling out the bucks and carrying off bagsful of treasures. Data so far this year show a much lighter turnout, though we don’t know yet if it is 19 million fewer than last year, as the National Retail Federation expected. Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of the NRF, said, “This could be the most heavily promotional Black Friday in history.”

According to ShopLocal, retailers have increased their sale offers by about 21% over last year’s Black Friday sales period. JCPenney, for example, is offering 20% more specials than last year as part of its “biggest day-after-Thanksgiving sale in company history.” Forever 21 fashion retailer is hoping to draw shoppers in with a big giveaway, while playing on consumers’ patriotic sympathies with its invitation to “Join us in supporting the American auto industry! Register to win a brand new 09 Saturn Sky!” Hibbet Sports is offering the MVP Rewards Program to cheer consumers on and reward them for purchases with “points and free stuff.”

So how will everyone know if the sales and sweepstakes were successful? In the short run, we’ll soon be able to look at numbers on store traffic, sales volume, and average purchase value. In the long run, however, retailers may feel unexpected effects. Price-based marketing communications can often weaken a brand over time. But wait – aren’t the discounters supposed to be the big winners this Christmas shopping season? Ah, but WalMart and the Dollar Store and their ilk have built their brand identities around low prices. What happens when prolonged and repeated sales lead consumers to associate discounts with Macy’s or BMW? There are some ways to beat the price positioning game, as Jack Trout suggests: compare cost of purchase to cost of ownership for high performing products, or boldly take the position of “Yes, we’re more expensive, and don’t you get what you pay for?” Let the consumer decide if that’s quality or image. Tiffany’s, anyone?

So have you ventured into the retail arena in the past few days? Have you found any great promotions or great brand stories?

Online Shoppers, Your Ship(ping) Has Come In

November 17, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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According to the National Retail Federation, many retailers make 25 to 40% of their annual sales during the “winter holiday season,” defined as November and December. Incidentally, according to an NRF survey, last year 93% of consumers celebrated Christmas, five percent celebrated Hanukkah, and two percent celebrated Kwanzaa.

This year, the retail forecast for the season is not the sunniest – the NRF predicts a 2.2% increase over last year, which sounds like even less in the pretty wrapped boxes when you consider price increases. Online sales, which have climbed as if gravity had no hold on them in the past, are predicted to increase just 12%, their smallest jump ever, according to Forrester Research.

So how are marketers going to overcome these bleak predictions? Online retailers are going to break out a tried and true promotion offer: free shipping. Yes, 78% of online retailers intend to laugh in the face of fluctuating fuel prices, offering free shipping to deal-seeking shoppers. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders make the offer with a minimum purchase of $25, while Apple, Target, and Staples ship your $50 purchases at no additional charge. Timelines vary by retailer, but Williams-Sonoma has stated their free shipping offer, only available on select items, will continue through December 24, and Staples’ offer is good through December 26.

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How will shoppers respond to these free shipping offers this year? When the wrapping paper has been recycled and the cats have shredded the bows beyond recognition, retailers will regroup and begin to evaluate their success. Between handling exchanges and returns, that is.

Bye-bye, Frustration!

November 4, 2008 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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No, this isn’t a post about saying good riddance to political ads. It is a post about marketers already looking ahead to the Christmas shopping season and trying to introduce something great enough to entice shoppers to part with some hard-to-come-by funds.

Amazon is trying to follow up Kindle and establish itself as a first-to-market leader with Frustration-Free Packaging this year, as seen on its home page and in this entertaining video. If you’ve ever been driven to inventing new four-letter word substitutes as the small fry watch you open their toys for them, you’ll appreciate this packaging strategy. Environmental benefits are also mentioned, but the focus is on saving sanity from the blight of blister packs.

If your primary Christmas shopping frustration is getting the hard-to-find toy, then WalMart has a great option for you: online Elmo Live reservations! No more dismembered Elmos at the hands of desperate shopper tugs of war.

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We still have a few weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday (for readers in the U.S.), but with forecasts predicting dire decreases in holiday spending, marketers are already making an effort to get their stories out to draw shoppers in. 

Martin Luther as blogger

October 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Today is Reformation Day, marking the anniversary of Martin Luther’s submission of 95 theses for consideration of the Catholic church and ultimately the public. Whether he actually nailed them to the door of the church or not is debatable, but he did write them, and that fact sparked the Protestant Reformation (or the Schism, if you are of Catholic inclination). 

So what does that have to do with communications? Simple: imagine if Martin Luther were living today, or if blogging had been a possibility during his day. Would the Reformation Movement have spread faster? Almost certainly. If today’s technology had existed in 1517, Luther might have blogged his theses. Then a reader would have emailed a link to several friends, who would start Twittering about it. Someone might take a digital picture of the Wittenburg church, open Photoshop, and digitally place the 95 theses on the door and send it to their friends’ cell phones. “I’m a 95er” widgets would start appearing on blogs everywhere, and Luther would be a theological rock star on Technorati

Do you think that a message can be overshadowed by the way in which it is distributed? Can speed and reach make up for the shift in focus from the message to the delivery method?

As for me, I’m glad Luther lived when he did.

Digital Banana

October 29, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Yes, it’s happened. The digital revolution is complete. Even bananas have gone digital! I was greeted this weekend by an unexpected sticker on my breakfast banana.

 

Pocket Size Fun at eatachiquita.com

The sticker says: Pocket Size Fun at eatachiquita.com

 

 

 

It directed me to a Web site, and being the curious marketing communications minded person that I am, I went to it.

 

Who knew that the simple Chiquita banana’s sticker would lead to a plethora of IMC components? On the Web site, I found information about the history of Chiquita bananas, funny drawings and jokes, the opportunity to watch very viral videos or mash up my own, a forum for comments, and even an invitation to join the Chiquita bunch on Facebook! Easy to eat foods are great for the digital generations who need at least one hand free for texting, and what a way to apPEEL to them!

 

Okay, enough with the puns. I have the 1940s Chiquita song in my head now, anyway. No, I wasn’t born then, but I did get to hear it on the Web site (hint: click on the image of the mp3 player). Guess what rhymes with refrigerator?

A Happy Medium for Politics?

October 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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For those of you who have been visiting this blog as one of the last few places not talking about the U.S. presidential election, I thank you for visiting and gently announce that this entry will be discussing the campaigns’ media choices. Don’t worry – I promise not to embed any sound bites!

 

Think. Care. VOTE!

Think. Care. VOTE!

 

 

 

A recent BusinessWeek article quotes a campaign advisor from the 2004 race talking about the ways things were changing four years ago, when tracking the evening news “turned out to be a fundamentally wrong choice. What was happening underneath us was this enormous swell of the grassroots” that didn’t show up at all in those newscasts. In the four years since then, YouTube and Facebook have been born, and a variety of new media possibilities now complicate or enhance campaign possibilities, depending on a planner’s point of view.

 

Plenty has been written about the Republican and Democratic campaigns, so this post will highlight some of the less covered parties’ forays into the world of new media. The Constitution Party has a video and downloadable literature available on its Web site, although its blog seems to be inactive; the CP of Texas is more adventurous, even podcasting on Net Party. The Green Party is on MySpace and Facebook, has a channel on YouTube, and has formed a Yahoo Group. The Libertarian Party updates its blog several times a week and is on MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Perhaps the parties that can’t seem to capture the attention of the major television networks can reach out to people where they live in new, more personal media.

 

What medium do you think has been the most influential in this year’s election? See the poll in the sidebar and vote!

Hope, Promises, and Chocolate

October 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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If you or someone you know is battling cancer, you know that hope is a powerful thing. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as many as 3000 Web sites have gone pink for October this year to bring attention to the cause.

 

With an estimated 142,540, cases diagnosed in 2007 – of which 2,030 were male – breast cancer affects people across lines of gender, race, and economic status. Companies looking for ways to make a difference have taken notice of this important issue in recent years, with Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives campaign and Dove Chocolate’s Susan G. Komen Promises campaign.

 

The Dove campaign involves new and traditional media, from messages of hope printed inside the wrappers to e-Promises that can be sent through Dove’s Web site. You can even order chocolates with customized promise messages in the wrappers to send as an encouragement to a friend; however, this interactive aspect is not specifically linked to the breast cancer cause but is available year-round for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. The pink packages of Dove Chocolates now found in stores do contribute to the search for a cure, with Dove guaranteeing a minimum $250,000 donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

 

Some may say that companies support causes just to get their brand names in the headlines, and that may be true in some cases. Even so, that doesn’t lessen the good that can be done with the donations and by calling attention to the importance of early detection. When a company such as Dove integrates a cause message into the various media included in its campaign, that demonstrates a level of commitment that can resonate with people affected by breast cancer.

 

If breast cancer has touched your life personally or through a loved one, celebrate October as a victory month. Hold on to hope, have faith, and promise to never give up!

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