Tag Archives: Awareness

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

The Amazing Speed Of A Static Image

Forget, for a second, the impetus for Jean Jullien’s drawing mashing up the peace symbol and the Eiffel Tower to appreciate how incredibly fast it spread throughout the world. Being as only 24 hours after Jullien took a minute to create the illustration it was all over the place, you’d have thought it had been created long before and was already known and had a following. The fact that it was so perfectly simple and related to a major zeitgeist moment just proves the power of connectivity and interconnected”ness” that today’s distribution and social platforms afford us.

Question Using Technology Just Because It’s There

Sometimes even those trying to do a good deed are questionable in how they do it – especially when the use or presentation of technology come into play.  In the case of the charity, Obra do Berço in Rio, they devised what seems to be an alternate way to give money than through panhandlers in cars. You can see in the YouTube video how they showcase the technology and more questions arise than answers.

Courtesy of Obra do Berço

Courtesy of Obra do Berço

The technology they present as a form to raise funds for homeless kids is an SMS program – THE SOS SMS – that enables drivers to shut their windows on kids at street corners who are looking for change and make the donation quickly through their phones.  Seems simple enough – but there are so many issues in this setup – beyond the fact that it seems everyone has been hired for this video through Brazil’s version of Central Casting.

1) Its a shame that there are so many homeless children in the 6th Largest economy in the world. Is it more shameful that they are supporting the adults to ignore them in human terms? It seems bizarre that closing windows and turning away to donate to an organization would be thought of as being humane.

2) With their concept of hiding an SMS transmitter at an intersection, that does not lead to automatically being able to generate the mobile number to allow for an SMS communication.  The privacy issues on that alone would be enough to cause major concern.  Perhaps their better solution is through Bluetooth communications.  But, this would also rely on users turning that feature on and would not be automatic.

3) The utilization of high technology to solve a problem that is anything but high technology would cause concern for most people.  What is at its core a humanitarian action becomes a seemingly corporate one. It could be somewhat effective, but might it turn off more people than it turns on?

We could go on, but it seems pretty set and dried.  Sadly, I cannot read Portuguese, so I couldn’t find any supporting literature on their site as to how many locations have this technology or even if it is real.

Ultimately, the hope is that they were just trying to make a social statement with this campaign and not actually roll-out a non-solution like this. They did have some very engaging copy at the end of the video:

Obra_IgnoreSadly, it has become too easy to be enamored with our technology and ignore more important things around us. Even if we don’t get stuck in this perplexing situation at a Rio street corner, hopefully we can take something away from this and realize that high technology is not always the solution just because its available.

There’s Proof You Don’t Need To Be Major To Blow It Up

Taking what we normally see on Fridays in support of the larger action films opening in cinemas, the basic cabler – A&E – brought the explosiveness to premiere day of the newest season of STORAGE WARS.  Being one of the more popular basic cable reality shows on the air and the gist of the actual show, I guess we could have expected something so over the top for the new season. It remains to be seen what kind of effect the big campaign comprising portal page takeovers and second-screen experiences will do for the show, but the mere fact that they went so big for this one shows that you don’t have to be one of the majors to blow out a big campaign.

I’ve watched the show numerous times – its almost like a 21st century rendition of Let’s Make A Deal without the silly costumes (per se.) Half the fun is seeing what the bounty in the storage containers are really worht.  The other part is seeing the relationship between competing bidders and the no-names around them.  As such, it was interesting to see the creative put them in overblown situations.  You get the feeling that they over-react sometimes for the camera (as this is reality TV) so it could backfire to have them effectively laugh at themselves in the promotion of the show. We won’t know until we see the new episodes, but I’m concerned the people are going to make it any more uncomfortable to watch. But back to the explosiveness…

The media execution I saw on MSN started with an image of a monkey with a detonator button and the call to action to  Explode the page:

And upon clicking, there’s a jumpy transition to a page overlay and the explosion and season promo that plays on the Blockbuster theme – only changing Blockbuster to Lockbuster (Get it?  If you don’t.  Watch the show.)

Again, there is a concern about having the “characters” be self-aware in promo materials.  I realize that its a reality TV show, but is this the tipping of the hat that they now know what fans expect of them, so they better deliver at all costs? With that being said, I’m glad that they are doing a big campaign like this.  Just using me as a focus group – I had no idea that a new season was beginning.  I don’t watch A&E other than my occassional viewings of this show.  Therfore, the network couldn’t have expected they could just run on-air promos to drive viewers to tonight’s premiere.

A&E is also going beyond that with their Fan Challenge App.  The App will allow viewers to play along with the action on-screen.  It’s powered by TVPLUS, though its unclear if it is immediately available on both the computer and mobile phones or if the iOS and Android versions will not work until the future.  It also is not clear whether the experience will come up if the user accesses it directly through the TVPLUS app.

It’s great that they are really pushing this program and the inherent opportunities for viewers to play along. The big questions are whether fans will become more involved, whether the personalities will get too big for their breeches and become more annoying than they might already be, or if there will be a mixture of both.

The show moved its way up to the second-highest rated show on A&E last season and they are seizing the opportunity to push it up even higher.  The marketing team seems to be doing their job.  Can the programming team and the content delivered match up to really blow out the series or just blow it up? Or, will we just be wondering what is up with Barry’s monkey?

Brands and Ramifications of Earth Day’s Collateral Damage

Earth Day has always been a peculiar holiday when it comes to marketing and promotional ties that are made to a day reminding us to honor the planet. Even though the tie to honoring nature was clearly evident in the film AVATAR, I still had a concern when we were promoting it for release on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  I totally appreciated the strong message in the film and how it related to the holiday – I just wondered how people would react to the additional physical needs required for releasing on Earth Day (it fell on a Thursday rather than the traditional Tuesday release day and the amount of packaging manufactured was huge for the highest selling BD/DVD of all time.)  Surprisingly, there wasn’t as much of a backlash as I thought.  There was barely any. So, for all of the hubbub about Earth Day and the interests of brands in promoting their products in the spirit of the day, there is quite a bit of collateral damage.

Heading into Earth Day this Sunday, there are a number of companies tying themselves to the holiday – with Target being among the largest.  They are giving away 1.5 Million re-usable bags on Sunday and promoting a bunch of their ecologically sound products.  Other companies are doing their own twist on the theme with Disney Stores allowing guests to trade in 5 disposable shopping bags for a themed re-usable one, Origins is offering the opportunity to trade in existing skin care product for one of two Earth-friendly products at Macy’s stores, and Pottery Barn Kids providing sunflower seed packets.

The value and awareness that is brought by large retailers and brands doing their own bit to celebrate the day are great and definitely needed.  Perhaps it could become the exception when a company is NOT doing something in support of the day. Partnerships with eco-organizations are the easiest ways to both make a statement and increase awareness.  There are definitely a large amount of non-profits that fit the bill.

The bizarre thing is what I refer to when mentioning Collateral Damage – the ill effect that some programs have on the environment.  While Target is doing their huge program and increasing awareness by fostering a strong partnership with Recyclebank, an organization that is working towards a world without waste by rewarding people for taking everyday green actions – like recycling and reducing water use – Target has created a huge opportunity for waste.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are doing something for the better good and they are not new to the game – they have been giving $.05 discounts to consumers who use their own bags since November of 2009.

Their true good has been made murky by the fact that they have created 1.5 MILLION bags – objects that would not have existed otherwise – and brought them into the marketplace.  The message is strong about helping the ecology, but what about the message of all the materials that went into that manufacturing?  Additionally, their promotion of savings on numerous eco-friendly products requires consumers to print out coupons on pieces of paper.  Couldn’t they just say that all those items are on sale on Sunday – no coupon/waste required?

Ultimately, it’s a challenge.  How do products that require manufacturing of some sort ever even themselves against any real or perceived destruction of the ecology?  I’m not saying that brands and retailers should throw up their hands and say its no use. It’s just the opposite.  They should be looking deeper into how they can make a statement – whether through packaging, year-long practices and the simple things like having items be on sale without requiring paper to be wasted in order to redeem the savings.

To some extent, we will always be playing a zero-sum game with the idea of consumption and preservation.  Perhaps we will get to the point where we are actually preserving and recycling at a greater rate than what we are wasting.  It is baby steps and we can only hope to keep the damage to a minimum – especially as we celebrate Earth Day.

Minding The Fault In Daily Deal Sites – Prepare Yourselves

With the meteoric rise of Groupon since their launch in 2008 and the bevy of competitors that have sprouted up in an incredibly short amount of time, the very companies that can best utilize these forms of social marketing are still scratching their heads about how to use daily deals to their advantage. The thing is, there are so many options in this multi-billion dollar industry that we may have not yet seen the perfect solution – if one even exists.  But be assured, what works for some will not work for all – and it is not entirely the daily deal site’s fault.

When determining whether you want to include daily deals in your marketing mix, you need to set a strategy that works for your company.  Too often, companies utilize daily deals for awareness by providing huge discounts and then question the ROI.  Not to say that you can’t garner a strong ROI with daily deals, but you certainly can’t do so without a clear strategy or game plan.

After determining that your business would be best served by doing a daily deals program, here’s a few little tidbits you should consider:

1) THE PROGRAM
What are you looking to get from this marketing program?  Your specified end-goal should clearly define what type of program you should execute. Is it awareness, user-base, subscribers, samplers, or profit?  If its profit on the specific program you are looking for, you’re probably out of luck.  We’ll get into some basics of the participation later in the post, but figure that if 25% cannot cover the cost of your services plus a little profit, that end-goal is out of the question. 

If you are looking for awareness, user-base, subscribers or samplers, daily deals could be strong for you, but you need to make sure you can deliver and lead to repeat business.  Too often, the deals drive business for that one instance and, even if the consumer has a good time, there is no repeat visit.  Part of the solution to that is by coming up with a program that induces return visits or pass-along savings.

My wife is in the middle of a Living Social deal she bought with a friend for six classes to a new fitness program.  If she is ecstatic that she is halfway through and only has three classes left, I don’t think that’s what the business was looking for. She hasn’t felt strongly about the offering and, even at the discounted price, she’s wondering if the value is there.

Other deals we’ve bought – whether they are spa treatments or activities have rarely led to repeat visits. Had those experiences been unbelievable, we might have decided to return. So, no matter what the offer, you’ve only achieved part of your goal by getting them in the door.  Make sure the offer showcases what you do best to even have a chance of getting those return visits.

2) THE PARTNER
All deal sites are absolutely not created equally.  We’re not just talking about user-bases, we’re talking about type of user, its typical offerings and the general theme of the deal site. Depending on what type of business you are marketing, there might be specific genre sites that make more sense for you.  Even if it means that you’re reaching 1000 users instead of 100,000, that specific interested group could be a much stronger use of your money. Take the time to look at daily deal sites and compare what they offer, who they reach and what they charge. Also, weigh how they deal with maximums.  You don’t want to break your company by losing too much through the succesful sale of too many deals.

I always use the example of the bikini wax on Groupon.  I don’t need it, and even if I did, each company who offers it would hope that my sampling would turn to repeat business.  In addition to relativity of offerings, it leads to another point you should look at when determining which partner site you are going to run a deal on.  If a site runs so many deals like yours, you might end up getting people who just signed up for the latest deal.  Your chances of repeat business are slim because they might just wait for the next wax or massage – where they may be offered from.

Cost participation is another thing to consider. Figure that the general principle is that you’ll offer a service for half of the actual cost.  The site will most likely take half of that, leaving you with only 25% of the value placed on your product.  The model above is Groupon’s standard participation split.  You’ll probably find variances depending on how big, small, established or new a site is.  Ultimately, if your motivation is profit, you’ve got to set up for your offering to bring you a profit at a 75% reduction in cost.

Remember, the buzz site is not always the best return when it comes to your business, you need to be specific and stay in line with the strategy you originally set out.

3) THE PAYOFF
Perhaps too many businesses look to the deal as being the end all for the program.  If your goal is not just profit on the deal, then you’d better have a mechanic set in place to bring these consumers into your communications (through lists, groups, etc.) or find a way to convert them to subscribers or members.

I’ve redeemed far too many deals where the business never even asked if I wanted to be placed on their list for future news and specials.  That’s the easiest way to leverage the deals and a shocking few even choose to do that.

If you offer something that might be attempted only once, a solution could be to entice users of these deals to bring a friend with them later to receive another future discount.  The discount should be smaller than what the original deal, but think about it – you’re getting a new customer and even if you gave the same discount as the original deal, you’re making more money because there’s no participation.

There’s a number of different ways to leverage that sample or trial use that cost nothing more than the original outlay of the program. It’s up to you to play around to find what works best for your company and its newest clients.

When all is said and done, the product and services are key.  If you don’t have something you’re proud of, work it out BEFORE you do a daily deal.  Many of them provide a great opportunity to generate awareness and sampling, but you only get one chance to make that first impression.  It doesn’t matter how steep the discount, you won’t get them back again and you’ve totally lost.  As of yet, we’ve never seen a case study where a struggling company with sub-par offerings have been able to turn things around by offering a daily deal.

In most studies on daily deals, the business owners are quick to lay fault on the deal sites if their program does not work. Really, the fault is on business that go into this form of social marketing believing that everything they offer is going to provide returns.

Even The Small Can Make A Big Statement

In this case, small does not describe the people or the cause – just the size of the organization. And the Statement is about the campaign that uses creativity to break through the clutter to ensure that you’re heard.  In the case of Access Israel – an NGO that has been set up to advocate for handicapped accessibility throughout Israel.  Effectively representing 700,00 people (or roughly 10% of the population) a small team of 8 has been making gains to increase accessibility.  Their site explains their challenge thusly:

With four office-workers and four-field workers our organization is a small, efficient, understanding unit. All of the above activity is carried out under the rubric of a Non-Profit organization that receives limited government funds, donations, and fees from consultation services.

Since we know who we are, what we want, and how to achieve this… our fight is one of revisionism. We are trying to change the status-quo and are doing it incrementally—step by step. For us true success means that accessibility will be THE status-quo.

 Other than lobbying, one of their key components is driving Awareness and it seems they have made strong (if not risqué)choices in advertising to ensure that they can make a big statement cost-effectively.

An example of their strong choices is the ad campaign to not only promote the availability of handicapped parking spaces, but also the attempt to keep those who don’t need them out of them.  If you check closely at the sign in front of the space, you’ll see the creative choice that makes the message stand out.  The image detail below along with the copy line, “Its easy to park in a handicap spot, but do try to resist the urge,” represents a pointed wordplay and representation of what you’re effectively doing by taking one of the handicapped spots.

I don’t know how much placement this print ad got or whether there was video play on television, so I don’t know how much of an ultimate impact it had. The organization engaged Geller-Nessis, Publicis to execute the campaign and it was nice to see that the organization was a little edgy in creating awareness.  The execution was simple and to the point and welcomed people to find out more about them.

The small team seems to be making strides by making smart decisions about their creative to allow them to get their clear message to be heard among much larger interests.  They are showing that size doesn’t really matter.