H&M has just brought tighty whities to huge heights with their latest marketing event – projecting David Beckham images in various underwear products on the White Cliffs of Dover. The interesting part of it is that the stunt is the draw and not, necessarily, the execution or actual impressions. In this case, the brand presented a nice marketing mix of timing, placement and control – letting the buzz follow.
H&M’s timing could not be better – with the Olympics taking place and Beckham’s appeal through the roof (made even stronger by his appearance in the Games’ opening ceremonies.) And, the brand was able to leverage the Olympics without having to pay a fee like all the brands who have tied their names to the Games.
As we’ve seen with other landmarks, natural and man-made, it is tricky to make use of them for marketing purposes. The challenges in negotiating for their use often lead to ideas being dropped before they even start. With the development of large-scale projection, a large part of the issue – hampering with the physical structures – is averted. It still remains to be seen what kind of fallout there might be when people realize that their beloved location has been usurped for marketing purposes.
What’s most interesting about this execution is the extremely small amount of people who might actually have a chance to see it in its actual form. The limitation of viewers to anyone who might have a flight plan bringing them over the White Cliffs of Dover at night, on a night-time ferry across the channel, or a boat just passing by, or possibly being able to make it out from the shores of France being able to see it makes the actual reach of one night’s posting very limited. But its the real reach that is making the difference.
Keep in mind that, in addition to the relatively few people who might have actually seen it, there is only one image that is circulating. While this execution happened on Wednesday night, the 1st of August, there is still only one image that is circulating around the web as of four days later. (I actually waited a couple of days to post this in order to see if there was more than the one image.) That one available image seems to be so brilliant that it just feels like it could be photoshopped. The most cynical could say that it was an agency’s mocked up proposal that made it out into the ether – with H&M getting the bang for the buck without having to actually execute. Add to that their Twitter campaign using #beckhamsbriefsofdover which has people posting the same exact image.
Regardless of that, and even if it never happened, it was a smart move on H&M’s part because of the amount of control they had and how much the action is being picked up. No matter whether people are upset or excited about it, there is still buzz. When looking at H&M’s target demo, how much concern needs to be placed on negative feelings for this?
Kent Online digs deeper into whether it was a real execution or not, but does it really matter in the end. What matters is that a generally positive buzz has been unleashed about a product that some could say had no business being in the news cycle. Perhaps the only thing I wish they had done ensure that other images or video were available to support whether it was actually executed. It will be left to the audience to determine whether they care if the execution really happened or not. What brings this marketing campaign to the edge is that it drove people to talk about a product based on an execution very people actually saw – if there was anything at all to be seen…
Posted in Ruminations
Tagged #beckhamsbriefsofdover, Briefs, Buzz, David Beckham, Execution, H&M, Kent Online, London 2012, Marketing, Olympics, Projections, White Cliffs of Dover
Sarah Mahoney might have incorrectly or unfairly categorized JCPenney’s newest ad as pandering to the Right in her recent MediaPost entry. Whether it is, in fact, the company’s attempt to counter any backlash that they have received from their same-sex marriage ads or not, they might be doing more damage than good – due to the buzz they are generating for the wrong reasons. The prodding of consumers to round-up their purchases to the nearest dollar for charity – with the proceeds going to the USO – is admirable but it doesn’t really do much for JCPenney in its latest push to move to greener pastures in the sales column. I don’t think it has to do with liberal or conservative, Left or Right, Gay or Straight – as Mahoney suggests (specifically as none of those are mutually exclusive when it comes to charity, military or the USO.) What it does do is further remove focus from the company’s switch to lower prices across the board.
Already, a head has rolled in just the few short months since JCPenney announced its new direction with always-discounted pricing rather than asking consumers to wait for sales to come. In January, an AP interview with CEO, Ron Johnson, clearly spelled out what their revamp was. In June, their President, Michael Francis – a seasoned marketer – was fired after five months on the job.
Could it be that it was because their lifestyle ads were compelling and welcoming, but missed the point about how you could go into a store any day and find great prices on products from major designers? Did they not focus enough on their new offering of deep discounts on the first and third Friday of every month? Most of the buzz I heard was the flak about Ellen DeGeneres being their spokesperson, followed by the image of two mommies in their Mother’s Day ad and then two daddies in the Father’s Day version. From a liberal perspective, it might have had a warming effect. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have a heating effect on sales.
This is by no means a scientific analysis of what people are taking away from those ads, but on a surface review, they just don’t do enough to present JCPenney as a true competitor to its main competition. They are certainly not the first store to have specific lines made for them (see Missoni for Target) and they are not the only ones to permanently drop their prices (see Falling Prices for Wal-Mart.) Even when looking at the one ad out there about those Friday sales don’t make their overall strategy clear.
Sadly, it seems that they (JCPenney) are the only ones to have lost that point in well-meaning yet unclear advertising.
Posted in Core
Tagged Advertising, Buzz, Charity, Clarity, Ellen DeGeneres, JCP Cares, JCPenney, Marketing, MediaPost, Michael Francis, Missoni, Print, Ron Johnson, Sales, Sarah Mahoney, Strategy, Target, USO, Wal-Mart
Just like most marketers, I’m always looking for innovative ways to draw attention and get the message out. Sometimes, a bunch of buzz is generated for an execution that seems – on the surface – like it is a brilliant use of the technology. Unfortunately, when you actually check it out, it leaves a little to be desired when it comes to actually conveying the product’s narrative. One such case is the French adventure/outdoor products company, Quechua, and the Facebook Timeline piece they launched yesterday to launch their new commercial. The concept was cool, but in practice, the experience was clunky and actually acted counter to the product they were trying to promote. It certainly begs the question whether buzz about marketing products is good even when that execution is not all it can be.
The Quechua Experiment is getting buzz specifically as the “First Scrollable Commercial on Facebook Timeline.” I don’t know how much people were waiting for that feat to be attained, but the buzz it’s generating is technically correct. In this case, is that such a cool thing or just a media hook? When a user goes to www.facebook.com/QuechuaExperiment, they are asked to scroll down on their timeline and push the equivalent “more” button 15 times. Once at the bottom, press both the SHIFT and SPACE buttons to start the frame-by-frame movement upwards through the images in the Timeline.
Essentially, they are trying to explain the benefits of their 2 second tent with a web mechanic that, annoyingly, takes much longer to experience. When you look at the “video”, it provides beautiful imagery that makes people want to camp out in the wilderness and, at the end, shows how simple it is to break the tent down when you are done. It’s frustrating because we always talk about how interactivity makes the experience deeper for the user – yet this interactivity takes away from the original source of the information, which is the beautiful video. If all you are getting is another version of the video, is it worth it? It should have been as quick and simple as the “flick of a wrist” that it takes to set up the tent…
Courtesy of Quechua
The company seems to be cutting-edge in general – not just in the materials they use, but in their marketing. One such example is a beautiful commercial for their products – melding the campers and the environment beautifully – and then enabling a rich behind the scenes environment through technology to explore more. I give them and their agency, Fred + Farid credit for trying new things with this Facebook Timeline execution, but I think the actual mechanics of it miss the mark.
I can’t fault them as they are getting buzz about it. I’m just saddened when a good mechanic is not optimized to become a great marketing product. With the emphasis being placed on being the first ones to try something, you really want that “first time” to be something really special. I don’t feel they’ll get anything negative from this and I definitely wouldn’t have known about their products had it not been for the buzz – so that’s a positive for them. I’m just looking at it as a marketing product, and the full mechanic didn’t convey the product benefits as best it could have. I almost would have rather them had a tongue-in-cheek message that it will take longer for the user to experience the marketing than it would to either set up the tent or take it down.
In the end, I would rather the good buzz support a good marketing mechanic – something that better conveys the product. Additionally, except for in the most extreme cases, buzz is mostly good for a product. I’m always up for some good buzz – I just get disheartened when it leads to a marketing execution that is not all it could have been.
Posted in Core
Tagged Adventure, Buzz, Camper, Commercial, Creative, Environment, Execution, Facebook Timeline, Fred+Farid, Innovation, Marketing, Mechanics, Narrative, Quechua, Tents, Video
Will the strategy of limiting supply to generate buzz ever end? In this age of “Everything I want, I want immediately”, will people stand (or fall) for trickling distribution of an item that can’t get to market quickly enough? It seems that Apple is leading the category in anticipation through limited supply – with the latest example being the iPad 3 – oops, the new iPad. It just seems to be such a silly dance we do with Apple annually where the demand can’t be meted by the supply.
We smartly gave up on the clubs with the velvet-roped lines outside and barely anyone inside as we realized it was all about buzz. But we’re still collectively mesmerized by Apple. When one of the largest distributors of devices continues to run out of product at launch, we put up with it for who knows what reason. I agree that their products are phenomenal, but do we all need to have them on day one? Perhaps because of the Samsung ads poking fun at the people who wait in line at Apple stores for new product releases, many more people pre-ordered so they could have the product on the first day. Alas, they have run out of those devices and cannot get them to consumers who didn’t get in on the first phase of pre-orders until the following Monday at the earliest. And, if you haven’t pre-ordered yet, don’t expect one to get to you for weeks. The funny thing is that units are in the cities where they are supposed to be delivered, but were put on hold at the Fedex locations so that they would not be delivered until Friday. A friend who pre-ordered early enough to get his set for delivery on Friday actually got an email saying that his product was picked up in the local Fedex hub and would be delivered yesterday – only to get a follow-up email that it was placed on hold for that Friday delivery.
Courtesy of Washington Post
From a stockholder’s perspective, I’m sure the demand and buzz is great as the price shot up $20 a share in the past three days of trading. This brings us back to the point of strategy. Is it Apple’s strategy to greatly limit supply at the beginning to drive buzz and stocks higher? Was it also their strategy to push delivery back on pre-orders to drive people to the lines when they recognized that people were getting wise and pre-ordering because they didn’t care to spend any more time in lines?
I don’t know that I buy the thought that it was unexpected or that the supply chain wait is a product of that demand. They are releasing day and date in a few other countries – a reasonable excuse for greater demand. In this age, there are so many ways to gauge interest and projections based on numerous touch-points. Additionally, with Apple’s finger on the pulse of their consumers could not have been this amazed about the demand for the product. Not having a sense that your product is going to be a huge seller doesn’t seem like a good business plan for me – especially for a company like Apple.
Sadly, other technology companies are following suit with limited supply and distribution – seemingly in order to build buzz. Most recently, the demand for the Leap Pad left a lot of people without the holiday item they coveted. I can more understand Leap Frog’s surprise about demand and its subsequent scale than I can Apple’s. I don’t know that I give Leap Frog that much credit for playing off scarcity to build buzz, but who knows?
I do hope that Apple doesn’t pull the same thing if and when they ever release the iPhone 5 (June?) as the dance is getting pretty boring. I can buy the excuse that you just can’t build enough units quickly enough. I don’t buy the one of shock about demand. The dance is just getting overdone.