Tag Archives: Connection

The Marketing Magic As Seen In A Rock

When reading Christopher Knight’s Culture Monster piece in this past Sunday’s LA Times, I was struck by more than just the points he made about a “levitating” rock and the responses it is invoking.  The main components are permanent installation Levitated Mass by artist Michael Heizer (a 340-ton granite boulder perched above a 15-foot deep slot), the concerns of money spent ($10 Million) and the question of what constitutes art. I feel that the whole conversation pointed to a larger concern relating to people’s general inclinations when internalizing anything. Well, really, it might be more about how so little is internalized. While not getting all touchy-feely about how amazing a sunset is, or how much wonder can be found in a flower or the bee fluttering about it, there is a sense of our rushed lives leaving us unable (or unwilling) to appreciate the nuances of anything. In fact, much of marketing is the art of making products/experiences/ideas seem so obviously perfect that consumers have no idea why they would choose anything else. As we toe the line between being disruptive to the point of jarring and normal to infer that our product is the normal, natural and the perfect solution for what ails us, we are forever conflicted about whether we should be the rock or the magical levitation.

LEVITATED MASS by Michael Heizer at LACMA
Image: © Michael Heizer.


How often do we launch a marketing program that is grueling in its planning, exquisite in its execution and terrific in its ROI and KPIs – yet the response from the c-level or publications is ho-hum?  Or, conversely, how many times has something been slapped together at the last-minute with wonky execution and ho-hum measurables – yet the experience was so disruptive that it was lauded by senior executives and publishing pundits? Though it’s never so cut and dry as the examples above, we’ve all been a part of examples that take bits from each side.

In the case of Levitated Mass, who knows how many people will just look at it and not even thing of it as anything more than a garden rock?  Will people consider the whole story about Heizer’s conception of the installation some three decades ago and only recently finding the perfect “rock” in Southern California – or the crazy “parade” as the boulder made its way through the streets of a major metropolis? Ultimately, none of that really matters as the true test would be if people are actually moved when the come in contact with the installation.

That same test holds true for marketing – it can’t be about the big disruptive execution or the subtle representation of what a product does or can do for a consumer – it has to be about moving people and making a connection.

We’ve certainly seen some fantastic marketing product executions over the years – some have driven sales and some might have just garnered buzz and awards. Unfortunately, we’ve also come across some executions that are barely noticeable and, at most, only generate a shaking of the head with the questioning of, “So what?”

As opposed to marketing, art has time to build appreciation or importance. With some campaigns, there’s just a matter of days or weeks of life. In this case, there may need to be some consideration of the beautiful sunset or flower as the right mix of disruption and connection is required.  Disruption without connection doesn’t do much good in the long run. We know that people will probably never care about what went into marketing programs – nor should they.  They should only be concerned with how much they were connected with it.

Knowing that we would be naive to think that the marketing or business world is as ideal as this, we’ve got to sometimes take a step back, open our eyes and smell the flowers. In the end, it is about more than a rock.  It doesn’t need to matter about cost (with fiscal prudence assumed, of course), the way it was conceived or the route it took to get to its end state – all that matters is whether the “magical” connection was made with the intended audience. Everything else works itself out – at some point…

MediaMind Brings An Exciting Possible Twist to the Future

On the same day I was writing about what the future can hold with Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility and its set-top box business, MediaMind announced a partnership with Impossible Software in a new form of video versioning that could assist in making what I wrote about a reality.  The partnership will enable advertisers to change features within videos based on where the person is viewing the ad, what time it is, exact demographic and more.

The press release goes into the details a little bit with versioning ability seen in text, images, sound and video at run-time.  While this technology is a step up from what MediaMind and other rich media companies were offering in just standard online ad placement – since it can affect the video and its contents to make it more specific to its audience – it is certainly a solid step toward dynamic placement of directed content in commercial pods on television.  It actually provides another option I didn’t present.  That new option with this technology could allow for everyone to see the same ad on a national scale, yet see local information appear dynamically upon airing.

There are definitely technical considerations that would need to be ironed out as online video is handled differently from broadcast and cable video, but the possibilities for the future are exciting.  It is a chance for advertisers to combine the personal and the emotional.  Of course, they will still have to create ads that build the emotional connection, but this provides a solid seed for enhancing that relationship.

The Social Media ROI Quandary

Jonathan Salem Baskin wrote a solid post for iMedia Connection, 4 Ways to Fail at Social Media, that assumes that you can tout the benefits of Social Media all you want to CMOs, but it may do very little as so much is tied to the traditional ways of marketing and measuring campaign effectiveness.  What Baskin did was most interesting because he took three recent social media campaigns that are thought of as being extremely successful and poses the question,  “Could we make the case that the Pepsi Refresh Project, Ford Fiesta Movement, and Old Spice “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaigns were failures and, if so, what could we learn from them about doing better next time?”

Baskin looks at the relationship between social media campaigns and sales, and in these three cases, found the following:

While it makes holding social programs accountable for failures somewhat slippery, it’s easy to point out that all three brands suffered during them. Pepsi fell to third place behind Coke and Diet Coke. Ford’s Fiesta sold only as well in 2010 as the fourth place Chevy Aveo (which spent nothing on social media). Old Spice didn’t suffer during its campaign, per se, but its sales successes tracked far more closely to its paid media TV commercials and in-store promo coupons.

It isn’t really as cut-and-dried as that, but the conversation is compelling and much needed. Simply, the strongest part of Barkin’s post is the challenge to all marketers to go beyond the campaign (or mechanic) and think strategically about how the communication will continue with those who enter the fray beyond that initial flight. That is sometimes the tricky part as too many businesses are about the present quarter and not holding to the 5 and 10 year plans that used to be more prevalent over a decade ago. It all comes back to the quest for splash while not always considering substance or, unfortunately, connection with consumers.

The issue has been mentioned before in response to executives saying “we need a Facebook and a Twitter” – you really need a communication stream, a point of view, and support for the ongoing management of that. Its too bad that many miss that key element in building a long-lasting relationship…