Tag Archives: Experience

Wonka Taught My 4-yo Everything About Marketing

So, maybe there’s no truth in my daughter learning anything about marketing while watching the 1971 Gene Wilder version of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but there was certainly compelling content that could lead to a dissertation for anyone who cares to share on their way to a marketing degree. Though one of my favorite movies, I had not seen it in years.  It seemed like the perfect time to share with my daughter – since she had just completed being read the story in her pre-school. The magical moments remain, but what struck me most are the marketing concepts and case studies (good and bad) that play out in the film.


Here’s just a couple of concepts or case studies from the film:

Kick-off a season or product by giving away product to those who are most likely to come back and buy your product.

The movie start out with kids leaving school – presumably for the summer break – and running to the candy store. It’s clear that not everyone is allowed inside as we see Charlie Bucket on the outside looking in.  What he sees through the glass is the candy man effectively throwing candy at the kids and even welcoming them behind the counter to take what they want.

When we return to the store later, its much quieter and the same candy man requires payment for whatever is bought. That store cleaning at the beginning of the film must have been great for loyalty – and clearing out old inventory to make way for the Wonka Bar craze that was soon to be a boon to the candy business…

Create a promotion with such an insane reward that demand for product skyrockets globally driving sales far beyond consumption capabilities.

The placement of 5 golden tickets leading to a lifetime supply of candy made everyone go insane and those who could, bought more chocolate bars than anyone could eat. Add to that demand by inflating the re-sellers’ market (a box’s auction started at 5000 GBP) and you’ve not only increased sales, but you’ve increased the value of the brand exponentially.

We won’t harbor on the fact that it seemed, in the end, that Wonka seemingly had no intention of honoring the candy for life for all five winners.

Truly create an compelling experience and people will do everything they can to be a part of it.

After 20 years of Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina being bed-ridden, Grandpa Joe miraculously gets out of bed and, within minutes, is dancing in preparation for visiting the Wonka factory.

Throw off your competition by sharing news about the development of a product that is so secretive that everyone wants a piece of it – even if it has no long-term value.

Reports were coming out about the Everlasting Gobstopper as soon as the contest launched (if not sooner) and everyone wanted to know what they were. In this case, the evil competitor reached out to all five winners to entreat them to bring back a sample of the super-secret product.

On a side note about gaming rules and ethics, one has to question how he was able to be in the proximity of every single winner just moments after they won.  In fact, after finding that he was a Wonka employee, one can question the validity of the random-ness of winning…

Had anyone stopped to think about the commercial viability in the Everlasting Gobstopper, they would have realized that there was no future.  It would have done great sales at first, but you would not have been able to sell more than one to a person (or a family with proper cleaning and hygiene) because you could never finish sucking on them – they’re everlasting!

Create a theme park factory to draw crowds.  Even if you don’t allow visitors, the pent-up excitement will find its way into your sales.

It sadly drew parallels to Michael Jackson’s Neverland – where too few people got to experience it and be transported.

Did you see the amazement on the kids’ faces when they see the candy garden, the chocolate river, its boat or the sudsy car contraption that only traveled 20 yards?  That stuff was priceless and was created, ostensibly, to never be seen by anyone other than Wonka and his Oompa Loompas… But, those tales that would be told by the kids after they saw it and the demand it would have created would have only led further to propping up the brand’s image.


Much like this was all fantasy created in the mind of Roald Dahl or the filmmakers, there is always a bit of truth at its core.  We can pick out what we like and discard the rest.  We can gloss over the fact that the contract that Wonka had the minors sign without their parents’ signatures would not hold up if challenged.

The Quaker Oats company actually paid for the production as a launch point for their new candy bars that they were planning to go to market with. The sad thing is that the products got into market at the time of the theatrical release, but they all had to be recalled because they melted.

What is prevalent as the film relates to marketing is that a sense of wonder goes a long way toward its effectiveness. What happens in the long run is up to how strong the product actually is. A great story can launch a product, but a great product can launch a story and reach even greater heights.


The Tablet War Shines A Light On (Digital) Illiteracy

I usually dislike espousing demos because I believe the world’s quickly-evolving anthropology is making demographics, as we know it, useless.  But, sometimes you just can’t get away from certain truths about demographics. This is certainly on full display if you generally lump older consumer into the Digital Illiterate bucket.  As opposed to Digital Natives (those who have really only lived and known the digital world) or Digital Immigrants (those who grew up in an analog world and are embracing digital), Digital Illiterates are those who might test the digital waters with their toe or only go so far as the shallow end – and they just might prove to be a huge growth opportunity that is being overlooked.  Having just brought a relative Digital Illiterate to an Apple Store so she could buy her first Apple product (an iPad 2), an untapped opportunity was illuminated.

First off, let’s be clear that Digital Illiterates (or Ignorants) don’t necessarily have NO knowledge of computers or Digital – they are just using a small percentage of the available capabilities.  They may only use email, surf the web, or (in a growing case around the world among older users) interact with Facebook.   The basic discussion of technology and the “new” thing often makes their eyes glaze over, or they just turn and run. And yes, for the most part, they are part of that older demographic.

With that in mind, I took a neighbor and her sister (both Digital Illiterates by my definition above) to an Apple Store yesterday so that the sister could buy an iPad.  When we got to the store, there were seemingly as many employees as there were customers – the place was packed.  Their initial impulse was to turn and run.

But let’s jump back to why this friend wanted an iPad in the first place.  It was because I had told her how easy it was to understand and work with – and that if she was thinking about buying it, it was much cheaper to buy it here before she headed back to London.  I explained that she would probably never need a regular computer again and because the interface is so intuitive, she would be able to get the hang of it quickly.

In the store’s controlled mayhem my guests were shocked to see so many people – but were even more shocked to find out that those employees are well-educated about the product and willing to spend as much time as needed to help in the sale and/or initial setup of the product.  Our Manhattan Beach Apple Store Specialist, Richard, was  the perfect person to help my very confused and cautious friend.  He not only processed the transaction, but helped her set up her account (correctly tying it to the UK App Store) and gave a tutorial.

It was interesting that we had this experience at Apple Stores the same day that Apple laid off their retail chief, John Browett. Rumour has it that Browett ruffled feathers by trying to cut back on store staffing and removing the customer service component – leading CEO, Tim Cook to reverse some Browett moves.  Obviously, Apple understands the value of the knowledge amongst the staff and the value of providing that type of resource to Apple users who are lucky enough to be close to a store.

Though I had known that Apple provided this service, it never occurred to me that a potentially enormous sector of consumers has no idea. The computer industry still retains a reputation as being scary and cold to those who are not “experts”.  Apple seems to have cracked that.

But it also illuminated the fact that Apple doesn’t seem to be making their ability to ease consumer’s transition to the digital realm – through both OS and Store employees – known to consumers.  If there were marketing programs in place to go after those Digital Illiterates, can you imagine how much they could increase sales?

Apple could be the only ones who can pull this off.  Their store staff is primed to do it – whereas the Microsoft and Sony stores have neither the staffing nor the know-how to shepherd the transition. We don’t even have to discuss Best Buy and other big stores when it comes to this same issue. I just haven’t seen any marketing from Apple that clearly calls out their advantage – leaving yet another piece to insider knowledge.

They’ve got to find a way to convey that store excitement through forms of media to draw in a diverse crowd (read “less than hip,” “not technically savvy,” umm…not young).  Apple already knows what happens when they get people in the stores.  I honestly didn’t see a diverse age range in the store – nor have I ever seen that in an Apple store.  To fortify market share even more, that needs to change. With a product like the iPad, they have a key platform to drive that new user sampling – but I have yet to really see marketing to draw that audience. It could be interesting to see how traditional media could be used to draw certain demos into the store to transition them to the digital media realm. Either way, the effective costs of properly targetting audience segments have come down in price to a point where it doesn’t make sense to not have multiple campaigns running concurrently – especially if you are one of the biggest companies in history.

Could it be as simple as the brand wanting to convey youth as opposed to generating greater sales?  I really don’t have any insight into their research that might be leading them one way or the other.  I do know that there is a growing amount of players on the tablet front and the tablet has turned from being a toy gadget to being arguably the only necessary digital product to serve most of the consumers’ needs – especially the needs of the Digital Illiterates.

Regardless of what you think of iPads against all other tablets, that “ease of use” benefit needs to be more largely sold to Digital Illiterates – at least in a way that doesn’t make them run – and nobody other than Apple is as primed to win that war through their stores. They maybe just need to do a better job of getting that <insert demo here> crowd in the door. Because, for every Digital Illiterate, there’s an opportunity to convert them to a Digital Immigrant.

The True Zen of Social Media

As “Social Media” is becoming the ubiquitous catch-all flashpoint of digital marketing – and perhaps all marketing – it is becoming more apparent that the speed of development and change increases the challenge of just keeping up. The true Zen of Social Media is understanding that you don’t know all the answers and can only really develop the resources to continue gaining the knowledge.

Many companies are just scratching the surface when they decide to “have a Facebook or a Twitter” and the breadth of possibilities in the space could be overwhelming beyond that.  As such, its a good thing that there are more and more “specialists” coming to the forefront who can help guide the way through Social Media. But, I am of the belief that it is almost silly to call anyone a Social Media Expert as there are so many ways to skin this cat and it really comes down to someone who can marry what your product or brand needs and what are the best solutions at the time. 

Certainly, you can set a course for social and start down that path, but it is imperative to constantly tighten and refine based on available resources, outlets, environments, audiences and audience response.  But from the individual level through the organizational level, it must become part of the culture that Social Media is a constantly evolving and therefore; learning environment.  To set a course, communicate that course and then just follow it exactly to the letter in the Social Media realm will probably do more damage in the long run.  And, the person who intimates that they have all the answers is pure folly.

The beauty is that there are enough people sharing ideology online to enable anyone to do some research – if they have the time.  Even with a specialist on staff, I would suggest having the drive to get some of the basics. The three main components are Owned, Earned and Bought.

In this case, Josh Dreller covers some of the main ways to execute the Bought  component of Social Marketing in his iMedia entry. He provides a few basics, but is certainly not giving a full overview as he does not include some of the other options and suppliers.  I also think his posit that these pieces are overlooked is either not true or off the point.  What is overlooked is the machanics of how you can effectively use Bought to move people to Owned and Earned. But, ultimately, by reading this blog, you can gain a stronger basic understanding of what is available and what is needed.

The adage that the journey is the important part is a necessity when talking about Social Media as it seems that we are never going to be able to keep up with the incredible pace of development to be able to master the field and call ourselves experts. Those with the drive to experiment, experience and expand their knowledge will be the ones who just find themselves ahead of the others in that quest.

Google+ Will Absolutely Not Be A Facebook Killer

Since Google announced their Google+ project as another social network yesterday  – with the strongest bit being the ability to guard what content is seen by whom – there have been more pundits counting the ways it will kill Facebook or how it won’t.  It’s almost like the debate on who will win a game in sports.  The biggest difference is that in sports, there has to be a winner – in this case there doesn’t and probably shouldn’t.

As a society, there is such a movement in coverage about not only being the best, but destroying all competitors.  Without the realization that being the one-and-only is abnormal and unhealthy, we are destined to be disappointed.

People seem to just now be starting to come to understand that media doesn’t have to be consumed just one way by each person.  With TV, Theater/Film, DVD. Blu-ray, VOD, Digital Download, Streamed Online – and who knows what else may come – trying to force people to consume in one way is a death knell.  We all know that individual’s consumption of media can be different depending on time of day and type of content.  It is those who can truly appreciate that and adapt who will survive.

In some ways, people focus on the social network iterations that came before Facebook or the different ways of accessing the internet and fixate on the fact that each earlier iteration was effectively minimized or done away with. What is happening, though, is that more and more people worldwide are gaining access to all types of content, interactions and communications digitally and they are recognizing how they can interact with things differently on different gadgets.  Additionally, those people are more comfortable with the fact that they can do it their own way – no peer pressure, no societal norms, just choices.

While many pundits are presenting a winner-take-all mentality, it is self-serving and doesn’t really represent the future.  One only needs to look in a grocery store to realize there is not just one.  You have your choice of dozens of creamy peanut butter.  Soda choices are becoming further complicated by minutiae (cherry flavored, vanilla-cherry flavored, caffeinated, non-caffeinated, sweetened with splenda, sweetened naturally – huh?).  Yes, there are some products that are stronger than others, but it is competition that built the world as we know it and without it, the loss of any edge or relevance will be the least of our worries.

I hope Google+ picks up and is popular.  I hope people use it for the reaons they feel comfortable.  I also believe that Facebook will continue to thrive and there will be other social networks that arise that fit the needs of those who use it.  Will anyone other than Facebook rule the roost?  only time will tell.  But to cut opportunities for any entity based solely on what challenges exist in the market will only prove to further diminish the economy.

Let’s stop rushing to declare winners and losers or look for killers and instead push for the best products possible reaching the people the way they want it.

We See The Future And It Ain’t So Far Away

The following campaign blurb was really exciting until the third line where it describes throwing a consumer on the top of a van:

The makers of Stride gum will go to extreme lengths to have consumers upgrade to Stride 2.0. Stride’s CEO, a human billboard at a mall, accosts a consumer unwilling to upgrade his gum. The CEO hops on a skateboard and chases the young man throughout the mall, eventually catching him and throwing him atop a waiting van. After switching the gum, the CEO hops into the van, driven by snowboarder Shaun White.

Stride is usually pretty good at being ahead of the curve technology-wise (incorporating color QR codes early-on) so I was assuming they were doing the same here.  The thing is, it was all just in a video created by JWT NEW YORK. And it did not happen in a real environment like I was hoping.

I thought they had taken the step that might have been thought of as Science Fiction Fantasy when the billiboards were interacting with consumers in the film, MINORITY REPORT.  That fantasy is absolutely doable now with the progress in RFID, displays, bluetooth, wi-fi and cloud-computing.  You can see elements of it in place in Japan and you will see more of it here when Apple incorporates RFID in iPhone 5.

Companies have made good use of RFID on a limited scale for marketing with the strongest example being the Israel Coca-Cola Village event last Summer that incorporated Facebook. That experience made it simple, immediate and cool to share socially, but there are so many opportunities to build a phenomenal narrative and emotional connection with consumers in the near future.

In simplest terms, imagine that the Stride video was cut into pieces so that consumers could feel that they were the ones being followed through a mall like the Culver City Westfield – where the video was actually filmed.  As the user with an RFID transmitter passed by the specific displays, the videos could be presented progressively – taking them through the narrative.  Certainly, within the next 6-9 months, those folks who have the RFID transmitter would be the most likely to like and engage with the guy pestering them – they just don’t seem like the types who would get annoyed by it.  As part of the experience, there would hopefully be kiosks that allow interaction – whether just posting to FB or registering to get a coupon sent to their email or SMS.

This really is not so far in the future – with a number of groups already developing the technology.  It just takes a strong advertiser with the correct target audience (like Stride is going after) to pull the trigger smartly.  It can be done on a small scale in strategically placed locations.  But, don’t forget to get all your ducks in a row to have your PR and Digital teams ready to pounce and leverage all the buzz, video, etc to turn it into something much bigger than a local execution.

Also, don’t forget to credit Scarlet Strategic with the idea.  Better yet, come to us and we’ll execute the whole thing for you!

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball – AKA Perspective

Listening to some of the fallout from last night’s astonishing finish by the Dallas Mavericks, the point that hit home for me is that “old” athletes are actually still, oh so, young.  The supposedly old players on the Dallas team (with the leaders being in their early 30s) relied on experience and perspective to push through to the win.  On the other side, the younger Heat (mid-late 20s) seemed to revert to inexperience and play to not lose rather than play to win.  They celebrated instead of playing hard the entire game. I am a heat fan, having grown up in Miami, and do feel that the Heat will learn from last night and end up winning the series, but it was still disappointing on many levels.

Throughout the season and even as recently as the game against the Bulls last week where the Heat superstars repeated the touch points that are so important – “From Buzzer to Buzzer”, “Have to fight through and keep the intensity up so the opponent cannot catch up”, “Maintain patience and composure,” and “Stay within the gameplan.”  With the repetition of those mantras, how did someting like the comeback happen?  I think back to buzzwords that have been thrown around over the years – paradigm shift, outside the box, push the envelope, innovation, best of breed, scalable, viral, social, relevance, omnimedia, targeted, optimization – you get the point.  Many people know how to execute on them, but from most, it just feels like lip-service.

I was then reminded when a good friend, David Aaronson,  was taunting me about the loss and how the Heat are the most hated team ever.  And its all because of Lebron James’ show and the spectacle of the party in Miami after the announcement of “The Decision.”  We all look up to athletes as if they are wise beyond their years, but again, they are relatively young.  How many of us were making decisions like that in our 20s and trying to figure out how to announce those decisions?  Guaranteed, its an extremely small percentage of us. Also guaranteed that Lebron has learned from that mistake, has become more humble (slightly?) and certainly gained perspective.  Even without the support team and Network that Lebron had around him for that “Decision” Debacle, we have all made questionable decisions when we were that age – both personally and professionally.

With that, it all comes down to perspective.  Certainly in the digital media and entertainment world, youth is held aloft as the key.  Youth is certainly a plus when it means an openness to try things or look at things with an entirely new POV.  But, that same youth can lead to bad business decisions when those decisions do not take into consideration what came before.  There are certainly some amazing young leaders and thinkers in all industries, but much of that success is found in visionaries who rely on a whole perspective before executing. Alternatively, it is interesting or concerning to see “Strategists” in their early 20s. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve stated before that there are young visionaries, but I am concerned about the perspective coming from people who are so new out of college or have only been working in the digital space.

The quest for the shiny new thing even takes seasoned professionals under their spell when they jump without maintaining a view of the big picture. So, no matter how young or old, experience and perspective is key.

Perhaps if the Heat had made use of their experience and kept perspective, they might not have been celebrating at the 7 minute mark as if they had already won the championship. Hopefully, the loss was a lesson so that the Heat don’t have to learn a much harder lesson by losing the championship…

Affinity and Loyalty – Never Underestimate the Experience

There’s a couple solid years of service left in my Lexus, but the wandering eye has come into play – big time.  The funny thing is what I’ve been focusing on.  First of all, its a brand that I have disliked immensely in the past.  There was a point where I would have never wanted it because I didn’t like what I thought it stood for, felt the seats were uncomfortable, felt it was pretentious, boring… need I go on?

I could say my change in taste is based on new design and technology coming off their conveyor belt, but then some of their new designs are pretty tacky. It could be because I’m able to afford the pretentiousness and therefore are pretentious, but who would admit that?  I really believe it has to do with actual experience – not the experience of life or growing up, but an actual experience which ingrained an affinity or loyalty in something that I have never owned.

The auto-maker I’m referring to here is Mercedes-Benz.  I do have a strong liking for other brands like BMW, Audi, Lexus (which has been very good to me) and even Chrysler, Jeep and a couple others, but I’m actually finding myself to have an emotional response to Mercedes-Benz because of an interactive experience.  The experience was in Germany a few years ago.  I was fortunate enough to have been upgraded for free to a Mercedes for my ventures on that amazing thing called the Autobahn.  The car drove beautifully and barely even shook when I drove faster than humans without roll cages, helmets and other safety equipment should dare to do – its a good thing my wife was asleep in the passenger seat.  The other factor was our visit to the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.  I never knew that a museum about cars would be as beautifully represented as the museum was, but this one proved it and we spent hours there.

What I can do with certainty is point to those two elements from a trip to Germany over 3 years ago as the reason for my feelings now.  Again, I was not in the frame of mind for purchasing a car then.  I wasn’t even thinking about what kind of car I could want – it was all about a great experience.  The experience was not within any purchasing cycle, season or other.  It was just a solid experience.

So, whether you think you are a brand or not, or whether your product or brand is relevant at certain periods in the year or a person’s lifecycle, there is nothing as powerful as the Experience to increase the possibility of future sales.  Sometimes you have control of that experience (like the MB Museum) or sometimes, it’s luck ( the MB rental upgrade) but what you can control is the enabling of Experience.  Much like I look at Non-Profit events as enabling people to give where they might not have otherwise, Companies should always be mindful of how can consumers can be given the opportunity to have good experiences with their brand or product, because that’s where Affinity and Loyalty come from – not just shiny ads or logos…