Tag Archives: Print

JCPenney Gets The Buzz But Misses The Point

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.

A Bold Campaign By A Bold Brand

There are some brands that are of a certain ilk that make you wonder whether they really need to do any marketing at all.  They are the ones that everyone who would ever covet their product knows exactly who they are and can either get their products or just dream about them.  Some, like Tiffany, are forever embedded in the psyche as key parts of movies – or their opulence speaks for itself. Another example is that we don’t see a lot of commercials, banners or other for Bentleys, Ferraris or Lamborghinis.  In these cases, one might even think that the companies would be in trouble if they started doing mass advertising.  Cartier could be considered one such company with a history of selling to royalty, celebrities and the elite.  Granted, we do see advertising for high-end clothing lines and jewelry brands, but they are very specific and not as large-scale as this. With Cartier’s jewelery and designs celebrated in museums, it is commendable that they should launch their new “L’Odyssée de Cartier” campaign as a bold celebration of the brand.

The centerpiece is a three-and-a-half minute film that fantastically evokes the 165 year history of the company.  It uses a central icon of the company’s design, the panther, and really had fun with it. Around that film, they built a site and advertising campaign that retains the exclusive feel that would ordinarily be expressed through private parties or elaborate mailers through its tasteful execution. Expense did not seem to be an object with the elaborate and elegant production and full page color ads in Sunday papers.

The video treatment was not completely out of the ordinary as you can see many product videos that evoke the same whimsy on their YouTube channel. Most everything there is of a longform video nature, but not at this scale. The fact that they did this provided the opportunity to not only promote it more than their previous campaigns and create a source of content that can continue to be re-packaged for many shorter pieces and needs.

They’ve even gone so far as to include bonus features –  a “making of”, discussion of the score and a piece on the panther and its place in the company – in the L’Odyssée site.

By making everything effectively larger than life with all parts, it seems like they really hit the mark by doing mainstream advertising and maintaining the exclusive feel of the brand.

All in, its great to be able to see a well orchestrated execution work so beautifully when a brand mounts a big and bold campaign that stays true to it’s core and invites consumers to join it’s odyssée.

A Case Where Media Spend Is Not All About The Numbers

Flurry, a mobile advertising and analytics firm, just came out with a report exploring the disparities between the amount of time being spent on ad platforms and the amount of money spent on them. They noted that the largest disparity between the two was in Mobile – where 23% of users’ time was spent there with only 1% of U.S. ad dollars.  Comparing that to Print media, where 29% of ad dollars meet only 6% of time is spent, then it would seem that things are off-kilter.  While there could stand to be some shifting upward in Mobile spend percentages, looking to align the percentages of time spent with dollars spent on numbers alone in your media planning could leave you dangling in the wind.

Flurry’s VP of Marketing, Peter Farago stated in the company’s blog post that they “believe the main reason for this disparity (in Mobile) is that the mobile app platform has emerged so rapidly over such a short period of time. …Madison Avenue and brands have yet to adjust to an unprecedented adoption of apps by consumers.” That may be part of the issue, but it misses a number of other key factors:

  • The way in which people interact with the different media platforms is as much a piece of the puzzle as the time they spend using them. We all know that viewers expect a certain form of advertising when they are engaging with TV, Print and even Radio.  When looking at the Web, it seems that there is still not yet full stability in advertising engagements and Mobile is considered to most media planners to still be the Wild West.
  • With the above, some media platforms have standards that are easy to understand and convey to both upper management and clients.
  • While TV has gone through some changes with the advent of DVRs and the ability to skip ads, there is still structure there and the historical arguments come into play.  In the case of Radio and Print, the numbers are dwindling, but advertisers still have a clear idea of the context in which they will be viewed.  And most importantly, they know that there will be a decent opportunity for the ads to be seen or heard by those who are consuming those types of media. in all three of these, there is a higher percentage of ad spend than time spent.
  • Ad spend on Web is closer to alignment of time spent (22%) to ad spend (16%) and that is likely due to time in the marketplace as well as normalization of not only contextual placements but reporting.  That will continue to evolve and shift (e.g. current trend from standard ads to video) and we will most likely see the spend percentages rise above the time percentages in the next year or two.
  • Ultimately, the costs for these media placements are not normalized and cannot be compared as apples to apples. Therefore, the numbers may be “illogically” skewed for some time to come.

Taking the above into consideration, there is still a major consideration for Mobile.  When you figure that most use of mobile is done on Apps and mobile websites that do not offer Mobile-specific advertising options, there would definitely be a disparity in the numbers.  Additionally, as mobile advertising is still relatively new, the media program costs are often heavily discounted to either get in the advertiser’s door or provide proof of concept.  With those offerings, there needs to be strong analytical follow-up to derive stronger (and more costly) programs.  As of now, we’re still too early to be able to do that – even if there was enough real advertising inventory to relate directly to the time spent meter.

The report did point to other interesting facts that could lead to a strong future in mobile media with the strongest one being that Upper Middle Class consumers aged 25 – 34 are the most likely to interact with mobile ads.

There is definitely a future in mobile advertising and the chasm between time spent and ad dollars spent will surely come more closely aligned. The smart bet is on more than just the numbers, but the context. The strongest contextual applications will play out in the coming years and the best option is to be ready to pounce when it arrives to generate the best return on any Mobile media spend investment.

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.

Playing Chess with Affluent Folks and Media

This study came out this past week from Ipsos Mendelsohn.  The interesting thing is that it seems they’re playing all angles on the wealthy.  At about the same time they released the study below, they released information about the Affluent and Print still being king.  Its not like the two topics are mutually exclusive – just funny that they would come out at the same time from the same organization… it really points to the continuing complexity and nuance of media planning.

Wealthy Man Etching by Tom Otterness

Here’s a solid recap of the study as reported by Karl Greenberg for MediaPost:

The wealthy spend more time online and recall digital ads better than the general public, according to a study by Ipsos Mendelsohn for the Internet Advertising Bureau. No surprise here, but the wealthy — generously defined by the study as households making $100,000 or more per year — are just 21% of U.S. households, but they now have 70% of all consumer wealth, and spend 3.2 times more than other Americans on purchases.

The survey-based research finds that 98% of affluent consumers use the Internet versus 79% of the general population. Wealthy people also spend 26.2 hours online weekly (versus the 21.7 hours the general population spends online), 17.6 hours watching TV (versus 34 hours for the general public) and 7.5 hours listening to the radio (versus 16 hours by the general public).

Affluent consumers are also much more wired than the rest of us. The study, “Affluent Consumers in a Digital World,” is based on an online poll in February of 2,088 adults, half of whom are in households making over $100,000 and about half making less.

Ipsos Mendelsohn says affluent Americans are twice as likely as the general population to own smartphones, and that 79% of the affluent say their lives have become “intertwined with technology” over the past decade.

The study says that since the wealthy spend more time online, they also have better digital ad recall and are more aware of advertised brands, products and services. But the data suggest those differences are minor. For example, according to the study, 88% of affluent consumers recalled being exposed to one or more digital ads during the previous week, compared with 84% of non-affluent Internet users. Within these groups, affluents recalled 21.1 ads on average, versus 20.2 for non-affluents, per the study.

Affluent people are a tad more likely to be aware of new products (55% vs. 49%), new companies (51% vs. 49%), and new websites (46% vs. 44%) after viewing digital ads. The same percentage of affluent consumers as everyone else said they took action based on a digital ad during the preceding six months.

The big difference is that wealthy folk have a better understanding of ad targeting, the virtues of opt-ins and benefits of divulging personal information versus non-affluent consumers because they would prefer customized ads for products and services relevant to their interests.

The study said 32% of affluents versus 23% of non-affluents said they’d be willing to share information about themselves in order to “get a more customized online experience.” Nearly three quarters of respondents versus 61% agreed that “most websites are free because they are supported by advertising.”

And more than half of affluent consumers said they would “prefer to see ad-supported online content that is free, rather than paying for content that is ad-free.”

“Affluent consumers have increasingly come to desire relevant and customized experiences, in part because they are living technology-infused lifestyles,” said Bob Shullman, President of Ipsos Mendelsohn, in a statement about the study. “Virtually all the affluent are online. Their ownership of tablets and e-readers has increased by 50 percent over the past six months, and shows every indication of continued growth. They have come to expect the benefits of digital media, even if it doesn’t alleviate all work-life pressures.”

Use The Data, Luke!

Storytellers will be the first to tell you that without an audience, they’re not storytellers.  Could the same thing be said if there is an audience but they’re not engaged by what the storyteller has to say?  The answer to that question could be argued either way, but the real takeaway is whether the storyteller is just wasting their time if they are not making the connection with the audience.

This is certainly nothing new.  Many movies, TV shows and books have come out to find no audiences though they are well-made.  The same thing can be said for brands in general.  That is why it is imperative to not only come up with the best story for the product but the best outlets to reach the people it will most connect with.

With ever-changing growth and diversification, that matching is both helped and hindered.  We are able to find out more details about viewers and users, but there are so many more places we have to track.  With new data streams, we can be helped immensely if we take advantage of those streams and mine what really matters out of it.  We are moving away from the categorization of all people being the same based on their age, where they live and what sex they are.  The new data forms are providing much more detail about particular audience tendencies.

Mark Lieberman points out the gains in TV data in his TV Board post, Got Data?  Find the $tories.  He posits how those old or base metrics “don’t tell the story advertisers need to understand in order to connect with viewers. A soft-drink marketer might know that four programs in a given time slot attract women aged 18 to 49, but those high-level metrics won’t show where to find the best ROI for their particular category. Talk about soda without the fizz!

For advertisers, there is now an opportunity to optimize exposure with actual purchasers of a given product, on networks and programs they might have overlooked. For instance, did you know that NBC’s “30 Rock” rates very highly with European car owners? (VW is actually the highest.) Or that Lincoln and Mercury owners are more likely than owners of other cars to watch the Gospel Music Channel?”

While his story focuses on the same principle of telling the story and driving the best ROI on TV with learnings from those new forms of data, it doesn’t go far enough because it only focuses on TV.  There are now so many ways to gauge the audiences and cost-effectively engage them through so many forms of media – whether its broadcast, cable, online, mobile, social, OOH, print, etc… As metrics and consumption shift, its not always prudent to get the most eyeballs.  Sometimes those big numbers matter and that’s not to be discounted, but all outlets should be evaluated wisely as we all know bigger isn’t always better.

Ultimately, the available tools need to be used to determine who you will be telling your story to because its getting increasingly more challenging to simply repeat what may or may not have worked in the past.  And no one wants to be heard as “wuh-wuh, wa, wuh-wuh,” like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons…