Tag Archives: Target

Packaging And What Nots

Just a few quick hits…

SOUP & WARHOL

Campbell’s Soup is effectively double-dipping into the oeuvre of Warhol’s “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans” by trying to generate a buzz about the pieces of art that were created 50 years ago.  They have released four limited edition cans in Target Stores commemorating the release of those prints in a gallery. What once might have caused some members of counsel to put in long hours to determine whether  Warhol’s depiction of the soup was legal has now been turned on end in the attempt to generate excitement where there may have not been some otherwise.

I don’t even believe that Campbell’s believes it will have that big of an effect on their bottom line – as reported in this Newser piece – but they can’t be blamed for going all out on this opportunity to get themselves out there.  In addition to the products in Target stores, they have created a Facebook page to allow fans some type of 15 minutes of fame, and they are also sponsoring MOMA’s “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years” exhibition that opens on September 18th.

Interesting that Campbell’s had to get approval from the Warhol foundation to create the special edition cans…

ARE WE READY FOR SQUARE BOTTLES?

Still on the packaging path, there was coverage about a prototype that will surely cause many beer drinkers to pose the proverbial, “huh?”

Are beer drinkers ready for a bottle that’s not really a bottle?  Will they care that packaging will enable more cost-effective shipping? And, will people want to look like kids with alternate versions of juice boxes in their hand as they pound them down?

The Heineken Cube concept, designed by Petit Romain. (Petit Romain)

This prototype by French company, Petit Romain, offers that opportunity.  Who knows when we’ll see the format hit our shelves?  Maybe it will be in limited quantities – like the soup above – but will it be used for more than a try?  I don’t know how a bottle opener is going to work, or how my nose is going to feel mashed up on my last swig.  I give them props for looking at packaging alternatives and hooking coverage by outlets like the Los Angeles Times

LASTLY, WHAT NOT TO DO…

When I read about Walmart’s plan to accentuate the price difference with their competitors, I was confused because it seems like such a late date to roll out April Fool’s jokes. As mobile options to check around for lowest prices in a matter of seconds, I was taken aback by Walmart’s planned service to receive emails from consumers and send back an email in a few days to alert the consumer how much they could have saved.

Perhaps it is pure genius, but it is more likely a reflection of what Walmart thinks of its customers.  They obviously feel that their consumer would not be privy to the newest technology and would be OK with waiting a few days to see if the prices received were, in fact, the lowest. available.

What concerned me the most was that their customers might be so willing to bring personal information to Walmart’s door.  A company’s offer of a loyalty program as a way to generate knowledge about their consumers is one thing.  To create something that aggregates shopping information about a consumer’s shopping at all stores seems a little duplicitous.  Whether they can provide a value to the consumer in lower prices for the next time they shop is fine, but they must be doing it for the bigger “get” of finding out more about their consumers than perhaps they should.

Walmart will rightfully never share how many people participate in this low-tech  offering, but the implications could be big if a larger amount of people participate.  Hopefully, they are smart and sharp enough to not participate – trusting other resources or their own noggins to get the best pricing without giving up their personal preferences and habits.

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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.

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.

Can Beautiful Commercials Get You Nowhere?

It seemed unlikely that Toyota would release yet another artsy commercial for their Prius models in the same month as their buzzing People Person spot, but they have just released two more artistic endeavors in support of the Prius V specifically. All handled by the same agency, Saatchi LA, it is great to see such a creative and organic approach to these ads – but at what cost?  Oddly, they mostly share the same quirky omission that might not mean much with their target audience: with the exception of the last few seconds of the People Person :60, there are actually no moving cars!

Beyond the fact that it is so rare to see an auto commercial without cars moving, these ads all look to evoke emotional response or an optimistic mood rather than detail the car’s specs or features.  They assume that the target audience already knows about that stuff – and in the case of the Prius, they probably already do.

The whimsy of these low-CGI executions are fun to watch over and over again – it seems like the creators even placed Easter Eggs in there to entice viewers to watch again and again.

First, there’s MORE EFFICIENT which is all seemingly done on a turntable with stage theatrics to emphasize how the Prius V can be used well in different types of environments.

For MORE CONNECTED, the same type of staged design enables the camera to move in and out of objects to convey the true emotional dynamics of the car.  This one does have a VO that delves a little more into the features, but there is not a standard presentation of features – which is nice. 

The People Person spot was just released earlier in September and it focused on more models with the conveyance of how there’s many models to fit the needs of many different types of people – perhaps even going so far as to insinuate that one person might want multiple models depending on which part of them is in control. Multiple Personality Disorder anyone?

So, it all comes down to whether these commercials will be effective or not in sales conversions.  As we know that there are so many opportunities for the consumer to NOT watch these, are they enough to grab the attention and then convert to interest or intent?  It is refreshing to see something other than a car on a track, dusty desert or wet, clear streets of downtown Los Angeles – so, for that alone, it could be worth it.  The music selection for each is also different and seems to fit their target nicely. That change could also be attention grabbing to the consumer as we are used to the harder driving music of auto ads (or most everything else for that matter.)

Will these types of ads induce users to actually stop-motion forward on their DVRs (like my daughter and I did on the Hershey’s Kiss spot that is running) and actually enable longer dwell or interaction time with a commercial?  Hopefully they will and if Nielsen is smart, they will incorporate that tracking into their analysis offerings since those bits of information could be huge in determining success or just cool creative.

Hopefully, these types of ads will prove to be successful on all levels and not just in bolstering an agency’s portfolio with pretty things.  If done for the right target, “Artsy” is perfect.  If not, then its sort of like playing with yourself.  Commercials and Music Videos tease at becoming the next perfect haven for visionary directors and filmmakers – but it is not just about execution but connecting with the target.  We’ll see if Prius drives that consumer excitement.

Sometimes, Its By Accident

With all of the ways in which to consume media and information, it is often refreshing to run into something of interest by accident.  This morning was just one of those times.  In a bizarre chain of events that led me to place my toddler daughter on my lap to watch the Beastie Boys INTERGALACTIC music video on youtube, we came across a listing for the OK Go Muppet Show Theme Song video with the Muppets that was just posted yesterday.

My daughter was attracted to the image of Kermit and I was attracted to the fact that OK Go always produces great videos.  The video is fun – with allusions to past OK Go videos and key elements of the Muppet Show.  There are so many inside jokes and references that I didn’t mind it when I was forced to watch it three times.

The video was presented with a VEVO skin that showed some of the Muppet characters in a Obey-type format with the link below it to check out the green album. 

Curiosity got the better of me – after she went off to begin her day – as I clicked that link to get to a site about the Green Album as I knew there was a movie coming out and figured it was something related.  But I didn’t understand why the film was not called out in the artwork.  it certainly seemed like a lot of Muppet representation for what seemed at initial sight to be an OK Go release.

I was definitely wrong about it just being OK Go.  It’s an entire cover album of so many of the beloved songs.  There was a track listing – and more importantly to me, a link to a movie site.

The movie site showed a couple of trailers, including one named THE FUZZY PACK.  The reason this stands out is that it really speaks to the sweet spot demographic that grew up as fans of the original Muppet movies and THE MUPPET SHOW.  The style absolutely plays to that audience and adds an alternate twist to the brand without demeaning it.  They used smart editing to create a lot with a little.  it was a much better manipulation of brand than what other well known brands for the same target generation – where a certain dark lord is made to look foolish in the attempt to attract a broader audience.

This Muppets effort is compelling for a number of reasons:

  • It didn’t dumb down  or alter the brand to try to broaden an audience – it was true to its core with the belief that the audience is smart enough to get it – both the aged fans and the new ones.
  • Whereas many campaigns would hammer film release dates down our throats with any anciliary release, this experience left that up to discovery.  They relied on the hook of the initial entry point to lead the user down a path to the end.  With a brand like this and the audience they were going for with the initial music video, anyone who wouldn’t want to find more wouldn’t have been affected by the release date if it was plastered on that VEVO skin to begin with.
  • The style and taste of every component was consistent – even with the elements being presented as part of the record label and the studio.  There was a sense of self-parody from the frames of the first music video through to the last frame in the last trailer on the movie page that calls out that it is yet another parody.  From before Kermit appeared in an underwear parody of Marky Mark, Pardoy has been a driving force in the Muppet universe.

It certainly was an accident that I cam across the music video in the first place – some would say that it had to do with Disney’s placement.  I would say that it was their placement that helped me find it and enabled me to explore more. 

Much of what happens online and in the digital space is by accident.  It’s up to the good marketers to set themselves up in a position to take advantage of those accidents.