Monthly Archives: July 2010

What’s in a name?

At the beginning of the summer I spent a few weeks in Rome with 20 other students. On the first day there we saw an advertisement on the side of a city bus for MAGNUM GOLD?! ice cream. The ad was a picture of the ice cream bar, flanked by Benicio del Toro and Caroline de Souza Correa, and all it read was “Magnum Gold?!”

I’m not sure if it was the presence of the two attractive actors or the combination of a question mark and an exclamation point, but this ad started a frenzy that would last for the next five weeks. Each of us had a list of things we wanted to accomplish while in Italy, and “Eating a Magnum Gold?!” was instantly added to all of them.

You would have thought that we were searching for the Holy Grail. Every time we would walk past a storefront with a cooler, we would take a quick inventory of the Magnum selection.  Every time a bus would pass, all of us would turn to see if it was lucky enough to be a “Magnum Gold?!” bus. How to properly pronounce the “?!” combination was the topic of many dinner conversations. And after we found and tried the rare desserts, we were inspired to uncover and taste all the different flavors.

And all because of an advertisement we saw on the side of a dirty Roman bus on our first day in Italy.

In the era of social media, cell phones, and pretty much everything technological, I thought it was really interesting that a group of 20 eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds reacted so strongly to an ad on the side of a bus. It may have had to do with the fact that we were in a foreign country with limited access to internet and phones. It may have just been the delusions from jet lag. Or, it could be that “traditional” advertising isn’t necessarily as ineffective as we thought.

The only thing in this ad other than the product, and product name, is two celebrities. Was it the celebrity endorsements that created such a response? Well, considering none of us had even heard of Caroline de Souza Correa (we had to Google her to find out she was an actress), probably not. Sure, Benicio del Toro is kind of a badass, but is he cool enough to our generation to have such an appeal? In an article for Ireland’s Business and Leadership magazine, Colette Coughlan, senior brand manager for Magnum, stated, “We have teamed up with an A-list star and a world renowned film director [Bryan Singer] to create a first class campaign.” A-list actor? I’m not questioning Benicio’s acting abilities; I’m just saying that the people on my trip were no older than 10 during his heyday. So this reaction was definitely not warranted based solely on the power of the celebrity.

Which only leaves the product and its name. In my opinion, the reason that this ad created so much excitement was because of the name of the product: Magnum Gold?! There is something about that combination of punctuation and the fact that it sounds like the name of a condom which is so fascinating. Would we have bought as many Magnum Gold?!s if it was named something else? I highly doubt it. The name provided just enough intrigue as it passed us on the bus that we wanted to figure out what it was, and the fact that it was on the bus was the perfect way to catch us off guard and introduce us to the new flavor. I honestly think that the name was everything.

For a bunch of students from the “iGeneration” to react so strongly to an ad on the side of the bus is intriguing. All I know for certain is that the ad worked. Over the course of five weeks, collectively my group probably bought more than 150 Magnums. Perhaps the influx of technology and the movement towards social media aren’t as dominating as we thought, at least in Europe, anyway.

— Karie Hayden, intern


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Are we there yet?

I just read today that traditional agencies are doing a pretty decent job at digital work. It was in one of the gazillions of advertising-related e-mails I receive. It was about the Old Spice campaign done by Wieden + Kennedy – a well-known traditional agency.

Why is this such a surprise? Because traditional agencies were slow to adapt to digital? Maybe, well, uhmm, actually that’s a correct statement. It has nothing to do with size of agency. I think it has more to do with vision, resources, client belief that a traditional agency can lead them to the digital promised land.

At the end of the day, it is about adapting to a world that embraces receiving messages any number of ways – more and more predominantly online or via mobile. Be where the people are. Communicate with audiences using tools they prefer to use. Knowing how target audiences interact with this technology is the key to whether a traditional agency is savvy enough to include technology as part of the message delivery system.

The article also states that traditional agencies are still behind the curve when it comes to incorporating social media into a campaign. While I won’t disagree completely, I do challenge with the fact that many clients are behind the curve, as well. I had an interesting conversation with a client who, while embracing the idea of having an ongoing conversation with his customer base, does not know who to assign their side of the conversation to.

So, I contend we’re in this together, figuring out how best to include/implement social media. I will say this: I know my firm is way ahead of the game vs. other like-sized or larger firms.

That said, I celebrate campaigns we do that embrace technology to create real client results. I believe firms like ours are continually learning and challenging our clients to make a mark on the digital landscape.

— Rena Kilgannon, Principal


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Thank you for sharing.

Part of the creative’s job these days is to develop ways to encourage sharing a new campaign. It’s no longer enough to create brilliant creative that connects with the audience. Now, creative needs to be so powerful that it encourages “engagement” and “sharing.”

Is there a formula for creating engaging, shareable creative? No, but there are some guidelines. And they must be followed by more than just the folks in the creative department. In fact, it requires everyone who touches the project to make it happen.

A) Creative must be easy to share. That means unlocking the content and putting Share buttons on it (not on a Web page) so that the components can live beyond the page. This allows the audience to take ownership of the content and share it with their friends the way they actually use the Web.

A video that only lives on a Web page isn’t easily shareable to Facebook aficionados who are used to sharing YouTube videos on their wall. And allowing bloggers to embed your content on their blog gives them partial ownership and will generate more interest than requiring them to post a link and send their readers off their site.

B) Make your strategy relevant. Messages like the “best,” “cheapest,” and the “most value for your money” aren’t going to cut it in the world of social sharing. You have to get on the level of your consumer and stop talking down at them. Relate to them with something that is fun or has emotional meaning, and you’re more likely to find them sharing your message with their peers.

C) Be inclusive and honest. People can smell an aloof fake a mile away. Especially the connectors who are the ones that share content socially.

D) Don’t execute just to the media plan. Get into the minds of consumers and think about their behavior and how they will interact with your campaign.

E) All this isn’t enough if the creative is weak. Last year it might have been, when few marketers were in the social sphere. Now that the novelty of social marketing has worn off, creative must be entertaining and provocative.

What are you doing to make your creative shareable?

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Writer


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Keeping Score

New York battled Chicago Sunday afternoon in a game for the ages.  There was an overflow of raving fans in the stadium and a worldwide television audience.  They played many hard-hitting minutes into overtime.

Kansas tipped against Kentucky in last week’s finals in front of students, alumni and fans from around the country.  Both teams played a great game to the final buzzer.

Jimmy and Timmy lined up at the start line on a playground packed with kids.  Both sprinted the distance all the way through the finish line and were met with a cacophony of cheers.

So, what’s missing from the New York/Chicago game?  How about the Kansas/Kentucky tilt?  And Jimmy and Timmy’s run against one another to schoolyard fame?

Who won and what was the score?!?  How much further would you read any of the above without those details, as well as supporting information?  What were the teams even playing?

The same is the case for marketing (or any other business, for that matter).  Why spend the time and money if you’re not going to evaluate the work by keeping score?  A scorecard should be an integral part of each and every campaign or project, and CMOs around the world are now making these analytics a priority.

After all, without details of the outcome, how do you know who won?

— Gary Sayers, V.P. Account Director


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Research for the Sake of Research

Call me old-fashioned, but when an industry group throws a spread to promote its latest research findings, shouldn’t one expect those findings to be insightful and revealing?

The Online Publisher’s Association (OPA) recently unveiled its “A Sense of Place: Why Environments Matter” study.  Some of the findings:

  • “A site’s content is strongly correlated with how its advertisers are perceived.”
  • “The more trusted, relevant, and timely the content, the greater the willingness to recommend the site to others.”
  • “The more reputable, relevant and respected are the advertised brands.” (Those brands that advertise on the site).

Not particularly surprising information, if I might opine.

Don’t environments matter in most everything we do? Doesn’t a restaurant with a pleasant ambience attract patrons to it? Don’t we want to live in a house that’s aesthetically pleasing? Or drive a car that looks nice?

Environments do matter…but, as trite as it may sound, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. If the food at the restaurant isn’t good, the patrons won’t return. If the house is a shambles inside, people won’t want to visit. And, although that car might be beautiful to look at, it may be uncomfortable to drive.

What I think the OPA was getting at was that online sites that offer both environment and content are the ones where its readers are more likely to have a higher regard for the site and for the advertisers who appear there. (Also inherent in all this is site navigability. A site with good content and an environment that a user finds difficult to navigate will affect the user’s perception of that site.)

But, isn’t that the way magazines have been positioning themselves for decades? Don’t advertisers put ads for certain products in editorial environments that will favorably reflect on them? Aren’t you known by the company you keep?  In an attempt to spur online ad sales, it seems like the OPA was stating the obvious.  But, environments and content have always mattered.

— Dave Capano, Director of Media Services


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A Disaster… In More Ways Than One

With the worst natural disaster in our country’s history now more than 90 days old (and counting), I started thinking about how BP and its major U.S. competitors are using marketing tactics to respond.

It may have taken them longer than many would like, but BP has revamped their entire marketing presence to address what they are doing in the Gulf.  From their television spots to their press releases, website, Twitter and RSS feeds, Facebook and Flickr accounts, and even their YouTube channel, BP is now using all their available outlets to try and keep people informed about what they are doing to stop the leak and repair the damage.

In the old days, if a company had a crisis, they would control the media and the conversation with a traditional PR effort, and their competitors would be silent (e.g., the airline industry after a crash).  But the proliferation of social media (and BP’s slow marketing response) has made it next to impossible for them to control the dialogue and get in front of the conversation.  Consider this:

  • Facebook: “Boycott BP” and “BP Sucks” pages on Facebook have more than a million combined fans, while the real BP Facebook page only has about 34,000.
  • Twitter: There are more than 185,000 followers on the main anti-BP page (BPGlobalPR) on Twitter, while the real page has only 16,800 followers.

Social media can really bite a company in the butt in times of disaster if they don’t have a plan, don’t say the right things, or don’t act quickly enough.

From a competitive standpoint, it surprised me that I haven’t seen any television spots, nor could I find one thing about the disaster on the corporate or brand websites for ExxonMobil, Chevron or Texaco.  Shell was the only brand that even mentioned it on their site, and that was only one buried link to an article that speaks about the support and assets they have been providing to BP.  They also seem to be the only brand heavily promoting the work they are doing to tap into alternative sources of energy.

But, as you can imagine, that hasn’t stopped people from making angry posts about all these brands as well, and even rehashing their prior wrongdoings and mishaps.  BP’s competitors look to be hiding their heads in the sand vs. responding and engaging in the conversation.

What do you think of the marketing response from BP and its competitors?  What would you be doing if you were the CMO of one of these brands?

— Stephen Weinstein, EVP, Director of Account Management


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Truth in advertising? Not so much.

As an advertiser, you have to comply with the FTC’s three primary guidelines:

  • Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
  • Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
  • Advertisements cannot be unfair.

Most advertisers do, for the most part, run everything through legal and make sure their claims can be substantiated.  But what about a campaign like Dove’s Real Beauty that takes it to a higher level and makes it about a lot more than just the product itself?

When this campaign first broke, I applauded them for doing something different.  And for acknowledging that beauty doesn’t come in one shape or size, and is certainly not about perfection.  Their strategy totally worked on me – I never used that brand before the campaign, but I became a fan after and paid the premium for their products.  Not because I really think their products are any better, but because I so admired their approach.

There have been quite a few questions about the authenticity of this campaign over the years, but it was this recent post on BrandFreak that pushed me over the edge.  Specifically, this line – “…Craigslist casting call for participants for the next flight of Dove commercials. A few of the requirements: ‘beautiful arms and legs and face,’ ‘flawless skin, no tattoos or scars,’ ‘naturally fit, not too curvy, not too athletic.'”

Of course, Dove is denying this was endorsed by them.  Whether it was or was not, for me, it’s enough to call their authenticity into question.  It’s a shame, because I really wanted to believe them.

Moral of the story – be sure that you can pay off what you claim in your marketing efforts.  It takes a long time to build credibility and trust in a brand and only one incident to topple it.

Do you think this incident will damage Dove’s credibility?

To learn more on False Advertising, hear from IP attorney Jay Myers from Seyfarth Shaw on our YouTube channel.

— Ellen Repasky, SVP, Account Supervisor


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