Bits & Pieces?
For years, retailers have been putting up in-store holiday displays earlier and earlier. It’s not uncommon to see fully decorated trees weeks before Halloween. This year, the holiday creep has spread to on-air and online advertising. Target is jumping ahead of the rest of the retail industry with its TV and video pre-roll ad that features its Bullseye dog and a promise that “The holidays are coming, and they’re gonna be big.”
This early holiday push is in contrast to the retailer’s strategy in years past. According to an Ad Age article, in 2010 the company postponed running holiday-themed ads until the week after Thanksgiving. The article quotes then Chief Marketing Officer Michael Francis: “Guests really tire of these messages when they’re started too early in the season, and it doesn’t align with where they are in their lives. They look at Thanksgiving as family time … and aren’t yet ready to get into the frenzy that defines the Christmas shopping season.”
What changed in two years? The economy for one. In another Ad Age article, Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel said: “Guests are feeling better about finances and are more comfortable considering larger purchases.” Feeling bullish about consumer confidence and ability to spend, Target is further tempting shoppers with REDcard discounts, Free Shipping, Holiday Price Match and Easy Returns –– all in hopes of capturing more of consumers’ holiday spending.
Time will soon tell if Target’s holiday advertising strategy is a success. I wonder if this early push for Christmas sales will be at the expense of Halloween sales. Christmas gets a lot of attention from retailers, but Halloween spending is no joke. This year, it’s estimated that consumers will spend $8 billion getting their spook on.
What do you think? Will early holiday advertising cannibalize or boost Halloween spending at Target?
And do you think these early ads will influence you to shop earlier (Target sure hopes so)? Or does all this premature holiday talk have the reverse effect and make you want to avoid the perceived hassles of holiday shopping for as long as you can?
Does something feel a little off or not quite right?
Maybe it’s time we looked at your brand. Bring your brand positioning statement and strategy statements along with some samples of work, and in one hour we’ll give you one humble and honest opinion. We’ll tell you if we think your brand positioning is in alignment with your work, and we might even brainstorm some new marketing ideas.
Send us your contact information, company name, and how we can help to email@example.com, and we’ll give you a call to see if we might be a good fit.
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Given two studies on preference for mobile web versus mobile apps, I stand behind my previous post’s conviction: the mobile web is where brands need to be.
Consumers and advertisers slightly prefer the mobile web.
Consumers are pretty evenly divided on the debate when polled. It comes down to what they’re doing online. When shopping, searching and being entertained they gravitate to the web browser. Apps are preferred for gathering information and connecting, presumably with friends over Facebook and the like.
Advertisers slightly favor the mobile web, based on volume of ads served. Likely, because it’s been a more widely supported and stable ad platform to date. I imagine that when Facebook’s mobile ads start to run in March, the scale will likely tip back towards apps with Facebook’s 845 million global active monthly users, 425 million of whom are on its mobile version.
What’s a brand to do?
As I posted previously, the mobile web provides significant advantages for brands when it comes to development, management, cost and control of a brand experience. That said, brands do need to weigh these against the ability to deliver the best consumer experience.
Given the lack of a strong preference by both consumers and marketers, plus the significant advantages to brands, I reiterate my position: not to app.
Where do you stand?
I’m involved in a couple of professional groups that are big into mentoring, which has me reflecting on how lucky I was to have great mentors and role models in the early, formative years of my career. Let’s face it, the ad/agency/marketing industry is not exactly known for excellence in mentoring and training programs; the phrase “trial by fire” comes to mind. So, I thought I would share a few of the lessons that were shared with me early on, in hopes that they might help some young ‘uns new to their advertising or marketing careers. (Gayla, Lisa, Peggy and John, this one’s for you.)
You exist to make your bosses’ lives easier. There are times when challenging authority is appropriate, even necessary. And we certainly don’t want “yes people” who never question anything. But more often than not, you need to be really listening to and acting on the input you are given and asking how you can help instead of putting up roadblocks. Chances are, as a young person in the industry, the people you report to are much, much, MUCH busier than you. So I recommend that you do all you can to help them. It’s how you will advance.
[Tangent: I wonder if the "Millennials" reading this will be offended at the suggestion that they have bosses and hierarchy? Trust me, we want and value your opinions, and social media has trained us all to be more democratic, but work is not a democracy. Not really. I hope I'm not coming across as condescending here, but I have observed a potent "You're not the boss of me." vibe in some - not all - of the "Millennials" with whom I have worked. Bonus points to anyone who can help me truly understand this generation and how they work - enlighten me in the comments. I beg you.]
Underpromise and overdeliver. This is the best piece of client service advice that I ever heard and the same holds true of managing your supervisors’ expectations. Never, ever make promises that you can’t keep. Not keeping commitments kills trust faster than you can say “unemployment.” Conversely, setting expectations that you exceed wins every time.
Check your work. Then check it again. I started my career on an airline account, where if there was a typo in a fare ad, it could be a seven-figure mistake. Sloppy work is just not acceptable. No one is perfect (see below), but job hunters, I’m telling you right now that if there are typos in your resume or email, you are done. *Poof*. In the bin. No chance of employment. We don’t have time to correct your work so you need to demonstrate that you care enough to do great work in the first place.
Don’t try to hide your mistakes. Check your work as you will, you will still make mistakes. In cultures of innovation, it is actually encouraged. In servicing clients, not so much. Yet, it happens, particularly in the trial by fire scenario mentioned earlier. Fresh out of college, I failed to cancel a $75,000 ad placement on time; I simply had no clue about space closing dates and when the ad had to be cancelled. Shortly thereafter, there was a cease and desist order on an ad that hadn’t gone through legal. I was absolutely horrified and for a time, I’m pretty sure I actually hid the file under my desk in hopes that it would disappear. In a lesser organization, I might have been fired. But my mentors understood that I simply didn’t have the information and experience at the time to have possibly known any better. If you are in a gig where you feel like you have to hide your mistakes, you should probably look for a new one.
Toot your own horn. In the wonderful new-ish world of social media, we’re not supposed to talk too much about ourselves. In our careers, though, it is essential. Your boss may well be too busy to take note of your hard work and your accomplishments, other than maybe at your annual or semi-annual review. Therefore, as long as you doing it with tact, it is a good idea to merchandise yourself to them now and then. If a client praises you, pass it along. Update people on your progress. If you are functioning as an island, and no one knows what you are doing, it may seem like a good thing. Trust me…it’s not.
If you can do those five things, you’ll build yourself a nice little suit of kevlar to get through the trial by fire. An advertising or marketing career is not an easy one; but it can one of the most multi-faceted, creative, challenging and fun ones. Don’t be scared. : ]
What about you? What have you learned so far?
‘Tis the season for holiday advertising. Most of the advertising is retail. Most of it is fairly predictable. How many biggest sales of the season can there be?
A friend sent a link to this ad created by St Matthews-in-the-City Church in New Zealand. Its honest portrayal of real emotions was refreshing after seeing too many contrived jewelry store commercials. (Who has money for a diamond necklace the day of signing on a new house? People who shop at Tiffany? Maybe. But Kay? Come on.)
One of the things that makes this ad remarkable is it takes something familiar and makes you see it in a slightly different, deeper way – a hallmark of great advertising.
No one really knows a lot about Mary. Many of us have heard her story what feels like a million times. But in all the telling and retelling, it still doesn’t feel like we have any sense of what she was like as a person. What we do know makes her seem different and distant. She lived over 2,000 years ago in a country many of us have never even visited. Where’s the common ground?
This ad succeeds because it overcomes differences and finds a common link that connects women throughout the world and history. Any woman who sees this ad, especially those who have experienced a Clearblue Easy moment, can imagine what she’s thinking and empathize with her. I’m going to be someone’s mom? It’s freaky. It’s overwhelming. It totally rocks your world. And we see all that in her expression.
The use of the pregnancy test in this ad doesn’t so much make her seem modern as it makes her emotions feel timeless and universal. The years, cultural differences, distance and unknowns melt away, and we are in that moment with her.
The outdoor board has no copy. It doesn’t need it. It’s just a simple visual solution that, in mere moments, makes an emotional connection with the viewer. And that’s what great ads do. They uncover a universal
human truth. They find common ground. They make us feel something real and true.
Now, if only someone could tell that to Kay…
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