Bits & Pieces?
It’s not new news, but most of the time, even in our changing world—many advertisers still want to talk more about themselves than their consumers. In their version of the advertising strategy, features outweigh benefits in key messaging platforms. Especially with limited dollars, “more bang for the buck” comes with cramming every nook and cranny of a spot with something to say about the product. I’m not casting judgement. I get it—with the pressure to succeed, and success ever more tied to ROI, it’s tough to be a marketer. But I urge us all to still focus on the consumer. Something I think we did well (along with our client) in these recent spots for HSHS (Hospital Sisters Health System) in Green Bay.
You may have read a post here months back, on a 60 second spot we shot with Michael Prince for the brand. Well, these are the harder-hitting siblings of that spot. What we’d call the “service line” spots for cancer and orthopedics. These spots carry some pretty heavy loads—boasting that “we provide the most treatment options,” that “we beat national survival rates” and that “we are among the nation’s best” when it comes to cancer. Product features, not benefits. But notice how the facts are surrounded both visually and verbally with “life”, “hope” and “a new belief.” Things I believe every person with cancer wants as much as the latest and greatest treatment.
By identifying that what we see in a cancer patient is a path to new life, we brought context, benefit and a personal connection to what would be a list of ingredients. Kudos to the team and the client on recognizing the fine balance between logic and emotion, especially when it comes to our health.
I have to admit I was pretty excited when I heard the Fiat was coming to America. It put my “Italian-ness” in full gear (no pun intended). I couldn’t wait to see what the car looked like and, knowing that possibly within the year I would be in the market for a car, I put the Fiat at the top of my list, even sight unseen.
When I saw the car I liked it, even tough maybe it was a little tiny for my taste – but still kept it in my consideration set. There’s an inner battle that goes on when it comes to making a decision to buy a car. First, there are the real world concerns of space and gas mileage and options that you want the car you drive to have. Secondly (and maybe I’m a little shallow, but whatever) I want the car I drive to have an image that is in line with my personality. In other words, for me, the advertising matters.
VW does a great job of portraying the image and features I am interested in. So does Honda. Then I saw the Fiat commercial, and frankly I hardly noticed the car in it at all. Instead all I could see was Jennifer Lopez.
It takes everything in me to not put a question mark at the end of her name.
As celebrity endorsements go, this one is a real head scratcher. Her appearance immediately turned me off to the car, and apparently I’m not alone.
Recent reports say the 2011 sales goal of 50,000 units is way off, having only sold 16,000. Workers at the plant have been laid off because demand isn’t there. And now the commercial featuring Jennifer Lopez is under fire because it celebrates her getting back to her “roots” — implying that the streets in the commercial are that of the Bronx. But no, they were filmed in LA.
There has now been a shakeup within the top marketing brass for Fiat as well.
In the old days they used to say Fiat stood for “Fix it again, Tony,” and I can see why the car would want to steer clear of that baggage. But then again to completely ignore the Italian heritage of the car and the “cool” factor behind Fiat really stumps me. When they introduced the new VW Beetle, one of the charms of the campaign was it’s subtle nods to the car’s storied past. But the marketers behind Fiat have denied the car of it’s truly authentic self and are paying the price. Call me crazy but this Italian car has to be injected with a little bit of Italian-ness.
What do you think? Is J-Lo right for Fiat? Or is she turning you off to a car that identifies itself with a judge on American Idol?
I recently saw this posted on Facebook and it made me smile. In what’s being called “Christmas Creep,” the marketing universe is trying to push the boundaries of exactly when the Christmas season begins. Retailers keep stretching the calendar. But everywhere you go, you hear people complain and voice their disgust at the presence of Christmas trees and holiday lights around Halloween. It surely disgusts me.
But Nordstrom gets it. And in one genius move, their corporate culture embraced the idea of making Christmastime Christmastime again. What’s even better, they probably threw together these posters, simply laid them out on 8.5 by 11 paper and made copies for their stores. They understand their customer and had to know that their policy would be met with a round of applause.
It’s one amazing example of how a retailer can win customers, not just with low prices, but by echoing their sentiments, and aligning with their customer in a more profound emotional way.
I’d love to know what you think. Is “Christmas Creep” getting out of hand? Or is Nordstrom’s taking too big a risk with this?
Last week Eric wrote a blog post on text messaging and some of the promotional and advertising opportunities the medium provides. This week I want to look at texting not as a medium part of the mobile marketing mix, but as a way to change how products are used and even to provide new products and services.
Some of the greatest examples of how texting, and mobile technology in general, have changed the lives of millions of people come from Africa, where a mobile phone can dramatically improve living standards by saving wasted trips, providing information about crop prices, summoning medical help, and even serving as a conduit to banking services. Economist and emerging markets expert Jeffrey Sachs calls mobile phones “the single most transformative technology for development.” Leonard Waverman, chairman of the economics faculty at London Business School, has shown that a 10% increase in a developing country’s mobile phone penetration adds 0.6 percentage points to the economic growth rate of the country. The World Bank claims that number to be 0.8 percentage points. So how exactly is texting used in the developing world, and more specifically in Africa?
SMS has transformed the banking, agriculture, healthcare, education and non-profit sectors in Africa.
Mobile banking is probably the best developed sector. M-PESA, Orange Money, MobiPay, MiMoney, MTN Mobile Money and even Western Union are some of the major players that allow customers to transfer money even without a bank account, just with a simple text message. M-PESA, the most popular mobile money platform, was first used as a way for young, male urban migrants to send money back to their families in the countryside. It is now used to pay for everything from school fees to taxis. Teachers in Rowanda receive their salaries via mobile money and retirees in Kenya receive their pensions the same way.
Since 2002 SMS has been changing agriculture in Africa. The biggest challenge for smallholder farmers in Africa used to be the lack of transparent information about the market prices of crops. Today such information and even more is available through a simple text message. CocoaLink, a program launched by the Ghana Cocoa Board, The Hershey Company and the World Cocoa Foundation, provides cocoa farmers with useful information about improving farming practices, safety, crop disease prevention, marketing, etc. Again with a simple text message.
mHealth initiatives have revolutionized healthcare in Africa improving communication between field and clinical staff, diagnostics and prevention. FrontlineSMS significantly improves the communication between field and clinical stuff thus improving the diagnosis process. Ghana’s 2000 GPs can send and receive free text messages from their patients. In Nigeria, teenagers can text questions about HIV/AIDS and receive answers. In South Africa, people can text “HIV” followed by their location and receive an SMS with the location of the two nearest traveling testing units.
There are numerous other examples of the innovative use of text messaging in Africa from providing resources to non-profit organizations to fighting corruption and violence against women. What I find incredibly interesting is that in the West we are obsessed with developing promotional tools and sexy smartphone apps when in reality we just need to provide solutions. The best solution doesn’t have to be the sexiest one, but the smartest one.
In the West, we use mobile and digital technology mostly for promotions without considering how these technologies can affect the other three Ps of marketing: place, product and price. We call it mobile and digital marketing when in reality it is just mobile and digital promotion and advertising. Even simple technology such as text messaging can take the cost and infrastructure implications out and affect the product, the price and the place, thus giving us the opportunity not just to promote businesses, but to profoundly transform them. With such simple technology, we can create new products, transform distribution networks and change pricing models. Now think what we can accomplish with smartphones.
Like them or hate them, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are marketing geniuses and many of us could learn some things from them. For the people that don’t recognize those names, how about names like Kenny and Cartman? Matt and Trey are the creators of the 15-year running “South Park” and have created a small empire from an idea that started off as construction paper cut-outs. With a successful TV series, a box-office hit (Baseketball) and numerous other side projects and endorsement deals, they are the epitome of success.
And now, they have finally cashed in on the most obvious and most sought after item of all for South Park fans: Cheesy Poofs. The favorite snack of Eric Cartman, these cheese puffs (basically puffed Cheetos) will now be sold in Wal-Marts beginning in August. The prediction is for huge sales, if for no other reason than the novelty of it.
But more to the point of this post is the fact that Matt and Trey were able to take a fairly simple idea and turn it into a blockbuster by following some very basic marketing rules that even the professionals can sometimes forget when getting caught up in details.
- Connect with your audience – South Park is such a tremendous hit because it strikes a chord in those of us fed up with the level of PC-ness these days. The biggest reason (IMHO) for the success of South Park is that they use kids to say all the things we’re told we can’t. Who can really be upset with a kid? After all, they say the darndest things.
- Make your message simple and straightforward – If it makes sense to a fifth grader, how hard could it be for an adult to understand?
- Avoid the small print – There are some times when this is impossible, however people never read it and tend to think the more of it there is, the less they can trust the message. The only mumbling in South Park is done by Kenny, and only the other characters can understand him. Sounds like legalese, right? The rest of the messages on South Park are right there in your face for you to deal with however you choose.
- Protect your brand – South Park is known for being brash, bold and very opinionated. It doesn’t matter what the topic, on every episode you know there will be moments that make you laugh and moments that make you cringe. That’s their brand. It’s what they stand for. Can your brand say the same thing (and stick to it)?
There is no question that once a show has reached the level of success that South Park has that there are some very smart marketers behind it. Matt and Trey are two of the best. Who are some of the best celebrities/marketers that you know? Timberlake? Gaga? Beyonce? Shaq? Kenny Powers? What do you think?
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