consumer marketing

Changing Brand Opinions of Consumers

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Apple, blog, consumer marketing, iPhone, Mac, marketing, Twitter, viral marketing |

A recent HARO post, a reporter asked the following:

“Looking for experts on consumer behavior or branding strategies or even psychology to discuss how press/consumers develop an opinion about a company and whether/how that opinion can be swayed.”

It got me excited that someone may be looking for new ways to engage with consumers other than the same old shotgun marketing that has been going on. I focused on consumers, as that is my area of expertise.

Here was my response:

Consumers are influenced in their opinions of brands by many factors:

Engagement – a consumer’s actual experience with a brand. This usually but not always refers to their actual use of a brand’s product or service. Sometimes this can manifest itself in their experience with the brand’s customer service.

Marketing – of course marketing, advertising, coupons and the like are a big influencer, or brands wouldn’t spend the money! A fine example is Apple. They developed a product (iPod) that was marketed as hip, cool, and trendy. Their psychographic was not just people who were hip, cool, and trendy, but those who thought they were, and those who wished they were.

PR – this taps into the same channel as above, what people are reading or hearing about a product.

Peers – Peers have replaced celebrity endorsements in the mind of consumers. They’re not going to by a t-shirt because Michael Jordan wears it (much to Hanes’ chagrine), they are going to buy it because their big brother wears it. Consumers are much more likely to engage with a brand based on what kind of experience a close contact, friend or family, has had with the brand. This may mean that I’ll buy a CD (or more likely download an mp3) of a new artist because my buddy Roy likes them (he and I have similar, but not identical tastes), or I may decide not to make the purchase because my buddy Steve (whose tastes I can barely stand) recommended them.

Peripheral Peers – while these aren’t close contacts, they are other consumers with a similar psychographic makeup. For example, my wife and I are expecting our first child in February. She did not put a single item on our baby registry without reading every single review on the site of the company through which we’re making a list. Often she would double check the reviews on another site, say a portal like thebump.com, or with our neighbor who has a 6 month old (see Peers). While these influencers have less of an impact, they make it easier to get input from those with the same mindset. I’ve used Twitter recently to get feedback from my Followers on a video camera I’m looking to purchase. This gives me a broad range of honest, yet in-depth feedback. I have to take some with a grain of salt, like the podcast pro who only uses high end Canon products, or the 22 year old that just love, love, LOVES her Flip Mino (mostly because it’s pink I think).

As a side note, I use the term psychographic when discussing groups with similar interests or mindset. A 16 year old boy and a 60 year old woman wouldn’t necessarily be in the same demographic, yet when considering marketing for the New England Patriots, it is important to keep in mind that they belong to the same psychographic: New England Patriots fans. I find that targeting a psychographic is much smarter than targeting a demographic. A psychographic is a qualified lead, while and demographic is a quantity play. When I was 16 I knew many other 16 year olds, they were all very different with very different interests, why would anyone want to market to all of us the same way?

As for your question on whether or how a consumer or PR reps opinions can be swayed, it depends:

What has lead them to form an opinion? If their negative opinion is based on marketing a good Peripheral Peer review would do it. This or a Peer influencer would overcome almost all other types of influencers. My brother-in-law got an iPod that gave him endless trouble. He was totally turned off of Apple products. Yet, after a year of influence based on my own engagement with the brand (iPod, iPhone, Macs and home and work), he changed his mind. He has since bought a new iPod, an iBook and has been begging for an iPhone. Peer input is the strongest influencer, and in it’s absence, Peripheral Peer input. Both are hard to overcome, Peer being the hardest. Only ground breaking marketing and PR can change a negative Peer influence to positive.

I assume that the question pertained to changing a negative opinion to a positive one. That takes alot of work. However, changing a positive opinion to a negative one is pretty easy. All of the influencers I’ve mentioned above can very quickly change a consumer’s opinion about a brand. Recently a viral email was sent around showing images of dead chickens (not killed FOR selling, but long dead) being cleaned for sale to Walmart. I received it from several sources and forwarded it to many more. Regardless of any of the recipients’ past interaction with Walmart, I’d guess that few that saw the email would be very likely to go back to Walmart. PR mistakes, bad press, word of mouth or a bad personal exchange with any brand can very quickly change an opinion.

That being said, customer service goes a long way. I’ve had some trouble with my car and my computers. In each case, my frustration was quickly erased by excellent customer service. In every case, a similar engagement with a brand would have sent me to a competitor, not to mention negative word of mouth. However, thanks to excellent encounters with customer service, I’m an even bigger fan of the brands (signing up for their newsletter, becomming a brand ambassador).

Customer service is going to become a larger part of corporate marketing budgets in the future as products and services (as well as advertising) become more personalized how-the-economy-back-during-the-depression-of-2009-changed-the-world-part-8-marketing), advertising becomes trickier, and more brands are vying for the eye of every consumer.

One of the best low-cost ways to generate positive branding is to find brand ambassadors like myself, those with peripheral or direct peer influence, and take advantage of them. I hear and have experienced being a targeted blogger or Twitter user who is engaged by a brand. The brand would send products, ask for, or pay for reviews, hoping that the blog or Tweets would influence others. This is a demographic approach that doesn’t often work. Many bloggers won’t do it, often their readers will see through it. Rather than finding digital influencers in general, who will at best ineffectively market their product, brands should take the extra time to find those who are already fans, ambassadors or at least interested in their products and services. These are your influencers!

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How The Economy Back During The Depression of 2009 Changed The World Part 8: Marketing

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Apple, consumer marketing, Mashable, RSS feed, Science Fiction, Second Life, Social Network, tv ad | Tags: , , , , , , , |

In my continuing series on the Depression of ’09, or Bush’s Collapse, as historians have come to call it, I will focus on how marketing and advertising was effected. In 2038 it’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago quotes such as “no one every got fired for doing television” and ideas like Mass Marketing weren’t ridiculed. One needs to remember that back then Social Media was used to differentiate a particular form of “online engagement”. Of course people still used the term Internet to qualify where they absorbed a particular piece of information. Most Gen A kids today are still confused by the fact that during the Gen X/Y days we received information from multiple devices with screens: one you could interact with, and one you just stared at. I won’t mention “radio” for fear of veering too off topic.

Leading up to Dep II folks used the Internet to gather data, purchase goods, and be entertained by music, vids and games. In most cases a company I’d individual would “post” media to a “web site” where users could read, click, watch, or download it. Users had very little choice on what they got, generally being given only a few options. Something was about to change all that though.

Just prior to the election of President Obama, the first of his 3 terms, several print publications (see references below for definitions) named the consumer as the Person of the Year and Marketer of the Year. The average citizen was beginning to take control of how goods and services were presented to them. Up to this point most manufacturers and service providers would build a generic product then hire marketers to create advertising campaigns to promote their product. The advertisements would, almost without exception, be focused on a wide demographic. Men: 18-45, teens: 12-22, were typical designations. Of course no one today would waste time on such a broad and incongruous grouping. Even now, at 79, I can remember being a teen, nine of us were very similar. There were jocks, studes, vocies, rich, poor, popular, geeks, etc. It still amazed me that anyone sold anything in such a broad way. It’s important to remember that back in the 20th Century and into the singles of the 21st Century, most people just accepted that they belonged to a demographic and accepted products and services as they were: Corporate America was in charge. Of course that is no longer the case: we get goods and services tailored personally to us, we brag about the cool advertising generated by our profile. Lime most of history, it is easy, in hindsight, to see the tipping point: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chinese Colonization of Mars, Secretary Michelle Obama’s Global Union Initiative, etc. Bush’s Collapse changed the relationship between consumers and corporations forever.

It is unfair that the Collapse be completely blamed on George Bush, it is so named primarily because the Iraqi Folly put such a financial burden on the country, at a point when a brief financial meltdown was imminent. It took several decades of corporate greed, governmental missteps, and an economy based on speculation and Wall Street, to cause the Collapse. The “Silly President” just happened to push it over the edge.

The hardship had many unexpected consequences including the collapse of the television, radio (much different than what we consider it today), music and oil industries. The collapse of the oil industry and it’s evolution into an international conservatorship has been widely discussed and irrelevant to this story. The Big Media collapse has direct bearing though.

Citizens attention was divided in their entertainment, communications and informational options then: between a television, telephone and radio or a computer. With meager incomes most had to choose between the two. History shows they chose computers. These bulky, desktop machines were far less elegant than our current solution, yet they offered information, communication, entertainment and productivity in one package. This primitive machine had been used to market to consumers in a 19th Century manner, with 20th Century technology. A few technology advances offered the ability for social networks to begin to crop up, all separate and distinct. Very quickly more niche networks emerged, focused on specific subjects, forms of communication, and psychographics. CGTalk, Twitter, and Ning are examples of each that I was immersed in. Very quickly the populace found they had replaced one fractured interface with another, as their attention was now divided between multiple separate “sites”.

Yet the seeds of control had been sewn. Many of these sites, oddly called “networks”, offered personalization features as well as the ability to be viewed on mobile devices. Soon a demand was met: the ability to bring all of their desired content together under a universal, personalized ID, that they could interact with on any device. Early mobile and computer companies began building customized devices receiving customized information. Soon behavioral targeting was giving users information they wanted before they asked for it. Advertisers couldn’t bridge the gap. Most companies were still selling generic products using mass marketing tactics. The people demanded better. They had the power to make demands. It was easier fir a mom & pop operation to deliver customized goods, promoting them with customized messaging, easier than large companies. Product and Services industries as well as their advertisers couldn’t compete on such a micro-level. This signaled the end of marketing as it had been for decades.

Early social media proponents recognized early on that talking to one was better than shouting at a million. Advertisers and companies, in their desperation finally began to listen. An entire generation of marketers and advertisers was displaced. Their seats were filled by social media evangelists managing hundreds of non-employee brand evangelists. These weren’t just mouthpieces, they weren’t even paid! They were brand fans. It was the pyramid management system. One SoMe evangelist would invite brand loyalists, even competitive brand loyalist to try products and report on them. These loyalists in turn were followed by thousands, who, in turn, influenced millions of others.

Many companies during this time abandoned the strategy when they received negative feedback. The smart ones began to see this as positive input. It wasn’t long before companies were creating custom products for their loyalists. It was expensive. This zoo drove the desire from all consumers to have personalized products. Advertisers soon got in the act, creating customized messaging. Consumers had long given up the idea of privacy or anonymity online. Their tracked behavior, purchase history, financial background, resume, even family info now fed shared databases from which technology evolved to serve advertising unique to every recipient.

It seems odd, in this day and age, that a single add would be the basis of an entire product campaign. Teens in college, sports fans in bars, even the few that still work in offices, share their commercials as a bag of identity, as unique as a fingerprint. Just today my grand kids and I were laughing over our implant OS updates from Apple. I’m still on 10.4.2!

Who knows how personalization will effect us in the future. If I have to spend 4 hours on an airship to visit my grandkids on the West Coast, I’d like a seat that knows I have a bad back!

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<3 Your Brand

Posted on November 11, 2008. Filed under: advertising, consumer marketing, Social Media, Social Network, Twitter, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , |

I’m reading an article in Fast Company Magazine (Oct. 08 – yes I still like print especially with nice paper covers) about thanking companies you appreciate (I Love You. Now What – Heath & Heath). The gist is that while companies have sunk millions into call centers to smooth the ruffled feathers or complaining customers, there is virtually no way to thank them. They go on to show the positive impact it has on employees of the company, if marketing shares the compliments.

While I could spend the rest of my ride on the T talking about ways that social media could be the medium to share the good will, no one is going to pay me for it, and with a recent layoff, I’m feeling much less gracious with my free marketing advice. The holidays are coming though and we should all be looking at what we’re grateful for, even if we need the Large Hadron Collider to test the theory of the existence of something to be grateful for. With the coming rush of holiday consumerism and travel I thought we should consider Paying it Forward to some of the companies we appreciate. Perhaps @GoodWill and @Karma will get the Tweet and our holiday season won’t be tarnished with bad company-customer interaction. Perhaps customers will be a bit more patient and understanding, and corporate employees will be extra diligent and helpful in their job execution.

So I’m asking readers to think of a company whose products or service they admire or have had a positive interaction with, and give them a shout out. A simple “hey, nice job” is enough. If you want be more expressive, feel free. Use whatever medium you feel comfortable with; post a video to YouTube, write a letter, call the service center, start a Facebook Fan page, post a Tweet (#iLuvBrandX), hug a stockboy!

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Social Networks Show Users are Not Designers. And That’s Okay.

Posted on July 16, 2008. Filed under: blog, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, Facebook, Michael Durwin, MySpace, Social Network, Twitter, Web 2.0, WordPress |

I recently came across fellow Twitter-buddy Bokardo’s blog on designing for social networks:

Ugliness, Social Design, and the MySpace Lesson

Good points all around. An important thing to keep in mind is Form Follows Function. In other words, first it has to work, then it can be made to look pretty. Well, like it or not, MySpace works, despite the fact that it is not pretty. But pretty is a subjective term, while working is not. In order to work, in the realm of social networking and personalization, the user must be presented with the ability to make their site their own. That means supplying the function and letting them supply the form. If the MySpace example tells us anything it’s that most users have no taste! Any designer could tell you that! It takes skill, talent and education to know good design when you see it, much less create good design. If users were all capable of creating good design, we designers would be out of a job. MySpace decided that stopping at Function suited them just fine. With their user base and cash flow, who could argue with that?

Facebook, on the other hand, has taken a different point of view. They are providing the Function and 99% of the form. The only personalization there is your apps, your friends and your pictures.

Twitter and WordPress are in the middle. Twitter (who is obviously still working on their Function) allows a bit of form to be handled by their users, but not alot. Twitter allows users to add a picture as an icon and change their background and colors. Both merely complement the user interface. With WordPress, if you’re using their hosted version, you can choose from a variety of templates to change your layout, or you can design or have someone else design a WordPress template for you. This last is not easy for a layman, so it is often someone with design skills who does it. At worst, a WordPress design can be boring, but at least it’s not as hideous as what some MySpace users are doing.

So, allowing the Form portion of your social network’s user interface to fall into the hands of it’s users may not be pretty, but that’s what social networks are all about, What the User Wants. The user has become the designer, for better or worse, of their own experience. Who knows if this will be a continuing trend? Well, maybe we have a hint already. Users in droves have been flocking to Facebook over the last year or so, which offers much less freedom of expression, at least visually. What I’ve heard over and over from those that have abandoned MySpace for Facebook, besides that it’s for stalkers and spammers (thanks Big Media), is that Facebook looks better. Maybe users are smartening up, and realizing that they enjoy elegant design, maybe, with all the different aspects of their real and online lives, they are too busy to design their experience and prefer to have one handed to them.

We will see how it shakes out over the coming year.

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BMW Shoots Viral Piece, Does it Hit or Miss?

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: advertising, blog, Boston, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, DVD, Facebook, iPhone, Michael Durwin, movies, MySpace, new media, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Web 2.0, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BMW movie The Ramp

Earlier this year BMW launched a viral video to promote the launch of it’s new model in the U.S. The video was released as a documentary following the stories of a small Bavarian town named Oberpfaffelbachen. The town’s citizens include a stunt driver, over zealous police chief, event promoter and mayor, trying to save the town from hard financial times. They devise a promotion in which they will launch a 300 horse power BMW 1 Series from a 454 meter (1486.5 feet) ramp from Bavaria, across the Atlantic to the U.S. The town has created an entire festival around the event called Rampenfest. Towns folk are turning their houses into gift shops, town managers are tearing down forests for parking. I won’t give away the ending, but obviously something goes wrong. Not as dramatically as I’d hoped unfortunately.

The quality of the video is excellent, the acting, direction and effects (as subtle as the ramp, as obvious as the teeth) as good as a movie. The video has been seen by millions which can give BMW the opportunity to claim a positive impact, especially considering that it was shot overseas and cost far less than a U.S. 30 second spot. Was it successful? It’s hard to say.

As with any viral, guerilla or virtual advertising, it is hard to judge success. Many still talk about the negative impact of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla stunt, requiring a payout of 2 million to the city of Boston to cover lawsuits and the cost of our crack bomb squad (who apparently can’t tell the difference between a bomb and a light brite!). The press loves to bring up the GM (Chevy) Yukon promotion run on YouTube. Many people made anti-SUV ads from the audio and video clips GM posted in the make-you-own commercial promotion. This brings us to what determines success.

The GM promotion was considered a failure because of the thousands of ads that were created that shed a positive light on the Yukon, there were a few that were negative. But, is that a bad thing? Most people learn by making mistakes or being told they’re wrong. Negative feedback is just as important, if not more important than positive feedback. How will you know how to improve your product unless people tell you what they DON’T like about it? GM learned that there are alot of people that consider their giant SUV bad for the environment and a gas guzzler. If this prompts them to make eco-friendly, gas-conscious improvements to their vehicles, is that a bad thing for the company or the consumer?

And let’s not forget that with the launch of the BMW campaign, the GM promotion was brought up as a failure again. Really? The Chevy Yukon is mentioned in the press for another car manufacturer’s promotion and that’s a bad thing? Sounds like free press to me. Even when a guerilla or viral campaign can’t be measured in sales or doesn’t have quite the immediate impact a company would hope, there is always the fact that it will continue to keep the brand in the public’s conscience for months and years to come.

Brand visibility is the best way to consider whether or not your viral or guerilla campaign is effective. You can’t often track sales back to a campaign like this or even sign-ups. You may get a solid number of visits to your microsite, but when visitors pull down your video, or assets, or talk about it in their blog, it can be difficult to track especially since those co-opted branding placements end up living for months out of your control.

So, how successful will the BMW campaign be? Well, they millions of viewers at the moment. Add on a few million views of the video once people (like me) download the clip to their iPod/iPhone and show it around, upload it to their YouTube, MySpace, Facebook or blog accounts, hundreds of discussions of it in marketing or news related blogs (where I found it) and then it’s recurring mention every time another automaker or major corporation does a viral or guerilla campaign and it sounds like a success to me.

But BMW knows this. They were arguably one of the first to use viral video not just as a tool to sell cars but a way to engage consumers with their brand, and to redefine their brand as cool. I still have a DVD copy of the BMW Movies from the promotion in 2001. The shorts were directed by Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie, John Woo, Tony Scott, John Frankenheimer and featured Forest Whitakker, Madonna, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke and others. It received rave reviews at Cannes, from the New York Times, and Time magazine. They very successfully hit their middle-age, married, 150k/yr target.

The new spot however, at least in the words of Marketing VP Jack Pitney, was, rather than target a demographic, to target a psychographic. While most companies want to stick to categorizing their demographics by generation, age and finances, BMW is smart enough to know that they can pull an 8 year old boy and an 58 year old woman into their brand halo just by virtue of the fact that they may share common interests, like flashy cars, or mockumentaries.

Despite my feeling that this viral video may be a bit long for most viewers (35 minutes), I’m fairly certain that the folks at BMW will be pleased with the outcome. And I’m happy to help them broadcast their brand (even though I drive the “other” german car)!

Links:
Official Film Site

BMW Films Wikipedia

BMW Films Site (no videos here)

BMW Film “Star” (you can find the rest of the films here as well)

Digg submission where I first found out about the promotion

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Corporations Leave Second Life. We never knew you were there!

Posted on July 25, 2007. Filed under: advertising, American Apparel, Bank America, Burger King, Consumer Generated Content, consumer marketing, H&R Block, Lost, NBA, Sears, Second Life, Social Network, User Generated Content, viral marketing, Warcraft, Web 2.0, Web3.d, Wired Magazine |

I got a good laugh out of the recent Wired article stating that Second Life was officially over.
Many companies who tried to market themselves in Second Life failed and are now leaving. Coke, American Apparel, NBA, Sears, H&R Block, etc. (edit: Some of these companies aren’t leaving, just complaining that their real world strategies failed).

The problem with these companies is they try to market in it the same way they market in the real world. This is a virtual world that they know virtually nothing about. Why would an avatar want a Coke? Duh! There is no thirst in Second Life as their is no rain.

It amazes me that these companies look at a brand new technology and say, “let’s make money in it right away. If we build it they will come and spend.” Very few of the marketers who have delved into Second Life have engaged users. “Come drive my car”, okay but to get there I’m going to hop on my hovercraft or just fly. Once the novelty of driving your car for 5 minutes wears off, what else do you have to engage me? A chance to win a Pontiac to the person who creates the coolest concept car in Second Life? No? A Mercedes racing game? No? Oh, a free racing suit. Thanks. ALot of people talk about American Apparel closing it’s store. It may have been one of the first but it was also one of the worst. There was stage but no posting as to when fashions shows took place. AA clothes are for the most part non-descript. Why would it appeal to me to buy one of your plain t-shirts for my avatar? I have an alligator head and fairy wings! Not to mention that there was no staff at the store, no events, NOTHING of interest, oh, except the free 6 pack of beer on the desk (random).

One of the few real world entities that has a presence in Second Life that works is the L Word. Why? Because they’ve created locations from the set to hang out, they let Second Lifers sell their L Word-related merchandise their, they host events, there are greeters to meet you and answer questions. Second Life is a waste of time for most companies just like Bud.tv was. Why go to a web site just because it has the bud logo. What are they offering consumers? Why go to Coke Island or wherever? Because it’s Coke?

I’m surprised Burger King hasn’t tried to replicate their games or created new ones in SL. That would generate some interest. I’m further surprised that game companies don’t host mini, playable previews of their game environments there, or more record companies don’t do virtual artist shows, or tv shows (Hello Lost) put on spin off episodes, meet the cast, or tour the island events on. These are the kinds of companies that can benefit from Second Life. Bank America isn’t going to get people to use their ATM machines! What is H&R Block going to do in Second Life, help people with their virtual taxes?

As for Wired’s article above, it’s further sensationalist journalism. “Second Life is Officially Over” they say. Only 1 million visitors in the last 30 days. I’d bet there are alot of companies that would like that kind of turnout on their web site.

Second Life does herald the next generation of the Internet, only a fool can deny that. The thing is, not unlike early 90s web sites, it’s not ready to be an ecommerce tool. Brand awareness, generator, maybe. Possibility for consumer engagement? I’ve got news for you, consumers are in charge now and no place is that more apparent than in their own world.

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NXNE? Boston is missing out!

Posted on April 18, 2007. Filed under: advertising, Austin, blog, Boston, Boston Independent Film Festival, Boston Phoenix, Boston Underground Film Festival, broadcast, Chris Cooper, Chris Kataan, consumer marketing, Cream, Grindhouse, indie films, Luke Wilson, Massachusetts, movie promotion, movie trailer, NBC, new media, North by New England, North by No'Easter, Robert Rodriguez, Sony Pictures, SXSW, texas |

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Independent Film and Interactive portion at SXSW. As you may or may not know SXSW began a a music festival that eventually attracted signed acts, celebrities and record companies. It has since expanded to include independent films and interactive marketing. I’ve blogged several times on what a great experience being involved in SXSW/INT was but not about SXSW/Film.
Boston of course has IFF, BUFF and others across the eastern part of Massachusetts. What Boston doesn’t have, but is perfect for, is a cohesive festival. There are alot of great people doing alot of hard work on a volunteer basis and I applaud them. The problem with the dozen or so film festivals around the New England area is attendance and visibility. SXSW’s film attendance was over 5,000, including the interactive portion, over 10,000. Many of the interactive attendees, myself included, attended many of the film events including parties, movie premiers and panels.
Of course with that kind of attendance the quality of the material goes up, the quality and quantity of celebrities goes up. At least 3 indie film makers I met have distribution deals now and one in particular is beginning development on new shows for NBC.

I got to attend the premier of Knocked up and got to hang out with the cast. I got to see cool cips of Grindhouse and drink for free while Robert Rodriguez jammed on stagae at a club. I got to see someone I’d just met almost get punched out by Luke Wilson. I saw Chris Kataan (I think) fumbling in his backback while some girlie pop song was ringing on his cell phone. Plus a bunch of really creative and fun people got to meet, network and get discovered. Even parts of the music festival overlapped as some bands arrived early, not the least of which were members of Cream who stayed at my hotel.

This kind of visibility, excitement and possibility is lacking from the Boston indie film festivals. Not for lack of quality films or hard work, merely by the fact that they divide attention. The idea that the whole is more important than the sum of it’s parts has never been more true.

Here’s hoping that someone like the Boston Phoenix or Chris Cooper can convince the local festivals to start working together. Maybe we can get some of the hi-tech companies and design agencies to help with an interactive festival and the local radio stations to have dueling events too. We’ll have to call it North by New England since oronto already scored North by Northeast. Maybe North by No’Easter?

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Failure to Launch (Correctly)

Posted on April 4, 2007. Filed under: ABC, advertising, American Express, blog, Boston, broadcast, Chia Pet, consumer marketing, Kate Beckinsale, Lost, Michael Durwin, movie promotion, movie trailer, new media, OnDemand, Sony Pictures, tv ad, Vacancy, viral marketing, YouTube |

Vacancy Poster

I just saw a preview for the new movie Vacancy. Kate Beckinsale is in it so of course I’ll see it, when it comes to OnDemand. The trailer was interesting enough, mostly because Kate Beckinsale was in it, but I was most intrigued by a bit of text at the end of the trailer under the In Theaters…
The text gave a number: 1-888-VACANCY. So of course, being the marketing/tech geek that I am, I ran to my phone to give the number a call. 1-888-982-2262(9) for those who can’t stand dialing by letter. The extra 9 is moot, but necessary to spell the title. First, the number flashed so fast that I thought it said 1-800.. I got the Alliance Data Help Desk. Obviously the wrong place. I rewound my DVR and saw that it was 1-888. I called. Nothing. I just got a ring then a disconnect. I tried several times with the same result.
I did try again the next night (just a few minutes ago) and finally got through. There is a very creepy message with a few options; 0 for operator, 1 to hear specials and 2 to make reservations. The operator was a bad voice mail, 1 talked about slashing prices and 2 asked me to leave a number and hit pound for them to get back to me.
So first things first. When you run a commercial with a phone number attached for more information, make sure the number works and the system can handle the estimated amount of calls you expect. Even the people who sell Chia Pet know that. Next, make it worth my while! If I, as a consumer, are willing to make the effort and take on the expense of chewing up my minutes to interact with your marketing, make sure I’m going to get something out of it. A chance to have dinner with Kate Beckinsale would be a nice start, but even a chance to sign up for advanced screenings or unlock special features on the web site.
This promotion reminds me of the one American Express ran with Lost. They gave a special URL to a landing page with esupposedly exclusive content. Wrong! To begin with, once you hit the site it said nothing would be available until the next day. Great way to lose 75% of your audience. Then, when the content was available, it wasn’t exclusive, at least not to the show. It was merely clips from that episode. You could get that on ABC.com any time you wanted, or YouTube for that matter.
In all I think it’s great that companies are trying to take advantage of new media and new strategies online. But, when they do run a promotion like this, the only way it is going to be effective is if something engaging is going to be offered and for promotions like this that have the potential to reach millions, make sure it works!
Oh yeah, make sure it includes Kate Beckinsale!

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Rocketboom may charge for shows?

Posted on March 26, 2007. Filed under: Andrew Baron, Austin, blog, consumer marketing, Newark Airport, Rocketboom, SXSW, texas, vlog |

I heard Andrew Baron of Rocketboom speak at SXSW a few weeks back. He was discussing charging subscriptions for Rocketboom viewers. I just saw an article in which he discussed that option more in detail. Although Rocketboom gets 200,000 downloads per day advertisers aren’t prepared to put advertising dollars into reaching such a small audience and would rather putting it towards messaging that will reach millions. I certainly understand Andrew’s quandry, after all, he needs to put gas in his car right?

What is becomming obvious is that advertisers don’t get the new model yet. They are still convinced that creating generic messaging that speaks to a wide range of consumers and desemminating that messaging to millions in one hit. That model is losing relevance every day. Consumers want to be targeted n an individual basis, or whatever comes close. What Rocketboom has going for it is that it’s viewers are a fairly tight target audience. The advantage advertisers would have is while they are speaking to a smaller crowd, that crowd is more specific than what they’d get with a tv spot. Visitors to Rocketboom also consider themselves to be members of an elite group that view Rocketboom content. Any advertising aimed at them will surely feel personal. If done right. By really understanding Rocketboom’s crowd, an advertiser has the ability to talk directly to a niche group on their level, in their language.

It makes me think of the sci fi commercials that Gillette put out on Sci Fi Channel years ago. Those commercials spoke to a niche audience in their language (Nanu, Nanu). While it may not have given Gillette the bang for their buck that they expected, the demographic has changed.

Consumers are sick of advertising clogging up their lives. They only want relevant advertising, for products or services that might interest them and they want advertisers to speak to them personally. This puts Rocketboom in the unique position of having a distinct audience that can be targeted with laser sharp messaging.

Andrew sat behind me on the flight back to Newark from SXSW. I wanted to tell him my thoughts on his conundrum… but I figured he’d rather read it in a blog.

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