Now that another Halloween is in the books, marketers throughout the land can put away their vampire costumes and turn their attention to that make or break retail bonanza that is the holiday season. As an American consumer, that means being bombarded with these familiar yuletide images:
M&Ms meet Santa
And over the past decade and a half, none may be more familiar that Coke’s annual Polar Bear parade:
These lovable digital polar bears have been a mainstay of the company and the season since 1993. This year, however, Coke has decided to trade the digital bears in for the real thing (no Pepsi pun intended).
Partnering with the World Wildlife Foundation, Coca Cola has committed $2 million dollars to its latest corporate responsibility venture. Will this move resonate with the public this holiday season?
One of the exciting aspects of international marketing is the blank canvas that an unfamiliar brand has in a foreign market. This lack of brand awareness allows marketers to create entirely new identities separate from the deeply embedded ones in their domestic marketplace.
Take Pabst Blue Ribbon as an example. PBR, as it is affectionately called by its fans, is a beer most closely identified in its domestic market with the hipster subculture - who value it for both for its irony as a “retro-chic” working man’s beer and its low price (often cheaper than other popular domestics). These two unique selling propositions and a clever marketing strategy that de-emphasized traditi
onal advertising created a substantial resurgence of the brand’s popularity domestically.
Which is why, when a friend of mine emailed me pictures from Beijing of exquisitely dressed persons drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon from champagne flutes, I was a little more than surprised.
It turns out, Pabst Blue Ribbon is employing an ultra-premium strategy with its brand in China. The recently launched 1844 brand is a 750 mL (wine bottle sized) beer that is aged for 40 days in oak casks. Retailing for 298 RMB (around $45 USD) it is touted as the most expensive beer on the market and is recommended to be “sipped from a champagne flute.”
I wonder what the kids in Williamsburg will say about this one. Malki?*
—By Mike Logan
*(ed note. I think they would say “whatever, let’s go shoot some picklebacks, and then take pictures of ourselves with fake mustaches on our finger with that ironically old polaroid camera, here, hold this PBR for me”.)
In case you missed it, independent Texas theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas gained national prominence last week after four million YouTube viewers watched their “No-Texting PSA.” The “public service announcement” features an audio recording of a voicemail complaint left by an irate customer. The customer was previously thrown out of the theater for persistently breaking the company’s long-standing policy of no texting on cellphones while the movie is playing.
While customer complaints are normally not the sort of thing companies are eager to publicize - in this case, it works! As you will see, this PSA (public service announcement) is an excellent marketing vehicle to reinforce Alamo Drafthouse’s unique selling proposition to its target audience while advancing both its brand identity and awareness. It’s also a great example of the power of authenticity in advertisement.
To fully appreciate the marketing message, it’s important to first understand the company’s background.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, started off in 1997 as a second-run movie theater in Austin offering the then unique combination of beer and a movie. CEO Tim League wanted to create a movie experience (for movie buffs) he felt was lacking in large chain cinemas. The company, which now runs 9 theaters, caters to movie goers who are seeking an unparalleled movie-watching experience - one more akin to watching a movie in your living room with other movie buffs as opposed to traditional chain theaters like Harkins, Cinemark, and AMC. To reinforce this unique selling proposition, the company does the following:
• Invests in the latest and greatest in projection and sound technology.
• Curates unique content - viewing cult classics of the past alongside select current blockbusters.
• Serves gourmet food and beer. Chef created snacks and entrees and microbrews.
• Refuses to show advertisements during the show - except ironic 1960’s Charles Bronson cologne ads.
• Hosts unique events like “Quote Along” nights - where patrons are encouraged to dress in costume and shout out quotes to popular cult movies of the past.
• Maintains a zero tolerance policy for talking or cellphone use during the movie. Here’s a look at how the policy developed http://youtu.be/Lkhcqhb1gU4
Together, these activities serve to create a brand experience that is more fulfilling to its intended demographic than its competition. Their efforts have been recognized with several accolades: Coolest Movie Theater in the World by Wired Magazine, #1 Theater in America by Entertainment Weekly, One of the Best Theaters in the Country by Fandango.com.
With the company’s background in context, let’s watch the marketing message.
Warning: though the following is the censored version, it still may be not safe for work.
So what works about this ad? First, the music (a driving rock beat) and humor found in the message establish an edgy, more adult, brand attitude - different from the look and feel of a Harkin’s Cinema ad. Second, it focuses on one major point of differentiation for the brand that its intended audience cares about - an uninterrupted moviegoing experience. Finally, the real stroke of ironic genius is the PSA’s ability to turn an irate, dissatisfied customer into an unlikely spokesperson for the brand. Due to its authenticity, her emphatically negative testimonial is a more credible endorsement for the brand than any company-paid spokesperson’s plea.
Some have argued that the irate customer’s testimonial may turn off some future customer’s from patronizing of Alamo Drafthouse. I think there is validity to those claims. Alamo Drafthouse will likely lose some potential customers over this PSA. However, in this scenario, the company benefits more by strengthening its appeal to its target customers than it risks losing out on potential ones. By knowing one’s audience, and their preferences, calculated risks like this one can pay huge dividends!
To close, here are a few words from Tim League recapping the experience of the PSA.
- By Mike Logan
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Business school students around the world are familiar with the Pareto Principle. More commonly known as the “80-20 rule,” it states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In the marketing and sales world, it has long been an assumption that 80% of a brand’s revenues came from 20% of it’s customers. That assumption is being critically challenged by one company and its landmark research study.
Pointer Media Network, an offshoot of Catalina Marketing Company, is the company responsible for those coupons that magically print out along with your receipt.
Along with those coupons, Pointer Media Network (PMN) also gets a snapshot of your purchasing habits. If you happen to use a loyalty card then the company has a record of your purchases over time linked directly to your unique ID.
From 2007 to 2008, PMN collected the shopping habits of nearly 54 million individual customers, from over 23,000 unique retailers in the United States. After detailed analysis the study revealed a few highly interesting findings:
- The age of market fragmentation and targeted brands is dramatically decreasing consumer concentrations. There are countless micro-market segments defined not by demography, but by increasingly nuanced product preferences.
- Only 2.5% of shoppers account for 80% of the average brand’s [sales] volume.
- Among the 1,364 brands studied, all among the most popular in their product categories, just 25 had a shopper base of more than 10% driving 80% of their respective [sales] volumes.
These 2.5% of a brand’s shoppers, called Pivot Point Customers by the study, represent the most important customers for media targeting.
By: Mike Logan
Just hours ago, Apple released iAd Gallery, a free mobile app that lets you view several currently running iAds. Since these ads represent a new advertising medium for marketers, we at YBIS thought you should be in on the know. (pictures courtesy of Business Insider)
This screenshot displays one of two ways that ads can be scrolled through - the other places the ads like prized paintings hung in a modern digital gallery.
Selecting an ad lets the viewer learn more about the creative agency behind the work, shows a shot of how the banner ad will appear to viewers, and provides some ad related messaging. This screen also allow you to “love” and ad.
Clicking the banner ad, brings the full iAd into view. These ads are media rich and provide content more akin to television than print ads. Some ads take advantage of the mobile devices capabilities - like the built in accelerometers, click to call buttons, music downloads, etc.
All in all, an elegant glimpse into the state of mobile advertising 2011. Worth checking out.
In the past it was rare to see a private label product (products that are branded by the related store) make any strategic attempt to differentiate itself on anything other than price. Lately, it seems, things have changed. With a down economy pushing people to pinch pennies, private labels are taking bolder marketing risks.
While on a recent shopping trip, I came across the latest evolution of this emboldened activity. Stacked neatly next to the rows of branded puddings and other sickly sweet desserts was a selection Kroger’s private label pudding. However, rather than succumbing to the traditional role of down-market imitator this pudding boasted premium flavors, the brand logo of premium jelly bean maker, Jelly Belly, and equivalent pricing to the more popular brands. A pretty bold move!
To me, it makes a lot of sense for Kroger. By partnering with a national brand, Kroger provides its house product with immediate brand recognition and the cache that comes it. It further provides justification to the customer for paying a price equivalent to a product from a national brand like Jello. All this, for very little risk - after all, Kroger has never staked its reputation on creating the world’s best pudding. But what about for Jelly Belly? What risk does this deal potentially hold?
By Mike Logan
Oh, Taiwan. How I love thee!
Your people are warm and inviting. Your night markets are colorful and vibrant. You have incredible natural wonders (like Taroko Gorge) within a few hour’s drive of your main cities, and your hot springs are as cultural as they are über-relaxing. Your food is equally amazing and diverse, and the fact that it is available at any hour of the day makes it all the more incredible.
You also have a wonderful way of blending seemingly opposite dynamics - like: the future with the past (Taipei 101’s homage to feng shui comes to mind), the high tech and low tech, Chinese and Japanese cultures, posh refinement with betel nut models (for instance).
Unfortunately, you don’t eloquently communicate your national splendor to the outside world. Consider your previous campaign (which just ended its 10 year reign):
"Touch Your Heart" left many of us wondering what you wanted tourists to do? Only after hearing this travesty of a song did I finally understand that you meant to say "Taiwan WILL Touch Your Heart.” It made me sad.
It took your team of advisors 10 years to come up with a new slogan and campaign to share with the world - which you released to the world this month.
It is definitely a step in the right direction over your previous attempt; and you modernized yourself through this cute little video.
Although it is very cute and stylized, your campaign leaves me with some serious questions.
(yes that is an image of spring spelled with sheep. fyi.)
Dear YBIS readers,
As spring is (hopefully) upon us soon, we have decided to update our humble blog with a new look and feel. Think of it as shedding the winter coat and bulky snow boots for your favorite pair of kicks and hoodie. We are still in the adjustment process so you’ll likely see more changes in the coming weeks.
In honor of this change, we’ve created a drinking game for your Friday night post work/job search entertainment. Its also a fun trick to make you aware of how omni-present brands are in every day life.
Here’s how it works. (for those of you of legal drinking age)
1. Buy booze. Either in a local watering hole, trendy brewery hipster haunt, suit clad 4:30 hotspot or just hit the liquor store.
2. Find a TV or friends. You may combine the two at your discretion.
3. Drink every time you hear a brand name. Either said by you or someone else.
5. Do this until you feel like your week has disappeared into the clear blue easy of the past.
5. Eventually get a cab home or ask for a ride from a friend (either newly acquired or not) who has not been playing the game with you.
6. 2 Advil, a bottle of Gatoraide and don’t call me in the morning.
On Saturday, two things will likely happen. You will never want to play this game ever again and you will realize that brand is everywhere.
Now, go forth. Enjoy the rest of your week. Enjoy our new website.
We’ll see you on Monday with a new article!
- The editors of Your Brand Is Showing
ed. note: re-running this post, because, well, i deleted the original one by mistake.
Leo Burnett and the Inconizing of American Business (Part 2 of a series on the Legends of Advertising—Read Part 1 here)
“None of us can underestimate the glacier-like power of friendly familiarity.”
- Leo Burnett, 1955
While Albert Lasker (link to previous article) incorporated psychological insights into advertising copy, our next legend’s work embodied the old maxim “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Leo Burnett (1891-1971) and his Chicago based agency shifted the the American advertising palate away from the more polished images of the New York agencies to a more homespun reflection of midwestern ideals. In working with many of the large consumer companies of the midwest, he developed some of the most timeless icons in American (and global) advertising history.
Burnett, perhaps more than any other adman of the day, eschewed advertising with long written copy in favor of bold images that captured the brand essence. He felt strongly that a brand and its values should be distilled into a single resonant image. That image would more quickly convey a product’s attributes and thus more likely to be recalled by the consumer at point of sale.
Any doubt of his philosophy can be put to rest with the success of the following Burnett created icons: Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, Morris the Cat, the Maytag repairman, Pillsbury Doughboy, Charlie Tuna, and the Jolly Green Giant.
His most controversial creation was for Phillip Morris’ Marlboro brand. Marlboro, a filtered cigarette, was designed in response to growing evidence of the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. Launched in 1924, Marlboro’s prime target were women smokers (filtered cigarettes were considered more feminine at the time) and its campaigns focused on explaining the scientific and technological underpinnings of the filter. By the 1950’s its sales were severely lagging.
When Burnett and his team gained the account, they quickly identified a new target demographic - post adolescent kids who were beginning to smoke as a way of declaring independence from their parents. Burnett decided to consciously avoid focusing on the health benefits of filters and instead designed ads to promote the masculinity of the product. After seeing an image of Texas cowboy C.H. Long in a photo spread from Life Magazine, Burnett chose to symbolize the Marlboro brand with a cowboy. And the rest, as they say is advertising history.
Albert Lasker (1880-1952) is considered by many to be the father of modern advertising. A German native who emigrated to the United States as a child, Lasker was a partner with the firm Lord & Thomas (now called DraftFCB). While with Lord & Thomas, he developed the advertising campaigns that launched several important brands such as Sunkist, Palmolive, and Kotex, Pepsodent. Many of these campaigns have had a lasting impact on the daily consumption habits of Americans (that daily glass of orange juice you have with breakfast is almost entirely Lasker’s doing).
Lasker also pioneered the usage of many adveritising techniques we now take for granted. One of the most important was the incorporation of psychological insight into ad copy. Lasker’s campaign for Lucky Strike Cigarettes is one of his best executions of this technique.
In the late 1920’s, the American Tobacco Company’s Lucky Strike brand approached Lord & Thomas to help them compete with Camel (then the #1 selling cigarette in Amerca). They chose a growth strategy built around increasing Lucky Strike’s appeal to a new demographic - women. At the time of the campaign, smoking was considered by most women to be “vulgar and filthy.”
Lasker’s stroke of genius was identifying a prevailing desire for women to keep thin. By positioning Lucky Strikes as a weight controlling alternative to desserts, Lasker was able to appeal to upperclass women who desired a svelte physique. As a result of the rebranding, Lucky Strike cigarette sales increased from 25 million to 150 million units daily. More importantly the brand became the number one cigarette brand nationally.
Take a look at some of the copy from the original campaigns. Do you think Lasker’s approach has value today?
Ah, the Oh face! That involuntary response all humans have when truly surprised. There are few human expressions more important to marketers than surprise. It turns out there is an interesting scientific rationale explaining its effectiveness.
An old marketing maxim says that even the greatest messages are worthless unless they are heard. As the volume of messaging increases exponentially, the chances of getting a message heard through the clutter exponentially decreases. That’s why marketers turn to the element of surprise. Surprise increases the likelihood of a message to be remembered. Messages that get remembered are more likely to influence.
Take the following Las Vegas advertisement as an example:
By using a less utilized medium (stair displays) and incorporating the environment cleverly (displaying a runaway car headed towards the street level viewers), Nationwide is able to break through the clutter of other advertisements in the area. Notice, if you will the few gawkers on the left. Wouldn’t you agree that this is significantly more effective than a billboard showing the same thing?
But why does this work?
Scientists believe that human evolution is to blame for this. The theory goes that back in the old school days of our primordial past, a few of our primate cousins developed a unique ability to recognize patterns and react quickly to change.
If on their daily walk through the dangerous jungles of yesteryear these gifted ancestors saw an unexpected shadow, or a vine that suddenly fell from the canopy, their bodies would react in a unique way: their brow raised, opening their eyes and expanding their vision; their jaw slackened – allowing more air into their lungs; and their heart rate became a little more forceful. This physical reaction to surprising events allowed them to react quickly in the event that the shadow turned out to be a puma or that falling vine turned out to be a python. Since more of them survived puma and python attacks, they were in turn more likely to reproduce.
Pattern recognition persists today. This ability to recognize patterns enables humans to skillfully navigate an enormous variety of unique activities and adapt to them with ease. What this means is that whether you are flying, fighting, flirting, or writing a blog post, your brain is constantly sizing up the situation and sending you signals on how to react accordingly.
Unfortunately for marketers this ability allows most people to filter out irrelevant messages pretty skillfully. Consider how few billboards you remember on your way home from work, or how few advertisements you recall lining the sides of your favorite internet article.
To combat this filter, the message/medium must interrupt the pattern. The more unexpected or novel the message/medium as well as the form of delivery is, the higher the likelihood that it triggers our surprise response. We are also more likely to remember something that surprised us. As more marketers attempt to incorporate elements of surprise in their advertising, the more challenging it is to actually surprise customers. Still, those marketers who are clever enough to beat the pack, and truly surprise consumers are usually rewarded with a share of mind and wallet.
Here’s one that surprised me:
The Enclave Mini Van
And more recently, this one surprised me because of the use of a relatively novel approach on a tv ad.
Pause it Scan it Get it
What ads past or present surprise you?