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Why be Mayor if You Aren’t Treated Like One?

November 18th, 2010

Black Friday: A day where manners, good citizenship, and personal hygiene all take a backseat to the overwhelming desire of the masses to save a few bucks.

I shopped on Black Friday of 2007 and was first in line at the local Target. I arrived 3 hours before the stored opened, 3:00 am, and while I wasn’t the first maniac to arrive, I was the first to exit my car and start a line. Why? Because now I can say I was first in line at Target on Black Friday once.

Whether it’s the economy or the current trend of retailers spreading out deals throughout the year, the deals don’t seem as great as they used to; maybe it’s just me. foursquare mayors.foursquare logo Regardless, this day of Holiday shopping and line ninjas is a perfect opportunity for the big brands to reward their loyal ambassadors. Many businesses have become active in the realm of social media realm and have taken part in rewarding their. However, I haven’t caught wind of any “mayor specials” from any of the big retailers.

New Balance South Florida is just one example of a company understanding location-based marketing. They are taking it a step further this Nov. 26th by changing Black Friday into foursquare Friday; basically a social meetup that entails raffles, New Balance ‘schwag’, and an actual game of foursquare. This is a brilliant idea as it engages their customer base at an off-site location and rewards them while carrying out activities related to their business.

I want something more though! I want to see a flat out DEAL for at least one lucky foursquare mayor. How about we just throw some ideas out here for our mayors:

  • A $100 gift card
  • 30% discount off entire purchase
  • Become first in line upon arrival; don’t have to wait in line for X amount of hours
  • Get the Black Friday discount a week early
  • A Black Friday survival kit (pillow, blanket, candy, energy drink, store map, etc.)

These ideas can be extended as well – reward your top 3 visitors, or direct a promotion to anyone who checks-in to your store that day in the wee hours of the morning. The point is: Smarten up and reward your brand ambassadors – this social engagement will deepen current loyalty and breed more loyalists.

What do you think? As a foursquare mayor, what kind of Black Friday deal or VIP treatment would you like to receive?

Bryan Ricard Marketing, Social Media , , ,

Joining the Sharks: What I’ve Learned About the Ad Industry

October 5th, 2010

The following is a guest post from my friend Brook Johnston:

My name is not Bryan.

Actually, it’s pretty close. Except the last few letters are different and I live in a country that runs rampant with rogue moose and poutine.

But aside from these minor differences, Bryan and I are pretty similar.

See, when I’m not busy training beavers and drinking maple syrup, I attend St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Much like the owner of this fantastic blog, I’m a young adfreak that’s about to hopefully – nay – definitely break into the ad industry.

So when Bryan asked me to write a little diddy for Trail Blazing, the answer seemed obvious: a retrospective on the lessons I’ve taken away from college as I get ready to throw my hat into the industry ring.

What have I learned?

I’m not that good
I recently interviewed the incredibly accomplished author/copywriter/guru Sally Hogshead about writing, portfolios, and idea generation. She sent me a document with the 800 headlines she created for a BMW print piece. 800 headlines for one ad. And guess what – they were all good. Even her scraps were great.

In other words – I’m nowhere close to being where she is. And that’s fine. I’m not supposed to be. That’s the difference between an entry-level person and a senior writer with a wealth of experience and insight.

But keep that skill-gap in mind; so many people are better than you. You can get there too, but it’ll take work. Don’t drink your own kool-aid. Stay humble and work hard to get to that 800-great-headlines zone.

Great creative is the backbone of all advertising.
You can yammer on about marketing strategy and media selection and all that jazz and it will always be very true. The back end of advertising is crucial to success. But guess what? Advertising only works when the creative is brilliant. Maybe it’s smart or hilarious or emotionally powerful – it all can work in its own way. But it has to be incredible. People must take notice.

You can perfectly peg every demographic, medium, positioning strategy, and all of  the 4567 other terms in the back of your textbook – but if it doesn’t make people stop their friends and say “Hey! Have you seen that ad……”, then it didn’t work. Creative rules. Everything else is just setup and teardown.

Obvious is the enemy
First-level thinking is the worst thing that you can fall into as an advertiser.

When faced with a new problem, sit down and let all the answers come rushing to your head. Record everything that pops into your mind. Brainstorm wildly. Write it all down.

Now light that piece of paper on fire and never think any of those thoughts ever again.

Bad advertising is bad because it’s stupid. Literally, stupid – as in, the opposite of smart. It doesn’t reward the consumer for thinking and it doesn’t entertain. Bad advertising is obvious. It’s overdone and redundant and doesn’t require any critical thought.

Stay away from that stuff. This means throwing away a lot of early ideas. Dig deeper. Think harder. Fill up the trash can. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Simple is best.
Ideas aren’t explained – they’re understood. If you have a cool message that you can’t accurately convey to anyone, it’s dust in the wind; one of those trees in that metaphorical forest everyone talks about. Make sure the thought is simple and easy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be big – just don’t turn your 30s spot into Lost.

In his book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Luke Sullivan recommends boiling down a brand to one adjective – a single word that identifies its persona. Volvo is safe. Coke is classic. BMWs are fast. Find your word and make sure that everything fits accordingly.

Little fish. Big pond. Lots of sharks.
This industry is hyper-competitive. Only the best make it into prestigious agencies and their jobs are on the line every day. After all, you’re only as good as your last campaign.

Even more daunting though, is the thought of breaking into such a fiery industry as a bright eyed, bushy tailed entry-level underling. How will you distinguish yourself from the swarms of graduates that are all hunting for the same positions as you – especially those that attend prestigious outfits like Miami Ad School?

The answer lies away from the discomfort of your lecture chairs. Extra-curricular involvement is the key to your success. I love my school and I can’t say enough about my professors – but the bulk of my learning has taken place at home. Connecting with industry experts, blogging, keeping up with trends, viewing the best (and worst) work that comes out every day. School is primarily meant to lay the foundation – the theories and principles that you absolutely need to be successful. But that’s the bare minimum, isn’t it? Everyone can define a few terms and explain a couple concepts. But what will you do that none of your classmates can?

I can’t tell you how to stand out. That’s your job. But if you start looking, you’ll find it. For me, it was a starting up a dorky blog. It got me paying attention to the ad world like never before and became a living resumé for people that wanted to check out my writing skills and industry savvy.

Here’s the bottom line: advertising is wicked awesome. It’s an industry that allows for boundless creativity and intelligent thinking. You even get paid for it. So work your ass off. Find something that will set you apart. If you’re passionate about the world of advertising, it will reward you.

Now I gotta get going. The heat coming from my laptop is beginning to melt my igloo, and I need a place to sleep tonight. Big hockey game tomorrow.

-Brook Johnston | MarketingMan.ca | @Brookjohnston
_________________________________________________________

I would like to thank Brook for stopping by and doing an exceptional job at laying down a foundation of great tips for those who plan on entering the advertising industry.

What do you think of Brook’s 5 tips? Do you have additional advice that may be useful to us entry-level underlings?

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Guest Post , ,

Stoli Raises an Important Question

August 17th, 2010

Would you have a drink with you? Think about it.

A new ad campaign for Stolichnaya Vodka by Ogilvy & Mather asks this very question. (Launched on May 24th, 2010 with print ads and TV spots)

This celebrity-driven campaign is set to run into 2011 and began with a powerhouse; Hugh Hefner.

Stoli Campaign: Hugh Hefner

“With the launch of this new campaign, Stoli recognizes originality, creativity and passion in a call to action to the consumer,” says Andrey Skurikhin, partner at SPI Group, brand owner. “Stoli has a history of venturing into unchartered territory and the new campaign will spotlight real originals, people who take chances without asking for permission. Hugh Hefner exemplifies these shared qualities with Stoli and is the perfect individual to kickoff our new campaign.” – BeverageWorld.com

Stoli has always been the original type. The tagline, “The most original people deserve the most original Vodka. Stoli. Lead On.” definitely puts them on some pedestal that many can admire. Clearly, Hugh Hefner is a great starting off point because 1) He appeals to a wide, relevant audience and 2) He is a leader.

“I’ve always tried to live my life on my own terms, with sophistication and style, and this Stoli campaign reflects those same beliefs,” says Hefner. “I was intrigued by the concept of having a drink with myself, and I’m very pleased with the final results. I think fans will get a kick out of the spots.” – BeverageWorld.com

The 2nd TV spot features Julia Stiles, apparently a “Hollywood Original”. I don’t know enough about her to say whether or not this is a good fit, but here is the ad:

Let’s look beyond the celebrities, beyond the connection between their personalities and that of Stoli Vodka’s. This campaign has a lot of potential, but in order for Stoli to reach full potential they will have to do more than produce commercials and print ads.

The most successful campaigns for alcoholic beverages, in my opinion, incorporate one of the following:

  1. A positive feeling, or lifestyle, that can only be experienced with that particular alcoholic beverage.  Example 1: Spirit of Bacardi – Island TV Spot Example 2: Grey Goose – Discerning Taste: Oysters
  2. The brand engages the consumer by giving names and meanings to existing rituals or events that occur where alcohol is present, or simply starting them. Example 1: Budweiser commercials that gives names to how people handle a load of beer cans or bottles; the sherpa, labrador retriever, and the praying mantis. (Can you find the video?)

The most valuable part of this campaign is the question at hand, “Would you have a drink with you?” This is the beginning to a connection between the brand and their consumers. This is a very thought-provoking question, and the more Stoli plays around with it, the more times their brand will be shot into the consumer’s head.

Here are some ideas for the expansion of this campaign:

  • Stoli Celebrity Originals gives a profile of each of the celebrities used in the campaign and explains why they are original. It only seems right that they do the same thing for non-celebrities. Hold a contest and allow people to compete to be part of the campaign, maybe 3 total winners? It can be as easy as an essay contest where the participants explain why it’d be so great to share some Stoli Vodka with themselves. The 3 winners get their profile put up on the website, they get a claim to fame, some free stuff, and a one-of-a-kind, personalized bottle of Vodka.

Stoli has a sub-par social media presence, only their Stoli Vodka Facebook Page is showing some popularity with 17,169 liking it. On July 27th, Stoli asked their fans “If you were paired up with yourself like Stoli’s Celebrity Originals, what’s the first thing you would say?” This is a great start, but only 12 comments were received. How can the social media presence be improved with this campaign?

  • Keep engaging your fans! Don’t ask them that question on Facebook just once, ask them once a week with a different twist each time. How much would you spend when buying a drink for yourself? What flavor Vodka would you buy yourself? Would you rather have a drink with yourself from 2010, or the you in 2020? Would you accept a free drink from yourself? How many drinks would you have with yourself, just one? two? or until you’re passed out?
  • @Stolilife is doing a poor job of maximizing Twitter’s potential. Check out the feed, they aren’t talking to anyone.  They’re only following 8 people, and have a mere 254 followers after 4,000+ tweets. Even worse is the fact that there is another twitter account, @Stoli. Only 115 tweets but 600+ followers, and they are actually talking to people! First step: terminate @Stolilife and run just one account. Second step: I know it’s hard to start a trending topic because it’s really not up to the creator, but why not start. Bring the Facebook conversation over to Twitter. Have tweeps use #drinkwithme as the conversation anchor and encourage them to explain why they would or wouldn’t have a drink with themselves.
  • Stoli’s YouTube Channel is also far from special. I don’t even know if it’s their official channel or not. If you do a Google search for “Stoli Vodka YouTube Channel” the first result is ABSOLUT Vodka’s YouTube Channel. Here’s another simple idea, throw up a video encouraging people to film themselves having a drink with themselves. This would obviously take some effort by any participant, but it is sure to create some humorous videos. All of these videos would be in response to a Stoli video which would increase traffic, increase brand awareness, increase campaign awareness, and increase clicks to Facebook and Twitter accounts, provided that links are easily located.

Yes, the above ideas are SIMPLE. The point is that they are simple, and EASY. Come on Stoli, show some life. Capitalize on your clever campaign and complement it with social media efforts.

And no,  I would not have a drink with myself.

What do you think Stoli can do to improve this campaign? What celebrity do you think would be a good fit for the next TV spot? Would you have a drink with yourself?

Update (8/17): This post was in my drafts for a week while I searched for that Budweiser commercial to no avail, but it turns out Stoli is already extending this campaign: Are You Stoli Original Material?

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Commercials, Marketing , , , ,

Letting Volks Have Fun

June 24th, 2010

DDB, Stockholm turned out some brilliant ideas in this ambient marketing campaign for Volkswagen. Ambient marketing is the most common sub-category of guerrilla marketing in which the company doesn’t advertise their product, but instead communicates directly with consumers in a way that connects them to the message they are attempting to convey. In this case, Volkswagen says these ideas are “dedicated to everyone who enjoys speeding life up a little”. Accordingly, all three videos show Volkswagen giving people the option to speed up a normal routine.

At the end of each video you see that the Fast Lane is “Driven By Fun”, this is a smooth transition from their “Fun Theory” of last year which recently won Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes Lions, a campaign that was also done by DDB, Stockholm.

There are two issues I have with this campaign…

  1. The lack of brand images on location. As far as I could tell, there is no Volkswagen image visible during any of the campaign stunts. It’s crazy enough they were allowed to perform these acts, but maybe they aren’t allowed to “advertise” their name. For those who actually got to experience “speeding life up a little”, who are they to give credit to and connect with? This leads me to believe that the main focus was to create viral videos. While that will likely be seen as a success, I still think they missed out on really connecting directly with consumers (I’m also just going by what the videos show, there could be more we’re not shown).
  2. The videos aim to drive traffic to Volkswagen’s Facebook fan page; they ask viewers what they are driven by in order to gain continued interaction. However, there is no discussion tab on the page for people to discuss this. Sure everyone can post on the wall, but wouldn’t it be more effective if they had one discussion topic dedicated to what drives people? Now when people arrive at the fan page there is no direction on where to answer the question, so they likely won’t. Volkswagen is missing out on making this campaign come full circle and learning more about their consumers.

What video was your favorite? What daily routine do you wish you could speed up?

Bryan Ricard Ambient Marketing, Marketing, Viral Marketing , , , ,

Inbound Marketing University – Assignment #8

June 16th, 2010

Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch and author of Lead Generation of the Complex Sale, taught the 8th class at Inbound Marketing University and he discussed how to best nurture your leads.

Assignment #8: Define your ideal customer profile (or a hypothetical one for a client) and explain how you would target that customer using lead nurturing.

This assignment is going to be based off of this blog. The “customers” are the readers, and the ultimate goal is to get them to subscribe to my blog.

Ideal Customer Profile:

  • New England, USA
  • 18-65 years old
  • Desire to network and connect
  • Strong ability to communicate one’s knowledge and expertise
  • Passion for anything and everything marketing
  • Some level of on-line presence
  • Open to new ideas and ventures

Target with Lead Nurturing

  • Explore the connections of my LinkedIn connections and start conversations via Twitter
  • Send thanks to all ReTweets of my blog or specific posts
  • Send a DM or e-mail to those who RT a post with a similar post I think they will also enjoy
  • Encourage questions and suggestions on every home and guest post
  • Offer a special resource only available to blog subscribers
  • Send a customized thank you e-mail upon subscription
  • Tweet out the names of new subscribers if they allow it
  • Send subscribers a form regarding what they are interested in, what they want to learn more about, what they like to read about, etc.
  • Repeat

Thanks for the class Professor Carroll! Just let me know what my homework grade is, be honest!
Halfway done with Inbound Marketing University classes!

Next class: Successful E-mail Marketing

Bryan Ricard Inbound Marketing University , , , , , ,

Milky Way Doing it the Right Way

June 8th, 2010

Ambient marketing, or place-based marketing, can be very effective as it gets the company or product message right into the target markets environment; usually by creative means.

Here is what I consider a fine example from Milky Way.

Milky Way Movie theater line barrier

Courtesy of AdsoftheWorld.com

Milky Way Seatbelt

Courtesy of AdsoftheWorld.com

Milky Way Conveyor Belt
Check out the conveyor belt in action.

These were all done by BBDO New York, USA.

All three of these beat out the other two in at least one way:

Movie theater: Best location. What does everyone in the movie theater line buy, or at least look at? Candy! The delicious, caramel filling of a Milky Way is on their mind before the purchase.

Taxi cab: Longest potential interaction. I say potential because many New York taxi passengers may be in and out of the car very quickly without wearing the seatbelt. However, those who do value their lives will physically touch the “Milky Way” and be exposed to it for as long as their ride lasts.

Conveyor belt: Most captivating and engaging due to its movement.

My favorite is the conveyor belt; I think attention is more easily grasped by movement. Which is your favorite? Which do you think is more effective? Do you have any ambient marketing examples? Please share.

Bryan Ricard Advertising, Marketing , , ,