Thursday, March 31, 2005

Blue Collar Energy Drink

According to MediaPost's Out to Launch, Coca-Cola is going after the worker crowd with their new energy drink Full Throttle:

"Targeting a blue collar demographic, Coke wrapped 14 brand new Cement Trucks with Full Throttle creative and equipped each truck with a Female Full Throttle Brand Influencer/Sampler. Each Full Throttle Cement Truck drives a specific route and stops at construction sites, manufacturing plants, Home Depots and other relevant locations/events."

For me, this is a really interesting case of targeting. During college, I worked for Red Bull as a Student Brand Manager. Now for Red Bull, it's all about the young adult influencer...the extreme sport athletes, the all-night club goers and the big men/women on campus. For years, Coke & Pepsi tried to hit the same target with their Amp and KMX products and met with no success. It looks like Coke has finally faced that fact and is going after the blue collar beer drinking crowd instead. It will be interesting to see how it work, especially as blue collar brands like Budweiser launch their energy beer "B to the E". But nonetheless, it looks like finally companies are accepting that they need to use targeting to carve up the energy drink market instead of doing a one-size fits all approach.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Some people do get it

After all the rants about "commercializing blogs" yesterday, I decided to ask the AdRants community over at Soflow what they thought. Turns out there are plenty of people that "get it" when it comes to how blogs can be multi-dimensional in their purpose. Read the talk yourself, but here are some great insightful highlights.
Harry Webber, one of the best minds on Madison Ave kicked things off when he wrote:
For the most part the so-called "blog community" are far from sophisticated marketers. They are generally enraptured by their own recent notoriety ( not to mention the sound of their own movable type). The blog community is just one more affinity group looking to define its place in a media-saturated universe by screaming as loud a s it can, rather then as effectively as it can.
Steve Hall, the guru of AdRants, added that:

"There will always be a a non-commercial blog sub culture as well as a very commercialized blog culture. It's the same with every other segment of life. It's inevitable."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Get off the soapbox already

I have a ton of respect for bloggers like Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion and Hugh Macleod at Gaping Void, but I'm getting a little annoyed at the soapbox that so many bloggers seem to be on right now. It seems that they've taken Captain Morgan's new blog as an offense to the blogging community. Now let's get real here. A brand blog like this is meant to be a promotion. It is not meant to be a conversation with customers any more than a TV ad is. These "blogs" are promotional webpages that are designed in a template that allows for a more conversational and lighhearted tone than traditional brand websites. I can't even begin to count the number of bloggers that say "marketing people just don't get it." Well guess what...we do. We know that there are two types of blogs: those that are meant to be conversational (like Channel 9 for Microsoft) and those that are meant to be fun (like Captain Morgan). These promotional websites are just like the Anchorman profiles on Friendster or RecipeBuddie (or SecretSparkle to plug my own thing) on AOL IM...they are innocent and not meant to be serious. Certain members of the blogging community need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and not take themselves and their "art" so damn serious all the time.

I'd like an omelet with a dozen egss please

First the Hardee's Monster Thickburger, now the Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich. At one point, restaurants worried about making good food. Then they worried about making sure they caught the latest craze (low carb anyone?). Now it seems that restaurants, and in particular fast food restaurants, only care about products that make a big PR splash. And what's the best way to make a splash? Contradiction of course. So in this case, contradiction is making the most unhealthy, disgusting food in the world. I mean come on, does anyone actually eat this stuff???

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Chick Flicks and Product Placement

Every guy has been stuck in the situation before...a Saturday night couples night where the girls are picking the movie. Basically it's a roll of the dice when it comes to how bad the "chick flick" of choice will be. Well thanks to Blockbuster being out of every good movie this weekend (can't they learn to order just a few extra copies of Oscar nominees), I ended up spending my Saturday night watching not only a horrible movie, but a horrible product placement as well. The culprit was Little Black Book and the product was Palm. I can see it now, a Brand Manager at Palm gets offered the opportunity for his/her product to be fully integrated into a gets verbal and visual gets integrated into the even ends up on the movie poster! And as if this wasn't enough, the lead characters are played by that guy from Office Space and that girl from Clueless. I can see the marketing wheels spinning already. But let's do a reality check here...we aren't PT Barnum. To paraphrase, not all marketing is good marketing. Learn to pass when an opportunity seems to good to be true because it probably is.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Damn basketball

Well I haven't been the best at posting this week thanks to March Madness. Apologies for that.

Friday I received an invite to an interactive agency's client summit in early April. The premise is a two day meeting where the company brings in all of their clients and hosts a conference on interactive and where the space is going. This is really a great idea for a company for two reasons. First off, agencies are meant to be experts on a subject and to lead strategic thinking in a space. Often though, the clients are so caught up in the tactical executions, that they don't give agencies the chance to show what they can really do. Second, this is a great value add for clients. You could pay $1000 or more for a similiar conference but instead your partner is giving this to you. Plus let's not forget it's also a sales opportunity. They can invite potential clients, show off their capabilities and get endorsements from current clients that are having a great time out of the office. Frankly I'm surprised more agencies or vendors even don't do similiar events. Sure some sponsor conferences....but why sponsor when you could host and make the whole event about you?

Monday, March 14, 2005

The best time of the year

March is hands down the best time of year. Why? Well first off, Spring is right around the corner and I might finally get to stop shoveling snow out of my driveway. But more importantly, it is March Madness...the time of cinderallas, upsets and office pools. As ESPN put it in a column today, it's the time of year where the guy controlling the office pool becomes more powerful than the CEO.

While I was filling out my own bracket today and reading all the expert analysis, I was amazed at how many brands are doing something with brackets this year. On ESPN, you have Mountain Dew, Old Spice, Pontiac and HP, while over at CBS Sportsline there is Cingular, Lincoln and CDW. At first I was a little confused about HP and CDW, that is until I remembered that almost every bracket is filled out during company time at the office. I know the traffic on these sites is amazing at this time of year, but I have to wonder about the strategy. I've heard that sponsorship of a bracket is going to run a brand 7 figures and is booked months in advance. Is worth it? I mean you're talking about a sport where nothing is a guarantee (as Kentucky fans that past two years will tell).

Friday, March 11, 2005

A whole new way to listen to consumers

Not too long ago, consumer research meant focus groups...sitting behind a one way mirror as eight consumers talked about what they love and hate about your brand. And not too long ago, word-of-mouth meant someone talking to a few friends and saying good/bad things about your brands. Blogging has changed this. Now anyone can spread their praise/complaints about your brand to a worldwide audience. And now thanks to a great little site called Technorati, consumer research means listening to those consumers as they blog about the world. I just spent an hour doing just that, typing in every possible word combination about my business. An hour later, I know that:

Sure I might not know all the demographics associated with each of these consumers, but I don't need to. I can get a quick read on what's working without spending thousands of dollars for a formal focus groups. I've said it before, and I'll say it again....isn't technology great!

Follow the eye

Seth Godin points out an interesting study on how people view websites.

The thing that hits me is that it is much the way they view print ads as well. No matter the medium, things don't seem to change that much.

Monday, March 07, 2005

New life for books

Came across an article on Wired News about a library in NY loaning out iPod Shuffles. I've never really thought of public libraries as being on the bleeding edge, but this library bought a handful of Shuffles just a couple of weeks after they came out and are using them to change the way we experience books. Use to be you had to read a book...then you could get an audiobook and listen to it your with the low cost Shuffle, you can listen to an mp3 of a book anytime, anywhere. Amazing use of new technology...and the library says it saves them a ton of money (at least $50 per book). Damn I love technology.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sir Richard is the man

Richard Branson is the man...flat out. He continues to be the king of over the top product introductions and just adds to his empire each day. Just look at his latest move where:
"A costumed Branson drove a big-wheeled monster truck over three cars to demonstrate - with his usual flamboyance - his intention to crush the competition. "
I mean, who can't respect a guy that drives a tank down Wall Street, promises space travel and works on his own private island.

The proof is in the numbers

Earlier this week I mentioned that I think T-Mobile staged the hack of Paris Hilton's Sidekick. Well the proof is in the numbers this week with Sidekick sales going through the roof.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Out of Home Media the Right Way

Mediapost's Out to Launch talked about a campaign by HBO to promote the latest season of Deadwood. The campaign, centered around transforming a NYC subway car into a 1870's Western saloon, is one of the best examples of Out of Home that I've seen in awhile. It's not often that an ad really stops you in your tracks but this one sure does. Reminds me alot of the old "Curiously Strong" campaign by Altoids when they wrapped tugboats in NYC. Right Medium + Right Message = One Hell of a Campaign.

Is TV witnessing a slow death?

Great blog by ANA CEO. Clearly outlines 4 reasons (clutter, cost, measurement, creative) why the tv commercial is having some serious heart trouble. Do his words ring true? What can we do to fix it?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Everyone Needs a Sidekick

Taken from Be CoolJust got back from the screener of the new Travolta movie Be Cool. First off great book, equally great movie. But what caught my eye the most (besides Uma Thurman) was that the T-Mobile Sidekick could be up for best supporting actor with the film. Every damn scene had the Sidekick not only it, but as part of the script. Hell at least 5 main characters had the thing. Must have set T-Mobile back a pretty penny.

That reminds I might be cynical, but I still think Paris Hilton having her Sidekick hacked was just another brilliant marketing ploy by someone over at T-Mobile. I mean come on, what article did you read that didn't call out the Sidekick by name.

Debate on Word of Mouth Marketing

Fun debate taking place over at the Adrants Network on Soflow

WOM marketing is just like any other form of marketing out there. If used the wrong way...or more likely, used stupidly by marketers that don't understand the can have horrible consequences for the brand. But used the right way, it can be the most honest form of marketing out there and can build not only business, but a brand's image.

A few years ago, I was Red Bull's Student Brand Manager at Miami University. I think a lot of us would say this job was all about WOM. My job was to praise the glories of Red Bull with the goal of getting bars/stores to carry it and students to drink it. Now there could have been a fine line here if I wasn't honest with my association with the company. But in all activities, I would start off by saying I worked for Red Bull. The key thing with all of this is that I loved the brand and wanted to talk about it. It wasn't just some brand paying me to talk about a random thing. So in a way, this wasn't WOM, it was true 1:1 marketing when I talked with my fellow students and gave them a can to try.

Now contrast that with a company like BzzAgent. I've actually been a BzzAgent with them for close to two years now, ever since Seth Godin worked with them on Purple Cow. The campaigns I sign up for are a lot like Red Bull....I only do those that interest me and I want to talk about. If I sign up for a campaign and I either A.) Hate the product, or B.) Think the messaging is fake, I just don't bzz. Simple as that. But I know there are BzzAgents that aren't doing that. They are just talking up every campaign they can find. That is where the line gets iffy. BzzAgent has the potential to either continue being a great company or fall into a dangerous trap of fake WOM. I think they will come out on the good side, but the second that starts slipping is when I'm not bzzing anymore.

WOM is about giving brand evangelists the tools to talk about your product. If they love it, they will praise it all day long. The danger is when people start talking about your brand just because they are paid to do it, or get rewarded in some way. All of us as marketers have the duty to not cross the line, no matter how tempting the reward might be on the other side.