Posts Tagged ‘marketing campaign’

Be My Valentine: Or Not. How Virgin Mobile Turned the Holiday on Its Head

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

BE MY VALENTINE: OR NOT. HOW VIRGIN MOBILE TURNED THE HOLIDAY ON ITS HEAD. Now that Valentine’s Day has passed I can say it: Bah Humbug. (Sorry, wrong holiday, but Valentine’s Day is as much about romance as it is about heartbreak for many). So, as a marketer I was tickled to hear about Virgin Mobile’s pre-Valentine’s Day “Break-Up” campaign. That’s the spirit! It’s also smart creative marketing.

The back story: Virgin Mobile ignored hearts and roses. Instead, they declared February 13 “National Break Up Day” to give people an easy way to get out of relationships that aren’t working out – with their significant others or with a mobile carrier contract.

The campaign used humor to reinforce one of Virgin’s brand messages – it should be as easy to break up with your mobile carrier as it is to break up with someone you don’t want to be with.

To reach the romantically dis-inclined, Virgin Mobile promoted the day through Facebook and Twitter and with a clever video “30 Break Ups in 60 seconds.” They asked people to share their own break up stories on Twitter, with the hashtag #’breakfree.’

I love seeing companies do something so counter-intuitive you can’t help but notice. Why don’t more companies do it? Thinking in a topsy-turvy fashion about a holiday should be in your marketers’ bag of tricks, as long as your positioning makes sense for your brand. When I worked on eBay, we used the holidays to brand ‘regifting’ as our own. Bah Humbug, sure. Where else could you get rid of your snowflake sweaters without judgement? That program got a lot of attention, proving that when everyone else is getting in the holiday spirit, you can get attention just for doing the opposite.

So next time you’re planning a holiday campaign, consider the opportunities to do the unexpected. Healthy snacks on Halloween, ice cream in February, Christmas ornaments in May, or ski vacations on July 4th. Or heartbreak on Valentine’s Day.

Jolly Green Giant’s Veggies Pledge: Fail?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

At first, I was delighted when I read about the upcoming visit of an augmented reality Jolly Green giant to Grand Central Terminal. He’ll be there on Tuesday afternoon week to high five or fist-bump kids who take a pledge to “eat one more vegetable per day for 30 days.”

The Green Giant event will feature the host of the Biggest Loser and a child nutritionist offering tips to parents. There’s a social media campaign, too. To gain traction at the live event, I guess they’re going to hire kids as shills, or sponsor a field trip for kids to Grand Central because it’s been my observation that Grand Central Terminal during the middle of the day during a working week is not typically filled with children. Rather, it’s crowded with  grown-ups: tourists, business people, shoppers, and other folks headed to various appointments.

That location for the kick-off is confusing me a marketer. But maybe I’m just quibbling. Maybe Grand Central was the only central location available. For heavens sake, a sheep meadow sprouted in Bryant Park last week, complete with real sheep and a wool-filled fountain.  Maybe it’s a school holiday that I’ve forgotten about. Maybe it doesn’t matter because, hey, it’s a press happening as much as a consumer one. But teaching kids that eating healthy food is really important. According to the Centers for Disease Control more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

The promotion has terrific digital legs. There’s a Facebook page for the pledge-taking kids who do not happen to be in Grand Central Terminal. The page offers downloadable charts, sign-ups for text messages from the Giant himself and other bric-a-brac that parents can use to cajole a kid to eat his spinach, string beans and corn. I’m hoping that the pledge app takes over the Green Giant home page on Tuesday, for added oomph.

I’m not quibbling with an augmented reality Jolly Green Giant “Ho-Ho-Ho’ing” either. That sounds pretty cool in a goofy, kitschy, iconic brand kind of way. And what could be wrong with pledging to eat one more vegetable a day? (Though why “one more,” when it’s likely that many kids eat no vegetables at all?)

As PR people we always want to start a campaign with a bang, to create something with which Hoda Kotbe and Kathy Lee Gifford might enjoy interacting. We want to be in the center of things. (Did I mention those sheep in Bryant Park? They’re promoting Prince Charles’ Wool).

We also want to connect with our customers. Grand Central is a classic locale for large-scale press events. It guarantees that the AR Jolly Green Giant will definitely be seen and, I guess, heard somehow. Maybe the parents who rush through Grand Central without their children will feel nostalgic and fist-bump with the big green guy in their stead. But even with the Instagram photos and Facebook posts, their children will miss the moment, I fear.

I wish the marketers could have secured, say, the Central Park Zoo. Or guerilla-style, set-up the AR Jolly Green Giant near the Museum of Natural History. Even Times Square attracts its share of children.

We need to reach these kids and parents, in the right time, in the right place to make the right impact. Not just to sell more frozen baby peas with pearl onions, as delicious as they are, because Green Giant has the opportunity to demonstrate that it can be part of a solution for a real problem in this country.


What do you think? Am I splitting hairs? Share your story here.

Client in the News: Cause Marketing Best Practices

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Company B Client in the News: Sherry Orel of Brand Connections, Success Means More, More, More Mobile, AdAge

sherry-orelAs more and more brands  align themselves with causes, it’s important to do it right.  To achieve success, brands need to do more than simply place a logo on a package or ad.

Sherry Orel, CEO of Brand Connections, explains how companies should be taking social media, mobile and digital consumer behavior into consideration in their cause-marketing strategies.

Read this article in the “Causes” section of Media Post.  Do you agree with her insights?

Gender Benders: Dr. Pepper 10

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

dr-pepper-10Dr. Pepper recently introduced a new 10-calorie version of its diet drink, aimed at men. The soda can features rivets. I know. They’re not real, but still.

The company launched a Facebook app for men, called “The Ten Man-ments,” is advertising during college football games, trying to capture the man who wants a diet drink but doesn’t want to really admit that to anyone. The tagline? “It’s not for women.”

Not surprisingly, the campaign has backfired. According to Wavemetrix,  it’s generating lots of negative attention. Men say they’re okay with the positioning but agree it’s offensive and women have taken to the social media channels saying they’ll take their diet drink business elsewhere.

See the video here:

The Dr. Pepper people say that the campaign is supposed to be a joke. But no one seems to be getting it. What happened?

The difference between how Venus and Mars behave let marketers tell a compelling story.(rivets?). Conflict is at the heart of great storytelling. But brands can risk taking that conflict too far.

But what’s interesting here is how the Dr. Pepper marketing people covered their bases when talking about new soda to the press. They said that 40% of people who tried and approved of the diet drink in six test markets were women. So who is the brand really aimed at, anyway?

Well, everyone, it seems, and perhaps that’s the intention. A campaign that’s skewed to be provocative can benefit from a public relations campaign to tell the story to all possible audiences, with a wink and a nod to the targeted core. If Dr. Pepper 10 doesn’t go by the way of New Coke, I can see a phase two campaign where women bloggers are invited to an immersion in the 10-calorie Dr. Pepper experience, follow the “The Man-ments” for a month – and chart their experiences with it on their blogs. Maybe the brand sponsors a Top-Chef quick-fire that pits the guys against the gals to come up with the healthiest dish using the soda that will appeal to a duo of 10-calorie Dr. Pepper tasters (man and woman). You follow?

Oh, and for the record, I think the ad is funny. It shows men being so stupid that I, for one, can’t possibly take it seriously. Will that turn me into a Dr. Pepper 10 drinker? I don’t think so, the brand told me that it doesn’t want me, in no uncertain terms.

How To Win Brand Tourists

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Driving through Central Park this weekend, I saw four tourists walking single file along the car-clogged road that connects West 96th Street to the Upper East Side. They were hiking on the edge of the street. Central Park was hidden from them – and from traffic — by a high wall.

With the beautiful park only steps away, I figured those folks got some pretty bad advice for how to cross the park. They looked hot and unhappy. They probably were hot and unhappy. That dirty trek may well be what they will remember most about their trip to New York.

Which got me thinking about how to frame a marketing campaign to appeal to the tourists for your brand.  You know, the ones who think they might like you but are just checking you out?  What does a tourist need to really fall in love with you?

Photo Credit: The New York Times

  1. Great maps.  They need to understand your brand’s layout.
  2. Local cell phone coverage.  They need to be able to call for help at any time.
  3. An up-to-date guidebook. To show them what’s new and improved!
  4. A good concierge.  A local guide, who can tailor advice to their wants and needs.
  5. A big spectacle. They need to be wowed.
  6. An opportunity to discover something on their own, because that’s what they’re going to remember the most.

When building a marketing campaign, I’d say that 1-4 are the cost of entry.  Brands need to be clear about who they are, be easy to get access to, feel like a personal friend, be fresh and relevant.  But what is often overlooked is that element of wow and, even more difficult, personal discovery that feels unique to them.

Whether it’s a special offer for Facebook fans only, a free you-name-it (coffee, flower bouquet, waltz-lessons on 42nd Street) when you least expect it, a billboard in Times Square with your photo on it, what can you create for your brand tourists to discover that’s so unexpected, they’ll think they discovered it themselves?

What’s your story?