FCC Reviews Rules and Regulations

As the final four teams prepare to battle it out in March Madness, it’s a sure bet that sports fan are waiting to see what else the tournament has in store this season. With coverage, updates, and analysis, it’s also a pretty sure bet that these fans are tuning into ESPN – the station that has become the sports authority. But did you know that the testosterone filled station is owned by a company that producers princesses fairytales – Disney? Did you know Disney also owns ABC, Marvel, Pixar, and Touchstone. Part of what’s known as the “Big Six” – Comcast, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS – account for 90% of media ownership across the ­states.

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The process of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, has led to media conglomerates – few companies owning all of the media outlets.

Many argue that media consolidation hurts competition by blocking out new media companies. According to Senator Wellstone, media give people access to a wide variety of opinions, analyses, and perspectives and it holds concentrated power accountable to people. With only a few companies controlling all the media the two functions of media (listed above) are compromised. Specifically related to advertising, a combination of media also leads to monopoly over audience and advertisers.

Today, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), an independent US government agency responsible for controlling media regulation, will vote to make TV station’s joint sales agreements (JSAs) subject to current ownership rules. The commission will also vote on a rule that prohibits two or more of the top four TV stations in a market from jointly negotiating agreements with pay TV providers.

Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, cited that the considered changes were motivated by evidence that suggested the rules that protect competition diversity and localism have been circumvented.

JSAs are an arrangement many see as a loop hole around the limits on owning no more than two TV stations in a market. With endorsement from the Department of Justice, the FCC is now moving ahead with the rule “that if the owner of one station in a marketing sells 15 percent or more of the advertising time for another, then it will be deemed to have ownership interest in the station.”

Broadcasters are fighting back. Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, says, “The real loser will be local TV viewers. This proposal will kill jobs, chill investment in broadcasting, and reduce meaningful minority programming and ownership opportunities.”

Stations that do have JSAs will have two years to dismember deals. However, stations can apply for a waiver in which JSAs will be examined on a case by case basis to determine if public interest is served by keeping the agreement.

Additionally, as part of the 2014 review, the FCC will propose to keep the ban on owning more than two TV stations, but question whether the cross-ownership ban between TV, radio, broadcast, and newspapers should be lifted.

However, while the five commissioners of the FCC will all vote on the issue, the ultimate decision may be left in the hands of just one, Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn. The issue has split the five down party lines with the GOP commissioners, Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly speaking out against the proposal. In order to advance the ruling, Wheeler will need the favor of both democratic commissioners.

While the commissioners are deciding, we are left wondering to what degree will these rules affect our media markets? Will Clyburn’s decision trend toward more or less regulation?

Tell us what you think. Should the FCC approve the JSA rule? Are media conglomerates affecting the free flow of information to society? Or has the Internet made possible enough independent outlets?

-Savannah Valade, Caroline Robinson

An Icey Spring

With the coming of spring, consumers and brands alike are ready to celebrate. Rita’s Italian Ice turned it into an actual celebration. For no other reason than it’s finally springtime, Rita’s was giving away free Italian ice on the first day of spring last week.

This year was the 22nd Annual Free Ice Giveaway. No purchase necessary – all you had to do was head to your nearest Rita’s between 12 pm (when the store opens) and 9pm. You had any of the 65 flavors to choose from and after that, only the third part of their motto – Ice, Custard, Happiness – was left to fulfill.

Rita’s Free Italian Ice

Of course, there was a social media component too. Rita’s guests were encouraged to post pictures of their free 12-oz cup using the hashtag #RitasFirstDayofSpring in hopes of winning some “cool” prizes. No word on what the prizes were, but Rita’s now has some cheery group photos of customers with their “Rita’s fix” on their website.

It all started in 1992, when only a few Rita’s stores were open this early in the season. Since then, the company has grown to 600 locations in 20 different states that participate in the icy giveaway. Rita’s is also in the process of opening stores internationally in China, India, and Canada.

Rita’s financial advisers were probably cringing with how many cups of free ice they were just letting people take for free. Over the years, more than 10 million cups of free ice have been given away. But there is obviously a method to the madness; how else could they continue the tradition for over two decades? The interesting thing is that Rita’s hardly promoted their event at all. Other than a few social media posts, there were no ads on TV or Youtube videos. It isn’t unusual for the company – they’re used to relying on word of mouth for their advertising. Even this guy helped boost their image by writing a song about their delicious treats:

Do you think their hands-off approach is working? Or better question: did you get your Rita’s?

- Christine Schulze

A Very Perry Spring

We are now in the transitional time of year when all the bitterness of the cold winter is transferring into the sunny, light-hearted feel that spring brings. One particular brand that has always been known for its spring-like characteristics is easily that of Perry Ellis and they are bringing forth their positively electric style to match the approaching season. For the upcoming spring/summer 2014 campaign, Perry Ellis is delivering a new, creative way to show men that style can be a fun experience. The campaign was released back in the month of January which was titled, “A Very Perry Spring: We’ll Put a Spring in your Step”. The foundational idea for this campaign is to assist men on the breakdown of fashion (patterns, prints, how to dress in suits and even undress) and to extend the message that men’s fashion does not have to be too serious and that style can be unpretentious and fun.

Perry Ellis launched his first line back in the year 1976 with the philosophy of levity being his legacy. The company is a distributor of a broad line of high quality men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, and children’s apparel. He believed that clothing should not be taken too seriously and should be fun. Perry Ellis redefined the fashion industry. Perry Ellis has coined the term that one could be labeled as, “very Perry Ellis”. This means customers of this brand are innovating their own unique style, instead of going with the fashion flow, and still looking chic.

For the Very Perry Spring 2014 campaign, Perry Ellis reunited with photographer Daniel Jackson and the label top models, Jason Cameron and Albert Reed. The advertisements incorporated the foundation of levity in the brand by fashioning vibrantly colored imagery showing the models in various confident and playful poses. Showing that style can be a fun experience, the images seem to leap out of the frame. Whether it is a hand or a hat, the meaning of this photographic placement is meant to contrast with the brand’s iconic “time to defy convention” attitude.

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Not only has the campaign mastered the traditional advertisements representing the brand’s legacy, but has also incorporated a new media strategy to reach consumers in the digital world. Matt Cronin, Vice President of marketing at Perry Ellis discusses the new media tactics will include “a series of engaging and witty videos which will bring the Very Perry attitude to life”. These videos consist of style tutorials for men and how to dress modernly. The style tutorials are entertaining, easy-going, and show men that dressing up is a lesson in laid-back attitude and breaking the rules.

Perry Ellis utilizes these media channels to promote its brand and for users to stay connected:

Facebook

Perry Ellis’ spring campaign is also holding a “March to a Million Facebook Fans” with incentives for contenders to win prizes by helping the company reach 1,000,000 fans.

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

And the brands new style blog

Brand tagline: “Very Perry”

The Very Perry Spring 2014 platform delivers a fundamental point of view from which the brand operates and incorporates everything the company is built off of into this new direction of marketing.The campaign will include digital campaigns featuring both still and video assets advertising the versatility of outlets the line is offering.

-Briana McWhirter

Banking on Bracketology

Even if you’re not a fan of college basketball, you’ve likely heard friends and colleagues exclaim about their “busted brackets” as of late. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, billed as “March Madness” runs throughout the month of March and is one of the most popular spring sporting events. The tournament begins with 64 teams and ends with the championship game in April. Part of the fun of March Madness, is Bracketology, the science of pitting teams against each other to predict the outcome of the tournament. It gets pretty serious–billionaire Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway even offered $1 billion to whoever fills out the perfect bracket.

Where does Bracketology intersect with IMC? The answer lies in the “good hands” of Allstate. 2014 is the insurance company’s third year as official sponsor of the NCAA tournament. This year, Allstate’s antagonistic character, Mayhem, is breaking brackets in a series of Tweets, Facebook updates, and Vines. While Mayhem is infamously known for causing car wrecks and burglaries, the Leo Burnett-created “March Mayhem” campaign makes light of Bracketology. Watch as Mayhem breaks, bends, and even blends busted brackets.

March is Mayhem

“March Mayhem” is Allstate’s social media component of its NCAA tournament campaign. During TV coverage of the tournament, the company sponsors the “Good Hands Play of the Game” and is rolling out increased advertising for its homeowners insurance. Pam Hollander, Allstate’s senior IMC director, points out that the campaign goes on as the tournament progresses, taking into account how different teams perform in the tournament. She says the campaign features direct engagement with fans. Mayhem acts as a direct engagement tool to connect and learn more about Allstate’s social media-savvy audience. With Mayhem, interpersonal communication takes place in an ad campaign, personifying the brand’s relationship with the consumer.

Mayhem isn’t the only insurance character with social media presence. Representing insurance companies big and small: the Gecko, Flo, Jake, and J.J. Hightail each interact with their Twitter followers. One of the strong points of the March Mayhem campaign is how it takes advantage of the Bracketology phenomenon to establish a connection with the consumer. Using a popular social trend in a social media campaign exemplifies the personification of brands.

Do you believe using Bracketology in advertising is effective? How have you seen other brands use social phenomena in their advertising?

-Nathan Evers

Luxurious Advertising

Gucci. Prada. Versace. These three symbols of “luxury” are high-end fashion companies that are flaunted around the world as brands of desire, wealth, and success. According to Forbes, luxury retail brands can be worth as much as 23 billion dollars. That amount shows the price consumers are willing to pay to feel as glamorous as the models who showcase the clothes, both through Advertisements and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, a buzz worthy week in New York City that features the spring collection of the most luxurious fashion brands in the world.

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The hype of Fashion Week and the brands that are luxurious enough to present themselves there share the same quality: they give consumers a sense of desire. Rohit Arora, Strategic Planning Director of Bates Pan Gulf (BPG Group), studied the various reasons consumers’ desire these brands. One of the main reasons is notably the exclusivity to afford such brands, which changes over time as objects become less exclusive and more fiscally available.

Similar to the four P’s we learn about in IMC and marketing, Arora revealed a list of eight shared “P’s”- Pillars in Luxury Brand Marketing:

1.)   Performance

2.)   Pedigree

3.)   Paucity

4.)   Persona

5.)   Public Figures

6.)   Placement

7.)   Public Relations

8.)   Pricing

Each of these “P’s” must be highly considered by the brand’s marketing team in order to brand itself as luxurious while also justifying itself in price. Arora placed emphasis on the importance of both the pricing and placement phase, which can make or break a luxurious item as either desirable or unnecessary. “It is important for luxury brands to price themselves right – as setting the price lower than the consumer expectation and willingness to pay can potentially harm the brand value, whereas the reverse can potentially not give enough justification for consumers to go ahead and buy.” The marketing team of these brands has a lot to wrestle with in justifying their value, whereas less flashy brands are able to triumph off of their practical prices and convenience.

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Following Fashion Week this spring, many luxury brands executed campaigns featuring public figures that were popular in both the fashion industry AND social media outlets. Luxury brand “Mulberry” selected 21 year old Cara Delevingne, currently one of the world’s most famous super models, as the new face for their campaign. The fact that Delevingne has nearly 5 million followers on Instagram helps give widespread exposure to Mulberry, which is a part of the “placement” phase of the marketing campaign. It doesn’t hurt that endorsements from popular top 40 tracks are always on the luxurious side of the spectrum. When is the last time you heard Drake talk about his reasonably priced jacket from TJ Maxx?

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Luxury brands not only compete with the more cost efficient brands, but they also compete with one another to be the top selection among consumers. In 2010, “Louis Vuitton spent more than $22 million on advertising across all channels between January and June, compared to slightly more than $14 million during the same period last year, a 57 percent increase.”  A year later, Marc Jacobs president Robert Duffy told the New York Times that Jacobs’ fall 2011 show cost at least $1,000,000 (or $1,750 per second). These painfully expensive prices are paid in order to keep status as a high-end fashion brand when winter fashion blooms into spring clothing. With the price of living going up just a few years beyond 2010 and 2011, one can’t fathom the funds needed to market luxury clothing items in 2014. As the temperature gets higher, the cost of advertising gets higher for these luxurious fashion brands!

-Austin Johnson, Jade Johnson-Grant, Jami Rogers, Ty Thomas

The “Instructional” Campaign

According to the calendar, Spring has officially sprung. And while we are still experiencing some chilly days, it’s undeniable most of us are ready to shed our winter gear for shorts and sandals. As with all season changes, clothing companies are eager to help you exchange your wardrobe.

Recently, clothing company Lands’ End launched their new “How to Spring” advertising campaign, showcasing, “How fun and fashionable it is to add bright colors, graphic prints and floral patterns with a few perfect pieces from the women’s spring collection”. It could be argued that every spring campaign that will launch this season will have a similar goal; however, Lands’ End decided to do something a little different this season by adding a sweepstake to its promotional and marketing strategy.

The sweepstakes works by first connecting with Facebook or entering your email. Once you’ve connected, you are asked to fill out your name, email, and zip code. Filling out this information unlocks the game. The rules are simple, select an outfit and click “spin”. If the outfit that the player selected matches the three tumblers, the player automatically wins a gift card with a balance of $25, $50, or $1,000. That’s it! Simple right? Not to mention, everyone is eligible to enter every day for the grand prize of $1,000 shopping spree. You can view the official rules of the sweepstakes here.

While we like to think that games, contests, and sweepstakes’ only motives are for fun and entertainment, they are actually a smart marketing move – encouraging consumption of the product by creating consumer involvement. This involvement builds fan base, engages the audience, and enables consumers to do your marketing for you. Not to mention, user generated content often provides quality, innovative, and creative ads for free.

In addition to promoting brand visibility, contest and sweepstakes are strategies that provide valuable quantifiable benefits for companies as well. They are cost effective, they help build search engine optimization (SEO), and increasingly important, they provide a rich source of consumer data for the company about existing and potential customers – emails, product preferences, location, etc.

With every click essentially producing some sort of user information, online contests are growing in use on websites and especially on social media. The most popular initiatives include: photo and video contests, tagging contest, hashtag giveaways, and website raffles.

Top Rank, an online marketing blog, named some of their picks of the best contest use on social media.
Facebook: When Frito-Lay began their campaign for searching for new potato chips flavors, the company bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to connect directly with the customers who would be eating them.
Pinterest: AMC Theaters have an entire Pinterest board, AMC Giveaways, where all users have to do is follow the board to stay up to date on the latest AMC contests. The basics are simple, when users see a prize they want, clicking on the image takes them to a landing page that collects their information.
Twitter: In a “retweet to win” twitter contest, Doritos tweeted a message that simply asked followers to retweet for a chance to win. The tweet was retweeted over 500 times in a day with winners snagging products that ranged from Doritos to widescreen tvs.
Instagram: As many clothing company are starting to do, Vera Bradely’s instagram contest asked users to post pictures of them and their favorite Vera Bradley bag using the hashtag #VBStyleShare. At the end of the contest, winners received a wrislet, followers of the hashtag could receive fashion inspiration, and staff could see how consumers were pairing their products.

The benefits contests can provide seem like an almost no-brainer for companies to increase brand awareness while also gaining consumer data, but as they start to trend they are also subject to overuse. To combat becoming another form of clutter, companies will have to make sure their contest are increasingly interactive, engaging, creative, or lucrative.

Have you ever participated in an online contest? Did you win? Did it make you feel more favorable towards the brand? Scrolling through your social media feeds have you seen brands using contests similar to the ones above? What are some of the best/most creative ones you have seen?

- Elizabeth Harrington, Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade