One Country Painted Red

With the rapid growth of new products, brand extensions and the blurring of traditional and new age advertising, marketing and advertising to target audiences has reached a new level of competitiveness. Brands now must adapt to this changing environment and contest with competitors to stay at the top of their market and target to audiences in creative, attention-grabbing tactics.

The most iconic brand in the soda market, and throughout the world, is undoubtedly that of Coca-Cola. In the summer of 2011, Coke created an original marketing strategy to run a campaign that would inspire people to connect with the brand both online and offline in order to acclimate to the changing marketing environment. The campaign’s prime objective was to increase consumption of Coke over the summer season and to get people to fall in love with the iconic brand again. Particularly, in Australia, at the time nearly 50% of teens and young adults had never tasted a Coke and this drove the brand to reconnect with the country.

Established in Australia, the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign immediately received positive media attention and consumer responsiveness. The idea of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was to place Australia’s 150 most popular names on the front of millions of Coca-Cola bottles, simple right? This was the first time in 125 years that Coke had made such a paramount transformation to it packaging, and it was revolutionary.

“We used publicly available data to review the most popular names in Australia and ethnic representation in Australia to ensure the diversity of our multi-cultural nation was represented appropriately.”

- Coca-Cola Spokesperson.

The Coca-Cola brand wanted to initiate conversations by putting Australians front and center and inspire them to connect with people and ‘Share a Coke’. The central theme that gave ‘Share a Coke’ its power was the way a brand so universal could replace its logo with individual names by reaching out to consumers and personalizing its brand to individuals.

“We are using the power of the first name in a playful and social way to remind people of those in their lives they may have lost touch with, or have yet to connect with”

-Lucie Austin, Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign strategically exhibited that when personalization in advertising is done the right way, it can be highly appealing and extremely effective. While Coke got personal, media was buzzing with talk over what the brand was implementing behind the personalization. Coke remained silent until Australia’s highest rated media weekend. The campaign was revealed to the public and aired across the biggest weekend in Australian sport, during the AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) grand finals which reached over 30% of the population.

Succeeding the campaign launch, requests for more names were coming in the thousands. Coke was prepared for this boom of requests by setting up kiosks that toured 18 Westfield shopping centers attracting consumers to personalize any name on a Coca-Cola bottle.

Coke wanted to especially reach out to the 50% of young adults that had never tasted a Coke in Australia, and there was no better way to reach this target market than online. Participation and mass allocation was achieved through Facebook by providing consumers with the resources to connect and ‘Share a Coke’ by creating a personalized virtual Coke bottle to share with a Facebook friend. Consumers were tagging friends in pictures with personalized Coke bottles and sharing stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Coke consumers also could create their own commercials! With the abundance of requests still pouring in, Coke told consumers to put in a vote of “who do you want to share a Coke with the most?” via Facebook. After 65,000 people voted, Coke bottles with 50 new names were released. “Consumers were invited to SMS a friend’s name, which was projected live onto the iconic ‘Coca-Cola’ sign at Sydney’s King’s Cross. They then received an MMS enabling them to share their friend’s name up in lights, via Facebook and email.”

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The multi-platform communications strategy was implemented to ‘Share a Coke’ with someone you know, or want to know and ultimately gave people the resources to find, connect and share. After 3 short months of running the campaign, young adult Coca-Cola consumption increased significantly in Australia by up to 7%, making 2011 Coke’s most fruitful summer season in history. The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign resulted in 76,000 virtual coke cans shared, 378,000 extra coke cans printed at kiosks, and 5% more people were drinking coke. Coca-Cola had successfully won over Australia and became a part of popular culture again.

-Briana McWhirter

See the USA in Your Chevrolet, or See China in Your Buick

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. That line from this 1970s ad for Chevrolet exhibits the brand’s position as an American icon.

Fast-forward several decades, and General Motors’ Chevy is still an iconic American brand. Meanwhile, in China, the Chevrolet brand is still young. Chevy is China’s seventh-best selling brand, although two models, the Cruze (sold in North America) and the Sail are strong sellers.

While Chevy is still catching on in China, another longtime GM brand from the United States holds popular: Buick.

lugzaoaf2otau1jrolprYou may be asking yourself: Buick? Isn’t that the car for old people? Not so the case in China! In 2013, four times as many Buicks were sold in China than in the U.S.  Nearly 810,000 Buicks were sold in China, compared to over 205,000 stateside.

What explains Buick’s popularity in China? The answer is rooted in the early 20th century when important Chinese government figures such as president Dr. Sun Yat-sen, premier Zhou Enlai, and emperor Pu Yi either owned, drove, or were driven around in Buicks. This historical background adds to Buick’s image of upper class and prestige. Their advertising uses images of success to propel Buick to a high-end brand, such as in this Buick Excelle ad from the 2000s.

Establishing global brand coherence has its difficulties. To contrast, in the United States, Buick is having trouble shaking off the “55-to-dead” demographic, and they tackle that problem in this new ad that features the demographic commonly associated with the brand in the U.S. with the desired target demographic in the driver’s seat of the brand-new 2014 Buicks:

GM isn’t the only American automaker popular with the Chinese. Ford’s sales in China rose 49 percent in 2013, and the Ford Focus was China’s best-selling car that year. NPR interviewed 32-year-old Li Ning, who said he bought a Focus because he likes its muscular American style. In China, Ford is establishing its image as young and trendy.

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Auto China 2014, the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, kicked off on April 20th and runs until April 29th. At Auto China, Ford is introducing a luxury brand familiar to Americans—Lincoln.

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Lincoln’s model of selling cars in China is called “The Lincoln Way” and features luxurious showrooms that feel like a five-star hotel. Lincoln plans to focus on building customer relationships by understanding and fulfilling their needs. Lincoln may bring this style of personal selling to the U.S. based on how it works in China.

Only time will tell if Ford’s effort to introduce the Lincoln brand to China will be a success. Will it become a competitor to Buick, which is already established as a strong luxury brand in China? Are there other ways in which this is an example of globalization?

-Nathan Evers

We Love Our Moms (And So Do Advertisers!)

With just a couple weeks until another one of the biggest card holidays, Mother’s Day, card companies are gearing up their promotions. Last week, American Greetings released their new ad, “The World’s Toughest Job” and with over 14 million views in just one week, it’s safe to say the video has gone viral. This call to action is sure to have you considering whether or not to switch from Hallmark to American Greetings this year.

Prior to this advertisement, American Greetings ads consisted of mainly cute animals – much like the ones you can find on their actual greeting cards. What these ads were missing were what this recent ad captured – emotion evoking concepts – something competitors such as Hallmark have been relying on and capturing for years. See Hallmark’s “Proud Mom” ad below:

Yet, it seems that even Hallmark couldn’t capture the raw emotions that the Mullen Agency was able to evoke from the interviewees – simply starting with a job posting and 24 interview candidates. The finished piece was a compilation of honest reactions that left viewer’s hearts melting.

The American Greetings’ spot isn’t the only ad that has played on the love and appreciation of our mothers this year. Proctor and Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” series showed the mother as much a part of the Olympics as the athletes themselves. Several other companies including British Airways and General Electric have recently produced ads centered on mothers.

So what do these “tribute to mom” ads tell us and why do our hearts warm when we watch them? Understanding how advertising works tells us the answer. Ads tell us what is virtuous and what is our ideal world. These “shout out to moms” tell us what we virtue – the compassion mothers have and the love families have for their mother. In the ideal world, that appreciation would be shown by a card everyday, but since this isn’t the ideal world we hope to make it up on Mother’s Day.

So what do you think about all these ads centered on Mothers? Is it ethical to exploit this relationship that our society holds so valuable? Will you turn to buying an American Greetings card this holiday or stick with Hallmark?

- Caroline Robinson, Elizabeth Harrington

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.

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“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

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

There’s a New Animal in the Jungle of Advertising

How do you break through the clutter? That’s the question marketers and advertisers have to figure out with every campaign they produce.

So how do they do that? By doing something unusual, unexpected, and memorable – guerrilla marketing. First coined by Jay Conrad Levison, guerrilla marketing relies on unique or unorthodox methods of advertising or promotion to gain consumers’ attention. Below is a video by Mango Moose Media displaying a couple of guerrilla marketing techniques.

Guerrilla marketing is in your face, but there are a couple of core concepts (besides ultimate creativity) that make guerrilla marketing significantly effective. According to Elena English, “the idea is to play on human responses and emotions rather than present a sale, product release, or pitch”. The difference is the highlight on customer interaction with the goal of grabbing their attention, not selling them the product. English also explains guerilla marketing involves “extensive use of humor, lots of visuals, plays on “humanisms” and pop culture references”. So in honor of this, we found two completely different guerilla-marketing stunts that represent these core concepts.

The “Storm Drains are the MOUTH of the River” campaign was done by the City of Reno to battle the city’s river pollution problem. In 2013, local artist were commissioned to paint storm drains as the mouths of frogs, fish, and octopus. To learn about the campaign and how its effectiveness was measured watch the case study, Art Vs. Pollution, below.

As the video describes, the campaign worked to “humanize” the storm drains with a pop art style. The utilization of pop art to grab attention is not unknown to the marketing world. James Twitchell says in his book Lead Us Into Temptation that pop art on commercial packaging has been and is still grabbing the attention of consumers. It especially worked well in this campaign in which the cartoon aquatic species brought to life the message.

All guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be inanimate objects. Chobani used it to continue marketing efforts for the “How Matters” campaign, which works to position its yogurt as real and natural. Relying on the audience’s knowledge of its Superbowl commercial, Chobani broke through the clutter with a 1400-pound human bear costume.

This realistic and naturally misplaced bear has gained over 4 million views in less than a month. The stunts effectiveness is due to the memorable bear’s search for food that is natural, which reinforces the brand message.

Guerrilla marketing is limitless; it can be used for many purposes, such as reinforcing brands or gaining exposure for issues, and in many inanimate or animate ways. Yet, they all have one goal and this is to capture people’s attention. What do you think of these guerrilla marketing strategies? Do you think these companies used them effectively?

-Caroline Robinson, Elizabeth Harrington, Savannah Valade

Big Brother is Watching You FaceTime: 30 Years After “1984″

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On January 24thApple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

On January 22, 1984, what is widely regarded as one of the greatest television advertisements of all time aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII. The one-minute spot is a postmodern representation of George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel, 1984, which depicts a futuristic totalitarian society stripped of all freedom and individualism.

In 1983, Apple and IBM battled for market share as the two giants in the computer industry selling over one billion dollars of PCs that year. In 1983, at his company’s keynote address, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs made clear that IBM is a fierce competitor gunning to dominate the industry.

“Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future…they are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom.”–Steve Jobs, 1983

During his address, Jobs unveiled the ad to an exclusive audience for the first time, to thundering applause. The ad, created by Chiat/Day, ultimately positions Apple and Mac as empowering, liberating, and individualistic, unlike the IBM view that computers are nothing more than tools. IBM is gray, cold, mechanical. Apple is colorful, creative, independent. This ad separated Mac to start the “Mac versus PC debate” that is still relevant today.

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Which of these guys do you picture in an office at IBM?

In 2009, Hunch did a survey to analyze personality traits between Mac and PC users. They found that Mac users are more likely to see the existing world as the same all the time and want to be seen as different and unique. They are more apt to call themselves “verbal”, “conceptual”, and “risk-takers”.  The Mac brand is still as relevant today as it was 30 years ago at its introduction, and its consumer base reflects it.

The “1984” ad has also found itself injected into American culture. In 2007, Phil de Vellis used the visuals from the Macintosh ad and made it into “Vote Different”. It uses sound bites and images of 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to put her in the role of “Big Brother”—the role IBM took in the original ad. The woman with the sledgehammer that represented Mac became equated to Barack Obama. The video went viral and is a great example of using appropriation to communicate a message.

From “1984” to “Think different.” to “Get a Mac”, Apple’s advertising for Macintosh has continued to embody the individualism Steve Jobs envisioned for the brand. Now, 30 years after it was introduced, what does the Mac brand mean to you?

-Nathan Evers