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

Get Your Vote On!

From commercials to infomercials, advertising and marketing in this day and age has become a completely different game than in the past. Lately, between the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, many Americans have been overwhelmed with advertisements and promotions that are attempting to make their company stand out from the competition. Whether it was simply trying to convince you to buy their soft drink or attempting to convince you to buy your girlfriend’s engagement ring from their jewelry store, sometimes it seems a little too forced.

In response to this tension,  marketers are always looking for innovative new ways to involve consumers in the production, promotion and selection of the product itself. This method has been used effectively before and proved quite fruitful for certain companies. In 2007, Mountain Dew began their “DewMocracy” promotion where customers get the chance to vote on new flavors, graphics, colors and names. To this day, Mountain Dew continues to create opportunity for customer interaction in their promotions and advertisements.

Interactive promotional campaigns are ideally designed to benefit both the customer and the company. Lays potato chips are the most recent corporation to take this creative strategy and run with it. Lays has put together a multi-step process for establishing their newest flavor of chip. Originally, Lays invited consumers to submit their flavor ideas and let the public vote on these flavors on Facebook. At this point, the public has voted and Lays has narrowed the competition down to the top 3 public favorites. These flavors have actually been produced and are available for purchase for a limited time. While these flavors are available the voting will continue on Facebook and eventually one will be voted in and named the newest member of the Lays family.

Taking a step back and evaluating this marketing strategy utilized by Lays, Mountain Dew and many other large corporations, it is clear that it is effective not only as a result of the customer interaction, but in a handful of other ways. Obviously if voting and discussion is taking place on social media, this is driving a ton of Internet traffic to each of the respective websites. Also, the customer involvement builds a relationship with the consumers and gives them the feeling that they are a part of the company and making important decisions. Finally, specifically for Lays and other promotions that offer the product for a limited time, this strategy causes a boom in sales with everyone trying the new product.

Now that this promotion idea of customer involvement has been tried and proven many large companies are adopting these campaigns. Doritos, along with a few other companies, ran campaigns before the Super Bowl to have the consumers make and vote for which commercial would be shown during the big game. So despite the fact that we are still being consistently and constantly advertised to (and that’s not likely to change any time soon!) the benefits of running these promotions are clearly beyond the obvious boost in sales, this is relationship building at its finest!

- Zach Abramo, Callie Fenlon, Lauren HabigAlexandra Huss, Michael Nunes, Daniel Schaefer, Dann Williams

Lessons Learned from Chips

When I picked my friend up from the airport after a short-term study abroad session in Italy, I naturally asked how her trip was. She looked at me, smiled and said something along the lines of, “I have discovered the most delicious thing in the world.” I expected her to say fine Italian bread, or pastries, or anything along the lines of cultural food. With a mischievous grin, she opened her suitcase and there they were—three cans of her beloved Pringles Paprika chips. She was beaming! About 2 months later, I left for a study abroad trip and was in search of the Paprika chips to bring back as a gift. I bought some for myself and, though I hate to admit it, I too became hooked on the Paprika chips! After I was home for about two weeks, I began to crave them, so I went to the grocery store just to look around in hopes they would be there. Much to my disappointment, they weren’t. That same night I went to a cookout and tried a flavor of chips for the first time: Barbeque…wait, Paprika? Yes, you guessed it! Barbeque chips in the U.S. are the same as the Paprika chips in Europe! What a concept. Both Lays and Pringles knew “Barbeque” the way the U.S. knows it, wouldn’t make sense in Europe, so they decided to rename the chip!

Taking culture into consideration is vital when companies want to expand and market their product in other countries. Some products simply don’t translate. It is necessary to understand different markets and customer needs, or it could be a catastrophe. When embarking on an intercultural marketing campaign, it is essential that companies think about these scenarios. They may have to alter their product slightly, but it will translate more successfully. Though Lays and Pringles gave up the name “Barbeque,” they kept the idea of the chip and changed the name to the main ingredient in the chips, Paprika. Also, they had to note that “chips” in many countries are our “French fries,” and are instead referred to as “crisps.” Next on American shelves: the popular “ham” flavored chip from Spain, or the Mayonnaise Cheese flavored Pringles from Japan! Just kidding.

Rachel Kaylor