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

The Deepwater Horizon One Year Later: A Brief IMC Analysis

Today marks the one year anniversary of the BP, Deepwater Horizon disaster that leached millions of barrels of oil into the in the Gulf of Mexico, greatly impacting the Gulf Coast.  In the few days following the Deepwater Horizon incident BP came under tremendous scrutiny for the way they chose to address, or not really address, the media.    The former CEO, Tony Hayward, received the brunt of criticism for comments he made, including telling a photographer to get out during a photo-op on the shores of Louisiana.

Following the PR nightmare BP created for itself, the oil company had to get to work repairing their image.  How else were they going to keep selling gas to pay for all the damage the oil leak was causing?  The marketing department sprang to action, launching a campaign that touted their commitment to cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf.  In order to do this they employed tactics and used several channels for delivering their message of being compassionate and concerned about the residents of the Gulf Coast who were affected by the oil spill. Fishermen, hospitality workers, and any others harmed by the Deepwater Horizon accident were going to be reimbursed by BP for the income they were loosing from the impact.  They created jobs in a recession for workers willing to clean up the oil.

In order to let the public know about all of the things they were doing to combat the oil spill BP aired several television commercials, utilized Facebook, and attempted to use twitter, but were parodied.  They utilized Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and spent millions in advertising on Google and several other search engines each month.  Every time anybody searched for anything remotely connected with oil, a spill, the Deepwater Horizon, BP, the Gulf…you get the picture, BP was pulled up.

One year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP’s marketing focus has changed.  Yes, they want you to know about their efforts in the Gulf, however they have shifted their efforts to focusing on BP’s efforts to foster sustainability and utilize renewable resources.  Despite the fact that BP’s marketing message has changed they still are employing a synergistic method to get it out there.  This synergistic technique is synonymous with IMC.

-Eliza Wadson