January 27, 2009

I’m so glad my phone number has gone viral

Filed under: Marketing — aimee @ 10:41 pm
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Don’t worry, I’m not referring to my own phone number. It’s a line of copy from a brilliant campaign by R/GA and the Ad Council to address dating harassment among teens. While many of us who have teens or young adults in our life are familiar with their dependence on texting and IM, who knew that harassment via texting, constant calling, and IM had become an epidemic? According to a recent article in the New York Times:

one-quarter of teenagers in relationships say they have been called names or harassed by their partner through cellphones and text messages, according to a study commissioned by the clothing company Liz Claiborne, which sponsors antiviolence programs.


Wisely, the campaign aims to educate and allow teens to take action in the medium where the behavior is taking place and that they thrive in: the digital space.  That’ features videos illustrating scenarios from both points of view in the relationship and Q&As that one might expect from a public service campaign. However the true innovation is in “call out cards”, electronic post cards that one can download, post on social networking sites, or send via email to let someone know they’ve crossed the line.  The cards are witty but to the point, and kudos on the copywriting that sounds authentic and spares any of the zealous righteousness of the “Just Say No” campaigns many of us were raised on.  

The callout cards are elegant in their ease/simplicity, and highlight how effective communication strategy has evolved from interruption (“let’s disrupt and breakthrough!”) to integration into the target’s habits and daily life.  Traffic will be driven to the site from television, radio, and OOH advertising that begins on Feb 9th.  In a unique media opportunity, posters of the callout cards will hang in schools and students are encouraged to take a photo with their mobile phones and send it to a friend.  No doubt the posters will spark a few conversations!  Now, go send the website to a middleschooler or teen you know!  Here’s some suggested text:  BTW a cool site 4 u


January 15, 2009

Because the customer doesn’t always come to you: Service Cloud

Filed under: customer service,Marketing — aimee @ 3:35 pm
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Sparing you a littany of marketing jargon, most of us agree in 2009 that a brand is comprised of the impressions and experiences a consumer has of a product, service, or firm, rather than the messages that you convey via product design and marketing communications. As a marketer who has invested in building many web and microsites for brands, I learned firsthand that most conversations about your brand don’t happen in the neat little environment you build for them, but instead out in the world where people gather, either virtually or physically, to share information. That insight has driven many companies to comb the web using services like Nielsen Buzzmetrics to track sentiment and conversations about their brands. Often findings from this type of research languish as companies struggle with how to react: what are the rules of engagement for communicating with customers who have not reached out to them? Should a firm “intrude?” Many firms simply aren’t structured to leverage findings across the silos of marketing and customer service. clearly understands these challenges. Their new product the Service Cloud allows firms to identify issues that customers turn to search, blogs, or forums to solve. This data is aligned with data collected in traditional service channels such as phone and email, and responses can be posted on the company’s own website for pickup by search engines and the company’s own service representatives. Sounds like a rather elegant solution, doesn’t it? It appears to navigate cleanly around the sticky issue of whether or not firms should “intrude” in social networks, forums, or other venues where customers are discussing their brands. Will the broader collection and response to customer feedback lead to faster development cycles for products and services that delight the customer? I look forward to watching this space.

January 13, 2009

Simple human truths

Filed under: Marketing — aimee @ 4:20 pm
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My pulse quickens when I learn of a company that has identified a simple, human truth as a basis for their new strategy. So I smiled this morning when I received my Mediapost newsletter and learned that OfficeMax has identified cubicle misery as a universal phenomenon. (Hurrah! Cubes stink and someone outside of academia actually conducted research about it!) They believe they can differentiate themselves from their competition (Staples, Target, Walmart) and grow their business in a declining category by launching a line of products to beautify one’s cube. The campaign launched with cinema and is aimed at professional women 20-50.

The new cinema spot is lovely and relaxing, a Calgon-like moment with pretty graphics. But I have one humble question: does anyone have a budget these days to buy pretty office supplies? I imagine most businesses that have cubes have either centralized purchasing or expense policies, and I can’t seem to picture an office manager approving my new paisley file folders with a wink and a smile. Bob Thacker, SVP at OfficeMax indicates the target includes female small business owners and entrepreneurs, but again I question demand for products one could perceive as a luxury in the current business climate. Aren’t most small businesses sole proprietorships, who likely don’t suffer as cubicle-dwellers?

Perhaps this is primarily a branding attempt to differentiate and reposition themselves. While Target clearly dominates their position of “design for all” I applaud Office Max for introducing design in a category where it has been lacking since, well, the invention of manila file folders. Eager to explore the product line, I visited the OfficeMax website. Alas, there was no mention of the products on the home page! A few Google searches later, I discovered an article that Office Max launched four private label brands in October, one of which could possibly be the line in question. But here’s another simple truth: your consumers aren’t going to expend more than 3 minutes searching for a product that could be considered a novelty. In fact, every search term I could imagine would lead me to OfficeMax led me to paid search by Target. Yikes!

Trying to explore every angle, I thought “perhaps this is just a move to gain some incremental purchases from existing in-store traffic.” Buy why pay for creative development and media when you could just throw up some endcaps at checkout?

Okay, enough nitpicking. What have we learned here?

-Fantastic insight + good creative isn’t enough to build your business. If you’re going to invest in PR and advertising, make sure you reap the return on the investment by having a search and web strategy in place to facilitate research and purchase. Don’t let your competition benefit from your ad spend!
-Public relations, marketing, and e-commerce/web departments need to align on strategy and execution. What good is getting the message out if you’re unprepared to capitalize on it?

Beautify your cube: love it or hate it? Which companies have you seen execute integrated marketing well?

January 8, 2009

CP+B does it again

“It” remains open to interpretation. The agency known for controversial, buzz-generating advertising has launched a Facebook application for their client Burger King that rewards users with 1/10 of a Whopper for each friend “de-friended.” Genius or ridiculous?

Vote here:

Regardless of my opinion, I have just written 46 words about a greasy fast food sandwich. Well done, Burger King, well done.

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