Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blog Summary

My Two Cents.....
I have been blogging about buzz marketing for months now; looking at the freshest, most recent articles on the internet. We have gone over a wide variety of buzz marketing techniques and procedures, as well as pros and cons, generic ways to spread buzz, and looked at PR, advertising, and marketing , all in an effort- a never ending search, to discover what is at the heart of word of mouth marketing.

One of the most common "tried and true" methods of buzz marketing that seems to always pop up, is the basic giveaways, or free samples. Grocery stores started doing this way back in the day, in order to promote brands and increase sales. As an unseen added benefit, people took back with them more than just the 2.99 chicken poppers. They took home a little fun experience, and started slowly spreading the word to family, friends, and co-workers.

We also have figured out that buzz, or word of mouth marketing starts with the product. Many companies don't even put effort into the "buzz" marketing that large corporations try to jumpstart. Take Google, or facebook for instance. These online companies thrived on no advertising at all. To paraphrase Seth Godin, "They are products worth talking about". A truly great product will generate word of mouth naturally, and spread organically. This is something every brand strives to do- but lets face it, not every product is "worth talking about". That leaves us marketing guys with the task to buzz market everyday commodities like, tissue paper, glue, and socks. That is where this blog comes in. We have focused on using money to create buzz, through ads, giveaways, samples, etc. We have seen that sometimes this works, while other times, fails miserably. Lets take a look at what works and what doesn't.

Buzz Marketing that works.

A little while ago a did a blog post about Welsh's grape juice and their lickable ads. The ads consisted of a tear off film which dissolves into your mouth. It is completely sanitary and quite innovative as well. Now, while its hard to measure how effective this ad was , seeing the enormous amount of blog posts, online buzz, and news stations (PR) covering this ad. "Oh thats cool! Is it safe? Yuck! Yum!" A wide variety of opinions were present, but it didn't matter, because Welsh s Grape Juice already accomplished what they had intended to do, even before the ad appeared in a magazine. PR was prevalent all over the country, and it was all free advertising before they even advertised it. In my opinion, this is an example of buzz marketing that works. Because of the innovative and radical advertising approach, the ad created curiosity and forehead smacking responses. All in all though, it was just a free sample! Which goes along with the old Bernice Fitz-Gibbon qoute, "Creativity often consists of merely turning up what us already there." They turned up what was already there, but in a new, exiting way. They turned heads and it worked.

Another example of paid buzz marketing that works is the Coors Light post that I just recently talked about. This example shows how buzz can be generated through an almost infinate amount of ways. In other words, it doesn't start and end with free samples. Small product innovations done purley for marketing purposes- and I will list of the 4 p's of Price, Product, Promotions, and Placement. Tweaking any part of the marketing mix will get people talking- especially among those familiar with your product. As dumb as it is, making a minuscule dent in a can that "creates better beer flow", had drinkers from colleges to retirement homes, buzzing and buying the Coors Light because of the NEW innovation. Promotions can create buzz too, like the Hanes "Wedgie Free" campaign, discussed in a March 7th post. I did not cover price alterations much in this blog, but you can imagine how Sales in malls do wonders in buzz marketing. I don't know how many times my Mother used to always seem to know when Sears was having a sale. It seemed as though there were microchips installed in my Grandmother, Mother, and Aunt's brains that malls could activate whenever a sale was going on. And then, everyone becomes aware of it, and everyone tells there friends. Placement, or channels of distribution, doesn't seem as though it creates buzz but ponder this; A grand opening. Think about brands or products that wish to expand. If widgets were going to be distributed to new cities, buzz and grand openings, and PR would occur, with just a little help from the marketing department.

The trend with buzz marketing is buzz marketing itself. This little blurb is taken from a Business week article that I discussed months ago. "Word of mouth marketing will hit $1.3 billion this year, 33% up from 2006. In fact, the spending is estimated to triple that figure by 2011. The growth of the internet plays a big role in this spending. Many marketers are using word of mouth (WOM) to generate buzz about websites and are considering WOM to be a separate entity from advertising and public relations." Like I said, WOM has always been around, its just now being recognized and its marketing potential is being realized. For marketers that get a bit too overzealous with it however, it can fail. It is easy to get too excited over word of mouth and approach it incorrectly. It really is a delicate art to master. The next part of this post is going to be dedicated to Buzz Marketing that Fails.

Buzz Marketing that fails.

One, underlying thing that always seems to annoy me is something I call the copycat marketing. And it never seems to work. Don't get me wrong, Picasso once said, bad artists copy. Good artists steal. This applies to marketing as well. We all know there really isn't any new ideas anymore, so we are left with the creative approach to old ideas. Here is my example. An influx of companies have tried to ride the internet bandwagon with buzz websites to accompany their advertising. They often feature games, downloads, and the ever so old, uploading your face into some sort of scene. This has worked in the past but has generated very little consumer interest since then, due to the over saturation of the market.I am sorry but consumers aren't stupid! And they are so inundated with media and ads that something that doesn't strike them as new fails! Things that go along with this are blogs, facebook brand groups or pages, and lame youtube videos. We have to keep moving forward, not keep our feet in the cement.

With this being said, I hope you have received some good insights and education from this blog. Remember, WOM has no boundries, can occur organically or with some creative approaches, occur from media plans. I especially like where WOM is going now with the unconventional advertising approaches. Outdoor advertising like reverse graffitti art, and stairway ads, make people stop and think. And if they are creative enough, will spur word of mouth. I am going to leave you with a series of great outdoor "ads" that I believe have accomplished WOM and this is the future of buzz marketing! Farewell!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coors Light is ridiculous

In a continuous effort to sell more beer and create buzz, Coors Light has come out with yet another product innovation.  Tweaks in products or packaging is a widely used marketing tactic to increase performance in a lagging brand.  A simple enhancement in size, and a "New and improved" sticker, can fool millions of consumers into buying more product.  Coors light does this almost every quarter.  First it was the wide mouth opening, then there was the "it turns blue" temperature activated bottles that indicates the perfect temperate for beer consumption, then the "frost brewed lining", and now the revolutionary vented opening that supposedly makes the beer come out better, if there even is such a thing.  Here is a link to the PR article.   I tried to search for a picture of the "vent" that improves beer drinking but nothing could be found.  If you get a chance, check out the can, you will laugh once you see the vent- it is a small dent in the top of the can, about the size of a pencil tip!
You have to give the marketers credit for inventing these bogus ideas because Coors Light is the top selling beer in America. But honestly, anyone who buys the "vent" idea has to be lacking in brain cells.  But the innovation, if thats what you want to call it, has increased buzz among beer drinkers!  The ads on TV are pretty corny and funny as well.  Coors is also planning a national venting day , to coincide with tax day.  This Coors Light example hopefully can provide insight to marketers everywhere looking for ways to create some product buzz.  An alteration or innovation can really stir things up in the consumer world. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Five T's - How to generate word of mouth

I stumbled upon an interesting article while scrounging the web for buzz material.  Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, has come up with a five step plan on how to generate word of mouth.  These steps consist of, talkers, topics, tools, taking part, and tracking.  So you're a company wanting some buzz? Check this out.
Talkers:  Figure out who the talkers are in your target market.  Who likes to "spread the word"?  Maybe its doctors, skateboarders, housewives, or bloggers.  Some people like to tell their friends, some don't.
Topics:  Give people a reason to talk about you.  Maybe you hold a sale, a promotion, give out free samples, or alter your product a bit with a new package, new flavor, or new feature.
Tools:  Do everything you can to help spread the message faster.  Examples are including stickers and postcards in a box when you ship a package.  Go on blogs and post things online.  Take part in guerrilla marketing.  Hand out samples.
Taking Part:  Fuel the conversation!  Make sure people keep talking about you by interacting with them.  Again, post on their blogs, send them emails, and send them thank you notes.  
Tracking:  Word of mouth is the voice of the consumer.  You can't get anything better than that.  Track what people are saying about your product and learn from it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friends, Family, Most Influential in Brand Purchases

A new study by ZenithOptimedia's Touchpoints ROI Tracker, a comprehensive project comprising over 300,000 interviews across 34 countries and covering more than 4,000 brands in 126 product and service categories, revealed that word of mouth, or recommendations from family and friends, are most influential on brand purchases with an average score of 84 out of 100. TV and internet search came 2nd, followed by print, outdoor, radio, newspaper, and internet banner ads. Word of mouth is so powerful but making it scalable, or accessible to marketers is a daunting task. It is extremely difficult to get people talking positively about a product that isn't superior by marketing efforts alone. It is also something that the marketers have little control over. Bruce Goerlich, ZenithOptimedia's president of strategic resources, North America says it best, "Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, but we as an industry are not doing as good a job as we could do in generating it,".

This is some obvious stuff right here. Who do you trust more when it comes to products, friends and family, or the cagey and wily marketing executives of a large corporation? The first thing I thought of when I saw this new data on word of mouth was how word of mouth can be involved in almost every stage of the consumer buying process. If you look at the consumer buying process it breaks up into 5 stages.

Need identification- your next door neighbor shows off his new grill, immediately you want one.
Information search- you need a car and you ask your brother in law, a mechanic, for information regarding automobiles.
Evaluation of alternatives- you want a cellphone and have narrowed it down to two models, Samsung, and LG. Your mother has one model, your brother the other. You proceed to ask them what the positives and negatives of their phones are.
Purchase- you make the purchased based on what your friends recommended.
Post purchase evaluation- you have a poor experience with a product, and you tell YOUR friends never to buy it.

This kind of stuff goes on everyday. I personally pay little attention to ads and utilize my friends for reliable information when it comes to purchases. Don't you?

Monday, April 7, 2008

The $100 Million Dollar Idea

Kraft believes they have a product that will surpass the $100 million mark in sales "within the next few years."Rick Searer, executive vice president and president of Kraft, told analysts last month that the product would sell itself. The product is Bagel-fuls. And the concept is frozen bagel sticks, filled with Philadelphia cream cheese. To launch the product, an integrated marketing campaign will start on April 9 when Joy Behar, co-host of ABC's The View, gives out free Bagel-fuls in New York's Times Square. Kraft is taking Bagel-fuls on a 20-plus city sampling tour this summer, which will be supported by radio promotions. Cities on the tour include Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and Orlando, Fla. "We're focusing heavily on sampling because we believe Bagel-fuls are so different from anything in the market," said Chitra Ebenezer, marketing director for the new Bagel-fuls brand. Kraft also is targeting blogs and female-oriented online communities to promote Bagel-fuls. "The product lends itself to word-of-mouth messaging," said Ebenezer. "Once you try it, you want others to try it."

Kraft is also planning an advertising campaign set to debut on the end of this month.

Food products always seem like a risky endeavor to me. Maybe its because the restaurant industry has a 60% failure rate. I have seen products like this come and go. There always seems to be a "big idea"- check out batter blaster, the spray on pancake- but most seem to fail. This bagel idea, however, is a bit more conservative in comparison and I think that it will generate some sales. I don't think there is that ick factor with the cream cheese being already inside. People who are on the go, and especially kids, will enjoy this product. As far as Ebenezer's prediction that this product will generate word of mouth, only time will tell. I personally will update this blogpost if I see chatter on the web about it once it debuts.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

TV sitcom uses fake news to promote show

A New York Times article shows that with a little creativity in your campaign, word of mouth can be generated.

To promote its new T.V. series "Back to You," Fox Broadcasting sent fake news vans out into the streets of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Staffed with blazer-clad actors who resembled newscasters and passed out promotional materials to curious on-lookers, the vans were emblazoned with the letters "WURG," the call letters for the fictitious "Back to You" news station.

Aside from the efforts on the street, Fox also created a microsite for the show, at, where users can upload photos of themselves to create an image that shows them seated at the anchor desk between the show's stars, Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer. The images can be forwarded to friends via email, giving the message viral potential.

Fox also posted an uncensored clip of the premier episode on YouTube, where prospective fans can check it out -- and potentially pass it along to their friends.

Kind of corny, but local news is inherently corny so i guess its ok! I have not really heard of the show but having an epi on youtube is a great idea. The whole idea of making a website to support a campaign is starting to really get worn out. I feel like 9 times out of 10 the website's main feature is to upload a picture of yourself that places you among the brand in some way. Think of a new concept for a viral website then maybe ill visit. Other than that its an interesting campaign.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dr. Pepper is doing what?!

In an effort to give Dr.Pepper a new image the company is kicking the Guns n' Roses into gear by offering everyone a free soda. The official press release and blog state that Dr. Pepper is encouraging lead singer, Axle Rose, to release his 17-year-in-the-making belabored masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, in 2008. You can see where Dr. Pepper is going with this by reading the quote below.
"It took a little patience to perfect Dr Pepper’s special mix of 23 ingredients, which our fans have come to know and love,” said Jaxie Alt, director of marketing for Dr Pepper. “So we completely understand and empathize with Axl's quest for perfection – for something more than the average album. We know once it's released, people will refer to it as "Dr Pepper for the ears" because it will be such a refreshing blend of rich, bold sounds - an instant classic.”

I understand the stunt, and it works well in this situation. If anything, Dr.Pepper got a whole lot of free press coverage this month. And people are talking about it. One blogger responded to a post about the giveaway by saying "I am going to buy some Dr. Pepper right now!" All this blogging about it actually makes me thirsty for some too... Months from now if the album actually does get released, it will be interesting to see how Dr. Pepper will go about giving away a free can of soda to everyone in America. We are talking big numbers here. 300M people in the States / $.25 per can of soda= 25 million bucks.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Insider Trading

No, the topic of this blogpost has nothing to do with Enron, it is about Major League Baseball's recent efforts to promote themselves among young people. "National Baseball Card Day" will be declared tomorrow and free packs of officially licensed Topps and Upper Deck baseball cards will be distributed to young people at Toys R Us and other retail locations across the nation. You can even get the free cards off of The giveaway is primarily aimed at the youngest baseball fans. "It's one of the first touchpoints for kids on getting to know the teams and the players," says Colin Hagen, vp of licensing for MLB Properties. Currently, 47% of U.S. youngsters aged 8 to 12 claim to be baseball card collectors, according to research from KidSay Tracker. That’s a five-fold percentage increase among kids prior to MLB Properties’ dual licensee strategy. Hobby stores and retailers who participated in a similar giveaway around Father’s Day two years ago reported results dramatically boosted sales. Hagen said National Baseball Card Day would now be a fixture on the MLB schedule.

This promotion has two goals: to increase card sales, and to build opening day buzz for baseball. Targeting young people is a good idea because they grow into the fanatic fans we see today. And what better way to build buzz with kids? Baseball cards create an overwhelming word of mouth. Kids share them with friends, brag about them, trade them, and just talk about them in general. I remember having tons of trading cards as a young chap. It is a nostalgic, fond memory bringing them to school and showing them off. If Topps, Upperdeck and MLB are successful in their "National Baseball Card Day", look to see it happen annually. Im sure the ROI is worth it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Buzz and ads and teasers oh my!

Ads have been appearing all over Toronto bus stops and people aren't sure what to make of them. The city has recently been bombarded with teaser ad posters for a marketing campaign promising a new drug which helps parents curb the life ambitions of their kids, and limit free thinking and being individual. They read, “My son used to have his own hopes and aspirations. Now he has mine. Thanks, Obay!” “When Amy started thinking for herself, we had to nip it in the bud with Obay”.The campaign was part of the marketing strategy by University of Western Ontario. Teaser ads tend to work because they make us stop and think and work out the meaning behind the campaign, which gives us a sense of accomplishment. When the product is eventually revealed consumers pay attention. After the city was buzzing over who was behind the ads, and what the ads meant, University of Western Ontario put out a press release confirming their role in the ads. The University is also putting on a media launch that promises to reveal the news behind Obay and its side effects on Ontario’s Post-secondary Education.
The teaser ads seemed to have worked well by provoking thought but the ads are a bit strange. Don't most parents encourage their kids to go to college as well as pay for them? Also, if they are targeted towards students, I don't believe a student would look at a corny drug ad for more than one second, at least enough to realize its fake. The ads just don't make much sense and seem like they would offend a lot of people. Creatively I think the ads fail, but they did live up to their buzz.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Small Businesses Riding the Buzz

Some small businesses are implementing great WOM strategies to encourage company growth. A new New-York based chocolate company has taken its name and applied it literally. Sweetriot chocolates sell raw cacao beans dipped in dark chocolate. Seems like a new concept for candy. They also center themselves around sustainability and fair trade. Sarah Endline, company president, took the less traditional marketing route by harnessing their sustainability message and holding actual good natured "riots" with candy samples and good messages. A recent example was at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah where Endline bared placards with peaceful messages and handed out samples of the organic dark chocolate covered cacao nibs.

Such street events have seemed to pay off for Sweetriot; and by getting celebrities like J
osh Hartnett, Mary Kate Olsen, Paris Hilton, Charlize Theron to try their candy, maybe they can get some free advertising too. I always like to see creative, different guerrilla-type word of mouth campaigns. Handing out free samples is one thing, but free samples coupled with a playful riot idea that promotes a good message, is a great concept.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Putting an end to wedgies?

Hanes underwear is launching a new line of panties- ones that apparently won't give you a wedgie.  In doing their research, Hanesbrands found out that the number one problem with underwear was that they rode up on woman, causing discomfort.  Instead of politely circumventing the issue, Hanes is launching their biggest campaign yet, boldly going where no underwear company has gone before.  Its daring yes, but Hanes wants to shake up the underwear world after subpar sales last quarter.  The new TV and print campaign features Scrubs actor Sarah Chalke awkwardly adjusting her wedgie in a public setting in a standard problem identification/solution advertisement. The ad will air on American Idol on March 11th- be sure to watch. Also you can check out the making of video on YouTube
But this is a buzz marketing blog so lets get to the point.  The "no ride up" panty line is also launching an interactive website to target females.  The website, which isn't up yet, (check out in a week)  features many things but primarily showcases the "wedgie dance video".  The video has Chalke dancing and lets users upload photos to paste their headshots on Chalke's dancing body.  The company is trying to battle competitors in the 3 billion dollar female underwear market, primarily Victoria Secret.  One look at those panties,wedgie free or not, look pretty heinous to me.  They are like the true definition of "granny panties".

The internet is really buzzin' about this campaign.  Type in "hanes wedgie free" in Google and you get a myriad of blogs, pr newsletters, articles, and other stuff.  However little to no results from the company itself show up.  One interesting blog had a pretty extensive critique of the campaign and how Hanes' lack of  internet marketing may bite them in the end.  Google searches, blog searches, and Youtube searches of the words "wedgie free" or even "hanes wedgie free" yield minimal results from the company.  Basically Hanes isn't doing enough internet marketing to properly attach the new line with their brand.  In fact, typing in "Hanes wedgie free" in Google actually has the blog article mentioned above as the first link!  Get with the program Hanes, you have come this far with the campaign, so why go 100% with it?  Sidney Falken, senior vice president of Hanes brands, should brush up the search engine marketing a bit before the launch of the campaign.  People are going to be searching for it after the American Idol commerical debut.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Viral Buzz and the campain trail

The YouTube age is upon us. The simple user-generated content video site reels in about fifty million unique visitors every month. There are currently 9.5 billion online videos viewed by 138 million Americans. And if you haven't noticed yet, marketers have already caught. Interestingly enough, these so called viral video campaigns are popping up everywhere, trying very hard to hide their advertising intentions. Check out this blogpost from a over a year ago. Its a nice compilation of the top ten viral videos of all time. The Nike one with soccer star Ronaldino is particularly fascinating.

To get more recent however, lets take a look at what presidental canidate Barack Obama is doing with viral video in order to promote his campagin. The video is a song called "Yes We Can," starring Barack Obama and a host of A-list celebrities generating 5.3 million hits on YouTube since its creation in early February. Vocalizations of the speech from the likes of Scarlet Johansson, John Legend, Kate Walsh, Common, Nicole Scherzinger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Herbie Hancock and other celebrity supporters are heard throughout the song. The song itself is inspiring and encourages young people to get out and vote. A cool fact however is that Obama didn't even come up with the idea himself, The Black Eyed Peas did, with intent to get Obama support. "The Internet and technology empowers people," from the Black Eyed Peas said, "and the 'Yes We Can' song is proof that they don't need a big record company or a big movie company ... to go out and captivate people's attention."
I am glad to see Obama is cognizant of contemporary American culture. The video is a great example of a good viral video campaign. People see it, and forward it to their friends and from there it organically grows. Lets see if Hillary takes a similar approach.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The essence of word of mouth

Through the process of researching word of mouth I have came to a few conclusions.

1. Word of mouth has always been around, it is nothing new. Businesses are just now embracing it and realizing its potential.

2. Sadly, word of mouth is beyond the control of many marketers. The essence lies in the product, service, or customer service. We marketers can do some things to encourage word of mouth but we do not have control over the message-- that is up to the consumer to decide.

3. If you don't have a product worth talkin' about, it ain't going to be talked about. And no matter how gung-ho you are about your new word of mouth campaign, it just won't work if your product sucks or doesn't appeal to anyone.

These three points lead into this businessweek article I found. The article itself doesn't mention word of mouth, but the business plan and product of topic is a perfect example of how a little company can succeed alongside the big boys of Coke, Budweiser, and Frito-Lay. It is an example of how word of mouth emerges through the birth of what I call a 'perfect fit product'.

Trader Joes is a California based grocery market chain which has 280 stores in 23 states. They started in 1967, struggling to compete in the intensifying market. Looking at them today its quite a different situation. Last year they generated 6.5 billion dollars in sales. Back in 1967, out of desperation, Joseph Coulombe, store founder, read that more educated people tend to spend lots of money on alcohol. Soon after he started to offer more than 17 exotic varieties of California wine in his stores. What Coulombe inadvertently had done was stumble upon a large but segmented demographic known as yuppies. Coulombe eventually caught on and started offering niche foods like Brie, wild rice, and Dijon mustard. Today, they carry ten different brands of hummus, and the biggest selection of organic and gluten free foods in the states- all without selling Coca-Cola or Pampers. This formula worked simply because Coulombe started selling a product for a person, not finding people for his product. Akin to Seth Godins marketing speech, marketers shouldn't force feed their product down people's throats, they should pull people in by giving them what they want. I think its pretty self explanatory that word of mouth played a big role in Trader Joes' success, considering they do not use coupons, sales, or loyalty cards. And the only ads they run are in-store PA ads. Point in case- I have heard of Trader Joes not because I've shopped there or seen an ad on TV, but because my friends told me about how cool it is when I was in LA for the summer. This is how to start a business my friends, let your customers do the marketing for you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baby talk

Baby Einstein, a company that makes DVDs, books, music CDs and toys specifically designed for babies and toddlers , published a press release today announcing its new word of mouth campaign. The brand promises that their products will help babies during their developmental stage and therefore can guide babies on the path of learning. Before I get into the new campaign I have to say that the business idea as a whole is genius. Every mother wants their child to grow up to be smart. Moms frequently undertake unproven prenatal brain development methods such as playing mozart or eating "brain foods" while the baby is in utero, in hopes of making the child smarter. Baby Einstein saw this opportunity and is now becoming a very successful company.
The campaign that started today took a newly designed website, launched on February 15th, and created a section that spotlights real moms and invites them to tell stories about Baby Einstein products. Moms can go to the website and submit "Baby news" and the story may even be featured on the homepage. The goal is getting mothers to gather on the site to share stories and experiences with each other- all built around the Baby Einstein products. According to Lucid Marketing, word of mouth ranks highest among moms (as high as 98%) more than non-moms (up to 88%) when referring to positive experiences they have with products. The campaign idea came naturally after Baby Einstein received thousands of letters and emails from moms gushing about how much they feel connected to the brand. The website also includes a hot topic section where moms can ask child experts any baby questions they want. The site is very interactive and dynamic. Moms can interact with the brand before they buy it. They can watch clips of DVDs and read product reviews of toys written by real moms. Susan McLain, Vice President and General Manager of The Baby Einstein Company has created a real top-notch marketing plan that will surely generate word of mouth among mothers, caregivers, and mothers to be.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The world's top brand uses word of mouth

Umair Haque, a writer for the online Harvard Business Review, recently wrote an article, the shrinking advantage of brands, that may surprise you. When you think of the most powerful brands in the world, Coca-Cola, GE, IBM, and Microsoft all come to mind. And they should- they have all spent decades of hard work building their brands while investing in billions of dollars in advertising. But what may surprise you is that Google is the worlds number one brand right now according to the gold standard of brand valuation, Millward Brown’s Brandz report. Google spends next to nothing in advertising , something that the big boys over at Coke have a massive budget for. Haque attributes the success of Google to a shift in cheap interaction marketing rather than orthodox marketing techniques. Traditionally, brands were virtually impossible to interact with- being it too expensive. Marketers had to get their messages across using slogans and 30 second spots to promise an experience. Now, certain brands like Google, can utilize word of mouth and permission marketing so inexpensively and efficiently that it has pretty much replaced any form of traditional advertising. Instead of marketers pushing their product down consumer's throats, many companies are generating word of mouth- getting consumers to talk to eachother about the product, therefore leading to organic growth. Google has become the worlds number one brand in less than a decade and its all due to word of mouth.

The only problem I see with this shifting advantage to interaction and word of mouth is that not all brands can attempt it. Not all brands are so profoundly amazing that they generate intense word of mouth. Take shower curtains for example, or toilet paper. Not all brands can easily interact with the consumer before they purchase it. Does this mean an end to "poor" brands? Probably not, but it could. Check out the video all marketers are liars, by Seth Godin, to further investigate the word of mouth phenom. Its long but its worth it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Subway to create buzz with 12 city tour

Subway is celebrating the ten year weight loss anniversary of its spokesperson- Jared Fogal. Jared is going on a 12 city tour in order to promote Subway's childhood obesity prevention plan. The "Tour de Pants", which will last six months, will make stops at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, NASCAR events, and American Heart Association walks. New York Giants player Micheal Strahan will be partnering with Fogal to promote the plan. Subway aims to make 2 million dollars through donations and fund-raising. Fogal will be taking pictures with people wearing his old "fat pants", while also giving out trading cards and healthy eating tips. The tour was kicked off this Tuesday in Times Square where a lucky person got his picture with Jared appear on the giant NASDAQ video wall. The campaign also includes a sweepstakes for a chance to appear in a Subway commercial with Fogal. To enter, visit Another measure the website is taking is inviting visitors to upload videos and photos that congratulate Fogal on his ten year milestone. They even have a game that lets players keep Fogal's pants slim by catching healthy foods. The buzz tour will be accompanied by print and online ads, as well as in-store marketing.
Maybe its just me, but aren't people getting tired of the same old Jared Fogal promotions? In a way he has been solidified into modern pop-culture but its the same old message over and over again. I think the tour will create some buzz if done properly, but its time for Subway to come up with a new marketing plan instead of using a retread spokesperson for another ten years. I think i'll go to Quiznos.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Marketers creating buzz with lickable ads

A recent Wall Street Journal article has marketers salivating over lickable ads.
Welch's grape juice is taking out full-page print ads in People magazine this month that give readers a chance to sample its grape juice by licking the ad. Consumers are supposed to peel off the entire sticker on the Welch's ad before licking, says First Flavor, the company that developed the technology used in the ad. Therefore, if someone doesn't rip off the whole sticker the flap can't reseal, giving people an easy way to know whether the ad has already been licked, therefore removing the "ick" factor.
Its not a direct form of buzz marketing, but I guarantee you that Jay B. Minkoff, chief executive of First Flavor, and Chris Heye, Welch's marketing chief are expecting to generate a lot of word of mouth about the grape juice its advertising. Lickable ads are a new, experimental concept that may either boom or bust. But if there is one thing for sure, there will be lots of buzz following the release of the ad. Still not sold on it? The lickable ad is, in essence, like a free sample, and we all know that free samples are one of the driving forces behind word of mouth and buzz marketing.
You can check out the ad in the Feb. 18 issue of People magazine, which has a circulation of about 3.6 million.

**Correction- The ads contain a peel-off strip that you place on your tongue and it dissolves, producing a grape juice flavor-- akin to a listerine breath strip. Seems as though the guys over at WSJ really messed up the article! Thanks to Jay B. Minkoff for setting it straight.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

College WOM and new media

Businesses are not the only ones using buzz marketing techniques to drive sales; in fact some colleges are doing it as well. Ithaca college, which happens to be my alma mater, has initiated a word of mouth marketing plan to gain awareness about a new dining hall service. The service, called myDtxt, invites students and faculty add their cell phone numbers to get discounts, coupons, and other promotional deals via a text message. To gain awareness and sign ups, the marketing department is handing out sign up cards and talking about the new program at every dining hall event plus have sent out notifications in the college email newsletter Intercom. They also plan to text a free coupon for a pizza to the first forty sing ups to get students to get pumped up and generate buzz around campus. This approach follows suit of many of the common word of mouth marketing techniques. Give out free stuff and let people spread the word. As far as text messaging goes, the cost is about two cents and the message has a 92% retention rate, meaning 92% of those who received the text remember the message. I will post back an update on how the program is going in a month or so.

Word of mouth gaining ground

Word of mouth marketing in the contemporary business world is rapidly becoming a significant part of marketing. Check this out, a recent Brandweek article entitled outlook 2008 projects that word of mouth marketing will hit 1.3 billion this year, 33% up from 2006. In fact, the spending is estimated to triple that figure by 2011. The growth of the internet plays a big role in this spending. Many marketers are using word of mouth (WOM) to generate buzz about websites and are considering WOM to be a separate entity from advertising and public relations. Pete Blackshaw, evp-Nielsen Online Strategic Services, puts it into words perfectly. “The Internet has put word-of-mouth on steroids, with archived commentary and product reviews that make a big impact, the fastest growing sources of indexable content in Google’s search engine are first-person testimonials.” Getting consumers to essentially do the marketing for you is cheap and effective, that is if you are on their good side. Some marketers worry that WOM can backfire and is only a quick fix instead of a long term strategy. But the numbers don't lie, WOM is a fast growing tactic that has been proven to work wonders for business.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Buzzing about the Superbowl

Since the Superbowl is upon us I thought I would look into a few things companies are doing as an alternative to the 2.8 million dollar 30 second ad spot.

KFC is asking customers to upload their own chicken dances to
The winner gets a Superbowl party package that includes: a flat screen tv, limo service for guests, and a cleaning crew for after. More and more companies are trying to get consumers to interact with the brand and KFC's most recent stunt is a great example of that. Furthermore, KFC is sending letters to NFL players to notify them that if they do a chicken dance in the endzone during the Superbowl, they will receive 250,000 dollars to give to charity. Talk about a cheaper and more powerful way to get the brand out there to the masses.

Trading card company UpperDeck is pulling a similar idea. UpperDeck is inviting people to send them video of their endzone dances. The wackiest, most original dance wins 2 tickets this years Superbowl in Arizona. The UpperDeck website has increased web traffic by 17%!

Frito-Lay company Doritos is inviting musicians to submit original songs at (They didn't have to be about chips.) The song that wins online voting will air as a 60-second music video in the Super Bowl. I believe that to mean that it will air on the megatrons within the stadium. Still, a good way to increase traffic and brand awareness.

See you next week!
and go Giants!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who needs Advertising?

Advertising has always been the immediate solution to slumping sales, but nowadays businesses are finding newer, better, and cheaper ways to get noticed and build their image. Chipotle restaurants, you may have heard of them, is a chain specializing in burritos. Currently, they are one of the hottest proprieties in the quick serve biz. Their stock has tripled since January of 06 and they rank 4th out of 2400 among quick serve brands. And they have built this up by spending less money in a year in advertising than McDonalds does in 48 hours. How do they do it? Chipotle got their start through buzz marketing and they have stuck to it. For example, Chipotle came to midtown Manhattan last July and gave free burritos away to 6,000 people, some of whom stood in line for two hours. "The stunt cost $35,000, figures James W. Adams, Chipotle's marketing director. In return, the company landed 6,000 new spokespeople. "You could spend that same amount on an ad in The New York Times and you wouldn't have that many people talking about you," Adams points out. "The response to the food is almost always positive. It's unique and it's tasty." But don't just take it from him; any Chipotle regular would probably say the same thing" You can read the full article here.

Welcome, Buongiorno

This is my first time blogging about Buzz and word of mouth marketing so before I get started I will tell you a little about myself.

My name is Peter Ward, I am 22 years old, and I am attending my last semester at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. I plan on graduating this spring with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. I enjoy music and having been playing guitar for ten years, mostly jazz, rock, and classical stuff. I also enjoy traveling and culture and am in my second semester of Italian classes. I believe there is a future in marketing for me and if that doesn't work out I have lots of other interests to pursue. Screenwriting, law, and music are somethings I could see myself doing.

Anyways enjoy the blog and feel free to make comments.