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.