BK uses BJs to sell new Seven Incher

26 June 2009

Quick service marketing is a different beast altogether isn’t it? Check out this highly suggestive new ad campaign from Burger King. Actually it’s not suggestive, it’s overtly sexual. It’s also funny. Guess I fit within the immature adult category — although a reminder that I am female.

In case you didn’t catch the text at the bottom of the poster, here it is (via Gawker):

“Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions and the A1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce.”

As it goes sex sells. So sue them. I know I don’t blame them for beating the sex innuendos to death – think the only way a print ad is going to generate so much discussion or awareness is from shock value. Or humor. I’m not one for any publicity is good publicity (in fact that one line is one of the worst things to happen to PR), but to this seemingly specific target market leveraging both sex and humor seems a legitimate strategy to me.

Disclaimer: just in case you can see right through my not so subtle strategy, it is definitely true that because I used the word “sex” in this post that it will generate that much more traffic. What does that say about my audience?

Photos from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

25 June 2009

The ultimate Gen X, Gen Y mash up – Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. If you don’t know, Alice in this version has just turned 17 which opens the character to some interesting interpretations. Previous quotes I have read of Burton’s explain the film is going to delve into some teen psychology in a fresh and engaging way….

Check out these recently release press photos, coming to theaters on March 5, 2010…

(photo credit: Coming Soon)

MySpace: R.I.P or maybe just life support? Thoughts on keeping your brand relevant.

24 June 2009

There are many examples of once loved brand giants that maybe were a bit complacent, misjudged impact of new consumer trends and in turn lost relevance with their youth audience. Ahhh, those “fickle” youth…As we know 20/20 hindsight is a bitch…

What stronger case in point is my once beloved MySpace. In 2005 it was darling of the web and a pioneer. Today, literally, it has had to face a remarkable reversal of fortune, marked by announcing that it is conducting its second round of layoffs in a week to a total reduction of nearly 30% of its staff.

From my own account I was loyal to MySpace since early 2004 when I initially joined, but when my friends almost exclusively migrated to Facebook, I found eventually I spent less and less time anywhere else. By 2008 I rarely logged on to MySpace. Over time it appears the site has evolved to become more about discovery – discovery of music, new friends, etc. Perhaps due to the self-branding options. None of things I ever really used it for in the first place. I wonder for how many this is the case?

But this story is larger than me (feign surprise). It is influence that other social networks are begining to have on the world at large which makes MySpace seem to be losing its relevance…fast. To put it in perspective, look at the other social sites and their instrumental role surrounding the recent election and since protests in Iran. Iranian opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousav has been blasting out messages as Facebook posts (see Mashable post here), YouTube has proven to be citizen journalist hot bed for raw footage you weren’t seeing on network news (see another Mashable post here), and Twitter has become a tool of the revolution (see #iranelection trending topic here).…

MySpace on the other hand? Struggling to keep its head above water, and all at a time when social media has never been more powerful.

So where did it go wrong? Well we can be sure that it is oversimplifying the issue to say they are losing relevance to its teen market and so are struggling. There have been major catalysts outside of any consumer facing issues which escalated the process. However stats reveal the user base and page views have declined, and the younger rival Facebook has overtaken. That I would argue is related to its core product/service offering losing its appeal. More concerning for them, in the US where MySpace has reigned supreme, according to recent Habbo research (June, 2009), Facebook continues to grow in popularity up to third place from fifth in 2008. Globally the research also finds YouTube and Facebook already outrank MySpace as teens top Web destinations, MySpace appearing at #4 on the list.

I guess the moral of my story is if you are marketing to a youth audience, never get too comfortable with #1 status. Keep asking yourself how you are going to stay fresh, are you still delivering to your audience’s needs. Try new things. Most importantly LISTEN. It doesn’t take a futurist to to predict what your audience is already asking for.

Lloyd Grove states in a Daily Beast article titled, “MySpace’s Dizzying Fall“, while sure it has been an incredible drop from “hot” to “on life support” for MySpace, it is possible that “neither diagnosis is true”, or perhaps both are. I would like to agree with that and extend – we should never underestimate the opportunity to inject energy into a brand and refresh it back to life. It wouldn’t be the first time innovation and change has brought new life to a fallen giant (Apple’s iPod; Nintendo’s Wii?).

10 Things Millenials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing

23 June 2009

I am a firm believer that understanding and listening to Gen Y, millenials, youth or whatever you call them is not about just reaching that demographic. Rather it provides valuable insight about the market as a whole. Youth are leading a rapid transformation in consumer marketing and brand engagement, and that is why we should all pay attention.

That said, I have put together a list of 10 Things Millennials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing.

  1. Provide a reason. We want to buy into more than “this latest product/service is best”. And the latest technology upgrade 6.18 or new Orange Raspberry flavor isn’t going to cut it. Think more deeply about the rationale, what is the bigger picture.
  2. Thrive does not equal Survive. You must evolve and grow with us, with the market. Otherwise you will lose relevancy, no matter how big you once were giants fall.
  3. Be authentic and have values. We spend our money in an effort to support brands. The companies that walk the walk will have our support – in dollars.
  4. Elusive isn’t the word, just stretched. Think broadly in terms of where you can reach me– and remember I only spend 1 of every 11 minutes online on a social network.
  5. Entertain me. Consumer experiences matter, that is what we remember and talk about. And think about the whole marketing cycle because my experience with your brand extends well beyond purchase point.
  6. Brands aren’t friends. But you should think more how to socialise with me then to sell to me.
  7. Inspire. Lead us by example.
  8. Empower me. We feel entitled because we grew up expressing ourselves online, how can you help me spread the word for you?
  9. Quickly bored. It’s not ADD, it’s just that we are all inundated with massive amounts of brands messages. Keep it simple or loose mind space – quickly.
  10. The age of Here and Now. I prefer to lease my car, pay as I go on my mobile, and expect real time help from my online bankng service. My sense of immediacy directly relates to who I interact with brands.

Tweet, Tweet: New Way to Call the Police?

19 June 2009

On Wednesday morning I attended the Twitter for Business / Twitter for PR presentation, hosted by Glenn Frost of FroComm. The Twitter for Business overview was a 101 tutorial so in my opinion a little elementary for the audience. For many in client services however it is the hot topic of the moment so it was timely. Plus I love Twitter. What I challenge us to focus on however is less how to get engaged on Twitter, but more WHY you should. Not just to have a conversation, we know that by now, but what is the purpose of that conversation, what role will you have? A strategy needs to be clearly articulated. I get that it’s good to try and through trial we learn and grow, but to provide legitimacy to the value of social media we need to be clear on the purpose and outcomes. By nature of the beast these will be different than other traditional efforts, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Which leads to the next part of the conference, Twitter for PR, which I thought was really interesting. A little misleading by name it was a Case Study presented by New South Wales (NSW) Police Public Affairs Director, Strath Gordon. Mr Gordon discussed how they were brand-jacked on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with the story basically an Australian Social Media agency, Mentally Friendly, set up the Twitter account (@NSW_Police) in the name of the police department. It was an interesting thing to do to get a potential client’s attention, except impersonating a brand – let along the New South Wales police – probably wasn’t the right tone of transparency we try so hard to keep real online. To be fair I read on CNET that Mentally Friendly added that “the intent was never to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialog with which to gauge the public’s response.” Good thing they had a sense of humor about it.

As a result of the fake Twitter ID, the NSW Police decided to launch into Social Media, as have many other law enforcement agencies worldwide. It has proven an incredibly powerful way to communicate and engage with the community. Public safety officials are finding the sites not only speedy, but also a convenient way to distribute alerts, road closings, suspect descriptions, traffic disruptions, explain why police are in a certain neighborhood or to offer crime prevention tips. Others encourage leads on more pressing matters: bomb scares, wildfires and evacuations.

In addition to providing a semi-reliable distribution channel, apparently the police also face issues that brands do as well – how do we humanise our organisation to the public. Take for example the Boston Police Department and its amusing response to a question…

- Boston Police tweet “INJURED OFFICER: Officer from district 4 transported to Beth Israel Hospital, human bite to arm, suspect in custody”

- @willcady responds: “@Boston_Police if that was a zombie bite, would you tell us?”

- Boston Police: “@willcady Yes, absolutely”

Cute, good response. Glad even the ploice get the nature of the medium. I had never really thought about “friendly” communication with police departments before – usually I would only call in an emergency – but hey, why not?

However I do get concerned that in the dive into social media some of the potential issues may have not been worked out. For example, are the police monitoring these communications platforms as another way for people to contact in a case of emergency? Before your respond that’s absurd, and I wouldn’t blame you, note there was a case of a Silicon Valley exec who did just that when someone broke in. Read the story here if you don’t believe me….If you still think it’s absurd, think ahead a little to a time when Twitter is seamlessly integrated within our other communication devices – for some that is already the case – maybe in crisis it becomes hard to decipher between the different apps on your iPhone. If police departments are not monitoring Twitter or other social media channels they create as an emergency channel – how are they educating consumers about the various purposes? Realistically is it safe to rely on general public’s understanding of those distinctions anyway?

Never would I try to stifle the growing engagement of social media for any brand, government body, law enforcement agency or every day person. However, I do hope that we all think strategically and be smart about potential outcomes – not just the positive ones but the risks as well…

Kids create vids on binge-drinking to raise social awareness

15 June 2009

As part of an on-going National Binge Drinking Strategy (shouldn’t’ it be “anti-binge drinking”?) titled “Don’t Turn a Night Out into a Nightmare”, the Australian Government launched a Short Film competition and have chosen the 6 winners featured on a new site here. You can watch the videos and choose which you think is the most powerful, and have a chance to win $5,000 in the meantime. They are great, congrats to the winners, always imrpessed with youth talent.

I like the campaign and think it is a Youth issue that warrants high awareness and heavy dollars to support it (for example the approximately $53 million allocated to the larger strategy). I like the fact that some of this investment is going towards more engaging ways to educate kids about negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. Tactically I think the site is good, the videos are really powerful. I assume this content is being repurposed and used in a variety of channels other than this site as well.

The only layer I would add to this campaign is something that creates more opportunities for dialogue, as I think it would be hard to effect behavioral change – especially that which is so ingrained in our culture – without it. It takes time – think about awareness around climate change as en example. The dialogue created the awareness, which in turn developed into relevancy on a small (personal level) as well as really broad (global level). Then the relevance has started to create action….which in turn stems more dialogue. Of course then follows international music festivals with Black Eyed Peas, political documentaries and mocumentaries, 20/20 summits, school degrees…you get the idea…..

Thanks to ThreeBillion for putting me on to the launch of the new site as well – always a great source for Youth Marketing info!

How Social Media Made – and Saved – My Trip

03 June 2009

So part 2 of my travel posts, this time I wanted to focus on the role of social media in travel, at least as relevant to my trip (it is my blog after all).

I think this is really interesting trend, WOM recommendations are the most useful when travelling and the interactive nature of social media is escalating access to this sort of information. I found it incredibly useful in the planning of my trip, avoiding tourist traps, booking our “flashpacker” places, and now sharing about my trip with friends.

To put it in context in my recent travels through Vietnam – a vastly developing tourist destination – we found it hard to find information in some of the more traditional outlets – guidebooks, travel outlets and writers, we didn’t even try walking into a travel agent. While of course we had our trusty Lonely Planet, many a backpacker’s bible, from what we could gather it was published in 2007. That is a long time in a country like Vietnam. Restaurants were closed, prices astoundingly higher, places touristed out to the max. While it remained very useful in terms of identifying regions to travel to (and love the sayings in the back…and the “notes” pages, how many card games did we keep track on that?!), we ended up double and then triple checking references through other sources – most notably online (wikitravel, tripadvisor, travel blogs, etc), as well as good old fashioned chats with people we met along the way – on and off line.

Below I have shared a few specific times when Social Media made (and sometimes SAVED) my trip:

  • It’s real time. When we went to Cat Ba Island to go trekking, of course it rained for several days straight so we could not access the trail we had intended. However never fear because one drizzly morning we met a couple of Swedish backpackers who put us on to a blog (cna’t remember the name for the life of me!) that recommended a nice motorbike ride that we could still check out some amazing panorama views. We downloaded the customised map and off we went. Few channels – specifically online and in-person – can have that real time advice.
  • Often disagree with a reviewer. One review (ie in a guidebook or newspaper article) is subjective, that is why I like to read many reviews. On sites such as tripadvisor or Travel Fish (for SE Asia) I found it is easy to discern from tones or content of reviews which you most identify with. To me certain things matter in flashpack hotels – clean bathrooms for one. I don’t care about the continental breakfast – so if someone is banging on about paying a few dollars for brekkie – I skip right on. I felt I knew exactly what I was getting into when I walked into every hotel.
  • Connecting with locals. Social Media has opened our borders far and wide – who knew until I posted my trip to Vietnam I had not 1 but 2 followers that live there! One gave me some great advice for cocktails when landing in Saigon. Another Aussie friend of mine sent me the name of a few tailors in Hoi An from her trip. This I realised only at the end of my planning when I posted status updates that I was leaving….next time I will do this more thoroughly and search by location on social media sites to reach out.
  • Bragging…I mean sharing. And for my final Vietnam Travels post (coming next week), I will provide links to my Flickr pages so I can share with others via my blog, Twitter and friends networks my experiences as well. More to come on this front…..

There has been for quite some time now discussion of how valuable social media channels are in regards to marketing for travel organisations. In fact there are excellent examples such as the power of strategic blogger outreach programs including Tourism Australia who invited The Sartorialist to come play Down Under, promoting the location; activities, weather, etc via Twitter updates (@The_Maldives); or marketing campaigns such as the great example from Tourism Queensland for The Best Job In The World. However what is exciting is some of the advancements in how to monetise this engagement, which seems there is more activity and examples of happening already. It will be interesting when the tools and software can search out the greater web to find people planning or discussing a trip to customise relevant information. Imagine if I post on my Facebook that I’m leaving for Whistler in 3 days and a hotel chain in Canada can monitor my post and follow-up with relevant information on deals and transport when I land, maybe even suggest an dinner reservations? This intelligent targeting really highlights the power and potential to drive revenue through the social web. I know that this is happening now, especially on platforms such as Twitter, take for example Air New Zealand which notifies followers of flight deals (ie @flyairnz) and partner deals. I’m surprised more don’t do this already…..OR maybe the problem is I don’t travel enough….think I have just worked out a way to justify some work trips as “research” :)

Xin Chào – What I learned about Youth Marketing on a Trip to Vietnam

20 May 2009

I have returned from Vietnam. For those who follow regularly, thanks for being patient. After several weeks of not writing I have lots to catch up about.

I thought it fitting to have my first post back be about what I learned of [Youth] Marketing during my travels. As with all travel experiences (and hence the beauty of it), it is inevitable you will both discover new things and experiences, as well as rediscover some old ones. Both are amazing and delight me in their own right. Regarding Youth Marketing, it is no different. Some things reinforced what I know to be true in what I am familiar with, other things I stumbled upon were very interesting and new (at least to me).

In regards to the Vietnamese market (and I need to clarify that 3 weeks of sightseeing doesn’t make me an expert, I am merely piecing together what I observed with what I know), the biggest thing that stuck out to was immense amount of opportunity for Youth Marketing, at least in the urban centres. Three things that helped me come to this conclusion are the Young Population, Vibrant Economy and Emerging Technology.

  • Young Population. 54% of Vietnamese population of 87 million is aged under 25…While I have seen variances on this exact figure, really enough said.
  • Young Technology. With the above , that means the largest slice of the pie in Vietnam are young, [and typically] early adopters of technology. Interest and need drive innovation and further extend reach. Social Media is currently utilised by the Early Adopters, but not long after will that give way to brands looking to differentiate in market.
  • Young Economy. Relatively recent admission into the World Trade Organization solidifies Vietnam as a country that is poised for economic growth. My impressions were of a viable, vibrant country and in talking with new friends there, I found there is an overwhelming interest in economy and business.

As a result of the potential in market, I have summarised a few of the more specific opportunities I came across. As there is not a particular heading all of these fit under, I will title: Random Youth Marketing Experiences from My Travels in Vietnam (I wonder if this means I can expense some of my trip…..hmmmm…..)

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Everywhere.
Wow, big demand for mobile in Vietnam. I have since my travels read a forecast of a staggering 270% growth to reach 46 million users by 2010 (Wireless Asia 2007). A recent Neilson survey “found 74 percent of people in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi own a mobile phone”, and in general boasts higher adoption rates than both China and India. It seems with the recent rise in household incomes, there has been a surge of consumer consumption, mobiles being one of the must-have items. Every street in every corner has a mobile phone store. Texting while driving motorbikes, texting with two phones at the same time (true story), texting in multiple languages – all of these are common in Vietnam. Young mobile users spend a larger share of their consumer power on both voice and messaging than any other age group. The result is the very large youth segment drives the largest mobile and data usage, securing it’s future and growth. With those figures all you have to do is the math, it’s a solid foundation for mobile marketing (hopefully savvy marketers learn from previous SMS marketing mistakes).

Online gaming, 24/7.
4 AM, just got off train in Hanoi, hotel doesn’t open until 6, so I stagger into a 24-hour internet café (which they mostly are in the city centres). What do I find, 10 of the 25 computers taken by very intense online gamers. Let me note that it was not just “kids”, it was common to walk by a internet hub and see business men after work hitting it up as well. There were posters for competitions, and from chatting with a friend Anh, apparently there are professionals as well. Online gaming not only provides sources of revenue, but also co-branded opportunities as well as communities for brands to participate in.

Entertain Me. 24/7.
There seemed to be an overwhelming demand for entertainment in all forms, especially that which is streamed online (TV, movies, music, as mentioned above gaming). Don’t get me started on the English Premiere soccer fascination – think I could have stolen a plane during the Manchester United game and no one would have noticed. Everywhere there are heaps of offers for downloading music (highly doubt legal but will leave that as is), and kids that might not have computers at home streaming very loud pop music at all hours from the internet hubs. While music and entertainment have always been important factors in Youth culture, the co-emergence of access to entertainment through technology ensures it will reign supreme in those enviornments (versus other markets where social networks are used for things specific to networking or information sharing). I also think that this will create demand for local entertainment and innovative companies can trial branded content.

Not sure the relevancy here BUT if you can come up with a product or service for the incredible amount of motorbikes in that country, please tell me so I can invest!

So yes, most of my discovery comes from internet cafes (which in terms of community interaction I would liken to the my experiences at the piazza I lived by in Siena, Italy). And obviously not everything screamed out innovation and opportunity, it was until recently third world. However I was intrigued and excited by what I did see, and of course welcome any insight or feedback from anyone who has experience in Youth Marketing in Vietnam, or other markets, to compare thoughts. That’s what this blog is about – sharing thoughts and experiences that lead to best practice youth marketing.

PS next on my trip agenda (as recommended from Silka on her year long, world tour – Argentina, Chile and Peru…..

Daryl Butler of Nike wins me over, again

22 April 2009

Recently YPulse did a brief Q&A with the very smart Daryl Butler, retail brand marketing director for Nike (and before that he was at Boost Mobile, which was also one of the first youth brands I had the pleasure to work with years ago). Nike does youth marketing really well, best in practice really, and as could be expected there was some interesting insight from DB.

I won’t include a copy of the whole interview, as I want to direct you to YPulse here for that, however I wanted to make a note of how much I think this guy gets it….and BTW in a 5 questions email interview, I generally wouldn’t be expecting a whole lot.

Take the below for example:

[YPulse] YP: Can you describe a recent successful youth-targeted initiative from Nike? What made this work?

[Daryl Butler] DB: I would be selling the brand short if I focused on an initiative. That assumes that our work is done….and that’s far from the case.

It’s not that what he says is groundbreaking, it’s that it feels genuine. There is a humbleness with which Daryl speaks about the brand and the relationship with it’s consumer that I find amazing, especially in this industry. It is a sense of learning from and listening to the customers. It is all about adding value to their lives. It is a real understanding. It is the conversation. Sounds like he is even at the basketball courts with kids on Sat morning, chatting, trying new products, just being a part of their lives – that is commitment anyone can respect.

So now that I have exhausted pretty much every buzz word in marketing (I see about 36 in the above para alone), I want to make clear why call out DB and Nike specifically. I guess it’s that while brands speak of this level of engagement, few actually do (or maybe should say can), and that’s why his and Nike’s approach stands out. This is not to be negative towards other brands, it merely highlights how advanced Nike as an organisation is, not just the marketing department.

“Going back to basics” as I believe he puts it, and listening to consumers is exciting, maybe because I grew up jaded by the you-need-me approach. Really there are very few brands – if any – that we as paying consumers need. I can think of 1 example – tow-truck companies – by the time a car is towed we have to pay them to be allowed to recover it, and most who have experienced that would agree customer satisfaction is low on the priority list there and we all hope to never run across them again. So with that in mind, does your customer need you or do you need your customer ?

As always my tangent gets a bit off track, but the point is I look forward to continuing to watch and learn closely from the mistakes and successes of a brand like Nike, where the customer is central to the company. I sincerely hope to run into more marketing execs at places I hang out listening to what I want, if that ever happens you can be sure they would have converted at least one advocate – me!

Why being teased as a kid might help brand marketers

07 April 2009

There are all different types of bullying, some more spiteful and hurtful than others. However some forms of teasing, while at the time of childhood development could be quite damaging, are actually probably more a compliment. This is called impersonation, we all know how the saying goes, it is the biggest form of flattery.

With that in mind, watch this Dove Evolution parody:

While I know the video or remake is not new, I just got this for the first time. It highlights how the central idea offered by Dove in the form of a spreadable video is so powerful and simple, and now so iconic, that others borrow from it to spread their own ideas which live on in the online universe. This video is only one example of the several that have sprouted up in the years since this Dove brand campaign launched in 2006, and it is case in point that the best ideas are those that can be stripped back, appropriated and reworked by a variety of communities. Look beyond the content of the re-make as it does not have to be about the product anymore, if you inspire people to act or to speak you are evolving as a brand. Probably someone is going to come across this clip for the first time (not seeing the Dove Evolution ad), and create a mock of a mock. The cycle of culture creation continues, and deep within the new content lies the heart and soul of the first version….the potential is inspiring actually.

As brand managers we should take the time to grasp this opportunity, and instead of trying to stop or contain the online shenanigans, embrace it. Allow people to have fun and create their own interpretations. It is brave to allow consumers to be brand transmitters as that means we lose control, but it is naïve to think that they aren’t already. This is a modern approach to brand-to-consumer communications that really grasps how it works in real life. I would love to see Dove somehow harnessing and connecting back to the consumer activity, not to control it but to remain in the “conversation” so to speak, build on the momentum.

I’m not inherently a creative person with a big “c” so instead of creating my own video I am going to re-post Dove’s original ad and hope that this discussion inspires someone else who might stumble upon this blog.