Toyota Driving School For Teens

30 April 2009

Back in the day I’m told they had student driving courses in high school, helping kids learn the rules of the road before they actually got out there to cause havoc.  Unfortunately due to budget cuts on multiple fronts most schools ditched their student driving programs a while ago.  Toyota, happily, has started to step in, introducing a teen driving program in Los Angeles (that hopefully will expand to other cities soon).  The effort positions Toyota with parents as a responsible company and with teens as a company that helps them get on the road faster with a Toyota/parent approved training program.

The program – Toyota Driving Expectations – is a four hour course held each month at the company’s California headquarters.  Both parents and teens participate in a combination of class lectures and behind the wheel activities.  The company focuses on defensive driving techniques (i.e., evasive lane maneuvers, dry/wet surface skidding, etc.), providing scenarios that hopefully most teens will never have to deal with, but ones that are hard to recreate on your own to practice.

Toyota brings in some of the big guns related to their multiple driving/racing sponsorships for some extra starpower/excitement.  And they provide a nice teen/parent driving contract that helps avoid some of the initial driving drama that normally comes up when teens hit the road.  And of course Toyota provides some amazing cars for the teens and parents to drive during the course – providing real-life opportunities for everyone to touch/feel/experience their amazing vehicles in a natural (non-sales focused) way.

The company has done a great job of providing a national element to the campaign, providing a “National Education Standards” program called the “Toyota Teen Driver” program.  Teachers can request to receive informational brochures with tips, worksheets, quizes and more.  While it doesn’t obviously bring the real-life and physical element to life it is a nice alternative.

I’m a big fan of this campaign mainly because Toyota identified a relevant, authentic need for an important audience segment (parents) and provided a real solution that doesn’t scream “and buy a Toyota” too.  Everyone sees how great the cars perform in challenging situations, reinforcing the positioning of the company as a safety-first organisation.  The limited availability of it makes those who attend feel extra special and ensures a “sold out” event every month.

A great example to consider when you are in need for a brand building (versus product) campaign that simply strives to help someone out in some way, give them something they really need or just make someone’s life a bit better.  If every company did more of this, just think how much better the world would be – and how bonded people would be to brands that first aim to help them out, knowing the “sales” part of the relationship will naturally come when the time is right.

And if you live in Los Angeles and have a teen driver, next week (May 4) is opening day to register for the next school.

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Videos “going viral” latest marketing hope (Beyonce, Trident, Gillette)

28 April 2009

Seems like everywhere you look a brand is trying to be connected to the next (or the current) viral video madness that is entertaining the world.  Sometimes brands do it well while sometimes they seem like they are just tagging on and don’t exactly mix in right.  All are just new ways to entertain people enough that hopefully they want to share it with a friend for instant credibility and endorsement (versus straight product advertising focusing on features).  Now its all about driving conversations, talkability and buzz.  And the best part, the ideas for entertaining short videos that could “go viral” can come from anyone – all that is needed are companies willing to experiment and see what happens.

For today’s class we’ll take a look at two different approaches to video entertainment by two different brands (and two different size budgets).  First up, Trident, who recently jumped on the Beyone “Single Ladies” worldwide phenomenon, which shows no signs of stopping.  Recently Trident hired 100 ladies to slip into leotards and hit the strees of London at Picadilly Circus, performing the Beyonce dance number for unsuspecting crowds.  The focus, however, was just getting the content filmed and then posted on YouTube – with some strategic placement on some forums and blogs to drive awareness.  I just one week the video is nearly the magic 1,000,000 views number.  The performance was connected to Trident giving away tickets to an upcoming free Beyonce concert – and has a reference at the end of the video, directing people to visit a campaign site to win tickets.

Next up, some supermen starring in a new Gillette video – the supermen being Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Derek Jeter, all spokespersons for the razor megabrand.  The brand brought the three together, dressed them up in some stylin’ 70’s outfits, dropped some “staying alive” music into the background and away they went.  The success of the video depends on the “look at what they got these big sports heroes to wear” factor, hoping it is enough to get people to tell a friend about it.  The idea doesn’t have the same talkability as Beyonce (just because that one already has a life of its own online) but the brand does a good job at directing people to a campaign website where people can try and win one of 500 free Gillette razors given away every day for 30 days.  You have to enter your name/email/address to enter and you can enter as much as you want (but only one razor per person).

For me I think both are great efforts, driving buzz for both brands and not doing any type of hard sell.  I wish the Trident Beyonce dance would have had some connection to the chewing gum – like all of the dancers putting in a stick of Trident at the beginning of the routine, or blowing a bubble in the middle of it, or some connection back to the brand.  It looks like a classic “sponsorship” instead of creating something new or putting a little twist on it.  It works with regard to being fun enough that people want to pass it along to friends, but think it was a missed opportunity to add something new to it. With regard to Gillette, I wish it just went a bit further on the “on my God” factor to motivate people to watch it again and send it to friends.  It’s fun but, in my opinion, a funny plot twist (beyond the platform shoes) or visual or something could have ensured it was a huge success.

Hats off to the people behind both videos, as the more brands experiment and try new things we all actually win – people get a new kind of entertainment, more free stuff is up for grabs, imaginations get bigger and hopefully boring ads of the past are gone forever – and true brand engagement is here to stay.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-26

26 April 2009

  • Please Retweet: Sign this petition : “Save the Giant Slide” – http://tinypaste.com/bfc1a #
  • UNESCO + 32 institutions today launch World Digital Library http://www.wdl.org — manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, prints, photos #
  • Today’s the day – go see EARTH the movie & Disney plants a tree (only opening day – hurry up already) http://twurl.nl/3gutpd #
  • Playing with new Social Media Index tool, easy snapshot of brands showing up in online conversations #yam http://twurl.nl/wuo22s #

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Ashton Kutcher, Twitter, H&K Help End Malaria

25 April 2009

In one of the biggest examples to date of the new ways people hear about things and get involved (beyond hearing from traditional media channels like TV, radio and newspapers) Ashton Kutcher and CNN use the power of Twitter to drive awareness by millions of the campaign “Malaria No More.”

It all started with a magical number – 1 million followers – who would be the first to get 1,000,000 people to follow them on the microblogging sensation taking over the world, Twitter.   Ashton, we are so on a first name basis, has been a huge ambassador for spreading the fun and power of Twitter, providing people with a fun peek inside his world but also guiding people toward causes and events that do things to help the world.  As people love competition, both Ashton and CNN were both gaining big followers recently, with the big 1,000,000 finish line (or starting line perhaps) coming strong.  Both Ashton and CNN were approached to celebrate the winner to the big magical number with a donation (and related awareness) to fund the purchase of mosquito nets to help combat Malaria in Africa.

The traditional media (like CNN) was attracted well, like flies, to the competition and covered the race as well as the related finish line donation.  The big day happened last week and Ashton showed up on Larry King to talk about his win and of course talk about the Malaria No More campaign.  Both Ashton and CNN donated $100,000 to purchase 10,000 bed nets for the campaign.  (watch the video here)

Inspired by Ashton’s feat, Malaria No More wants to build on this momentum and use Twitter to generate even more awareness leading up to World Malaria Day this Saturday, April 25. Their ultimate goal?  Fund 1 million bed nets in the next five days.  A tall order perhaps, but as the CNN race demonstrated, combining social and traditional media can yield impressive results.

On Thursday, Ashton announced that 100 of his best Twitter friends (including the likes of Oprah, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Jimmy Fallon, Ryan Seacrest) will tweet about malaria on World Malaria Day, driving extensive awareness and hopefully traffic to the website for people to make as little as a $10 donation to help the campaign.

This campaign has a ton of key learnings for us to think about.  First off, of course, is the combination of social networking (like Twitter) with traditional media (CNN) to maximise both channels and work in tandem to drive awareness and traffic to a campaign site.   Secondly, celebrities actually leveraging their star power to shine the spotlight on an issue that doesn’t somehow benefit them is extremely powerful.  There also is something to be said about a challenge, a goal or some big number to reach – people like being involved and being a part of a movement so the 1,000,000 goal worked well.  And the Malaria No More website does its job by having a simple homepage to guide people to easy ways to read more and to donate (sometimes sites can be so busy that they lose people who took the time to visit).

Full disclosure – Malaria No More is a nonprofit organization near and dear to our hearts here at H&K through our current work with a broad malaria coalition (in conjunction with the Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa).

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Nissan Slam Dunks On YouTube

22 April 2009

Recently Nissan launched a campaign on YouTube centered around the universal love and wonderment of the Slam Dunk.  The campaign is connected to the launch of the new Nissan 370Z sports car.

The campaign is relatively simply – upload your own amazing slam dunk video and hope that some of the big gun slam dunk judges (including Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh and former player now commentator Jalen Rose – both huge dunk maniacs) pick you to be one of the 20 finalists.  If you make it to the final 20 then you’ll be asked to serve up another Slam Dunk that is captured on video and uploaded for another round of voting (via views of each video).

From just casual browsing I’ve always noticed lots of slam dunk videos – so lots of guys like to show-off and impress people with their slam dunk moves, so Nissan tapped an already known interest from their target audience (sports and showing off).  The “easiness” of the campaign also works, everyone that would consider a new Nissan sports car I’m guessing would know how to shoot and upload a video.  And because the rules say no added effects or edits then a simple shoot and upload factor ensures people aren’t scared of entering because they don’t know how to edit a video.

I’m guessing that the link between the new Nissan and a Slam Dunk has to be around both being fun to do or drive, powerful performances and more guys being in to sports cars and slam dunks.  It’s a bit of a stretch but I think the simplicity of the campaign and the overall fun factor of it more than makes up for the less than solid connection.

The only thing that I think I would have loved to have seen would have been for some way for someone to actually win a new Nissan.  The Grand Prize is a trip for 2 to some city to see an official slam dunk group (Team Flight Brothers) in action and to have the chance to be a flight brother for a day.  It’s a cool trip for people in to slam dunks but I’m sure they’d also love a car.  So would have loved to have seen some extra challenge that rewarded a new Nissan – like, for example, if any of the submitted slam dunk videos received 10,000,000 views (whoever did it first) would win a car.  This would encourage people to not only get a bit crazy with their slam dunks for maximum entertainment but more importantly would motivate participants to maximize their social networks to drive people to view their video.

The deadline to submit a slam dunk video is coming up (April 26) so you still have time if you are a secret slam dunk maniac.  Overall I think the campaign works – its easy for people to come play, the content is entertaining, the campaign overall is relatively inexpensive for Nissan and could see this as an annual event.  Go Nissan!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-19

19 April 2009

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Creativity Interview: Cranberries

14 April 2009

My mission to speak with some of the smart marketers around the world today leads me to the cranberry bogs of the United States, where I recently had a chance to speak with Michele Silbey, international Account Manager for the US Cranberry Marketing Committee and client of H&K (full disclosure).  Michele is responsible for enticing more people around the world fall in love with the great taste and healthy benefits of cranberries.

As with previous guests Michele tackled the “Big 5 Questions of Creativity.”  Here we go:

1.    Is creativity important to your business?  Definitely.  We rely on creativity to jumpstart and/or expand exports of cranberries in each market.  Creativity also goes a long way to maximizing our budgets.  If we can use a creative idea that may cost less than a standard promotional campaign but delivers more results, that’s an ideal situation.

2.    Why is delivering or having creativity important for your efforts?  Smart and creative thinking helps us stretch every dollar.  In many markets cranberries are competing with local fruits which means it’s tough for our fun little red cranberry to break through in some aspects.  Creativity is a tool we use to break through the clutter.

3.    How do you define creativity?  For me creativity is thinking outside the box for ideal ways to reach consumers or the trade, whomever you are targeting.  Creativity is taking a normal, often used idea and turning it on its head to come up with a different angle to a common theme that would draw more viewers or eyeballs.

4.    What’s the latest campaign you came across that you think rocked on the creative scale?  I have to say the way the Australia team leveraged the Sex and the City movie last year was very creative – they identified an opp for cranberries to piggyback on the launch of the movie – given the heavily featured cosmopolitan which was throughout the series and in the last scene of the movie. As a result, cosmos were very much back on the bar menu and featured in every magazine. They were even able to get some of Sydney’s  top mixologists shaking up their own rendition of the cosmo to add some spice.  And on a global scale I have to say I love Apple’s recent campaign when they went head on with Microsoft as part of their “I’m a Mac” effort – great, simple, lighthearted and memorable.

5.    On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 not important, 10 very important) how important do you think creative thinking/approaches are to solving business challenges?  I think it does depend somewhat on the actual challenge you’re facing.  If it is a timing or budget challenge, then creativity is maybe not as important as plain old strategic thinking.  However, when it comes to marketing/increasing awareness, creativity can make or break a product.  I give it a 9 in those situations.

So even the little cranberry relies on creative thinking to raise its profile and get people to, well, eat it.  For more on cranberries check out www.cranberries.com.au where you can find great recipes, health benefits and more – you’ll never guess so much good can be packed in something so small.

Get Creative!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-12

12 April 2009

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Art From Old Cassette Tape

09 April 2009

Sometimes you just need to look at things around you in a new way, pretend you are a little kid and discovering them for the first time and let your mind wander a bit.  I’m guessing this little exercise may have been the driver behind Erika Iris Simmons‘ latest bit of recycable art – using old cassette tape, the tape inside, to create some visuals.  Previously she’s used old playing cards, magazines, credit cards and old books – repurposing the materials and breathing a whole new life into them.  Check out her Flickr photostream for more examples.

When I came across this (thanks to my friends at Environmental Graffiti) it was a great reminder to always look for ways to surprise people with a new twist on an old thing, and the power of visuals and imagination to engage people in a deeper way.  We all need to constantly reach out to people who think differently from us “marketers” and let their perspectives on things mix with ours.  The output has the potential to be incredible, to be that bit of instant pop culture possibility that brands need.  It’s finding the right balance of when brands “market” and when brands “entertain” as I think brands need both equally.

So, challenge your brain more, reach out to more people from different worlds to come play in yours for a bit and see what happens.  Worse case nothing, best case, something incredible, buzz-worthy, something that makes you want to come back the next day to do better.

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KFC’s New Pothole Marketing

07 April 2009

This definitely caught me by surprise, and not sure what exactly what I think about it.  Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) announced that the company is now getting into the road repair industry.  Connected to the company’s “fresh”-centric marketing campaign, KFC will be filling in potholes in local streets in exchange for permission to place a chalked stencil on the pothole with a “Re-Freshed by Colonel Sanders” message.

So, I’m torn here.  I’m from Kentucky so of course I love KFC.  But I’m not a big fan of what seems to be a constant drive by advertising people to find a way to stick a logo on every empty space of anything.  Recently I’ve seen ads/logos on golf carts, back of bathroom doors, road pylons, shaved into heads and more.  Just seems like the clutter will never stop.

But, I do have to give KFC solid bonus points for such a creative idea – haven’t heard of anyone ever before doing pothole marketing.  The concept hits a soft spot for anyone who’s ever driven their car into a pothole (which is virtually anyone with a car).  And knowing that the chalk will wash off with the first rain means KFC knows it didn’t want to permanently “logo-up” roads either (no one would like that).  And the company has built-in an added buzz element by inviting mayors across the country to submit their cities to go into a draw where 4 cities will be picked randomly for the Colonel Road Crew to come fill some potholes.

From a learning perspective, given today’s economy the campaign scores high marks for actually addressing a serious issue – lack of local public funds to fix potholes – and doing something about it.  More points for providing something that consumers actually want (better streets).  And the company did a great job with the campaign visuals that were released to tell the story with pictures – who could pass up showing the Colonel in those glow-in-the-dark vests and hard hats.

So overall, a finger-lickin’ good example of creative thinking in action.

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