It’s begun. The two-plus month holiday we call Christmas. Screw Thanksgiving, it’s the time for getting and all the big stores are hawking their shiny new things to the masses. But if you dig a little deeper amongst the video waves of shill, you might just find some meaningful and poignant messages of sharing and giving and all the nice things we sometimes forget about.
When it comes marketing and advertising, Christmas season is my favorite time of year. There are two distinct roads brands take during this time of year. Most show off their products in a way that makes children scream, “I want that! I want that! I want that!” during every commercial break. And adults too are targets, with flashes of shiny jewelry and big-screen TVs catching their eyes.
But it’s the other road that I appreciate most. It’s the ads and videos and social media messages that are about sharing and caring and giving and loving that are most meaningful to me. It’s those marketing and advertising ideas that I feel have the most legs. I am more apt to share, tweet, like and talk about those with others. And so, without further ado, I’d like to share a couple good Christmas spots from this season so far and one from last season.
The first one is from John Lewis. It’s about a boy and his penguin Monty.
While I think it’s cute and a good story and will probably sell a bunch of penguin stuffed animals, it’s not as great as their Christmas spot last year about the bear and the hare.
The last spot is from Sainsbury’s and is a beautiful retelling of the Christmas truce between the British and Germans in WWI. It has a great message and is marvelously shot and filmed.
I do hope to see some American brands showcase some great messaging that I will want to share and talk about but so far of what I’ve seen, they have taken the other road. If you have seen any great Christmas/holiday season marketing or advertising, feel free to share in the comments section.
A very merry xmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
This morning after checking out the Tumblr page White Men Wearing Google Glass, it became very clear to me what Google needs to do (and not to do) to market Google Glass.
If Google wants Glass to be the next big thing that everyone wants, they need to take the Glass away from all the non-hipsters and put them in the hands of the ‘cool’ kids like professional athletes, popular musicians, and TV & movie stars that the young people idolize.
If Lebron James or Jay Z or Ryan Gosling or Robert Downey Jr were spotted wearing Glass, then teens and twenty-somethings would want them. But right now, it’s the social media and digital professionals that have them and are showing them off.
Granted I enjoy reading and listening to much of their advice and I’m sure they are great beta-testers, but they’re not necessarily helping many people overcome the ‘dork’ factor of wearing Glass which I think will be one of the biggest hurdles that Google will face. So, either ask the current Google Glass owners to stop posting pictures of them wearing them or give them to the stars and celebrities that the demographic idolizes.
Many people don’t buy an iPhone because of its specs and technology. They buy it because it is a status symbol, it’s cool, it’s hip and everyone else has one, including the celebrities and stars they idolize. Make Glass cool and then sell people on the benefits.
Sometimes I’m perplexed by the stupidity of advertising and while I usually try to keep my mouth shut and not criticize my fellow colleagues’ works, there are times I just have to speak up. And this time it’s about QR Codes on billboards.
On my morning drive to work, I pass a billboard for the Air Force Reserve. It’s an image of a satellite in space with the headline “Guiding and Protecting America”. Below the headline is their web address, afreserve.com, which is easy to remember. But here is where the billboard fails. To the left of the web address is a large QR Code for people to scan and I assume go to afreserve.com. But perhaps it takes them to a special landing page. I wouldn’t know because I have yet to attempt to capture the code while driving down the highway at 65 mph in the morning traffic. I have enough problems capturing QR Codes on stationary objects that are right in front of me. Capturing a QR Code on my phone is what I would envision a surgeon goes through performing heart surgery. I have to hold my hand steady and keep the QR Code on target for a second or two or I lose and I don’t get the QR Code captured. At least I didn’t kill someone. My odds, of killing someone while capturing a QR Code while driving, are probably pretty good.
We’re told not to text and drive because it distracts us and could lead to an accident or possibly death. But yet, businesses put QR Codes on billboards expecting us to take our eyes off the road while traveling at a brisk speed in order to go to a website that we’ll surf while driving? I think it’s only a matter of time before QR Codes on billboards near busy streets and highways are banned. If the Air Force Reserve wants to protect America, they may want to remove the QR Codes from their billboards.
While looking for an image of the Air Force Reserve billboard, I came across the image of the billboard above. I really wish this was a fake billboard, but it is indeed real. Hopefully, those that see their billboard will heed the message and not text while driving and hopefully they will not try to scan the QR Code either, as I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Scanning while driving is dangerous too.”
If you are in the food and drink business and want to sell a lot of your product quickly, limited-edition packaging will usually do it. You usually see the beer and spirits industry roll out limited-edition bottles and cans, but this time, it’s Campbell’s Soup. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup paintings, Campbell’s is releasing limited-edition tomato soup cans featuring labels that are Warhol-inspired.
When I first read the news about these cans and saw the pictures, I was excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. I will definitely hit up Target, where they are being sold, and buy them. I’ll then probably put them in my kitchen as display pieces rather than consuming the actual soup inside the cans. I figure many people will do the same, which is normal when it comes to limited-edition packaging. The cans will be sold for 75 cents per can which is somewhat surprising. I think they could have charged more and donated the extra money to a non-profit that supports the arts. In fact, they could have sold empty cans for twice as much and people would have still bought them. I know Maker’s Mark Bourbon has released limited-edition bottles before with no bourbon in it and they’ve been very popular.
So if you’re a fan of Warhol, you’ll want to visit your local Target and grab some limited-edition Campbell’s Soup Warhol cans before they sell out. And if you’re a marketing or advertising firm and want to help your client sell more of their consumable products, create some limited-edition packaging for it. Or get a celebrity to endorse it and put their image on the label or packaging. For a good example of successful celebrity endorsed consumable goods over the past 80 years or so, visit the cereal aisle of your local grocery store and check out a box of Wheaties. Since the 1930’s, Wheaties has placed images of famous athletes from many different sports on their cereal box. As a result, many of those boxes have become very popular among collectors and have helped increase sales for the company. So while limited-edition and celebrity endorsements on food and drink packaging is not a new thing, it’s something that still works to sell more product and build more awareness for a brand.
I remember in the 90’s when people would complain about all the junk mail they would get. Along with their bills and letters from family, they’d usually receive a stack of flyers, postcards, and other junk mail pieces. But with the dawn of email and spam, junk mail doesn’t seem that bad now. So is direct mail dead? Is it dying? Or is it still viable in this digital world that has consumed us all?
When I go to get my mail every day, I usually thumb through the ads and flyers and postcards from businesses. Sometimes I just throw the mail on the kitchen table and come back to the direct mail pieces later like when I’m hungry and looking for a fast food or pizza coupon. When compared with how I deal with spam, direct mail is definitely worth it in my eyes. When I open my email account, I scan the dozens of emails for names I recognize and subject lines that seem interesting or important to open and read. The rest of the emails, I delete right away. While I think emails can be effective in getting sales, I think for many types of businesses, direct mail is still king. If you are a restaurant, heating & cooling company, home improvement company, or auto repair & service shop; I think direct mail is still a worthwhile investment. It’s almost like a Pavlovian response to look through our junk mail when we are in need of one of those services.
So what about other types of companies? Is direct mail worthwhile? While direct mail costs more than your typical email campaign, I do think that it’s a good idea for most consumer-based businesses to test out to see if it’s effective for their business. When compared to most other digital and traditional channels of advertising, there isn’t as much competition in direct mail. With TV commercials, radio spots, PPC ads, billboards and email marketing; most markets are flooded with advertisers using these tools to reach their audience. As a result, many consumers have learned to tune them out and ignore them. So, I do think direct mail, as well as other less used marketing channels, should be considered by businesses looking to market their services.
If you do choose to do a direct marketing campaign, I wouldn’t rush it. Either read up on effective direct mail campaigns or hire a firm that has experience in not only producing direct mail campaigns, but are also experts at measuring the response from the campaigns. I think postcards and flyers are more apt to be read than pieces that are sent in envelopes. I know personally, I usually throw away anything in an envelope that I know is junk mail. But with a flyer or postcard, I can’t help but glance at it and read it if it looks interesting or the headline hooks me. So is direct mail dead? I say the risk of the U.S. Post Office eventually closing is the biggest threat to direct mail. And as long as that doesn’t happen, direct mail will live on for many years to come.