Tag Archives: Social media marketing

What’s the Buzz about Buzz Marketing?

Buzz Marketing is not a new marketing technique for getting the word out about your product or service. Simply put, buzz marketing is the practice of having volunteers try what you are selling, then having them create a “buzz” about it by chatting about their experience with the people they interact with in their daily lives. With the addition of the internet and social media, creating exciting buzz campaigns can be sensational or engaging.

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This type of marketing is a word-of-mouth technique on steroids, and sometimes great campaigns go viral and the buzz-maker’s opinions become very influential. According to University of Pennsylvania’s Marketing Professor Jerry Wind, “People recognize the power of word-of-mouth in convincing, influencing, affecting consumer behavior, since it has more credibility than traditional advertising. But, it’s a fairly recent development for companies to try to create a structure around the practice, to harness and direct the way that word-of-mouth spreads — and to attempt to measure its effect on sales once the ‘campaign’ is complete”.

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When depending on people to engage with potential consumers by talking about, posting opinions about or blogging for companies to influence purchasing behaviors, ethics may become an issue for some. The Ford Focus Buzz Marketing campaign discussed as a fine example of buzz marketing included giving volunteers a “free” Ford Focus for 6 months in exchange for the promise to engage with potential consumers. I believe that Ford walked a fine line between what is ethical and not with their Focus campaign.

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According to Automotive News, “the 2014 Fiesta campaign will recruit 100 people in May and give them a new Fiesta for a year to create digital content about the vehicle, including tweets, blogs, photos and videos to be shared via social media. Ford calls these people influencers. But this time, the influencers — not Ford’s ad agency, WPP’s Team Detroit — will generate all ideas and content used in traditional advertising”. This strategy depends on the belief that consumer behavior is shaped and influenced by peers and other consumers.

What was the result of this campaign? According to Gearoid McKendrick at UCD Dublin, the campaign received 6.5 million YouTube views, 6,500 follower on Twitter and 3 million Twitter impressions. There were 540,000 views on Flickr, over 15,000 fans on Facebook and almost 1 million Google search results for ‘The Fiesta Movement’. 27,000 blog posts were created and pre –launch awareness of the Fiesta rose to 37% among 16 – 24 year-olds. Most importantly Ford received 50,000 requests for information about the Fiesta in the first 6 days of sale. 97% of these leads did not own a Ford car. Very impactful!

With these tactics in mind, one of the best buzz marketing campaigns out there today is the Syfy channel’s Igniters campaign. This oft-laughed-at, science-fiction-based television channel has grown and expanded into a massive imagination based interactive conglomerate. Syfy now includes all manner of engagement: Interactive TV programming, interactive websites, mobile apps, videos, games, blogs, social media sites which pushes the limits of imagination, science, tech, art & design and creativity. The Igniters campaign seeks and finds early adopters, influencers and the coolest of the coolest fans of Syfy who they all igniters.

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According to the Syfy website, in conjunction with marketing firm PSFK, in order to become an  Igniter, one must be passionate in three areas:

  • FINDING THE NEW: Insatiable need to constantly be in-the-know about the latest and greatest everything, from nutrition and diet to electronics
  • DOING THE NEXT: Must-have mentality drives them to try, do and buy the next big thing such as new stores, styles, drinks and food
  • SHOWING THE REST: Vocal in telling everyone about their latest finds. Because they’re at the forefront, people listen to what they have to say, whether it’s financial matters to car buying

People who are chosen to be Syfy Igniters are not paid promoters, but influential advocates for the Syfy brand. According to the Syfy Igniters website, Syfy hopes that “by opening doors to new ideas, and opening eyes to thrilling new perspectives, Igniters will make the unbelievable…believable”.

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Igniters influence viewer/consumer behavior by posting opinions, promoting programming ideas, sparking trends, blogging and engaging with other Syfy fans. Since its debut in 2012, Syfy reports that Igniter’s “insatiable need to be in the know and to tell others about it” has created an undeniable buzz within the Syfy community and beyond. This direct engagement solidifies the relationship between brand and consumer, and today the campaign is strong and vibrant, just like the Igniters. An effective buzz marketing campaign indeed.

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Of course, ethics should always play a part in who influences who and how. Since this campaign does not monetarily compensate their Igniters, and it is the pure joy of the power of influence that drives these brand advocates, opinions and ideas should be looked at from that point of view. Brand advocates do not usually post anything negative, so the people engaging with Igniters should keep that in mind. Is the Syfy Igniters campaign ethical? Yes, I believe it is, as long as there is full disclosure on who they are and what their objectives are, everyone involved will be happy.

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A 10-Step Marketing Plan for Beginners

Recently, I was tasked with the challenge of creating a 10-Step Marketing Plan (non-proprietary), with no strings attached. After some thought,  I created this short, but informative, 10-Step Marketing Plan that outlines the basic steps that need to be addressed in order to create a successful marketing plan, targeting beginner marketers:

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YouTube Video Link:  http://youtu.be/dyttbfuLXgo

This little-ditty of a presentation is reminiscent of videos shown in college, but it is clear and to the point. I also created a static Slideshare sidekick  for those who like a no-nonsense info show, sans music.

Whether these original Videos are well-received or not is not the “take-away” for me. I enjoyed the process…it was fun to create both medias using a mix of comics created with a  Pixton app, Powerpoint and Slideshare. And I was able to use a bit of creativity to explain basic marketing steps. A win-win situation.

A good way to spend an afternoon indeed.

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A New Direction…

It’s time for a New Direction. I am ready to venture out to advance my Marketing Communications and Business Development career. Jumping in with both feet to showcase the value I can provide to a new company is exciting to me. I am confident and prepared to take on the challenge!

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Moving in a New Direction is the most important step in my advancement plan. I have worked very hard, especially over the last three years, to prepare for this move forward.

If you are still reading this, then you probably know me and what I like. If you don’t know me, please connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, read my blog or view my video. We may have much in common and your input may steer in which direction I travel.

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With diverse tastes, many passions and vast experience, my Marketing Communication and Business Development skills can transfer to any industry. By continuing my consultancy efforts through Wilder Marketing and staying sharp and on top of trends and technology, I am more than ready for fresh opportunities.

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Today all the help one can get to advance in life is just as important as what one can do. If your company is looking for a Marketing Communications or Business Development Professional in the Greater Boston or Southern NH area, a $500 finder’s fee applies if I get hired through your lead!

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I strongly believe that with a little help from my friends, perseverance and a genuine love for what I do, I will continue to be very successful and happy. What I would like is for all of you to be a part of it.

Let’s go in this New Direction together…

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Come on…connect with me today.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

“Challenge, Change and Creativity for Life!” ~ Michelle A. Wilder

 
       

Calvin Klein Ads: Too Hot for the Public?

When I think of advertising that stretches the limits of what is decent, I think of the Calvin Klein brand. In Australia, public billboards portraying carnal activities or mostly naked models are banned. Some can understand why. Several advertising campaigns in the last few years alone have raised a lot of eyebrows: CK

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  ck 3 There are scenes of sexuality in various state of action with more than one partner at a time, where lines are blurred and the brand is displayed in a very overt way.

Personally, this type of advertising does not offend me. The heavily-sexual overtones, the erotic innuendo and aggressive themes of the advertising is shocking to most, which is the objective of these real “attention-getters”. Look closely at each ad, and you may find hidden clues to the intention of the participants in the ad.

It is widely known that sex sells, and some of Calvin Klein’s ads are hot, sexy and alluring. It is just what the Calvin Klein brand wants their target consumer (14 to 50 years olds who
desires modern fashion forward products) to think of when they think of Calvin Klein. It is intriguing to see a brand accept alternative lifestyle choices, however, these type of ads should be thought of as provocative and controversial, since they are, and left to adults to ponder, admire and/or repel in a less public setting.

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However, as a proponent of the First Amendment, it is Constitutional to advertise your brand as you see fit, as long as it is legal. Moral advertising is a much grayer area, however. What is considered proper by some may be thought of as offensive by others. Displaying a giant billboard of any of the ads shown in this post could be considered depraved, since young eyes may view these sexually-charged ads. Many people agree with this view, since Calvin Klein has had massive push-back from the public at large where public and massive billboards were exposed in New York City (and as previously mentioned, banned in other places).

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So why would the Calvin Klein brand insist on displaying an advertisement that will certainly bring negative responses from the public at large? In advertising,  the old adage rings true…”there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – which is the same as “any publicity is good publicity”. Controversy is contagious and memorable. Calvin Klein is making use of sex to sell their brand through their advertising, using both traditional and digital methods, and they are doing it very well.

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A browse through the Calvin Klein website and a visitor will find a section where the “average” CK underwear-wearer can post their own photos. A giant billboard also pushes the #mycalvins hashtag feed to everyone who passes by, the very same billboard that is banned in Australia. But talk about acceptance and engagement within their target group (and beyond), since hundreds of photos are posted and shared.

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Calvin Klein has embraced on-the-edge advertising,  just as other companies have, like Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana, using sex and suggestion to solidify their brand and sell product. If popularity of Calvin Klein continues to grow, stimulating and controversial ads will continue be made and displayed in public, too hot or not, for the public outcry against the brand has not been as strong as the positive reception with its consumers.

Hershey’s Nuggets Dilemma

Hershey’s Nuggets Dilemma 

Recently, two friends of mine opened a bag of Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment, looking for their personal favorites. I listened to the two of them as they had a hard time finding their much-loved chocolate nuggets, which was intriguing. This is where the ensuing dilemma unfolded over the next hour or so about Hershey’s marketing flaw, and ultimately, their packaging mistake.

My two friends were a (albeit small) focus group for this particular Hershey’s product. Set out on the table was the contents of the Hershey’s Nugget Assortment bag, with four little piles of nuggets clustered together. There are four different types of chocolate nuggets in this assortment bag: Milk Chocolate, Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, and Special Dark Chocolate with Almonds.

For almost an hour I listened to the two of them talk about the quality of the chocolate, their favorite flavors offered and what they would like to see in the assortment, as well as why Hershey’s decided to put such similar wrappers on the four different chocolates in an assortment bag. This is where my marketing ears really perked up and I had to see for myself what they were talking about.

Upon closer inspection, they were right. The two girls separated the chocolates into piles because they could not discern between the flavors by simply looking at the wrapper.  A marketing flaw was being exposed: the company did not do enough consumer research to know that the packaging was confusing and not well-liked, as least not by these two Hershey’s lovers. My friends stressed that the chocolate is awesome, a great two-bite piece of joy, but finding her favorite flavor wasn’t easy when looking into the bag. Here’s a photo of the four different nuggets:

                                         HERSHEY NUGGETS ASSORTMENT

As you can see, three of the chocolates are in gold wrappers, with the Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds and Milk Chocolate with Almonds almost indistinguishable from each other, unless you carefully inspect the tiny writing up close. Only the silver-wrapped Milk Chocolate is discernible from the rest.

Looking at both my friends sitting with their glasses at the edge of their noses, trying to read the wrapper to put the chocolates in the right pile…what a site! I thought to myself, this is a packaging mistake that came out of a marketing flaw. Even the colors associated with the chocolates on the exterior bag didn’t match the chocolate’s wrappers on the inside…see Red, Orange, Silver and White on the exterior of the bag:

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Unless the consumer speaks up and lets the company know that they love the chocolates, but the wrappers need to distinguishable (without offending them), how can this mistake be changed? What a dilemma.

I chose to go the proactive consumer route and write this to let Hershey’s know that their Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment chocolates are loved, but their packaging is not. And as a writer of the Wilder side of marketing, I suggest adding a bit of pizzazz to the wrappers:

Milk Chocolate:

METALLIC SILVER

Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds:

METALLIC GOLD

Milk Chocolate with Almonds:

METALLIC BLUE

Special Dark Chocolate with Almonds:

METALLIC RED

Once the color scheme (whether it is with these four metallic colors or four other easily identifiable colors), the color theme needs to be carried through onto the exterior packaging as an assortment bag or when sold separately so everything is cohesive. Confusion gone, consumer happy.

In the end, my two friends will not stop buying or enjoying Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment bags, but until the packaging is changed, consumer confusion will remain.

The Happy in 21 Challenge

My Social Media Marketing professor at SNHU, Leila Samii, told me about a campaign her undergraduate class created called “Happy in 21”. The concept is simple: It takes 21 days to make positive changes. Their mission is “spreading happiness through positive vibes in hopes to create a happier world, one person at a time”. The campaign focuses on happiness habits, encouraging quotes and motivational reinforcement themes, all with the intention of making the reader happier. The campaign has a twitter feed: @HappyIn21 and a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HappyIn21 with a good following for a new campaign #HappyIn21, with active participation.

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I liked this movement since I already practiced daily affirmations with the theme of “Every Day is a Gift”. On April 15, 2013, the city of Boston suffered a terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I was deeply affected by this horrifying act. I did not know any runners or victims of the bombing, but after listening to the heartbroken words from Krystal Campbell’s mother after she learned her daughter died from the blasts, I knew right there and then that I should be thankful for what I have and to hug those I loved.

Two other people died that day: Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard (extremely sad situations) and another man was shot and killed (MIT officer Sean Collier) during the manhunt. The way I looked at life changed that day. I was going through a very difficult time in my personal life, but my problems were not as massive as the people touched by the terrorist attack. I decided to change my outlook.

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Every day when I get up, no matter how bleak things may seem or how problematic times may be, I am thankful to be alive (it certainly beats the alternative), and I try to find the gift of the day (something to be thankful for or happy about). The gift can be small, like a ray of sunshine after a rainy morning, a smile from my granddaughter, a well-written blog, expertly made sushi for lunch, a good-hair day or few minutes playing with my dog. Or the gift can be big, like the good health of my family, a promotion at work, the great friends in my life or the stable relationships I have. This declaration seems to be popular with millions of people, and I was happy to be on board.

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I bring all this up to get to the Happy in 21 Challenge I decided to take on, which expanded my daily affirmation to include 3 positive thoughts PLUS one genuine “thank you” to one person a day. To say out loud what the gift of the day is was very different than writing them down. For 21 days starting on April 3rd, I wrote down my 3 statements and my 1 “thank you” on my calendar. At the end of the three weeks, I felt happier, more optimistic and less stressed out. I decided to continue the challenge for 2 months. The  results are amazing! Check out my CHALLENGE CALENDARS.

I am a very positive and confident person in general, with an optimistic outlook on life. Although this past year has been one of the most difficult in recent years for me personally, this challenge has helped me put things in perspective. By changing my internal voice to always chant a strong motivational mantra and by reinforcing what gifts life offers in writing and in my thoughts, I can definitely say that I am a better person and happier for it! Every Day is a Gift!

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Bravo Avocado!

 I love avocados. They are my favorite fruit. Creamy and buttery with a subtle but complex earthy flavor. Delicious. When I was younger, I used get so excited when the dark, ripe fruits were available in my local market, after waiting months during the winter absence. Oh the joy of those first few fabulous fruits of the season. That was twenty years ago and a lot has changed since then. Today, thanks to the year-round growing season in Mexico and the creation of the Haas Avocado Board in 2002, these tasty little darlings are available to the average shopper any time of year.

Although I am a big fan of the succulent fruit, not everyone enjoys eating them.  It has been a challenge creating new ways of incorporating the wonderful avocado into my weekly meal plans that are appealing and tasty. Usually avocados are relegated to the role of guacamole side-kick or chip-dip. The new animated commercial from the AvocadosFromMexico.com created a cute dancing avocado TV commercial to show that avocados can be eaten for BREAKFAST:

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7fte/avocados-from-mexico-rise-and-shine

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Now, I have been eating avocados for breakfast for many years, like millions of people world-wide. But for those who never thought of eating avocados in anything else but guacamole, this sticks-in-your-mind, pretty ditty sends home the message to try something simple like avocados on wheat toast with a little salt for breakfast. It is just wonderful marketing.

At the end of the 15 second spot, the call to action is to visit avocadosfrommexico.com website, which I did to check out their other marketing efforts. They have nutritional information, extensive recipe listing, prep tips and delicious celebrity guest shots (read: Mario Lopez), all promoting the greatness that is the avocado.

If this short but sweet TV spot can change one person’s mind to try an avocado, either for breakfast or by itself, then it has done its job. I personally think that this type of marketing will broaden the reach and awareness of the amazing avocado, and sharpen focus on the Avocados from Mexico brand. Bravo avocado!

I was motivated to write about the effective ad and post my favorite breakfast recipe in solidarity with other avocado lovers everywhere. These easy to make Popeyes are delicious and good for you. ..give them a try!

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Scrumptious Avo Popeyes

  • Per person:
  • 3 slices fresh, ripe avocado
  • 2 slices cooked bacon (preferably maple flavor
  • 1 slice of your favorite bread
  • 1 large egg, 1 slice ripe tomato (preferably plum)
  • A few baby spinach leaves
  • Butter spray
  • ———————-
  • With each piece of bread, remove a half-dollar size hole (set aside holes for another use).
  • Put some spray in a skillet and turn up to medium heat.
  • Put the bread (with a hole in it) in the skillet to toast.
  • While the bread is toasting, crack open an egg and gently drop it into the hole in the bread.
  • Once bread is toasted, gently flip over to cook the egg on the other side.
  • Remove from the skillet when the egg is done and place on a plate, egg side up.
  • On top of the egg, put a few baby spinach leaves.
  • On top of the spinach, place a slice of tomato.
  • On top of the tomato, put 2 slices of bacon.
  • And the best part…place 3 slices of avocado on top of the whole Popeye.
  • Eat and Enjoy!

 

Old Spice: Thank Your Grandpa!

Old Spice.  An iconic American brand recognized world-wide and loved by generations of loyal customers. Since 1938, Old Spice has been worn by millions of men and adored by millions of women. One whiff of the original Classic Old Spice scent, and I am instantly transported back into time, for both my Dad and Grandpa wore the Old Spice Cologne. I can pick out the smell of Classic Old Spice in a crowd, for it lives up to its reputation (and its self-described aroma), as a “clean, masculine scent”.

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In my household, my husband and two sons all use Old Spice products, namely the deodorant and body wash product lines. The other day, I happened to catch a glance at the back of a Classic Old Spice deodorant container to see the inconspicuous banner announcement: “IF YOUR GRANDFATHER HADN’T WORN IT, YOU WOULDN’T EXIST”.  Well,  then…“Thank You, Grandpa”!

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This boastful pronouncement not only caught my attention, but struck me to be as assertive and confident as the men who use Old Spice. It is well-known that Old Spice marketing have bold, out-of the-ordinary and memorable advertising. Who can forget the “MOMSONG”? Or the “Man on a Horse” spot? These ads are elements of a grand campaign design that elicits a consistent message that is a mix of tongue-in-cheek hubris and manly pride.  Curious, I decided to delve deeper into their marketing efforts.

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When visiting the Old Spice website, you are met with an in-your-face ad showcasing the very buff and manly Terry Crews in a fight with a mini-manly Crews whisker on his face. Another effort to combine humor with you MUST pay attention to me message. It’s weird, but it works. Just like their self-proclamations you find when checking out he Classic Old Spice product line. The theme of longevity is applauded with the tagline “It will still be around, even after Nuclear fallout” while reiterating that Classic Old Spice Cologne helped the world procreate and prosper. Classic is right!

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Continuity abounds, right down to the pop-ups that push the manly-to-the-max and proud of it theme with “Make Your Eyeballs Smell Good” , or “Let Our Server Make Love to Your Computer” CTA tags for their Videos and Downloads sections. Their social media reach is extensive and popular, with several platforms engaging deeply with fans and followers, all while promoting their manly appeal and impressive product lines. Every channel purports the same message of smelling good while doing manly things is OK!                                                                              old spice 7

In the end, the very creative and effective marketing campaigns Old Spice foists upon the world may not appeal to everyone, but the people who appreciate this audacious approach can also relate to the themes they exploit. So, the next time you smell or wear an Old Spice product, be grateful you are alive and remember to thank your Grandpa!

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Cluster Tweeting for Cutting Through the Noise on Social Media

Cluster Tweeting…try it, you may like it (and so may your followers)!

Social Media Made Really Easy.

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How do you cut through all of the noise on social media? The answer: cluster tweeting! As a consumer on social media, our communities are constantly growing. We get new followers on Twitter, make new connections on LinkedIn, find new people to follow on Pinterest and find “old” friends on Facebook. But as a marketer, how do we reach our target audience on social media, when so many other marketers are trying to reach the same audience? On Facebook and LinkedIn it has become a little bit easier due to the algorithms. But Twitter is in real time, there are no algorithms to determine what people see. Everyone sees everything.

It has become really hard today to reach the target audience on Twitter with so many statuses and promotions being shared by both marketers and consumers. Is it possible that the consumer will ever get the Tweet that we sent…

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KFC Chicken Corsage…Why Stop There?

As I prepared for my son’s Senior Prom, I started looking on the internet for a corsage for his date. I came across one of the funniest and most intriguing corsages I have ever seen: The KFC Chicken Corsage.

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Yes, that’s right! A corsage that is made with a chicken drumstick as the centerpiece. The two-minute advertisement that promotes this new item is purposely awkward as the pretty date receives an “Original Recipe” drumstick, surrounded by baby’s breath on a wristlet. The girl replies that the corsage “smells so good”.  Oh my!  Too funny.  At the prom, when the boy closes in on the girl for a kiss, she leans over and takes a bite out of the drumstick corsage instead. It is a quirky, but very creative marketing stunt!

The Kentucky based KFC joined forces with local florist Nanz and Kraft to create the Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsage for a mere $20.00, which is less than what the smallest wristlet corsage cost in my neighborhood. Don’t fret…if your date prefers Extra Crispy or Grilled Chicken, it can be made! How is it possible that the chicken will be fresh? When you order the corsage, it comes as a kit. According to the florist’s website:

“Chicken not included (duh.). Each corsage kit includes a $5 KFC gift check, so you can customize your corsage with Original Recipe, Extra Crispy or Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Whichever best matches her dress. Local corsages will have fresh baby’s breath and out-of-town corsages will have silk baby’s breath.”

 Choosing chicken that “best matches her dress” is a riot! The language is consistent between the florist’s website and KFC’s, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. As of today, the first 100 Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsages were SOLD OUT. A second batch of 100 is now available “due to the popularity of poultry”.  Whew! I was worried for a moment.

 

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This effective marketing campaign got me thinking about how KFC can expand on the edible prom accessories theme. Maybe next year they can offer a KFC French Fry Boutonniere, the KFC Chicken Tenders Necklace with Dipping-Sauce Locket, cool KFC Hot Wings Earrings, or perhaps the KFC Biscuit Bowtie.  This way both boys AND girls can eat their accoutrements.

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Why stop there? KFC can propose a KFC-Wrapper Prom Dress Contest. You know…the best dress made with KFC food wrappers will get an all-expenses paid prom night. People who are talented enough to make a dress out of KFC wrappers would go crazy for a contest like that. Talk about exposure.

Or KFC can expand into edible arrangements for proms, weddings and special events. Can you imagine a giant edible chicken finger arrangement, dotted with other KFC products on a stick, as the centerpiece? If a chicken corsage sells out, then why not expand on the idea to include other ways to sell KFC products. It is way-out concepts like this that made the KFC Chicken Corsage a success.

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If KFC would like to hear some more of my possible marketing ideas, I am open and willing to work with KFC’s Marketing Agency: Quantum Communications (QtheAgency), or with KFC themselves. I like their Wilder way of thinking!

Dine Out Boston! Restaurant Week Continues

In Boston and surrounding suburbs, 200-ish restaurants take part in the Restaurant Week promotion run by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Twice a year, for two weeks of weekdays in March and August, participating restaurants offer fixed-priced meals. For the last 13 years, this promotion has run successfully. According to the sponsored website for Boston’s Restaurant Week, after a much-needed makeover, the name changed to Dine Out Boston.

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This year, a new feature was added to the promotion. Three pricing tiers are offered: Lunch $15/$20/$25 and Dinner $28/$33/$38. This expands the promotion’s reach into a larger consumer market with more affordable choices at Greater Boston top restaurants. That is good news for participating restaurants to get greater exposure, and good news for foodies that can now afford to sample some of Boston’s finest cuisines.

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Dine Out Boston has also joined with the Freedom Trail Foundation as a charitable partner. All participating restaurants donate $100 gift certificates that are auctioned off through DOBauction.com to benefit programs run by the Foundation which creates the “most successful ideas for how to experience American history”. A copacetic arrangement.

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One other benefit for diners is the American Express bonus offer. Each enrolled card receives a $5 credit on any purchase over $21. An easy task with a lunch for two at one of the many choice restaurants participating. Offerings include many different cuisines in Boston and surrounding towns, all of which are sure to delight.

Getting word out about the promotion is spread through the Restaurant Week Boston website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a  very funny YouTube video, Google +  and Instagram accounts, Pinterest interest and a huba-huba blog.

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This blog links readers to frequently updated content and encourages comments and interaction. Since the promotion is currently ongoing (March 16-21 & 23-28), the social media penetration is deep and engaging.

For all those who always wanted to get a taste of spectacular cooking from some of the finest chefs in Boston at can’t-pass-up prices, give Restaurant Week a try. Dine Out Boston!

 

Helpless but not Hopeless

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Faced with the challenge of connecting two films that have wildly diverse themes: Isolation from human interaction and digital interaction overload, I settled in for a night of movie watching and note taking. To represent the theme of isolation, the film Life of Pi was chosen. To represent the theme of interaction overload, the movie The Internship was on deck. What I experienced that night made me laugh, cry and in the end, left me with the belief that just because you are helpless, it doesn’t mean that you are hopeless.

The main character of the Life of Pi is a boy named Piscine “Pi” Patel. Pi overcame bullying and religious confusion during his primary school years, to become a young man who “just wanted to love God”.  While growing up on the family Zoo in India, he was a Hindu vegetarian who recognized parts of the Islam and Christian religions to love God in his own way. The sale of the Zoo and transport of the animals, one of which included a special Tiger named Richard Parker, and Pi’s family to Canada on a Japanese tanker, resulted in a life changing experience.

A shipwreck caused the Japanese tanker to sink. Pi found himself adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena and an orangutan. Soon, the hyena attacked the other animals, as hyenas would normally do in the wild, only to be eaten by Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger, who was hiding under the lifeboat’s tarp. I wiped away tears as I watched this poignant and mesmerizing film unfold. Pi felt helpless when he realized that he was stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a man-killing Tiger. But was he hopeless? No.

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Switching gears to The Internship film, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as salesmen co-workers, I also wiped away tears, but from laughter. These two forty-something salesmen lost their sales job when the watch company they worked for went out of business. In desperate need of employment, they realized needed to be part of the new digital era. An application for an internship at Google accepted by the Google panel when the men used an “out-of-the-box” method of thinking. I thought to myself, they were employing traditional sales tactics of changing a negative into a positive with genuine enthusiasm. Funny interview and well done. They were on their way to Google.

Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) quickly finds out how complex and competitive the new digital era is with strange, new rules. What do you mean you can’t take home from work salsa, chips, pudding, sushi, ice cream and pizza? No drinking with the boss? Or dating co-workers? Very funny Green Paddle, Red Paddle scene. Predictably, the weird old guys were left out when voluntary groups were assembled, along with other (more) geeky interns. These quirky salesmen felt helpless amongst this group of young, misfit techies. But were they hopeless? No.

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In both movies, although they are grossly different, they did share a common thread: overcoming adversity. Hope, perseverance, determination and sheer will motivated the men to survive. Pi survived the shipwreck and 227 days isolated at sea. Billy and Nick survived the slow death of watch salesmen and embraced the digital era. The men may have been helpless, but not hopeless, which made them stronger people in the end.

Welcome to the Modern World

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Have you seen the new Esurance commercials where they claim that in just 7½ minutes, you can save money on car insurance? The newest ad stars Beatrice, an “offline over-sharer” who “posts” her vacation photographs by literally taping them to her living room wall, which she thinks is saving her so much time and is so much quicker than (snail) mailing them. Quick like getting a quote for car insurance in 15 minutes. Beatrice’s baffled friend says that she can save more than that in ½ that time. Beatrice “unfriends” her since she doesn’t understand. But it is Beatrice who does not understand that is not how any of the things she does works. The commercial is funny and effective.

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The Esurance online insurance company, backed by Allstate, has been trying to position itself as a modern insurance company, with better services and savings.  To anchor into the consumer’s mind that Esurance is the better way to do things, the advertising stresses that it NOW only takes 7 ½ minutes to get a better insurance quote. Exactly HALF the time it takes Esurance competitor Geico.  This is a more modern approach and memorable.

The integrated marketing campaign Esurance created puts some teeth behind its slogan “Insurance for the Modern World” by having several ways consumers can become involved with the Esurance brand: an interactive website, an excellent Esurance blog, a Twitter account, a FaceBook page, a Google + account and a many YouTube postings. The deep penetration into the social media world by Esurance certainly does cement the notion that they are indeed modern. Their up-to-the-minute posts and involved consumer interactions create brand loyalty and trust. I was impressed with their social media strategy and I do feel welcomed into Esurance’s modern world.

 

Doberhuahua Brouhaha

There were a vast array of Super Bowl ads that gained the attention of the social media world, as well as the admiration of millions of viewers. In my opinion, there were some awful ads (Chobani YogurtGoDaddyMazerati), and a few great ones (Budweiser, T-Mobile, Chevy), but the most original ad was Audi’s Doberhuahua spot.

When I saw this ad, I nearly spit out my beer laughing so hard. The sports bar where I was watching the game was crowded and loud, so the ads message didn’t carry well, but the image of those weird science-experiment-gone-wrong, mix-breed dogs caught my attention. The buzz about the odd commercial created a viral Doberhuahua Brouhaha. I wanted to see what all the talk was about, which had to wait until after the game.

I had the opportunity to view the Doberhuahua ad again the next day in the quiet of my living room. The message of “compromise is bad” did come through but the automobile that was “designed without compromise” , the Audi A3 was overshadowed by the creepy dog. A split-second look at the Audi A3 logo on the car, followed by the last screen announcement of the Audi A3, and that’s all the branding within the commercial that was displayed, at least that is all I saw. The advertisement was creative and visually stimulating with a memorable dog creature but it did not connect the product with the message.

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An informal survey amongst friends, family and co-workers (two weeks after I first saw the ad during the Super Bowl) resulted in a good news-bad news scenario for Audi.

Survey results: Doberhuahua Survey

Good News

Question:

Do you remember the Super Bowl Doberhuahua commercial?

Results:

19 out of 20 surveyed not only remembered the ad, but thought it was very funny.

Bad News

Question:

Do you remember what the product was in this commercial?

Results:

Zero, not one person, could remember that it was an Audi commercial. Three (3) thought it might be a car ad, but was not sure.

Oddly enough, during conversations about memorable car ads, 12 people mentioned that Audi’s Quattro commercials (featuring a sour tow truck driver who is lamenting about the one that “eluded” him) to be very memorable. A much better job connecting the message and the brand’s product over the Doberhuahua ad.

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In the end, the mixed reviews about memorability, message and brand can be useful tools in tweaking messaging and branding in future ads. If all ads that Audi create can be as attention-grabbing as the Doberhuahua spot and as good at connecting message with the brand, then it will hit the mark more squarely on the nose.

Loon Mountain Message: Drive North!

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As I was driving home Tuesday night from work on Route 495 North near North Andover, Massachusetts, a digital billboard was alit on the left-hand side of the highway, high above the traffic below, blazing the message to “Drive North”. This was a curious call to action phrase, and the marketer in me immediately tried to scan the ad, but merging into traffic forced me to pay attention to the road.

In a flash, the digital message changed to advertise another company’s business. Again in 20 seconds or so, a third ad was beaming from up high, and was difficult to miss. The colors emanating from the billboard were brilliant and flashy. Finally the first ad reappeared, and I was able to view the entire ad, which stated: “Winter Storm Coming” at the top of the billboard and “Drive North” under it, with a glowing image of a winter wonderland. A Loon Mountain logo was prominently displayed in the right-hand corner of the ad. Nice, I thought…a snow storm was indeed coming and due in the next day.

This is a glorious, shining, ingenious piece of targeted marketing, pertinent to the soon-to-be-weather, and what Loon has to offer, in a 20-second very hard-to-miss digital billboard ad. Yes, Loon Mountain is approximately 110 miles from where the billboard was displaying the ad, but it certainly put a seed of thought connecting the impending storm with coming to Loon, and what they have to enjoy. The traffic was moving along so I didn’t catch a third viewing, but I absolutely wanted to check out Loon when I got home. And I did.

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What I learned was that Loon Mountain has an involved social media presence. Loon invested in several sites:

Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Foursquare   YouTube   Pinterest   Blog

They promoted their awesome ski and snowboard facilities through photos, video, daily tweets, daily posts, blogs, and stories. Their website is decent, with easy to navigate links. The Ice Castle is featured as well as supporting “Loon-raised” Annalisa Drew, who is going for Gold at the Sochi Olympics.

Lodging, lessons, events and activities are all found on the home page. Curiously enough, though, I had to go several clicks in to find their non-downhill ski/boarding activities which include Tubing, Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing. Very cool, very fast downhill Zip-Line activities are also offered. Little about these activities are promoted on their social media sites, which surprised me since it does attract people who likes to visit mountain resorts but who doesn’t ski/snowboard. Which brings me back to the digital billboard ad.

It was refreshing to see Loon Mountain grasp traditional marketing concepts as outdoor signage. I do wish more promotion of their non-ski/boarding activities is done to broaden their market share, but what they did with the outdoor signage was fantastic. Their call to action to “Drive North” drove me to check out their website and various social media outlets.

Using a mix of traditional marketing techniques and new media tools that includes an interactive social media model has helped strengthen their brand and promote the greatness that is Loon. I would not have looked up Loon at all if it were not for the strategically placed digital billboard.

When I see Loon commercials on TV, they don’t motivate me to check out what Loon has to offer, but the billboard did. That is a goal of marketers, to get action from their advertising, and ultimately, to increase sales. I may just visit Loon to use their non-downhill activities, and they may eventually get my money, all because of a successful digital billboard ad.

The MedTech Industry and Social Media: Getting Started

When it comes to medical technology, the internet is a valuable resource for medical professionals to do research, share education materials and glean information about new products, devices and equipment. The MedTech Industry, however, seems to lagging behind in joining the wildly popular world of social media for marketing products, expanding brand awareness and involving medical professionals and the end-user consumers, with only 11 percent of medtech companies using social, mobile analytic or cloud technologies to aggressively engage with consumers. Financial resources are leaner today as well, due to the 2.3% Medical Device Excise Tax imposed by the Federal Government, so where to start?

A smaller budget does not mean that a social media campaign cannot be effectively executed. One must first understand the complex infrastructure of the MedTech Industry, as shown in this chart:

 Image

Many MedTech manufacturers utilize IDNs (integrated delivery networks), GPOs (group purchasing organizations), independent distributors or sales reps to get their products and product information to the medical professionals. Marketing materials are often sent from the manufacturing vendor to the distribution channels recipients for promotional efforts, however, little instruction is given on how to market the products using social media.

Before starting a social media marketing campaign, a MedTech marketer must first understand the distribution channels that their particular company utilizes and form strategic partnerships with all essential touch-points to keep the message coherent, ethical and informative.

To complicate matters further, in December 2011, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) drafted recommended guidelines for digital media named the Guidance for Industry: Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices. Simply put, off-label means that a device (or drug) that is not FDA approved should not be promoted nor should information about that product be accessible through digital media. Although these guidelines are recommended avenues of behavior, there is no definitive rules to follow.**

This may leave many in the MedTech Industry at a loss on how to begin the journey into social media jungle, but these condensed social media tips may help those get on their way, before it is too late:

1.  Define Audience and Sign Up:

The MedTech marketer must know who the audience is they want to reach, promote to and eventually sell to. There are many different platforms that medical professionals use to get information on medical technology, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that can show videos of medical products in action, proving to be very effective marketing tools. Setting up several accounts and creating a clear message that can be funneled down through the distribution channels is a sound strategy.

2.  Monitor and Engage with Adequate Resources:

Social media platforms are time-consuming to operate and monitor. Posting content, responding to comments or inquiries, engaging with your audience and marketing complex medical technologies is a full-time job. Those involved in the social media marketing process should be allocated enough resources to effectively promote the medical technology and to monitor comments and consumer behavior, keeping communication messages clear and concise.

3.  Keep Ethics in Mind:

Although the FDA released recommended guidelines and not hard-set rules about off-label information, MedTech marketers should adhere to them to avoid any warning letters or backlash from the FDA. Here are some key highlights from the report, explained by MediMedia, USA:

A.  The guidance clarifies the difference between unsolicited and solicited requests in the social media realm. The FDA may consider solicited requests evidence of a firm’s intent that a drug be used for off-label purposes.

B.  The guidance also distinguishes between non-public and public unsolicited requests and recommends appropriate responses. The FDA is also concerned about publicly posted drug/product information, such as product risks, that might reside on the Internet indefinitely even after the information becomes outdated.

C.  The guidance encourages drug/medical technology companies to respond to unsolicited requests that are made in a public forum because other forum participants might not provide or have access to the most accurate, up-to-date information.

D.  Companies should respond to unsolicited requests only if they pertain to that company’s own named product.

E.  Responses to unsolicited requests should not be promotional in nature or tone, and they should not provide links to promotional content.

Posting true and ethical statements that include both possible side-effects/risks of the medical technology as well as the benefits and effectiveness of the products will send a message that the Medtech industry is serious about providing consumers with the best products available while keeping them well-informed.

Policies within MedTech companies exploring social media platforms should detail marketing strategies for their products and stick to them to ensure adherence to FDA ethical guidelines, which leads to consumer acceptance.

By following these three steps to starting a social media marketing campaign, the MedTech Industry may overcome their reluctance to participate fully in the social media realm and become as technologically advanced as the products they promote.

**UPDATE on FDA as reported by Medical Marketing & Media: http://www.mmm-online.com/fda-eases-rules-on-ads-in-social-media/article/329225/