Friday, March 19, 2010

Life Moves Fast

A new commercial for Palm is beginning to air during the NCAA Tournament. In addition to being an all-around good ad communicating the available features being used with ease by a woman on the move, it's all being delivered to a Hip Hop backdrop. Mos Def's "Quiet Dog" plays as the soundtrack, and his album cover even pops up as the Palm owner browses past her music list.

This is not just a good example of Hip Hop's ever-expanding reach to the consuming masses. It is also an example of marketers' realization of this fact and explicit decision to utilize the music (and culture) to reach their consumers. A song is not chosen for a commercial at random. It is a well thought out decision along with every other aspect of an ad. The music is important because it feeds into the overall message and image being communicated.

The message here is that "Life Moves Fast". Use the Palm to make sure that you "Don't Miss A Thing". This message is underlined with the up-tempo Mos track which the woman is walking to the beat of; and is communicated by her physically moving while checking messages, and finding a place to buy shoes for the event to which the dress code was just told to her. The features that the Palm provides, and the ease of use ensures that Palm owners won't "miss a thing".

The image of the Palm user - underscored again by the song - is a younger, trendy, professional, and social person who desires a versatile, reliable device to help organize and coordinate life's needs. This is the modern hip hop fan. This is the target market of Palm. Is this not what you expected?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Vs. Sugar

A little while ago, I wrote about Pepsi's limited-time 'Throwback' soft drinks which use sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. You can read it here. While browsing Advertising Age's website yesterday, I saw an interesting article that discussed the shift from HFCS to sugar that some companies are experimenting with while the price of the two products are similar.

It seems that several companies are choosing not to include the sweetener change in their marketing messages despite an increasing push away from HFCS by consumers. Why is this? One idea is that companies are testing the waters a bit before they dive in. As with 'Throwback' soft drinks, offering them for a limited-time allows Pepsi to gauge interest and satisfaction with the product instead of taking a huge risk changing their formula. We all know how abrupt changes have worked out in the past.

Some other companies also want to test out the use of sugar with their customers. Though, as the article points out, playing this up in the marketing may throw an unwanted spotlight on the brand's other products which still use HFCS. In addition, a push like this may not matter to a majority of the buying public in the first place. And, what happens if the change is implemented across the board, and sugar prices shoot up again, which appears to be the case this year?

As the country seems to be moving slowly toward healthier food choices (the reference to slow-moving, obese Americans here is unintentional), perhaps baby steps are the key for many established brands. Read the article and share your thoughts with me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vintage Advertisements

I spent a decent part of this past weekend browsing through print advertisements in various categories from years past on this site I found called Vintage Ad Browser. If you have an interest in print advertising over the years this is the site for you. It allows you to choose a category and then a decade and up pops several print ads from that era. It's very interesting to look back and see how much things have changed (or, stayed the same) over many years.

Here is the link. Check it out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Loads Of Hope...And Great PR

Many of you may already be aware of Tide's Loads of Hope program which travels to disaster areas and provides laundry services (free of charge) to people in need. Such a program is no doubt rooted in a desire to help others, and the perceived obligation for a successful company to give back to communities. However, the enormous amount of positive PR generated by a campaign of this kind are not lost on marketers.

Loads of Hope provides a very valuable service to those affected by disasters often being made to live without electricity or running water. The fact that Tide is taking the time to do this means a lot to the people in need...and to the people learning about the effort through the ad campaign. While those directly benefiting from this service are now very likely to be life-long Tide loyalists once their lives are back to normal; average consumers who may have loyalties elsewhere, or traditionally opt for the brand offering a sale, are now more likely to support the brand they know to be making a difference in the world.

Tide goes a step further to make it even easier for the customer to choose. Tide does not have to rely on the buyer to make the purchase only because they want to support a company that offers support to others. Tide actually gives the buyer the option to directly support the effort themselves with their purchase. One part of this campaign was to encourage consumers to purchase Tide products with a special cap or seal for a portion of the sale to go to relief efforts.

This is an easy decision for a consumer to make - 'buy something you were going to buy anyway; just be sure to buy it from us and you will be making a difference in the world as well'. Such a promotion gets the people themselves involved with the campaign, and lets people offer help even when they can't physically go to the affected area or donate large sums of money. They can thank Tide for the opportunity.

In the most recent commercial I saw from Tide promoting this campaign, they offered another for average citizens to support. Only this time buyers will also be helping the advertising efforts of Tide in the process. The call to action is to buy a Tide vintage t-shirt (you've probably seen someone wearing one of these before just for fun) and the proceeds will go towards disaster relief. This is another way to support the cause, and by wearing the t-shirt consumers will be promoting the Tide brand everywhere they go (and, for those who have seen the ad, remind them of the positive works Tide is involved in).

Put all of these marketing ideas together and you have one solid campaign that works on several different levels to promote the brand and encourage sales while having lasting effects on consumers.