Marketing

Where Businesses are Advertising is Changing

The advertising and marketing industry has been stood on its head in the last month thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. The economic situation is unpredictable, and the timeline for normalcy seems to be weeks if not months away. The changes that advertising and marketing are experiencing now are manifesting themselves in some very specific ways. 

Because so many cities and states are sheltering in place or have limited exposure rules, there is very little incentive to advertise at all. What is the point of doing a media buy if your target audience is missing during the local commute drive time? Why buy outdoor if the volume of traffic on freeways and local roads has been reduced by two thirds? If the audience isn’t there, the reason to advertise vaporizes.

Yes, people are watching TV, either trying to escape the nonstop news about the pandemic or get more information about it. The problem is, a large portion of popular content is gone. Every major sporting event in the United States has been canceled or delayed. The Olympics are on hold. Live event shows have been postponed, and all of these will remain in limbo until things have settled down and returned to normal.

Typically when a crisis forces people to stay home media consumption skyrockets. The Nelson group has found that it doesn’t matter what the source is consumption goes up, whether it’s live TV, streaming, internet, mobile gaming other channels. And while the news is attracting a larger audience base these days, most advertisers don’t want to position their product or service in relationship to the news on the Cover 19 pandemic.

So, Who is Advertising Changing?

The hospitality and entertainment industries for sure. Retail as well. These venues in many cases simply can not open their doors to the public. And those that continue to advertise are now being extremely sensitive with their messaging. You don’t want to come off as though you don’t care or understand the nature of this crisis. Pitching a product or service against the backdrop of a global pandemic could have long-lasting ramifications for your brand.

And What is Being Advertised?

Covid 19 has disrupted more than our socializing and work habits. It has made it more difficult to ship and receive goods. The global supply chain for many products has been ground to a halt or slowed significantly. Look at what Amazon is doing. They have refocused on high demand items, and restructure shipping priorities to hone in on medical supplies and household staples while slowing the shipment of nonessential goods. If an economic downturn settles in over the next few months, we might begin to see a shift in consumer demand and what brands decide to promote as well.

With he world in such an unsettled state at the moment, how can marketers and advertisers make effective marketing strategies and move forward?

What Does the Data Tell Us?

With the ground shifting on a day to day basis it’s easy to look past the data and simply react to the need at hand. “How quickly can we get this?” “We need X right now.” Being reactionary at this point in time is going to yield fewer gains than looking at your data and building a strategy based on it. Especially data that is updated daily and analyzed. Looking at end-of-week or end-of-month analytics will be too little to late. That historical information might mean very little in rapidly changing circumstances.

Update Your Approach

So much of what we do and know has changed in the last month or so. Your team’s focus has probably changed, as well as how they are producing and executing. Content and messaging have shifted as well. Media buy is probably focusing on different channels in an attempt to have the greatest impact from your spend. This is where your data becomes mission-critical. Why? because it can show you if you are being effective or if you are failing. Even the best creative will fall short if it isn’t delivered in a channel that reaches the right audience with the best impact. Using tools like Twitter Enterprise can help you understand how your brand is being perceived, how your product or service is being angered with during all of this. 

During periods of uncertainty, it’s imperative that your team pays attention, asks questions, and listens closely to what your target audience is saying in order to be responsive, and present relevant and engaging content.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball.

In times of crisis, it’s easy to get distracted and become more reactionary to the situation. Remember the phrase “Cooler heads will prevail”? There is so much truth in that statement. It’s easy to get caught up on everything that is happening in the world these days. Keeping a level head and your eye on the ball is a really good approach to the situation. Concentrate on the things you can control. Be that reassuring.

It all comes down to this, if you are in the business of advertising or marketing, pay attention to your data and analytics and use that information to provide relevant contentment and messaging to your target audiences. You should be doing that anyway, but now more than ever. The Covid 19 pandemic is altering the way we do business and will continue to do so long after we get the “all clear” message. This has the potential to reshape the marketing and advertising industry for an extended period of time if not permanently. 

Think about this. Most of us are working from home. How many businesses are going to see this as a chance to reduce overhead and allow people to continue to work from home after the pandemic ends? (refer to paragraph two and think about the impact over a longer period of time)

The Things We Do For Love.

Holidays have always been a reason for marketing teams to mashup branding or advertising elements in an attempt to capitalize on a specific holiday’s panache or excitement. More often than not the success of these campaigns tends to fall short. Usually the campaign is a half-baked idea, or an afterthought with the results being poorly executed and delivered, resulting in nothing more than a mention in one of the advertising trade publications or blogs.

This year there were three campaigns that I ran across for Valentine’s day that range from bad (Pepsi) to possibly good (KFC) – depending on the long-term execution of the latter. So, let’s take a look at these and see what cupid brought us in 2020 for Valentine’s Day marketing mashups.

I’ll start with the bad. Pepsi somehow thought it would be a good idea to create an engagement ring to promote Crystal Pepsi. A ring made from something like cubic zirconia housed in a cheap cardboard box emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like a cheap ring in a logo box.

The engagement ring features a lab-grown, clear-cola-containing 1.5-carat diamond set into a platinum band (this might actually have value if you melt it down). Real Crystal Pepsi was broken down into elemental carbon and then added into the artificial growing process to create this exceptional stone. (color, cut and clarity are outstanding I’m sure) The resulting bling sits inside a white ring box featuring the retro-chic Crystal Pepsi logo.

The ring is only available through a social media contest where entrants share their proposal plans using the requisite mentions and hashtags on Twitter. One lucky proposer will win the one-of-kind Pepsi engagement ring, freeing up a year’s worth of someone’s salary to buy a replacement ring with an actual diamond in it.

Pepsi worked with creative agency VaynerMedia to create the Pepsi Proposal campaign, which runs until March 6th, with the winner announced March 16th.

Another outstanding mashup is the Heinz Ketchup chocolate box. Yes you read that right chocolate truffles filled with tasty, tasty ketchup. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like nausea inducing confections packaged in a heart shaped box.

Heinz UK partnered with confectionary wizards Fortnum & Mason for Valentine’s Day creating a red and cyan box with gold foil, which actually looks really nice and matches the Fortnum & Mason brand quite well. From a packaging standpoint I really like this. I question the novelty of the execution though. In my opinion this will be read as a joke, and while it might appeal to some, most are simply going to say “gross” and forget about it. I’m not sure how this will elevate the Heinz or Fortnum & Mason brands long term.  

This isn’t the first time Heinz has tried to ruin the magic of a romantic Valentine’s Day Last year they released ketchup caviar, a move in what now seems like the first attempt to forever tarnish this holiday and, likely, your marriage. (Someone at Heinz apparently isn’t loved)

Now for the one that might actually work. KFC Crocs. Yes, the shoe everyone loves to hate has been done up to look like a bucket of the colonel’s finest. This one might actually work. The love connection is a bit obtuse, with KFC joining forces with avant-garde artist Me Love Me A lot (MLMA), who often showcases her eccentric and provocative art on Instagram, where she has over 1.2 million followers.

MLMA introduced a platform version of the shoe where the sole becomes the chicken bucket and the toe is adorned with a little drumette at New York Fashion Week in order to generate buzz and give KFC a platform to announce that a more subdued version of the shoe will actually go on sale next month which means this might have some staying power.

I actually like this because while there is novelty to the campaign, there is an actual practical use for the shoe, and some people are going to be all in on the fact that their ugly crocs are a bucket of chicken. Time will tell through sales though and I predict that these will end up being a collector’s item featured on American Pickers in 10 years.

Miller Lite The Original Social Media

During the height of the internet boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s one of my favorite TV commercials was the Miller Lite spot “Evil Beaver” produced by Traktor. Like so many ads at that time the commercial was completely insane and unlike any beer commercial being run at the time. The thing is though, it did its job. It was fun, memorable, associated the product with the brand and got people talking. And it was part of a larger campaign that tied everything together with a single tagline “Art Directed by Dick”. All of the Miller Lite spots were well-produced, clever, and really thought out, but “Evil Beaver is the one that stuck with me. (probably because it’s so off the wall)

FAst forward to 2019/2020 and Miller lite has scored another home run as far as I’m concerned. Working with DDB Chicago. they are playing into the current zeitgeist of people pulling away from social media and the backlash of fake followers, likes, and the overwhelming need for continuous engagement in these spaces.

Building on its campaign positioning of Miller Time as the ‘original social media,’ Miller Lite is bringing a limited number of its dark-coloured Offline Cans to bars across the country to inspire more drinkers to take a break from social media and spend time with friends over a beer. The limited-edition matte black cans will be available in more than 500 bars and taverns in 27 states starting this week. Miller Lite’s Offline Can will be supported by two new TV ads, social media (ironically) and a point-of-sale marketing campaign that aims to inspire drinkers to invite friends for a night out over Miller Lite.

In select bars where the cans are available, Miller Lite will reward some drinkers for going offline with their own Miller Lite Offline Can, where permitted and while supplies last. Using Facebook’s new ‘SideFlix’ technology, bar-goers can invite their friends to join them in putting down their phones and ‘going offline’. If the group collectively puts their phones down for 30 minutes, they could be eligible to receive a Miller Lite Offline Can. SideFlix is a digital experience using Facebook Instant Games and Facebook Messenger that offers friends the opportunity to share in a connected experience across their devices when they’re together in real life (IRL).

Both DDB and Miller Lite saw the potential to leverage this technology to encourage and reward ‘device-down’ connection when friends spend time together over beers. Miller Lite is one of the first brands globally to utilize Facebook’s SideFlix and this is a first-of-its-kind experience for Molson Coors Beverage Company. Created by DDB Chicago, Miller Lite’s new 15-second spots, meanwhile, focus on missed connections — people staring at their phones instead of interacting with friends. Like the first ‘It’s Miller Time’ spot, ‘Followers’ that began airing in fall, the new ads finish with the tagline: ‘Here’s to the original social media.’

Absolutely Engaging. “Save Every Breath, The Dunkirk VR Experience.”

If you haven’t seen the movie “Dunkirk” yet I highly recommend it. If you haven’t engaged with some of the marketing materials for it, I highly recommend that too. Especially the WebVR experience that was created to promote the film. the website is an immersive VR experience that requires two people to play. You can engage with someone you know, or join anyone from around the world. When you join, you become one of the allied soldiers at Dunkirk surrounded by the enemy. In order to survive, you have to work with the other player, just like you would have if you had been there in 1940. The site and VR components were created by Warner Brothers in conjunction with Google Zoo and the Chrome VR Teams to make this work. It’s a really great example of how Google VR and Immersive experiences can be used as a marketing and promotional vehicle. And not just for movies. I could see this being applied to so much more.

IKEA Easy-Peasy Food Day.

Once again, IKEA pulls off an absolutely brilliant piece of marketing. Working with Contagious, IKEA developed a series of recipes, as poster/cooking vehicle that was used to help promote the annual IKEA kitchen event. A series of 4 recipes were printed on cooking parchment featuring all of the ingredients needed to cook a complete meal. Each of the portions were to exact size, helping to minimize any cooking mistakes, and the recipes featured IKEA ingredients. The packs were placed in the kitchen areas of IKEA stores in Canada and encouraged shoppers to cook and share using the hashtag #easypeasy  Such a simple idea, and absolutely brilliant.

“How Life Unfolds” Paper and Packaging Leverages The Power of Storytelling.

Last night while suffering from a bout of insomnia I was watching TV trying to will myself to get sleepy so I could just go to bed and dream the night away. It wasn’t working and I’m glad it I stayed up. The fact that I was watching late night TV allowed me to see a commercial for Paper and Packaging that originally dropped back in April, which led me to the online campaign that it is tied to as well. And this got me to thinking about how really nice this campaign is.

In a day and age where no one really writes physical letters anymore, how does a company communicate the use of paper, of how personal handwritten communication is, and how touching a physical letter can be instead of an email or text? They do it through compelling storytelling. When I first saw the commercial below, the sound was off on my TV. I was actually working on my iPad and happened to look up and see it. I didn’t turn the sound on, instead I watched the entire spot in silence and was still drawn in by a storyline that simply works. The visuals are as equally compelling as the voice over. After watching the spot I backed up, turned on the sound and watched again, this time listening to the message, and thinking about how this spot hits a home run.

The commercial is relevant because it does a number of things. It unites multiple generations with the experience of writing an actual letter. It ties three generations together, one that grew up in a time where email and texts didn’t exist, one where these technologies emerged, and one where the primary form of communication is digital. In doing so, it humanizes what could be a forgettable experience, (a text, or an email) and replaces it with something that we all know is memorable, a hand written letter. Everyone everywhere knows the power of a correspondence written by hand. A letter takes time, require focus, and tends to feel more genuine. It isn’t something that is typed out on a phone, reduced to 140 characters, or lost in a digital inbox or folder that exists on the cloud out of sight out of mind.  The commercial also shows the products in use. Not just the piece of paper, remember this is for “Paper and Packaging”, a company that also produces cardboard boxes. The commercial shows the letters, written on paper, shipped in a box, and returned the same way, all while telling a great story about how the product is used as a form of communication and delivery.

After watching the spot a couple of more times, I no longer cared about willing myself to sleep. I was curious about the rest of the campaign, so I did a quick Google search and found that Paper and packaging had recently created a new series of YouTube videos entitled “Letters for Peace” on their channel “How Life Unfolds”, great tagline by the way. I have one of the 3-minute videos below, but I highly recommend clicking through and watching the remaining six. Every one of them is  done at the same high level of production and tells a wonderful story all coming back to the same basic component of the commercial “Letters to Dad” that I happened to look up and catch last night.

All of this is tied together through digital media of course. Let’s face it, they might be a paper company, but even they know you can’t escape from the digital realm, especially when it comes to advertising and marketing your products. There is an Instagram account that has a little over 400 posts and a few thousand followers. Followers are encouraged to celebrate how paper and packaging helps them accomplish their goals at home, at school, and in the workplace by posting images using the hashtag #howlifeunfolds. The website is an online archive of the letters of peace, and a place where comments are fed to the site and people are encouraged to like and share. In addition the site offers additional insight into the authors, invites people to submit their own letters, promotes the product line, and has feature articles on why you should write things by hand.

Great stuff from Cramer-Krasselt, Paper and Packaging’s agency of record.

Madita, a New Typeface from Animography.

If you work with After Effects, or you are a graphic designer you might be familiar with Animography, the company that produces animated typefaces that are fully customizable. I’ve been a fan of these guys for quite some time, and always love it when a new release comes out. In the past Animography has done a pretty straightforward promotion of the product, they show the typeface animating, and the variations that can be achieved with it. All of this is an effective demonstration of what they are trying to sell, but the promotional animation for Madita is a winner.

Animography Shows the typeface in use, but blends it with a catchy little story, some wonderful animation, and shows how the typeface can be used in a project before wrapping it up with a simple question, “Where can I get this typeface?”  The design and animation by Philip von Borries does a really nice job of showing Madita in use, and combined with the narration, the story hooks you and keeps you interested until the marketing punch at the end, which hopefully gets viewers interested in the font. Even if you aren’t a designer, or animator, the video is worth watching simply for the visuals and the nice little storyline.