Archive for the ‘branding’ Category

Internet is the great equalizer of brands

April 14, 2009

There have been a lot of conversations concerning brands and the internet and dealing with search. Can search be used to build traditional “consumer” brands? Has search killed brands? How do the consumers interact with brands? Has search removed the competitive advantage of distribution?

At the end of the day, the internet has equalized the playing field. Brands can no longer rely on a warm fuzzy feeling, or a distribution deal better than the competitors, or a weak USP but being the only solution found. The consumer now uses the internet more and more and researches more and more. The current economic climate has created a large spike in search traffic for terms like “coupon code”, “promo code” and “discount”. There have always been those individuals that used the internet to find the best deals, but it is now mainstream. I don’t think it’s going to change either. Consumers now know they can get a better deal if they only search for one. Whether it’s x% off or free shipping, they are demanding a deal.

Brands can only control realistically 2 clicks on any given search (1 PPC and 1 Organic: I know it’s possible for indented links, but the majority only get 1 listing), so the rest of the links go somewhere else. They may go to blogs, resellers, channel partners wherever, it’s not the branded site. We can all thank Google for making it easy to find stuff from a personal reason, but brand managers can curse Google till the day they die for making it so hard to “control” the brand.

As consumers continue to use the internet for research and finding deals, it has ultimately leveled the playing field for brands to compete. Some will win on price, others will win on actually solving a real problem. The consumer will ultimately choose, marketers just need to realize the power of the web and the level field which we will playing on for awhile.

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Gatorade hits a home run with Quest for G

February 6, 2009

Gatorade hit a grand slam with their Quest for G campaign microsite. Not only do they have an online component to the popular “What is G” TV campaign, they created a fantastic entertainment masterpiece. King Garnett and his gang of knights go on an adventure spoofing the famous Monthy Python film “Search for the Holy Grail” for the Holy G. The sight is entertaining and refreshing. 

Not only did they relate to sports fans, they tapped into the loyal following of Monty Python. Several of the comments about the videos are about Monty Python rather than a drink or Gartorade. Taking athletes out of their elements and playing on their attributes was a perfect execution for Gatorade. This site has raised the bar for branded microsites.Refreshing original content along user comments You can check out the great work here.

If you don’t like Monthy Python, the site also has freestyle hip-hop videos, animated hip-hop music videos and the G Manifesto. The G Manifesto shows all the people in the “What is G” TV campaign.

Overall the site is amazing display of creativity and utilizing all the web has to offer.

Did Gatorade get it right with G Commercial?

January 5, 2009

A recent TV campaign talks about “G”. Several different athletes and celebrities are shown as the camera pans down the line. At first, I thought it was a Nike commercial until I saw Usain Bolt in his Puma gear strike his pose. That made me wonder, who is this for? It had all the makings of a Nike campaign. So I turned to the good ol internet and searched G commercial and the only PPC ad that was present was a YouTube listing. I clicked on the ad for the “The G Channel” and none of the posts or descriptions mentioned Gatorade.

I finally found out it was a Gatorade commercial and was not surprised, the “G” now made sense. There was more content about Kanye West and Lil Wayne (who does the voice over) then there was about Gatorade.

So, the question is did Gatorade miss the mark from an online standpoint. I would say yes. Even if they are trying to be discreet, the amount of money they are spending on this campaign must be a decent chunk of change. People are going online to see who the commercial is for. Even if though they did not do a PPC campaign (I think they should have), they should have at least had some sort of online presence through a website. Maybe there will be an online component later, but I believe that Gatorade is missing out on a lot of online traffic.

G Commercial search volume

G Commercial search volume

McDonald’s has the unsnobby coffee

August 28, 2008

McDonald’s has launched a great microsite targeting the snobby latte drinkers in the Seattle area. McCafe is McDonald’s push to gain market share from Starbucks as they are facing hard times. The unsnobbycoffee.com site has a pinball game, and fun little intervention Mad Libs type of email a friend and a drink menu.

This is great little site which has engaging games and simply tells me what they offer at McCafe. Effective sites don’t need to be large flashy sites. They just need enough content  to be engaging and interactive, but also tell the user what they have. Nolaf.org is a great creative site, but I had no clue it was a Tostito’s site until I read more about it at Creativity.

Smart buying or Gaming the system?

April 29, 2008

There has been a lot of talk recently about Google and CPG marketers around the value of search as it relates to branding. However, as brands and retailers bid on the same keywords, it drives up the cost and ultimately hurts both parties. So, some companies have looked more closely at co-op search marketing where certain terms are off limits to various parties involved, thus reducing the competition and costs.

Other companies have tried to create search copy that does not elicit a click, searching for the ‘free impression’ but Google’s algorithm will reduce rank or remove completely if there is not enough click volume. After all, Google knows how they make money and will only serve ads that are likely to get clicks.

This question is also raised is in the ad network space. If I can buy inventory on a CPC basis and remove any call to action, it is likely that the CTR will decrease dramatically, thus extending the reach of the buy for branding purposes. I see this as smart buying. The current situation in the market allows people to complete this kind of buy, of course, with client approval. If the client is expecting clicks, you better have a prominent call to action, brand logo in every frame and other ways to increase the CTR. Overall, the industry is young and it seems like Google wrote the rules first, but that doesn’t mean that they will be around forever and that they are the golden rule for all online media. Until I see that this is truly gaming the system and unfairly punishing someone, I think it is a smart strategy for certain campaigns.

Online branding can be done

April 2, 2008

In today’s “Around the net in online marketing: section two”, John Battelle argues that the web is lousy for branding initiatives. I would like to argue that point. I think the web can be used for branding initiatives if done correctly. Some of John’s points are very valid about the low click rates and typical direct response metrics tied to online marketing.

I believe branding can be accomplished with direct response marketing, especially with the economy entering a recession. Display ads don’t need to be amazing creative masterpieces, their goal is to drive a click to a landing page that the user can learn more or engage with the brand. Whats wrong with a banner saying click here to learn more from a top 20 brand? I don’t see anything wrong, and think Coke Zero did a great branding job online during March Madness with 100% online promotion.

Brands can go online and push promotions and differentiating factors on a CPC buy and only buy clicks from interested individuals where a TV or two-page print add is paid upfront. The risk is greatly reduced of looked at from a media viewpoint.

Brands that are willing to take the risk and use the economies of scale that the internet has to offer might become the big winners after the economy turns around and consumers are more confident and begin spending. The other large benefit the internet has to offer brand marketers is tracking and optimization. Print and TV can be targeted by publication and site, but not much further. Online marketing allows the net to be cast wide and far and then honed back in based upon results, oh yeah, creative can be tested as well.

All of this leads me to believe that branding campaigns can be successful online. With the technology of rich media banners placing TV commercials in a banner (Coke Zero lawyer campaign) to buying on a CPC or CPM below $1, online marketing offers brand advertisers a wide variety of options to pursue. I agree it does not have the cache of a Super Bowl spot, or a 1/4 page spread in the WSJ, but I can stretch the dollar a lot further and get more eyeballs and engagement with the brand than a traditional media campaign.

Overall, brand marketers need to be media cognostic and not worry about the media that is being used, but choose the right media for the campaign objectives whatever they might be. After all, GM would not come out and say they are shifting 50% of their ad spending to online marketing if I was completely wrong.

Google is the marketing version of the “closer”

March 31, 2008

As 2008 baseball seasons opening day has arrived, I feel it’s appropriate to link baseball and Google together. Many people give Google so much credit for being the ultimate direct marketing tool and greatest ROI marketing tool there is. Many of them are correct, but for Google to be that effective, it needs a mass audience to increase their awareness enough to go online and purchase. I see Google as the closing pitcher in a baseball game and other mass media as the starting pitcher and middle relievers who do a lot of the legwork, sometimes only facing one batter only to hand the ball and the “save” to the closer.

TV, radio, print, direct mail, display advertising, and all other mediums are the starting pitchers and middle relievers that do so much work to get the team in the correct place to bring in the “ace”. This for marketing in may eyes is Google and Yahoo. The mass mediums drive awareness and brands through the heads of individuals and when they are ready to learn more or buy online, Google is there to save the day.

Brands must make sure they have a strong closer (search campaign) to compliment their Cy Young (traditional media). They must also utilize technology to evaluate the starting pitcher and middle relievers to see their effect on the overall success, and not just give 100% of the credit to ace Google.

Seven for All Mankind join Performics affiliate program

March 21, 2008

I think it is interesting to see that a premium designer denim brand is launching an affiliate program. I received the email yesterday from DoubleClick Performics (now Google) introducing the new advertiser in their program. Interesting seeing a brand that is prominently displayed at the likes of Saks and Nordstrom’s using an affiliate channel for online marketing, maybe they have had their time in the sun as the “premium” denim company and True Religion and Rock&Republic have taken over and this is 7’s expansion strategy. Whatever it is, I like the move.

It will be an interesting move for the high end brand to engage in the channel and it will be interesting to follow through Performics and watch the retailers. Personally wouldn’t buy $200 denim online as each pair is different. I have around 6 pairs and each fit different even though they are the same size and fit. Bold move for a premium brand, maybe the economy is affecting the mid-level luxury purchases.

This could pave the way for other premium clothing lines to join the affiliate marketing world and increase direct sales.

Disney champions digital media

March 13, 2008

Disney CEO Robert Iger stated that the web is just as important for kids as TV at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit. He urged other executives to join the digital movement, or hire new people who will. It is interesting to see that large brands like Disney are just now admitting that digital is as important as TV.

One of the interesting points that he made was that he has a Facebook page, albeit two friends, but at least he is experiencing the digital movement first-hand which a lot of executives are not (other than linkedin). I think it is key that executives continue to experience the online world, and do not think of it as a childish taboo. Ones that have experienced the online world, will be much more willing to embrace it and make the most of new technology.

It is important for large brands to accept that the digital future is now and join, or forever be left behind.

Initiative has a new buzz – Amphibian

March 5, 2008

The agency Initiative has a new “buzz” word for their client offerings. It’s “Amphibian” which relates to media living in and out of water or online and offline. This is nothing new in the advertising world as several people have discussed media neutrality or media agnostic approaches. When an agency meets with a client, they need to be able to have a knowledge of all media and make recommendations that meets the clients needs.

One problem with that is the traditional agency compensation model is flawed. Shocking! So is the whole pitch process. Seems like the agency model needs to evolve. Anyways, some agencies are so accustomed to media commissions that they struggle to push online or “fringe” media because it is new and different.

I hope this idea of amphibian marketing sticks, as it will bring some credibility back to agencies, but its nothing new. Media plans don’t need to worry about being offline or online, just inline with customer expectations.