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Eight lessons marketing professionals can learn from Kolaveri

The digital world has so disrupted the business models of newspapers, radio, television, music and even Hollywood that the yin and yang of mass media and mass marketing are flying apart. We are in the midst of total collapse of the media infrastructure we have taken for granted for 400 years.

– Bob Garfield Advertising Age Columnist in The Chaos Scenario, 13 April 2005

Aye, have you heard this weird song. Kolaveri, Kolaveri? Is got close to a million views on YouTube. Is it Malu or what? What does Kolaveri mean?

– Digital Dude Aged 24, 17 November 2011

Screen grab from Youtube

Six years after Bob Garfield provoked the marketing and advertising industry with his seminal piece in Advertising Age, Digital Dude (quoted above) discovers that Kolaveri Di has gone viral on YouTube. Dude does not know Bob Garfield nor has he read The Chaos Scenario. But he is among the millions who have given Kolaveri another view, helping to further shoot the video on to the centre stage of India’s pop culture and unwittingly endorsing the premise of Bob’s book.
Now clients want agencies to do a Kolaveri like video for their brands. Yes we got two briefs in the last two days and are struggling to explain why we cannot do a Kolaveri. What we do have are some lessons from the said video and similar memes.

Lesson 1. You don’t make a Kolaveri. It happens. Amen. Here are, one, two stories from the guys at Jack in the Box, the digital agency behind the viral on how it happened.

Lesson 2. You can’t separate marketing and PR from the agency anymore. Being a movie based video Kolaveri has an advantage over traditional marketing content. Yet reading the agency’s POV on this, PR was strategically used to give the video the traction.  Starting now we need to create all kinds of synergies to get people’s attention. Marketing, PR, HR, sales, service working together, in tandem…

Lesson 3.  Speed is the new element in a marketing person’s arsenal. To read Dhanush’s interview post the success of the song and to believe that the song was written in some 6 minutes. Well that’s as much time it takes to find an empty conference room these days. Speed was on display when W+K decided to bring on the OldSpice Man on to Twitter and YouTube. 180+ videos created in two days. Wow!

Lesson 4. YouTube is the TV channel for urban Indian youth. Mahesh Murthy (look up his 20 new rules of marketing here) and Reem Syed are some of the prominent voices in India who believe how lopsided marketing budgets are with respect to digital media. The impact of Kolaveri Di should put an end to that discussion. In fact this Google Trends comparison between two recent hits, Airtel’s Har Friend Zaroori Hota Hai and Kolaveri shows you that without a dime spent on TV, Kolaveri has blown past an ad that was heavily promoted on all channels, online included. Even in places like Ludhiana and Chandigarh,  Kolaveri beat out the Airtel ad.

Lesson 5. In a low friction world,  we learnt a great idea will have imitators like in the case of Cadbury’s s Gorilla. In India we have struggled to get people to create interesting content that feeds off a rage. Kolaveri is showing us that good ideas will be copied and remixed in real time. What are we agencies and marketers doing to create memes that can be remixed?

Lesson 6. Hum-ability counts, not meaning. Cartoonist Hugh McLeod had something fundamental to say  in this cartoon. Most marketing messages are so overloaded that they lose any humanity whatsoever. The lyrics in Kolaveri are so nonlinear that they start a conversation and further its spread.  RIP Link Test?

Lesson 7. Ideas like these can spawn real time marketing opportunities. Pepsico’s Digital Marketing Head talks about how the best marketing in the future will need to grab real time opportunities that could come by. A viral the scale of Kolaveri could have spawned many opportunities. A line of Kolaveri Di Tshirts. A promo around the song. A smart entrepreneur could have started a Kolaveri Di FAQs page and made some money from placing Ads on the page. Missed opportunities.

Lesson 8. The long tail brings interesting content back into circulation. This one has nothing to do with Kolaveri. But another video that’s been doing the rounds recently, the  flash mob in Mumbai Central has been doing the rounds. The Youtube video has already notched up an impressive 200,000+ views in two days. On the back of this, an older, forgotten one from May this year is getting a second life, for free. The Internet never forgets, but no ad that’s shown on TV can ever have a second coming without the advertiser wanting to rerun it.

The Genius of Amazon.com

I have been watching the travails of a mum trying to buy her son a Beyblade stadium on her Facebook Page. After perhaps visiting at every possible brick & mortar store in town, she descended on eBay and triumphantly declared that she had found the item. Not too soon though. A few weeks later another post informed us that eBay had returned her money because they ran out of stock. Aggarhh!

Having a young son myself, I have been making discrete enquiries of the said item. I browsed through eBay, found the stuff and left it for another day. Yesterday, after eBay returned the money, I searched the web and found some stocks available on Amazon.

Once again, I did not buy the item. Browsed around and left. I have done this tonnes of times on many online sites including Amazon. But yesterday was different. A few hours later, there was this email in my inbox from Amazon. With a full listing of all the available Beyblades and accessories. With a pointer to more.

Now we are all aware of search marketing and contextual advertising. I think this is the next level. Dynamic content delivered discretely into inboxes the moment a marketer discovers that someone is looking. Once again this is not new. There are enough services that track clicks and nurture leads. Just that I had never received such an accurate and timely eMail from anyone like this. And I have been logged into Amazon like forever.

It somehow felt new. A lot more intuitive and personal. Perhaps a lot of us have experienced it better. Yesterday I did.

And I may just buy the Beyblade stadium my son’s been dreaming about.

Hecklers in the stands

The joke is on someone else. Every status update. Every check in is an open invitation to show the world how smart you are. A gentle rib. Mild sarcasm. A joke whose ripples reverberate across the social sphere. You enjoy the digs and so do some of your friends. LOLs often, rarely ROTFL…

You soon forget the remark you made and move on.

The web doesn’t.

As it builds up its collective semantic intelligence, your digital diatribes are being tracked and silently backed up in a giant database of actions.

Now comes the interesting part.

You are out in the market looking for a job your prospective employer looks you up online. The new-age profiling database, it’s no Vault of third-part comments, it’s trolled through your handiwork. Your tweets, facebook updates, comments and such. And it throws up your online personality. You are extremely social, highly connected, your Klout ratings are impressive. But hey what’s with your personality types? The No Asshole Rule search engine has tipped your scales into the red.

You are no Edward Boches. Not as mature.

You have built your reputation for rudeness and negativity and have been found out in chunks of 140 character posts.

Search engine optimization is not going to help you hide.

Repositioning A Homeless Man

A nice little experiment is underway in Minneapolis where copywriter Todd Norem helped write pan handling boards for local homeless man Ed and reposition him as an independent business. By using retail language and humor people were forced to see homelessness in a new way. As a result Ed’s earnings went up by more than 800%. See the campaign here.

Ask The PM

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s has a YouTube Channel that features exclusive content online. The interesting bit about this experiment is that he gives ordinary people the ability to ask questions which he will respond to on the channel.

Helping Teens Online

As with any good thing, the negatives turn up sooner or later. This campaign proves that the connected world is not all good news. Lawmakers are struggling to find ways to fight the menace of digital violence. The digital violence can include sending nonstop text messages or posting cruel comments on a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s Facebook or MySpace page. The behaviors can be a warning sign that a teenager may become a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence, according to the group. “This is another generation of domestic violence,” said Peggy Conlon, the chief executive of the Ad Council, which worked with the Family Violence Prevention Fund on the campaign. Thatsnotcool, the campaign that’s digitally intensive was conceived by RG/A. Watch videos here. Read a story in NY times.

Bank Of Twitter

Bank of America becomes yet another bank to embrace Twitter with a customer service stream. Manned by customer relations specialist David Knapp, customers can tweet him if they have problems with their accounts or general questions. Wachovia, which in August started an account to seek out and serve customers on this micro blogging platform, now has over a thousand followers. While some banks have active twitter accounts, there are others who have created accounts and not followed up on it. Read more in Finextra.

Envelope Advertising

If you think you are being bombarded with advertising messages from every possible avenue, look at these artfully designed envelopes from the early 20th century. Biscuits, wine, soaps, tea, cereal and more. One man’s art, spam for another?

What Next For Obama’s 3 Million Database?

If you were one of the 3 million who received an e-mail or text message from the president-elect right before his acceptance speech in Grant Park thanking you for your support, you know that his outreach/marketing efforts and use of that database won’t end with his election.

Barack Obama and his marketing machine achieved unprecedented success in their use of direct/database marketing for a politician.

“We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next,” the personalized message from Mr. Obama read.

As effective as the database was during the election, many direct-marketing professionals said it can be even more important during his presidency.

Read more about how Obama could use Direct Marketing, his database and social networking during his presidency, from an Adage article….

Update: The first steps in engaging with people arounbd the world has already been sown, with a Change site

Credit Crunch Christmas. What Will Retailers Do?

Will retail advertising prudence prevail this Christmas? Retailers famous for their big-budget, glitzy, celebrity-led advertising campaigns will face a difficult choice: toning them down to reflect the gloomy economic situation with value-for-money messages (see Mother’s campaign for Boots’ where office goers buy each other gifts); or urging consumers to splurge with the usual festive fanfare. Media Guardian looks at how some of UKs biggest retailers plan to advertise this year.

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