Another Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and yet again, they’ve illuminated realities and debunked previously held truths for marketers everywhere. IBM’s report on the digital behaviors demonstrated during the firesale weekend essentially boiled down to this one finding: None - that’s right, not one - of the ### ecommerce purchases completed on Black Friday, which, by the way, represents a 21% increase from last year, can be directly attributed to Twitter.
Now... that doesn’t mean that none of the purchases completed can be in some hockey-stick indirect fashion attributed to brands’ and agencies’ promotions using the social media giant. It does mean, however, that the perceived effectiveness of social media as a tool for driving ecommerce may be overblown.
A study recently put out by Forrester Report, in which 77,000 transactions were examined during two weeks in April ‘12, found that less than 1% of purchases made could be directly attributed to any social media channel.
Why, then, do marketers on the brand side and agency side alike place such importance on social media promotion? The answer lies somewhere in a perfect storm of hype, misunderstood (relatively) young technology, and disproportionate perceived value.
The question that begs asking, then, is ‘how do we fix the problem?’
For us, the answer always lies in behavior. The past can always be used, if interpreted correctly, to inform, if not predict, the future. In the past, the biggest drivers for ecommerce have been search engines. They’re responsible for 39% of new traffic and sales, and Forrester nailed it when they labeled these guys ‘spearfishers.’ Search engine shoppers are looking for specifics. They know what they want and now all they need to find is the best deal. No wonder then, that Twitter has little or no effect. A search engine provides an aggregated view of all the price points for the exact product a consumer desires.
Next in line is email - the number one tool for repeat customers. If a consumer has previously purchased something from a company, and signed up to receive offers (or, more likely, not unchecked the checked box that unwillingly and un-knowingly signs them up to receive updates on deals and offers), those mailers will influence one third of their next purchase decision. And unless you are drowning in email on a regular basis (like us), that message can sit passively in your inbox until you are ready to act (either by clicking or deleting), rather than flying past you at the speed of, dare we say, a Twitter feed?
As marketers, we look at social media as a great tool to get the message out to an audience that has asked for it. But we need to learn to encourage ‘social shopping’ to really take advantage of the avenues to the consumer social media have allowed us. Encouraging and even incentivizing consumers to share their purchase at checkout might be a more useful way to spread the word about a promotion then simply Tweeting about it from a brand account. After all, consumers trust each other more than they’ll ever trust us.
Secondly, we need to learn to use the tools we have at hand. Micro-targeting, using finely honed consumer segmentation, is an essential. Tweets should be fired with a scope, not a shotgun.
Lastly, allowing consumers to shop visually, by utilizing galleries, Pinterest and/or Instagram to stimulate the eyes and encourage that spontaneous purchase, is an avenue that is still novel, and therefore still interesting, to the consumer. Everyone’s offering percentages off or free shipping. Doing something different, like using visual cues, is likely to garner more conversions.
More than anything, we need to take a step back and realize that we have the tools to succeed. Behaviors exist. Trends are waiting to be realized. The avenues to reach the consumer are in place. We simply need to figure out exactly what works, how to be most effective. At the end of the day, our job as marketers is to make a person think they’re being social when really they’re being consumers.
Maybe by next Black Friday, we’ll have figured out exactly how.
We’ve all seen facial and retina scanning technology in sci-fi films like, Minority Report, Mission Impossible, and The Bourne series. Usually some top secret agent is trying to get access to a heavily guarded door, a red scanner beams across his face and a green light indicates his access has been granted.
While Hollywood may have disillusioned us, it’s now nearly 2012 and this technology is becoming a reality in a very prominent way. We’ve all seen Facebook’s use of biometric data to auto-tag our photos, and XBOX Kinect’s controller-free, sync-to-your-body gaming experience, but what happens when these technologies start to enter the public realm?
In the Chicago area for instance, several bars have partnered with smartphone app, SceneTap, installing specialized cameras to analyze their patrons. Male-to-female ratio, age, and number of patrons are all sent to the application’s users who may be curious about this information before hopping to the next bar. Think this sounds pretty awesome? Well, marketers do too.
Immersive Labs, a Manhattan based advertising company, has developed billboards that are so smart, they can analyze passerbys and effectively target advertisements to the demographic. The technology is still young, but future projects look to billboards that are able to detect hair quality to display an ad for the appropriate shampoo. Further potential lies in detecting emotion to display various recommended pharmaceuticals.
This technology opens a whole new realm of analytics to marketers. No longer will data solely consist of arbitrary numbers that are up for interpretation, but rather, entire sets of in-depth analysis will be able to read specific reactions to an advertisement. Marketers may approach their trade with a new set of tools, adding a whole new element to global consumption of goods.
Still, one can’t help but wonder how these advanced technologies will affect our daily privacy. While technological advancement is certainly exciting, it’s hard not to question the repercussions of our advancement. On the other hand, these same questions have probably been raised for centuries as we continue to take technological steps forward. Here’s to the next decade.
Have you ever longed for one of those recliners with a built-in refrigerator, or ogled at those "would-be-cool-to-have" items in a Sky Mall catalog? Somehow, $500 for a Cotton Candy Machine/Egg-McMuffin-Maker combo doesn’t seem like the most practical use of some expendable income. Well, we here at RJW know just the person to introduce you to.
Meet, @GirlBehindSix, our new guilty Twitter pleasure. Who is she? Who knows... but we can tell you this: every day (sometimes twice-a-day) she gives away six, or a multiple of, some thing or another.
Unless someone is doing some clever guerilla marketing, this campaign is its own standalone project, complete with NYC Subway advertisements. In short – an entire game show, operated entirely on the Twitter platform. While television is just beginning to fully integrate their entertainment content with social media, now social media is doing one better by creating the content itself. Is this trend that we will see continue? Has social media killed the TV star?
The prizes are usually completely zany, but this is the perfect way to score the PERFECT gag gift for your office grab bag this holiday season! Since anybody with a Twitter handle can enter, it's worth checking out at least for a laugh. We'd hate to be the cause of anyone's shopping addiction, so this referral is your safest bet. 'Tis always the season for free stuff!
UPDATE: We knew our social media instincts were on point!... After doing some snooping here at RJW, we discovered this remote site, which hosts the Official Rules, required of any sweepstakes or giveaway contest. Not to our complete surprise, there is indeed a corporate sponsor for this promotion!
Sponsor: Wendy's International Inc., One Dave Thomas Blvd., Dublin, OH 43017.
AHA! While the campaign is riddled with copy like this...
Good luck figuring out who I am. #SIX
...we, are problem solvers here at RJW. So we thank you for the challenge, Wendy's! The Official Rules come complete with very specific, detailed, and timed instructions on how to win #SIX's cryptic contests. It's one of the most complex sweepstakes we've ever seen, and we still aren't sure what Wendy's motive is, but @GirlBehindSix, we called your bluff - now, what do we win for that?!
It's post-Super Bowl week. The debate is over. Green Bay holds the title. Luckily, when God closes one argument, he always starts another (or a flood). The Internet is ablaze with "Best Of" and "Top 10" lists for the ads that ran Sunday night. However, in my opinion, the lists (and ads) all seemed to be lacking a certain flavor I would expect from commercials airing during America's most popular competition, which is why instead of another recap of ads you can easily just watch on YouTube, I've decided to pit competing brands against one another to see which ones put out the better ads. Will Coca-Cola steamroll Pepsi? Can Audi overcome Mercedes? Can anyone explain how auto racing relates to domain names?
The answer is no. They can't.
Soft Drinks: Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi
I chose the border ad because furry bear-men repelling a dragon-led orc invasion just seemed in poor taste. Ever since the orcs realized that they didn't need a dragon to slaughter the furry bear-man army which seemed to only consist of women, children, and elderly bear-men, celebrating that initial short-sighted victory just doesn't feel right. In any case, Coke brought both fists to the fight and had a second quirky ad about border patrol officers briefly reconciling their antagonizing nationalism to share a couple of Cokes.
In the other corner, Pepsi seems to have crowd-sourced all their Super Bowl ads this year. A risky move that landed them with 2 out of 3 ads seemingly borrowing from the genius of America's Funniest Home Videos. However, all you need is one good ad to win this battle, and Pepsi came prepared with a nice little "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" sketch that featured some refreshing copy that didn't sound like advertising.
Though I actually quite enjoyed the Pepsi ad, with its tongue-in-cheek sexism and refreshing copy, the Coke ad had obviously higher production value, beautiful art direction, and hearkened back to the glory days of pre-war Imperial Militarism (Le Petit Caporal, tu me manques). The Pepsi ad was funny, but Coke maintained its long-standing brand message that a bottle of Coke can bring people together. Pepsi's ad just reminded me of the frustrations of dating.
Food: Doritos vs. Snickers
Just like Pepsi, Doritos crowd-sourced their Super Bowl ads, but with a greater degree of success (IMO). This ad seemed the strongest to me because it hit just the right degree of absurdity without breaking the laws of science. Plus, whoever plays that creepy cheese lover really nailed his role. I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of, but it certainly might win you a non-existent Bill Bernbach trophy.
Snickers decided to continue with their previous "You're not you when you're hungry" campaign, this time substituting Betty White for Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr. Instead of turning weak, hunger happens to make these burly lumberjacks whiny, which is coincidentally the same effect watching "American Loggers" has on me.
I loved the Betty White ad from last year's Super Bowl, but I was hoping for something different this year. Sadly, Snickers gave me a very similar ad with two people that simply aren't as lovable as Betty White. Doritos on the other hand, has made finger licking an entirely unsettling practice, and that will stick with you long after the Super Bowl.
Alcohol: Bud Light vs. Stella Artois
Bud Light came with a bevy of ads this year (what's new), from which I picked my favorite. This ad demonstrates the immense lift a bucket of Bud Light can give to property values, a nifty trick I'm sure many Americans wish was real; but even if it doesn't work, at least you have a bucket of beer to drown away your sorrows.
Stella Artois released this stylish and moody TV spot featuring Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody as a French crooner in an underground jazz bar, whose emotional performance pivots on the availability of Stella.
Winner: Bud Light
While I'll be the first to admit that the bar in the Stella ad looks like my kinda hangout, I can also attest to the fact that unless you are an Academy Award-winning actor, singing in a false French accent is really more weird than sexy. On the other hand, my girlfriend loves watching HGTV and the gentle ribbing Bud Light gives to the home improvement genre offers some levity to my memories of having to watch actual HGTV, which usually puts me in a dark place.
Services: Cars.com vs. CarMax
Cars.com went the route of Cars the movie (the most underrated of Pixar movies) with anthropomorphised automobiles discussing their respective reviews from Cars.com. The ad relies on humorous copy and a love of inhuman things acting like humans.
CarMax went with a joke built around the classic idiom "kid in a candy store." The ad runs through several absurd scenarios where a noun is in awe of a stereotypically appropriate setting (e.g. mermaid at a swim meet). This chain of absurdity eventually leads back to the car-buyer at a CarMax lot.
Though I loved the movie Cars, I can't condone the use of animated cars as a concept for an online car retailer. Similarly, idioms are usually a corny and cliched concept to build an ad upon. This contest rests in the execution and in that arena, they were very closely matched. CarMax came out on top because the progression of increasingly absurd scenarios is just a stickier idea than inanimate objects that talk. There are already so many ads with talking things. Plus, the copy just doesn't stack up against the awesomeness of Cars the movie.
Cars: Volkswagen vs. Chrysler
Car commercials were by far the most prevalent commercials this year. There were quite a few good ones, which made it very difficult to narrow down to just two. However, because so many car brands are owned by the same parent company, I decided to consolidate those brands to simplify the process. Eventually, I decided that I would go with Volkswagen vs. Chrysler because their respective commercials were probably the most popular and notable of the pack.
Volkswagen's popular "The Force" TV spot had a miniature Darth Vader innocuously terrorizing the Domestic Star with little avail until his Dad (immaculate conception my ass) arrives home in his 2012 Passat.
Chrysler went hard as a- Detroit rapper for their spot in which Eminem closes up a long and gripping voice-over that espouses the virtues of the once automotive capital of the world, breathing life into the promise of a renewed industrial Golden Age in the heart of America.
The Chrysler ad was fantastic. It had inspiring voice-over narration, dramatic music, plus art direction that brought to mind visions of The Sopranos and The Wire, both amazing shows that used their respective gritty settings as integral characters. It positioned Chrysler as a phoenix, poised for a resplendent resurgence lit by the crimson glow of molten steel and the effulgent sparks of spot-welding (see, I can be sophisticated too, Mr. Raspy voice-over guy). It also tapped into American pride and intertwined the Chrysler brand with the hard struggle of Detroit, imbuing the brand with all the semantic highs and lows that come with the storied city. However, when you take a few Prozacs and look past the high-octane emotions of the ad, there are some odd curiosities that arise. For instance, the copy starts on luxury but ends on conviction and experience with a weak transition to tie the two together. Furthermore, the narrative has Eminem walking into a vacant theater where a gospel choir is singing harmony to the ad's backing track (an Eminem song) for a non-existent audience (is this a metaphor?). These are great emotional triggers, but are all obviously contrived scenarios with no reasonable rationale behind them. On the other hand, Volkswagen's ad twinkles with with its innocence, humor, and relatability. The initial camera shot of the white hallway is a perfect recreation of the original introduction to Darth Vader in Star Wars, which was a nice touch. Furthermore, the branding fit perfectly with the fun and carefree personality of Volkswagen. They were able to maintain the core personality of their brand without dipping into a strange world of contrived story-telling and celebrity endorsements. It was a simpler way to show what bearing a VW badge is all about. All in all, the two were some of the best ads of the night.
That's all for now, as I've run out of directly competing brands to match up. Obviously, there were many more ads aired, and many of those are worth watching (some not so much), so go check them out. Just keep in mind that there's more to the success of a brand then their Super Bowl ad (i.e. online integration and social media strategy *cough* *cough*). If you were hoping for a final showdown to determine one commercial champion to rule them all, I'm sorry to disappoint, but there's no reason to compare apples to oranges.
The topic of Hello Kitty keeps coming up in my conversations. First, I had to pick up my friend’s credit card that she left at a bar – it was a Hello Kitty/Visa credit card. (Hello Kitty can apparently pick up bar tabs these days?) Second, Martina, our amazing Social Media Manager and I started talking about the immense universe surrounding the brand at the Lacoste L!VE event for the Legends sneaker collection. Hello Kitty’s brand identity in regard to simplicity and elucidation has become something familiar to all – the image has been mass produced on over 10,000 products in North America alone. The Hello Kitty brand, created by Yoku Shimizu for the Japanese firm Sanrio in 1974, was a central topic for me in graduate school after reading a fantastic book titled Buying In by Rob Walker. Walker describes how Shimizu was tasked with creating 6 potential designs to go on a vinyl purse – and the Hello Kitty image was the most popular. Brand strategists around the world agree that the fascination around the image is because there is no expression on Hello Kitty’s face. Shimizu never created a mouth – which allows consumers the opportunity to feel any emotion with Hello Kitty – whether it be happy, sad, surprised, or somewhere in between. While Mickey Mouse and other famous characters gained their personality through comic strips and films, Hello Kitty was never apart of that – again allowing consumers to relate to the figure in anyway they wish. As Walker writes in his book, “not only can logos have meaning, and not only can that meaning be manufactured – it can be manufactured by consumers. Ultimately, a cultural symbol that catches on is almost never simply imposed, but rather is created and then tacticly agreed upon by those who choose to accept it’s meaning, wherever that meaning may have originiation. That’s why Hello Kitty is: a cultural symbol. And a successful brand.” The ability to allow the consumer to enter into their own imagined community gives consumers the complete power to buy into today's brand-centered society. If you're interested in reading more about the Desire Code, the purple cow theory, "murketing," and learn more about the insight into brands like Red Bull, Converse, or PBR, I highly reccomend putting this on your holiday gift list. Do you think Hello Kitty is an over-done image that's mass produced or a brilliant brand that should be discussed more? I think we should discuss.
Waaaaaay back in the Spring of Aught-Eight (2008, for you youngins), I departed my beloved America to live and study in Morocco for a little over 4 months. Without boring you with a diatribe, my experience was incredible - never before have I learned so much about culture, language, religion, myself, and a whole host of other things in such a short amount of time.
What does this have to do with marketing, you might ask? Well, these photos (taken by yours truly) demonstrate some of the incredible Islamic design work accomplished by Moroccan artisans at large. To think, what these guys could have done with modern tools and a world of demand recently for Moroccan aesthetics!
Also, keep in mind that there are over 1.3 billion Muslims in the world... we could learn a lot about reaching an audience!
Also, as an Account Executive whose primary responsibility is to communicate effectively - I can think of no better gauntlet to hone that ability than being dumped into the middle of a country as linguistically fragmented as Morocco. Not only is Arabic mixed with French (and Spanish, in the North and extreme South), but there are 3 distinct Berber (indigenous language) dialects mixed in depending on which region you find yourself in. Case study: I spent some time in a rural village with city dwellers (native Moroccans), who were often unable to communicate effectively with the other Arabic-speakers from the area.
Nevertheless, that struggle is precisely what made my time there such a beneficial adventure.
All of us at RJW Collective are getting super-excited for this weekend at the LACOSTE L!VE store in SoHo (134 Prince St). Not only is an incredible collection of exclusive footwear being released, but RJW had the incredible pleasure of putting our client together with Finger on the Pulse, a delightfully talented DJ duo (who happen to be twins!).
ArtBattles artists will also be exhibiting their talents on tshirts as well as some installations around the store.