Friday, October 31, 2008

More Product Placement at the Movies

Beverly Hills Chihuahua has been relegated to the dog house by this week's new number one movie at the US box office, Max Payne. This dark, Gothic film tells the story of former DEA agent Max Payne's (played by Mark Wahlberg) maximum pain, as he seeks to avenge the murder of his wife and baby in the shadowy, snowy environs of New York City. The plot reveals how an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company with dubious connections to the local police and the US military can cause a good man to descend into a hallucinatory hell of betrayal, whizzing bullets and winged shadows with talons.

Few brands appear in this dark netherworld adapted from the popular video game, yet the brands that do appear enjoy prominent exposure, such as this Cadillac, which, in one shot, has its logo nearly fill the entire movie screen. Apple also makes a notable brandcameo in the form of a Mac, and beer brands Bass and Budweiser receive fleeting screen time as signs in a bar scene. Also, no movie set in New York City is complete without an NYPD cruiser, so once again Ford enjoys the obligatory brandcameo that comes with transporting the city's finest.

Featured Brands: Apple, Bass, Budweiser, Ford, Pepsi

Monday, October 27, 2008

Analyze This! Branded Candidates

Analyze This! Branded Candidates

According to the 2008 Presidential ImagePower Survey by Landor Associates and Penn, Schoen & Berland, James Bond and Jack Bauer (TV 24) would be heading into the final stretch of the U.S. presidential campaigns this month. The poll of likely voters sheds light, says the study, on various aspects of the nominees' identities by associating them with familiar brands across categories. For example, in the eyes of the public, Obama is associated with BMW, Target, and Google, while McCain is aligned with Ford, Walmart, and AOL.

Brand Association (Consumer Perception of Brand & Candidate Similarity)

















Computer platform










Search engine





Fast Food










Fictional character

James Bond


Jack Bauer

James Bond

Source: Landor Associates/Penn, Schoen & Bertland, October 2008

According to the survey, voters' perceptions of candidate attributes finds Obama as charming, approachable, compassionate, intelligent and unifying, while McCain is seen as strong, reliable and respected. On the vice presidential side, Biden was identified as respected, strong, and reliable, while Palin'sattributes include trustworthy, "shares my values," and approachable, as well as unifying and credible -two qualities she shares with Obama.

Mary Ellen Dugan, executive director at Landor Associates, says "The study suggests that both campaigns have effectively co-branded to broaden and balance their appeal. Obama and Palin... (are associated) with similar positive key attributes, despite the strong surface distinctions between the two candidates... Likewise, Biden and McCain are both aligned with similar brands despite their deep policy disagreements."

The survey suggests that Obama and Palin have a lot in common, as do McCain and Biden, demonstrating that the VP candidates compensate for Obama and McCain's perceived weaknesses, at least brand-wise.

Scott Siff, executive vice president at Penn, Schoen & Berland, notes that "...Three of the key brands that McCain and Obama are both associated with... won their reputation as game-changers in their respective categories... This similarity in the candidates' brand strategies also indicates that whichever candidate best achieves the positioning they are both trying to claim may well be the winner on November 4."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sampling..Product Placement......Buzz Marketing at its best.

G N' R delivered the rock, now Dr Pepper has to deliver the pop.

Earlier this year, Dr Pepper promised to give one can of soda to every American if Guns N' Roses delivered its latest album, "Chinese Democracy." It seemed a safe bet to observers at the time. The album had been so long in the making (17 years) that it was more a punch line than a realistic expectation.

Now, it's official. The album will be released at the end of November, meaning Dr Pepper's promise is coming due. The event is already garnering plenty of buzz for both the band and the soda.

Then again, from a business point of view, the deal raises as many questions as it answers. The album is being released exclusively at Best Buy on Nov. 23. Dr Pepper just happens to have 23 magical flavors. Further, PR shop Ketchum also represents both Best Buy and Dr Pepper.

Numerous calls to Dr Pepper were unreturned. Ketchum directed calls to its client.

Time to honor pledge
"We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, VP-marketing at Dr Pepper, said in a statement. "But now that it's here all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."

Dr Pepper plans to give out the soda through a couponing strategy. Consumers will need to register at the brand's website for a coupon that can then be redeemed at any retailer that sells Dr Pepper. The coupons, which are limited to one per person, will only be available for 24 hours beginning after midnight on Nov. 23. A back-of-the-napkin equation would put 300 million cans of soda (which wholesales in the range of 55 cents a pop) at about $165 million.

But most figure the soda company hasn't taken a huge risk as it's unlikely the overwhelming majority of Americans will be logging on during the 24-hour time window. "To be honest, when I saw it, I thought it was a safe bet," said Patrick West, VP-experiential marketing at Zoom Media & Marketing, explaining that he didn't think the album would actually come out. "I expect they will get a healthy return, in terms of total numbers redeemed. This stunt has a lot of legs behind it. But it's really risky, if only because of the cost of your goods. Obviously that's a bet Dr Pepper is willing to make."

Couponing and sampling experts said that the company could eventually shell out several million dollars in free soda, given the press the challenge has attracted. But Dr Pepper has fewer opportunities for incremental purchases. Similar stunts, such as Taco Bell's free-taco offer tied to the World Series, most often lead to additional purchases, such as a high-margin fountain soda, for example. Last year it was estimated that the fast-food chain spent $5.6 million advertising the promotion, while the giveaway itself cost under $1 million and generated priceless publicity. The stunt was successful enough that Taco Bell is repeating it this year.

Will freebies inspire loyalty?
"The publicity is worth a lot, no doubt about it. You have to measure it against the value of the PR," said Bob Goldin, executive-VP at Technomic. "Will it do anything to build loyalty, you've got to wonder. Those things generally don't, in my opinion. Consumers will feel good about the company for the time it takes them to drink the soda."

Wes Brown, a partner at consumer-research consulting firm Iceology, thinks the promotion will lead to some sort of loyalty among consumers, however. "Dr Pepper could ultimately build some loyalty and some brand consideration out of this," he said. "Because consumers will look at this as a brand that went out on a ledge and is sticking to their guns no matter what it ends up costing them [dollar wise]."

Others say that the association with Axl Rose, especially when Dr Pepper is increasingly relying on music to market its brand, could prove invaluable.

"If you play it right, you could end up building even more PR," Mr. Brown said. "You can make fun of it and say, 'We got them to do in six months what has taken them 15 years to do' or that 'All music fans should be thanking us.' And ultimately, as long as Guns N' Roses doesn't get too upset, you could make a little campaign out of it that will continue to keep the brand in the forefront."

After all, chances are slim Dr Pepper would have been able to ink any sort of formal deal with Axl Rose.

"The brand association with Guns N' Roses and Axl Rose might be something that they would have had to pay infinitely more for than they ever could have afforded," said Mr. West.

Band with a long past
Then again, others might point out that Guns N' Roses, which hasn't been heard from since last century, comes with plenty of baggage, including its frontman. Axl Rose, after all, hasn't exactly aged as gracefully as Mick Jagger.

Ultimately, the promotion will work double-time for them, pointed out Dean Crutchfield, a brand consultant. He said that it is a good way for the company to re-engage with an older audience, maintain its core fans and introduce the brand to new consumers. "What I like about this, at the end of the day, is they are riding two horses at one time, and that's what's important and unique here for Dr Pepper," he said. "In branding, they say you're looking for more users, new users or new uses. Clearly they are not going to get new uses, but they are certainly aiming for new users. This is a smart deal that will get them a lot of publicity, depending on the amount of publicity that Guns N' Roses will get. That will be the acid test."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Product Placement, Sampling, and Word-of-Mouth Collectively Influence Consumer Purchases

Product Placement, Sampling, and Word-of-Mouth Collectively Influence Consumer Purchases

Product Placement, Sampling, and Word-of-Mouth Collectively Influence Consumer Purchases

According to BIGresearch's Simultaneous Media Survey (SIMM12), the effectiveness of product placements varies by product category and consumer group. Consumers indicate product placements have the most influence on their grocery purchases with 14.8% saying so, up from 13.0% one year ago. Electronics and apparel round out the top three categories most influenced by product placements.

As marketers search for ways to increase marketing ROI, product placements are a viable option, says the report, particularly when targeting specific ethnic groups. African American, Hispanic and Asian consumers are more likely to be influenced to buy electronics, grocery and apparel from product placements.??

Influence of Product Placement On Purchases by Product Category & Ethnic Group (% of Respondents)??


White / Caucasian

African American





















Home Improvement






Eating Out






Source: BIGresearch, October 2008

Gary Drenik, President & CEO of BIGreserch, concludes "Though the use of product placements is growing... today's savvy consumers... recognize when advertisers are trying to manipulate them... when executed effectively, product placements can... create highly influential word of mouth among specific consumer groups."?

45.8% of Caucasian, and 44.0% of Asian consumers, indicate their purchases are influenced by word of mouth. 41.1% of African American consumers say the same when it comes to grocery. Dining out purchases appear to be most affected by word of mouth.

Influence of Word of Mouth On Purchases by Product Category & Ethnic Group (% of Respondents)?


White /Caucasian

African American



Eating Out


















Home Improvement












Source: BIGresearch SIMM12, October 2008

And, while placement and word of mouth impact future purchases, sampling can create an almost immediate impulse purchase. According to the Product Sampling Study by Arbitron, sampling successfully reaches 70 million consumers every quarter, and one-third of customers who try a sample will buy the sampled product in the same shopping trip, and 58% of those surveyed reported that they would buy the product again.

In the study, consumers were grouped into three categories:

  • "Acquisitions" are those who were new to the sampled product
  • "Conversions" are those who had heard of the product but had never bought it
  • "Retentions" are those who had previously purchased the product

While 85% of the Retentions and 60% of the Conversions said they would purchase the sampled product in the future, sampled products encouraged 47% of the Acquisitions, those who had never heard of the product before, to purchase the product again.

Carol Edwards, Senior Vice President, Sales, Out-of-Home Media, says "... this study enforced that the sampling approach is both effective in making new customers aware of products, while also establishing a firmer identity with those consumers who have considered the product before."

Highlights of the study:

  • 28% of those surveyed reported that they have been offered product samples within the past three months
  • 64% of those surveyed claimed they had accepted product samples. 66% of the customers characterized as Acquisitions accepted samples, as well as 63% of the Conversions, and 63% of the Retentions
  • 35% of those surveyed claimed they purchased the sampled product on the same day. 26% of the Acquisitions bought the product right away, as well as 19% of the Conversions, and 31% of the Retentions
  • 24% of those surveyed claimed that a sampled product had specifically replaced an item that they had planned on buying. 20% of the Acquisitions were planning to make the switch, as well as 33% of the Conversions, and 18% of the Retentions.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Get Leads If Nobody's Buying?

AMERICANS ARE IN THE MIDST of a slow-motion economic panic as banks, insurance companies and jobs disappear before our eyes. The numbers show how consumer spending continues to decline as confidence wanes. And marketing budgets are being slashed. What works in this ugly climate?

In past recessions, marketing spending usually moved from image advertising to "below the line" sales promotion. The thinking assumed that it was better to take a short-term pricing hit and live to fight another day. In recent downturns, many incorporated direct marketing in additional to promotion, because it asked for the order in a quantifiable way.

Now we face a shrinking economy already knowing that online direct marketing - lead gen in particular - has become a marketer's most efficient tool. But many marketers are asking how they are going to get a return on their online ad investment if the demand side is drying up. At first impression, that looks like a reasonable fear. Consumers are already cutting their discretionary spending and avoiding new credit card purchases. And businesses are following suit.

But let's look at why online lead gen may make more sense than ever amidst today's turmoil, and how smart marketers can best take advantage:

Customers are out there, but they are harder to reach: If there are fewer potential customers, it makes sense to pay only for the best prospects, the ones who are really interested. Online cost-per-lead programs make that happen. Traditional CPM-based advertising is nowhere near as effective.

Build a relationship with future customers: Yes, your selling cycle will be longer during the recession. But getting an expression of interest now means beginning a relationship with the potential buyer. Build trust with ongoing communications -- maybe an email newsletter. When that reluctant customer gets ready to buy, he or she will think of you first. Follow-up has always been key to cost-effective conversion. It is absolutely vital now.

Don't assume your old targeting will work as well: Survival now and thriving in the next upturn may well mean finding a new customer base. At least, you'll have to supplement your current list with fresh blood. Attitudes are shifting quickly. Some consumers that loved your product may be turned off now. Others will find your story more attractive than before. Better find out who they are and what they want.

Test how to trigger faster purchase: Marketers who understand lead-gen see the optimization potential. Find out which offers work now and which copy direction to take. In normal times, education might be the best motivation. Today, price or added benefits might do better. It is easy to set up a testing matrix and see what leads to short-term and longer-term sales. Our clients often say that effective online lead gen is an excellent marketing laboratory.

Be real: Don't think business as usual. Let the prospect know you're very much aware of today's economic realities. And it doesn't matter if you're selling products or services that are suddenly out of favor, like investments or luxury goods. Change your copy and your offer to appeal to price/value or demonstrate long-term benefits.