Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So many, many reasons they're so mmmMMM fooled.

We recently came across this article in the Wall Street Journal discussing the Campbell’s Soup brand and the company’s attempt to redesign the packaging of their iconic soup based on extensive neuromarketing research using biometrics, eye-tracking systems, video and special vests that monitor the moisture in the skin.

Before we get into this, can we just take a moment to say, “REALLY!?!?” Campbell’s, just a reminder… you are selling soup. Soup! Whoever is doing your market research is ripping you off.

So, why would anyone go to all this trouble to monitor the heart rates of prospective customers as they select a can of soup? The answer is that they’re probably influenced by big words. Neuromarketing is a field of marketing dedicated to the chemical reactions taking place in the brain and the resulting emotions and responses elicited by them and how that affects purchases. It’s very fancy, but it’s also a little outrageous.

We’re not saying that “neuromarketing” is without merit or that we don’t believe in science. We do! Science is good! But measuring the rate of change of the dilation of your customers’ pupils is a little extreme if not invasive. If you really want to find out what your customers want, put yourself in their shoes and think logically.

If you read the linked article, you’ll discover that after all this research documenting the physiological minutia of their customers, they decided to redesign the label based on their results. And what happened next? Nothing. If you don’t extrapolate the data in terms of REAL emotion, your experiment is incomplete, and this research failed to attribute any emotion to the data. In fact, the article states that most people hardly blinked an eye when making a decision. Duh. Choosing between chicken noodle and chicken with stars is hardly monumental. Canned soup isn’t bought to eat that day – it’s to eat later when you’re out of everything else and you want something warm and easy to make.

So how do they make their brand more emotional and get people’s attention? First of all, they need to run a campaign that gets customers to stop and think about soup. People eat soup all the time, so why not Campbell’s? Maybe they should have events at schools for parents and children or become more active on social media, interacting personally with real life soup shoppers. Or, perhaps, they should run a Campbell’s Soup kitchen (in a high-visibility area) for the less fortunate and show their dedication as a brand to the community and their longevity in the industry… or even target college campuses! We came up with those ideas in literally 15 seconds. And if they’re already doing these things (I do know they have an active Twitter account and feature some of their product lines on YouTube), perhaps they’re not doing it the right way. Social media doesn’t work alone, and neither do charity projects – it takes media relations, a fresh approach to advertising and in-your-face, hands-on interaction with customers. With real thought and effort, we bet they could find a multitude of ways to achieve this goal – all for less than it probably costs to analyze someone’s perspiration.

Changing the label at this point will only ostracize those customers that do identify with the Campbell’s brand (and after Andy Warhol, who doesn’t?). Harness nostalgia and make a noticeable, real impact with customers, Campbell’s, and THEN you’ll see results.

Bottom line: Instead of analyzing brains,
just use one. Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one (Occam’s razor)… that’s science. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Taking the edge off

If you’ve been following Black Sheep on this blog, Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that we are constantly pushing our clients to be “edgier.” The problem is that the definition of that word is often lost in translation… or misinterpreted…  We’re not quite what happens, but it’s not good.

So today, we’re setting the record straight and perhaps, coming up with a better word.

What do we REALLY mean when we say “edgy”?

Unique. We mean that an edgy campaign is one that hasn’t been seen, replicated or served as a template in a marketing 101 textbook since 1992. (Got Milk? campaign copiers, we’re talking to you). There’s something to be said for recognizing quality work in a competitor and striving to emulate it, but that hardly works. Be first, and let the others copy you. However, finding inspiration in vintage works, or putting a fresh spin on something old can be just as worthwhile. Whatever you do, make it your own.

Unexpected. Whether it’s the timing, location or the execution of an event or campaign, choose parameters that aren’t typical, and you’ll get more attention. That doesn’t mean it has to be scary or vulgar – just a surprise that makes people look up from their text messages and pull out their earbuds for a few minutes.

Clever. If you’re brave and ready to do something different, realize that it still has to be meaningful – not just off-the-wall. If it’s silly, put some thought into it and make it genuinely funny. If it’s sexy, make it really smart. Every bold element must be balanced with enough intellect to ensure the audience knows you’re not trying to be offensive, mean or crude.

What are we NOT saying when we say “edgy”?

Profane. We’re not against throwing around a few “bad words” every now and then, but it has to be appropriate, and it can’t be rude or angry. The test is pretty simple: would you say it or show it to your grandma, your co-workers and in a job interview? If you wouldn’t, then it’s probably not okay. Keep in mind, though, that just because it may not be something your grandma totally “gets” or would put on the wall of her home, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily inappropriate for your audience – you just don’t want her to cringe at the sight of it.

Gratuitous. Silly for the sake of being silly. Sexy for the sake of being sexy. Gross for the sake of being gross. Yes, it might get attention, but if there’s no substance, that attention won’t get results.

Grungy. There’s no specific look or feel for something to be edgy. Hip and up-to-date can be a lot of different things, so your look doesn’t have to look dirty or unkempt. Just awesome. J

So what’s a better word for “edgy”? Hip? Progressive? Current? Witty? Whatever word resonates with you, use it and live by it. Your audience will thank you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The greatest Road Show on earth.

If you follow Shear Creativity, you already know that Black Sheep Leader of the Flock Aimee Woodall is constantly seeking adventure. She’s always like, “Hey sheep, when are we gonna take an adventure?” and we’re always like, “Stop bringing in so much awesome work, and we’ll go.” But she never does that. Dedication – it’s a bitch.

Fortunately, she took it upon herself, as she often does, to find her own adventure, and it begins April 1. She and fellow rebel Jayme Lamm (from Charity Chicks Houston) are embarking on a ten-day road trip traveling from Houston to New York City. Sure, AW lives for wacky stuff, but this is no selfish endeavor. The project called Road Show is happening all in the name of The Jed Foundation, a national organization committed to the awareness of teen suicide prevention, and that’s serious stuff.

As they travel, they’ll be stopping along the way, interviewing people and talking to them about suicide prevention. The founder of The Jed Foundation, a father whose son fell victim to suicide, feels the best way to make a difference is to ask people “What’s on your mind?,” a question he wished he had asked his son more often. At the end of the trip, they hope to have gained some insight and opened the lines of communication for people everywhere.

 On top of seeking answers and spreading awareness, they’ll also  be performing hilarious tasks and raising money for the cause. While actively communicating the whole way through Twitter, Facebook and their blog, roadshowblondes.com, they will be seeking tips and suggestions from fans about what prank to pull next, and they’ll be taking bids from people who want to support them. Some of the items they’ve already discussed include milking a cow, dressing outrageously, dancing in the street with strangers and hugging a sheep. And that’s really funny stuff.

How will it work? For instance, the girls have put skydiving on the list of activities they’d be willing to do – FOR A PRICE. So, if you, the general public and loyal fan base, decide you’d like to see them parachute through the air, put your money where your mouth is, and pay them to do it. Of course, all collected bids will go straight to The Jed Foundation.  

All in all, it’s a pretty fun, creative way to help people and affect change. If you’ve got the desire to make a difference, you can. We don’t mean to sound like an inspirational cat poster. But, if you want your company to get on the map, sometimes you have to get behind the wheel and be a driving force. Maybe you need a brand make-over or campaign that does more than talk about your “great customer service” and “solutions.” Maybe you need to get your company on social media and strike up a conversation. Or, maybe you just need to do something for a good cause and help someone else out. Whatever it is, we hope this Road Show inspires you to do it.

We’ll keep all of you posted on the latest with Jayme and Aimee, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until they hit the road to get involved. Let us know what you think they should do and where they should go in the comments below or on their blog site!  AND, be sure to follow them at @aimeewoodall and @roadshowblondes. See ya on the road