Friday, April 30, 2010

Getting the mob done: 6 reasons why flash mobs work.

Let’s pretend for a moment, that you’re walking down the street… maybe you’re downtown, and you want to go buy a sandwich for lunch. And then, with no notice, you hear Party in the USA blaring from behind. You tell yourself it’s probably just a high school concert, and you keep going – you’re hungry! Then, all of a sudden, you hear gasps! You see crowds forming! You turn around to find 200 people dancing in formation. In street clothes! What the heck is going on? Forget that turkey-bacon club…this is entertainment at its best, and you can’t wait to see what happens next.

You’ve just witnessed a flash mob.

A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly, perform a random act (like a song or dance) and then disperse. The point is to get attention, raise awareness and most of all, be remembered.

Oh, wait. That’s what you try to achieve with your marketing campaign.

Maybe it’s time to take this crazy trend and put it to good use. Here’s why:

1. The element of surprise. Nothing gets people to pay attention more than when they’re caught off-guard – they can’t help it! A flash mob is exciting and hard to miss, and passersby won’t hesitate to stop and stare. Kind of like when Snooki is doing… well, anything.

2. The viral effect. People that witness a flash mob are not going to keep quiet about it. They’ll tell their co-workers, their friends, their family… and they’ll keep telling it for a long time because the experience is unique and impactful. People will talk about it on Twitter and Facebook, they’ll post pictures online and videos on YouTube, and before you know it, your message will have spread faster than celebrity gossip.

3. Media attraction. With a subtle heads-up, the media will be there to catch all the action. People love to hear fun, light-hearted stories about their neighborhood, and the media can’t resist. Flash mobs provide an opportunity to get a post-stunt interview and to get noticed on TV, radio and in local (maybe even national) publications.

4. Creativity points. We always say that using unconventional, progressive marketing tactics showcases your company’s willingness to do the same with your product or service. Inspire your customers with your sense of adventure, and they’ll look view your business as forward-thinking and innovative.

5. New audiences. With all the attention you’ll receive from media, on-lookers, gossipers and social media-lites, there’s no doubt you’ll reach tons of new potential customers and supporters. And with this kind of introduction, you are sure to remain top-of-mind.

6. Gone but not forgotten. If you witness a flash mob, you’re not about to forget it. And if you hear about it, you won’t either. It’s a compelling story to tell again and again, and while other companies may rely on over-looked ad placements, you will have made your mark forever.

There’s no doubt about it, you’ll get attention. You’ll get some press. And above all, you’ll get street cred.

We can’t tell you when, and we can’t tell you where, but the Sheep will be assembling soon! Expect the unexpected.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good and good for you.

Let’s get one thing straight. We are not telling you to start a charity or get involved with one for the sake of publicity. That is wrong and will inevitably come across as disingenuous and sleazy to your customers. Don’t do it. But, if you are a business owner with a little bit of heart and a passion to help others, doing some good will definitely… do you good.

The key to using your company as a conduit to helping others is to pin-point what skills and resources you already have. As a business owner, this should be easy. Let’s say you are an artist. You have a talent (painting) and resources (paint, brushes, discounts at art supply stores).

Next, you need to determine what you are passionate about. Maybe it’s animals or the environment or human rights. Let’s say you pick child abuse as a cause that’s always inspired you.

Finally, you’ll need to connect the two. Your organization could involve painting murals on the walls of a half-way home or collecting local artists to teach children to express themselves through art. It could include gathering real paintings that these children have made about abuse and their feelings and putting together a book. The extent to which you elaborate your plan is up to you, and most likely determined by your spare time, funds and tools. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to save the world – a small difference is still a difference.

Once you’ve established your role, it will be important to share the story. For one, it will help you reach out to others who may need your services. Secondly, letting your regular customers know that they are working with someone who cares will give them confidence that your business is upstanding. Wouldn’t you rather support a company who gives back over one who doesn’t?

One perfect example of this is Tide with their “Loads of Hope” campaign. They took what they had (laundry detergent!) and created mobile laundry stations to help people struck by natural disaster. Tide has long been considered a leading brand, but to solidify itself in the detergent market, it had to become more than just a product – it needed to become a BRAND that cared about helping other people. And instead of donating large sums of money, they have been able to actually increase the standard of living of many estranged victims.   

Another example is Liz Claiborne’s “Love is Respect” campaign spreading awareness about teen dating abuse. Liz Claiborne has used high visibility fashion events (something they were already well equipped to handle) to raise money for the cause and created an online chat platform for real teens to use for advice and counseling. Liz Claiborne may be a brand we associate with our mothers but they have been able to reach a new audience and make a huge impact at the same time.

And then there’s the “Haagen-Dazs Loves Honeybees” campaign which is again, kind of perfect. Haagen-Dazs is no doubt a strong brand with a delicious product… a product that only loses out to healthier alternatives. But the fact of the matter is, if you fall into the category of people that CAN resist a tasty treat, it probably would take something as simple as saving honeybees to change your mind. Plus, this campaign enhances their already “all-natural” brand motif, and it does in fact, help the bees. Win win.
So think about what your company can do to make a little difference in the world, and do it. Tomorrow is Earth Day, so there’s no better time than now. And if you’ve already started something, share below in the comments! We love to hear stories of success.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It’s that time of the month… for another blog post.

It’s pretty safe to say that among the worst breeds of commercials and advertisements, tampon and other “feminine product” spots take the cake. And, we know it’s pretty uncomfortable to read a blog dedicated to the issue, but we’re all grown-ups here (mostly), and there’s a lot to be learned.

We bring this up because Kotex has recently launched its “Anti-Tampon-Ad Campaign,” to polarizing reviews. Their new ads spotlight the ridiculousness of the glorification of menstruation, the euphoric feelings that apparently accompany it, and somehow, the need to constantly wear tight white pants, which is downright absurd (the pants, not the parody).  They make some valid points that are not only relevant to this genre of advertising, but advertising across the board. They also point fingers at those agencies that select “racially ambiguous” spokespeople and determine every aspect of an ad based on the responses of focus groups with the attention of appealing to everyone. In the end, the ads appeal to no one.

Some critics think the ads are trying too hard to be edgy, and that attitude is off-putting. We think these people should not take themselves or their tampon ads so seriously. Yet others say they’re not trying hard enough. Instead, they insist the ads are no better than the previous whimsical, sterile and vague commercials of their competitors because, instead of actually detailing the benefits of the products, they are using a different form of distraction to avoid the uncomfortable subject matter.

Here’s the thing: in the tampon market, there just isn’t a whole lot of room for product differentiation, and no amount of touting the absorbency and comfort of a piece of cotton is going to change that. So sure, Kotex isn’t making any REAL points about the quality of their tampons or why someone should choose their box on the fluorescently lit shelf. ANYONE who has bought tampons has tried to make the purchase as FAST as possible – trust me guys, we’re not reading the bullet points on the package in the middle of the store… “Oh look! This one is made from 25 different absorbent fibers!” No. Nobody has ever taken the time to learn about the 25 absorbent fibers.

And THAT is why this ad campaign is pretty effective. Without explicitly sharing the process by which the tampons work (gross!), these ads manage to be honest and sincere, and if nothing else, they are certainly memorable. And when you’re making a 15-second purchase decision, as a tampon company, your best bet is staying top of mind.

So what’s the take-away here? If your product is in a market that doesn’t really offer anything different from your competitor (pizza, dog food, chewing gum, toothpaste…), your ads don’t HAVE to be informative. They just have to be the best. And if you do have something to say (as in the Apple ads comparing Macs to PCs), you do have to take it a step further and not only explain why your product is better and unique, but also remind your audience that it exists. As always, think about what your advertising is trying to achieve, and the solution is usually pretty simple. PERIOD.