TV killed the radio star and the Internet killed…well maybe both. Audiences on TV are shrinking in favor of the Internet for a variety of reasons. What better way to deal with something uncomfortable than to poke some serious fun at it?
Last night something horrible happened. The Emmy Awards broadcast was interrupted by Dr. Horrible (actor and Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris). For the uninitiated, Dr. Horrible is an aspiring mad scientist, trying to be accepted into the League of Evil, who posts periodic updates of his Horribleness in his Sing Along Blog — and in my opinion is funniest thing to come out of the 2007-2008 writers strike.
This is very well done and uses viral marketing techniques to really get this word out. Watch it, then read below.
Meghan Keane writes about J.C. Penney’s now widely watched “doghouse” video in her Wired blog:
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, J.C. Penney must be pretty glad it picked the right planet to mock for its viral ad campaign this holiday season.
The discount retailer released an ad called The Doghouse three weeks ago that fictionalizes the plight of men who buy the wrong gifts for their significant others. In the ad, a well-intentioned man buys his wife a new dual bag vacuum for Christmas, only to find himself dropped into the doghouse, an underworld prison where men go when they purchase bad presents for the women in their lives.
People love it. The ad has been viewed over 1.7 million times since J.C. Penney uploaded it to BewareOfTheDoghouse.com and YouTube three weeks ago, according to Visible Measures, a video analytics firm. Since then, the 4-1/2 minute video has received 56 placements across 9 different video sites. Over 90 percent of those have been community driven.
“The response has definitely exceeded our expectations,” says Quinton Crenshaw, a spokesperson for J.C. Penney’s. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
The retailer has focused the majority of this campaign online, with the devoted website, a facebook page and some good old fashioned male mockery. Unlike many traditional ads, the company’s brand does not factor in until the very end of the long video, when it suggests men get out of the doghouse by purchasing diamonds from J.C. Penney.
But with just a slight misjudgment in tone, an online ad can go completely awry.
That’s what happened with a Motrin ad that Johnson and Johnson pulled earlier this month. The drug giant created a short video ad on its website, aimed at mothers who get back pain while carrying their babies. But the ad struck a nerve with a vocal demographic, mommy bloggers, who found the ad condescending and demanded the ad get pulled. They succeeded in short order, with Johnson and Johnson pulling the ad within hours of the criticism.
It’s hard to say why the reactions were different. The Motrin pitch was seen as patronizing, however unwittingly, while the Penney campaign purposelessly tapped into a meme — cluelessness — that many men proudly embrace (or at least acknowledge to the opposite sex), as well as the quick and easy recoveries they make to stay in the game.
“It’s aimed at men looking to purchase jewelry,” says Dave Howlett, senior director of consumer insights for J.D. Power and Associates, “but it actually markets to women, making men the butt of the joke.”
And that strategy appears to have worked.
“I like the J.C. Penney ad because it takes a universal situation — what to get someone you care about — and makes it a joke,” Ochman tells Wired.com. “It could just as easily have been women who bought men ties, or socks for an important occasion instead of a piece of jewelry, which is a gift that signifies a relationship is at a level with a degree of permanence.”
Howlett doesn’t think that it would have worked the same way if it mocked women:
“I come at this from a bit of a sexist approach. I would like to think that men are more self-deprecating than women, but I don’t think it would be as successful if it were making fun of women buying bad gifts.”
The J.C. Penney campaign is not without its detractors. The Doghouse has a smaller, but vocal set of critics. Allison Linn, a blogger for MSNBC, writes:
“We’re not sure who should be more offended by this campaign: Men, who are painted as sexist, clueless dolts, or women, who are shown as mean-spirited and materialistic, willing to mete out menial punishment but swayed by glittery things.”
But as much as some people are complaining about the video’s content, others are forwarding it to their friends. B.L. Ochman wrote in AdAge last week:
The Doghouse came to me from women friends, it came in a direct message on Twitter and more than one male friend sent it with the note, “I know you’ll love this.” And that, in a nutshell, is what makes a viral. One friend saying to another: “I know you’ll get a kick out of this, relate to this, etc.”
“The worst thing that can happen to a viral video is that no one can talk about it,” says Matt Cutler, vice president of marketing and analytics at Visible Measures. “If you look at the history of commercially driven viral videos, there is always some degree of controversy associated with them.” And, it seems the campaign has officially influenced at least one man for the better. Says Cutler: “For the record, I’m now reconsidering a few of my planned (ahem!) holiday gifts.”
Aaron Smith from Email Insider wrote often during the campaign about President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign and its highly effective use of new media and direct marketing tactics to tap into and engage with a wide base of supporters. Many say this strategy gave Democrats the crucial edge needed to win this year’s election. So Aaron summed it up with this interesting look.
It wasn’t just Obama’s presidential campaign that used email effectively this year; it was the Democratic National Committee program as a whole. They followed email marketing best practices to engage and inform their subscribers, as well as solicit donations. I’m not going to go so far as to say the DNC’s email program was the reason Democrats won the White House, but I do think email played a more important role than ever before in this election.
Lessons we can all take away from the DNC’s email program from the past year:
Be relevant. I know regular readers of the Email Insider are probably tired of reading the words “be” and “relevant” next to each other. However, it’s no coincidence fellow Email Insider writers and industry colleagues so frequently tout the importance of sending relevant emails. In a nutshell, being relevant means sending messages that appeal to the interests of your recipients. A message that isn’t relevant isn’t likely to get much attention.
This year’s election was certainly a relevant topic for just about anyone living in the United States, so it wasn’t exactly a stretch for the DNC emails to be relevant (indeed many online retailers also included plenty of election-themed messaging throughout the final months of the election). But they took their program many steps further by segmenting and sending targeted messages based on geography and past behavior.
Be engaging. The DNC kept a constant barrage of emails coming during the campaign, keeping them engaging by using such tactics as creative — often dramatic — subject lines and timely alerts. Most interestingly, they used different friendly “from” lines, coming from various Democratic celebrities like “Hillary Clinton” or “Michelle Obama.”
Be clear. A good call-to-action should always let recipients know what steps they should take and where a link will take them if they click on it. The majority of emails from the DNC included prominent buttons with bold text reading “Please Donate,” in addition to well-articulated text links that included strong emotional appeals combined with clear steps to take action. Here’s a great example of a primary call-to-action link from one of the emails I received in October: “Take a minute to consider what’s at stake, then please make a donation of $5 or more today.”
Be strategic. At the end of the day, successful execution of any email program starts with long-term strategy and planning. It’s obvious a lot of thought went into the DNC’s email program. Without laying the groundwork of segmentation, messaging, list-building, frequency and contingency planning, they wouldn’t have been able to effectively execute and adapt to the rapidly shifting political landscape throughout the long campaign.
Whether you’re a bleeding-heart liberal or dyed-in-the-wool conservative, you can still agree, I think, that the DNC developed and ran a great email program this past election cycle. Regardless of our personal political leanings, we can all study and learn from their campaign and put some of their ideas to work in our own email programs.
According to a recent Yahoo! Green study as published by the Research Brief, 77% of consumers describe themselves as “Green,” actively living their lives conscious of their health and environment, and 57% have made a Green purchase in the past 6 months.
But, concludes the study, the fact that not all green consumers are the same creates a great opportunity for advertisers to better understand the purchasing motivations of mainstream green consumers, one of the largest and fastest growing markets nationwide. The study segments green consumers into four main groups:
23% of market are early-adopters of green who are looking to make a long-term impact
Mostly adults (35+)
Higher percent live in metropolitan areas
Respond most to the “positively impact the environment” message
24% of market are trend-setters who are motivated to be green to look cool
More ethnically diverse
Respond to messages about “everybody else is doing it,” newest technology, cool/hip.
13% of market is motivated to be green by immediate benefits such as saving money or improving health
Skew a bit older (45+)
More with children
Over-index in rural areas
17% of market recognize green as important but place the responsibility more on others than themselves
Younger adults (25-34)
More women with kids
Respond to messages about providing a better life for their family
The other 23% of the market says they don’t care about the environment, or they say they care, but they don’t take any action.
Two of the segments present the biggest opportunity for advertisers, says the report: the “trendy” consumers who go green to be cool, and the “deeply committed”. These segments buy more green products, discuss green issues often, and convince others to make the same green purchases.
80% of the “deeply committed” and 69% of the “trendy” consumers have made a green purchase in the past 6 months
79% of “deeply committed” and “trendy” consumers say that if they like a product they will always tell their friends
70% of the “trendy” and 66% of “deeply committed” consumers who have recently purchased a green alternative product have convinced a family/friend to buy the same product
The study reports that Online is an important source for green information:
More than two-thirds (68%) of survey respondents cite online as a source of green information, on par with traditional media (72%)
In the online space, people look most to portal websites (Yahoo!, MSN, etc.) for more information on green products (51%), likely due to the richness of content offered by such sites.
Second is online search (44%)
Reading online reviews by users also high (40%). People look to user reviews more than professional reviews (24%)
Lowest is a company website (20%) and blogs (21%)
A large percent of people still look to TV ads for more info on green products (47%), especially in the household cleaning product category (37%).
This study included 1,500 internet respondents between the ages of 18-54 from a diverse cross-section of the population from around the country, as well as in-person interviews with people who live in Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland. 8% of people were screened out of this survey because they stated that they were “not at all conscious with regard to their health and the environment”. Therefore, survey respondents include an Internet representative sample of 92% of consumers.
For those who market to boomers, here’s some valuable info pulled from various sources around the net.
According to a recent ThirdAge/JWT Boom study, people over age 40 participate heavily in word-of-mouth and value personal recommendations and expert opinions, but they have not embraced social networking or blogs despite being heavy users of other online services,.
Boomers want to connect and interact with others in their communities around shared interests and common issues, but they use more traditional web communications tools, such as email, to keep in touch.
Web Based Activities Reflecting The Most Interest By Respondents
% Respondents Using
Health & Wellness Info
Keep in touch w/Family/Friends
Receive photos of family/friends
Source: ThirdAge and JWT Boom, June 2008
Asked whether they visited any sites to connect and engage with others – i.e., social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) – or might in the future…
“Do you visit Social Networking sites to connect and engage with others…”
53% said no
22% said yes
26% said that they did not but might
Source: ThirdAge and JWT Boom, June 2008
Among the 53% who said they had not visited such sites:
47 % cited concerns over privacy and having personal information on the web
39 % said they are too busy
32% said they do not see the benefit of spending time social networking
Boomers also expressed “little or no interest” in the following activities:
Web Based Activities Reflecting Little Or No Interest By Respondents
% of Respondents
Participating in general social networking
Playing games with others
Listening to podcasts/prerecorded audio content
Source: ThirdAge and JWT Boom, June 2008
Boomers participate in trusted online communities and share opinions about brands. They’re also open to traditional marketing and e-marketing, as long as the message is coming from a source or brand they know and trust.
75% who have received promotional emails about products and services have clicked through to the site being promoted
More than 55% have purchased a product or service promoted in an email
93% of respondents who have read an article about a website in print (newspaper or magazine) have later visited the site online
Respondents were most likely to trust a Web site’s content if the site corresponded to a trusted brand or featured credible expertise.
83% reported the content needed to be attributed to experts, authors or authorities with subject-matter credibility
66% said they trust sites whose content is sponsored by a company they know and trust
62 % said they would trust a site if they had been going to it for a long time and came to trust its brand
Boomers participate in viral or word-of-mouth marketing as much as or more than younger age groups. 93% of Boomers are very or somewhat likely to share product information or news with friends. 80% of Boomers use a broadband connection at home.
Boomers alone account for 78 million people in the US and control more than 83% of consumer spending. Some 40% of the US population is over 45, with 50% market growth projected in the next 15 years. Boomer spending is expected to surpass $4.6 trillion by 2015.
So the internet is a vehicle to communicate our messages, but not necessarily in social forms unless those messages can be seen in posts in sites they visit and trust.
By now, we’ve all heard about the death of newspapers as a marketing medium (although I strongly disagree with the term “death” since I believe print will play a decent role for advertisers for at least five more years and then will play more of a specific role reaching certain demographics) and the power of the internet to cost-effectively reach customers. While there certainly has been a large shift in ad dollars to the web (we’ve seen excellent results from banner ads, etc.), we must recognize that web marketing by itself poses the same problems as utilizing any other medium exclusively. The point here is to mix the media — but make them work together.
If you want proof that TV can generate response, take a look at our effort for 1555 South Wabash in Chicago (1555 South Wabash Chicago ). While we didn’t produce the site itself (one look and you’ll see why I wrote that), we did insert the TV spot we produced. You see, print was ineffective, especially when the cost was considered. Web banners helped, but unless the banners were geotargeted, we saw a lot of waste in impressions and clicks. So for this community in the south loop area, we produced and ran a tv spot on cable TV in the areas surrounding the community. That spot ended with a special domain name used to track the results (you could only know about the web address if you saw the TV spot). This was the step approach: see TV spot. Go online to website. Schedule appointment. Receive confirmation. Visit sales office.
We budgeted a modest amount that included everything — production, media and the website, and have just ended the flight. Despite the short run, this was more effective than anything else done for the community since the Grand Opening.
Key to this approach was the web site which is really a landing page ( http://www.1555wabashchicago.com/ ). While it is all trackable, the most important element was the appointment scheduler. We knew that anyone looking at the TV spot who wanted information would visit our website. But we didn’t just want them to visit — we wanted them to come in. That’s where the appointment scheduler comes in. But we also wanted their name and info for our eblasts, just so we could stay in touch.
You see, the easier we can make it for people to fulfill our goal (in this case, schedule an appointment), the more likely it is that we’ll get people to work with us. The site was intentionally sparse — no floorplans, no area amenities, etc. since the key points were covered in the TV spot. But what happened? The first days the site was live and the TV spots ran, two appointments were made. What’s even more impressive was that the domain recorded more traffic in the first two weeks than the main website itself had in the three months before the spot ran. All for about half the cost.
So if you’re looking to focus exclusively on internet marketing, beware. You’ll be missing a lot of your market that simply won’t catch your online messages.
Think blogging is only for young, geeky males? Think again. A recent release of a new social media benchmark study of more than 6,000 women by BlogHer, in conjunction with Compass Partners, shows that 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogsophere every week, with 15.1 million publishing and 21.1 million reading and commenting. Granted, this study was done by a female blogging site, so the data is skewed. But it’s still valuable.
68% of this BlogHer community is concentrated in the 25 to 41 age group (the GenXr’s), compared to 42% for the general blogging population. Together, the Millienials and the Matures account for only about 10% of this community. Two thirds have completed college, and 46% earn over $75,000 compared to only 25% of the general community.
Online Women Demographics
Number in HHD
Have children at home
Employed full time
High school graduate or less
Technical or trade school graduate
Graduated from college/university
Some post-graduate work
Masters or doctorate degree
$25,000 – $34,999
$35,000 – $49,999
$50,000 – $74,999
$75,000 – $99,999
$100,000 – $124,999
Greater than $125,000
Source: BlogHer & Compass Partners, April 2008
The blogging rates are highest among Millennials and GenX “digital natives,” says the report, and Online media participation rates decline with increasing age.
Online Media Habits by Age
Online Women (18-75)
Posting comments to a blog
Source: BlogHer & Compass Partners, April 2008
Additional highlights from the study:
Women are so passionate about blogging, says the report, that large percentages said they would give something up to keep the blogs they read and/or write:
55% would give up alcohol
50% would give up their PDAs
42% would give up their i-Pod
43% would give up reading the newspaper or magazines
only 20% would give up chocolate
Time shift from traditional media is accelerating in the general Internet population:
24% of women surveyed watch less television because of blogging
25% read fewer magazines because they are blogging
22% read fewer newspapers because they’re blogging
More than half of women surveyed consider blogs a reliable source of advice and information
Half of women surveyed say blogs influence their purchase decisions
So as marketers, what do we do with this info? Well, for one, we must keep up with posts to all sites related to our products and services. Women are reading — and writing — so why not? Second, we must engage them in dialog and lead them to sites where they will allow us to communicate with them. Our landing pages need more than a “contact us” button, but rather a “keep me informed” which allows the viewer to register to receive important information.