Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Experiential Marketing - a Very Creative Project

From the New York Times, Dec. 2, 2008. This really inspires me to push the boundaries of traditional thinking regarding advertising. Talk about cutting through the clutter!

Hot Food, and Air, at Bus Stops

CRITICS claim that advertising is just a lot of hot air. For the next month, at certain bus stops, they will have a point.

In the latest example of a trend that is becoming increasingly popular on Madison Avenue, heated air will descend from the roofs of 10 bus shelters in Chicago, courtesy of the Stove Top brand of stuffing sold by Kraft Foods.

From Tuesday through the end of this month, Kraft is arranging for the company that builds and maintains the bus shelters, JCDecaux North America, to heat them, trying to bring to life the warm feeling that consumers get when they eat stuffing, according to Kraft.
Such “experiential marketing” is intended to entice consumers to experience products or brands tangibly rather than bombard them with pitches.

It is a response to the growing ability of consumers to ignore or avoid traditional advertising, thanks to technology like digital video recorders. Experiential marketing is also an acknowledgment that products and brands must offer alternatives to the interruptive model of peddling that has been the mainstay of advertising for more than a half-century, which disrupts what consumers want to watch, read or hear.

“Stove Top as a brand has a great equity in the area of warmth,” said Ellen Thompson, brand manager for Stove Top at Kraft Foods in Glenview, Ill. “This is an opportunity to expand into a multisensory experience.”

The 10 heated shelters, primarily in downtown Chicago locations like Michigan Avenue and State Street, will have posters that read: “Cold, provided by winter. Warmth, provided by Stove Top.” The posters will also appear on 40 other bus shelters that will not have heated roofs.

During the first three weeks of December, Kraft plans to give samples of a new variety of Stove Top, called Quick Cups, to commuters and passers-by at half of the heated shelters. “People don’t always think of Stove Top for an everyday meal,” said Jamie Mattikow, vice president for marketing in the grocery division at Kraft. “In these hard times, when people are eating more at home,” he added, there is “a great opportunity to introduce our brands to people in a new way.”

JCDecaux North America, a unit of the global outdoor-advertising specialist JCDecaux, says these will be its first bus shelter heaters in the United States. The company has installed them in other countries for other advertisers’ campaigns. Those sponsored by British Gas included simulated fireplaces.

“Advertisers are looking for new and unique ways of reaching, and reaching out to, consumers,” said Jean-Luc Decaux, co-chief executive at JCDecaux North America in New York, adding that it costs “a few thousand dollars” to equip each shelter with heat.

“It’s like a metal plate that provides almost waves of heat,” Mr. Decaux said of the equipment, which his company recently tested in Chicago. “If you step underneath the shelter, you probably won’t see it — but you can feel it.”

The campaign, which is estimated to cost Kraft more than $100,000, is a collaboration of JCDecaux North America; the Stove Top media agency, MediaVest, part of the Starcom MediaVest Group division of the Publicis Groupe; and the Stove Top creative agency, Draft FCB, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

The fourth quarter, when marketers are striving mightily to stimulate sales as the year ends, typically brings a wide variety of experiential marketing tactics. For example, Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, is sponsoring a couple of projects this month in New York. One is what has become an annual sponsorship of restrooms in Times Square, on behalf of brands like Charmin toilet paper.

The other initiative is new, a so-called pop-up store in Midtown, BrandSaver Live, named after Procter’s BrandSaver coupon inserts in Sunday newspapers. At the store, consumers can sample products, receive coupons and even be made over with P.& G. beauty and hair care brands. Other pop-up stores — the term comes from their temporary existence — have been operated by marketers as disparate as Meow Mix cat food, the Suave hair care line sold by Unilever, the United States Potato Board and Wired magazine. Other brands wooing consumers with experiential efforts during the holidays in New York and other major markets include the ABC Family cable channel, Burger King, Jameson Irish whiskey, Memorex audio products, Rémy Martin Cognac and TD Bank.

The biggest risk with experiential marketing is that consumers will deem it an annoying gimmick, which could harm attempts to improve perceptions of brands or products.
There is a precedent. In December 2006, the California Milk Processor Board worked with the
CBS Outdoor division of CBS to introduce scent strips on bus shelters in San Francisco. The strips, which smelled like chocolate chip cookies, were an effort to bring to life the experience of desiring a glass of milk for dunking cookies.

The campaign was abruptly ended after an outcry that the scent was inappropriate in public places and could set off allergic reactions. Mr. Mattikow of Kraft, reminded of the cookie fiasco, said, “We are confident consumers will enjoy” the heated bus shelters. Mr. Decaux had this response: “The reaction of the public was quite surprising. All it was, was the smell of a nice cookie.” Still, Mr. Decaux said, “You always have to be careful not to upset the balance between having a presence and being too intrusive.”

Referring to the Stove Top shelters, he added, “I don’t think anyone will find it’s too intrusive.”
Perhaps. After all, some like it hot, particularly on a December day in Chicago.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

What a great, kind-hearted bunch of people! The Mapleonians pictured at left adopted a family for Christmas 2009 by way of the fine folks at the Union Mission, here in Charleston, W.Va.

Giving has always been one of our core values at Maple Creative. It feels good to know that one local family of four, down on their luck this year, will have a brighter Christmas thanks to this local "Secret Santa" program.

Pictured clockwise from lower left: Lauren Boder, Lora Franco, Clayton Ray, Carrie Bowe, Jim Nester, Marc Lewis and Justin Hylbert. Not shown are Michael Haid, Brooke Pauley, Steve Haid and Erin Deegan.

Those of you who've known us for a while will also notice that the snowflakes have returned again this year, which is another cause for celebration!

Here's one more shot of our lovable elves, hard at work (below):

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Director of First Impressions? Oh, really?

Earlier this week, I had a meeting with a dear business colleague. It was my first visit to his office.

Upon my arrival, I was impressed by the unique, elegant design of this office space. It's one of those building that you pass by a thousand times but never enter. Seriously, I was "Wow'd."

Making my way to the rather impressive reception desk (i.e., hexagonal control center), I noticed an impossible-to-miss brass desk placard, emblazoned with the following title:


Whoa, I thought. This outfit has it together. I was fully expecting to be blown away with a first-class greeting.

Instead, the middle-age lady seated within the impressive-yet-imposing reception hexagon had her head down. Her brain was buried in a spreadsheet. This lady never turned to greet me; her body was turned at a right angle to me. She was busy...too busy, in fact, to make eye contact with me. After an extended period of awkwardness, she said plainly, "May I help you?"

When I informed her whom I was there to see, without turning her head she buzzed my acquaintance on the intercom and shot me a sideways glance. Then, she informed me that "he would be with me in a few minutes."

Director of first impression? Sheesh! What a lame first impression.

Marketing geniuses know that if you are going to have a bold title like that one, emblazoned for all to see, you have to live up to its billing.

My take: the placard would have read, more aptly, "DIRECTOR OF LAME FIRST IMPRESSIONS."

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Monday, December 08, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas - a Case Study in Repetition

Because things have been a little crazy-busy around these parts ... and in the spirit of the Christmas season ... here's a repeat of a post worth repeating.

Still not convinced that repetition matters in communication? Okay fine. Here's proof that it does. You know that song, The Twelve Days of Christmas? My neighbor-friend called me to help her family solve a mystery. They could not recall the last several verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

So c'mon smartypants ... what was the gift on the eleventh day of Christmas? Don't know do you? What about the gift on the twelfth day of Christmas? It's a blank, isn't it. Hey, at least you are in good company.

Think about the song for a minute. Take it apart.

The lyric about the partridge in a pear tree is repeated 12 times. It's drilled into our brains.
Two turtle doves (repeats 11 times)
Three French hens (repeats 10 times)
Four calling birds (repeats 9 times)
FIVE ......... GOLD ........ RINGS (is repeated in dramatic fashion 8 times)

I can even remember (without cheating)-- six geese a laying; seven swans a swimming. At least I think these are correct, with respect to the actual song lyrics.

Beyond that seventh verse, things get very hazy, very fast in my memory.The reason? Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

Every time I hear or sing (sure, go ahead and cringe now ... plug your ears) The Twelve Days of Christmas several of those verses become etched into my memory banks by way of repetition. The rest of them never make it into my memory because those verses are never repeated with enough frequency.

Does your important sales or marketing message make it into your target audience's memory bank? Do you use the power of repetition to your advantage?

I encourage you to utilize repetition to get your message (your point, your brand, your benefit) remembered. Do so, and you may just be on the receiving end of those gold rings. However, if you choose to ignore the importance of repetition, you may wind up like so many of those not-so-memorable pipers or drummers.

Now... get back to your holiday shopping!

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