Everybody loves sex!

If there’s one thing that entertainment companies know, its that two things sell: sex and violence. Racy ads get viewers. Racy videos get more. So what did Fortnight Lingerie do? They made a racy viral video disguised as a public service announcement to hit their target audience. The Super Sexy CPR and the Super Sexy Abdominal Thrust videos feature ladies dressed in Fortnight Lingerie demonstrating proper procedures for CPR and choking first aid. The ad campaign never showed up on TV but instead only on the viral video sites Vimeo and Youtube, where its gained over 1.5 million views.

Now I know what you are thinking: women looking to buy lingerie aren’t going to be swayed by racy videos objectifying women. But think again. Fortnight was targeting a specific audience with the videos: men, who will probably be buying the lingerie as gifts. The CPR and Abdominal thrust videos are prime targets for the sort of work-day office email pass arounds that can launch a video to stardom. Men watch under the guise of a sexy video that they can pass off as “demonstrating” CPR and then, as a side, they get hit with the ad for Fortnight. Next time they are thinking about what gift to get the girlfriend or the wife, Fortnight might just pop into their heads like an incessant buzzword.

Check out the video:

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Walkin’ on water

These days you can’t just sell a product by starting a marketing campaign. To sell a product, you have to create a phenomenon and sell a lifestyle. The trick is creating the phenomenon and selling the lifestyle without anyone realizing that you’re also trying to sell a product. Enter Hi-Tec’s Liquid Mountaineering ad campaign.

Back in 2009, a video popped up on Youtube introducing the world to the newest extreme sport sweeping the world, Liquid Mountaineering. In other words, walking on water. The video was shot like a documentary and ostensibly filmed in Portugal featuring a number of foreign athletes who helped “invent” the sport. The video interviews these athletes and they talk about how the sport got started and then show a number of attempts to liquid mountaineer. In the video, the athletes are all discretely wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts branded with Hi-Tec. A few of the athletes make mention the fact that the sport became possible due to their discovery of a pair of 100 % water repellant shoes. The video gained over 4 million hits. Suddenly everyone was talking about Liquid Mountaineering. If this all sounds a bit fishy to you, it should. A lot of people fell for the video. It was shot documentary style and seemed plausible enough. A Facebook page and a blog were made in homage to the new sport and the “athletes” were obscure and foreign enough that any person on the internet would not be surprised if the only mention they found of them was through the Liquid Mountaineering sites. When a few people noticed the Hi-Tec branding and questioned them about the video, they at first denied any involvement. It wasn’t until some time later when they acknowledged that yes it was an ad campaign and yes the videos were not real.

When asked about the campaign Simon Bonham, the head of marketing at Hi-Tec, explained that the goal of the videos was to “capture the fun, spirited side of our brand.” Bonham and Hi-Tec wanted to sell the Hi-Tec “lifestyle,” as the most extreme of all the extreme sports clothing brands. To do that, they invented an outrageous sport and sent into the blogosphere where they got all the free publicity they needed. When a video goes viral there’s no telling how large the audience and the exposure will get, certainly more than any commercial on a hit TV show. And you can bet anyone that saw that video wont be forgetting who orchestrated the gag.

Check out the video:

Once upon a time….

I’m going to tell you a story. Actually, I’m going to paraphrase a story that none other than our favorite Rob Walker tells in his book, Buying In. He does a wonderful, detailed job telling you this story, but quite frankly I don’t have that time and you would probably get bored, so I will give you the highlights.

Once upon a time, there was a beer company called Pabst Brewing Company. They made a nice, cheap beer called Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR). PBR wasn’t doing too well in terms of sales. The company wasn’t doing very well either. However, for some reason, despite the fact that they were not marketing the beer at all, they saw sales starting to pick up. And grow. And grow some more. When they investigated the growing popularity of the beer, they found that it was becoming a favorite among individuals in “alternative” people- especially in Portland. You know what kind of people I’m talking about. The hipster, grunge, Indie, underground type people. This included subculture groups like bike messengers. These people liked PBR because, quite frankly, there was no marketing around it. They saw it as a sort of underdog and adopted it into their culture. They were able to do this because there was a lack of brand meaning associated with PBR, which let the drinkers create their own meaning around PBR- a phenomena called projectability. This was also a bottom up approach to marketing.

The interesting thing about PBR is that even once its foundering sales picked up- it still abstained from basically any marketing. Aside from the occasional low-key sponsorship of a bike messenger tournament, it shunned advertising, including a possible endorsement deal with Kid Rock. However, I refuse to believe that PBR uses no marketing. Instead, I think it is very murky. Here is an example I found of one way the brand seems to be marketing itself- without seeming like it is coming directly from the company.

 

As you can tell by the picture, this campaign is spearheaded by Union Binding Company (a snowboard binding retailer) which offered this pretty cool looking pair of PBR bindings in a contest. In order to enter the contest, one simply had to share the image on their Facebook page. There are a few things about this that interest me.

1) PBR is very smart to team up and “co-brand” with Union Binding Company. It makes the source of this promotion more murky and makes consumers feel less like Pabst is hitting them with an ad directly.

2) Note that the product they are branding is snowboard bindings. Remember how I told you the brand was embraced by alternative subculture types? Snowboarders seem to fit that category to me.

3) People actually want to win these (as you can tell by the number of people who commented on the photo or entered the contest). This reinforces the idea that people see PBR as more of a cultural symbol and less of a brand.

4) This is yet another example of a company who uses Facebook advertising to their advantage. By making sharing the photo a term of the contest, they are getting free, word of mouth advertising.

 

Will Pabst live happily ever after using this type of murketing strategy? I don’t know. What do you think?

Get ’em early!

We all know what advertisers want: Cradle to grave brand loyalty. According to Susan Linn, cofounder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, “Marketing to children in this country is pervasive, it’s virtually unchecked, and it’s escalating,” In today’s world, everything a child uses is branded from diapers to clothes to toys. No longer do babies have mobiles of stars and globes and other shapes. Now, they have mobiles with Elmo and Mickey Mouse, instilling a brand loyalty before they can even begin to think.

The question now for advertisers is how do you convert a child’s brand loyalty to Sesame Street into brand loyalty to Lexus or Toyota when they are older? Ford is attempting to do just that with their latest ad campaign, a partnership with Lego, the popular toy maker. As part of their new partnership, Ford commissioned Lego to make a Ford Explorer entirely out of Legos. The Lego Ford will then go on tour to the Legoland Theme Park in Orlando, Florida where it will undoubtedly be ogled by countless Lego enthusiasts and, of course, all the children at the park. Before it arrives at Legoland Florida, however, the car will be loaded onto a trailer with transparent sides so that motorists from Chicago (where it was built) to Florida can witness it in all its Lego-Ford glory.

The partnership has gained a lot of press for both Legoland and Ford, undoubtedly due to its unusual nature. It follows the typical structure of viral murketing. In order to gain attention in this media saturated world, you have form unusual partnerships that capture the imagination, even if you can do so for only fifteen minutes. The Lego Explorer is unusual enough that they are now getting free press and advertising from news outlets that report the story and interview Ford and Lego executives. By simply building a car, they find free independent advertising that can’t be Tivoed out. Check out the car:

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

It’s no secret that magazines are chock full of advertisements. However, when I was reading the November issue of Glamour magazine (don’t judge- it’s a guilty pleasure), I noticed that there seemed to be three main ad categories- a tier of advertising so to speak. Within this tier, I noticed varying levels of murky-ness.

The first category I was able to discern consisted of the majority of the ads (and probably the magazine itself). If I could guestimate, I would say that 80% of the magazine was full of your basic, blatant, full page print ads. Murky level: 0%  Here are two  examples:


T
he second ad category I noticed appeared throughout the magazine at a lower frequency than these full page, traditional ads, but were still fairly common. The interesting thing about this category is that they are much more subtle. In the example below, you can tell that the ad mimics the format of a magazine article, using similar fonts, colors, and cleverly titling the section “November notebook.” It seems as if the advertisers are really trying to trick you into thinking that their ads are not ads, but a part of the magazine. In fact, just by briefly flipping through the magazine, I thought they were at first. The giveaways? 1) The fact that Glamour puts the word “advertisement” at the top of each of these “fake-feature ads” and 2) once you actually read it, it’s pretty clear what it is.

Murky level: 50% – Example below (not the word “advertisement” at the very top).

Finally, the third category of ads I noticed was what I’m going to term the “interview- ad.” One example of this is an article called “Meet the Rock-Star Dermatologists: L.A. Edition.” Basically, it’s a series of mini interviews with five “superstar” dermatologists who offer advice on “skin-beautifying tips,” and tell amusing anecdotes about themselves and their celeb clients. However, what I found most interesting about the section was not how drinking a glass of water before bedtime hydrates your skin, but how there were so many product plugs in the “interviews” with the dermatologists. For example, in the interview with “The Skin Cancer Guru” Dr. Lisa Chipps (picture below), it says “Dr. Chipps likes Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunblock SPF 50 ($13, at drugstores) as an everyday first line of defense. ‘It’s also very important to use products that will reverse damage that has already been done…she adds’ ”

While reading this, I was skeptical. Does Dr. Chipps actually likes this product, or is that just what the magazine decides that she likes? It’s interesting how the writer followed that statement about the sunscreen with a direct quote from Chipps, to create the illusion that the product plug was coming from Chipps directly. The article targets the other dermatologists as well. Another Example? ” ‘Glycolic pads are an addordable way to exfoliate dead skin cells at home’ says Dr. Zaks. He likes Topix Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 10% ($19 for 60, dermstore.com).” The article also features “5 Things the Derms Love” – a photo section with the doctor’s top products pics.

Murky level: 95%

The interesting thing about this ad is that these dermatologists aren’t spokespeople for the brands mentioned in the article (as far as I can tell) . They aren’t the face of the brand (hahah pun not intended) nor do any of their names bring a particular brand to mind (like Queen Latifah and CoverGirl, for example). Perhaps that is what makes this kind of advertising so effective- it seems more credible and suggests that they support these products because they work, not because they are getting paid to do so (although I would be curious to know if there is any sort of financial compensation involved to the doctors or the magazine for these product plugs).

We live in an age where consumers are faced with the “pretty good problem,” a phenomena described by Walker as one where it is hard to distinguish among the plethora of available products, all of which are similar in terms of utility and style. For example, there are countless skin care products on the market. When it comes to something like sunscreen, the “Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunblock” is probably the exact same thing in terms of quality and function as one made by Coppertone. Yet, as Walker discusses, it is the brand and the brand image that sets products apart in this new age. By associating brands like Neutrogena with dermatologists,  it doesn’t define the brand meaning, but consumers may be more likely to buy Neutrogena if it is associated with the expertise and backing of a dermatologist. This ad takes advantage of the power of reputable expertise in persuasion- yet you may not realize that it is happening. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor.”

iPhone, iCloud, iAd… iMurketing

The iphone 4s is all the buzz this week as it was released on Friday, touting new technology such as the interactive “Siri” which literally speaks back to you when you ask it a question and the iCloud service which helps sync your phone with your other apple software and devices by storing your information wirelessly. Sweet.

But what about the iAds? A less publicized new addition to the latest version of the iPhone…

I decided to splurge and finally upgrade to the iPhone, and I have to admit its pretty cool. Not one to usually be up to date with technology, I have found the iPhone 4s to be user friendly and super entertaining. Admittedly, I am already an avid user of the games “hanging with friends” and “words with friends,” which I’m sure most people by this point are aware of, if they haven’t already fallen victim to their addictive qualities. Yet, users will now be targeted as potential consumers during all of those hours sweating over which word combinations will land them with the most points.

How? Apple has announced its implementation of the iAd, as Jesse Hollington explains in his article, Apple iAd: iPhone OS 4 ad platform offers devs 60& of revenue. iAd provides advertisers direct access to consumers inside the applications, so that users will be interacting directly with the advertisements as they use the app.

Hollington explains Apple’s goals of “…more interaction than typical web ads and allowing users to view advertising without being taken out of the application that they are currently using, thereby encouraging users to click on ads without having to worry about leaving the current app.”

He continues to explain how this opens the door for advertisers to reach one billion iPhone users, and thus potential consumers, a day. Clearly, this is a huge opportunity for advertisers. But what does it mean for us iPhone users?

Well, here’s what it looks like.

The first two pictures pop up in between the players turns. The player must wait a few seconds before he or she can press continue to navigate away from the advertisement. The second two pictures are the home page of the hanging with friends app. Notice the adds at the bottom of the screen. Also note the “follow us on Twitter” link at the top of the screen and the link to Facebook. Just another example of how intertwined, and murky, all of this advertising is really getting.

Also it seems to me that this sort of advertising is really inescapable, as it transcends all barriers to reach right into your pocket and essentially into your personal, everyday life. The user does have the option to pay for the app without advertising, but it seems highly unlikely that many people would actually do this, including me.

Looks like another example of murketing. In fact, we’d say this is downright iMurketing.

Say what?

People love to talk. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m definitely one of those people, whether I’m talking your ear off about classes or complaining about the weather. But my favorite thing to talk about? Shopping. If I get a fabulous deal on sweaters during a fall clearance event (with free shipping!) or buy a pair of boots that I really like, I’m going to tell you.

Even though you might not like when I babble relentlessly about my shopping conquests, I can think of someone who does: advertisers. That’s because when I rant about how much I love a product, brand, or when a store is having a sale, it’s instant, free, word-of-mouth marketing for the company.

While me talking to you about my shopping adventures is natural and not sponsored by a company, marketers are increasingly pursuing tactics that take advantage of marketing in forums that are “not TV ads or  billboards, or even video games, but rather the conversations we have in our everyday lives,” as described by Rob Walker in “Buying In.” Walker describes such word-of-mouth marketing techniques as an attempt to “break the fourth wall that used to separate the theater of commerce, persuasion, and salesmanship from quotidian life”  through “the commercialization of chitichat.” There are even companies out there, like BzzAgent, that recruit “agents.” These everyday people volunteer to talk about a product with friends, co-workers, or neighbors using specific talking points provided by the company.

Even if we aren’t recruited by a company like BzzAgent, we can be “agents” naturally, without even realizing it.

For example, imagine you are in Bucharest, Romania walking towards the popular restaurant filled area of Old Town and you see this:

 

 

 Unless you are the most spacey person in the universe, chances are that is going to stop you in your tracks. What is that exactly you might wonder? Well, as the band along the bottom of the fountain indicates, it is an advertisement for the fourth season of the popular HBO show, True Blood, which debuted in Romania on October 7. While that strip of print advertising is by no means novel, it’s the huge blood-red stained fountain above it that I want to draw your attention to.

In my opinion, that’s one pretty awesome form of murketing.

1) By stopping pedestrians in their tracks, it encourages them to read the band of print advertising under it that would most likely go unnoticed under normal circumstances.

2) If you see a red fountain in the middle of town, you are probably going to tell your friends. Something like that needs a lot of explaining too. So, a typical conversation will probably have the mention of True Blood in it to explain what the heck happened to that fountain. Boom. Instant word-of-mouth advertising.

Does anyone else feel bad for the guy who has to clean that up? I do.

Photo credit: http://collider.com/true-blood-viral-campaign-romania/120338/