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:

Targeting Generation Y

In the old days, Television was the zeitgeist. Everyone watched it and there were only a few channels, so everyone pretty much watched the same thing. As such, the most effective marketing strategy was to appeal to the largest cross section of America as possible. Because of this, we got inelegant but widely appealing commercials like this, from Chevrolet.

The internet and cable TV has fragmented everything into niches. It’s ineffective to go after the whole apple pie these days. Now you have to go for the right slice. It is here that we see the marketing strategies of today. Enter the Toyota Free Yr Radio campaign. When Toyota designed the Yaris, their goal was to create a car that marketed directly to Generation Y. It had to have the DIY indie spirit and street cred that seems so pertinent to our generation’s psyche. So what did Toyota do? They launched a campaign in conjunction with Urban Outfitters (sounding hipper already, eh?) that partners with independent radio stations, providing them with funding and awareness. In addition, Toyota sponsored concerts with the radio stations that feature hip bands  such as Tokyo Police Club, Portugal the Man, Yeasayer, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.  The concerts are free of charge and on a first come, first serve basis.

Let’s break down that strategy. So Toyota sponsors radio stations marketed directly to their target demographic. The radio stations are basically obligated to mention Toyota all the time by proxy of the sponsorship. There is a built-in audience that is always listening. The audience is happy because Toyota is propping up radio stations that might otherwise go under. In addition, the radio stations generate buzz for the concerts which will surely sell out because they are free. Is there something we love more than free concerts? I don’t think so. What to know the final kicker? Toyota gave the radio stations free Yaris’s to give out to listeners during their buzz building events.

And that, my friends is Class A marketing for the new generation.