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:

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Blending entertainment and advertising

Effective murketing is about getting the kind of exposure that you cant “tivo” out. With DVRs, cable tv, and internet, entertainment is more on-demand than ever. People fast-forward through commercials, watch television programs on their laptops and turn to alternative sources of entertainment such as youtube. To get people to pay attention to your product, you really have to cut through the noise and capture the zeitgeist. To do this, you have to turn your commercial and your product into something more than an advertisement. You have to turn it into entertainment.

One of the most famous examples of this type of marketing is the Will It Blend campaign by Blendtec. In this popular series of youtube videos, Blendtec founder Tom Dickson puts various items in his sturdy Blendtec blender to see if it will indeed blend. Some of the items include iPods, golf balls, marbles, Nintendo Wii, and even a car, a Ford Fiesta. The Will It Blend series is popular (all of its videos have a least one million hits) and irreverent. It features the type of off beat dead pan humor that sells so well on the internet.

So, of course, the campaign is impressive for getting us to want to watch its commercials. But that is only half the ingenuity of the campaign. What has made it so popular is that we get to watch Dickson blend various brand name items that we know such as the iPhone, the iPad, and the Wii. Free advertising and brand exposure anyone? If anyone had any doubts about just what Tom Dickson is up to, then check out this video where Dickson attempts to “blend” a Ford Fiesta. The video is essentially a three minute Fiesta commercial with the punchline of Dickson blending the various items in the backseat of the Fiesta for “roadtrip smoothie.”

The Blendtec videos have become a phenomenon in many circles. They are a perfect example about how to create grass roots brand exposure that spreads through “word of mouth” faster and more effectively than any traditional means of advertising. Instead of spending millions on commercials during peak TV hours, Blendtec made a series of cheap, clever videos that pay for themselves. I bet the guy who came up with that idea got a big raise.

Here’s the video that started it all:

 

Don’t Cry Over Disneyland

Children today are growing up in an unprecedented era of extensive advertising that is drastically different from the more forthright days of TV commercials and billboards. How do advertisers aim to reach kids today?

They quite simply cross the ever wavering line of marketing into murketing, and thus enter right into the lives of these children, simply dropping their products into their everyday lives. The film, “Consuming Kids,” addresses this phenomenon, emphasizing the endless assault of advertising that children are unknowingly confronted with in almost all contexts. From schools to grocery stores, children are constantly targeted as potential consumers.

As one professional stated in the film, “Commercials are so 20th century.”

These advertisers attempt to capitalize on the “nag factor,” sending children messages that if they keep asking for something, their parents will eventually give in. Ever seen a two year old throw a temper tantrum in a grocery store?

Perhaps the child’s parents, and the unfortunate bystanders, should shift the blame to advertisers for such behavior.

Which leads me to address a YouTube video I recently encountered. Try not to be distracted by this adorable five going on six year old’s bright blue eyes and ask yourself the question of how deeply advertising has infiltrated her life.

If you ask me, she nails it when she exclaims, “Oh my goodness.”

I would be overwhelmed too. Before she even opens her Disney Princess backpack, notice that she is clad in Paul Frank pajama pants. She proceeds to open two Disney DVD’s (Hey Mom, how did you know she wanted these?), Minnie Mouse pajamas, an “I ❤ Disney t-shirt” and Oreos, among other snacks. All of this culminates with the final gift, a trip to Disneyland. Are we seeing a theme here?

Looks like murketing to me. You tell us, is it worth crying over?