Reacting to a column UnderScore Marketing's Tom Hespos wrote about marketer's fear and laziness to engage in meaningful conversations with consumers, I wrote a piece calling for the creation of a "Conversation Department," a department whose sole responsibility would be to listen to what is being said about a given brand in blog posts, discussion boards, forums and other methods of group conversation, join the ongoing conversations about the brand and make sure the company properly reacts to conversational opinion by addressing concerns immediately. Today, Tom goes a bit further with this and proposes a structure for a conversation department and how it might be staffed.
The more we talk about listening, joining and learning from conversations, while everyone in a company should be doing this, it makes more and more sense for companies and agencies to created a dedicated conversation department.
This morning at New York City's Grand Central Vanderbuilt Hall, Bank of America held an event to promote its new debit card product, "Keep the Change," which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and places it in a saving account for the card holder. To attract attention to the new card, a gigantic, 20 foot long, 10 foot high sofa was placed in the Hall where people could climb on and reach beneath the cushions to find prizes such as MetroCards, Starbucks cards, restaurant gift certificates, retailer gift certificates and Apple store discounts.
This promotion, created by Jack Morton, aligns quite well with the whole money-stuck-under-the-couch-cushion thing. More photos to follow.
Honda and its agency Weiden + Kennedy are hoping two new spots currently in the works called "Impossible Dream" and "Choir" can match the success of the company's "Cog" and Grr" spots. The "Impossible" spot has a car morphing into a bunch of different vehicles including a boat and a hot air balloon. The "Choir" spot is being created by the team that worked on the "Cog" spot. We can't wait.
Sort of defeating the purpose of highlighting Jeep's new seven seat, 2006 Commander, Chrysler has launched an online promotion, called The Mudds featuring a family if five. Yup. Five, Not seven. OK, maybe that's splitting hairs but if you're going to highlight seven seats, you better have seven people to fill them. Hopefully, the kids have some friends.
The promotion will have all the usuals: bi-weekly webisodes - also available on Dish TV), biography pages, screensavers, wallpapers, text message notification of site updates, AvantGo PDA notification and online scavenger hunts using Google Maps. Oh wait, the Google Maps thing is new. Visitors can use Google maps to find virtual "geocaches" the Mudds have hidden and get a chance to win one of the new 2006 Commander's. Get your mud on.
In the UK, Pepsi is said to be in talks with former child opera star and current tabloid queen, Charlotte Church along with Oasis band member Liam Gallagher to appear in a Pepsi commercial promoting the drinks' use as a cocktail mixer. In the ad, it is said, Gallagher will teach Church how to smash up a hotel room while sucking down drinks mixed with Pepsi. Now there's a brand image worth fighting for. A Pepsi source explains, "We've always got safe, family friendly stars to endorse Pepsi in the past, like Britney Spears, Beyonce Knowles, Cindy Crawford and Blue. But Pepsi is becoming more and more popular as a cocktail mixer at parties, so we want a wilder, more controversial image to go with that, and Liam and Charlotte are ideal. They both love their booze and between them they cover the gender demographics we're trying to target. Charlotte is young, sexy and fun-loving, while Liam is an older, cool rock star." Now there's a brand manager that doesn't gloss over the truth of his company's marketing goals.
Almost three years ago, we proudly predicted Charlotte Church would rise to a level of celebrity on par with Britney Spears. While she might not quite have reached Spears' level, if Spears continues to head in her current direction, it won't be too difficult for Church to overtake.
The first of a series of five videos, which will have ads sold in them trough a deal with MSN, Jib Jab has created Big Box Mart, a short that skewers big box retailers poking fun at merchandise created with cheap labor oversees, stores full of crap no one needs, Americans losing manufacturing jobs and the kicker: the same company that eliminated those jobs is scooping up the unemployed it displaced to work for low wages in its own big box stores.
Other videos will be created and sponsored by brands which will be place ads within the video as well as be features, perhaps no always positively, in the video. Jib Jab Co-Founder says it's all in good fun. "If you have a sense of humor about your own brand, and poke a little fun at it, then people appreciate that. It's a more honest approach, maybe." Yes, maybe.
While we're not quite what the draw is about watching television on a 2.5 inch screen in a world of 50 inch televisions, we can't complain about Walt Disney's deal with Apple to provide next-day downloads for $1.99 via iTunes to the new video iPod of ABC's popular series Lost and Desperate Housewives, among others. With dwindling television viewership and, hence, dwindling ad revenue for networks, providing mobile, commercial-free, pay-per-view programming makes a tremendous amount of sense for the nets. If this takes off, networks will run with glee to the bank. Marketers, with an ad medium pulled out from under their feet, may not be so happy.
For some inexplicable reason, some marketers and their agencies still think it's OK to create a website, in this case, an advergame, that only works with Internet Explorer on a PC. Given the horrid user experience Internet Explorer provides with it's gaping holes through which scumware of all forms permeates to the proliferation of far superior browsers such as Firefox, let alone a cadre of Mac users, it's just plain shortsighted idiocy to create anything limited only to IE.
This time the idiocy comes courtesy of VISA and its agency Wild Tangent who created some kind of promotional advergame for the Torino 2006 Olympic Games. That's all we can tell you about the game because, yes, we gave up IE years ago and have avidly used Firefox ever since. And this time, we aren't even going to fire up our stale copy of IE so we can perform our journalistic duty and describe the game's merits or demerits to you. Suffice to say, based on the marketer's ignorance of a huge audience segment, it's safe to say all the effort is worthy of is a giant pile of demerits.
PuppetVision points out New Zealand charity, CanTeen, an organization supporting young people living with cancer has launched a spot featuring the Muppets singing their famed "Mahna Mahna" song to promote National Bandanna Week and the group's green CanTeen bandanna. FCB created the commercial and got Disney in LA to quickly approved character usage and then shot the spot just two days later with the Muppets cast.
Burger King has scored a branding coup. It's Burger "King" has been Farked. After being posted to Fark October 4, there are hundreds of images of the "King" taking on all sorts of personas such as the Army's "I Want You" guy, Bush's Supreme Court pick, Santa, Jesus, Larry King, Colonel Sanders and even Ronald McDonald himself. Not to be one-upped by it all, Crispin Porter + Bogusky is capitalizing on mask mania with the launch of BK Masks, a site where visitors can buy masks of the King himself and the famed Subservient Chicken. Wouldn't it just be sweet for Burger King and CP + B if this actually took off and kids across the country appeared at your doorstep wearing these masks? That would be successful marketing.