Sunday, August 30, 2015

Burger King and the Burger "Peace"

Last week, Burger King used high-profile advertising to suggest to archrival McDonald's that they cooperate in a pop-up burger restaurant for Peace Day on September 21. Burger King suggested collaborating on a McWhopper for the occasion, mixing things up between the two chains' recipes. Proceeds would go to a peace charity.

McDonald's said no to the pop-up idea, as the tweet above (from the chain's FB page) shows.

But the social media possibilities were too much to resist, so Wayback Burgers and Denny's (burger shown here) both put themselves forward as Burger King's partners on Peace Day. So did Krystal, a chain known for its sliders.

The burger wars continue . . . even for Peace Day. Which chains will benefit most from the publicity?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pennies for Social Responsibility

Do pennies count?

Marketers sometimes ask customers to "round up" or donate a few pennies each time they make a purchase, and the proceeds benefit a worthy cause.

Such microdonations tap into an aspect of consumer behavior where each consumer, giving a little, can feel good about doing his or her part in what becomes a significant donation.

Here are a few examples of making pennies count for social responsibility:

  • JC Penney's "Pennies from Heaven" - Shoppers round up and donate the extra pennies to the retailer's backpack purchase program. This is only one of the JCP Cares community programs.
  • Coinstar asks consumers to donate some of the change they count to designated charities. Different Coinstar units send the money to different charities (World Wildlife Fund, Unicef, etc).
  • Pennies is a UK charity that supports dozens of charities with pennies rounded up from purchases at Domino's, Cellar & Kitchen stores, and other participating marketers.
  • Penny Harvest is a NY charitable program that supports local causes with pennies collected and donated by students.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Wake Up to Eggs with Bacon Campaign

"Nobody knows eggs better than Bacon, Kevin Bacon." That's only part of the ad copy written for the American Egg Board's campaign starring Kevin Bacon, aiming to increase consumption of eggs. Yes, that's the "Six Degrees of Separation" actor, Kevin Bacon.

Bacon is, of course, having its extended 15 minutes of fame as a star food of everything from donuts to ice cream and beyond. So having Kevin Bacon star in this egg-citing campaign makes egg-cellent sense. This celebrity endorsement is a clever way to attract attention and allow the target audience to smile along with the campaign. A positive attitude is a plus and adds to audience receptivity. Even the typeface of the headline adds to the humor, not to mention the ironic T-shirt that is all over the American Egg Board's popular social media accounts (see Twitter, with 25,000 followers, for example, and FB with 773,000 likes).

Clearly, the movie-star celebrity factor works in favor of the actor-matchup with bacon/Bacon  . . .  and if the American Egg Board can keep up the momentum, maybe "a side of Bacon" will become as recognizable as the "milk moustache" ads that were ended last year after two decades.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Marketing in the Experience Economy

Way back in 1998, Pine and Gilmore's Harvard Business Review article about the Experience Economy outlined a four-step progression from undifferentiated commodity positioning/market pricing to the highly differentiated culmination of staging an experience at premium pricing. "To realize the full benefit of staging experiences, however, businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences that command a fee," the authors wrote.

Today, consumers are surrounded and distracted by more potential experiences than ever--facilitated by connectivity and ever-present digital devices. In a very real sense, then, marketing must be ever-present and available to reach customers and deliver experiences when and where desired.

In fact, material goods are so ubiquitous that consumers often crave an interesting or unique experience in conjunction with a purchase OR rather than the purchase of a tangible item. (Think "Spotify" instead of music download, for instance, Uber car service instead of a traditional taxi service.)

Not surprisingly, consumer behavior favoring experiences is having an effect on the retail industry. Stores can't simply be stores. Prices can't simply be prices. Showrooming and webrooming rule. The key to marketing in this experience economy is to understand your customers and adapt to their needs and wants--quickly--with appropriate/differentiated offerings and customer services that set the offering apart from competing offerings.

Even purchases like Uber rides are actually experiences, especially since both driver and passenger rate the experience. Bad experience? Bad rating. Good experience? Good ratings add to the potential for further differentiating this offering and charging more for the experience.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Check the Pew Research Center For Marketing Background

Writing a marketing plan? Be sure to click to the Pew Research Center to see the latest info about trends in population shifts, household formation, consumer behavior, technology attitudes and usage, media consumption, and other aspects of the external marketing environment.
Pew Research Center data and graphics

Every marketer can benefit by exploring the variety of topics researched by this well-known and objective organization. Here are just four examples:
  • Wondering about where Millennials are living now that the recession is over? Pew says more are still at home with their parents--and that has important implications for businesses that sell home furnishings, mortgages, insurance, and other housing-related goods and services. See chart at right for a quick overview of the plateau in independent Millennial households.
  • Targeting Internet users? Remember that 15% of the U.S. population doesn't use the Internet. Pew examines this group here.
  • Reaching out to Hispanic Americans? Pew covers the world of Hispanic media here. This is a good overview of various media and vehicles, audiences, and issues to keep in mind for marketing communications.
  • Is the global middle class really growing? Pew discusses this complex topic here. If you're targeting emerging nations, you'll need to know that despite income increases, most people are still not enjoying a robust middle-class lifestyle.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Arby's Savvy Salute to Jon Stewart

Now that Jon Stewart is signing off as host of The Daily Show, one of his long-time targets--fast-food marketer Arby's--has prepared a clever "thank you" video montage of his insults against its sandwiches.

The one-minute montage (which Arby's aired during a commercial break in The Daily Show) features Stewart making fun of Arby's in all kinds of ways.

It's positive (and self-deprecating) publicity for Arby's and a fun way to make the most of Jon Stewart's witty put-downs to reach an audience that appreciates irony and shuns outright or heavy-handed commercial promotion.

Search for "Arby's Jon Stewart" on Twitter and you'll see many links to Arby's montage, plus lots of comments in appreciation of the good-natured fun. The Arby's ad made the "top 5" of the week as it attracted an ever-larger audience. As Inc. says, you can fight--or you can join in the fun. Arby's chose fun. It hits just the right tone for the audience and the times--just right to light up the social media stratosphere with comments, too.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Multichannel Marketing in the Age of Showrooming and Webrooming

Multichannel marketing is more vital than ever before as consumer behavior evolves. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article discussed the difficulty that traditional stores have in keeping up with minute-to-minute price changes from online competitors. Shoppers will be comparing prices online vs in-store, so retailers can't afford to neglect this competitive issue.

Nebraska Furniture Mart, for instance, replaced printed price tags with digital price displays so it can make a price change in all stores with one click. The retailer is known for beating competitors' prices, so digital pricing is a big help when shoppers apply showrooming and use smartphones to check prices while they browse the aisles in person. Carrefour and other chains use digital price tags as well, such as those provided by Pricer (sample shown above).

Multichannel Merchant magazine explains that webrooming is when a consumer researches a purchase online and then goes to a store to buy. This is an emerging trend shaping marketing. For instance, IKEA was successful in using Facebook ads to increase in-store traffic by attracting online browsers who then visited a local store.

Webrooming is increasingly popular among shoppers who don't want to pay for shipping, who want to touch/see a product before buying, and who want to be sure a product is in stock before going to the store.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Public Buildings as Promotional Vehicles

The Discovery Channel implemented a large-scale video projection promotion yesterday to highlight an upcoming series on endangered species. Using dozens of video projectors aimed at the world-famous Empire State Building, it showed a rotating series of 400-foot-high images of endangered animals over a three-hour period. This promotion drew the attention of passers-by and made news internationally.

You can see a video about a similar projection on the United Nations building in New York City here.

The Discovery Channel has projected images and video onto public buildings for some time as it seeks to engage the public in its programming. One promotion in 2013 drew criticism because it showed flames seeming to engulf Battersea Power Station in London--prompting onlookers to call firefighters.

In general, such large-scale promotions on public buildings illustrate the power of understanding consumer behavior: The images catch the eye and generate comment because they are unexpected, vivid, and colorful. For example, to promote Shark Week, Discovery Channel projected shark fins moving atop New York City skyscrapers.

The Discovery Channel also promoted Shark Week using 3D fins and other shark parts attached to its headquarter building in Silver Spring, MD. What could be more incongruous--and therefore attract attention?