If responding to events in real time is the current push for online advertising, what's next?
I'm going to dare to suggest it's actually engaging with the customer online, for real, in a meaningful way. What's more, I think I can help.
Like every other major brand, Old Spice has YouTube and Twitter accounts, along with traditional video advertisements that run on cable and online. In 2010, the folks at YouTube tied the two together and created a Twitter character who represented Old Spice -- "The man your man could smell like." The campaign kicked off with the TV ad, but continued on Twitter, where people who sent funny tweets to @Oldspice got a video response like this:
Now, think about how much work this took. Because Old Spice had already filmed the TV campaign, it had the sound stage backdrop. The videos are shot from a single camera angle, and could have been done with a $200 camcorder mounted on a $20 tripod. Given 10 minutes to come up with a witty reply, 10 minutes to record, and one take with no editing, the Old Spice Guy could come up with a reply while the original author was probably still online. While some replies went to unknowns like @wawoodworth, Old Spice Guy was more likely to reply to Kevin Rose, Alyssa Milano, and Justine Bateman -- popular celebrities likely to retweet or share the material themselves.
A day's work for a small team netted a dozen Old Spice videos and around 3 million views, which is about as much as Coca-Cola drove online with its "Coke Chase" campaign. Unlike Coke, though, Old Spice did it without the $3.8 million dollar price tag for a Super Bowl spot.
Why this is different
Other attempts at real-time marketing, like the Oreo Super-Bowl tweet, respond to a current event with a witty remark. They require a senior marketing exec to pay attention, notice something timely, and take a small risk.
Please forgive me if I am underwhelmed that a VP in Brand Management sent a tweet.
I'm talking about something else -- responding to the customer and engaging with them, possibly as the voice of the customer, possibly as an employee. Some companies do this already. The social media policy at Zappos, for example, is "Be real and Use Good Judgement."
For the most part, though, fear of bad PR leaves big companies doing nothing at all.
The second part -- and where we come in -- is that companies don't know how to do it. Traditionally, they've relied on agencies to do advertising. Agencies are likely to buy media and unlikely to involve IT, especially corporate IT.
There are a few opportunities here.
What we can do
The main reason companies have avoided this sort of real time engagement is because of the risk: A culturally insensitive joke could sink your brand fast.
Corporate IT can provide risk management -- specifically, we can create the infrastructure to track the company's reputation online, tying tools like Radian6 back into our website, back into the campaign's, and then out to social media sites like Twitter and Foursquare. If we make these tools flexible enough, we can swap campaigns in and out easier, allowing the business development guys to focus on the content, not the how.
But part of me wonders about going a different way.
If we took our IT knowledge and instead created a media firm that lets brands manage the entire campaign, from print to video to online, what would that look like? How much easier could we make the work of the people in marketing, and how much more valuable can we make our contributions?
Actually, Oreo had an entire marketing team in place for live social media interaction during the Super Bowl. The team expected to be reacting to social media discussion of an Oreo commercial -- a Super Bowl commercial is a huge investment of course, so it makes sense to have a team on hand to maximize return on that investment. When the power went out, the team shifted gears rapidly, and reacted to that instead, including sending the famous "you can dunk in the dark" tweet with an image whipped up on the fly by a professional graphic designer.
Sure, the Oreo team made it look easy. Skilled pros always make their work look easy.
Would this headline at all surprise you,infants reaching for the remote to avoid an ad before learning to saying ma, technology more and more finely honed to skip over ads, so for advertising to take in all manner of outre, attention grabbing forms should be of no great surprise.
Since IT can provide marketing with these capabilities, how can the department go about informing marketing/advertising that these skills and tools are available in-house? Seems a great benefit to both the organization as a whole and the marketing department, but what do you recommend IT does to drive that message home?
Certainly marketing is going to have to find replacements for the old channels. I think it remains to be seen whether the new channels are more interesting, more annoying, or--most likely--a mix of both.
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