Monday, August 31, 2009

Are Value-Themed Ads Making an Impact?

CI SUMMARY: Advertisers are aiming to reach the value-minded consumer with creative advertising executions that deliver recession-themed messaging. Nielsen IAG examined 67 value-themed ads across 11 national advertisers and found that breakthrough retention rates were not as expected. It turns out that the same creative attributes that make for good advertising also make for good value-message advertising. Discover which ones worked and why.

By: Alka Gupta, Senior Vice President, Consumer Goods Research, Nielsen IAG

Recession has gripped the economy since December 2007, but by the time it was officially declared a year later, the announcement only affirmed what had already been felt by consumers for many months. Consumer confidence had already plunged 17 points from the second half of 2007 to the first half of 2008. Although it leveled off by the second half of 2008 and through the first h alf of 2009, it has remained in a trough—about 20 points below 2007 levels.

National TV advertisers also began reacting to the recession before it was declared—a deluge of value-focused ads began appearing in the second half of 2008, and value brands honed their messages to fit the economic environment.

Consumer or consumed?
If consumer state of mind is any indication, receptivity to value-message advertising should be strong. The American Psychological Association reported in February 2009 that 80% of Americans were stressed due to the economy. And behavioral indicators are confirming that sentiment as consumers are seeking value—spending less and saving more. Nielsen reports that 61% of consumers are using coupons and sales, stocking up, switching brands—especially to private label brands—or switching stores. They are also saving more, putting off buying new cars, and even pulling back on buying property, life and health insurance.

Value Chart

Capturing a captive audience
“Staying in” has become the new “going out” and cocooning consumers are tuning-in to television at record-breaking rates. In Q4 2008, time spent watching TV in the home per month reached a historic all-time high, and then went even higher in Q1 2009 when it topped 153 hours.

Capitalizing on a new consumer mindset, advertisers have flooded the airways with recession-themed commercials. But do these value-messages capture more consumer attention?

Breaking through
In a review of TV ad recall, Nielsen IAG found that value-message and recession-themed ads did not breakthrough TV ad clutter at higher rates than ordinary ads. In fact, across an identified set of 67 value-message or recession-themed ads across 11 national advertisers that aired between late 2008 and early 2009, ad recall was slightly lower than the advertisers’ own historical averages in most cases.

Across the spectrum, retention rates varied. Consumer packaged goods brands within this group saw no decline in their breakthrough rates on the whole; retailers saw minor declines; financial services, insurance, automotive and telecommunications advertisers tended to see significant declines.

Yet, not all advertisers who saw a decline in their breakthrough rate were necessarily unsuccessful with their value/recession ads. Breaking through to the widest possible audience certainly plays an important role in ad impact, but for some ads, a moderate breakthrough rate combined with a high-impact message was enough to get the desired effect.

A case in point is the value/recession auto campaign that topped Nielsen IAG’s list for surpassing the advertiser’s own ad performance norms. One Asian auto maker addressed the anxieties of potential car buyers head-on by delivering a unique, innovative and timely buyer protection offer, allowing the owner to return the car without damaging his/her credit score in the event of job loss.

Although it was not the best remembered (auto ads tend not to be well-remembered among general audiences), it was the best liked value/recession campaign and the strongest message conveyor among the smaller base of viewers who recalled it. Most importantly, it generated more ad performance improvement for the advertiser than any other campaign studied. It may also have been the most written-about campaign of the TV season, raising the auto makers profile as a challenger to two bigger American motor companies that spawned rival offers.

Proving that getting a jump on competitors with a unique value message pays off, the Asian carmaker returned far better sales results than its domestic competitors. Its sales were down just 1.5% in March 2009 vs. 50% for the American rivals in the same month. Yes, in a deep recession, success may be measured in terms of minimizing revenue losses. But the Asian carmaker continues to see U.S. market share gains.

This example illustrates another important finding about value/recession ads. When a creative campaign is designed around the message, it often inadvertently sacrifices breakthrough. Apparently, entertainment value is dampened when the value/recession theme is dialed up. And viewers look to TV primarily to be entertained—perhaps even more so in a recession. Hitting the bull’s-eye with its message, the Asian carmaker overcame the handicap of lackluster breakthrough.

But what happens to advertisers without a ground-breaking value message?

Messaging masterpiece
Walmart and Target came aboard the recession-themed bandwagon in late 2008 with new value campaigns. For Walmart, value has always been a central message, but the shift from “Always Low Prices,” to “Save Money. Live Better” signaled Walmart’s acknowledgment of a tougher economic climate for customers. They showcased a series of ads that demonstrated how to stretch a budget with lifestyle trade-offs, including:
  • Buying a coffee maker for home-brewed coffee vs. daily coffee shop coffee (save $400/yr.)
  • Making home cooked meals vs. dinner out for a family of four (save $425/yr.)

The ads were short and straightforward with a clear message echoed in the voice-over and in the visuals. They were not blockbuster ads by any stretch of the imagination, but they did capture more viewer attention than Walmart’s previous ad campaigns and gave the retailer a slight edge in the crowded world of retail advertising at a crucial time when consumers were actively seeking value

Messaging miss
Target on the other hand, had less impact with its “Brand New Day” campaign, which also conveyed lifestyle trade-offs, including:

  • The New Movie night—a DVD
  • The New Vacation Glow—self-tanner
The campaign married Target’s playful style-focused approach with the recession-themed message, but the feel-good visuals and music arguably overshadowed the value messaging, and it fell short compared to Walmart’s more direct and unambiguous approach.

In its later ads, Target took a completely different path when it introduced the moms who “love Target” because they can get “bargains on basics” and “steals on staples.” The new creative did indeed have more overt messaging, but it came at a price. Without Target’s iconic and stylish visuals and music, viewers were less able to connect the ads to the retailer

Staying true
Brand equity is precious. The core messages associated with a brand will be the ones that consumers are most likely to remember—even when presented in a new way. It may also follow that the primary reasons why consumers bought the brand in the first place will be the same reasons they continue to buy the brand.

Take the example of a major consumer packaged goods manufacturer that launched two similar creatives which were simultaneously aired in late 2008 supporting the message that their brand was an economical way to feed the family. While both ads conveyed this essential campaign message, the second one also utilized the brand’s traditional nutrition/taste message.

Viewers of the second ad had no trouble recalling the nutrition/taste message, but viewers of the first ad were hard-pressed to accurately recall the ad’s value message. This is more remarkable considering that recall measures were based on real-world viewing of the campaign and that most consumers would have been exposed to a heavier dose of the value message because it was in both ads.

Guiding principles
Ultimately, whether an ad is value-focused or not, success is highly dependent on creative execution. The same creative attributes that make for good advertising also make for good value-message advertising. Some rules-of-thumb include:

  • Give viewers a reason to watch;
  • Be entertaining;
  • Use easily recognizable brand cues;
  • Have a clear and simple message;
  • Don’t cram too much information into a single ad;
  • Keep the visuals uncluttered.

Everyone is talking about value-for-money these days, especially US consumer companies whose sales experience the biggest hit by the financial crisis. The question would be: do you have an effective value messaging in your ad among plethora of value-screaming copies?

The first place to look for the answer is by understanding how your consumers define "value" in their mind & their behaviour implication in order to tap on their receptivity points. Walmart's messaging shift from 'everyday low prices' to 'save money. live better' has come strongly at the right time. Refreshing the message with 'saving' has been being more relevant way to communicate the value instead of just being in all time promotions. Furthermore, it triggers more creative ways to to capture consumers attention.

How to Be a Smart Protégé

Eight tips for setting up a network of mentors

By Dawn E. Chandler, Douglas T. Hall and Kathy E. Kram

August 17, 2009

It’s not easy to be a protégé these days.

Everybody knows the setup of the classic mentoring relationship: Older workers take junior colleagues under their wing and stay in their lives for years, giving them one-on-one advice and shepherding them through their careers. Nowadays, though, seasoned workers rarely stay in a job long enough to stick close to a protégé for any length of time. And they’re often too harried managing their own careers to devote lots of attention to somebody else’s.

Last year in these pages, Kathy E. Kram and Monica C. Higgins proposed a different model—the developmental network. Instead of looking to one person as a guide, a would-be protégé should build up a team of mentors drawn from all areas of his or her professional and personal lives. That way, you don’t have to rely too heavily on one person to give you all the guidance you need. And you get a broader range of advice and information.

But there’s a snag: Most people aren’t very good at creating and maintaining these networks. Obviously, it takes a lot more effort to track down a team of helpers than a single mentor. But it also takes a special blend of skills and strategy to find just the right people and cultivate rewarding relationships with them.

To find out the best way to approach the task, we looked for people who are “relationally savvy”—in other words, they have demonstrated a knack for building networks. We interviewed a number of these talented protégés, as well as their mentors and three career coaches, to figure out what makes them tick—the abilities they bring to the table and the approaches they use to keep people on their side.

Here’s a look at how Savvys make networking work for them.

1. Talk First—and Often.

Savvys aren’t shy about initiating—and maintaining—contact with people who can support their development. They constantly ask for information, help, feedback and advice. As one Savvy puts it: “The way I see it, a lot of people are waiting to be invited for someone to tap them on the shoulder and then take them under their wing. In my experience, that just doesn’t happen; you have to go after someone.”

And they don’t just talk to the peers and bosses they deal with every day, who have a vested interest in helping them along. They might talk to senior managers in other parts of the company, for instance, and ask to learn about their side of the operation. Savvys who are bosses might ask their subordinates for feedback on their management and leadership skills.

In their communities, meanwhile, Savvys often reach out to folks in volunteer and industry associations, as well as schools where they’re getting graduate degrees.

2. Read Between the Lines.

Savvys are expert at recognizing when colleagues are interested in becoming mentors—even when the colleagues aren’t being direct about it. Let’s say a senior colleague asks a junior about the kinds of challenges he or she is facing. Most people might just think the older worker is being nice. A Savvy would see potential there and try to strike up a relationship.

One Savvy, for instance, realized she was getting signals from a senior co-worker while working on a project. The co-worker was giving cues that said, “ ‘I think you’re a smart, interesting young woman and I’d like to mentor you,’ or ‘I think you’re a smart woman. I want to be friends with you,’ ” the Savvy says. “It was an invitation to continue the relationship after the work had been finished. And I don’t think that people think of it as an invitation, but you have to.”

3. Go the Extra Mile.

Savvys put in lots of work at the start of a relationship with a mentor, to make sure that it gets off the ground. That might mean, for instance, being assertive about getting together outside of work so they can talk privately and informally. One Savvy who had just accepted a job happened to be near the office on a holiday. She decided to stop in and see if the woman who had hired her was around. As it turns out, the woman was at her desk—and was impressed with the new hire’s initiative. The mentoring relationship began then and there.

Likewise, Savvys keep in frequent contact with their mentors—even if it’s just to touch base. That helps keep the relationship strong.

As one Savvy describes her time with a mentor: “We had a standing [weekly] coffee chat, where we got together for half an hour to an hour. It was important to talk about the work, but it was more often just checking up on what we were doing…. I asked if we could do that because we didn’t have any regular contact. I thought it would be helpful if we got together on a weekly basis just for checking in. She thought it was a great idea.”

4. Do Your Homework.

Savvys always come prepared for meetings with a current or potential mentor. Let’s say there’s a particular challenge they want to discuss. They might research the topic thoroughly and come up with a bunch of different approaches for the mentor to review. This shows the mentor that the Savvy is competent and eager to meet challenges, and values their time together.

But the thoroughness doesn’t end there. Savvys follow up with people who have counseled them, to let them know how their support helped and otherwise keep them up-to-date. Again, this shows the Savvy is eager to improve and values the wisdom the mentor brings to the table.

One mentor says of her Savvy protégé: “Unlike other relationships I’ve had, that one I thought really worked nicely because she took it very seriously and spent time thinking through what she wanted to cover…. Then, she would come back the next time and say, ‘You know how we talked about this…. I did that. I talked to [so and so], and it actually worked out great. That was good advice, thank you. I learned something there.’ ”

5. Share Information.

Most people don’t like talking about their problems and weaknesses—for perfectly understandable reasons. These can be sensitive areas, and people don’t like to look weak in front of colleagues. Savvys, however, understand that deep relationships are based on openness, sharing and trust. When you share problems with people, they realize that you hold them in esteem and appreciate your confidence.

To be sure, that doesn’t mean pouring out your deepest and darkest secrets to your mentors. Instead, what Savvys disclose are things like career failures that taught them a lesson, challenges that stood in the way of their success, disabilities that they have struggled with and conflicts with another person in the organization.

6. Make It Mutual.

Mentoring networks involve shared learning between two people. Too many people enter the relationships thinking of themselves as plebeian protégés who get support. Savvys, on the other hand, realize they have something to offer their mentors, too, and help them out whenever they can—which gives the other person a deeper vested interest in them.

One Savvy, a technology consultant, describes how she fostered relationships with three senior colleagues: “If I saw a senior consultant who was swamped with something, and I realized that I didn’t necessarily have the computer intellect to be on his level there, but I could type really fast and I could be creative and design the presentation, and I could help with all the interviewing, I said as much to him. I said to him, ‘Listen, I’d like to help you out if you’d like it.’ ”

7. Be Personable…

The final qualities Savvys offer are perhaps the most basic—but also the toughest to duplicate.

For one, they’re simply easy to get along with. They have empathy, the ability to listen, strong conflict management and other social skills, which help them build rapport with others and manage disagreements. They leave people feeling positive toward them and eager to continue the relationship.

For instance, one colleague says of a Savvy: “He’s an engaging guy, just a nice, delightful person to talk to.” Contrast that with the reaction to someone who isn’t so socially skilled: “When he is in a bad mood, we kind of tiptoe around him.”

8. …And Have a Positive Attitude.

Of course, not everybody has a strong, charismatic personality. And it can be tough to summon one up if it doesn’t come naturally. But there are practical lessons you can take away from Savvys without having to become the life of the party.

You might try adopting the positive attitudes that Savvys bring to the table. For instance, simply assume that people around you want to lend a hand. Humility is all well and good, but you’re going to hamper your ability to network if you keep thinking, “If I ask for help, I’m bothering people,” or “I just don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that somebody wants to help me.”

Savvys lean on people without thinking of it as a burden—instead, they see it as a chance to build bridges. That attitude puts them and the other person at ease.

I found that the people that are most successful in business actually realize that asking for help gives people the opportunity to help you,” says a career coach. “It earns you a huge amount of respect in the workplace.”

“Try to figure out if there’s something you could do to make yourself useful,” says another coach. “And sometimes the way you make yourself useful is by needing advice. People love to give advice.”

In summary: Get the Knack

“Relationally savvy” people who succeed at building and sustaining networks of mentors are more likely than others to:

  1. Take the initiative to strike up and maintain relationships with mentors.
  2. Recognize and respond to even subtle expressions of interest from would-be mentors.
  3. Reach beyond immediate peers and bosses to others in the company, as well as in the community.
  4. Make sure they have frequent contact with each of their mentors.
  5. Prepare for meetings with their mentors and let them know how their advice has helped them.
  6. Lend their mentors a hand when they can on projects at work.
  7. Be open with their mentors about challenges they’re facing at work.
  8. Do their best to be positive and personable.


Having good mentors to help boost own needs proactive actions & becoming personal responsibility, not relying on systems to setup one. We can learn from 8 steps outlined in the articles for quick actionable steps to do tomorrow and remind ourselves that the most important one is the last one: having positive Attitude.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bud Drinkers, Not Agency, Will Be Behind the Next Chinese New Year Campaign

Chinese Beer Consumers to Create the Next Budweiser Spot Through Online Contest

SHANGHAI ( -- Anheuser-Busch InBev is the latest marketer in China to invite consumers to create an ad campaign, but the brewer has one rule: The commercial must feature ants.

The U.S. beer giant is partnering with, a Chinese video-sharing site like YouTube, in a contest that lets consumers pitch ideas for a Bud TV spot that will run during the Chinese New Year in February 2010.

The Budweiser digital contest was created by A-B InBev's marketing team in Shanghai and is a first for the company globally. DDB Worldwide, which was named Budweiser's global agency this week, JWT and TBWA Worldwide regularly work on local and imported A-B InBev brands in China, but no ad agencies are involved in this contest. Only ants.

Ants are an "important and widely welcome symbol of Bud China. We launch a new ants TV commercial during Chinese New Year every year," said Vivian Yeh, A-B InBev's Shanghai-based new media manager for China.

The ants, a motif of Bud's annual Chinese New Year campaign for the past 10 years, have become part of China's biggest and most traditional holiday.

Budweiser China's 2009 Chinese New Year TV spot.

Each year, an army of clever and helpful ants finds unique ways to deliver Budweiser to thirsty Chinese beer drinkers, usually involving iconic images such as China's Great Wall, the Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium in Beijing or Shanghai's riverfront Bund district. (View the past Chinese New Year TV spots featuring the ants on

In previous years, the celebrated commercial was produced by Hong Kong creative agency Image Boutique. This year, A-B InBev has turned to fans of the ant spots.

Web users can compose and submit ideas on a site,, outfitted with a storyboard design engine created by Bud for the contest. The engine lets would-be creatives write, draw and edit to transform ideas into a TV commercial storyboard.

"The ideas should not only be humorous and impressive, but also reflect the international king of beers brand image of Budweiser. The ants will overcome all kinds of challenges by showing their intelligence, courage, teamwork, spirit and solidarity," Ms. Yeh said.

Entries can be submitted and voted on through the end of August. From five finalists picked Sept. 1, judges will name the grand winner, who collects a 100,000 RMB ($14,637) cash prize and gets to help produce the ad.

The other four finalists get small cash prizes. A-B InBev has already received nearly 1,000 submissions.

The contest judges include Rex Wong, A-B InBev's VP-marketing and new products; Tudou's CEO Gary Wang; Paul Wong, the director of the Budweiser ants TV spots since 2003; and a celebrity to be named later.

"We realized user-generated ideas and online video are both very popular among internet users at this stage, so this is the area that we want to use as well," Ms. Yeh said. "We always consider ourselves as a 'king of beer' so Bud's brand image is about prestige, leadership and leaders who pursue high quality."

Bud is a premium brand in China, selling for between 88 cents and $1.17 a bottle in convenience stores and up to $4.39 in restaurants. In trendy bars and nightclubs, the price starts at $5.85. Bud drinkers in China tend to be educated, high-earning males who live in China's tier-one and tier-two cities.

The strategy of letting consumers take control of advertising has become popular in China, as marketers go after young, affluent white-collar workers who are eager to engage with each other and with companies online -- but seldom watch TV. Other mass marketers like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and McDonald's have successfully done contests that let consumers come up with story lines for TV commercials and slogans.

The animated insects were chosen as the spokespeople for Budweiser in China in 1997, Mr. Wong said. They depict "the Chinese national spirit of diligence, solidarity and intelligence."

Those attributes sound a lot like A-B InBev's corporate mantra these days. The cont e st is part of an aggressive effort to regain its status as "King of Beers." Earlier this year, Chinese br e w Snow Beer overtook Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light as the world's largest-selling beer brand.

With sales flat in the U.S., A-B InBev is looking for growth in emerging markets such as China, already the world's largest beer market. China's beer output grew 6% year-on-year to 20.51 million liters in the first half of 2009, but sales are dominated by three local manufacturers. Snow Beer, Tsingtao Brewery Co., and Beijing Yanjing Brewery Co. account for about 40% of the market. Snow is produced by a joint venture between China Resources Enterprise Co. and SABMiller.

Bud's sales are likely to keep growing, but not as fast as A-B InBev might like, said

Joy Huang, a Euromonitor research analyst in Shanghai. The financial crisis "will have some negative effect on premium beer sales, and pub and bar culture hasn't extended to China's lower tier cities yet.'

At the same time, she added, "Budweiser is facing fierce competition from other multinational brands like Carlsberg Chill, which has a very fashionable image. Local brands are also trying to move upwards with premium brands of their own, such as Snow Draft, which was launched in 2008."

In 2007, the most recent year for which Euromonitor has data on China's beer market, InBev and Anheuser-Busch controlled 13% of China's beer market, making it the No. 2 marketer after Snow Beer (17.9%). Tsingtao and Yanjing's market shares wee 12.8% and 10.4%, respectively.


Another consumer-generated content application by big brand, Bud tries to build stronger connection with Chinese young folks leveraging the Chinese New Year celebration by letting them involved in the advertising creation as more consumers are getting less engaged with one way brand-to-consumer communication especially on TV.

As many brands targeting to youngsters have explored this ideas & said to be working quite well, we may want to consider how to make it really holistic, measurable & sustainable for longer period of time to make it ownable by the brand instead of just another one-off experimentation.

Going forward, if the consumers themselves can help you to come up with great ideas for your advertising, do you think brands still need to hire agencies to do that? It's probably a good time for agencies to start thinking their role in the future. :)

Act Now, and We'll Double Your Market Share!

Why Kodak Is Using DRTV in Addition to Brand Advertising for Its Printing Products

YORK, Pa. ( -- The phrase "As seen on TV" might bring to mind Snuggie, ShamWow and PedEgg but probably not a venerable American brand that invites you to share the most important moments of your life.

Yet for Kodak, direct-response TV has become an effective and preferred way to reach consumers in the year and a half that the company has used it.

"It's become one of the main tools we deploy," said Jeffrey Hayzlett, Kodak's chief marketing officer, who added that DRTV is now the "second-best medium that we use to reach our customers." (He declined to name the first.)

Short- and long-form infomercials for Kodak printers, which last two minutes and nearly a half-hour, respectively, focus on the value message Kodak uses in its traditional brand advertising for its printer and low-priced ink cartridges. However, the ads also spell out specific savings, provide testimonials and examples, and even include the tone of a more typical infomercial. A short-form spot that began running a few weeks ago opens with the line "Are you sick of paying ridiculous prices for printer ink?"

Retail partners don't mind the direct push, because at the end Kodak gives them a shout out, telling customers that if they can't wait for a product to arrive in the mail, they should go to Target, Walmart, Best Buy or Staples, depending on where they live. Mr. Hayzlett said the informercials have a "very strong halo effect and strong lift at retail."

Kodak first ran infomercials, created by Kaplan Thaler Group, in the first quarter of 2008, Mr. Hayzlett said, and executives pegged the sales increase after the first airing at 20%. Hosts have changed and creative has been reworked, but the call to action remains the same.

"When everybody else in the market is down some 20%, we're up 44% in the market today on both equipment and ink, so that should tell you how well our campaigns are working and how the value proposition resonates," Mr. Hayzlett said, adding that Kodak's other agencies -- Ogilvy & Mather, New York; Partners & Napier, Rochester, N.Y.; Deutsch, New York; and PR firm Ketchum -- also worked on the campaign.

Steve Baker, an analyst at NPD Group, said the direct-response strategy makes sense for Kodak.

"With 30 printer SKUs on a shelf, six different brands and retailers who want seamless displays, it's hard to stand out, especially with their very specific [value-pricing] message," he said. "Talking directly to customers like that is not a bad idea."

Mr. Baker said the move is reminiscent of Apple in 2001, when the company, believing its products were getting overlooked in the bustle of most retail stores, opened its own stores to showcase what its products could do. He noted that while Kodak's retail printer market share is double what it was last year, it's still fairly low, at about 3.5%.

"Even if I don't pick up the phone and call and buy, if I go to Staples and see the printer on the shelf, I might have some recall," Mr. Baker said. "I think it's a cool idea and nice that someone is thinking about a different way to go to market."


Kodak is interestingly going back to the DRTV era to effectively communicate its value proposition. As the media becoming more cluttered, it needs stronger push to explore any channel to communicate our message, even reusing older media as long as it can effectively reach the intended target audience & grab their attention to grasp the message in longer conversation.

Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens


(August 25, 2009) Kristen Nagy, an 18-year-old from Sparta, N.J., sends and receives 500 text messages a day. But she never uses Twitter, even though it publishes similar snippets of conversations and observations.

“I just think it’s weird and I don’t feel like everyone needs to know what I’m doing every second of my life,” she said.

Her reluctance to use Twitter, a feeling shared by others in her age group, has not doomed the microblogging service. Just 11 percent of its users are aged 12 to 17, according to comScore. Instead, Twitter’s unparalleled explosion in popularity has been driven by a decidedly older group. That success has shattered a widely held belief that young people lead the way to popularizing innovations.

“The traditional early-adopter model would say that teenagers or college students are really important to adoption,” said Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore. Teenagers, after all, drove the early growth of the social networks Facebook, MySpace and Friendster.

Twitter, however, has proved that “a site can take off in a different demographic than you expect and become very popular,” he said. “Twitter is defying the traditional model.”

In fact, though teenagers fueled the early growth of social networks, today they account for 14 percent of MySpace’s users and only 9 percent of Facebook’s. As the Web grows up, so do its users, and for many analysts, Twitter’s success represents a new model for Internet success. The notion that children are essential to a new technology’s success has proved to be largely a myth.

Adults have driven the growth of many perennially popular Web services. YouTube attracted young adults and then senior citizens before teenagers piled on. Blogger’s early user base was adults and LinkedIn has built a successful social network with professionals as its target.

The same goes for gadgets. Though video games were originally marketed for children, Nintendo Wiis quickly found their way into nursing homes. Kindle from Amazon caught on first with adults and many gadgets, like iPhones and GPS devices, are largely adult-only.

Similarly, Twitter did not attract the young trendsetters at the outset. Its growth has instead come from adults who might not have used other social sites before Twitter, said Jeremiah Owyang, an industry analyst studying social media. “Adults are just catching up to what teens have been doing for years,” he said.

Many young people, who have used Facebook since they began using the Internet and for whom text messaging is their primary method of communication, say they simply do not have a need for Twitter.

Almost everyone under 35 uses social networks, but the growth of these networks over the last year has come from older adults, according to a report from Forrester Research issued Tuesday. Use of social networking by people aged 35 to 54 grew 60 percent in the last year.

Another reason that teenagers do not use Twitter may be that their lives tend to revolve around their friends. Though Twitter’s founders originally conceived of the site as a way to stay in touch with acquaintances, it turns out that it is better for broadcasting ideas or questions and answers to the outside world or for marketing a product. It is also useful for marketing the person doing the tweeting, a need few teenagers are attuned to.

“Many people use it for professional purposes — keeping connected with industry contacts and following news,” said Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and chief executive. “Because it’s a one-to-many network and most of the content is public, it works for this better than a social network that’s optimized for friend communication.”

Wendy Grazier, a mother in Arkansas, said her two teenaged daughters thought Twitter was “lame,” yet they asked her to follow teenage pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift on Twitter so she could report back on what the celebrities wrote. Why won’t they deign to do it themselves? “It seems more, like, professional, and not something that a teenager would do,” said 16-year-old Miranda Grazier. “I think I might join when I’m older.”

The public nature of Twitter is particularly sensitive for the under-18 set, whether because they want to hide what they are doing from their parents or, more often, because their parents restrict their interaction with strangers on the Web.

Georgia Marentis, a 14-year-old in Great Falls, Va., uses Facebook instead of Twitter because she can choose who sees her updates. “My parents wouldn’t want me to have everything going on in my life displayed for the entire world,” she said. (Of course, because of the public nature of social networks and the ease of creating a fake identity on the Web, even sites with more privacy settings have proved dangerous for young people in some cases.)

Many young people use the Web not to keep up with the issues of the day but to form and express their identities, said Andrea Forte, who studied how high school students use social media for her dissertation. (She will be an assistant professor at Drexel University in the spring.)

“Your identity on Twitter is more your ability to take an interesting conversational turn, throw an interesting bit of conversation out there. Your identity isn’t so much identified by the music you listen to and the quizzes you take,” as it is on Facebook, she said. She called Twitter “a comparatively adult kind of interaction.”

For Twitter’s future, young people’s ambivalence could be a good thing. Teenagers may be more comfortable using new technologies, but they are also notoriously fickle. Although they drove the growth of Friendster and MySpace, they then moved on from those sites to Facebook.

Perhaps Twitter’s experience will encourage Web start-ups to take a more realistic view of who uses the Web and go after a broader audience, Ms. Forte said. “Older populations are a smart thing to be thinking about, as opposed to eternally going after the 15- through 19-year-olds,” she said.


It's another confirmation that the older generation starts to invading the social media as late-adopters. You shouldn't be surprised if your over-50 dads/moms start to poke you on Facebook or having a reunion with their high-school gangs thanks to the social media networks. You may also heard that some CEOs are also tweetering in the name of being 'accessible'.

As marketer, it's also a good reminder to make us understand better the communication medium characteristics and keep validating the assumptions with solid data before making a choice to invest in one of most-hyped emerging medium.

Using Milk-Carton Ads to Build Strong Brands

(August 27, 2009) HOPING to reach children at school and shoppers at the store, a growing number of national brands are turning to an old medium: milk cartons.

The ads on the smallest cartons, the half-pints that are distributed through school lunch programs, are aimed at children. Larger containers, like gallon jugs, are intended to reach the adults who do the shopping for their households — the people who decide whether to pick up a box of brownie mix or try a new cereal.

Milk cartons have long been used as billboards, though the messages have evolved. In the early 1980s, cartons showed pictures of missing children, but those campaigns have moved to the Internet. Dairies promote milk on packaging and have done campaigns for local brands and sports teams. With myriad ads showing up in stores this summer — for Stouffer’s frozen dinners, a new “Pinocchio” DVD and Cheerios — milk is increasingly a platform for national brands, said Chris Barkley, president of the advertising company BoxTop Media.

BoxTop focuses on products with “an affiliation with milk,” namely, Mr. Barkley said, “all the big cereal players and the cookie players.” General Mills promoted Cheerios with stickers on gallon jugs, and Kraft nudged shoppers toward the snack aisle with ads for Honey Maid graham crackers. In stores in New York and other major American markets this summer, stickers appeared promoting Duncan Hines with a photo of brownies and the text: “Cold Milk, Warm Brownies, mmmmmmmm.”

Audiences may have scattered to cable, Facebook, Google News and Hulu, but the milk jug is one mass medium that still reaches the masses. For each person in the United States, more than 20 gallons of milk is produced each year, according to the most recent data from the Agriculture Department. Gary A. Hemphill of the Beverage Marketing Corporation, an industry group, says milk is unique in that it is a bottled drink and also an ingredient for baking and cereal. “It finds its way into most refrigerators in the homes of Americans,” he said.

Appeals to this vast audience can also home in on specific demographics. Stickers on low-fat milk would be more likely to reach consumers with above-average incomes and educations, according to Beverage Marketing, and whole-milk drinkers tend to be younger. This helps to explain the BoxTop Media ads that don’t have clear ties to milk, like the stickers featuring USA Today and children’s series like “Sid the Science Kid.” A gallon of milk is the place to be, Mr. Barkley said, “if you want to reach moms with large households.”

BoxTop Media hired the research company Knowledge Networks to find out whether these ads were effective, using data from loyalty card programs like the Safeway Club Card. Al Halkuff, a senior vice president of Knowledge Networks, said that for the 25 to 30 campaigns he had studied, there was a “significant improvement in sales.” For a large brand, he said, a significant increase could be 4 to 6 percent, and for a new or smaller brand, sales could double.

Brands for children can reach a captive audience in lunchrooms nationwide, but marketers say they are careful to focus on a healthy message rather than a sales pitch. The ads intended for schoolchildren, from kindergarten to 12th grade, are often promoting milk itself, using characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to appeal to younger students and performers like Rascal Flatts for the preteenagers and teenagers.

The idea for campaigns like these came in 1996 when an advertising executive, Richard Long of Long Advertising, offered International Paper, one of his clients, an alternative to its Rudy the Raccoon character “to make milk cool.”

“We suggested to them that if you really want kids to listen to this message and pay attention to it,” he said, “you should use the kind of character they know and love.”

Disney sponsored the first campaign, featuring Doug Funnie of the cartoon “Doug” on about 25 panels. This led to other sponsorships, featuring characters like Batman and the Transformers. The message expanded as well, so that today the cartons, which go to 70,000 schools in the continental United States, are as likely to advocate reading or exercise as milk.

Promotions that reach children at school can be touchy. Mr. Long created a new company, MilkMedia, to separate this kind of work from his advertising agency, and he said it was vigilant about keeping its campaigns on topic: Disney was paying the bill for that first campaign, but the message was “drink milk,” not “watch ‘Doug.’ ” Last year, one campaign for milk, sponsored by Build-A-Bear Workshop, raised alarms because it encouraged children to visit a virtual world,, which invites users to “buy a furry friend.”

A parent complained to the Erie, Pa., school district. MilkMedia and the owner of the dairy that supplied the milk, Dean Foods, agreed to end the promotion. The Build-A-Bear ads focused on milk, but “there was a concern because it had a push to the retail outlet,” said Marguerite Copel, spokeswoman for Dean Foods, by far the largest American milk producer. “I’m a mom,” she said. “I get it.”

Mr. Long of MilkMedia, himself a father of two, said campaigns since had been stricter: “It’s not permissible to say in any way, shape or form, ‘Come into the store.’ ”

The toughened guidelines do not seem to have hurt MilkMedia, nor does the decline in ad spending over all. “We haven’t seen any drop-off in sponsors who are interested in participating,” Mr. Long said. “Their brand is visible, and they make that positive association between what’s being done and their brand.”


This is really a creative idea on looking for alternative advertising media space not only to reach children. In addition, it's also a good way for milk producers to generate other income while increasing its brand awareness with fresh communication especially on fresh milk carton which has specific expiry date that can be an 'airing time' window for the ads.

Coke's Pulp-Heavy Juice Takes China by Storm

3 Minute Ad Age: August 27, 2009

NEW YORK ( -- As it expanded in China, a country whose consumers were not used to carbonated sugar-water drinks, Coca-Cola heavily pushed its Minute Maid orange juice brand. And five years later, it's selling more than a billion bottles a year and sales continue to increase by double digits despite the recession. Meanwhile, the brand's latest UGC digital campaign has received more than a quarter million video and photo submissions in the first few weeks after it launched. Ad Age's Normandy Madden interviews Andreas Kiger, Coke's senior director of marketing in Shanghai, China.


Coke puts agressive drive to expand its business in China against closest rival PepsiCo while pressuring fruit-juice leader Uni-President. As in other regions, its heavy investment on Minute Maid Pulpy Orange seems to be an alternative strong push to steal shares in beverage category mainly owned by the tea king, Teh Botol. Nevertheless, the China case proves that brand building needs persistence (since 2005) and consistency in bringing to life a fresh big ideas that hooks the target consumers unfavorable to soda drinks.

The "How do you enjoy Minute Maid? (Pulpy Experience)" campaign that collected consumer generated stories in videos and pictures should give us an inspiration how to integrate local celebrity endorsement with various media maximization including digital.

One interesting point to notice: Coke adapted the brand name into Chinese to ease the pronounciation for Chinese tongues. Let's see if it works well without local adaptation in other part of the world.

Press coverage (AFP):

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kellogg Eyeing Agency Roster Cut From 30 Shops to Five

Companywide Push Led by Procurement Division

CHICAGO ( -- Kellogg Co. is the latest major marketer to seek to consolidate its ad agency roster during the downturn.

The breakfast behemoth is hardly alone in looking to slash shops from its roster, as marketers such as Anheuser-Busch, Bayer and Emirates Airlines have all done so this year in bids to control costs and, in some cases, to clarify marketing messages by having fewer cooks concoct them.

The Kellogg effort, known internally as "Project Silver," is part of a companywide push led by its procurement division to control costs and designate "preferred vendors," according to people familiar with the matter.

One executive said the company is looking to cut the number of ad agencies with which it works to possibly as few as five or six, down from the 30-plus it works with currently.

Asked for more details, a Kellogg spokeswoman was tight-lipped. "On an ongoing basis, we have discussions across the broad remit of our partnerships regarding maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations and efforts," she said with an e-mail to a request for a telephone interview. "Those ongoing conversations are confidential."

Kellogg's primary global creative agencies are Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett and WPP's JWT, although it's not clear whether this review, which will commence next month, threatens either agency's status. Of course, even if the result of the review only affects shops on the margins, the dollars involved are likely to be significant, seeing as Kellogg's global ad budget is the 29th largest in the world, exceeding $1 billion, according to Ad Age's December ranking of the top global marketers.

The Battle Creek, Mich.-based marketer works with a long list of agencies across multiple disciplines all over the world, including Burnett, Euro RSCG, Starcom, Rivet, Arc, Cole & Weber, Marketing Drive, Amazon Advertising, Lapiz and WonderGroup in the U.S. alone.

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Contributing: Rupal Parekh, Michael Bush, Kunur Patel


Good thing of crisis is it's forcing marketers to be more efficient even faster. Currently, all big brand owners around the world have initiated projects to streamline their operations and trimming the agency rosters to lower its biggest part of marketing spending. Negotiating fees, reprioritizing marketing projects, cutting down production cost elements, consolidating numerous smaller agencies to fewer, bigger end-to-end lead agencies are some ways taken by big players to press the costs down.

However, advertisers need to ensure that the marketing group (key service user) work closely with related purchasing functions (including legal) with clear objectives & guidance not to compromise the quality while openly communicate the changes to the agencies partners so that the intent is really fruitful.

On the other side, agencies should have expected this to happen & not felt discouraged. It's a wake-up call for the firms to run even more efficient operations in order to keep pace with client's demand and strengthen the value added creation that sets them apart from the pack.