Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kohl's Sells Holiday Savings

Oct 29, 2009
- Alex Palmer

Kohl’s Department Stores is honing in on cost-cutting consumers this holiday season. Throughout November and December, the company will be promoting a range of deals via a multiplatform marketing campaign that spans TV, radio and online.

The campaign builds on Kohl’s current “The More You Know, The More You Kohl’s” platform, which focuses on the saving opportunities available to shoppers. Among these promotions are Kohl’s Cash rewards, which grant shoppers $10 for every $50 they spend during special events, as well as a range of special limited-time deals such as Pick-Your-Day sales, Night Owl and Early Bird Bonus Buys.

“This year we have built more value into our offers to help shoppers be strategic in their spending,” said Julie Gardner, Kohl’s evp and CMO, in a statement. “Our campaign educates customers about how to maker their money work harder for them by taking advantage of all of the great brands, savings tools and conveniences that Kohl’s offers.”

Advertising surrounding the promotion will resemble “The More You Know” ads that ran throughout this year, featuring savvy shoppers talking about how they found great deals for friends and family. Media will include two 30-second national TV spots, plus multiple 15- and 30-second ads supporting events. The first will air beginning Nov. 2. Several 30-second national radio spots will also be rolled out over Thanksgiving week.

The department store chain is investing in digital and social media, with “homepage takeovers” of nine sites including Yahoo!, MSN and AOL. Kohl’s will also integrate into more than 30 newspaper Web sites and use its Facebook page to promote the holiday savings.

A promotional push will take place inside the store as well, with in-store signage promoting deals and signage that includes slogans such as, “Count on Great Gifts, Count on Great Savings,” and “Make Every Gift Count.”

Last year, Kohl’s spent $337 million on advertising per The Nielsen Company, and $170 million from January to August 2009.


Friday, October 30, 2009

What Are the Hottest New Product Trends of 2009?

Oct 29, 2009

Walgreens chief innovation officer Colin Watts was in town this week to host a jury preview of the upcoming Product of the Year awards, an annual consumer-driven competition. This year’s entrants include packaged goods giants like Procter & Gamble, Colgate and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Contestants are judged on the innovativeness of their packaging, design and function. Winners will be announced at a gala in February, and recipients typically tout the honor in new marketing and packaging. According to Product of the Year, the organization that gives out the awards, brands usually see a 10 to 15 percent sales lift just from incorporating the award in in-store and on-air marketing. Watts, who serves as this year’s jury chair, spoke with Brandweek about some of the new product trends among the current round of recipients, how the recession has impacted new product development, and also what the drug store chain has been up to recently. Excerpts from that conversation are below:

Brandweek: What are some of the common themes you’re seeing—in terms of innovation—among this year’s Product of the Year contestants?
Colin Watts:
A lot of interesting themes are coming through in terms of the various different contestants that I’ve seen so far. One is, you’re seeing this area that I call “micro-segmentation.” You’re seeing products that are getting very, very good at understanding what are the unique target segments for consumers and unique target needs within consumers. So, the days of creating these broadly based products are over. You’re now seeing people getting very, very smart about where they’re going.

The other thing is, I think you’re seeing real back-to-nature trends. You’re seeing lots of products that are coming forth and advancing their greenness and their naturalness, which is a big trend with consumers as well.

What’s very interesting as you look across a lot of the products is value. And, it’s not that [the manufacturers] are posting value on the front of their products, but very subtly in terms of the way they’re pricing their products, the quality of the products, what they’re comparing the experiences [to]. They’re really trying to bring value to the consumer without necessarily sacrificing the price point itself. So, this could still be a premium priced product. There are some examples of that . . . the [at home] espresso-making machines and so on. They actually represent a great value to going out and getting a coffee or espresso drink in that they replicate the espresso bar [experience] by bringing it home. You’re seeing a lot of CPG manufacturers getting very smart about that.

The other thing that you’re seeing is an extraordinary design centricity. It’s amazing when you step back and think about it. Who would have thought that we would have been so focused on design…in a category like cleaning products? We’re living in an age where we’re starting to see design permeate everything, so it’s no longer just the iPod that is necessarily the pinnacle of design. We’re starting to see it in household cleaning products, in skin care, and in a lot of other areas.

BW: Has the recession caused packaged goods marketers to define innovation differently, and if so, how?
What I see among the big, major consumer packaged goods companies is marketers know that no matter what the economy is like, their success is predicated on coming forward with new innovation year after year. And the entrepreneurial start-ups also know that frankly, [hard] economic times or not, if they have an idea or innovation, they need to market it and they are looking at this situation as basically, even though it’ll be a bit more challenging for some of the products that are premium-priced, they recognize there’s an opportunity to actually push their innovation in the marketplace itself.

I do think more than ever, we at Walgreens are seeing people being very careful and watching what their price points are. There used to be a tradition that if I introduced something new, I would always ask for a bigger premium from the consumer for it. What you’re seeing now is innovation that goes in the other direction: I’m actually trying to find a way to reduce that opening price point. I’m trying to make this something that is more value-oriented for the consumer because it’s very difficult in today’s environment to introduce a brand new product that is meeting an unproven need and price it really high and expect people to jump on it.

BW: Are we seeing more line extensions or new brand launches among this year’s contestants?
You’re seeing a little bit of both. It’s very expensive in this day and age to introduce new brands. So, we have a couple of examples here of companies that are creating brand new brands, and having done that a few times before in my career, you really have to know what you’re doing and you have to be sure that you’re spending your money wisely because the consumer can only handle so many new brands.

On the other hand, what you’re also seeing is brands that are entering into new categories and thinking about themselves as a brand in very expansive ways. Procter & Gamble has a lot of entries this year and they’ve got so good at starting to think about a brand like Mr. Clean and new categories that it can get into that we, 10, 15 years ago, would have never imagined putting it in.

BW: Given the fact that many retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are pushing their own private label lines, do you think there’s still room for innovation from branded goods manufacturers in the store, and if so, what kind?
Walgreens prides itself in the quality of our store brands and we spend a lot of time and care designing those store brands with vendors that we partner with, making sure that they’re priced at the best possible level for the consumer and continuing to make sure that we refresh them, so that we have new innovation within our own set. That being said, I think we and everyone in the retail space knows that branded manufacturers will always set the high bar in terms of where innovation will go, and our business would be nothing if we weren’t working with these branded manufacturers on a very close partnership level, to help them build their brands and then make the decision, where it’s appropriate, to introduce value within our store brands in some of those categories as well. Our hope and goal always—and other retailers, I think, would say this—is, “We would like to seek out the right value proposition win.” The consumer is very smart. They see the unique, branded value proposition that might be a little more expensive, but if it fits their needs, they’re willing to put up that money. If there’s not a lot of differentiation, if the product out there is fairly “me, too!” they might choose to go the store branded direction. In an economy like what we’re seeing today, you’re seeing a lot of consumers make that choice in certain categories.

BW: O.K., switching gears here. Walgreens most recently rolled out a campaign, carrying the tagline, “There’s a way,” positioning itself as a one-stop shop. How is that effort resonating with consumers? What kind of response/ROI have you seen with that?
I give a lot of credit to Kim Feil, our chief marketing officer, and the work she and her team have done in creating this new campaign for Walgreens. I think it’s very fresh, I think it’s very contemporary and I think it’s true to the heritage of Walgreens. Walgreens has been a place in all the communities where we serve—there are 7,000 stores across the country—where people know that they can find lots of different types of solutions in their local Walgreens, but increasingly, what we’re seeing from people coming to Walgreens is they really think about us as a real health center in the community. What we’re focusing on, and you can see this in our new campaign, “There’s a way,” is, we had a tremendously successful campaign featuring our CEO, Greg Wasson, talking about flu shots. We have a new campaign that’s out right now about the role of the pharmacist and the counseling that the pharmacist can give. And the beauty of the “There’s a way” campaign is it’s so flexible. It’s a real umbrella campaign that, if you’re a brand as big as Walgreens—which is really important as you develop a campaign like this—is to make sure that during the campaign, it’s a house that’s built with a lot of different rooms and that we can emphasize different parts of the Walgreens experience and still all [tie] it back to the master brand of Walgreens—both in store and what we’re doing in terms of signage and on air. I think the campaign that Kim and her team have put together is just fantastic.

BW: If we look at the store itself, which categories are you seeing consumers cutting back or spending more on? In which categories are branded goods still holding strong?
It’s tremendously varied across all the different categories. It’s changing very rapidly. This recession that we’ve been in and the way the consumer is responding, it differs in almost every part, and almost, month to month, we’re seeing differences. What I’d start with is to say that we’re proud at Walgreens that even though we’re in the middle of a very difficult economic situation, we’re investing in the shopper experience of our stores. We have an initiative that we’re calling CCR, [Consumer Centric Retail]. That initiative is really all about the shopper experience. We’re in the process of rolling that out across different parts of the country and we’re planning on going nationwide over the next 12 months. And what’s terrific about the opportunity is it’s allowing people to come into Walgreens and see Walgreens in a whole new way. We’re retaining the parts of Walgreens they love the most, but we’re lowering the height of our store shelves so people can see across the store and where the pharmacy is, and where we have them, they can see our Take Care retail clinics, with our nurse practitioners in them, and they can also see where all of the different categories are with new signage that we put into all of our stores. We’ve reduced our assortment, in that we’ve actually got a simpler, easier to shop assortment. And we’ve built adjacency, so that if you’re a mom with a baby at home and you’re now looking for all of the different products that would surround that baby’s needs, we have them in the same part of the store now. You no longer have to go to 10 different parts of a Walgreens to find them. They’re all in one place. That seems simple, but it’s a radical new way of configuring your drug store.

What you’re seeing, though, in terms of the shopper behavior, we’re seeing consumers are much more focused on their immediate needs. They’re trying to be very wise about the way that they’re spending their money. It really plays to a lot of Walgreens’ strengths because we think of ourselves as “in the community” and a store that always has the affordable essentials. So that you know when you walk into a Walgreens, it’ll be exactly the right price and the product that you want. So, no longer are people going out there and spending hundreds of dollars for their weekly shopping trips. They’re filling in only those products that they absolutely need to put into their home and we think we’re uniquely positioned to play that role as people are going about their shopping experience.

BW: The next big holiday coming up is Halloween. What are you anticipating in terms of sales?
We anticipate a very strong season this year. You never quite know until you get into the middle of it, but we are readying our stores to have a high degree of in-store entertainment. So, when you come in and it’s the Halloween season, you feel like you’re in the middle of a store geared towards Halloween. We’re pricing all of our products and making sure they’re displayed right at the consumer’s fingertips, so they can get what they need to be able to fulfill it. We’re making sure we represent all of the key needs for that season. If it’s Thanksgiving, there are certain sets of categories that are important to you when you’re in your Thanksgiving shopping mode. If it’s Halloween, it’s candy, but there are a lot of other things around candy—costumes, ornaments—other things like that that we’re already making sure that we’re capable of doing.

What all retailers are seeing this season is we’re seeing consumers put off their shopping visits until later than they normally would in this seasonal experience. In the past, we were seeing consumers stock up for Halloween months in advance, but we’re now seeing consumers put off that purchase until the actual day of. We’re anticipating a very, very big week this week for Halloween. We expect we’ll see the same for the other holidays we’re getting into.  

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How the U.S. Census Is Reading Your Mind

Why Some Are More Likely Than Others to Respond, and What Would Make Them Participate

NEW YORK ( -- The upcoming census count will be accompanied by one of the broadest marketing efforts imaginable -- trying not just to reach every person living in the United States with a message, but getting all of them to act on that message.

"Typically when you're marketing a product ... you market it to the people who are most likely to buy that product. In this situation, we have to market to everyone, whether they are likely to participate or not," said Vita Harris, chief strategy officer at DraftFCB, who is handling the general-market leg of the census effort.
To go that broad, the $300 million-plus effort has to incorporate reams of data, tapping Census 2000 information, lifestyle and media habit data banks and cultural and ethnic studies.

But this year, the U.S. Census Bureau and its ad agency also decided to add an "attitudinal" layer. Although they already had the geographical and demographic data collected from previous polls, what they didn't know were the whys: Why was someone more or less likely to answer the census? And what could marketing do to improve the odds that they would?

So DraftFCB interviewed more than 4,000 people by phone, mobile phone and in-person during the summer of 2008, posing questions in 30 different areas, ranging from how much interviewees knew about the census to what kind of messages would make them participate. It took two months to analyze the data. And what came out was a statistical set of five different mind-sets that are most prevalent about the census.

While keeping in mind that race, ethnicity and demographics are also taken into account, we've pulled out just the mind-sets and queried DraftFCB about who there are, what each one thinks about the census, and how marketing can reach them.

The five types of census attitudes

UNACQUAINTED: The people in this group are "peripheral"; that is, they tend to be on the outside of the community, either transient or living with relatives. They are less likely to speak English as their first language. 

They've also never heard of the census and, even after a brief description, are still unlikely to fill it out. Social media, which is important to all groups, is especially relevant to the younger 22-to-34-year-olds in this group.

This group needs the most education and information, and one marketing push will, in fact, target their children. The 2010 Census in Schools' "It's About Us" effort, with free educational materials and plans for schools to talk to kids, also serves as a catalyst in Unaquainted homes when children bring home census materials and discuss them with their parents. In-language PSAs directed at this group will explain why the census matters to them.

Media plans for this group include ethnic buys, such as radio and print owned and operated by Native Americans, Arabic TV, sponsorships and/or product placements on TV shows such as George Lopez' new talk show or Tyler Perry's African-American generational family show "House of Payne," and many local buys such as restaurant media in ethnic restaurants. census marketing will be done in 28 languages in 2010, vs. just 14 in 2000, and the website will be available in 59 languages (see story, next page).

This group has a majority of minorities with almost half not born in the U.S. This group has the largest household size of four-or-more people are are most likely to have children in the household. They are the least educated, and have the lowest income (of the mind-sets), and are more likely to be renters than homeowners.

THE CYNICAL FIFTH: This stubborn group of respondents is labeled as "resistant." They claim to know little about the census, but in fact score high on the factual questions about what it does. They are negative about the Census and suspicious about what the collected data is used for. And they are difficult to reach -- not only because they philosophically don't agree with the census, but also because they skew as fairly average people (though slightly more male than the other mind-sets).

Rather than try to argue with them, Ms. Harris said creative messaging for this group will focus on the emotional impact of the Census, such as the common good, survival of the culture and benefits for future generations.

Traditional advertising also doesn't work well for this cynical group, so media planning is being built around connections. For instance, this group has an affinity for Nascar. Instead of buying a TV spot at Nascar events, a driver endorsement, for instance, would be more palpable for the cynical fifth. Athlete endorsements being considered for the Winter Olympics would particularly resonate with this group.

This group defies distinct definition, as they tend to mirror the population. They are more likely to have medium-to-high incomes and be more educated than the other mind-sets.

INSULATED: This group knows about the census, but they're indifferent. They don't believe the census has real meaning for them. There are also a higher percentage of women in the group. Messaging to them will focus on stories about how the census is personally beneficial to them, in areas such as job training, health care and community centers. Trusted voices and advocates in-language and in-culture are important to this group.

Local media is the main media venue for this group, and TV will be used. Local plans include such venues as lunch-truck advertising, migrant-farm-worker radio and partnerships with local radio DJs who can advocate the census to their listeners and encourage them to fill it out.

This group is most likely to be ethnic, with large pockets of 65 and older people, as well as widows. They are less likely to have children, and many don't speak English at home. They also tend to be homeowners with incomes of $25,000 or less and a lower education level with a majority completing high school or less.

HEAD NODDERS: This group, also known as "impressionable," profess to know a lot about the census. However, this group also performed the worst on the 10-15 "true or false" questions about the census, proving they actually know very little. As Ms. Harris said, "They're kind of like that friend that promises to come over and they have every intention of doing so, but then they don't show up. You just can't totally trust what they say."

Because this is the biggest group, it's also the one that affect mass-media scheduling the most. DraftFCB's plan to reach these non-committers is with high impact and high-frequency blast advertising throughout the month of March. Plans include radio sponsorships around census countdowns, outdoor ads with emphasis on transit and high-reminder places, and even gas pump media. This group needs to be reached and reminded over and over, and unusual media placement is meant to help the messages stick.

They are more likely to fall into the two census' "all-around-average" classifications. The first average group is more likely to own their home, live in the suburbs or a rural area, and is 80% white. The second average group is more likely to rent, live in an urban area and is 69% white. Both "all-around-average" groups earn an average annual salary of $45,000.

LEADING EDGE: This is the group every marketer wants. Also called the "committed," these people are informed and positive about the census. They almost don't need to be motivated, because not only are they likely to fill out the form and consider it their duty or privilege, they also have a propensity to encourage others to do the same. To that end, the Census is recruiting Leading Edge types who will act as advocates, whether they are church leaders, local government officials or community leaders. It's not traditional media, but the word-of-mouth generated gratis by these influencers can help motivate all other mind-sets.

As far as a specific media plan, the Leading Edge group won't get one, as they are likely to be captured through one or more of the other mass efforts, like the Olympics or Super Bowl. DraftFCB is interested in both venues, with the possibility of placing traditional commercials, as well as sponsorships and athlete or celebrity endorsements.

This group most closely resembles the census "advantaged homeowners" designation, which means they are most likely to be single families with low mobility, living in the suburbs, have an average salary of $69,000, and are 85% white.

As Media Market Shrinks, PR Passes Up Reporters, Pitches Directly to Consumers

Best Buy, MasterCard Among Those Creating Their Own Content

NEW YORK ( -- At a time when earned media is so highly sought after by marketers due to its (relative) low cost and the credibility with consumers, brands that rely on it are faced with the growing challenge of finding news outlets for their messages.

BRAND CHANNEL: YouTube helps brands broadcast their own messages.
As the body count of magazines and daily newspapers continues to rise and the once-robust news and feature holes of surviving publications shrink along with reporting staffs, some marketers have given up on the traditional path to media coverage: pitching journalists. According to the website Paper Cuts, which tracks layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers, nearly 30,000 reporters have left the industry since the beginning of 2008. So instead of pitching their stories to reporters, a growing number of marketers are directly engaging consumers through original content they and their agencies are creating.

"The traditional one-way media model has definitely had its day," said Sam Lucas, chair of U.S. brand marketing at WPP's Burson-Marsteller. "So agencies are talking to clients about these engagement models much more."

And while they haven't completely abandoned traditional media outlets, big-name marketers such as Procter & Gamble, Best Buy, MasterCard and Coldwell Banker are among those who have taken matters into their own hands by creating content and bringing it straight to consumers.

The other Tube
Mark Hass, CEO and partner of MH Group Communications, said one of his automotive clients is using YouTube very aggressively and sees it as a way to get its product messages out directly to consumers.

"They still have the usual car-and-driver folks drive and write about their cars, but that's becoming much less important than [it] used to be," Mr. Hass said. He said aside from controlling the message the other upside to creating and managing the dissemination of content is the potential to reach a wider and more diverse audience than just newspaper or magazine readers.

"You build a channel on YouTube and you get millions of views," Mr. Hass said. "And these people are coming from all over, and it's more about their interest in your product, as opposed to the readership and viewership of a particular medium. It's horizontal. If you wanted to reach that many people using traditional media, you would have to pitch and place in dozens of outlets."

Here's a sampling of what some marketers are doing on their own:

  • In May, Coldwell Banker, with the help of its PR shop Cooper Katz, launched a YouTube channel called Coldwell Banker on Location. David Siroty, senior director for PR at Coldwell Banker Real Estate, said the company uses the channel to post educational videos about the housing market and purchase process as well as house listings.

  • "We can bypass the media and do videos from our CEO, brokers and agents talking about what first-time home buyers should do," Mr. Siroty said. "You have a consumer that needs and wants to be re-educated on the nuances of housing. So we post the videos and drive traffic through social media."
    The channel launched with 300 videos and is now at 5,000 with just under 500,000 views. 

  • Best Buy's Geek Squad has been creating its own content for a few years now, according to Geek Squad's Paula Baldwin. Her title is telling: mistress of propaganda. "As a company, we began to get more serious about it roughly two years ago, creating editorial-style videos of our agents on-site at a variety of events," she said. These agent correspondence videos are aimed to bring viewers into the "Geek's" world and provide information and access they otherwise wouldn't have. Over the last year Geek Squad has begun producing tutorial videos on everything from computer support to iPods in cars to one on the DTV transition called "Two-Minute Miracles."

  • "For [Geek Squad], the move to create content was partly about filling the void left by the change in the media landscape," Ms. Baldwin said. "But it was also about filling a willingness we perceived in our customers for more access to Geek Squad's knowledge." 

  • MasterCard has also taken to the web with video interviews of its executives. Andrew Foote, senior VP in the digital media practice at WPP's Cohn & Wolfe, MasterCard's PR agency, said unlike three to five years ago when web content had to be polished and professionally produced, MasterCard has gone the low-production route. It's taping its executives using Flip video camcorders, editing the video on laptops and uploading them to YouTube.

  • "They're realizing they can comment on issues and get the points of view of their experts out there and on the record," Mr. Foote said. Once the videos are up, the company will often tweet the links and follow up with reporters letting them know MasterCard commented on the topic.

    "Sometimes those videos end up on the blogs of those publications and [it] leads to building online relationships with reporters, analysts and industry influencers," Mr. Foote said. He said MasterCard isn't "necessarily becoming less reliant" on mainstream media; the company just realizes it's not the only game in town, and, when speed is of the essence, creating its own content or relying on digital channels is the best approach.

    "Sometimes mainstream [media] can't keep up with the needs of the company to get stuff out," Mr. Foote said.

    Some marketers are going further, creating the communities in which they distribute that content. Renee Wilson, managing director, New York, of Publicis Groupe's MS&L, said her client Procter & Gamble's Rouge magazine is an example of how to circumvent the reporter. But for clients, including P&G, she said MS&L has been tapping into existing niche communities or creating communities from scratch that marketers can speak to. For Ferrero Rocher chocolates, the agency circulated content about the brand and new products through numerous online properties. 

    "Consumers still get brand information but it's not filtered by a reporter at a traditional publication," she said. For P&G's Oral-B Pulsonic, it formed a partnership with Elle/Hachette and created fashion content that was delivered to the consumer by Oral-B Pulsonic and hosted on And for SmartOnes, the agency created an online community for fans to share product info, rather than going the traditional food-media route.

    "Everyone is now looking at tapping the right communities or creating them," Ms. Wilson said.


    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Nascar Takes Cinema Advertising for a Spin

    Deal With Screenvision Will Bring Branded Content to 15,000 Screens

    The deal with Nascar will give Screenvision original, exclusive long-form content to spruce up its 'pre-show' in order to improve engagement for the rest of its paying advertisers.
    CHICAGO ( -- Nascar is sprinting into cinema ads, and it is bringing its sponsors along for the ride.

    The auto-racing behemoth has cut a three-year deal with cinema-ad network Screenvision to bring original branded content to 15,000 movie screens, the league's first play in a fast-growing format that has spotlighted the sport in movies such as "Talladega Nights" and "Days of Thunder."

    The deal calls for Nascar to create 90-second pieces that could consist of race highlights, behind-the-scenes pieces and driver profiles at the behest of its sponsors. It could build a segment, for instance, around drivers backed by Coca-Cola-owned brands.

    That added value for sponsors could be a useful sweetener at a time when some high-profile Nascar backers such as Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's have been walking away from the sport amid declining TV revenue and track attendance.
    Jim O'Connell, Nascar's VP-corporate marketing, said the league was interested in the deal for three reasons: It wanted to expose the sport to new fans, it wanted additional benefits for its corporate partners and it wanted a new platform to help those partners activate against the sport.

    Screenvision's 45 million monthly theatergoers, of course, are an attractive way to check all three boxes. "This is a great fit," Mr. O'Connell said. "Few things are going to look better on a 40-foot screen than Nascar racing."
    Not a bad deal, considering Nascar didn't pay for the privilege beyond creating content and providing use of their logos.

    So what's in it for Screenvision?
    The theater network gets original, exclusive long-form content, something it had been seeking to spruce up its "pre-show" in order to improve engagement for the rest of its paying advertisers. And its member theaters get the use of Nascar's logos, which Screenvision's network of exhibitors can utilize in lobby promotions such as banners and drinking cups and popcorn bags.

    Cinema advertising has been growing in recent years, driven by strong box-office trends and the struggles of traditional media in a digital world, where a captive audience that can't time-shift or block its way around viewing ads is a valuable commodity. According to the Cinema Advertising Council, cinema ad revenue climbed 5.7% in 2008.
    "The No. 1 goal for us is that this is entertaining to our audience," said Screenvision Exec VP Mike Chico. "And there is a lift associated with Nascar's brand and marks that our exhibitors can take advantage of."

    Mr. Chico said this would be the largest content deal ever for Screenvision, which has done large-scale theater deals with the likes of Verizon and MTV. The company made news earlier this year when it unveiled the first 3-D theater campaign for Skittles

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    What NBC Gave Up in Ad Pricing for 'Leno' Prime-Time Show

    Ad Age Chart Details Difference in 30-Second Spot Prices in '09 vs. '08

    NEW YORK ( -- Nothing may illustrate the risk inherent in NBC's much-scrutinized launch of "The Jay Leno Show" than a hard look at the drop in ad prices the General Electric network managed to get in the program's time slot this season.

    'The Jay Leno Show'

    A 30-second spot in "Jay Leno" costs between an average of $48,803 (Friday nights) and $65,678 (Tuesday nights), according to Advertising Age's annual survey of ad prices for the broadcast networks' prime-time shows, negotiated during the upfront TV market. In contrast, NBC was able to secure ad prices of between $78,000 (for "Lipstick Jungle") and $146,679 for programs that aired in its 10 p.m. slot Monday through Friday in the 2008-2009 programming season.

    Indeed, NBC's weekday prime-time ad prices in the 10 p.m. slot have slumped across the week. "Leno" commands an average of $53,640 for a 30-second ad on Monday nights; last season, "My Own Worst Enemy," a scripted adventure drama starring Christian Slater, commanded an average of $98,909.

    On Tuesday nights, "Leno" gets an average of $65,678 for a 30-second ad; last season, "Law & Order: SVU" commanded an average of $146,679 (and, it's worth mentioning, "SVU" this season commands only an average of $101,632 on Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m.).

    On Wednesday nights, a 30-second spot on "Leno" averages $62,012; last season, "Lipstick Jungle" cost an average of $78,000, while its mid-season replacement, "Law & Order," cost an average of $135,474.
    It's no 'ER'
    For the once-mighty Thursday night, "Leno" brings in an average of $57,295; last season, the venerable "ER" cost an average of $110,049, and "Celebrity Apprentice" commanded an average of $147,800 (and, it's worth noting, "Apprentice" is commanding an average of $110,283 on Sundays this season).

    On Fridays, "Leno" is getting an average of $48,803; last season, "Life" commanded an average of $86,948.
    Now, one might make the argument that, ad-sales shortfalls aside, NBC used sound judgment; except for the "Law & Order" dramas and "Celebrity Apprentice," everything else that aired at 10 p.m. last season has been cancelled. If NBC is in the midst of a less-than-spectacular programming streak, then "Leno" is certainly more stable and cost-conscious than launching dramas on the order of "My Own Worst Enemy" or "Lipstick Jungle" only to have to take them off the air and hope advertisers will want to continue to support their replacements at similar price levels.

    And there's some indication ad buyers are already working with NBC to play "Leno" to the maximum advantage. One senior media-buying executive suggested that advertisers could put more weight against "Leno" when rival networks are in repeats. Unlike scripted dramas, which typically run about 22 episodes a season, "Leno" is original year-round.

    This media-buying executive also suggested the comedy gab-fest stands to perform better against rivals in the summer season, which has less original programming available during broadcast prime time.

    Even so, NBC has "lost 30% of its viewers in the 10 p.m. time slot year-over-year given the switch to Jay Leno," suggested a recent research note by Wells Fargo Securities. 

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Owater Using Athletes for More Than Product Plugs

    CMO Stewart Competing With Sports-Drink Giants on a Startup Budget

    NEW YORK ( -- By definition, startups have plenty of hurdles to overcome. For Owater, the greatest of those might be the shadow of Nantucket Nectars. The "healthy sports drink" is the second brand founded by Tom First. In the 1990s, he and Tom Scott put Nantucket Nectars on the map as the dynamic Tom & Tom. The brand reached $60 million in sales by 2001 and was purchased by Cadbury Schweppes in 2002. It's now owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

    Mr. First brought along a number of Nantucket Nectars alum when he launched Owater in 2004, including Kim Stewart, director of marketing. In the years between beverage forays, Ms. Stewart worked as an art director at Boston-based agency Boathouse Group on brands including Merrill Lynch and New Balance.

    "You sometimes think that because you've done it once before it's all going to come together faster the second time," said Ms. Stewart, 39, referencing her time as creative director at Nantucket Nectars. "You still have to find your voice."

    That means putting athletes and the athletically minded at the center of Owater's marketing and consumer-insight strategy. The brand, which works with an overall marketing budget of less than $1 million, uses its best real estate -- its label -- to highlight everyone from yoginis Ashley and Anne to the Sunday Hoopsters pickup basketball team to the Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury. For many of the amateur athletes, a taste for the brand and being featured on the label has been enough to inspire loyalty, even without compensation. Mr. Ellsbury is one of the only endorsers to receive a small amount of money as compensation.

    "We've found that to be an incredibly powerful tool in getting marketing reactions from people. Ninety-five percent don't cost us anything, and they've become total advocates for the brand," said Ms. Stewart.

    The company expects "to end the year just north of $5 million in sales, which amounts to 25% growth in a very tough economic climate," Ms. Stewart said. "We exceeded our adjusted expectations."

    Here, she talks about why Owater shuns formal focus groups, why there's a need for new kind of sports drink, and how the beverage is tackling the competition.
    Ad Age: You're a growing company in the midst of a recession. How has the downturn affected your ability to market and grow the brand?
    Ms. Stewart: The recession has definitely made us more cautious in terms of spend. When you're a start-up, everything you do impacts the bottom line. We're thinking about more creative, less expensive ways to get the word out from a marketing point of view. We spend more time going to events and talking to people than spending in advertising dollars and traditional media.
    Ad Age: What consumer data is informing your strategy?
    Ms. Stewart: We're not a research-based company. We don't do focus groups. We do a lot of communication with retailers and consumers. The sales force is really active in going out there and talking to people in stores. We, as a marketing group, are out there all the time.
    Ad Age: What happens as the brand grows? Does structured research become necessary?
    Ms. Stewart: At Nantucket Nectars, we never did it. That's not to say that I'm anti-research, but sometimes brands get bogged down with it. We've created this network of athletes that we talk to. It's not an official focus group but a group of end-users that we trust.
    Ad Age: Does it give you a competitive edge, gathering information the way you do?
    Ms. Stewart: I've been in focus groups on other brands, and there are times when there's a strong personality in the room, and it sways people in another direction. I'm not saying Gatorade or Vitaminwater are doing it wrong. It's just not a way I've done it, so I'm skeptical. But probably a lot of others would say I'm crazy.
    Ad Age: Owater is trying to sell itself as a healthier sports drink, somewhere between Gatorade and water. Is that tough to convey to consumers?
    Ms. Stewart: It is tricky to describe a new category. And we really do consider it a new category. We talk about a "healthy sports drink" and get people thinking about a new kind of sports drink. We also feel supported by what the media is talking about in beverages. [Drinks high in sugar have been lambasted by the media as of late, in part related to a discussion about taxing soda and sugary beverages.]
    Ad Age: Do you think Owater could eventually be a competitor to major brands such as Gatorade and Vitaminwater?
    Ms. Stewart: Yes. It is reinforced to us at triathlons and races that people are looking for an alternative to the sugary sweet, [high-]calorie level of a Gatorade, a Powerade. That's not every athlete that's out there, but there is a huge consumer group that is really paying attention to the sugar they're putting in their body. We've met a lot of people that will pour half a Gatorade in a bottle with half water.
    Ad Age: Don't G2 and Powerade Zero address that though?
    Ms. Stewart: They may be cannibalizing themselves. How do you digest being told there's a healthier option being made by Gatorade? And what does that do to your feeling of the brand? Some are also using artificial sweeteners or new age sweeteners that are processed from natural sources, and those present different taste issues. We're still using pure cane sugar, and consumers select Owater over a G2 or a Vitaminwater 10 because they want that cleaner real taste of fruit.
    Ad Age: You're relying primarily on radio ads and partnerships with "Owater friends." Does that generate enough buzz?
    Ms. Stewart: We experiment in a balance of traditional and non-traditional. There are markets where radio is still a viable media. We've had success in Boston, for sure. Also, we've tried some non-traditional things, like social media. I think of that as a channel where people don't want to be marketed to. We struggle with how to attack social media. But we've really had success having athletes tweet about us and building our community through those types of things. Moving forward, with the economy getting better, we will probably experiment with some radio in other markets. And we'll probably look at outdoor in our more developed markets. We're not ready for a TV campaign, but you never know.
    Ad Age: Tom First is a well-known name in the beverage and marketing world. How involved is he in the marketing space?
    Ms. Stewart: Extremely.
    Ad Age: Is that a good thing or can it be challenging?
    Ms. Stewart: It's a great thing. He's a really smart guy. He's very passionate about brand-building and very connected. He is in the day-to-day, from designing labels and writing copy to brainstorming radio ideas. Having had a working relationship with him for over 10 years, we have our moments where we disagree about something, for sure. But it's great to have that passion and push there.
    Ad Age: Will Owater ever have an ad agency?
    Ms. Stewart: It might. Nantucket Nectars was proud of never having worked with an agency. But I left there and went to work for an agency and saw the benefit of agencies.
    Ad Age: What are the benefits?
    Ms. Stewart: I don't think you can knock the concept of having 20 creatives thinking up ideas for a brand. Fresh eyes are sometimes a really good thing. You have to be careful when you're small and have in-house teams working on it that you're not getting stale.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Levi's, Goodwill Launch Clothing Recycling Push

    'Care Tag for Our Planet' Encourages People to Donate Unwanted Apparel

    Levi's GoodwillEnlarge

    "BBDO provided us with a perfect way to match our long-term commitment to sustainability with our ability to deliver a message to hundreds of millions of people around the globe," said Jill Nash, chief communications officer and VP-corporate affairs, Levi Strauss & Co.

    Levi Strauss & Co., which has been working on environmental issues for more than two decades, studied every stage in the life cycle of a typical pair of 501 jeans. It found that one of the greatest opportunities for reducing climate change and water impact happens after consumers take their jeans home. As a result, the company is also encouraging consumers to wash less, wash in cold water and line dry when possible to reduce the climate impact of caring for the jeans.

    "As a company built on values, we have long worked to promote sustainability in how we make our products and run our operations," said John Anderson, president-CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., in announcing the project this week. "This initiative uses our global voice to empower hundreds of millions of consumers around the world to join us by providing simple and actionable ways to help care for our planet." 

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Coca-Cola: Building a Better Design Machine?

    Its Web-based design tool lets the beverage giant customize marketing for hundreds of brands globally while slashing the time it takes to reach consumers
    Walk into any grocery or convenience store and you're likely to see big sales signs tied to events—say, an Olympic-themed sign promoting a series of limited edition Coca-Cola (KO) cans that were available during the Beijing Summer Games. In the past 12 months, Coca-Cola Enterprises, the biggest bottler and distributor of Coke products in the U.S., has created 700,000 of these customized point-of-sale materials alone and expects to pump out 50% more in the next year.

    Just five years ago a team of people might have spent weeks or months producing each in-store display. Today, all it takes is Steve Vande Loo and his office computer. Sitting at his desk, the vice-president of commercialization strategy for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) logs into the Design Machine, a Web site launched by Coca-Cola last year. Vande Loo searches online for the right layout template, customizes the images and the copy, choosing from the seven language options currently available, and forwards the digital file to a Coca-Cola printing facility which will get it into stores within days. He can knock off a new sign in less than 10 minutes.

    A huge time-saver for Vande Loo, the Design Machine solves the mega-challenge faced by all global companies: How do you retain control of the brand—or, in Coke's case, 450 brands—and ensure that its image in markets around the world reflects the core strategy? And how do you do that while making the brand management system flexible enough to adapt to local market needs?

    Big Web Trend

    As a bonus, the Design Machine solves the challenge for a relatively small price: Coca-Cola won't give the actual cost, but says it spent less to put the system up worldwide than it pays in agency fees for a single Coca-Cola ad campaign. "We recovered our investment well within the first year we went live," says David Butler, Coca-Cola's vice-president of design, who conceived the system.

    It's hard to know if the flood of new point-of-sale pieces is raising sales. "We typically measure the effectiveness of our marketing activities in broad strokes, so it's difficult to zero in on one execution and connect the dots back to the Design Machine," says Butler. But he adds that major customers such as McDonald's (MCD) are as excited about the tool as Coca-Cola, and "that ultimately drives sales."

    The Design Machine reflects a broader trend towards so-called digital asset management systems, which are often Web-based repositories of brand materials (logos, text, images, video clips, etc.) that can be accessed by marketers around the world. Advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather built the first such system in 2001 for client IBM (IBM). At the time, Ogilvy saw it as a more efficient means of distribution and rights management, but the agency has since expanded its offerings and in July formally established a subsidiary, RedWorks, to handle language translation and production services.

    Cutting Costs

    Adgistics, a London-based software firm that's partially owned by Ogilvy's parent, WPP, introduced a similar service in 2001. Adgistics 2.0, as the newest version of the product is called, is behind Ford Motor's (F) Dealer Xpress in Britain, a Web-based system that allows dealers to easily customize advertising templates created by Ford's British marketing department. Dealers can change the language, the cars featured, and the specs and pricing, along with adding their own logo and address. Then they select a publication size, and the file is automatically sent to a newspaper for publication or to a digital printer.

    The Design Machine is similar to these forerunners: part digital library of brand assets, part design and production tool. Some 3,000 people across the Coca-Cola universe—many are Coke employees while others, like Vande Loo, work for one of the beverage giant's partners—use the site to create hundreds of millions of pieces of customized retail marketing, ranging from grocery aisle signs to packaging to bottle labels.

    Once at the site, a marketer can search by brand, event (the Olympics, say, or the Fourth of July), or content (a label or an in-store sign, for example) to find the most appropriate layout template. Then he or she can start customizing the display, adding the logo of a grocery store where a sign will appear, for instance, or selecting copy appropriate for a movie theater. Users don't need to get their designs approved by anyone at Coca-Cola, because the machine's built-in design parameters ensure that the final materials will conform to global standards already set by the corporate design team in Coke's Atlanta headquarters.

    Design VP Butler won't give specifics, but says that thanks to the Design Machine, the company has reduced fees to agencies for localizing point-of-sale pieces by 30%. In addition, Coke no longer has to hire outside printing shops and pay rush fees. "It's made our retail marketing process more efficient and more effective," says Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola's chief marketing officer.

    Leveraging Savvy Design

    The new online tool has also solved a design conundrum at Coca-Cola. Butler had been looking for ways to produce higher quality materials, but had just 60 designers on staff with no prospect of adding more. "The idea [behind the Design Machine] was how can we make it easy for nondesigners to leverage the power of good design," he says.
    For Butler, who previously had been brand-strategy director at marketing and consulting firm Sapient, a Web-based device was the obvious answer, and Coca-Cola hired the Farnham, England-based Elateral to build it. The Design Machine now holds more than 4,000 "templates," and Coke designers are adding material almost daily. "It's helping to educate everyone who uses it about what good design is and how it can be a competitive advantage," says Moira Cullen, Coca-Cola's North America design director.

    The tool also suggests that, at least in the realm of marketing, the company is finally finding the right balance between the globalization strategy pushed by former Chief Executive Roberto Goizueta a decade ago—a strategy that Harvard Business School Professor Pankaj Ghemawat termed "globaloney"—and the intensely local strategy implemented by Goizueta's successor, Douglas Daft. It's likely that Coca-Cola's new CEO, Muhtar Kent, who took the reins last July, will see the wisdom of the Design Machine's localization capability. After all, he rose through the ranks of Coca-Cola's international division.

    "The fundamental challenge for any brand is to make sure that everybody understands the principles about how your brand can be used, to make the assets accessible, and to adapt what you're doing to blend into the local culture," says Nigel Hollis, chief global analyst at Millward Brown, a market research and brand consultancy. A system like the Design Machine that gives Coca-Cola control over its global brands but allows for efficient customization, says Hollis, "just makes sense." 

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    The NBA Launches Its First Major Push for Hispanic Audiences

    League Lags NFL, MLB, but New Effort Comes With Multiplatform Approach to Tap Growing Market, Fanbase

    NEW YORK ( -- The pro sports league that was the first to realize the importance of establishing a global presence is finally addressing a key component of its fan base at home.

    The National Basketball Association today launches a season-long, $7 million to $10 million ad campaign aimed at the growing Hispanic market, which the league said accounts for 15% of its total U.S. fan base of 120 million fans.

    The NBA has reached out to the Hispanic community before through a number of initiatives, but this is the league's first multiplatform Hispanic marketing campaign, putting it years behind its counterparts at the National Football League, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer in terms of a dedicated effort toward Hispanics.

    That's somewhat ironic, given that the NBA was the first major U.S. professional sports league to embrace the possibilities of new fanbases and to market the game overseas, particularly to fans in Europe and Asia. Players such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley were treated like rock stars at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, the first year NBA players were allowed to participate in the Olympics.

    'Rebranding the NBA'
    "I wouldn't say this is a new effort. We've been conducting events in the Hispanic market since 2000, and we've done it in the past through our internal assets like Spanish-language websites and radio broadcasts," said NBA Senior Director of U.S. Hispanic Marketing Saskia Sorrosa. "What's new is we want to make sure we keep those existing fans engaged. We're rebranding the NBA to this audience."

    The league partnered with Hispanic agency Bromley Communications, San Antonio, to create the campaign. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, is the NBA's main ad agency.

    In addition to the 18 million Hispanic fans, the NBA has six U.S.-born Latino players and 19 players from Spain and Latin America currently on 2009-10 preseason rosters. The NBA has played 25 preseason games and one regular-season game in Latin America.

    "Initially, the NBA did an RFP [request for proposals] a couple of years ago, so this is a few years in the works," Bromley's chief operating officer, Jessica Pantanini, said. "They came to us and said, 'We're not sure what to do.' Being based here in San Antonio with the [NBA's] Spurs and with a large Hispanic population, we have some unbelievably avid NBA fans. We had a few ideas."

    How to say NBA
    What they came up with was éne-bé-a, which is how Hispanic fans already refer to the NBA. The elements of the campaign include:

  • TV spots featuring the Suns' Leandro Barbosa, among other players, on Hispanic networks such as Telemundo, Univision, Telefutura, Discovery en Espanol, CNN en Espanol, MTV3 and other channels.

  • A new Spanish-language site, which will include exclusive webisodes featuring NBA Latino players, news breaks and features, photo galleries, etc.

  • Content on Spanish-language social-networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and MiPagina.

  • Grassroots events such as Es Tu Cancha, Spanish for "It's Your Court", which is an initiative to improve and renovate basketball courts in Hispanic neighborhoods throughout the country.
    The éne-bé-a TV creative debuts today on both English- and Spanish-language outlets across the country. The league already has a deal in place with ESPN Deportes to telecast weekly NBA games in Spanish, which will include the Eastern Conference finals this season, and 11 NBA teams already feature live Spanish-language radio broadcasts of games.

    "Originally, we used to talk about the U.S. Hispanic market as just the top 10 markets, like New York, Los Angeles, Miami," said Ms. Sorrosa, who said she watched Mr. Jordan play when she was a child in her native Ecuador. "Now, migration patterns are such that there are places that have a significant Hispanic population that you normally wouldn't think, like Portland and Denver."

    Both Portland and Denver have NBA franchises.

    The éne-bé-a campaign will run through the entire season. There are four TV spots, which will change in December, again in February or March, and again for the playoffs in April.

    Ms. Pantanini said it was important to create a campaign that addressed the Hispanic market but didn't pander to it.
    "Latinos don't want to be called out for being Latino," she said. "We want to be respected for who we are. We felt like the idea of éne-bé-a speaks to them, but doesn't call them out." 


  • Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Taking Your Brand From David to Goliath the German Way

    Jako and Jack Wolfskin Show the Perils of Aggressive Legal Action in the Age of Social Media

    If marketing is about conversation, then the least conversational move is taking legal action to protect your brands. In a world of constant chatter, lawsuits can actually serve to cause the damage that the legal action was meant to prevent. In recent weeks, two German companies discovered this. Neither are megabrands, but both are quite successful and have a devoted customer base that spreads that acts as advocates.

    By August, the blogger had to pay more than 5,000 euros in fines and fees, and the blogging community stepped on his side for solidarity and protection. The issue escalated. The whole community of digital types in Germany started to discuss the case -- and, by then, it was not about the design of the logo. Suddenly a relatively small company --Jako is no Nike or Adidas -- had a nasty portrait of itself painted by the social networks. And then the discussion grew into something bigger.

    The print press started to cover the story and Jako faced a major PR problem. On Sept. 3 the company issued a press release with an apology to calm the turmoil. The case became iconic with the German trade press. At this point the whole marketing community could have learned a simple lesson.
    But it didn't.

    Jack Wolfskin is a similar case. It is a popular producer of outdoor equipment that started as a private label in 1981 and became a premium brand shortly after selling their products around the world. Its logo is a paw, a popular icon indeed, which has led to a number of conflicts in the past. Like Jako, Jack Wolfskin is a sympathetic David. Last week they decided it would be better to act like Goliath.

    On the platform Dawanda, mostly female users sell their homemade items, and paws can be found on many of the designs, such as this shirt. Last week Jack Wolfskin started legal action stating copyright infringement against the woman who sewed the glittery cat-and-paws shirt, as well as other users of the site. With the Jako incident fresh in mind, the outcry started Oct. 16, beginning with the coverage of the influential advertising blogger Werbeblogger.

    Within hours the server broke down, the post was mirrored by other bloggers and discussions about it exploded on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend. The national press, including weekly magazine Der Spiegel, started to take notice, and the outcome of the story of David vs. Goliath became somewhat predictable. It's worth remembering that outdoor clothing is a favorite among many digital natives, including some who responded, and the brand really hurt the feelings of many customers by taking legal action against the women -- whether it was legally right or not.

    It's evident that lawyers and marketing and communication pros alike need a finer sense of when to deploy a legal action on behalf of a brand. What can be a strategic move in corporate competition can lead to victories that are Pyrrhic at best. What is a blog with 400 readers in comparison to a story covered by national press? Prior to taking immediate legal action, a company should enter the conversation. 

    Jako and Jack Wolfskin learned the hard way.