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):