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Monday, September 6, 2010

Mandy Ginsberg, Match.com

By Robert Klara on Mon Sep 14 2009
 


Measuring ROI is, as everyone knows, a huge deal these days—and no less so for Mandy Ginsberg. But for her, proof that her marketing efforts are working doesn't just come in the form of a spreadsheet. They're evident in the contents of a large bookcase that stands in a corridor outside her Dallas office.

Lining its shelves are wedding invitations, marriage announcements, thank-you letters and framed photos of couples—each of which tells the story of two lonely hearts who are alone no more. The display, Ginsberg says, is a reminder that the business she's in "is pretty rewarding. It's not like selling socks."

True enough. As the North American general manager of Match.com, Ginsberg sells an accessory even warmer and fuzzier than socks—love. And in Ginsberg's view, there's no better way for a consumer to find love than signing up at Match.com, the company she's helped build into the world's largest online-dating brand, with some 1.3 million paid subscribers—a tally that grew by 15 percent this year. (IAC, the company that owns Match, doesn't break out its financial results.)

Fortunately for Ginsberg, 38, tough economic times have actually turned out to be a good match for the online-dating biz. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people seek companionship when times are tough, and with a basic monthly fee of $34.99, Match.com is a lot cheaper than the singles bar. "People are spending less money and less time out," Ginsberg says.

They've got plenty of choices online though, including MatchMaker, Yahoo Personals and JDate. Fortunately, Ginsberg, assisted by senior marketing director Darcy Cameron, has formulated a successful blend of value-added offerings and a cool public image that's helped to draw 20,000 new members to Match.com each day.

Since taking her post last year, Ginsberg has been on a crusade to eliminate the last vestiges of the stigma surrounding online dating (i.e., you only meet creeps on the Web).

Early on, Ginsberg injected new life into the already popular tagline "It's okay to look" by casting real Match.com members in TV spots, and then luring tryouts with a six-month guarantee (if you don't meet anyone, the next six months are free). The member/stars in the ads were all shot in their home environments, telling their own stories. The result, Ginsberg says, conveyed the message that "there are great people online just like you, normal people."

With handheld devices allowing people to be online anywhere and anytime, another of Ginsberg's aims has been to transform matchmaking into an any-occasion experience.
"People want to find great people whether they're on the subway or home on their computers," she says. "They don't delineate." She rolled out MatchMobile, which allows members to access match profiles via their phones and send electronic "winks" to people they find attractive.

Perhaps the nerviest of Ginsberg's marketing efforts took aim at its No. 1 competitor. Ginsberg's team searched for a weakness in eHarmony's armor. It wasn't hard to find.

"eHarmony was pretty adamant about not providing people with the opportunity to look for a same-sex partner," she says. (Late last year, until it settled a suit brought by a gay man in New Jersey, eHarmony served only heterosexuals looking to get married.) "It was," Ginsberg recalls, "a very aha moment."

Ginsberg's epiphany would flower into an affecting ad (via Hanft Raboy and Partners) on behalf of Match sibling, Chemistry.com, showing the face of a handsome young man with an ink stamp pounded across his forehead that read: REJECTED BY E-HARMONY. After explaining that eHarmony didn't welcome gay consumers, the ad's caption read: "At Chemistry.com, you can come as you are." The ad, Cameron says, is a prime example of Ginsberg's willingness "to try new things and take risks."

The risk worked. After the "Rejected" ads ran, Chemistry.com's awareness figures quadrupled, and the brand fostered untold numbers of, well, matches. "We're truly having an effect on people's lives," Ginsberg says. In fact, the most valuable piece of ROI for Ginsberg shows her the number of customers that Match.com is losing—not to a competitor, but to cupid. "Every day, 1,000 people leave the site," Ginsberg says, "because they say they've found someone." 


http://www.brandweekmoy.com/2009/09/mandy-ginsberg-matchcom.html

Team Tide

By Elaine Wong on Mon Sep 14 2009
 

Kash Shaikh remembers the moment he and a group of colleagues presented Robert Luzzi, the chief marketing officer of Ann Taylor Stores, with what they hoped was fashion in a bottle—except, of course, it wasn't. Or not quite.
Luzzi looked at the orange bottle and said, "Guys, what you've got there is still laundry," recalls Shaikh, who oversees influencer marketing for Procter & Gamble's Tide. That bottle, Tide Total Care, was the detergent brand's first foray into the world of washable fashion.
 
The idea was that in a recession more consumers might consider cutting dry cleaning out of their budgets. Total Care, which promised to maintain the "look and feel" of garments 30 wash cycles later, was meant to provide a way to keep clothes looking newer longer. Brands like Reckitt Benckiser's Woolite have long made similar claims, but Total Care's introduction was presented with a fashion twist, which was why it was important to get clothiers like Ann Taylor on board.

"We looked like laundry guys trying to talk fashion," Shaikh recalls of Luzzi's sharp, yet constructive input on the project's progress at that point. Visually and aesthetically, Total Care needed to kick it up a notch.

The result was a campaign, by Saatchi & Saatchi, Digitas, DeVries and Starcom MediaVest Group, which had the brand dropping fashion lingo. Print and TV ads alerted trendsetters to the "7 Signs of Beautiful Clothes," a tagline reminiscent of Olay Total Effects' "Fight 7 Signs of Aging." Fashionable laundry detergent, the ads asserted, "maintains [clothing's] finish," "enhances softness," "prevents pills" and "cleans thoroughly." In doing so, Total Care reversed the previously accepted notion of clothing eventually fading and wearing out over time.

"Women were telling us they wanted to look their best every day, no matter what they're wearing," says John McFarland, the Tide assistant brand manager who helped launch the product.

The move from laundry to fashion wasn't as big a jump as one might think. In watching consumers use Total Care, many of them talked about how it maintained their clothes in the same way that shampoo and conditioner nurtured one's hair, says Kevin Crociata, the North American laundry care marketing director who helped oversee the launch.

"People love our stain cleaning benefits, but sometimes they may be perceived as being too harsh on clothes," he says, adding that Total Care opened an "untapped vector in the category."

To build credibility, Team Tide solicited the help of Tim Gunn—the style guru from the hit show Project Runway—along with stylists like Jorge Ramon to promote the product. Retail partnerships with Ann Taylor Loft (yes, Luzzi finally came around) and The Limited stores further cemented Total Care's fashion foothold. Both involved in-store signage, couponing and product sampling. In both instances, Tide lent its cleaning credentials while the retailers' visibility convinced consumers that fashionable apparel and washer-friendly clothing can go hand in hand.

And, in yet another first for Tide, the marketing team behind Total Care also tapped the help of outside industry professionals, including high-end department store buyers, textile experts and fashion designers. Brands like Olay and Pantene have long "brought the outside in," but it wasn't until Total Care tried the approach itself that it discovered "the actionable and knowledgeable feedback we were able to incorporate," Shaikh says.

As a result, Total Care made a very fashionable showing. For the 52 weeks ended June 14, it posted $72 million in sales (excluding Walmart) per IRI. P&G maintains that the product is on pace to deliver $120 million to $150 million in first-year sales overall. Such results came at a time when many packaged-goods companies—P&G included—were suffering significant share losses from consumers' recessionary cutbacks. Yet, Total Care was able to "combine both the attraction of high-end fashion and the fact that it saved users money," says Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj.

Another measure of Total Care's clean sweep: In March, Woolite introduced its own fashion positioning in an online campaign and makeover contest called "find the look, keep the look," backed by style pundit Stacy London.

But Shaikh recalls the moment he knew that Total Care had scored big with the fashion world. At the product's launch party, Luzzi told P&G, "You guys did it."

Three of its guys, to be specific. "Suddenly," Shaikh remembers, "it didn't feel like [just] detergent anymore."