Monday, November 19, 2012

Coca-Cola's "Journey" to Storytelling Success

The Coca-Cola Journey

“Coca-Cola Journey” has a ring to it. What is the “Coca-Cola Journey” you may ask? It is a new direction that the company is taking in order to “underline the intent to re-present the corporate website as an online magazine” (NY Times). Coca-Cola as a brand has decided to expand their interests, from branding their classic soft drink to making the consumer experience more than just taking a sip of a refreshing beverage on a hot day. The website will offer articles (on things like “entertainment, the environment, health and sports, etc.), video and audio clips, interviews, and other magazine-esque pieces. 

click here for original website

How do we know that this is going to appeal to Coca-Cola customers? Well, according to the New York Times, “the web site draws about 1.2 million unique visitors a month.” Some simple math shows us that that roughly 7.2 million visit the website every six months, which makes 14.4 million viewers a year. Assuming that these numbers were generated from people visiting the original website, I’d say its safe to proclaim the new website will be a Cola-Cola success. 

From A Marketing/Entrepreneurship Major's Prospective...

click here for original website

As an entrepreneurship and marketing major, the aspect about this new revamped website that caught my attention was the “storytelling” of it all. According to Stuart Elliott, “The use of the word ‘story’ is significant because the Web site changes are indicative of the growing interest among marketers in recasting their communications with consumers as storytelling rather than advertising.” 

By creating this new interactive website, Coca-Cola is enriching its brand. The company has already achieved an iconic brand status, yet they continue to strive for new consumer experiences. The best part about it all? The brand is taking its success with a grain of salt. Ashley Brown, the director for digital communications and social media at Coke, stated: “I’m sure we’re going to make mistakes, and readers are going to tell us.” 

Storytelling & Its Importance

As a consumer, I am reassured that the brand is going in the right direction by openly stating that mistakes might be on the horizon. I like to know that the executives of Coke are listening to my opinion and that my voice, as a consumer, matters. Revamping the website is always a good idea to get new customer insight, yet the brand is aware that there may be some kinks to work out. Regardless, creating a new environment for customers to play around in and connect more with the brand is both beneficial to the customers and the brand. The customers get a new toy (in terms of the new website) and the brand gets new feedback. Everybody wins.

Branding Strategy Insider defines storytelling as: “the white-hot center of how humans share ideas that matter and build relationships between them.” The storytelling of a brand essentially creates a relationship between the brand and the consumer that would otherwise be difficult to find.

According to Jesse Noyes, “As content marketing and brand journalism takes hold, better corporate storytelling examples have emerged, especially in B2B marketing where sales cycles are long and the need to engage an audience is pivotal.” There are many other examples of using social media as storytelling, and these are the brands that Coke needs to follow closely in order to get good tips for success. 

1) Cisco (They “transformed it’s former News@Cisco site into “The Network”, a dynamic, constantly changing newsroom for topics like social media, collaboration, video and data.”)
2) HSBC (This bank has a “business without borders” platform, which is “all about providing knowledge to companies who have or intend to expand internationally” by means of their website)
3) Intel (They launched the iQ project, which “uses an algorithm to identify the content employees are consuming by analyzing actions “likes” and retweets while taking into account recency and shares”)

These are just a few examples of companies that have decided to create value within their websites. When I say “create value,” I mean to say that these businesses have decided to give their consumers the ultimate experience from an intangible medium. This takes brand storytelling, and the customer experience, to the next level.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Real Marketing" And Why People Love It

Coke Zero & 007: An Example Of "Good Feeling" Advertising

Recently, I have heard people comment on their favorite advertisements and their favorite brands. We recently watched the new “Coke Zero” commercial (which had the very appealing James Bond theme) and it seemed to amaze my classmates as much as it did me. The humor of the commercial (as the contestants try to avoid many road blocks to get to their free tickets) paired with the long-awaited 007 movie and creative advertisement idea, has become a popular ad on YouTube with almost nine million views.

Seeing really good marketing puts a little more color back in my day. When I see a commercial that absolutely nailed its target market, or an advertisement that makes me think, my day gets better. That is, according to a few guest speakers we’ve had in this class, the point of good marketing: doing it right will show your customers how you will make their lives a little bit easier. That, or it will make them feel good by evoking emotion or being humorous.

Coke Zero Crushes It

Chipotle and "Food With Integrity"

Recently, I was talking to a classmate from a different class about her favorite commercials. She said that her favorite marketing campaigns are when marketers show off their brand by telling a story about the products and where they came from. She explained that she recently saw an impressive advertisement for Chipotle, a Mexican restaurant.

Chipotle's "Food With Integrity"

Upon doing research on Chipotle, I found out why they were so popular with people: they showed where their products came from. A restaurant that is against unprocessed food, Chipotle launched the commercial (that my colleage saw) with the company showing their customers where their fresh products came from.

In an article from Fast Company, Danielle Sacks goes into detail about Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer:

“Crumpacker doesn’t play that game at Chipotle, choosing instead a fast-food heresy: Tell customers what’s really inside its burritos. "Typically, fast-food marketing is a game of trying to obscure the truth," he says. "The more people know about most fast-food companies, the less likely they’d want to be a customer." His creative approach is as unusual as that of co-CEO and Chipotle founder Steve Ells, a high-school pal from Boulder, Colorado. Ells continues to obsess over sourcing the finest sustainable ingredients as the company’s culinary chef. "Today, even with 30,000 employees, the crew will come in the morning and see all this fresh produce and meats they have to marinate, rice they have to cook, and fresh herbs they have to chop," says Ells. "There have been many opportunities over the years to take that all away and introduce highly processed foods, but we’ve done just the opposite."

This article also states that Chipotle was on Fast Company’s “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” list of 2012. 

"Real Marketing"

Using fresh products and meats? Tell customers what’s really inside its burritos? Not too many food outlets other than Chipotle would take any of these into consideration, but people like being told where their products come from. In a different article from Fast Company, Mike Doherty goes into a similar issue with his article “The Story Behind The Stuff: Consumers’ Growing Interest In ‘Real’ Products”:

There’s evidence all around us--whether it’s watching someone gush over the sleek design of a new phone and then seek out the perfect hand-carved, petrified-jungle-wood case to put it in, or the proliferation of farmers markets in big cities--people are looking for, and need, realness. There is a powerful urge to get in touch with what they believe is a more “real” world, and it’s leading us to a place where signs of realness take on greater value.

Also according to Doherty, there are a few shifts that are going on that indicate the success of companies that choose to advertise “real” things:

1) People like to “know where their food comes from and what’s in it” and are overall more skeptical of what goes into their products

2) People want to see real world connections (“the desire for real personal interactions is so strong that two-thirds of teens (65%) and three-quarters of parents (75%) say they would be willing to give up a weeknight activity if it meant they could have a family dinner”)

3) People want to see accurate life styles portrayed

4) People want to see the “cracks” that depict real life flaws

Real Marketing = Really Successful

Keep It Real

The next wave of successful marketing will reside in this form of “real” marketing: marketing where your products really come from, and marketing that shows your product being made with a realistic experience. Call me a little bias, but I love this way of marketing: it’s real and it makes the overall experience more substantial in a consumer’s eyes.

Mike Doherty explains ways that brands can become marketing winners:
1) Offer Real Experiences (for example, “BMW and Volvo offering the opportunity to take delivery of your car at their factory so you could tour the countryside in your new car”) 
2) Play A Real Role That Inspires (“The rise of real has created new opportunities to help people achieve a more holistic and meaningful life”) 
3) Create Real Products (the article mentions Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” here) 
4) Give Real Access (“Whatever brands do to embrace the rise of real, it is more important than ever for brands to give people things to DO rather than just tell them what you have. More and more, consumers are seeking realness in the way they live and the products they buy.”)


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marketing Your Uniqueness

Marketing Uniqueness

Referencing Mr. Kelly O’Keefe for the third blog post in a row should help convince you how much his speech opened my eyes. For this post in particular, I am going to focus on one of his more impressive quotes from the session:

“Instead of marketing what makes us unique, we market the same, boring things that everyone else does.” 

Ironically, this topic also comes up in our reading for the week: chapter six (“Marketing On A Small-Business Budget) of Sam Calagione’s Brewing Up A Business. The chapter discusses “Making Your Marketing As Unique As You Are,” which is something important for beginning branders to understand. According to Calagione:

“Three truisms apply to any effective marketing agenda.
1) Your marketing should have a unique and consistent voice that is distinctively yours and plays off the brand identity you aspire to achieve for your company.
2) Your marketing should center around the benefits and advantages that your product or service offers, and you must truly deliver on these benefits in order for the marketing to have a worthwhile impact.
3) Your marketing should motivate your targeted customer to do something. In other words, it needs to have some value beyond entertainment.”
Be different!

Fast Company's Tips For Good Advertising

Now that I’m aware of the key “unique marketing” points, I decided to do further research on good marketing campaigns. According to Fast Company, there are a few ways that can help you better promote your product or service:

1) Make it believable. (People want to believe in what they see)

2) It’s not about how much you spend. (“You don’t have to pay more to get more”)

3) Focus on content, not traffic. (Your content has the potential to drive traffic later)

4) Create an inherent reason for people to share. (For example: voting on videos, sharing with friends, all get other people involved and viewing your ad)

5) Don’t underestimate the power of content creators. (“Some number between 1% and 10% of user base of any social network are the active content creators,” but those people can affect many others)

6) Give your promotion a shelf life. (Your work will make more of a dent to the world if you do not think of it in terms of making money)

Do you talk about these issues in your marketing?

2008's Most Innovative Companies: Examples Of Leaders

Looking at another Fast Company article (“The World’s Most Innovative Companies”), you can see that the top companies use all of these points in their advertising, which has made them extremely successful. Although this article was written in 2008, most of the “most innovative companies” have not changed:
1) Google
2) Apple
3) Facebook
4) GE
5) Ideo
6) Nike
7) Nokia

A few examples of innovatively-different companies

Google has found a way to differentiate itself within the market and is widely used. Apple found connection with their technology-loving “Apple nerds” and continues to become one of the most impressive and successful companies in history. Facebook connected with the consumer by advertising easy communication that was made for a young target market (originally), and Ideo is one of the most creative brands of all time. All of these companies have created quality marketing strategies that advertise their most unique points while also explaining the benefits of using their products over other competitors.

Simply put, these companies (at one point in time) related to their consumers. They motivated their target customer, pointed out their unique points, and emotionally appealed to many. Up-and-coming companies are going to have to make their marketing even more unique and even more motivating to customers if they want to beat out brand monsters such as Apple and Google.

Brewing Up A Business by Sam Calagione

Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Axe or Not To Axe?

Unilever, What Are You Doing?!

Fun fact for those reading this: I had no idea that Axe and Dove stemmed from the same parent company, Unilever. They also are the parent company of “Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, TRESemme, Vaseline, Suave, etc” (CollegeFashion). Separate these brands and you can see how successful they are.

As we discussed in class, it seems as though Dove (showing the world “real women”) has a different set of values from its sister brand, Axe (“smells so good that women will forgo everything that they are doing to jump your bones”). People have argued both sides; some say that it is disgraceful for Unilever to show conflicting values in products that represent their company, while some say the Axe campaign is just a humorous joke (not to be taken seriously).

Oh, so the girls in the "Axe" commercials, they're natural, right?!

My Change In Opinion

The truth of the matter is, Unilever owes it to their consumers to have consistency throughout their brand that sends the same message in each and every product. Unilever is placing itself in a bad business risk situation, as many consumers feel frustration from the confliction of values expressed by Dove and Axe.

At first, I thought it was slightly humorous that both brands stem from Unilever. As time passed on, I started to realize how these brand contradictions might frustrate me as a consumer. Although I do not buy Axe (and I have been exposed to it by my guy friends in our middle school years), I am a loyal customer of Dove’s. I use Dove shampoo and conditioner religiously, and occasionally dabble in their body washes. Personally, this conflict of values between Dove and Axe has not made me reconsider my investment within the brand. They have continuously provided me quality products that have outlasted all of my other short-term "shampoo relationships."

Dove, no!

Recent information has suggested that the "real women" in the Dove beauty campaign are actually photoshopped. When I first heard this, as a Dove consumer, I was a little baffled. Not surprised, but a little baffled.

Dangin, a famous retoucher, said when asked about the Dove campaign: "Do you know how much retouching was on that? But it was great to do, a challenge, to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive" (Casnocha).

So, their ads were photoshopped. It happens a lot more often than many are willing to admit, but this is nothing new. My advice for Dove, however, would to be avoid doing this. It may be harder to find models that are more accepting of not being airbrushed, but it is worth the wrinkles. Dove represents two conflicting ideologies by having real women airbrushed.

Which is it?

Now Onto Axe...

With that being said, I can see both sides of the issue with Axe. Yes, it contradicts Dove’s “real beauty” campaign by depicting women as sex-driven (almost primitive) humans. A Unilever spokesperson said, “Each brand talks to its consumers in a way that’s relevant. The Dove campaign aims to give young women more confidence, where the Axe campaign is a spoof, not to be taken seriously" (College Fashion). My first instinct was to laugh off Axe as a silly commercial that does not represent the truth at all. As our guest speaker, Kelly O’Keefe, touched more on the subject, I started to change my mind.

As a marketing major and consumer, I have decided that Axe (albeit “jokingly”) too strongly contradicts Dove’s campaign. When a branding professional such as Mr. O’Keefe has qualms about a brand not being consistent within its values, it must be time for a change. The Axe ads are degrading as well as flat out nonsensical, and it is time to move on. The campaign for Axe has not changed since I can remember (before middle school) and it has deeply offended consumers enough that Unilever needs to pull its current campaign. The people have spoken.

Axe The "Axe" Campaign

Why have I decided that I would pull the plug on Axe’s campaign? It’s old, many find it offensive, and it is time to move on. One of my favorite quotes on this topic is one that I found on College Fashion:

“Unilever spends $809 million on advertising: it markets Dove, which encourages women to love their bodies, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, in which you can drown your sorrows if you don’t love your body, and Slim-Fast to make your body thin enough to love”
This is the perfect explanation of issues that this parent brand seems to be having. They own so many diverse brands that represent different values that it seems to be difficult for Unilever to tie them all together.

The inconsistency has finally caught up to Unilever, and the best thing to do is to apologize to consumers and try to attempt a different way to go about advertising Axe. Someone also mentioned in class that although the commercials portray men in their late teens/early twenties using the brand, this is not the case. Their target market, whether they know it or not, is boys from around eleven to fourteen years old.

Each brand screams different values.

The Video That Convinced Me

"Talk to your daughter before Unilever does." 

Harsh? A little. To avoid this backlash, it is time to reinvent Axe.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Consumers Parody Untruthful Articles (Take That, "Marketing Liars"!)

Wise Words

Our recent guest speaker from the VCU Brand Center, Kelly O’Keefe, recently said some words that really hit home with me. As he lectured us on TRUTH, I feel as if I was blindsided about “the truth about truth” as it relates to marketing. Here are a few of Professor O’Keefe’s quotes from the lecture:

“6% of consumers agree: companies generally tell the truth in advertising." 
“We’re in the business, and we’re trying to avoid the product we make.” [On a poll of our class stating they try to skip advertisements when possible] 
“Instead of marketing what makes us unique, we market the same, boring things.” 
“If you get it wrong, you make someone else’s life a little bit worse. If you get it right, you make someone else’s life a little bit better.”
Kelly O'Keefe

Exploring Truth In Advertising

What do all of these quotes have in common? They link truth to what we see marketed every day. Only 6% of consumers agree that companies generally tell the truth in advertising. As O’Keefe took a poll of our marketing class (with marketing major seniors), we all admitted to trying to skip advertisements while on the Internet, TiVoing, etc. He also discussed the fact that companies tend to market the things that make them synonymous with other brands (free checking at the bank you sign up with, anyone?)

Last but certainly not least, O’Keefe discussed getting it right in advertising and marketing. With the right advertisement and product, a brand can generate an easier life for some people. However, a brand pretending “to be something it’s not” will not benefit the consumer or help make their lives easier. O’Keefe emphasized the importance of being true to a brand and exposing the truthful material of what makes the brand.

As he showed us the Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl commercial, I understand why consumers would be choked up at the advertisement: it depicted realness and truthfulness. There were no magical charades, only raw depictions of Detroit. Chrysler took what made it unique, scars and all, and showed consumers that they were proud of Detroit. In this commercial, Chrysler owned what made them unique and emotionally reached its consumers by doing so. Therefore, I decided to research other brands that have done the same in the past.

Consumers Parody Untruthful Brands

“That’s what we are. That’s our story.” –Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial

Expressing a genuine story to the consumer makes all the difference. It allows them to connect with the product and feel emotion for something possibly intangible. This is exactly what Chrysler did.

As I attempted to look up marketing strategies that show some truth to their consumers, I had a more difficult time than expected. Most of the articles were sarcastic about how untruthful marketing is in general.

Interestingly enough, I found some customers have recreated ads so that they tell the truth. Here are a few examples (and a few of my favorites!):

Microsoft Vs. Apple: Where would you rather go?

Mars bars... The old "Snickers"
There are a few different issues here that seem to be rubbing customers the wrong way when it comes to certain advertising. In terms of the "Ferrari" ad, it seems as though consumers feel the brand does not represent why most people would likely buy a Ferrari. By saying "Ferrari: the car for guys with no other way to get girls," it tells me that consumers are sarcastically responding to the fact that the Ferrari will never be anything else but "the car you want to impress women."

Microsoft's parody ad centers around the fact that they do not differentiate their product enough to draw people in who may not like Apple. In the past few years, I have not seen any Microsoft ads that I remember. This ad makes fun of the fact that Apple markets to the "clever and creative," which are traits that most people like to think they possess. The rest of you, though, you can go to Microsoft.

The Mars bar ad just targets the issue that all candy has: avoiding the fact that indulging in the product will leave you "morphing into a disgusting blob of flab." This "untruth" is just plain leaving out the facts of how bad candy is for you.

There are other examples (like these) that you can look up at . Which one of the "10 Truthful Ads You'll Never See" do you think brings the most truth to the surface?