Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MIT Arab Business Plan Marketing Campaign

The MIT Arab Business Plan campaign was a broad regionally-spread marketing effort to incite people to participate in an entrepreneurial competition. Thus the marketing message was action-oriented: register online. The participation is free of charge, thus it eliminates the pricing factor on the measuring of campaign effectiveness.

Yet, I was shocked to realize there was only 1,241 completed applications, better yet, of which only 266 qualified for grading? OK, so if you do not live in the Middle East, I understand that you are bedazzled at my surprise. However, you must understand that this campaign ran on a top national TV for months, was featured in newspapers, it was even paralleled with a television program and was supported by direct mailing and facebook targeted advertising.

Bad marketing?...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Real-Life Product Placement

"Product placement" is a term generally used for the act of paid brand visibility featured in a movie or TV series. However, the consumer is becoming more and more aware of this practice which makes it lose its effectiveness. The latest Jim Carrey movie "Yes Man" seems to have carried the Red Bull product placement a bit too far plotting the script of an entire scene around it, and mentioning the brandname several times in a row... OK!!! We understand it was paid for!!! Now STOP!!
That said, what consumers are less conscious about is the real-life product placement. I have noticed it, because, well, I am a marketing freak. However, this marketing is as subtle as effective.
In my opinion brands like Rolex have it down to an art: from placing their brand and retail stores in the most fascinating city streets (in Paris, Geneva, Milan...) to associating themselves to monumental items and high-end activities. What actually generated this article is the watch in the middle of down town Beirut. It has a big fat ROLEX logo on all four sides, and this was not the first time I notice a real-life product placement for this brand: at the golf center in Grenoble they had a big branded Rolex watch too. Of course, they also had Evian bottles (and I was wondering, since this was a mutually beneficial association, how discounted the products were).
This got me thinking about the advertising function. The ultimate aim of ads is to make you familiar with the brand and communicate a positive intuitive attitude towards it. The essence of this would be the strength of the brand recognition factor on our decision making process. This leads me to consider brands like Siemens, which are widely known, but not specifically for one industry. They've spread out on so many levels. The common ground? A brandname. This big product and services distribution network, although spread on different items, remains, in my opinion, the best marketing strategy. It provides an unintentional real-life product placement. The brand is familiar. It is recognized. The idea might be ambiguous as to what it represents, but the message and recognition is there. They mass-branded and generated a branding economies-of-scale effect not by production, nor by cost reduction, but rather by a shared branding initiative. By seeing the brandname and experiencing it, the public is more likely to remember it. The down side is: one bad experience with any of the related products would affect the opinion on all the lines. Thus, I suppose it takes a quality-oriented German engineering firm to pull this off. Kudos.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Industry of Information

In digital marketing, we often emphasize the need for online Public Relations. This can be done in different and various ways. One of the most common being the creation of press releases. I had, for a while, randomly added online press releases to give more visibility for my brand and website, without ever questioning the motives or business model of these portals that permit the publication of my work.
Of course, a contact is always required. There! They got a database, and then I started receiving promotional materials in my name. Test. Changed my title on these online portals. Bingo! There was their source. Did they intentionally make a living out of selling our contact information? It is not clear to me. However, I do know that those direct marketing gurus are getting my contact from the internet.
What I had never realized crossed me yesterday night, as I was investigating open local job positions. Zawya.com, one of those portals, was looking for a data analyst. What for? To investigate and analyze the data provided to the benefit of firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton and Merill Lynch. They were in the business of selling up-to-date market information, which, us marketers, willingly offer them.
Brilliant! It seemed clear now that they needed us as much as we needed them, and what's wrong with a win-win relationship after all?

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