This is my favorite clip from the Mad Men series. In this scene, Don Draper, a 1950′s Madison Avenue advertising executive, pitches a concept for a new Kodak slide presentation tray. I don’t want to diminish the experience of watching the clip by describing the concept, but the clip touches on a marketing phenomena that is rare and worth noting. Sometimes a campaign/brand is so successful that it becomes the defacto name for a category of products. For example, there are many brands of tissue, but they are universally referred to as Kleenex. And, in contemporary culture, to searchÂ has become synonymous with “to google” no matter which search engine we’re using … and sometimes, even if we’re not using a search engine at all.
The second reason I find this clip so compelling is the way Draper connects the dots between a few ideas that resonate deeply on a emotional level. And, while he does this, he manages to articulate a brand concept that sounds completely familiar even though his clients had never heard it before. Though this scene is set in the broadcast era, when brands were managed in a top down way, I think this ability is still relevant today. Marketers are still charged with articulating something that’s already out there, but which hasn’t yet been stated. The only difference today is that marketers are tasked to re-articulate what customers are saying back to the organization they work for. It’s as if the conduit of marketing has reversed direction.
I didn’t seeÂ much of note during the Super Bowl this year. I certainly wasn’t surprised to see the job site advertisements considering the financial crisis. I thought the Career Builder andÂ Monster spots were the most entertaining, for what that’s worth.Â I do enjoy a dose of slapstick as much as the next guy though I was quite disappointed by the Facebook Suicide ad, especially considering the way they shut down the Whopper Sacrifice.
That said, I did think ad is less formulaic.
Obviously the conceit of the ad is that they don’t tell you what it’s for. By this, they turn the ad itself into a game of sorts (“G” stands for game?). I found the piece engaging because of the direction, but also because they intentionally presented a wide variety of celebrities. The natural reaction is to try and figure out what they have in common. In this case, they are all athletes.
Beyond that, I think this ad is particularly relevant to the Super Bowl because it is offers a multi-generational viewing experience. By including athletes from several generations, it is possible to start a conversation between generations. There are not many brands doing this successfully. Also, connecting the dots requires that you expand traditional interpretations of sports to include things like dance. Of course, this broadens the audience as well.
“What’s G?” It’s the game, it’s gifted, genius, genuine, gutsy, golden, glorious, a lower case god ….. it’s Gatorade. Normally, it’s a problem if people get to the end of an ad and can’t tell you who it was for. In this case, they’re betting that making people figure it out will actually make it more memorable. I’m curious to see what else they’ll do with the campaign.
Before I begin, I am obliged to state that advertising, whether on a billboard, mobile phone, website or printed page, is only one small part of marketing. Sorry, but I’m gonna keep repeating that until people stop asking me if marketing is part of advertising or if advertising is part of marketing. Here’s a short post from Seth Godin that I sometimes send people when they ask. I think it’s pretty funny, and there’s a great clip from Mad Men.
Onto our topic, we know that mobile devices are acting more and more like lenses to the world, and that marketers are trying to figure out how to be relevant in that context. They are also trying to balance the marketing mix for their products/ services and understand how the mobile channel relates to traditional channels. This post contains a collection of links that highlight the bridge that is being build between mobile marketing and traditional advertising (what could be more traditional than a sign/billboard?).
Here’s a recent campaign that involved an interactive game through a large billboard in Times Square. What’s interesting about this is the integration with Facebook. As you can see marketers are looking for ways to connect the mobile experience with other channels, online and otherwise.Â Click on the image below to visit their site.
Not long ago, also in Times Square, Nike allowed people to customize a shoe on their billboard through their phones. What is interesting about this case is that it is not done through SMS which generally costs money, and can be carrier dependent (i.e. only AT&T).
The mobile market represents a complex challenge for marketers because of the shifting landscape of technology, device manufacturers, and network carriers. My current take is that most of the campaigns that I’ve seen are pretty much one-offs that don’t offer much value for the customer beyond momentary amusement. It’s still a playground for mega-brands that can afford to pay for a novelty play. In terms of brand awareness, it would work better if the experience was more relevant to the product/service being in question.
I believe this will change fundamentally when the mobile ecosystem, in the US and Europe, starts enabling commerce to take place openly on the mobile platform. And, when I say openly, I don’t mean buying stuff on the internet but buying stuff in the real world. If you’re interested in understanding the landscape better, you might check out Rachel Hinman’s recent essay here. Also, you might want to check out GPS Mission a gps enabled phone game which seems like the next step towards a mobile marketing bridge.
Thanks for reading, and let me know your thoughts about whether or not interactive billboards are a bridge to the mobile platform. Also, if you’ve got other examples, please send them my way.
You cancel 10 friendships on Facebook and you get a free Whopper.
Absolutely brilliant, a critique of what “friendship” means in the context of the social network, and provocative. I’m pretty sure everyone in this scenario was a winner. Regrettably Facebook failed it by shutting down the Whopper Sacrifice Application after 233,906 friendships were canceled. Michael Arrington deserves credit for highlighting the fact that shutting Burger King down when you’re trying to find ways to monotize your service is not wise.
I believe Burger King put it best when they wrote this on the shut-down microsite: