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Motorola Rocks Teens

Rebecca Weeks
Motorola Rocks Teens Rebecca Weeks

Part one described how an online response component can be extremely powerful for offline promotions, for both strategic and tactical reasons. Partnering with trusted brands helps to penetrate certain demographics, create a certain image and elevate awareness -- as two recent electronics campaigns demonstrate.

Sony, for example, partnered with the Disney brand to introduce its mobile entertainment products to mothers. And Motorola has teamed with Rock the Vote to tap into the teen market.

In mid-April, Motorola unveiled a marketing initiative designed to drive awareness of its involvement in youth political activism. What better way to entice this demographic than through their cell phones -- the medium of choice of the younger generation.

Motorola has teamed up with Rock the Vote, an organization set up by music recording artists in 1990 that harnesses cutting-edge trends and pop culture to make political participation "cool." Together, the two groups have built a promotion called "Rock the Vote Mobile" to stimulate young adults' participation in the political process. With a specific goal of pushing 20 million 18- to 30-year-olds to participate on Election Day, the "20 for 20" program plans to keep them informed, involved and engaged in the months leading up to the election.

By using bold statements like "the power of wireless can move a nation," and "it's easy and rewarding to be informed," the promotion calls youngsters to take action to have a direct impact on the nation's future.

"Just over 18 million young people voted in 2000, and five states were decided by less than 8,000 votes," says Michael Evans, chief operating officer of Rock the Vote. "So if you look at the number of people who are 18 to 30, and if you look at the levels of young people who voted in 1992, we hope it would be a return to those levels."

Web and wireless go hand in hand

Rock the Vote's reputation with Gen Y activists, and Motorola's legacy of influencing pop culture through technology, is an effective combination. What's more, Motorola's ability to gain permission to directly SMS with youth is a winning relationship-builder. Cell phones, by their very nature are always on, carried close to the body and solicit an immediate response.

With more than 120 million people using cell phones in North America every day, and more than 25 billion text messages sent each month worldwide, according to InStat/MDR, Motorola is in an enviable position -- having penetrated the most active demographic in this market.

Motorola users who engage in the program will be polled and informed via text messaging directly to their cell phones. Only through becoming a member of the community can consumers receive on their wireless phones poll questions, breaking news updates, political trivia games and free musical ringtones and graphics featuring Rock the Vote artists. Motorola will continue to roll out new applications up until November's election.

Teens with a non-Motorola cell phone can still read on the microsite what others have been saying in "Rock the Vote Mobile" polls and submit their own opinions. Registrant numbers are expected to be high, given that more than 240,000 people signed up through Rock the Vote's voter registration tool between July 2003 and April of this year.

Spokesmodel, sweepstakes and viral assistance

To round out its integrated marketing mix, marketing executives used three other components popular with teens: celebrity spokespeople, free prizes and email. The promotion tapped Rachel Bilson, star of FOX's popular prime-time drama "The OC," to challenge young Americans to participate in the program.

"I'm hoping thousands of young people will join me in the '20 for 20' effort, to ensure their voices are heard on issues important to our generation using something most of us already use every day -- our mobile phones," says Bilson.

Each day from April 16 through May 5th, Motorola selected mobile community registrants to win prizes through the "20 for 20 Sweepstakes." Prizes included Motorola V400 phones, $100 gift cards from Cingular Wireless, pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and 12-packs of 7-UP's new dnL. Though the sweepstakes has ended, for the next five months Motorola and Rock the Vote will continue the comprehensive program using grassroots marketing efforts.

Additionally, the "20 for 20" recruitment effort included a viral email campaign featuring Bilson giving background details on the importance of becoming involved in the upcoming election. The two organizations pooled their existing email databases into one for the promotion in order to increase the potential reach.

Similar corporate visions that involve creating change make the two partners a perfect match. "Rock the Vote provides us with a huge amount of credibility for activism," says David Rudd, Motorola's director of emerging consumer marketing. "Together we've achieved the goal to deepen existing relationships with the young adult demographic while supporting a worthwhile cause."

This and the Sony example prove that exclusive promotional partnerships effectively reinforce a company's commitment to a target audience's belief systems and needs, and deserve their growing piece of interactive budgets.

Rebecca Weeks, a strategic marketing executive, offers consumer businesses innovative solutions for both developing customer acquisition campaigns and strengthening existing relationships. She is known for her exceptional research, analytical and trend-spotting skills.


Whoa -- slow down! Did you say "mobile"? Mobile's a great buzzword; everybody and their dog are on mobile these days! Mobile means we can reach the consumer whether they're at home on their couch or on the sidewalk looking for a restaurant. Mobile is where we have to shrink our ads and forfeit our click-through metrics. Mobile puts the "Mo" in SoLoMo.

The problem with "mobile" is that it's restrictive. You automatically think of a smartphone, a tablet, or a mini-tablet. Trying to sum up and address all of those in one word might cause you to cut your efforts short. A more flexible and accurate alternative for addressing "mobile" efforts is "multi-screen." There's definitely a time and place to use "mobile." It's just not as frequently as we see it now.


We've optimized everything from advertising campaigns to waffles. According to Merriam-Webster, "optimize" means "to make as perfect, effective, or functional as possible." Wait a second -- so all of that other work you've been doing hasn't been to make things as functional as possible? Non-optimized campaigns haven't been pulling their weight? Non-optimized waffles have been made with a less-perfect syrup-to-butter ratio?

Face it, guys: "Optimize" is getting burnt out. Give it a break, or someone might decide that everything you haven't called "optimized" isn't as effective as possible.

Game changer

I admit, this article might be a real game changer in its own right, but please stop using this term for every little update, release, startup, feature, and cat meme that comes across your desk. (Though I must admit, Grumpy Cat was a game changer.) If we don't reserve this buzzword for actual game-changing innovations, Grumpy Cat is just one in a sea of equally amusing cat memes.

Digital ecosystem

I get it. We need a term to distinguish all of those things we do online in the digital ecosystem from -- the non-digital ecosystem? The outernet, maybe? But the term "digital ecosystem" actually has a more substantial meaning than what it's so often used for. For example, it's helpful terminology when defining specific online communities or processes, such as the "Twitter ecosystem."

So go ahead. Say "digital ecosystem" when you mean it. But make sure there's a meaning attached to your usage, and stop tossing it about when all you really want to say is "online."

[Insert noun] marketing

Tablet marketing, mobile marketing, Facebook marketing, app marketing. Where do we draw the line here? Mini-tablet marketing? The reality is that while it's sometimes helpful to note distinct efforts or platforms (see: mobile), we don't need a special marketing term for each screen or platform we're operating on. It's a slippery slope that ends with you having to write a mile-long list just to say "marketing."


Unless you think society is going to en masse abandon its devices and online connections, hyperconnectivity is a somewhat worthless concept for digital marketers. It describes current and future audiences that every business needs to learn to target and communicate with. Primarily because of this sheer inevitability, we need to just get over this term and move forward. It's not hyperconnectivity that we can address. But we can address changing online behaviors and decision-making patterns. Being connected is not the future; it's the present.

Data visualization

This is one of those buzzwords that just needs to be re-appropriated. While it means a visual display that communicates information clearly and effectively, it's come to be more synonymous with "infographic." And yes, infographics and data visualization go hand-in-hand, but they're not synonymous.


Yes, Apple does some cool stuff. But as recent patent battles have demonstrated, it doesn't have claim to everything hip and innovative. Do we really need an entire adjective to blame other companies for mimicking Apple? This really speaks to the industry's penchant for setting Apple apart from the standards it applies to everyone else, and for believing no-questions-asked that Apple did everything first. (It didn't.)

Apple has sometimes very successfully combined features into something innovative and progressively useful. I know, right? But the problem with buzzwords like this is that they're part of an innovation-stifling culture. Apple wouldn't be the Apple we love today without some borrowing and tinkering along the way, and we shouldn't punish other companies trying to improve existing products or processes by labeling them "Apple-like," and therefore copycats, not innovators.

Social media guru

Also known as the master-ninja-keeper-of-the-social-media-secrets. The whale tamer of Twitter, the pin master, the filtered photo virtuoso.

No, you don't want to label yourself "social media butterfingers" on your LinkedIn profile, but these unconventional titles have been repeated far too often to retain much originality. And many of them have little to no meaning, which in any other industry would be unacceptable. ("What did you say your job title is? I'm sorry, we're not hiring for a plastic surgeon grand master.")

A little shameless self-mockery and true originality are always welcome. Just don't use your job title or Twitter handle as an opportunity to be as unique as everyone else.

Low-hanging fruit

This term was such a low-hanging fruit that I couldn't leave it off the list. It's annoying, overused, and sells some of your best efforts short. It's an acceptable way of saying that something is so obvious and easy that it requires almost no thought or effort. Is that really what you want to be saying? That you're going after the easiest -- not the ideal -- target?

Which buzzwords would you deem worthless?
To be fair, all of the terms on this list mean something and can be useful -- if and when used appropriately. But they go from conveying industry-specific knowledge to being worthless buzzwords when they're overused or thrown around as easy alternatives to solid explanations.

Which buzzwords do you think are overused, vague, or utterly worthless?

Kaitlin Carpenter is a marketing associate at Carousel30.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


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