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Sony Seeks Soccer Moms

Rebecca Weeks
Sony Seeks Soccer Moms Rebecca Weeks

Mobile electronics companies seeking to raise brand awareness in untapped markets are developing innovative partnership and promotional campaigns to reach them. The recent successes of two of these campaigns -- from Sony and Motorola -- demonstrate how promotion builds brand equity -- and its importance in the integrated marketing mix.

Integrated promotion marketing, once viewed as limited to short-term sales strategies, is proving that it can reap longer-term branding benefits and provide a unique way to rise above competitors.

Promotions-based spending as part of interactive marketing budgets showed healthy growth last year, jumping 15.5 percent to $2 billion, according to a recent PROMO survey. It also found that agency executives increasingly are optimistic about promotions spending throughout 2004, with 24 percent expecting 11 to 25 percent growth.

Not only is the Internet successful in generating immediate response, information capture and fulfillment, it enables marketers to educate, engage and entertain. Since promotions are naturally measurable, the inherent interactivity of the online channel makes an integrated program all the more streamlined. What's more, the targeting capability of the Internet allows efficient distribution of promotions dollars.

Two recent mobile electronics campaigns demonstrate how powerful it is to add an online response component to offline promotions for both strategic and tactical reasons. Partnering with trusted brands is a key element they use to penetrate certain demographics, create a certain image and elevate awareness.

Sony's "Dream" becomes a reality

So as not to trail off into the abyss of new electronics product offerings, Sony Electronics created an integrated promotion to launch its new Mobile DVD Dream System. The entire system, retailing for about $500, provides consumers the ability to enjoy DVD movies in the car, in the home and on the go. Launched officially on April 19, and running through July, the promotion includes a four-page Sony insert in the May and June/July issues of Family Fun magazine, and a microsite featuring the Dream System at Disney.com.

Unlike the product itself, Sony's messages aren't as sleek-looking and slick-sounding as one might expect. Why? While Sony's mobile electronics products have traditionally been aimed at Gen-Y males, the new Dream System has been designed for family use -- for entertaining kids while on long car trips.

The primary goal of the promotion is to introduce and raise awareness for a new product category, and the secondary goal is to educate a specific demographic about product benefits. The concept of a 'mobile home theater' is not new. However, this year does mark the first time the product has been introduced into automobiles. Thus, the marketing team sought to find an effective way to reach mothers, the "drivers" and purchasers of family entertainment products.

Earning mothers' trust through association with Disney

In order to tap into this demographic, Sony chose to partner exclusively with Disney, considered the most trusted family brand today. Since the company faced behavioral obstacles in introducing the new product -- primarily this demographic's fear and intimidation of high technologies such as digital cinema sound -- the placements on Disney's site and within Family Fun magazine provide relevant associations. In effect, Sony has created a lasting affiliation with Disney's loyal customer base.

The promotion sets a precedent, as it is the first time Sony's Electronics division has partnered with Disney. Additional advertising includes radio spots on Radio Disney, which just like the print ads in Family Fun magazine, encourage consumers to visit retailers and the microsite.

The Sony marketing team, recognizing that mothers are placing increasing importance on the Internet as an educational resource, saw huge potential to build brand equity through the online channel. According to AOL's national Mother's Day survey, more than 65 percent of mothers go online to conduct product research and gather information.

Online component fills offline holes

The microsite, housed jointly by Family Fun and Disney, supports Sony's goals in three ways.

First, an informational element educates online browsers with detailed product descriptions and benefits.

"Sony Electronics' first wireless DVD Dream system delivers seamless high quality audio/video playback, a simple set-up and configuration flexibility," says Andrew Sivori, general manager for Mobile Electronics. "Our marketing efforts capitalize on these benefits."

Second, a direct-savings element allows customers to register for a promotion in which they can send in a UPC code and receive a $25 gift card. Third, the vehicle creates a tracking device that can measure purchasing behavior and gather customer research. Through the microsite, browsers can enter a sweepstakes to win a Dream System by answering a series of questions about in-car DVD systems.

Though specific numbers were not released, David Leitner from Sony's corporate marketing group confirms that results for the first three weeks of the program have been extremely positive.

Tomorrow: How Motorola is turning teens into voters.

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.

In predicting the future of Twitter, it helps to put it into context with its predecessors in the social networking landscape.

(click to enlarge)

Friendster arrived on the scene in 2003, and it quickly became a popular site for the younger crowd that, which immediately saw the benefit of hooking up with friends, family, and acquaintances online, and sharing communications, photos, and the like. Unfortunately, almost immediately after the launch of Friendster, a group of employees at a company called eUniverse saw the potential, launched MySpace, and within a short span of time were able to convert all of Friendster's users and a few million more onto their own social media platform. By June 2006, MySpace was the leading social networking site in the U.S. Fast forward a couple years, and Facebook has done the same thing -- only in a shorter period of time.

At some point during the advent of these new social media websites, marketing and advertising agencies found a new way to advertise to their demographics. The current definition of "social media marketing" was born. All you need to do is create a profile, round up a few thousand "friends," and you have an instant platform on which to market your products or services. This has been a godsend for both individuals and companies. Companies can target people that actually are interested, and individuals can keep up with their brands.

Twitter's functionality is infinitely simpler than any of the previously mentioned sites, but its simplicity is what seems to be exciting to its user base at this point in time. No one has to be a profound -- or even good -- writer to be a popular Twitterer. Repeat the formula in the previous paragraph, and you have an instant way to market with little overhead. Signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter is also fairly low, so marketers hopping on the bandwagon now are almost guaranteed a modicum of success using the platform.

As with any internet "gold rush," as soon as others demonstrate success, everyone moves in, and the "next big thing" is born. This is exactly how email spam happened in the first place. Email was a great way to market the first few years it was around. No one even knew that it was inappropriate to send unsolicited messages. Granted, the new paradigm is to choose which companies you'd like to follow -- but the signal-to-noise ratio becomes unreasonable at some point, and the medium loses viability. Take MySpace, for example. I have not logged onto the site for months now, but I know if I do, I will have dozens (if not hundreds) of friend requests and invites to things I have 0 percent interest in. The time spent truly using the site is not worth the time it takes to deal with the spam.

Twitter is fast approaching the same situation. All I have to do is mention QuickBooks, and I have 30 QuickBooks "experts" following me in hopes of getting business. How long will it take to wear people down dealing with these kinds of requests? There are already services offering to monetize your tweets by injecting "relevant" ads. Not a happy way to spend my social time online, I must say.

I predict Twitter will find its social media and marketing niche, but I cannot see it being nearly as important as some marketers are making it out to be. The retention rate of Twitter is said to be only around 30 percent, which means seven out of 10 people try it out once and don't come back.

Twitter's model
Twitter seems to be proud of the fact that it has no profit model. I'm imagining that the company will want to keep the hype building long enough to sell the company for a few billion dollars. This is great for Twitter, but when the platform becomes obsolete and goes the way of Friendster, the marketing folks that are evangelizing Twitter now had better have an alternative.

I also cannot foresee Twitter's user base growing too much higher than it is now. The limited and obscure nomenclature (RT, @username, #, etc.) will confuse the masses. The simple functionality of Twitter will also lead to a glut of competition in the next few months, with companies duking it out for the best implementation of the microblogging model. There's not enough to Twitter to keep it on the top of the heap. Being first in this case, as we've seen, is not a guarantee that you will have longevity.

Google Wave
Just in the time that it has taken to scope out this article, Google announced its next big initiative: Google Wave. Wave is an open source initiative that promises to overtake both email and social networking. I would encourage anyone interested to view the demo

Wave seems to be another paradigm shift in terms of online communication. Emails, tweets, and communication within social networking sites could all quickly be replaced by what Google is calling "waves." This is the type of innovation that will fold all communications into an easier-to-manage package. As much as I enjoy my time online, I do not enjoy logging into five different sites and an email client to manage my communications.

Social media marketing is a viable and necessary industry. I have many clients that are now intimate with their Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo accounts. There is value in establishing good communication with customers through these tools. I do believe, however, that strong branding and general communication is still the No. 1 tool in the toolbox. Have a consistent message. Present yourself appropriately in all media. Have a well-designed and responsive website.

Test different media, but let's not get caught up in just one. Twitter is not the final answer to social media marketing. Staying aware, good writing, and good communication will always be more important. Think "writing" instead of "blogging" or "tweeting."

Be aware that tactics change based on the tools available. In the days of MySpace, it was enough to set up a bot to friend anyone you could. Now, with Twitter, you can search for particular keywords people are using and follow them, hoping they'll follow you back. When Twitter becomes obsolete, how will we reconnect to our audience? No one has that answer until the next big thing comes around -- but I can guarantee it's not far away.

There is a strong contingent of people intent on making online social media marketing a viable industry. This is a good thing as long as we aren't using this as an excuse to surf the web all day, trying to find ways to mention our products or services. Participating in the social web will be helpful for the success of businesses, but not vital. The online community is hyper-sensitive to marketing tactics, and as soon as a social media marketing tool becomes spammy, it immediately becomes irrelevant.

You can send a tweet to author Jason Clark at @clarkster  ;)

Jason Clark is VP and creative director at VIA Internet Studio.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Life hacks

Life hacks (tips for making simple tasks more manageable) make great Vine subject material. Everybody loves a handy DIY tip. And we often feel compelled to share the great ones. Maybe it's because it makes us feel smart and useful. Life hacks usually provide a solution to a problem or create order from chaos. Watching the following Vines might make you smile, which is a good state of mind to be in when you're interacting with a brand (as far as the brands are concerned). And both examples are totally on-brand.

The winner: General Electric
It seems that if a "best brands on Vine" list doesn't at least make reference to General Electric, it will lose all credibility. And for good reason. The seemingly stodgy old company continues to be one of the most innovative companies on the majority of new-age marketing platforms.

The below Vine that shows a clever way to keep office desktop cables out of the way is aces for a few reasons. It's stop motion, so the steadiness means that it was shot on a tripod. Plus the person doing the shooting has practiced both keeping the camera steady while shooting and knowing how long to expose each frame. The scene is well lit. And the shot is composed well -- not too far away, not too close, with all objects in the frame at once. A new Vine creator might not consider these details. But they all add up to a good video.

[vine b0KZiK75ODW]

The winner: Lowe's
This brand is also commonly cited on best-of lists, and for good reason. Just check the hashtag #LowesFixInSix. Vine videos are six seconds long, so that's how long the DIY life hacks are. Clever. The playful stop-motion animation adds levity to what would otherwise be pretty boring. Hanging a picture on a wall isn't interesting. But the Lowe's quick tip about using a magnet is watchable because it's short (again, just six seconds) and sweet (the little spinning nail is cute).

[vine blTDnIOnLYW]

The six-second product demo

Six seconds should be plenty of time to simply demo how your product works. Whether you're featuring a steamroller or a steam cleaner, you should be able to make a Vine that demonstrates its primary function with time to spare.

The winner: Urban Outfitters
Your demo video doesn't have to be a thorough how-to. How about just showing how cool the product is? If you're Urban Outfitters, you're in the business of cool (which from my vantage point makes it uncool, but whatever). You've been inside an Urban Outfitters, right? You want to buy everything in there for your college-aged nephew (or yourself, I don't judge). It's because half of the crap in there has "wow" factor in surplus. So a short video just letting the product show off is perfect for Urban Outfitters. The black light at the end is a visual payoff, so bonus points there.

[vine b9JLTdqpivB]

Short, impressive action sequences

The phrase "cut to the chase" literally means to cut to the part of the movie where the chase happens. So get to it! You have six seconds, so pack it with action. Sports franchises have action coming out of their ears at every event, so why not bottle some of the lightning and share it?

The winner: NBA
Vine is a natural fit for the NBA. Like most sports, basketball is a bunch of minor action and drama punctuated by hair-raising spectaculars that are only a few seconds long. Not unlike a Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson film. A Vine is a perfect way to cut to the chase. Of course, capturing the action of a great assist is going to be nearly impossible unless you're really on the -- wait for it -- ball. But you'll have plenty of time to prep your shot of the Dunking Wallendas at half time. The Vine is goooood!

[vine hKbu0Dir6wT]

Sexy half-naked people

Though I personally wish that Calvin Klein would feed its poor starving models a sammich or two, there is no doubt that hunky dudes and sexy ladies are fun to look at. The internet is on my side on this one, believe me.

The winner: Calvin Klein
The underpants (bikinis? Sharpie?) are technically what's on display here -- but come on. Models standing around looking hungry is compelling for six seconds. It is still the internet, after all. Sex sells, and that's no different on Vine. Normally, I would reject the shaky, impromptu style of the first Vine, but in this case I like it. It works because this is a fashion show -- an installation. The professionalism is evident in the setup, so a voyeuristic look behind the scenes is compelling in this case. The second example that shows an impossibly toned and handsome young man is also shaky. Mr. Beefcake's video might have worked better with a steadier camera and better lighting -- but nobody's really paying attention.

[vine bt9anF3Uj0W]

[vine b15zUZYeBb3]

The six-second interview

Less is more. And six seconds is a whole lot of less. What I'm saying is that you have more to work with than you think. Creative uses of Vine's available six seconds stand out. A celebrity interview makes sense because people don't really like to read a lot of words or pay attention to the same thing for long stretches. But they love famous people. So why not get the whole thing over with in six seconds?

The winner: Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters (again, sorry -- the brand gets Vine!) decided to use its short amount of time for a brief celebrity interview whose subject matter is "How to make friends by Dan Deacon." The brand doesn't even ask the question in the video. It left the question to the caption and gave Deacon the full six seconds to answer the question, turn away, and make a joke.

Generally, relying on sound in your Vines is a bad idea since sound is disabled by default. But if you have the chance to get a one-sentence -- or even one-word -- exclusive interview with a celebrity, then Vine is a great vehicle.

[vine hBBVD6037BQ]

The winner: Wall Street Journal
WSJ went after the six-second interview concept with its #6SecAdvice campaign. The campaign featured supposedly sage advice from industry leaders. Contributors included Rebecca Minkoff (fashion designer and bad advice giver), Kevin Martinez (publisher, VP of Details magazine, and good advice giver), MC Hammer (rapper, entrepreneur, pants wearer, and bad advice giver), Aliza Licht (senior vice president for global communications at Donna Karan International and good advice giver), and Bobby McFerrin (Grammy-winning singer and songwriter, bad advice giver).

The obvious irony is that while the overall campaign is clever, the individual videos are riddled with basic technical errors. Back lighting, poor lighting, shaky cameras, and the dreaded "One!" or "Go!" heard spoken by the camera operator. I'm just saying that there's room for improvement all over the place with Vine. So don't feel intimidated because even the Wall Street Journal can't get it right.

The #6SecAdvice format was also picked up by...

Lucky Magazine
This Vine has good framing, good composition, and a camera-ready Brandon Holley with a nice message. "Know that your ideas are your best commodity. Just be confident and share them."

[vine b0Qe3tQr5Tm]

Of course, since Brandon Holley was recently deposed as editor-in-chief at Lucky Magazine and replaced by Eva Chen, maybe it's best to keep your ideas to yourself. But it seemed like nice advice, didn't it?


Limitation breeds creativity. And Vine is pretty limited. Remember the days of VHS camcorders? I loved to make movies with my friends. We would come up with an idea, roughly block it out, and then shoot the whole thing in sequence. When it was finished, we would rush inside to plug the camcorder into the TV and watch our movie. That's what Vine is! Whether you're GE or some schmo with an iPhone, the playing field is leveled. I mean, yes -- GE could easily hire Alec Baldwin to juggle light bulbs. But from a technical standpoint, we're all using the same equipment. All that's required is a good idea, good lighting, and a steady hand.

Drew Hubbard is a social media strategist and owner of LA Foodie.

On Twitter? Follow Hubbard at @LAFoodie. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Hand drawn mobile cell phone PDA" and "Glowing sunset on a bright red background" images via Shutterstock.

Make them feel something

Examples: Instagram and Pinterest

Most women turn to the internet to find an escape from their daily lives. They want to take a break and relax. While they are not always looking for inspiration, marketing that appeals emotionally can be incredibly impactful and extremely effective. Busy, working women are bombarded with ads every day. Take an approach that stands out.

Kelly Guan continues our conversation by explaining why using real women and real locations creates imagery that connects with females in a powerful way.

Click here to subscribe to the iMedia YouTube channel!

"Thoughtful business woman with documents in her workplace" image via Shutterstock.


Rather than deliver a coupon at the register when a person is ready to leave the store, wouldn't it be more effective to deliver a relevant offer to that person while in-store? There's an app for that.

Mobile offers one of the largest, most immediate opportunities in shopper marketing, and there is increasing interest and deployment in this area. People use their phones in store while shopping more than most marketers might realize. Millennial Media and comScore reported that, over a three-month period, 40 percent of women and 47 percent of men used their phones in stores to find coupons or deals, while 29 percent of men and 41 percent of women used their phones to research consumer-product details.

Significant percentages of people are also texting or taking pictures of the product to send to friends and family. Mobile shopper marketing tends take the form of shopping apps, scanners, and mobile websites offering functionality that ranges from paperless coupons, GPS-enabled location-based services, shopping lists, and the ability to transact payment.

Based on a Nielsen and PriceGrabber study, 31 percent of consumers have downloaded a third-party shopping app, 41 percent of them have used mobile coupons at grocery stores, and 26 percent have scanned QR codes for product information. There are apps that use in-store Bluetooth sensors to track shoppers' locations within the store and send them personalized offers and recommendations. It has been reported that the mobile coupon redemption rate is 10 percent versus 1 percent for traditional coupons.

While shopping apps have been in market for a few years, apps that offer deals and incentives when customers enter a store are proliferating, as is their usage. Shopkick, one of the veterans in the pack, is a good example of the marketing opportunity related to these apps. Shopkick uses your GPS to determine your shopping location and serves up relevant coupons and offers to your phone when you enter the store.

In addition to third-party apps, a number of retailers have also launched their own shopping apps. Sephora, Target, Ikea, and Home Depot have mobile apps that help navigate store locations, get location-specific deals, check inventory, and scan barcodes to see product reviews

Retailers and CPGs are starting to introduce mobile applications and better-developed, more-functional mobile sites to drive in-store traffic and help facilitate the in-store buying process. Mobile at the point of sale is officially big business.

In-store digital kiosks and displays

While traditional shopper marketing executions such as end-caps or in-store displays can be effective, they miss the opportunity to connect more meaningfully with customers at key points in their purchase decision-making. In-store technologies and applications that are showing promise include e-commerce kiosks, touch-screen displays, and on-packaging promotions and in-store signage that promote social cred.

Kiosks and in-store touch-screen displays have seen a number of different types of deployments. Some even provide the ability to access full inventory from an in-store kiosk. A number of retailers are establishing a ship-from-store kiosk option to address inventory that might not be available in that exact store but is available across the retailer's broader inventory. Self-checkouts, which appeal to a shopper's desire for the most efficient experience possible, also fall in this category.

Expect to see more large touch-screen display innovations and applications as well. The recent launch by eBay and Kate Spade is worth noting. Using a large touch screen built into the store window at four pop-up stores, shoppers can select a product and schedule one-hour delivery via text message. As reported in TechCrunch, a shopper steps up to the touch screen at the store window and navigates through the products available, which are on display behind the glass. To buy, you enter a cell phone number and receive a text asking to schedule delivery. In one hour, a courier drops off the purchase and takes the payment through PayPal. This single example brings together touch technology, mobile messaging, warehouse logistics, delivery, and mobile payments!

In-store signage

Finally, what about trends with traditional in-store signage? It's pretty common now to see a local restaurant post Yelp reviews on their storefront windows -- but what about in stores?

These days, even plain old paper signs are being socialized. Nordstrom recently rolled out signage that highlights the popularity of certain products by reflecting how many pins they got on Pinterest. By doing so, the company is extending social cred to facilitate purchase decision-making in-store. 

The most important shopper marketing trends to watch

Shoes for sale in Nordstrom, identified by Pinterest popularity. Photo courtesy of Nordstrom.

The most successful in-store digital shopper marketing innovations and applications are focused on providing shopper value, facilitating decision-making, and improving the ease of shopping. In time, CPGs and retailers will start investing more in this area. In many cases, deployment of new technologies will require mutual cooperation and collaboration among CPGs and their retail distribution partners to meet the growing needs of everyone -- including the shopper.

Denise Zimmerman is president and CSO of NetPlus.

On Twitter? Follow Zimmerman at @dzimmerman. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Young business woman select goods on interactive display" image via Shutterstock. 


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