Motorola Rocks Teens

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.