The well is capped, but the spill is not over.
The well is capped, but the spill is not over.

While we rejoice over the recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report stating that 75% of the Gulf oil spill has already been eliminated from the water, a new U.S. Travel Association report offers a sobering assessment of the current and long-term threat to the Gulf Coast’s $34 billion tourism economy. The threat is that consumer perceptions of a disaster often last well beyond the physical damage itself.

In the report, research firm Oxford Economics compares the Gulf oil spill to 25 other disasters and suggests that tourism visits and spending in areas along the coast will likely be reduced for a minimum of 15 months and perhaps as long as 36 months.

Although the U.S. Travel Association is recommending that BP fund a $500 million marketing effort to help undo the damage done to the tourism economy, destinations that depend on tourism dollars cannot wait for this money before they begin to rebuild their businesses.

Destination marketers that start the soonest to share the good news will be the first to benefit from increased travel. And, while Summer 2010 is over for families with school-age children, marketing to families with younger kids and to couples without children (especially weekend trips from nearby feeder markets) should be emphasized immediately.

Another great way for destinations to counter misperceptions about the condition of their beaches is to amp up their social media efforts. Although traditional marketing and advertising channels will continue to be successful in reaching travelers, the immediacy, scalability and personal credibility that social media offers is a perfect fit for the Gulf Coast destination’s current situation.

Families and individuals that have been taking vacations from the beaches of St. George Island, Florida to fishing trips in Vermillion Bay, Louisiana love and cherish these places. As travelers return to these destinations, the personal stories and photos that they share via the web will have a huge impact on perceptions of the Gulf Coast.

Therefore, if you’d like to help the people and businesses along the Gulf Coast, here are two things you can do now:

1. Travel with family or friends to the Gulf as soon as possible.
2. Post on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc. and share your experiences.
The President, a lizard and a cashier walk into a bar…
The President, a lizard and a cashier walk into a bar…

Who are the most ubiquitous and competitive brands in advertising?

Miller Light and Bud Light? Ford and Chevrolet? Burger King and McDonalds?

What about insurance?

In the last 10+ years, insurance, specifically car insurance, has become one of the most hotly contested categories in advertising.

Blame Warren Buffett for at least part of this. When the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ and Berkshire Hathaway snapped up Geico (Government Employees Insurance Company) in 1996 it enabled Geico to make serious investments in their brand and helped spark an advertising battle among insurers that helped catapult spending to record levels.

From 2003 to 2007, TNS Media Intelligence measured 103.8% category growth in ad spend for insurance from $1.67 billion to $3.41 billion.

When you look at TNS’ data during that same ’03-’07 period just for auto insurance spending, the growth was even more dramatic: 195%.

Why is this category so white-hot?

The ability to quickly quote several different insurance companies has provided consumers with a level of price transparency that has flattened the playing field. The problem for insurance companies is that they are now perceived to be about the same in the products they offer, the service they provide and the convenience of buying or updating policies. Right or wrong, car insurance is now seen by many as a commodity.

In response, Flo, the Caveman, and now The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World are all vying to be “the lowest cost provider” with the character making their sales pitch really the only differentiating brand attribute for each insurance company.

So, would you rather buy from the googly eyes or Erin the eSurance spy with pink hair?

The answer for insurance companies may not be to keep jamming more characters at consumers at 300 GRP’s a week supported by constant logo placement at sporting events. Instead, why not borrow a page from one of the most successful marketers in the world?

While it is a far jump from car insurance to personal computers and music players, Apple is a brand that more marketers should emulate. Their products look different and work differently and stand so far apart from other products that the products themselves are their first and best advertising.

Lee Clow the chief creative officer of Apple’s longtime ad agency has said as much, “The Apple Store was probably the best ad we ever did. Everything a brand does is advertising.”

So, maybe instead of focusing so much borrowed interest on characters and spokespeople, car insurance companies might have more success if they first focused on the products they sell and try marketing something truly different.

20 Big Wins At Healthcare Marketing Awards
20 Big Wins At Healthcare Marketing Awards

At Lewis, we go to great pains to remind people that we’re not a “healthcare agency.” After all, we work with RV manufacturers, insurance companies, energy utilities and other businesses, and we’ve won awards in every one of those categories.

But at the same time, we are especially proud each year when the Healthcare Marketing Awards roll around.

We like healthcare.

It’s consumer branding. It’s an expensive, important decision in people’s lives. It’s research-driven and yet highly emotional in its execution.

We find like-minded souls at the helm of many of the nation’s top teaching hospitals. They value research, as we do. They have substantive, real product differences that consumers deserve to know about. And creative skills we tend to be good at, like storytelling and craftsmanship, make us a good fit for the category.

Nearly 4,000 entries were received in this year’s competition–and Lewis walked away with 20 major awards, including one Best of Show.

This is on the heels of the nation’s other significant healthcare marketing competition, the Aster Awards, where Lewis also won a Best of Show and other honors.

We work hard at this stuff. So, it’s gratifying when the industry notices. I’m proud of our teams in all three Lewis offices for such a great showing.

You’ll find the complete list of wins below.

 


 

2011 HEALTHCARE MARKETING AWARDS

BEST OF SHOW – Newspaper Advertising
Memorial Health
Savannah, GA
Beach/High School Football/Field Trips

GOLD
Logo/Letterhead
Louisiana State University Health System
LSU Corporate Identity

GOLD
Magazine Series
Medical University South Carolina Medical Center
Fisherman/Girl in Car/Grandpa & Grandson

GOLD
Outdoor
Memorial Health
Heroes/Cancer/Preemies

GOLD
Television Series
Memorial Health
Midnight/Hello Summer/Chances

GOLD
Newspaper Series
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

GOLD
Special Video
Stony Brook University Fundraising Video

GOLD
Employee Communication Program
University of Virginia Health System
UVA EMR Campaign

GOLD
Newspaper Series
Vanderbilt Health Primary Care & Walk-In Clinics
Family Doctor/Fever/Check Up

SILVER
Television Series
Medical University South Carolina Medical Center
Distance/Independence/News

SILVER
Newspaper Series
Memorial Health
Beach/High School Football/Field Trips

SILVER
Television Single
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Money

SILVER
Radio Series
Stony Brook University Medical Center
Remember/Different/The Choice

SILVER
Special Event
University Healthcare Consortium
Poster/Microsite/Brochure/Video

SILVER
Special Video
Upstate University Health System
Cancer Video

SILVER
Total Advertising with TV
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Knowlege Campaign

BRONZE
Newspaper Series
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
This Isn’t

BRONZE
Radio Series
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
McPherson/Pietenpol/Thompson

BRONZE
Total Advertising with TV
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Branding Campaign

MERIT
New Media
University of Virginia Health System
UVA Holiday Greeting

 

2011 ASTER AWARDS

BEST OF SHOW – Total Advertising Campaign
University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA

Award: Best of Show
Entry Name: UVA EMR Campaign
Category: Total Advertising Campaigns

Medical University of South Carolina — Charleston, SC
Award: Gold
Entry Name: 2010 Magazine Series
Category: Magazine Publication – Series

Medical University of South Carolina — Charleston, SC
Award: Silver
Entry Name: 2010 Total Ad Series
Category: Total Advertising Campaigns

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt — Nashville, TN
Award: Gold
Entry Name: Newspaper Series
Category: Newspaper Advertising – Series

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Gold
Entry Name: Development Ad ’Sandbox’
Category: Newspaper Advertising – Single

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Stony Brook Children’s Logo
Category: Logo Design/Letterhead

Stony Brook Children’s Hospital — Stony Brook, NY
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Fundraising Video
Category: Other/Misc

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Bronze
Entry Name: UVA Beyond Surgery
Category: Service Line – Surgical Services

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Gold
Entry Name: UVA Branding Campaign – Spine
Category: Service Line – Orthopedic Services

University of Virginia Health System — Charlottesville, VA
Award: Silver
Entry Name: UVA Branding Campaign – Pediatrics
Category: Service Line – Children’s

Vanderbilt University Medical Center — Nashville, TN
Award: Gold
Entry Name: 2010 Magazine Series
Category: Magazine Publication – Series

Vanderbilt University Medical Center — Nashville, TN
Award: Silver
Entry Name: Anthem :60 TV
Category: TV/Video Advertising – Single

 

Should a car tweet?
Should a car tweet?

I eagerly awaited the delivery of my 2012 MINI Cooper, tracking it day by day on the boat from Southampton, England to Brunswick, Georgia. When it finally arrived, I was practically giddy.

Meanwhile, most of my coworkers glanced in the parking lot and shrugged: “Uh, what’s the difference?” After all, it was my third red MINI.

But I was excited about this one because of the addition of a new feature called MINI Connected.

What is MINI Connected? Watch the Official MINI Video.

By now, most of us are used to some level of iPhone integration with our cars. Many of us have cables that allow us to control our music from the dashboard, Bluetooth to make calls and that sort of thing. But MINI Connected takes the bleeding edge of automotive technology to a whole new level.

It consists of two components – an enhanced navigation system built into your dashboard, and an app you download from Apple’s App Store.

It’s a little bit unwieldy, because you have to launch the app on the phone, plug it into the dashboard cable, and leave it on the console.

But to hear BMW engineers tell it, that inconvenience is by design. Texting and driving has become an incredibly dangerous habit on our roads. And c’mon, tell the truth: you know you’ve checked a Facebook update at a traffic light.

What MINI Connected (and its similar but not identical sister, BMW Apps) aspire to do is give you some of the functionality of your smartphone, but delivered in a way that’s safer and more car-friendly. Meanwhile, it reduces that temptation to reach for that cell phone and check just… one… more… message.

It includes about a half dozen features, with more being added. Part of the beauty of this is that now adding new functionality is as easy as updating your iPhone. Suddenly, the electronics in your car aren’t a total dinosaur three years after
you buy it.

What can MINI Connected do? You can do a Google local search and program the results into your nav system. You can use Google Send To Car to pre-send various addresses from your home computer to your Cooper nav system. You can subscribe to RSS feeds. You can listen to web radio. I couldn’t be happier to have access to one of my favorite stations, Birmingham Mountain Radio, wherever my travels take me. Or, you can listen to your iTunes, with the Cooper suggesting a mix of music, based on your current driving style.

And you can check your Facebook and Twitter feeds. On a three-hour road trip, I find Twitter especially useful for keeping up with the news. You can read friends’ updates and “Like” or retweet as desired.

Wisely, BMW engineers have made it impossible for 70 MPH motorists to tap out status updates while driving. Instead they helpfully offer a rather hilarious selection of pre-written tweets, based on activity on your iPhone and your car:

“It’s 92° outside and I’ve just talked with
Lewis Communications on the phone.”

“I’m listening to Nirvana and will arrive on
Peachtree Street at 9:32 PM.”

When disconnected, the iPhone lets you carry vehicle stats with you – how much gas is left in the tank, how many miles of range you have. But for me, the most compelling feature is a brand new one. MINI Connected now includes MOG, a music service similar to Spotify. Now, I can drive down the road and listen to virtually every CD on the planet, for $9.99 a month. It takes a toll on your iPhone’s data usage, however, so I’m grateful to be grandfathered into AT&T’s unlimited data plans.

I love the way BMW and MINI are continuing to bring value to my new car with app updates. I suspect that in three years, most cars will come with a 4G LTE connection, and we won’t need smartphones as a bridge.

But if this is where the future is heading, I Like.

Social Media as Conversation
Social Media as Conversation

While people spend countless hours each day checking social media sites, their reasons for doing so aren’t always as “cutting edge” as those of us in the marketing world would like to believe. A recent study published by Pew Research Center found that 91% of people active on social media sites say that simply staying in touch with friends is their motivation to use.

Too many marketers refuse to acknowledge that the way those of us in the communication industry use social media isn’t typical, as compared to the average consumer. If companies and brands using social media are really looking to drive ROI through these channels, they need to start offering information as valuable as a post from a friend.

Early in October, I received a call asking me to handle the marketing for an event at The University of Alabama. Seven UA departments were collaborating to bring Soledad O’Brien to campus, and if you haven’t guessed already, the first issue brought up was how social media needed to be the main component in our marketing strategy.

The primary social media channels being used were UA Ferguson Center’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which had significant followings of more than 3,000 students. My challenge was to figure out how to engage students with the Ferg to drive the desired result: a packed house for the night of Soledad’s speech. I did a little research and found that most students were looking to feel like they got some sort of one-on-one time with Soledad during her visit.

After this discovery, I made two very simple additions to the marketing strategy that drove positive results on both social media accounts—not to mention a standing room only crowd on the night of the event:

I. We asked students to submit questions for the Q&A session held after her speech via Facebook and wound up with hundreds of submissions.

II. We set up and promoted a Twitter hash tag so students who weren’t able to attend could still participate. We had over 50 students tweeting on our live chat the night of the event.

These simple tweaks were not only effective in engaging students for the Soledad event, but have served to revitalize the Ferg’s social media presence. Tweets per day are at their highest level ever, Facebook comments and unique page-views are higher than they have been in months and we even had students solicit our team via Twitter asking to write a post on the Ferg Blog, which rarely sees any activity outside of UA employees.

Why not take this example to heart and show your online community that your focus is on what they want rather than what you’d like to tell them? Try sharing information they see value in rather than the self-serving, one-way marketing updates we are all guilty of sending out far too often.

news
history

A print campaign for The Scribbler was named Best of Show in the 7th District ADDY Awards in New Orleans (the 7th District encompasses most of the southeastern United States and includes Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Lousiana). The campaign of small space ads for a Birmingham-area stationery boutique was created by ACD Roy Burns, designer Holly Cook and senior copywriter Kathy Oldham. The accolade also marks the second consecutive Best of Show District win for Lewis Communications.

London 2012 is Over. Which Brands Won?
London 2012 is Over. Which Brands Won?

Team Great Britain, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas and countless others won athletic gold in London, but which brands came out on top during these games?

The Peacock
In the U.S., NBC’s brand saw mixed results with soaring ratings delivering a huge and positive impact to their bottom line. Unfortunately, the hashtag #NBCFail was ubiquitous during the games and reached a crescendo last night as Bob Costas pulled the ultimate bait-and-switch promoting an appearance by The Who, but only after a pilot for a new sit-com. NBC pays billions of dollars to have the U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics, and must make hard decisions about how to recoup that investment. It is still hard to see how going out of your way to aggravate your viewers is a winning long-term strategy.

The Swoosh
Although Nike wasn’t an official Olympic sponsor, they almost don’t need to be. The swoosh logo was shown on screen thousands of times on athletes’ shoes and apparel. Their guerilla marketing campaign “Find Your Greatness” was brilliant in both strategy and execution by featuring everyday men, women and children finding greatness on a less-than Olympic stage, but still in a town called London.

The Ultimate Branding Machine
One of the less-heralded Olympic partners was BMW Group who found smart and relevant ways to keep their brands and their cars top-of-mind. In addition to TV spots touting their sponsorship, BMW riffed on Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket by driving a Golden Bimmer around London giving free tickets to those who shared photos of themselves with the car. During the closing ceremonies, Jesse J and two other singers were transported into and around Olympic stadium in three Rolls-Royce Phantoms specially built and badged for the event. BMW’s Mini joined in the competition with remote-controlled Mini’s carrying javelins back to athletes finding a way onto hallowed athletic ground that is supposedly free of commercial clutter.

Proctor & Gamble, Omega Watches and several other official and not-so-official sponsors of the games were highly visible with TV spots, online video, and social media memes. The brands mentioned above stood out most to me during these games, but branding is seen through the eye of the beholder.

Which brands grabbed your attention and won Gold in London?

01
iPads and PlayBooks and Xooms, oh my! Are Tablets Game Changers?
iPads and PlayBooks and Xooms, oh my! Are Tablets Game Changers?

Apple launched the much-anticipated iPad in the spring of 2010 amid a cacophony of Mac geeks clamoring to get one, and bloggers and journalists questioning where tablets would fit between smart phones and laptops. Since then, Apple has sold over 15 million units of their tablet, and launched the iPad2, a slimmer, lighter update.

But, more importantly, other computer and electronics manufacturers have jumped into the tablet market with an array of devices that vary greatly by size, OS, functionality and price. Motorola shipped 250,000 Xooms in Q1 alone and the Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry Playbook and a host of other tablets are now flooding the market.

Here at Lewis, we’re using a variety of tablets for work and for play. But what we’re really interested in, is how are you using them? Is your laptop spending more time on the desk and less time at Starbucks? Is your smart phone now mainly for texting and actual phone calls? Or have you postponed buying a tablet in the hopes that prices will fall while features expand?

Click on the link here and take our quick survey on how you’re using various electronic devices. In a few weeks, we’ll post the results in a new blog. You can also enter your email address at the end of the survey and we’ll send you the results.

Take the Survey!