The social media realm is abuzz over Pinterest and possible trademark and copyright infringements. We’ve seen the articles, blogs, etc. on how this pin-board style portal is enabling millions of people to illegally share all kinds of things they don’t “own”. Is this a big deal? Perhaps it is worthy of debate, but let me ask you this. Who isn’t guilty of sharing things that aren’t technically theirs via an array of other online activities like re-posting, re-tweeting, emailing, and so on. The concept isn’t new; it just so happens that Pinterest is a pioneering proponent for such online behavior. Companies and brands should stop protesting, and start developing their plan for the social site. Is it right for your brand? How can you use it to leverage relationships with customers, especially if they’re women? Don’t waste time debating whether or not it’s legit. In just one year, the site has gone from zero to more than 10 million registered users. To us, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are in good company with our new friend Pin.
Stony Brook University Medical Center captured the Gold Award for best total campaign for an Academic Medical Center at the 2009 Aster Awards. Individual honors went to Stony Brook’s microsite and print advertising. Clients Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Medical Center and the University of Virginia Health System were also recognized for a total of nine Aster awards. In addition, Lewis clients received ten honors in the 2009 Healthcare Marketing Awards.
Robert McDonald, CEO of Proctor & Gamble, made headlines this month when he announced to Wall Street that “social media is free” — apparently as a defense for firing 1,600 marketing and other non-manufacturing workers.
“In the digital space, with things like Google and Facebook, the return on investment of the advertising, (1) when properly designed, (2) when the big idea is there, (3) can be much more efficient. One example is our Old Spice campaign, where (4) we had 1.8 billion free impressions.”
A closer look at his statement, however, reveals four glaring flaws in his thinking.
1) Nothing “properly designed” is free. Social media efforts take time and talent to create and well-constructed networks of (sometimes) thousands of people to take root. P&G’s social media channel is no more free to operate than are their sales or distribution networks.
2) No “big idea” is free. Sure, it’s easy to sell Knicks tickets NOW. But big ideas, from Jared Fogel to Jeremy Lin, require some risk and investment upfront before they can be spread in any media, including online.
3) Yes, social media “can be” more efficient – but efficient doesn’t mean free. A Toyota Prius can be more efficient to drive, but you still have to buy one and fill it up BEFORE you can save money on its operation.
4) The Old Spice campaign was the opposite of “free”. It was launched via a massive television buy, was produced with world-class advertising agency, production and talent expense, and was supported by what one analyst called, “a forest of buy-one-get-one-free coupons”.
True, the Old Spice campaign was a masterful effort that re-defined the brand and deftly utilized special media. But to suggest that it garnered 1.8 billion free impressions blatantly misrepresents the magnitude of their investment and their well-deserved return.
In 2008, shipbuilder Austal, USA received a U.S. Navy contract to build the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). With these contracts, Austal had to ramp up employment from 900 to 2400 persons within 18 months. Although unemployment rates in the area have been in the 9% range, Austal needed to attract a highly-skilled and motivated work force to build these technologically advanced warships. After extensive research identified the target audience as action-oriented “doers,” Lewis Communications created “Do Something Extraordinary” to target this very specific audience.
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?
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.
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?
Every year, I play center field on a team with about 13 other past-their-prime athletes in an over 35 baseball league. Keep in mind, this is not softball. This is real baseball with umpires, uniforms, 90 foot base paths, sliders and stolen bases. We play about 25 nine-inning games each season, and we play them pretty well.
Many of the guys in the league played in college, making the level of play very competitive. Granted, none of us are as good as we used to be, but there is always a play or two in each game where you cant help but be impressed. And for me, it is still incredibly satisfying to run down a fly ball in the gap or turn on an inside fastball and rip it down the left-field line. Those little individual moments keep me coming back each year.
But those moments wouldn’t mean as much without the camaraderie in the dugout. I consider most of these guys friends, and I’ve played with several of them for almost 15 years now. What we all have in common is our love of baseball.
In that time, I’ve gotten to know these guys very well. Many of us come from different hometowns and backgrounds. The educational level ranges from a couple guys who didn’t go to college all the way to two guys with PhDs. One of our outfielders is a sheriff’s deputy. Our first baseman works for the city of Birmingham. One of our pitchers is a law clerk, while our catcher is a self-employed house painter. There are opposing political affiliations, alternate social viewpoints and even different tastes in music.
For the most part, I know what is important in their lives and their families. And having this insight helps me in the way I approach my job as an art director. We certainly strive for awards in advertising, but awards don’t really matter if your message doesn’t reach the people its intended to. In addition to just enjoying them as teammates, these guys practically serve as my own private focus group. Whatever project or campaign we’re working on, someone on my team usually falls within the target audience.
Now it’s not like I bring my presentation boards to the ball park and go over concepts and layouts in the parking lot before the game. And I’m not on this team as some sort of social experiment. I’m on this team because I like playing baseball and being with these guys.
Having this added level of understanding of the people we’re working to communicate with is most certainly a bonus. In the end, I believe it helps me do my job that much better.