Can it live up to its hype?
IN THE NEWS
NEW YORK -- Marketing executives at GM's Hummer division, a frequent advertiser in the glossy culture magazine Black Book, have often said they want exposure outside traditional ad pages.
--Nat Ives and Jean Halliday
"Auto Giants Push Harder for Magazine Product Placement"
AdAge.com, Aug. 16, 2005
SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Some colorful cows are taking the place of big, bulky roadside advertisements in one Florida county. The bovine billboards are dyed bright pink and purple and are stenciled with ads for GoldenPalace.com. The online casino also paid thousands for the "Virgin Mary grilled cheese" sandwich and to stencil its logo on a pregnant woman's belly. The cows' owner said the animals are just happy they are not getting branded.
Sarasota, Fla., Aug. 6, 2005
Guerrilla marketing: Unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources.
Coined by Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is more about matching wits than matching budgets. Guerrilla marketing can be as different from traditional marketing as guerilla warfare is from traditional warfare. Rather than marching their marketing dollars forth like infantry divisions, guerrilla marketers snipe away with their marketing resources for maximum impact.
"Guerilla Marketing--not gorilla marketing."
The total number of advertising messages we are exposed to every day depends on who you talk to. Consumer Reports claims we see 247. Phoenix Business Journal avows that the number is more than 600. The Union of Concerned Scientists asserts the average American is exposed to about 3,000 per day.
Obviously the number varies depending on location. A tourist in New York's Times Square sees many more ads than a farmer plowing a Kansas cornfield or a thong-clad lovely sprawled on a Florida beach staring at a small plane making lazy circles in the sky while towing a banner touting a local clam bar.
Wherever we are, we see a lot of ads these days. A content-hungry consumer with satellite or cable television and an itchy finger on the remote control might see bits and pieces of a hundred ads in the course of an hour.
So how can a marketer grab the attention of a jaded consumer and hold it long enough to make an impression?
Is the answer guerilla marketing?
Book Publishers Do It
Book publishers have been masters of guerrilla marketing for centuries. Send a new book to The New York Times Sunday Book Review to be reviewed, and the cost of the book, plus press release, plus letter to the editor, plus shipping might be $12.
The good news: If you get a one-page review, that is the equivalent of $38,030 (plus design costs) that you would have had to spend for a full-page ad--a terrific return on your $12.
The bad news: With 195,000 new book titles published every year, your chances of being reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review are zilch. Zip. Zero.
The net result: You are out $12 and readers of The New York Times will never hear of your book.
Guerrilla marketing takes many forms.
A huge worldwide television event is the Olympic Games held now every two years. The International Olympic Committee allows 12 TOP (The Olympic Partners) sponsors who pay $50 million to $75 million for the privilege of using the five rings in their ads and calling themselves sponsors. Among the TOP partners for the Beijing games are McDonald's, General Electric and Visa.
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the Mars candy people did not wish to pop for becoming TOPs nor spend millions in TV advertising. Instead, they dressed up a slew of employees in M&M character suits and had them line the route of the marathon. When the runners came by, the M&Ms were ordered to jump out from the crowd and wave madly at the TV cameras, so they would be seen by tens of millions of people worldwide.
The earliest example of product placement . . . involved films from 1896 created by Auguste and Louis Lumière for François-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke, the Swiss representative for the Sunlight brand of soap sold by Lever Brothers (now Unilever). One film shows a cart bearing the Sunlight name parked on a street, Mr. Newell said, and another shows "people doing their wash."
"Greatest Hits of Product Placement"
The New York Times, Feb. 26, 2005
When I was an NBC page in 1957, the big daytime show was "Bride and Groom" airing from Studio 8H (originally built for Toscaninni and the NBC Symphony). Every weekday a couple was married live and in black-and-white. Always on the set was a pleasant little fellow who looked like the actor William H. Macy. As I recall, his name was Tony Rhodes, and he was in charge of getting the wedding gifts--none of which the program paid for.
Fast-forward to November 2004 and the wedding of Star Jones, a hostess on the ABC show, "The View." Jones received donated invitations, tuxedos and bridesmaids' dresses. The "official airline of our wedding weekend" was Continental. These folks were hoping for plugs and public mentions. The fact that the media reported this story--and mentioned the suppliers--amounted to a PR coup.
Today, product placement is a hot guerrilla marketing tactic--projected to be a $4.24 billion business in 2005. For example, featured brands in the Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn romp, "The Wedding Crashers," are:
7-Up, Apple, Baltimore Orioles, Budweiser, Cadillac, Count Chocula, Habitat for Humanity, Harvard University, Jelly Belly, Johnny Walker, Log Cabin, Moët & Chandon, Nike, Oprah Winfrey, Pepsi, Rhode Island School of Design, Toys-R-Us, Wrigley Field
Television placements drive the networks nuts, because these are quasi-commercials for which the producers and syndicators get paid and the networks receive nothing.
For example, when SLS International, a manufacturer of audio systems, was conspicuously featured on "Rock Star: INXS," The Wall Street Journal reported that producer Mark Burnett received $100,000 in SLS stock options, and CBS got zilch.
Procter & Gamble recently announced it would be cutting back on traditional TV advertising and will increase its use of guerrilla tactics such as product placement.
Other examples of product placements:
- AdAge.com reports that McDonald's is buying its way into hip-hop song lyrics.
- Gran Centenario tequila gets a mention in the Broadway revival of Sweet Charity.
- It is not by accident that Lexus automobiles are found in magazine photo shoots.
- In order to skirt FCC decency rules, the folks at Durex condoms are paying for product placement ads in podcasts.
- Top chefs are cutting deals with food growers and manufacturers to feature their products in their restaurants.
Jesse Levine of Internet Technology Partnerships (http://www.itpbiz.com) is a guerrilla telemarketer with the capability of placing 20 million calls a day. Happiness for Levine is to talk to nobody. Instead, he calls when the phone is least likely to be answered--in the morning hours for consumers and the evening hours for businesses. His object is to leave a 35- to 45-second very personal voice mail with a brief pitch and an 800-number for the person to call back. He calls it "Consideration Marketing," because he purposely does not interrupt a dinner hour at home or an executive's busy day at the office. The call-back--if any--is at the person's convenience and goes right into the company that has hired itpbiz.com. It costs a fraction of cold calling with average results of one-half percent, and the company is talking only to interested people.
The term was reportedly coined by Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist, who used it to describe how Hotmail included a self-promotional ad on every e-mail message that grew it to 12 million users in 18 months.
Seth Godin, author of "Unleashing the Ideavirus," calls those who unleash viral marketing efforts "sneezers." Emanual Rosen, who wrote "The Anatomy of Buzz," prefers the term "network hubs." A number of products have benefitted from viral marketing--the Polaroid iZone camera, Volkswagen's Beetle and "The Blair Witch Project" film that took off when a Web site claimed it was not fiction.
Word of Mouth
This is a version of viral marketing. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) has just published a 226-page book on the terminology and techniques of creating buzz.
"If you want word-of-mouth advertising," said Mel Zeigler, founder of Banana Republic, "give 'em something to talk about."
Public relations (PR) is the art and science of turning a product or service into a news story and getting ink or airtime in the media. At its most basic, a press release is written and reprinted in newspapers. At its most sophisticated, the PR wizard makes the proposition sound so exciting that feature writers bring it to the front pages of newspapers or a TV network airs a two-hour special.
Does Guerrilla Marketing Work--Really?
For example, publishing house Zondervan's "Pyromarketing" campaign for its title "The Purpose-Driven Life" sold 21 million copies.
Zondervan's senior marketing director, Greg Stielstra, said that he did not have a celebrity author or a big budget. AdAge.com's John Fine described what happened:
What Zondervan did have was a highly networked Christian consumer base, which attends church faithfully and frequently visits Web sites like pastors.com, which is run by Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren. So Zondervan targeted 400,000 churchgoers and 1,200 pastors. It sold them copies of the book for $7 (its retail price is $20). It tied sermons by Mr. Warren, which he posted at pastors.com, to specific chapters in the book. It suggested churchgoers read one chapter a day for 40 days, and reinforced the message further with what Mr. Stielstra said were "parallel" locally-targeted radio broadcasts.
It was dubbed "Pyromarketing," because as Stielstra said in a speech, "1. Gather driest tinder (or: the most impassioned consumers). 2. Touch with match (or: marketing plan). 3. Fan flames. 4. Save coals."
He added that this would never have worked without the "oxygen" of a great product.
Takeaway Points to Consider
- It's extremely dangerous to pin all marketing effort on guerrilla tactics. For example, if you are hoping for a one-page review of a new book in The New York Times Sunday Book Review so that you do not have to buy an ad, you are in competition with 194,999 other titles. If you hope for vast media coverage based on a press release, you have to pray for a slow news day and hope that some lazy editors are on duty who will use your stuff rather than going to the trouble of creating their own.
- More probably, guerrilla marketing should be used in conjunction as an add-on to traditional marketing and advertising.
- Guerrilla marketing cannot work for a lousy product or service.
- The traditional five steps to creating a good customer are: (1) Find a suspect; (2) Turn your suspect into a prospect; (3) Turn the prospect into a buying customer; (4) Turn the customer into a repeat buyer; (5) Turn the repeat buyer into an advocate who loves to tell others about you. Guerrilla marketing is the business of creating immediate advocates--impossible to do when the product or service is mediocre.
- Rance Crain points out in AdAge.com that, "the basic problem with all these new ways to move the merchandise is that they don't have the capacity to actually sell anybody, and as the old ad agency Benton & Bowles used to say, 'It's not creative unless it sells.'"
- E-commerce consultant Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, proprietor of Web Marketing Today (www.wilsonweb.com), lists six elements and suggests that viral marketing strategy need not contain ALL these elements. But the more elements it embraces, the more powerful the results are likely to be. An effective viral marketing strategy: (1) Gives away products or services; (2) Provides for effortless transfer to others; (3) Scales easily from small to very large; (4) Exploits common motivations and behaviors; (5) Utilizes existing communication networks; (6) Takes advantage of others' resources.
- When product placement is negotiated directly with a TV show producer, risk exists as to whether the show will be any good. If it bombs and fails to live up to its rating guarantees, the network will turn its back and not offer a "make good."
- If a car manufacturer has vehicles placed in a show that is a raging success--one with syndicated reruns for years to come--viewers will be seeing 2-, 5- or 7-year-old models, which may not be helpful to current sales.
Web Sites Related to Today's Edition
Olympics Beat the Ambushers
International Word of Mouth Marketing Conference
Zen and the Art of Viral Marketing
Six Principles of Viral Marketing
Online Public Relations
The Star Jones Wedding Site