Ljloz78’s IMC Blog

Just another WVU IMC weblog

Let’s be creative, wait, let’s not. March 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 9:13 pm

I have been reading a lot of articles about creativity lately and I have come to the realization that a sure-fire way to kill creativity is to box it up, number it and attempt to define it. Creativity is a personal process, born of personal experiences and personal revelation. In group settings, creativity by the quieter, more introverted members is often times lost to the boisterous appeals by the more social of the group. I am not saying that creativity does not exist in group settings or when following a planned method, but it makes what should be a natural process unnatural. I read a funny article on the five tips on how NOT to be creative and found it to be straight-forward without pretense and was in itself a creative approach to helping people be creative. [You can read the entire article at http://www.creativity-portal.com/articles/angie-dixon/not-creative.html.]

1.      Never talk to strangers

2.      Never go to new places

3.      Never ask, “what if?”

4.      Never think about the alternative.

5.      Never ask, “what do you think?”

Obviously, by reversing the “never,” the tips turn out to be really useful guidance in becoming creative, or rekindling creativity. In a nutshell, get out and live. Reading journal articles about how to be creative doesn’t cut it. Sitting around thinking about how you can be more creative doesn’t work either. These things may help you write an article about being more creative but I can’t see how they will actually make you more creative.

 

Interacting with marketers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 9:11 pm

I noticed during a commercial for a high-end SUV that an informational bar popped up in the middle of the commercial. The bar said that by clicking on it, you could get more information on the vehicle. That revealed a look inside the vehicle, options available to the consumer and more detailed information on pricing. I have also seen a couple that are like mini-movies or infomercials. I think this level of interactivity with the consumer and the ability to gain more immediate in-depth information about products is the wave of the future for all television advertising. I have often times found myself trying to remember something I had seen on TV to look up later, maybe an interesting toy or a company that I wanted to know more about. But the problem is that I would generally forget about it after the show came back on or I was hit with some other form of distraction.

 

This idea of engaging the consumer immediately to see what is so great about the advertiser’s product may well become essential in making advertising on television successful. I think this concept can also be expanded into allowing consumers to order the product directly upon seeing the commercial, requesting more information or coupons, or having oneself added to a mailing list. Ordering the product can be especially useful for products that are generally bought on impulse, such as pizza. If, every time I saw a food commercial and though, “hmmm, that looks good right about now,” and could immediately order the food, I would probably eat take-out twice as much as I currently do. It may also work well for flower and gift giving companies. The ads that remind us that Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day is just around the corner could make use of not only the reminder, but also the ability to order the product right then, before the consumer forgets again. Additionally, if I could request information or coupons about products as I see them, or learn more about them immediately I would probably make for a better consumer.

 

These types of interactive marketing techniques are already being implemented on the internet and on our phones, allowing consumers to click on ads for more information or to visit a website. The line between one form of media and another are quickly becoming blurred and I don’t think it will be long before we see the use of interactive marketing as a regular part of our television watching experience.

 

The loss of tradition…and traditional marketing

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 9:09 pm

Sponsorships are an interesting phenom as far as I am concerned. I wonder how much companies pay to have their name permanently or semi-permanently associated with a television program, charitable organization or sports team. Is there a quantifiable return on this kind of investment that would offset the cost associated with this kind of endeavor? Of course, perhaps the better question is, is there a qualitative return on this kind of investment that outweighs that of traditional advertising? I suppose that depends on the sponsorship.

 

I am always annoyed by the shameless defacing of great football stadiums (or any team stadium) with company logos; great stadiums that signify long and rich histories that have been swallowed up by the corporate demons and high dollar expense of super star athletes and multi-million dollar facilities. Great stadiums like Mile High, Three River and Veterans have been lost to this phenomenon. But the fact of the matter is, companies need new places to place their product where they will be recognized and accepted by consumers and sports franchises need someone to help them foot the cost of operations. An example close to my heart is FedEx Field, the current, and fairly new home, of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins last stadium, which is currently used by the Washington Nationals, was their home for 36 years/seasons and was named for a U.S. politician (RFK Stadium). A lot of fans felt this sense of loss when the new stadium name was revealed because the history and greatness of the team felt compromised by marketing and franchise greed.

 

Regardless of my distaste, does it work? Is it any more effective than rotating :60 spots on television? Or do we simply ignore the company associated with the conduit (in this case, whomever they are sponsoring.) I don’t know but it does seem as television becomes more cluttered and consumers have more options to ignore advertisements, sponsorships and product placements will certainly become more prevalent.

 

Finding Creativity March 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 7:45 pm

This week’s class discussion was about creativity, which got me thinking about what creates creativity. I have been a reporter on and off for the past 16 years, starting back in high school and really, before my daughter came along, it was the only really creative thing about me. I had never considered whether or not I was creative or if my work inspired others to be creative though I can remember pouring over my lead for hours at a time, organizing the words in just the right way to draw readers. I always believed that my job was to bring the facts, and just the facts, to readers so they could then come to their own conclusion. But thinking about where you can find inspiration for creativity, I found myself gravitating toward a couple of key outlets.

 

I believe children can be an inspiration for creativity. Have you ever looked at a child’s art? I often think of Jackson Pollock when thinking of children’s work, not just because of its supposed randomness but its use of color and abstract tendencies that draw creativity from the viewer. (Just as children make us guess what they have drawn, is it daddy or a chicken?, Pollock makes us wonder, but typically about how it makes us feel.) Pollock created work that on the surface could mean nothing, but inherently held emotions dependent upon the viewer. Pollock liked to number his work instead of naming it, in the hopes of not leading viewers to an idea but letting them create an idea on their own. Each time I see a Pollock, in a book or in person, I am amazed at the depth of feeling I get from it, in fact, it is a feeling of the same caliber as when I see my daughter take a piece of chalk into her tiny little fist and scrape it across our asphalt. I feel a part of the painting, as I feel a part of my daughter’s “work” because the artist has allowed me entry into his/her mind. I think the more abstract art is, and let’s face it, both Pollock and children meet that qualification, the more it forces the viewer to dig deeper and experience more of his or her own creativity.

 

I also believe religion, faith, and spirituality can be great places to find or at least make room for creativity. It is a means by which 86% of the world can relate and though the concepts may not all be the same, finding enlightenment and inner peace is a dominating theme for all religions and spiritual paths. With the evolution of cell phones, laptops, the internet, mp3 players, etc., consumers (and creative types) can find themselves inundated with messages they don’t necessarily want to receive. Attending your favorite local church service, doing some meditation, or going to a yoga class can help you focus your creative energy and help you unplug from the rest of the world. Plugging in to religion/faith/spirituality can help us relate better to consumers and ourselves, thereby helping us be more creative and more in tune with the needs of our consumers and our clients. Inherently, religion involves thoughtful reading, soft music and a quiet place to harvest your own thoughts and these methods of getting closer to ourselves and to a spiritual being can certainly allow us to become closer to our creative side. I found a nice quote about meditation:

“No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation” – Walter Bagehot

 

Whippersnappers and their new-fangled contraptions

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 4:53 pm

I have two sisters much younger than myself (15 and 14) who spent a few days with me right before Christmas. In that time I saw more texting than I had seen or done in my entire life. I also saw more use of the internet for social purposes than I had ever seen before. These two activities, of which I have participated but have limited social knowledge, once considered innovative and novel, are now commonplace and an integral part of a very important demographic’s daily life. The teens of today, once tapped, can become longtime loyal consumers but even in the short term, teens spend nearly $190 million a year on trends.

Up until starting this class eight weeks ago, my knowledge was even more limited. I had a MySpace page that I infrequently update (my “Julie is…” section is still dated from June), I haven’t changed my wallpaper in months (“totally uncool” as my sisters say), and texting, up until we bought our new phones just a couple of weeks ago, was something my husband severely frowned upon (“20 cents a text!” he exclaims). So how did it affect my life? It drove me crazy. My sisters were so obsessed with their phones, they didn’t put them down to even change their clothes. I literally watched one of my sisters take a shirt off, put another one on, brush her hair and put mascara on, all while texting and taking intermittent phone calls. And just to make sure their hot little fingers aren’t getting tired, if they weren’t texting, they were typing away on their MySpace pages. I don’t know what they were typing or how they could possibly have anything to say that hadn’t been said on the phone but they did, at all hours, even when I should be doing my homework. The only thing I can think is that someone, somewhere could be making a fortune off of the expansive amount of time my sisters spend using interactive media. $190 million??? No wonder advertisers are looking for innovative ways to get on the phones and on the web. That’s where the teenagers are.

 

“…we make a mean team, my Adidas and me…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 10:08 am

A study provided by CI Advertising says “the Internet WWW has been termed a “new” medium. “New” implies novelty. This “new” medium has become part of the everyday life for most people. The Internet environment itself has changed.” That change must be reflected in the way companies market their products and Adidas is a perfect example of this trend. In fact, Adidas is more affected by the rapidity of change in internet usage because of their targeted demographic. Adidas’ target demographic is 12-24 years of age, a technologically savvy group that takes their advertising to go. In order to keep up with this group and remain relevant in their daily lives, Adidas must view interactive media as the hub into which every spoke runs. In other words, every vehicle of advertising should ultimately refer back to Adidas’ website and virtual store, mobile phone services, and the like.

 

I believe interactive media is continuing to take center stage as consumers rely more heavily on what technology has to offer, such as mobile phones and the web. However, interactive media is still a support medium, offering more details and less hassle to products of interest or products consumed. But consumers must still make that first connection, which rarely comes in the form of a pop-up or banner ad. Otherwise, consumers may be exposed to an offering by accident, while searching on the web for something else or something similar, but marketing by luck is rarely successful.  The internet allows consumers an environment in which to research, buy, and become a part of their product but the original connection will most likely be made through a sponsorship, promotion, or advertisement through a more traditional medium. However, this connection fails if traditional marketing vehicles lead consumers only to the store to buy shoes. Consumers must feel they are getting more than the shoes, they want a trend, a cultural phenomenon, and perhaps most importantly, a relationship with the product, and by extension the company. This relationship is obviously mutually beneficial, because Adidas gets as much out of the interaction provided by the internet and other interactive media, if properly created, as the consumer.

 

Though I think Adidas’ target audience is unreliable in providing feedback in the form of surveys or questionnaires, they will sign up for newsletters, free stuff and mobile alerts if they like the product. Users/viewers can be tracked through hits and more substantially tracked for qualitative data through sign-ups for “insider” information. Psychographically, using this vehicle is helping consumers feel as though they are a part of the Adidas experience and Adidas is a part of them. I don’t believe Adidas should expect a substantial monetary return on mobile alerts and ringtones, those items should be treated as marketing tools and are just vehicles for the sale of Adidas offerings.

 

One of Adidas’ main objectives is to increase their market share in the U.S., a goal that makes the internet an integral component. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 87% of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 years of age in 2005 used the internet and of that group, 84% used it to research popular culture. That is half Adidas’ target market using the internet on a regular basis, looking for what Adidas has to offer. [Access the study at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/07/29/44report_web2.h24.html.]

 

Your Plumcard has arrived

Filed under: Uncategorized — ljloz78 @ 9:27 am

I have been thinking a lot about how marketing, specifically integrated marketing, is being used among big companies and discovered that many companies are making the push. But apparently American Express is a marketing genius. If you type in “plum card” into your search engine, you do not find stories touting the wonders of the card, just the wonders of the marketing strategy. Of course, when your target market is businesses who already understand marketing strategies and the best ways to earn your customer, I guess you have to be a little smarter, a little faster, and perhaps, a little purpler. Here is the breakdown of what AmEx used.

The Launch to the Right Crowd… The American Express Open Plum Card launched at the Inc 500 Event in Chicago on September 7, 2007. This event, sponsored and named for Inc Magazine, recognizes the top privately owned companies in the United States. Attendees of the event were each given iPods with a leather case and invited to be the first to apply for the card. Scarcity Marketing… There was a limited first release of 10,000 members, something blogger Jim Bruene calls “scarcity marketing,” putting a number on how many, to get more than enough consumers interested. [You can access the full post at http://www.netbanker.com/2007/11/american_express_plum_card_uses_unique_marketing.html.%5D Bruene noted that the Plum Card website had a countdown clock and a waiting list, which he couldn’t get on fast enough. And so it seems that even savvy businesspeople can be dazzled by marketing.

Spotlighting the Consumer… American Express OPEN also ran several television ads, which most of you have probably seen. The campaign features small businesses and congratulates them on receiving the new card. The television ad I remember was for a company called Pinkberry, someone I had never heard of. The frozen yogurt company is mostly in the western part of the country but that did not stop me from wanting their product. The campaign was simple and astoundingly brilliant. Feature companies in your ads to encourage other companies to apply for your card, and hint at the idea that if they are card members, perhaps they will end up in your advertisements as well. I guess nothing gets a business like free advertising and a pretty new card too. Andrew Jacob, founder of the Jacob Group, says he believes these commercials are currently the best on television. “What better way to get small businesses to apply for the Plum Card than to get them fantasying about being selected by AMEX to be on their commercial? While it would be a long shot, Small business owners “believe” in what they are doing, “believe” they re unstoppable, and “believe their Small business is so great that they may actually have a shot at making it in the AMEX commercial!”

Following the Trend….Though a credit card doesn’t always bring to mind trendsetting fashion, AmEx did hit on a very real trend in American marketing. The color (technically, burgundy) is a fashionable color and represents elegance and sophistication. Tom Julian, president of the Tom Julian Group, says the color “appeals to the emotional side of one’s passions and interests, the individual desire for zest and to be distinct.” Additionally, fruit is all the rage right now, [think Apple and Blackberry].

Making it Accessible…American Express purchased the lead finder (I have no idea what the technical term is called) on Google so that when people went to find it, it was at the top of the page. Another smart move, the company added a tagline to the top spot, “Whose getting a Plum Card? Initial release of 10,000 cards.” American Express also set up a Facebook page so card members could tell everyone how much they loved their new card. Advertising in the Right Place… American Express also ran a series of ads in the Wall Street journal a few weeks after the premiere launch announcing the card. At that point, American Express put out the application invitation to anyone falling within the guidelines: businesses that have revenue between six and seven figures, purchase materials/supplies and inventory in addition to other business items. [You can view the product at www.plumcard.com.]

The American Express campaign’s target audience is certainly one of the most difficult to market, because they know all the strategies and have probably employed most of them. Credit card companies are ruthless in getting people to apply for their cards and anyone who has been to college or a festival or a large tourist attraction knows what I mean. Obviously the campaign was a success, garnering 10,000 card members in less than nine months. However, I will say that American Express has their work cut out for them in differentiating between their charter members and general membership population. With such a heavy push for being one of the first, it is important for AmEx to treat the original 10,000 members as a higher, more loyal class of customers.