Marketers continue to search for ways to let consumers experience their brands communally. There’s a huge difference between seeing a brand and living a brand.
How about a little “movie-oke” to draw in an audience? Coke Zero and L’Oréal just announced that they are sponsoring the Yoostar Casting Agency Tour, a nine-city event at colleges and malls. http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/direct/e3i470b0d4b36272857bda9d071fb01ff8a
The $169.95 Yoostar entertainment system includes a Webcam, green screen, microphones — and classic film clips minus key actors. Participants insert themselves into scenes from The Godfather, Rocky or National Lampoon’s Animal House. They can download additional scenes for a small fee, and then share their acting debuts on social networking sites. This could be painful!
Another tactic is to create spectacles, where the message is itself a form of entertainment. In the early days of radio and television, ads literally were performances—show hosts integrated marketing messages into the episodes. Today live advertising is making a comeback as marketers try harder and harder to captivate jaded consumers:
- Jimmy Kimmel did a skit on his night-show program about Quiznos Subs. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/technology/21iht-adco.1.13078754.html
- In the summer of 2009 Axe body products sponsored a posh Hamptons (New York) nightclub for the whole season where it became The Axe Lounge with branding on the DJ booth and menu and Axe products in the restrooms.
- A British show broadcast a group of skydivers who performed a dangerous jump to create a human formation in the air that spelled out the letters H, O, N, D and A.
- Honda built a musical road in Lancaster, PA; grooves in the cement create a series of pitches that play the William Tell Overture when a car drives over them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivX0jvR69no
- A public health campaign to promote awareness of colorectal cancer erected a 20-foot long inflatable colon in the middle of Times Square.
- A New York campaign for Jameson Irish Whiskey projects an ad onto a wall—an operator scans the street for pedestrians that fit the brand’s profile and inserts live text messages directed at them into the display.
- To promote the 25th anniversary of the Michael Jackson album Thriller, which featured zombies dancing in a music video, Sony BMG staged such a performance on the London Underground. A group of “passengers” suddenly burst into a zombie-like dance before they disappeared into the crowd—and this videotaped scene was posted online. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6EDAZ3crdY The video inspired similar performances in other countries, and within a week more than a million people had downloaded these films. In a similar stunt for T-Mobile, several hundred commuters at the Liverpool rail station broke into a dance—more than 15 million people watched the performance on YouTube in the following weeks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM
- In Hollywood 500 guests showed up for what they thought was the debut of a new TV series called Scarlet. The event was in reality part of a new campaign for LG Electronics’ new line of Scarlet TVs.
It pays to turn your audience into part of the show.
Adapted from Michael R. Solomon, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being 9th ed, Prentice Hall, to be published January 2010.