Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leverage an Experience to Inspire

I was recently reading a music blog and a Starbucks banner ad caught my attention. It had a volume indicator moving up and down and it was asking me to create my own DJ sampling music mix.  I clicked on the ad and ended up spending several minutes creating my own mix – all the while Starbucks giving me little clues to their new Frappuccino mix flavors. At the end, I shared the mix with my Facebook friends and then was given a coupon to try the new Frappuccino mixes. This fun experience got me thinking about how Starbucks use to advertise and how it has changed.
Starbucks old vs. new banner ad
I found an example of their old banner ads and compared that to this new approach.  What a difference! You can tell Starbucks has embraced the idea of inspiring people to engage with their brand versus the outdated method of only relying on push messaging.
Tim Williams from the Ignition Consulting Group has a great webinar on developing creative briefs that can produce these kinds of experiences.  Essentially he says to approach your brief this way:
  • Assume you can’t use advertising. What would you do?
    • What help or value can you offer your audience? This is what my colleague Andy Laing refers to as “the value exchange”.
  • Once you have the idea:
    • Why might consumers talk about this idea?
    • How do they get involved?
    • What keeps the conversation going?

Let’s Change the Discussion to Transparency

Cheerios was recently highlighted in the press for a social media campaign that went seemingly haywire. Cheerios asked fans to upload photos about what Cheerios means to them.  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) labeling protestors overtook the campaign and used it to protest General Mills participation with the defeat of Prop 37, a California law that would require food companies and retailers to label products made with GMOs.
But is this really a case of a social media campaign gone bad? The real story isn’t about the social media campaign but rather about brand transparency. Consumers want to know more about the products they buy and have never had more power to get at the truth. We live in an age of increasing transparency and consumer empowerment.  I am afraid that too many of us are not recognizing this paradigm shift and simply write episodes like this off as a marketing mistake. My hope is that leadership teams (not just Marketing) across the world are now discussing how to be more transparent, how to empower their consumers and not looking for ways to quell social media.
It’s time we all recognize it’s better to be transparent, even if that means showing your blemishes, than to maintain a shroud of secrecy of perceived perfection. Today’s consumer will respect you for that even if they disagree with you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Not sure why I need a blog. Just thought I would set one up and see if I feel inspired to communicate.