With All the Publicity Queensland is Getting, Do They Even Need a Marketing Guru?

A fun story that has been in the public eye lately is the opportunity to apply for "The Best Job in the World." The position requires that you move to Australia and accept a salary of $100,000 to live at the beach in a large home while you create social media content (blogs, videos, etc) about the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. The entire program/promotion (because, truly, this is just a clever marketing act) is sponsored by the tourism bureau of Queensland.

Almost 35,000 people have applied for the position by submitting online videos. The public can now vote on the video applications, so its safe to say that the 35,000 vying for the job are promoting the initiative to all of their contacts to encourage voting and better their chances. So between the buzz created by applicants and all the media coverage - it stands to reason that Australia no longer has a need for an "Island Caretaker" at all. The entire effort is really a contest disguised as a job opening (with a few, minimal strings attached). Personally, I applaud their PR team for a job well done!


Exploring the Marketing Potential of Microsoft Tag

Ok, first things first, I did not closely follow CES '09 and my reader was so bogged down with posts on all the amazing technology that I admittedly didn't have the time to read most of them. If I had, perhaps I would have discovered Microsoft Tag last month, but instead I read about it today and it blew my mind (just a little!).

Microsoft Tag is technology that lets individuals (or businesses) create a personalized "colorblock" that can be stuck virtually anywhere and acts as a gateway to a wealth of digital information. Wait, what, huh? Yeah, it took me a minute too. Here's the scenario:

  • I request a "tag" from Microsoft. This tag is individual to me. I am a beautiful and unique snowflake.
  • I print or paste this tag wherever I please, be it on my business card, my t-shirt or my twitter profile.
  • Someone who wants to know more about me snaps a picture of my tag with their compatible camera phone and they are instantly connected to a page of relevant information.
  • Just like I can have my own tag, I can also snap pictures of others to learn more about someone or something.
This post on B2B Marketing Confidential examines just a few of the potential marketing tie-ins for these tags, including using them on retail displays and putting codes on hardware components for a direct link to relevant tech support. I think this technology has the potential to be really cool, if it takes off.

Tying in to the retail display idea - what if you could snap a picture of a tag on a product you're interested in and instantly be connected to consumer reviews of the product? I know you can find these using a smartphone anyway, but as technology progresses, it seems to be all about making things easier and faster.


"The Lipstick Effect" and the Recession

In a recent interview, Nancy Upton, assistant marketing professor at Northeastern University College of Business Administration and an expert on hedonistic spending, provided a rundown on "The Lipstick Effect" and how what it means for low-cost retailers in a recession.

Basically, during the Great Depression, there was a surge in cosmetics sales because it is a low-cost way for women to feel good about themselves. Now, of course today there are a bevy of high-priced cosmetics on the market - I should know, I spent a ridiculous amount on my favorite mascara yesterday - but apparently that high end option plays an important role in influencing spending. Making the choice to seek out a savvy, low-cost option for splurge purchases gives a warm, sunny feeling of instant gratification while also making women feel clever for scoring a great deal.

Small items like cosmetics or McDonald's burgers are low-anxiety purchases that are easy for consumers to handle even in tough times. Upton predicts that this new frugality will last -
"People are learning new skill sets, and those will stick. Now that they're learning how to do extreme comparison-shopping, people won't go back to careless spending," she says.

Looks like "The Lipstick Effect" is here to stay.


MetroPCS Launches Fantastical New Campaign, Challenges the Big Boys

This story is admittedly of particular interest to me because in my past position in event marketing, my agency, GRIP Promotions, managed sponsorships for MetroPCS in Atlanta, Miami and Northern California. It has been interesting to watch the brand grow in to a national name with increasingly impressive coverage that has managed to stick to their guns regarding pricing and service models.

On to the campaign...

MetroPCS is poised to launch a shiny, pretty new ad campaign featuring unicorns, mermaids and other fantasy creatures. According to Marketing Daily, we can expect to see humorous spots like the following:

A mermaid and a unicorn are sharing a Jacuzzi. "So, I'm thinking of switching to the new MetroPCS service," says the fish girl. "What, the talk-all-you-want-for-$40 thing?" asks the incredulous unicorn. "You believe in that?" "Yeah," says the mermaid. "Why not?" "Ah, sounds a little far-fetched to me," replies the unicorn. Tag: "Unlimit yourself."

The new campaign - shot by Frank Todaro, who was at the helm for the popular, pre-historic FedEx Super Bowl commercials - coincides with the MetroPCS service launch in Boston and New York. The no contracts service provider now boasts almost national coverage and I think this campaign reflects their new status as a major player in the industry who is no longer going to sit back and be called second best.

I'm interested to see what's to come for this cell provider with recession-perfect pricing.


Social Media Takes on Late Night Hunger

I read an interesting article in the LA Times about a taco truck (wish these were popular in Atlanta!) that has developed a frenzied Twitter following. The article is rather long and a bit cumbersome, but the gist is this: 

Kogi is a unique taco truck that serves up korean-inspired $2 tacos, making it stand out among other street vendors that thrive in the LA area. Here's the catch - being that the business is run out of a truck, you'd be hard pressed to track it down on your own. That's where Twitter comes in. The Kogi crew has developed quite a following - over 3,500 at the time of this post - of hungry folks who get realtime updates on the truck's next location. A general schedule is posted on their website, but with Twitter, they can alert everyone if there's a sudden change in plans, or even if they are running late (with lines of up to 800 taco-lovers, it can take a while to feed everyone, and LA traffic is a nightmare!). 

Point being, in just a few months this team of family and friends have turned an idea in to a booming business, all by using cheap and free social media techniques. They've gained a hearty fan base and created a community phenomenon that feels truly authentic - a rare commodity these days. I think their success is an inspiring look at the new world of marketing. 


Celebrity Endorsements Gone Wrong

In the past week or so, we've seen a few celebrity endorsement deals go south - most prominently, Michael Phelps for Kellogg and Chris Brown for Wrigley's.

It was also rumored that Subway was considering dropping Phelps as a spokesperson after the Olympic gold medalist was photographed smoking marijuana at a college party. Now, even the conservative among us know that smoking marijuana is popularly linked to binge eating, so the fact that food brands were dropping endorsement deals exposed the companies to some amount of ridicule, including a Saturday Night Live skit surrounding Kellogg. Bloggers, forums and news writers have have been abuzz with clever quips about Subway sandwiches being the perfect food for college smokers nationwide.

The Chris Brown case unfortunately takes on a more serious note, as he was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, the famous Rihanna. Brown has been suspended "until the matter is resolved" from his major endorsement deal with Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. The partnership was a new frontier in advertising - Wrigley's actually financed and produced Brown's song specifically for their campaign - a modern day, tricked out jingle, if you will. Brown also endorses a number of other projects - at this time it is not clear if these are also in jeopardy. He has been forced to pull out of his scheduled NBA All-Star Game appearance this weekend in Phoenix, surely meaning more lost revenue for the singer so that the NBA can save face.

The bigger question here is not what will happen to these individuals, but what will happen to celebrity endorsements as a whole. Marketers post big bucks to associate their brand with a celebrity - and this week has been a clear example of how these efforts can backfire, exposing a brand to ridicule or unpleasant associations and leaving an unpleasant taste (how appropriate, in this case) in consumers collective mouths.

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