Buzz Marketing, What Made Twilight Sparkle

August 17, 2009 at 10:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

twilightcoverIn this world of fast paced real-time information how are books not only relevant, but still becoming cult phenomenons well before the movie is even in preproduction. We saw this meteoric rise with the Harry Potter series and now with the Twilight Saga.

Everything I saw about Twilight just reeked of teen and tween drivel about adolescent angst and insecurities mixed in with a love story and some vampires. Fast-forward to a few nights ago when I was having dinner with some friends, and the conversation shifted to who was on which book. Four out of the six adults, all in their 20s and 30s, were past the first book, excited about the next book, and talking about the saga with affinity.

How is it that book written for the teen and tween market jumped demographics into the realm of professional adults? Buzz Marketing. According to Advertising Age: One strategy that Summit Entertainment produced was to promote the books to moms. “We started trying to expand the mom base by offering it up as a portal to talk to their daughters,” said Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of Summit’s worldwide marketing. They even launched a blog called TwilightMoms. Many of these parents read the books, then got hooked themselves. They inevitably told other adults, who told other adults, etc expanding the demographic further. To help enlarge the fan base and talking points about the movie a nationwide mall tour was launched, and when the DVD was released it was done on a Friday instead of a Tuesday to avoid the school week, resulting in 3 million units sold on the first day.

To continue this buzz marketing strategy some DVD versions of the movie come with a free digital download from iTunes. In buzz marketing, seeding campaigns, where free or reduced price products are given away, can help boost cross pollination into other demographics. This is genius in the case of digital downloads for movies. Why? Consider this situation: Someone is going on a flight and taking their laptop with them. Instead of lugging DVDs around, they choose to use iTunes movies. Another flier is in close enough proximity to see parts of the movie that they otherwise never would have come into contact with, thus sparking their interest in watching the movie. After watching the movie he or she chooses to read the books and/or go see subsequent films, resulting in higher revenue.

While we’re talking about movies, here’s another fun tidbit: On August 28, 2008 Stephenie Meyer posted to her blog that “my partial draft of Midnight Sun was illegally posted on the Internet and has since been virally distributed without my knowledge or permission or the knowledge or permission of my publisher.” On November 21, 2008 the Twilight movie was released to theater going audiences. Talk about a happy accident! What better (free) promotion for a movie than scandal, not bad scandal – viral scandal. The kind of scandal that spreads faster than fingers can type on QWERTY keyboards, and news channels can broadcast the scoop.

In the wake of the Twilight Saga’s success there have been a multitude of branding opportunities including a make-up line, video games, conventions, comic books, and even an SAT prep book that uses vocabulary from Twilight. Will my eyes ever gaze upon the serifs of Twilight’s pages? Probably not, but I do know that it has entered an empirical piece of pop culture that few books ever have.

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Monster Jam Summer Heat “…Be There!”

August 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm (Florida, networking, photography, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Monster-Jam

What weighs 5-tons, has four 5’6” tires, an ethanol fueled 1500 horsepower engine, and has wrestling aggression and showmanship? MONSTER JAM! Monster Jam Summer Heat rolled into the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, and Shoot Miami was there for the ride.

The day started off with the camera club meeting in front of the arena. I guess the ticket takers were a little intimidated by the size of the lenses carried by some of our members, because at first they were reluctant to let us in. After a little finagling by the group’s organizer we were allowed access – sans tripods.

The pit party was fun. This is where spectators are admitted onto the show floor prior to the event to see these behemoth machines up close and personal. Fans get the chance to meet their favorite drivers and take pictures with them in front of the trucks. Driver George Balhan even set up a black leather couch in front of his truck, An Escalade, for fans to meet him. For our crew it allotted the chance to document every conceivable angle of an MTRA monster truck – I’ll admit to climbing under El Toro Loco for some shooting.

Post party, the arena floor was cleared and set up for the show allowing some down time for lunch and people watching. At 2 p.m. the main event started with national anthem and a salute to our armed forces. The first competition was the sky wheelie contest, which was won by Gunslinger (middle left photo at the top of this article); then An Escalade defeated Madusa in the race category. In the donut competition George Balhan put on a good show, holding his steering wheel outside of the spinning truck during competition, but Grave Digger pulled away with the win. Grave Digger piloted by Randy Brown proved triumphant again in the Freestyle round.

Between monster truck competitions there was a highflying motocross show with riders performing mid-air stunts like the Superman, Cordova, and Christ (center photo). To help anticipate the arrival of the stunt bikes, the arena was introduced to two robotic vehicles, Gallactron and Reptar, “from outer space.” The skit was corny, but there were pyrotechnics involved and the kids seemed to like it – and the show really is for the kids, right?

It was a fun day. There were a lot of photos taken, and we got a great show. The only thing missing was a truck flipping over or loosing pieces, and the old radio and TV ads saying “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! ….Be There!”

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Twitter Ho – Sponsored Tweets vs. Self-Branding in Social Media

August 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

twitter_pimp_illustrationA recent tweet from @pbarbanes put forth the question “Have you heard of “sponsored tweets”? If so, any thoughts or feelings?” This simple question opened into a discussion among the South Florida tweeting community about how sponsorship affects social media.

Social media generates societal systems as overlapping and diverse as any other form of community. Social interaction is built on a few things, I believe trust and interesting dialogue rank among two of the highest. We follow, friend, connect, and link to who can provide us attention-grabbing worthwhile content from sources that we can trust, much like we engage in face-to-face conversation with people that interest and entertain us.

What happens when a relationship is based on a monetary transaction? To paraphrase a line from American Pimp, “pimp’n & ho’n is the world’s oldest profession.” So why not have prostitution in social networking, it’s part of every culture? Instead of waxing poetic about how sponsored tweets are like prostitutes, just read The Branding Professor’s posts about it…I pretty much feel the same way. In response to the subject of selling your avatar and username to the highest bidder @ctiedje had this to say, “Money corrupts. Influences opinions. As soon as paid ads take over a social media space – it begins to die. (i.e. MySpace)” I’ll even admit to trying to put ads on Facebook to sell my t-shirt designs. Turns out I would have had better ROI by putting $100 worth of singles into a cash cube and grabbing for them as they blew by.

The sponsored tweets discussion presents an interesting dichotomy between social media used exclusively for capital gain and social media as a corporate branding tool. Many of the people I follow and connect with, myself included, use social media for self-branding. However, intermixed with our self-branding message we try to add to the user experience with interesting links that may, or may not, directly relate to our brand. People follow us because they find us interesting, and enjoy our conversation, company, and content. Just as in real life, if followers don’t enjoy your online persona they will stop following you. For me nothing expedites this process faster than someone who only pimps their product, or someone else’s, while not adding credible information to the conversation – e.g. I recently unfollowed someone who would tweet twice a day “read our blog and follow us on twitter.” Now why would you put “follow us on twitter” on twitter? I already am following you on twitter, or at least was interested enough to look at your page – until I saw that you are adding nothing to the communal melting pot of quality information except for bot-like commands that order me to look at a blog you have supplied me no information about.

We’ll have to see how people react as sponsored tweets and advertising status updates gain a stronger foothold on our beloved social media sites. Will people stop following users due to them abusing our valuable time with more advertisements, or will they let them fade into the shuffle like billboards on the highway?

Just remember, my dear subsidized tweeters:

you don’t have to put on the red light
those days are over
you don’t have to sell you tweets to the night

you don’t have to sponsor that brand tonight
text the tweets for money
you don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

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Social Butterflies – Free Sundays at Fairchild Gardens

August 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm (Florida, free, Miami, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Fairchild

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida is “one of the world’s preeminent botanic gardens, with extensive collections of rare tropical plants…” The 83-acre garden has been accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1981, and now you get to experience it for free. Yes, FREE admission on Sundays for the month of August!

Almost 70 photographers from Shoot Miami descended on the historic gardens this morning. It was my first time visiting the gardens, and the mix of horticulture was quite striking – exhibits range from rainforest to arid, there is a sunken garden, butterfly garden, and even works by Chihuly are spread throughout many areas of the site.

After a few hours of wandering on our own, or in small groups, everyone met back at the Garden Café for some much needed rehydration and shade while we discussed our findings and different camera techniques. Overall it was a great day – hot, but fun.

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Obon – Get Lit

August 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm (Florida, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Obon

Instead of the Miami Design District’s Art & Design Night we decided to do something a little different this month – Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden’s Bon Festival. The annual event sponsored by the Sun Sentinel is Morikami’s annual event “Inspired by Obon, Japan’s traditional three-day holiday honoring ancestors and thanking them for the quality of life enjoyed by the living.”

The four-hour event included food, free parking, and Ennichi (games for the kids). The highlights of evening were the dancers performing the Bon Odori (Bon Dance) and Taiko Drum Performances by Fushu Daiko. The evening culminated in the Toro Nagashi, or floating of the lanterns, which began “at sunset when Morikami Pond [was] transformed into a tranquil sea of lighted lanterns which, in accordance with Japanese custom, guide the departure of ancestors’ souls who have come for a brief visit among the living.” A fireworks show polished off the evening.

The event was fun, and packed – as if all of South Florida had come to join the festival. It begs the question “has the current economy fueled a resurgence in public interest in inexpensive art and cultural events?”

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GEICO – Geckos, Caveman, and Kash, Oh My!

August 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, economy, Florida, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

GeicoI doubt that when Leo Goodwin founded Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO, in 1936 the thought crossed his mind that the company would produce such a hailstorm of odd characters as to make the Brothers Grimm jealous. No doubt it’s great to have an effective and well developed ad campaign for your company. Advertisements have life spans and like anything else once they have surpassed their usefulness it’s time to let them go. With this in mind, I ask myself “why is it possible that during a one our television show I can see three completely different and distinct advertisements for one company?” Why is GEICO going through such a spastic identity crisis?

To begin the journey through GEICO’s multiple personalities we have to go back to the last millennium to the Screen Actor’s Guild strikes of 1999. The Martin Agency came up with the idea of using an anthropomorphic Gecko in attempts to work around the strike. Originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer, the GEICO Gecko now has an English accent. After 10 years we’re getting a little tired of him, but Day Geckos can live for up to 15 year so I guess they’ll keep animating him at for least 5 more.

Since 2004 GEICO has been running the Caveman commercials. These commercials originally aired with the tagline “so easy, a caveman could do it.” The caveman ads proved to be so successful that ABC decided to make a sitcom based on the idea – it was the shortest-lived ABC sitcom of 2007, quietly sinking away into obscurity. Over the years the company has dedicated several websites in the caveman’s honor, all of them have been shut down. Even in their death throws the caveman GEICO commercials live on. The ad has been around so long that the tagline doesn’t even need to be present anymore – in the most recent ad we witness the caveman just running down a street to the song “Let me be myself” by 3 Doors Down. What does it mean? I still don’t know.

For a little while GEICO aired commercials featuring “real GEICO customers” telling their stories while celebrities embellished and narrated the tale. These featured celebrities like Charo, Little Richard, and Don LaFontaine to name a few. I actually liked these; they came, made their mark, and then left with dignity.

In 2008 we were subjected to a stack of money with eyes named Kash. The “googly-eyed” character reminds me of the old Florida Orange Juice commercial with a talking sandwich, just not nearly as cool (if that was even cool). The character for me is creepy and, frankly annoying. I get it, it’s a stack of money, his name is Kash, he follows people around to remind them they can save money – I just can’t get behind a creepy sales persona who stalks people.

So in 10 years we have had nearly 20 years worth of advertising space dedicated to GEICO – I think I saw that in The Butterfly Effect. It’s time that GEICO saw a therapist and worked through it’s multiple personality disorders. Let the Gecko live out his golden years in retirement, the cavemen should be allowed to party all night hassle free, and, please, put a restraining order out on Kash!

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