The Apple Brand is Sticky

apple_logoFollowing on to Friday’s post about my frustration with getting my daughter’s iPod up and running, I have to dish some mad props to the Apple marketing people.

Apple’s prowess at design is not anything new.  The iPod came in a beautiful little jewel case with a Set-up Guide that Garr Reynolds would be proud of: about 6 cms square, 16 pages, 2 – 8 words per page, simple graphics, and lots of white space.  The iPod itself is also lovely, as is its docking station.

But it was the other thing that came in the package that is marketing brilliance.  It was a small sheet with two cute-as-buttons Apple logo stickers.  As we all know, most Apple consumers are raving fans of the company and its products – who better to arm with instantly-deployable advertising content?

And it’s more than just advertising – when an iPod owner puts that sticker on their schoolbook or cubicle or bike or dorm room door, they’re identifying themselves as a proud member of a special tribe.  Of course, there are many other ways of doing this – someone can have a Ferrari key fob (even if they drive a Yugo, they are saying, “I belong to the group of people that admire fast cars”), or a Lost  t-shirt (which says to the world, I enjoy having my mind messed with every week).

You should do the same thing for your bar patrons.  Make available some kind of identification piece that lets them show other people that they come to (or even “belong to”) your establishment.  The type of item would vary depending on the type of joint you run, and the type of clientele.  Young people might like ball caps or t-shirts or bumper stickers; older folks might like nice pens or key chains or business card cases.  You can look at the types of tchotchkes given our at trade shows for more ideas – I’m not going to do ALL the work.

Word coined: Advertainment

In yesterday’s post, I linked to an entertaining video that I thought you might enjoy.  I don’t feel bad about that, even though I was essentially telling you to watch an advertisement for Seagate, the maker of hard drives and other storage devices.

Granted, the blatantly promotional content is at the very end, and only lasts for a few seconds, and could even be interpreted as a thank you from Seagate employees who are grateful to their employer for letting them have fun on company time.

But it IS an ad, developed by the creative agency Sniper Twins.  If you check their site, you’ll see that they are already producing their next geek-rap video, and are looking for a cell-phone company to sponsor them.

I think this is smart.  First of all, by doing the creative before they have a client, they have pure control over the content, which probably makes for a better (and therefore more viral) product.  And I also think it’s smart for the sponsors – 99.9% of people who watch the Seagate video don’t give a rat’s patooty about hard drives, but the 0.1% that do just might buy something from them.  It’s the same model as TV ads: you watch something entertaining for a while, then they insert a pitch.  The trouble with TV is that: the ads are intrusive in that they interrupt your entertainment; the pitch:entertainment ratio is 4:15; and buying airtime is frickin’ expensive. In the Seagate video, the pitch is at the end; the pitch:entertainment ratio is about 1:50; and the broadcast cost is ZERO (unless they paid a site like this to get the ball rolling).

I was so proud of myself for coming up with a new word for this phenomenon: “advertainment.”  But of course, it’s already out there – 133,000 Google hits, and even a blog by that name.

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Watch This Video

It’s hilarious, especially if you know (even a little) about computers.

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What a Phone!

pomOver at Rich Gould’s blog, I found this really cool link to a site that describes the amazing about-to-be-released smart phone.  It’s called the Pomegranate and it will blow you away.  Go look at it now, then come back and read the rest of this post.

Really, go look now.

 

So you now realize that it’s all a joke, and a promotion for the province of Nova Scotia.  But it’s getting huge attention among Webish types, and is a fantastic example of someone trying  to create a viral phenomenon (as opposed to accidentally creating one).

If I didn’t already know about Nove Scotia, and I clicked on the link from my trusted friend Rich, I would think Nova Scotia must be a pretty cool place to make such a funny, high-quality, subversive marketing ploy.  I have a couple of issues with the site’s navigation, and it would take for frickin’ EVER to load on anything but broadband, but overall I say bravo.

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Way Clever Music Video

This is a hilarious music video for a song called Toe Jam  by the band British Port Authority  that includes Fatboy Slim and David Byrne.  The song itself is catchy and clever, but the video is awesome.  There are about a dozen attractive people in a 70s setting, who remove all their clothes and dance around.  Their naughty bits are covered by those black rectangular censor strips.  Wait for about a minute into the piece to see the neat stuff they do with those black bars…

BTW, this does have something to do with marketing – this video will go hugely viral and bring attention to a song that would never get radio airplay.

Why Viruses Spread Faster Now

We all know that viral marketing is the new term for what has been known as “word of mouth” for years. It is the idea that you can make or do something so remarkable that people will voluntarily pass it on to their friends. So it spreads organically, friend to friend, like influenza or any other virus. And since people trust their friends’ opinion more than a TV ad or spam email, it is among the most effective ways to market. It’s also one of the least expensive, since the spreading of your message is being done by other people instead of you purchasing airtime or email lists.

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The thing is, it’s been around for years, but the velocity has increased remarkably. The reason? It’s easier to spread the virus now.

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Remember chain letters? You would receive a letter in the mail from someone you may or may not know. The missive would urge you to make copies of it, and forward it one to some number of other people. They were a kind of virus. Sometimes they were benign, sometimes criminal. They might promise good luck will follow if you send it on to at least 10 recipients, for example; or it might be part of a pyramid scheme where you send $5 back to the letter’s sender with the expectation that all the people you send it to will send money back to you.

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In the years BX (before Xerox), this was a somewhat onerous thing to ask of someone. Re-writing even a short letter 10 times could take half a day by the time you address and stamp the envelopes. But with the dawn of photocopiers, that time was reduced to half an hour. Fax machines further lightened the load in the mid 80s. And the coming of email brought the time in which you could forward something to many people down to a few seconds. So funny or provocative or thoughtful or spiritual messages could spread very quickly.

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[Aside: The idea to write this post came from an email conversation I’m having with my friend Bill. He was a Webmaster (in the days before email could actually infect your computer with a virus), and he had to constantly explain to people that simply opening an email could not possibly harm their PC. There was an email going around in 1994-6 titled “Good Times” that told people that if they received a message with that subject line, they must delete it immediately without opening it, or their hard drive would be wiped out. It also specifically urged the reader to forward this warning message to anyone they “cared about.” Well-meaning but technologically impaired people fearfully sent this email around the world many times before it died off. The irony is that, while it warned people of a virus spreading through an impossible mechanism, it itself was a kind of self-replicating virus.]

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And now we’ve come to Web 2.0, where you can instantly share an idea or a message with potentially millions of people almost instantaneously. Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, etc. all contribute to the speed with which interesting content proliferates. So back to my first paragraph, where I said that it’s a cheap and effective way to market, especially these days: why, then, isn’t it used more? Simple: it’s really, really, really hard. Creating material with the necessary cachet to “go viral” is very difficult. But it makes for interesting stuff out there, like this video from the band OK Go, where they dance on treadmills, so I’m glad that people still try.

Why Don’t They Take Credit?

The caption of this print ad is “Well, at least he drives a Prius.”  The obvious joke is that we can forgive even murder if a person is working to save the planet.  This is not an official Toyota ad – it’s a project undertaken by the proprietor of a design firm in order to gain notoriety.  And it’s working – I read about it on the Trendhunter Magazine site.  There are two other treatments of the same concept there: a man soliciting a hooker and a housewife making out with the gardener.

I was originally going to write about this ad being an example of what is happening to interruption marketing – it has to get increasingly funny or sexy or loud or shocking in order to get our attention.  But in the course of researching this example of outrageous ideas being used to sell stuff, I encountered a few roadblocks.

Both the creator of the concept (according to Trendhunter), David Krulik, and the photographer, Luke Stettner, are easy to find with Google.  However, I could find no mention of the Prius ads on either of their sites.  If I were the author of a successful viral campaign designed to bolster my reputation and career, I would let people know they had found the genius behind the campaign as soon as they landed on my site.

Anyway, speaking of outrageous ideas in ads, especially in cultures where they are allowed to be a little more off-the-wall with television ads, check out this spot from Thailand: