WWTT? Barefoot Wine Pivots Summer Campaign to Be ‘Pandemic Appropriate’

Many marketers have had to scramble due to COVID-19 wrecking current and future campaign plans. For Barefoot Wine, which had debuted new Barefoot Hard Seltzers and Barefoot Spritzer cans in January, this meant re-editing a summer ad campaign shot before the pandemic to ensure it was still spot-on.

Many marketers have had to scramble due to COVID-19 wrecking current and future campaign plans. In some cases, this meant cancelling campaigns completely, and for others it meant having to pivot quickly. For Barefoot Wine, which had debuted new Barefoot Hard Seltzers and Barefoot Spritzer cans in January, this meant re-editing a summer ad campaign shot before the pandemic to ensure it was still spot-on.

Featuring Kenan Thompson and Aubrey Plaza, the original #SummerDream ad was shot in a pre-physical distancing world, and was directed by black-ish’s Anthony Anderson. However, Barefoot Wine knew it couldn’t share the campaign as-is for the summer during the current pandemic — but it doesn’t mean that the summer dream had to come to an end.

Anna Bell, VP of Marketing for Barefoot Wine commented:

“We had planned to launch this campaign just as COVID-19 became a pandemic, so we knew we needed to examine the creative to ensure it was appropriate and relevant for current times. We hit the pause button, brainstormed ways to present it in a different, more appropriate manner, and went back to make the edits. In the end, we wanted to ensure the content was uplifting and positive for our audience, and give them something that would make them smile.”

That pivot involved reworking the audio and adjusting the edits. Instead of the ad being about a current Memorial Day party, its new focuse has Kenan sharing a dream he had about a party he would have thrown. Still timely, topical, and gets the products front and center for summer.

Having Kenan also share the ad on Twitter with the reminder about social distancing (but hey, still enjoying a cold, tasty beverage), was also very smart of Barefoot Wine in terms of audience reach.

I can only imagine how hard it has been for marketers to adapt their work during the pandemic, while also remaining as creative as possible. But I have to say, when it works, it works.

Marketers, what do you think of the campaign from Barefoot Wine? How have you had to adjust your current campaigns, as well as plans for the future? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, next week marks the 4-year anniversary of “What Were They Thinking?”!!! I’ll be working on a post about some of my favorite campaigns to date, and feel free to let me know what some of your favorites were … or if I missed covering them!

WWTT? You Can Attend a Virtual Dog Adoption Interview, Thanks to Pedigree

If you’re looking for a furry best friend, stay at home orders don’t have to keep you from finding them, thanks to Pedigree. The brand, best known for its dog food and care products, has a new campaign helping animal shelters provide virtual dog adoption interview possibilities via Zoom.

Have you noticed when you’re on a video chat with just about anyone nowadays, people get excited if your pet(s) decide to participate as well? The stress of the pandemic is taking such a toll on people that seeing an animal is a highlight to their day, especially if they don’t have any pets of their own. But if you’re looking for a furry best friend, stay at home orders don’t have to keep you from finding them, thanks to Pedigree. The brand, best known for its dog food and care products, has a new campaign helping animal shelters provide virtual dog adoption interview possibilities via Zoom.

The campaign, known as “Dogs on Zoom” is featured on the site MeetYourNewDog.com (a landing page on Pedigree’s site). The campaign kicked off on May 13, featuring the Nashville Humane Association (Pedigree has a replay of this Zoom event available to watch on YouTube, so if you need a little extra cuteness I highly recommend watching for a bit.).

Potential adopters can sign into the event via Zoom, ask the presenter questions about the featured dogs, and receive additional information about adopting — all without ever leaving their homes.

As of May 14, there are dog adoption interview Zoom meetings scheduled for May 14, 15, and 18 with different shelters, and the possibility for even more shelters to sign on to the project to help dogs find their forever homes.

"Dogs on Zoom" campaign hosts dog adoption interview events via ZoomAccording to MediaPost, the Nashville Humane Association was selected for the first few events, since it is the hometown shelter for Pedigree. And while the MeetYourNewDog.com site lets potential adopters know that the brand is covering adoption fees, MediaPost also shared that Pedigree is covering the Zoom fees for shelters.

This makes the decision for shelters to apply to participate in these dog adoption interview Zoom events easy, because the barrier to entry is fairly low, and there will still be adoption fees collected (instead of a standard practice of waiving fees in order to entice more adopters). Because these fees go directly into the care of animals and running of the organizations, anytime a shelter can keep them in place is important to the bottom line … also known as the bottom of the kibble bag (excuse the cheesy joke — I used to volunteer at an animal shelter).

Pedigree worked with BBDO NY on the campaign, and I have to say that the “Dogs on Zoom” Shelter Toolkit — available on the site — is an excellent example of educational content creation to provide all parties with the necessary tools for a successful outcome. The toolkit walks shelters through the entire practice of hosting the virtual adoption event, from how to use Zoom to how to best keep the dogs and audience engaged.

Not only is this campaign doing something great for shelters and supporting the pups it’s helping to find homes, but it’s also helping a lot of humans. Not everyone is sheltering in place with families, significant others, or room mates. There are a lot of people living alone during this pandemic, and feeling very isolated.

While being able to get on a Zoom call to enjoy a virtual meet up with friends is nice, having a pet to share space with helps a lot people deal with loneliness and other mental health issues that could be exacerbated during these extremely challenging times.

It’s uplifting to see, week after week, the creative minds behind myriad brands and agencies think of how to help. Not every brand can switch over to making PPE or necessarily do something monumental to support healthcare workers.

But it’s still meaningful when a brand thinks about what other sources of good it can provide. And sure … the more dogs adopted can mean more Pedigree brand dog food sold … but for now, I’m going to take solace in the idea that Pedigree is helping shelter dogs find their forever homes and people find their newest four-legged friends.

But marketers, that’s just what I think … tell me what you think about this campaign in the comments below!

WWTT? Post-Pandemic Vacation Daydreams Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

It’s not a question that COVID-19 has devastated multiple industries, but maybe one of the hardest hit has been travel and hospitality. While it might be hard to answer the question of should these brands be working on advertising right now, there is room for some thoughtful post-pandemic vacation messaging.

It’s not a question that COVID-19 has devastated multiple industries, but maybe one of the hardest hit has been travel and hospitality. From airlines to hotels to destinations big and small, they’ve all felt the pain, and are trying to figure out what they can do to stay in business and keep their employees safe and on staff. While it might be hard to answer the question of should these brands be working on advertising, I think there is room for some thoughtful post-pandemic vacation messaging.

The weather is gradually warming up in Philadelphia — usually by now I have a trip planned for May/June, with more mini-trip planning speckled out through the summer. But thanks to COVID-19, those plans and daydreams have been set aside. And not just for me — for pretty much everyone. So when Puerto Rico’s nonprofit destination marketing organization (DMO) Discover Puerto Rico reached out about a new campaign, I was intrigued (and ready to look at something other than the inside of my apartment).

Discover Puerto Rico’s newest campaign, “All in Good Time” has a simple, yet clear, message: “Right now, it’s time for patience, but soon enough it will be time for paradise — all in good time.”

Discover Puerto Rico’s series of videos are available on YouTube, and the marketing campaign will run across the DMO’s social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

In an interview with CMO Leah Chandler, she explained that the campaign’s sentiment will remain “All in Good Time” until travel restrictions on the island loosen — then it will shift. ” … messaging will shift from ‘All in Good Time’ to ‘It’s Time for Puerto Rico,'” states Chandler. “We’ll carefully evaluate before this shift is made to ensure we market the Island responsibly.”

“‘All in Good Time’ is about reminding travelers that as much as we would love to host them, we know it’s not the right time,” Chandler shares. “Now is the time to stay safe, and soon it’ll be time to come explore our beautiful Island – ‘All in Good Time.’ We wanted to make clear that we’re in this together. The elements highlighted are, similarly, some of which truly define Puerto Rico – the hidden natural wonders of the Island.”

I appreciate that there’s no hard-sell of this campaign. No “get your plans squared away now so you can book as soon as travel restrictions lift!” Instead, the campaign is a gentle reminder of Puerto Rico’s natural beauty and place as a desirable vacation destination. It feels like a permission slip to let your mind wander and daydream a bit about a post-pandemic vacation, something I think we all could use.

But, in the meantime, Discover Puerto Rico is offering several virtual events via Instagram Live and Facebook Live. These are fantastic opportunities for people interested in Puerto Rico to go on virtual tours, and could end up converting them to booking clients once travel is possible.

Again, it’s about offering value, and Discover Puerto Rico is doing a good job of that while being unable to welcome physical visitors to the Island.

What do you think marketers? Having any post-pandemic vacation daydreams of your own? Drop me a line in the comments below, and stay tuned for a Q&A with Discover Puerto Rico’s CMO Leah Chandler in the next week or so as we dig more into this campaign and how the DMO is handling COVID-19.

WWTT? Yeti+ Launches for Earth Day, Offers Unique ‘Streaming’ Content

This past Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite dealing with a pandemic and quarantines, a number of brands put out campaigns to celebrate the environment, including Yeti’s launch of Yeti+.

This past Wednesday, April 22, was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite dealing with a pandemic and quarantines, a number of brands put out campaigns to celebrate the environment, but the Earth Day campaign that caught my eye the most was from Yeti.

The Austin-based brand, known for its outdoor lifestyle products, created Yeti+, along the same vein as Apple+ or Disney+. But unlike those streaming video subscriptions, Yeti+ is free (though available for only a limited time), and has some pretty great content to watch, especially during these super stressful times.

Yeti offers Yeti+ streaming service to celebrate Earth Day
Credit: Yeti

What sort of goodies can you watch? Some fun nature documentaries? Action-packed outdoor events? Nope. You can watch streams be streamed.

The site copy reads:

We’ll be back outside before we know it. Until then, kick back, grab a cold one, and wet your appetite for the wild with one of our streams.

Click on any of the options, the video goes full screen, and you’re treated to the calming serenity of simply watching a stream — literally a body of water (each one runs about 10 minutes). If you’ve ever been to a holiday party where someone puts on a festive Yule Log video, then you get the picture.

But where the holiday Yule Log videos are often more about kitschy ambiance, I think the video offerings of Yeti+ are not only clever, but honestly, good relevant content.

They’re soothing. They’re beautiful. They take us out of our homes and transport us to a place of calm. Maybe to a place we’ve never been before. And though many of us may still be able to go outside and exercise while maintaining our stay at home rules, not everyone lives someplace this beautiful, green, and lush. Or is even physically able to go outside at all, for whatever reason.

Yeti+’s website copy may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but I think their Earth Day campaign offers a much-needed escape from the harshness of this world. And in my opinion, every little bit helps. We talk about how important it is to offer value to our customers and prospects. Well, I think Yeti+ nailed it.

What do you think, marketers? Leave me a comment below!

Brands Need to Keep Engaging – Don’t Just Stop Because of Crisis

We are in extraordinary times – and it’s only prudent to recognize this. While the Fed may be doing everything possible to keep our economy afloat, we likely will remain in limbo until a public health victory is apparent. It’s time to take stock of what we do on behalf of our brands and clients, to immediate effect.

Among thousands of businesses these past two-plus weeks, many of us have effectively handed our marketing decisions over to finance and accounting. Which means, if you’re not producing an immediate revenue gain, you’re probably being cost-reduced to the bone, if not entirely out of work. Such is the illiquidous, flash-frozen effect of COVID-19 on our economy. We’ve lost more U.S. jobs in three weeks than we did during the expanse of the Great Recession.

Cash is in crunch, and though The Fed may be doing everything possible to keep our economy afloat (will it work?) we likely will remain in limbo until a public health victory is apparent. That could be months. It may yet take longer to resume growth – and who knows how business and consumer behavior may have changed by then? We are in extraordinary times – and it’s only prudent to recognize this.

It’s time to take stock of what we do on behalf of our brands and clients, to immediate effect. There is much work to do.

Marketing Must Continue … With Prudence

  • Every pharmacy, drug store, food store, and big-box retailer – and the agencies that support them – should proactively communicate store safety measures, and elevate “conveniences” such as shop-online-and-pick-up-in-store to the preferred method of distribution. This is an opportunity to build consumer and brand trust.
  • For financial marketers, the need to connect with consumers right now regarding savings, budgeting tools, and capital preservation should be a high priority. Make it happen.
  • On television, I’ve seen the messages of optimism from the likes of Walmart, Toyota, and Ford. (Post your inspired ad in the comments section below to share, please.) We need these messages right now. Beyond our own mortality, we will emerge on the other side of this. Brands need to be megaphones for hope and empathy. And certainly not insensitivity.
  • Perhaps TV spending is too steep for many brands’ budgets. In my email inbox, my favorite restaurants offer meals-to-go, my coffee house enables virtual tips for unemployed baristas and healthcare workers, and nonprofit organizations are postponing their live fundraising events with an online ask for the here and now. Needs don’t stop, in fact, the chronic has become acute. For those of us who can afford to help, there’s a collective mood to give. There are reasons to keep relevant communication appropriately flowing to audiences.
  • My previous post addressed data quality. Let me repeat: all those mobile and data visitors to your sites right now must not go unrecognized. Ensure you have a data and tech plan to identify (perhaps in the form of free registration, analyze, and engage accordingly.
  • Respond to the Census. Yes, do it for democracy. But we in the marketing business also know how invaluable Census data is to the economy, and the strategies we map for our brands.

So, yes, we’re all facing a flash freeze. And marketing-as-normal needs to be re-calibrated. So let’s re-calibrate … show our CFOs the likely payback, and let’s get going.

 

 

WWTT? Ad Council and Partners Remind You to #StayHome and Save Lives

It’s another week spent working from home, practicing social distancing, and doing what we can to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. And to help spread the word, the Ad Council has teamed up with a bevy of partners to show people why they need to #StayHome in order to save lives.

It’s another week spent working from home for many of us here in the States, practicing social distancing, and doing what we can to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, as directed by guidelines from the CDC and WHO. During an interview with TODAY’s co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Anthony Fauci weighed in:

“The real data are telling us that it is highly likely that we’re having a definite positive effect by this mitigation, things that we’re doing — this physical separation … But having said that, we better be careful that we don’t say, ‘OK, we’re doing so well we can pull back.’ We still have to put our foot on the accelerator when it comes to the mitigation and the physical separation.”

Dr. Fauci’s message is important, and comes one day after the announcement of a major initiative from the Ad Council. Known for its long history of creating public service communications in times of national crisis, the Ad Council in partnership with Google, ANA, and other leading advertising, media, and marketing associations came together to bring forth the “#StayHome. Save Lives.” movement.

#StayHome builds on the #AloneTogether PSA platform previously created by ViacomCBS, and both efforts support the importance of social distancing during the pandemic.

Google created “roof” iconography that can be added to brands’ logos, and there are myriad creative assets available in broadcast and digital video, social media, radio, print, and out of home (OOH) formats. All assets drive audiences to www.coronavirus.gov, a centralized resource from Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CDC that provides up-to-date information about COVID-19.The creative toolkit is full of #AloneTogether assets, which the #StayHome movement further amplifies. There are multiple asset options per channel, and honestly makes it beyond simple to jump in, spread the word, and do your part. I was really impressed by the variety of assets, as well as the additional social copy, overview documents, and more. Seriously. It’s so easy.

#StayHome #AloneTogether print marketing to combat COVID-19
Courtesy of The Ad Council

Of course, there are also some Dos and Don’ts that marketers need to commit to if they’re going to take part. From the #StayHome overview document:

DO integrate the “#StayHome. Save Lives.” message and iconography across your communication touchpoints, beginning Wednesday April 8.

DO share and support the existing #AloneTogether PSA assets in conjunction with the #StayHome hashtag and message.

DON’T use the #StayHome messaging and materials in conjunction with any commercial marketing messages, or you risk appearing opportunistic.

DON’T just post once on April 8 and stop. We hope you’ll join us in amplifying the #StayHome message that day, then continue to reinforce this important messaging in the weeks ahead.

The following is just a smattering of the 30-plus brands, agencies, and media companies made commitments to begin using the #StayHome creative assets on April 8:

  • Ally Financial
  • AMC Networks
  • Google/YouTube
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • IBM
  • OKCupid
  • Oreo
  • Postmates
  • Reddit
  • Roku
  • Twitter
  • ViacomCBS

The following trade association partners and groups also have encouraged all their members to join the #StayHome movement:

  • American Advertising Federation (AAF)
  • Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM)
  • American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As)
  • Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
  • Digital Content Next
  • International Advertising Association (IAA)
  • Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
  • Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
  • News Media Alliance
  • Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA)
  • PTTOW!
  • Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)
  • Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB)
  • Video Advertising Bureau (VAB)

Commenting upon the effort, ANA CEO Bob Liodice stated:

“There is no more important message that we can deliver but to #StayHome. Save Lives. I urge all ANA members to join this effort and drive home this point to their staffs, to their consumers, to customers and, especially, to Millennials. Everyone needs to do their part to fight the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. We’re holding hands with the Ad Council, Google and all of our sister trade associations to make a difference in our nation’s fight against this pandemic.”

Millennials have been called upon multiple times to focus on social distancing … but as many tired Millennials have pointed out in knee jerk-fashion, we’re a bit too old for Spring Break, and most of us haven’t been in the partying mood (then the finger points to Gen Z). But, as Dr. Deborah Birx explained, the Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) is good at sharing information widely, and that’s why we’re the generation to lead the cause.

Either way, this is a global pandemic that goes beyond the generational divide when it comes to sharing important info, in my opinion. We are all in this, and we all need to do our part, and I think this effort by the Ad Council and their partners is a good step forward, pairing the #StayHome movement with #AloneTogether.

Because we can do this. We have to do this. And we can do it together … while staying apart.

 

WWTT? Leap Day Fund From Stella Artois Promotes ‘Uncancelled’ Plans

Everyone does it: After a long day of work, household obligations, and more, the idea of cancelling plans to go out becomes absolute bliss. But for 2020, a year with a Leap Day, Stella Artois urged people to “uncancel” their plans for once and put the extra 24 hours to good use, supported by a Leap Day Fund.

Everyone does it: After a long day of work, household obligations, and more, the idea of cancelling plans to go out — and instead stay in with takeout, a movie or a good book, and your pajamas — becomes absolute bliss. Even more tempting when the weather is miserable out. But every cancelled plan is time lost with someone … and time is one thing that is impossible to get back once it’s gone. So for 2020, a year with a Leap Day, Stella Artois urged people to “uncancel” their plans for once and put the extra 24 hours to good use. To sweeten the deal, the Anheuser-Busch beer brand created a Leap Day Fund, and produced a short video to support the campaign.

The Leap Day Fund totals $366,000, to align with the 366 days in a Leap Year — and while the short film dramatizes the idea of receiving a reduced restaurant bill, the actual Leap Day Fund promotion functions a bit differently (but with the same focus of getting people to spend time together over a beer).

According to the Leap Day Fund promotion’s terms and conditions, consumers 21-plus can claim a portion of the fund to cover their Stella Artois purchase (up to a 24-pack) by sharing the film using the hashtag #UnCancelPromo and tagging someone else 21-plus they wanted to spend Leap Day with. Participants also needed to  be following @StellaArtois  on Twitter and/or Facebook, as well as make the beer purchase during the Leap Day period, defined as Feb. 26- Feb. 29.

Stella Artois even made it extremely easy (at least on Twitter) to take part in the promotion via the “Tweet #UnCancelPromo” as seen below:

WWTT? Stella Artois's Leap Day Fund Urges People 'Uncancel' Plans
Hit the button and your Twitter account is activated with a pre-filled tweet … you just need to tag someone!

Beyond the video and social media components, Stella Artois also had digital out-of-home ad (OOH) placements installed in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. These included  a QR code leading to the Leap Day film, along with a countdown reminding consumers to take advantage of the extra time on Leap Day to make plans and tap into the Leap Day Fund.

To be clear, this is a rebate promotion, and participants have until March 14 to submit their redemption, so while Leap Day has come and gone, sales numbers are not in yet.

I like that this campaign really puts for the idea of spending time together with the people you care about (and drinking). It reminds me a bit of Chik-Fil-A’s gift of time holiday promotion last year, just a little less family-oriented (unless that family is 21-plus, of course).

Centering it around Leap Day is clever, especially since it’s the kind of campaign you’ll only see every four years. But what do you think about the Stella Artois’s Leap Day Fund? Drop me a line in the comments!

 

What I Hope to Learn in Orlando’s Magic ‘Data’ Kingdom

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) inaugural 2020 Masters of Data and Technology Conference kicks off today. It will be interesting to learn how brands see themselves transformed by all the digital (and offline) data surrounding prospects and customers at this Magic Data Kingdom in Orlando.

As I get ready to embark to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) inaugural 2020 Masters of Data and Technology Conference (beginning today), I’m very curious to listen in and learn how brands see themselves transformed by all the digital (and offline) data surrounding prospects and customers.  With CMOs telling ANA that this topic area is a strategic priority, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed this week in Orlando’s Magic Data Kingdom.

Are “they” — the brands — finding answers to these questions?

  • Do they have command of data in all the channels of customer engagement?
  • Are they deriving new sources of customer intelligence that had previously gone untapped?
  • Can they accurately map customer journeys — and their motivations along the way?
  • Are they truly able to identify customers across platforms accurately with confidence?
  • How do data science and creativity come together to make more effective advertising — and meet business real-world objectives?
  • What disruptions are shaking the foundations of B2C and B2B engagement today?
  • Are investments in data and technology paying dividends to brands and businesses in increased customer value? Do customers, too, value the data exchange?
  • Is there a talent pool in adequate to deliver data-derived, positive business outcomes? What more resources or tools might they need?
  • What impacts do barriers on open data flows — walled gardens, browser defaults, privacy legislation, “techlash” — have on relevance, competition, diversity in content and other business, economic and social concerns? How can these be managed?
  • Are “brand” people and “data” people truly becoming one in the same in marketing, and in business?

Admittedly, that’s a lot of questions — and perhaps the answers to some of these may be elusive. However, it’s the dialogue among industry peers here that will matter.

The mere emergence of this conference — “new” in the ANA lexicon — is perhaps a manifestation of where the Data & Marketing Association (acquired by ANA in 2018) hoped to achieve in its previous annual conferences and run-up to acquisition. The full promise of data-driven marketing — and “growth” in an Information Economy — can only happen when brands themselves (and, yes, their agencies and ad tech partners, too) have command of data and tech disciplines, and consumers continue to be willing partners in the exchange.

Imagination lives beyond the domain of the Magic Kingdom (where we all can take inspiration from Disney, nearby). Likewise, aspirations can be achieved. Let’s listen in and learn as ANA takes rein of this brands- and data-welcomed knowledge share. Growth is a beautiful thing.

 

WWTT? Burger King’s Moldy Whopper Ad Has People Talking … But Are They Buying?

Seeing mold on a food item usually elicits a response of disgust, followed by tossing said item as far away from you. But for Burger King, the home of the Whopper, mold is seen as a sign of beauty — of no artificial preservatives. Or at least that’s what the fast food chain’s latest moldy Whopper ad is telling us.

Seeing mold on a food item usually elicits a response of disgust, followed by tossing said item as far away from you (usually in the trash). But for Burger King, the home of the Whopper, mold is seen as a sign of beauty — and more importantly — of no artificial preservatives. Or at least that’s what the fast food chain’s latest moldy Whopper ad is telling us.

While I wouldn’t consider this imagery particularly shocking — if you’ve left something long enough in the refrigerator, you know exactly how funky and moldy food can become — putting your product front and center and letting it rot in front of a time-lapse camera is definitely not the norm for any marketer in the food business.

Burger King Moldy Whopper No Artifical Preservatives
The campaign ran in print, social media, and out-of-home (OOH), like on this transit shelter. Credit: Burger King

But Burger King doesn’t tend to play by the rules of other fast food marketers. Sure, it might not be collaborating with Crocs, but this is the brand that took the 2019 Cannes Lion Festival by storm with its Whopper Detour campaign.

According to a press release about the moldy Whopper, Fernando Machado,  Global CMO for Restaurant Brands International (Burger King’s parent company) stated:

“At Burger King restaurants, we believe that real food tastes better. That’s why we are working hard to remove preservatives, colors and flavors from artificial sources from the food we serve in all countries around the world.”

However, none of this matters if customers are turned off by the idea of a moldy Whopper, no matter what point it’s trying to make. Jonathan Maze of Restaurant Business Online took to Twitter to ask people what they thought of the campaign:

https://twitter.com/thatbilloakley/status/1230167233730506752?

For an audience who understands what artificial preservatives do (and how they’re not necessarily a good thing), I think this campaign will resonate with them. Sure, it’s not pretty, but it makes a very clear point. However, is this audience the normal Burger King audience? Or, is it an attempt to grow a new audience.

Burger King moldy burger OOH advertisement shows the lack of artificial preservatives
Credit: Burger King

Many consumers opt for fast food because it’s exactly that: It’s FAST. They enjoy the flavors and have favorite menu items, and even appreciate the affordability when compared to other dining options. But do they know enough about what artificial preservatives are … and more importantly, do they care?

According to AdWeek, approximately 50,000 people have taken to social media to share their disgust over the moldy burger. Mentions have soared by more than 500%, and the hashtag #MoldyWhopper has received more than 21 million impressions. So people might not like it, but they’re definitely talking about it.

Marketers, what do you think? Leave me a comment below, and have a great weekend!

‘Too Much’ Is a Relative Term for Promotional Marketing

If a marketer sends you 20 promotional emails in a month, is that too much? You may say “yes” without even thinking about it. Then why did you not opt out of Amazon email programs when they send far more promotional stuff to you every month?

If a marketer sends you 20 promotional emails in a month, is that too much? You may say “yes” without even thinking about it. Then why did you not opt out of Amazon email programs when they send far more promotional stuff to you every month? Just because it’s a huge brand? I bet it’s because “some” of its promotions are indeed relevant to your needs.

Marketers are often obsessed with KPIs, such as email delivery, open, and clickthrough rates. Some companies reward their employees based on the sheer number of successful email campaign deployments and deliveries. Inevitably, such a practice leads to “over-promotions.” But does every recipient see it that way?

If a customer responds (opens, clicks, or converts, where the conversion is king) multiple times to those 20 emails, maybe that particular customer is NOT over-promoted. Maybe it is okay for you to send more promotional stuff to that customer, granted that the offers are relevant and beneficial to her. But not if she doesn’t open a single email for some time, that’s the very definition of “over-promotion,” leading to an opt-out.

As you can see, the sheer number of emails (or any other channel promotion) to a person should not be the sole barometer. Every customer is different, and recognition of such differences is the first step toward proper personalization. In other words, before worrying about customizing offers and products for a target individual, figure out her personal threshold for over-promotion. How much is too much for everyone?

Figuring out the magic number for each customer is a daunting task, so start with three basic tiers:

  1. Over-promoted,
  2. Adequately promoted, and
  3. Under-promoted.

To get to that, you must merge promotional history data (not just for emails, but for every channel) and response history data (which includes open, clickthrough, browse, and conversion data) on an individual level.

Sounds simple? But marketing organizations rarely get into such practices. Most attributions are done on a channel level, and many do not even have all required data in the same pool. Worse, many don’t have any proper match keys and rules that govern necessary matching steps (i.e., individual-level attribution).

The issue is further compounded by inconsistent rules and data availability among channels (e.g., totally different practices for online and offline channels). So much for the coveted “360-Degree Customer View.” Most organizations fail at “hello” when it comes to marrying promotion and response history data, even for the most recent month.

But is it really that difficult of an operation? After all, any respectful direct marketers are accustomed to good old “match-back” routines, complete with resolutions for fractional allocations. For instance, if the target received multiple promotions in the given study period, which one should be attributed to the conversion? The last one? The first one? Or some credit distribution, based on allocation rules? This is where the rule book comes in.

Now, all online marketers are familiar with reporting tools provided by reputable players, like Google or Adobe. Yes, it is relatively simple to navigate through them. But if the goal is to determine who is over-promoted or adequately promoted, how would you go about it? The best way, of course, is to do the match-back on an individual level, like the old days of direct marketing. But thanks to the sheer volume of online activity data and complexity of match-back, due to the frequent nature of online promotions, you’d be lucky if you could just get past basic “last-click” attribution on an individual level for merely the last quarter.

I sympathize with all of the dilemmas associated with individual-level attributions, so allow me to introduce a simpler way (i.e., a cheat) to get to the individual-level statistics of over- and under-promotion.

Step 1: Count the Basic Elements

Set up the study period of one or two years, and make sure to include full calendar years (such as rolling 12 months, 24 months, etc.). You don’t want to skew the figures by introducing the seasonality factor. Then add up all of the conversions (or transactions) for each individual. While at it, count the opens and clicks, if you have extracted data from toolsets. On the promotional side, count the number of emails and direct mails to each individual. You only have to worry about the outbound channels, as the goal is to curb promotional frequency in the end.

Step 2: Once You Have These Basic Figures, Divide ‘Number of Conversions’ by ‘Number of Promotions’

Perform separate calculations for each channel. For now, don’t worry about the overlaps among channels (i.e., double credit of conversions among channels). We are only looking for directional guidelines for each individual, not comprehensive channel attribution, at this point. For example, email responsiveness would be expressed as “Number of Conversions” divided by “Number of Email Promotions” for each individual in the given study period.

Step 3: Now That You Have Basic ‘Response Rates’

These response rates are for each channel and you must group them into good, bad, and ugly categories.

Examine the distribution curve of response rates, and break them into three segments of one.

  1. Under-promoted (the top part, in terms of response rate),
  2. Adequately Promoted (middle part of the curve),
  3. Over-promote (the bottom part, in terms of response rate).

Consult with a statistician, but when in hurry, start with one standard deviation (or one Z-score) from the top and the bottom. If the distribution is in a classic bell-curve shape (in many cases, it may not be), that will give roughly 17% each for over- and under-promoted segments, and conservatively leave about 2/3 of the target population in the middle. But of course, you can be more aggressive with cutoff lines, and one size will not fit all cases.

In any case, if you keep updating these figures at least once a month, they will automatically be adjusted, based on new data. In other words, if a customer stops responding to your promotions, she will consequently move toward the lower segments (in terms of responsiveness) without any manual intervention.

Putting It All Together

Now you have at least three basic segments grouped by their responsiveness to channel promotions. So, how would you use it?

Start with the “Over-promoted” group, and please decrease the promotional volume for them immediately. You are basically training them to ignore your messages by pushing them too far.

For the “Adequately Promoted” segment, start doing some personalization, in terms of products and offers, to increase response and value. Status quo doesn’t mean that you just repeat what you have been doing all along.

For “Under-promoted” customers, show some care. That does NOT mean you just increase the mail volume to them. They look under-promoted because they are repeat customers. Treat them with special offers and exclusive invitations. Do not ever take them for granted just because they tolerated bombardments of promotions from you. Figure out what “they” are about, and constantly pamper them.

Find Your Strategy

Why do I bother to share this much detail? Because as a consumer, I am so sick of mindless over-promotions. I wouldn’t even ask for sophisticated personalization from every marketer. Let’s start with doing away with carpet bombing to all. That begins with figuring out who is being over-promoted.

And by the way, if you are sending two emails a day to everyone, don’t bother with any of this data work. “Everyone” in your database is pretty much over-promoted. So please curb your enthusiasm, and give them a break.

Sometimes less is more.