Promo files

(A) Moderator: Joan McArthur, consultant, Black Bag Creative Recruitment, Toronto

(A) Moderator: Joan McArthur, consultant, Black Bag Creative Recruitment, Toronto

(B) Rico DiGiovanni, partner, Spider Marketing Solutions, Toronto. During his 20 years in promo marketing, DiGiovanni founded Marketing Drive Worldwide Canada and recently his new shop Spider Marketing Solutions. Past clients include Molson, Coca-Cola and Kraft.

(C) Craig Bond, VP/CD, B Street Communications, Toronto. Bond has spent 18 years in marketing and advertising, with the last eight dedicated to the promotional field. He’s worked with Coors Light, IBM and Nestlé, among others.

(D) Don Mayo, managing partner, IMI International, Toronto. Mayo has 18 years of experience in the pre- and post-evaluation (optimization) of short-term marketing tactics including promotions, advertising, loyalty, and events.

(E) Tony Chapman, CEO, Capital C, Toronto. Chapman has been in the biz for 22 years and founded Capital C in 1992. The shop focuses on promo marketing, interactive, grassroots and PR for many clients including Bell Canada, Frito-Lay and Unilever.

McArthur: What has changed in the world of promotions in the last 18 months?

DiGiovanni: It’s almost like we’re becoming marketing services experts because we’re delving into so many different disciplines.

McArthur: I think it’s fair to say that promotions, has been elevated to the strategic arena.

Bond: It’s no longer FSIs, or couponing or

feature pricing that creates that lift any more, it’s how do I drive them to the Web site where they can get an extended message and I have more measurement tools? More and more that’s what clients are looking for.

McArthur: What Canadian brands are doing leading-edge promotions?

Chapman: I think our Hallmark program with a simple little premium of a butterfly that flew out of your card, created an incredible tiebreaker. It [cost] pennies and it had a lift much greater than 7%. I think what [Bond] did with Tracker and Coors, the fascination of a person opening a bottle of beer and

connecting with a satellite, thinking: ‘Oh my god, a party might show up at my door.’ That’s not in-store marketing. That’s buzz. Even if they didn’t expect it might happen to them, they took themselves to that place, they had that Coors Light experience.

DiGiovanni: The program that was my favourite in the last couple of months was the one for Axe. It was targeted at young males, and they came up with Camp Touch, which I saw in many different executions: in store, on TV, in cinema and online. It was definitely event-oriented and it was a campaign. It talked to the target group directly. I sat up and went: ‘Wow, I wish I’d done that.’ But it was a

simple idea. ‘

Chapman: What Unilever did [internally] is they created the Axe Republic. They broke away from the culture of Unilever, and they said: ‘We’re going to do things differently.’ The Axe Republic has their own charter, their own way of dressing, and in the States, they did things like send the Axe Angels into Wal-Mart and if you were a young male, they sprayed you with Axe and signed your chest. In a Wal-Mart. They did phenomenal local market grassroots activation.

McArthur: The Internet is getting incremental spending, but there hasn’t been much watercooler talk – it’s been mostly about BMW Films and the Jerry Seinfeld.

Mayo: Subservient Chicken was so great.

Chapman: I looked at Subservient Chicken,

I played with it, but it didn’t make me want to go to Burger King.

DiGiovanni: I don’t know if it was designed to do that. It was designed to generate incredible awareness as quickly as possible for a new product – chicken the way you want it.

Chapman: But wouldn’t it be great to say: ‘Come in and get the platinum version of this for your computer at Burger King.’ Or ‘The Subservient Chicken is going to appear live.’ Sometimes it’s just taking these ideas and saying: ‘How do you extend it so the consumer can actually buy the product?’

McArthur: Technology is increasing

opportunities in promotion. What are the hurdles you have to overcome?

DiGiovanni: How many times has a client said: ‘Bring us the latest and newest. I

need to have something different.’ We bring them back two or three things, because they’ll probably be too nervous.

Mayo: We did testing, and the most innovative stuff never hit the table, because the client was afraid it wouldn’t be good for the brand.

Bond: I think we have more valid and timely tools for the client, because they are focused on results beyond mass awareness and eyeballs on the screen. I think we’re very much more about volume and

participation and average times you’ve spent on a Web page. The more that you can put a metric to it, and people are getting better at setting metrics, the more persuasive the argument is to say: ‘Here’s what we think will work.’ But to Rico’s point: ‘Give me something that hasn’t been done before’ and ‘Prove that it works’ are two things that don’t go together.

McArthur: Are clients missing out on tactical opportunities then?

Bond: Just to give you a stat, I went to the Promo Awards. Of 7,000 tests of contests, promotions, campaigns, events, sponsorship, and direct mail, 12 made a negative impact on the brand.

McArthur: So where in the world is interesting stuff being done? Craig, you

saw some really interesting stuff come out of Asia.

Bond: Heineken. I really think they did a good job of closing the cycle. They included the whole consumer relationship model, where the consumer is purchasing the product, being engaged with an interactive medium, in this case SMS, and then going to an event, where they are engaged with the brand message again, which drove them back to the store. Not only was it frequency, it was a meaningful brand experience. That’s where we need to go next in our marketplace – we need to close the cycle.

Chapman: Even if they only had 800 people involved, Heineken has 800

brand ambassadors now. You start using these technologies, there’s a snowball effect. That’s when scale will hit our market, when you have communities of people that are evangelists of the brand. That’s what I love that’s happening mainly in Europe and Asia.

DiGiovanni: We’re in the stone ages when it comes to use of technology – text messages being one that here in Canada nobody has adopted and used properly. They’re starting to in small places, but those other markets, most are now driven by that technology. And they’re doing more experiential event field activity. We can play with it here, but because of our marketplace, not much is put into that arena. Those markets have really adopted better one-to-one type of media.

Chapman: Who’s the guy who did that spot for Molson and put it on the air? Vaughan Whelan. He got in trouble but what incredible exposure he got for his brand, and who he was, and what he stood for. He created an ad for Molson, which didn’t even put him on their shortlist. He bought a spot on Letterman and Meet the Press and created an Internet site. That’s promotional marketing. It didn’t work with Molson, but if I was a small beer guy,

I would say: ‘This is the guy I want on

my business.’

Chapman: The other group doing great work out there is charities. They’ve worked out the fact that they no longer have a lifeline in the government, and I can’t believe how good they are getting at promoting their brands. Women in our office walked 60km [in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer event].

DiGiovanni: And raised $2,000 each.

Chapman: The sisterhood and how they talk about it – they are giving those people experiences they haven’t had before.

McArthur: Experience is a

buzzword and it’s almost clichéd. But that’s the real goods.

DiGiovanni: It might be clichéd, but it’s becoming more and more important. The Molson Canadian Rock Star campaign – it’s all about experience. You get to spend $100,000 in 48 hours and have nothing to show for it. Talk about the ultimate experience. And that’s why they did it. Wow, what a feeling that would be versus winning a car or a trip.

Mayo: It’s the right thing for that target market. If you were trying to hit the 35- to 40-year-olds with mortgages, it’s probably not the type of thing they’d want to be doing.

Chapman: You have to be very careful when you go mass with an idea that appeals to a certain group of people, but will be absolutely rejected by another group of people.

I’ll give you a great example – Air Canada. They hired Celine Dion to sing this new song, they unveiled a new paint job, and [they had recently laid off] people. You shake your head and go: ‘How does that happen?’

The reality is you go that big, trumpeting

Air Canada – I’ve never seen a more negative reaction. John Derringer on Q-107 ranted about it for five minutes. Thirty seconds is a long time to rant in radio – he went on for five minutes. He just couldn’t believe it, and then he started thinking about all the bad experiences he’d had with Air Canada.

DiGiovanni: It wasn’t a bad idea. It just wasn’t executed properly.

Chapman: But to pick Celine Dion after Chrysler? Chrysler paid $16 million and [it] didn’t [do much for them].

DiGiovanni: I don’t begrudge them at all because it’s marketing. We’re in the business, guys. You have to relaunch yourself, capture your audience. The campaign’s based more on international business than domestic business.

Mayo: They paid a lot of money for somebody nobody can relate to. Who can relate to Celine? You can’t touch her. Just like Air Canada – you can’t touch it.

DiGiovanni: A discipline that is going to be more important for us is PR. Word-of-mouth can be achieved in a number of ways and PR is one of them. We are all trying to create ideas that are going to get talked about, either down on the street level, or up on the media level.

McArthur: An agency in London had the South African Tourist Board as a client. They took 20 cab drivers and sent them on a free vacation to South Africa, brought them back and put signs inside their cabs saying ‘Ask me about my trip to South Africa.’ So here are these guys just back from a vacation of a lifetime talking it up. It enforced word of mouth.

Chapman: If they had gone to the next level, they would have sold that to the Discovery Channel and followed the 20 cab drivers in South Africa. It’s taking a simple idea and cascading it out. No matter who’s at the table – PR, events, etc. – the simpler you can make it for the client, the more consistent you can make it for the consumer, the better. I think the general rule of thumb is simplicity.