Archive for September, 2009


Playing with the King

In ad campaigns,advergaming,Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 by gingercatmom

There’s a box of video games upstairs in my house that contains the games that are rarely played. I cringe as I think of the allowances spent on high-priced racing and fantasy games…but in between these I found a long-forgotten purchase: Burger King “Big Bumpin”. What were we thinking when we bought that one?

Bumpin with the King

Bumpin with the King

“Big Bumpin” is just one of three advergames introduced at BK during the holiday season in 2006. With no major movie tie in to drive kids’ meal purchases (think Star Wars, Rugrats, Pokemon) Burger King built their own entertainment vehicle with the creation of three X-Box games. At just $3.99 a pop, the Burger King Xbox series was wildly popular–and affordable. But where are they now?

Advergaming can take a variety of forms. Games can be downloaded from websites to mobile devices. They can be played online via a company’s website. Consumers are willing participants in this marketing experience–they are willing to play a game and in the case of Burger King’s venture, they were even willing to pay for the game itself. Advergaming takes another form when the branded product figures prominently in the game (such as in the form of a shoe brand, automobile or even a food item that can’t be missed throughout the game experience). It’s an effective way to reach the coveted youth market-especially young males.

The key to a successful advergame lies in the game itself. It has to be fun–and make the player want to do it again. There might be revenue generated by sale of branded games, but how much marketing value is generated if the game is just purchased, played a time or two and then relegated to the “Island of Misfit Toys!”



Hospitals and social networking

In blogs,Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 by gingercatmom

In a previous post, I noted that 54% of Fortune 100 companies are using some form of social networking as part of their marketing communication efforts. What is the role of social networking for hospitals today–and how is the best way to launch an effort for a healthcare organization? Is it Twitter, Facebook, blogging…or all three?

Healthcare marketing experts are writing about this subject extensively. Their advice is similar. First, do your homework. Understand what takes place online. This involves listening respectfully to others and contributing to online conversations when appropriate. Second, focus on content that will be meaningful to customers. Unless people are truly interested in the conversation they will just tune out and “walk” away…which is tremendously easy to do when that conversation is online. Third, recognize that there will be some loss of control. To have a truly transparent, authentic presence in the virtual world, we need to let people speak their minds. Finally, we need to measure and in this respect, online media may offer some of the tracking advantages over traditional media.

Ed Bennett, director of web strategy a the University of Maryland Medical System offers a helpful list of U.S. Hospitals who are incorporating social networking. His most recent data on 367 hospitals of varying sizes shows dramatic growth in the use of Twitter over the past year. Bennett’s data shows less than 50 Hospitals on Twitter in September 2008, with 267 now using Twitter. You Tube usage has also grown, but not quite as dramatically.

There seems no need to reinvent the wheel when successful online communities exist. If we know our customers are interested in what we have to say, and will follow our cues to find the information we need, we have a golden opportunity to meet them where they are right now–online. We can use our creative abilities to educate, build relationships and ultimately create healthier communities. And that’s why many of us got into healthcare marketing in the first place!


Look who’s tweeting!

In Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 20, 2009 by gingercatmom


Twitter has earned the attention of 54% of America’s Fortune 100 companies. In fact, it’s the social media of choice for companies, outranking Facebook and blogging according to a recent Burson-Marsteller study. And when these companies use only one form of social media, it is most likely to be Twitter.

Looking at this from the corporate perspective, the reasoning appears to lie in Twitter’s simplicity. Say what you need to say quickly in 140 characters or less. Crank out the messages regularly. Read responses and repeat… A dip into the social networking pool can be fraught with all sorts of concerns from the corner office, but Twitter just seems to be a way to dive in.

The real question is how sustainable these efforts will be. This reminds of me of the “old” days when every department in my organization was eager to start a newsletter. The energy on the front end was high and the creative juices were flowing. There were pictures, shiny paper, special features and maybe even an eagerness on the reader’s part to receive each issue. Today–about three newsletters remain and we argue over whose turn it is to write them and wonder if anyone is really reading them.

Twitter is new. It’s a quick bite of information and it’s kind of fun. It’s gratifying to see that thousands of followers are waiting to see what we’ll say next. But how long will it be until those corporate tweets get a little stale–and we even start seeing recycled tweets from last year? How many tweets can one follower really digest before it just becomes ‘blah blah blah’. It will take a true corporate commitment to make this new media part of a long term strategy to build relationships with customers.

That said…I’m thinking of how I can start Tweeting at work and how I’ll build buzz for that. Stay tuned!


Hide and Seek on Search Engines

In search engines,Uncategorized on September 19, 2009 by gingercatmom

It’s not enough for a business to just have a website today. In fact most customers expect that businesses will have websites and after taking a few guesses at a company’s URL (“hmm, was it or was it”) most of us will turn to a search engine to find the site we have in mind. It’s just so easy to type in the request and our destination is just clicks away…and it’s a function that we have come to expect and trust online

However, major search engines have been charged with deceptive advertising practices. Advertisers pay to have their sites listed prominently in the ranking of search results-a practice known as paid placement. They may also pay a fee for paid inclusion, to increase the chance that the site will appear somewhere within the search results. This is all part of a practice known as Search Engine Optimization. It’s logical that any business that spends the resources to develop a site wants it to be seen, to be used and ultimately to provide a return on investment.

Consumer Reports WebWatch research shows that many search sites don’t do a very good job of informing consumers about the advertising forces at play on the site. Critics argue that a search engine that just identifies “sponsored links” in another color or in a slightly shaded box is not doing enough and that more needs to be done to help search users understand the reasoning behind the ranking of search results.

A Princeton Survey Research Associates Study found that more than 60% of respondents didn’t know that paid placement was common at many search engines. I wonder why search engines are not willing to be transparent with their advertising policies? For the search engine, is the primary customer the advertiser or the end user? Transparency with customers ultimately generates trust–and today’s search engine user might be tomorrow’s search engine advertising customer!


Family routines get rewired

In Facebook,mobile devices,mobile marketing,social issues and new media,Uncategorized on September 15, 2009 by gingercatmom

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the ways families interact today. As I write this, three of my family members are working on laptops in three different rooms–one in front of a TV as well. My Blackberry sits next to my laptop and I’m eagerly awaiting a return text message from my college student son. This is just a typical night for us–and millions of other Americans.

The New York Times described how household routines have been shaken up by the rapid integration of new technology. We used to awake to alarm clocks–now we wake to the alarm on our I-Pod or cellphone. We greet the day with technology and it’s often the last thing we encounter at night. Kids aren’t just distracted by morning TV shows. They’re checking their Facebook page, playing a video game or texting their friends. There are a million new reasons to be late for school.

Dont miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Don't miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Adults are just as eager to get up and get online. The workday never ends when we’re connected 24/7 via mobile devices and our wireless laptops. We try to get an hour of work in before we’ve even stepped in the shower. We steal a look at our email on the way to the coffee pot. For many of us, the days of reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee seem a nostalgic thing of the past.

The New York Times article references an Arbor Networks study that finds that American Web traffic peaks at 11 p.m., gradually declines from midnight to 6 a.m. and then spikes up again at 7 a.m. At least we can rejoice in the fact that most of us get a little rest before we log on to another wired day.

So what does this mean to the American family?  Making a conscious effort to find balance and to stay connected through real, live face-to-face family contact is more difficult than ever before. Our daily rituals may be changing, but we just might find that these changes enrich our lives in ways we just can’t fully understand yet. And what’s “new” today is the next generation’s “old-fashioned”.


What would the 60’s “Mad Men” think of today’s media?

In ad campaigns,blogs,Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 by gingercatmom

When new media meant TV--Mad Mens Sterling Cooper Agency was ready to make the leap.

When new media meant TV--Mad Men's Sterling Cooper Agency was ready to make the leap.

“Mad Men” is the hit AMC series that chronicles the work, the drama and culture of the early 1960’s fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper. Season 3 kicked off in August and for those of us who work in marketing today, Mad Men gives us much to consider.

Last season, the creative and sales staff at Sterling Cooper was adjusting to their client’s demands for TV advertising –in fact they were just launching a TV division within their firm. The classic 30 second TV spot truly was new media back then. However, I was struck with the TV commercials that viewers see as the show airs in 2009. Every spot is integrated into the show itself, with the Mad Men graphics introducing the advertisers with a fact or trivia question related to the advertiser–typically companies such as BMW, Heineken, Clorox, Eight o Clock Coffee, etc. AMC calls this “Mad-vertising”. Viewers are left wondering…is this part of the show or part of the commercial?

The line between entertainment, information and advertising is more blurry than ever before–or is it? The classic TV or radio “soap opera” was named for the soap companies that sponsored the programs. Today we read a blog about new cars–and later find out that the author is paid by a car manufacturer. A “mom” blogs about money saving deals at retailers…and we learn that she’s on Target’s payroll. That video clip on You Tube that shows us how to use the newest hand-held device to manage our exercise program begins to look more and more like a Nike commercial. The blending of sponsor and program, advertising and true news has always been there–it’s just the media that has changed.

It is a brave new world for the Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper as they dive into the new media of their day. New opportunities to create, new opportunities to sell and new opportunities to communicate. An it’s an exciting new media world for us too.


Kraft says “cheese” to Hispanic population

In ad campaigns,Multicultural marketing,social issues and new media,Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by gingercatmom

I’ve been spending some time on the Kraft food website this weekend. Not only does Kraft make a multitude of recipes, cooking tips and product information available to consumers online, but they also do all this in Spanish for the Hispanic population in the United States through the ComidaKraft website.

American Cheese...marketed to Hispanics through

What's more American than American marketed to Hispanics through

The Hispanic population in the United States is the fastest growing population segment. Kraft recognized the opportunity to connect (and build brand loyalty) among this powerful population segment, and  launched the bilingual site in 2003, as part of focused, multi-media approach to Hispanic Americans. ComidaKraft is now a robust site that in many ways mirrors the English site while remaining culturally relevant with pictures of Hispanic women, recipes that target Hispanic tastes and even recipe modifications for diabetic individuals (the adult Hispanic population has a higher incidence of Diabetes than non-Hispanic whites).The message boards offer an opportunity for site visitors to connect with other users to talk about food, exchange recipes and even get some suggestions for tonight’s dinner!

Bilingual websites connected to Fortune 100 companies are not as prevalent as one may think. Two other examples of consumer websites include Verizon and Sears. Those companies that invest in bilingual web marketing have made a wise move. They have an edge in reaching first generation Hispanics who have immigrated to the United States. But the the Hispanic population is changing, with many second and third generation Hispanics reporting English as their primary language. Will these individuals ultimately migrate to  English sites that are designed for the public as a whole–or will they demand more Spanish sites?

Hispanics are brand loyal. Marketers know that the majority of Hispanics also feel loyal to advertisers who market to them in Spanish. Finally, Hispanics consume a proportionately larger share of dairy products. Kraft seems to have hit the mark with That surely makes Kraft smile and “say cheese!