I was pleased to hear that Lego recently launched a new line for girls called Lego Friends. My two sons love Legos (love might actually be too weak a word for their Lego obsession) and as a parent, I like them, too. The stackable bricks encourage creativity, concentration, and even math skills.
You’d think it would be a no-brainer to build on the brand that parents love to love (except for those moments when you gouge your bare foot on a Lego piece left on the floor). But apparently, creating and marketing Legos for girls is very, very hard. A Friends cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek even included a “Lego Girl Graveyard” with a sizeable line-up of failed past attempts to reach the pink side of the playground.
Friends, Lego has vowed, will be different. The company fine-tuned the line so exhaustively, its market researchers have been compared to cultural anthropologists.
So, I checked out the Lego Friends marketing with eager curiosity and high expectations. When I clicked to the website, I was . . . a little perplexed. Lego Friends is character-driven because pretend play is just as important to girls as building with bricks. The plastic figures have names, personalities and interests and they look more detailed and pretty than the famous, boxy Lego minifigure. They also look quite young—just like the 7 or 8-year-old girls in the Lego Friends commercials.
So why are the animated characters on the website so adolescent? They have shapely, figures, sculpted cheekbones, and the wide, almond-shaped cat eyes do not happen without the help of mascara. They do a lot of giggling and hugging. They’re not yet Barbies, but they’re definitely sexier than their plastic counterparts.
I bet little girls love these cartoons. But as a mom—you know, the one who’s going to be viewing the website and buying the products?—I’m a little turned off. I accept that Lego made many of the Friends sets a little stereotypical, from the beauty salon to the fashion design studio. That’s what girls ask for in focus groups. (They obviously don’t know how cool women-led ad agencies are.)
I’ll even tolerate the fact that the building aspect of Lego Friends looks less intricate than that of many “boys’” Lego sets.
But when it comes to marketing, we all know grown women are the target. And I think Lego misfired with this website. That’s a shame, because the sweet, age-appropriate Lego figurines are a welcome change for those of us who are Barbied, Bratzed and Disney Princessed out.
I’ll be interested to see if women look past the mixed message of the Lego Friends website and buy the sets for their young daughters.
What do you think of the new Lego Friends line and its marketing?
To be completely honest, my initial reaction to the Google Plus unveiling was less than enthusiastic. Sigh, yet another platform to tell the world I am “at Starbucks, getting a latte.” (I try to convince myself on a daily basis that this is relevant information). Trust me, I’m not complaining. I like having options. But keeping up with the social media rat race can be a little exhausting, regardless of how heavily it impacts our daily lives (or for some of us, our jobs).
Facebook, Twitter and the like are a huge part of what I do Brogan & Partners. I have seen up close and personal how social media can single handedly build a brand, generate buzz and make or break the success of a business. So this forces the question…will Google Plus become as natural as breathing like updating a status on Facebook?
Let’s take a look at the stats. Thus far, Google Plus has about 40 million users, a drop in the bucket compared to its Facebook counterpart of 800 million. This also means that due to Plus’s lack of maturity, it is too soon to say for sure how effective the network will be for marketing and building brands. In terms of cosmetics, both formats appear to be pretty similar at first glance, even though Facebook will be introducing Timeline, their new “Face lift”, in the near future (stay tuned for more on that).
All uncertainties aside, however, Google Plus might have its advantages. Unlike Facebook, Plus users will have the capability to link directly to YouTube while sharing videos without having to shorten URL’s or be shackled by character limits. It will also have the benefit of donning the name “Google” and, of course, in the ultimate form of nepotism, Google Plus brand pages will be promoted to the top of the search engine powerhouses’ results.
Another benefit to using Google Plus is its current lack of saturation. You may have heard whispers when the new social network debuted that you needed an invitation to join (a great PR ruse used by Facebook when it appeared on the scene, too). It is now open to all users, but because you can customize the circles you share with and vice versa, you won’t get the same mess of information on your home page that you certainly get on Facebook. For now.
Only time will tell how big this social giant will grow. I, of course, jumped on the band wagon and signed Brogan up for a Plus profile. Want to know how to get your brand started on Google Plus?
- Sign in with your Google account, then go the Google Plus Business Page and click “Create your Google + Page.”
- Choose what category your brand falls under (most likely, it will be “Product or Brand”, or if you are unsure you can pick “Company, Institution or Organization)
- Now, enter your page name (your brand name) and your website.
- This next step is where you need to get a little creative. You have to describe your brand/company in 10 words or less. Try to stick to a description that includes buzz words about your business’s core competencies or where you fit in the marketplace. Here are a few things to think about: What makes you unique? What do you really do? If someone is on a search engine, what words would help them find you the fastest?
- Tell your circles. If you are new to Google Plus, then you most likely do not have circles to tell of your new presence. So you can skip this step. If you are a Google Plus vet, then you can share your page with your current Plus contacts.
- Congrats! You have a Google Plus page. Start looking up other brands and add them to your circles, post pictures and beef up the information to your profile page. The more info on your page and posts about your brand, the better.
Created a page already? I gave you my thoughts on Plus...I’d love to hear yours.
A brouhaha between the sexes gets people talking. But does it sell?
That’s what I’ve been wondering since I saw the new Dr. Pepper Ten commercial on YouTube.
The spot features a macho movie star. Though he’s selling a soft drink that’s “not for women,” it’s us he’s addressing as he bounds through the jungle fighting off bad guys.
“Hey ladies, enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie! And Dr. Pepper Ten is our soda.”
The style is pure camp, right down to the guy spilling his “ten manly calories” all over himself as he tries to pour a glass during a high-speed jeep chase.
They even have a Dr. Pepper Ten Facebook App—“a lady-free zone of rugged, macho, hair-on-your-chest awesomeness that’s definitely not for women”—and you’ll get more goofy misogyny. There’s a video game where you can lob grenades at “girly stuff” like high heels and flowers; a “Think You’re Man Enough?” quiz; and a collection of “man-cronyms.”
Obviously, the advertising team at Dr. Pepper is trying to push buttons. But whose? Should men be offended because the campaign portrays them as buffoons? Should women be offended by the sexism and exclusiveness? Or should we all just be amused by an edgy, self-deprecating tease that pokes at both genders?
Clearly, all three of these things are happening. That Dr. Pepper Ten commercial on YouTube? It’s gotten more than a million hits.
Meanwhile, back on Facebook, there is a “Boycott Dr. Pepper Ten” page. Change.org has a petition going to “Stop the Sexist ‘It’s Not for Women’ Ad Campaign” with more than 2000 signatures.
That’s a lot of talk and a lot of eyeballs. But is stoking the battle of the sexes a good way to get them? And will Dr. Pepper succeed where it counts—in sales?
I know I’ll be watching to find out.
What do you think of the spot and its ensuing debate?
I’m sure you listen to some type of streaming music from your computer or phone at some point during the day. But which platform do you use? Pandora is above and beyond the most used online radio service, and has paved the way for online radio with its 100 million registered users. But don’t think that Pandora is the only option for advertisers in regards to an online music platform.
Clear Channel Communications, the Nation’s largest broadcast radio operator is taking a swing at Pandora. They are giving a heavy push to their online/mobile platform, IHeartRadio. IHeartRadio has two functions:
Consumers can stream any of Clear Channel’s 850 radio stations in 150 markets across the Nation from their computer or mobile device. So, if I am in California and I want to listen to a Detroit station because I like their morning show, I can (and starting in 2012, buyers will be able to place commercials on the new platform).
The other function is that you can create your own custom station, much like Pandora- type in an artist to build a station and the same genre of music will play according to your “likes” or “dislikes” per song.
The only catch with IHeartRadio is that in order to build a station you must sign up through your Facebook account. This function is perfect for media buyers because it allows us access to a listener’s key demographic information and the ability to geo-target. Clear Channel is also reinforcing IHeartRadio by using their 850 broadcast radio stations to promote listening online or via mobile device – a promotional option that Pandora does not have.
Just when we wondered if radio was slowly dying as a medium, the leaders reinvent themselves and adapt to the future. As a media buyer, it’s a great option to have IHeartRadio to compliment a traditional radio buy.
Just like almost every other medium, radio too has moved digital. The question is which platform will bring the most success and who will take the lead? Regardless of who wins the battle – It’s a win-win for advertising.
Like a lot of women, I used to keep my admiration for Bethenny Frankel to myself. This was back when she was catfighting her way through The Real Housewives of New York City on Bravo. I couldn’t help but be drawn to her smarts, her quips, and the fact that she actually seemed relatable.
Frankel’s moved on to her own show, Bethenny Ever After, and bigger and better things. She’s used her celebrity status and her keen understanding of what women want to establish her own brand which now includes bestselling self-help books, a shapewear line, skincare products, and exercise videos.
But her most brilliant endeavor is her cornerstone product, the Skinnygirl Margarita. Frankel understands that women want to have a good time and still stay skinny. She found a niche in a category typically dominated by men. Smart, considering women make up 65-70% of the alcohol purchasing decisions.
And it seems to be working well. With nearly 350,000 Facebook fans and over 33,000 Twitter followers, Skinny Girl cocktails are the hottest new drink. Clearly Fortune Brand’s Beam Global understands that too since they recently signed a nine-figure deal with Bethenny and they’ve since released a Skinnygirl Sangria and Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo.
“If I’m going to form a brand, it has to solve a problem for women,” Frankel said recently on Forbes.com. “It has to be something I would actually do, say, eat, drink, live. And it has to be innovative, something that hasn’t been done before.”
Forget Bethenny’s brash personality, her fame, her hotness, and the fact that she regularly says, “Holy s#%&balls” on TV. As a businesswoman who took female consumers seriously and filled a niche that nobody else had thought to consider, I think Bethenny Frankel is a class act.
Can you think of any other traditionally male industries that should take heed and start producing for women?
If you’re like me, life comes to a full boil at least once a day. (Now that school is back in session, that once-a-day usually occurs right around 7:45 in the morning.) Just as one kid tumbles down the stairs, another produces a forgotten homework assignment. Meanwhile, my cell phone won’t stop chirping at me and I suddenly realize that we're out of milk.
And then it's time to get to work, where a whole other set of challenges await me.
Sometimes my four-mile commute to the office just isn't long enough to help me switch gears. But now I have a new way to hit "refresh" and get started on my second shift: Pinterest.
Have you discovered this super cool website yet? It’s a simple virtual bulletin board on which people “pin” images of their favorite things, whether they be baby hedgehogs or bridesmaid dresses; the cutest of cupcakes or a cut set of abs. For me, Pinterest surfs are as energizing as my essential cups of coffee. When I scroll through the site, I might be looking for a great gift idea but find myself lingering over a sumptuous plate of spaghetti, a clever portable salad system, or a way to belt a blouse that I hadn’t considered.
Unlike some bulletin board sites (Delicious, for instance) Pinterest seems to have a distinct voice and aesthetic—one that’s whimsical, rhapsodic, classic, and very, very cute.
In other words, feminine.
It’s clear—from both the names of the “pinners” and the growing number of my female friends who are obsessed with Pinterest—that the site is driven by women.
So what does this mean for marketers and how can you leverage this increasingly popular social media site.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Think about your audience and what they value and provide a mix of content that is interesting and engaging to them.
- Like other social media tools, Pinterest is not purely a self promotion tool. It’s about developing a conversation that requires a delicate mix of pinning your own content and repinning others' content.
- Be sure to follow people with like interests. Following people on Pinterest is as important as pinning.
- Determine how often you are going to pin and make sure you have a good variety of content that will keep people interested.
With almost 1.4 million active users on Facebook, Pinterest is yet another interesting tool in the ever growing social media toolbox.
After receiving over 60 entries we have chosen the winner of the Michigan Business Reboot Contest. We were thrilled and overwhelmed with the amount of very deserving businesses that entered, which made our decision difficult. However, after carefully reviewing all the entries and interviewing finalists, the business we selected for the grand-prize of marketing and public relations services worth $75,000 is Mechanical Energy Systems (MES).
Mechanical Energy Systems has provided alternative energy solutions such as solar electric and water heating to homeowners and businesses. As pioneers in renewable energy products, the family-owned company is well-respected in the industry and is becoming one of the largest distributors and trainers of solar applications in Michigan. They were chosen based on their longstanding commitment to Michigan and dedication to innovation. We are excited to begin working with everyone at MES and look forward to helping them grow their business and their marketing initiatives.
Thank you to everyone who entered the Michigan Business Reboot Contest and helped make this a success.
Tiaras, the royal family and a fairytale happy ending fit for a queen (or a future princess in this case); it’s a dream come true for not only Kate Middleton, but for media and marketers alike. In less than 24 hours, the media circus that has been running wild since Prince William’s proposal will come to a pinnacle. The Royal Wedding is expected to break the record for highest ratings in television history, with an estimated viewership of over 2 billion and millions more who will stream the nuptials online. With this attention is it any surprise that marketers are giving their brand’s the royal treatment? Here are just a few campaigns that are all using different strategies to pay homage to the Prince and his bride.
- Kodak’s print campaign uses a play on the future princess’ last name to advertise their All-in-One printer with the tagline, “Say goodbye to Middle tones.” Two other taglines in the campaign are “For richer not poorer,” and “Prints Charming.”
- Post-it took in to account the amount of people travelling to London this week and launched an outdoor campaign for their Super Sticky Note. These ads show an enlarged Sticky Note with the soon-to-be newlyweds’ names, a heart and the congratulatory message, “May you stick together forever.”
- T-Mobile took an even lighter approach. This video, which has almost 13 million views on YouTube, uses royal family look-a-likes busting a move down the aisle to promote their “Life’s for Sharing” campaign.
Have you been following the coverage? Will you be donning an over-sized hat, pouring a spot of tea and tuning in for the royal ceremony?
The first crack of a bat and pop of a glove are sounds coming from baseball diamonds all across America as MLB opening days start off the season. It’s also a big day for some advertisers because they can start monitoring their in-stadium campaigns. What are some of the newest ways advertisers are reaching fans at games this year?
We have seen the amount of exposure a product/service can receive from advertising at a baseball stadium. From the LED panels behind home plate, first base and third base, to the eBlasts and texts that persuade fans to “play this game,” or “check out our Facebook fan page.” But don’t forget about the advertisements that are strategically placed around concessions, on cups, napkins, seat cushions and foam fingers, because really…what’s a game without SWAG?
One of the newest ways to reach fans is by going right to the one thing that keeps them most connected with the world, their phone. To many people, cell phones are like an extension to their body; glued to them at all times making them always accessible. Next time you’re walking into a stadium, look to see if there are any signs outside that say, “turn on your Bluetooth, sign up and win free stuff!” Advertisers now have the option to place Bluetooth deliver devices at stadium gates that scan and pick up any Bluetooth signal. This will send a welcome message that allows fans to download an application to receive exclusive coupons, make reservations, play interactive games to win prizes, buy merchandise or even participate in a charity event. In the Detroit market at Comerica Park, Cedar Point ran a text promotion that played a video on the big screen of people riding a rollercoaster. Fans had to text a number and guess which coaster it was at Cedar Point. The first person who guessed the correct coaster won day passes to the amusement park.
Mobile technology and stadium advertising has opened many doors and given us endless ways to reach a niche consumer on a personal level, even in the middle of an exciting baseball game. By the seventh inning stretch, how many coupons, Facebook pages and promotions do you think you have you been exposed to?
Brogan & Partners has had the privilege of working with a fantastic client team over the past couple of years to conceive, develop, and implement their podcast program. While we’ve had to work through some challenges along the way, two years in, we’ve found that we’re gaining ground in terms of listenership and downloads, and building a loyal following. From this experience I’ve come up with a list of the things that clients really need to consider before launching a podcast program. We’ll start today with setting objectives, and over the next few weeks, we’ll look at determining a content plan, establishing production values and effectively marketing a podcast series.
The first step in objective setting is to establish a clear idea of how this program supports the brand. What brand values do you need to clearly, convincingly, and consistently demonstrate through every podcast? For this client, we had to be authoritative and objective – anything less could actually damage the brand. And we had to consider, as a result, what this need meant for our content and production plans.
Next, you have to understand how your brand benefits from the series. What is the value of the podcast in the broader context of the brand? In the case of this client, the podcast series supports a critical mission – it serves as a venue for important data to reach our target audience in a more informal, more engaging way that we’ve done in the past.
Tied to that is the “so what” factor - what is the takeaway for your listener? How do you envision that your listener’s life is enriched by listening to the podcast – is he or she entertained? Does he become more educated on something he cares about? If you can’t convincingly answer this question, you might want to reconsider what and why you’re podcasting to begin with.
Finally, no goal-setting exercise is complete without a definition of success. What’s the KPI? Downloads? RSS subscriptions? Do all stakeholders buy in to this measurement?
I’d love to hear about your experiences – what questions do you ask when conceptualizing a podcast series? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.