Archive | November, 2013

Kmart’s “Show Your Joe” — How DraftFCB Created More Than Just a Viral Video

25 Nov


   No, this is not your grandmother’s Kmart.  And that’s the point.  If you think the latest internet-only ad from Kmart looks like a PG-13 version of Chippendales, that too is the point.

     The new ad called “Show Your Joe” is the latest in a series of slightly edgy digital shorts (no pun intended) designed specifically for the sharability of social media.  It is not without controversy, and that also is likely part of the goal to reawaken awareness of a flagging brand.  Jingle Joe 5

     But there’s much more going on here.  Kmart’s agency, DraftFCB-Chicago has built in a clear strategy behind the naughty-but-nice jingle bells spoof.  That strategy is to boost Christmas sales among  young internet savvy women by co-branding with Joe Boxer.  They do this by embedding an integrated link at the end of the video that redirects the viewer to a special Kmart page featuring each of the “Jingle Joes.” (Figure 1)  Click on one of the “Joes” and another page pops up with a virtual catalog of gift ideas laid out in Pinterest-like tiles to create your own “Fantasy Joe.”  The subtle but strategic message argument is, “Dress your man the way you want—at Kmart.” 

Figure 1

Figure 1

     What Kmart is attempting to do is create a new value proposition in digital space.  It’s not so much about discount pricing as it is about allowing the shopper to experience the enjoyment of customizing their man through an easy and fun online shopping tool.  The “Show Your Joe” video is merely the bottom rung of the means-end ladder to creating the perfect Christmas gift for the price and style conscious woman—a fun dressed man she wants to be seen with.  The ad is really about her, not him.

     This is not Kmart’s first attempt at edgy videos.  Earlier this year DraftFCB created an online ad called “Ship My Pants” designed to drive traffic to for free shipping. 

    In a previous post I explored how more major brands such as Ford and Njoy have used digital-only campaigns in social space to target very specific market segments.   Kmart is only the latest player in this category and according to internet tracking data, the strategy may be working. 

Figure 2

Figure 2

     Google Trends shows a sharp rise in online search for Kmart since the release of the “Show Your Joe” ad. (Figure 2)  Additionally, the web tracking service Alexa shows consistent growth in traffic to both and in the two weeks ahead of the post-Thanksgiving holiday rush.

     The ultimate metric is whether those searches and visits are converting into sales.  Kmart is making a low-cost bet that the strategy is worth it.  With more than 12-million views on YouTube, “Show Your Joe” is at least placing them into the holiday shopping conversation.  And that’s a place every retail brand wants to be.  


The Making of a Meme Called “Batkid”

16 Nov

Batkid It's not who I am

     It was a week of tragedy and insecurity.   A typhoon named Haiyan tested our faith in humanity and a fledgling American healthcare law questioned our trust in government.  The world needed a super-hero.  It got one in a five year old masked boy.

     His real name is Miles Scott.  In his short life he’s proven himself brave enough to battle leukemia, so why not battle injustice too.  His request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Francisco was simple: to become a caped crusader. 

Figure 1 - Miles Scott, A.K.A., Batkid.

Figure 1 – Miles Scott, A.K.A. Batkid.

     What happened next is a case study in contagion,  social media memes, and a collective desire for something positive.  All it took was a picture and a narrative.  It was as simple and accessible as a bat symbol in the sky.

     In this narrative, social psychologist Jaap van Genneken, Ph.D., would suggest that young Miles became what he calls a strong replicator.  Such replicators evoke an instant and powerful emotion that causes people to take notice and share.  An image plays an essential role in creating this contagion—the strongest replicators are child-like images.   But in order for the image to have an effect, it must be set in an unexpected way—a surprise.  The image of Miles in his bat costume was precisely the trigger. (Figure 1)  Colliding the image of an innocent child with that of a super-hero gladiator created a powerful set of metaphors that were hard to ignore. 

Figure 2 - #Batkid Tweet on November 15, 2013.

Figure 2 – #Batkid Tweet on November 15, 2013.

     The image serves as a signal to the viewer that there is more to the narrative.  It’s actually the beginning of a critical cognitive cycle that forms a negative association with cancer and positive associations with the child, and the efforts to grant his wish of becoming a super-hero for a day.  When viewers saw the image on social media and hit the send button, a meme was born–Batkid. 

     But when 13,000 people showed up on the streets of San Francisco to participate in the narrative of helping Batkid capture the Riddler and Penguin, the meme spread even faster with the speed of Instagram and Twitter. (Figure 2)   A virtual display by Trendsmap shows how the meme spread world-wide with some of the heaviest Twitter traffic in Europe. (Figure 3) 

Figure 3 - Global Trendsmap of #Batkid.

Figure 3 – Global Trendsmap of #Batkid.

     The meme even reached the pinnacles of power.  The U.S. Department of Justice issued an indictment against the Riddler and Penguin. (See attachment below)  And by the end of the day, Batkid got the world’s ultimate legitimacy in a Vine message from President Obama. 

     In many ways it was the perfect meme at the perfect time.  Like Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River at the peak of the Great Recession in 2009, the world needed something to celebrate.   The same is true now.  Thousands of innocent human beings perished this week.  All were innocent souls.   It took another innocent soul to remind us of our frailties—and of our capacity for good. 

     That’s why when the Bat Phone rang, thousands answered.

It’s Aaron – Packers’ Aaron Rodgers’ Strategic Use of Video to Extend Personal Brand

8 Nov


   On the football field, no one connects with receivers better than the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.  Just ask the Minnesota Vikings.  But outside of Lambeau Field, Rogers has launched a campaign to connect with everyday people.

    It’s simply called, “It’s Aaron.”  

Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers talking with a Antwan from Milwaukee's Operation Dream

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talking with a Antwan from Milwaukee’s Operation Dream

    The heart of the campaign uses TV commercials and an accompanying website to funnel viewers into a series of online videos profiling three non-profit organizations and the young lives they impact.   The schema of each video has Rodgers making a surprise appearance with some of these children and giving his gift of time.  By doing so, Rodgers brings attention to a deserving child and a worthy cause while at the same time exposing another side of himself to a new audience outside of football.   By choosing video as a medium, it creates an accessible and lasting connection to viewers based upon its level of realism and emotion.

   The videos are not only strategic, the campaign itself is smart and has substantial groundings in communication research.  Carl Hovland in his well documented Yale studies in the early 1950’s established how source effects have powerful persuasive influences.  Rogers’s celebrity status makes him a credible source to extend awareness and legitimacy to the non-profits he’s giving exposure to.  

   But the persuasive strength of the videos utilizes more than just source effects.  It also forces the viewer form new attitudes by reconciling their own beliefs and expectations about the kids and the non-profits Rodgers is associating himself with.  It’s an extremely subtle but effective process that psychologist Martin Fishbein called Expectancy-Value Model.   Using Rodgers’ IndependenceFirst video as an example, the story line creates a EVM attitude conversion. [Figure 1] 

Figure 1

Figure 1

    The “It’s Aaron” campaign is a joint venture between Rodgers and Wisconsin personal injury attorney David Gruber.   By associating himself with Rodgers, Gruber too benefits from the source effects of Rogers’ celebrity status.   By combining their efforts, the two professionals benefit from a balance theory approach in associating themselves with positive messages about positive organizations. [Figure 2]  In the process, Rodgers and Gruber have created the strategic means of extending both of their personal brands to enable audiences to get to know them on a different level. 

Figure 2

Figure 2

    While based in theory, the videos themselves do tend to lack in execution.  It’s questionable whether the videos’ scattered focus and creative production can sustain a viewer’s attention for more than five minutes, especially as more consumers are accessing such content on mobile platforms where attention spans are shorter.

   But it’s clearly a campaign that didn’t happen by accident.  It’s more than just a simple series of videos.  The title may be “It’s Aaron,” but it could also be called “It’s Smart.”

#WolvesAreComing – How FSN’s New Timberwolves Marketing Campaign Came From Students at the U of Minnesota

1 Nov


    Big ideas don’t necessarily come from big agencies.  They come from wherever inspiration lies.  In the case of the new Minnesota Timberwolves image campaign, the big ideas came from a group of students at the University of Minnesota’s Strategic Communication Program.

    “Our idea was to kind to reach people like us,” said Kelsey Batkiewicz, one of the students who worked on the campaign.

    Batkiewicz’s class of nearly two dozen students divided into three teams and worked on competing strategies and pitches on the Timberwolves marketing campaign for Fox Sports North.  

    The creative concept of the thirty-second image spot she said was to have a live wolf  walking through a snow covered basketball court and past TV monitors containing fast paced imagery of Timberwolves highlights on FSN.  [Figure 1]    

Timberwolves Background 4

Figure 1 – Image from FSN Timberwolves promo

     “Well, the snow was actually made out of paper, which is really funny.  It looks so real in the commercial,” said Batkiewicz .   “And so it’s really that contrast from the cold winter to the awesomeness that’s inside the target center and what goes on during those games.”

    The promotional video as conceived by Batkiewicz’s team and produced by FSN uses no announcer’s track, only metaphorical imagery designed to make the viewer elaborate about  the fast-paced excitement of watching stars Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love play on television.  The communication strategy peels off the screen. [Figure 2] 

Figure 2

Figure 2

    Additionally, the students collaborated with FSN on creating a social media campaign and hashtags, one of which is #WolvesAreComing, to help create a social community for the buildup of the new season.

    The competition is a collegiate outreach effort of Fox Sports called the Fox  Creative University.   It collaborates with major universities in each of the markets where Fox Sports has a regional cable network to give students an opportunity to contribute to a real-world marketing campaign.  

U of M graduate Kelsey Batkiewicz and her classmates with the FSN Timberwolves broadcast team. (Courtesy: Dr. John Eighmey)

U of M graduate Kelsey Batkiewicz (first row, second from left) and her classmates with Tom Hanneman and the FSN Timberwolves broadcast team. (Courtesy: Dr. John Eighmey)

    “Everybody is trying to figure out what’s the future, what’s going to trend with the younger audience,” said Mike Dimond, Fox Sports North Senior Vice President and General Manager.  “It’s really an opportunity for us to learn as much as it is for them to learn.”  

    The students’ professor, Dr. John Eighmey said there was really no secret to their success.  “I just taught them the concepts, and they created their own ideas and ran with them,” said Eighmey.

    Dimond said his team at FSN was so impressed with the students’ input on the Timberwolves campaign that they’ve gone back to the U of M and Eighmey’s current strategic communication students to have them design the media campaign for the 2015 Hockey Day in Minnesota.

    “I don’t think I could have had any better experience during my time at the U of M,” said Batkiewicz.    “It was hands down the best.”

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Disclosure:  Fox Television Stations, where I am currently employed, along with Fox Sport North are both divisions of 21st Century Fox.  Additionally, I hold a Master of Arts degree in strategic communication from the U of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the same school attended by Ms. Batkiewicz.   I was neither paid nor encouraged by any of these organizations to write this blog post.

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