Where’s the Marketing Bailout?

Ok, time for a rather random post, compared to some of the marketing how-to commentary you read in this blog. But here it goes anyway.

In a daydream-type moment today, I couldn’t help but wonder that given all the coverage, debate, angst and fuss given to the government bailout of the financial industry (including Citi and now possibly automakers, too), what if there was a bailout fund for bad marketing campaigns?

Yes, that’s right. A huge fund of public money to help marketers in need. Ok, that may be too much of a folly for some to comprehend. So instead, what if the money came from an insanely-wealthy, smart businessman who just decided to give bad marketing a second chance? Say, a Mark Cuban or Richard Branson. Think of all the marketers and campaigns this bailout fund could help breathe new life into. Here’s a few famous ones:

  • New Coke would get a fresh start, rejecting market feedback since the first launch in a second attempt at reinventing this soft drink. How about a crazy new campaign with new packaging (using a completely different color pallette than the traditional suite of Coke products), a new tagline (maybe “New Generation, Another Try“), and a grassroots online marketing effort backed by advergame sponsorship (official drink of all the felons in Grand Theft Auto V)?
  • In an attempt to market its way out of the potential Big Three Bailout, Ford relaunches the 2009 Edsel X Series. It’s a hybrid, practical vehicle targeted to families via mobile events at Wal-Marts in 50 major metros. Ford also partners with H&R Block to provide mobile tax-completion services in branded Edsels, associating the vehicle with financial prudence.
  • Instead of trying to capture adult tastes with a 610-calorie burger, McDonald’s repackages the Arch Deluxe brand as the Deluxe Arch Salad. It incorporates the same elements at the original burger, yet slightly healthier — fresh tomatoes, onions and lettuce; low-calorie cheese; bacon bits; and low-cal croutons. It’s marketed as part of a value meal with yogurt, an energy bar and a non-bottled water. Marketing includes coupons distributed via gyms and health clubs, in-store events with athletes and celebrities, and grassroots sponsorship of sporting events and fairs.
  • Can you think of other products that would qualify for funds? I sure could (hell, I’d love to see my Cingular brand come back, but that’s not bad marketing just a bad decision…did I mention I hate AT&T?).

    Not to bring up a sore subject, but can you think of your own campaigns that would qualify? If so, then go take a good, long look and fix them right now.

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    Does Your Message Make Anyone Take Notice, Part 4

    This post is less SEM-focused than the last few posts on this topic, yet in the interest of making people take notice of your message, if you’re targeting customers in big cities (or your a transit entity looking for additional revenue) take a good, long look at this huge opportunity from NYC Transit.

    It’ll be interesting to hear from the big media brands, like History Channel, how this mass transit takeover works. Yes, advertising is a intrusion-based tactic, dropping right into the middle of TV and radio and magazines and alot of other things. And now it drops right into your communte in a big way — it was already there, of course, yet just grew from a taxi-cab-sized presence to a double-decker-bus-sized presence. You can’t help but notice messaging that is so obvious, all-over, and (in alot of cases, but not all) impactful — hell, there are even LED ads in dark stretches of tunnel! It will surely help the recall studies, but how much will it help the sales figures?

    Kudos to NYC Transit for charging ahead with a creative way to generate revenue. Let’s see which brands get creative turning the medium into tangible results.

    More on Michael Phelps…

    “Attention marketers, it is quarter to 12, the seats on this bandwagon are closing in 15 minutes. If you’d like to hitch your ride, please contact your nearest Octagon representative immediately.”

    Check out this Yahoo article on all the endorsements Michael Phelps has lined up. If you’re a marketer on a big brand, are you ponying up to become one of the many sponsors, or are you steering clear to avoid getting lost in the fray?

    Carlisle does limit the number of Phelps’ corporate endorsements, which include Visa, Speedo, AT&T, Omega, Kellogg’s, Pure Sport, Rosetta Stone and three to five more coming in six months.
    Phelps already has plenty of exposure. After Athens, he landed on a dozen magazine covers and six national TV spots. Octagon created behind-the-scenes videos of swimmers, including one featuring the friendly rivalry between Phelps and Ian Crocker, another U.S. Olympic swimmer.

    The O(ver)lympics

    Geez, finally, the Phelpslympics are over. I can only watch so many butterfly heats, 3.1-difficulty dives, volleyball spikes, ribbon dances and 30-point basketball blowouts before it gets just a tad uninteresting.

    Yet from a marketing standpoint, there are three cool things to take a good, long look at. One is which of the big medal winners will cash in for endorsement dollars (Phelps of course, Lebron, Kobe…feel free to keep going). Ok, that’s an easy one.

    Second is, what cool things did we see that were new, different, etc. (and useful to marketers). The opening and closing ceremonies of course. Huge marketing opportunities. How? Well, for example, with all the Internet buzz created by the hot girl from Paraguay spotted in the opening ceremony, there’s gotta be a way for, say, Hooters, to infuse hot, branded models into the crowd of marching athletes. Well, then there’s the whole damn list of venues, obviously (Bird’s Nest, etc.). I think those just became a huge sponsorship opportunity too. Can’t you see the Apple iStadium coming to a future Olympics? Then there’s that cool little World-Record-pace line that follows the participants across the pool during the swimming events. Could easily have Nemo or some other animated character pulling it across the pool to promote a movie or DVD release.

    Third is, what will the future Olympics bring? Well, as Mark Cuban points out in his latest post, it could be an ESPN-hosted 2016 Olympics (thank God, hopefully). Yahoo’s Fourth-Place Medal blog also had a post (complete with ESPN-like humor) on the topic. Seriously, that would be the best thing. We’d get less Costas-drama-setting and more real-athlete analysis and experience-telling. Although, the funny ideas suggested by the Yahoo blog may not be too far off. I can already hear Chris Berman calling the discus throw with his “Back, back, back…” call. However, he’d be making the call on an Olympic broadcast set “Built by Home Depot” or “Driven by GMC” or “Powered by General Electric.” Because when ESPN broadcasts, passionate sports fans tune in and watch…and marketers’ dollars follow.

    This is “Your Brand Here”, and I Approved This Convention

    As a marketer, clearly there are risks associated with taking a stance on political issues or candidates.

    Yet, could it be that the conventions of both parties are the greatest untapped sponsorship opportunity in the world?!?!?!?

    Imagine, tens of thousands of live attendees, and millions on TV, taking a good, long look as your brand logo is subtly injected into the fabric of the event. A passionate and enagged audience, too. It’s product placement on steroids. What if Obama calmly sips from an Evian bottled water during long applause? Or McCain wipes his brow with a Target-logoed towel?

    Sure, there are probably a few hurdles to clear in terms of campaign contributions and what not. Yet couldn’t that convention sponsorship money go to charity instead of political coffers? And sure, you’d alienate a large number of potential customers — but you’d also turn the rest into loyal brand zealots! People would be clamoring to drink the same Evian water (or Kool-Aid) that Obama is. Clearing the shelves in certain states, extra inventory in others.

    Yeah, probably a little too much of a hot button for many marketers to press. Yet can’t you see a maverick brand or CEO deciding to charge ahead and jump all over this opportunity? “The 2008 Democratic National Convention, brought to you by GoDaddy” or some other brand that wouldn’t shy away from the publicity, both good and bad.

    I know, I know…unrealistic. Is it though? With a little lobbying, I’m sure GoDaddy could make it happen (especially if the lobbyist is that Obama Girl).