Nothing To Do With Marketing

This post has absolutely nothing to do with marketing.

Or, maybe it does. An upcoming post will discuss the upcoming NCAA FBS championship game. In the meantime, I think these new Oregon Ducks uniforms unveiled by Nike for the championship game are just pretty damn cool. And I had to tell someone. I love how brands take advantage of major sporting events to make an impact.

Give me some input for my NCAA post — do you think the NCAA is a customer-centric organization? Why?

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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.

    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.

    More Insights on Fantasy Sports

    In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned the marketing goldmine that is fantasy sports. As proof that I do not preach onto marketers that which is not true, I offer you this post from ESPN the Magazine about the goldmine that is fantasy sports.

    From the article:

    “Fantasy sports players consume the most media,” he says (“he” being Kim Beason, an associate professor at Ole Miss who is also the CEO of Fantasy Sport Research Specialists). “And the demographic—males, mid-30s, college-educated, income of $75,000, who have high-speed Internet—is a real sweet spot for advertisers.”

    See, I kid you not. Fantasy sports is a ticket to nice-sized wallets. What’s interesting to me, however, is the segregated nature of fantasy sports as described by the ESPN article. I guess I didn’t know that because 75% of the players in my fantasy leagues are black. Yet in the statistics still lives opportunity for marketers who take a good, long look. The ESPN article contains this nugget of insight from comedian Guy Torry:

    Torry makes one especially valid point: The hip-hop connection is a perfect way to market fantasy sports to a younger black demographic. “It’s that sports ego, man,” he says. “It’s you, chillin’ on the block with your boys, arguing over a player, a coach’s decision or some move a GM made, and saying, ‘This is what I would’ve done.’ And now you say, ‘All right, join the fantasy league. Let’s see what you’ve got!’ Since I joined fantasy, I’ve never loved the NFL as much as I love it now.”

    So, even if the statistics say a particular demographic is not there in fantasy sports right now, trust me, they’re coming. Once they get fantasy figure skating, women are coming too (although, again, there are two women in my fantasy football league). Be ready to charge ahead with your marketing message.

    As for Michael Phelps…

    …see, it’s starting. We’ll be over-Phelpsed in no time.

    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.

    The Death of Boxing

    It’s a bummer too, because I used to be its big fan.

    And marketers used to be its best friend. Remember when boxing was big and popular (ok, try really hard…and if you’re younger than 25, go look it up)? The days when there were great boxers up and down the divisions. The days when Mike Tyson was champion, and you didn’t even have to watch the fight because you know if you missed it he’d still be the champ in the morning. The days when boxing champions would command big spokesperson dollars – for everything from ad spots and shoe contracts to Wheaties boxes and video games.

    Now, do you even know who boxes anymore, never mind who the champion is (c’mon, name 10 professional boxers, fast)? Even if you do put out an APB and find out who the champion is, is he relevant? Will he be champ in another month? Is he even known in North America, and does anyone even care about his likeness or his persona? If you had to give your opinion and name THE top boxer (let’s say Jerry Lewis pulls a gun out of his bag in the airport and points it at you, demanding a name), who would you say? An aging Roy Jones, who has declining skills and increasing other interests? Floyd Mayweather, who’d rather do about 6 other things than box at this point? Oscar De la Hoya (see Roy Jones above)? Kimbo Slice, who isn’t even a boxer?

    Man, talk about a sport that has done NOTHING to promote its stars, or even promote its sport. It’s practically invisible now. Its like hockey, before hockey.

    Marketers don’t like the obscure (unless it’s an obscure network of niche websites that delivers phenomenal targeting potential). They also don’t like things their customers perceive as unimportant, dishonest and uninteresting. Boxing can’t even get a scoring system that’s perceived as fair and reliable (it actually isn’t either, forget perception) for one of the biggest stages of all, the Olympics. Plus, all the various obscure championship belts and mega-fights that never happen due to one reason (money) or another (money) have watered down the sport and created zero in terms of anticipation and excitement.

    RIP, boxing, I’ll miss you on my radar. Gotta go now, have to watch some obscure MMA fights on Spike TV.