The Bailout Vote Is In

29 09 2008


Just… yikes.

There’s nothing I can say that says more than this image twittered by Dave Winer.

Kraft’s Low-Fat Social Media Launch: A Case Study

26 09 2008

I suspect that the rumored experiments with social media by CPG companies are a lot like the talk around freshman year high school lockers about sex: there’s probably a lot more talk than action.

By contrast, this Kraft case study is the first one I’ve ever seen for a CPG company that did two important things:

  • Shows how they tried social media; and
  • Addresses how they tried to measure its effectiveness

One could argue the measures are a little soft. Still, they’re tougher standards than I’ve seen to date, which too often rest on ROP (Return on Prayer).


In January 2008, Kraft launched their new 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese with a campaign including TV spots, print ads and a sweepstakes that gave away bagels and cream cheese to 100 winners each day at through March 20. Visitors to the site were also able to download a new widget for recipes and party-planning tips.

The social media portion of the campaign was built around a PR stunt. Kraft gave JetBlue passengers a breakfast box containing a bagel, new 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese and an info packet explaining the product. Brand managers Adam Butler and Tyler Williamson became the face of the brand on a blog, YouTube videos and on the plane.

The agency, DEI Worldwide, engaged directly with consumers via online message boards, chat rooms, IM and profiles on MySpace and Facebook.

“Authenticity” And Acid Moments

Engaging with consumers in authentic, one-on-one conversations means you won’t always hear what you hope to hear. This game isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, I’m guessing top management at Kraft HQ was less than thrilled with this comment:

One blogger wrote, “As brand managers for this product, it’s all so overly intentional and schticky. You are sales people with an obvious point of view. This blog simply aims to distract from that fact by implying both of you can actually say anything other than ‘Kraft/Philadelphia cream cheese is great.’ A for effort, F for execution. The only thing cheesy around here is this blog!”

 Another real online conversation is below:

According to DEI Worldwide, the social media campaign consisted of  40 blog posts and 28 videos, written and filmed by the brand team, posted on the microsite during the campaign.


The campaign generated 535,088 direct online conversations in  chat rooms, instant message applications and message board forums with a potential pass-along 1st generation reach of 2,675,440.

At this point it’s only fair to note that I have no idea what “potential pass-along 1st generation reach” is. Anybody from Kraft care to comment? Anyone else have an idea?

In addition to the 1-1 conversations that took place, the campaign received more than 7,000 video views (really, not bad at all) and 50,000+ blog views.

Also — and probably where the bulk of the measurable ROI was — the campaign was featured  on national TV on Fox Business News, on National Public Radio (NPR) and in Brandweek Magazine.

What Did Kraft Learn?

In their own words:

    * Be authentic.
    * Accept some risk, you will not be able to control everything.
    * If you’re not talking about your product on-line, others are, and they’re controlling the conversation.
    * We need to be where people are getting their information and talking about food. People are online and doing this every day.
    * Don’t underestimate how technologically savvy consumers are, you can reach them through ways you didn’t think possible.
    * You need to find a way to respond to people’s comments; this is not a one-way conversation.
    * People want to feel like they’re being heard; forums like are a particularly easy way to achieve this feeling.
    * Videos…people love being on camera
    * If it’s been done before, don’t do it again, do it better

What Can Other CPG Brands Learn?

  • There’s a lot to learn (both good and bad) from launching with social media
  • Social media is an amplifier of traditional media, not a complete substitute
  • A human story is better than a pure product story, esp. when the full product promise can be delivered in the brand name
  • Social media may not require substantial paid media, but there is a significant cost in staff time and attention required in this approach
  • Be sure your management will be supportive, even when not all the “conversations” you start go the way you hope they will
  • Know your success metrics in advance

What have I missed as a lesson learned? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


Dolce&Gabanna, Meet Procter&Gamble: The Interview

18 09 2008

How P&G went to market in the 1950s:

Television, television, television.

A sprightly jingle, complete with a string section straight out of the Donna Reed show.

And a Disney-esque voiceover intoning, “Clean and bright as the sun on the sand”.

And, this is how P&G launches a new product today.

Where’s the TV campaign? Where’s the jingle? Why are bloggers involved? And what, in the name of all that’s traditional and stodgy in Cincinnati, do the Kardashian sisters have to do with all this?

Well, maybe a runway launch isn’t a bad idea for a product that’s tall, skinny, and curvy in all the right places.

Alissa Hammond of Procter & Gamble agreed to be interviewed for iCPG about the launch. Here’s what we talked about.

Tom: Who’s the ideal target for this product?

Alissa: Our target is the consumer who is concerned not only with performance, but also design. They want a power toothbrush that fits the aesthetics of their bathroom and is slim and sleek, but still offers the functional cleaning and whitening benefits of an Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush.

Tom: It’s interesting that P&G chose to launch with no TV support at all. What was the rationale? How did management react? How did retailers react?

Alissa: The rationale is based on the insights we have about our consumer. Because the product is unique and appeals to a new consumer group, we wanted to reach them when they are most receptive to hearing about our product and connect our brand to things they are already engaged in, such as design, fashion and beauty. We know our consumer target is engaged and passionate about bloggers, magazine editors, interior designers, and fashion and design events.

We saw a great opportunity to reach bloggers, media and some of our consumers directly at New York Fashion Week in early September. We partnered with Style360 to launch the Pulsonic on the runway. The toothbrush accessorized upscale loungewear clothing from Dash and Smooch, which are boutiques owned by the Kardashian sisters. Also on site at the Style360 events was the Pulsonic-inspired “Ultimate Fashionista’s Bathroom,” designed by Pulsonic-spokesperson Michael Moloney, interior designer for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Michael was onsite during the multi-day event to describe his inspiration for the bathroom design, as well as talk about the great benefits of the Pulsonic and why he recommends having it in your bathroom.

Tom: I’ve seen web banners for Pulsonic on MP3 download pages, and prominent paid search ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Are any banners behaviorally targeted?

Alissa: Knowing that the consumer is interested in design, fashion and beauty, we are able to provide our key messaging on the sites where the consumer spends much of their time online. We also utilize paid search via the major portals and integrate our message and banner advertising in contextually relevant sites.

Tom: Are you doing other digital advertising besides banners and paid search?

Alissa: Yes. We have been promoting the Pulsonic in various P&G newsletters that go out to consumers. We also utilized promotions and advertising through key eRetailers such as Amazon and Drugstore, and the Pulsonic was available for preorder on these sites prior to national launch.

Tom: What role will bloggers play in this launch? How did you reach out to the bloggers? Which company(s) did you use, and why?

Alissa: The unique characteristics of the consumer, specifically where they go to get new product information and suggestions, changes where we normally place our marketing focus. Our insight into the Pulsonic consumer target tells us that bloggers play an extremely important role in influencing her. We are extensively contacting and sampling the Pulsonic to bloggers and even gave one blogger backstage access to the Style360 events during Fashion Week so she could have an exclusive look at how the Pulsonic tied into the events. Our Public Relations agency reached out to bloggers and established relationships with them to spread the word about the Pulsonic.

Tom: Besides this, what role — if any — do you see for social media as you move forward

Alissa: Social media will continue to be an important part of our strategy when our consumer insights show he or she is influenced by social media.

Tom: How will you measure the success of your digital efforts?

Alissa: We measure ROI (return on investment) through our Marketing Mix Modeling and also have quantitative measures that we use along the way to measure our success.

Thanks, Alissa, for the interview.

For more observations on the Pulsonic launch, click here.

Will The Crashes of Lehman Brothers and AIG Take Your Brand With Them?

17 09 2008

The already-skittish economy is making a lot of brands sea-sick. And, the relentlessly bad news out of Wall Street is making the seas even stormier.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports store brands accounted for a record 26% of its grocery revenue in the quarter.

“In this economy, customers are much more willing to try a private-label item,” says Kroger CEO David Dillon.

In another sign of how the weak economy is changing shoppers’ behavior, Kroger has experienced “noticeable improvement” in sales at its discount-oriented stores, such as Food 4 Less, in the past three to six months.”

Need to fight off Private-Label pirates? Here are a few ideas.

2008 Is The New 1908: Gen Y Moms And The Digital Back Fence

17 09 2008

Anyone who markets to young Moms needs to understand how these women interact with technology. But if you really want to get a clear sense what’s going on, maybe it’s time to fire your futurists, and start taking a closer look at social histories of the early 1900s.

Selling to Gen Y Moms in 2008 looks more and more like selling to new Moms in 1908.

  • Moms share tips and ideas over the “back fence”: community matters more than media. Today that back fence is digital and global, but the behavior is the same.
  • Moms learn about new products from connecting with other Moms, and trust those recommendations over any other
  • Moms tend to view advertising as snake oil salesman. When it’s hard to know which brands have an authentic message, it’s easier to distrust them all.
  • Moms express themselves through home-made items (1908: pies and knitting; 2008: blogs and video)

Research by Yahoo! and Carat Interactive, conducted by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited takes a fresh look at Generation Y and its uses of media.

“What makes Gen Y people different is the way they are consuming media,” says Beth-Ann Eason, vice president, Category Management at Yahoo!. “Research that Yahoo! and Carat commissioned earlier this year showed that not only are teens spending more time with the Internet than TV, but that they also use the Internet as the hub of their media activity. The Internet is the medium from which all other media decisions get made, and that’s a powerful tool for marketers.”

Gen X and Gen Y Moms: How Are They Different?

In broad terms, it’s safe to say Gen X Moms use the web to get things done, and Gen Y Moms use the web to connect.

NewMediaMetrics recently surveyed moms who visited While both Gen X and Gen Y Moms had similar objectives of exploring mom-related issues online, Gen Y moms tend to have much higher attachment to interactive tools that allow them to connect directly with other moms: online communities, blogs, video-sharing sites. By contrast, Gen X moms have a more utilitarian view: online shopping, researching and reviewing products, and organizing photos.

For the PDF file on the study, please visit Parenting here. (PDF Download)

Some Surprising Facts

In their 2007 book, Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today’s Students, Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa found that in a survey of 7,705 college students in the US:

* 97% own a computer
* 97% have downloaded music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 94% own a cell phone
* 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
* 75% of college students have a Facebook account[17]
* 60% own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod
* 49% regularly download music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
* 34% use websites as their primary source of news
* 28% author a blog and 44% read blogs
* 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week

Are We Seeing Women As They’re Seeing Themselves?

In my opinion, the imagery of Moms in a lot of advertising is in many ways still 20 years behind the times. There are still a lot of 1980s “I can have it all” moments — the Dynasty shoulder pads are gone, but the attitude lingers like Joan Collins’ perfume. In many ways, this summer’s Sex In The City movie had it more right than marketers do: it’s about friends and connections more than it is about some stale image of an uber-Mommy.

And maybe that’s exactly where we need to start. Good marketing starts with good listening and a willingness to learn. Hasn’t it always?

Photo Credit (Mommy Blogger): Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Future of Media Roundtable

15 09 2008

Today, doubtless most of us are thinking more about the future of the banking industry and our 401Ks than about the future of media.

But if you’re in the mood to be distracted, read Media Post’s worthwhile recap of its “Future of Media Roundtable” held in New York. A bit more print-centric than I would have expected, but I guess it all depends on your perspective. Panelists included Bant Breen of IPG Emerging Media Lab, David Kenney of VivaKi, and Esther Dyson.

The Media Post story is available here.

How To Do A CPG Launch Without TV

12 09 2008

Karl Greenberg reports in yesterday’s Media Post that Procter & Gamble will be launching the new Oral-B Pulsonic toothbrush entirely through digital, PR, events, print and in-store. They’re giving TV the toothbrush-off: it’s not part of the launch at all.

It’s not a typical P&G move, but I think it’s very smart. Here’s why:

  • Real News Means Real PR. We all think we have revolutionary products, but in reality the media has seen most of them before. Oral-B has genuine news. In 2002, Ries and Ries argued in “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR“, that giant brands like Palm, Starbucks, the Body Shop, Wal-Mart, Red Bull and Zara have been built with virtually no advertising at all. These brands didn’t have ads, but they did have a different story to tell.
  • In The Mommy Blogger Sweet Spot. This has a beauty story (whitens teeth in two weeks) AND a healthy kids story (a toothbrush kids will want to use). Plus, it’s a very high-value trial item.
    The only way this could be more suited to the blogosphere would be if it was a Mac-branded tech product that let ugly teenage boys instantly date supermodels.
  • Bigger Cash Register Rings = More Patient Retailers. Normally, you need TV at launch because the trade has no patience for a slow build. But when your suggested retail is $70, you don’t need a whole lot of velocity to make it worth the retailer’s while.

Don’t be surprised if the “TV is dead” crowd online trumpets this as incontrovertible proof that digital has at last killed TV once and for all. But, don’t believe the hype either.

This is the most traditional thing you can imagine: P&G being a smart marketer.