Honda Targets Life Stages With New Leap List Campaign

Honda CR-V A new year, new budgets, new campaigns, and the kick off to what promises to be the best of the best in advertising for the Super Bowl. It is such an exciting time for advertising as we wait with anticipation for the spots during the game (unless you peek and watch the ones that were released early). Who ever would have thought that the 1st weekend in February would place advertising and advertisements in the spotlight?

Thereafter, we we start seeing ads catered towards holidays, seasonal ads with spring around the corner and summer knocking as well with ads that try and tie their brand into the event. Many try and many fail as they are forcing their brand to be associated with the event as opposed to their target market connecting their lifestyle to the event and including the brand. It is about the target and how the brand fits their life and not how the brand fits the event which then will fit into the life of the target. Sometimes through the creative process or lack thereof, this is forgotten.

The Purpose of Advertising

The purpose of advertising is to persuade the audience to buy. This is achieved through relating to the target market and convincing them that they need and/or want what you are selling to enrich their lives in some sort of way. There is also advertising whose purpose is stop people from doing things – ie drunk driving, smoking or even stop buying this brand and buy ours. With some advertising the purpose is harder as in some industries price matters, in others social status matters and in others there is that combination of both. Researching and targeting your target market is more than a good headline. It is a headline and marketing message that resonates enough to guide the target to buy. This persuasion encompasses the objectives of advertising which are to build awareness, position and differentiate all geared to build trust. We buy when we trust. Sure, there is buying out of need like groceries but the trust that Ronzoni makes better pasta than the store private label has us willing to spend that $.50 more even if they both taste the same and are made in the same plant.

Advertising the Lifestyle

Advertising the lifestyle sells. This is “you” with an iphone, ipad, a family running the kids here and there, this is “you” and you will have a better life as it will be easier, more convenient, you will be at the cool kids table, etc. Volvo was safety. The family car to protect the most precious, your kids and you of course. Chevrolet putting the focus on Motor City and the deterioration and strength of the City to be again. These are winners. Fiat was a loser as they tried to have people believe that Jennifer Lopez drives a Fiat. Maybe for the commercial she did on a Hollywood set which was supposed to be the Bronx but we all know that she is not driving a Fiat, or, for that matter, driving at all. Her driver drives, she rides. Even the younger generation would not rush out to buy a Fiat because J-Lo allegedly drives one. So, what is a car company to do? Show the car hugging the road, in extreme temperatures up a mound of snow? Meh, overdone and not really a lifestyle as you expect your vehicle, especially a truck or SUV to do that. Have an airplane land in the bed of the truck? Sure, because we all can take our pick-up truck on the runway. This is not lifestyle advertising. It is entertaining I suppose but tells the target nothing about their life experiences/lifestyle with the vehicle.

Honda Targets Life Stages with New Leap List Campaign

Honda has taken the bucket list to a new level by incorporating a holiday of sorts. This year is leap year and while we do not celebrate leap year as we do most holidays, it is an opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of it.  Many advertisers are more than likely planning big sales and ads around those sales. Great but, it is nothing new or different. It is one way communication that is no different than the sales for Valentines’ Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. Honda has done something different and has created the Leap List Campaign for the all new CR-V.

It embraces stages in our lives when we would be experiencing new things such as graduating college, planning a big vacation, running our first marathon, purchasing a new home, getting married and having a child. Not all of these would involve purchasing a new vehicle but it makes us think of the stages in our life and what we will (or want to) to accomplish before the next stage. Brilliant, as it incorporates leap year but does not make that the main focus. It makes our lives and the things we see as attainable the focus. The campaign is run on Facebook and, as you will notice, the contest is not the main tab. It is actually the third tab out of four. The main page is about YOUR leap list and encourages you to create your own leap list. The contest of course is a new CR-V with a years worth of gas to help the grand prize winner complete their leap list. The judging is based upon progress updates so it is not create a list and forget about it the next day as we do with New Years Resolutions. They are making you work for it.

The campaign is very creative, interactive and really just so great. I am not only saying this because I currently own a Honda Accord and have owned 3 other Honda’s. I admit I do love and swear by Honda but SUV’s are not my thing. I love this campaign as they are having us decide when we tackle those big things in life and determine when we would need the CR-V to accomplish them. It is not have a baby and need a safe car or bring the kids to football practice and need a mini-van, it is accomplish the big things in your life and for some of them you may need a CR-V and if you do, we are here.

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 photo credit: exfordy

When Celebrity Endorsements Hurt the Brand

celebrity endoresements hurting the brandCelebrity endorsements are golden as so many want to be them, feel a closeness to them and the more we see them the more we know them and want to have what they have. This is why celebrity endorsements work and sell product. Think Gatorade. They have cornered the athletic market and replaced water as a hydrant. Drink Gatorade and you will be the athlete of the century. The water companies are not standing up nor are the fitness folks saying water is the best hydrant. Gatorade has even become a staple in celebrations in rewarding a coach with a Gatorade bath after the big one. The celebrity endorsements and also their official sponsorships have made Gatorade what is in sports. I know my son at 6 sees it and believes that drinking Gatorade will make him stronger and a better football player. “They say they drink it so I should as I want to be like them.” Like them … that is what celebrity endorsements are all about. We want to be them so we act like them.

 Being Like Them

In marketing we want consumers to want to be like them so they can act like them as they trust and believe. The brand message has been received and they buy. They have to believe and who better to believe from than those that we want to be like? We innately are selfish insomuch as we want it all. We want their life having no idea what their life is. Have we ever considered what the life is like of a brand? We see it as so glamorous or at other times such a failure but never really in between. In between creates the uncertainty that makes us waiver. If we are not a fan of the celebrity endorser (enter Tiger Woods) we challenge the brand as if they keep the celebrity we may not buy despite loving the product but at the same time, if they dump the celebrity, we, as a buyer, become less important as the spotlight is off. Our own self worth in supporting the brand becomes diminished and we gravitate to the next one to gain that self worth once gain.

Celebrity Endorsement Hurting the Brand

A launch has all the ducks in a row … so we think. A big brand tests and tests (or not). When a celebrity endorsement does not connect with the brand as when we sit there and say, “no chance they would ever buy/use/care more about the brand than the paycheck, we lose confidence in the brand as we focus on the celebrity with the never would they instead of the brand itself. We see that now with Fiat and J-Lo. Jennifer Lopez is buzz worthy now. American Idol, a new album, a divorce – she is hot on the radar screen of what is scandalous and soothes the inner part of needing to know. But damit, J-Lo would  not be caught dead driving a Fiat 500. Come on, Fiat. That is the best you can give us? Did we think that we would see Eminem cruising down the streets of Detroit in Chrysler? Maybe but really we never thought of it that way. We had that emotional pull to the City of Detroit. We focused and believed not in him owning the car but in what Detroit is. The Motor City. Fiat wants us to believe that the celebrities will cruise down the streets in their bigger than a Smart Car but not even a comparison in coolness with a Miata; Really? J-LO WOULD NEVER OWN THE FIAT 500 (unless you gave it to her with a huge contract to drive it when the paparazzi was around). Yes there are many videos/commercials that promote her new song and even one that tries to emulate Chrysler on the city but yet the focus was on her, music and the car.

Why Fiat Failed

Fiat failed as it was about the celebrity. What do we know about the car other then a few little push of a button that they showed with well manicured nails and hair blowing for the sexyness? Yes it is sexy to own a great car but a Fiat? I know when I was a kid, my Aunt had a Fiat. It was silver and a semi convertible and a two seater. It was a hot car. It was small, and when it rolled up, it was worth looking at. The new Fiat is not necessarily worth looking at but then again is the Smart Car? I guess as it is different but there is not much sexy or alluring for a car that resembles a fish bowl in a way (unless you are still stuck in Wayne’s World). Fiat failed in thinking that we would believe that J-Lo would ever drive the car. We get that partnering with her sells her song, we get that the men want her now that she is single but do we get we should buy the Fiat? I do not think so. Hey Fiat, go after the Smart Car folks, as they are buyers and resonate and emulate the green movement. Maybe I am wrong here as maybe it was all about J-Lo getting her brand out there and attached on to Fiat. Doubt it as J-Lo does not need Fiat in the same way my son does not need Gatorade to jump start his game and become a better football player.

I may never be the voice that his heard within a big brand but I will always be the voice that is considered.

photo credit: The Official CTBTO Photostream

WE Built This Social Media City

city of social mediaIn my quest to get the body moving each day through music, I seek out new music to listen to. I stumbled across We Built This City … on Rock and Roll by Jefferson Starship. Catchy tune that when you sing it and listen to the words you are singing, you stop for a minute and think, yeah, ya know WE, the social media folks built a Social Media City. Sure, the developers built the platforms but we used them, we used them so much that we drew so much attention to our City, our very own Social Media City that now has blossomed into its own communities. These communities are all a part of OUR City and when one community needs help, we are there, when a member of OUR City has stumbled, we criticize only to try and help as they are not showing our City in the best light. We, ourselves, do the same when we viciously attach one another. We have spent years building this City only to show the outside world that our City is crumbling internally. We do not all have sit by the camp fire at night singing kumbaya while roasting marsh mellows but exposing our weaknesses only give the naysayers or those on the fence reason not to continue to build and preserve our City.

Our Social Media City

We can think back to the early days of blogging – or journals as they were called. Who were these freaks writing things online thinking people would read? We had books, magazines, newspapers, etc for that. Enter LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the failed Google platforms and now Google+. If those early freaks journals did not exist, would we be where we are now? If the developers did not take a chance and create the platforms and we as users did not embrace them and show how to integrate social media into a marketing plan, we would not have OUR City. That is pretty powerful to think about as all the new jobs that have been created, the communities we have developed, the friends we have made and the opportunity that has come for thousands of businesses to meet their customers.

Is Our City Thriving?

For each Twitter, Facebook, Google+ user account that is receiving praise, there are many that have lost their way or did not spend the time in learning that social media is marketing. Marketing is about building relationships and talking with the customers and not talking to the sale. The ultimate goal is to drive sales but the route taken to build the relationships is where there is the disconnect. We have expectations of how a brand should engage. We, as well respected members in our City, have expertise on what strategy will be best for them. Sometimes they listen and many times they do not.

Abandoned accounts, accounts that act as traditional advertising mediums where there is brand talking about themselves as an extension of a billboard or print ad and not interacting with their community or those that have no presence at all hurt our City. We can think of examples of those brands who are better served not having a presence at all in social media which when we think that way, it stagnates the growth of our City. When a brand stops updating or does not answer customers, potential customers or just a general question from a stumbler/surfer, it hurts our City. People stop believing in what we have built. They forget about the Pepsi’s, the AJBombers, The Dunkin Donuts who are leaders in brand social media.

Did Our City Grow Too Fast?

Did we? I lived the expansion in Las Vegas which ultimately was/is too much too fast. The numbers were showing the fastest growing city so they built and built and built. The problem is that the city could not sustain the growth with only one major industry. The reliance upon the casino industry to stimulate prospects from other industries faltered and while the volume in people and housing grew, the industrial sector did not.

Did our Social Media City grow too fast? Did some get left behind and not have the guidance to really learn the tools and how social media is not just a chat room but a part of an actual strategic marketing plan where the target market is researched, how they interact with one another, how they interact with the brands, how comfortable they are with using the platforms, the tone, the reputation that will be created through the tone used and the level of knowledge about the brand itself the social media accounts will showcase? This and a whole lot more matters. Those that are invested in our City and the City leaders know this but those that are new or just doing social media because they have to and forget it is marketing are missing out on opportunity but are also hurting our City.

Building and Preserving Our City

How can we attract new people to our City when they are met with disarray? When brands falter in social media the users suffer and so does the industry as a whole. We can think of Detroit and how their major industry has crumbled and rebuilding Detroit has become an entire community coming together taking action. Chrysler has built an entire campaign around Detroit. Did it sell more cars? I do not know. Did Chrysler  do its part as a City leader to help stimulate growth and put Detroit back on the map? They did and we can too.

How? We can look at brands and make them more responsible by calling them out. If they are not going to reach out to us, which clearly they have not, then we have to draw attention and help them to listen to us. The brands who do social media are not listening or know better than the social media city leaders and place the social media efforts in the hands of an intern, a recent grad who has no working experience in marketing and no one to guide them. They are hired at under $25K a year, a job that any experienced marketer would never apply for.

In advertising and marketing agencies, there are positions that are geared for the new grads with Jr. Account Exec, Associate Account Exec as they work their way up through guidance. In social media, ok you know Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and Google +, great, you are hired. You have to wonder how quickly an account would go under review if an agency went to their brand client and said, “your agency team will now consist of recent grads and interns.” It is not ok with the creative so why is it ok with the social media? This hurts the communities we have built. Our City is being torn down right before our eyes. Every single brand that treats social media not as marketing but as a billboard or forgets that the intern has left and the profile is dead stifles the growth of social media. If your BFF stops calling you back, do you keep on calling? No. If your internet is down more often that it is up, do you stay with that company? No.

There is no excuse for a brand to tear down our City. This is an uphill battle as brands will continue to hire based upon knowledge of the tools and not the reason the tools are used. We know they do not want to invest big dollars into someone who will be the voice of their brand and really anyone can do it. It is this attitude that needs to be changed. Not everyone can be the voice of a brand. Not everyone has the experience, professionalism, maturity and understanding of the expectations of a brand. We can make change, we can build and protect our City.

photo credit: SouthernAnts