Author's Note: Comcast is an AMP client, but we are not involved in their direct mail marketing and I am not involved in the account. Just wanted to share a positive consumer experience, which happens to be from one of our clients. It is safe to say that most apartment building mailrooms have a collection of junk mail/direct mail pieces filling up the recycling bin. There are days that I don't even read the title of the latest mailer ' if there are 3 other copies of it in the recycling bin, I promptly add mine to the collection. If 3 other people thought it was junk, that's all I need to know. I recently received a piece of direct mail with a cool red graphic on the front ' and when I glanced in the recycle bin, no one else had tossed theirs, so I kept it. The front read 'xfinity. Welcome to more choice, more control, more speed. And more HD than ever before.' After reading the xfinity mailer, I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't trying to sell me more choice/control/speed or HD. Apparently while I had been traveling, xfinity had snuck into my cable box and left me with a complimentary system upgrade. I was skeptical (how much would this free upgrade increase my next bill?) but this 'junk mail'? actually made it out of the mailroom and up to my apartment. Later that day, I was setting my DVR for the next Yankees game, and before I could select it to record both the game and the post-game show (this is how I've been recording the 'end' of the game, since the Yanks usually go beyond their scheduled time'?¦), xfinity prompted me with something like: 'This program might run over, do you want to extend this recording and for how long?' Amazing! Yes I do want to extend it, and hey xfinity, you just saved me from doing it the long way, I appreciate that. Other new xfinity features included searching for programs with an on-screen keyboard to enter the program name, and significantly quicker searching (remember how you would try to advance a few hours forward in the guide menu and you would end up on next Thursday? Totally fixed.) All of this positive xfinity energy had me updating my facebook status that night, following @comcastcares on twitter and sending a few texts to spread the news. I might be a more avid DVR user than most, but I appreciate the $0.03 that xfinity probably spent on my non-junk mail, because I am hooked on the new experience. While these are not ground-breaking DVR features, (obvious even) they have successfully changed my DVR experience. If xfinity had under-delivered on this promise of more control/more speed/more choice, as marketers often do, it would have been just another piece of junk mail. But now I find myself actually looking forward to the next piece of non-junk mail from xfinity, as long as it's not another Triple Play offer. So marketers, the next time your brand has something to say ' whether it's via direct mail, on a social network or at an event: make it catchy, keep it relevant and most importantly, deliver on your promise. You will have friends and fans in no time. Hey xfinity ' talk to me. I'm listening. And watching.
Have you noticed the retro commercials that have been airing during new episodes of Mad Men? In fitting with the 1960's era of the show, they take us back to how products were marketed years ago at an old fashioned ad agency. An indirect result of these ads is that they consistently trip me up while trying to fast forward through the commercials. Like many people, my television watching habits have completely changed since the advent of the DVR. I rarely watch anything 'live'? anymore (with the exception of sports) and I take full advantage of being able to complete an episode faster by skipping through the commercials. But these spots during Mad Men pose an interesting challenge because they look and feel just like the show itself. You stop fast forwarding because you think you're back to the show, until realizing moments later that you're actually watching a commercial. You got me. A tricky, but effective strategy that as a marketer left me wondering, is this the next evolution of product placement? When TiVo first hit the market years ago, marketers feared that combining the ability to skip commercials with consumers' already shortened attention spans might result in the death of the traditional television spot. Years later, product placements are now so commonplace and expected that they've reached the point of annoyance. Consumers are starting to wonder, 'Does my favorite character really love Snapple, as the show creator intended? Or are character preferences now determined by whichever brands are paying to sponsor the show that year?'? As television producers get more protective over their show's integrity, advertisers may be left to come up with another solution for promoting their clients' brands. If the Mad Men example proves successful, how soon before we see other commercials leveraging the look and feel of the shows that they advertise during?