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5 Warnings Marketers Can Heed From Horror Movies

Every year in the weeks leading up to Halloween I try to work a steady amount of horror movies into my entertainment diet. This week I have been thinking about some of my favorite slasher flicks and I realized that horror movies draw interesting parallels to strategic approaches in the marketing arena. Disclaimer: The following post contains many links to classic scenes from horror movies. PR Stunts Can Generate Great Buzz but Can Also Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong (Carrie, 1976) ' Sure a fun little stunt may seem like a good idea at the time but the next thing you know you're locked in a high school gymnasium being burned alive by a telekinetic social outcast. Or you might even be wishing that as the best possible outcome (right Richard Heene?). Take for example Snapple's attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle (17.5 tons, mind you)'?¦on an 80 degree day in Manhattan. You can guess how that one ended up. Before jumping in with both feet, make sure you are working with a partner that has experience (and insurance) to make sure every single detail is well thought-out and accounted for. Viral Videos: Proceed with Caution (The Ring, 2002) ' Viral videos can be effective if they catch on (and by 'effective'?, I don't mean 'a follow-up phone call, then killing the viewer seven days later). However there is an inherent amount of risk to be had when rolling the dice with a viral video play. There is no way to guarantee it will catch on. For every Cadbury Gorilla video that has blown up, there's a dozen video that haven't. Side note: thank God YouTube wasn't around during either of The Ring movies, that clip would have totally blown the doors off of this video. 'You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat'? (Jaws, 1975) ' We field a good number of requests from clients interested in our 'Brand ChAMPion'? campus ambassador programs. One thing we've found through execution is that in order to be successful, we must commit the appropriate resources to our campus ambassadors. We like to surround our reps with as many resources as possible including but not limited to: campus PR, campus media, social media and a local marketing budget. The more we can commit to them, the higher chance for success. Without this kind of support, it's easy for a campus ambassador program to fall flat. Think of trying to catch Jaws from a canoe. That's what it's like trying to force a campus ambassador program with a tight budget. Sometimes, you just need a bigger boat. Find Creative Ways to Engage with Your Audience (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Various: 1984 ' 2010) ' One of my favorite things about Freddy Krueger is that he didn't just kill people like a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, but rather he created a unique nightmare experience. Whether he's transporting sleepy teens into video games or comic books or turning them into cockroaches, Freddy has a always had a knack for creating an over-the-top experience for his victims. Here at AMP, we find that deep, experiential consumer engagements can have a lasting effect on your victims'?¦er, uh, consumers. Consumers. User Generated Content Can Be a Risky Proposition (The Blair Witch Project, 1999) ' Some brands have stars in their eyes when they think of the concept of UGC ' a consumer, spending all of this time engaging with their brand sounds incredible. Brands can then use that content which saves money that would otherwise be paid out to a Creative department to develop. Sounds too good to be true, right? Often times, it is. Because content development is so accessible, content quality has become inflated as a result. Some may think an average consumer is capable of filming and editing a brief movie, but what really ends up happening? Three kids get lost in the woods and all hell breaks loose. Uncomfortably close nasal close-ups ensue.

Big Papi. Bigger Questions.

With conversations about Boston's beloved David 'Big Papi'? Ortiz still swirling around the office, I was surprisingly unsurprised when I recently received an email with a stat that '20% of kids aged 8-14 know other children who regularly cheat at sports'? (source: SI Kids and C&R Research). While I do truly believe that Papi was a victim of a supplement induced false positive (and as a Red Sox fan I'll stand by that), it seems that we're culturally beginning to shrug off cheating as just another part of the game. Putting on my marketing hat, I've started to wonder, Is it fair to expect brands to drop their athlete endorsements because of an accusation, or even admittance, of cheating? I like Papi as one of the faces of Reebok/Glaceau/XM Radio not because he hits lots of homeruns, but because he's charismatic, funny and personable. Even if 'roids use rises to the surface, is it fair to penalize him now for something that wasn't even banned when it may have happened? Personally, I'm torn. As a weekend athlete and a former little league coach, I want to believe in good sportsmanship and fairness ' the best players and teams win because they're naturally the most talented, or have the most heart. But, it's also easy for me to compare my favorite superstars' actions to the brands they represent. In the dog-eat-dog world of these brands competing for consumers' hearts and retailers' shelf space, a leg up on the competition is almost always viewed as a good thing. So let me pose a question: What qualifies as a Performance Enhancing Drug in the world of marketing? And, if it guaranteed more customers and larger profits, would you take it?


It seems that in this constantly evolving, digital world, each day there is something new and exciting to capture our attention. The trends ebb and flow but once in a while a new development comes to life which could have lasting implications, especially in the world of Marketing. This under hyped, lightly used example appears to be crowdsourcing. Essentially, crowdsourcing is the ability to share your idea with an entire online community at once, get their feedback, suggestions, ideas or even designs. Think of it as a large casting call per say ' one actor will always rise to the top and get the part. So how does this apply to marketing? Say you are working on your 2010 marketing plan, you have a few product ideas and can't decide which will work best. Crowdsource it! Get your ideas out there, target the community and see what resonates. Your consumers will be grateful for your smart recommendations based on people who have raised their hands. Looking to send a new product to market but not sure what to sell? You could always take the Threadless Tees model. Here users submit t-shirt designs and the community votes. The winning t-shirt is then produced and users have the opportunity to purchase it. Now you have a product that you know a community of followers is already willing to purchase, and not a bunch of printed t-shirts sitting on your shelves. Share the t-shirt design on your Facebook page and suddenly your new t-shirt design has been shared with your friends and you have broadened your reach. Social marketing at its finest. How can this apply to brands outside of the t-shirt business? Looking to develop a new service offering or product, but can't decide what users would be willing to purchase? Crowdsource your ideas and have users vote on it. Now you have an idea on what consumers would be willing to purchase even before you begin your market development process. Or how about your next sweepstakes? What if you were to build a sweepstakes on a community level, have users vote on what the prize should be and have them choose the prize. Now you are building upon your ability to pass along the contest, expand the footprint and have users choose specifically what they want. Wouldn't you rather sign up for a sweeps where you picked the prize? So let me ask you, what marketing issue keeps you up at night?

Big Money for Shortcake?

I've been a fan of nostalgia marketing for as long as I can remember. Whenever I hear the trend might rise to the top, I spread the word to help make it happen. The other day, I read an article in my daily AdAge email called 'Licensors Play to Consumer Nostalgia for Days Gone By.'? It's a long title, but in short, it talked about how licensing properties from years gone by have always been on the table, but no one has really picked them up. The author believes that this year properties like Strawberry Shortcake and a few of her 80's pals stand a chance against today's tween-powerhouse properties like Hannah Montana and the Disney Princesses. I optimistically agree with him for two reasons - both are linked to the recession. First, it's a lot less expensive to license properties that already exist than to create new ones. Two, people need an escape from the scary reality that is today. Remembering cartoons from years that brought economic booms provides a little respite from the declining economy of today. Will Nerf footballs and lunchboxes with coordinating thermoses be revived? Will this go at nostalgia marketing live beyond the end of these tough economic times? If you don't think so, hurry up and get your tickets to the new Gidget movie threatening its debut in 2010. I'll go with you if you're too embarrassed to ask someone else. http://adage.com/article?article_id=137063

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