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Old Game, New Tricks

It's almost the New Year, and I always spend the final weeks of December reflecting on the past year. Did I (actually) complete my resolution this year, did I achieve my year-end goals, what kinds of headlines and events took place? In the marketing realm, this year saw a resurgence of gaming both on- and offline. From social gaming websites such as FarmVille to live scavenger hunts through SCVNGR, 2010 was the year of gaming -- whether you wanted to play or not. I have to admit a minor factoid up-front; I am not a game-r. However from a marketing point-of-view, I can understand the allure behind gaming; building buzz, excitement, and creating points-of-engagement between your brand and target audience. Is gaming as a marketing tool a new discovery? Canadian Club's 1967 'Hide a Case'? Campaign proves that gaming as brand-building tactic has been used for a long, long time. In 1967, Canadian whiskey maker Canadian Club hid 8 cases of its signature beverage in exciting locations throughout the world. Throughout the next two decades, the spirit-maker continued to hide cases of product and sponsor scavenger hunts to find them. Today, a total of 9 cases are still missing; an interactive map on the Canadian Club website indicates that these cases are hidden all over the world from the Yukon Territory to Loch Ness, Robinson Crusoe Island to the North Pole. Consumers can click on the map to see the original advertisement containing the scavenger hunt clues to help locate the lost spirits. This fall, the 'Hide a Case'? campaign made a comeback, inviting daring and adventurous individuals to join the hunt for a prize case that has been missing for more than 40 years. The preliminary stage of the competition took place online, and consisted of interested individuals vying for one of eight spots on 'Team Tonga.'? The final showdown will take place in April 2011, and will be televised to increase the reach of the campaign beyond Canadian Club drinkers and extreme-sportsters. 'Hide a Case'? is the longest-running spirits promotional campaign, and for good reason! The adventure aspect of the campaign reaffirms the brand's identity and heritage, while getting consumers excited about and involved with the brand. As with experiential and guerilla marketing events, the scavenger hunt encourages consumers to become engaged with ' and talking about ' the brand. In this way, the scavenger hunt as a  marketing tool has a greater impact, encouraging buzz and word-of-mouth amongst consumers and contributing to positive brand associations and equity. Canadian Club has done a superb job with this campaign over the years, and I would argue that the Canadian whiskey maker clearly understands the difference between short- and long-term marketing goals and branding implications. Can you think of other brands ' besides the loved marketing examples of Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Disney ' that have done the same thing?

Old Game, New Tricks

It's almost the New Year, and I always spend the final weeks of December reflecting on the past year. Did I (actually) complete my resolution this year, did I achieve my year-end goals, what kinds of headlines and events took place? In the marketing realm, this year saw a resurgence of gaming both on- and offline. From social gaming websites such as FarmVille to live scavenger hunts through SCVNGR, 2010 was the year of gaming -- whether you wanted to play or not. I have to admit a minor factoid up-front; I am not a game-r. However from a marketing point-of-view, I can understand the allure behind gaming; building buzz, excitement, and creating points-of-engagement between your brand and target audience. Is gaming as a marketing tool a new discovery? Canadian Club's 1967 'Hide a Case'? Campaign proves that gaming as brand-building tactic has been used for a long, long time. In 1967, Canadian whiskey maker Canadian Club hid 8 cases of its signature beverage in exciting locations throughout the world. Throughout the next two decades, the spirit-maker continued to hide cases of product and sponsor scavenger hunts to find them. Today, a total of 9 cases are still missing; an interactive map on the Canadian Club website indicates that these cases are hidden all over the world from the Yukon Territory to Loch Ness, Robinson Crusoe Island to the North Pole. Consumers can click on the map to see the original advertisement containing the scavenger hunt clues to help locate the lost spirits. This fall, the 'Hide a Case'? campaign made a comeback, inviting daring and adventurous individuals to join the hunt for a prize case that has been missing for more than 40 years. The preliminary stage of the competition took place online, and consisted of interested individuals vying for one of eight spots on 'Team Tonga.'? The final showdown will take place in April 2011, and will be televised to increase the reach of the campaign beyond Canadian Club drinkers and extreme-sportsters. 'Hide a Case'? is the longest-running spirits promotional campaign, and for good reason! The adventure aspect of the campaign reaffirms the brand's identity and heritage, while getting consumers excited about and involved with the brand. As with experiential and guerilla marketing events, the scavenger hunt encourages consumers to become engaged with ' and talking about ' the brand. In this way, the scavenger hunt as a  marketing tool has a greater impact, encouraging buzz and word-of-mouth amongst consumers and contributing to positive brand associations and equity. Canadian Club has done a superb job with this campaign over the years, and I would argue that the Canadian whiskey maker clearly understands the difference between short- and long-term marketing goals and branding implications. Can you think of other brands ' besides the loved marketing examples of Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Disney ' that have done the same thing?

A "Mission Critical" Holiday Gift

Travel - trav·el, [ trav-uhl]; verb, -eled, -eling 1. To move or go from one place or point to another. Over the last four weeks my travel schedule has been as follows: Boston - Ireland - Boston - New York City - Boston - Puerto Rico - Boston - St. Louis - Boston - St. Louis - Boston - Chicago - Boston Give or take, that amounts to about 35 airborne hours over the past month. Now, depending on who you ask, this could sound like a nightmare, but to some (myself included) its not so bad.  Those of us in the latter group don't mind traveling, and some even enjoy it whether its a business trip or pleasure. One of the main reasons my outlook has remained this way I owe to my Dad.  During the holidays four years back he bestowed upon me truly one of the best gifts i have ever received to this day - Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. If you are not familiar, noise-canceling headphones reduce unwanted ambient sounds which make it possible to enjoy music without raising the volume excessively or even sleep in a noisy atmosphere.  Bose, an audio industry leader, arguably makes the best noise cancelling headphones on the market. Dr. Amar Bose (founder of the Bose Corporation) began work on his noise-cancelling headphonesin 1978 on board a noisy international flight. During the flight, he was provided with a set of headphones from the airline and almost immediately realized how dissatisfied he was with their quality. His realization gave him an idea about how it might be possible to achieve active noise reduction in headphones ' and he sketched out the math for the technology right there on the plane. After nearly a decade of research, Bose released their first noise-canceling headphones under very special circumstances... In 1986, plans were being made for history's first non-stop round-the-world flight. But the pilots were at risk of losing 30% of their hearing. When Bose engineers learned this, they submitted a noise-reduction headset prototype for consideration. This headset was evaluated and deemed "mission critical" for the pilots' safety. The test was a success ' the pilots did not lose any of their hearing. Thanks to Dr. Bose I can easily survive 35 hour of flying without listening to the loud talker in row 5, the woman on her cell phone at the end of my row, or the crying 9 month old baby in the row in front of me - all i hear is what I want to hear.  Sometime that's music, sometimes its silence.  But the fact that i can make that choice is why i deem these headphone "mission critical" for everyone, not just pilots.  So with the Holidays right around the corner, consider gifting these to the traveler in your life just like my Dad did - if they are anything like me, they will be forever grateful...even if they are going to St. Louis on business.

A "Mission Critical" Holiday Gift

Travel - trav·el, [ trav-uhl]; verb, -eled, -eling 1. To move or go from one place or point to another. Over the last four weeks my travel schedule has been as follows: Boston - Ireland - Boston - New York City - Boston - Puerto Rico - Boston - St. Louis - Boston - St. Louis - Boston - Chicago - Boston Give or take, that amounts to about 35 airborne hours over the past month. Now, depending on who you ask, this could sound like a nightmare, but to some (myself included) its not so bad.  Those of us in the latter group don't mind traveling, and some even enjoy it whether its a business trip or pleasure. One of the main reasons my outlook has remained this way I owe to my Dad.  During the holidays four years back he bestowed upon me truly one of the best gifts i have ever received to this day - Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. If you are not familiar, noise-canceling headphones reduce unwanted ambient sounds which make it possible to enjoy music without raising the volume excessively or even sleep in a noisy atmosphere.  Bose, an audio industry leader, arguably makes the best noise cancelling headphones on the market. Dr. Amar Bose (founder of the Bose Corporation) began work on his noise-cancelling headphonesin 1978 on board a noisy international flight. During the flight, he was provided with a set of headphones from the airline and almost immediately realized how dissatisfied he was with their quality. His realization gave him an idea about how it might be possible to achieve active noise reduction in headphones ' and he sketched out the math for the technology right there on the plane. After nearly a decade of research, Bose released their first noise-canceling headphones under very special circumstances... In 1986, plans were being made for history's first non-stop round-the-world flight. But the pilots were at risk of losing 30% of their hearing. When Bose engineers learned this, they submitted a noise-reduction headset prototype for consideration. This headset was evaluated and deemed "mission critical" for the pilots' safety. The test was a success ' the pilots did not lose any of their hearing. Thanks to Dr. Bose I can easily survive 35 hour of flying without listening to the loud talker in row 5, the woman on her cell phone at the end of my row, or the crying 9 month old baby in the row in front of me - all i hear is what I want to hear.  Sometime that's music, sometimes its silence.  But the fact that i can make that choice is why i deem these headphone "mission critical" for everyone, not just pilots.  So with the Holidays right around the corner, consider gifting these to the traveler in your life just like my Dad did - if they are anything like me, they will be forever grateful...even if they are going to St. Louis on business.

  • 2 min read
  • November 23, 2010

Whitney...The Basil Plant!

Swag.  Giveaways. Premiums. Tchotchkes (pronounced as "Chach-Keys"). Call them what you may, promotional merchandise is used globally to promote brands, products, and corporate identity. A Brief History'?¦ The first known promotional products in the US were commemorative buttons dating back to the election of George Washington in 1789. During the early 19th century, there were advertising calendars, rulers, and wooden specialties, but there wasn't an organized industry for the creation and distribution of promotional items until later in the 19th century. Jasper Meeks, a printer in Coshocton, Ohio, is considered by many to be the originator of the industry when he convinced a local shoe store to supply book bags imprinted with the store name to local schools. From there, Meeks went on to print bags for marbles, buggy whips, card cases, fans, calendars, cloth caps, aprons, and even hats for horses. Premiums Today'?¦ Today, almost anything can be branded with a company's name, logo, and URL and used for promotion. Common items include t-shirts, hats, key chains, thumb drives, bumper stickers, pens, mugs, or mouse pads. Most promotional items are relatively small and inexpensive, worthless and more or less disposable, but can also range to higher-end items. Celebrities at gifting suites for film festivals and award shows are often given expensive items such as jewelry, clothing, and electronics. The Best Premium I Ever Received'?¦ The reason I am writing this blog post is to tell you about the best premium I have ever received ' one that likely cost under a dollar. But first ' a little background'?¦ Lately, for no reason in particular, I have been experiencing strong cravings for prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches. Occasionally I'll add on some sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar and more often than not the finishing touch is fresh, crisp basil. About 2 months ago I was walking in a busy area in Boston and stumbled upon a promotion in progress. The brand was a globally known packaged goods company and their set-up was pretty impressive. After checking it out a bit further and actually even partaking one of the activities, a Brand Ambassador approached me and handed me a premium. Usually when people try to hand me things on the street I politely decline, but not this time'?¦ I couldn't tell at first what it was exactly that she handed me. It almost felt like a container of Ramen Noodles®. Upon further inspection I realized that she just handed me a 'Grow You Own Basil Plant.'? That's right, you heard me. Contained in a medium-sized cardboard cup was a tightly packed soil cake, a package of basil seeds and an instruction sheet. I quickly brought the premium back to the office, opened it up and followed the instructions. About a month later, this is what my premium has turned into: I've named her Whitney and she's been experiencing unprecedented growth as of late.  Will I use her in my next prosciutto and mozzarella sando? Probably not. I'm too emotionally invested. She is hands down the best premium I have ever received, so kudos to you, globally-known packaged goods company! You've managed to give me something cool, branded, useful, and educational for about a buck and you've inspired me to think even further outside the box when it comes to producing premiums for my clients.

Doogie Howser Syndrome ' The Teen Edition (Part I of II)

'Becoming aware of the plight of the citizens of Darfur motivated me to take action and my success mobilizing a campaign against the genocide molded me into the leader I am today. I serve as President of my class, lead my school's movement to prevent gun violence, intern at my Assemblywoman's office, am an active member of the Student Government as well as in a wide range of community activities, and this past summer helped build a schoolhouse for poor children in Africa.'?  -Zak, Age 15 This, my friends, is an example of how today's teens are preparing for their future. They are literally involved in EVERYTHING. Recently, we conducted an online contest for one of our clients. The contest, aimed at teens, elicited response after response just like the above. More than 5,700 of them to be exact. Class Presidents, Student Government Leaders, Key Club Members, Student Council Representatives, Community Service Volunteers, and the list goes on. As early as 13, today's youth choose (or feel obligated) to participate in everything they possibly can in hopes of getting into a good college (extracurricular activities are one of the most important criteria colleges use to determine admission) and solidifying a financially and emotionally fulfilling career. Or maybe their parents make them do it - teens who don't participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes, use marijuana, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2008). Either way, my biggest question is - are we creating monsters? What are the teens 10, 15, 20 years from now going to be like when they start preparing for their futures even earlier than today's youth? (Newborns with resumes and infants logging community service hours anyone?) What will happen to riding your bike to get ice cream with your friends, going swimming on a hot summer day, and the thousands of other carefree activities I used to do as a young teen? Will childhood become all business? I sure hope not ' because that bright pink Schwinn and blue one-piece Speedo bring me back to some of the best days of my life.

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