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What 30 Rock Can Teach Marketers

Quirky NBC comedy series, 30 Rock, is nearing an end after its seventh season. With its bizarre, shallow plot lines and blatant industry commentary, the show has undeniably changed the landscape of network television.

But TV writers aren't the only ones who can take something away from Tina Fey's approach. Marketers have a big opportunity here too.

Be Yourself

Not to put Fey up against A Few Good Men, but the talented sitcom writer recognized something big'people can handle the truth. And they love it. 30 Rock was not afraid to be itself, consistently using honest, self-deprecating humor to create characters that people had never really seen before. These personalities unapologetically owned their absurdity, which provided a breath of fresh air to audiences accustomed to entertainment that takes itself too seriously.

No matter how creative your marketing tactics are, at the end of the day consumers know what's going on. So why not embrace it? This is your chance to humanize your business. Consider what your fourth wall is'the thing that's preventing totally honest communication between you and your audience. And then break it. Once you let them in, you can establish a mutual trust that will really shake up your relationships.

We'll never forget when Kotex decided to make fun of an unlikely target: themselves. Their new spots served as a hilarious commentary about how ridiculous ads in their industry can be'?¦ including some they had done themselves. They were just verbalizing what everyone was thinking. Women were able to share a laugh that they never really could before. And whether you loved the spots or hated them, it was an original approach that other brands eventually imitated.

Create a Subculture

'Blurg.'? If you're a 30 Rock fan, you don't need this Liz Lemon-ism explained. And you can probably follow it with at least five more of her distinctive expressions. That's because Tina Fey managed to create not just a television show, but also a solid (and absurd) community with the kind of loyalty you want for your brand.

But fans like these hard to come by. So what can you do? Well, just like the NBC hit, you need to tell a unique story. Give people the chance to create social objects'things that are celebrated and shared until they become iconic.

That's what happened with the old woman in the classic Wendy's 'Where's the Beef?'? spot. The case will probably be the same for new figures like Allstate's Mayhem or Progressive's Flo. They help cultivate a brand identity, and one that people have fun connecting with.

So, don't be afraid to be a little ridiculous. 30 Rock was not something you would expect to work for network television, but it did. Because it unapologetically stood out among the standard programs people were used to.

Invite them in

Another reason people gravitated toward the series is the premise'it's the making of a TV show within the NBC building. Even though we know it's fictional, we love this insider glimpse at a huge industry. Plus, it's just fun to muse on what happens in this space.

But this applies to everything. Customers love seeing what goes into the products and services they're buying'the 'making of'? appeal. And they like getting to know who they're buying from. Figure out how you can create this intimate feeling with your audience. If you're doing something cool, invite them in and show them how (and why) you did it.

Take Chipotle, for example. They received an unbelievable amount of attention from 'Back to the Start'?, an animated video that shined a light on the state of the farming industry and how Chipotle was aiming to change it for the better. People connected with this spot because it was honest. Audiences got a more glimpse at what the brand stands for'?¦ and not just what it sells.

So while we have no choice but to say goodbye to a television triumph of awkwardness and wit, hopefully we can take something away from it, allowing Lizbianism to live on in the world of marketing.

 

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Much like reviewing a client brief to confirm what they’re asking of the team, taking a minute to assess the issue at hand and the impulse to get involved helped us understand the most logical way forward.  Know your brand In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, several brands were called out for quickly responding, despite the fact that their company and product had no connection to social justice and never been vocal about these issues in the past. This dissonance made communications feel disingenuous to consumers. While the messages may have been lighter in the past, the goal of feeling genuine in our communication has always been a high priority. When building a strategy for a campaign or analyzing competitors, we start with our own brand to make sense of their values and where they stand in the category. We looked inward at our own brands to review their values and past history. Once we had a firm grasp of our brands’ histories, voices, and perceptions, it became easy to know how they would react in any given situation.  Listen to your consumers Henry Ford once (supposedly) said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is often used in marketing contexts to demonstrate how consumers don't always know the proper solutions for their problems. While this line of thinking often works for communications for laundry detergent or snacks, it should be thrown out the window when it comes to high-stakes situations. A deep understanding of consumers’ needs and motivations is key for any product, but addressing those needs directly was essential in this moment. During the early stages of the COVID outbreak, our grocery clients became essential businesses overnight, with consumers urgently needing information about product availability and store hours. We helped our clients pivot their social channels to provide consumers with the exact information they needed in an otherwise confusing time.  Observe the cultural climate Once we took a minute to assess the situation, looked inward at our own brands, and outward at our consumers, it was time to take a step back and look at the given category and culture at large to give context to our work. While we didn’t want to copy our competitors, it was important to understand who was contributing to the conversation and how they were sharing. Category and cultural research is a standard part of the job, but instead of gathering creative examples and trending memes, we were gathering public statements and news alerts. These pieces of information were added to personalized live dashboards that clients could monitor.   While I most certainly didn’t sign up for the high-stakes events of the past few months (and the inevitable events come November), I take comfort in the familiar and foundational tools I gained in the “before times”, finding ways to adapt and make sense of the (supposed) chaos. This new normal may not be as light, but I’ve been able to find satisfaction in diving into research, solving problems, and finding a way forward.  

Doug Grumet Featured In Retail Digital Ad Spending Report

AMP Agency’s SVP of Media & Analytics, Doug Grumet participated in providing insights for eMarketer’s recently published Retail Services Digital Ad Spending 2020 report. The report looks at trends in Digital Ad spend in the financial service industry.  The report found that US retail digital ad spending will increase by 3.1% this year, to $28.23 billion. This is slightly faster growth than US digital ad spending overall, which will shrink to just 1.7% amid the coronavirus disruption. Retail will remain the largest digital ad spending vertical. Check out the report summary to learn more about why this matters for your brand:  https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-retail-digital-ad-spending-2020

Doug Grumet Featured In Financial Services Digital Ad Spending Report

AMP Agency’s SVP of Media & Analytics, Doug Grumet participated in providing insights for eMarketer’s recently published Financial Services Digital Ad Spending 2020 report. The report looks at trends in Digital Ad spend in the financial service industry.  According to the report, digital ad spending in the US financial services industry will increase 9.7% this year to $19.62 billion. It will be the second-largest spender on digital advertising  behind retail, with a particular emphasis on performance and brand marketing due to the pandemic.  Check out the report summary to learn more about why this matters for your brand:  https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-financial-services-digital-ad-spending-2020