Make Black Friday Green With Sales!

Instigated by the frenzy of commercials and promotions, shoppers often wonder “am I getting the best deal?”  In a tongue-in-cheek campaign, appliance retailer hhgregg captured this anxiety as FOBO (Fear of Better Offers.)  Zimmerman, the agency behind the campaign, said the idea came from “research that found millennials currently experience feelings of fear that better options may exist elsewhere.”   hhgregg is positioned as the solution:
As we head into the peak shopping season, many consumers are likely to be feeling the effects of FOBO. And despite the positioning of Black Friday as the height of discounts, some reports are finding these “deals” are not deals at all, furthering shoppers’ angst.
Some apps and websites are seeking to help relieve shoppers of these fears. Flipp aggregates retailer flyers and lets consumers pinpoint the local retailer with the best price for items on their shopping list. They’ve even created a new commercial highlighting the app’s applicability for Black Friday gift shopping.

And for those who prefer to shop Cyber Monday? As noted in last week’s NYTimes, new apps like ShopSavvy allow users to compare prices for items in brick & mortar retailers versus Amazon and other online outlets “ all in search of the best deal.”
Some questions for marketers:
*How important is getting the best price for your prime customers?
*How transparent is pricing for your product or service? Is it easy for consumers to choose to buy your brand?

Competing for Eyeballs – Rio Olympics Edition

While the world’s elite athletes are competing for medals in Rio de Janeiro, a battle for viewers is being waged by cable and broadcast networks, social media and streaming platforms.
One of the key properties Comcast gained with its 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal was the rights to air the Olympics games in the US.  And now Comcast, through its Xfinity cable subsidiary is leveraging new platforms and apps to engage subscribers with Olympics content. As cord-cutting increases, Comcast is looking to upgrade current subscribers as well as entice new users with exclusive Olympics content available only through their partnership with the USOC.  NBCUniversal now has an exhaustive schedule of Olympics viewing across NBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo and more through the X1 application.

In a bid to reach cord-cutters and mobile users, Google has dispatched YouTube stars such as Liza Koshy, Brodie Smith, Ben Brown, Caeli, Chloe Morello and Felipe Castanhari to livestream parts of the games and special events in host city Rio. Google is leveraging content from these Creators into search, maps and mobile applications to increase engagement. YouTube is also offering subscribers an IOC channel to increase visibility beyond US-centric users.

Not to be left out of the mobile/streaming wars, Facebook and Instagram have partnered with NBC to create a Social Media Command Center with access to NBC commentators and behind-the-scenes video.

Early reports indicate that live viewership for the Olympics is down versus the 2012 London Games.  Some are faulting excessive commercial breaks and ongoing concerns about Rio’s preparedness for the games.  But with so many options, are viewers choosing to engage with the 2016 Olympic Games in other ways rather than just live TV?

Some thoughts for marketers:
*Are the increased numbers of platforms and channels to choose for Olympic content possibly confusing or overwhelming viewers?
*Which brands are best leveraging the variety of platforms in order to connect with target consumers?
*What is your favorite way to watch the Olympics?

Owning the Experience

There is growing evidence that consumers are becoming less interested in conspicuous consumption.  From Millennials, who are (sometimes unwillingly) slow to launch their own independent households to Baby Boomers who are downsizing into smaller, more urban locations to the growing impact of Mari Kondo’s KonMari method of decluttering – living with less is an important new cultural trend.

Coupled with this trend away from consumption of “stuff” is the trend toward using our time and money for Experiences.  You can look to social media – when was the last time a friend shared an image of a new purchase, such as a car or house?  Yet our newsfeeds are full of pictures of exotic trips, restaurant visits, concerts and sporting events.

The new campaign from Groupon highlights this insight.  The TV ads compare the “Haves” and their mansions full of gaudy stuffy and the “Have-Dones” who are engaged in life through experiences like sky-diving, dining out, getting spa treatments or visiting a fun-park. In a press release for the campaign launch,  Vinayak Hegde, Groupon’s CMO highlighted that this new focus is based on research findings that experiences been scientifically proven to make consumers happier.

Two immediate takeaways from the new campaign:

  • The “Haves”, with their collections of gaudy stuff are cast as older and unsociable. “Have-Dones” by contrast are youthful and spirited.  Which portrayal is more aspirational is pretty obvious.
  • Experiences are shareable – participants are shown enjoying activities with a good friend, a spouse, children And evidence of the experience is shared with the larger group of friends and family – via selfies and social media.

The TV ads close with “If you’re going to own something, own the experience.”  Some thoughts for marketers

  • Are there ways to enhance the experiential qualities of your product/service?
  • How important is shareabilty for your consumer?

After #OscarsSoWhite, What Comes Next?

Photo for OscarsSoWhite - 2016-04-09 - Edited

Now that the 2016 award season is complete, what comes next? While the #OscarsSoWhite discussion brought up a wide range of challenges in Hollywood, how do we initiate real change that showcases, recognizes, and celebrates diverse stories?

Our first task is to re-evaluate how we measure onscreen success. The last four years has ushered in a host of powerful films featuring African American stories and lead actors including The Help, Fruitvale Station, and 12 Years a Slave. We can’t take for granted that these films have showcased amazing character portrayals that have shown the African American experience in nuanced, poignant, and thoughtful performances.

Second, we have to celebrate other movies such as Selma showcasing the first onscreen portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. in nearly 26 years; Lee Daniels’ The Butler holding the No. 1 spot at the box office for three straight weeks during Summer 2013 (Hollywood Reporter); and Creed being helmed by 29-year-old director Ryan Coogler in just his second directorial offering.

Third, we have to create an infrastructure where we look beyond Hollywood and consider rising talent from web series on YouTube to short clips on Instagram. While these media are far from the high-caliber production of a Hollywood set, these innovators are providing multi-dimensional stories and perspectives that shouldn’t be ignored.

While the 2016 award season felt like an all-too-familiar snubbing of multicultural talent, the media coverage surrounding #OscarsSoWhite presents an opportunity for Hollywood to reflect the diversity that is America.

What to Watch For

Nate Parker’s highly anticipated debut film Birth of a Nation, which was enthusiastically received at the Sundance Film Festival in January and sold for a record-breaking $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight (Variety), will be an interesting film to watch and even more intriguing to see how it will be received next award season. Birth of a Nation will showcase the first onscreen portrayal of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave uprising in Southampton, Va.

Questions to Consider

  1. How well are advertisers doing when it comes to including diverse talent in media campaigns?
  2. How has Millennials’ acceptance of diversity, in its broadest expression (i.e., race, socio-economics, gender expression, etc.), as the norm, influenced marketing to this coveted community?
  3. What can the film industry learn from diversity successes on television (such as Blackish or Fresh Off the Boat), on Broadway (like Hamilton) and on the web (e.g., Isha Rae or Keraun and Simone)?