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?

Reality Show Nation

Summer 2010 could have been dubbed the “Summer of Snooki”, named for the much discussed breakout “star” of MTV’s hit reality show Jersey Shore. For months, Snooki and her male counterpart The Situation have been getting more than their 15 minutes of fame via constant exposure – tabloid TV and magazines, website chatter and tweets – all anxiously reporting on every drunken stumble, questionable wardrobe selection and salacious hookup. It’s been widely reported that Snooki was paid $30,000 per episode to appear in Season 2 – not bad for a 22 year-old former veterinarian technician student; and Elle magazine has just selected her as one of Hollywood’s most powerful women, alongside studio heads, network chiefs and Oscar winners such as Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock.

But this discussion is not about the supposed shame Jersey Shore’s cast has brought to the Garden State, but rather some thoughts on the impact of extreme personalities in our dynamic media and marketing environment. Some, including The Atlantic’s Mark Ambinder posit that the pervasiveness of reality show characters has made wacky, crazy political candidates more acceptable:

But all the reality shows — and the characters who have been mainstreamed and are now a part of our lives, people who we would otherwise encounter when we browsed the tabloids at the supermarket — have conditioned us for “wild and woolly” candidates. Culture bleeds into politics, and the other way around.

Next week’s elections won’t spell the end of the parade of dysfunctional loudmouths – the winners will take their places in Washington DC and state capitols around the country to pontificate for the next 2, 4 or 6 years. And some of the losers will leverage their new-found visibility into talk shows, book contracts and continue to assault our senses for months to come. And every night we’re treated to another batch of reality show contestants – teen parents, addicts, alleged singers and dancers – will marketers’ messages be able break through this cacophony?

As mass media content (both entertainment and news) becomes extreme will marketing tactics need to become even more extreme to capture the attention of consumers? Or will a softer tone get the message across more effectively?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in Comments.

What’s up for 2010!

2010
We’ve had fun bringing our twist to those trends that got our juices flowing in 2009. And now we cast our attention to 2010. There are so many happenings that are showing up and we think they will be changing the way we all look at the world.

In addition to updating past posts when it makes sense, here are a few themes we are following:

  1. The New Value, it’s not just about price. It’s experiential, it involves conscious decision-making – so marketers might have new chances to make a first impression. For established brands, could this development be a boon?
  2. Transparency. The 2008 election highlighted how critical it was to voters to be authentic. Now we see marketers like Domino’s Pizza jumping on board, taking “truth in advertising” to a whole new level. What else is next?
  3. Has outreach to Ethnic & Urban consumers become yesterday’s news? The economics of advertising and promotion is giving companies pause and there have to be casualties. How will this dollars and cents issue affect marketing decision-making?
  4. The End of Civility. If 2009 told us anything, political correctness seems to have taken a back seat. You remember Kanye West’s public dissing of Taylor Swift at the MTV Awards and Representative Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during the live broadcast of his health care speech to Congress and the American people. How far is this going?
  5. Career Path, meet Career Streams. Distrust of corporations has been growing for some time. Mergers and acquisitions, unemployment, job attrition, to name a few factors, are forcing us to think of new sources of earning potential. Could single payer income sources be a thing of the past?
  6. A New Twist on the “Water Cooler.” With more people moving to flexible work schedules and with work teams comprising people from different locations and time zones, the pop culture discussion around the “water cooler” has practically disappeared. What will drive the mass culture word-of-mouth when mass culture seems to have fragmented completely?

We look forward to bringing our take on these ideas and more so keep an eye out for some new views from New-Take in 2010!