Above the line marketing. Below the line marketing. Why is there a line in the first place? Translinear explores what would happen if direct, interactive, social and brand marketers cooperated more closely.
I enjoy watching some sports (baseball, football, rally racing) and playing others (cycling, kicking inanimate objects). And, of course, I respect our military and all men and women who honorably serve their countries. However, I sort of broke a promise that I made to myself and that maybe you should make to yourself as well.
Here’s another great example of a simple Translinear tactic that draws the consumer neatly from curious browser to prospect.
Understand that I like watches. I mean, generations of skin cells on my left wrist have lived and died without ever feeling the warmth of the sun. So I spend more than a little time reading about watches online.
When I take my family to the beach, I spend most of my time staring at my kids in the water to ensure they don’t end up floating off to Portugal. However, one thing always catches my eye (disclosure: three things, really, but this is a family blog): towplanes.
At the Jersey Shore, propeller planes towing advertising banners pass overhead roughly every 15 minutes. Most of them advertise local bars, restaurants and concerts, which makes a lot of sense given the youthful skew of beachgoers. However, another set of ads draws my attention as well:
(Disclosure: this ad refers to the two things I wouldn’t mention up top)
I saw this ad a few years ago and thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen. After seeing his banners many times since then, I determined that Dr. Rack (yes, he has used that nickname) knew something about advertising that I didn’t.
Folks, I know you're all anxiously awaiting another, possibly non-baseball-related post from me, bir I'm afraid you'll have to wait. I am currently inflicting a vacation on my family.
Look for a new post Thursday-ish.
Ask a typical above-the-line creative director what he or she thinks of direct response TV or direct mail and your response will first come in the form of what the Greek satirist Aristophanes called a “fart-smelling face.” The creative director would make this face with good reason: most direct response creative stinks. Let’s face it, for every award-winning piece of direct response, late-night TV runs at least two like this one:
Or this one:
We should not blame brand advertising folks for thinking that direct response creative must look awful and scare/appall consumers. Truly Translinear marketing, however, demands that direct response creative not only drive sales but that it must also look good doing it.
A reader (hi, Steve) challenged me the other day. He said that a marketer could move product successfully without direct/below-the-line marketing but that he or she couldn’t do so without brand advertising. He gave as a case in point a marketer’s favorite: Apple Computer. And he had a point. Unfortunately, I think he made the wrong point. (Hey, Steve, pick up the check next time and I won’t have to smack you down in my blog.)
Apple does, in fact, consistently put great TV spots on the air. They do indeed have a remarkable brand. In addition, one might describe their approach to direct marketing not as “old-school,” but rather as “pre-school.” But what does Apple’s approach really prove?
I've submitted a proposal to speak at SxSW in Austin next March. I'd really appreciate it if all of my readers (yes, both of you) to vote me up. I'd like to speak about the implications of Semantic Web/Web 3.0 on advertising, or maybe vice-versa.
If you're unfamiliar with the terms, they describe technology that makes it easy for non-techies to find answers to complex questions on the Internet. So, for instance, if you wanted to book a vacation in Miami when it's not too hot and the prices are more reasonable, you could put that into a natural-language query instead of visiting one site to see Miami's weather patterns, another site to see when prices go up and down, etc.
It's a topic I've looked at before, but if they make me speak about it, then I'll have to think about it for real.
Had Yogi Berra applied his considerable talent to marketing rather than baseball (I know, again with the baseball posts), no doubt he would have called site retargeting “deja vu all over again.”
For those of you unfamiliar with site retargeting, you no doubt have seen its effects. Ever visit a site and then see display ads for it on other sites? More likely than not, your visit to the site resulted in the placement of a cookie in your browser that allowed third-party sites, via an advertising network, to serve up ads related to that visit.
For those of you unfamiliar with Yogi Berra, he played catcher better than any ballplayer before, during or since his playing years. You can shut up, Johnny Bench.
Back to marketing. Site retargeting offers marketers a real chance to deliver an engaging, truly translinear experience to prospects and customers alike. Problem is, they usually don’t. So today, I’d like to share my point-of-view on the topic.
While many marketers constantly search for new marketing ideas, many more persist in using the same old things. While some of these ideas outlive their usefulness (does anyone else still get unsolicited fax ads?), others persist because, on some level, they still work. And, if nothing else, Translinear marketing depends on tactics that deliver.
So today, I’d like to discuss an idea that I think still has a few tricks up its sleeve: the sweepstakes.
In a recent post, I disucssed how the book (soon major motion picturing starring BRAD PITT [there, that should help my page rank]) “Moneyball” teaches marketers to think about creating metrics that make sense rather than relying on old, outdated ones.
I vividly recall reading that book in a Marriott in West Hartford, Conn. in between some focus groups. One concept jumped right out at me and begged me to apply it to marketing, the concept of not making outs.
In that previous column, I mentioned a pivotal point in the book, in which statisticians explained to Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane that it mattered less whether a player got a hit and more whether he did not make an out. The number of hits in an inning can vary from zero to infinity, but the number of outs remains constant at three. Avoiding making outs prolongs the inning and thus promotes scoring.
After reading that passage, I believe I put the book down on the nightstand and said something along the lines of “holy cats.” (Disclosure: I most certainly did NOT say “holy cats.”)
Sure, women swoon over him and men envy him, but otherwise, Brad Pitt lives an ordinary life just as the rest of us do. When he’s not collecting African children or riding motorcycles with Clooney, he likes to re-think data. In fact, he made a movie about it, scheduled to hit screens on 23rd September.
What, you thought “Moneyball” covered baseball? You thought author Michael Lewis skillfully wove a personal story about the can’t-miss prospect who missed with a team story about taking chances? Read it again. (And buy it here; I get a free set of steak knives if you buy enough).
So what does Translinear Marketing look like when someone does it correctly?
So far, one of my favorite examples comes from those wonderful folks who got bin Laden:
A few years ago, the US Navy ran a terrific TV commercial. (Disclosure: I was born in a Navy hospital not far from the SEALs’ West Coast base, but for total disclosure’s sake, I always root for Army) Anyway, have a look:
Great piece of branding. Atmospheric. Narrative. It could serve as the opening scene to a good action movie or video game. I’d call it perfect for the target group of young men 15-24 or so. You could criticize it for being too subtle, but the Navy doesn’t want the dumb ones, do they?