Does Sex Sell?

Before I delve into this charged and heavily argued subject, let me just start by asking you to think back. Try to remember the brand behind the commercial that I am going to try and describe to you now. It begins with a rock guitar solo and a scene of guys playing football. It then cuts to different scenes of guys roughhousing, quarterbacks getting tackled and other masculine imagery. All the while there is a voice in the background narrating and describing the different scenes that are depicted. For example, “I love… playing two hand touch, eating way too much… watching my team win… with the twins!” After he says “twins,” two scantily clad beautiful blondes jump up with pom-poms in their hands. This ad was continued in a series for…were you able to remember?

Coors Light. coors-light-twins2

If you were able to remember then congratulations. If you weren’t, this begs the question, were you more interested in the girls, or the beer? How about the commercial with Paris Hilton washing the car? Or, the commercial with the two voluptuous women fighting and tearing their clothes off over the taste of the beer? Maybe you remembered the brands, maybe you didn’t. After I polled a few guys, I soon realized that a lot of these commercials left a lasting effect on them because of the models in the commercials. When asked what the brand was behind the commercial many times they were not able to remember. This shows us that although many brands are using sex as a tool, the effect of this has been blunted by a disconnect that the advertisers may not be aware of or even ever considered. It’s that sex can overwhelm the message and easily dilute the essence of a brand if not used carefully.

How about the ads with the three frogs hanging out by the bar near the lagoon? Yeah, you’ve got it, it’s Budweiser! This commercial had no models and did not objectify women in any way. Yet, it accomplished its goal by holding the audience’s attention and has been regarded as one of the most memorable ads in history.

Does this mean then that we can write off sex as a way to garner a select demographics attention? No, not at all. When a brand has been built around this theme then it can only reinforce the message. For example, Hooters, Playboy, etc… Well, you might say that these don’t count as they are obviously linked and might be a no-brainer. But, it has been shown that sex also reinforces brands that ultimately have to do with attraction; like colognes, perfumes, clothing, etc. An example of this would be the Acqua Di Gio model who became the face and body of the brand for years and successfully reinforced the core essence of the brand; sex and attraction. Also, Fcuk, a clever way to utilize French connection’s U.K. brand by deliberately confusing the audience into thinking the brand is a more commonly used four-letter word. The campaign that was launched behind this idea was a huge success and Fcuk went on to generate a huge leap in revenue sales. And, what about the Axe Effect commercials? There is another example of how sex reinforces a brand that is ultimately built around the idea of attraction.

What can we take from this? In the digital age that we live, we are bombarded with thousands of advertisements on a daily basis and advertising agencies are struggling to fight for our attention. This means that some believe the easiest way to do this, even if for just a few seconds, is to appeal to our base desires. What many agencies don’t realize is that this could lead to the deconstruction of a brand by confusing the viewer or not reaching them at all. It is important to remember the core of the brand and to never forget that the easiest way out is not always the best.

What is 451 Marketing?

I often get asked to force-fit our agency into predetermined labels. For instance, I was recently signing up for an event and was asked the question: “Are you an advertising agency, a public relations agency, an interactive agency, a social media agency, or a marketing agency?” I had to choose one, so I chose “marketing agency.”

The truth is, we have elements of all of these pre-existing terms and categories, but we are really much more than that. Further, the term “marketing agency” makes most people think of the stodgy traditional shops, which we are not. On one hand, our expertise can easily be categorized – lead generation through new media. But one might ask if that categorical description is something that people can mentally digest…quickly? After all, if we are going to label ourselves shouldn’t we do it in a way that is straightforward and potentially unique? Maybe we could go with – “Lead generation through the strategizing and execution of social media campaigns, traditional public relations, PR 2.0, search leveraged public relations, search engine optimization, mobile marketing, advertising, and branding and positioning”… I know, way to long.

How about, “451 Marketing, the agency that makes a lot of money in a short amount of time for their clients by using quantifiable techniques?” Getting closer, but still think people would probably want something a little more refined. We could try something that talks about our commitment to being at the forefront of our industry, describes our constant efforts to know more, apply more, and educate each other on the latest and greatest in new media. We need to create some way to convey how we bring better ROI’s for our clients compared to our competitors? Maybe, “451 Marketing, constantly working to be at the forefront of new media and delivering ROI’s like no one else?” Nah… not in love with it, still to long. I think we need something that captures it all in one succinct impactful statement.

Maybe something like… 451 Marketing, “The Leader in New Media CommunicationsTM“. I like it!

AJ Gerritson, Founding Partner at 451 Marketing

Innovations in Mobile Marketing

When you hear the beep that you have a new text message it might not be from your best friend anymore. Instead, the message could be a Mobile Marketing tool sent by advertisers and marketers that you agreed to receive texts from. How do you know that the text messages are not spam? That is the power of Mobile Marketing; the consumer controls this form of communication by giving consent to receive text messages. This is different from most other marketing techniques in which businesses control the information they disseminate to consumers.

More and more companies are turning to Mobile Marketing to reach new and existing customers. Recently, QuickMobile, a mobile technology and services company, released a Version 2.0 as part of its Contextual Mobile Marketing Platform. By using QuickMobile, companies can send text, audio, video and graphics to mobile phones. Some new features of this program are Mobile Polling and Mobile Results in addition to enhanced security and preferences. Mobile Polling allows presenters to create and ask questions to audiences in real time and have them answer the question on their mobile phone. This interactive tool will add a new dimension to how presenters can keep audiences’ attention and collect data at the same time. The other new device, Mobile Results, allows Mobile Marketing Firms to track their activity in order to test its effectiveness. Both of these tools were utilized by the Presidential campaigns, as mentioned in Nick’s previous post.

With new tools being created all the time for Mobile Marketing Firms and Interactive Agencies, this technique is growing in popularity among companies. The fast and direct communication it provides to consumers appeals to businesses looking for innovative ways to reach their target audiences. Shopping, for example, can also be done through Mobile Marketing, with new innovative technologies that allow shoppers to engage in text ordering, as well as receive text messages about different upcoming promotions of the respective store.

All the new media technology involving Mobile Marketing is revolutionizing how consumers complete their every day tasks and activities. As the future unfolds, Mobile Marketing will continue to grow as a front-runner in new media communications.

Credit where credit is due…

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think anyone would agree that no small part of the success of President-Elect Obama’s campaign was due to their groundbreaking use of New Media. While presidential campaigns have been using interactive marketing for several election cycles now, the technology becomes more and more advanced with each one. In 2000, the web was still the new and exciting medium. Everyone knew the magnitude of its power, but we were all still trying to figure out what to do with it (thus the gold rush of the late 90s). Gore and Bush both had professional websites that broadcast information about their positions. Howard Dean took the next step in 2004 by using the internet to raise amounts of money that took all his competitors by surprise.

In this year’s cycle, however, we’ve seen an even more extraordinary leap in the effective use of technology. This year is the first one since what we generally refer to as “new media” has gained a meaningful number of users. Barack Obama and his team recognized this from the start and harnessed it to do so much more than just raise money. Bring in record numbers of money they did, but they also did a lot of things that left McCain’s campaign behind, much the way Kennedy left Nixon behind because of his inherent understanding of television.

So what did he do beyond his regular marketing campaigns and public relations efforts? He ran targeted opt-in text messaging campaigns, twitter updates, RSS Feeds, Blogs, webcasts, podcasts. I wonder if John McCain could even identify what most of those items are. I don’t mean that to be derogatory, rather I mean it to point out the difference in generation. The fact remains that Obama embraced a technology that is no longer in the future. The “present” has arrived for Web 2.0, Search Leveraged Public Relations, PR 2.0, Mobile Marketing and a host of other technologies. Now that we’ve seen how a political candidate can use it well, I’ll be a keen observer of what will come next in 2012.

Welcome to Heat!

Welcome to Heat, the official blog of The Leader in New CommunicationsTM451 Marketing! If you are unfamiliar with us, I will fill you in:

Back in 2004, a couple of interactive marketing veterans named AJ Gerritson & Nick Lowe recognized a paradigm shift in the world of marketing, advertising & public relations. Rather than sit back and wait to see how it would all take shape, like most firms have done, they decided to get a jump on the competition. With a phone line and a couple of PCs, the two enterprising lads founded 451 Marketing – an agency that could offer companies a way to better connect and engage their customers through a combined new media and traditional communications approach that utilized both advertising and public relations. Turns out they were on to something. The agency has grown substantially since then – with an award-wining design team, cutting-edge new media specialists and *ahem* one talented and well connected public relations team – 451 Marketing has emerged as The Leader in New Media CommunicationsTM. We have created a targeted and fully-integrated communications approach that harnesses new technology to ensure that a client’s message breaks through the noise and is heard clearly by their customers. If you don’t believe me, ask our satisfied clients.

Where did the “451” in 451 Marketing come from you ask? No it’s not the address of their first office (would you really want to hire an agency that was that obvious?). And no, it’s not because when added together the numbers equal a Perfect 10 (although Nick is a big Sudoku fan). See, the number comes from the temperature at which paper burns – 451 degrees Fahrenheit! Advertising on paper is so 2003! It’s a good thing these guys recognized this, because they subsequently found that the brands they’ve created and communicated over the past four years have been so hot that they’re too hot for paper!

The 451 Marketing Heat blog will be a place for the new media junkies over here at 451 to muse, discuss and sometimes rant about the things that get us going! Please check in often, read what we have to say and feel free to tell us what you think, because the beauty of new media is that it’s interactive!

Cheers,

Tom Lee, Partner & Director of Public Relations