BrainTrust Query: Contextually Relevant Promotions…Do They Produce?
This week, Burger King announced a very creative online promotion with Maxim magazine. Together, they created a microsite featuring video footage of three “hometown hottie” models that guys choose as online companions for a “virtual lunch.” Naturally, a sweepstakes offers participants the chance to win an actual lunch with one of the ladies. A spokesperson notes that the idea was born as a strategic initiative rooted in understanding what the guys in their target audience are looking for, thus making it “contextually relevant” to their young male diners.
Burger King spurred the movement of contextual relevance when they launched the “Subservient Chicken” a few years ago with agency Crispin Porter. Known as one of the most successful online guerilla campaigns in history, the campaign allowed the user to command a man in a chicken suit to perform any action that they so desired. Generating 385 million hits with an average site visit of 6 minutes, according to Fast Company, it launched a firestorm of similar media campaigns.
The question with campaigns such as these for many marketing and advertising constituents is obvious. Was it truly successful? With such a campaign, what exactly does success mean?
In the case of the two examples above, the stated goals were/are to build a deeper connection to a niche target audience and stimulate brand affinity strong enough to make the chain the de facto choice for quick service dining. This success is measured by site visits, interaction, brand awareness and making relevant brand connections. However, based on the lack of a call to action or online incentive, the goals apparently do not include driving sales or restaurant traffic.
There are two schools of thought to debate here. On the one hand, why would an effort with the potential to relevantly connect with a hot target audience not carry a measurable call to action to drive sales? On the other, having created an engaging and delightful “contextual experience,” would they ruin the affect by blatantly trying to close the loop with a sale?
Direct response marketers believe that every campaign should be trackable, ideally to sales and a tangible ROI. Brand planning marketers don’t always agree, saying that making a powerful connection to a consumer — even if not measured beyond visits and interaction — is still potent. They feel that trust is at the root of the matter and it must be earned differently in today’s jaded marketing environment.
Discussion Questions: Should contextually relevant promotions be tied to incentives to generate actual sales? Or, is this old school thinking that continues
to erode trust?
This is a tough one, as ROI is becoming increasingly important to prove to executives in today’s media climate. Agencies and brands may in fact be trying
to avoid tracking these kinds of campaigns because site hits and interactions are easier to shape into success stories. Brand connections do not always equal sales and it is indeed
easier to gauge success by awareness.
However, trust is at an all time low and consumers are tired of being taken advantage of. Especially with a younger audience, there is a common thread of
wanting to identify with a brand that shares ones interests and ideals. Tough call for marketers, but perhaps there’s a way to accomplish it all.