Cross-Media Comes of Age
Cross-platform ad campaigns and media deals may be all the rage right now, but of course they are nothing new. Companies with deep pockets can and do buy a lot of different media to carpet bomb a brand into ubiquity. But in tracking the state of the art in the past year, we identified ten instances when cross-media truly evolved into integrated marketing. These ten clearly illustrated where elements across media worked together either to deliver greater cost efficiencies to clients or to execute more nuanced, tiered marketing strategies.
MEDIA Magazine in its Best Online Campaigns of 2002 (December 2002) has already recognized several high-profile campaigns such as the Lexus/Minority Report, Delta "Hate Lines," ING, and MSN 8, each of which worked exceptionally well in multiple media. In turning to other worthy candidates, we tried to locate a range of cross-platform strategies now in play. There were intricate plans that used different media to follow and capture that notoriously more fragmented audience ("Unwrap a Jaguar" and "Travelocity Can"). There were also the massive deals aimed at realizing some of the new efficiencies possible within large media networks (Disney/OMD, AMEX/AOL Time Warner). Campaigns such as Nexium's "Purple Pill" and Revlon Colors were massive branding efforts that also used very specific placements on numerous platforms to inspire sales.
Of special note was the enhanced role of the Web in many integrated plans. More than an afterthought or a simple reiteration of an offline strategy, some of the best cross-platform campaigns used the Web as a core presentation platform and as a place to dwell in the brand (e.g., BMWFilms.com), or to speak to its target in genuinely novel, edgy ways (e.g., Axe "House Party"). At its best, however, the Web also proved itself to be the new back-channel for marketing, the place where consumers take ownership of brands and actually do some of the marketing work for the client (e.g., Apple "Switch" and Hershey's "Happiness").
By including the Web in their marketing mix, these integrated programs have made good on the medium's longstanding promises Ñ to close the loop with consumers by moving them to buy, to engage with brands in new ways, and by moving them to talk back.
On the Consumer's Trail
Most cross-platform treatments profess to grab consumers at their many different media touch points, but Young & Rubicam's "Unwrap a Jaguar" campaign was among the most deliberate attempts to actually stalk the affluent car buyer. "We can't out do Lexus in terms of budget, so we have to be big around the people who make the most sense for us," says Andrea Hartman, VP media team leader. "We spent a significant amount of time analyzing the media they consume," she continued.
And so, during last holiday season, the moneyed male Jag target spent the evening with targeted TV spots, and picked up a polybag ad wrapped around his Wall Street Journal at the doorstep the next morning. Radio ads reiterated the pitch at drive-time, and even a coffee cup wraparound at his neighborhood caf echoed the message. Most important, at work, the male target booted up to view morning daypart ads at major financial sites like CBS MarketWatch. These ads then moved him to a micro-site, "which was more about direct response and driving people to the showroom," says Steve Patterson, SVP, brand team leader.
With online as the final leg in this marketing trail, the "Unwrapped" campaign was among the first to leverage the medium's special "out of home strength." By using multiple media in a synchronized way, "It started at 7 am but it ended at the dealership," says Patterson.
The Richards Group attacked a suffering travel market with a $40 million campaign across TV, radio, magazine, newspaper, direct mail, and Web. This campaign, "Travelocity Can" was created to show that the travel outfit could do more than just book airline tickets. "We called it a three-layered approach," says David Hall, principal, referring to it as a "combination messaging strategy and media strategy." Memorable "Wedding" and "Elephant" TV spots targeted people's emotional connection to travel and dream-planning, while magazine and radio featured the broader set of trip planning tools available at the Travelocity site. Meanwhile, local newspapers and the Web did "on the ground" retailing, by pitching specific deals and pricing.
It was the massively diverse online deployment, with literally hundreds of separate creative executions, that did the serious grunt work, however. "Online is held to two main objectives," says Kyle Sawai, account supervisor, "to maintain a low cost-per-reservation ROI and to drive site traffic." While some rich media treatments reiterated the TV creative, even more complex ads put the Travelocity tools in users' hands within the banners. Other treatments targeted specific destination pricing messages geographically. So far, overall brand awareness had lifted 7-percent, which Sawai says is both impressive given the terrible travel market, and is also a credit to a cross-platform approach that brought branding and retail marketing to audiences in a way TV alone never could. When discussing successful integrated marketing, adds David Hall, the primary driver comes down to a firm emotional hook like "Travelocity Can." "The truly great ideas are simple communication ideas Ñ they work incredibly well across platforms," he says.
Media by the Ton
Sure, buying in bulk still works, and frankly until contract renewal time, the jury stays out on whether the newly integrated marketing units at media conglomerates really offer their clients value. But the AOL/Time Warner "marketing alliance" with American Express may be a model for the future because, "It goes beyond a media relationship," says Mike Kelly, president of Global Marketing Solutions, AOL/TW. More than air time on CNN and pages in People, increased AMEX card usage is being pushed on AOL, while Time Warner magazines are being sold via AMEX's Membership Rewards program. This is just for starters.
"This ain't you're father's upfront deal," says Kelly, "The currency for these kinds of relationships is more than just media dollars. The payoff for both of us is that we spend time understanding their business challenges and opportunities, while they gain a better understanding of ours. Sooner or later it leads to places where no one has ever been before," continued Kelly. Indeed, in one of its most innovative moves, the AMEX OPEN Network business card for small businesses and AOL's new Small Business Channel were "joined at the hip" in February. The two entities not only cross-promote but also push users back and forth within discounted service offers. This is an example of client and media becoming truly enmeshed, looking for ways to sell one another across a range of products and media platforms.
Many called OMD's $1.2 billion dollar cross-media buy-in at Disney a "game changer," but in some ways it was a smart consolidation of buying patterns that OMD had already established. Its clients (Apple, Pepsi, Gilette, etc.) included some of the biggest brand presences for Super Bowl, Oscar, and NBA Finals telecasts, all of which ABC owned. For the Super Bowl alone, OMD was already in for more than one-third of the 30-second spots, according to reports, and this deal not only guaranteed discounts for the upfront buy-ins for OMD but certainly helped the company secure favorable positioning as well. Companies would not specify what crumbs might fall toward the Disney Web properties from this arrangement. The fact that the Internet was deliberately included at all in such a mega-deal suggests that the biggest media buyer on the planet is taking the platform seriously as a venue for A-level clients.
The importance of the OMD deal may be to serve as a model for how advertisers respond in kind to the increased conglomeration of media properties Ñ pump up and meet strength with strength. By some accounts, OMD was responsible for nearly 20-percent of ABC's revenue last year, the sort of clout that only big, big money can buy.
Reaching Farther, Deeper, Smarter
More than just saturating a market with branding messages, the best integrated campaigns also leverage those platforms for what Sharon DeBacco, consumer brand promotions leader with Astra Zeneca calls "surround sound" promotion. Prescription drugs are hard to brand, so AZ seared the Nexium "Purple Pill" into national consciousness via TV, print, radio, and Web ads that targeted the over-35 segment. "Within our target group, our awareness is fabulous," says DeBacco. Another key pharmaceutical marketing metric Ñ the number of times that patients contacted doctors for the prescription heartburn treatment Ñ was unusually strong as well.
In fact, the "Purple Pill" placements in all media demonstrated how branding and direct response appeals can co-exist, with the Web proving especially successful. "Rigorous attention to search engine keyword optimizations helped make trial coupon sign-ups much more cost-efficient online than off," says Jean Pundiak, senior e-promotions manager, at AZ. Even the Unicast ads "were effective when measured against direct response objectives," says Tina Daniels, director of client services with Avenue A, the firm that actually placed the Web ads. One interesting discovery in this campaign was that online Nexium ads placed within online media brands like TVGuide.com did especially well in improving brand lift and direct response. The "Purple Pill" grabbed the very same audience offline, suggesting that media bundling may have a purpose after all.
By picking its multi-platform venues carefully, and having Halle Berry and the James Bond Die Another Day promotion to tie those pieces together, Deutsch's massive "360-degree" marketing campaign for Revlon Colors was more than a big-ass branding blast. It resulted in double-digit sales growth for the product line. For this first attempt at leveraging the Bond franchise with a female audience, Deutsch supplemented the usual TV and print branding pieces with a special 10-page Vogue spread and point-of sale messaging vehicles that energized industry buyers and consumers. "The media piece and the creative piece were indistinguishable," says Peter Gardiner, a Deutsch partner and chief media officer.
The Revlon Colors campaign gave a major nod to the Web, and for the first time Revlon made a limited edition line of its products available to major e-tailers. An exclusive online deal with AOL funneled the Halle Berry ads and promotions into the service's entertainment and beauty channels. And an enormous "micro-site" pulled users into both Revlon and Bond deeper than any other medium could. This was accomplished with exclusive behind-the-scenes views of both of product development and the making of the film. Relying on TV alone "would not have paid respect to the media habits of the people we were trying to reach," says Gardiner. For the Bond franchise in particular, targeting women required making careful choices across the full range of available media. "There was a sea shift," added Gardiner.
Playing the Online Card
The Web came into its own in 2002 as a way for some high-profile, cross-platform campaigns to grab elusive audiences as well as position old brands in new ways. After the incredible popularity of BMWFilms.com's initial run of branded entertainment shorts, the big question for Fallon was "why stay on the Web at all in the second season?" Indeed, last fall's follow-up set of The Hire films also ran on satellite, cable, and in some movie theaters, and also got wide support in print and TV ads. By keeping the hub of the work online, however, Fallon could let consumers stick with the brand as they liked. But John Blackburn, connection planner, also added that, "We could control the entertainment experience and branding experience."
"We were positioning the product as a genuine entertainment vehicle, and not just a promotional vehicle," says Blackburn. So Fallon laser-targeted the campaign toward the independent film audience because BMW buyers had a strong affinity to quality entertainment. In addition to movie and entertainment sites, the online buys were granular, even drilling into fan sites for talent that had been featured in the film. In addition to garnering massive media coverage, which was part of the media plan itself, the BMWFilms.com site has clocked over 30 million viewings of the shorts. Better yet, this exercise in grabbing a consumer through his or her affinity tastes is paying off big in post-campaign branding metrics. "As we look at the stats, we have to conclude that we have been wildly successful," says Blackburn. And yup, the DVD is coming, too.
"Party down" was the smart call from BBH, which helped Unilever introduce the European "Axe" brand of men's deodorant to U.S. audiences in a series covering TV, print, outdoor and an exceptionally canny use of the Web. In what is becoming a trend lately, Axe anticipated the offline campaign with select pre-launch placements online. In this case, the placements were a series of mock home videos of men getting assaulted by droves of nearby women overcome by the "Axe effect." "We had amazing results from that," says Robert Lutsky, SVP sales with Interevco, which placed the ads at the suitably irreverent FHMus.com.
The subsequent cross-platform, offline assault also pushed the young male target demo back to the Web for a superb Axe "House Party" site, where users could win a trip to the real Miami party of the same name, or just oogle babes and pick up dating tips. Footage from that live party will in turn be recycled into future promotions. Call it closing the loop for the oafish lad segment, but the Axe campaign moved its audience across media very effectively, and used the Web to delivery edgier creative than many other platforms allow.
Tapping the Roots
Inviting consumers to run with the brand may not have been the intention of Apple's "Switch" campaign, but it is what gave this, the company's largest campaign in years, its considerable legs. The real world TV and print testimonials of those who left Bill Gates' operating system for Steve Jobs' user-friendly alternative pulled people to a fully integrated "Switch" section of the Apple.com site, and from here, users made the theme their own. Consumers erected scores of devotional and parody sites, and even made a Web celebrity of teen testifier Ellen Feiss, who now has her own website, with a line of branded products.
Demonstrating how a simple but edgy message can resonate brilliantly across platforms, Apple and agency TBWA/Chiat/Day embraced the diverse response to the campaign with their own self-parody ad, starring Will Ferrell as "switcher" S. Claus. Love it or hate it, Apple CEO Jobs says "the response has been nothing short of phenomenal," with nearly 8 million unique visitors to the Switch site and half of in-store Mac sales going to PC switchers. The lesson here? Go ahead, be controversial, then let everybody join the fun.
DDB's assignment for the venerable Hershey Bar was "to take a classic American icon brand, contemporize it, and establish a connection with a younger adult user base," says Gary Exelbert, group account manager. Hershey's "Happiness" TV campaign introduced the emotional basis of this marketing shift, with twenty-somethings testifying about their love of chocolate. In print, DDB translated that devotion into the classic medium of youthful self-expression, the T-shirt.
In this campaign, all pieces led to where that target lived, the Web. Rather than create a simple brand recruitment vehicle, Tribal DDB's Steve Hicks, creative director of interactive, and Debbie Kornono, director of relationship marketing made the site a viral engine, where a passionate core of Hershey lovers could create and buy T-shirts, email chocolate love notes to others, and write their own ad taglines. "We are finding that consumers write great T-shirt slogans," says Hicks, and that grassroots creative element will become part of the campaign. All aspects of the Hershey's Happiness execution reiterated its marketing promise Ñ that it was consumers who really owned this brand.
Tough but Necessary
Cross-media strategies may have evolved substantially in recent years, but this stuff is still very hard to execute, as almost everyone we contacted have said. Most agencies contend that these strategies work best when you have assembled specific creative teams for each platform. These strategies also succeed when a simple, consistent message reverberates across all media, but that also takes advantage of each platform according to its strengths. The battle for consumer's hearts and minds has become very complicated, very quickly. Integrated advertising is now about more than simply capturing eyeballs wherever they go. It is also about recognizing and addressing the consumer's different modes of thought and action in each of these places. "Today, consumers are so busy, they are not just focused on TV or radio, says The Richard's Group's Sawai. "They absorb so many different types of media, and they use their media differently." Integrated campaigns are struggling to address not only fragmentation of media, but the actual fragmentation of our consciousness.