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.
In considering candidates, we tried to locate a range of cross-media strategies. 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 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 mix, these integrated programs have made good on the medium's longstanding promises -- to close the loop with consumers by moving them to buy, to engage with brands in new ways, and to talk back.
On the Consumer's Trail
Most cross-platform treatments profess to grab consumers at their 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.
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. At work, the male target booted up to view morning daypart ads at major financial sites like CBS MarketWatch. With online as the final leg in this marketing trail, the "Unwrapped" campaign was among the first to leverage the Web's special "out of home strength."
The Richards Group attacked a suffering travel market with a $40 million campaign across TV, radio, magazine, newspaper, direct mail, and the Web. 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 rich media did "on the ground" retailing, by pitching specific deals and pricing. "The truly great ideas are simple communication ideas Ð they work incredibly well across platforms," says David Hall, principal of The Richards Group.
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 the future model.
"This ain't you're father's upfront deal," says Mike Kelly, president of Global Marketing Solutions, AOL/TW, "The currency for these kinds of relationships is more than just media dollars." 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. 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 in more than one-third of the 30-second spots, according to reports. 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.
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.
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. 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. For this first attempt at leveraging the Bond franchise with a female audience, Deutsch supplemented the 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 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.
Playing the Online Card
The Web came into its own in 2002 as a way for some high-profile, cross-media campaigns to grab elusive audiences. After the incredible popularity of BMWFilms.com's initial run of the branded entertainment short The Hire, the big question for Fallon was "why stay on the Web at all in the second season?" The films ran on satellite, cable, and in some movie theaters, and also got wide support in print and TV ads. But by keeping the hub of the work online, however, Fallon could let consumers stick with the brand as they liked.
Fallon laser-targeted the campaign toward independent film and entertainment sites. In addition to garnering massive media coverage, the BMWFilms.com site has clocked over 30 million viewings of the shorts.
"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." 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 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. 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.
On the Web, Tribal DDB 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. All aspects of the Hershey's Happiness execution reiterated its marketing promise -- that it was consumers who really owned this brand.
Tough but Necessary
Cross-media strategies may have evolved in recent years, but agencies still say this stuff is hard to execute. It succeeds when a simple, consistent message reverberates across all media, and a brand can take 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.