The Involvement of Online Ads

There's been a lot of talk about the Ad:Tech 2003 event last week. As I'm sure you've heard the attendance level reached a staggering 2,000+ people. It's Murphy's Law, I guess, unfortunately I was stuck on the East Coast (more on that next week) unable to attend. Nonetheless, that's an unbelievable turnout for an event when times still feel pretty tough out there.

I was at home watching daily email updates from Masha, some colleagues, and CBS MarketWatch. A point of interest was the keynote speech by Bob DeSena, Director, Relationship Marketing, Masterfoods USA, A Mars, Incorporated Company. DeSena's speech centered on relationship building in a competitive market.

He talked about making consumers feel as if they were a part of a campaign. Think about it for a second: have you ever felt as if you were a part of a campaign? I was hard pressed for a personal example. The only thing that came to mind was broadcast programming and reality television. Take the amazingly popular television show American Idol for instance. Viewers can call into a number or log onto the website and pick their favorite singers. I think this is a very cool way to interact with your target audience.



This past year, I was a part of the creation of a few custom sponsorships for a telecom client via sports networks and sites. The ads allowed online and device (phone) enabled polling. Sure, I'm biased on this example, but we were successful in getting the target to interact with the brand.

DeSena talked about the widely recognized M&M campaign launched worldwide by Masterfoods. You probably remember it: They asked consumers to choose a new color to add to the M&M candy pack. Consumers could cast their vote online and be a part of the decision-making. They chose purple.

After some long thinking, another great that came to mind was the Mac "switch" campaign. This time, customers were able to send in their video footage and stories online to tell how they switched to a Mac. Selected customers appeared in Mac TV ads and on the Web. In fact, a friend of mine from work was chosen.

While I can't imagine spending the time to be all that concerned about a colored candy, I can consider voting and polling. There is certainly much to be said about the power of a brand. However, the involvement in a brand is a new twist. Is this type of a campaign possible for: Cereal, golf balls, cars, data warehousing, laptops, eMusic...? Perhaps.

I guess the way to start is to get back to the basics. Most of us know why customers buy a particular brand versus another. The trick is to find out how consumers can become customers via brand involvement. The foundation for this is to foster a relationship with your prospects.

I'm interested to see what you've done as advertisers along these lines. I'm also intrigued to see some examples of how you've become involved with a brand in a positive way. Come out of the closet if you are a purple-voter. What campaigns have impressed you? Did saying, "Wasssssup" a year or two ago really make you buy the beer? Post your comments on the Spin Board.

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