Norm! What Brands Can Learn From 'Cheers'

This summer Coca Cola replaced its logo with 250 popular names, and America suddenly became really thirsty.  No product improvement. No big grand prize. Just a touch of personalization, and people couldn’t dig through the convenience store cooler fast enough.

Along a similar vein, you may remember Old Spice’s “Responses” campaign, in which the deodorant brand created 186 real-time response videos based on Twitter comments. Or perhaps you recall WestJet’s viral triumph, “Christmas Miracle,” in which 250 passengers received surprise post-flight Christmas gifts. On Facebook, Grey Poupon scanned users’ profiles as a part of an exclusive screening process for admission to the “Society of Good Taste.”



All these campaigns capitalize on what I’ll call the “Cheers” Principle, best summarized by the opening lyrics of the TV series’ iconic theme: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” We all want, just once, to experience what Norm experienced every day when he walked into that mythical Boston watering hole. To be known, warmly welcomed, and appreciated. Is that too much to ask from marketers?

Perhaps, but a little bit of personalization goes a long way. “Coke knows my name.” “Old Spice listens to me on Twitter.” “WestJet cares about my holiday wishes.” “Grey Poupon wants me in their club.” These sentiments, though only expressed by a few individuals, snowball into the larger humanization of these brands.

While not every brand can slap names on their products or buy a 747 full of gifts, all can create a more personalized customer experience. More specifically, marketers can segment what they talk about and whom they’re talking to, through highly personalized and inherently social media.

Unlike magazine ads or TV commercials, brands can create limitless message variations on social, each shown only to a highly targeted audience. On Facebook, this takes shape in the form of Unpublished Page Posts; on Twitter, it’s the Promoted Tweet; and on LinkedIn, we have the recently unveiled Direct Sponsored Content.

Using these offerings, brands can create content calendars unique to each and every one of their buyer personas. Let’s take Coke, for example. Simultaneously, and without overlap, it could promote two posts: after-school snack ads to moms on mobile, and caffeine-break ads to Millennials on desktop. While it’s no name on a bottle, this approach does make consumers feel as if a brand understands who they are and what they want.

Looking for a little more of a hard sell? You can personalize that, too. Consider remarketing. Using Facebook’s Website Custom Audiences or Twitter’s Website Cards, brands can make selling seem less like a forced transaction and more like a personalized suggestion. Again, the win-win is clear. Consumers see unique products that they actually want to buy, and brands increase sales as a result.

The one caveat I would add is that having the power to publish hundreds of posts at once isn’t reason enough to do so. Rather, brands need to put value first: that is, consider what they can provide people, and then create ads to match. After all, personalization is only worthwhile if people want to see the unique messages we’re delivering.

To truly channel our inner Sam Malone, we must factor personalization into all our media efforts. Raising our standards up to this level of communication may not be the same as seeing “Jamie” on a soda can or enjoying a chorus of “Jamie” when entering my favorite watering hole, but it still sounds pretty refreshing. Cheers to that.

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