It may seem like a contradiction in terms, but the panelists were evangelists for ... agnosticism. The message was that planners, buyers, advertisers and everyone on both sides of a cross-promotional deal with a company like Disney.com should start with consumer insights and resist plans that start with media channels.
The panel, "Reaching kids, tweens and moms in a cross-platform 360 degree marketplace," showed how disparate brands like Hasbro, Wal-Mart and Georgia Pacific paired with Disney online, at retail, and in some cases with its products, to engage their consumers.
Brad Davis, senior vice president/Disney media sales and marketing, moderated, and panelists Ritu Trivedi, managing partner/media director at Mindshare Interaction, and Jeff Malmad, senior partner/media director with Beyond Interactive, discussed how Disney was working with advertisers.
"Eighteen months ago," said Davis, "we looked at where our brand was: If you look at our offerings, we corner that market of moms with kids 2-14. 'High School Musical,' the most-watched program on TV this summer, is an exemplar of the solutions that Disney, as a content specialist, is bringing to cross-media marketplace."
Sponsors participating in 360 marketing with the program ran the gamut from Wal-Mart to Honda, noted Davis--who added that the feature-film version will premiere next October. Disney has just launched two mass-participation, online, virtual world-type games: "Pirates," based on the film, sponsors of which include Intel, and "Club Penguin," directed at very young kids.
"With any 360 solution, the key benefit Disney can offer is the ability to continue to talk to consumers through the buying funnel from awareness through purchase phase," Davis said. "Online is the place with the ability to touch every aspect of that buying funnel."
Trivedi said three trends are emerging. First, online is becoming the starting point, centerpiece and hub of cross-media programs. "Now, many of our ideas are about user-generated programs," she said--adding that Mindshare's program for Unilever's Dove program around the Oscars, exemplified that. She added that the measurement is now about engagement. "That is currency now. How do you monitor engagement? With online media, interaction, time spent, it's no longer GPMs from television ads. We are looking at the purchase funnel in reverse, measuring the relevance of TV by how effectively it drives traffic online, just as one measures print effectiveness from [business reply cards]. "It's bringing a direct-response model of online back to other media."
"A lot of our clients are sitting out of upfronts, looking at more engagement ratings when it comes to TV and trying to make it more of an accountable, emotive experience," she said. "TV is going to stay around, but how we use it will change a lot. No more siloed approaches. Clients won't give us money and tell us to go the upfront and spend it all. Channel-agnostic planning is what they want."
"Everything is moving at warp speed," added Malmad. "From our standpoint, the issue is how keep up to date, and one step ahead."
He said video on demand is a litmus of that change, noting that in May 2006 ABC had introduced video on demand on its Web properties. "By May 2007, ABC, NBC CBS--all of the cable channels--all are putting out long-form content, and consumers are finding it. What I love about it is that this space is ripe for those with creative thinking, and co-creation is huge. That's the key: team work, with everyone, including the publishers and agencies."
Malmad used his firm's work with Hasbro as a case study. Hasbro is promoting its Tooth Tunes product, a toothbrush that plays downloadable music when one brushes, and iDog, a puppy dog that reacts physically to music. Hasbro sponsors Disney's "D Concerts" Web site in its XD and DXD environments, to pitch its products.
Per Malmad, the deal is definitely about personalized Web content, but the support is coming from traditional TV, print, radio and online, "360 touchpoints." On the site, consumers can watch "High School Musical" and other musical and lifestyle long-form video holiday-themed content.
Says Malmad: "The beauty is that it is more about a destination, where one can find the artists, listen to music and engage the brands at the same time."
Davis said that, for Wal-Mart, Disney ran a program in which consumers could get a "High School Musical" lanyard, available in the Wal-Mart clothing area. The lanyard had a code unlocking exclusive online content. For Georgia Pacific, a package label program for paper towels and tissues directed consumers to a co-branded Georgia Pacific and Disney gaming Web site.