Is it just me? Am I so "old school" I believe a gazillion dollar, network TV ad campaign should be coordinated with other communication channels -- especially a company's Web site? Isn't it a basic tenet of Branding 101 to integrate marketing campaigns?
Maybe some of the bigger marketing departments are on extended summer vacations and aren't aware the messages in their TV and Web site communications are on completely different wavelengths. Or maybe (tell me this isn't true) the advertising department simply isn't talking to the online department.
Here are just a few examples:
Kellogg's Corn Pops. This is not my favorite spot, but my 10-year-old son hushes everyone in the house when he sees this simple animated advertisement on television. It features happy little dancers that populate the screen like splitting amoebas. Granted, it's cute and a lively way to rejuvenate an older product. And the tagline, "Feel good. Go pop," is cheery summer fare. So, you'd think Kellogg's site would give some presence to these happy little popper people? Not a chance. Digging well into the site, one finds nothing more than a picture of the Kellogg's Corn Pops box with the statement, "Crunchy, sweetened popped up corn." Nothing really feel-good about this site. A chance to really pop seemed to poop over at Kellogg's.
Big Red. Wrigley's also attempts to revive a product way past the maturity stage. Its Big Red TV spots are sexy and have an air of mystery. But a look at the gum-maker's Web site reveals just a few paragraphs on the cinnamon-flavored gum. No mystery here, except a passing nod to an obviously pricey ad campaign. In fact, all it can say is, "Big Red's advertising features 'Clyde,' a mystical man who seems to show up when there's a need for Big Red, fresh breath, and a little 'Clyde' wisdom." That's it? So much for the sex, mystery, and product revival.
Snapple. Like 'em or loathe 'em, those hokey Snapple bottles parading across the TV screen certainly grab your attention. One of the latest, featuring Snapple bottles as hairy heavy metal rockers, is particularly hard to ignore. It's the kind of campy fare that could lend itself to a great online Spinal Tap spoof. Not a chance. The Snapple site features a little village called Snappleton. It's cute but a bit hard to load. And there isn't even a nod to those rockin' Snapple bottle guys.
Heinz. This ad isn't that clever, but it gets the message across. A young man sends back his burger because it's not accompanied by Heinz ketchup. The scene erupts in a rebellion by the entire diner and a voiceover instructs us to "Insist on Heinz." Now, that's pretty powerful, so you'd think the Web site would repeat the message. Nope. The site has rotating messages, but nothing truly simpatico with the television message.
Coca-Cola. Granted, a megabrand such as Coke doesn't have to worry too much about being super-efficient with ad dollars. Oddly, its summer campaign is an array of dancing logos, bottles, cans, and bottle caps, whereas its site is chock-full of promotions, including a partnership with that favorite summer timewaster, the TV show "American Idol." Did the dancing logos provide any brand enforcement over a long, hot summer? Probably not, judging from the fact Coke's online department makes no reference to them at all. It seems just having "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell sip a frosty Coke while offering equally frosty critiques was all the promotion really needed.
OK, you get the idea. The online marketing isn't talking to the ad department at some very large organizations (is it possible that they're that far down the hall?).
I did find a few nice tie-ins.
Gap.com emailed a sneak peak at its fall TV campaign a day before it aired. I got $10 off my next jeans purchase to boot. Bravo! At least the e-marketing department talks to the Web department, and they both talk to the advertising department.
Kudos to Apple Computer, currently running testimonials on TV featuring converts from the "dark side" of PC usage. On its site, Apple posts everything from the actual TV spots to reviews from journalists who personally became Apple users. There's a neat little FAQ about making the switch that's very consistent with the offline campaign.
Coordinating your message with all your media outreach not only minimizes confusion among target audiences, it's more cost efficient. You run one branding campaign at a time and maximize your message through multiple forms of media.
Makes sense to me. Maybe folks will get smarter after summer's over.
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Susan Solomon is the executive director of marketing and public relations for Memorial Health Services, a five-hospital health system in Southern California. In this capacity, she manages promotional activities for both traditional and new media. Susan is also a marketing communications instructor at the University of California, Irvine; California State University, Fullerton; and the University of California, Los Angeles.