Now that summer is in full swing and the weather is finally corroborating the season (particularly in the Northeast and Midwest), hot weather media buys are beach-blanketing the Web and leaving their sandy imprint on consumers. Big summer campaigns are typical of advertisers with seasonal products to sell, and this year they've found some clever new ways to showcase themselves online.
One approach is associating with seasonal content. Part of the fun of being a media buyer is getting to know the content your ads will be adjacent to -- particularly when it falls into the entertainment category. And this content channel is chock full of new stuff designed to appease the masses until the regular television season resumes in the fall.
Consider NBC's bizarre "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" The reality show features B-list stars roughing it in the jungle to earn donations for their respective charities; viewers vote to determine who stays and who goes.
Online, NBC has created a site for the show that immerses visitors in the jungle theme. It proves to be an ideal placement for Lands' End, which is running an ad campaign there.
The apparel brand is promoting its summer swimwear collection with its new "The Island" campaign and sweepstakes; it offers an "interactive getaway" by presenting its styles in the context of a tropical island. Jungle-themed banners allow users to browse through swimsuits, and encourage them to "Explore Swim Island," a microsite where swimwear looks are revealed by mousing over hotspots on the island and can be explored in depth at different island locations. In addition to promoting the unique online shopping experience on the NBC show site, Lands' End features banners on its Faceboook page, as well as other entertainment sites like BravoTV.com.
In the spirit of backyard living, grocery chain Meijer launched a campaign highlighting a plethora of gardening and lawn care products. Its expandable banners showcase dozens of sale items selected for each user based on popular in-store items at their closest Meijer location (based on their IP address). The ads -- which feature tag lines like "Make Your Neighbor's Yard Green With Envy" -- are running on Southern Living and the Landscaping section of HGTV.com, where users are sure to be in the frame of mind to consider the tools and accessories shown in the ads.
Grill maker Weber has come up with a smart way to introduce consumers to its line of grills in association with cooking sites like Cooking Light, which features plenty of recipes conducive to outdoor grilling. Its interactive display ads depict a paper origami fortune teller.
Users click to select from one of four grills, and then choose one of four foods. The outcome -- the user's fortune -- varies from "Your grill will be hot and your beer, cold" to "You will own a grill you can trust for years to come" -- just what a home cook with a penchant for low-calorie cooking craves.
There are other common themes among these campaigns, one of which is product selection. Rich media affords the ability to display numerous products in a single banner.
As popular as this trend has been in the past, it's becoming even more so as brands look for ways to cut back on creative costs. A rollover or expandable banner is well worth the investment if it negates the need to create multiple units each featuring a single item, not to mention the need to purchase media placements for each one. From a branding perspective, this method demonstrates the advertiser's diversity and is, as a result, more likely to appeal to a greater number of consumers and tastes.
These summer campaigns also share something else: a distinctive shopping experience that can translate from online to in-store. The ads become a platform for Lands' End, Meijer, and Weber to present their seasonal wares and familiarize potential customers with their products. Because they allow consumers to preview goods without leaving the context of the site they're visiting, these banners can jumpstart an impromptu research process that's more likely to culminate in a buy, because users are actually qualifying themselves as viable buyers by interacting with the ads.
Summer may be synonymous with lax and lazy days, but these seasonal campaigns prove buyers are still on the ball.
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
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