Memorial Day marks more than just the beginning of summer; it denotes the start in earnest of seasonal ad campaigns. This year, as always, brands are looking for ways to tie their products in with summer style, keeping cool, outdoor cooking, traveling, carefree living, and the like. The themes may be familiar but the ways in which they're approached are quite unique: the idea being to encourage consumers to think of their products in the context of the season and its related events. Through carefully crafted advertising, strategic partnerships, and relevant content, brands are finding hot ways to stand out.
A Product by Any Other Name
The summer beauty market is a big one, and brands would be remiss to let the opportunity to highlight their place within it pass them by. This year, beauty brand Essie is showing consumers how it fits in by promoting its 2011 Summer Collection of nail polish through clever ad creative and partnerships with beauty sites.
Consistency is king in Essie's campaign, as with the majority of its digital advertising; ad design typically consists of a clean, white background and a nail polish bottle. It's the copy that sends the message, which is particularly important where promoting its new collection is concerned. Push-down banners like those seen on the home page of MarieClaire.com reveal the new colors and associate each product name with something reminiscent of summer ("If you want to pick up some color at the beach…I say go Braziliant;" "This season, it's sure to be Smooth Sailing.") Users can click on each shade to enlarge the nail polish bottle for a better look at the color and to reveal its unique tag line.
The new colors are also being introduced on sites like Glam.com, where an advertorial featuring the collection is accompanied by an Essie banner ad. The combination of ad and editorial content packs a powerful punch, in essence providing Essie with ownership of the entire site page and conveying a message consumers can't ignore. But just in case they aren't fully convinced, a Facebook contest gives fans the chance to win a bottle of one of the new shades to help them kick off their summer.
Summer Products On Target
Retail giant Target is setting out to become the summer activities destination this year with a message inviting consumers to "Make Summer Funner." The brand has partnered with sites like Oprah.com, where a push-down banner on the home page asks users to click to spin a wheel of products (tents, telescopes, bubble wands, and other summer favorites). After the spin-the-bottle-like execution has played out, it reveals a product-specific idea for how to put more fun into one's summer days (for instance, "Make Better Bubbles").
The summer ad theme doesn't end there. Through its partnership with Oprah, which includes a sponsorship and a Target Lounge at Oprah Winfrey's Farewell Spectacular show, the retailer is also advertising on the Oprah Spectacular Sponsors page. By interchanging its home page creative with banners for its private label Merona fashion brand (which consumers are invited to wear during an "afternoon at the park") and its standard Target Circle "Expect More, Pay Less" ads, the retailer can be sure that its defining characteristics of selection, style, and savings are all covered.
Hot Dads Meet a Hot Vacation Destination
If we're assessing the value of a holiday by its ability to get us a day off of work, Father's Day may not be among the most popular of the summer. That said, it represents an attitude that can have a positive influence on brands…if they can effectively align themselves with it.
This year, an opportunity to do so comes from iVillage, which launched its first annual Hot Dads Photo Contest. Women were invited to upload photos of their entries to the Hot Dads page in categories ranging from Hottest Military Dad to Hottest Dad with Facial Hair and Hottest Dad of Twins. Within a two-week entry period, iVillage says, it received "a tremendous response." Voting will be conducted by site users with iVillage awarding a grand prize vacation for two provided by the contest's promotional sponsor, Sandals Resorts.
For Sandals, along with other advertisers who ran banners surrounding the contest, it's an opportunity to increase exposure among women and, in particular, families. Forming an association between Sandals and a feel-good effort to recognize fatherhood and family values stands to create a powerful positive perception of the brand. This kind of connection can translate into brand affinity, word of mouth, and ultimately sales - and it isn't limited to promotional sponsorships alone. Any site partnership in which the brand can affiliate itself with positive content can deliver much more than just impressions and clicks.
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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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