Kohl's let viewers vote on how to Get Jennifer There - to the AMAs - in an innovative campaign that could point the way for other brands to integrate Twitter into their TV spots.
Kohl's latest media campaign let viewers decide via Twitter how Jennifer Lopez got herself out of a traffic bind to arrive in time for Sunday's American Music Awards. Get Jennifer There not only created buzz for the brand, but could point the way for other brands to deepen Twitter integration in TV spots, according to digital marketing experts.
Although Twitter voting campaigns are becoming increasingly common on TV shows such The Voice and Dancing With the Stars, Kohl's is one of the first brands to get behind the concept.
Announced a few days ahead of Sunday's AMA awards, the campaign consisted of three sets of video spots, which viewers could vote on to decide alternate ways for J. Lo to make it to the show. Along the way, people compliment her shoes, outfit and jewelry, to which she tersely respond's "Kohl's!" At the end of the spots, viewers get the message: "There's only one choice. Kohl's on Black Friday."
A teaser built anticipation ahead of the awards:
Although the participation results were not massive, the payoff for Kohl's is substantial, says Jesse Redniss, chief strategy officer at Mass Relevance, whose software platform enables TV networks and companies to aggregate and visualize social media messages into TV programming.
"I think it was a win-win for Kohl's, as they definitely had the attention of the industry, an interesting execution and I applaud them for thinking outside the box and including the viewers in driving the story of #GetJenniferThere," he says.
Although it remains to be seen whether Kohl's will see a spike in Black Friday sales as a result of the spots, the retailer gets high marks for moving into new territory, agrees Mike Proulx, EVP - digital and director of social media at agency Hill Holliday.
"This is the first time I know of that a brand did social TV polling via Twitter," he says. "Coke did something similar at the last Superbowl, but it drove people to its website. It didn't have hashtags embedded into television spots."
The campaign was created in conjunction with advertising agency Peterson Milla Hooks (PMH), which Kohl's brought on board in August. "We wanted to come up with an idea that was different and would break through the noise over competitors," says Ryan Boekelheide, account director with PMH. The idea was to create a campaign that merges social and traditional media into one component to get users involved in the story. "Viewers probably weren't expecting this from a brand like Kohl's," he adds.
The campaign generated more than 14,000 tweets to #GetJenniferThere, according to data from Topsy. The spots with the most votes were shown as TV spots throughout the awards show. Viewers can also continue to watch both sets of spots on the dedicated microsite, as well as on YouTube.
According to the Kohl's site, 76 percent of viewers voted for J. Lo to first jump over car roofs (#JLoRoofRun), compared to only 24 percent who wanted her to hitch a ride via moped. Some 54 percent asked that J. Lo then run through a wall tunnel (#JLoTunnel), as opposed to 46 percent who wanted her to blast her way out of a locked room (#JLoJailBreak).
Finally, 74 percent asked for her to ride on the shoulders of others (#JLoUseThem) to make her way to the dressing room and then onto the stage. Only 26 percent wanted her to hide in a moving wardrobe rack (#JLoLoseThem).
Certainly, having a figure as hugely popular as J. Lo, who is already the company's designated celebrity sponsor, helped get people talking about the campaign. But it may have been more effective if it had more support from the TV network to drive traffic, notes Redniss.
"It didn't look like ABC was driving a ton of hashtag/2nd screen visuals over the linear broadcast show, so Kohl's really had to rely on its own spot time and social media to drive awareness and engagement," he tells ClickZ.
In contrast, when the Spanish language TV network Univision hosted the Latin Grammy's last week, a key part of the show involved integrating Twitter messages from viewers to their favorite celebrities on the red carpet, which were displayed onscreen while the show was running.
"We use Twitter as a way to empower fans to get closer to the stars," says David Beck, SVP of social media at Univision Communications. "Twitter provides immediate unfiltered access to artists. It's not like a press release or an interview," he notes, adding that the show's social TV activity is up year-over-year nearly 35 percent since 2012.
Other brands will also likely soon follow Kohl's example. "Social TV is no longer just an emerging thing," says Proulx of Hill Holliday. "Twitter is an extremely powerful mechanism for TV networks and brands to help engage audiences. We are just at the beginning stages of what will be possible," he says. "Having this unfold in real time using Twitter is the next wave of social."
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
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