Big Brands Downplay Interactive in Vegas

Spent this morning listening to heavyweight marketers talk about their brands and plans at The Conference On Marketing in Las Vegas, where I’m speaking tomorrow on the media’s influence on branding.

What’s amazing is how marketers seem to be downplaying interactive to this audience comprised primarily of traditional marketers. Sure, there’s an interactive track. But at this morning’s keynotes, Wal-Mart’s Barry Moehring, VP of Marketing Operations, didn’t breathe a word about interactive. Tremor CEO Steve Knox did make some interesting observations when discussing word-of-mouth, primarily when he said “Advocacy is not occurring online, not even among teenagers. Online is for information gathering, not advocacy.”

Only Mercedes Benz’s Carol Goll seemed to really embrace the topic. She said Mercedes site has 26 million visitors last year, and is currently garnering some 40,000 queries for the auto manufacturer each month. The company is handing out “Drive to Web” cards at events, encouraging recipients to log on to specific microsites and fill out lead-gen forms. It’s critical, she noted, that a sweepstakes be attached to the call-to-action.

To prove her point, Mercedes first full-sized SUV is parked outside the hotel, and the cards are available. She also highlighted a partnership with AOL Music to attract “affluent GenX” customers. So far, that microsite has attracted 9,000 leads that have been forwarded to local dealers.

Entertainment mogul Peter Guber also spoke. While his talk was largely of the inspiration al variety, he encouraged the audience to “recognize the power of new media technology.” And stop calling them “customers,” he warned. “Nobody wants to be a customer.”

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