Marketing Idea No. 271: Will the real “Nosy Parker” please stand up?

The hottest development in marketing over the last few years has been neuro-marketing as well as sensory branding, where a brand appeals to all five senses instead of just one (eye) which all brands used to aim. Soon, marketing will be using terminologies like share of senses (instead of the now dated share of voice and share of mind).  

Is there any real life practical proofs that already exist?

Ever wondered why restaurants always play more soothing and melodious tunes whereas fast food chains place more upbeat music? That’s because research shows that if music can slow down our heart beat, we can actually eat more.

Lets talk about one of those four previously unexplored senses: the nose. How important is that small little organ?

  1. 75% of our emotions are generated from what we smell
  2. 80% of what we taste is because of what we smell
  3. Research shows that by increasing the pleasant aroma around it, the consumers spending in a Las Vegas slot machine increased by 44%

All of a sudden the snooty wine tasters and food critics who complain about a “hint” of woody smell or slight “burst” of citrus flavor; starting  to make sense (pun intended). Not only that, the perfume brands of this world really go beyond traditional storytelling and try to create fragrances and a smell profile that will transport the consumer to a particular state of mind connected to a hidden corner of a brain neuron or a memory.

Here’s whats so important about nose. Nose is the only sensory organ which can directly evoke feelings among us without those emotions being filtered by brain. No other organ or sense has that direct unfiltered link. Therefore if you want to evoke a certain emotion or imagery from exposure to your brand, where you want the rational like price, color and shape to play a reduced role, triggering a smell is probably the quickest route to that!

No wonder Singapore Airlines use a distinctive perfume inside its aircraft which they wanted to patent. No wonder when you think of Rolls Royce; you think of that wonderful classic car smell of mahogany+leather+ motor oil (Which Rolls Royce sprays through a diffuser underneath the car in the factory). No wonder Starbucks at one point stopped serving eggs in the breakfast because it interfered with the strong aroma of coffee.

And the latest to join the smell wagon is Pepsi. According to a new patent filed by the soft drink manufacturer, PepsiCo Inc. is looking to develop a “scent capsule” under the cap of its plastic bottles so that each time the bottle is unsealed, a refreshing smell wafts over as you consume the sugary goodness.

Marketing Idea No. 270: How to use super heroes and music videos to change the way Islam is perceived

Much of what we perceive of the world is enforced upon us by this excessive force called mass media. Thats why Ethiopia for us is eternally poor (not a beautiful country which is right now in thr middle of a telecom boom and improving GDP) and America is a land of freedom and opportunity (not a country of failing family values system and ever increasing unemployement). Perceptions can be misleading. And sometimes it takes something as radical as Arabic super heroes to change the current perception people hold about the Arab world and Islam in general.

Now, even if you try your damn hardest to dream up the least probable superhero ever to walk the world, it’s unlikely that you’d manage to come up with a character as mind bending as Batina the Hidden. Batina is a superhero of a kind the world hasn’t seen, until now. It’s not just that she’s a Muslim woman, from a country best known for harbouring al-Qaida operatives – Yemen – but that she wears an altogether new kind of super-person costume: a burqa.

She, along with her fellow crime-fighters, a vast team of characters from around the world, including Jabbar the Powerful from Saudi Arabia and Hadya the Guide from London, collectively known as “The 99”, are the world’s first islam inspired superheroes. And in what is perhaps the ultimate comic-book accolade, they will join forces with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. DC Comics, the US publishing giant, will publish the first of six special crossover issues in which The 99 will be fighting crime alongside the Justice League of America, the fictional superhero team that includes Superman and Batman.

What’s even more remarkable is that The 99 only came into being in 2007 with some remarkable firsts: the first comic book superheroes to have Muslim names and be directed at an international audience and the first to come out of the Middle East. Crossovers don’t happen often and even less often with characters that are just three years old. Even The 99’s creator and mastermind, a Kuwaiti-born, American-educated psychologist and entrepreneur called Naif al-Mutawa, seems to be having some trouble believing the Superman link-up.

It’s his conviction that has seen him so far raise in excess of $30m in three rounds of funding from private investors, fight off a ban in Saudi Arabia (he’s subsequently been re-banned but he’s fighting it again), and persuaded Endemol, the company behind Big Brother, to produce a multimillion-dollar, 26 part animated mini series which will be shown on Hub, the US network previously known as Discovery Kids that goes into 60 million American homes

The 99 is not the only piece of progressive news coming out of the Arab world. There is a new channel called 4Shbab which is taking the Arab world by storm. Dubbed as the MTV for Arab world, 4Shbab is aiming at changing the way people perceive of Islam and reaching out to young people with a very effective vehicle: music videos. Headquartered in Egypt and running out of Bahrain this channel is airing different Arab pop music videos with religious themes but very progressive cinematography and is fast becoming a source of liberal congregation in Arab world.

Marketing Idea No. 269: Why porn sites are good media and homeless people are not

The trick of being innovative in your media choice is where you want to draw the line and how accepting are you of controvercy. And recently we found out that its ok to use porn sites for advertisement purpose, but not homeless people as human billboard.

California based food delivery service Eat24.com wanted better ROI and better targeted placement of their ads in terms of right people and right time. 

The answer, of course, was porn.

An industry leader like Pornhub brings in 14.9 million unique visitors monthly, according to the tracking site Quantcast. That’s more than the websites for Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal combined. “A whopping 30% of ALL web traffic is dedicated to adult sites,” the company claims.

The catch is that a brand that advertises on Bloomberg is probably unlikely to put their name beside X-rated content. In fact, Eat24 found that the only companies that advertised on porn sites were other porn sites and “natural male enhancement” sellers.

As a result, Eat24 said the advertising rates were dirt cheap. The company capitalized by pairing sexually suggestive banner ads (“BLT with your BDSM?”) alongside video landing pages. The viewers that saw the ads were, naturally, not dressed appropriately to go out in public, and likely to have worked up an appetite. In short, they were the perfect customers to order delivery from the comfort of their own homes. 

The campaign wound up being a whopping success. Eat24 said its adult site banner ads were able to get three times as many impressions as the ads they posted on Facebook, Google, and Twitter combined. And they did it at just 10% of the cost. What’s more, the company said 90% of the visitors the banners generated were coming to Eat24 for the first time.

From such insane experimentation, you would gather doing something simpler like using human as billboard would be ok. It didnt turn out to be quite so.

An “experiment” which involved using homeless people as mobile wi-fi hotspots has attracted criticism, forcing the advertising agency behind it to defend itself.

A division of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) equipped 13 homeless people with 4G wifi devices in Austin, Texas.

It suggested the public pay $2 (£1.30) for 15 minutes’ access to the net.

Comments posted to the BBH’s site accused the project of being “unseemly” and “wrong”.

Members of Twitter asked “what has this world come to?” and accused the project of being a “gimmick”.

However, others praised the idea as being “inspirational” and a chance to create a “positive interaction between the public” and homeless people.

It was noted that “there’s an insane amount of chatter about this, which although certainly villainises us, in many ways is good for the homeless people we’re trying to help”.

So next time you choose between porn sites and homeless guys, the rule of thumb is……

There is none.

Marketing Idea No. 268: “Design”-ed to Dominate

Design is once thought to be a good-to-have. Very quickly it has established itself as a must have. Apple is the company that may have been credited to give design the due attention, but the revolution of industrial designing and other forms of art and designing is less a “revolution” and more an “evolution”. It came out of the necessity of the most fundamental strategy of marketing: appealing to the emotional, right brain side of consumers by making product more attractive and differentiated when consumers are spoilt with abundance and choice.

In some unlikely effectiveness testing of good design, it has been found that test scores of schools increase as much as 11% simply by better interior decoration of the school. Also, in public hospitals, patients recovered faster if the rooms are better designed and they needed fewer anesthesia if the operating room is better designed.  

There is a revolution that has gone in the liquor brand’s packaging and bottle design. Forced by the restrictions imposed in such “sin” categories, liquor brands like Absolut has gone out of the box and created designs that itself transcends the mere need of someone needing a good time in Friday night. Impact of design can be found in consumer electronics, automobile, household durables, set top box, garden hose…you name it.  In facts are brands are now co designing together with their consumers to create a more personalized, intimate experience. In a recent campaign, “Coca Cola” has left out its logo and used real people’s name in that place (Unthinkable as it is, a Coca Cola campaign without Coca Cola logo) to drive home the core campaign message of share a bottle of Coca Cola to share happiness with people you love.  

The days are gone when categories are dominated by engineers telling you which product is revolutionary. The best business hires the best designers who are as important as the engineers. Think about your mundane toaster. Its used probably 15 minutes a day at best. For the rest 1425 minutes, the sole job of a toaster is to sit there on the kitchen table. So does it make sense to make use of that 90% of the time and make the toaster look good when its not functional? Absolutely.  

What are the implications for business this brings? This tells you that the more choices that consumers have, the more likely peripheral add ons like “beauty” will play over “function”. And that means the CEOs of the world have to be less of a number cruncher and more of an aesthetic artist who can visualize things, not just calculate.