24 September, 2007

Ecko Rocks the Vote, or Why I'm a Genius.

OK, for the regular readers of this blog (thanks, Mom and Dad!), you may remember my post discussing how to get the maximum marketing mileage out of Barry Bond's homerun ball. Kudos to Marc Ecko for taking my advice (or the advice of someone who shamelessly stole my advice and passed it off as their own) by putting the fate of the ball up for a vote by the masses. Well played, my friend. Well played.

For the record though, I come to not to praise Marc Ecko--only to analyze his approach. So, how's the campaign stack up?

Originality: Grade B+

It’s the best idea ever stolen from me. Consumer voting has been used before, but usually it's been more closely associated with a product (e.g. choose a new color for M&Ms, pick your favorite Doritos commercial). In this situation, he's using it as a brand builder. Ecko, the fashion maverick that he is, understands his demographic. His clothes have always been for The People. Now, his brand is of The People; by providing us everyday folks with the chance to weigh in on an emotionally/historically charged topic, he’s telling us we matter. Yes! Us, 1. Not Mattering 0.

Creativity: Grade B+All right, burning the asterisk into the ball is pretty hardcore. I dig the irony. And sending it to the Hall of Fame is a classy option. But shooting it into space? (Cue cliché 80’s high-school movie slow-clap, building to enthusiastic applause.) Bravo. Granted, I’d still like to see the ball shredded in a wood chipper and mailed to Barry Bonds, COD. Ecko does however miss a prime opportunity to further blend his brand with the fate of the ball. Perhaps pull it apart, make something wearable out of it, then auction it off and donate the proceeds to whales with cancer or, better yet, me.

Impact: Grade A-
At the time of this writing, the vote tally was just shy of ten million. Not bad considering this campaign has existed almost exclusively in forwarded links, word-of-mouth, widgets for people to include on their own sites, and a few national TV interviews. Extra points for the frugality of execution (even including the bazillion dollars he paid for the ball).

Extension: Grade Incomplete
After casting your vote, you’re given the opportunity to submit your email address to receive voting updates and final results. Not sure where it goes after that. I submitted the email addresses of people I don’t like and none of them has complained they've received additional spam…yet. My guess is email lists will be used for further CRM initiatives and sales promotions, eventually.

All-in-all, Ecko’s Vote756.com campaign is a great way to build a little brand equity, if I do say so myself. And as the brain trust behind it, I do. Man, I rule.

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06 September, 2007

The Power to Raise the Dead

Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim began back in 1990, resurrecting a popular cartoon character with origins back to the 1960s. Space Ghost Coast to Coast was a smashing success at its inception. A cartoon hosting a talk show? How absurd. However, it is that sort of thinking that has given birth to Adult Swim’s ever-expanding lineup of original programming and lead to a large underground following.

They struck gold with recent shows like Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Aqua Teen was even made into a feature length film, released earlier this year, which made them twice their budget on opening weekend. Unfortunately they made more of a splash in the media when their guerilla marketing campaign for the movie, mistaken for a bombs, nearly shut down all of Boston.

Even before the Boston scare, Adult Swim was playing to larger audience, thanks in large part to its airing of syndicated episodes of Family Guy. I know this is old news at this point, but Family Guy was a program with a cult following that was saved by Adult Swim. Fox had already cancelled Family Guy twice before Adult Swim got their hands on it. Based on the rabid response from Adult Swim viewers, Fox re-upped with series and hasn’t looked back.

Now, Adult Swim’s done it again. The greatest, in my opinion of course, animated show ever created has been dragged back from the depths of despair. Futurama has been running ad nauseum on Adult Swim to my delight. Comedy Central’s announced that it will begin airing new episodes of Futurama in 2008, and I for one am thrilled that it is starting to get the acknowledgment it has long deserved.

Yeah, this makes us Futurama fanatics happy, but what, if anything, does this mean to the masses that could really care less about these animated series? It means that somewhere, beneath all the reality-show garbage littering primetime lineups and beyond all of the politics of ratings and revenue, maybe, the true voice of viewers is finally coming through.

Tune in, write the network and support the forums that support your show. Adult Swim allows its viewers to do all three of those things. Now if we could just get people that interested in our political system some greater good may come out of it.

Until then, kudos to Adult Swim for giving loyal viewers the voice to create change and for bringing back an American animated masterpiece. You truly are the place where the dead go to live.
--Nick Piche, Copywriter

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