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#MarketingMonday - How Netflix’s Arrested Development Uses Promotional Giveaways to Sell New Episodes


By Fausto Mendez

    The brand-spankin’-new fourth season of the cult TV series Arrested Development hit Netflix at the end of May, and the new episodes are a massive success despite Netflix’s exclusivity. This case study breaks down the show’s powerful marketing tactics, including a wildly successful promotional giveaway.

    Arrested Development isn’t well know for its superb marketing tactics. Actually, it was the lack of effective marketing that lead to the cancellation of the original Fox series, which spanned three seasons. As a result, Netflix’s exclusive fourth season came out fists swinging as it launched a relentless marketing campaign that’s pushing the show to new heights.

Marketing a TV Show that Will Never Be on TV


    Facing an uphill battle - as the new episodes will never hit traditional TV - Netflix’s marketing team studied the forces behind the original show’s cancellation. Taking those lessons into account, the team approached the relaunch with a fresh strategy that remixes high-yield, low-cost tactics to effectively reach the masses from coast to coast.

    The team started by generating basic buzz at all the right web channels: Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and tons of entertainment blogs. You’ve probably even noticed the occasional feature in some mainstream magazines, such as Forbes.

Buzz Isn’t Good Enough. Where’s the Bang?


    With the upcoming release of the fourth season planted in the back of every fan’s head, the next step would be to design some kind of publicity stunt during launch, which should remind discouraged and frustrated fans of their passion for the show.

    See, the problem with Arrested Development’s online marketing strategy is that it works well as long as the user is engaged in those marketing channels, but what happens if the user becomes disinterested in those marketing channels over the months leading up to the premier? Even worse, what if the passionate fans get tired of waiting, and they just stop paying attention or caring? The previous seasons never failed at generating buzz too, but for some reason, they couldn’t actually get the fans to tune into Fox at the right times. 

Listening to Fans via Social Media


    The show’s marketing team dug through their social-media channels to find some of the fans’ favorite recurring jokes, which is how they came up with the perfect giveaway concept: hand out free frozen bananas from a Bluth’s Frozen Bannana stand at major cities around the world. The stand is, of course, a famous and beloved prop in the show, and it’s at the center of some of the show’s jokes and characters. 

    The banana stand visited several cities - even the show’s setting in Newport Beach, CA - just prior to the launch of the new episodes, and it looks like the stunt worked. Netflix hasn’t disclosed subscriber numbers, but shares of Netflix have more than doubled this year so far. 

    Though the giveaway worked well as is, AD’s marketing team could have employed branded promotional giveaways, such as Bluth brand napkins, cups and Popsicle sticks to achieve a greater effect. It would’ve given fans an opportunity to take home limited-edition souvenirs besides the happy memories, and those souvenirs could have boosted views of the new episodes as fans share and discuss the souvenirs with other fans of the show. Still, it’s a great concept, and it certainly worked. Never underestimate the power of a promotional giveaway. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by

How SoBe® Used Promotional Giveaways to Go Mainstream


By Fausto Mendez

    John Bello used promotional giveaways to grow his beverage brand, SoBe®, from a niche set of bottled drinks to a mainstream phenomenon that PepsiCo eventually bought out. Today, he’s building up new brands with strikingly similar marketing strategies. 

    Promotional giveaway campaigns work. Need proof? Just ask John Bello, founder of SoBe, which he sold for $370 million, and the architect of SoBe’s wildly successful promotional campaigns. How’d he do it?

Promotional Products 

    Bello leveraged the power of promotional products and a fascinating and unforgettable logo. Combine the two, and you have a series of high-quality promotional products branded with SoBe’s iconic lizard. Here’s how it went down.

    His team would deliver a box of promotional giveaways, such as keychains, to as many SoBe dealers as possible, and the SoBe dealers would hand out the branded products to SoBe customers. The SoBe customers are already fans of the product, and the iconic lizard logo is beautiful and striking enough that it can be appreciated on its own. So the giveaway has two main effects.

Customers as Brand Ambassadors

    First, it makes the customer feel appreciated, and in the customer’s mind, it creates an association between those positive feelings and SoBe (and sometimes the store itself). That effect makes SoBe more memorable, so the customer is more likely purchase SoBe products in the future. The store owners tend to appreciate the free marketing as well. 

    Second, the customer would wear or use the promotional product in his or her day-to-day life, and the eye-catching lizard logo would attract others’ attention. As a result, the product becomes a conversation starter for the customer’s friends, family and acquaintances, and this introduces the brand to new fans.

Rinse & Repeat

    As Bello continued SoBe’s relentless promotional campaign, his effort slowly paid off as the brand grew to mainstream proportions, but he’s not one to take too many days off. After selling the company to PepsiCo, Bello launched a new beverage brand, and he’s using the same proven marketing strategies all over again. 

    In similar fashion, the new company’s logo is often sought for the mere fact that’s beautiful. “Part of the trick is having cool giveaways and a cooler logo,” says Marketing Officer Bruce Burke. The second half of the trick is getting those products into the hands of the target audience.

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by

How Social-Media Marketing Boosts Sales by 30% in the Video Game Industry


By Fausto Mendez

    The effectiveness of SMM (social-media marketing) is a widely debated topic, but the video game industry is done with that debate. And its verdict is in. It turns out SMM may be its most powerful marketing channel yet. 

     Twitter broadcasts over 400 million tweets everyday. That’s a lot of talk - most of it gibberish, but the video game industry is learning that guiding those conversations towards upcoming video-game releases has a very significant impact on sales, according Twitter and Deloitte LLP. Twitter UK commissioned Deloitte LLP to measure the impact of those 400 million daily Tweets on the sales of 100 best-selling PS3 and Xbox 360 games, and you can see the results for yourself in the full infographic below (click to enlarge it). 


The Lesson: Creatively Integrate Multiple Channels in Your Marketing Campaigns

    The point is not to rely solely on Twitter - or even social-media marketing - but to shape your campaign using a variety of tools that guide your audience towards positive online conversations about your products or brand. 

    Now, let’s use this lesson to design an effective marketing campaign for a company like Rockstar, maker of the famed Grand Theft Auto series. As a marketer for a major gaming company, you have to think bigger than an unforgettable TV ad, a beautiful billboard, a hilarious Twitter author, or a well-designed Facebook page. You want to design marketing tactics that start conversations that move to and from various marketing channels. 

The Example: How to Move Customers From Channel to Channel

    For example, you might design a set of TV commercials that confuses and surprises viewers. Throughout the commercial, you’d display a unique hash tag at one of the corners of the screen. The confusing ad would encourage users to search for the video or the hash tag online. The confusing ad also airs between 4PM and 8PM because that’s when the target audience watches TV. By 9PM, the audience is most likely playing video games and/or browsing the Web.

    At this point, those gamers that aren’t gaming are probably searching for the video or hash tag in order to discuss it and share it with their friends. After discussing with their friends, they probably want more information, so they would search for related websites later that night. This campaign would have three important effects.

+ By adding social and online components (that are easily searchable and sharable) to the TV ads, the ads are viewed by many, many more people than if they were developed without those social and online components. 

+ Conversations with friends about upcoming games has a more powerful effect than ads that intrude on the audience’s time and attention. Friends are often entertaining, welcomed participants in such conversations. Ads that try to dictate how you think, on the other hand, run the risk of being an annoyance if they appear in the wrong situations. In other words, your friends’ excitement for the next Madden NFL game is more effective than a tv ad for the same game, but the conversation that exposed you to that excitement may have never occurred if it wasn’t for the TV ad in the first place.

+ The search-engine performance of your website is increasingly becoming dependent on the performance of your social-media profiles and content. As your profiles and content are shared across social-media sites, your website’s SEO grows too, so by catalyzing conversations that involve your social-media profiles, critical keywords and links to your website, you should increase the traffic that your website receives from search engines beyond the traffic that arises from curiosity just after a new ad airs. 

Why does it work?

    In the previous example, the process starts in the living room. That means you have to know when your audience will be there. If you do your homework, your customer will see your ad on TV at the perfect moment. They would then search for your hash tag or video online (which would cause the initial search-engine traffic boost). As the audience start conversations about the video and any related content, they would share this content on social networks, and then you get a second search-engine traffic boost as Google notices that your brand name and content are being shared on social-media sites. As excitement, rumors and information spreads, sales grow. Just rinse, and repeat.

    Whether you’re ordering promotional products for a trade show or finalizing the details for your next TV commercial, a strong and wise marketing campaign can go a long way. Take notes, people!

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by

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