The Bizz by

Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Creative Advertising Gone Wild: Kmart’s First 2013 Xmas Ad Goes Balls Out

Ads are a dime a dozen, but great ads are rare. This week, we profile Kmart’s first TV commercial for the 2013 Holiday Season.

by Fausto Mendez

    Kmart proudly toutes the Joe Boxer brand and a set of talented male models in its latest TV ad for this year’s Holiday Season. It’s a funny and memorable video that is conveniently slipping into the sharing streams of web surfers around the world, so it is, of course, making its way across the Web as the marketing industry’s latest viral sensation.

    Like the best TV ads of the modern era, its lifespan stretches across several screens - from HDTV to smartphones - making it the epitome of a successful TV ad in 2013 and effectively multiplying its ROI again and again. 

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How to do Better Business: Making Brand Evangelists

The brand evangelist is the holy grail of any marketing team. He/she promotes your brand to the most relevant audiences, and the best part is evangelists are free, unlike employees. But how exactly do you make a brand evangelist? 


by Fausto Mendez / photo by Marcleh

    Brand evangelists are difficult to make, and some brands can never figure it out. Some companies never even give the concept a shot, assuming brand evangelists are impossible for their respective companies or industries. While it’s true that brands like the NBA have a much easier time developing evangelists than brands like Delta Airlines, it’s not true that it’s impossible to make evangelists for your specific business. Think about it…

Success Story: Virgin Airlines

    Prior to Virgin Airlines, it’s hard to believe that an airline could ever be a hip brand like Coca Cola, especially in social media, which is where many evangelists do some of their best evangelizing. But if you take a look at the company’s online presence, it’s clear there is an army of evangelists out there working on behalf of Virgin, and it could not have been as successful as it is today without those evangelists.

    What is Virgin’s secret? More importantly, what is the brand doing that other airline companies are not doing? The answer is actually pretty simple: Virgin has Richard Branson, the company’s CEO and ultimate brand evangelist.

    Branson is one of the most famous businessmen on the planet right now. His fame and work rival that of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. More importantly, the global impact of his companies are literally changing the world as I type out this article, not just in terms of technology but in terms of philanthropy as well. Don’t believe me? Check back in ten years when Virgin Galactic is shuttling tourists in space as one of the first space “airlines” for consumers. Oh wait, it’s already happening, and you can reserve your seat right now.

    You could argue that space flight is actually the answer to making brand evangelists for Virgin. After all, that is another major difference between Virgin and the rest of the airline industry, but you’d be wrong. There are a handful of other companies that have achieved similar feats as Virgin Galactic, but most people have no idea those companies even exist. Branson, it turns out, is the key to making brand evangelists out of Virgin customers.

Steve Jobs Illustrates the Importance of Public Leaders


photo by / LJR.Mike

    Steve Jobs, Apple and its customers have a similar relationship with each other, but don’t misunderstand this. It’s true that you need to have a great product/service and a stellar marketing team to make brand evangelists. However, the company’s “fearless leader” is ultimately the foundation that ensures the existence of brand evangelists. Without the fearless leader, there’d be little to no die-hard fans, or evangelists.

    The Brand Mentalist describes the relationship between Apple and its fans in an excellent piece titled “Evangelism”. 

"Apple users are evangelists because they truly believe in the values of the company. They feel that the company’s motto (“Think Different”) is a reflection of who they are as individuals. Apple evangelists feel inspired and connected when they see Apple commercials, as these advertisements show people who share Apple’s beliefs, messages that challenge the status quo, and people who actually “Think Different.” Most importantly, all of Apple’s products are a reflection of this belief. The company has always innovated products that actually do “Think Different” from what the mainstream version of that product is.

It’s not a coincidence that the leader of Apple held the same beliefs as the company. Steve Jobs was a misfit. Everything he did in life followed the mantra “Think Different.” In fact, you can even argue that one of the reasons he died is because of this belief.”

    Apple represents Jobs, not the other way around. It’s important to keep that in mind when making evangelists. If your company doesn’t represent its fearless leader, you’ll never make evangelists.

"If you, as a leader, live a life that embodies your company’s meaning, and you make sure that all company decisions are a reflection of this mantra, your users will slowly begin to join you. Your users will start to advocate for you, and truly believe that your company is a representation of who they are. They will start to feel that your company always has their best interests, without even questioning you." 

    As long as your customers feel that your brand’s fearless leader shares their beliefs and values, they will trust the company and its decisions. They will even promote it to their friends and family for free. After all, who doesn’t love to share good news?

"This kind of loyalty has nothing to do with design or features; this is about the innate need of social creatures to join groups that represents their values."

    You can always break down any marketing strategy to basic psychological elements that accurately predict the customer’s behavior, and in this case, people naturally feel a primitive desire to join groups with members that share the same values. Exploit this psychological tick with your company’s fearless leader, and you have yourself a competent brand-evangelist-making strategy.

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Creative Advertising Gone Wild: Pepsi on Halloween

Ads are a dime a dozen, but great ads are rare. This week, we profile Pepsi’s Halloween ad.


by Fausto Mendez / ad by Buzz in a Box

    Pepsi dresses up as Coca-Cola for Halloween in the soda brand’s clever jab at its main competitor, sending the message that Coca-Cola is not the “real” cola. Coca-Cola is the fictional option.

    Sometimes I wonder if the two companies secretly work together to ensure that each company gets about 50% of the market share. If they only mention each other in their ads, consumers would, over time, become “brainwashed” that those are really the only two suitable options in the market. It would be a brilliant marketing strategy, but I don’t have any hard evidence to back up those claims.

   In any case, it seems like a no brainer. If I directed marketing for their companies, it’s exactly what’d I’d do.

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How to Run Killer Trade Shows: Get Fans to Brandish Your Promotional Swag with a Scavenger Hunt & Social Media

We introduce a new strategy to flood trade-show floors with fans brandishing your logo. Bonus: get exposure on social media at the same time!


By Fausto Mendez / Original Photo by Scott Swigart

    Promotional giveaways are an excellent way to advertise your brand at trade shows, but the vast majority of the time, they are tucked away into bags and backpacks, never to be seen again. Avoid that problem and maximize brand awareness with your limited budget by carefully planning a more strategic giveaway campaign. Today’s tutorial leverages a scavenger hunt and social media to flood trade-show floors with fans that brandish swag with your logo. 

    We previously covered a very different strategy with a focus on apparel, though it achieves a similar goal. But this new strategy incorporates a variety of promotional items that feature your brand name, so you’re not limited to just apparel. Here’s the plan.

How to Put Your Logo on Everyone

    You can get a lot of people to rush around the show floor in your shirts - carrying your bags, using your pens, brandishing your notebooks and other swag -  with a well-planned scavenger hunt that features a few grand prizes for the best players. You will, of course, have to advertise the scavenger hunt ahead of time in your regular marketing channels, including social media; otherwise, nobody will know about it.

    Start by posting the rules and requirements of the scavenger hunt on your social media channels. The first requirement should be to find follow/like/fan your most relevant social media channel. That could easily be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+ for most companies. The second requirement should be to find one of your promotional shirts (or tote bag) at the trade show, put it on, and post the photo to your most relevant social media channel. 

    In this day and age, you should cleverly add a healthy dose of social media into all of your marketing campaigns, especially your presence at trade shows. In this case, I recommend using social media as the way to record each participant’s collection of the items to be found in the scavenger hunt. It’s best to use your own promotional items, such as pens with your logo, as the items for the scavenger hunt, but you can also throw in some items from sister companies or other companies that you work with.

    You should also mix in visually spectacular elements of the trade show show as items to be photographed - such as a celebrity, an impressive booth, a video presentation, a performer, a concert, a keynote address, a work of art, etc. - in order to make the participants feel like it’s not just one giant advertisement for your brand. And the reality is it is one giant advertisement for your brand, but the key is to make it feel like it’s just a fun game for attendees of the trade show.  

    Most major trade shows occur over several days, so it’s best to break up the scavenger hunt into “rounds”, one round being one day of the show. That allows players to feel like if they don’t do well one day, they still have the opportunity to win the next day. Each round should feature a few grand prizes for the best performers, and there should be one final grand prize for the best performer of all rounds. 

Example: Scavenger Hunt for a Fashionable Bag Maker at CES 2014

    For this example, let’s pretend that we’re a fashionable bag & case maker for gadgets and laptops, and we’re attending CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) as an exhibitor. Your most relevant social channel is Pinterest, so we require all players to record their collection of items by pinning the items to two boards on Pinterest. The first board is our own company board. The second is the player’s own board, specifically dedicated to the scavenger hunt. That’s is how you’ll verify items for the hunt. 

    Let’s pretend CES occurs over three days in 2014. The first day, you post the item list on pinterest. The item list is shared and re-shared by fans at the show, and it includes a good mix of hidden promotional items, shoutouts to partner companies, and fun sights and activities that should be experienced by attendees of CES. 

    Your promotional items should be relevant to your fans, so avoid items that your fans don’t care for, and you’ll have to hide them at different parts of the show, including no more than one or two items at your booth. As a result, you’ll have to pull some strings and favors to get other companies to allow you to use their space for your scavenger hunt. But that shouldn’t be too hard if you’re sending traffic towards their booths. If you ask very nicely and present a good case for why it benefits them, you may be able to use their space to hide some of your stuff; however, if you’re presenting at CES, I’m sure you have at least a few connections, such as partners or suppliers, at the show. Leverage your connections as well.

    You should incorporate time-sensitive experiences and items into the hunt, so eager hunters can’t finish the whole thing too fast. The key is to make the hunt last the whole day. Usually, at least a few attendees visit CES as announcers or promoters, so capturing a shot with one of them would be a fun item for the list. Flashy keynote addresses, important video presentations (such as the trailer for a new game), concerts and performances are also great ideas. 

    Make sure that you throw in at least one or two items or landmarks that aren’t directly on the show floor to get folks visiting the outside area, if it’s worth visiting. CES is held in Las Vegas, so that’s a no brainer. A famous statue, hotel, sign or art piece should be easy to find and photograph, so use a few landmarks as items for your list. 

    You’ll end each day by posting a new item list for the following day and by announcing the winners, which are the players that found the items first. In order for a player’s list to be evaluated, he or she should visit your booth, and you’ll have an employee review the player’s items. If it is determined that the player won, he or she will take the prize right there and then. Of course, you’ll capture a photo with of the winner and prize, and you’ll post that to your social media channels. The player, of course, must be wearing your promotional shirt and/or bag the whole time. You might also award a larger grand prize to anyone that wins more than one day. 

The Results

    If you play your cards right, the end result should be a ton of people running around the show floor in your promotional shirts and/or other promotional apparel, finding and keeping promotional items that feature your brand or the brand’s of other companies that you’ve partnered with. The sheer spectacle of the hunt will shine a giant spotlight on your brand during the show, attracting the attention of the media, potential customers, skilled professionals that need jobs, and future partners. And, of course, you should receive a lot of social media engagement.

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