The Bizz by AnyPromo.com

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

7 Best April Fools 2013 Pranks by Big Brands

By Fausto Mendez

  April Fools has become a big holiday on the Web, and big brands are taking notice. It’s become an easy and effective way to reach out to target audiences with a fun and entertaining message that isn’t always tied back to a real product, but the message’s marketing power is real and effective. Below is our list of the funniest and most effective April Fools pranks of the year. 

    Though April Fools may not directly boost sales for most brands, it certainly increases brand awareness and makes fans out of otherwise oblivious web users. As usual, Google leads the pack with another absurd product launch.

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    This year, Google launched Google Nose Beta, which enables your Android phone to excrete smells the way a speaker broadcasts sounds to the surrounding area. For example, if you find a picture of a lemon on the Web, you would smell it through your phone (without any additional hardware upgrades). It sounds as magical as any other technology that we use today, but it’s far from a real product.

    Though many companies are working on a version of this for TVs and desktop computers, Google’s implementation is absurd because it would require an expensive hardware upgrade. On Google’s end, it also requires a massive database of smells and a way to associate those smells with media on the Web. Perhaps one day, but not today.

    Google-owned YouTube also pulled its own prank this year. Riding on the Web’s frustration with the the recent shut down of some highly-beloved and popular products, such as Labs and Reader, Google announced that it is officially shutting down YouTube. Actually, YouTube was just a massive contest to find the best user-submitted video, and now, the company is ready to select a winner.

    Twitter also joined in the fun with a new tool, though it’s not known for its April shenanigans. The company announced a web-based that allows users to tweet without vowels, enabling them to broadcast significantly longer messages. It’s not much of a prank because it really does work, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter launched an official version of this tool. 

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    Sony launched Animalia, a new electronics line for pets, including tablets and headphones for dogs/cats and speakers for hamsters.

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    Hulu’s prank should appeal to fans of popular TV shows. The company added a variety of new TV shows to its online offering, but there’s one problem. These shows don’t exist! They only exist within other TV shows. For example, you’ll find Itchy & Scratchy episodes from The Simpsons, Inspector Space Time episodes from Community and Mock Trial with J. Reinhold episodes from Arrested Development.

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    Apparently, the US Army is training cats as soldiers. The caption for the below photo reads, “Gino, military working cat, 947th Police Detachment, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), takes his class photo after graduating from the military working cat program.”

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    Rounding out our list, Virgin Atlantic announced a new glass-bottom airplane. If I could choose any one of these pranks to be a real, I’d choose this one. Sure, it would be a bit scary at first - or during emergencies - but it would be damn fun.

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Marketing Case Study: Weight Watchers Leads the Weight-Loss Race

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By Fausto Mendez

We love to break down complex marketing campaigns to uncover the core motives of human behavior that fuel corporate success. This week, we’re analyzing Weight Watchers and the company’s classic marketing techniques. 

    Weight Watchers continues to dominate the weight-loss game with over $1.2 billion revenue each year and 8 million website visitors per month, and it’s closest competitors are about a third of its size. This constant success stems from a solid product that delivers results, but behind every great product is an even greater marketing campaign. Below, we break down the principles that made and continue to make the company’s marketing campaigns so damn successful. .

+ Sell the consequences. The average Weight Watchers customer isn’t interested in the product itself. Actually, the idea of self control is scary or boring, so why are people lining up for a membership? They want the consequences associated with that self control. They want the success, intimate relationships, fitness, appearance, money and whatever else results from losing weight, and they want to eat what they want while getting it. Weight Watchers sells the consequences, not the product.

+ Sell happiness. Weight Watches sells happiness, not a weight loss system. Similar to the previous point, the idea is to focus on the internal (emotional) results, not the actual product. 

+ Offer a test drive. Weight Watchers allows prospective customers to “join” the service for free. Furthermore, Weight Watches doesn’t force prospective customers to hand over a credit card number to do this. This style of free trials produces about a 30% conversion rate, which is not bad at all. 

+ Make it easy. The PointsPlus system makes it easy for customers to track calories without actually tracking calories. Sure, it’s based on basic nutritional science, but the target audience hates learning. PointsPlus is much easier in the short term. 

+ Exclusive products make it hard to leave the proprietary system. Weight Watchers sells (and sometimes gives away) PointsPlus calculators, snack foods, frozen meals, ice creams and other products that make it even easier to track calories. These products actually serve a brilliant marketing purpose because they: 1. boost brand awareness at key locations within supermarkets (where the target audience spends a lot time) and 2. make counting calories the traditional way even more tedious. 

+ Seek out new audiences. Your audience can get stale if you don’t actively court new targets. Weight Watchers recently started marketing to men, but they don’t expect men to show up at the meetings where 90% of the attendants are women. As a result, the company launched online tools and mobile apps that help men diet on their own - since men often prefer to diet alone. 

    As a marketing professional, it’s hard not to get jealous when a company’s marketing campaign is consistently successful, but that’s why we’re here to break it down. Happy hunting! And thanks to  Marketing Profs for the core data

    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 AnyPromo.com.

Caribou Coffee’s Brilliant and Fresh Marketing Campaign: Life is More than Coffee

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By Fausto Mendez

Apparently, life is more than coffee. I was unaware of this, but this is the message of Caribou Coffee’s new marketing campaign. Well, I’m glad someone finally told me because I’ve been working inside this cubicle, sipping on lattes and green tea all day. The brilliant marketing campaign is a stark contrast from the classic message that coffee is all about focus and office productivity. 

    “Life is more than coffee. That’s why there’s coffee,” says Caribou Coffee via its new marketing campaign. The campaign launched in March with a series of innovative cups that aim to inspire and exercise your creativity with designs that you can draw on, color in or paint yourself.

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     The coffee shop’s napkins also offer similar function with inspirational and time-wasting fun while you sip, sip, sip. 

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    Of course, that part of the campaign is great at marketing to current customers, but what is Caribou doing outside of its shop to attract the attention of the rest of us? Images coupled with messages that promote a love of life beyond the office and coffee shop populate the company’s consumer-facing marketing materials, including billboards. 

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    The message is quite the opposite of the message of the marketing campaign that popularized the term “coffee break”. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, the Pan American Coffee Bureau launched radio, magazine and newspaper campaigns that touted the benefits of coffee, mostly as it relates to work. Prior to this marketing campaign, employers didn’t allow for coffee breaks. The idea of a coffee break was absurd, but people didn’t associate coffee with productivity at the time.

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    The absurdly successful slogan, which took many forms over the years, originally read: “Give yourself a coffee break, and get what coffee gives to you.” And the promotion worked. Employers learned about the benefits of coffee, and they made room for it during work hours. Cigarette companies tried a similar scheme, though it didn’t work as well. 

    Today, Caribou Coffee is taking a different approach, disassociating coffee with the drab office. Why should marketers limit the benefits to work? Now that everyone understands the benefits of coffee, the association to the boring office is actually a downer, not a positive message. After all, coffee can boost any moment, so take a cup with you wherever you go and smile. Marketers and advertisers, take notes.

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    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 AnyPromo.com.

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