THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, the editors of PROMO get to see an amazing range of work from brand executives, promotion agencies and other marketers. In this issue we celebrate the 13 men and women (and one who is neither) who refused to hew to the same old same old in 2003. They grabbed our attention with creative approaches to marketing, attention to the consumer and savvy deal making. Sure, they made waves and took risks that would make other marketers uncomfortable, but they also enhanced their brands and pushed the sales needle. Looking for some inspiration as you set down your resolutions for 2004? Read on!
Don Albert eases brands into online reality
It’s a store that has 100,000 new customers walking through the door each day, and during each day it moves $64 million in goods sold. By the end of 2003, it is expected to post $23 billion in sales. It’s eBay, and according to many marketers, it provides today a glimpse into the future of retailing.
From its inception, eBay has provided a home for small businesses (there are currently some 150,000 such enterprises operating within the site), but in the past two years, more CPGs and other major brands have realized the power of eBay’s marketing heft. After all, eBay has 86 million registered users worldwide. Since he came on board in 2001, Don Albert, eBay’s senior director-business development of strategic partnerships, has worked with them to invent promotions for this brave new world.
“Ours is a ‘marketing solutions’ medium. We’re helping to build stronger brands from the eBay platform,” Albert says.
Prior to his arrival, eBay offered little more than buttons and banners to companies that wanted to get in front of its growing audience. Now, Albert and his colleagues develop multi-level work for select partners. These include promotional auctions, incentive and reward programs for both consumer and trade partners, sponsorships and advertising, and direct and channel sales.
In 2002, for example, Albert worked with Dr Pepper/Seven Up Co. on building buzz for the launch of its dnL beverage. “We auctioned off the first cases for $400 each. Within days, we heard of average folks buying next-generation cases and auctioning them on our site because it had become a cool thing to do with the product.”
For the 10-year anniversary of the IBM ThinkPad, eBay auctioned off five celebrity-signed computers (by the likes of Sly Stallone and Mr. Rogers) over a two-week period. Traffic to IBM’s store within eBay increased by ninefold.
With the introduction earlier this year of eBay Anything Points, which allow users to redeem eBay merchandise, Albert’s team has developed a host of new partner tie-ins for such brands as American Airlines, Lending Tree, FTD, Sprint and Hilton Hotels. “With Anything Points, they can package loyalty deals while offering the world’s largest redemption catalog,” Albert explains.
Prior to joining eBay in August 2001, Albert was senior VP-marketing and sales for FusionOne, a wireless provider; he also held top marketing posts at PointCast, AOL’s Digital City and the WashingtonPost.com.
— Kathleen M. Joyce
Joanne Bischmann took the party on the road
It was an 18-month long global carnival that was three years in the making. Harley-Davidson’s Centennial Celebration, which culminated in September, was a gala of road tours, parades, music, test rides, exhibits, exclusive parties and even the weddings of several couples.
Joanne Bischmann, Harley’s VP-marketing, lead the effort but is quick to point out that the success of the celebration rests in many hands. “It was a company-wide effort,” she says. “We started planning [for the centennial] the day after the 95th.”
The worldwide nine-city traveling festival, billed as “The World’s Largest Rolling Birthday Party,” hit Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, Tokyo and other spots. A caravan motored through four different routes around the country before pulling into Harley’s Milwaukee headquarters for the grand finale bash 13 days later. An estimated 150,000 attended the three-day event.
The mantra? “Let’s bring the party to the people,” Bischmann says.
A supporting sweepstakes featured a special edition 100th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 motorcycle as the top prize. Local dealers were encouraged to coordinate activities around the rides and hold anniversary celebrations throughout the year.
Plans for the 100th had three objectives: to celebrate with family and friends, to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and to reach out to a new audience.
Bischmann — a 13-year employee who started as an advertising manager — and her husband own two Harleys, a V-Road performance motorcycle, and a Road King Classic touring bike. And while she is licensed to operate one on her own, she prefers to enjoy the view from the back seat of her “hog.”
“It’s a chance for me to escape,” she says.
— Patricia Odell
Former attorney Val Cohen has found her creative niche as Disney’s deal maker
There is no hard and fast formula for crafting a partnership deal with Walt Disney Co., says Val Cohen, executive VP-corporate alliances. Despite appearances (the company has signed several big brands to astonishly long contracts in the past 24 months — 10-year terms are typical), “each of these relationships is unique to the brands involved,” she says.
In some instances, the brand woos Disney: QSR McDonald’s, for example, initiated its deal running from 1996 through 2006. It includes a full-service restaurant inside the California Adventure park adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, as well as venues in Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Animal Kingdom, and Disneyland Paris. And of course, characters from Disney film releases feature prominently in McD’s Happy Meals.
In other cases, Disney does the pursuing. “In many ways, the HP deal exemplifies what we look for in a partnership,” Cohen says. Announced in October 2003, the 10-year strategic alliance calls for boosting consumer entertainment experiences through the collaborative development of new technology. Disney had sought out what was then Compaq in the late 1990s, with a proposal for a space technology exhibit in the theme parks. This discussion evolved and was joined by HP following the merger of Compaq and HP in 2002. The result, the Mission: SPACE attraction at DisneyWorld’s Epcot park, “crosses over many of our businesses and provides opportunities that neither partner would have without this arrangement,” Cohen says. The deal also encompasses a sponsorship role for HP in Disney’s online endeavors (including sites for the theme parks, the online Disney Store, the cable ESPN and Disney Channels, Movies.com, Oscar.com, and the site for the ABC TV network) and technological support to Disney’s corporate parent.
To manage the complexity of such partnership agreements, Cohen draws upon her extensive legal training. Following 10 years in the New Jersey court system, she joined Disney’s legal department in 1991. Then in 1999, she was “ready for a change” and moved to Disney’s marketing department. Before long, crafting partnership deals became a significant part of the daily work for her team. In addition to the McDonald’s and HP deals, Cohen’s division has worked on multi-year alliances with BankOne/Visa (commencing January 2003), Frito-Lay (October 2002), Coca-Cola/Dasani Water (September 2002), Kodak (May 2002) and Home Depot (May 2002).
There is at least one common thread running through all the Disney partnerships signs, Cohen admits. “These are premium brands in and of themselves,” Cohen says. “These are the companies Disney is interested in working with for our mutual benefit.” And because it’s Disney, it doesn’t take a lot of “imagineering” for brands to dream up powerful promotions.
— Kathleen M. Joyce
Making Waves Under the Radar
Brian Bolain has mastered guerilla tactics for Toyota launch
Call him the anti-advertiser. For the launch of Toyota’s new Scion sedans this past year, Brian Bolain ran no TV advertising, forbade sales reps to approach customers and virtually sneaked into regional markets under the radar screen of most consumers.
Most, but not all. Scion’s marketing team calculated that the key demographic for the car, male first-time buyers aged 18 to 24, would pounce on a vehicle they “discovered” on their own, and then viral marketing would propel the brand. “Word-of-mouth is more important to [this group] than an ad that is bought and paid for,” says Bolain, national sales promotion manager for Scion.
Hence the guerilla force behind Scion. In order to overcome the un-cool image saddling Toyota (the company’s average customer is 48 years old), Bolain and his team have ensured that souped up versions of the Scion xA have been parked outside trendy nightspots in Los Angeles since June. Curbs outside clubs in the Southwest, Southeast and East Coast will get the same treatment starting in February 2004. The brand hosted a breakdancing tour to 14 college campuses west of the Mississippi, coordinated by San Francisco-based Hadley Media. A national rollout is scheduled for June 2004.
While staged appearances are a key component of Scion’s marketing, 43-year-old Bolain says “authenticity” is its guiding force. “We just keep everything very real,” he says, in customization options, pricing and selling. “It’s just straight up.”
So far, Bolain’s promotional approach seems to be winning the younger crowd. The average buyer is 36 years old, lower than any of Toyota’s other brands. And loyalty among owners is fierce, with drivers’ club already popping up in southern California. Is this a Scion of things to come?
— Kathleen M. Joyce
Douglas Freeland secured McDonald’s winning time
It had to be a non-event. McDonald’s couldn’t afford a glitch with Winning Time, its first game since the 2001 Monopoly scandal. Big Mac appointed Douglas Freeland point person. “All eyes were on us,” says the national marketing director. “We had two goals: Drive sales, but also get back on our feet and pave the way for future games.”
McD didn’t risk Monopoly. “I felt very strongly that we should come back with a McDonald’s-branded game first,” he says. Traffic rose, and post-analysis showed diners liked Winning Time’s simplicity and prizes.
Freeland oversaw security measures approved by McDonald’s new Games Advisory Council (May 2003 PROMO). He also prompted McDonald’s first-ever bilingual game piece, to help Hispanic customers and crew. Cheeky “not a winner” messages played well in Spanish (“Lo siento, no era tu hora de ganar,” read one, which translated to “We’re sorry, it’s not your time to win.”)
“In a Chicago restaurant, I watched two Hispanic women peel back their game pieces and chuckle. It wouldn’t have had that impact in English,” Freeland says.
Freeland joined McDonald’s media planning group nine years ago, shifting to promotions in 1997. Stints at FCB and J. Walter Thompson led to five years at Quaker Oats Co. “I’ve gone from the number-crunching of media planning to the glamour of entertainment-based promotions,” Freeland laughs.
McDonald’s rotates staffers — Freeland didn’t work on October-November Best Chance Monopoly — to minimize individual control and keep vigilance high. “These are exhaustive. You really need a break,” says Freeland. “I like to work on a wide range of projects and bring together divergent points of view — consumers, operators, agencies.” Franchisee buy-in is the biggest challenge: “They’re smart and engaged in the process. It creates a lot of great dialog, but it’s challenging.”
— Betsy Spethmann
Lance Friedmann leads Kraft’s marketing work to cut obesity
Lance Friedmann is watching what you eat. As marketing point person for Kraft Foods’ global health and wellness efforts, senior VP Friedmann touches marketing (Kraft dropped in-school efforts this fall), R&D (look for new items in 2004) and meets with the doctors and nutritionists on the Worldwide Health & Wellness Advisory Council that Kraft formed in September.
“Obesity is one of the most important issues worldwide. Food is part of the solution, and we want to be a leader in that,” says Friedmann. “We also see this as a growth opportunity: As consumers switch to healthier foods, we want to offer choices people want.”
Since July, Kraft has been “quietly improving the nutrition profile while maintaining taste” on many products. To come: more low-cal and heart-healthy versions of current brands, and mainstreaming the Back to Nature organic brand Kraft bought this fall. This year, cereals added a “Healthy Classics” sub-brand (flagged to match specific health concerns), while cheese and Breyer’s yogurt hopped on the American Dairy Association’s 3-A-Day program.
The council and Kraft’s internal team start work in early 2004 on marketing guidelines. A four-city pilot of “Salsa, Sabor y Salud” (loosely, “food, flavor and health”) will put Hispanic families through eight-week nutrition and exercise training. “You can’t just give a 10-year-old a pamphlet on good nutrition and expect it to work,” says Friedmann, who’s also president of Kraft’s Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada operations.
Friedmann managed brands for then-General Foods in the early 80s, then returned in 1990. His fave foods? Mac and cheese — “I used to manage the business, so I have a fondness for that” — and Bull’s Eye barbecue sauce (on veggies and edamame, no less).
— Betsy Spethmann
Lisa Holland savors Broadway fame
She is the woman who bought out all the tickets on Broadway last year. Washington Mutual’s Spotlight on Teachers gave 28,000 tickets to New York-area teachers and snagged PROMO’s top PRO Award this fall (November PROMO).
But Lisa Holland’s not resting on those laurels. The OPTS Events VP just wrapped up WaMu’s Teacherpalooza, an October barbecue, housing fair, talent show and concert for 30,000 in Chicago. There, WaMu’s trademarked Spotlight on Teachers brought educators on-stage; performers with big cheers won up to $15,000 for their schools.
Sausalito, CA-based OPTS got the nod in July. “We went from zero to 60 in three-and-a-half months” to host Teacherpalooza before cold weather moved in, Holland recalls. Pile on simultaneous WaMu events in New York, Chicago and Denver and it’s clear she and her crew juggle fast — and fastidiously.
“You plan for anything you can think of that could possibly go wrong. Then when something you couldn’t foresee does go wrong, you have the time and energy to fix it,” she says.
Take Spotlight: Since WaMu claimed to buy out Broadway, OPTS had to snag seats even if a show opened last-minute. “We were on the edge of our chairs the last two weeks during ticket distribution,” Holland recalls. “It was a dance we had to do with openings and closings.”
Holland and partner Michael Christman began 20 years ago with a restaurant, then segued to catering and event planning. Eight years ago they dropped the oven mitts to focus on event management, and this year opened a New York City office to serve media brands. “We excel at doing what hasn’t been done before. Our programs aren’t easy [to execute], and that’s what makes it satisfying,” Holland says. Her Broadway payoff? “Standing on 44th Street with Joel Grey singing ‘Welcome’ from Cabaret. I had chills. I’m really proud of that work.”
— Betsy Spethmann
LeBron James is the boy-as-brand
The kid can pass the ball and move the goods. LeBron James, the high school superstar turned NBA phenomenon, has positioned himself as a mega brand, ringing up millions in endorsements before ever stepping out on the court in his first regular season game last October.
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar inked a $90 million, seven-year deal with Nike, who developed a line of shoes — called King James — after the No. 1 draft pick’s nickname.
In another slam dunk, the 18-year-old aligned with Coca-Cola as spokesperson for its Powerade brand and its Sprite “Obey Your Thirst” campaign. James will appear in ads, promotions and guest appearance in the six-year deal worth $12 million.
James tacked on another $6 million in a multi-year deal with Upper Deck, a maker of trading cards, collectibles and sports memorabilia, to represent the NBA line. Whatever he touches turns to gold. The company is selling LeBron memorabilia at superstar prices, like an autographed basketball for $649.99 and a signed high school jersey for $899.99.
Over the summer, Juice, a new brand of batteries, partnered with James and MTV in a 30-second spot “Who’s got juice?” as the new batteries rolled out nationwide and in Canada.
What’s his secret? “He’s got a great smile and great personality,” says Mary Ford, a spokesperson for Goodwin Sports Management, Seattle, WA. “He’s attractive for what he can do on the basketball court, yet fascinating for the person he is.”
— Patricia Odell
A STARIS BORN
A chimp with charisma shines in Pepsi sweeps
The chance of winning $1 billion dollars may have been the highlight of Pepsi’s Play for $1 Billion sweepstakes last summer, but Kendall the chimp stole the show. The primate drew the six winning numbers during a two-hour TV special that aired live on the WB network to ensure that the game wasn’t rigged.
The WB promoted the sweeps throughout the summer, and four-year-old Kendall grabbed media attention that pumped up interest in the sweepstakes. “He’s the Leo DiCaprio of chimps,” says Matti Leshem, the executive director of the show. “He became the hook for this program, the thing people focused on.”
The idea of using a chimp as a sweeps mascot came after rounds of futile brainstorming on a secure way to pick the number. In frustration, Leshem blurted out, “What do you want me to do, get a monkey to choose it?” A casting call went out and dozens of audition tapes poured in. Kendall had almost been shelved as a prospect until Leshem’s 10-year-old daughter Kaley watched some of the films. She told her dad he had overlooked some important qualities in Kendall: his good looks and sweet personality.
Next, the organizers set out to find a winner (ideally a human). More than 20 million registrations poured in after specially marked packages of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist hit stores last May promoting the under-the-cap sweeps. As for the $1 billion? Richard Bay, a 42-year-old high school teacher from Princeton, WV, was off by two digits, but still went home with a $1 million.
— Patricia Odell
Peter Lund does the math at Clorox
This year added up for Peter Lund. Start with seven out of seven — the number of Clorox Co. divisions to hand off promotion planning to director of consumer promotions Lund as Clorox streamlines marketing (March PROMO). Wait, make that Number One, as in the laundry/home cleaning division, whose $2 billion in sales is about half of Clorox’s revenues. “We’ve had four years to staff up and take on the mother ship,” says Lund. “Our groundwork with the other divisions taught us a lot and got people excited to work with us.”
Now add in 100,000 — the number of demo days Lund and crew oversaw to launch ReadyMop, which earned 6% household penetration in six months and garnered top market share despite trailing Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer to market. “Our group was deeply involved in that launch. It’s a big source of pride,” says Lund.
Then came in-store demos to launch cleaning products with Teflon: “It was fun to figure out how to let consumers experience such an interesting, innovative product.”
The number that makes it all happen is 17 consumer promotions staffers (and counting), up from three in 1999. Their toughest challenges are integrated marketing and co-marketing — though Clorox’s new customer co-marketing group helps.
“Retailers expect us to bring consumers innovation. The balance of hitting consumers’ sweet spot and getting retailers excited is challenging,” he says.
Lund pegged himself as a promo pro in college with a thesis on couponing. “It was the only ‘A’ I ever got in college,” he laughs. He spent two years at Minneapolis ad agency Colle McVoy, then joined Nestle in Purchase, NY. Clorox recruited him 13 years ago.
Lund likes Clorox’s wide-ranging portfolio. “It’s hard to get bored here. You can be working on upscale Brita one day, then male-targeted STP, then a family brand like bleach, or an ethnic product like Pine-Sol. Plus, it’s San Francisco. What’s not to love?”
— Betsy Spethmann
Sir Martin Sorrell as the ultimate bargain shopper
Sir Martin Sorrell spent about $430 million to buy a big chunk of debt this year. Call it bargain shopping: WPP got Cordiant Communications Group for GBP256 million, about half of Cordiant’s 2002 revenues of $852 million. Immediately divesting parts of Cordiant and WPP’s 25% stake in Zenith OptiMedia brought in about $256 million; figure in Cordiant’s balance sheet and WPP’s outlay was only about $243 million.
Or call it salvation: Sorrell rescued Cordiant from bankruptcy court and has kept 141 Worldwide intact — so far — despite dismantling sister ad shop Bates, whose offices and clients will be absorbed by WPP sibs by January 2004.
Some analysts criticized the purchase, fretting that WPP will stumble under the added debt if it has any trouble merging businesses. 2004 will tell the tale: With 141 aligned under Ogilvy & Mather, some insiders say the promo network won’t remain a global force.
Group chief executive Sorrell arm-wrestled rival Publicis Groupe in a dramatic bidding war that saw minority debt holder Active Value angling to increase its holdings to veto WPP’s bid and force Cordiant into bankruptcy. That would have let Publicis cherry-pick remnants of Cordiant.
141 Worldwide — whose 91 offices in 57 countries had 2002 net revenues of about $42 million — got caught in Cordiant’s tailspin, losing Allied Domecq when client defections from Bates caused AD to worry about Cordiant’s solvency. Since the buyout, North American offices have aligned with Ogilvy & Mather and report to O&M North America President Tro Piliguian.
Marketing services are about 55% of WPP’s revenues; the goal is to push that closer to 70%. 141 offices could be instrumental to Sorrell’s plan to build Europe and Asia so each region (with North America) accounts for 33% of revenues — once the chess pieces all line up.
— Betsy Spethmann
Billy Tauzin legislates marketing reform
Like it or not, Representative Billy Tauzin has had a big impact on marketers, especially those using the phone to find new customers.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman led the fight in Congress to provide funding for the Federal Trade Commission to implement the national do-not-call registry.
And when a federal ruling in September jeopardized the creation of the list, Tauzin, along with ranking member John Dingell (D-MI), introduced a bill that reaffirmed the FTC’s authority to create and enforce the list. The bill passed the house in less than 36 hours, and was signed into law by President Bush in September.
“This decision is great news for consumers and families,” he said in October. “Finally, a federal court has recognized that Americans have a right to say ‘goodbye’ to unwanted calls from pesky telemarketers.”
Tauzin, serving his 12th term in the House, is also taking a lead in eradicating e-mail spam.
Last May, the representative from Louisiana and two other representatives introduced the Rid Spam Act. The act prohibits sending fraudulent e-mails and allows consumers to opt out of any commercial e-mail. At deadline, the bill was still in committee, but Tauzin was hopeful that it would pass before the end of the year.
“It won’t be long before half of all e-mail is considered spam,” he said in a statement at the time. “I will not stand by and allow this to continue and I can assure you that folks throughout America won’t stand for it either.”
— Patricia Odell
TIMES SQUARE ALLIANCE
IMPRESARIO OF TIMES SQUARE
Tim Tompkins plays street theatre for a demanding audience
The caretaker of Times Square is a juggler of sorts. He is charged with showcasing the Big Apple’s most marketable piece of real estate as a knockout venue for brands to strut their stuff while at the same time appeasing neighborhood businesses and residents.
The man in the hot seat is Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, formerly the Times Square Business Improvement District, who says: “I’m a custodian of Times Square’s brand identity and a promoter of the neighborhood and its businesses.”
The city decides which events will be held and then Tompkins and his team take over to shape their nature and timing so neighborhood businesses and residents are not negatively impacted.
For example, in November 2002, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Bank bought out all the tickets on Broadway for a Saturday matinee; it then gave the seats away to teachers to recognize their efforts and to promote its entry into the city (November PROMO). To kick off the big day, WaMu wanted to close down all of the “in-center” of Times Square for a rally. It was a huge event for a worthy audience, but Tompkins found the outdoor portion of the event worked better on a side street.
In contrast, when the NFL took over Times Square for a huge pre-season party in 2002 with a street concert featuring Bon Jovi and other musicians, thousands of fans filled the streets and the party was broadcast to the entire country.
Tompkins takes each brand’s inquiry for a bite of Times Square on a case-by-case basis.
“As Times Square grows in popularity, we’re still working out what works and what doesn’t,” he says.
— Patricia Odell
Mark Waller leads promotion of Diageo’s all-alcohol portfolio
For Mark Waller and his team at Diageo North America, it’s all a matter of the right mix: the right brands, the right market data, the right agency partners. Oh, and a willingness to challenge the accepted rules.
Over the past two years, the international conglomerate has shed huge chunks of its business — Pillsbury foods in 2001 and Burger King quick-service restaurants in 2003 — to focus exclusively on its brewed and distilled alcohol brands. Having streamlined both staff and brands, Diageo has begun to rebuild. Its portfolio now includes Seagrams, which Diageo acquired for $5.3 billion in 2001 through a partnership with Pernod Ricard, and a re-energized Smirnoff’s vodka line.
Waller, Diageo’s executive VP of consumer strategy and marketing, has rallied his troops around the company’s redefined portfolio, and is leading the charge with more consumer-driven promotion. He has initiated more direct marketing, more tailored promos for regional brands, more ethnic marketing and more consumer trial through 2004 (September PROMO).
While Diageo has undeniable heft in its market (it now dominates the industry with 10 of the top 20 spirits and 23% market share — nearly double the next closest competitor), Waller has emphasized the need for nimbleness when it comes to promoting per region and per brand. He and his team have developed rich data on customers per brand, by convincing distributors to invest more heavily in tracking sales data and by expanding the relationship management components of Diageo campaigns. “Direct dialog is a fundamental driver,” says Waller. As a result, the company has begun to build more direct-to-consumer work, including sampling, trial and on-premises, for such key brands as Crown Royal, Guinness and Bailey’s.
Whether marketing beer or spirits, Waller and his cohorts have bucked the rules. Last year Diageo tried to get NBC to depart from long-time voluntary restrictions on TV ads for spirits; negotiations fell through on a national level, but Diageo was able to recruit about 400 local TV stations to take its ads. The company is also pushing to reform laws that prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sunday, a revision that many cash-strapped states are considering.
“I don’t think we’re challenging [standards]; I think consumer trends are changing,” Waller says. “Many of the laws that exist were written in the 19th century and a lot has changed in how consumers shop, how they buy, how they view media. I don’t see it as our agenda, but a consumer agenda.”
— Kathleen M. Joyce with reporting by Matt Kinsman