Let’s get weird

We’ve talked plenty about the potential power humor can have on marketing – as well as its potential pitfalls. If you’ve noticed, however, that some marketing these days is blurring the line between humor and absurdity, you’re not alone.

Indeed, over the past several years, brands like KFC, Old Spice, Emerald Nuts, Axe Body Spray and Sprite have embraced and advanced the marketing trend of “oddvertising.” Although the name renders it fairly self-explanatory, oddvertising is humor-based marketing with a decidedly absurdist angle to it – focused less on selling product or making consumers laugh, and more on getting their attention and making them say, “WTF?”

The goal with oddvertising, as you might imagine, is to drive and generate buzz for a brand among audiences who may be more reflexively skeptical to what some would consider “traditional” marketing efforts. That fever-dream of a 30-second spot will serve its purpose in getting people’s attention in the moment, to be sure, but its real value comes in the brand engagement it can drive online after the fact – shares, retweets, likes, comments, “WTF?s,” etc. That’s where oddvertising can cut through the clutter and connect with consumers who may not be easy to connect with.

Of course, the potential risks we discussed with the use of humor are exponentially greater with this type of approach. For example: The common thread among the oddvertising brands listed above? Their audience – millenials and younger. That’s an audience much more predisposed to this type of approach compared with others. And that’s why – as we’ve said more than once – crystal-clear understanding of your audience is crucial at all times.

This isn’t to say this type of approach can’t work with other audiences, of course; it’s only to say that it’s important to know how your audience thinks and consider the degree of absurdity you’re conveying – and the manner and platform in which you deploy it. You wouldn’t want people thinking you’re weird, after all.

Work of art

“Part art, part science.”

It’s a common phrase within – and description of – our industry, and one that does a solid and succinct job of detailing both its possibilities and the limitations. The challenge for us and every marketer, of course, is determining how much of each ingredient any particular recipe calls for.

The trend in recent years has been decidedly in the direction of the science portion, especially as digital marketing has grown in stature and the data tools we have access to as marketers have become more sophisticated and detailed. And, after all, marketers have to make a business case – and show a return on investment – for what we do and why we do it. Science (data) helps us do that.

So it can be easy to assume the growth of “science” means a corresponding drop in “art,” right? As we place more value and importance on data, do we place less value on design? That doesn’t have to be – and shouldn’t be – the case, as this recent article happily reminded us. Through all of the disparate examples of major brands uniquely and creatively employing art in recent campaigns a common thread emerges: storytelling still matters.

Indeed, it’s as important as ever, and it reinforces the mutually dependent nature of the relationship these ingredients have. You can’t determine success without an objective way to define it. That’s science. And it’s REALLY hard to find success as a marketer without telling a creative and compelling story. That’s art.

If nothing else, the article serves as a refreshing reminder that art remains a vital ingredient to marketing success. Indeed, in our increasingly and incredibly fractured media landscape, the ability to cut through the clutter by creating some beautiful art may be more important than ever.

 

Smooth Sailing

Smoker_Fishing_BRWhile summer boat season may seem like a distant dream (or cruel trick) right now, it’s right around the corner for our friends at the Smoker Craft family of boat brands. Indeed, ‘tis the season for those thinking about purchasing a new boat – be it fishing, pontoon, water sports. ‘Tis the season, then, for us to help Smoker Craft make the decision easy.

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We’ve been working hard the past several months to produce high-quality, beautiful brochures for each brand within the Smoker Craft family of boat brands. With each one, we faced a similar challenge – balancing the uniqueness of each brand while carrying through the overall value that comes with being a part of the Smoker Craft family of brands.

The books are now done – and are already getting potential buyers pumped about boating season and warmer months. After all, when you have the right co-captain on your marketing journey, it’s sure to be smooth sailing.

 

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Get a Grip

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Channellock and Do it Best are both iconic American brands in their own right, and a recent exclusive partnership between the two has produced a family of exciting new products. When Do it Best Corp. wanted to launch a new Channellock-branded line of products, we helped them get a grip on the situation.

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Specifically, Do it Best Corp. was preparing to launch a new line of Channellock-branded ratchets, sockets and wrenches at its semi-annual buying market this past October. You only get one chance to make a first impression, as the saying goes, so this launch was particularly important in driving excitement and interest among the co-op’s members to carry the new line in their locations around the world.

To explain and introduce the new line, we developed an informative, appealing new brochure, as well as high-visibility signage and promotional materials for the market floor. Each piece carried over the famous Channellock brand while explaining all of the new products available in the lineup, as well as their high quality and consumer appeal.

With the new marketing materials playing a key role in the overall launch of the product line, the results to date have exceeded the co-op’s already lofty goals – with strong initial and ongoing member orders. It’s a rare occasion – and an honor – when you get to pair two great brands and help independent retailers across the country ratchet up their performance.

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The Rea Way

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Rea Magnet Wire occupies a unique and challenging space for a brand. As an unquestioned leader in its market – many, many people know the name, but a lot less know what exactly it is they do – or, for that matter, everywhere they do it.

That’s where we came in.

Recently, the team at Rea found itself with this unique challenge, wanting to clearly communicate the full scale and scope of its global reach to leaders at its core customers around the world. And, naturally, it wanted to do so in a concise and beautifully designed package can be even harder.

Our new corporate positioning for Rea serves as a transparent, comprehensive corporate report to these key stakeholders while telling the full story – the past, present and, most importantly, the future. This positioning offers insight into their current initiatives, their plans for the future of their business and the various ways they are working to be the best choice as a business partner for existing and prospective customers. It also provides a transparent view into Rea’s unique company culture, evidencing teamwork and trust as their core values.

Rea’s goal with their corporate positioning was to reinforce its position as a company key stakeholders can trust, with in-demand products, that also aligns with their personal values. Rea Magnet Wire wanted to ground their status as all of these, and strengthen their relationship with customers in the process. From the Magnet Wire Capital of the World (that’s Fort Wayne, by the way), we’re proud to partner with one of the industry’s great brands to tell their story.

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Escape from Marketing Island

As marketers, it can be easy to feel like we exist on an island. To bury ourselves in our work and maintain an exclusive, almost laser-like focus on…well…our marketing. Because that’s what we do. The same can be said of salespeople – existing on their own island, maintaining their laser-like focus on…well…their sales. Because that’s what they do. But what if working together – building a bridge between those two islands – made both sides better?

Sales and marketing are often lumped together in terms of how a business operates, which makes the seas that can rise up between these two islands all the more surprising – and disappointing. Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all, and neither does sales.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Indeed, as this recent article helpfully reminds us, “by collaborating with sales reps during the content development process, marketers can create content resources that will better meet the needs of salespeople.” And, in turn, such collaboration means salespeople can help marketers more effectively create such content.

How? Well, as the same article explains, there tend to be six levels or degrees of personalization when it comes to content marketing. These cover the full spectrum, from generic (no personalization) content to lead-specific (highly personalized, one-on-one) content. Marketers can often see the most productive use of their time spent at the more generic end of the spectrum – delivering the most content to the most people – while salespeople often want to spend the majority of their time at the more personalized end of the spectrum – building and maintaining individual relationships with customers and prospects. How, then, can we bridge this divide?

For marketers, the key is to move further down the personalization spectrum. While true one-to-one content marketing isn’t always feasible or practical, making content more segment- and audience-specific can empower sales people by providing them with a marketing asset that’s more personalized and targeted.

Equally important is the ability of marketers to train, equip and support salespeople to either personalize existing content, or create individualized content for their end of the spectrum. “The conventional wisdom,” the article continues, “has been that salespeople should not be spending their time developing content.” There are certain types of content, however, that are best left for a member of the sales team to develop.

Salespeople can help marketers become more effective in developing more personalized and targeted content. And marketers can help sales people become more effective in developing content of their own in the right situations. This is where collaboration between sales and marketing – bridging those two islands – can be so valuable and profound.

Prize fighters

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Once again this year, the community-minded folks at Kroger devote the month of October to raising money to help the fight against cancer. And once again this year, they turned to us to help them take the fight public – and raise as much money as possible.

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Through its annual Fight Cancer Day promotion, Kroger stores in the Fort Wayne area donate a percentage of their sales from an entire day in October to three organizations leading the fight against cancer – the American Cancer Society, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana and Francine’s Friends. In addition, shoppers can make donations at check-out through the entire month of October. The more shoppers who know about these opportunities to help in the fight, the more money raised, of course. Which is where we come in.

Working with the team at Kroger, we identified three store employees from the region who’ve fought cancer and won, connecting them with one of the supporting charities and then showcasing them in a high-profile, cross-platform campaign, including outdoor, print and in-store materials.

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While we don’t know the total amount raise for this year’s efforts, we’re confident our sharing of the inspiring stories of perseverance and bravery shown by these employees will make this year’s total one of the best ever. And, in the process, make the fight against cancer stronger than ever.

That special sauce

Based in Indianapolis and operating nationally, Pure Development is a unique commercial real estate development firm focusing exclusively on office, industrial and healthcare build-to-suit projects for some of America’s largest and most well known companies. Their unique mix of institutional experience and entrepreneurial spirit gives them a competitive advantage – and a special story to tell. That’s where we come in.

In addition to developing an entirely new web presence for Pure, we also created a custom brand video to help explain the firm’s “special sauce” that’s been such a foundational element of its growth and success. To tell the Pure story in a visual, engaging manner, we used a mix of graphics and custom photography to bring its mission, vision and approach into one video – a video representative of expertise, experience and effort the team puts into each project. The video emphasizes the unique nature of the firm, the notable scope of its work and the impressive experience of its principals.

Commercial real estate development is a competitive world, and it can be easy for the “big boys” to muscle out the smaller firms through their sheer size and scope. Pure offers the experience of the big firms and the flexibility and personal attention of a smaller one, offering clients the best of both worlds. And through its new site and new brand video, we’re helping them share their unique story with the world.

This is 40

We try to avoid being too self-promotional in this space, using it instead to help you make sense of the wide world of marketing and stay out in front of its trends and shifts. (Okay, that second part was a bit promotional. Sorry.)

But indulge us for the next few minutes, if you would, while we proudly pat ourselves on the back. After all, big events like this don’t come around very often.

“Well, it all started when I got fired.”

Like many great American success stories, ours began with a little bit of adversity. Rich Ferguson, after spending several years working on Madison Avenue, moved back to Fort Wayne to join Bonsib Advertising, one of the biggest agencies in the state at the time. Eventually, Rich rose to president of what would become Bonsib Centlivre and Ferguson; his time was cut short, however, as circumstances outside his control took over and he, as he fondly remembers it, “got fired.”

Rich thought long and hard about returning to New York and Madison Avenue. The more he thought about it, however, the more he realized going on his own here, in Fort Wayne, was the best step forward for him. And so it was that in the summer of 1975, Ferguson Advertising came to be.

And so it is that, 40 years later, we’re still here – and better than ever. Many things about our industry and how we work has changed, of course; technology has left virtually no part of what we do untouched in the scale of its impact. Indeed, there are things we do – digital and social come to mind – that didn’t even exist when we started.

More important to our success, we believe, is what hasn’t changed – our continuity of ownership, our commitment to clients, our strategic smarts, our creative focus. Those attributes are what make us the Ferg – and that’s why they haven’t changed. And why they won’t change over the next 40 years.

So…Happy Birthday to us!

Okay, self-promotion is officially over. (For now.) Back to work we go.

Up in the air

Commercial flying – the worst, right? Herded like cattle into increasingly smaller seats, nickel-and-dimed on every little aspect of the experience, flights constantly delayed or cancelled…we could keep going.

dogSo what could we possibly learn from airlines when it comes to marketing? A lot, actually, especially when it comes to how some of them are approaching an often-overlooked part of the flying experience.

We speak of the in-flight safety video, of course! For years, airlines paid little attention to these videos, communicating to passengers only what was required by the FAA, without any concern for the tone or personality of the video. Consequently, the videos had no personality.

And most in-flight safety videos, to be sure, still have no style or identity. Over the past few years, however, an increasing number of airlines are recognizing the incredibly unique opportunities these situations present and infusing their in-flight safety videos with a refreshing dose of personality and humor.

What makes these opportunities so unique and, from a marketer’s perspective, prized? Well, the entirely captive audience is rare, of course, and you can certainly use the very low expectations of that audience to your advantage by surprising and delighting with a humorous video.

What does this all mean for you? Ideally, and assuming you’re not in the airline industry, it means you’re already busy thinking of nontraditional touchpoints you have with your customers – and you’re thinking of ways you can add a flair of creativity, personality and even humor to them.

We spend so much time – and rightfully so – focusing on our traditional marketing efforts that we can overlook unconventional ones that offer a rare opportunity to stand out and connect on an emotional level with customers. And that emotional connection, as we know, can be worth more to brands than an unexpected bump up to first class.

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