Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get Your Kicks With Chix Fix In Stix - Fast Food Freebie Pulls Crowd

    We all know there's no such thing as a free lunch.  So how come dinner "on the house" is giving Chick-Fil-A a PR boost that money can't buy?  Today, a new Chick-Fil-A restaurant opened here in State College, PA.  And people actually camped out to be among the first diners.  Is the food really THAT good? 

     Here's what's pulling them in.  When Chick-Fil-A opens a new shop it gives the first 100 customers certificates for 52 free meals.  That's one chicken dinner a week for a year.  I'd be willing to camp out for 52 free meals, wouldn't you?

     This PR strategy isn't cost free- but it is dirt cheap.  If we assume each free meal costs Chick-Fil-A $2 the tab for 100 people will run a bit over $10,000.  So what did that money buy?

    The grand opening story, with photos, got a nice write-up in our local newspaper.  It will probably make all the local TV news shows tonight.  According to the Centre Daily Times, "passionate fans" traveled from as far away as Virginia and Florida for this grand opening give-away.  John Yasenka claims this is the 40th time he's camped out at a Chick-Fil-A to get his mitts on those 52 certificates.  Asked why he made the trip, Yansenka says, "I like the chicken".  And there are 99 other people like John who will tell all their friends.  That translates into a lot of low-cost PR.

     When I Googled Chick-Fil-A I found a web site for the new local eatery.  And there was also a post on Twitter encouraging people to line up for the free meal deal.  The next entry I discovered was a Chick-Fil-A Facebook page.  The local restaurant has 549 friends- already.  Did I mention that this restaurant opened just today?
    Somebody at Chick-Fil-A seems to understand the concept of good PR.  As Chick-Fil-A's famous spokes-cows might say: Eat mor Chikin!  Get Mor Busnez! 

Check out my LinkedIn profile:

Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A GAP In My Education -Or- New Media Trumps Old School

      The  Gap replaces it's familiar old logo and triggers a nasty reaction.  Apparently, a lot of Gap shoppers hate the new look.  Bowing to the public outcry- Gap brings back the original logo. 
Original Logo
Newly Deleted Logo
     It reminds me of the furor over "New" Coke. For those who don't remember: many years ago Coke replaced its original beverage with "New" Coke.  Coke drinkers went apoplectic.  There was a groundswell of negative publicity.  The fiasco ended with Coca Cola having to bring back "Old" Coke.  

    The Gap Flap features a decidedly new twist.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook played a role in Gap's decision to kill its new logo.  I just now checked Gap's Facebook page and it says 742,317 people are followers.  On the one hand I think that's 742,317 people with too much time on their hands.  On the other, I'm surprised the number isn't much bigger. Here's the post from Gap's top brass:

"Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box..."

      For anyone who's wondering, crowdsourcing is the act of using a large group to collaborate on a project- in this case the Gap Logo makeover.  I'd say Gap (like a lot of companies) has learned the value of social media.  And this logo turnabout demonstrates some PR savvy.  More companies should listen to their customers.  So, Gap-goers are happy again.   The old logo is back.

     But wait- was this just part of a clever marketing campaign?  Gap sure got a lot of ink.  And as they say, any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right.  And it's pretty hard to misspell G-A-P no matter what the logo looks like.  Personally, I doubt this logo uproar was the result of a premeditated PR campaign.  Very few marketing campaigns are intentionally designed to make customers unhappy.

     But some are.  Do you remember Sidd Finch?  In 1985 George Plimpton wrote an article for Sports Illustrated describing Finch- the Mets' amazing zen-master pitching-prospect.  Finch was a fireballer who's stuff was clocked at an unheard of 168 mph.  Baseball fans were stunned.  Baseball would never be the same.  But it was all a hoax.  An April Fools joke.  There was no Sidd Finch.  People were outraged.  Sports Illustrated received 2,000 letters from angry readers.  I just checked SI's web site.  There is no apology.  SI calls Sidd Finch, and I quote,  "the greatest stunt in SI history". Now that's PR. 

Check out my LinkedIn profile:

Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Made in America

     Here's today's Consumer Marketing Hotline Question: Where did it come from?  The shoes you're wearing.  The food you eat.  The car you drive.  The insulation inside your house.  I could go on and on.  We're loading up on products that are made overseas while shipping American jobs to underdeveloped countries. 

     I workout with dumbbells that came from China.  How can China manufacture and then ship 20-pound weights that tremendous distance- for less money than we can make them in the US?

     Remember when Wal*Mart first made it big?  They had American flags on everything.  Everything was Made In America.  Now almost everything Wal*Mart sells is Made In China.  

     The home video camera sitting on my desk-Japan.  

     The computer keyboard I'm typing on- China.

     Nike sneakers.  Nike has plants all over the place, China, VietNam, Cambodia.  According to WikiAnswers only 5% if Nike apparel is manufactured here.

     I just pulled off my Bass shoe and looked at the tag.  Yes, my shoes were Made In China.

          Yesterday, my computer melted down and I had to call customer service- yes the infamous tech support. After an infuriating trip through an automated menu I ended up speaking to a person somewhere in Indonesia.  He was nicer than I was and very professional- but I just get so tired of saying WHAT? What did you say?  What are you asking me to do?  English is obviously not a first language in this situation.  And it's frustrating when you have to battle your way through "tech jargon" while having "a failure to communicate" at the same time.

     Trina and I have a new puppy and we wanted to buy a puppy bed.  We've been to Petco, PetSmart, local pet stores and Wal*Mart.  Everything is Made In China.

     Same goes for doggie toys.  Yep, they're Made In China.

     We tried to buy some rawhide bones.  You've probably heard about toxic pet food that was Made In China- so we wanted to avoid that.  But nearly all the rawhide bones at Wal*Mart are Made In China.  We did find a few Made In America- so we gladly paid extra for those.

     Here's a fun exercise.  Go into any major department store and try to buy clothing that's Made In America.  Good luck with that.

     Here's a tribute to American capitalism.  I have a Donald Trump bobble head from a marketing promotion for one of his casinos.  You guessed it.  On the bottom it says: Made In China.

    A couple of years ago Trina and I visited China and it was an incredible experience.  Sure, the history is amazing.  The country is amazing.  The crowds of Chinese are amazing.  But what really took our breath away was the growth.  In Shanghai they were building skyscrapers by the bushel.  Dozens and dozens of huge buildings were all going up at the same time.  Money is flooding into China- and a lot of that cash is our money.  Everybody has heard about it.  There are stories about it in the media every day.  But there never seems to be much interest in buying American.  Is it just me?  I think it seems strange- especially in this economy.

     All of this is leading up to this one marketing/media relations question.  If I owned a company and my products were Made In America I'd be shouting it from the rooftops.  So why doesn't it seem like anybody is doing that?  Just askin... 

Check out my LinkedIn profile:

Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mel Gibson and other NewsMakers -OR- How to get Media Attention

     Nope.  This isn't about Mel Gibson.  I just wanted to grab your attention.  That's because this post IS about getting noticed.  Here are some random news stories that have captured media attention in recent years.   Some are silly.  Some are stupid.  All are somewhat entertaining.  And all of them appeared on TV and/or in newspapers.

Dateline Bloemfontein, South Africa:

     Charlie the Chimp has died.  Charlie was world famous for smoking cigarettes tossed into his cage by zoo visitors.  Charlie, believed to be 52 years old, will be stuffed and placed back on display.  What a drag...

Dateline Raleigh, NC: 

     A man robs a gas station and then tries to carjack a woman at a nearby supermarket.  A witness/shopper attacks the robber/carjacker with a frozen turkey.  The suspect is hospitalized with head injuries and a bruised wishbone....

Dateline Sparta, WI: 

     Two young men install flashing lights on their car and begin making phony traffic stops.  They also videotape the pranks and post the footage on YouTube.  One of them can be heard on tape saying, "This **** never gets old".  The two suspects are charged with impersonating police officers and DWI (Dim Witted Idiocy)

Dateline Bloomington, IL: 

     Just in time for the holidays.  Workers at the Miller Park Zoo make Christmas ornaments from the droppings of the zoo's two Reindeer.  The droppings are dried and either painted or rolled in glitter.  Very Glam!  Note to self: Never let a good marketing idea go to "Waste".


Dateline Hokkaido, Japan:

     Puzzled keepers at Kushiro Municipal Zoo couldn't figure out why a pair of polar bears refused to mate. After several months without any romantic "chemistry" a medical procedure determines that both bears are female.  Polar Bears have their share of troubles these days but Gobal Warming isn't always one of them.

     The common thread (or threat) is that all of these stories garnered media attention.  And you can too.  Outlandish and unusual will get you on TV.  Just make sure you're drawing attention to your product in a good way.  In other words, DON'T become the butt of the joke- insert Mel Gibson comment here.

Check out my LinkedIn profile:

Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author

Monday, October 4, 2010

College Football Scores PR Points -OR- The Color of Money

      Did you enjoy the big college football games this past weekend?  My poor Nittany Lions sure took one in the chops!  Sure, everybody loves a winner.  Just ask Alabama- now ranked #1.  But even the losing teams scored big... as long as they got on TV.  And more schools are doing it every day.  TV now carries lots of football games featuring once "obscure" universities that you never heard of 10 years ago.

    Those "obscure" schools made a conscious decision to pursue football fame- and fortune.  When Florida International played Texas A&M you can bet FIU got a much-bigger-than-usual paycheck from the gate.  Nice.  But the big score is in VISIBILITY.  FIU is getting attention and it's the kind of free advertising money can't buy.  That's why Florida Atlantic will play Texas this season.   Eastern Michigan just played Ohio State and Cincinnati took on Oklahoma.
     Schools with established football programs have been raking it in for years.  Football is so important that successful coaches are making millions- much more than college presidents.  Again, the money is great- but what really counts is Visibility with a capital V.   When Penn State's team hits the top 10, the admissions office sees a surge in applications.  Researchers at Indiana University found that when the University of Florida won national championships in both football and basketball in 2006, applications from prospective students rose eight percent over the previous year.  Visibility.
     Since 1986, Boise State has been playing home games on AstroTurf that's dyed a blindingly bright blue.  Some people think that blue field helped put the Broncos on the map.  But it wasn't until Boise State started playing name brand opponents (Georgia in 2005, Oregon in 2008, Virginia Tech in 2010) that people really started noticing.  Currently Boise State is ranked #4. 
   In 2002 Boise State earned $70,000 on sales of Bronco-licensed products.  In 2009 they made $750,000.  Must be that blue field.

Check out my LinkedIn profile:

Copyright 2010
all rights reserved by the author