The #MeToo movement saw a fall of very high profile celebrities, politicians and businessmen around the globe. A brand that is highly associated with masculinity and getting the best from its product, took it upon themselves to use the leverage of the brand recognition by starting a social media campaign that focuses on “Gillette committing to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations executing programs in the United States designed to inspire, educate and help men of all ages achieve their personal “best” and become role models for the next generation”.
As the brand has promoted its tag line “The Best A Man Can Get” for over 30 years, it decided that to stay true to its values and carry on the tagline’s tradition it needed to socially and publicly begin a awareness campaign and donate to non-profits to show to its consumer, investors and employees that it cares about the social environment and since their brand’s marketing campaign focuses on the personality of the man that is currently under threat in a toxic environment due to wrong actions of individuals it took the courageous step to launch such a campaign.
Although reactions to this campaign revolved around the opposite ends of the spectrum, the #BestMenCanBe social media campaign garnered over 1.5 million mentions in the first 24 hours. This goes on to show that if a brand like Gillette uses the right campaigns on social media, it can spread the impact and the awareness of corporate social responsibility efforts that are directly tied down to the brand’s heritage and its the products.
Being a Hollywood star is pretty synonymous with looking good and being fit, however in the case of Chris Hemsworth, the God of Thunder himself, has taken things to a new level. Often proclaimed the hottest and funniest Avenger, Thor (Hemsworth) has often shared snapshots of his workout routines over social media, showing his fans how much work he puts into maintaining his body so that he looks good on the big screen.
With fitness and wellness being the hottest trends in today’s social media engagement, it was a no brainer for Hemsworth to launch his own fitness and wellness app called “Centr”. Built around providing access to the team that supports him and for users to get fitter, stronger and happier, the platform offers expert curated content featuring Hemsworth’s personal team handpicked by him and is wife Elsa Pataky. It centers around eating right, exercising right and living right. With a host of starter packages and customizability, the fitness and wellness platform has seen a wide recognition very quickly.
Considering Hemsworth himself is behind the platform, with an estimated global fan following of 32.7 million on Instagram alone, its a no brainer that he and his team used global social media marketing as the primary tool to promote the uniqueness and affordability of “Centr”. Given how new the platform is, it will probably take a while before more information becomes available on the strategy employed by “Centr” to further develop engagement with the consumers it currently enjoys through Instagram.
International Market Communication is a multi-level strategy game that is tied to the overall business strategy of the company as well. Today’s digital landscape provides companies with huge potential to leverage not just the paid methods of communication but also the unpaid (earned, owned) methods of communications. What are these different paid and unpaid methods of communications, how do we benefit from using the different tactics involved and how they can be integrated with each other to optimize communication resources.
At the core, International Market Communications is all about communicating the value of your product or service to customers and developing a long-term brand image is vital to success. To promote your product/company/service. Without promotions, your ability to create awareness and favourable attitudes within target segments is limited. These promotions can be broadly broken down into two channels that they communicate through: Paid or unpaid (owned, earned).
Paid media like the name denotes is everything that the company pays for. The company is paying to leverage a channel with the aim of driving traffic to their owned media (web sites, blogs), and landing new business. Paid media needs to be focused, well planned, and effectively executed, and include compelling calls-to-action in order to deliver exactly what your prospective customer is looking for. Advertising is majority of the paid part of a marketing communication strategy that includes paid broadcast, print or other media messages. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online media constitute the common, traditional media used by advertisers to present messages. Billboards, directories, aerial and transit media are support media used in advertising. By paying for ad messages, you typically have greater influence over the placement time and place, as well as the message itself, since you buy this service from the medium.
Unpaid media further has two components to it. It can be communication through ‘earned’ channels that put the target audience/customer in the driving seat like word of mouth or social media shares. Or be ‘owned’ channels like all of the properties that belong to the brand or business. That can be websites, blogs, social media channels, apps, and stores (online and offline). Both paid and earned media are designed to drive prospects to the owned media estate and its strength is critical to converting them into paying customers. Publicity makes up the bulk of unpaid communications. Publicity is any type of unpaid media coverage, such as a newspaper article or television feature. Small businesses try to make use of local news media opportunities because of their limited budgets. Relationships with local media are a huge plus for local companies. The risk is that you have less control over the timing or placement, as well as the message. A news reporter could use the information to write about negative items, for example.
There are clear differences between paid and unpaid communication media channels. Tight control and targeting for paid, against little control over the nature and placement of earned. However to be fully effective paid, earned, and indeed owned media must converge and be integrated as far as is possible into international market communications to optimize the companies global presence.
A crucial issue to be considered while navigating international markets is which medium or media to use while communicating with the target audience. These media decisions have to be taken depending not just on the nature of the product/service being offered, but also the media availability that differs from country to country. Media channels can be broadly classified into three buckets:
Print media: local daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, business publications with regional, national or international readers.
Electronic Media: Radio, broadcast television, cable television and the internet (new media).
Other: Direct mailers, outdoors advertising, transport advertising or any other innovative form.
As mentioned above these mediums are available differently in different countries. Adding to this, media consumption patterns also vary from country to country. For example, television is the number one medium in both the United States and Japan. By contrast, newspapers are the leading medium in Germany with television ranking only second. Hence in Germany, outlays for newspaper advertising surpass those for television by a ratio of two to one. Worldwide, radio continues to be a less important advertising medium than print and television. However, in countries where advertising budgets are limited, the radio’s enormous reach can provide a cost-effective means of communicating with a large consumer market. Also, the radio can be effective in countries where literacy rates are low.
Sometimes even when media availability is high, usage of that media as an advertising vehicle might be very limited due to regional regulations or age restrictions. As discussed in our previous posts, cultural considerations also often affect communication and the presentation of the advertising message. For example, let’s compare the content of magazine advertisements in the United States with those in the Arab world:
People are depicted less often in Arabic magazine ads.
U.S. ads tend to have more information content; by contrast, brevity is considered a virtue in the Arab world.
U.S. ads contain more price information and are more likely to include comparative appeals than Arabic ads
We also need to remember that the world we exist in is becoming more and more digital with each passing minute. This helps in crossing borders easily and also shortens the gap between the target audience, especially when it is a technology-based product/service since a majority of the target audience will be urbanised.
Bottom line is that today, we exist in a highly saturated world filled with multiple communication media options. Hence it becomes very important for companies to observe several factors like media availability, media consumption trends, nature of the product/service, cultural and regional regulations before making informing Global Media Decisions.
Plastics in the ocean have been the talk around the world ever since pictures of popular island destinations surfaced with unimaginable levels of plastic pollution. The impact of plastics on marine life has been extensively documented and aired across various media channels, however no major non-profit or mainstream company has taken up the challenge to do something about until the partnership of Adidas and Parley.
With the soul aim to avoid, intercept and redesign (A.I.R), the collaboration between sports equipment manufacturer Adidas and non-profit Parley for the Oceans focuses on reducing ocean plastics pollution through education and awareness in addition to using the reclaimed ocean plastics as a primary material for Adidas’ Parley product line.
According to a recent Forbes report, Adidas made a limited run of 9000 pairs of shoes that incorporated the reclaimed ocean plastics into the materials of the product, selling out globally and setting the stage for the collaboration to grow into a potential billion dollar business. In addition to helping cleaning the oceans, Adidas also supported the launch of Run for the Oceans project through which it challenged people around the world to raise money by contributing a dollar for every kilometer run by participants in the project.
With the help of Adidas’ high end endorsement deals and commissioned athletes, the company turned to social media campaigns to expand the reach of their mission to save the oceans while promoting their product line that would provide the medium for consumers to take part in their annual Run for the Oceans initiative that would serve as the biggest fundraiser for the Adidas x Parley collaboration to have a global effect.
With a spike in the use of social media platforms across most industries, it’s not surprising to see high end car brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Volvo shift their focus on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for their respective marketing campaigns. These platforms have drastically increased customer interaction/engagement and also provided a fantastic base for market research for all these firms. Car brands can use it as an inexpensive tool to gauge consumer preferences and trends based on responses to the content put out on all the platforms.
Ever so often, consumers are however limited to photos of limited edition car releases or whacky concepts or brand new model launches. This has completely changed for the better as high end car brands have begun to partner with global social media influencers like James (MrJWW) and Alex Hirshi (Supercarblondie) with a combined audience reach of over 4 million viewers/followers across Instagram and YouTube alone.
With the help of these social media influencers car brands are now providing direct access to people around the world whenever they launch new cars and concepts. Since most of the biggest auto show reveals happen at Geneva (Switzerland), Pebble Beach (USA) and Shanghai (China), invitations to these events are rather exclusive and invite only especially if it’s a brand like Lamborghini or Ferrari. The general public has limited access to the new cars or concepts, however people can now live through the access given to social media influencers to learn more about the car and the brand.
Hence, it isn’t surprising to see high end car brands tailor their marketing campaigns in terms of press releases and press conferences to include social media influencers like MrJWW and Supercarblondie get first access that can be shared with all their followers. This helps the companies create the necessary buzz and hype that traditional car magazine and publications are limited to as consumers turn to those publications for their opinion on the build quality and drivability of the car rather than the first access content.
As more car brands are pushing into the lifestyle aspect of owning a car, the connection made through social media influencers tends to reach out further than traditional news publications as most of the influencers tailor content on the aspect of living with high end cars and the various adventures they take in order to enjoy their high priced possessions. This is much harder to do through the car brands own social media pages as consumers will only look at the content as a promotion rather than making an emotional connection that they usually make when they see the same content through social media influencers. Given the success of the partnerships with social media influencers, car companies have begun to focus further on marketing campaigns that can be tailored around the lifestyle of these social media influencers to make that emotional and personal connection with their consumers.
Integrated marketing communications is also known as IMC. IMC is important all over the world and ensures that all communications a company uses are linked or integrated together. The goal is to integrate all the promotional tools so that they all work cohesively. An example would be a company promoting a new logo strategy through multiple media (print, tv, web, social medias). Each approach will be different for that specific medium, but they are all directing the audience to the same exact message. The saying goes “two is better than one”, the tools work better when they are working all together. Workings alone or in isolation from the other tools does not get the job done as well or at all.
There are levels of integration that can take place beyond the obvious/usual communication tools. There are five in total and they help strengthen integrated communications.
Horizontal: happens across marketing mix and business functions. This approach to marketing brings together different departments that may be working on the same initiative but in different ways.
Data: requires a marketing information system, and it collects and shares relevant data to different departments.
Vertical: the objectives for marketing and communications have to support the higher level corporate objectives and missions. This strategy demands that a product being developed fits in with corporate policy as well as the structure of the company.
Internal: this requires internal marketing and requires that all the staff involved is kept up and informed as well as motivated about any new projects, partners, and standards. This ensures that employees are happy and excited about new products being developed.
External: this requires external partners who can work closely together to deliver a solution. The outside agencies are then tasked with designing and developing the most effective strategies for the firm that contracted them. Outsourcing can be beneficial when a firm wants to get a different perspective from experts who are not connected to the firm and are likely more objective.
There are more marketing channels now than ever before and different channels can be lead and directed by different people. Integrated marketing strategies help pull all of a brand’s message points together into one cohesive whole to ensure that the message is not disjointed and confusing. In the world of today, customers are constantly overloaded with information and news daily, IMC relay one clear message regardless of what channel is actually being used.
What are the benefits?
IMC can create a solid competitive advantage for businesses around the world. It can also boost sales and profits, and save money, time and stress for companies. Integrated marketing strategies have been proven to be reliable because fusing modern and traditional marketing guarantees that communications incorporate the best of both worlds.
IMC not only benefits companies, but also consumers. IMC wraps communication around customers and helps them move through various stages of the buying process. The company is able to build a bond with its customers this way. This can be considered relationship marketing which is extremely important for customer relationships.
This relationship marketing creates a bond of loyalty with customers, this helps “protects” them from competition. Being able to keep a customer is a huge competitive advantage, especially if they are a customer for life. In order to keep these customers for life, using IMC can create more avenues to help customers become aroused, more aware, and to make a purchase.
What are the barriers?
Yes, IMC has amazing benefits, but not everything is perfect. There are barriers that IMC has to deal with on a regular basis. Some of the restricting barriers include: resistance to change, restrictive creativity, time scale conflicts, communications of problems with a wide variety target market, and lack of management knowledge.
IMC strategy has previously stated, restricts creativity, this means that there isn’t anymore “wild” sales promotions unless it fits into the strategy. The creative challenge may be much more satisfying when it is operated within an integrated and creative brief. Time barriers are extremely common. An example of this would be that image advertising is made for long term, this could conflict shorter term advertising promotions or sales designed to boost quarterly sales. If the two are planned carefully, they can be successful but it is not always common.
Old Spice “Smell like a Man, Man campaign”
This is a great example of a well executed marketing communications campaign. The company went viral the day they released this tv ad. They complimented this ad with an incredible social media marketing campaign and smart witty copywriting and visuals to back it up. They were able to define the right audience and messaging.
Integrated marketing is needed to earn profits and remain relevant in the marketplace. Having a clear and consistent message for a campaign means that companies don’t have to create more media than they actually need. They would only have to produce materials that are needed and publish it across the companies chosen channels. It is important to remember that integrated marketing communication companions are exactly what the public wants and craves from brands. An IMC is a sure way to increase sales, boost revenues and build brand awareness.
Red Bull was founded in 1987 in Fuschl am See, Austria by Dietrich Materschitz. His inspiration for the company can be attributed to Krating Daeng – a popular energy drink of Thailand that is mostly consumed by blue collar workers. Mateschitz developed a formula for the beverage and created a differentiation strategy, repositioning the brand as a premium product while developing an action sports lifestyle marketing campaign. Red Bull didn’t develop a new product but rather created a new product category.
In 1992 Red Bull expanded into international markets that included Hungary and Slovenia. Red Bull entered the United States in 1997, when it became available only in California. In the year 2000, the company expanded into the Middle East. Today Red Bull is available in 171 countries and over 68 billion cans of Red Bull have been consumed so far. Financial information remains confidential as the company’s majority stake remains privately held by the Mateschitz family. This rapid international expansion was not driven by pure luck or brilliant marketing strategy through traditional channels, it was built on top of a successful global social media advertising campaign.
The first right move adopted by the company was securing presence across all social media platforms. This ensured that the company could communicate with different audiences and amplify the potential reach of its brand. However, the company went further into realizing that there were different groups of customers with similar interest within each platform. Therefore, Red Bull decided to secure multiple pages and accounts across all platforms, so it could tailor specific content for different niches inside its broad customer audience. For instance, the company has pages on Facebook named “Red Bull”, “Red Bull Adventure”, “Red Bull Snow”, “Red Bull Music”, and so on. Similarly, the company owns different YouTube channels such as “Red Bull Music & Culture”, “Red Bull Surfing”, “Red Bull Motorsports”, etc.
Securing its presence in different social media channels could ensure that the company could potentially reach different customers and creating different pages for each niche helped to build relevant and engaging content tailored to them. However, Red Bull’s biggest success should be heavily attributed to understanding its main customer segment right from the start. Red Bull started as an energy drink company but soon acknowledged that its main consumers were not energy drink enthusiasts or tired people looking for a spike on energy, but rather artistically driven persons with an active lifestyle and young individuals within the action sports arena. Therefore, Red Bull started releasing “complementary” products to support this brand positioning, and today has a wide range of products that extend outside the beverage space. The company has Red Bull TV, Red Bulletin, endorsed athletes, and hosts several globally recognizable sport and entertainment events. Red Bull has been effective with their marketing efforts in creating a community around the brand. This helps create a statement around what your brand actually stands for and it is a huge advantage when creating content for its audience on social media. For example, Red Bull is present on the skateboarding niche through its Instagram account, @redbullskate, and could easily relate to amateur skateboarders that love to see the skateboarding content and end-up relating the amount of adrenaline and energy that seems to be present on the posts to drinking the Red Bull energy drink.
Red Bull is always providing content that people would like to speak about, share with their friends, and engage in social media. This was the case of the Red Bull Stratos Project, a space diving project involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner parachuting to Earth from the stratosphere. With over 4.5 million views in only one of the company’s YouTube channels, the video of this project went viral worldwide, gathering enough attention for the project, the Red Bull brand and, consequently, for the energy drink products that had their sales rising.
In summary, Red Bull is way more than just an energy drink company or even more than just an energy drink and radical sports event company. Red Bull is a marketing powerhouse on steroids. The company understand its main audience and knows how to build special content for them both on the digital and real world. With a huge team dedicated only to the company’ social media efforts, Red Bull seems to understand the pros and cons of each platform and how to best leverage them to its interests. This was undoubtedly a crucial factor in the global success of the Red Bull brand, today seen as a radical sports and energy drink company.