Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
I recently saw two marketing ideas that generated a lot of online noise. They did so because they crossed an invisible line–the line that causes potential customers to be repelled.
Both marketing ploys were contests.
The first one drew such negative publicity that the contest was canceled. Publisher Hachette’s Australian division ran a “tatvertising” campaign for the release of Stieg Larsson’s book, The Girl in the Spider Web. The plan was to select an individual who would have a large image of a dragon tattooed to cover his or her entire back. The “tat” would be used in the advertising campaign. You can read the details here.
But other media panned the idea, as did enough individuals that the publisher decided the campaign was being viewed as “tacky” or worse, as taking advantage of the “winner.” So the tattoo portion of the campaign disappeared, even though the publisher stated the contest had generated a lot of interest from potential tattoo-ees.
The second contest involves the name you bequeath on your baby. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, which has 169 restaurants around the country, is offering one lucky couple a $10,000 gift certificate to BJ’s if they are the first to name their baby Quinoa.
“We are so excited to introduce these amazing new Quinoa Bowls that we wanted to do something big, maybe even a little crazy,” Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Maye said in a statement.
Yeah, “crazy” would be the operative word. The contest’s rules specify that Quinoa must be the child’s first name and that a birth certificate must be shown before the gift certificate is bestowed. And if you aren’t the first to do so, well, you’ve just done your child no favors, as that cute little one moves through life as Quinoa.
The writer of The Huffington Post article says, “Personally, we think any sap desperate enough to name their child Quinoa just for a gift card should be rewarded/punished with an endless supply of BJ’s.”
In my online search for articles about the Quinoa contest, I found some favorable to the idea, some neutral, and others, like The Huffington Post, unhesitatingly against.
These two instances are extreme examples of marketing. They beg the questions: What makes marketing effective? What pushes it over the top?
To counterbalance those marketing kerfuffles, in the last month, two of my clients were each asked by their publisher to participate in a specific marketing idea. Both clients said no. One was being asked to do something outside her comfort zone; the other was being asked to step outside his convenience zone–the time of the event required him to rise really early.
Both decisions had a chilling effect on the marketing/publicity team. It’s hard work to find significant marketing opportunities. Hearing “No thanks” rather than “Thank you!” tends to discourage marketing folks. (By the way, one client decided to move beyond her comfort zone and let her publisher know she would eagerly participate after all.)
Authors regularly face the question, Is this important enough for me to do regardless of my hesitancy? (Not that most of them realize that is the question they should be asking.) Fortunately, few authors are faced with whether to have their book campaign include tatvertising.
What do you think Hachette and BJ’s goals were in their contests?
Do you think they succeeded?
What makes a marketing idea distasteful or brilliant?
How do you decide whether to pursue a marketing idea that either you came up or that your publisher suggested?
Two marketing campaigns that crossed the line between savvy and tacky. Click to tweet.
What makes a marketing idea distasteful or brilliant? Click to tweet.
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net