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Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved

(Business Marketing) Appealing to the sense of smell is a creative marketing tactic used today, and several campaigns have caught our eye, especially one involving catnip and kittehs.

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direct mail marketing kitteh

Using sense of smell to enhance your branding power

Giving your brand an edge is more important than ever before. From scents to interactive ads, marketers are trying harder than ever to grab your attention. Motorola created an ad that lets you change the color of a printed page before your eyes; billboards ad have been lit aflame, and now brands are appealing to your sense of smell. You may not realize it, but you have probably already been exposed to scent technologies. Scent branding is being used by boutiques, museums, and everything in between.

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Why use scent? The sense of smell is one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. And, if used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer experience in a pleasing manner. It can also drive purchases as well. If your scent evokes a happy memory, people are more likely to buy it again and again.

Recently, India published its first scented newspaper ad. Johnson and Johnson placed a full-page advertisement in “The Times of India,” “The Hindu,” and “Malayala Manorama,” all of which were infused with the smell of J&J’s baby powder. As more and more publications are losing out in the digital age, making print advertising exciting, innovative, and fun, is paramount. And let’s face it, everyone loves that “baby smell,” so not only did people enjoy the ad, it encouraged people to pass it around and talk about it; which is exactly what you hope for in any marketing campaign.

The best direct mail campaign ever in history


Scent targeted marketing has even expanded to the pet market. A cat litter warehouse, looking to draw attention as they launch, chose a direct mail campaign. But they needed a way to insure their advertising did not wind up in the trash, so they decided to use scent. They infused their postcards with catnip and kitties went crazy for it; see their reactions here. As soon as the mail arrived in their human’s mailboxes, the cats were pounced, immediately drawn to the scent. And when the cats like something, the owners take notice, which insured the ad, for the most part, was noticed and not discarded.

The same is true for print advertising. Creating an ad that makes your readers stand up and take notice is what the difference between and effective campaign and one that flops. So why not engage the customer’s senses and draw them in to your product? At the very least they will be likely to talk about the novelty of scented ads, something you just cannot get through digital advertising.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bruce Lemieux

    February 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Uhhh, you know this wasn’t a real campaign, don’t you? That piece couldn’t be delivered (no postal insignia, etc). And sending a square piece – yikes. USPS must hand-sort Irregular shapes like this, so they are prohibitively expensive for a direct-mail campaign. And this “cat litter warehouse” is using direct mail to sell cat litter?? Probably the least cost-effective example of using direct mail. Ever.

    What *was* real about this video — it’s catnip to social media and marketing gurus who can’t resist telling us about new, creative and exciting ways to do something that doesn’t need to be new, creative or exciting. Up Next: scented postcards with QR codes delivered by drones (cut to scene where a millennial is struggling to scan the QR code on a postcard with her smartphone while the wind whips around a drone hovering overhead).

  2. Lani Rosales

    February 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Bruce, it is a Canadian company, but you could be right since their website is pretty defunct, the property they say their address is located shows up as “For Lease” on Google Maps, but I won’t let you crush my dreams – I think it could be a pricey marketing stunt!

    We spoke with an Austin printer who noted they’ve used buttered popcorn smell for direct mailers, and that scent is being used in marketing (and not just that horrible Abercrombie cologne sprayed every 10 minutes through the air vents in their store). Laugh all you want, but I think it’s pretty cool, curmudgeon! 😉

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

      “Curmudgeon”? Really??

      ok, I admit, that’s about right.

  3. Shelley Sweeney

    February 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    First of all, this video is adorable. Second of all, this direct mail campaign is a great example of where the print marketing industry is headed. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have the help of a furry friend and a little creativity, a direct marketing piece like this is bound for success. Sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell – experiential marketing campaigns are utilizing a range of senses these days to capture the attention of consumers. Increasingly, we’ve seen that it’s imperative for printed pieces to be interactive, cutting-edge and personalized, in order to increase the connection between the brand and the consumer. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-paced, always-on world. Partner print with the sense of smell and you’ve created one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. In fact, a
    well-designed, creative, innovative piece can drive a connection between a brand and a consumer, sparking their interest, increasing their loyalty and possibly gaining new ambassadors. So, I highly recommend – take advantage of the power of print and have a little fun with it, too! – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

    • Bas de Haan

      February 28, 2014 at 3:58 am

      Totally agree with the comments of Shelley. For the best effect it is important to use scent as an active coating in order to get the fragrance released by local air flow instead of a (passive) cratch and sniff technology..

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      I’m a huge fan of direct mail and agree it can be a very effective way to cut through “today’s oversaturated media world”. But scented mail absolutely isn’t the future of print marketing. “Have a little fun with it”? Maybe one can have some fun with direct mail on Planet Fantasy where printing and postage costs are negligible. But on Planet Earth where I live, direct mail is way too expensive for that (harsh, I know, but I feel it’s my duty since someone here labeled me as a “curmudgeon”)

      The real opportunity with direct mail — IMO — is cost-effective implementation of targeted, variable print direct mail that leads to personalized web interaction (PURLs). Xerox is a leader in printing solutions for variable print, but that’s just one link in the chain. It can be very expensive and very complicated to implement a program that targets the *right* consumers with the *right* message that also *minimizes* printing and postage costs. “Printers of the future” will master not only the technology of digital variable printing, but the data & tools needed to help facilitate targeted messages that are easy and cost-effective to implement. As a consumer of this product, I can tell you it’s getting better, but solutions are still evolving at a glacier pace.

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Business Marketing

Facebook adjusts how much repeat video views matter

(MARKETING) For video creators and marketers alike, Facebook updates can mean a world of difference. What’s new now?

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For Facebook Video, intent and repeat viewership matter. Recently, Facebook updated video distribution methods to build more effective monetization tools and improve viewing experiences for users, namely regarding video distribution, ad breaks, and pre-roll.

Most video watching on Facebook takes place in the news feed, making this a great place to reach target audiences. It is the primary hub of activity, featuring status updates, photos, app activity, and video posts.

New ranking methods promote videos people seek out or want to return to, like serial episodes from creators regularly publishing content. Partners fostering communities by actively posting weekly or daily content get a boost as well.

If content publishers link a Show Page with their regular Page, they can distribute episodes directly to followers. This makes it easier to maintain and grow audiences, connecting users with relevant content.

However, although New Feed is a popular zone for creators and publishers, Facebook expects video engagement to eventually move to Watch, the platform for shows. In Watch’s Discover tab, shows people come back to will be prioritized for more convenient access.

After all, News Feed isn’t the easiest place to go for returning viewers since they have to sift through a constantly changing barrage of status updates. Watch offers a place more akin to YouTube, where episodes and content are contained in one place.

Creating a Facebook Group for the show adds another level of engagement, providing viewers a social viewing experience to connect with other fans.

Putting videos and content in an appealing, easily accessible area makes your viewers likelier to stick around. Grouping similar content will encourage binging, keeping your viewers in one place to engage with your content.

If content is difficult to find, or re-find when showing friends, it’s less likely to spread.

Revisions to Ad Breaks will hopefully drive up engagement as well. Previously, videos were eligible for Ad Breaks if they were at least 90 seconds, and the ad could show up as early as twenty seconds into the video.

Starting in January, videos must be at least three minutes long to have an Ad Break, and the break won’t come until at least one minute has passed.

Although Ad Breaks benefit content creators with a share of the revenue, disruptions to already short videos can drive users away. Delaying the break may improve viewer satisfaction, keeping people watching longer.

Creators now have an Ad Break insights tab to better understand video monetization performance, tracking impressions and clicks per minute.

Additionally, Pages with over fifty thousand followers can now have Live Ad Breaks. Smaller Pages and Profiles aren’t eligible since Facebook determined these publishers are less likely to comply with their monetization guidelines. Plus, their audiences are typically smaller, meaning it’s more difficult to gain significant revenue from Ad Breaks.

Facebook also plans on testing six second pre-roll ads, but only in places like Watch since viewers are already actively seeking out this content.

Combining metrics tracking insight and updated distribution tactics with intentionally crafted content may promote repeat viewership, leading to more success for publishers.

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Business Marketing

How Snapchat earns over $1M a day on just one lil’ feature

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Marketers are jumping on the bandwagon, giving Snapchat more and more money – but what little feature rakes in so much cash!?

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Although Snapchat is still struggling to net a profit, they make a million dollars a day with branded AR lenses. If Snapchat can remain crazy popular with its users, this may help the company get out of its revenue slump.

Snapchat’s shares dropped 22 percent since their March IPO, and their Q3 earnings saw a revenue loss of $0.14 per share with the slowest user growth ever. But there’s still growth, and Snap has never really been profit focused anyways.

CEO Evan Spiegel certainly isn’t worried, publicly at least. Spiegel’s product strategies have been mirrored by Facebook and Instagram, and a huge chunk of teens prefer Snapchat over these other social media giants.

Which is why Snapchat can charge upwards of one million dollars a day for augmented reality lenses. Snap’s popularity, especially among teens and young adults with disposable income and social influence, bodes well with media agencies.

AR lenses are one of many features offered on Snapchat, allowing users to superimpose augmented reality images on pictures and videos. If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, the dancing hotdog is a testament to how easily an AR lens can turn into a meme.

In September, Snapchat introduced sponsored 3D World Lenses, giving advertisers the opportunity to feature targeted campaigns on the platform. Bladerunner 2049 was the first campaign at the launch, and since then Budweiser, BMW, and McDonalds have jumped on the bandwagon.

Pricing varies depending on when the lens goes live, if it’s a “premium” day like a holiday or anticipated movie release, and the targeting criteria of the agency. If a lens is specific to a region, for example, it’s not going to cost as much as a nationwide campaign.

In a report from Digiday, one NYC-based ad executive stated AR lenses are currently Snap’s most expensive ad product, and for some agencies it’s offered as a standalone purchase. Others reported Snapchat offered a “holistic media-buying plan,” including stickers and filters as well as AR lenses.

James Douglas, SVP and Executive Director of social media for Society explained Snapchat Ads are all about media negotiation, with some of his clients signing annual media contracts, while others may try out shorter stints.

“If it’s a well-known consumer packaged goods company, Snapchat may quote $200,000 for an AR lens, but not on a premium day,” he stated. “Snapchat is very flexible to negotiate media investments with agencies, and I like that.”

According to a Snapchat spokesperson, the base price for a 3D lens running up to 12 months is $300,000. However, the final price depends on if the lens is based on audience impressions or a national takeover on a premium day.

While the AR lenses are not necessarily driving sales for featured brands, users are completely engaged with lenses. Featured lenses are widely shared among users, and screenshots of particularly popular, interesting, or funny lenses end ups shared on other social media platforms.

Even if the lens is being mocked, that still leads to impressions since ultimately the ad is being spread when people send Snaps to friends and feature lenses in Snapchat Stories.

Right now, Snapchat is doing all the engineering for AR lenses. Agencies provide the ad assets and Snapchat creates the lens. Future plans involve opening up creation to select brands, as Spiegel announced in November.

Snapchat is testing a pilot program with Lens Studio, a self-service toolkit allowing advertisers to create their own lenses in as little as an hour. Eventually Snap plans on offering the AR toolkit to advertisers for free, but for now it’s only available to top clients.

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Business Marketing

Pantone’s 2018 color of the year (that you’ll see everywhere now): Ultra Violet

(MARKETING NEWS) Check out the Pantone color choice for 2018, and prepare to see it splashed across the internet and in print.

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Much ado about a hue. Over the past year, Pantone encouraged us to reconnect with nature and once another through the promotion of Greenery, the fresh yellow-green color of 2017. It’s now time to take our personal and business potentials to a whole other level, as inspired by Ultra Violet, PANTONE 18-3838, which is the 2018 Color of the Year.

Now technically, Ultra Violet isn’t a shade of purple as the Pantone color square suggests. In fact, Ultra Violet is a spectrum of light waves that can’t be detected by the human eye in natural circumstances. But that’s kind of the point. Pantone purposefully selected this color to encourage inventiveness and imagination.

The color purple has long represented individuality and artistic expression. Think Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. When Ultra Violet was dubbed the iconic color of 2018, this symbolism was not overlooked. They are using Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, to encourage individuals – and companies – to push boundaries and blaze their own trail.

Ultra Violet can have mystical and spiritual undertones, too. It’s been associated with mindfulness practices such as meditation, which can be a way to detach from today’s non-stop, information overloaded environment.

As a reflection of this new Color of the Year, we will likely see bright nail polishes, funky home décor, and vibrant fashion bring Ultra Violet into the marketplace. However, while material goods and designer’s color schemes are splashed with this dramatic shade of purple, Pantone encourages brands to use this color to inspire consumers to push for a better, and brighter future.

“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

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