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Justin Timberlake, biggest marketing winner at the Grammys

Looking to how Justin Timberlake dominated the Grammys through holistic marketing efforts, brands should note the emerging trends and react accordingly.

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justin timberlake
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Justin Timberlake sweeps the Grammys (with his marketing)

The Grammys last night was undeniably swept by musician Justin Timberlake, not because he won more awards than anyone else, but because his performance alongside his commercial appearances and social networking campaigns eclipsed all other artists, regardless of wins and losses.

Three brands won big time at the Grammys: Justin Timberlake as an artist, Bud Light Platinum, and Target stores.

Brand one: Justin Timberlake himself

Most people that watched the Grammys will tell you that the best performance of the night was Justin Timberlake’s big band Suit and Tie performance alongside Jay-Z, when the screen went from color to sepia. It was fun, classy, and enveloped the room and viewers at home with a feeling of glamor. Jay-Z has been tapping into the big band era for a while now (Roc Boys for example), and has been dressing in classy suits, as has Barney Stinson (suit up!). Below is Timberlake’s Grammy performance:

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In addition to nailing it with his live performance, he and his social media team were tweeting pictures from behind the scenes as they arrived, giving fans a behind the scenes peek at what was happening in real time, as seen below, even giving fans a sneak peek of the upcoming album cover to capture their attention for more than just the minutes Timberlake was singing on tv:


justin timberlake instagram

To top it all off, just hours after the Grammy, Timberlake took to Twitter to announce his newest song from his new album out March 19th, rounding out the efforts being made by Timberlake and his team to dominate the airwaves with the Timberlake brand and making him easily the biggest marketing winner at the Grammys.

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Brand two: Bud Lite Platinum

Airing during the Grammys was the first commercial showcasing Timberlake’s new partnership with Bud Lite Platinum, and rather than simply becoming a traditional celebrity spokesperson, Timberlake is suiting up and working directly with Budweiser as the Bud Lite Platinum brand’s Creative Director. While the commercial below was playing, featuring the same song Timberlake performed live, the Bud Lite Platinum twitter handle was tweeting about Timberlake, and even posting pictures of Timberlake’s live performance from inside the Grammys.

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Brand three: Target

Timberlake starred in a very polished, classy commercial featuring Timberlake as it teased the upcoming release of his album at Target, but Target didn’t just air a commercial, they simultaneously sponsored Twitter posts, and were feverishly updating their Facebook page, creating a holistic approach to cobranding their brand with Timberlake’s.

Plus, what’s not to love about the final seconds of this video? It’s very Timberlake-on-SNL-esque:

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What brands need to learn from Timberlake

In this era, cobranding is king – whether it’s with a celebrity or otherwise, brands of all size are looking at expanding their reach through voices outside of their company, even Timberlake with MySpace.

Of course the high-dollar campaigns are inspirational for other brands, but point out the trend that sexy glamour is coming back in a very big way – think big band, Clark Gable, and Greta Garbo. You’ll see more vintage ads this year that invoke feelings of glitz and glamour, but in this recession era, the focus won’t be on Aston Martins, but simple details like the silk bow tie Timberlake adjusts in the Target commercial as he makes suits cool, even for clubbing.

Holistic marketing is finally taking root, with brands figuring out that when they launch, efforts must be multi-prong, but not necessarily repetitive. Target tweeted about the Timberlake commercial, but on Facebook focused on the release of two extra tracks just for Target. But Bud Lite Platinum tweeted pictures of Timberlake on stage just before his commercial aired, tying social to traditional media. More brands will attempt this but will fail to mix it up, rather will copy and paste the same status update from Twitter and slap it on Facebook and the like – in 2013, tailoring will finally be the name of the game.

Lastly, brands should take note of the enthusiasm surrounding Timberlake, but moreover how fun his brand is. After getting kicked in the face by a dragging recession, America is ready to smile, so marketing campaigns, holistic or not, will increasingly reflect this mood.

Bieber who?
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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rob Contreras

    February 11, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Brilliant piece Lani. I’ve shared it all over my social network.

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Business Marketing

What you can learn from Ulta Beauty’s marketing mix up with Kate Spade

(MARKETING) Ulta Beauty’s insensitive marketing email surrounding the Kate Spade brand can be a lesson: Be cautious and respond to crisis appropriately.

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Woman typing on computer representing the Ulta Beauty and Kate Spade email scandal

Last week in an email sent to subscribers, Ulta Beauty made light of designer Kate Spade’s suicide. Ulta said the lighthearted connection to Spade’s death was unintentional. The email sparked anger across social media and some national news outlets picked up the story. In an emailed response to the New York Post, Ulta apologized to their customers, their Kate Spade corporate partners, and Kate Spade’s family. They ended by saying they will strive to do better.

Words matter. Messaging matters. Hopefully, we can all learn a lesson from this painful mistake.

Check your tone. It’s one of the early things we teach writing students. The tone should match the content. If the icon you’re using to sell a product ended their own life, perhaps light and fun isn’t the tone you should embrace. Ever. But most businesses won’t be dealing with well-known people whose stories have been shared with millions. It’s up to business owners and those who write their copy to ensure the tone matches the message.

Always have a second pair of eyes look over words going out to the public. Or even a third and fourth. Often those in the creative room are brainstorming messages, reworking copy, and looking for the perfect pitch. And they get it. It sounds good, looks good, is easy to say and share, and, best of all, it will lead to sales. Having a multi-person system in place to check the copy and someone separate to give final approval can help catch the oh-my-God-no great words, but absolutely not pieces of sales copy.

Listen to your customer base and have a system in place to listen quickly. All businesses need systems for immediate customer response in play. Ulta caught their so-called oversight quickly.  But they’re a huge brand and Kate Spade was a beloved fashion icon. The negative response went viral and they had a giant mess to clean up. Companies make messes with their words often, messes that don’t immediately go viral but lead to real pain for consumers. When customers ask you to stop a message, listen to them and act.

Apologies don’t make excuses. If you’re caught in a messaging mess of your own making, I’m sorry goes a long way. If needed, follow that apology up with a plan to show you’re serious about “doing better” and making sure this never happens again.

If you find yourself in a place where a public apology is necessary, consider hiring a crisis manager to help with that plan as well.

Part of business today is constant communication with consumers. Try to have systems in place so you don’t find yourself in a “learning to do better” moment like Ulta. Words aren’t just about sales. They have power. Remember that.

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Business Marketing

Experience Design & Marketing: Where do they intersect, where do they diverge?

(MARKETING) The field of marketing has been around the sun and back, whereas experience design is a newer, but growing field. Where do they overlap?

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Identify, understand, educate, promise, and fulfill. Is that marketing or experience design? Is it both? The closer we get to marketing in the digital spaces* being truly organic and less about carpeting mobile sites with pop-ups and interruptions, the more marketing and experience design (XD)** start to intersect.

Software experiences used to be only about getting jobs done and the learning curve it took to operate that software was accepted as unavoidable. There was no expectation for ease of use and the competitive landscape was far smaller. The same can be said of marketing; when the pool of offers and services were drastically smaller, you won with volume or referral. Now there are deep expectations for human-computer interactions, expectations of low friction when dealing with a system or entity, and more choices than there are biting Tweets. Volume rarely wins anymore unless the traffic spend is massive or the niche is narrow. Both of these are the result of crowded, loud marketplaces and way more noise than signal. So what did marketing do? What did XD do? They turn to delivering more curated, personal interactions and messages. Those are now driven not by gross demographics and forty pieces of car dealership push cards in my mailbox, but by extrapolated wants and needs taken from human voices and applied to custom outreach.

  1. XD uses ceremonies and activities to discover and define our version of market evaluation and segmentation.
  2. XD prototypes and iterates based on focus groups, unmoderated testing, business requirements validation, and the things they expose. That’s our audience testing.
  3. XD seeks to remove the uninteresting, unused, or unnecessary parts of a decision tree (journey if we must lingo) based on response and introduce a version sans those things to drive closer to the intent and outcome. This is our nurture.
  4. XD uses continuous feedback to improve, refine, and in some cases recommend next steps, products, adjustments, or augmentations. That is our remarketing/retargeting, it’s how we adjust the “campaign”.

And those are only the most obvious fibers of the common thread the disciplines share. Others with a deeper knowledge of both topics can surely add to this list tenfold. The essence of this examination is to ask the question, should marketing and experience design work in tandem? Under one shingle? Can they coexist as a federated faction under the larger umbrella of CX?

They are both a part of a unified journey and the natural progression from first exposure to adoption to “damn I love this thing, I think I’ll TikTok about it” for products and services. That kind of melding could serve a common goal; seamless brand engagement.

The people that consume whatever is being offered don’t see us, the company, the thing, as a cluster of siloed pods vaguely marching in the same direction. They see us as a whole and our disciplines should support that impression.

Marketers and Experience folk– integrate! Learn each other’s wares and purposes, share things that work and definitely those that don’t. XD gang, I mean really combining to achieve specific goals. Don’t just send them a Jake Knapp YouTube, find common goals. And marketing kin, this means more than citing some Sprinklr data and the latest NPS around trending SEO. Wonder Twin into a test and prove machine, use HCD tactics to undercover new copy strategies, and test it with a group in a Pepsi/Coke standoff. I know you are A/B-ing your work, but you can narrow that lane before you traffic it. We can learn from each other, we can benefit from one another, greatly.

I’m betting we can forge something slightly fresher than passing people through our business cotton gin and expecting them to feel like we are one. What are the afterimages that last from the time I see a LinkedIn post, follow to the affiliate, subscribe/buy and actually get something good out of the product? Don’t tell me there isn’t a marketing/design love story in there.

I look forward to following up on this with an actionable plan and (hopefully) killer outputs.

Be well, feel good, and know peace.


*Experience Design as a proper name encompasses exactly what is in the eponymous name; the experience is every interaction, passive or active, through the entire cycle. From the first shred of awareness of a product or service to the lasting relationship made– that is experience in this context.

**I’m not going to call it Digital Marketing anymore, pretty sure we aren’t doing direct mail along with our IG ads

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Business Marketing

7 actionable ways that you can boost customer loyalty online

(MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers. It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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