Friday, July 15, 2011

Steal These Ideas: Wisdom from the ANA Digital & Social Media Conference

I just returned from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Digital & Social Media Conference. I went with some trepidation, expecting a conference sponsored by a 101-year-old advertising organization to be heavy on paid media with the merest hint of earned media.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it was quite the opposite; the event was fun, informative and inspirational for social media professionals.

As a blogger, it can be difficult to constantly find and share new ideas, so tonight I'm taking the lazy route--I'm stealing some great ideas from the presenters at #ANA_Digital (and you can steal them, too).  Some thought starters for your consideration:

  • Don't have a location that consumers can check into?  Make one up!  Marjorie Dufek and Kate Boltin from Brown-Forman shared an idea they executed for the Southern Comfort brand. Prevented by local laws from promoting New Orleans events at specific bars and restaurants, the brand used a French Quarter billboard to create a place where consumers could gather and check in via Foursquare. Those who did could register to win a trip to next year's Mardi Gras.

  • Sweepstakes suffering from old age? Make them faster!  Southern Comfort found their sweepstakes promotions were appealing mostly to consumers over forty. As an old guy, I had no problem with that, but the brand wished to appeal to younger drinking-age adults, age 21 to 24. Research revealed that traditional sweepstakes, with their delayed gratification, were just too slow, so the brand launched instant-win sweepstakes--real-time promotions for a real-time generation.

  • Don't just be social in the digital realm. Get real (life)!  Jim Low from Kraft Foods shared that Wheat Thins sends 100 hand-written thank you letters each month to people who engage with the brand online. They find people who get these are inclined to talk about them, thus creating more engagement. That's the Analog Groundswell in action. (The preceding term was not trademarked by Nate Elliott, so you can feel free to use it, particularly if you've read his excellent Forrester report of the same name.)

  • People criticizing you?  Ambush them!  Wheat Thins strove for authenticity, so the brand launched a series of ads with a brand team ambushing unsuspecting consumers who had tweeted about Wheat Thins, leaving them with gifts such as a palette-load of free product. But, the campaign was at risk when consumers (and even a reporter) started labeling the ads as fake. What to do?  Ambush the unsuspecting critics, of course. Thus was born more entertaining ads where doubters became brand spokespeople.

  • Your product sucks?  Admit it--loudly. Dennis Maloney of Domino's Pizza told the audience that the brand knew it had a problem; among competing brands it ranked first for service and value, but dead last for taste. The brand didn't just improve the product and launch a tired "new and improved" campaign--they created an online video and ads that frankly said what everyone was thinking. Would you have the guts to create public videos about your brand with lines like, "Doesn't feel like there's much love in Domino's Pizza" or "Domino's pizza crust to me is like cardboard?" Those communications announced to the world that Domino's Pizza had changed and was worth trying again, and a year later Domino's was tied for first for taste. The company wanted to be so transparent, it put its Twitter feed on the company's home page--good, bad and ugly.  My favorite quote of the conference was Dennis noting, "You cannot be more transparent than sticking your Twitter feed on the home page." 

There were other great presenters and ideas at the ANA Digital and Social Media Conference. If you attended, please share some of your favorite ideas here.  If not, check out the Twitter stream for more interesting quotes and ideas. 

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