Just yesterday AdPulp had the story about Roy Sutherland of Ogilvy touting promotions. Sutherland proposes that sales promotion be put at the heart of the ad agency because “brand building ideas are not the same as behavior changing ideas.”
Allow the critic to interject that though he is correct that they are two different things, and that’s why companies usually retain an ad agency and a promotions agency. You know, so both agencies can bring their expertise to bear when appropriate based on brand and business objectives.
Sutherland goes on to suggest that good sales promotion agencies “make people buy and hopefully they’ll love you” rather than “make people love you and hopefully they’ll buy”.
I completely agree with Sutherland on what good promotion agencies do. Not exactly a convincing argument for why an agency like Ogilvy should move towards promotions (though maybe they’re just throwing in the towel on this advertising thing…it really hasn’t gone well for them lately). It’s more an argument about why promotions are an important part of the marketing mix and why promotions agencies, who usually get disrespect from the ad guys, really don’t deserve it. Because they do good work.
Other times, like when you read a story about how Dr Pepper is using Pauly Shore and Las Vegas weddings to promote its new Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper, you remember why you reflexively look down on promotions as un-strategic, un-creative and frivolous.
An agency is not at fault on this one however…based on the press release, it looks like the Dr Pepper marketing department laid this egg, which just goes to show you that though a marketing department can occasionally come up with a good idea (the Cherry Chocolate Rain viral video), they really shouldn’t be trusted with creative thinking more than sporadically.
To “convey the luxurious indulgence of Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper” the good folks at Dr Pepper marketing decided that “nothing says luxury like a Las Vegas wedding on Valentine’s Day – with comedian Pauly Shore on the guest list.”
I am currently doing all that I can to resist an urge to tie their idea of luxury (Valentine’s Day wedding in Vegas hosted by a brand, Pauly Shore within 1,000 miles of the venue) with their location in Texas. That would be a crude stereotype about Texans and their taste and aesthetics. Perhaps it would impugne on their class as well. Biz, don’t do it. Resist! Resist!
Seriously though, who thinks that this is luxury? Who thinks that this is a good idea?
Besides Dr. Pepper marketing, of course.
Las Vegas weddings, especially those broadcast live online by Yahoo and Dr Pepper, are trashy. They are one of the many things that Britney Spears does while drunk. Let’s break this down SAT-style: Vegas weddings are to luxury like Bob Garfield is to reasoned discourse.
Oh, didn’t I mention that these totally luxurious weddings are going to be broadcast live on Yahoo?
What an oversight! They are. And it only adds to the totally awesome luxury of the event.
If you head on over to the promotional website you will see copy (clearly written by an over-40 marketing-department lifer with an MBA but no discernable copywriting ability) that tells you to “get here, get hitched and get funky”…and all you have to do to “get funky” is to sign up for a ceremony in one of three chapels that will be set up for the event at the Hard Rock Cafe.
I know, I know – the fucking Hard Rock Cafe?
This couldn’t get more 1991 unless Pauly Shore was involved. Eh? He is? Oh.
To bring this idea back into this decade, Yahoo, who is partnering on this program, is going to bring whiz-bang technical add-ons like Flickr photo sharing, customizable e-cards to propose (this idea is so ridiculous that I just punched myself because someone needed to be hit for it) and content from its other content channels so there is something actually happening at the website while it is up.
To conclude, this idea is completely ridiculous.
The brand goal is to position the soda as luxurious indulgence. Sorry, but Pauly Shore and Vegas weddings just don’t get you there. You would be better off with someone like Diddy or Jay-Z. At least when I hear their name I don’t check IMDB to make sure that they are still alive.
The business goal, as spelled out in the write-up in Promo, is to drive trial. How, exactly, is a online broadcast of Valentine’s Day weddings supposed to drive trial? Will Pauly Shore’s electric personality and huge following make it happen? Maybe Flickr will get “cans in hands” but I doubt it. Maybe the teams who will “be roving Vegas to encourage people to tie the knot (hey, good idea, encourage people to have a shotgun wedding in Vegas…so much for corporate responsibility)” will drive trial. But I doubt it unless they are, at the same time, actually giving out samples.
This program doesn’t hit the brand objective. It doesn’t hit the business objective. It has Pauly Shore prominently involved. Same with Vegas weddings. The promotion actually encourages people to get married at a Hard Rock Cafe and broadcast it live on Yahoo.
There is so much wrong with it that I can’t even be snarky about it…words do not have the descriptive power to convey just how awful this idea is. I feel like beating someone to death with a Dr. Pepper can.
This is why I hate marketing, marketing people and myself for being tainted by being in the same industry. I am going to go have a hot bath and scour myself with soap in the hope that I can clean off the slime that has oozed out of this idea and somehow gotten on me. Then I am going to shave my head and become a Buddhist monk so I can pray, fast and otherwise sacrifice to make up for my sin of being in an industry that does things like this.
Think I am being hyperbolic? Re-read the idea. I might be under-exaggerating its awfulness.