Myspace, Youtube and Social Networks
By KENT STEINRIEDE
Over the summer, one of the most-popular time-wasters at work was a video promo for Smirnoff’s Raw Tea, a fermented malt beverage launched in 2005 by Diageo.
The two-minute clip was a spoof of macho rap videos, featuring the fictitious Prep Unit, a group of rich, white rappers celebrating the good life of wealthy New England WASPS. “Yo, where’s the love at the tea partay? But if you’re going to show up, send an RSVP our way,” clown the rappers in pink polos, Top-Siders and goofy chinos with little whales embroidered on them.
“We keeps it real, the old-money way,” chant the “prepstas” in the video directed by Julien Christian Lutz, a well-known music video director whose credits include clips for Usher, Foxy Brown and Alicia Keys.
“Just as Smirnoff Raw Tea offers refreshing taste, ‘Tea Partay’ offers fun content that can loosen up a day at the office,” says Mark Breene, vice president at Smirnoff.
In August the video, created by the New York office of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty agency, ended up on YouTube, MySpace and other social networks where computer users share and discuss videos and other content that they upload. On YouTube, the Raw Tea video has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.
“‘Tea Partay’ is content that has resonated with social media, including blogs and video sharing sites like YouTube,” Breene says.
“Tea Partay” spread like wildfire, via e-mail forwarding and through MySpace, which allows a user to forward messages to hundreds of people with just a click. It is a hit in the world of viral marketing.
“I got it from seven different people,” says Kathy Sharpe, chief officer of Sharpepartners, a Web marketing and advertising firm based in New York City. The Raw Tea campaign is an example of a successful viral marketing campaign that took advantage of the Internet’s large social networks where information can spread quickly. Sharpe, whose firm was not involved in the campaign, says the video was a success because its humor and production style fit well with the MySpace and YouTube aesthetic. “It’s more ‘Saturday Night Live’ or Dave Chappelle than a regular sitcom.”
MySpace has about 100 million members and about 250,000 people create a new profile each day, according to press reports. YouTube has more than 20 million unique users per month. YouTube users are watching 100 million videos each day and spending about 17 minutes on the site per visit, according to YouTube.
At first thought, these networks and others such as Facebook, Bolt and Wallop, seem like easy means of reaching young people who increasingly are shunning more conventional media. However, marketing on social networks is not like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s more like catching fish with your bare hands.
“It’s completely dependent on word of mouth,” Sharpe says. “You have to have a tolerance for failure.”
Not every product is suited for marketing on social networks. The rules of entertainment, rather than advertising, often take precedence. Indeed, not every catchy video made by big city ad firms is a hit. Humor is very subjective and can’t be forced. Even on “Saturday Night Live” not every skit gets big laughs.
But this hasn’t stopped the food and beverage industry from experimenting with social networks:
Starbucks has a MySpace page for its Frappuccino. The page tells visitors that the drink would like to meet “Caffeine lovers [and] other food particles.” The page also has a link to an animated comedy video.
Pepsi’s Aquafina bottled water uses its MySpace page to promote its partnerships with independent filmmakers and film festivals and has several video clips available for download.
Pepsi’s Sierra Mist sponsors the comedy section of MySpace.
Wendy’s restaurants have created a MySpace page for its mascot, Smart.
This type of marketing is not for everyone. The Smirnoff rap video, already a spoof, generated its own spoofs, including a sock puppet version of “Tea Partay” and a downmarket, “Twisted Tea Partay” rap video with working class kids praising Boston Beer Co.’s Twisted Tea, a rival to Smirnoff’s product. You have to be able to roll with the punches, or else risk resentment, experts say.
Once a video is circulating, the creator has little control over its context or how it is used. For example, a malt beverage video may end up on a video-sharing site next to a frat party video of drunk college students throwing up.
Many social networks also have forums or allow for users to comment on the content. Like blogs, this is an extremely important part of these sites that marketers should not overlook because it allows a marketer to monitor, and at times leverage, what is being said about a product, says Gal Trifon, chief executive of Eyeblaster Inc., a digital marketing and technology firm headquartered in New York City.
Creating the appropriate content is just as important as creating a presence in social networks. It’s not just a matter of creating a MySpace page.
“What will make it relevant is the content,” Trifon says. Users are interested in showing value to their friends by showing them interesting things, whether it’s a funny video on YouTube or a new baby food on an iVillage message board.
In other words — to borrow from Prep Unit in “Tea Partay” — keep it real.
Absolut Pears has launched a nationwide interactive marketing campaign with Ecast. The two-month “New Taste of Temptation” campaign will appear on Ecast’s digital music network in more than 2,800 bars and nightclubs. It will offer information about cocktails made with the new product, and consumers can use Ecast’s touchscreen to learn recipes and view live-action videos of a bartender preparing the enticing cocktails.
McCormick Distilling Co., Weston, Mo., will produce an online auction of a “Wicked Women Chopper” by Christine Vaughn in conjunction with its Tequila Rose brand, to benefit Detroit’s Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. The event will be promoted by country music group Bomshel, during the 2007 Wicked Women of Tequila Rose national concert tour.
Courvoisier signs Tigger
Beam Global Spirits and Wine’s Courvoisier brand has signed syndicated radio personality “Big Tigger” as its 2007 House of Courvoisier spokesperson. His image will appear on House of Courvoisier creative, including print advertising, posters and point-of-sale merchandising. The tagline for the campaign is “Welcome to the House of Courvoisier. Access comes with the company you keep.” Tigger also will interact with consumers at House of Courvoisier events throughout the year.
Nutrisoda hits the airwaves
Ardea Beverage Co., Minneapolis, rolled out the first television commercials for its Airforce Nutrisoda brand. The commercials will run in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis for three weeks on the ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates in those markets and also on stations such as E!, HGTV, Bravo, USA, Comedy and Food Network. The commercials feature a Boston Terrier puppy named Oscar as the “Good Soda Pup” alongside the eight Nutrisoda varieties, and were created to help launch the company’s “Good Soda” campaign.
Corona SLAM DUNKSin Minnesota
Corona Extra, distributed in the United States by Crown Imports, Chicago, is teaming up with the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team. The sponsorship includes courtside signage, TV spots that run during every Timberwolves telecast, and on- and off-premise promotions such as VIP passes to a Timberwolves game for consumers, as well as Corona and Timberwolves premium items. The company also will place two new Corona Cantina locations inside Minneapolis’ Target Center, serving Corona products at all venue events, including Timberwolves games, WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx games, concerts and other shows throughout the year.
Don’t rush it
Coors Brewing Co., Golden, Colo., launched a new campaign for its Killian’s Irish Red that the company says marks a shift in the brand’s marketing strategy. The “Never Rushed” campaign is designed to suggest that Killian’s is a beer that consumers select when they want to treat themselves, and is inspired by Killian’s unique brewing process, which uses slow-roasted caramelized malts.
“It’s a trend in America, and certainly a trend we see with our consumers — 30-ish, professional males — people everywhere are connected to their jobs 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Jeff Billingsley, Killian’s Irish Red brand manager, in a statement. “We consider our beer to be for those times when men want to slow down and break out from their ordinary routine to try something different and special.”
Fuze Beverage Co., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has launched a viral marketing campaign in which students from 11 design schools will compete for the chance to capture the brand through innovative multi-media. Multiple teams within each university will compete, and Fuze will award an $8,000 scholarship to the winning team from each school. The team with the best overall campaign will be flown to New York to present their campaign to Fuze executives. Participating in the competition will be the Art Institute of New York, Michigan State University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Academy of Art University, Cal State Fullerton, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Austin, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Portfolio Center, Creative Circus and Savannah College of Art and Design.
“Buzz marketing has become such a cliché, and kids are already weary of big corporate brands trying to buy their way into pop-culture to define the message,” said Fuze Chief Marketing Officer Bill Meissner. “We need to let the kids generate their own channels and platforms for the discussion on brands that resonate with them.”
Choice Organic Teas, Seattle, is supporting the launch of its new organic Himalaya Green Tea by donating 10 cents per box to the work of Save The Himalayan Kingdom, a non-profit organization focused on environment, health, literacy issues and preserving local traditions in the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal. Additionally, funds generated by the Fair Trade certified tea help address some of the challenges of living and working along the remote Eastern border of Nepal.