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Dear marketers, your controversial stunts can do more harm than good

Posted September 25, 2013 by fran @ 1:14 pm

Earlier this month, outdoor marketing company Hornet Signs came under fire due to a controversial marketing stunt that it did.

It created a decal that showed a blonde woman curled up–seemingly unconscious–on the bed of a pickup truck. She was tied up and her hair was obscuring her face. The decal was then attached to the back of an actual pickup truck, creating the illusion that there was real woman lying there.

The tactic was meant to demonstrate the high quality of Hornet Signs decal and show how realistic its signs are.

The stunt was so believable that some individuals who saw it even called the police. Needless to say, the authorities weren’t pleased to be called because of some marketing stunt. They weren’t the only ones who were disgruntled though. A lot of people were outraged at Hornet Signs’ actions and after the story went viral, people from all over the world posted critical comments on the company’s Facebook page.

Hornet Signs was forced to take the decal down. Brad Kolb, owner of the company said to the press, “I wasn’t expecting the reactions we got, nor do we condone this by any means.” The businesses also announced that it donated $2,500 to the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children in Waco.

In spite of the bad press though, Kolb also said that the stunt resulted in a rise in decal orders.

The question is: Was the rise in orders worth the whole PR mess? We’d like to venture a guess that it wasn’t. Despite his claims that the company’s actions increased their decal orders, we’re guessing that if Hornet Signs were given a do-over, the company would demonstrate its realistic decals in other ways–you know, ways that didn’t involve abuse to women.

Let this serve as cautionary tale to marketers who are trying to garner more exposure for their products and services. Instead of resorting to being snarky, offensive, or controversial, why not try being creative and genuine instead? Use the wide range of online advertising formats out there to target your audience and deliver your message in a creative, tasteful, and fun way.

Because the fact is, snark and controversy aren’t just lazy tactics to get attention, they’re also second-rate, compared to genuine and wonderful content. Don’t believe us? Take Upworthy, as an example. The media company doesn’t resort to LOLcats or shady tactics to gain traffic. Instead, it focuses on curating meaningful content around relevant and serious issues such as immigration, politics, heath care, etc. The result? 20 million unique monthly visitors, 5 million subscribers, 3.2 million Facebook Likes and Z-E-R-O publicity mishaps. Oh, and did we mention that the company is just 18 months old?

Indeed, when you’re given the chance to choose between being shady or genuine, do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and go with the latter. Because when it comes to getting more exposure, the challenge isn’t garnering attention–it’s doing it in an authentic and meaningful way. Choose to challenge yourself. The industry–heck the entire world–would be so much better off when marketers choose the honest route.

Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines

Wearable Tech: The Future of Advertising?

Posted September 9, 2013 by fran @ 1:54 pm

Smartphone, be prepared to move over, because it looks like another mobile advertising darling is about to take over.  In an insightful article, AdAge brought attention to the fact that many of the companies that we all know are love are venturing into wearable technology (aka: wearables).

From smart watches to wrist bands, and even glasses, businesses everywhere are pushing envelope in mobile technology by allowing users to integrate their smart devices into things that they can wear.  Consumers on the other hand, can’t wait to get their hands on these devices. The demand is evidenced by the sheer number of people clamoring to fund or get on the waiting lists for such devices.

For instance, there’s the Pebble smart watch, a project that grew to be the most successful campaigns on Kickstarter. The project not only reached its goal, but it garnered over 10 million dollars in funding. (Now available at a Best Buy near you.)

Samsung recently entered the smart watch space by introducing GALAXY Gear, “a perfect companion device that further integrates the Samsung GALAXY experience into everyday life. Samsung GALAXY Gear combines smart device connectivity, tailored technological features, and stylish design as a single premium accessory.”

And let’s not forget Google Glass, the search giant’s innovative device that fuses mobile technology with eyewear.

Yes, it certainly appears that we’re at the cusp of a new age in mobile technology. These devices are redefining the concept of connectivity for users, and advertisers can’t help but take notice.

Evidently, being able to advertise on wearable devices puts brands in a very valuable position. With wearable technology, advertisers can seamlessly offer their sponsored messages to users.

We can see now that large enough companies can develop their own devices that they can offer to their users. Take note though that brands developing wearable tech devices aren’t limited to technology companies. Nike for instance, has Nike+ a sporty wristband that lets users track their activities, set goals, and improve performance.

But does this mean smaller advertisers have no place in the wearable technology department? Not at all. Of course, the specific method on how adverts will be displayed is yet to be determined, but we anticipate that wearables will provide all kinds of opportunities for advertisers–large and small ones alike.

That’s why companies looking for more innovative ways to reach their customers should certainly keep an eye on the wearable technology space to ensure that they’ll be able leverage it when the right time comes.

Image credits:  The Pug Father, giuseppe.costantino, and  aaronparecki on Flickr

Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines

Why Promotional Branding Is A Worthy Investment For Your Business

Posted September 5, 2013 by fran @ 9:01 am

If you’re not using branded promotional products in your advertising campaign, you’re missing out on a powerful marketing tool. Giving away promotional items is a surefire way to draw attention and increase awareness of your brand. By associating your business with a reliable brand image, you give customers something concrete that they can trust. Below are just a few advantages of using promotional products to establish your brand.

Reaches a Wide Audience

The best way to reach a wide and diverse audience is to invest in a variety of different advertising tools. It’s easy to find promotional items that reflect the purpose of your business as well as the message of your brand, but you should also take your customer base into consideration. If you’re marketing to the general public, basic home and office items are best. For specific subsets such as IT techs, it makes more sense to invest in specialized items like branded USB drives. Getting specific with your advertising makes customers feel like you know them and opens the door for future communications that translate into sales.

Builds Recognition

Customers are more likely to keep promotional giveaway items than they are business cards, pamphlets and other printed materials. Choosing products such as pens, mouse pads and mugs keeps your brand visible on a daily basis. Portable items such as tote bags can become mobile advertisements that bring your brand message to an even wider audience. The more exposure a that customers get, the more likely they are to think of your company the next time they need a product or service you offer.

Improves Customer Response

An advertising campaign is only effective if it works to grow your business. The statistics don’t lie: promotional products generate markedly higher customer response than other forms of advertising. This includes providing contact information, generating referrals and making purchases. Repeat orders also increase with the use of branded items. Such tangible results make it easy to measure how well your promotional campaign is working and whether or not you need to make adjustments to bring in more businesses.

Lowers Marketing Costs

No matter what the size of your business, you want to make the most of your advertising budget. Investing in promotional giveaways gives you a greater return on each impression than other traditional methods. That’s good news if you’re looking to increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. A single branded item may be seen by dozens or even hundreds of people depending on the type of item and how long a customer holds onto it. With some products costing less than a quarter a piece, that’s a hefty return on your investment.

Establishes a Positive Reputation
Giving customers something they can use establishes your business as friendly and helpful. When people associate positive experiences with your brand, it helps build trust. Trustworthy businesses get word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers and draw existing customers back to make repeat purchases, an effect that grows over time.

 

Abi is a marketer, interested in everything marketing. She writes for promotional merchandise specialists Fluid Branding, click here to view their full range of items.

 

Image credit: Woodlands Ad Agency on Flickr

Filed under: Blogroll,Company Headlines

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