Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Successful Product Placements in Hollywood Films

Hollywood creates amazing opportunities for brands to assimilate their products into American culture. Sometimes it is an unpaid product placement, other times it’s an investment made by companies. However, the data has shown that if the product is well integrated into the film, the results can be impressive. Here are five brands that benefited from placing their product in a Hollywood film.

Product: Ray-Ban's Wayfarer
Movie: Risky Business (1983)
In Tom Cruise’s breakthrough movie, he plays a suburban high school student whose parents go out of town for the weekend, leaving him free to go wild. His character wears Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer sunglasses throughout the movie. Ray-Ban went on to sell 360,000 pairs that year.

Product: Reese’s Pieces
Movie: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
In this classic Spielberg film, we see young Elliot lure E.T. go back to his room with a bag of Reese’s pieces. This was the first paid product placement, and it surely paid off. Profits rose 65% after the movie.

Product: Mini Cooper
Movie: The Italian Job (2003)
Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron star in this action adventure thriller that revolves its plot around the size and speed of Mini Coopers. BMW lent thirty cars to the producers, which came back around to benefit them. The brand experienced a 22% increase in sales over the year before.

Product: BMW
Movie: GoldenEye (1995)
Pierce Brosnan rides around in the famous “Bond car”- a BMW Z3 Roadster- throughout the movie. BMW invested $3 million to place it in the film, but ended up earning $240 million in advance sales. Another win for BMW in Hollywood.

Product: Etch-A-Sketch
Movie: Toy Story (1998)
Although Etch-a-sketch only played a small role in the movie, it made a huge impact in the marketplace. Sales boosted a stunning 4,500%.

There is a lesson here for businesses of all sizes. If you are willing to take risks, the reward can be tremendous.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Brand Value of Putting your Customers First

We have heard it over and over again, communication is no longer a one-way street between your brand and your customers. In fact, more often than not, your brand reputation lies in the hands of internet-savvy consumers who will advocate for or against your brand outside the realm of the traditional marketing mix.  Marketers must consistently engage these advocates with flexibility and understanding. 

If you handle a customer complaint poorly, it can severely hurt your reputation. On the contrary, going above and beyond to amend the situation will give your brand credibility and earn trust. For example, I recently ordered food from Domino's only to find out they don’t deliver to my house, even though they have delivered there in the past. I wrote an email complaining about their inconsistent service and expressed my disappointment. The next day I received anemail apologizing for what happened, the email included an offer for two pizza pies on them. This is an example of a brand that is putting the customer first by making the extra effort to invest in a disappointed customer to keep them loyal.

Another prime example was during the big snowstorm of 2007 that resulted in JetBlue cancelling 1000+ flights. JetBlue was a young company at the time (7 years old), and they knew one mistake could drastically hurt their reputation. The CEO, David Neeleman, decided not to hide from the problem, but address it head-on. He went straight to the press, apologized, and rolled out a “customer bill of rights” as a solution for future problems. This bill of rights gave customers monetary compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. The best part is that he allowed customers who suffered through the snowstorm to benefit from this new bill, even though it was created after the fact. This decision initially cost the company millions, but their efforts to keep their customers loyal and happy went a long way.

Safeguard your brand reputation by educating your employees on how to stay true to your brand values and company mission. Demonstrate that you can consistently be there for your customers and they will reciprocate with kind words and recommendations to friends, family, and the online community.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Using Gamification to Influence Business Travelers' Behavior

Gamification is proving to be successful when applied to many different subjects. In the classroom children are scoring higher. In the workplace employees are becoming more engaged at work and generating more revenue for their employers. Now it is being applied to business travel.

Business travel has changed a lot in recent years. A recent Forbes article highlighted the changes in corporate travel in recent years.  Employees are increasingly personalizing their travel experiences by updating seat assignments, customizing in-flight meals and booking their own hotel rooms without the involvement of a corporate travel planner. But with all of this flexibility, business travelers are pushing the limits of their company’s travel rules and budgets. Companies have turned to gamification to solve this issue. Here are two examples of tactics companies are using to change employee behavior.

Travel management company Ovation rewards travelers for obeying the company’s policies. They earn points and can redeem them for merchandise from digital stores.

Rocketrip, a gamified travel service for companies, rewards clients' employees who adhere corporate policies with cash. The closer they follow or beat the budget that is set, the higher the reward.

In an age where personalization is central to consumer's experiences, convincing people to sacrifice a bit of that experience for the good of the company is a tough task. Entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge and used gamification as a means to fix this trending problem. And it’s working.