How Regal Cinemas used Emerging Media to make a difference in the world. Yeah, really.

Is it really possible for emerging media to do more than sell products? Can a brand make a positive change in someone’s life without trying to gain anything? Absolutely. Let me tell you a story.

I grew up in a very family-friendly neighborhood in a small town. It was there that I became friends with Sam. She and I were born on the exact same day of the exact same year in the exact same hospital. We were pretty much inseparable after birth. We liked the same stuff. We played the same games. There was really only one difference, and it was a difference that never really mattered to us anyway – she has a hearing disability.

Now, when I say that it “never really mattered”, I don’t mean that we didn’t care. It’s just, when you’re young, you might recognize a disability, but it doesn’t affect your friendship. It didn’t affect ours, and we are still just as close today. I never saw her as a person that was disabled. I just saw Sam, and that was it.

A few weeks ago, I saw this in my Facebook news feed from Sam.Regal cinemas CC

I had never thought about that before. Sam couldn’t watch movies in the theater because she couldn’t hear what they were saying. I decided to do something about it, and being an IMC student, I was hoping that Regal Cinemas had a powerful social media presence that could help me out. They did.

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I had never heard of these glasses before. These bad boys are game changers for people with a hearing disability.

I was blown away by the glasses. I knew this would change everything for Sam and finally give her the opportunity to see films the way that she had always dreamed. Even though I lived in a different state, I decided to call Sam’s local Regal Cinemas to learn more and see what I could do to buy her a surprise ticket.

I spoke to the general manager, Ralph, in the West Virginia area. I was blown away by his kindness. Not only was he really informative about the glasses, but when I told him about Sam’s Facebook post, he offered to let Sam and any of her friends see the film completely free of charge for her birthday. In his desire to do something kind, he unknowingly built equity for his brand. Building a brand isn’t difficult if you take the time to truly care about your audience.

Sam was so excited when I called her to give her the news. This was her response.

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Thank you Ralph, and thank you Regal Cinemas, for truly caring about your audience and giving Sam the best birthday ever. You didn’t just make Sam’s day, you made my day and anyone else’s day that reads this post. I know you asked for nothing in return, but I hope that this blog can give you a ton of positive press! You deserve it after all you did for us and for all you’ve done to help those with disabilities enjoy films in your theaters.

Thank you.

The United States Postal Service: Priority EFF YOU

Thinking about shipping with the United States Postal Service this Holiday?
You might want to rethink that.

My friend Nate recently moved to Hawaii. The sun was always out, the ocean was crystal clear, and the sand was warm beneath his feet. Even with his shades on, drink in hand, something felt off. Something was missing.

Nate was going through video game withdrawal.

Before moving, he purchased a PlayStation 4. His mind was blown by titles like The Last of Us and Infamous. He spent hours with his friends playing games like Call of Duty and Madden. Those were moments he cherished the most. He needed more, even in paradise.

So, he had his mother ship it to him.

She used a USPS Priority Flat Rate box (with the “supposed” 3 Day Shipping) and packed the item carefully with USPS shipping materials.

She also purchased an additional insurance policy that covered the contents of the package with $400 of indemnity.

The item shipped on October 3rd.

11 days later, this arrived.

destroyed usps box 2Destroyed USPS Box

BrokenPlaystation4

usps broken playstation 4

Even the USPS employee who handed Nate the box was surprised by the extent of damage done to the package. He actually encouraged Nate to immediately take the item home, inspect it, and file a claim if the contents were harmed (which they were).

Not the broken USPS cookies

OH GOD. NOT THE COOKIES.

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“No problem,” Nate thought. “My mom purchased insurance to protect the package, and this does not fall under the USPS’s ridiculously vague and broad 4.3 Nonpayable Claims policy since the item wasn’t damaged by abrasion, scarring, or scraping to articles not properly wrapped for protection.

“Instead,” Nate continued in his head, “the USPS brand package was smashed, ripped apart by an outside force, and the items inside were completely destroyed.” 

So Nate filed a claim immediately.

And the United States Postal Service responded:

deny1FIXED

And Nate obliged.

The USPS responded.

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Nate decided to write a letter after he spoke with a representative.

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USPS denied his claim.

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“That doesn’t make much sense,” Nate thought. “How can they say that the packaging was inadequate if 100% of the packaging materials, including the box, were USPS brand items? Do they think their own products are inadequate?”

“Even still,” Nate continued, “if the packaging was inadequate, wouldn’t that mean that the outside force caused damage to the contents of the box and not the actual box itself?”

It had to be a mistake, right? Maybe, the USPS just automatically denies the first claim in hopes the consumer gives up. This seemed plausible, so Nate filed an appeal to the claim.

This is starting to get a bit ridiculous with the runaround, am I right? Wouldn’t it be nice if all this was made more clear or easier to understand in the beginning?

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And the United States Postal Service denied the appeal. I should note that Nate never received this denial of appeal as a letter as he was told he would. He actually had to find it online while speaking to a representative (which was a nightmare in itself).

denied usps appeal

Wait… This is “normal mail processing and handling“?!

Now, Nate was furious. The United States Postal Service’s entire marketing campaign is Priority: YOU. Wasn’t the USPS’s priority to serve us, the American people? Didn’t they want their dedicated work force to speak for themselves, rather than the critics? How disappointing to see such a major promise be crushed, much like Nate’s PS4.

Nate will have to appeal the denial… of the first appeal… of the first denial… of the first claim…again, but at this point, he’s lost all faith in a company that used to be the American standard for postal services. What happened to you, United States Postal Service? Didn’t you watch The Postman (am I the only one that liked this film)Where’s your honor?

Because of Nate’s experience, I will no longer be shipping with USPS until they amend this customer service fail. What’s the point in purchasing extra insurance when the USPS can just abuse and interpret their long list of “Nonpayable claims” in any way they see fit? With Christmas coming up, how many of you are now scared to ship with them as well? How would you feel if you found out USPS employees were taking advantage of your mother?

Leave a comment, reblog, and let’s talk about it.

Chex Quest – Emerging Media or “Way Way Way Ahead of its Time” Media?

Chex Quest

Advergaming is considered to be an Emerging Media, yet in 1996, a certain cereal brand was already capitalizing on this untouched marketing channel.

In 1996, Chex was the first company to ever create a video game and place it in their cereal box as a prize. The game was a complete remake of Doom, where consumers played as the Chex Warrior, a humanlike character in a suit of armor that resembled a piece of Chex. Seriously. The player used a “zorcher” to teleport evil “Flemoids” away, making the game technically nonviolent. Technically. It was created by the promotion agency WatersMolitor to reinvigorate the Chex brand.

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The game was immensely successful. The game received critical acclaim from a diverse group of gamers, many of which asked for a sequel. Not only that, but the campaign also effected sales. Chex cereal saw an incremental volume over base increase of 295%, as well as a volume share increase of 48% from 1995.

The game became such a hit that in 1997, the developers released a sequel, Chex Quest 2, for free to the public from the Chex Quest website. Even 12 years later, the game had become a cult hit. In response to its passionate cult following, in 2008, the developers released the long awaited Chex Quest 3 to fans, again for free.

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The game was immersive, engaging, and interactive. Consumers became the character in the game. They felt like a hero by being a piece of Chex. It sounds ridiculous, and it was ridiculous fun.

The game was titled Chex Quest, yet there were no interruptions to the gameplay experience that made it feel like an ad. At the time of its release, the Internet had not yet picked up steam and most consumers were still getting their advertising content from print or television. This entire campaign was way ahead of its time, paving the road for advergames and immersive content years later like Scarecrow by Chipotle.

With the evidence of its legacy, two sequels, and a massive fan base hoping for a fourth, the consumer experience was overwhelmingly positive. Licensed content is not easy to create, especially when it is meant to be an advertisement. Yet, with the right amount of passion and genuine care for the content, games like Chex Quest show that marketers can create something that consumers not only engage and enjoy, but also hold lovemarks for.

And yes, you can still play them.

Download Chex Quest 3 here, which includes the first two games as well.

Generating Buzz With Visual Content Marketing

Coffee and Marketing

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Just 10 to 15 years ago we would have never imagined that traditional marketing would be old news…just like yesterday’s stale newspaper that’s currently collecting dust on your front doorstep. Today, we’ve catapulted into a digital world where the majority of content and media efforts are executed online via the Web and social media. Nowadays, it’s practically impossible to avoid marketing messages online. Are you marketing online? Most likely you’re nodding in agreement, and if you’re not then it’s time to get your creative juices flowing and crank out some powerful, out-of-the-box visual content marketing! So long to the days where text alone will engage consumer’s attention! Visuals are so intriguing that an estimated 40% of consumers will be more likely to respond to a marketing message that contains visual information rather than plain text.

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Defining Visual Content Marketing

Visual content marketing provides valuable information, but what exactly is visual content marketing?

Visual…

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IMC is changing all the time, and big brands like Nintendo are falling behind

Marketeers are having a difficult time keeping up. In an Integrated Marketing Communications course someone said to me, “by the time you finish this program, everything you learned will be outdated.” In the fast paced world we live in, if you blink, you almost certainly miss something. Adopting Lewin’s Change Model is happening more frequently, multiple times a day, and those who are opposed to change or slow to change are getting left behind. This is especially important for marketing. As more and more companies find new, innovative ways to reach their audience, older brands that have difficulty with change are at risk for failing.

Nintendo is facing that pressure right now. While the original Wii system has topped 100 million sales since its 2006 launch, the Wii U’s lifetime sales forecast has been dropped to 25 million. This is quite surprising since Nintendo is still considered by many as one of the best companies in the world, even beating Google and Apple in 2009. So, where did they go wrong with the Wii U?

It’s no secret that Wii U’s marketing efforts in 2013 left a lot to be desired. In December 2013, Nintendo North America president, Reggie Fils-Aime, acknowledged this by saying that marketing is being ramped up and that their issues came down to being crystal clear about who their target market is. Defining your target market is one of the most important steps, as it helps marketers tailor content to key publics.

Nintendo has always been a family-friendly company that targets parents with young children, but a lot of consumers have grown up with the brand. There is an entire key public that Nintendo has not yet marketed to: young adults. The game Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was rated “Game of the Year” by Gamespot in 2013. What’s most surprising about this is that the game is a sequel to a previous Zelda title that was released 22 years ago. There is definitely a market that Nintendo could tap into that is highly nostalgic and holds many lovemarks for the brand.

Turning Markerting Mishaps into Marketing Moments

YouTube has become a hub for emerging media. How will companies handle immediate, public feedback?

Internet Explorer 

By the end of 2004, Internet Explorer owned a whopping 90% of the browser market share, but that quickly changed. After that, other browsers, like Firefox, began to take hold. Many of them addressed the issues that consumers had about IE. They were faster and had better features. While juvenile to say the least, this was the first shot fired in what became an online browser war that still lasts today.

Much like other online arguments, those that supported one browser or the other trolled other browser supporters into oblivion. Whether the arguments were valid or not, IE’s brand perception quickly became negative. With that being said, Microsoft still worked on improving its browser, and in 2011, released IE 10 with an online defense campaign called “The Browser You Loved to Hate”.

The commercial for the campaign targeted trolls directly. The hope was that the commercial could convince consumers to give Internet Explorer another chance. The commercial garnered mixed feedback, especially for its now infamous “IE sucks…less” quote from the ad. They decided to try again in January of 2013 with “Child of the 90’s”.

While the commercial was considered a great trip down memory lane, it also garnered mixed feedback, especially on social media. Still, feelings towards the brand were shifting little by little. Rebranding Internet Explorer was no easy task, but these efforts are starting to pay off. In late 2014, IE is again on top owning a majority in browser market share. Is it possible that the trolls were just being stubborn and were secretly enjoying the new IE?

Honey Maid

Honey Maid’s brand leader implanted their “This is Wholesome” campaign without testing it. Why?  Their brand leader believed their strategy reflected the reality of American families. They knew what they wanted to say, and they tied it to their brand.

 

While the feedback was mostly positive, the company still received a flood of angry, controversial comments due to the advertisement showing biracial and homosexual couples.  The original ad did, however, garner over 8 million views on YouTube. How did the company respond to the negativity?

By “not crumbling” to the negativity, Honey Brand increased their brand equity. They stayed true to their voice and didn’t falter. Their “love” campaign garnered 4 million views and international media attention.

Don’t be a salesman. Be a storyteller.

Millennials have truly seen the death of the salesman. Advertisements on YouTube can be muted or skipped, Netflix doesn’t even show commercials, and popups are a thing of the past. How can marketers reach consumers in an age of new and emerging media? The answer lies in storytelling.

Great storytelling has the ability to immediately grasp and hold someone’s attention. It pulls at the heartstrings. It leaves the listener or reader wanting to know what happens next. It inspires. Marketers have to tap into storytelling to give consumers a pitch that entertains, often without the pitch being a traditional pitch at all. Advertisement must evolve into “advertainment”.

Guinness’s “Friendship” campaign is a fantastic example of how a great story can also represent the values of a brand without the use of heavy product and logo placement.

The ad starts out with a group of seemingly disabled men playing basketball in wheelchairs. Most of the action is in slow motion, with a cool filter added for effect. The song “To Build a Home” by Cinematic Orchestra sets the emotional tone for the entire spot. The narrator describes the men, and the men represent the brand: “Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”

Their tagline acts as a great, short branding statement:

Made of More

Another great example is Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow”.

This is the story of an employee, the scarecrow, who finds his company unethical in how it treats its animals, consumers, and the environment. At first he feels powerless to stand up. He’s a low level employee being watched by a micro managing crow. Soon, though, he decides that he must make a change, and he does. The music makes the whole video seem like a twisted version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The short film represents Chipotle’s ethical stance on how they obtain and serve their food.

A great branding statement for them would be:

Wholesome, Sustainable food

One final example is Chevy’s “Maddie”.

This is a story that definitely pulls at the heartstrings. A woman is with her dog, seemingly moments before putting her down. She thinks back to all the memories they had and moments they shared together. Chevy’s vehicle is in the background throughout it all, a testament to its longevity and reliability, there to take care of the consumer through thick and thin. The brand becomes the dog in the story, and the consumer becomes educated on what the brand’s values are.

A great branding statement for Chevy would be:

Friend for Life

The main, harmonious trait that all these examples share is that the products are not the main focal point of the advertisements. The brand’s story is. When it comes to marketing, who a company is and what they stand for is becoming more important than the product that they sell.