Don’t Forget Traditional Media

Social media, new media, rich media, interactive channels… Open any marketing publication (OK, visit their website, read a blog post in your feed reader, etc) and it’s easy to come away with the impression that all communication messaging has moved to the net-based world. It’s true that companies are continuing to shift an increasing percentage of ad dollars away from newspapers, radio, magazines, yellow pages, direct mail and even TV to interactive channels. But, don’t lose sight of the role for traditional media in any marketing communication campaign.

Last year Starbucks faced a new challenger when McDonalds took on the coffee giant with expansion of their line of McCafe premium beverages. Despite a drop in sales because of the economic downturn, Starbucks ramped up a $28M advertising campaign. It began its first concerted branding campaign with a series of newspaper ads. The campaign made the Starbucks’ case for its prices, including health care for its employees, relationships with coffee farmers, and its dedication to sustainability. Starbucks CMO, Terry Devenport, addressed the print strategy in an interview with Advertising Age Magazine. “One of the things [we did] was to find a way to get our stories out there in a way that both our existing customers would recognize and that would speak to the employees and partners and give them a sense of pride, and that’s clearly happened. We’re exceedingly pleased with it to date. We’ve had a huge return on that investment.”

Starbucks Morning Joe2In addition to the traditional print campaign, Starbucks began running one-time TV ads in high-profile shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” or quick hits on news networks such as CNN, which then drive traffic online. Furthering their traditional media presence, last week Starbucks announced a title sponsorship of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” A natural partnership, Mr. Davenport said, it will include occasional references to the chain’s environmental activism or efforts in volunteerism.

150px-Smirnoff.svg[1]Radio can play an important part in promotional campaigns as well. When Smirnoff, the makers of America’s most popular vodka, made plans to introduce its first line of ready-to-drink products in the United States, radio played a key role in creating a high level of buzz. Unique radio and on-site promotions included on-air DJ product-tasting parties, bar and club events, and customer testimonials. The success of the initial campaign triggered an immediate nationwide rollout of Smirnoff Ice. The campaign generated sales of 300% above projections in test markets, resulting in one of the most successful new spirit introductions in the United States.

And let’s not forget traditional broadcast television. This year’s Super Bowl provided a big score for online video giant Hulu. In a last minute decision, company CEO Jason Kilar bought a spot during the fourth quarter of what proved to be the most-watched Super Bowl in history with an average U.S. audience of 98.7 million viewers, and the second-most-watched U.S. television program of any kind. The promotional strategy worked. According to Kilar, Hulu’s Super Bowl ad was directly responsible for increasing the online video portal’s business by 49%.

Hulu Super Bowl Ad Scores Big

The battle for the minds and wallets of consumers will continue to be waged on many fronts. Spending for online media will continue to increase as a percentage of overall promotional spending. As communicators we’re largely leading that charge. But, let’s never lose sight of the impact traditional media can have within the context of a well planned promotional campaign.

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