A Once-in-a-Four-Year Offer

We all want extra hours in our day to get more done or enjoy more rest, but naturally, we never get it. The technical exception falls when the calendar flips to a very unique date: February 29th. In order to keep our calendars consistent with the astronomical year, every fourth 365-day year requires that we tack on an extra 24 hours. Colloquially known as Leap Day, the bonus day inserted at February’s end doesn’t really provide all the extra time we could use, but it does provide an interesting opportunity for promotions, marketing, and special events.

Capitalizing on 2012’s status as a leap year, auto industry heavyweight Honda is holding a contest widely advertised during the Super Bowl and beyond where participants enter a ‘Leap List’ full of activities or goals to achieve in this slightly extended year. It is playing out as a smartly hybridized promotion that taps directly into its audience, delivering a strong brand message that becomes inherently positive to the consumer participants. Among many other deals and promotions, e-tailer Zappos is cleverly extending its normal 1-year guarantee to 4 for any items purchased on Leap Day, and Princess Cruises is offering savings on certain packages equivalent to 1 free day, in honor of the ‘free’ day we get each Leap Year.

The fact is that one additional day in 4 years really isn’t a difference maker -but it is a marker. The occasion is just rare enough that we tend to distinguish the day as special in some way. How marketers choose to leverage this opportunity can vary, but February 29th should not be a forgotten day.

Less than Oscar-Worthy

Sunday’s 84th annual Academy Awards were not only a golden night for actors, directors, and producers, but also a major event for advertisers. ABC’s broadcast of Hollywood’s biggest night provided a captive audience estimated by Adweek to be made up of nearly 70% women, including a large majority between the ages of 18 and 49, one of the most crucial demographics for advertisers. Despite airtime during the show costing less than half as much as Super Bowl spots, the cost to advertisers per viewer was still higher than the big game, the year’s marquee advertising event. However, the opportunity to reach an extremely targeted audience of more than 37 million people at a reasonably low cost is highly attractive to larger ad spenders such as McDonalds, Samsung, and Coca-Cola.

JCPenney was the evening’s largest spender, marking its 11th consecutive year of advertising the Oscars by introducing its innovative new pricing structure. It aired 5 spots in total, with one main ad featuring Ellen DeGeneres followed by four separate pitches for its new spring line of clothing. The ads, however, lacked the punch of a Super Bowl-type spot. Hyundai, whose Super Bowl campaign was considered among the best, also fell somewhat flat, showing a strange albeit humorous ad that came up short of the bar set by their lauded efforts earlier this month.

Between advertisers coming up short of the mark and the less-than-impressive integration of real time discussion amongst the audience through social media, the 2012 Oscars felt like a missed opportunity. In step with the theme widely speculated upon by the media that the show would suffer from a weak field of films, having no real blockbusters up for awards, there seemed to be no advertising or marketing effort striving to take home the trophies either. Although the Oscars are still without doubt one of the most important dates on anyone’s calendar, 2012’s edition was a missed opportunity.

Social Media is Simply Lincredible

This week, the legend of Jeremy Lin will swell slightly larger. After scoring 136 points in his first 5 starts, the most of any player since the ABA-NBA merger, he became the first New York athlete to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated for two consecutive weeks. How did an undrafted, unheralded player who had previously been demoted to D-league basketball three separate times and was sleeping on his brother’s couch just weeks earlier earn this honor before Derek Jeter or Eli Manning?

The secret is that Lin’s meteoric rise to fame has been fueled by a social media movement unlike any the world has ever seen. Following in real time with the 6’3” guard’s capture of national attention is a wave of conversation on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The hashtag #Linsanity has been widely proliferated throughout the internet, with interest growing during each Knicks game. Mentions of this and other clever puns on Lin’s name even spike specifically after each point scored by the phenom.

No other figure in sports has enjoyed the power of the internet as they make their debut, but it’s not strictly because Lin is just the first star to show up at just the right time. His Taiwanese heritage has mobilized millions of Asian-Americans, one of the most active demographics in social media, to become supporters. Lin is a graduate of Harvard, appealing to fans with a personality that differentiates him from many other professional athletes. He also happens to embody the underdog story of a player who has battled against adversity to achieve greatness. Lin’s broad appeal is a combination of a unique character and the unparalleled ease with which social media can propagate the story.

Still just in its first month, the storied spectacle of Lin’s emergence into the spotlight has had major impact thanks to the buzz. His #17 jersey is now the top seller on the NBA store’s online website, the average price for Knicks tickets has risen nearly 20%, and even the most cynical basketball fans are tuning in again, boosting TV ratings in both the local markets and nationally. After the lockout marred the league’s reputation, Lin has done more to leave a positive impression on not only the NBA, but the entire sporting world.

Lin’s emergence has set a new standard for how news of the next big thing in the sporting world breaks, but the power of social networking extends beyond the realm of sports. Hitting the right points, anyone’s message can now be amplified and carried further than ever before. So, who will be the next cause of Linsanity?

Advertising’s Biggest Night in Hollywood

On Sunday evening, the red carpet will be rolled out for Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars, as it is each year at the mother of all entertainment industry events, the Academy Awards. Following the ad world’s largest spectacle, the Super Bowl, the awards show is a prime opportunity for advertisers to carry over momentum with consumers and make an impact.

The majority of this year’s nominees for Best Picture and the other major honors are far from blockbusters; works like The Artist and Midnight in Paris attract an older, more mature crowd. Generally speaking, the less mainstream appeal of the films up for the Oscars, the fewer viewers should be expected to tune in, making the show somewhat less attractive for advertisers when the marquee acts lack the popular punch of an Avatar or Forrest Gump.

Sprint and J.C. Penney are among the larger advertisers rolling the dice on the 84th annual installment of the ceremonies with previously unaired spots for brand new campaigns. However, despite the all-important statistic of viewership numbers being somewhat up in the air compared to previous years, there are other factors at play that can make the Oscars a special opportunity.

Besides the awards themselves, the ceremony draws the attention of the entire fashion industry as well as the eager eyes of the celebrity gawkers and gossipers as the stars and personalities make it a point to show off their style on their way into the awards. Each year, media coverage of who is wearing what nearly outshines the awards themselves. Plenty of discussion will take place on the internet as well, as social media is expected to be deeply incorporated in 2012’s broadcast, increasing the audience size and participation through a secondary outlet.

Hyundai rolled out an iPad app demonstrating its new Equus sedan during the 2011 Oscar broadcast; it was an intelligent integration of a campaign that began during the Super Bowl and continued to captivate through this second major media event of the year. Given the size and engagement of the program’s audience, Hyundai’s effort was well received. Autotrader.com claimed Hyundai as the winner among the numerous car manufacturers who spent fortunes advertising during this year’s Super Bowl.

The Academy Awards is the Super Bowl for directors and actors.  After all of the envelopes are opened, which advertisers will rise to critical acclaim?

New Year’s Resolution Promotion Deadline Extended!

Junction has extended the deadline to enter our New Year’s Resolution Promotion through March 1st, 2012!

That means you two more weeks to submit your entry! Email us at promotion@junction-creative.com and tell us how your business’ New Year’s Resolution has made an impact so far in 2012.

The winning submission will receive $5,000 in free services from Junction to kick start your business and make this year your best ever. Don’t forget, all submissions will receive a code for 15% off any of our services, so every entry is a winner!

The updated details and full rules and terms are available on our website.

Submit your entry today!

A Night at the Kiosk

What started as a free-standing red box with $1 movie rentals has become a powerful player in the rapidly changing market place. Multi-industry kiosk giant Coinstar acquired Blockbuster’s branded DVD kiosks, with plans to convert the nearly 10,000 locations to the popular Redbox brand. The deal further solidified Redbox’s position as the nation’s leading DVD rental company, despite the rise of streaming video and increased competition from internet based by-mail services, most prominently Netflix.

With Netflix’s customer satisfaction declining due to a now-redacted plan to split DVD rentals from streaming services and raise the price of both, Redbox’s low cost and physical presence in retail stores became increasingly influential in 2011. Coinstar’s earnings grew impressively in Q4, even despite disappointing projections.

Redbox did take a gamble with its more customer-friendly model and raised its prices, with the cost of an overnight rental purchased at a kiosk rising from $1 to $1.20. However, initially, users who pre-reserved DVDs online or via the Redbox mobile app were rewarded with an unchanged $1 fee. To combat consumer drop-off as a result of the increase in price,  the company is preparing to launch a new streaming service, partnered with Verizon, leveraging the digital market to better position its treasured centerpiece against streaming competition like Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.

Redbox is proving that although a physical presence is still powerful, digital innovation is the only way to capture consumer market share. Time will tell if the company can adapt enough to stay on top of the heap.

Love Is in the Air

Valentine’s Day is often accused of being a ‘manufactured’ holiday, created for the purpose of exploiting consumer behaviors for profit. The occasion is certainly profitable, but the ambiguous St. Valentine gets a bad rap for all the wrong reasons.

Holidays are exceedingly powerful stimulus for retail businesses. This holiday in particular capitalizes on arguably the strongest human emotion – love. As it turns out, consumers love celebrating Valentine’s Day. Against the trends associated with a weak economy, consumer spending on the occasion is on the rise. In 2012, the second largest retail event of the year will generate more than $15B, which amounts to an average of more than $100 spent by each American adult.

There are no other major consumer holidays in the first part of the calendar year (sure, car dealerships may offer sales for President’s Day, but you don’t have to buy your mother a gift.) Valentine’s Day also falls conveniently right after the hangover from December’s holiday season subsides. Retailers enjoy the benefits of the renewed consumer enthusiasm, leveraging the familiar branding of red and white hearts to drive sales.

Advertisers are equally satisfied with the opportunities that the holiday presents. Immediately following the ultimate advertising event, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day presents a chance to strike again while the iron is hot. Having already rolled out new expensive and impressive campaigns, the creative juices are kept flowing in order to make a connection with the consumer at yet another touchpoint. The timing is right; some of the ads that emerge for Valentine’s Day even manage to be as original and effective as those crafted for the Super Bowl.

Notwithstanding the accusations aimed at the ‘industry’ of Valentine’s Day, the holiday is more important than just giving spouses across the country a romantic opportunity; it is actually highly beneficial across a number of industries. Whether from the perspective of the retailer, the advertiser, or the consumer, the appeal of the day is clear.

The Most Important Super Bowl Ad You Didn’t See

An unlikely advertiser graced the Super Bowl advertising line-up with a message far different from the usual players. It may not have made the same splash as the Top 5 Picks for the best Super Bowl spots; in fact, it was wasn’t even seen by most viewers.

The Kauffman Foundation (Kauffman) has long since been an organization serving as an advocate and supporters of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial programs. As a $2 billion non-profit, Kauffman elected to spend $400K on a 30 second spot aired in 4 major markets: New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Kansas City.  The advertisement asked a simple question of aspiring entrepreneurs: Will It Be You?

The message calls on viewers to consider small business as an option and take risks to become the next great entrepreneur. Even if Kauffman was successful in reaching just a portion of the record-breaking number of viewers on Super Bowl Sunday, it succeeded in opening a door for new advertisers looking to mobilize specific target segments.