The Organic Marketer

Special Olympics Targets “SM” in New Campaign

Ads were designed by BBDO New York to challenge the public with language meant to be controversial. Slurs against ethnic groups points out how language can be harmful to all groups, including those with intellectual disabilities.

Ads were designed by BBDO New York to challenge the public with language meant to be controversial. Slurs against ethnic groups points out how language can be harmful to all groups, including those with intellectual disabilities.

This past March 31st was a significant day for the Special Olympics, not only as the launch of their national campaign, “Spread the Word to End the Word,” but also in the way they’ve embraced social media to inform the public, attract and retain supporters and spur on advocates to spread the word (the right one, that is!) and gain even more followers.

For those don’t know what “the word” refers to, it’s “retard,” the demeaning slang that refers to those afflicted that we now tend to term being mentally challenged or with intellectual disabilities.

The Special Olympics has been battling aggressively since last August when the movie, “Tropic Thunder,” caused controversy with its comedic use of the word. President Obama didn’t help matters when, on a recent appearance on Jay Leno’s TV show, he inadvertently brought the issue to light by stating that his poor bowling skills were “like the Special Olympics or something.”

According to a recent Chicago Tribune story, recent efforts to quash this term stemmed from a youth summit held at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Idaho this past February. Kirsten Seckler, spokeswoman for Special Olympics, said the idea for the “spread the word to end the word” campaign was wholly the work of kids — with disabilities and without — who were at the games.

Since then, BBDO New York has done excellent pro bono work to establish the campaign’s messaging and provide creative direction. Andrew Robertson, president and chief executive at BBDO Worldwide, has been on the board of the Special Olympics for five years. According to Robertson, the campaign was targeted to older teenagers in high school and early college and devised to be provocative enough to “jolt them into thinking, or rethinking, how hurtful the use of the word is.”

While the Special Olympics has used the traditional promotional methods you might expect, such as print ads (mostly targeting high school- and college-aged students), t-shirts, buttons and stickers, the most intriguing — and undeniably effective — efforts have come from the use of online social marketing and viral distribution strategies.



Last Rites for Web 2.0? Quite the Contrary.

I read an interesting article this morning that was based on an interview with Clark Kokich, CEO of Razorfish, what might best be described as a new media integration agency. At the heart of the article was the need for innovation as we travel the path from familiarization and utilization of common Web 2.0 tools to the somewhat nebulous and uncertain world of Web 3.0.

Almost everyone knows at least the components of Web 2.0 — blogs, social networking, etc. — even if they aren’t familiar with the term. Indeed, defining Web 3.0, even according to Wikipedia, is difficult since “the nature of defining Web 3.0 is highly speculative. In general it refers to aspects of the internet which, though potentially possible, are not technically or practically feasible at this time.”

In fact, many have said that while Web 2.0 is a moniker for the activities of the “mass of amateurs,” Web 3.0 refers more to distillation and concentration of expert advice and information, delivered to and accessed by consumers in an as yet, untold and undetermined manner.

Customer Advocates: Something a Brit Different

Leave it to those wacky Brittish to create a web site that draws us into their, uh, peculiar way of life.

Leave it to those wacky Brittish to create a web site that draws us into their, uh, peculiar way of life.

Smart marketers should look to their best brand advocates for unique promotional opportunities — past customers who have graphic personalities, surprisingly colorful stories and experiences that trumpet the passions of your organization. Here’s one example, well told, Old Chap.

We StumbledUpon an interesting web site the other day, — an innovative microsite created by Britain’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain. This decidedly subtle site showcases what it’s like to live in — and travel within — Great Britain from the perspective of a handful of its very outspoken citizen advocates.

Consider the story of Jon from Wellington, who spent two years of his early life living in a caravan without running water or electricity. He’s a fan of Pink Floyd, Charles Darwin and “making cool stuff happen in Shrewsbury.” Or Liz, a married mom of three adorable kids who like to surf, watch the kids “play rounders” and wrote a recent blog post about touring the pubs of Cornwall by train. Ah, those Brits.


All Things Seth Godin

Posted in Social Marketing by Jim Tome on May 2, 2008
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I’ve been a huge Seth Godin raver for years even though he does have a tendency to hawk his wares a bit too blatantly for me. Imagine my delight (I would say “surprise,” though Seth, integral to the site I’m about to mention has to love what someone did!) when I wandered around Squidoo (which Seth started back in 2005) and found this little gem.



Smarter Marketers Look for Innovation During a Recession

Posted in Social Marketing by Jim Tome on April 14, 2008
Tags: ,

As of mid-March 2008, fully 75% of all Americans think the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to a national poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. And the report, “Communications Industry Forecast & Report 2004” from the research firm, VSS, stated that the last recession in 2001 saw a drop of 9% in overall advertising compared to the previous year, with online advertising spending dropping 27% over two years before recovering. Certainly, these are dark times for advertising.

Or are they?

What can marketers using the Internet, interactive and communications technology expect this time around? Well, you might be inclined to say “more of the same,” but you’d likely be wrong.

In a down market, promoting a brand is a challenge as consumers find it harder to go from “I know that product” to “I’m buying that product” when they’re worried about cash flow, job security and the buying power of their dollar.

But advanced media programs target the decision to buy rather than building brand awareness. Increasing engagement with consumers is much more likely to generate sales than simple brand reinforcement. And it’s social marketing that incorporates community-building and other social behaviors that are cost-effective, much more results-driven and have a measurable impact on consumers early in the purchasing cycle.

Strategies to consider in this dire economic situation include:

Embrace e-mail marketing. If you’re not already communicating via e-mail on a frequent and consistent schedule, now is the time to champion this low-cost and highly customizable media. And e-mail marketing often targets existing customers and prospects familiar with your brand. These market segments are much more likely to listen to your message in a recession than new prospects.

Don’t give up the search game. In fact, since search-based advertising is so targeted and specific, this is one arena where you can expect to find more competition. If your search strategies don’t include negative keyword buys, zip code targeting and A/B testing, it’s time to call in an expert.

Shift to economical alternatives. If your branding message was dependent on high-cost traditional media such as television, radio and display advertising such as newspaper and magazine ads, consider shifting to online video and Flash ads. You’ll get at least the same visual impact — if not more — at a more economical cost and the added benefit of more targeted presentation.

The “killer app” of recession marketing.

We’ve presented three great marketing strategies you may already be familiar with and deploying. But there’s one concept that almost everyone knows about but few know how to implement effectively — social marketing.

Social networks utilize the inherent trust and interaction of groups with common interests. While this method of marketing tends to be counter to the CPM model of banner advertising and search marketing, it also depends on an abundant resource — groups of consumers — rather than one that is more scarce — advertising dollars.

And in a recession, social marketing programs that feature a measurable, results-driven strategy are effective because:

  • they leverage the voice of individual consumers interacting with others who share common interests,
  • they target consumers in the middle of the buying process more effectively and
  • they are cheap to run (in relation to more “new” media and certainly traditional media sources).

So, what’s the next step?

As fate would have it, DC Interactive has a rather unique strategy in development that utilizes many of the ideas presented in this article. In fact, we’ve shown you barely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative Advanced Media Marketing Program and never fear recessions — and other scary economic situations — again.

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