Riding the slipstream

It’s Monday morning after the Super Bowl. Your feet drag as you walk into the office. You stop by your desk to put your bag down and then charge towards the coffee machine. You pour your first cup of the day. The guy who is always wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt regardless of the weather approaches you and starts chatting about his favorite ad from the game. You take your first sip and before you go for a second, you look up and spot a small group of people heading towards the coffee machine that is not even two feet behind you. They pour their coffee and join the conversation.  Two minutes of commercial-mentioning pass:

GUY WITH BUTTON DOWN (GWBD): How much did that spot cost to air again?

WOMAN FROM CUBICLE NEXT TO YOU: The average price for thirty seconds of Super Bowl air time is 3.8 million.*

GWBD: That’s just for the airtime. Don’t forget about the added costs of actually creating the commercial.

Conversation ensues for another minute until GWBD mentions his workload and everyone returns to his or her desk.


The nearly four million-dollar price tag is the highest amount the networks have ever set. Many marketers, such as the creators of Go Daddy’s commercial, point to the volume of conversation their ads created on social media to justify the multi-million dollar price tag. But does a brand need upwards of $3.8 million to take advantage of Super Bowl hype?  Not necessarily. This year, two brands got people talking without a huge price tag:

Oreo Takes the Cake 

Oreo cookie has been declared the winner of the Super Bowl’s blackout, beating other brands that used the power outage as a marketing opportunity. Within minutes of the power failure, @Oreo tweeted a photo of an Oreo cookie in a lit corner against a black background. White text under the cookie read: “You can still dunk in the dark.” The satirical, simple, and relevant message resonated with frustrated viewers, most of whom used the interruption to check their Twitter feed and revisit the snack menu. At the time of writing, the Tweet had more than 16,000 retweets and more than 13,000 related news articles. The photo’s production cost was minimal and the media buy was nothing.

Even with the considerable cost associated with setting up a war room for senior management and the client, this social media execution still cost significantly less than a Super Bowl commercial would. And it got people talking.

The Commercial You Didn’t See

Old Milwaukee Beer’s Super Bowl antics are not novel to 2013. For the past couple of years, Will Ferrel has been writing and starring in “crazy fun commercials” for the beer. He spends very little on production and shoots all of the commercials in small towns like Terre Haute, Indiana. The beer company airs the commercial during the Super Bowl in small markets like North Platte, Nebraska, spending very little on media. They then post the video online and allow the powers of the internet to take over.  The beer company’s adept manipulation of the Super Bowl hype brings awareness to the brand at a low cost. And, despite its affiliation with the hyper-commercialized Super Bowl, they successfully maintain their branding as an underground beer. At time of writing, the 2013 Super Bowl ad had more than 3 million YouTube views and nearly 7,000 related new articles.


A huge budget is not a requisite for owning a piece of the Super Bowl conversation. True, some of the bigger spenders own a larger chunk of the conversation, but that’s okay. Perhaps ideal. For a brand like Old Milwaukee, a multi-million dollar commercial isn’t appropriate for the image they are working towards. Their method fits with the brand and thus provides a high value at a low cost. Plus, we benefit from brands like Old Milwaukee Beer and Oreo by seeing how creativity, ingenuity, and wit can take a brand places that no money could ever buy.


*Note: While quotes are direct, characters are fictionalized



Laughlin Constable wins three PRSA Paragon Awards

It’s not the Oscars, the Grammys or even the Emmys, but to us, it may as well be: The PRSA 2011 Paragon Communications Awards. Ever hear of them? Well, chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’re interested in the world of marketing so the name may sound familiar. If not, well, StumbleUpon must have incorrectly guided you here. Either way, this is worth a read.

The Paragon Awards recognize outstanding work in public relations campaigns. Similar to the Oscars, these are the type of campaigns that make you laugh, make you cry, or in the marketing world, make you buy in.

Laughlin Constable is thrilled to have brought home not one, not two but three of these awards last night.

An award of merit was given for work on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism iPhone app launch. An advanced look at the app by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and well-planned distribution of a news release to select media helped make the release of the app a great success. Coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Associated Press resulted in hits in ABCNews.com, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Times-Picayune and many more. The immediate result was more than 80 million impressions, $3 million in publicity and more than 2,000 downloads.

LC also snagged an award of merit for the 2010 Department of Tourism’s press kit. The team used sound media relations, creative ideas and strategic planning to develop a kit that generated significant awareness of all the unique events, activities and attractions in Wisconsin and ultimately, caught the attention of the media. Not to mention, it looked pretty cool (our designers rock). The team met with more than 25 different media outlets in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee and also mailed or dropped off press kits to 30 more outlets. Many of the reporters complimented the team for having designed such a useful and easy-to-navigate press kit and supplementary USB flash drive.

And finally, there was an award of merit for the social media successes for the Department of Tourism.  When the Facebook page, Twitter account and blog were initially launched, consumers flocked to the pages within minutes (okay, not minutes, but quickly). The 2010 summer campaign character Miles Feldspar was introduced on these platforms, and unique content, trivia questions, and giveaways followed. From its launch, the Facebook page has grown to over 24,400 fans, with the Twitter account at just over 2,000 followers. The blog has received over 64,181 views since its launch and is consistently a top 10 content section on TravelWisconsin.com.

All and all, it was a great night. While these are public relations awards, the effort on all three of these campaigns was agency-wide. Our hard work and dedication to our clients really paid off.  So now, after a night of celebrating, where’s the afternoon coffee?

Are You Talking At Me or With Me? Rules for Corporate Social Media Success.

Countless corporate entities are jumping on the social media bandwagon. And I can’t blame them. When used properly, social media is an effective way to engage with your consumer and disseminate information. However, there is a fine line between being a participant and being an intruder. Individuals utilize these online outlets to socialize, communicate and connect. Not to get spammed by marketers. Remember, you’re entering their turf.  So respect that.

There’s a lot to learn, but you can begin to put yourself on the track to corporate social media success by following these guidelines:

1) Listen.

Before diving in, monitor social media outlets to find out what (if anything) users are saying about your brand. This will give you a better feel for the environment you’re about to enter and may change your strategy going in.

2) Earn their trust.

In order to build the foundation for a positive relationship with social media participants, it is imperative that you be as honest as possible. Be transparent. If participants feel like they’re being deceived they’re not going to engage with you. So say who you are. Be honest about what you’re promoting. Consumers will appreciate that much more in the end. Remember the Wal-Mart blog scandal? You don’t want that.

3) Engage.

Don’t just use social media to blast out promotional messages. I have seen too many corporate Twitter feeds without a mention or hashtag in sight.  It’s not pretty. Use social media to engage with your consumer, not to inundate them. Participate in conversation. Better yet…start conversation.

4) Listen (again) and respond.

It’s important to continue to monitor what is being said about your brand. Not only can you feel out what the general attitude toward your brand is, you can also efficiently respond to both negative and positive feedback when appropriate. Look at Ann Taylor’s positive reaction to a negative Facebook comment.

Want to learn more? Check out this Mashable post which profiles the corporate social media success of five major companies.

President Obama’s Social Media Strategy – Messaging is Key

It’s always nice to get confirmation that we’re doing the right thing when it comes to social media.

Last night, a group of Laughlin social media staff and I attended the ‘Obama For President: Interactive Strategy’ event hosted by MIMA (Milwaukee’s Interactive Marketing Association). Thomas Gensemer, Managing Partner of Blue State Digital, shared his insights, strategies, and lessons learned from executing Obama’s social media campaign.

Although I am standing by the notion that social media is not a campaign – I will refer to it as that for the purpose of this blog.

After hearing the genius that went into creating Obama’s social media strategy, I learned that no matter the campaign size, big or small, the key to success lies in the targeting of the message. So, whether it’s email, video, photos, or an interactive platform, each social media channel should harness a different message.

Take for example Obama’s email marketing strategy. Although email marketing doesn’t necessarily fall under social media, the lessons learned from this example can be applied to any two-way conversation.

Obama’s team knew that they couldn’t send out one, mass email to all of his supporters. They knew that the message needed to cater to each specific person, their interests, and their behavioral data. Hours of research went into making sense of this data and the results came back with an interesting insight.

Out of 13 million email subscribers, there were 300 segmented groups of people with similar interests. Obama’s personalized approach raised millions of dollars for the campaign because they were targeting the right person at the right time.

Now, if the notion of customized messages, delivered at the right time, to the right person, makes sense for a campaign as large as the Presidential election, imagine it for your corporate social media strategy