April 13, 2010
 

Half-fried Marketing Trends for 2008!!

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I'm not the first to come out with a marketing trends list for the new year, but I want to jump in early-ish to beat the final rush.

My thesis: Everything old becomes new again. I think marketers are getting a little ragged around the edges. It's just too difficult to figure out this whole new media/accountability thing. They will take refuge in comforting, old routines. So Prediction #1 is . . .

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Branded Characters. Maybe it's the passing of Mr. Whipple making me nostalgic, but doesn't it make sense that this marketing technique would come back? We already have the Burger King. He's kind of a character. Although he breaks the rule that a spokesperson ought to speak.

Other current branded characters are I'm a Mac and I'm a PC. I like to think of them (since we're going back to the '60s with this trend) as I'm Clark Kent and I'm Floyd the Barber. Not exactly a fair fight.

So who's next in the branded character line-up? I vote for Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. That company was named with a branded character in mind.

Starbucks already has its Siren on their logo. I love every reference to Greek mythology because it's a sign of the power of my heritage. Plus, I always wondered why Chicken of the Sea didn't go up against StarKist's Charlie the Tuna when they had a perfectly good mermaid right on the label. Now's the time to right that injustice to women with fish scales. Bring on the animated, caffeinated Starbucks Siren! As you probably know, a significant part of the Siren's charm is her enchanting, seductive song. Which brings me to Prediction #2 . . .

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Jingles. Nothing lives in the memory longer than a catchy tune. Hip-hop music is on the decline and melodies are coming back. MP3s are everywhere. Let's take advantage of this. Here's just one idea, off the top of my head:

You'll look good to the ladies
Driving in your Mercedes . . . Benz.


Maybe it needs a little work. I'm sure the real professionals can put together something better.

Another thing going for this trend? To help boost marketing ROI, you can sell your clever jingle as a ringtone!

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Demonstrations. How do we know that Timex watches take a licking and keep on ticking? Because John Cameron Swayze strapped one to an outboard motor and took it for a spin. We also know that BIC pens "write first time, every time" -- because one was strapped to the blade of an ice skate and punished for 60 seconds. We saw it for ourselves. The eyes don't lie.

I'd love to see the durability of an iPod tested on a TV commercial. Judging by my experience, shaking it around the way those silhouetted dancers do could be dangerous to its health.

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Testimonials. I sent in sweepstakes entry forms for years based on the testimony of some woman who said straight into the camera, "I was so excited when I learned I won $10,000 in the Reader's Digest Sweepstakes." She was real. She had a funny accent. She couldn't act. It had to be true. There's no other reason she'd be on TV.

Geico is on the cutting edge of this trend with their celebrity translators. But just about any company with credibility issues could benefit from first-person testimonials. Since 2008 is an election year, logic says this marketing tactic would be perfect for politicians. It avoids that nasty mud-slinging that everyone hates so much. "I was so excited when Senator XXX voted for Y when I paid him to. He's got my vote in November!"

I'm looking forward to a kinder, gentler 2008 that brings back the comforting advertising gimmicks of my youth.

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Spyro Kourtis, president of The Hacker Group, oversees his agency's strategic planning and relationships with a number of Fortune 500 clients including AAA, Expedia, Hilton Hotels, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, MSN, Oracle, VISA, Washington Mutual, WebEx and World Vision. He is publisher of High Performance Direct. He can be reached at skourtis@hackergroup.com.

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