Category: Advertising

Three Social Media Trends You’re Nearly Guaranteed to See

By Emily Jarboe

social-media

Image credit: Know Techie

Have you ever thought about what social media will look like in the next 10 years? Social media and its strategies are constantly changing. Consider just how much social media has evolved in the last five years. Companies need to keep up with change in trends and progression of technology in order to stay current and connect with their audience.

While it can be difficult to predict the future of social media marketing, there are at least three trends that experts say can be anticipated:

Consumption of visual content will change

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Image credit: Social Report

As a public relations professional or a social media marketer, you should know how important it is to include visual content into your social media marketing plan. If you have not shifted your attention to visual content, then you are in need of a new marketing strategy because this particular trend should not be ignored.

Here are some statistics I found that justify the statements above:

  • “When people read information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a video presents that same information, people retained 70% of the information three days later.”
  • “Video content currently represents more than 70% of all internet traffic.”
  • “Facebook users watch 8 billion videos per day.”
  • 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.”

 

The Rise of Dark Social

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Image credit: amazeemetrics.com

According to Techopedia, Dark Social refers to “the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs.” Dark Social can be a challenge for companies that are trying to track and monitor social media activity and website referrals.  Dark Social mostly occurs when a link is sent through email or instant messaging, instead of shared on a social media platform where results can be easily measured.

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Image credit: talkwalker.com

The Death of Organic Reach and Facebook

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Image credit: mbbagency.com

Facebook is making it very hard to reach your audience organically. Facebook originated with the initial idea to help people connect with each other. Due to users complaining that posts from the media, businesses, and brands have “crowded out their personal moments,” Facebook decided to be very cautious and selective about what they place on their users’ feeds. Looking towards the future, brands may want to shift their Facebook strategy entirely to a paid approach since the luxury of a free online presence is declining.

While the future of social media marketing can’t always be easily forecasted, we can almost guarantee that the trends are likely to change as technology progresses. Our social media strategies and how we approach them are constantly evolving, and it’s especially important to keep up with those changes in order to successfully connect with our audience and stay relevant.

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Internships – Stepping Into A Different Dimension

By Nickey Buzek

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Internships are designed to be the segway between the school realm and the professional world. They help students take what they learned in the classroom and project it onto a position they worked hard to gain. If a company does it just right, the student will walk away with experiences they weren’t even looking for. I know I wasn’t looking for the opportunities that fell into my lap when I stumble onto an internship with a company called P1 Learning.

I had just given a speech at a networking event called PR Connect when a gentleman introduced himself to me as Speed Marriott. “Can I have a minute of your time,” he asked politely. I realized I must have stepped into a different dimension for someone to ask me for my time rather than the other way around.5425435111

Marriott told me that he was attending the networking event because he was a University of Central Missouri alumnus, and one of our professors asked him to make an appearance. He said he was the CEO of a Kansas-based eLearning company called P1 Learning. The brief description he gave was something to the effect of, “We create training videos for on-the-go professionals in the broadcast industry.” I had never heard of such a service.

He must have known what I was thinking, because he followed up with, “Do you have a resume on you? I can have our VP of Marketing and Sales tell you more and talk to you about an internship.” I didn’t just give the man my resume; I gave him my business card and the biggest “please hire me” smile too.

I came into the internship expecting there to be a set way of doing things as companies often have in place. But at P1 Learning, it’s often said, “It’s easier to be a smaller company with the ability to adjust quickly, rather than a larger company set in their ways.” This mentality was the driving force behind P1 Learning’s willingness to try new approaches and welcome new ideas. Both of these seemed to be two necessary components in a culture that invited successful public relations initiatives.

Other inviting factors could be seen in my department specifically. The VP of Marketing and Sales and the marketing representative were enthusiastic about each new task I worked on and were quick to praise exceptional work.

3242314155555With a mentality that adjustments are always possible and teamwork makes everything easier, my 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. workdays were far from routine. One day, I would engage in scriptwriting. Another day, I would be filming. Some days, I would sit in on meeting after meeting, and other days I would stay in my office with Slack attached to my fingertips for communication. The variety and autonomy P1 Learning gave me eased the transition from college life to the professional world, but it was the unique times that made the professional world the best.

My “atypical” days were much different. They included out-of-office trips, broadcast station tours, and even hula hooping in the middle of the lunch area. Occasionally, I would have to remind myself that I really didn’t step into another world and that I got to work with people who embraced my love of variety and autonomy. All of these experiences came within a three-month time period and put me on the fast track to having a direction for my career.

Life after graduation can seem like a different dimension to college students. Transitioning from on-campus organizations to contributing to work that goes out on behalf of a company can be daunting. But internships, such as the one I experienced at P1 Learning, make students like myself better prepared for the diverse experiences that come with the professional world. They help us become more confident in taking that step into the different dimension we call the workforce.

Taking a Knee

By Emily Thole

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Image credit: Yahoo Sports and Associated Press

 

In the restless and brutal sea of social media, taking a risk could leave a company struggling for air. You may have noticed from recent events, Nike decided to jump into the water head first by tackling a highly controversial topic in the U.S. With immediate response, the internet both attacked and commended Nike for taking a knee on a political subject that many brands and  organizations avoid.

Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback who inspired player protest throughout the NFL, tweeted a photo marking him as the newest face of Nike.

The photo shared stated, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Since Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016, where he kneeled during the national anthem against police brutality, he has received backlash from the NFL and people around the country. His actions ultimately left him without a spot on any team, but Nike decided to endorse him anyway. In the early stages of the “Just Do It” campaign’s 30th anniversary, they made a statement.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

As a result of the partnership, Nike made headlines. Celebrities including Jamie Lee Curtis, Serena Williams, Russell Crowe and COMMON were praising the brand on Twitter alongside Americans throughout the nation.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

But with the good also comes the bad, and even ugly. Multiple individuals took to social media posting images and videos of themselves burning their Nike products, and cutting the swoosh logo from their socks and apparel, voicing that they will never shop with the brand again.

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Image credit: Twitter.com

 

Nike isn’t the first brand to tackle a controversial issue. Many other companies have taken a stance on social issues as well. Dick’s Sporting Goods protested gun violence after the Parkland, Fla. massacre by saying they would no longer sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and also prohibit the sale of guns to customers under the age of 21. Airbnb shot back at President Trump when he closed the borders to refugees in a campaign called, “We Accept,” by voicing their company’s acceptance of other races and nationalities in a time when the biggest figurehead of the nation was saying the opposite. When the U.S. pulled out the Paris Agreement, Ben and Jerry’s started a campaign called, “Save Our Swirled,” focusing on the topic of climate change. Each of these brands were criticized for becoming politically involved, just like Nike.

For a brand with popularity around the world, what form of success can come from this controversial partnership? Through all the back and forth of praise and hate, will either party prosper?

It depends on how you measure success, and from my research, numbers don’t lie. According to the Washington Post, after an initial drop when Kaepernick shared the photo, Nike online sales went up 31 percent. The incident got people to talk about the organization, and, whether positive or negative, the Nike brand was pushed to the forefront of their minds. According to Bloomberg, the company received over $43million in media exposure in the first 24 hours, and that continues to grow.

Risking your brand’s reputation is scary, but if it is something you believe in, take a knee and show the world what you stand for.

The Influence of P.T. Barnum

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Image credit: washingtonpost.com

By Morgan Berk

The surprising success of Hugh Jackman’s performance in “The Greatest Showman” has brought the name Phineas Taylor Barnum back into the forefront of people’s minds. This seems like the perfect time to reflect on Barnum’s unique publicity methods and how they paved the way for some of the public relations methods we still use today.

America’s Greatest Showman was not a perfect man by any means, but his impact on the age of publicity and press agentry has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising. A lot can be learned from Barnum and his illustrious career.

Today we know that many of the advertising and publicity tactics used by the self-proclaimed “Prince of Humbugs” were unethical at best. However, while still acknowledging Barnum’s role in the exploitation of marginalized people, it is also important to remember the good and useful things that are part of his legacy.

Advertising existed long before Barnum’s time, but he managed to usher in an era of publicity that took advertising to a whole new level. The following are four advertising or promotion methods we still see today that were brought into the spotlight by P.T. Barnum more than a century ago:

 

  1. The Pseudo-Event
    Pseudo-events, also known as media events, are well planned events orchestrated for the purpose of generating publicity and media attention. These events didn’t earn their name until the term was coined by Daniel Boorstin in 1961. They existed long before P.T. Barnum, but he brought them into prominence with his loud and unapologetic brand of publicity. The “freak shows” that Barnum was most known for are a prime example of pseudo-events, as they existed for no other purpose than to draw in a crowd and stir controversy on the streets and in the newspapers.Today we see a variety of pseudo-events, ranging from press conferences, to award shows and reality TV, all events that exist purely to create news.
  2. Museum Advertising
    To promote his American Museum, Barnum displayed oversized banners on the side of the building to announce new attractions in the museum. This is a tactic that we still see today at major museums such as the Smithsonian.

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    Image source: dailymotion.com

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    Image source: americaninno.com

  3. Concert Promotion
    Lesser known than his circus expertise is Barnum’s foray into the arts. In August 1850, he brought the “Swedish Nightingale” to the United States. The opera singer Jenny Lind was wildly successful in Europe, but virtually unknown in America at that time. Without even hearing her sing, Barnum invited Lind to perform on a tour across America and proceeded to generate incredible amounts of hype surrounding her arrival. Thirty thousand people were there to greet her as she arrived in New York Harbor and her tour went on to net more than a half-million dollars, impressive numbers for 1850. Much of Lind’s success should be attributed to her talent and personality, but credit for the excitement generated before her arrival can be given to Barnum, who began publicizing the tour more than six months in advance.

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    Image source: smithsonianmag.com

    Live music continues to thrive in today’s society, with fans flocking to their favorite musicians’ tours in the thousands. Tickets to see major artists, including Adele, Elton John, Beyonce and Taylor Swift, sell out in mere seconds thanks to the skill of those who promote the tours, many of whom use some of the same tactics that Barnum used to make Jenny Lind a global sensation.

  4. Vehicle Advertising
    The first actual vehicle wrap advertisement was most likely created for Pepsi Co. in 1993 to promote its Crystal Pepsi product. However, advertising on the sides of vehicles is an idea that originated in the age of P.T. Barnum. Barnum would send horse-drawn wagons through New York City that were plastered with posters and signs advertising his American Museum. Walk or drive around today, and you’re likely going to see countless buses, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles plastered with various advertisements.

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    Image source: flickr.com

 

When looking back at and discussing historical figures, it is important to remember that people are neither entirely good or bad, or entirely ethical or unethical. Both may exist in the same individual, and neither should be erased. So when the topic of P.T. Barnum next comes up, his shortcomings should indeed be addressed in full measure, but his many contributions to public relations and advertising should be remembered as well. Barnum’s life has left a lasting mark on public relations and advertising, one that is certain to endure much further into the future.

 

Do you have any thoughts on P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman,” or his influence? Let us know in the comments below, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Get the most out of Instagram: tips for business and personal use

By Jamie Jackson

I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).

Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).

Use brightly colored and well-lit photos

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Leon Bridges via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

Image credit: Starbucks via Instagram

An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.

However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.

Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.

Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.

Be personal

No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Image credit: Microsoft via Instagram

Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.

You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta

If you use Instagram, actually USE it

Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.

Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.

Be hip

Image credit: McDonald's via Instagram

Image credit: McDonald’s via Instagram

By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.

Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.

Evaluate

While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.

 

Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

 

Put your pies in the window! A guide to inbound marketing

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

Image credit: modaweb.co.uk

By Hank Kellerman

You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Image credit: tvtropes.org

Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.

Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.

Develop Buyer Personas

How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.

Image credit: kccommunications.com

Image credit: kccommunications.com

SEO and Keywords

Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.

There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.

Content is Key

This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.

Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

Image credit: beyond.customline.com

How Do You Put This All Together?

Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.

What do you think? Do you have any inbound marketing strategies? Comment and share your thoughts with us. Also, don’t forget to follow Innovative PR on Facebook and Twitter.

Three ways Marvel is Making “Avengers: Age of Ultron” More Super

by Andrea Mason

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In case you somehow missed it, Marvel and Disney are releasing “Avengers: Age of Ultron” tomorrow. That’s right, you have less than a day to prepare for its awesomeness. Over the last decade, Marvel has built an incredibly strong brand. It continues to strengthen in the midst of the film’s release with different promotions, merchandise and capitalizing on a minor crisis. Let’s take a look at a few ways Marvel is achieving this:

Making the most of a minor crisis

Marvel planned to release its first trailer for the movie during an episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” last October. However, according to Variety, an internet troll beat Marvel to the punch, leaking the trailer before it was scheduled. This was not good news for Marvel because there was already a strategic plan to release the trailer. Still, Marvel was able to turn the crisis into an opportunity by posting a tweet that just said, “Dammit, Hydra.” This simplistic tweet–a nod to Captain America fans–received more than 30,000 retweets and 20,000 favorites. Marvel played off of this misfortune and blamed it on the fictional antagonist, which is quite genius.

Reaching out to women

Oddly enough, a mega-franchise like the Avengers hasn’t resonated with female audiences as well as the studios wish. Marvel knows how to change that. Cinema Blend explains that for “Age of Ultron,” Disney released one of its largest licensing programs ever around the film. If you see Iron Man, Thor or Captain America on packages of Sage Fruit, Conagra, Crunch Pak or Chobani, that is Marvel’s strategy to branch out to the female audience. All those products have a significantly high female customer bases (65-67%).

Gillette Razors from Stark Industries

150410080627-gillette-avengers-780x439Marvel teamed up with a number of well-known brands to promote “Age of Ultron.” The Mary Sue lists a few of these brands like Harley Davidson, Gillette, Doritos and Audi. Gillette unveiled a clever campaign with different men’s razors that resemble Avengers characters. With young men being the film’s biggest audience, this partnership makes a lot of sense. Even though these products aren’t real, the idea of using a superhero razor could bring out that inner 9-year-old and make shaving more enjoyable.

Marvel’s brand is well established, but the studio is successfully promoting the movie and continuing to create lasting impressions. Let’s just hope the movie lives up to crowd expectations.

We would love to hear what promotional material, merchandise or other awesome things you have seen from Marvel. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or comment below!

Brand mastery: how Apple gets it right

by Evan Whittaker

In today’s professional world, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recognize the logo of technology industry giant, Apple. In addition to how strong the company’s brand identity is, consumer perceptions of it are overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by its current standing as number five on the Fortune 500 list for 2014. Those perceptions are so strong and positive, in fact, that people wait in line for days to receive the company’s newest products while knowing virtually nothing about them.

So, how has Apple managed to amass such a loyal audience and create a powerful brand identity? The answer can be found in the company’s consistent design principles and genius marketing techniques. Let’s take a look at a few of the elements that contribute to Apple’s success.

Improvement, not innovation

You might be surprised to learn that smartphones, portable music players and tablet computers all existed before Apple made its foray into these markets. Many find this surprising since Apple’s iPhone, iPod and iPad have dominated these respective markets since their releases. If Apple wasn’t the first to introduce these products, why have its versions become the most popular? The answer is the company’s focus on improving and refining existing products to entice consumers.

These refinements take various forms: reduced device size for increased portability, simplified operating systems and construction using premium materials. While these may seem like trivial changes, the results are anything but. Consumers would pick up a rival product, then compare it to Apple’s thinner, lighter and more attractive version. Given that, is it any surprise that many would lean toward the latter? There is certainly something to be said for Apple’s focus on improved aesthetics.

It’s not a device, it’s an experience

Apple creates products. What Apple sells, however, are experiences. It’s not a phone with a camera, it’s the ability to capture memories. It’s not a video-chat feature, it’s the ability to be there even when you’re not. It’s not an app store with more than one million apps, it’s infinite possibilities.

Much of Apple’s marketing focuses heavily on emotional appeals. Rather than highlighting what its devices are capable of, Apple highlights what you are capable of if you own those devices. By connecting its products with sentimental activities consumers can relate with, those consumers, in turn, connect Apple itself with those activities.

It’s quite clever, really. Can you really put a price on sharing moments with your loved ones? As it turns out, you can if you’re Apple – it’s $199 with a two-year contract through your wireless carrier.

Join the club (read: cult)

Humans are social creatures. We have an inherent desire to feel included. So when a brand becomes associated with luxury and exclusivity, consumers tend to want it merely in order to feel like they’re a part of the club. It works for high-end fashion and high-end cars; it works for Apple as a high-end technology company.

Line_at_Apple_Store_in_NYCThis is an interesting development that has occurred over time as Apple has employed the marketing tactics listed above. Think of it as a passive benefit the company has attained through active processes. This is not to say that Apple hasn’t acted strategically to drive desirability for using their products, though. Features like AirDrop, iMessage, FaceTime and AirPlay offer improved functionality for those who want to connect with other Apple device users. Now that Apple has managed to position itself as the industry standard in terms of high-end technology, every new product release has consumers clamoring to drink the Apple iKool-Aid.

Summing up

Apple did an incredible job of establishing itself as a technology industry giant. Although its products may not be the first of their kind, premium materials and effective marketing techniques are sure to convince many that they are the best. With all of the hype surrounding the new Macbook and Apple Watch released this month, Apple’s streak of successful product launches and sustained brand loyalty are showing no signs of stopping.

What’s your opinion on Apple? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let us know.

 

The importance of product placements in television

by Kristina Keeling

Waynes World Pizza HutProduct placement in television has become more important to marketers because of the way people are watching television. Viewers are able to skip over commercials and enjoy shows without any interruptions. Product placement advertises to consumers subliminally, if done correctly. However, marketers are becoming more aggressive with product placement promotions to reach their audiences.

How does it work?

To put it simply, product placement is when a company pays to have its product showcased on a television show or in a movie, but a lot more goes into product placement than we think. The film, “Man of Steel,” had more than 100 product partners, earning close to $160 million before it hit theaters. Product placement is also in books, video games and even on YouTube. When done successfully, product placements can have lasting impact on viewers. Some agencies actually specialize in product placement promotion because of high demand.

HERO

HERO, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, specializes in product placements. Its clients have placed products on well-known shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee,” and “The Good Wife,” just to name a few. Its website states that “the brands in a viewer’s favorite shows have a much higher likelihood of becoming that viewer’s favorite brand.”

House of Cards

PS Vita MemeThe Netflix original series “House of Cards” is notorious for its not-so-subtle product placements. The series had such an overload of notable products that the Los Angeles Times said, “House of Cards? More like House of Product Placement,” mocking the hit TV series for its poor use of product placements. The very first sentence of the first episode referenced a Toyota Prius. Netflix spent a total of $100 million producing the first season, but offers no disclosures of any paid product placement, only crediting the product partners by saying all logos were “used with permission.”

Now that “House of Cards” is in its third season it is confirmed by Advertising Age that Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer brand for the series, along with Samsung being the tech-of-choice. Anheuser-Busch is not paying for this placement however, but rather supplying production with its product. Samsung also offered its customers Netflix subscriptions when buying select Samsung products. It is rumored that Coca-Cola, Dell and Nike are all working with “House of Cards” for similar deals.

Modern Family

JULIE BOWEN, ED O'NEILL, ADAM DEVINE, SARAH HYLAND, TY BURRELLThe Emmy Award-winning series, “Modern Family,” now on its sixth season, is another show littered with product placement. Steven Levitan, executive producer and creator, said the show turns down about 90 percent of its product placement offers, and for a good reason. ABC wants to stay true to the characters on its show. The Toyota Prius, an environmentally-friendly car, appeared on the first season, driven by Mitchell Pritchett, who is an environmental attorney. It wouldn’t make sense for him to drive a gas-guzzling truck.

“Connection Lost,” a recent episode of “Modern Family” has sky rocketed to the top of the list of brilliantly used product placement. The episode was shared with viewers entirely through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro. In the episode, Claire is trying to find her daughter after having a huge fight, but she is stuck at the airport and has to use Facebook, iCloud, the app, Find Your iPhone and FaceTime to track her down. The episode didn’t feel like one long commercial, cleverly blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising.

Is this all too much?

Products are everywhere. Your favorite character is going to have to make a phone call or use a computer for research, so why not have them use an Apple product to do so? What do you think? Have “Modern Family” and “House of Cards” gone too far with product placement? Let us know in the comments below.

Advertising win: Unfinished Business’ stock photos

by Jonathan Haile

Stock photos are obviously staged, somewhat awkward and often very expensive. There is rarely anything unique about them. The same thing can be said about promotional campaigns for upcoming movies. There is usually a poster, then a teaser, then a trailer, and finally TV and print ads. The funny thing is that when stock photos meet film promotions, you find a fresh way to get people interested in your movie. Kudos to marketers behind Twentieth Century Fox’s new film, Unfinished Business.

About the film

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Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson lead the next great business team.

In the movie, actors Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco (playing an inexperienced business pro named Mike Pancake) head off to Europe, bidding to win the business of a huge client, but the trip goes awry. With Vaughn at the helm, you can expect this won’t be a film for families.

The images, available for free on Getty Images, are perfect spoofs of easily recognizable stock images. In the series of photos, you’ll see Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson (clearly Photoshopped) looking positive and productive, and positioned to exude ideal business professionals in their ideal work environments. While a lot of companies aim to be more appealing to the public with senses of humor, it’s not hard to imagine seeing this on a website soon.

Why this is great

HBO wins for creativity.

As I touched upon above, movie promotion involves a formulaic process. The process is the most effective way to get people into theater seats. That’s why studio films make money hand over fist, and independent films don’t. The process is boring, but marketers do a lot of things, big and small, to energize the campaigns. My favorite example is (bear in mind, for a television show) HBO’s placement of a giant dragon skull on an English beach; a promotion for its hit series, Game of Thrones.

istock-unfinished-business-hed-2015Granted Fox’s use of stock photos is significantly smaller, in scale and effort, than a beach dragon, doing something new is always appreciated by marketers and film fans, alike. Will the movie be good? That remains the big question, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to commend whoever thought of this idea. I hope those looking for business-related photos on Getty Images are doing double-takes and laughing at what they find.

Do you like the Unfinished Business’ new approach? Will you see the film this Friday? Let us know by commenting, and follow Innovative PR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.