Are Big Brands Overthinking Technology in Their Marketing?

What happens when you combine technology with a consumer brand that has nothing to do with technology?

Results may vary.

It’s understandable that big brands are looking for creative ways to remain relevant by using the most contemporary tools available to them. With the power of the internet and social media, there is huge potential for ROI and the spreading of a brand message for top of mind awareness. But the entry point to these new arenas can sometimes be difficult to navigate.

This leaves marketers clambering to utilize this technology as a marketing tool despite the obvious challenges. And while I applaud the creativity and boldness of some of these campaigns, some of them tip-toe the line between “tacky” and “gimmicky.”

Here are a few recent examples:

Budweiser Buddy Cup

Ahhh, alcohol: the ultimate social lubricant. So why not take advantage of the friend-making capabilities of the world’s most popular social network to grease the wheels even more?

I’m assuming that was the thought process of whoever green-lit the Budweiser Buddy Cup campaign.

Here’s how this works:

Step 1: Get a cup and program it with your phone to connect it to your Facebook profile.

Step 2: Click cups with anyone who has done the same – to become their Facebook friend.

Step 3: Regret step 2.

This is one of those ideas that might sound good in theory, but in practice may come with a certain amount of reservation. It’s one thing to Facebook friend a person you just met in a bar, but it’s something completely different to make it so awkwardly easy. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

I guess Budweiser hasn’t been reading the news lately to find out how seriously people take privacy issues on Facebook.

Domino’s Pizza Webcam

Domino’s Pizza has done a lot of interesting and useful things recently with its online Pizza Tracker feature. Customers can place an order on the website and even check to see where in the delivery or pick-up timeline it is (including an ETA).

Real-time information of this sort is both useful for hungry customers and has likely improved customer service for managers (who probably receive less angry calls from customers wondering where their pizza is). This feature is even available on their mobile app now.

But Domino’s has taken this pizza tracker one step further (and perhaps a bit too far): live video. That’s right; customers in Salt Lake City, Utah can now watch their pizzas being made live via webcam.

I suppose this “feature” isn’t something that can backfire (short of unsanitary protocols), but it does beg the question: why? Who would be interested in something like this? People who order pizza delivery are usually too busy and/or lazy to cook for themselves, so why would they go out of their way to watch the pizza being prepared? It all just seems a bit unnecessary.

You misspeled your Googel search.  You must be hungrie, have a snikkers.

As a part of Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, the candy bar brand used some of its ad budget to bid on common misspellings in Google Adwords to target those they believed were too hungry to be in their right mind to spell properly.  Users would see the ads in results pages after they had misspelled something in their Google search.

What the ads looked like.

What the ads looked like.

It’s a seemingly creative way to target search engine users while using Google’s cost-per-impression (CPM) bidding option. Because Snickers is bidding on misspellings, the competition and cost would be relatively low.

There’s only one problem: relevance. The main benefit of advertising on Google Adwords is the ability to target users with a specific intent in order to show an ad relevant to what they are looking for. It doesn’t make that much sense for a brand such as Snickers to advertise on this space, even if their target audience is, well…anyone.  The keywords were simply chosen because they were commonly misspelled words.  The “did you mean” link is the quickest to be clicked on in all of search, and poor quality scores (Google Adwords relevance score) would drive cost per ad impression up very quickly. It just doesn’t scream ROI.

If it did, they’d still be doing it…

I don’t think Snickers was too worried about the direct return on these ads anyway. Based on the buzz this campaign has created, it seems more like something to brag about after the fact in order to say: “Hey, look what we did. Isn’t that clever?” And that’s exactly what’s happening.  There’s more ROI in the conversation about it afterwards than in the 500,000 impressions the actual ads got in 2 days.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on these campaigns, or are they truly too gimmicky?

Expand Your Brand!


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  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    The Budweiser Buddy Cup just seems like an absolute disaster. The technology is cool, I’ll give them that. But sorting through 50-80 new friends and then realizing that you don’t actually want to be friends with these people sounds awful.

    I guess they should get a “You Tried” sticker?

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