My main keynote, “Big Picture Marketing”, is built around 3 main points. The first, which is…
Marketing begins with the Product
…usually elicits a big “DUH” across the room until I start showing examples of how often this step is skipped. The main example I use in the speech to show the disconnect is how the boring “vanilla-ish-ness” of the Pontiac G6 killed/negated the Oprah PR effect when she gave 276 of them away on her show. (You can get a condensed version of what I talk about in this post.)
And now I have another angle to add to this story.
Pontiac was the product placement for the season finale of The Apprentice. The new Pontiac Solstice and the new G6 convertible were featured. Pontiac also sponsored an online element. They bought spots during the shows instructing viewers to go to http://www.pontiac.com/apprentice to “Raise the Roof” of the new G6 convertible. When they did, they would have the chance to win a new G6 and Pontiac would donate $1 to one of around 300 charities of the consumer’s choice up to a maximum of $500,000. You could only vote once. There was a tally on the page to show how much had been donated so far.
This promotion ended last night. Guess how many people came? Only 50,000. That’s 450,000 short of what Pontiac was expecting.
Couple of thoughts….
1) Viewers are tired of The Apprentice. As discussed in this post, product placement is a very dangerous marketing tool. If you place during something that’s got buzz, you’re golden. If you place during a season finale that the network took out of May sweeps to avoid the stinker, you’re sunk.
Pontiac was golden when they first appeared on The Apprentice in season three as the teams created a brochure for the Solstice. It was one of the highest rated episodes of the season and created buzz about the Solstice marked by a 1,400 percent jump in traffic on the Pontiac website with the first 1,000 Solstices selling in just 41 minutes….And then you have Sean and Lee.
–Maybe “Shaguar” should have sponsored it…I thought Austin Powers had won when Sean drove off in the Pontiac saying “I’m the Apprentice, baby, yeah!” (verbatim)
2) The website was a thinly disguised ruse to collect a database for Pontiac. It had a very lame premise of clicking on the G6 and “raising its roof” (whoopie!) and then filling in your contact info. You had to be careful not to opt-in to any Pontiac spam. Consumers are leery of online data collection forms. They’ve been burned too many times.
3) As sad as the results of the promotion were…I think they could have been MUCH worse had it not been for something that Pontiac had no control over….the Charities. I received a couple of emails from the boards that I sit on for local chapters of national charities urging me to go vote and choose the charity to get the buck. While researching this post, I found that several of the charities had highlighted the link on their websites or had blogged about it. When Pontiac evaluates this promotion, they’re going to have to consider that some of the 50,000 came from neither The Apprentice nor from Pontiac.
4) Don’t put a tally board on your website to highlight your failure. Because occasionally, you’ll have a flop.
5) It all goes back to the 276 G6 cars that Oprah gave away. Why should I be interested in this car? Is there anything about it to make me look away from my multitude of daily distractions and explore it further?
Compare that to the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the Chevy SSR, all the hybrids, and many other types of vehicles. The marketing story is written INTO the product. You can easily tell me a story about a Hummer. You can easily tell me a story about someone who drives a hybrid. What’s the Pontiac G6 story?
You have to stop spending gads of money on marketing to push something that people are indifferent about buying. Spend money wisely upfront by developing a product/service that people can have a conversation about. Then cultivate that conversation through your marketing. It’s MUCH easier and more productive.
Like I said last week, Marketing is best built in…not slapped on.
tags:: apprentice – pontiac – marketing – advertising