It’s been a long hard week back (and now someone tells me it’s only been half a week) but it’s made even more testing when you only have one thing on your mind…
Sales. Of course.
Inspired by a current advert by GoDaddy I started to think about online and viral marketing and whether this has changed the dynamic of what sells. The GoDaddy ad in question shows various business owners claiming to be “doing it” in various different locations and circumstances: the kitchen, with their boss etc and, although you do hold on to the end of the ad to find out what it is they’re really referring to (which of course was website building), it kind of just leaves the viewer rolling their eyes as opposed to giving them something innovative to rave about.
Of course GoDaddy are no stranger to risqué advertising which only makes them play around more with their tongue-in-cheek sense of self-awareness, but in a world of 7-second vines, cute cats and more creative, interactive marketing has sex lost its selling power?
So…are you getting it?
I’m going to dive straight in and say, personally, I don’t think sex has lost its selling power – not completely. After all, there will always be a place for the ever-so-slightly sleazy in marketing, but the focus has definitely shifted; because it’s not about selling power anymore, it’s about sharing power.
In a recent meeting with a client I was running through the basics of social marketing and how it can boost their brand identity and web traffic when I was interrupted mid-sentence with the all-important question:
“Yes, but can we sell on here?”
It’s a very good question and I’ve worked with so many business owners who, even in 2014, still aren’t getting it. The focus needs to shift from ‘sell’ to ‘tell’. I can understand how business owners (especially those with a background in sales) may find the concept hard to grasp but sharing the right thing at the right time can give your company invaluable brand exposure.
So, what’s being shared?
Consumers want to see something new, something fascinating, something clever or interactive. So does this mean a new generation of ‘sharers’ have lost interest in sex? Or are we just so desensitised by it’s frequency in the media that we’re not even conscious of it being pushed on a daily basis? I think there’s a slight element of truth in both cases, but I think it’s more the case that sex has just been done before and viral marketing needs to hook onto the ‘next big thing’ quicker than you can say “attention span”.
If you take a look at the most searched for ad campaigns in 2013, there is definitely a theme running through them which reflects on our generation of sharers – border-line racy advertising is still present, but now with a prominent twist;
If we, the new generation of sharers, are going to be sold sex, it sure as hell better be laced with comedy. Think about the platforms we share on most frequently – Twitter and Facebook. Most people use these as personal platforms to connect with friends and what do we do best with our friends? We laugh. Comedy has the proven sharing power and so you have to tweak your marketing formula just so. And you only have to look at your newsfeed to see what’s making people laugh – animals making strange noises, people making fools of themselves, people making fools of themselves pretending to be animals…you get the idea! And the more obscure the better. Just take this Old Spice advert from April 2013:
Of course, there is a racy element still featured with the topless man in the shower, but to give it sharing power, he has to cut into a basketball turned watermelon…yeah!
The same goes for last year’s Kmart campaigns: the US chain which has been struggling in recent years grasped viral marketing with both hands in 2013 with ‘Ship My Pants’, ‘Big Gas Saving’ and ‘Show Your Joe’.
All play around with controversy, but the more recent holiday campaign involving 6 men playing their…erm, jingle bells mixes sexual innuendo with high comedic value in order to get everyone sharing.
Going back to GoDaddy, their most infamous advertisement in 2013 was ‘The Kiss’ – here, they put a twist on their provocative advertising by really pushing the cringe factor to trigger shock-humour and thus maximising their sharing power.
Of course, there have been exceptions to the rule with 2013 seeing the welcome return of the ‘Diet Coke’ Hunk:
Although, like with GoDaddy, the sharing power here stemmed more from cheeky tradition and of course, a little bit of nostalgia. They way in which the women cheer triumphantly as the man begins to undress even adds a bit of a tongue in cheek element – Coke are aware that their previous ads were sleazy and are now playing with their own parody.
And Coke’s various marketing campaigns in 2013 proved that they’ve got their sharing formula down to a tee, ending the year by jumping on the Christmas jumper trend with their interactive online ‘Sweater Generator’ for Coke Zero and with one of my favourite interactive marketing campaigns of the year – the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign took some of the UK’s most popular names and printed them onto bottles and cans, inviting you to ‘Share a Coke With _______’ a specific person.
Riding on the coat-tails of social popularity by offering consumers their own, personalised bottle (all about you!) Coke even made full use of words like ‘friends’ and ‘share’ helping bring social marketing to the real world and were extremely successful in the process. Usually a Dr Pepper kind of girl, this didn’t stop me from rummaging to the back of the fridges a fair few times in order to find Kirsty’s bottle of Coke (imagine my disappointment when they only had it in ‘diet’ and there wasn’t a sexy gardener in sight!).
So it’s still definitely present; sex hasn’t disappeared from our sales completely, I think it’s just being spun in more interesting ways. Sharing power equals selling power and has to be sparked by something much more innovative now – end users are becoming accustomed to certain levels of consumer outreach that can’t easily be reached with carnal knowledge alone.