Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Coca-Cola's Futuristic Soda Fountain to Get 2012 Ad Push
Radio to Play a Key Role in New Campaign
Coca-Cola Freestyle has been generating buzz, sales boosts and foot traffic since tests for the futuristic machine were first launched three years ago. Now, as the next-generation soda fountain reaches a critical mass -- it will be in 80 markets by year's end -- execs are readying Freestyle's first marketing campaign.
The fountain serves up 125 different flavors of soft drinks, flavored waters, sports drinks and lemonades and sends usage data, such as what flavors are most popular at what times of the day, to Coca-Cola HQ. Already the beverage giant is analyzing data pouring in from more than 1,500 machines in restaurants including Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Mac and Five Guys.
While individual restaurant customers have done marketing campaigns using Coca-Cola assets, the beverage giant is now working with Ogilvy & Mather to develop creative concepts for a 2012 marketing campaign. Sydney Taylor, group director of Coca-Cola Freestyle consumer marketing, said that radio, outdoor and digital would likely be the initial focus of any measured media.
"We needed to be at a certain threshold to make (a marketing campaign) pay off for us, so that once we advertise Freestyle, consumers can find it at most places," she said.
According to Bill Pecoriello, CEO Consumer Edge Research, more than 20% of consumers said they would be very likely to switch restaurants or convenience stores due to the presence of Freestyle. Interest in the machine is also particularly high among teens and portions of the multicultural population, he said.
The fountain channel accounts for nearly a quarter of total soft-drink volume, according to Beverage Digest. And Coke dominates fountain business with about a 70% share, compared with Pepsi's 19% share. While Gene Farrell, VP-general manager for Coca-Cola Freestyle, says Freestyle has yet to impact Coca-Cola's share, customers say the machines have been a boon for business.
Results have been so impressive at Firehouse Subs that the chain just announced it will be rolling Freestyle out to all of its 437 restaurants by year's end. Firehouse Subs was included in Coca-Cola's initial testing phase and saw a sales lift, even without marketing support, said CEO Don Fox. So, earlier this year, the chain opted to install Freestyle in 25 Jacksonville, Fla., locations, turn on marketing support -- in the form of billboards, 60-second radio spots, social media and events -- and watch what happened.
Mr. Fox said the stores saw a double-digit increase in traffic and overall sales, as well as an increase in people buying a drink and sandwich, rather than just a sandwich. Those stores also saw increased numbers of families with kids coming in, as well as more people choosing to dine in the restaurants.
"Even without the benefit of advertising, it hasn't been unusual for restaurants to (see overall sales) rise 20% to 30% when they put the machine in," Mr. Fox said. "When word gets out, there's a great curiosity factor, and it really doesn't seem to recede."
In addition to working on a 2012 marketing push, a new Facebook app and mobile app are also in the works, which will allow consumers to mix up and share favorite Freestyle combinations. Mr.Farrell envisions the recipe being converted to a 2-D barcode and scanned at a machine to immediately generate the blend. Barcode scanners will be retrofitted for testing on a limited number of machines in the first quarter of 2012.
Already Mr. Farrell says the amount of data being gathered from the hundreds of networked machines is "almost overwhelming." Coca-Cola and its customers are able to slice and dice data about the brands and combinations that are proving popular, as well as find trends during specific day parts. One insight has been the popularity of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke after 3 p.m. That could lead the company to suggest adding that brand to traditional fountains when customers have significant traffic in the afternoon but don't have Freestyle.
"Think about being a brand manager and seeing a snapshot of how a brand, a new product or a product that's not at retail is performing. It's mind-boggling, from a marketer's perspective," Mr. Farrell said. "I don't think we'll really understand the total value for a few more years."
(Source: Advertising Age, 08/07/11)
||El Pollo Loco: 'Feel the Mexcellence!'
El Pollo Loco recently unveiled a new multimedia campaign focusing on the chain's "made by hand" menu in an ongoing push to reinvigorate sales.
The "Feel the Mexcellence!" initiative includes television and radio ads, as well as social media components and in-store signage. The campaign was developed by Los Angeles-based agency goodness Mfg., which was hired in February to develop a new marketing strategy for the 412-unit quick-service chain.
In the past, El Pollo Loco has used two agencies to develop separate campaigns for Spanish- and English-language media. Now the brand is focusing its efforts on one campaign designed to reach both its loyal Hispanic audience and a more general audience and younger demographic.
Mark Hardison, El Pollo Loco's vice president of marketing, said the goal was to develop an integrated approach.
"We're one brand and we wanted to reach our market with one voice," he said.
Though marketing spending for the chain remains about the same as in past years -- about 4 percent of sales -- Hardison said integrating the English- and Spanish-language campaigns offers efficiencies that provide more bang for the buck.
Among those efficiencies, El Pollo Loco can reach more English-as-a-first-language speakers who are familiar with brands like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Hardison said.
While Chipotle has focused its marketing message on the quality of its ingredients, El Pollo Loco emphasizes the quality of its cooking and processes, such as tending chicken on the grill.
Though frequent fast-food customers tend to be younger than 20 years old, El Pollo Loco is also targeting consumers between ages 25 and 34, while still trying to hold on to faithful older customers.
As a result, the campaign includes a social media component with a "Pass the Flame" game, inviting users to visit El Pollo Loco's Facebook page to create a virtual flame that they can pass to friends to earn a coupon.
The new television ads were developed from a publicity stunt held earlier this year, in which a team of employees attempted to start a fire with a 25-foot bow drill -- essentially a giant pole that they moved like a spindle with ropes in a sort of tug of war to create enough friction to start an ember.
Hardison said they were hoping to set a world record for starting a fire with the largest bow drill, but in the end, it didn't work. The ember shown in the commercial was made with "special effects," he said.
Still, the commercial focused on what differentiates El Pollo Loco from other quick-service concepts: the fact that most items on the menu are made by hand.
El Pollo Loco has struggled in recent years, largely because of high unemployment rates in its core market of Southern California.
Earlier this year, the chain rolled out a new line of premium sides, which Hardison said have been very popular, including a sweet corn cake, chile-lime seasoned grilled corn and sweet potato fries.
In late July, El Pollo Loco debuted a new line of burritos.
The company is also working on a new prototype design that is likely to be in tests starting in the fourth quarter.
(Source: Nation's Restaurant News, 07/17/11)
||For Comedy, Perhaps a New Era on Radio
Comedy may be returning to radio.
Over the last six months a handful of radio stations in cities like Kansas City, Tucson and Riverside, Calif., have been experimenting with new all-comedy formats, as has Pandora, the online radio service.
Early results are promising.
In Kansas City, the format is heard on FM, Funny 102.5, which has averaged a 3.4 share of the market's total radio audience over the last three months, according to data from Arbitron's Personal People Meter. That's a ratings increase, and it puts Funny 102.5 right into competition with many more well-established, mainstream stations.
Some of the format's early success may simply be good timing.
"Comedy does well in dark times, it always has. In this day and age, we need it," says George Gimarc, operations manager at 24/7 Comedy Radio, which delivers the humor content airing on Funny 102.5.
But there's more to it than that. In the early days of radio, comedy was all over the dial, a staple of radio, especially in primetime, mixed in with dramas and variety shows and news. It was as common as sitcoms are today on television.
When TV came along, a number of the comedic stars, men such as Jack Benny, moved over to the new medium without missing a beat. Radio comedy never really recovered from that talent flight.
The new comedy is tailored to radio listening patterns of this era. Rather than airing extended sketches, stations air bits, much as a Top 40 station airs songs, rotating the bits so more popular performers come up more often than lesser-known comics.
There's also a balance in the material across different generations of comedy, says Gimarc.
Newer performers like Dane Cook and Louis C.K. rotate with '80s and '90s mega-stars such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jeff Foxworthy as well as material from Richard Pryor, George Carlin and other early pioneers.
Blue humor, though a huge part of American comedy, is avoided. Says Gimarc: "We're well inside FCC guidelines. We draw our lines at safe for the workplace."
But broadcast radio isn't the only place showing a new interest in comedy programming.
In May, Pandora added more than 10,000 comedy clips from over 700 performers to its database of material. It was the company's first foray into spoken-word content.
The impetus to add the comedy came from the listeners, Pandora CEO Tim Westergren told Media Life.
"We keep very close track of what people are searching for to launch new stations and we saw people looking for the names of comedians," he says.
Much like Music Genome Project, where Pandora used musicians to catalog songs so that similar styles would play on listeners' personalized stations, the company employed comedians to analyze the new material so the system can connect bits from comedians with similarities to create a personalized comedy experience.
"It's a complete parallel to music. We even call it the Comedy Genome project," says Westergren.
So far, both Westergren and Gimarc are finding that the comedy audience tends to be slightly more male than female.
Gimarc says the 24/7 Comedy Radio audience skews more toward adults 25-54 while Westergren says Pandora sees more use from 20- and 30-something listeners.
Regardless, both claim comedy makes an excellent vehicle for advertising.
Just like other spoken word formats, listeners are more engaged with comedy than with music, which can fade into the background. "People tend to listen to our format at higher volume levels," says Gimarc.
He also points out that listeners are most likely in a good mood making them more receptive to advertising than they might be when their blood pressure is skyrocketing after listening to political talk.
For that matter, he adds that the station is doing well in drive time when listeners are stuck in traffic.
"We're a road-rage suppressant," he jokes.
(Source: Media Life Magazine, 07/26/11)
Daily Sales Tip: Thinking Strategically
All successful sales professionals are strategic thinkers. By strategic thinking, I mean that they are always looking for new ways to penetrate their accounts and prospects, they are always looking for new ways to grow and develop their relationships, and they are always looking for new ways to make their customers more successful.
Recently, I read a story about a sales professional who lost a major account. He was obviously upset over the loss and tried very hard to regain the business, but his efforts were without success. The salesperson was trying to penetrate the account using old ideas. He went back to the same people he had always worked with and presented them with the same ideas. They saw no reason to change back to him.
Finally, he started working with a person that he had never worked with before, a manager assigned with the task of moving the company into a new marketplace. They had no experience in the new market and the salesperson saw the manager struggling over his decisions. When the salesperson began to question the new manager, he learned that the manager was moving into a market that the salesperson had worked in, on a prior job.
While the salesperson had no opportunity to make a sale, he was able to help the manger with some of his decisions. To me, successful salespeople differentiate themselves on the quality of their ideas, and our salesperson had done just that. He went on to describe how the company began to view him differently, on the basis of the quality of his ideas.
The company began to request other information of the salesperson, all in areas where he had no opportunity to make a sale. Yet he helped anyway. Eventually, the company started to buy again. In fact, the salesperson was not only able to regain the account, he was able to grow it as well.
The key learning point of this story is that there are always a number of ways to approach an account. If you think strategically, you will use your creative imagination to develop new and innovative approaches in developing your customer relationships. If you think in a linear manner, you will only see one way to approach and develop a relationship.
Source: Sales trainer/author Paul S. Goldner