Best Laid Plans
Behind most great media plans are a dozen tales, at least, detailing the pitfalls on the road to amazing executions, over-the-top results, pleased-as-punch clients and, finally, the attention and admiration of peers and the press.
Promoting one of last year’s most anticipated Hollywood releases, Sony Pictures’ The Da Vinci Code, Universal McCann faced not only a flood of competing movie premieres but the heavily marketed release of the paperback, a target audience that skewed older than that of the typical summer flick, and those calls for a boycott by Catholics enraged by the film’s controversial religious themes. Despite all that, the agency’s aggressive, multimedia blitz helped deliver massive opening-weekend box office, earning the strategy Media Plan of the Year for Spending More Than $25 Million.
To execute Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners’ plan for a flip book in Dwell in support of Mini, the magazine had to convince 10 advertisers to sacrifice their franchise positions. And thinking the promotion was so clever, the advertisers went for it. The agency takes Media Plan of the Year for Magazines.
And in the case of Grey San Francisco, client SanDisk presented the agency with the somewhat daunting prospect of going up against the monstrously successful Apple iPod. Grey’s plan helped the client achieve 50 percent growth in market share, earning it Media Plan of the Year for Spending $1 Million or Less. As in life, no risk, no reward.
As Grey’s Kari Seitz says, “You have to have clients who are willing to see a risk as an opportunity.”
Spending More Than $25 Mil.
By John Consoli
The Da Vinci Code one of last year’s most anticipated Hollywood blockbusters. It was also among the most controversial movies in recent memory, considering its unorthodox religious themes. Some Catholics called for a boycott, while debates raged on the TV talk shows. All of which presented a challenge to distributor Sony Pictures Entertainment and its media agency, Universal McCann, as they set out to promote the film starring Tom Hanks, centered around a murder at the Louvre. The result was selected as this year’s best media plan for an assignment with a budget over $25 million.
Even before it got panned by many critics, the release of The Da Vinci Code gate those charged with promoting the movie a headache. Just before the movie’s release, the paperback version of the book on which it was based hit stores, potentially competing with the film for the public’s attention. Furthermore, the storyline appealed to moviegoers who skewed older than the target for most big-budget summer flicks. The situation called for unconventional thinking. “We had to make the movie opening as big an event as was the book, yet distinguish between the two of them,” says Karen Hunt, evp, global marketing partner for Universal McCann.
Hunt headed up a team that included Lou Romano, svp, group director; Elias Plishner, svp, digital communications; Catherine Warburton, svp, associate director of national broadcast, and Elane Beyrodt, vp, supervisor, marketing and integrations. The media plan kicked off about three months before the movie premiere with a slew of 60-second TV commercials running throughout NBC’s telecast of the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Ads also appeared during the network’s Today show, which featured interviews with cast members. Furthermore, The Da Vinci Code was integrated into an episode of CBS’ The Amazing Race. The reality show instituted a Da Vinci Code Challenge, incorporating the film’s Vitruvian Man symbol, with winners getting an all-expenses-paid trip to the movie’s premiere. “The integration was very originally ingrained into the show — it was not forced,” Hunt says. That exposure paid off, resulting in viewer recall 41 percent greater than is typical for product integration in a network show, according to Hunt. In the two months leading up to the premiere, Universal McCann blanketed eight major media markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with out-of-home promotions in the form of billboards and transit posters. In one real eye-catching example, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design was wrapped with a sign urging passersby to “Be Part of the Phenomenon.”
The agency teamed with Google to create The Da Vinci Code Quest, the first-ever contest on the leading search engine. It snagged 95 million impressions and over 9 million game plays. In another partnership, Universal McCann and Sony teamed with NBC and TiVo to create an original, immersive campaign, “Crack the Code,” wherein users were challenged to decipher anagrams and solve puzzles integrated into the NBC series My Name Is Earl and The Office. Via TiVo, shows could be recorded and watched over and over again to help players solve the mysteries. The result: Nearly 12 percent of TiVo subscribers played along, with the average time spent double what was typical. Additionally, TV spots were aired during major events, including the NBA playoffs on ESPN and TNT, and during regular programming on cable channels including Lifetime, Court TV, Bravo, Spike, USA, VH1 and MTV. By the movie’s May 19 premiere, Yahoo!’s buzz index for The Da Vinci Code hit 170, compared to typical opening-weekend buzz ratings in the 20 to 30 range.
Despite some harsh reviews, The Da Vinci Code earned a solid $77.1 million in domestic receipts opening weekend, the biggest opener ever for Hanks or director Ron Howard.
Ultimately, the movie took in $750 million worldwide. Universal McCann could take some of the credit: Exit polling revealed that 40 percent of the opening-weekend audience was aware of the campaign. This was not the first time Universal McCann was recognized for its work on behalf of Sony Pictures. The agency also snagged Media Plan of the Year honors in 2001 for its work on the studio’s Hollow Man, 2003 for the Spider-Man campaign, then in 2006 for its plan in support of When a Stranger Calls. Sony’s Napoli describes the relationship with Universal McCann as “a pure, collaborative effort.”
Spending $10-25 Mil.
By Richard Brunelli
For most of us, losing weight is akin to scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro. Like any of life’s impossible tasks, when striving to shrink a size or two, it helps when somebody has your back. How about Tyra Banks as a helpmate? For client Kellogg’s Special K, Starcom USA enlisted the former supermodel and talk show host, as well as Weider Publications’ Shape magazine, in a campaign to help motivate the dieting hordes. The multimedia effort was selected as Media Plan of the Year in the $10 million to $25 million category. Special K wanted to inspire dieters not only during its seasonal, two-week-long “Lose Six Pounds” challenges but throughout the year. “The brand really wanted to become a full-year weight-management partner,” says Michelle Rietschel, vp, strategy director at Starcom. “From our research, we know that weight management is more complicated and multifaceted than many people think,” she adds. “So we designed this plan to build a comprehensive relationship with women when it comes to their weight-management goals.” Through brand extensions including protein water and snack bars, Special K was well positioned to develop that comprehensive relationship with consumers. “It’s become such a big brand when you think about all the new products and brand extensions,” says Andy Jung, senior director, advertising and media services for Kellogg North America. “So it’s something that has to work every single day all year round. And that was the message of the media in this campaign.”
Also working on the plan were Tom Weeks, senior vp, director at Starcom; Jahna Lindsey-Jones, media director, and Trina Potter, associate media director. Starcom’s research showed that women look for straightforward weight-management information that fulfills four needs: education, enlightenment, inspiration and incorporation. Potter says those aims were top of mind in constructing the plan. Shape was a key part of the education pillar. “There is a real depth of information for women in each issue,” says Potter. Starcom secured a position alongside the magazine’s Success Stories franchise, an editorial series focused on women struggling with their weight. Complementing the ads was an exclusive workout DVD. And the agency took advantage of an eye-catching, block-long, Shape-owned billboard in Times Square.
Facilitating the enlightenment pillar was a unique, invitation-only online chat feature called SpeaK, whereby select consumers got exclusive access to brand strategy and even access to a Special K brand manager. “This really gave them a connection to the brand,” Potter says. “If we were thinking of trying something new, we could float the idea with this group of people. They became very knowledgeable about the brand and its benefits, and they became very invested in the brand.” The inspirational came in the form of Banks and her syndicated Tyra Banks Show. Starcom forged a yearlong partnership with the program that included a Special K-branded series, “The Prize Is Inside,” which helped four women shed pounds and improve their lives. “Kellogg is a big player in the syndication realm, and one of the things that was so exciting about the Tyra show was that we were able to work closely with Warner Bros. to custom-create a strategic platform that really connected with our target audience,” says Weeks. Finally, the incorporation part of the initiative evolved around a relaunched, more robust Web site that offered not only extensive product information but also a range of tools. The plan exceeded expectations. Year-over-year sales during “Lose Six Pounds” challenges shot up 18 percent, surpassing an original goal of 10 percent, and base sales grew 21 percent, exceeding an initial 10 percent benchmark.
“The best thing about the plan was that there were so many integrated components,” says Kimberly Miller, vp, marketing at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereals. “Starcom was able to find a lot of these media elements and cohesively link them together so that every aspect built on the whole.”
Spending Less Than $10 Mil.
HAWORTH MARKETING AND MEDIA
By Bill Gloede
Anthony Dominick Benedetto is a national treasure, though you probably know him better as Tony Bennett. He’s in a line of singers, crooners and scatters — Crosby, Sinatra, Armstrong, Cole, Fitzgerald and possibly Darrin — who have held forth for nearly a century, the tops of the top, the class among the crass. Bennett turned 80 last year, and to mark the milestone, he released Duets: An American Classic, an album (OK, a CD/DVD) in the mold of an earlier project that had Sinatra blending harmonies with Barbara Streisand, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, the Dixie Chicks and someone named Juanes. Haworth Marketing and Media, the Minneapolis-based shop that does work for discount retailer Target, spotted an opportunity — one that would take honors as Media Plan of the Year for Spending Less than $10 million.
Historically, Target has used music to draw the masses, both in its commercials and via special promos for CDs sold in its stores. Gary Tobey, Haworth’s chairman and CEO, hammered out a deal with Bennett’s son and manager, Danny Bennett, to create an exclusive version of Duets featuring four exclusive tracks with Michael Buble and Diana Krall, as well as Judy Garland and Sinatra. He also negotiated a “making of” DVD, sold exclusively at Target.
To mark Bennett’s 80th, Target sponsored a star-studded gala in New York, which served to kick off the broader marketing relationship. The CD release followed, supported by all the attention media outlets gave the birthday bash, as well as by ads on A&E, TBS and TNT and in national consumer magazines. A Tony Bennett page on Yahoo! Music showcased “making of” footage and exclusive downloads. Concert TV provided the VOD element, while branded martini glasses and cocktail napkins were distributed to hot New York and L.A. clubs. But the biggest pop came via an NBC special, directed by Chicago’s Rob Marshall, that aired the week of Thanksgiving and was the No. 1 televised music special of the year. (First, it was screened at a star-studded event in New York that drew the likes of John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Katie Couric.)”It’s important to note that we didn’t want the show to look like just any music special or a typical broadcast concert, which is why we wanted Rob Marshall involved,” says Andrea Luhtanen, president of Haworth. “The result would ultimately redefine the whole idea of what a variety special is.” Haworth conceived and negotiated a first-ever consecutive fractional banner unit within Vanity Fair‘s jump edit to generate buzz and awareness through the holiday season. The ads showcased Bennett’s collaboration with Moby, featuring a handwritten composition of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The sheet music ran in eight one-third page units running across the top of the page. As a gift from Target, the last page of the ad invites readers to download the song from the retailer’s site.
The CD won Bennett three Grammy Awards, with the singer giving Target a plug during his acceptance speech. CD sales broke records for Target and Bennett. Meanwhile, Target racked up $2.1 million in incremental non-music sales and sold an astounding 28 percent of all U.S. copies of the CD. The effort set Target back a total of $6.5 million.
“Working with Tony Bennett and Rob Marshall was an honor, and the campaign was exciting from the start,” says Tobey. “Each element added to the impact, and the icing was Tony thanking Target in his Grammy acceptance speech for being the greatest sponsor he’s ever worked with. The real success was the incremental guest coming to Target to purchase Tony’s products.” Adds Luhtanen, “We look for smart opportunities to stand out in a cluttered media world — and then build an effective, efficient plan. This one not only delivered an attractive return on investment, it reaped enormous buzz and incremental media exposure. The value far exceeded the cost of the plan.”
Spending $1 Mil. or Less
GREY SAN FRANCISCO
By A.J. Frutkin
With its phenomenally popular iPod, Apple grabbed control of the MP3 market, spending more than $86 million a year to promote the player. So, when SanDisk released its own Sansa MP3 player, Grey San Francisco devised a guerrilla marketing campaign that appealed to a hip demo while delivering the most bang for the buck. The campaign was selected as Media Plan of the Year for Spending Under $1 Million.
Working in Apple’s shadow, Grey first had to make sure its small budget wouldn’t get lost on the public. And with so many consumers buying into Apple