NEW YORK Amid the hoopla of honoring ad icons such as Mr. Peanut, the Jolly Green Giant, Ronald McDonald and Tony the Tiger, marketers who convened on the first day of Advertising Week in New York City had more thought-provoking matters to discuss. In the case of several Association of National Advertisers panels held at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, the topics included sports, music, entertainment and fashion.
Specifically, executives discussed the ways and means that companies were activating programs to reach traditional consumers.
The opening panel, "Negotiating the Deal," was moderated by Jon Lese of JFL Marketing, with panelists Jodi Ann Heller, legal counsel, Canon U.S.A.; Theresa Matonti, strategic sourcing, Nortel Networks; and Jackie Tepper, legal and business counsel, WTA Tour (Women's Tennis Association). The group covered topics such as contracts, using assets to offset costs and protecting trademarks and sponsorship deals.
"Ambush marketing is a problem," said Tepper. "You have to take all the steps you can to protect the exclusivity" of your events and deals. Lese opined that, "We are all L.I.T., lawyers in training, when it comes to negotiating contracts." Citing the recent Olympics, he offered, "You can work out a deal to have exclusivity in a category with the [U.S. or International] Olympic Committees. But consumers watched the Games on NBC, so there also have to be deals negotiated with networks [covering each event]."
Dean Barrett, svp, global marketing at McDonald's, soloed on "Building Brand Passion," and came prepared with a bag of upbeat statistics regarding the fast-feeder's global efforts.
In tying McDonald's "I'm lovin' it" positioning to entertainment, Barrett said, "When we wanted to launch the campaign, we saw three growth targets among consumers worldwide: kids, their moms and young adults. And [in music, sports and entertainment] they have a lot more in common than they do dissimilarities."
Barrett admitted that when Justin Timberlake initially was being considered as a marketing spokesman, "I said 'Justin who?' I know him very well now, as well as the other entertainers we are using around the world: Tony Santos (Spain), Stomy Bugsy (France) and Lee Hom Wong (Asia)."
In the sports category, Barrett cited the client's longtime commitment to the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, and the more recent addition of NBA star Yao Ming as a global spokesman (although no mention was made of the previous endorser, Kobe Bryant). "Yao Ming transcends borders," said Barrett. In a McDonald's TV spot that has been aired in Asia but that also speaks to non-Asian consumers, a young boy is shown having trouble in sports keeping up with his classmates, who laugh at him when he can't run or jump as fast as they do. But on a class trip to McDonald's, the boy sees his teacher holding a Big Mac, which motivates the kid to leap high in the air to grab the burger, a scene juxtaposed against Ming dunking over his opponents.
Barrett also played a TV spot that has been running in Buenos Aires featuring an impromptu soccer game in a shopping mall that begins when a customer puts his trash in a McDonald's bag, crushes it into a ball and tries to kick it into a nearby garbage can. He misses, but another shopper hits it into the air with his head, and a third kicks it to another guy, until shoppers are seen running to the action from every part of the mall. When a security guard picks up the "ball" and tries to throw it away, all of the participants stare at him until he kicks the package to a nearby shopper and the game resumes.
"Soccer is universal, as is basketball," said Barrett. But the company is not limiting itself to these major sports. Robert Korzeniowski, the Olympic gold medal winner in race walking, has been signed to appear in marketing efforts. And when asked about a comment from multi-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, who said that during the Olympics he ate at McDonald's, Barrett offered, "We do not have him as a signed athlete, but we have sponsored events in which he has competed. We'd love to have a relationship with him . . . more to come." Barrett also said that upcoming marketing efforts will target gamers and the videogame category.
"By featuring Yao Ming, and also using such performers as Justin Timberlake and music in marketing we haven't used before [such as hip-hop and Latin], we're showing consumers that McDonald's is willing to change to meet their lifestyles," said Barrett, who was proof of that: When the various "I'm lovin' it" songs from around the world were played to the audience, the man who only recently became a Timberlake aficionado bopped along in time to each of the beats.
"When you have concentrated efforts supporting the Olympics or World Cup, your ROI is not how many hamburgers you sold [that month]," Barrett said. "It's long-term; it's building the brand and taking the time to cultivate new consumers. Don't get into it if your company is not going to be committed for the long haul."