Category Archives: Advertising

What Bud got right that Nike did not

The study was presented at Advertising Week and published in Smart Brief.

MavenMagnet presented exclusive data at Advertising Week on Wednesday that highlights how brands should react to the tense political environment in the US.

The marketing analytics company studied the reaction of British consumers to two distinct campaigns from brands in reaction to President Trump’s proposed immigration ban earlier this year: Budweiser’s television ad that highlighted the beer company’s immigration roots and Nike’s more direct campaign that included an open letter opposing the policy.

In short, Budweiser’s campaign was a win, while Nike’s was not – even though both companies were on the same side of the issue. MavenMagnet assessed that Budweiser garnered a positive “net vibe” of 32%, while Nike saw a negative net vibe of 17%.

The “Born the Hard Way” TV spot traced the immigrant roots of Budweiser’s founder, interweaving the immigration debate with the brand in an authentic way, MavenMagnet CEO Aditya Ghuwalewala said. It drove positive association for the brand while maintaining a safe distance from political and cultural mudslinging.

But Nike’s open letter was far more direct and prompted negative reaction from President Donald Trump and his supporters. It also prompted conversations about Nike’s working conditions around the world, sparking social media posts that included the word “hypocrisy,” and questions around why Nike’s ads focused on African Americans when the America’s immigrants are more diverse.

The findings echo larger conversations happening at Advertising Week about accountability. The lesson for marketers is clear, says MavenMagnet’s Cleve Langton.

“Basically, if you’re going to take a stand, make sure you clean up your own house before you start commenting on somebody else,” he said.

Critical Evaluation

I am a big believer of people being honest, truthful and good in general. But we humans also have a tendency to live in denial. To fix this and keep you on the way to success, what you need is something to measure your performance and optimize it.

Where I am going with this? I had a long pitch the other day, to convince a client to use MavenMagnet to evaluate their campaign performance. The argument client had was that our advertiser, who is running the campaign, is reporting on how well the campaign is doing, so why use MavenMagnet?

So here’s the scenario: An agency that developed your campaign and bought media for your campaign would also do reporting on how the campaign is doing. I was perplexed on why we even had to convince that you need an unbiased service provider, whose expertise is to evaluate campaigns, do the evaluation for you. Why burden the advertising agency, whose expertise is to run the campaign, with evaluating it and maybe fall in the trap of self denial? (Update: We were able to make the case using the superior and cutting-edge features of our product and got support from the advertising, media and PR agency for that).

MavenMagnet campaign evaluation product is the best service out there to measure your campaign on a competitive scale using years of benchmarks. Advertising agencies do a great job using the feedback from this campaign evaluation and course correct to improve the impact of the campaign. The idea is simple and win-win for all: let us partner with you to evaluate your campaign and provide you the analysis of what’s working, what’s not working and recommendations on optimization based on our expertise. Use the evaluation and optimize the campaign and be successful!

Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons are most ‘relevant’ hotel brands

How do you choose a hotel? By the quality of service? The view? What your friends might think? How about the water pressure in the shower? Don’t laugh.

Brodeur Partners looked into the heart of what really matters when it comes to online conversation about hotel choice and has come up with intriguing answers. “We wanted to go beyond speculation and opinion, and really see what drives online behavior – in this case, conversation – around different hotel brands,” said Brodeur Partners CEO Andy Coville.

The study reveals that Hilton, Marriott, and Four Seasons (in that order) have the highest Conversational Relevance™ in online discussions among leisure and business travelers. The conclusion is based on an analysis by Brodeur Partners and MavenMagnet of what is “relevant” in online brand conversation.

The Conversational Relevance™ scale is a measure of how much people are talking about a brand and how impactful and positive that conversation is. Brodeur and MavenMagnet parsed more than 18,000 online conversations between May 2012 and October 2012 across social networks, profiles, forums, news websites and blogs.

“We looked not only at practical considerations but at how the brands resonated with hotel guests’ senses, values and social needs, which are the other dimensions of Brodeur’s relevance model,” said Jerry Johnson, Brodeur executive vice president of strategic planning. “When a brand is engaging all four dimensions, it inspires strong feelings and an abiding loyalty in those who experience it.”

“Using our proprietary technology, we tap into the collective intellect of engaged consumers—in this case, consumers sharing their experience about travel and hotels,” said Aditya Ghuwalewala, MavenMagnet founder. “Our zero interference approach eliminates the risk of respondent conditioning thereby delivering actual insights focusing on what’s relevant in the space.”

Four Elements that Drive Relevance

The top hotel brands in the analysis displayed highly positive overall Conversational Relevance™ scores based on positive/negative buzz differential, with Hilton earning a 58 percent score followed by Marriott (56 percent) and Four Seasons(51 percent).

The analysis dug much deeper, however, looking at each of the 10 brands’ attributes through Brodeur’s four relevance pathways:

  • Functional – Practical attributes people care about like service, location, rooms, recreation and rewards programs. Comments in this area dominated the conversation about hotels. MarriottHilton and Sheraton were the winners here.
  • Sensory – Attributes that appeal to all five senses like the view and water pressure in the shower (which surprisingly eclipses bed comfort in online attention).
    Ritz-Carlton and Hilton led the category.
  • Values – Attributes that reflect personal values such as the hotel’s service ethic and commitment to indulging patrons. Four Seasons dominated.
  • Social – Attributes related to customer status, such as the brand’s cachet. Four Seasons dominated here, too.

The analysis further broke down results between leisure and business travelers. Room cleanliness, for example, means more to business travelers than leisure travelers. It’s the other way around for recreation.

Leisure travelers were broken down further still, between those traveling with children and those without. The Ritz-Carlton was particularly popular in conversations in the former category, and recreation was paramount for families.

Key findings
The Conversational Relevance analysis was able to specifically identify strengths that some brands could leverage and weaknesses that held other brands back. In addition, it identified a framework that all hotels can use in managing their online and social communications:

  • Service and location are the biggest “functional” conversation drivers.
  • Accessibility – both to the hotel and nearby amenities – drives nearly two-thirds of online conversations about the “functional” attributes of a hotel.
  • When it comes to conversations about rooms, size matters, closely followed byconnectivity and technology.
  • While there has been a lot of investment by hotels in the quality of beds, the subject that most people talked about in the “touch” or “feel” category was the shower, specifically thewater pressure of the shower.
  • Room noise was a hot topic in the “sound” category, particularly among family travelers. Most of that conversation was negative.
  • People talked about the “values” of a brand in terms of what kind of service they received, i.e., having a “service first” culture and being responsive. A particularly important element that drove online conversation was a hotel staff’s responsiveness and personal attention to individual needs.
  • The biggest driver of social conversations is whether a hotel is “referenceable” – that is, something travelers would recommend to others.
  • That a hotel’s “luxury” or “indulgence” is a symbol of status and achievement drove a considerable amount of conversation among business and leisure travelers; however one-third of that discussion was negative.
  • By far the biggest driver of conversation among business travelers is whether a hotel is considered “best in class.” Social relevance for leisure travelers derives more from peer reviews.

Why Conversational Relevance?
This study on the hotel industry is the first demonstration of Brodeur’s new Conversational Relevance model. Applicable to any industry, organization, brand, person, idea, candidate or cause, the Conversational Relevance methodology measures buzz volume, impact and positivity/negativity across four relevance dimensions. At the same time, it identifies hot topics, positive and negative, uncovering hidden strengths on which to build a business and risks that could devolve into crises.

The Conversational Relevance methodology has a number of advantages:

  • It relies on real people freely sharing thoughts with others who have common interests about things that matter to them.
  • Since it finds conversations where they occur, there’s no location bias.
  • It’s devoid of any response bias that could occur through a survey questionnaire.

“Our relevance strategy is founded on the principle that creating a dominant, relevant brand is as much a science as an art,” said Coville. “Relevance can be quantified and, more importantly, systematically improved to support behavior change in the people you’re hoping to influence. Conversational Relevance is just one of our many services that deliver on this principle.”

For more information on Conversational Relevance and hospitality, visit

Yet another campaign done right

A few months back I wrote about excellence of the New York shuttle S campaign. Here I want to talk about a very similar theme based campaign done on another piece of public transit and its impact (yes, we have numbers to prove that it worked well!)

I am talking about the San Diego trolley theme campaign of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic during the 2012 Comic-Con. The promoters of the show took one car out of 4-5 cars of the trolley and painted it with themes from the TV Show. The impact was amazing because of a couple of reasons. When anyone saw all the cars with simple regular red color and in between a car painted with a particular theme, it instantly caught their attention. People entering the car saw the same theme of the TV show wherever they looked. Second, it was extremely targeted to get hold of the Comic-Con audience who were there to talk and listen about movies and TV shows. The idea was, as always, to get undivided consumer attention.

With hundreds of movies and TV shows trying to buy a few minutes of attention from 130,000 Comic-Con attendees, this campaign of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic created significant buzz by the attendees and left a lasting impression in their mind. According to a research done by MavenMagnet, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ended up being the second most talked about TV show on social media by the Comic-Con attendees!

Check out MavenMagnet report Comic-Con 2012: Movies and TV Shows that dazzled the social world.

How you say it matters more than what you say

Advertising world is interesting (and funny). Every soap brand advertises to be the best for your skin, every car maker claims to give the best fuel efficiency & driving experience and every mobile phone company states that they make the best phones in the world. The message is the same, so what really matters is how you deliver it.

In order to find the best way to deliver the message, you got to know your consumer. What your consumer likes? What are their interests? How they spend time? What are the issues they care about? What kind of messaging worked for them in the past and what didn’t? In other words you need to understand the ethnography of your consumers.

The basic idea behind ethnographic research is to make sure your message is formulated in the right way so that it has the maximum appeal on the target consumer. But this has an added advantage too. It is not always possible to define a target group of consumers by demographic profile. Many times the target consumer group spans across standard demos. So when you reach out to the consumer based on their psychographic profiles, you make sure it appeals to the taste and interests of your consumers.

One of the best ways to do ethnographic research is on the internet. Human beings are social in nature. They talk. They share information and knowledge. They emote their values and concerns. Internet has provided them the best place to do so effortlessly. Social networks have now become the natural place for people to discuss everything from interest and activities to likes and dislikes.

At MavenMagnet we have developed capabilities to listen and understand this information at a macro level without violating privacy of individuals or interfering in their conversations. Our proprietary technology is smart and sophisticated to identify your target consumer group and sketch their psychographic profile.

Advertising involves a lot of creativity. I believe creative people are geniuses. They have the power to add life and excitement to anything from a bar of soap to a bottle of water. Our goal is to empower them with just a bit more critical information about the consumer so that they can channel that message to have a much greater and profound impact.

Super Bowl ads: a social phenomenon

Last time New York Giants met New England Patriots in the Super Bowl was four years back. Though the last two minutes heroics of Eli Manning still led the Giants to win the game, much has changed in the world since then. In the social world, the landscape in 2008 was comparatively smaller. For example,there were about 100 million Facebook users and 30 million tweets a month. Fast forward four years, in 2012 there are more than 800 million users on Facebook, more than 300 million tweets a day and 4 billion videos being streamed on YouTube every day. If nothing else, this completely changed the biggest television advertising day of the year.

For the first time, the brands did more public campaigns to gear up to the Super Bowl than any time before. Whether it was in form of contests to make audience vote for the best of the commercials or post teasers online to what to expect this year at Super Bowl. For example Chevy ran a Super Bowl ad contest. The 40 finalist ad spots were viewed on YouTube more than 35 million times and people voted and discussed them for a month. Doritos on the other hand asked people to make ads and submit in their contest. The prize being the winning entry getting airtime during the bowl. Volkswagen building up on the last year’s Darth Vader success dropped a teaser of their this year’s ad titled the Bark Side. It got about 10 million views before the game day.

The entire phenomenon of Super Bowl advertising is taken to another level this year and in many ways, the $3.5 million that advertisers shelled out for 30 seconds had much more impact this year than ever before. Social media enabled the 30 second spot to be a month-long advertising campaign.

But then there was Chrysler’s Halftime in America. No one saw it before, no one heard about it. So when the voice of Clint Eastwood came at the halftime mark, people paid attention to the ad like the good old times. The social media impact here: the official copy of the ad posted by Chrysler was watched more than 10 million times on YouTube within a week of its airing during the Super Bowl!

The science in art

When I think of art as a topic of conversation, I think of something that can be valued in terms of aesthetic measures like beauty and appeal. It is said beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you believe in that then you would also believe that there is very less logic and reasoning behind it. Something that is a great piece of art for me can be very mediocre for you and something that is a masterpiece accordingly to you may really not appeal that much to me. There is nothing that is universally appealing and beautiful.

Art has a lot more value when it is targeted. You cannot be a successful artist if you are not reaching your core audience. That’s where science comes in picture. There is enough data available in this world to develop rich correlations between distinct things and make you reach your target audience. You can end up being much more effective if the only people who notice you are the people who really matter.

This principle is very apparent in the advertising industry. The right advertisement shown to the right audience at the right time is what really adds value. How do you determine that right audience and the right time? Well embracing computation science to figure that out is a great complement to your gut. One great thing about science is it evolves really fast. Something which was determined using a few hundred data points a decade back can now be much more definitive by leveraging tens of thousands of data points. You got to embrace the explosive power of computation combined with the growth in available information. Add to that techniques like machine learning and artificial intelligence and improve your findings with time.

The biggest challenge for an art driven organization in embracing science is the ability to adapt as fast as science evolves. The longer you manage to last in the state of denial in embracing this evolution, the greater is your ability to make your art less compelling and attractive to the world out there. Art and science are great complements to each other. What art brings to science is the same thing that science brings to art. It’s the effectiveness and the value which otherwise goes untapped.

The art in science

Science is a very general term. So is art. In some sense art and science are opposites of each other and in other cases you can think of them being synonymous to each other. Without going much in the theory of the words, by science I mean something that is based on systematic study. Something that has numbers to back it. It has reasoning and logic behind it. On the other hand, by art I mean something that is subject to aesthetic criteria. Something that is beautiful, appealing and presentable.

I am a big believer in science. Numbers are awesome (though subject to interpretation) overall they prove something. When you do data analysis based on large sets of information, applying scientific algorithms can do wonders. It can generate patterns and extract information that is not even visible by naked eyes. That is specifically evident when you work with social media information. The data is overwhelming and algorithmic processes do an awesome job identifying the hidden knowledge.

But when you try to sell this science, you need something that is beautiful, appealing and presentable to people who are going to use it. That’s the role of art in a science heavy world. No matter how sophisticated software programs you write to extract information or how well you can process data to gain rich knowledge, till you can communicate that in an easy to consume manner, it is of no use. Add a pinch of art to your scientific prowess. Think who your customer is. What do they need? What language they understand? Then put your scientific findings in a way that is appealing to them. That will make them empowered by knowledge and take action on it. That will make your work really matter and make the science in the background worth more than anything else.

A campaign done right

New York City; Shuttle S; Grand Central to Times Square. If you are looking for a campaign done right, that’s a great example right there.

Whether it is the promotion of Lady Gaga’s new album, Arthur Christmas the movie, or the HTC tablet, the campaign around shuttle S stands out and grabs your attention. The campaign is designed to encompass the tunnel between the Grand Central entrance and the train along with wrapping the entire train inside out with the theme of the campaign.

In today’s world, this campaign stands out from the rest due to a couple of reasons. First is the campaign placement. Take the fast pace of NYC and the power of smartphone in every hand. The campaign mitigates both these distractions. If you are going from Grand Central to Times Square or vice versa, the five minutes that you spend in this transit, any where you look the themed advertisements are there. So no matter in what kind of rush you are, you cannot escape the campaign all around you. Another genius of the campaign is that it is in the subway and being in the subway, the smartphone signal is not there. Though you can still play games and dig in the archive of your emails, the probability of you looking away from your phone is much higher than anywhere else. Plus add to it the duration of the ride being too short for you to pay real attention to anything else, be it your smartphone or the kindle.

Second stand out feature of this campaign is the theme. It’s not just banners all around you. These campaigns are designed with a very thorough theme and flow to grab attention and make you look around at other nuggets of the campaign if you happen to look at a part of it.

This combination of great design and thoughtful placement gives the campaign relatively undivided attention of the consumer for at least a few minutes every day for 21 days. Now that’s a campaign done right!

From an advertising campaign to a social phenomenon

In layman terms, the goal of any advertising campaign is to create awareness. But every once in a while it happens that the advertising campaign evolves to be something much bigger than the original purpose of its inception. A few that come in mind are Santa Claus, Men in Blue and Wavin’ Flag.

Coca-Cola connection with the Santa Claus goes back about 80 odd years. It was in 1931 when Coca-Cola first released the campaigns with the man in red suit drinking the cola.  Over the years, Santa become more famous and got closer to Christmas.

It’s a known fact that the obsession Indians have with cricket is unmatched in the world. Cricket is religion in India and the top cricketer is nothing short of God. If you want to send a message to more than a billion people, the best language used is that of cricket. Pepsi adopted this language and the connection they drew was to the uniform of the cricket team. Pepsi became the official cola sponsor of the team and launched a campaign called “Men in Blue”. Over the years, Men is Blue became the alternate name for the Indian cricket team.

In more recent years, similar happened with the K’naan’s hit Wavin’ Flag. Coca-Cola picked the song to be the promotional anthem for 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song became incredibly famous and eventually became promotional anthem of every team sport out there.

Whether it’s a jolly old fellow becoming the mascot to bring joy and happiness to kids around the world or a fancy name becoming permanently attached to a sports team or a promotional anthem becoming a celebration song for every team sport, if you look back it all became a grand thing partly because an advertising campaign took charge.

Interestingly, none of these were created by the advertising campaign. Santa Claus was a character created much before Coca-Cola created its own version. But eventually Coca-Cola version took over. Indian cricket team wore a blue uniform for the shorter format of the game ever since colored uniform came to the game. But they started to be popularly known as Men in Blue after Pepsi ran the infamous campaign.  Wavin’ flag song was a Canadian hit much before Coca-Cola picked it for the FIFA world cup. But it became a global phenomenon after the Coca-Cola’s advertising campaign.

All these appear so awesome in retrospect but were definitely not planned to become social phenomenon. Advertising brains planned an outstanding campaign. Consumers adopted it and gave it a much bigger purpose than just an advertisement for the brand and the advertisers went along. The beauty is, after a while the audience emotional attachment with the brand is reversed. A seven-year old sees Santa drinking coke and draws a connection with coke. An Indian  cricket fan sees their favorite cricket team wearing Pepsi blue (even though Pepsi changed its color to match the cricket team’s) and gets attracted towards the cola. Talk about ROI, it’s just immeasurable. It’s working for years and it will be reaped by generations to come.