Consumers usually have a pretty clear idea about brands. Mention Q-tips and women associate the product with cleaning their babies’ ears or removing rings of mascara from their eyes. Coleman brings images of coolers stocked with sodas and beer for family camping trips or backyard barbecues. State Farm like a good neighbor is there or so the ad copy goes. But when that brand perception becomes outdated or no longer adequately reflects the attributes of the product event marketing is a powerful tool to change that image in consumers’ minds. And that is just what the three brands mentioned above recently did. Q-tips staged a Makeover Marathon to get women to consider its cotton swabs as the ultimate beauty tool. Coleman sent its cooler on a three-day race through Death Valley as a way to gain credibility in the technical outdoor market. And State Farm tuned into the 18-24-year-old demo with a Now what? campaign that included events and sponsorships as part of the plan. Here’s how—and why—they did it:
Q-tips. It’s a product consumers know and trust says brand manager Aaron Calloway. “We’re simply trying to educate customers about new ways they can incorporate Q-tips into their everyday beauty routine ” he explains. “Among those who use Q-tips in their beauty regimen they generally considered it a make-up removal tool. Through the marathon more and more people learned why Q-tips are the ultimate beauty tool for not just removal but application and specifically precision application.”
The marathon took place smack dab in the middle of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. (That means huge amounts of foot traffic.)
Q-tips conducted more than 1 000 makeovers at 13 Hollywood-inspired vanities and enlisted an army of make-up artists who wielded the swabs as the latest and greatest tool to hit the cosmetics counter. (Agency: Eventage South Orange NJ).
“The Makeover Marathon was not only a direct-to-consumer event but it was created as a lightning rod event to generate a nationwide media blitz for the brand and that it did ” Calloway adds. More than 45 million media impressions including coverage on “E! News ” Fox’s “Good Day New York” and in Star magazine drove home the message that Q-tips are an essential part of a woman’s everyday beauty routine.
Coleman. “We recognize the need to be more than a camping company ” says Ann Walden director-p.r. at Coleman who also handles marketing. “We are really an outdoor enjoyment company.” It was events that would change that consumer perception.
To gain credibility among outdoor enthusiasts who need functional gear that withstands extreme weather conditions Coleman sent its camping gear to the top of Mount Everest with mountaineer and Denver middle school teacher Mike Haugen. A few months later it went to the other extreme as official cooler sponsor of the Badwater Ultramarathon a three-day race in which it protected each racer’s water and food in grueling heat. Coleman also delivered frozen ice cream bars to the runners and their crews throughout the race (Agency: Blumenfeld & Assoc. Darien CT).
“We can tell people all day long what our coolers will do but events such as this make it more real more credible ” Walden says. “Badwater allowed us to do that and be at an event where people may not think of Coleman.”
State Farm. To change its perception among young people State Farm launched Now what?as an integrated campaign that rebranded State Farm’s message and logo in a cool way. “Eighteen-to-24-year-olds knew a lot about State Farm because their parents or their grandparents have State Farm but they didn’t see it as a brand for them ” says Bobby Wilkinson manager-national sponsorships. “They considered it more of an aspirational brand a brand that they would get after college or their first good job or after marriage and kids. They saw it as a little expensive and a brand for older folks.”
Events were an integral part of the plan that turned that perception on its head. State Farm sponsored Live Nation’s The Fray concert series which traveled to 30 venues. On-site photo marketing drove kids to a website nowwhat.com with music content and information on renters’ and auto insurance. It also sponsored last year’s summer and winter X Games and the U. S. Snowboarding Championships in Lake Placid where brand ambassadors manned a tent and handed out handwarmers hot chocolate and other goodies. A branded SUV created buzz as it traveled through Atlanta Dallas and Seattle towing a car smashed by an air conditioner recalling the TV ad in which a guy installs the AC only to see it fall out of the window and smash into his car a few seconds later (Agencies: USMP Dallas; Tribal DDB Chicago eshots Chicago).