Busy consumers today know how to kick back and relax—at beachside hotels, ski resorts, heck, even a trip to the hair salon can be a refreshing hiatus from their hectic lifestyles. For smart brands these pleasurable pauses are an opportunity to join in the fun and connect with consumers while they are open to conversation—and receptive to a steaming cup of fresh-brewed coffee, a hair treatment or a chance to try out a new camera. And if they can generate some online buzz about it, so much the better.
Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters last year literally took to the mountains to get the word out about its specialty roasts, distributing free cups o’ joe via brand ambassadors wearing portable backpack beverage dispensers to skiers in lift lines at Killington and Mt. Snow, VT. It also set up its Keurig single cup brewers in self-service areas in hotel lobbies, resorts and ski lodges throughout its core territory in the Northeast. Signage on ski and snowboard racks and on trail maps provided visual reinforcement. Through the program Green Mountain distributed 100,000 coffee samples and made nearly 19 million media impressions, boosting its own brand awareness and that of its home state (Brand Connections Experiential, Montclair, NJ, handled).
Connecting hot cups of coffee to a chilly Vermont ski vacation was key to that success. “We sampled something they wanted at the moment when they wanted it most, when they’ve come off a great run and they’re feeling excellent about being in Vermont and loving the scenery and the atmosphere and they get to try one of the great specialty products from the area,” says Roger Garufi, senior marketing specialist at Green Mountain Coffee. “We use a lot of Vermont imagery in our advertising and marketing and it is everything our company is based on, so we felt that mini-brand immersion of getting people acclimated to the product and having the visual branding to reinforce that was a win-win for everyone. It helps promote our business and our state as a tourist destination, and we want people to take that back with them from wherever they visit.”
The mountain lifestyle of the snowboard crowd provided Kodak a platform for launching one of its newest products, a co-branded PLAYSPORT Video Camera that takes its orange pixilated design cues from the Burton Custom 154 Snowboard. Kodak has signed on as sponsor of the Burton Super Demo Tour, a 10-stop tour where snowboarders can test ride Burton hardgoods on snow for free and, while they’re at it, test out the Kodak camera.
Inside the igloo-shaped Kodak tent, snowboarders can talk to product specialists, then strap on the camera and head for the slopes. They can purchase the camera’s memory card to take their videos home with them and sign a release to permit Kodak to use the content for user-generated buzz. Fans can also have a souvenir photo taken against a green-screen backdrop in the Photo Zone by Kodak Event Imaging Solutions.
“The product is designed for adventure and for people with active lifestyles. It is rugged, durable and waterproof,” says Krista Gleason, worldwide p.r. manager at Kodak. “The young fans, their parents, a variety of ages, are all very receptive to our message. You show them this camera and they will test it and take it to the extremes, and they will be honest. We want their feedback.”
In a similar strategy to promote other cameras, Kodak has partnered with the PGA Tour in the Kodak Challenge, a season-long contest, now in its third year, in which PGA Tour players play 18 of 30 designated holes, among the most picturesque on the tour, to win $1 million in prize money and the Kodak Challenge trophy. The on-site activation is similar to the snowboarding tour with kiosks at the Kodak holes where its products are showcased and fans can take photos.
“Golfers really like the camera to analyze their swing in videos and stills,” Gleason says. “The one-on-one connection with our consumers is extremely important to Kodak, whether experiential at events or via social media.”
But meaningful engagements can also take place during relaxing moments in a beauty shop, where Dove Hair Care found women receptive to its products and hair care message. From August through October last year, the brand targeted Hispanic women at 500 upscale beauty and nail salons in the top 10 Hispanic markets in the U.S. (Moderne Communications, New York City, handled).
“Not only did we find the women when they were idle and had time to fully digest our messaging, but we got them when hair was on their mind, while sitting in the salon chair, with a message that was directly related to what they were doing at the time,” says Carl Brinker, account manager at Dove.
Placards and posters, branded smocks and handouts lent each shop the look and feel of Dove. Stylists’ tips reinforced the brand’s talking points to the consumer, and take-home samples, with coupons attached, encouraged trial use and subsequent purchase. Consumers engaged with the brand, understood the “damage repair” messaging and salon owners appreciated the attention.
“The consumer is thinking about hair, reading our messaging, trying our product, and then receiving a coupon and additional sample (with messaging, of course) to go buy it at her local store,” Brinker says. “Tell me she isn’t going to tell her friends and family about this.”
No way, José. EM