Some of the biggest marketing breakthroughs have come from brands that made new connections with unexpected demographics. Consider Nintendo Wii and its raging success with trendsetting moms for example. Who knew right? Following Nintendo’s lead brands once considered long shots with certain market segments are finding success by targeting tastemakers at niche events. The key to bringing together these odd couplings: connecting the dots through creative and relevant experiences.
M&M’s connected its new line of M&M’s Premiums with fashion-forward consumers at the fall Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City by putting on a mini fashion show hosted by actress Eva Longoria Parker and its most fashionable M&M’s candy Miss Green via a virtual image. The brand an official sponsor of the event partnered with designer Pamella Roland to create dresses corresponding to its new packaging in colors like mocha and green. The fashions were modeled on a mini runway under the event’s trademark white tents in Bryant Park.
For the spring fashion season LU Biscuits and the McDonald’s McCafé brand took a stab at it too mixing and mingling with fashionistas and their followers at Fashion Week as the official biscuit and coffee of the event. McDonald’s tantalized coffee lovers’ taste buds with espresso concoctions served in a cozy sit-down café environment.
“What might have been an unexpected event for the McDonald’s brand we thought was a perfect association because Fashion Week is all about great taste ” says Sofia Therios director-U.S. marketing at McDonald’s. “Great taste isn’t something that only appeals to a few people but there are only a few people who are tastemakers and trendsetters so it was a perfect place for us to debut our coffees.”
Off the runway health insurance giant Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida hit up foodies and their families at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival Feb. 21 to 22 by sponsoring the Fun & Fit as a Family event at Miami’s Jungle Island.
And household-cleaning product Lysol is sanitizing women’s restrooms at NASCAR races this summer to win mindshare with moms attending the male-dominated car racing events.
The takeaway: It doesn’t matter if you’re an insurance brand at a food and wine festival or a fast food joint at Fashion Week—it’s what you bring to the table that counts. Here’s a taste of what typically non-endemic brands dished out this year at niche events:
McDonald’s. In New York City where you can find a Starbucks at just about every street corner landing the spot as the official coffee of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was a real win for the McDonald’s McCafé espresso beverage brand. McCafé already successful outside the U.S. will add espresso drinks to McDonald’s beloved breakfast menu in restaurants nationwide this month. But to get the word out McDonald’s needed not only to sample its product but to put the coffee in the hands of the people that tell the rest of us what’s new and worthy.
“It was a great opportunity to go to those who are discerning about this type of product and to put it center stage and put the spotlight right on it and very proudly say ‘Try these McCafé coffees ’” says Therios.
Nestled near the entrance of the event’s white tents where each sponsor strutted its stuff McDonald’s set up a cozy café with stylish coffee tables comfy seating and pretty throw pillows. It featured three espresso machines manned by friendly baristas that prepared flavorful beverages all day long. For non-espresso drinkers the brand set up a self-service brewed coffee station. In one week McDonald’s sampled more than 25 000 cups of coffee. As a bonus pictures of the in-crowd sipping McCafé espresso concoctions made their way into the mainstream media for some free p.r. hits.
LU Biscuits. Acquired by the snack division at Kraft Foods two years ago the LU Biscuits brand most recognized for its Le Petit Écolier (The Little Schoolboy) biscuit was looking to drive awareness and trial in key markets. But as a brand found on supermarket shelves it had to find a way to reach an audience that gravitates towards premium products. LU Biscuits tied to fashion by playing up its French heritage with the creation of the LU Café at Fashion Week featuring French-speaking models dressed in custom-made LU outfits passing out the biscuits for sampling. The brand partnered with designer Erin Fetherstone (who received part of her fashion education and training in Paris) and commissioned her to create LU-inspired sketches of two of its packages including the Le Petit Écolier. Fetherstone also did a media-exclusive event at the café to attract additional attention one morning before official Fashion Week activities kicked off.
“Our objective was to drive trial and awareness with this audience by celebrating the brand’s deep European history entrenched with style and design which made it a logical fit with connecting the dots with Fashion Week ” says Stephen Chriss director-consumer and customer engagement at Kraft Foods. “We distributed 60 000 samples during eight days. The café was packed with media and we saw some nice pickup during that time at the event” (Pierce Promotions Portland ME handled).
Lysol. For years auto racing has been a man’s sport but times they are a changin’. In the last five years there’s been a big shift and now more than 40 percent of fans are women ages 25-54. Though NASCAR remains a male-skewed event Lysol whose target happens to be women 25-54 is connecting its products to female race fans by quelling one of the demo’s greatest fears: filthy bathrooms.
On race days Lysol is branding and scrubbing clean women’s bathrooms at various race tracks. It peppers each space with Lysol cleaning products and hangs posters with the message “Lysol Was Here.” The brand kicked off its program at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway March 20 to 22. This month it will be disinfecting restrooms in Charlotte NC followed by stops in Atlanta New Hampshire Sonoma CA and Texas.
Outside each Lysol approved bathroom is a sign that plays up the idea of making a pit stop at a race. Inside female brand ambassadors greet the women and educate them about each product on display and how it was used to disinfect the restroom. Consumers are given a coupon for free Lysol wipes to drive fans to stores and to help the brand track purchases.
“Lysol has found a natural connection between the rapidly expanding women race fan [demographic] and its brand and we are leveraging the opportunity by branding the track restrooms ” says Jeffrey Schonhoff account team lead at Reckitt Benckiser. “Public restrooms are one of the biggest fears of moms and we are helping her overcome that fear and trust Lysol” (Catapult Marketing Westport CT; GMR Marketing New Berlin WI handled).
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. For the second year Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida activated at the Fun & Fitness as a Family event at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival as the official sponsor of the “bus stop.” After families parked their cars they were given a pedometer to track their steps throughout the day and then were invited into a branded bus that dropped them off at the event’s entrance. At the Fun & Fitness pavilion Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida placed decals to point families in the direction of the Florida Blue Tour experience. There they were introduced to the Be Organic Guys (newerorganic.com) a team of South Florida chefs that focus on the use of organic products. The chefs whipped up dishes like mango mousse parfait and summer fruit salad and taught the children to make their own meals. The kids walked away with a bag filled with healthy recipes. The activities are a tie-in to the insurance company’s health-conscious messaging strategy.
“Through our partnership with the Be Organic Guys Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida created a fun and interactive environment that engaged parents and children of all ages to gain knowledge about nutrition learn how to create healthy snacks and have fun ” says Sara M. Miers event coordinator-advertising brand and market communications at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.
While enjoying the food- and fitness-related activities families could also opt to receive health screenings and learn more about the health insurance company’s products and services (361º Experiential Chicago handled).