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Launchpad Media Watch

Promos Still Hot as Real Estate Chills

Real estate was the place to be for a lot longer than many expected. Unfortunately, due to the subprime mortgage meltdown and other economic factors, the industry has taken a hit. However, this hasn’t stopped the major players from advertising. For the first three months of 2008, real estate brokers and developers spent $566,457 on measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Re/Max, Prudential and Apollo Management’s Coldwell Banker and Century 21 invested the heaviest, even among the market downturn. Unlike many other ad categories, print proved to be the favorite medium with nearly $1 billion spent on print ads. TV was a distant second at $300 million.

“My vote has been and will be with print,” says Bill Golden of Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside. “I don’t have an ongoing ad campaign, but I run print ads sporadically, geared to specific audiences featuring specific properties. TV and radio are generally not a practical solution for my real estate practice, in terms of cost-efficiency.”

For many Realtors like Golden, promotional products are a favorite tool even in the current climate. “I think logoed products are more valuable in a down market, when there’s so much competition for business, and other agents are less likely to spend the money on such things,” Golden says. “I’ve been in real estate long enough to know that it will rebound and that it is just as crucial, if not more so, to reinvest in my business during the slower periods.”

Brian Coeste, president of Coester Appraisal Group, a real estate appraisal company agrees. “We use logo-based items for all of our marketing. We give away pens, sticky note pads, calendars, calculators and all kinds of things with our logo on them to our clients. We have found them very effective and well worth the money and set-up costs. We use them when we go into a new client?s office as a drop off and also to visit existing clients as a reason to stop by.”

Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes and Company, which boasts more than 6,000 real estate agents within its brokerage, says a little creativity goes a long way. “I have received a lot of reaction to rubber jar openers because of their shelf life and usability,” he says. “I give a dozen mugs that say “You’ve Been Mugged by Denny” to the local florist, and for $15 I am able to send the mugs with a floral arrangement inside to my clients and colleagues. People love that! I promote my business every way possible. My staff wears logo shirts, my coffee is served in logo glass mugs and my napkins also have my logo on them. It really only costs pennies more to help reinforce your brand and image.”

Golden, who has found success with chip clips and sticky note pads, doesn’t plan on stopping. “For me, more than anything, it’s about keeping my name in front of folks, so I’ll come immediately to mind when they have real estate needs. This is particularly important to me because I encourage my clients to call me not just when they are buying or selling, but also when they are considering a renovation or have other real estate-related questions.”

Cool Multi-Media Campaign

Monroe Says “Save a Squirrel”

Monroe Shocks and Struts has a message for all of the animal lovers of the world: “Replacing worn ride control components could improve vehicle steering, stopping and stability – and just might save the life of an innocent squirrel darting across the street.”

This was the official statement released by the company after it sent a bag of squirrel food, the Squirrel Street Journal newspaper and a personalized note from a squirrel to reporters. Next the recipients received a logoed bag of peanuts and a squirrel, or rather, mouse pad.

These promotional products were used to build hype for its “Save a squirrel” campaign which launched in April.

“We’ve already had tremendous interest in the ‘Squirrels’ campaign from the automotive industry as well as consumers,” says Carri Irby, brand manager of Monroe Shocks and Struts, which is owned by Tenneco, prior to the launch of its ad campaign. “As our billboards go live in the coming weeks, we expect a tremendous spike in traffic to our Web site, as well as word-of-mouth advertising driven by local broadcast outlets and the thousands of businesses that sell and install Monroe shocks and struts.”

The squirrels have gotten around as the message is broadcast on billboards throughout the country, on 2,000 radio stations, within Major League Baseball stadiums and via the Web.

Monroe also made sure to add a heavy assortment of promotional products to the mix. Mouse pads, note cubes, pens, trash cans and bagged peanuts are available for use by its sales force. ?Our promotional programs are tightly integrated into the campaign,? says Irby. The squirrels could not be reached for comment.

Creative Consumer Promo

Svedka Sees a Future in Ad Specialties

So what will be the best-selling vodka of 2033? Svedka, of course. The high-end vodka has fashioned a critically acclaimed ad campaign around a sarcastic sci-fi campaign that looks into the future and sees its vodka as “the choice of the stem cell baby boomer of 2033″ and going “great with a $450 pack of cigarettes.”

When it comes to its promotions, Svedka also looks forward rather than copy the boring giveaways of the past. For example, realizing that we’ve all had one too many chocolates on our pillows, Svedka created limited-edition “Turn up kits” last fall. They debuted at the Soho and Tribeca Grand Hotels in New York and then rolled out to other trendy hotels.

The kits were custom designed by avant-garde fashion icon Jeremy Scott and included two Svedka mini-bottles of vodka, a swizzle stick and three mood elixirs – Bionic Boost, Love Potion #2033 and Artificial Intelligence – in glass vials.

In April, the brand continued to innovate by launching their eco-friendly T-shirt collection at Fred Segal Fun in Santa Monica, CA. The shirts were imprinted with “Make cocktails, not war” and “Help end global warming – add more ice.” Guests sipped “Cosmopoliticians” at a special kick off event. Shirts, created by e.vil, were distributed to models and made available for sale shortly after, with proceeds going to “Heal the Bay.” The non-profit environmental organization is dedicated to cleaning up Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds.

“In our quest to continually innovate, any logoed items have to be one of a kind,” says Marina Hahn, chief marketing officer of Svedka. “When we developed a relationship with e.vil and created this limited edition collection of fabulous headlined tees, we knew we had a winner.”

Wacky Beverage Launch

Bawls Guarana Proves It’s Sweet on Geeks

Most brands are interested in tapping “influencers.” You know, the cool people who have a large network of really cool friends. Not Bawls Guarana. This brand of energy drink is more interested in attracting the guy dressed as Darth Vader.

Bawls relishes its role as being the official drink of geeks everywhere. So much so, it launched a series of “Geek Singles Nights” in conjunction with the online dating site Sweet on Geeks. The first matchmaking party kicked off in April in Lauderhill, FL. The event, naturally, was held at a comic book store. Raffles, displays of light saber skills and speed dating was in the air as local members of the 501st legion of Star Wars enthusiasts were invited to attend in full costume.

Beyond giving “Yoda” and “Princess Leia” the chance to hook up, the inaugural event was also an opportunity to launch the brand’s new flavor Bawls G33K B33R. “Drinking Bawls G33K B33R is a fun, refreshing way for anyone to celebrate their inner geek,” says Hobart C. Buppert, owner of Hobarama Corp., which produces Bawls Guarana. “To further celebrate geekiness at singles night events, Bawls distributes non-traditional, branded items including Bawls G33K eyeglasses, taped and all, for fans to get their geek on.”

Rather than mix alcohol in with its drink, like many energy drink brands, Bawls distributes G33K B33R floats. The company also gives away branded T-shirts, stickers and drawstring bags.

Bawls also regularly sponsors video gaming competitions (more than 1,000 per year) as well as the 2008 Geek Prom. Geek singles nights will make their way across the country with Jacksonville, FL., Minneapolis and San Francisco on the schedule. So this would indeed be a good time to shine up your Stormtrooper costume in case a cute droid happens by.

Fun Grassroots Effort

Newcastle Ale Tries Some Smooth Moves

From how to survive a sunburn to how to properly grill a fruit pie, Newcastle Brown Ale has a few tips for celebrating the 94 days of summer. The top imported ale will share these tips with customers at 5,000 grocery stores, from May-July, via its “94 Days of Summer” guide. “Sam the Cooking Guy” from Discovery Health offers cooking tips while King’s Hawaiian, the Coleman Company and MovieTickets.com serve up discounts for summer fun.

Newcastle is no stranger to giveaways. To tout its “Smooth like no other” brand positioning, a team of “Smooth Operators” has been hitting bars all across the country. This grassroots promotion involves sampling efforts and interactive games to engage bar patrons in games like “spin the bottle.” Consumers who answer questions correctly about Newcastle win free prizes.

“Newcastle Brown Ale’s target audience is male consumers ages 21 to 35. This demographic tends to prefer premium items and enjoys a rich tasting, imported ale such as Newcastle,” says Katie Casey of Formula, the marketing firm that created the brand?s promotions. “Therefore it is only natural that our target consumer would gravitate towards premium giveaways such as our T-shirts and baseball caps.”

Smooth Operators also give out branded bottle openers, bottle light projectors, air fresheners and, where legal, free beer. “They are out there to educate the consumer about the taste and flavor of the beer,” Casey says.

Newcastle launched the program in 2005. It has grown threefold in size as last year, 4,500 promotions were held in 50 cities. The Smooth Operators connected with a quarter of a million customers in 2007 helping the brand exceed 6 million cases sold.

Groovy Earth-Friendly Campaign

Green T-shirts Against Toxicity

Computer screens, cell phones and microwave ovens contain all sorts of toxic elements that it’s best not to put them in a hole in the ground when they’re no longer of use. But, the reality is most of these items are carted away and put in landfills. In fact, an estimated 70% of toxic landfill waste is a direct result of technology. NBC Universal used Earth Week (April 21-25) to spur homeowners to recycle these items.

Its “Green is Universal” campaign kicked off on the Today Show on April 21. HP, Staples, the Environmental Media Association and Electronic Recyclers International (ERI) partnered for the event. Part of the push involved placing recycling bins, where consumers could place old electronics, at New York’s Rockefeller Center. In the New York area, consumers were invited to also bring their old equipment to participating Staples stores. HP offered $50 off its more energy-efficient printers and $150 off select computers in exchange for old models.

At Rockefeller Center, New York School of Visual Arts students were invited to create a giant mosaic using the donated products. ERI handed out “Green is Universal” T-shirts at the event. The brand typically provides eco-friendly shirts that say “Green is Good,” but it altered its tagline in honor of the event. ERI owns 1-800-Recycling (a service people can call for free to find out how to properly dispose of their electronics and other items).

“With us, it’s all about being in touch with our green DNA and spreading the word in as many positive far-reaching ways as possible,” said John S. Shegerian, ERI’s chairman and CEO. “So whether we are appearing at a local high school or on the Today Show, we make it a point to come armed with meaningful takeaways that inspire, empower and motivate people to think about the green messages we shared.”

In addition to shirts, ERI hands out logoed tins of chocolate-covered raisins that were grown on organic farms. Its business cards are even printed on recycled paper using soy ink. Shegerian said, “Everything we share is part of our message.”

Reprinted with permission of Successful Promotions, copyright 2007.

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