Let The Games Begin

12 02 2010

In the old business model, the only interaction customers had with a brand was by direct contact with the product itself. Advertising was ephemeral, lasting only an instant in the customer’s sensory arena. With thousands of other voices in the fray, often it was he who could shout loudest that would carry the day.

Today, it’s not about being loudest (or even most annoying). No, it’s about engagement. It’s about providing ways for people to interact with the brand long after the initial communication. It’s about engagement and creating a platform as sticky as a fly trap.

And with the Winter Olympics set to begin tonight, we are about to witness not just athletic competition, but also a battle among marketers to entice you to their fly paper.

And it’s all being done with…wait for it…social media sites and phone apps.

The Super Bowl and Olympics offer advertisers an incredible 1-2 punch to hit many millions of people in short order, but those ads are expensive…and, like ads of old, fleeting. But today’s savvy marketers use those ads to lay bait, in hopes that viewers will drop what they are doing and run over to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, or download a phone app.

And some of these efforts have very short shelf life. I just downloaded the NBC Winter Olympics app, and its relevance lasts only for the duration of the game: 2 weeks. NBC is hoping their app pulls me farther into the Olympics; a simple schedule of events and broadcast times on my phone may very well cause me to park in front of the TV tonight…and then see some of the ads NBC has selling to the same folks (e.g., Coke, McDonald’s, Visa) also hoping to engage me with their brands.

If it all seems like a big loop, then pat yourself on the shoulder. Throw in some online buzz and sharing with friends, and you wind up with a viral loop for which advertisers a generation ago would have been willing to ski off the edge of a mountain.

And if it all works as planned, they’ll be handing out gold medals to marketers as well as athletes.

Dr “Medallurgist” Gerlich


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