Who Had the Better Media Plan? 1-800-Flowers vs. Teleflora

Optimedia's CEO Antony Young on Mother's Day Media Strategies

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Antony Young
Antony Young

On May 10, moms all around the U.S. will be treated to thoughtful gifts, a Hallmark card and perhaps a special lunch out ... if only every day were Mother's Day! This Sunday represents an important date on the retail calendar that accounts for some $14 billion in sales. Flowers are by far the most popular gift for moms, purchased by two thirds of those that celebrate. Here, a comparison of two florist delivery services -- 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora -- to better understand their media strategies in marketing's very own War of the Roses.

1-800-Flower's 2009 Mother's Day campaign was its most aggressive to date, featuring a strong viral push encompassing online contests, web-based partnerships and blogger outreach. This year they launched "Spot a Mom" -- a multichannel, branded message campaign.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Antony Young is CEO of Optimedia US -- a Publicis Groupe company, headquartered in New York. He is author of Strategies in a Downturn.

As a follow-up to its controversial but successful Valentine's Day spot that ran in this year's Super Bowl, Teleflora built their Mother's Day program around a TV campaig, "Talking Flowers," in which two sons send their mom a box of tired flowers that speak to her. The commercial ends with "Don't send flowers in a box, you don't know what they'll say" -- meant to highlight their difference of flower bouquets hand-arranged and delivered by a neighborhood florist, in contrast to other services (like 1-800-Flowers) that centrally source and distribute flowers.

Flower sales are not exactly in full bloom with sales in 2009 wilting largely due to the economy. As a result, media budgets are under even more scrutiny. Let' see how they delivered.

RATINGS

5 stars Outstanding/innovative
4 stars Highly effective
3 stars Good
2 stars Disappointing
1 star A disaster

Social Media Strategy

1-800-Flowers 4 stars
Teleflora 3 stars

1-800-Flowers began a blogger program on April 7 by directly sending mommy bloggers a bouquet and discount code to share with their readers. Every week, bloggers were chosen based on different "mommy" categories including "DIY Moms" and "On-the-Go Moms." In the first week, 1-800-Flowers' blogger and "floral lifestyle expert" Julie Mulligan recognized two mommy bloggers as "Red Carpet Moms" for their stylishness. Both women subsequently wrote posts about the recognition, shared photos of the bouquets and passed along discount codes to their readers.

Teleflora maintained a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and its website featured a flower blog. It also courted bloggers with a promotion to give away a mother's day bouquet to their readers, providing they gave the company credit in a blog. However, 1-800-Flowers showed much more steadfastness and resourcefulness in this channel, and as a result they saw eight times more blog activity over Teleflora in the month leading up to Mother's Day.

National Broadcast

1-800-Flowers 2 stars
Teleflora 3 1/2 stars

Following its blogger activity, 1-800-Flowers ran 30- and 15-second spots featuring its CEO, Jim McCann, and deliverymen giving bouquets to moms. It did a good job of linking its radio advertising offers to its website.

Teleflora ran spots on cable between May 1-10 in female-skewing programs including AMC, Bravo and Lifetime. It partnered with Home Shopping Network's TV channel and website to sell exclusive bouquets. Teleflora launched an exclusive product lineup, promoted through three 30-minute slots on the TV network on May 5, just in time for Mother's Day the following Sunday. The network featured Tim Farrell, a Teleflora member florist, as the on-air guest demonstrating how flower arrangements are made, as well as providing tips and suggestions for choosing flowers by occasion emphasizing the Teleflora difference -- that all bouquets are hand-arranged and hand-delivered by neighborhood florists.

Online

1-800-Flowers 4 stars
Teleflora 3 stars

According to TNS, three quarters of 1-800-Flowers' media budget is placed online. 1-800-Flowers created a microsite, spotamom.com, which featured an interactive guide on how to identify the different types of moms. From a smiling "New Mom" smelling of baby powder to the doggy-toting "Pet Lover Mom," visitors could match their moms up with one of the eight motherly archetypes displayed on the site. The site offered visitors Mother's Day gift suggestions and floral bouquets designed to reflect each mother's unique personality and style.

Spot a Mom microsite

The "Spot a Mom" microsite featured a link to 1-800-Flowers' "Spot a Mom" sweepstakes: spotlightamom, an online contest running through April 29 in which visitors could share their personal story of a mom who has touched their lives. The week prior to Mother's Day, consumers were invited to vote for one of the 10 finalists to win the grand-prize package, including a luxury family vacation and a year's supply of flowers.

Teleflora ran a comprehensive schedule online. Promoting discount offers as well as a supporting a sweepstakes that gave away a grand-prize shopping spree of $20,000, along with 25 prizes of $500 and 500 prizes of $50. Those who order flowers for Mother's Day were automatically entered. It ran a re-targeting strategy via Google Ads. I was impressed that after viewing their website but not completing the purchase, I was heavily followed the next few days on other sites with special offer Mother's Day targeted banners.

Website

1-800-Flowers 4 stars
Teleflora 3 1/2 stars

There was nothing in it between the two websites. Both featured Mother's Day landing pages. Both supplied various options to select floral arrangements based on price, flower choice and mom's personality. The 1-800-Flowers home page highlighted "Gifts for every mom! Starting at $19.99. Mother's Day is May 10th." There was an invitation to click into the Spotlight a Mom program. After about 10 minutes of surfing the site without placing anything in the shopping cart, a live chat function appears. I clicked on to it to have Heather answer my questions and eventually offer some selections.

Teleflora.com

Teleflora's site opens on a classy, uncluttered full-screen rich-media visual with the headline "Honor Mom." I really appreciated the style and premium feeling of the branding and also liked their mom personality classifications (e.g. modern mom or down-to-earth mom).

Both sites do the job. Teleflora had a bit more sophistication and a warmer personality vs. the more functional 1-800-Flowers site. While I personally preferred the Teleflora site's design, from an e-commerce perspective 1-800-Flowers offered more usability.

Search

1-800-Flowers 3 1/2 stars
Teleflora 3 stars

1-800-Flowers took an aggressive position in paid search. It recorded nearly three times more click-throughs than Teleflora. Its listings were better positioned against generic search terms such as "Mother's Day Gifts" and "Mother's Day." While Teleflora had better rankings for "Mother's Day Flowers"

Mobile

1-800-Flowers 4 stars
Teleflora N/A

1-800-Flowers had a mobile marketing campaign that supported its SpotAMom promotion. 1-800-Flowers asked consumers to text the word "Spotamom" to short code 356937 (Flower) to get 20% off of their Mother's Day flowers. This promotion also served to build a database of names that could be used to remind users of other flower giving occasions. 1-800-Flowers made available applications for the iPhone and Blackberry, as well as the web browser mobile phones, to facilitate mobile-commerce functionality.

Summary

1-800-Flowers 4 stars
Teleflora 2 1/2 stars

1-800-Flower wins my bouquet for best media strategy. In almost all categories we evaluated, it delivered a comprehensive and creative solution. Clearly, they had a bigger budget, but they did more than just out-voice Teleflora, they outplayed them. Its communications came across as well integrated -- every part of the plan seemed to build off all the other parts. It used digital not only to drive traffic to their site, but play a role in building the brand. Its social media strategy was well-executed and scalable. Teleflora had some high points -- notably its TV creative, magazines and well targeted online programs. But as a challenger brand in the category, it needed to be much better than just solid to compete.

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