Tapping a novel spin on direct marketing, Guinness Great Britain is using the Internet as a way to get pints of its thick, dark brew into more consumers' hands.
The success of its campaign overseas could spur U.S. marketers to follow suit.
On Nov. 12, the beverage marketer, owned by London-based Diageo, launched G, a Guinness-branded, electronic magazine delivered to users' desktops. Guinness issues the magazine fortnightly, to borrow a British term, meaning every two weeks.
Developed by Baltimore, Md.-based interactive shop Circle.com, a division of Snyder Communications, the lifestyle-focused e-zine attracted 10,000 subscribers in its first 10 days; the company expects 50,000 British consumers will have subscribed by the end of the year.
The e-zine, which will run indefinitely, is promoted on Guinness' Web site at (www.guinness.com) and through Circle.com-developed banners and interstitials running on sports, music, game and movie sites in the U.K. Guinness also sent e-mails about G to consumers in its database.
NO SURFING REQUIRED
Circle.com is in talks with U.S.-based advertisers in the financial services, retail and telecommunications categories to develop similar promotions in 2000.
E-mail marketing is popular among advertisers that like its ability to push promotional messages and ad campaigns to consumers.
"This is direct mail that actually goes into their world," said Guy Bowles, brand manager for Guinness. "We are delivering it to them rather than making them go surf [the Web]."
G, a nearly $1 million effort, is not Web-based. Rather, British consumers go to a special registration Web site (www.getg.com) where they enter their name, age (for legal reasons) and post code--comparable to a ZIP code in the U.S.; the e-zine then is sent right to their desktops. It is customized per post code so that pubs, music reviews and other content pertain to the area where the recipient lives.
"This is a different way of talking to our [target] consumers--18-to-34-year-old single, drinking men. They like to go out and have a good time," Mr. Bowles said. "This is not a comprehensive listings guide," he added, "but an irreverent, cheeky peek at the best [entertainment] offerings."
SPEEDIER, BETTER WEB EXPERIENCE
Circle.com employed HITEC, its proprietary technology that uses Macromedia's Flash technology, to develop the rich-media e-zine. Such technology is normally used to develop Web sites, rather than desktop-based applications, said Bob Wilke, CEO of Circle.com. To enable all subscribers to open the e-zine--not just those who have rich-media-enabled desktops--Guinness attaches an executable file, which automatically downloads the software to users' desktops.
"This is better than a Web-based experience in that it is faster, much more highly animated and it exists offline," Mr. Wilke said.
For Guinness, the Internet promotion is a way to stay cutting-edge in consumers' minds.
"Guinness in the U.K. is one of the leading brands in terms of innovation," Mr. Bowles said. "We've always had a reputation in terms of advertising and ways we talk to our consumers. This is a totally new way to interact with consumers. The technology allows us to do that. Through this, we want to get the occasional drinker of Guinness to think about drinking Guinness on a more regular basis."
Michele Slack, a Jupiter Communications analyst, said rich-media ads sent via e-mail help marketers grab consumers' attention. They are more effective than text-based ads or promotions, she said, because they are more akin to magazine ads, are more interactive and can call attention to the product or service being advertised.
But they also can be more expensive than text-based e-mail marketing, she said. Because some consumers still don't have computers that can open rich-media messages, marketers should do a careful customer acquisition cost analysis before launching such a campaign.
Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.