Expanding Your Brand? Here Are Some Dos and Don'ts

Marketers, Agencies, Others Show What They've Learned About Connecting With Consumers on Multiple Media

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When it comes to multiplatform presence, brands are feeling their way toward visibility in all formats. But not all are positioned to perform as successfully on each platform as they should be. Ad Age talked to marketers, agencies and cable companies to get a sense of their progress bringing 360 degrees of marketing to consumers on all levels.

Being multiplatform just because is not an effective strategy
"You need to find the right application for it," says Scott Marsden, director-group strategy, OMD Digital. Mr. Marsden couldn't justify mobile for a business-to-business brand that sought to reach C-level executives on mobile phones, so he encouraged them to go online to reach a broader audience.

"Mobile companies are fun, but are they relative to your brand?" he asks. Apple's release of the iPhone this summer should present a sense of the consumer's appetite for consumption in the mobile space, he says.

When you find a successful platform, exploit it
Mr. Marsden pointed to a recent campaign he bought for Absolut Pear on digital jukebox network Ecast, which claims to be in 10,000 bars. He says the program has great potential for mobile integration.

"You could have a Bluetooth pod at several venues that sends a message to your phone that says, 'Here's a recipe for chocolate pear martini.' Suddenly, your cellphone becomes your media pod, and you can surround the user. Anywhere there's digital, we're going to find" where it makes sense to place media.

The web should be used as more than just a content distributor
Include the consumer in the branding conversation across all platforms. "People are looking at digital as just being on the internet and trying to use video streaming and RSS feeding," says Glenn Llopis, chief strategy officer for the Irvine, Calif.-based Digital Brand Group, which works with marketers to help them flex their multiplatform muscles both internally and externally. "That was the first phase, web 1.0. This is web 2.0, and 3.0 will come sooner than we think."

Take your advertisers with you
As it's expanded across platforms, CNN has brought TV sponsors into nearly every aspect of its digital properties, from Orbitz sponsoring Anderson Cooper's blog to Cisco Systems coming on board for a People You Should Know microsite.

"Advertisers are really anxious to sign on to content that involves consumers directly-day in, day out-and news content is one of the best ways to achieve that connection," Greg D'Alba, CNN ad sales' exec VP-chief operating officer, told Advertising Age in January. "Our programming directly connects with those extensions based on technology developed over the last three years. If you have that viewer engaging and interacting with the content, it's a great value to the advertiser."

Learn and adapt
"We're shifting more and more of our media toward search and the social-networking environment," says Doug Cole, director-marketing, alliances, entertainment and sponsorships for Hewlett-Packard Co. The marketer had a huge hit with consumers in its "PC Is Personal Again" campaign with Jay-Z and snowboarder Shaun White, which ran on TV, YouTube and print.

"We try to build in metrics to each one of our projects to find out if each was successful. We call it a ladder of learning at H-P-at each rung, each project can create a rung. I hope we can add those on top of each other to get to the holy grail, which is to build solid relationships with consumers."

While there are flagrant missteps in multiplatform branding-such as the fiasco that ensued when Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" marketing campaign was mistaken as a bomb threat in Boston-there are many more campaigns that don't work with a fraction of the spotlight glare. They are quietly shelved by agencies and their clients, victims of bad targeting, flat creative or some other reason.

George Harrison, senior VP-marketing and communications at Nintendo, copped to toeing the line between innovation and invasiveness with a recent online campaign for the Nintendo DS. It teamed viral marketing with the websites for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "Insomniac" and put every "D" and "S" of the webpage's text in a red boldface font. "It got some good awareness out, but whether it was something that was a little overbearing was a little hard to tell," he said in a panel at December's MPlanet conference in Orlando, Fla.

Make sure consumers know how to find you
Several major marketers who launched campaigns during this year's Super Bowl and Academy Awards lost out on major online connectivity by not taking out paid search ads related to their campaigns prior to the TV events.

A strong presence in search is key to getting consumers to follow your campaign into the next platform, says Eric Obeck, president of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based direct-marketing company SendTec, because the medium is so top-of-mind for them in terms of brand research. "It can't be an afterthought; you have to plan for it," he says. "Consumer search is a marketing channel, and consumers are pulling you to them. The opportunity cost is huge if money is spent offline and they're going online."
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