Events: Marketing on the move

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Mobile marketing, growing steadily over the last decade, has exploded this year with what industry insiders are calling a record number of marketers launching first-time nationwide tours to establish one-on-one contact with consumers who are increasingly hard to reach through TV and print ads.

Mobile tours are hot because of their relatively low cost-$50,000 to $3 million-and their opportunity to build brands while attracting additional sponsorship dollars and promotional relationships with retailers and trade marketing partners.

measure for measure

The fact that measuring mobile marketing results remains more of an art than a science is not a stumbling block, said industry suppliers.

"How do you measure the value of a person spending 15 concentrated minutes with a brand, doing something they will remember all day, versus a bunch of TV impressions? I don't know, and we don't worry about it. It's about the quality of the impressions," said Steve Mochel, Jack Morton Worldwide's Atlanta-based VP-general manager. Morton is executing tours starting this month for Home Depot, bringing do-it-yourself home project workshops and demonstrations to 26 Nascar racetracks. Jack Morton also handles Lifetime cable TV (owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp.), whose "Experience of a Lifetime" tour hits 12 malls. Unilever's Dove is title sponsor; more than 80,000 consumers are expected to receive Dove product samples.

Court TV, owned by AOL Time Warner and Liberty Media, launches its first tour April 12, visiting malls in 20 cities with an operation challenging consumers to solve a crime by visiting six "forensic labs" and interviewing a computerized virtual witness. On-air promotions from local cable TV affiliates back the tour in each market; Michael Alan Group, New York, coordinates.

Mattel's Matchbox Toys also launches its first-ever tour April 6, hitting store parking lots in 25 cities over six months to celebrate Matchbox's 50th anniversary. Events include interactive games, historic displays, an obstacle course for kids riding battery-powered vehicles, and free gifts. Local radio promotions in each market back the effort; Source Marketing, Westport, Conn., handles.

Time Inc.'s Cooking Light magazine, a pioneer in mobile marketing, rolls nationwide with its 10th annual "On the Move" tour, visiting supermarkets in 100 cities over seven months, with more than a dozen food brand sponsors.

Mobile marketing will continue to grow, said experts, as long as programs have multiple layers. "It's not enough just to get buzz from consumers; you have to involve the trade and local markets, and then you have a huge multiplier effect," said Evan Shapiro, VP-marketing for Court TV.

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