The Pizza Hut ads also serve an internal purpose, generating buzz
inside the company and among franchisees. At a recent franchisee
conference, Mr. Kane introduced the eight "stars" of the ads to a
standing ovation. Morale is up as well, he said, and the ads help
set the recruiting and customer-service bar for potential Pizza Hut
Southwest Airlines, whose employees have been featured in ads
for years, began its most recent employee-starring effort, "Bags
Fly Free," last fall, showing fun-loving real baggage handlers on
the tarmac hammering home the message. Since that began, Southwest
has noted a shift in the importance of free baggage to travelers
which it attributes to the ads. "Free bags" has moved up as a
reason for choosing an airline and is now one of the top five, a
Southwest spokeswoman said.
Southwest previews its commercials internally via its intranet,
SWA Life, which also serves as a conduit of advertising ideas and
suggestions, either independently generated or in response to
Southwest queries to staff such as, "Tell us about one of the
biggest complaints you've ever had" or "What do your customers love
about Southwest?" the spokeswoman said. "They are delivering the
message for Southwest on the ground. They are our best advocates,"
she said. Indeed, gone are the days of hiding marketing ideas and
ad campaigns from employees for fear of information leaks. Instead,
marketers are consulting employees -- who are, after all,
themselves consumers -- for advice and ideas on marketing,
previewing ad campaigns with them before the ads go public and
getting them involved in the marketing message.
Take, for example, Kraft, which has begun using an app dubbed
"Foodii" (pronounced "foodie"), an internal online community of
about 2,000 employees it uses to gather information before doing
formal market research. The goal is not only to get to market
faster and improve a product's chance of success, but also to get
employees engaged and give them an insider look at initiatives and
products, a Kraft spokeswoman said.
Foodii was used recently to help choose a name for a new Jell-O
Mousse Temptations flavor. Within 24 hours, Kraft got more than 100
ideas from employees, and the best were sent to external market
research. The winner, "Chocolate Mint Sensation," was suggested by
Kraft also used Foodii to test the preparation method, to find
out if it should recommend one pot or two in advance of the
introduction of its Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. The
spokeswoman said Kraft is looking to expand Foodii to get further
diversity of employee opinions.
"Employees are the actual heart of the brand," said Mr.
Bhargava. "Yes, the products are important, but especially for
service-based businesses, it's all about the people. This is
letting people connect with the people behind the brand, not just
what you put in your mission statement."
In other words, the employees have to understand and deliver
what the brand is all about. "It's one thing to make a promise in
an advertisement, but if you haven't let your employees know what
that promise is, it's going to backfire," said Jennifer Schade,
president of marketing consultancy JRS Consulting."Employees want
to feel like insiders, they want to know the scoop," said Mary
Gilly, marketing professor at the Paul Merage School of Business,
University of California, Irvine.
To get that scoop, several weeks before the launch of Fidelity's
"Turn Here" campaign, the campaign was rolled out inside the
company. An internal website explained the creative, detailed the
positioning, offered FAQs and explained employees' role in the
message and ongoing process. More than 28,000 employees spent an
average of eight minutes exploring the site, Mr. Speros said.
The plan was to make sure employees understand why "Turn here"
is a solid strategy and serve up visible examples of it in emails,
video posts and public forums. Fidelty hosted a breakfast club with
300 to 400 employees to talk about the campaign as part of the
effort and worked with employee training to sync ad messaging with
what was being taught on the front lines.
And it's important to continue the effort beyond the ad
campaign. Fidelity's Mr. Speros advises creating and maintaining an
internal marketing effort vs. "rocket flare" internal marketing or
one-time only blasts to employees right before campaign
"Build an internal communications campaign that is continual, so
you're always getting feedback and staying connected," he said. The
result will be "more highly engaged employees, better morale and
pride, and ultimately better business results."
5 Reasons to Engage
Employees in Your Marketing Strategy
They're consumers, too
Their opinions are already fully formed and ready for you to
They're on the frontlines
The product should always be the focus in marketing, but its
delivery is crucial -- and employees are charged with making that
delivery. Investing in their knowledge will pay off.
If you sell the message to them, they'll sell it for
You have to convert your employees before you can expect to win
over consumers. If successful, you'll gain genuine, loyal
ambassadors for your brand.
It humanizes your brand
Using employees rather than the CEO makes your message instantly
less pitchy, and consumers are more likely to trust people they can
relate to -- people like them.
You might just get something
Remember, this isn't just a ploy. Tapping your talent for their
creative input could produce a sea of duds, but it is also likely
yield some solid, workable concepts that fit your brand. (And that
a winning idea came from the mailroom is a PR line in and of