Small Agencies Can Provide Local Expertise

How One Promotional Event Could Have Been Better

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Every day I see stellar examples of why national brands should use regional agencies to create and execute DMA-level programs. Recently, Joann Habisreitinger, our media director here at Zehnder Communications, shared her thoughts on the subject with our staff. As I couldn't have said it any better, I copied them here for your reading pleasure.
Recently, one of our clients, a marketing manager for a major QSR [quick service restaurant] company, heard of a competitive QSR staging a major promotional event and giving out free hamburgers across the street from our office. His curiosity was piqued. "Can some of your staff go down there and see what it's all about?" he asked. Dutifully, several members of our staff headed over to the event to talk with the street team members, provide secret shopper reports, take photos, and claim their free burger (not listed in order of staff's priority).

On site were large rig trucks, a mobile cooking unit, street teams, a supersized inflatable drink cup (supersized is an understatement, by the way), kiosks and a radio station van, among other things. The QSR was giving out free burgers and, for any donation, a free shake as well. As expected, there were a decent number of people lined up to wait for their free burger and to ogle in awestruck wonder at the behemoth inflatable cup.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, maybe good -- but not great. There were a few details, that, had they been executed with more care, could have transformed this good promotion into a great one.

First, there was no pre-promotion or event-day marketing creating hype for the event outside of the immediate visual radius surrounding the promotion area. So unless you happened to be on the street where this occurred, you likely had no knowledge of the promotion given that the surrounding buildings all but blocked any views of the event from the remainder of the Central Business District.

Second, the radio station on hand was a hip-hop urban format with a strong base of teen listeners. This is not exactly the premier choice for an event on a school day in a downtown office setting. A smarter choice would have been the adult contemporary station, which has a strong in-office listenership among adults 25-54, which tend to make up the bulk of downtown office workers in New Orleans. Although lower in overall ratings in our DMA, it would have done a better job of increasing awareness within this targeted geography.

The third detail that left us all scratching our heads was the lack of a bounce-back offer or other collateral piece encouraging follow-up visits from the attendees who had just received a free burger. Specifically in light of our current economy this seems like a no-brainer.

And finally then there was the overall theme -- or lack thereof. There was no one specific product being promoted. And while there was a local artist displaying a custom creation tying in local elements with some artwork related to the specific QSR, and two computers with free Internet access -- I'm still trying to figure out why either of these was present at this event. The artwork didn't tie in to anything, and the computers didn't print coupons ... so why again did the QSR spend the dollars on both?

Ultimately the brand created "awareness," and the consumer walked away with a free product sample but with no clear understanding of what the brand was trying to achieve or more importantly, any compelling reason to visit this QSR again in the future.
Joann's memo is a perfect example of how national-level agencies trip when they manage local-level programs. It's hard to nuance a multi-market promotion to maximize leverage at the DMA level. If you're not intimately involved with the markets on a day-to-day basis, you have to invest a lot of time and effort into researching the market. But as regional agencies that intimately know our local markets, we are far better prepared to help large national advertisers leverage DMA-level campaigns and maximize every detail to generate the greatest ROI for each dollar spent.
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