A few weeks ago, my colleague Jennifer Kelley, sent me a link to a MarketingProf’s article discussing the recent Maserati advertisement called Strike. She wondered why someone would refer to this TV spot as a PR piece and not an ad.
The commercial apparently “blew the doors off everyone” when it aired during this year’s Super Bowl. It was created by Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy, a full-service advertising agency best known for its work on Nike.
Think Differently founder Lyndon Johnson, who wrote the MarketingProf’s article, also blogged about Strike. He describes it as the “start of rebuilding relationships with customers that had purchased the ill-fated Ghibli of the 1980s; [and] customers of other four-door sedans who secretly wanted an Italian sports sedan.”
Like Jennifer, I, too, wonder why Strike should be considered public relations.
After all, advertising professionals have long used emotion-laden ads to foster deeper relationships with consumers, as opposed to selling to them overtly. Moreover, as a PR practitioner, I worry Johnson’s point is part of a bigger issue: the lingering perception that our profession is about relationship building and nothing else.
Yes, PR pros have unique communications tactics we can apply to effectively build customer and stakeholder relations. More importantly, however, our full PR tool set is comprehensive and powerful. We can use it to help our client achieve a broad range of their communications and marketing objectives, including driving sales at the cash register and directly improving the bottom line.
Maserati’s Strike campaign is noteworthy for its masterful television spot, but it also features elements of the new online marketing mix – paid, owned, earned and shared media – that PR agencies offer their clients.
Image courtesy of TopRank Blog
If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, here’s a quick run-down with a look at how each fits into the Strike campaign.
Paid media is traditional push-style advertising in which a company pays to distribute its message via TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards, online banners, social media platforms and pay-per-click.
There are many benefits to paid media. You control the message, have the ability to target niche audiences and, in some cases, determine when and where the ad appears.
Maserati’s Strike falls into the category of paid media. The car manufacturer spent big bucks – more than $10 million, according to Advertising Age – for its 90 seconds of air time during the 2014 pigskin finale.
And that doesn’t include the cost of production and other elements of the media buy, including the Yahoo home-page takeover and USA Today cover wrap.
If that’s not paid media, I don’t know what is.
Owned media is the content – copy, photos, videos, eBooks, webinars, etc. – you create and distribute across your website and social media properties (as well as partner sites and other non-paid media platforms).
A company has full control of its owned media, including the message, where it’s published, and when. Many brands hire editorial staff to create and manage their owned-media content in order to connect and engage more intimately with their prospects and customers.
Maserati posted Strike to its YouTube Channel, which is an example of owned media. However, this seems to be the extent of its use of this particular element of the digital marketing mix. The ad is not posted on the Maserati website.
The Strike story is an interesting business story that crosses over into the mainstream. So it’s not surprising that Maserati leveraged earned media, a traditional strength of PR professionals, to get the word out. Google the term Maserati ad Strike, and you’ll see earned media coverage in the Huffington Post, AOL, BusinessWeek.com and many more online publications.
Earned media is publicity gained through editorial coverage. A company pays a public relations professional to pitch its story to target journalists with the hope the journalists will cover the story. There are a number of challenges to making this approach work.
First of all, the decision whether or not to write and publish the story is entirely in the hands of the journalist and publishing entity. Further, once the PR practitioner pitches the story, the journalist takes over and is free to interpret the message in a different way.
It can be difficult to control what is communicated to the consumer. Finally, if you’re fortunate enough to get coverage for your story, you still don’t control when it will appear, where it will appear or how long it will be available to be read.
On the plus side – and it’s a big plus – consumers consider earned media highly credible since it’s communicated by an objective third party.
When someone shares your content with their connections on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, it becomes shared media.
Strike was highly shareable. In April, two months after the Super Bowl, the ad was one of the most popular videos on YouTube, boasting 12.2 million views and more than 100,000 social media shares.
Each of the media types I’ve described – paid, owned, earned and shared – stands on its own. But they also play well together and, when combined, can give you more bang for your buck.
For example, if you sponsor a tweet (paid media), people may decide to share it with their followers (shared media), thereby amplifying your message at no extra cost. And if that tweet includes a link to a blog post (owned media), you could achieve a deeper level of engagement with your audience.
The elements of the marketing mix have changed significantly over the last decade. An integrated campaign used to consist of advertising, PR, sales promotion and direct. Today, our definition of integrated has expanded to include an online marketing mix as well.
If you want to take full advantage of your marketing budget, be sure to consider every available avenue for communicating your message.
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