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Branding Bananas

Chiquita sticker, traditional

Chiquita Bananas isn’t going to let the crowdsourced advertising-and-label design trend leave it behind. From Rob Walker’s column in the NY Times Sunday Magazine:

“Chiquita set up a Web tool for people to whip up their own sticker drag-and-drop mixes, and an obliging public created more than 25,000 of them in less than five months, according to the company. This enthusiasm has led to a competition — 1,355 entries were submitted over several months, and online voting starts tomorrow at to pick 18 designs that will be stuck onto actual bananas.”

Chiquita introduced the blue stickers in 1963 in a stroke Walker calls “a brilliant way to solve the problem of how to apply some version of branded packaging to an item that literally grows on trees.”

I like the new contest, too. Not that it’s especially cutting edge (see Jones Soda’s label contest or HP’s laptop skin contest, both in 2008), but it’s never a bad thing to pull your customers closer to your brand, to let them touch and feel your logo.

The best part about Walker’s column, though, is the quotes he extracts out of the team behind the campaign. Such as:

“The great thing about looking hard at something the brand already owns, no matter how small, is that there is usually a cultural recognition there already. With some application of this value to an idea you have, it creates a familiar association with an unfamiliar dynamic, therefore creating intrigue in the viewer — much like pop art does.”


My favorite entry in the contest so far is this one, the banana as hammock.

Chiquita sticker, banana as hammock

Measuring Ad Effectivenss on a Cost-Per-Guru Basis

It’s great when advertising drives sales growth that you can attribute back to a particular campaign, such as Jones Soda’s Graffiti drawing contest, which they called out in the companys Q2 2008 earning’s call:

“We ran two very targeted online My Jones programs on Facebook’s Graffiti application along with the very popular I Can Has Cheezburger site. These programs along with increased awareness of My Jones drove our online sales to double versus the same period a year ago.”

But often marketing programs work with more subtlety, building brand preference that ultimately motivates customers to buy products (and, if done exceptionally well, to buy those products at a premium price over competitive wares) even though all the transactions don’t occur as impulse buys triggered by banner ads or 1-800 phone numbers. Sometimes the best marketing is hard to measure.

Microsoft’s recent TV commercial for Windows Vista got me thinking about measurement. The spot, starring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, is pretty funny, but one might argue that it’s hard to see how it will drive sales or bolster confidence in the Windows Vista brand among computer users. In fact, much of the punditry is panning it (see a round up at Techdirt). Perhaps Microsoft itself has doubts; company representatives are calling reporters to explain the campaign. And Microsoft is hiring 155 Windows Vista “gurus” to deploy in Best Buy, Circuit City and other retail stores to do what the advertising may not — close the deal.

If we had a cost-per-guru scale, where naturally-occurring brand evangelists each added a point and paid gurus each subtracted one, Microsoft would start this campaign with a negative 155.

On the flip side, marketers that take a more conversational approach to advertising can launch campaigns in positive territory on the “CPG” gauge. I’ve posted a few examples here at ChasNote of conversational marketing programs that FM has played a role in. The Luvs unit of P&G, which built an ad campaign around a parenting-content site called TheMomSpeak, came out of the gates with a positive 1, when online retailer Momma’s Jewels plugged the site in its own customers newsletter. Intel’s sponsorship of PopURLs, the Blue Edition sparked 59 blog reactions, all positive as far as I can tell, according to Technorati. Or the 222 reactions to American Express’s OPEN Forum blog, which licenses content from leading small business authors.

I know, I know. I’m comparing apples to kiwis, maybe fish to bicycles. First off, some of those blog reactions may come from a single blogger, so it wouldn’t be fair to give Intel +59 or Amex +222. And maybe some negative sentiments are expressed in posts where I don’t read the language. There’s a difference, too, between a blogger writing a post and pointing his or her readers to a brand, and a guru making a 40-hour-a-week job of evangelizing a brand. Finally, it’s not an indictment of your advertising creative to also have a smart and aggressive retail strategy (like Microsoft’s Vista gurus or Apple’s “genius bar” staffers) or paid employees who share the gospel from public blogs (like GM’s or Sun’s). Hey, my cost-per-guru metric is still in beta!

But our industry would benefit from a deeper look at the amplification effect (or attenuation effect, as the case may be) initiated by advertising. The data is there; we just need to make better sense of it.

Caveats, disclosures and apologies:

FM, my employer, helped facilitate and received payment for the Jones Soda, P&G, Intel and American Express campaigns mentioned above. We have no formal relationship with Jerry Seinfeld.

One noteworthy FM campaign that felt the wrath of negative gurus is written up (defensively, my critics tell me) here.

Jones Soda Credits Facebook Graffiti Contest for Increased Online Sales

Jones Soda’s Graffiti drawing contest helped drive a significant jump in online sales, according to the company’s Q2 2008 earnings call:

“We ran two very targeted online My Jones programs on Facebook’s Graffiti application along with the very popular I Can Has Cheezburger site. These programs along with increased awareness of My Jones drove our online sales to double versus the same period a year ago.”

Thanks, Graffiti community!

Jones Soda Vote 2008

Jones Soda Picks Winner of Customer-Created Bottle Label Contest

The winner of Jones Soda’s Graffiti drawing contest has been announced: 21-year-old Leeann McMichael of Adrian Michigan.

“The former Onsted resident and Adrian College senior said she noticed the joint-sponsored contest through Facebook earlier this year and used the forum’s graffiti board and paint application to draw her label design, which depicts a giraffe drinking a strawberry soda. As it drinks, its spots transform into red zebra-like stripes.

“Representatives from the Seattle-based drink company said by telephone Friday that the contest attracted more than 7,000 entrants. The general public was able to vote for their favorite design, before the popular works, including McMichael’s, went before the soda company’s panel of judges for further eliminations.”

Jones Soda Contest Winner

(Photo credit: Dan Cherry.)