Loblaw’s Joe Fresh builds brand with Web advertising arsenal

The Joe Fresh brand from Loblaws is a bit of an anomaly in our increasingly online world. You can’t buy products from its line of apparel and cosmetics anywhere but in a store.

Yet, said Elizabeth Margles, VP of marketing for Joe Fresh Style at Loblaw Companies, online is a critical part of the brand strategy. It is used to drive people into those stores.

Margles recently described how the online components of the Joe Fresh marketing strategy mesh with offline to a sold-out audience at IAB Canada’s MIXX 2009 conference.

That strategy encompasses not only the Web, but social networking and e-mail, in a unified campaign to engage customers.

“Our core customer is really anyone who wears clothes,” she told attendees. “You really have to know your consumer – [the core customer] is probably not on Facebook or Twitter a lot, uses the Web, but may not want to buy online.”

Yet, “we also need to talk to teens,” she added.

This has led to a multi-pronged approach, using a “look book” Web site (the company purchased the “joe.ca” domain from former Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark), opt-in e-mail, Facebook fan pages, YouTube, and Twitter feeds, as well as advertising on television (TV commercials may be viewed online, and the songs commissioned for each ad may also be downloaded). There’s even a custom iPhone app under construction.

It’s very much a work in progress, however, driven by what’s hot in the digital world. “Next year, I have no idea where we’ll be,” Margles said.

Keynote speaker Steve Rubel, director of insights at Edelman Digital, has strong ideas about where we’ll be next year. He sees five key trends driving the digital world, beginning with what he calls “media reforestation”. By 2013, he believes that all tangible media – newspapers, magazines, etc – will be in sharp decline or extinct; everything is going digital.

Furthermore, he said, where four or five years ago social media and analogue media were separate and distinct (he called them elephants and zebras), today “the elephants and zebras have mated, and we have black and white elephants and fat zebras running around.”

“All media is social, and all things social are now media,” he said.

The second trend he dubbed “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. Social media, he explained, is causing customer care and public relations to blend, which means that companies need to audit the entire online experience and know how their customers are finding them.

Google is the ultimate arbiter of trust,” he noted. “It knows if you’ve been bad or good – like Santa Claus.”

He advised finding where customers spend their time online, and building what he called digital embassies to serve them. For example, Twitter seems to be the main venue for customer service today, and he cited Comcast and Best Buy as two organizations that are making excellent use of the medium.

The third trend he christened “Less is the New More”.

He pointed out, “Information scales, humans don’t. The human attention span is finite and, arguably, as we get older, shrinking.” Consequently it’s harder to get peoples’ attention amid the endless distractions.

The answer? “Cut through the clutter with utility – create useful things.”

Ben and Jerry’s, for example, celebrated the launch of its Flipped Out Sundaes with an application that takes user text and turns it upside down. The user could then cut and paste the inverted text into documents or tweets. It was simple, fun, and it got attention.

Rubel sees the competition among mobile applications becoming particularly strong. Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol Sleep Tracker is a prime example of an entertaining, useful application that broke through the noise and captured attention.

The fourth trend Rubel calls “Corporate All-Stars”. He advocates identifying and encouraging corporate voices of authority to become active in customer engagement via social media.

But, he cautions, “Don’t get hung up on venues. Venues will change. Every three years or so something new comes along, so don’t have a ‘Twitter strategy’ or a ‘Facebook strategy’, have a digital strategy.”

Finally, he discussed “The Power of Pull”. “Create content for searchers as well as for readers,” he advised. A company doesn’t need to necessarily create all new content; an effective aggregator can draw just as much traffic. The key is being useful, providing quality content that’s socially connected.

“People don’t Google for Aspirin,” he said, “they Google that they have a headache. Think about how people search and how they will find you.”

Didier Mormesse, senior vice president advertising sales research & development & audience insight at CNN International (CNNi) has a different challenge. People find CNN – he wants them to stay and become engaged by the advertising. Furthermore, he needs to prove that engagement (and effectiveness) to the advertisers, for all platforms: broadcast, online and mobile.

Enter “CASE” – the Cross-platform Advertising Study on Effectiveness and Engagement.

The hypothesis of CASE was that complementing television ads with online and mobile spots would increase the effectiveness of the advertising. Prior research had shown that almost half of viewers access CNN on both TV and Web, and about fifteen per cent used all three media.

The survey sampled over 2400 senior managers in Europe and the Far East who visit news sites at least once a week and who own a 2.5G or 3G mobile phone, and tested their unaided recall of companies whose advertising they were shown along with some news content.

As the number of touchpoints increased, so did the spontaneous recall; when they watched TV only, 20 percent correctly recalled the advertiser, with TV and Web, the number grew to 30 percent, and when mobile ads entered the picture, 35 percent remembered.

To complement this research, CNNi also used biometrics on 40 UK respondents to determine their level of engagement with content over a seventeen minute viewing period during which they saw news, a feature and advertising.

The conclusion: higher attention levels online increase the likelihood that an advertisement will be noticed.

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