Advertising in the modern day
I recently read a fantastic article in the NZ Herald espousing the view that Sky TV is dying and it needs to change it's business model to stay relevant. That's a viewpoint I think alot of New Zealander's believe is true - high prices with limited options isn't a model that works in the current consumer marketplace...it's why Uber stuck it to taxi's and it's why companies like Sky are facing serious challenges from Netflix and the like. It's the new normal and established companies are having to re-invent both their business model and the way they sell themselves. If they are smart they push ahead of the pack - but if they don't embrace change, they can really suffer. The question is...if Sky TV is flailing and struggling - what 'older' companies are making the most of this new media world? We are sure there are plenty out there, but the big winner we have seen of late is Vodafone.
Vodafone is a bit of a monolith in the telecommunications space. They were one of the first companies to enter the mobile world in NZ, but with disrupters like 2Degrees coming along, they now sit in that 'established' business zone which can see a company become stale quickly. Over the last few years they've spent a fair amount of marketing budget aiming to be 'cool' - having cars drift around a course to show how good their 3G coverage is for example - but that's not the marketing that's caught my eye. It's the way they have leveraged off their sponsorship of both the All Blacks and Emirates Team New Zealand that has really shown the value of their digital media teams.
Let's get this straight - leveraging off sponsorship isn't necessarily the easiest sell. How much value is your logo on a boat or on a rugby jersey really going to generate by itself? Sure, you'll get a few more eyeballs on the brand, and that might increase sales, but the real skill of a marketing team will be turning that sponsorship into something engaging and relevant without completely breaking the bank...and I think Vodafone has hit the nail on the head. As a sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, the Vodafone team was immediately faced with a tough prospect. Sky TV (that quickly fading giant I mentioned earlier) has the rights to the America's Cup. Their penny pinching business model has meant a limited number of kiwis have access to watch the racing, and those that do, have to listen to the American commentary. Enter ETNZ, Vodafone and the other sponsors of the team who have forked out for Peter Lester and Martin Tasker (qualified sailing commentators) to be embedded with the team during their time in Bermuda. Every day pre and post race the reporters go live on Facebook for 20 minutes chatting to team members and giving some real insight into an event that definitely needs an explanation to most of the public. Of course, Martin wears the obligatory Vodafone hat, and just like that the company has incredible, unique and immediate content engaging kiwis and sports fans. Thousands watch those videos every day and they really have tapped into the power of the Facebook live video function. Unsurprisingly, Vodafone has also done similar with the Lions Tour - creating the "Rugby Roadie" which follows a Lions supporter through the entire tour. In fact if you go have a look at Vodafone's page right now it's video after video relating to ETNZ and the All Blacks (with a tiny sprinkling of product pushing). The New Zealand feel good factor couldn't be higher - and most importantly it's fresh, original and exclusive content. In some ways this telecommunications company is beating Sky TV in terms of media coverage of these two huge events - without having to purchase any screening rights...or even any conventional media advertising space.
The big question is how can smaller businesses learn from these campaigns by Vodafone and implement some of the ideas in their own marketing. Obviously Vodafone has stacks of cash to throw around, and we can't all hire a sailing commentator and sponsor the National rugby team! But removing those high dollar signs, there are a few things all businesses can learn in this new media world:
These are pretty simple lessons that most people reading this will already be implementing, but it's always good for a reminder. Credit where credit is due, and I'm personally really thankful for some of the coverage Vodafone is giving these events - hopefully we can all take a page out of their books to push our businesses forward.