It is always fun to bring students some clever, funny advertising. They enjoy the laugh. But you can also ask them who they think is being targeted. I enjoyed two recent ads from China Airlines that are conveniently discussed and shown with English subtitles in this article in AdWeek.
Video games, once considered the domain of young kids and self-proclaimed geeks, are growing at an astounding rate. According to NewZoo’s Global Games Market Report, the industry was expected to reach $138B in 2018. With that growth and the emergence of esports we’re now seeing gamers stepping into the influencer role alongside traditional athletes. One of those gamers, Ninja, has teamed up with energy drink producer Red Bull.
Red Bull wants to boost brand awareness in the gamer segment who frequently rely on energy drinks to power through long gaming sessions. Red Bull’s campaign includes a contest that gives fans a chance to meet Ninja and have a gaming session with the superstar. You can read more about the campaign in this Marketing Dive article. The topic could apply to a discussion about segmentation, brand building, influencers and advertising/sales promotion.
Budweiser has a history of creative and amusing Super Bowl ads but this year’s ad which centered on their competitor’s use of corn syrup has definitely been the most controversial ad of the year and one that continues to garner headlines. By the way, the ad is a great example of the comparative class of competitive advertisements. The ad sparked a Twitter war between MillerCoors and AB InBev and the latest development is a lawsuit filed by MillerCoors against AB InBev.
You might ask how MillerCoors can sue if they do in fact use corn syrup in their brewing process (which they do). MillerCoors conducted focus groups and through those groups they determined that most consumers don’t know the difference between corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup which are two different products. They claim the Bud Light ad deliberately confuses and frightens consumers into thinking the unhealthy high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in Miller and Coors products. In reality the corn syrup is used in the brewing process but during fermentation it is broken down by yeast and leaves no corn syrup in the final product. It’s also worth noting that Anheuser-Busch uses corn syrup themselves in some of their other products but they don’t use it when brewing Bud Light (which uses rice instead). You can read more about the lawsuit and MillerCoors’ claims in this NY times article.
The lawsuit and continued objections from MillerCoors suggests Bud Light’s campaign was (and is) effective but it also brings up an interesting marketing ethics question. Is Bud Light’s commercial ethical? If their statement is factual should they be allowed to advertise that point of differentiation? Should they consider the fact that consumers would likely misinterpret the message or is that not their problem?
Marketing strategies universally need to incorporate mechanisms to attract, upsell, and retain customers. Some companies focus more on one aspect than another but they’re all there somewhere. Loyalty programs are one of the mechanisms used to help with both upselling and retention and this Marketing Dive article takes a close look at some of the changes taking place with retail loyalty programs. Interestingly the article talks about conflicting strategies. Some stores are moving more toward inclusivity and trying to let as many customers join as possible. Others go the opposite direction. Amazon increased the price of Prime membership, Wayfair implemented a $29.99/year fee for their loyalty program, and Lululemon is testing a program that would cost $128/year. The article also talks about how services can impact loyalty as well. For instance, offering same-day delivery increases loyalty for 61% of shoppers. A significant benefit of loyalty programs is detailed information about the customer and their browsing/shopping history. Stores are using that information to try to foster a stronger emotional connection and thereby increase loyalty even further. The article is full of content that could be used for a great in-depth discussion with students debating the merits and drawbacks of different strategies.
My students frequently tell me how important beer is in their lives. Yet despite their outward proclamation, their actual drinking habits have changed and the beer industry is facing some significant headwinds. Bloomberg talks about the industry’s challenges in their article “Pour One Out for the Fading American Beer Industry“. Despite a significant increase in craft beer consumption, overall beer consumption has declined for three straight years. The carbs and calories in beer are pushing consumers toward alternatives like wine and hard liquor. Changes in consumer preferences pushed Bud Light to create their 2019 Super Bowl commercial focusing on their competitors’ use of corn syrup in their beers (by the way, this is a great example of comparative advertising). The article talks about other influences such as the legalization of marijuana which may serve as another alternative to beer, especially to the college crowd.