Case Study 1 product

Client: Premium ice cream brand Carte d'Or.

Environment: The ice cream freezers in major multiple grocers around Southern England.

Target consumer: Bridget Jones-type females.

Brief: To raise awareness of the different flavours within the range and to draw attention to the price reduction on offer.

Campaign: Teams of two female performers aged in their mid- to late- 20s were dispatched to 50 stores around the country. Highly charismatic, appealing and fun-loving individuals, they wheeled around a shopping trolley containing nothing but hundreds of tubs of Carte d'Or brand ice cream in every flavour imaginable. One of the girls held a massive shopping list aloft for all to see. On the list, in bold oversized print, were all the flavours of Carte d'Or available in the freezers. The girls spent hours in each store, connecting personally with shoppers who fell into the target market.

The story they told the shoppers was a simple and highly appealing one: they were having a girls' night-in party that evening. None of them could cook so they decided to have an ice cream party. Of course, the only ice cream to eat on such occasions is Carte d'Or. They then went on to tantalize the shoppers by describing out loud the chunks of chocolate and fudge pieces embedded in the delicious ice cream swirls. Shoppers were powerless to resist. They clinched sale after sale by explaining that the reason they could afford to buy the ice cream in such vast quantities was because it was on a special £1.99 price reduction offer.

Results: Over 3500 tubs of Carte d'Or were sold as a direct result of the work of the performers. The campaign also generated enormous amounts of PR on a regional and national basis. It has become entrenched in connected marketing folklore as a result of being featured in a series of television news items and debates.

Case Study 2 (social message)

Client: The Portman Group, Britain's alcohol industry watchdog and campaigning body against the misuse of alcohol.

Environment: Public spaces, including trains, underground stations, bus stops, restaurants and bars.

Target audience: 18- to 25-year-old females.

Brief: The young female market is often overlooked when it comes to responsible drinking messages. Research suggests, however, that it is a key group to target. The brief was to attempt to draw attention to the ill effects of excessive alcohol consumption in such a way that it did not appear top-down or to be preaching in any way. In other words, use target demographic individuals and their horrific experiences to raise awareness and effect potential behaviour change in similar individuals.

Campaign: The project team found appropriate public hangouts for the target audience. A series of short and very hard-hitting scripts were written. Teams of two female performers rehearsed the scripts, which were spoken volubly in public spaces for all around to overhear. They involved one friend cataloguing the amount (and different types) of alcohol she had consumed the night before and the disastrous effect such a quantity had on her. The hung-over-looking youngster then went on to explain that, while walking home alone from the pub, she was stalked by an unknown man. She had to run to get away from him and screamed to alert people of her imminent danger. The other friend was obviously horrified (as were all the bystanders) and reminded the girl of a campaign she saw being run by the Portman Group entitled 'If you do drink don't do drunk'. She suggested that maybe this campaign applied to her. She pointed out that this was a real wake-up call as the next time could end in disaster.

This was just one of a series of scripts that were written and performed over the period of the campaign. Others were more comical, involving exposés of the flirtatious antics of the drunken friend who was convinced that the red-faced old man she was kissing looked just like Tom Cruise.

Results: This kind of activity is difficult to measure, however independent market research conducted on similar campaigns for the Portman Group suggests that of all media utilized (including posters, radio and mobile billboards), live buzz marketing was the most likely to effect behaviour change. The research also demonstrated the high word of mouth potential of such a campaign.

Strengths of the secret live buzz marketing approach

1. The marketing-savvy public - sick to death of being bombarded by messages - is given a welcome break. Marketers can get their messages across without irritating the consumer. Even if the consumer becomes aware that it's a promotion, they tend not to mind because they enjoy the uniqueness of the approach.

2. It enables marketers to create the perfect brand ambassador. By careful scripting, casting and styling, the performers become a living, breathing representation of the target consumer, who can appeal directly to others like themselves.

3. The message can be tailor-made to appeal to precise target individuals. Unlike many other marketing and communication techniques, it isn't a one-size fits all solution.

4. It involves completely interactive, personalized connections with target consumers making it an extremely high-quality contact.

Weaknesses of the secret live buzz marketing approach

1. In some instances, if it's discovered that they are being marketed to, the public can feel duped.This can create a negative backlash both in the consumer base and in the media.

2. By its very nature, the extent of the echo is limited. This is simply because the first interaction (or the first noise or bang which sets off the echo) is not very big or loud. Put simply, if you were to overhear a conversation about somebody who was nearly attacked because they were drunk, you may tell a few people - probably mostly on the day you heard it. If you were a witness to that person being attacked, you would tell hundreds throughout your lifetime.

3. A key factor in the reach of any live buzz marketing campaign is the PR that can be generated. In the case of a secret campaign, this is limited by the fact that it's secret, so any PR usually focuses on the medium rather than the message.

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