The pace of change in business is relentless, and even the global leaders in technology aren’t immune. In fact, just the opposite. Avnet, a Fortune 500 company in the electronic distribution industry, enlisted R&R Partners to help keep it ahead of the marketing curve. Working closely with Avnet’s marketing team, we did a deep dive into the company, its products and market position, which led us to a global rebranding effort.
Avnet has a storied 95-year history and wide reach in more than 100 countries. From supplying parts for radios in the 1930s to supplying technology for NASA, to helping Fitbit go to market with wearable technology, Avnet has been the ultimate B2B middle man.
But as competition increases and margins grow thinner, Avnet needed to redefine and reassert its differentiating capabilities to an ever-changing market. More than a distributor, companies know Avnet as an effective problem-solver that can help bring new products to a global marketplace.
This ability gives Avnet a platform not only for creating a new brand position, but also reestablishes its relevance in a highly volatile market.
Avnet’s true leadership position lies in guiding its clients to success and their products to market. Avnet not only helps its clients move forward, it actually helps them reach further. It’s that notion that underpins Avnet’s new Reach Further campaign.
Through customer testimonials, we created a series of videos about how Avnet collaborates with clients who have amazing technology ideas. The videos tell stories of how Avnet has helped turn clients’ initial ideas into today’s latest tech products.
A digital and print campaign also shows how Avnet transforms ideas on paper into products that meet an important need.
Finally, R&R helped consolidate dozens of Avnet websites into one global site that centralizes and engages customers in a much more efficient way.
Today, this 95-year-old company feels fresher and more relevant than ever. And just a few months into the launch, we are already seeing significant and positive movement in key metrics.
Grupos Posadas, Mexico’s largest independent hotel company, has partnered with R&R to rebrand its Fiesta Americana Resort Collection, a group of 12 distinct resorts located in many of Mexico’s premier beach destinations.
Posadas is known as a hospitality leader throughout the hotel industry. Its history has been written with passion, dedication and hard work, and rewarded with nearly every significant recognition in the industry. However, the brand has had limited awareness within the United States, with this U.S. visitor audience comprising a significant portion of overall property visitation. Growing the resort collection’s brand profile among this consumer group is a critical step in driving future business.
With this challenge firmly in focus, R&R’s team landed on the brand position of “La Colección.” With luxury resorts situated in some of Mexico’s prime coastal destinations, La Colección, was created around the consumer insight that many of us daydream of our next vacation. Making sure the brand stands out from its competition, we identified an opportunity to inspire the dreams of vacationers through storytelling. Utilizing our brand platform, R&R crafted a compelling story inspired by the brand’s unique attributes, grounded in consumer and brand truths, and designed to create an emotional connection with the consumer. We launched Grupos’ new brand by developing a new website, digital content strategy, and a fully integrated digital and social campaign.
Imagine a stunning backdrop of cotton candy skies with a cool ocean breeze. Now, imagine that, but only seeing it from afar because you’re sitting inside a conference center in a hotel for three days. The trade-off was being able to take in all of the knowledge that was being shared by today’s top marketers. The sold-out ANA Brand Masters Conference was held in Dana Point, California, and included speakers from American Greetings, Taco Bell, Intel, Subaru and Allstate, to name a few.
Let’s dive into what these brands shared.
American Greetings, Alex Ho
We’ve all seen this ad: World’s Toughest Job by American Greetings. This is the video where it held fake interviews for a position that required the person to do “everything” and for no pay − only to reveal that the job was that of a mom. What’s interesting is how this company has remained relevant in a digital-forward world. Think about it. It’s a greeting card company. You can’t get more analog than that. American Greetings recently had an activation at CES. It teased its product and launch as a “Device Like No Other,” and partnered with Nick Offerman as the spokesperson (which, btw, who doesn’t love Nick Offerman?). Genius.
American Greetings did this by doing these three things:
Define a purposeful position.
Use research to determine a provocative insight.
Have engaging creative.
Melissa Thalberg, Taco Bell
First off, I had to get my head straight and stop staring at her outfit, it was too cute. We need to embrace that there are brands that are positioned to be mass marketers, but that there are attributes that make them small and indie-cult like. The key is to embrace that you can be both. Its mass market side is all about the business: How many Naked Chicken Tacos did they sell this week? The indie-cult side is all about the brand behavior, what brings its brand to life; what people relate to; how people interact with the brand. And Taco Bell discovered this indie side through research. Went to a happy hour that lasted way longer than expected and now you’re hungry? Go to Taco Bell and get a large haul of Cheesy Bean and Rice Burritos, Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos Supremes and Nachos Supremes, and finish the meal with a Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze. (I’ve only heard of people doing this, not that I’ve done it myself.) ICYMI, to build on this mass-cult-like success, Taco Bell opened a two-story restaurant/retail location on the Strip and is holding a contest for the ultimate Taco Bell wedding.
This was my favorite session because the story of the Subaru brand fascinates me. In 1968, Subaru came to the United States. In 2007, it only had 1 percent of the market share for automobile sales. That’s 1 percent of 17.5M cars sold annually. Of course, it wanted more than 1 percent, so it did a bit of research. Of the 99 percent of people who did not purchase a Subaru, two-thirds said it wasn’t because they thought the product was a poor product, but because they didn’t know anything about the brand. They had no idea what to think of Subaru. They also asked Subaru owners what they thought.
Here’s what was learned, regardless of what kind of Subaru model they owned:
Subaru owners lovedtheir cars and rarely had complaints about it. It was just a good, reliable car.
They were so reliable, they kept them forever. Even passed it downto their kids.
They were dog owners. Subaru owners overindexed in the dog-owner category.
Guess what? All of these insights led to some pretty great spots. Please note how each of the below directly ties back to the research above. The Love campaign raised awareness of the Subaru brand and increased car sales. Subaru went from 1 to 7 percent of the market share.
There were overarching takeaways from all of the brand/agency presentations.
They needed data/research to find the human truth that would tell the story. What are your audiences saying?
Be nimble. The only constant is change. You must be able to adapt to your audiences’ changing habits to keep your message from getting stale.
If you make a (brand) promise, deliver on it. Everything you say and do should deliver on that promise.
Assess if your marketing dollars are working. If they’re not, reallocate them.
Collaboration and integration between the brand and agency were fundamental for growth.
Brands respected and trusted their agencies.
Agency teams had a genuine interest in their brands.
Each and every one of them talked about purpose and telling their story. There was a purpose in everything they did.
It’s this last point that left me hopeful. These big brands and big agencies talked about the close relationship they had. It was because they thought of their agency as an extension of their marketing team and that they trusted them. They were seen as experts, providing valuable insight, research and recommendations to push the brands forward. They had purpose. Guys, we already do this. This is nothing new to R&R. This is the R&R way. We don’t need to be a big-name agency to get the win because we’re already winning. Every takeaway listed above is something we already do for our clients. We just need to practice it; make it better than the last; repeat. I feel like I’m about to go on some Jerry Maguire-esque rant, but I’m not a burned out sports agent who’s had an epiphany about our industry being dishonest, so I’m going to write a mission statement. No no. (Which, btw, if you haven’t read it, you should. It’s an interesting rantmission statement.) But, walking out of that conference had me pumped and rejuvenated and made me want to sing “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty.
Can you recall the last time you heard anyone speak of his unmentionable BVDs? How about the last time anyone asked for a Nuprin? How about Xerox? Has anyone xerox’ed paper lately? It was a very common function at one point.
Remember the good old days when Oldsmobiles, Plymouths and Mercurys traversed the country’s roads? How about when Nolan Ryan took Nuprin for his aches? Or when smokers and coffee drinkers knew exactly which toothpaste to use to maintain their pearly whites. Do you remember that premium coffee was available in a can?
There are many factors that contribute to the demise or irrelevancy of a brand. This is not about listing those factors — ultimately, bad brand management kills a brand. Rather, this is about another huge factor that is at the marketer’s doorstep and in due course will be the death of additional brands − demographic shifts in population.
You might know of demographic shifts. But do you know about the effect on your brand?
According to Census data, the percentage of foreign-born population is the highest in more than a hundred years. At almost 13 percent, it is the highest since the mass European immigrations at the end of the 19th century.
Now think of how we acquire brands. How does the relationship begin and how are we introduced to them? When young adults leave the nest and begin their acquisition stage, they don’t do it with a blank slate − the brands used at home are already embedded in their lives; the relationship with brands, not necessarily the use of them, is old. And who introduced the brand relationship? The parents. And if the parents lack a relationship with a brand that was introduced to the American public decades ago, then not only are they lacking a relationship with the brand, they are lacking awareness and understanding of the brand.
Let’s look at the Hispanic consumer segment as it relates to this topic. While 60 percent of all U.S. Hispanics were born in the U.S., the family history in the country is rather short. The generational relationship to American iconic brands is not well developed or is nonexistent.
Think of iconic brands developed 40 years ago in the U.S. How many of the death or dying brands mentioned at the beginning of this article fall into that category? Does Brooke Shields remind you of wearing your Calvin Klein jeans commando? Does the Pillsbury doughboy elicit the same emotional response with Hispanic consumers? What about Mr. Clean? Is Wonder Bread building strong bodies? All the efforts conducted in the past lack a reference and emotion; they are irrelevant.
Moreover, immigrants bring in the brands from their home countries, and these days, they are also found in the local grocers’ aisles. Hostess brands compete with the portfolio of Mexico’s Bimbo snack cakes. Mexico’s Picot brand is the go-to effervescent indigestion brand over Alka Seltzer − and it outsells Alka Seltzer in Walmart.
It’s OK then. Native-born Hispanics will speak English and know my brand, right?
Native born Hispanics will speak English because they are and will be educated in the U.S.; however, they will be unfamiliar with your brands. Branding is not about language. It’s about creating relevancy, about acquiring real estate in the consumer’s mind. And if the brand ignores the consumer, the consumer will also dismiss the brand.
It gets worse. Hispanic consumers are drastically changing the definition of mainstream consumers. Food items and customs previously thought of as Hispanic are now part of the mainstream. Think about that during your next Dia de los Muertos party as you dip into your guacamole, or the next time you indulge in your churros at Disneyland, or get ready to eat serrano-topped sushi rolls.
How do I learn if my brand will be affected by demographic changes?
Learn if the category is developed with the Hispanic consumer segment. Is your brand history seeded in the post-WWII baby boom? Is your brand steeped in 1950s Americana? Are you using Catskills humor to position your brand with consumers who think Catskills is the YouTube piano-playing cat? Are you tapping the emergent consumer markets not familiar with your brand? If you are, is the message relevant or simply a translation?
Think about your personal experience: Remember traveling in the old station wagon and spending the night at the Holiday Inn? Remember the familiar shag carpeting and Astro-Turf by the pool? The fun time you had while stretching your legs by the pool, the horseplay and the cannonballs? That’s a memory − a brand perception not shared by more than 30 percent of the U.S. population.
The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.
We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.
Newcastle’s Band of Brands
Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.
“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”
R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.
This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).
Doritos Gets Hijacked
Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.
Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.
Totino’s Early Super Bowl
Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.
So What’s Next?
More Brands Will Team Up
Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.
Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game
The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.
You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game
This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.
From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.
More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets
The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off. Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.
Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year
Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.
More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation
Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.
Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.