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By Ben Lies, MBA Class of 2012

American express has just launched a brand new program that they refer to as Sync, Tweet, Save. The way this program works is you sync your eligible American Express card to your twitter account, then tweet any specials that come across your twitter feed from American Express, partner retailers, or even friends, that have #Amex prefix in them and the special will automatically be loaded to your card and show up on your statement as a credit. (Check out the video below or visit the Sync American Express website for more details and to sign up.)

This really is an incredibly innovative and effective use of social media. By requiring that their customers tweet the special in order to obtain the discount American Express is getting exposure to an extended network of people that they may never have reached using traditional methods. According to Mediabistro in the first 48 hours of this program there were over 2000 tweets. This demonstrates the viral nature of this type of promotional program. As more and more people sign up and start tweeting the reach will grow exponentially with very little effort by American Express.

The other major benefactors of this program will be the partners of the program that include Best Buy, Dell, FedEx, H&M, McDonalds, TicketMaster, and Whole Foods. Anytime one of these businesses wants to announce a special they can just tweet it through this program and it will instantly reach thousands of people with very little effort. This program not only benefits American Express and the partner businesses but  the customers themselves also see a benefit in the form of discounts and convenience.  No longer do people have to clip or print out coupons or even show a digital coupon through their smart phones. All they have to do is Tweet. This really is a win-win for all parties that are involved.

This type of promotional program really shows how online and offline marketing and commerce are merging. As technology continues to improve and businesses come up with innovative new uses for social media and other technologies the lines between online and offline will continue to blur and we will inevitably we will drop the distinction between e-marketing and marketing.

Discussion Questions:

What do you think about losing the E from E-Marketing? Is it really inevitable? Are we becoming so integrated with technology that the line is no longer distinguishable?

Although not specifically addressed in this post the mobile web and mobile phones are no doubt an integral part of this program. Do you think that a program like this could survive without the use of a mobile platform? Would people be as likely to tweet if they had to do it from a laptop or PC?

Are there any other forms of media out there that would be as efficient as twitter is with this type of program? Why or why not?

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By Ben Lies, MBA Class of 2012

Last year, K-Swiss introduced a new advertising campaign that is, well, unorthodox to say the least. The shoe company has completely distanced itself from political correctness and a focus on spokesperson “role models.” Instead, the company enlisted the egocentric, foul-mouthed, bad boy, fictional character and star of the HBO series Eastbound and Down, Kenny Powers (played by Danny Mcbride) to be the face of the campaign and of K Swiss shoes.

In the debut of this campaign, the crude yet magnetic Kenny Powers was simply a spokesperson appearing alongside real K-Swiss Athletes to promote the brand. The brashness of this campaign is overwhelmingly evident right from the start. In the first video, Powers is in a meeting with K-Swiss Executives complaining about an underwhelming encounter he had with a transgendered prostitute. Although some may consider this campaign to be distasteful and crude, the success it experienced speaks for itself. Some of the campaign’s stats are listed below:

  • The videos have received millions of views online, including one million on FunnyorDie alone
  • Resulted in a 1256% increase in Facebook fans
  • Landed K-Swiss atop the “biggest buzz” list in the industry trade Footwear News
  • K-Swiss reported a 250% increase in online sales after the campaign was launched

Because of the campaigns success, Fastcocreate and countless other marketing blog outlets have covered the story.

The incredible success of the debut campaign spawned a second campaign that is just as raunchy as the first, but instead of just a spokesperson Kenny Powers is now portrayed as the MFCEO. For those of you who may not be familiar with the famed Kenny Powers take a look at the video and you will become quickly aware of what the MF stands for.

This video instantly went viral. According to Viral Blog, the spot experienced 500,000 views in its first 10 days. The real genius behind this campaign is not only the viral video, but the fact that it is a completely integrated campaign featuring clips, print, a microsite, billboards, social media, mobile, and events. (see campaign creative agency 72andSunny for details and examples).

The website, social media, and mobile advertising are built to engage customers, and not just merely expose them to the ads. The platforms feature soundboards, ringtones, videos, sweepstakes, and of course instant ability to purchase the shoes online. Apart from being a fully integrated campaign, it also was used as a three way co-branding vehicle to promote not only K-Swiss but also Eastbound and Down and Danny Mcbride – an up and coming actor who started his own production company, Rough House Pictures.

These two online campaigns featuring Kenny Powers have been so overwhelmingly successful that, according to sharethrough.com, K-Swiss is launching a third campaign to coincide with the third and final season of Eastbound and Down. I guess all we can do is sit back and wait to see what kind of antics the MFCEO of K-Swiss embarks on next.

Questions for Discussion

Interactive customer engagement is becoming more and more important as our web browsers, and lives, get filled with an increasing amount of clutter and distractions. Do you think that the amount of customer engagement this campaign offers is enough? Do you think they could do more? if so what?

As branding goes K-Swiss may be taking a risk using a spokesperson like Kenny Powers. How do you think this campaign will affect the brand’s image in the eyes of its customers? Will it be positive or negative in the long term? Do you feel this may be a re-branding attempt? Why?

This campaign has attempted to utilize mobile platforms to reach its customers. Do you think that mobile advertising is appropriate for this type of campaign? Because it is a primarily video-based campaign, do you think mobile use will create frustration amongst the audience?  Is there a platform that would be more appropriate? why? (Visit 72andsunny for an example of the mobile platform advertising)