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Dec 27, 2004
How To

Results Data: Crest Toothpaste Tests TV-to-Web Contest Campaign to Involve Consumers

SUMMARY: How can you make the most from an in-TV-show promo? Crest Toothpaste tested a clever offline-to-online campaign this fall. First they planted their newest flavor as the marketing contest for that week's The Apprentice show. Then they ran a TV ad featuring an offer designed to make couch potatoes run for their keyboards. Did it work? Here are the result stats for you, along with Crest's most useful lessons learned:
When Procter & Gamble launched Crest's new toothpaste flavor on the reality show The Apprentice -- the two teams were tasked with "getting the city talking" about Vanilla Mint Crest -- the company knew viewers would be thinking about their brand in more depth than if the company had simply run a toothpaste commercial.

With millions of consumers already thinking about the marketing of the toothpaste, P&G marketers wondered if they could take that involvement one step further, getting consumers out of their seats to actually engage with the brand.

Working with interactive promotion agency ePrize, the team came up with an online component of the campaign: immediately following the show, a commercial ran in which viewers were asked to go to and explain, in 100 words or less, how they would have completed the marketing task given to the Apprentice teams. The online promotion element included a tell-a-friend component, and each person who entered was provided a free sample of the Vanilla Mint toothpaste.

The winner of the essay contest won a trip to the final Apprentice episode.

"With a TV spot, maybe [consumers] watch it, or maybe not," says Josh Linkner, CEO of ePrize. But by getting consumers off the couch and to a computer to actively think about the product, "you're more deeply immersing the consumer with the brand."

In total, the campaign led to more than 4.7 million visits to the product Web site, and 40,000 people actually submitted marketing ideas.

How did the Crest team make the most of the reality show sponsorship, guaranteeing that the online promotion would be a hit? Linkner shared his tactics for making online promotions a success.

-> Tactic #1. Involve consumers; don't burden them

Consumers like being involved, particularly if they have an incentive. The key for online promotions that require consumers to take action, says Linkner, is finding the balance between motivating them to do something without expecting too much of them.

One idea for the Crest promotion, Linkner explains, was to have consumers film their own commercials, "but we didn't want to put too much burden on them," he says.

In addition to the grand prize of a trip to NY, Linkner's team offered free samples of the toothpaste to anyone who participated. "You want to put in an incentive to tip the scales in a brand's favor," Linkner says.

-> Tactic #2. Instant-win increases participation

Linkner conducted a study of 45 promotions comparing basic sweepstakes to instant-win sweepstakes, and found a 300% lift in participation in instant-win. "Everyone loves instant gratification," he says.

And consumers feel it adds credibility when they know right away whether they've won.

Another bonus of instant-win sweeps is that it increases the frequency with which you reach the consumer. "When you do things like instant-win or collect-and-win, frequency goes up, because you give them a reason to come back." Getting a consumer to see a commercial five times may require you running it 15 times, he says, while viral marketing and promotions drive frequency on their own.

-> Tactic #3. Worry about quality of leads only when appropriate

A common concern when it comes to running sweeps is the quality of the leads. But that issue is only valid when the brand has low mass appeal, says Linkner.

"Even a sweepstakes junkie probably uses toothpaste," he says.

For more narrow niches, Linkner runs qualifying questions that touch on behavior and psychology on sign-up forms. A company selling Rolex watches, for example, might ask questions such as: Do you currently own a high-end watch? or, What hobbies do you enjoy: sailing, golf, miniature golf, bowling?

These qualifying questions help you identify potential customers, so if you're sending out a $20 brochure to potential watch buyers, you won't send it to those who clearly will not buy a Rolex (those whose favorite hobby is bowling, for instance). "It doesn't cost you anything to get the bad leads in there with the good," he says. Later, you can sort them out.

-> Tactic #4. Personalize campaigns

Qualifying questions can be useful for creating personalized campaigns, as well, allowing you to speak to consumers in their own "voice."

"A 50-year-old man drinks Coke and a 15-year-old girl drinks Coke, but you'd communicate in a different way with each," says Linkner.

For a viral campaign that allows users to play a game, you might ask a series of qualifying questions and then create a number of different games tailored to the types of visitors you get.

Of course, you won't want to create an endless number of games for every possible variable of consumer, "but you can certainly do five or 10 different games," he explains. "If it's a female maybe they're water skiing and if it's a guy maybe they're playing baseball. If they go the female route, they have a chance to win one prize; men may win another."

But when you combine personalization with a viral element, what happens when someone forwards the game to a friend, and the friend gets a different game to play? That's something to consider, Linkner says. "Hopefully you have five great games and not four great games and one that sucks."

-> Tactic #5. Gain consumer insights over time

The more personal intelligence a brand has about a consumer, the better that brand can market to the consumer -- but there are only so many questions you can include on an entry form before people will bail.

The answer, says Linkner, is to gather different consumer data each time you interact with them. With an instant-win promotion, a consumer will come back about seven times, Linkner says. "Each of those times, we ask different questions."

Do this across multiple promotions, as well, he suggests: "You might answer questions for a Crest promotion, then months later go to a Scope promotion and I'll ask you the next three questions. We consolidate that information."

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