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Getting Creative

With the research finished and analyzed, Plug. is returning rejuvenated from a week-long spring break and is ready for the sprint to the end of the semester. The strategic plan is taking shape and development of our final campaign book has begun.

The team is in the process of developing five strategic tactics that will specifically target potential sponsors for the Spot.Us site. In attracting additional sponsors, Spot.Us will be able to distribute an increased number of free credits for donations from community members on the site. With this increased capacity for donations, Spot.Us will be able to support an increased number of story pitches from reporters and news organizations.

Plug. has put much consideration into developing nontraditional methods of publicity for Spot.Us. It is necessary to cater to the interests of the tech-savvy and connected audience that already participates in Spot.Us so that the existing user base can continue to grow and develop. Our strategic campaign will combine traditional and nontraditional methods, including improvements on pitches to sponsors, an interactive component that will pull traffic into the site and improvements to the site itself among other recommendations.

The campaign will be based on building anticipation around the Spot.Us brand by emphasizing the unique advertising opportunity that is involved in a Spot.Us act of engagement. Spot.Us provides hope for the new ways to reach an audience, and we would like to convey this to potential sponsors.

We’re doing a lot of work on re-branding the idea of sponsorship as a unique advertising opportunity. This will include new collateral material for you to provide to potential sponsors as well as content for the site. We’re also putting together some social media tactics focused around Twitter. An event plan is in the works (any thoughts on that–is an event something you’d be up for?) as well as, yes, some traditional advertising. The research showed that one traditional method may be helpful in reaching completely new sponsors. A print ad for industry journals is also on the way.

In addition to the five tactics, our research provided many insights that have led Plug. to develop recommendations focused around our secondary audiences, which are the news organizations or reporters that pitch stories and the community members who frequent the site.

The development of the book has Plug. more excited than ever about Spot.Us itself and the challenge that has been presented to us: facilitating the transformation of Spot.Us into a more sustainable business model.

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A Public Conversation

It was a busy week for Plug. as we kicked off our primary research efforts for Spot.Us. Site observations, surveys, interviews and focus groups have officially finally gotten underway after we spent a few weeks determining where our client is and what we need to know to get them where they want to go.

In determining the type of primary research data we wanted to collect, our team made the exciting decision to attempt a very unique kind of focus group.

Next Monday on the 28th of February we will hold a real-time focus group over Twitter! Starting at 9:30pm CT we will begin tweeting questions from @Plug_MU regarding the public’s feelings toward nonprofit news. We will also be focusing on brands or sponsors that interest Spot.Us followers and who they would want to see playing a role in turning the site into a sustainable business model.

Why did we decide to use Twitter? From politics and national news to brands and organizations, Twitter has become a database of the community’s real-time opinions. The development of social media has created a shift in society’s preferences for engaging with others and expressing themselves. In this day and age, companies need to understand that the key to success can be found in the creation of dialogue and interaction with the community. Today, the public would rather be talked with than talked at, as has been the case with traditional advertising methods.

In the last weeks, Plug. has decided to expand our Twitter presence and give this community conversation a try with our real-time focus group. We want to gain valuable feedback from the community and tap into the wealth of information that is so readily available through Twitter.

If you would like to join our focus group on Monday, follow @Plug_MU and tweet back with your answers to our questions and the hashtag #spotfocus. Plug. can’t wait to see you there!

Follow @Plug_MU at http://twitter.com/#!/Plug_MU

For more info about Spot.Us, check out the site at http://spot.us/

For more info about our twitter-based focus group, please visit http://on.fb.me/guXtRm

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The Brands of “The Bowl”

A huge percentage of Americans watch the Super Bowl solely to experience the incredible commercials. Companies make giant investments in both time and money in an effort to launch campaigns that will catch people’s attention and keep them talking. Plug. live tweeted our opinions on the commercials that ran during the Super Bowl this year, and here are our more elaborate opinions about the ads that were able to break through the clutter.

Chrysler “Born of Fire”

http://bit.ly/eaM5iX

Chrysler took a huge financial risk and ran the first ever two-minute Super Bowl advertisement. The ad tells an inspiring story through its beautiful art direction that hasn’t failed to give me chills even after several viewings.

American car manufacturers have attempted to conjure up patriotic feelings before, but this ad’s resilient undertone coupled with its terrific narration stirs the audience in a new way. The message was tough, focusing on hope and redemption by highlighting a non-polarizing patriotism that would appeal to a widespread audience. The idea of the city as an “underdog” ran through the commercial as a central theme, and featuring Eminem was just the right touch to add the element of beating the odds. The ironic tagline, “Imported from Detroit,” takes a final dig at other manufacturers and evokes a sense of national pride and confidence. An overall success, the message is timely and relevant to the economic recession the country has just experienced, and the ad successfully establishes the essence of Chrysler.

Volkswagen “The Force”

http://bit.ly/ew3315

Volkswagen was on fire in regards to their advertising decisions during the game. VW’s first spot focused on a child dressed as Darth Vader, which was heart-warming in a way that wasn’t too cutesy, and concluded with a humorous punch as the boy’s father helped turn on the car with a remote control. This sweet, funny commercial perfectly suits the targeted demographic—families. Young fathers will identify with the Star Wars theme and mothers will love the sweet little boy playing dress-up. The iconic Darth Vader costume and clips from the Star Wars musical score were recognizable enough to catch the audience’s attention and hold it from beginning to end. The ad highlights a benefit of the Volkswagen Passat while associating it with a funny, relatable moment. Overall, this was one of the most memorable commercials from the night.

Volkswagen “Black Beetle”

http://bit.ly/gyLYl6

VW’s second spot made a clever connection between the shape of the new Beetle and the shape of the animal it is named after, keeping this clever link a secret until the “ah-ha” moment at the end. It’s extremely difficult for cars to differentiate themselves in their advertising, especially with so many companies auto companies fighting to advertise during the Super Bowl. This spot impressively stood out from other car commercials, never showing the actual vehicle and only hinting at its shape near the end of a black beetle’s racing trip.

Motorola “Empower the People”

http://bit.ly/dWTzht

Although Plug. is a team of Mac people, we appreciated the shot that Motorola took at Apple as a market leader without ever explicitly mentioning their competitor.

While Apple has built itself on messages of individuality, Motorola’s ad claims that “iEverything” technology has made Apple users all the same. Motorola successfully positions its tablet as a valuable and unique alternative to the iPad, emphasizing its unique benefits while effectively targeting a competitor. Utilizing the absence dialogue and refusing to clearly spell out their Apple reference, the ad engaged their audience by speaking to them as equals and appealing to their elevated intelligence. Assuming that their audience would understand their reference further emphasized the ad’s key message—break away and think for yourself. The delicate balance between a jab at a competitor and a clear message is beautifully handled in this spot.

Budweiser “Wild West”

http://bit.ly/i6W5Jb

Year after year, people love Budweiser commercials. While this year’s spots were not as impressive as those from years past, this ad was unquestionably in sync with their intended target audience—young men. Although the Western theme was overly prevalent in commercials this year, this Budweiser spot was one of the Westerns that was able to break through the clutter. An outlaw shows up to the saloon and asks for a Budweiser, but the saloon has run out. The iconic Clydesdales deliver just in time, and there is a moment of tension relieved by a spontaneous music outburst of “Tiny Dancer.” The song choice is one that will resonate with the target market, hopefully sparking the audience to recall similar laughable times with their friends. The tag, “Grab Some Buds,” is the perfect fit with the rest of the spot’s message: Budweiser is for the man who likes to drink beer and have a good time.

Audi “Release the Hounds”

http://bit.ly/f8BobO

In this spot, Audi immerses you in a world where the old definition of luxury is a series of prison cells. The ad sets forth a very distinct message about the brand: Audi isn’t a dated luxury automobile. Audi is fresh, new, and yet still uniquely luxurious. Kenny G and the release of the hounds are the perfect finishing touches to the humorous image of old luxury. Audi drives their message home at the end of the spot, presenting the car’s getaway and stating that “luxury has progressed.” Strategically sound and humorously engaging, this spot was true to the essence of Audi.

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get connected.

We’re ambitious. We’re passionate. We’re Plug.

We’re a student-run agency that is newly entering the advertising world!

The name Plug. represents the way our agency  will strive to plug our client into a specific target market with a sound strategic campaign. Over the course of a semester, we will plug into our creative abilities to create a campaign that will effectively and efficiently use strategic communication tools to  reach the best possible outcome for our client.

We’re excited to be working with Spot.us this semester, a platform for community powered reporting that is rooted in transparency and participation.

Here we’ll share our ideas on advertising and our updates on this student-driven project.

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