Having spent $1.3 million developing and printing new 3D, webcam-activated All Blacks trading cards, Sanitarium has decided not to spend $400,000 on a media campaign to promote them. Instead, the FMCG company is pinning its hopes on Twitter, Facebook and Bebo. [UPDATE: It's not going so well so far.]
“It’s a big risk, and I had to get it signed off by a lot of people,” Sanitarium senior brand manager Tanne Andrews told NBR. “But why should I spend $300,000 or $400,000 on media when I can reach all the kids through social networks?”
A $30,000 below-the-line campaign will see Weet-Bix push its new product through that Mr Andrews calls “the big four” social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and MySpace.
The hottest social network, Twitter, has no facility for paid advertising, but does allow companies to run accounts and tweet about their products.
However, there’s a thin line between using a company Twitter account to spark viral buzz and “astro-turfing” in which a commercial campaign and sham “fan” tweets falls on its face.
Mr Andrews calls his social networking play “a wake-up call for agencies, and a wake-up call for media. The market’s changing very quickly, and agencies have to respond.”
Guaranteed vs potential audience
Total Media GM Richard Thompson says he can see why Mr Andrews is targeting social networks. “The audience he’s aiming at is very young and online-savvy so having an online element makes a lot of sense”.
But the media buyer cautions that “a huge amount is spent on viral campaigns that never go viral. I would strongly advise any of our clients against relying exclusively on a viral campaign.”
The advantage of traditional media is that it guarantees an audience, says Mr Thompson, while any online ‘buzz’ strategy is more about potential eyeballs.
“If it doesn’t take off he’s not going to get very good ROI on his $1.3 million. The only people who’ll see it are those already buying the product.”
Made in France
The new Weet-Bix campaign, launched today at Auckland’s Eden Park with an event featuring Joe Rokocoko and Conrad Smith, is centred around a series of “3D cards”.
When 10 of the series of 43 cards are held up to a web-cam, they trigger a three-dimensional image of the relevant All Black to appear onscreen (see photo above). Fans can rotate the card held in front of the web cam, and the onscreen figure rotates in full-perspective.
This so-called “augmented reality” technology behind the cards, which blends real images with animation, was developed by Total Immersion, which has offices in the US and France, and Australian company Dreamscape.
In these parts, such technology is often the domain of Ian Taylor’s Animation Research or Taylor-made Productions.
“We would have loved to have worked with a New Zealand company,” Mr Andrews said.
But when Sanitarium first went looking for 3D card technology in October last year, Total Immersion and Dreamscape were the only ones to pitch - although three or four months later the company was inundated with proposals, Mr Andrews said.
The All Blacks are the first team to get “augmented reality” player cards after their debut in the US, where the technology was used in a series of baseball cards recently covered in The New York Times.
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