In this wondrous Olympic year, who can resist a track and field metaphor? Picture this: Usain Bolt is blurring his way to the finish line in the 100 meter finals and decides to stop short one meter (that’s 3.28 feet to us non-metricized folks) because the sun got in his unshielded eyes. Years of practice and conditioning and running with the roosters tossed aside because the Jamaican speedster forgot his sunglasses. In short, as a result of bad planning he ran 99 meters of a 100-meter dash.
Marketers taking the digital route often plan to run a 100-meter dash but fall a meter (or sometimes more) short because of careless execution. Case in point, the new General Electric French Door refrigerator featured in a cleverly planned but poorly executed campaign. Someone at GE, or more likely its agency, had the idea of using video to promote the true coolness (no pun intended) of this appliance. For the record, a French door fridge is one in which the doors open out fully to accommodate more food. Most also have features such as zoned humidity (aka microclimate controls) to keep produce fresher longer, and it’s that message GE hoped to impart with a Webisode, The Freshpedition. (www.freshpedition.com) The plot, which totally nails the essential rule of marketing in which you clearly show the benefits of a product, pairs a GE scientist for a celebrity chef who take to the road to deliver fresh food to a researcher in the field in the wilds of Texas. The fridge is attached to a generator and strapped into the back of a truck and along the way of this 2,000-mile odyssey, the duo stop at various farms and artisan food purveyors to show off the benefits of their chilly companion.
Great plan with essential marketing precepts in place—check. Execution? Now that’s where the race to the finish line stops short. The Webisodes appear in two places: on the Freshpedition website and on YouTube. The fatal flaw is that the Freshpedition site takes about 30 seconds to load…and then goes kaput. No videos, no link, no nothing. The videos are on YouTube along with billions of other clips and are totally disconnected to any sort of marketing material. So, who’s at fault here? GE, its agency, the video platform provider who ingests/transcodes/distributes the videos, website developer? Or is it someone in GE marketing (not to mention the agency of record) who oversees the campaign and should-at minimum—check the site every day to make sure it’s working.
I am reminded of a personal pet peeve which takes place every time I go into a certain home goods store in which everything is merchandized with aplomb only to find one cash register open with 10 carts full of stuff ahead of me in line. Talk about your abandoned shopping carts. The digital world is supposed to be free from such issues but not from execution issues that fall under the heading of common sense. If you intended to be a successful digital marketer, maybe rule number one is have common sense. If you offer videos (which look to cost a pretty penny to produce) it’s probably a good idea to ensure they work when a customer comes to the website.
Digital marketers need to think of campaigns not as sprints but as marathons. As such, training and planning will only get you so far. Common sense will ensure you not only finish the race but aacomplish your goals.
*Note: Some two weeks later, the videos were working via my Chrome browser, an issue that was finally brought to someone’s attention. The devil is always in the details.