Category Archives: Special Events

Consumers spend on Valentine’s Day

Recession? What recession? To all appearances, consumers are going to take at least one day off from dealing with the sluggish economy and invest in making their loved ones feel loved. That’s what the National Retail Federation says, based on research provided by BigInsight. According to NRF, Valentine’s Day 2012 figures to be a record breaker.

According to NRF’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGinsight, the total spend on the holiday is expected to come home at $17.6B.

One a person-by-person basis, celebrants are expecting to invest an average of $126.03, up from $116.21 a year ago and amounting to an increase of 8.5%. NRF says this is the highest total its ever recorded in ten years of conducting the survey.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay observed, “As one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, it’s encouraging that consumers are still exhibiting the desire to spend on discretionary gift items, a strong indication our economy continues to move in the right direction. Anticipating high foot traffic in the coming weeks, retailers have replenished their inventories and will entice eager shoppers with great deals on everything from special menu items at restaurants to clothing to flowers and, of course, chocolates.”

The chief beneficiary of the spending will be those filling the role of spouse or significant other – they will be on the receiving end of an average $74.12 outlay, up from $68.98 in 2011.

Children, parents and other family members are next on the shopping list, for an average benefit of $25.25. Friends and pets are also on the shopping list, for $6.92 and $4.52 respectively.

BigInsight date found that this is one holiday where men do most of the spending – when it comes to clothing, jewelry and cards, they are expected to invest $168.74 on average, almost double the $85.76 their significant others of the female persuasion are expected to spend.

There has been an increase in the number of people planning to buy jewelry, which is rising from 17.3% to 18.9%; and gift cards are in the plans of 13.3% compared to 12.6% in 2011.

Big categories on the day remain candy, in the plans for 50.5%; flowers, mentioned by 36.0%; and an evening out, cited by 35.6%.

Jewels can look for a total payday of $4.1B; restaurateurs are expected to rake in $3.5B; florists are looking at a haul of $1.8B; candymakers can expect about $1.5B and the total spend on gift cards is expected to hit $1.1B.

“Celebrated by children who give Valentines to their teachers and classmates, family members who make sure to send greeting cards across the miles and couples who wish to show their appreciation for each other, Valentine’s Day means more than what’s simply on the surface,” said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director at BIGinsight. “This year we could very well see some consumers searching high and low and stopping at nothing to make sure their loved ones receive the perfect gift.”

Describing the breakdown of shopping venues, NRF/BigInsight said, “Though discount stores are expected to see the most traffic (37.0%), one-third of shoppers (33.6%) will head to department stores, up from 30.5 percent last year. Online retailers will also see a nice boost from the business of love – nearly one out of five (19.3%) will shop online for gifts this Valentine’s Day, up from 18.1 percent last year. Others will shop at specialty stores (20.2%), floral shop (17.8%), jewelry stores (10.6%) and specialty clothing stores (6.6%).”

GM’s Super Bowl commercial helped Ford

Super Bowl Ad Aftermath: Ford Boosted By GM’s Fallout?

Playing dirty might be de rigeur in politics, but it seldom helps in selling products—even dusty pickups ravaged by the apocalypse.

That might end up being GM’s tough lesson from its Super Bowl XLVI ad which, to some, spoke less about the strengths of GM products than it did attack Ford’s reputation for durability and longevity.

GM’s Super Bowl commercial helped Ford

Based on traffic and visitor data collected by the shopping and pricing site Kelley Blue Book, more visitors browsed Fordafter the GM commercial—a lot more—even though Ford didn’t have a big Super Bowl ad. Whether looking at the controversy in the days surrounding, or specifically at the window of time during and after the ad aired, Fordappeared to benefit most, if an immediate browsing or shopping of new vehicles was the goal.

Full-size pickup truck visitors on Super Bowl Sunday, 2012 – Kelley Blue Book data shows consumer interest in the Silverado lifting during the commercial airing, leveling off after the commercial and declining after the game, as interest in the F-150 surged, curiously. Despite the Silverado’s lift during the game, Ford’s F-150 still drew a greater share of week-over-week attention from consumers.

In comparing consumer interest on among the Full-size truck segment, KBB analyst Akshay Anand noted that the share of visits to the F150 surged over 26-percent week-over-week, while the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 saw a 25-percent drop in traffic during the same period.

“Looking at the data for that whole day, Ford did see some lift, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” said Anand.

That leads to how some might have heard the commercial…something along the lines of this: What kind of truck do you drive to the impending apocalypse? If it’s a Ford, oh you sorry sap, you’re just not going to make it.

Advertising 101: Don’t make the competing product your punchline

And that hits hard at one very important factor: brand loyalty. To many, the commercial was less a declaration of the strengths of GM products than it was the buildup to an attack on Ford’s trucks. And it may have sent Ford loyalists to their laptops and tablets to search for reassurance about Ford’s reputation, as their GM counterparts gloated and stayed on the sofa.

“Truck owners tend to be more loyal than those in any other segment,” said Anand, and when a product with that level of loyalty is mentioned negatively in an ad, argued Anand, the response is likely to be one that’s on the defensive.

Other potential explanations: Ford was mentioned bluntly and clearly right near the end of the ad, so is that somehow the name that stuck with viewers? Or does the lesson to be learned really have more to do with etiquette?

It is, after all, one of the first commercials in some time to blatantly call out a competing product without mention of a number or metric as basis.

Brand Bowl 2012

This past Sunday, advertisers everywhere were tuned into the Olympics of Advertising, or what we call the Brand Bowl. Who came out victorious and who failed to impress? Here are some of the highlights if you missed it:

Which were your favorites?

See them all here 

Universal Orlando and Legoland hit capacity yesterday; Islands of Adventure turns away customers again

So many people are in Central Florida to go to the theme parks this week that several hit capacity and closed their doors Wednesday to any more visitors.

WFTV’s Skywitness 9  flew over the parks, where crowds and lines of cars were visible.’s interactive traffic map showed heavy traffic over I-4 and other roads near Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios.

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom all had to turn guests away because so many people were inside.

According to independent Disney World travel, Wednesday’s crowd levels are in the top 10 percent of all days all year, with each park forecasted between 9.7 and 10 on a 10-point scale –with hour-plus waits at many of the most popular attractions.

Universal Orlando also had to refuse people from getting into Islands of Adventure, and the new Legoland in Winter Haven hit capacity as well, posting on their Facebook page, “In order to ensure guests of LEGOLAND Florida have an enjoyable day with their families, the park is no longer admitting additional guests.”

Online advertising becoming as important as spot TV

According to Q3 2011 research from media buying solutions provider STRATA, clients are becoming just as focused on digital media as they are on spot TV. US ad agencies reported 34% of clients were thinking most about online advertising in Q3, compared with 24% the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the number of clients whose primary focus was on spot TV dropped from 41% to an almost-even 35%.

The online marketing tactics in use by the agencies surveyed did not change much, with online display, search and social media coming out on top, their usage rates stable from quarter to quarter. On social media, similarly, priorities remained the same, with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter the clear leaders, though LinkedIn, in fourth position, gained ground.

The number of agencies purchasing mobile advertising for their clients also stayed relatively stable, at 23%, but the types of ads they were creating began to change. In Q3, display advertising took an even larger lead over SMS. More than half of agencies said they are now creating more mobile display ads for their clients than other mobile formats, compared to just 16% of agencies that are still mostly creating SMS ads.

The mobile devices being targeted by those ads were changing, too. Agencies cut their interest in BlackBerry by half between Q2 and Q3, according to STRATA. Still, Android-targeted efforts lagged behind iOS-focused ones.

eMarketer forecasts display will take 33% of mobile ad dollars in 2012, pushing it ahead of SMS and even with mobile search spending. It also estimates that the iPhone will lose its spot as the No. 1 smartphone in America by the end of this year, when Android’s share will far surpass it.

3 myths about flyers,freebies and giveaways

Handouts, giveaways, and freebies are classic word of mouth triggers — something that inspires someone to tell a friend about you. But most aren’t worth talking about. When creating yours, here are three myths to keep in mind:

1. It’s about sales, sales, sales!

A great handout is designed to get shared, not to hit people over the head with a salesy message. You want to avoid being the classic Mitch Hedberg joke: “When someone hands you a flyer, it’s like they’re saying, ‘Here, you throw this away.'” Don’t bother creating a handout until you have a good answer to the question, “What about this would make someone want to share it with a friend?”

2. Everyone loves our logo

It’s true, for some iconic brands, fans go out of their way to wear their logos like tribal badges. But, unless you’ve earned the following of Apple, Harley, or Nike, you’re probably not quite there yet. Take another look at your design and see if there’s a chance to make your branding a little more subtle — and as a result, a much more usable word of mouth trigger.

3. Nobody keeps them anyways

Here’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: Since nobody keeps the swag and handouts we give away, we should make them as cheap as possible. But we’re betting you’ve got something now — a great reusable bag, a poster, or an impressive case study or white paper — that you’ve saved and used to spread word of mouth. It’s like any form of marketing: If you’re not going to make it fantastic, don’t bother.


  • RULE #1: Avoid Being Blackmailed. Trade show organizers often try to sell pricey booth space by raising the specter that your customers will think you’re going out of business if you don’t show up. Ignore them and decide to attend only if you think it’s useful or cost-effective.  If you’re worried about customers thinking you’re in trouble, rent a suite in a nearby hotel, and hold a big party.  It will cost about 1/10th as much and have more impact anyway.
  • RULE #2: Ignore Marketing’s “We Gotta Be There.”Marketeers love ALL trade show because they can run up the expense account and network (i.e. job seek and/or sleep with) with other marketeers. Nothing wrong with that, but it might not be the best way to spend your marketing dollars.
  • RULE #3: Don’t Expect Many Good Leads. Most trade shows are fairly worthless when it comes to generating sales leads, because the bulk of the attendees are either other vendors, the customers of those vendors, or your current customers.  Usually the actual sales leads are pretty slim pickings.
  • RULE #4: Expect to Pay a LOT Per Lead. It’s not at all unusual to pay as much as $100,000 to attend a big trade show booth, and come out of the trade show with around less than a hundred usable leads. And some of them, of course, won’t convert.  Run the numbers and make sure that it’s worth the effort.
  • RULE #5: Use the Show To Reward Your Customers. The main point of being at a big trade show is to schmooze your current customer base and make them feel special. You get a lot of face-to-face time that can strengthen your relationships.  That’s got value and can be strategic, so it may be worth it go, even if you don’t expect to get a lot of leads.
  • RULE #6: Spend Some Time Doing Competitive Research.Trade shows are an excellent way to find out what the competition is releasing in the future, who they’re positioning it, and how they’re approaching their customer base.  Don’t waste the opportunity.  Hint: Have a debriefing after the show to discuss what everyone learned.

Keeping Loyal Customers Loyal

Keeping Loyal Customers Loyal

In a lagging economy, keeping your loyal customers loyal can become increasingly more challenging, but there is probably no other time when good customer loyalty is more vital to your business. Your loyal customers are your high-value clients, bringing in as much as 80% of your overall sales, according to Pareto’s principle (the 80-20 Rule). Do you know who your most loyal customers are? What are you doing to keep these high-value clients happy and loyal customers?

These steps will help you gain a better understanding of who your best customers are and what you can do to keep them loyal.

 1.  Ask Them What They Think.  Survey all of your customers, former customers and potential customers with just two simple questions: would you recommend us to others? Why or why not? The answers to these two questions tell you how what general percentage of your customers is loyal as well as their reasons behind why they are or not.

2.  Stay In Touch.  Whether it’s included in a loyalty program or you purchase on separately, find an email marketing tool and use it wisely. Be sure to target messages to the right customers at the right time. Provide your customers specific information they would find helpful and special offers that are customized just for them. Let them know about contests, upcoming events, new products, etc. But don’t send out too much too often. Find a balance between encouraging their patronage without taking advantage of their trust.

3. Go the Extra Mile.  In addition to your advertisements, announcements and non-solicit emails, sign up for a greeting card system or set up recurring email campaigns. Send birthday greetings with a gift or special offer just for them. This personal touch helps your customers understand that you value them as individuals and invites more loyalty and trust.

4. Encourage Participants, Not Spectators.  Keep your loyal customers involved and ask for their opinions on any pending changes or new directions in your business arise. You never want to make a business decision that will alienate your loyal customers. Their word-of-mouth marketing will achieve more success than almost any other marketing efforts you employ.

5.  Say It To Their Face.  Never shy away from an opportunity to thank your customers for their business. Train your employees to extend sincere thanks for even the smallest business transaction. Greet your customers by name (when you can) and encourage all your employees to do the same. Host customer appreciation events. Support local charities. Be involved in their (your) community and you will be surprised how much you get ahead by simply giving back!

Toyota looks to regain momentum with new redesigned 2012 Camry

 Toyota showed off its all-new Camry on Tuesday, aiming to recover lost sales momentum with price cuts and a high-powered ad campaign for its flagship sedan that remains America’s best-selling car.

Sales of the Camry are down 8 percent this year but it is still No. 1 in the United States despite market-share gains by mid-size rivals the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata.

Losing sales this year has been the Honda Accord, which has fallen to No. 4 among mid-size cars from its No. 2 position in 2010.

The launch of the new Camry comes at a time when Toyota is struggling to shake free of the damage from costly safety recalls and the more recent problems caused by production shortages after the March earthquake. The Japanese automaker has seized on the redesigned Camry as a symbol for its own return as a force in the U.S. market.

Toyota unveiled the 2012 Camry with unusual fanfare at events staged in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York that featured a live video link from a plant in Kentucky where President Akio Toyoda drove the first production vehicle off the assembly line.

Camry’s U.S. sales peaked in 2007, as Toyota extended a lead over GM in global auto sales. That was also the first year of the current generation of Camry.Some 15 million Camrys have been sold worldwide since it debuted in the U.S. market in 1983. It has been the top-selling car in the U.S. market for nine years running and 13 of the last 14 years according to Toyota.

Overall, U.S. Toyota sales fell 7 percent through July for the No. 3 spot behind GM and Ford. Most of its competitors gained, led by Hyundai with a sales increase of 23 percent.

The Camry’s reputation for worry-free reliability made it a favorite of a generation of American consumers now entering or already in their retirement years. The average age of the U.S. Camry buyer is 60, which the automaker hopes to lower with the 2012 model, the sedan’s seventh generation.

The mainline gasoline-powered sedans will begin showing up at U.S. dealers in early October, ahead of an October 17 launch of an advertising campaign that will climax during the early 2012 Super Bowl broadcast, said Carter.

Hybrid versions of the Camry will be at U.S. dealerships by December.

Among competitors, the new Chevrolet Malibu goes on sale in early 2012 followed later in 2012 by new versions of Honda’s Accord and Nissan’s Altima.

Earlier this month, General Motors said it expected Toyota and major Japanese automakers to be “back with a vengeance” in the U.S. auto market as they are able to recover from the March earthquake. A sign of that may be the pricing of the 2012 Camry lineup. Of the six versions of the Camry, five will have lower prices than their 2011 counterparts, which Toyota executives say is partly because of the intense competition in the mid-size sedan market.

While Camry prices are lower, fuel economy ratings are higher, led by the Camry Hybrid LE, the lower-priced of two hybrid offerings. It will get a combined city and highway average of 41 miles per gallon. The four-cylinder gasoline models will get a combined 28 mpg.

Major Bands announced for Calling festival in Orlando at Citrus Bowl

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Kid Rock,  the Killers and alternative pioneers the Pixies will be the headliners at the inaugural Orlando Calling music festival, a two-day event slated for Nov. 12 and 13 at the Citrus Bowl.

“Orlando has a rich history of outdoor rock concerts,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at a press conference announcing a lineup that includes more than two dozen acts on four stages over two days. “This takes it to another level. This puts Orlando at the center stage for American music in November.”

The lineup will include major stars in rock, hip-hop andcountry music.

The Killers, who have not toured in the United States this year, will headline the festival’s opening day on Nov. 12, on a bill with the Raconteurs, Pixies, the Avett Brothers, The Roots, O.A.R. , Iron & Wine, Pete Yorn, Jenny & Johnny, Gavin DeGraw, Drive-By Truckers, Dr. Dog, Civil Twilight, Lucero, the Felice Brothers, Ben Sollee and Renee & The Translators.

On Nov. 13, Seger will perform on a lineup with Kid Rock, country star Blake Shelton, the Doobie Brothers,Dwight YoakamBuddy Guy, the Warren Haynes BandChris Isaak, Brandi Carlile, Robert Randolph & the Family band, the Flatlanders, Los Lonely Boys, Blues Traveler, Michelle Brand, Justin Townes Earle, the David Mayfield Parade and Orlando’s own ska band the Supervillains.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ticketmasteroutlets. If purchased before Sept 1, the cost is $80 (plus fees) for a one-day pass and $145 for a two-day admission. After Sept. 1, it’s $87.50 for one-day, $160 for two days.

The diverse lineup is the vision of concert promoter Melvin Benn, the CEO of British-based Festival Republic, a promotion company with a long record of successfulEuropean rock festivals, including iconic events at Reading, Leeds and Glastonury.

On Thursday, Benn said that he has been looking for a home for his first festival in the United States for several years. He picked Orlando for a variety of reasons.

“The climate is fantastic, especially at that time of year,” he said. “Plus, every single decent-sized airport in the U.S. has direct flights to Orlando and many airports around the world. You never need to explain to anyone where Orlando is.”

Benn also said that he has received a “very enthusiastic” response from the city, but nothing in the way of financial incentives. “I wish I could say one of the reasons is that they have given me millions of dollars, but it’s not the case,” he said. “I’m paying them money.”

City officials said the promoters are paying a standard $75,000 lease fee to use the Citrus Bowl and surrounding area.

For its part, the city also gets a $2 facility fee assessed on each ticket sold. Orlando also gets the lion’s share of the parking and concession revenues, but gives up a portion to the promoters, or about $4.50 per attendee, said Allen Johnson, the city’s venues executive director.

“The city is [financially] protected,” Johnson said.

“They sought us out,” said Dyer, who has seen Bob Seger in concert. “And we were really excited about having this in Orlando.”

Dyer said that one of the city’s main goals is to expose folks outside Central Florida to the fact that this area is more than just theme parks, and that a thriving arts and music scene lives here, too.

“We were trying to expose the world to the other side of Orlando,” Dyer said.

The local music scene will be exposed through Orlando bands performing at the event and free after-shows shows at other downtown venues on concert nights.

The mix of musical acts — from alternative country (the Flatlanders) to alternative rock (Pixies) and hip-hop (The Roots) — reflects Benn’s vision of a musical event with an American slant.

“I’ve been obsessed for some time, with matching country crossover acts with classic rock acts and alternative rock bands. I want to create a sound aimed at American audiences.”

Festival Republic is well-known in the concert business, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of industry magazine Pollstar.

Benn is “a major figure in the festival world in the UK,” Bongiovanni said. “He has a reputation for being able to produce well-run, quality events.”

Orlando Calling is the latest edition to a slate of Florida-based music festivals that include two roots-oriented events — Suwannee Springfest and Magnoliafest — at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak. That outdoor space also hosts the annual Wanee Festival, brainchild of the Allman Brothers Band, the Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival and, in August, will be home to the inaugural 311 Pow Wow, a three-day festival hosted by rock band 311.

In a tough economy, festivals can help attract bands to Florida, a peninsula that sometimes doesn’t fit conveniently into tour itineraries.

“The individual bands aren’t faced with selling all the tickets,” Bongiovanni said. “With a festival, the success or failure isn’t tied to an individual act. From a career perspective, it’s less risky and if you like playing for large crowds, it’s a plus. Plus, all these bands have likely played Festival Republic events in Europe. Everyone in the industry knows who Melvin is.”

Bongiovanni says that Orlando’s theme-park destinations and availability of hotel rooms make it a different kind of destination from other music festivals, where fans tend to camp.

“For music fans who want to come to Orlando and have the festival experience, they can tie it into visits to the theme parks and other attractions in the area and make it more of a mini-vacation,” he says.