Great marketing can be quick enough to beat the news

Now here’s an example of a great use of marketing to respond quickly and effectively to things as they happen.

I hadn’t heard anything about Virgin Trains trying to cut down on people kissing and hugging at the passenger drop-off point at Warrington Bank Quay station. Apparently a sign banning kissing was put up in a light-hearted manner to ease congestion and suggest people should go to the short-stay car park (and pay!) if they want to hug and kiss someone leaving on a trip.

Instead, the first things I saw were:

Mills and Boon respond to Virgin

Mills and Boon respond to Virgin

It was apparently done by St Lukes, who handle advertising for Mills & Boon, and it’s timely, considering news about the sign only appeared two days ago.

It’s also relatively low cost – there’s a Facebook group, a Twitter account, and a Flickr group.  And people are being encouraged to interact and upload images of themselves kissing etc.

It’s already had a bit of coverage via Brand Republic and The School of Life.

But most importantly, it’s effective because it was done quickly, enthusiastically, and allows people to get involved.

As a result, if it becomes a huge runaway success, then it’s great. But if it only achieves minor success, then nothing has been lost except a bit of time.

And it ties in brilliantly with Mills & Boon promoting romance, rather than books about romance.

I’d guess it didn’t take much negotiation around permission and planning, which is a benefit of having clear beliefs and trust.

And suddenly a brand which I’d associate with my grandmother now seems lighthearted and fun enough to check out the next time I want to buy a romantic present.

How NOT to do social media – The Motorola Mishap

Found on CrunchGear, and originally on Boing Boing Gadgets is a great example of one or more people spamming the comments of everywhere they can find to promote a new phone by Motorola. One comment on Boing Boing demonstrates how much hard work this individual has been doing to shoehorn his stock comment into completely bizarre and irrelevant posts – just look at the posts.

Incidentally, from May 26, 2008, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 came into force.

This includes measures to prevent companies or marketing agencies posting on online forums and social networks to advertise goods or services in a way which implies they’re a normal consumer.

Part 2: Banned Practices: (22)
“Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.
A second-hand car dealership puts a used car on a nearby road and displays a handwritten advertisement reading ‘One careful owner. Good family run-around. £2000 or nearest offer. Call Jack on 01234 56789’. The sign gives the impression that the seller is not selling as a trader and hence this would breach CPR”  See more, here.

Twitter + Authentic Celebrity = Word of Mouth success!

There’s been quite a lot of discussion around the Magpie Network advertising service for Twitter, and whether it’s a good or bad thing. Such as ReadWriteWeb, Jeremiah Owyang, and Techcrunch.

I bet the Twitter team are looking at the responses with interest!

But James Cridland picked up on an incredibly effective and authentic Word of Mouth event on Twitter. I’ll summarise, so you can go and read the full article, ‘Word of Mouse – @stephenfry sells bucketloads of Tweetie‘. Hugely popular celebrity and ‘proper’ Tweeter Stephen Fry mentioned some Twitter clients, received a recommendation for a paid client for the iPhone, posted a positive review of it, and gained a huge number of responses from people who appear to have paid for the client on his recommendation.

Who would have though that an influential celebrity who is authentically using a service could have a direct effect on a product? I’m off to persuade U.S. basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal he should be promoting 140char!

Case Study: Qik using Twitter

We’ve got a new section to highlight and collate all of the best case studies of business and enterprise using microblogging in one place, as well as in individual blog posts. As the list fills up, you’ll be able to see it all, here.

Starting off is an example of customer service on Twitter as David Cushman recently posted.

David tweeted about his problem signing up to Qik on his Nokia N73. He didn’t contact the company directly, and probably would have just given up if left to his own devices. But Jackie Danicki, Director of Marketing at Qik was monitoring what was being said, found the tweet, and also located David’s email address to contact him directly, as well as sending him an SMS with a relevant link. Which led to him posting in praise of the company even before a solution was provided to his problem.

One happy advocate blogging about his experience and sharing his recommendations on and offline before he’s even tried the product!