Critically analyse the integrated marketing campaign adopted by the company.
Discuss the marketing lessons we can learn from the success of this project.
IMC is the method of carefully co-ordinating all promotional activities, advertising, sales promotions, personal selling and public relations as well as sponsorship, direct marketing and other forms of promotion to produce a consistent united message that is customer focused (Make that grade , 2011) FIX
Given the success of the ABC project, a critical analysis of the companys integrated marketing campaign can pose several challenges. However, I will endeavour to analyse the IMC from the critical viewpoint. The media strategy employed utilised TV, Online, Print, Mobile and IPods, in addition to other strategies. Whilst many of the approaches were pioneering and innovative in nature, the IMC was not without its faults. This was an interesting case study, but somewhat dated (2005) and culturally different in that it was US based. The extensive resources of the ABC Corporation in the US came into play, and these resources are not replicated in the Irish context.
The concept of a TV show taking viewers through the day to day lives of the survivors of a plane crash could be deemed insensitive given that it was less than five years since the US terrorist attacks and related plane crashes of 11th September 2001.
In the US, analyst reactions to company projects are closely watched as a negative analyst report can adversely affect share price. However, analyst sentiment here was generally positive. This case study details criticism of ABC for blurring the line between reality and fiction through the use of fictitious ads in different media.
The IMC entailed ABC scattering 10,000 plastic bottles on beaches with a flier inside reading Im Lost. Find me on ABC. With worldwide concern re- dumping of plastic in the oceans and consequent impact on the food chain, this decision as part of the IMC would not engender support from environmentalists.
Most aspects of the IMC/storyline were geared towards the technology savvy individual. Not all people are technology savvy so the IMC was targeted to the younger techies.
ABC took a risk in concentrating 80% of its autumn marketing budget on Lost and Desperate Housewives. This aggressive promotion of just two shows to the exclusion of other shows in the network would have hurt the chances of other productions.
The huge cost of this IMC would prohibit most other companies. For example, during the Super Bowl XL, on February 5th 2006, ABC aired the promos of Lost. Advertising in the US during the Super Bowl is the most expensive medium available.
ABCs use of fictitious ads in newspapers such as the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post did nothing to enhance the reputation/integrity of the print industry. People expect truth/honesty, and may feel let down by this aspect of the IMC.
The use of gimmicks and alternative media to market TV shows was also questioned by critics as it called into question the credibility of television as a medium REF CASE STUDY
The IMC was partially dependent on the shows sponsors, and not everyone was happy with the strategy of mixing messages and clues with the products and services of the shows sponsors. REF CASE STUDY
It could be argued that the use of official and unofficial websites by ABC could hurt its corporate image, an important concept in the US.
I have endeavoured to offer a critical analysis of the ABCs integrated marketing campaign. Whilst there were negatives, this project was successful overall for the company and I will deal with the more positive aspects of this in question 2.
There are many marketing lessons we can learn from the success of this project. The IMC was innovative, pioneering, intelligent and thought-provoking. It made clever use of technology, and combined marketing tools not previously utilised in the dominant TV industry.
The IMC recognised the use of advancements in technology and how these can be utilised to bolster corporate revenues and consumer enjoyment. ABC also cleverly reduced the impact of the major broadcasters losing out to newer media. I will endeavour to develop these points, amongst others, in answering what marketing lessons can be learned.
The IMC was successful in that it attracted current ABC customers, former customers, potential new customers and other competitors (network) customers (LN) .
The Lost Experience (TLE) was based on Lost, the hugely popular TV series. The lesson here is that when launching a new product, basing your efforts on a previously successful product can grant automatic success.
The dispersal of clues among a number of media was intelligent thinking, along with the need to watch the advertisements if you were to solve TLE. The use of clues in the advertisements was pioneering, as most viewers skip the ads .The ABC strategy of keeping owners of the digital video recorder devices on side, and not allowing them skip the ads was innovative and kept the revenue- generating advertisers on board.
The practice of creating a jigsaw puzzle and a challenge to the viewer worked well. It created a hunger amongst viewers for the next season, and kept them involved in the summer (between seasons). ABC created a unique concept that viewers wanted to share with friends.
The IMC created the Bad Twin book, which went on to become a best- seller. This expanded the IMC to print, and increased revenues, (which is the primary purpose of any marketing strategy). ABC made good use of publicity stunts, and their use of fictitious organisations worked well (albeit with the concerns noted in question 1). The use of IPods/ ITunes was pioneering (2006) and led the way. The partnership with Apple computers further enhanced revenues, and gave ABC in -reach to a much wider audience/ market segment.
Creating the Losties community enabled viewers to be part of a family, ensuring greater cohesion and loyalty. The Losties became an elite grouping and it worked well. Lost videos being downloaded to mobile phones was another valuable lesson for the very mobile and travel-loving US customer.
The ABC IMC was copied by other networks, probably its most valuable lesson. In the US, a new senior executive (like Mike Benson, VP Marketing) comes on board with new ideas and this can alter the industry thinking. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Any IMC must create a buzz and ABC certainly did with this campaign. You want people discussing your product in the office, school etc., and the IMC here achieved this objective. Success in the TV industry is measured in revenue (keep shareholders happy) and awards (2005 Emmy Awards and 2006 Golden Globe awards).
The storyline here was complex. This added to the intrigue and presented a challenge to the viewer/customer. An active online community followed. Chatroom discussions were another valuable lesson to be learned from this IMC. Any great IMC must engage proactively with fans across the world, and ABC used the mystery at the show to reach a global audience. This is what effective marketing is all about. To solve the mystery, different continents were given different clues and so in order to solve the mystery the players had to share this information on the web. This was particularly clever as ABC was letting others do their promotional work. As Benson says, A true hybrid of content and viral engagement.
In conclusion, the ABC- employed IMC was an overall success from most vintage points. Lessons were learned by both ABC and its industry peers. ABC re-educated people on how to watch TV, and intelligently employed TV, print, publicity stunts, ITunes, IPod, books, mobiles, internet etc. to enable Lost to be licenced in over 210 territories worldwide. ABC received huge revenue streams, the viewers enjoyed the challenge, advertisers did well, and industry standards / norms were changed.
ABC forced competitors to rethink their marketing strategies, what better lesson could be learned?