Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Final Blog Post

Prior to this semester-long project the word “blog” meant nothing to me. I thought these personal posts were for people with way too much time on their hands expressing their opinions on issues no one cared about…well I was wrong. I chose “advertainment” as my hot topic even though it was the first time I had heard of the term. After several confused emails sent to Kim, I started to get the hang of the concept used very strategically in online marketing.

My first few posts focused on advergaming, which I finally figured out is a form of advertainment. Advergames are a type of detailed advertising usually located on a company’s website to entice the viewer to spend an extended period of time of their website in hope they will purchase their product or at least become more aware of their brand. I spend a great deal of time on various websites including Coke, Pepsi, Nickelodeon, Absolut Vodka and Wal-Mart playing entertaining and most of the time addicting games that have to do with the specific company’s products. As an educated young adult, I am aware of the intent of these games. However, an issue that was expressed in numerous blogs and online journals was the concern that young children do not understand the difference between a fun game and brainwashing advertising. When I visited the Nickelodeon website and played a Sponge Bob Squarepants advergame it was apparent that a child could spend hours playing this game and not realize they are being taking advance of by Nickelodeon advertising. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have distinct laws about advertising to children and it is highly likely that advergames have found a loophole for these regulations.

Another common characteristic in advertainment is the use of sex appeal as an attention grabber. I posted numerous times about companies creating racy mini-sites for promotions for companies such as Coke Zero, Reversa Anti-Wrinkle Cream and a virtual Halloween costume website. Depending on the target of the advertainment, the ads were either enticing or offensive. I did not enjoy the Coke Zero mini-site portraying girlfriends as jealous pests but I am sure there are chauvinistic men out there who find the mini-site hilarious and will purchase Coke-Zero as a result of the campaign. It is a tad ironical that a diet beverage that is typically targeted to women is clearly projected for a male market. The use of sex appeal works for the virtual Halloween website because this particular holiday is a time where it is culturally accepted for people to dress uninhibitedly. The clever Japanese website uses intense graphic, techno music and video of attractive people modeling the costumes on a runway making the outfits extremely desirable. If sex appeal can be used to motivate the consumer to buy the product instead of stimulate their libido, then this tactic is appropriate.

The final topic that was apparent in advertainment is the use of co-branding. I saw MTV partnering with Pepsi in a karaoke contest and Burger King has a partnership with
X-Box. When consumers are spending an extended period of time on a company’s website playing game or watching an entertaining video, they are very likely to retain information about the product or service the company is marketing. Co-branding works well in this situation because the consumer not only is more likely to retain information about both companies, but they have incentive to participate in the promotion since there is usually a perk involved. For example, if you buy a Value Meal at Burger King, for only $3.99 you can purchase a video game compatible with X-Box. Usually these games are priced in the $70-$80 range so this is quite the incentive!

Researching advertainment for a semester tied into my Audience Research course quite well. We spent the semester analyzing consumer’s media and spending habits and what triggers them to make purchasing decisions. Advertainment proves that people enjoy being entertained and are willing to spend an extended period of time on an intriguing website even though they are aware they are viewing an advertisement. In class we used SRDS and MRI Plus to get information about consumers and the type of media they use. Companies that participate in advertainment use this information on the databases to advertise using specific types of media according to the target demographic. They also know when it is appropriate to market this type of information according to the time of year. In class we analyzed the media books from various cities that Kim brought back from the convention she attended. Advertainment for certain products occur when the target audience watches that form of media most frequently. This type of advertising has proven to be extremely effective and I learned a great deal about companies as a result of my research. Thanks for reading my blog this semester, I hope you enjoyed it!