Gatorade Puts Social Media At The Center Of Marketing

June 21, 2010

 

The company recently created the Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media. (Source: Mashable.com)

 According to a recent blog post on Mashable.com this iconic mass marketer is taking social media marketing very seriously.  The goal of this project, says Carla Hassan, is to “take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into largest participatory brand in the world.” To that end, the company’s not only monitoring its brand on social media, but giving its fans increased access to its athletes and scientists.

 In the realm of marketing, Gatorade is probably best known for splashy commercials featuring some of the world’s most famous athletes. However, a new effort behind the scenes of the sports drink maker is putting social media quite literally at the center of the way Gatorade approaches marketing. 

The company recently created the Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media.

The room features six big monitors with five seats for Gatorade’s marketing team to track a number of data visualizations and dashboards (also available on to employees on their desktops). The company custom built this capability with partners that included Radian6 and IBM. Below are a few of the visualizations that Mashable.com featured in their blog post:

 This monitor is a visualization of tweets that are relevant to Gatorade; the company is tracking terms relating to its brand, including competitors, as well as its athletes and sports nutrition-related topics.

 This monitor measures blog conversations across a variety of topics and shows how hot those conversations are across the blogosphere. The company also runs detailed sentiment analysis around key topics and product and campaign launches.

Mission Control in Action 

While this certainly looks impressive visually, it’s also actually being used on a day-to-day basis, to lead product and marketing changes at the company that might not have happened without it.

Gatorade’s Sr. Marketing Director, Consumer & Shopper Engagement Carla Hassan offered a few examples, starting with the company’s monitoring of its “Gatorade has evolved” campaign. The commercials featured a song by rap artist David Banner, which, Mission Control quickly saw was being heavily discussed in social media. Within 24 hours, they had worked with Banner to put out a full-length version of the song and distribute it to Gatorade followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.

On a day-to-day basis, the facility is also being used for more conventional marketing tactics like optimizing landing pages and making sure followers are being sent to the top performing pages. As an example, the company says it’s been able to increase engagement with its product education (mostly video) by 250% and reduce its exit rate from 25% to 9%.

What’s interesting to note is that this innovative approach to social media marketing is not being led by an agency, but more surprisingly by a large traditional mass media marketer. Is this just another missed leadership opportunity for the agency world? Given the significant up-front commitment required in terms of technology and people resources, would this not have been an ideal opportunity from a multi-client agency perspective?

Social media is no longer just a stand-alone communications channel that can exist and be managed in a silo environment. It underpins the way we all communicate with each other and with brands and the companies that own them. Marketers that understand this and embrace it the way Gatorade has will be able to maintain considerable competitive advantage. In fact to put it in their own words…“take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into largest participatory brand in the world.”



Social Media Deception… Warning to Ad-Agencies and Clients

June 30, 2009

deceptiveDeceptive practices by inexperienced agencies and clients, within the social media space is embarrassing, distresses the brand, undermines trust, and discourages participation. It is also illegal and can create significant liability and exposure for both parties.

I have cautioned before against ad-agencies that know little or nothing about the social networking space, parading as experts in the field. If you do not know the rules, then do not play the game. Social media is inherently a very transparent medium, and it is that very transparency that will lead to you being found out.

This not only applies to the work that agencies do on behalf of their clients, but also to initiatives that are designed to promote the agency itself. (Albeit that there is not that much exposure here, given that there are so few agencies that understand it’s critical role in agency new business development).

There is no excuse for either giving the client poor advice or alternatively agreeing to be an accessory to the act. The fallout from deceptive social media transgressions is often immediate, very public and incredibly damaging to the brand and the agency alike.

Yesterday, the blog site, thecustomercollective.com broke news of a scandal involving Kohl’s company and agency staff and their recent activity on the Kohl’s Facebook Fan Page. Apparently both the VP Marketing for Kohl’s and the a Group Director from McCann Erickson Advertising were masquerading as helpful consumers and sharing stories on how much money they had saved while shopping at Kohl’s. (Both agency and client staff are able to participate in the Facebook discussions, as long as they disclose their close relationship with the company)

This is by no means the first instance of this happening. I am certain that you will all remember back to 2007 and the widely publicized news story that was covered on national media. The CEO of Whole Foods was embarrassed when caught praising his own company and bad mouthing his competitors, using an anonymous alter ego on the finance boards. Not even a year later Burger King was publically humiliated for their mis-use of social media.

This is a lesson to both agencies and clients alike. Every one of your actions across the full spectrum of social media must be completely transparent at all times. Failure to adhere to this the most important tenant of social networking can result in serious, costly and embarrassing consequences.