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 Brand managers rev up old-school mobile marketing tours Some say alcohol can serve as a truth serum. An experiential marketing company based in Los Angeles, agrees. That’s why when it ran its “Secrets from the road” mobile tour; it positioned a mobile recording studio right outside of popular nightclubs and hot spots in 10 major markets.

The idea was to get patrons with lips loose from lubricant liquors to spill some saucy little secrets for a podcast available at Apple iTunes. The good-spirited promotion, which ran April-June 2006, was all part of an effort designed to generate awareness for the Game Show Network’s series I’ve Got a Secret.To lure revelers into the recording studio, staffers handed out plastic “Secret O-Meter” cards. If recipients pressed a thumb onto the heat sensitive-card, they could find out how deep and dark their inner secrets were. If the card remained black it was rated “yawn.” However, if it turned red, it received the “I need a shower” rating.In addition to being interactive, the card was informative. It said: “Tune into I’ve Got a Secret at 11:30” and “Visit gsn.com/secret to see if your secret was posted on our iTunes podcast.” Ten thousand cards were distributed in each market as well as logoed T-shirts, postcards and branded drink tickets (in conjunction with participating establishments).

“People got a little bit drunk and started talking about things they wouldn’t have talked about,” admits Russ Jones.
Although the promotion ended months ago, more than a million people have subscribed to listen to the podcasts. “The goal of any program is to take what we’re doing in the field and give it life after the tour is over,” says Jones.Letting people experience a brand on their terms via mobile marketing events and giving them a logoed keepsake to remember it by has become an increasingly more attractive strategy for marketers.

Be it The Gap or Motorola or Panasonic, more and more marketers are taking it to the streets to build up buzz for their brands. Call them road shows, mobile marketing tours, experiential marketing or whatever term you like, the fact of the matter is this form of nontraditional marketing is hot right now – as is the use of integrated logoed merchandise at these events.

Showing up where you know there will be a lot of people and handing out logoed items is as old a marketing trick as tacking up an advertisement on a busy street corner. Yet today, it is getting a longer look than it had in recent history. Why? Because marketing decision-makers have become disenchanted with television commercials.
Mobile marketing “has been around forever,” says Laura Ries, branding expert and coauthor of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, “but most companies were in love with the mainstream media and producing sexy 30-second commercials.

Over the past few years television spots have proven to be not all that effective. That’s set marketers off in search of new [or rather old] mediums.”John Palumbo agrees, “Everyone realizes that the media is saturated with so many messages.

People are looking for other ways to get the word out.”TV ads will not likely be a tool locked away in the marketer’s toolshed forever, because they are helpful in building brand awareness. However, when it comes to better connecting with consumers, Palumbo says other “layers,” like mobile marketing tours and logoed merchandise, can help better drive sales. *ASI Central 

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