Big Bird Teaches Marketing

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What I Learned about Marketing from Big BirdWe’ve all heard that an effective marketing technique is to grab a popular news story and use it to market your business.  It’s a great technique.  It works.  But the question is how to make it work for you.

This question takes me back to the Presidential election of 2012 when Big Bird gave a great example.

That big yellow bird, who is familiar to just about everyone and was the passion of many of you when you were a preschooler, along with the Public Broadcasting Service jumped onto the presidential debates news story and and rode the waves to lots of publicity.

More specifically, Big Bird and PBS were at the top of the giant tidal wave created on social media when Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that, while he loves Big Bird, he still wants to cut government funding for PBS.

We all had our opinions about that and this is not going to be a political article. But it was a great opportunity to see a marketing technique in action.

As soon as the words were out of Mitt’s mouth, the tidal wave began with a firestorm of support and defense of America’s favorite bird across the social media platforms, particularly Twitter.

People across the country were concerned that Big Bird was going to be put out of work.

That was the news story and the country’s response to it.  PBS had nothing to do with it as the response grew.

But, as good marketers, they saw the value of the outcry and used it  to support their non-profit organization.  PBS immediately bought an ad on Twitter for the phrase “Big Bird.”  Suddenly a search for “Big Bird” on Twitter took searchers to a PBS advertisement.

They were smart to climb onto the social media bandwagon and to target Twitter, where the outcry originally began. And the two words “please retweet” made it go viral.

The page that you were taken to when you clicked on that ad was well thought out and wasn’t just a block of text telling you how great PBS is.

Instead it demonstrated how valuable the non-profit was to the reader of the ad. The whole page is easily scanned. The statistics, which would otherwise be dull, are made exciting by the use of graphics.

The whole marketing package was timely. It got lots of action. And PBS was agile enough to jump on it immediately instead of wasting time to plan. If they had not, the opportunity would have been lost forever.

The buzz created by Mitt’s reference was short-lived. You may not even remember it.  But the value of that short-lived newsjacking performance by PBS was valuable to them.

Can you do the same?

Of course you can. You probably didn’t have a presidential candidate mention your business in a debate. But there are news stories all around us, local, statewide, as well as national, that, if thought of in a creative way can trigger a newsjacking marketing idea for you.

The secret is to be open to the idea, watch for the opportunity, and then be creative and agile enough to jump on it. So read your newspaper, listen to television and radio with fresh new eyes expecting to find that gem that you can use for marketing.t-shirts

One example was a segment on NPR about the naming wines and it triggered an idea for a blog post about naming gift baskets.  Another was an article in my daily paper about a TV ad showing John McCain’s opponent walking across a parking lot with the statement that Ann Kirkpatrick was walking away from voter’s questions.  But the ad failed to show what happened before she walked across the parking lot.  A trigger for articles on truth in advertising or what this political campaign has taught me about marketing.  Or the news stories about all the weather disasters led me to write an article about being prepared for disaster in your business.

In this political campaign, product manufacturers have jumped on the news bandwagon by creating Trump and Hillary bobble heads, tee-shirts, and even Halloween masks.  How about adding an Election Survival Gift Basket to your line up.

We featured a zombie gift basket in the October issue of the magazine that Lise  Schleicher  created based on a trend. The recent Olympics  was a perfect idea creator for a unique gift.  Or how about a “Thank You to a Great Police Offficer” (or fireman) themed gift basket.

Look for the opportunities.

They are there and always have been, hiding behind all the clutter.


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