San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
The challenge industry members will face at the 12-Volt Summit, held here next week, will be to choose the type of awareness campaign to best reach consumers and to decide which type of consumer to target.
If the industry sets its sights on its traditional 16- to 24-year old male base, then there may be no simple, trusted path to success.
Advertising gurus are divided on the best way to reach the young male audience, which advertising literature calls an "elusive" group. Some say youths in general are less receptive to mass media because kids multitask (texting and roaming around MySpace and Facebook) while watching TV. Others say mass media still casts the widest net for your money.
Mr. Youth, a New York marketing firm specializing in its namesake, said young people are not consuming mass media, while Greg Sabatino — chairman of Sabatino Day Williamson Group, whose subsidiary, The Acument Group, is organizing the 12-Volt Summit — believes mass media should not be ignored because certain TV and cable shows enjoy high ratings.
Brandon Evans, Mr. Youth strategy and services managing partner, said advertising to youth should be "much more personalized and localized." Mr. Youth goes directly to college campuses. In a recent Microsoft promotion to encourage students to use Windows Live Messenger, the company hired 80 "ambassadors" on 40 campuses who each had a budget of $500 to $1,000 per semester. This allowed ongoing promotions on campus instead of just a one-day stop on a demo tour. The ambassadors engaged in "dorm storming," online networking and held local events, and the campaign yielded 50,000 downloads, 32 college paper stories and 150 local campus event sponsorships, according to Ypulse, an online marketing-news site.
Sabatino and others recommended combining mass media with such interactive campaigns.
So how pervasive is mass media? NielsenMedia.com said that "House," a Fox show with a large youth audience, attracted 8.2 million viewers the week of June 16. A recent "Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Saturday Night Fights Elite XC" event drew 4.3 million viewers, including a high percentage of 18- to 24-year-old males, according to Nielsen. "Family Guy," also popular with teens, attracted about 3 million viewers during one week this June.
Brands such as JVC and Alpine are already experimenting with non-traditional campaigns and claimed the results have been significantly better than expected.
JVC's racy, viral video ad that premiered on Heavy.com in mid-May has received 1.5 million hits. Marketing GM Chad Vogelsong said he expects it will be viewed by an audience of 5 million to 10 million by the end of the year. The ad was picked up by hundreds of other Web sites immediately upon launch, breaking records on Heavy.com, a male-oriented YouTube-type site. "As far as cost and performance, yes, it really outperformed," said Vogelsong. It bears repeating that the ad is definitely not rated E for Everyone. The company chose a lifestyle video that combines rock and roll celebrities, sexy girls and a Chevy, because "people aren't going to watch a car stereo ad, as things are. Who is going to sit there for three minutes? So we made it a lifestyle ad."
Alpine says its recent Internet contest, which it tied into the introduction of its eX-10 on-the-dash iPod/Bluetooth display, has been "by far our most successful Web initiative," said Steve Witt, Alpine's marketing VP. The contest invited rock bands to post video clips and users to vote for their favorite songs. More than 450 artists and 1,300 songs entered on the Web site, known as "Rock the Dash."
Alpine saw a 103 percent increase in page views at www.alpine-usa.com during the contest from January through April with 23,000 page views on the "Rock the Dash" site.
But even within the advertising industry, there is little agreement on the best way to reach mainstream audiences, least of all the youth market or the male youth sector.
"Like so many other things in the world today, the world of marketing is experiencing a virtual revolution. The mass market, in its conventional definition, is gone. It has been replaced by countless niche markets that overlap, interact and converse in a dizzying web of influence," states the Web site of Rebel Industries, the marketing firm that launched the Scion brand, and that will speak at the 12-Volt Summit.
Car stereo makers are well aware of the dilemma. "It seems like they are going from the traditional methods of radio, print and TV to more viral marketing, Internet reviews and something more relevant to the people buying these things," said Clarion marketing VP Adam Thomas, a member of the 12-Volt Summit steering committee. He added, "One of the purposes of the Summit is to get some opinions on what is the most effective way to go forward."
Clarion is currently working on advertising initiatives through YouTube.
Another awareness campaign that might be instructive to car stereo marketers is the Happy Cow campaign of the California milk and cheese industry (see p. 30).Media Consumption Among Ages 17-26
|(hours spent per week)|
|(Facebook, Flickr, etc.)||6.70||9.10|
|National Newspapers 0.43 0.68|