Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the wake of the Boston Red Sox World Series Championship (god, how I love to put all those words together!), talk soon turned from Josh Beckett's pitching guts and Jon Papelbon's dancing butt to... tacos and furniture?

Yep, and it got me to wondering, "Which marketing campaign was the most effective, Jordan's Furniture or Taco Bell?"

At the eBrew the other night, I floated the question. There was enthusiastic support for both campaigns--especially Taco Bell's in-game buzz--but no real consensus. I checked the pulse of the the blogosphere, I've found this, and this, and this. Now, I'll take a look at it from a few different perspectives one-by-one, and see who's "got game," so to speak.

Game 1. Consumer Benefit

This one's a no-brainer. For the consumer, clearly, a free couch or mattress is a hell of a lot better than a free 79-cent taco. You could buy as much furniture as you wanted, but you couldn't even pick which kind of taco you wanted! And you had to pick them up on Tuesday between 2 and 5PM. Jordan's takes game 1 handily.

Game 2. Creativity

The idea of giving away furniture if the home team wins the World Series is quantum-leaps more creative than giving away free food if a player steals a base. Last year, you may recall Taco Bell did the same promotion, but the trigger was if home run happened hit a smallish target in the bleachers. (It didn't happen. No taco for you!) For the record, there has been a stolen base in every Fall Classic since 1990, so they dramatically increased the odds this year. For comparison, the Vegas odds for the Sox winning were anywhere from 6-1 to 10-1 at the beginning of the season. Jordan's campaign took lots of planning (beginning before the season even started) and more than a little (pardon the pun) balls. The Taco Bell campaign seemed just, well, gimmicky. Jordan's takes a 2-0 lead.

Game 3. Buzz Factor

Let's face it, both buzzed through the roof. Jordan's "Monster Deal" made national news (Bloomberg, USAToday, ABCNews, etc.). But Taco Bell got on-air promo--ballplayers were actually talking about it in the dugout, followed by a not-so-coincidental cut to the TB CEO sitting in the stands. Personally, I'd prefer less shilling and more Schilling in my World Series, thankyouverymuch. But the on-air buzz, positive media coverage, and the next-day water-cooler buzz combine to give Game 3 to Taco Bell.

Game 4. Cost.

We're still not sure how much it cost Jordan's (or parent Berkshire Hathaway) in total, but the insurance policy was reportedly $20 million. Further, there are concerns that the rebates might be taxable and require 1099s for customers (although this seems unlikely); other reports worry that the total rebate-eligible sales may exceed the $20m policy. Taco Bell, OTOH, was a bargain-basement score. According to Ad Age: "Advertising buy: $5.6 million. Potential giveaway cost: under $1 million. Publicity value: priceless." Game 4 goes to Taco Bell.

Game 5. Execution

Jordan's campaign was highly integrated and well executed. Taco Bell's seemed a bit slapped together. As one expert noted in Advertising Age, "I felt that it was pretty flat-footed and also extremely expected at this point," said Jon Maurice, senior partner at interactive marketing agency Drive. "I don't know how many of these we've seen, but it's kind of like, 'Insert quick-service- restaurant brand here.'" He added that Fox's treatment was "heavy-handed" and Mr. Savage's performance left much to be desired. Conversely, Eliot's a natural; his TV persona and years of creative marketing experience are the stuff of New England legend. And Game 5 goes to Jordan's.

Game 6. Overall Impact

Jordan's was effectively leveraging a long-standing sponsorship of the Boston Red Sox, and in doing so took the relationship to a whole 'nother level. Jordan's campaign started with their announcement during Spring Training and ran all year long on NESN, the Red Sox cable network. The TV advertising spots were updated throughout the season, and there were broadcaster voiceovers and on-screen graphics during each game. The Taco Bell campaign really only lasted the duration of the World Series itself, and the Sox made quick work of the overmatched Rox, further minimizing the effect. And in its gushing over Taco Bell campaign, Advertising Age gave little ol' Jordan's props in the end. For overall impact, give Game 6 to Jordan's... And that's it, it's all over! Jordan's Furniture wins, 4 games to 2, the World Series of Buzz 2007!

(At least, that's what I think. How 'bout you? Comment me below.)


smellyknee said...

I have to agree - Jordan's Furniture is the clear cut winner in my book. And although I thoroughly enjoyed your game-by-game breakdown, I think Jordan's won it hands-down before it even started. Here's why:

Eliot and his brother, whose name I've forgotten since he's left, are true-blue, die-hard Red Sox fans. They always have been. And they went into this during spring training, when anything could happen. This was not some fly-by-night publicity stunt for them, as it was for Taco Bell, but was more a way for them (well, him now that it's just Eliot) to show his support for his team throughout the entire season.

Those Jordan's furniture ads were in every game since the beginning of the season. And you could tell that this was not some "Hey, let's offer this because we know it'll never happen" kind of thing. Eliot was truly rooting for the Sox throughout the whole season. He took out an insurance policy so that he wouldn't be lost in debt in case they did win, and he honestly didn't seem to care if his losses exceeded that insurance policy, so long as his team won.

Conversely, you have Taco Bell. Now, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoy my bean burritos and crunchy taco supremes as much as the next guy. However in this competition... They came in late in the game, and they really didn't care who won. They didn't even care which teams were in the series. All they cared was that some anonymous player on some team that happened to make it to the world series, happened to steal a base. Now, in their favor as you pointed out - they obviously knew that this would happen and therefore were planning to give out these free tacos all along however, big deal. If you go to Taco Bell and order your free taco, I'm sure they know that you'll also be ordering your chili cheese nachos, and gorditos, and 1/2 lb burritos, and whatever else you want to accompany said taco. Every free taco they gave away made them way more money, which is the entire reason they did it.

Although I have to admit - I did receive my free taco (along with my nachos, 2 burritos, and 5 other tacos), and I really and truly enjoyed it (God I love Taco Bell). Honestly though - Their campaign was just so much less impressive. Give me Jordan's furniture anyday. In fact, I'm in the market for a new mattress right now and I don't care that I missed out on the free stuff - the fact that they created, publicized, and followed through on this promotion has me hooked. My next mattress will be from Jordan's. And I'll be sure to stop in and catch an iMax movie while I'm there picking it up!

KDPaine said...

No doubt that Jordan's won hands down, not so much for the national publicity they received, but because they really conveyed their support for the team. I want to shop there because they support my guys. I'll never eat a taco just because they had a good ad campaign.