Marry something old with something new, and you have a powerful new form of advertising.
That trend involves the union of social media’s vast audience and immediacy with bedrock American billboard advertising—and it’s growing ever more popular, says Wayne Waaramaa, managing partner of The Barnstorm Group in Hartford and a longtime advertising industry veteran.
“Traditional ads and billboards can leverage social media by including hashtags, QR codes and URLs as a way to connect and spread ad messages,” he said.
Take, for example, New Haven-based FreshBev Craft Juicery’s recent campaign centered around National Margarita Day and its corresponding hashtag. Run by New York-based Outfront Media Inc., the promotion for Ripe Bar Juice featured 12 billboards around Connecticut, including ones in downtown Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, according to Outfront.
“A ‘national day’ is the perfect way to get attention of a connected social media audience because it sounds newsworthy and news spreads quickly online,” Waaramaa noted.
And a one-day promotion capitalizes on group psychology, he added.
“By buying on this day you’re ‘joining the party’ and celebrating,” he said. “All of this is just a way to remove barriers to product trial, an important first step in the sales process.”
FreshBev's chief sales officer, Keith Benoit, called the National Margarita Day promotion the beginning of a “new grassroots campaign” that’s part of its New England growth strategy this year, aimed especially at the summer months.
“This was an important kickoff and partnership with Outfront to promote brand awareness around the RIPE Craft Juice and Bar Juice lines,” he said.
Carly Zipp, Outfront’s communications and events director, said FreshBev was already running some advertising but efforts were ramped up when the juice producer learned of National Margarita Day.
The goal was “to create an association between Ripe Bar Juice and margaritas and heighten brand awareness” in Connecticut, Zipp said.
Social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter showed 45,000 direct mentions of #NationalMargaritaDay in the tristate area (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) and a 133 percent increase in the mentions of the @DrinkRIPE handle in the three states, Zipp said. A campaign that will include other states is being considered for next year.
Outfront’s client list also includes Madison-based Scott Tax Group, which is engaging in a campaign ahead of Tax Day on April 18. The promotion includes a Tax Day countdown clock on displays in Hartford and New Haven, which reads “#TaxDay is coming.”
Zipp said she’s “really excited” about the campaign, though she didn't have hard numbers to report yet.
“What better way to remind commuters to get their taxes in on time?” she said.
The campaign is also a way to give Scott Tax Group an edge over competition from big-selling Intuit software programs, multistate players like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, and home-based accountants.
“In my profession, it’s hard to stand out,” said Scott Vertucci, owner of Scott Tax Group and a former Internal Revenue Service agent. “[The countdown clock] appears to be the first of its type in my industry. I thought it was worth trying.”
He said the campaign has increased calls to Scott Tax Group offices so much that Vertucci has hired an after-hours answering service to handle the additional volume. He may use the clock campaign next year as his business expands in Connecticut and New York.
“So far, I like what it’s done,” Vertucci said. “After tax season is over I’m going to look at the numbers and determine the full impact.”