UPS Whiteboard 2.0: New and improved or diminished?

The UPS Whiteboard ads have taken on a new feel, adding animation to the mix. Accompanying the spots is a new Web site that takes you on a guided tour deep into whiteboard world, complete with animated shorts that address what Brown can do for you.

The first round of Whiteboard spots were fantastic bits of ad gold. The agency world embraced them, in part, because the lead in the commercials was none other than Andy Azula, the creative director of the UPS account at The Martin Agency. Consumers responded to the offbeat presentation, the humor and the web integration.

The new ads bring back Azula and his little brown marker, but ramp up the visuals with iPod like movements and animation. So, what is happening here?

Argument one: UPS is building on a successful campaign. The animated spots still have the charm of the old spots and the whiteboard site is pretty deep. If anything, the subtle changes rejuvenate the concept and remind consumers that UPS embraces technology in the delivery of their services.

Argument two: It wasn’t broke, but they went ahead and fixed it anyway. The fact that the old spots were totally hand drawn made the campaign work. Watching Azula working his magic is what kept you tuned in time after time. It is what made you share the spots on YouTube and what spawned spoof spots. The new spots remove the magical element, and kill the spirit of the campaign.

Where do I stand? I like the old spots better, but can appreciate the move forward. What saves the new spots for me is the accompanying website. It is packed with info, addresses multiple audiences and rates high on the cool factor. From an audience perspective, as a campaign progresses, we should become more involved, more trusting of the brand and more knowledgeable about the product offerings. The added technological aspect does just that for me. We realize that it isn’t just a bunch of brown trucks, but an international tech-fueled organization that connects us to the rest of the world.

If you disagree, think of one of the alternatives. UPS could have assumed the campaign did what it was supposed to do and moved on to something else, squandering a bunch of equity.


A bigger slice of the pie through customer centric marketing

It seems that technology can be good for business and customers—at least in the pizza business. As highlighted in the Wichita Business Journal, Industry publication Pizza Marketing Quarterly estimates that the average online pizza order is $6 to $9 higher than the average telephone order.

Wow! So if I run a pizza place, I can use technology to get the customer to perform the majority of the transaction by themselves, saving me labor dollars, and make more profit! Deal.

But don’t think that this is just benefiting the business. Customers are getting something, too. Customers get an improved ordering experience and, most importantly, more control. You are never put on hold and there is no rush to finalize your order. And you are able to take more time to view the menu options and make special requests.

What’s the lesson? As customer-centric marketers, we must always look at our process and decide, is this what the customer wants? Often when you make decisions based on the customer, it turns out to be a win-win.


A better way to find and market to your customers

Marketing Sherpa recently made available a nice case study on segmentation. It looks at H2O+, a skin care products retailer, that has been segmenting their audiences by personas.

Segmentation can be overlooked when developing marketing strategies, especially the further removed we are from the academic study of marketing. We tend to make quick assumptions about who we are trying to reach and use tired caricatures--soccer moms, business professionals, twenty-somethings. However, in a world that demands justification for each marketing dollar spent, it is wise to carefully and deeply define your market through segmentation.

To do it right, look beyond simple demographics. In a cluttered marketplace, targeting women 25-54 with household incomes of $75K+ will rarely lead to relevant messages. Instead, consider lifestyle segmentation, which is at the heart of building key customer personas.

Real success comes in crafting marketing messages that match perceived lifestyles.

Take the mature, 55+ market. Instead of targeting wealthy seniors, target near retirees who feel 7 years younger than they are and are still striving to achieve life goals. Or market to the persona of the empty nester standing on the threshold of endless opportunity armed with a working professional’s salary.

By thinking in terms of persona, or lifestyle, you are forced to make more personal decisions to craft your message. The result: messages that are relevant to an audience that is ripe for your product.

Photo from nicolasnova at Flickr.