Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Apprentice Didn't Do Mobile Marketing, It Sent Text Messages

This week on The Apprentice, the contestants were faced with the mobile marketing task. Gillette introduced their new 5 blade razor called Fusion, and the teams had to get as many people to send a text message.

I wrote a post about this called Mobile marketing gets fired. My criticism was misdirected at Hip Cricket.

Wes Bray, the COO at Hip Cricket responded to key questions I had about this episode.

After I read his responses, I realized the uphill battle mobile marketing companies are facing.


Q. When was Hip Cricket notified they would be working w/ The Apprentice (how many months before the show)

A. The show was actually shot last October. We were contacted in July by the production team, and invited to present capabilities.

Q. What did/will your responsibilities include.

A. We provided the wireless technology and the use of one of our in-house short codes. We trained the production team on the use of our software (so they could in turn train the two competing teams). We built a Gillette-branded "face" for our software to be used if the production team elected to show the results live. (As it turns out, that was shot but edited out). We oversaw the technology during the shooting of the show to insure there were no technical issues, which there were not. We answered all the questions and made sure everything we could control went smoothly.

Q. Why did Mark Burnett come to you

A. They apparently searched websites, found ours, and liked our case studies. I believe they interviewed several companies before selecting us -- but I don't know this. The deciding factors seemed to be how user-friendly our software application is (It is designed to be used under license by non-technical people to run wireless marketing programs) and how service-oriented our tech team is. They were very comfortable that they would be able to use our software themselves during the shooting.

Q. Were you notified that Gillette Fusion would be the product on this episode.

A. Yes, under a strict NDA to protect launch confidentiality

Q. Did you speak to the brand manager of Fusion and pitch an SMS campaign. What is that persons name.

A. Yes & No. We initially approached Gillette through the folks at MBP who had secured the product placement. Then when that did not prove to be successful, we went to Gillette via their marketing agency, Circle 1 Marketing, with whom we have a good relationship. They bought our idea and pitched it repeatedly, but between budget issues and the distraction of the P&G acquisition (resulting in some marketing personnel turnover), there was no support for additional spending. I personally spoke with Peter Klein, SVP-Strategy at Gillette, who is a friend, and he confirmed that the timing was not good right now, despite the opportunity.

Q. What did the proposed campaign involve

A. We suggested that they either tag or super an existing commercial to do a text 2 win program for a free razor or other prizes. We were aware they had bought at least one commercial for the broadcast.

Q. Did you know (at the time of your involvement) Deal or No Deal would be doing an SMS campaign and would be running before The Apprentice

A. No

Q. What made this episode really "cool"

A. For me the highlight was Trump giving the primer on text messaging at the beginning of the show. Our industry is still just getting going and we can use all the awareness we can get.


Awareness is what The Pondering Primate is trying to provide for the mobile marketing industry.

I must admit I am shocked and disappointed. Didn't the people at Gillette know the show was about mobile marketing?

Maybe the big brands still think mobile marketing is just blindly sending a text message. They don't realize how powerful this WILL BE.

Gillette uses the term "breakthrough technology" to describe their new Fusion razor, but they didn't want to use breakthrough technology to promote it.

Wes and HipCricket can go back up to the suite, I say bring the Fusion brand manager into the boardroom and fire him.


Anonymous said...

A TIP of the "HATLO HAT". Your first blog on the Apprentice created quite a stir with great comments on both sides.
A TIP of the "BURNETT BERET" on todays blog. Your dialogue with Brey shows you are bigger than your blog. You are a CLASS ACT.

Anonymous said...

Who will drive mobile marketing expansion in USA. It is the brands who have the money but the distractions and competing investment opportunities? Or is it small and medium enterprises who have less money but may be open to new ways of competing against larger competitors? In fact, it does not cost a lot of money. Money is not the issue, it is focus. We have most definitely not arrived at the tipping point. How can we collectively shame them for wasting a mobile opportunity. Do we think it was necessary to have Donald Trump teach reality tv watchers (American Idol) how to send a text message. Oh, the shame!

Anonymous said...

Is there more to this story?

Scott Shaffer said...

The time for this promotion was during the show.

Outside of the 1000 plus people that sent the SMS, who else would know about this.

the link

Kind of like telling a patron what the specials are after they finish their meal.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous asks the $64 question. My guess is that it will be both. The lumbering brand giants will start using the technology when they see market success from smaller enterprises. We see that happening already. Fundamentally wireless is a unique channel. Absent the good old fashioned things that marketers are supposed to do like create incentives, drive traffic to site, promote, engage etc etc the channel will lie fallow. Dancing Brents are not the answer.