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
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.