Monday, April 10, 2006

Marketing and Retail Sites

Have you heard of the movie "Akeelah and the Bee"? I bet that if you're not a coffee or tea drinker you've never heard of it. I also bet that if you drink Starbucks you've not only heard of this movie, but have been wondering what the hell it is.

It's a guerilla marketing campaign!

Well, obviously this is no guerilla campaign. It's a well orchestrated, savvy, and low(er) cost campaign for what seems to be a low(er)-budget film. Having seen the little green circles palstered all over ever Starbucks I've visited in the last 2 or 3 weeks I really got to wondering what it's all about.

According to the trailer, it's a movie about an 11-yr old girl from South Central (err, South Los Angeles) with a gift for words. I assume this girl goes a long way in her local spelling bees and becomes an inspiration for her community and an example for underpriveledged kids the world over.

Anyways, this post isn't really about the movie, it's about the marketing campaign. I haven't seen a single ad for this movie, nor have I heard a thing about it anywhere outside of the Starbucks confines. Yet, I'm sure hundreds of thousands of people know the name of this movie and some might actually be curious enough to see it.

What interests me most about the campaign is how little money has probably been spent. I bet there's a very high ratio of awareness to marketing dollars spent. Now, Starbucks is obviously different than many retailers in that they do a lot to give back to the community and so I assume they are promoting this movie because of the message it sends. But at the same time, I don't think Starbucks plans on losing money on their marketing for this film.

What really got me thinking is the power retailers could have by doing this sort of thing. Of course, if every retailer was pushing a new movie every week we as consumers wouldn't notice it as much, but I think we're on the leading edge of a new trend. The overall trend is one where we are hit from more and more angles by advertising. Some of it is really well done, others are horrible. The Starbucks campaign is pretty good in that it's not just posters for the movie. I doubt that Wal-mart would think of anything so interesting as listing past spelling bee words, but if Wal-mart got into this game, they could definitely make a significant difference in the gross receipts of any movie they promote. McDonalds and other fast food companies have been doing this sort of thing for quite some time via toy promotions, but this is really the first time that I've seen such a campaign aimed directly at adults.

Anyways, it's just something I've noticed and I think we'll see a lot more of. Who knows how much money Akeelah and the Bee will make, but it's a name which is now etched in my brain. Have you guys heard of it?

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