In 1998 I reviewed a book that I still hold up this day as a great insight into how marketing is changing. Blur: The Speed of Change in the Connected Economy examines several marketing concepts that are still perhaps too way out for most businesses. One of the ideas in the book is about the relationship between company and customer no longer being about buying and selling. No longer are we just selling to customers – we are buying from them too. Supermarkets offer loss leaders and big discounts on some products to get us into the shop, where we spend more money on other things; software companies give us free applications in the hope that we will pay to upgrade to full versions; mobile phone companies give us free phones to get us to commit to an 18 or 24 month contract.
In some cases, said this book, companies actually pay customers to take products away. yes, that’s right. That is exactly what Special K are doing as I write.
In Soho, the company has opened The Tweet Shop, where you can wander in, publish a tweet about the brand and then walk out with a free packet of Special K crisps. The shop is open from 25th to 28th September, primarily to promote the fact that the cereal brand has moved into the packet crisps market. The concept is simple. You walk into the shop, you choose one of three tweets to publish, a shop assistant checks your tweet and then gives you a packet of crisps.
Clearly as an on-going business model no shop would work like that, but as a promotional concept it is ingenious for more than one reason.
- First, the Twitter traffic does exactly what the marketing department wants – boosting word of mouth brand awareness.
- Second, the Tweet Shop concept has garnered lots of PR coverage (including this article), extending the brand reach even further.
When it comes to creative marketing ideas, one that kills two or more birds with one stone is definitely worth the investment. In this case, Special K has achieved Twitter advertising, PR coverage, market research and content creation as well as the historic longevity that this stunt is likely to earn.
As for the crisps? Well I haven’t tried them. If you have, let us know how they taste.