Monday, August 18, 2008

red rover red rover, send a VITAMIN WATER vending machine right over (please?)

To add to my Christmas list already equipped with a bedazzled sweater vest, I'd like to top the list with a Vitamin Water vending machine. Although I consider myself intensely hilarious, this is not a joke. Aside from the fact that Vitamin Water is pretty much amazing, if you've ever seen a Vitamin Water vending machine you know what I'm talking about. The look is so cool...and yes, trendy. I said it. I love trends.

(Side note, my mom recently started reading my blogs...scary...but she's amazing and she gets me everything I want since I'm an only mom, please bundle this up with a fragile sticker and send it on over. You mustn't completely fill it with Vitamin Water..maybe just half. Thanks.)

I must be honest with all of you.. I only started drinking Vitamin Water because of their marketing. Being in the industry, I had to give props to Vitamin Water (aka Glacuea, aka Coke) and they deserved to sell an extra bottle based on their hard work. After doing research on their grassroots marketing, I am beyond inspired with their tactics. And you know I did my research..

First is their website. No wonder I love this stuff...they have a section labeled "Our Friends" and Carrie Underwood who is smoking hot and a great singer is one of them. My fave is Donovan McNabb..the quarterback of the greatest football team..Go Eagles! I'd love to be friends with either, so since I drink the water, can I call them cronies?

Check it colors and layout and other fun things are countless. They really found what their target audience was into and hit a homerun..but not a Barry Bonds kind of a homerun..a legitimate one. They have Vitamin Water buddy icons for instant messenger. If you are saying "who the hell would have a Vitamin Water icon?" please add me to your buddy list. Yup, I do. And I'd venture to say a number of others are sporting it as well.

Let's move on to Direct Mail (DM). For anyone that's ever dabbled in Direct Mailings, you know how expensive they are. Just to create a 5 x 7 postcard on 80 lb. card stock and mail out is ridiculous in price. You are usually paying for a mailing list, the printing, packaging, not to mention the postage which seems to increase with every baby Britney Spears has. Their DM piece is prodigious. Not only is it a large boxed mailer (I won't even guess on the weight and postage), but they included 2 of their biggest competitors...Red Bull and Monster...sitting along side Vitamin Energy so the consumer can compare on their own. I looked for numbers on the ROI of the campaign, but came up empty handed.

Since I looked so amazing at the SATC movie premiere on the maroon (not red) carpet, let's tackle the subject of product placement. Not only were Vitamin Water bottles seen throughout the movie, but they did a number of print and tv ads prior to and even flavored/labeled a drink after Carrie called "XXX" with the tag "Get Carried Away." Genius.

Vitamin Water teamed up with Mobile Marketing Agency EnMobile to tap the Generation Y consumers and increase brand awareness. They created a text message campaign where the winner could win an entire year of Vitamin Water. I wonder if they'd let the winner trade it in for a vending machine?

Balls to the wall marketing. Literally. We all know how unbalanced NY fans are about their hometown teams, right? Vitamin Water's media agency placed a billboard of David Wright next to a billboard of Big Papi DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM YANKEE STADIUM. No need to reread, I'll repeat...they posted two billboards of Wright and Ortiz across from Yankee Stadium with this headline "Best in NY". Are you kidding me. I feel like Michael Phelps saying I'm at a loss for words even though I keep talking!

Their tv ads are pretty catchy too. Just the mental picture of Shaquille O'Neil as a horse jockey is an oxymoron but they gave us an actual picture that aired during the Super Bowl. If you want to see the ad, check out favorite part is the kid in the stands picking his nose. Nothing to do with Vitamin Water OR horse races, but I'm a fan nonetheless.

Deep Focus is the Interactive Marketing Solutions Agency Vitamin Water chose to test a brand awareness campaign via the social web, where the idea was the distribute ideas virally through such mechanisms as Top Friends. In a period of 8 days, they ran a campaign where you could send a "virtual drink" to a friend and within this time frame, they saw approximately 10 million "buy a drink" actions on the web. I got too tired to find out what the "buy a drink" was all about, but 10 million hits is commendable for website!

Vitamin Water's retail sampling program is known as "hydrology". More than 100 highly energized, company-trained "hydro-logists" promoting the brand. Not to be confused with Abercrombie and Fitch "brand ambassadors" only wearing flip flops and Abercrombie cologne. Seriously, have you seen them? Nothing else.

Other notable faves to give Vitamin Water kudos on:

On every stop of the Carnival Tour, Carrie Underwood takes the Electric Yellow-colored Energy flavor to continue the branding efforts. How often do you see a drink named after the headliner? Adoring fans spend $47 on a pink wife-beater that says "before he cheats". I'm sure they'll spend a few bucks on a refreshment.

Air Tran now carries Vitamin Water as their in-flight drink and has it printed on the napkins and ticket jackets. I flew Air Tran for the first time a month ago and was jazzed to have a Vitamin Water on the flight! (Be sure to ask for a full one or they'll poor you a dinky cup that splashes everywhere.)

Vitamin Water set up a sampling station at popular spring break destination, Panama City, Florida. Behind a tiki bar you could be served a free 10 ounce sample to quench your thirst..or hangover. --"journey of passion, courage and hydration." Need I say more?

My personal fave: "Every day needs more" is another benefit of the drink. "Like enabling the visually challenged to focus better at strip clubs." This is part of their marketing and I love a sense of humor.

Another ad displays a plumber fixing what looks to be a desperate housewives' sink. Ad reads "Drink Power. Lay More Pipe."

Vitamin Water's advertising agency as of 2/2/07 is Berlin Cameron United so a big round of applause to them and everyone else that has played a role in Vitamin Water's wild success. My fridge is always stocked (waiting for my vending machine) and my favorite is Defense.

And I am an only child, but was just kidding about being spoiled. Had to throw that caveat in case my dad started reading this too :)


Sunday, August 10, 2008

I want a bedazzled sweater vest for Christmas

It took four years after the last episode to see the much anticipated movie, so cut me some slack for taking a little over two months to recount my experience with the Sex and the City premiere.  

Good things come to those who wait.

Movie critics warned us that the premiere night (May 30) was going to be a force to be reckoned with, but I had no idea what I was in store for.  Needless to say, I did not sharpen my cat claws, pull out any of my old prom dresses, go purchase a new one from Saks, or rock a fedora to the premiere.  Had I known the night ahead, I would have called some of the catty girls from my sorority to help me step up my game.  I should have known pulling up to the Angelica theatre in downtown Houston that I was ill-prepared for the evening.  The girls and I made one wrong move..drinking bottles of wine at dinner rather than cosmos.  Will the higher authorities ever forgive us?!  (I must first preface the encounter below by stating I have never seen an episode of SATC but my good friends Lisa, Sophie and Kristi are always a good time so I couldn't pass up a chance for girls night.)

So here goes the night in greater detail than you've probably ever wanted to know, but I laugh just thinking about it:

Lucky for us, or so we thought, we bought our tickets early.  We knew the movie would be sold out way in advance so Lisa (or Kristi?) bought our tickets a few days earlier.  We were greeted with views of limos, a red carpet, pretend paparazzi and faux SATC cast members, which if you've ever been to downtown Houston is quite a change of scenery.  The four of us filed into line and waited patiently to be let inside.  This was my first experience being let inside a movie theater late..I mean honestly, how can a movie be running late?  It isn't as if we had to wait for Sarah Jessica Parker to show up.  Regardless, we stood in line for an hour past show time.  

So while Sophie and I are standing in line waiting patiently (while Lisa and Kristi were suave enough to sneak past the Wackenhut to save us seats), I noticed my friend Kristen walk in.  If you know Kristen at all, it should be no surprise her and her friends walked to the front of the line.  They walked past all the guys in extra small Armani shirts and Juicy Couture jeans and directly in front of all the girls in frolicky gowns just as if they were at a club.  Having been in line for entirely too long I walked up and said hello.  As we are chatting away about weekend plans and of course commenting on girl's outfits, a heffer walks up and starts tapping me in the chest.  I don't know if I can accurately describe this "tapping" but basically pointing and tapping at my chest hard enough to leave a bruise (sorry, I'm anemic and bruise easily).  

Heffer:  What show are you here to see?
Me: (trying so hard not to sound like an a$$) Sex and the City (and then promptly turn around to the more important conversation)
Heffer:  What show do you have tickets for?
Me:  9:30 (again, promptly turning around because I am not interested in what this girl is selling)
Heffer:  Well we are here for the 8:30 so you need to move to the end of the line.
Me: (Oh dear.)  Then go back in line and wait until they call your show (turning back around).
Heffer:  (rapid finger tapping and screaming to me and others in the vicinity) We have been here all night and you cut in line, so go back.  (Then she points to the Wackenhut police officer/security guard as if I'll get arrested if I don't quickly oblige.)

As I look at her place in line I see Sophie still holding our spot in line.  I very calmly say, "Look, I know you're pissed that you're rocking a bedazzled shirt-I would be too.  But if you see where my friend and I are in line you'll obviously agree that if you've been here all night as you claim, we've been here longer.  Hence the better spot in line.  Have a nice day."  And I turn around again for what I thought would be the end.  No sir.  I should have known better. What I failed to mention in the above is that I came directly from work.  While I have full confidence in the clothes I wear to work, even on casual Fridays, I had failed to notice what I was wearing.  (First rule of thumb..if you are going to make fun of someone, you know the saying..Check yourself before you wreck yourself.)

Heffer's comeback:
"Oh.  Bedazzled?  Funny."  Then she gets louder than anyone I've ever heard before.  Even louder than Susan Jack in college.  "This girl is making fun of my sparkly shirt and she's wearing a sweater vest."  

Ok, I'll admit it.  Even Heffer's have good comebacks from time to time.  I'm not sure I'd go as far to say it was a sweater vest, but it was close.  Sweater vest or not, it was hot.  And it isn't like I made it at home with a bedazzler machine.  I bought it.  At Express.  So there.

Heffer goes back to line, and so do I (sweater vest and all).  As Sophie and I are standing there laughing at the encounter, Heffer continues her antics.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I heard "sweater vest" standing there in line.  Heffer was relentless so I walk back to her where I see she's united with Heffers.  Great.  Trying to smooth things over I say "Look, let's just enjoy the movie.  You're rocking bedazzled.  I'm rocking a sweater vest.  It is what it is. Call it like we see it.  End of story.  Move on and enjoy your night."

Thinking and hoping that would be the end, it certainly was not.  At this point, Soph and I are contemplating scalping our tickets and heading to a bar..any bar.  I guess Heffer took a reprieve and started heckling another girl eating nachos so I thought I was in the clear.  But then Heffer makes her fatal move.  She starts yelling that I'm sporting a Louis "Fuitton".  First, if you know me, I don't rock fake stuff (well maybe one thing, well two, but that's it).  When it comes to name brands, if I can't afford it, I don't buy it at the flea market.  I don't judge anyone that does, it just isn't my style.  Needless to say the flamboyant men at the movies got my back because they know fake Louis when they see it.  And to make matters worse, Heffer and wolf pack sat in front of Kristen and her friends during the movie.  Probably not a smart move.  

So while it took me a while to cool down from the bedazzled/sweater vest debacle, it was a very eventful evening.  I loved the movie.  I loved my friends that stood by my side and still make fun of the sweater vest even to this day.  

In hindsight, the perfect comeback to Heffer would have been "I curse the day you were born."

I'm starting to feel a bit nostalgic..I may wear that to work tomorrow.