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Lego Marvel AvengersEven for the biggest brands, launching a new video game can be a significant challenge. In a market where any game competes against thousands of other titles, many with long life cycles, it’s tough to get consumers’ attention – and money. And this is not a new phenomenon. As the popularity of video games has risen over the past 40 years, so have the number of titles available at any given time. Recently, one particular marketing and advertising campaign for Lego Marvel Avengers stood out among the rest as an excellent example of integrated marketing communications at work. The game’s success earns it one more accolade, our IMC Campaign of the Month. Lego Marvel Avengers was released on January 26, 2016 by TT Games. TT Games was careful to coincide its television advertising with cartoons that targeted the key demographic – primarily younger consumers who have both an interest in Lego toys and superheroes. Cartoons presented a perfect vehicle to hitch to Lego Marvel Avengers ads. With compelling previews of game play and live action shots from the latest Avengers movie, the television spots had kids eagerly awaiting the release of the game in January.

jet-logo"Let's turn customers' shopping carts into improvised videos." It's an idea so brilliantly quirky as to border on insane - but Jet.com's one-day branding spectacular is one of the best examples of integrated marketing communications in action I've seen recently. The premise of the campaign, called #JetSpree, was simple but groundbreaking. One day only, during predefined hours, Jet.com asked shoppers for permission to turn their shopping carts into what they called "on-the-spot video." In essence, their purchases would be used as the inspiration for videos involving double dutch jump roping, a barbershop quartet, pantomime, yodeling, improv comedy, dancing toys and even a turtle. The videos were then shared on YouTube and social media during the event.

IMC campaign of the monthWhat happens when advertising creatives fed up with gender inequality brainstorm a creative way to draw attention to the problem? In Brazil, what happens is Cerveja Feminista, or Feminist Beer. And it’s our IMC campaign of the month. In Brazil, 65% of women feel they are not represented by ads and a mere 10% of advertising creatives are female. Inspired by this, the creators behind Cerveja Feminista also founded the activism group 65|10 to work in tandem with the beer to raise awareness and combat inequality in their country. Cerveja Feminista is a brilliant example of cause marketing though its motives are more altruistic than profit-driven. It’s also a strong example of good branding, careful audience analysis, clever advertising, public relations and social media working in an integrated fashion. As one would expect from a group of creatives, the beer itself is well branded down to the color of the ale inside the bottle – an Irish red, chosen because red is the color associated with social causes. Plus, red ale falls between the typically “male” dark beers and “female” pale beers. It’s intended to attract both genders equally, showing an understanding of ideal buyers that is the cornerstone of good IMC. The logo is simple and hip, appealing to the current generation of savvy beer drinkers. What’s more, the actual idea of choosing beer as the product to highlight 65|10’s cause is extremely smart. There are few things as stereotypically sexist as beer ads. That Cerveja Feminista hits hard at a market saturated with big brands targeting a largely male audience with demeaning messages about women is a bold move, and one that’s garnering a lot of media attention. What’s more, Cerveja Feminista’s creators are banking on the fact that the beer’s label itself will spark meaningful discussion about gender inequality. One of the founders, Thais Fabris, explained to Co.Exist,

Apple faced an uphill battle marketing with the Apple Watch. Wearable consumer tech is still a relatively new phenomenon, at least where typical apple-watch-vogue-ad_6114-970x647-csmartphone functions are concerned. Other leaders like LG actually released their own smart watches before Apple even started promoting theirs. Marketers puzzled over the initially slow and pace of the Apple Watch marketing campaign, but Apple may just have been living by the maxim “slow and steady wins the race.” The tremendous patience and control with which Apple introduced its Apple Watch to the world is a big reason Apple Watch is our IMC Campaign of the Month. While LG, Samsung and other competitors hit the ground running with typical multi-channel campaigns to reach the widest possible (yet still viable) audience, Apple held off, teasing the world first with a 12 page ad in Vogue magazine. One very specific audience: fashionistas. Marketers started buzzing about why Apple was marketing the Apple Watch specifically to women. The fact that the highest end Apple Watch costs $17,000 might have something to do with the choice of outlet – people reading 12 page Apple ads alongside stories about Manolo Blahnik or Valentino probably don’t blush at high ticket items. But not all readers of Vogue are able to afford the things they read about in the magazine – many read about them and dream big, yet unattainable dreams. With the Apple Watch’s least expensive version costing just $350, suddenly a sexy, highly fashionable, highly valued item becomes much more affordable for the average consumer. A series of cover photographs of popular models wearing the Smart Watch cemented its image as functional fashion. When a trend is sparked with fashionistas, it becomes visible just about everywhere – from the arms of celebrities to the arms of fashion bloggers. Before you know it, everybody wants one.

PEMCO may not be the best known insurance agency in the country. In fact, it's a local outfit in the Northwest, ranked 6th in consumer awareness behind giants like Geico and Allstate. But with a keen understanding of their ideal buyer, a bright idea and a clever deployment of integrated marketing communications, PEMCO put themselves on the map at a time when even the biggest brands scramble for their share of the spotlight. PEMCO went viral just before the Super Bowl XLVIII. For many years now, PEMCO has shown a remarkable grasp on the personalities of their buyers, right down to idiosyncratic quirks that make Pacific Northwesterners memorable and in regional esteem, lovable. In 2007 they launched a lighthearted campaign centered around the many personas found in the Northwest, to such widespread success that consumers suggested their own ideas for characters with distinctly local flavor. It's therefore no surprise that PEMCO was aware its audience is passionate about football, or more specifically, the Seattle Seahawks. As we've discussed before, "thou shalt know thine audience" is one of the core commandments of IMC.

Starbucks Integrated Marketing CommunicationsFew brands have truly harnessed the power of integrated marketing communications as well as Starbucks. They embraced the concept of integrated and multi-channel marketing techniques well before most other brands, recognizing early on the value of, for example, a direct mail campaign that's supported by e-mail and echoed in social media. When it comes to the holistic picture of integrated marketing communications, Starbucks continues to blaze a trail that other big brands – and small businesses alike – should carefully examine. The foundation of Starbucks' strength in IMC is twofold: consistent branding and consistent customer recognition. Visually, the Starbucks brand is undeniable. Travel to any major city around the world, and quite a few less major ones, and you'll see the familiar Starbucks face peering at you from coffee cups held by passersby. You'll identify a place to get the coffee you love in an airport, or wandering down some strange new street. There are other brands for which this phenomenon also occurs – like McDonald's – but whereas the reaction fast food creates can be mixed (especially when the restaurants are very close to historic or religious landmarks, which seems tacky), the concept of a soothing cup of coffee or cooling Frappucino is almost universally well received. Starbucks is also meticulous about getting to know their customers, and maintaining long-term relationships. They've always understood the value of perks like birthday gifts, delivered via postal mail to customers like an actual present. And they have a website dedicated entirely to customer feedback. My Starbucks Idea brings together a global community of Starbucks lovers. Customer ideas can be voted upon by others and the company provides feedback. Some ideas have even been implemented. At this time, 214,553 ideas are cataloged on the site. My Starbucks Idea is powered by Salesforce, so there is a huge CRM component behind it.