your heard about the new way to advertise?, by Eamonn
12th October 2003 (Credit:
Sydney Morning Herald)
advertising trend so new that the authorities governing
ethics have yet to form policies on it has hit Sydney
- and is causing concern among consumer groups.
marketing is said to be so clever that targeted people
rarely realise they are the targets.
has been hailed as the first concept to successfully
harness the extraordinary power of word-of-mouth endorsement.
works in the bus queue or at the bar, at a restaurant
or even the office.
that young couple loudly extolling the virtues of
a drink, telephone company or new pram are not there
by chance. They are being paid to provide endorsements
which the audience believes are real.
Love PR is one of the first companies implementing
regular stunts across the city.
week, the agency sends its "F2F Army" out
onto the streets to sell the benefits of clients'
products on a face-to-face, one-on-one basis.
the first time, it has revealed some of the capers
that recently captured hundreds of unsuspecting shoppers.
for example, you are a mother who was recently approached
in a department store by a "fellow parent and
her children", you did in fact fall victim to
the F2F Army.
director Monique Haylen said: "If you are a mum
out buying a pram and it is an older salesperson assisting,
you are generally confused because they are recommending
something you know they probably don't use. But along
comes a mum with two kids and she tells you she used
Pram X, explains the design and said it was fantastic.
What are you going to do?"
real-life stunt involved someone sitting in Martin
Place at lunchtime, reading a text message on their
mobile phone. They suddenly laughed uncontrollably,
turned to the person next to them and said: "I'm
so sorry, I just received my joke of the day from
[the pitch] ... here take a look!" Once the rib
tickler has been shared, the F2F Army member talks
them through other aspects of the service.
Haylen said: "Or perhaps you were at a party
and someone started telling you about an amazing experience
they had at a [particular] bank. You wouldn't believe
it if you heard it in an advertisement, but this person
seems believable ... the opportunities are endless."
effectiveness of the F2F Army relies on the fact they
never disclose involvement. "Army members can
be uni students, parents, backpackers," Ms Haylen
said. "It can also be the person sitting next
to you at a dinner party. That's the whole beauty
she added: "They do have to be normal people
who reflect the target audience. They also have to
possess the personality to approach strangers in a
non-threatening way." Sydney-based communications
agency Host is another firm talking up the potential
benefits of the whisper phenomenon.
spokesman Rod Soames said: "People these days
hate being bombarded with advertising, but it's hard
to dislike something you don't know about.
still essentially word of mouth ... just a new spin
on a very old form of marketing."
of whether it is a whisper marketing stunt, a logo-emblazoned
streaker at the rugby or an email-based "viral
campaign", the latest consensus among advertising
gurus is that it has to be different.
Haylen said: "Traditional forms of marketing
are not generating the uptake of new products and
services across the board. These days, many people
base purchases and decisions on word-of-mouth referrals
... our own research tells us one in three do."
Fair Trading spokesman said: "It is not an issue
we have received complaints about.
are, however, strict code of conduct guidelines in
place to protect consumers, and if there are people
with concerns about this issue, they should not hesitate
to contact our office."
Australian Consumers Association commercial policy
officer Charles Britton said: "This is one of
those occasions when the regulating authorities will
have to step outside the complaints mechanism because
the very art to this scheme is the fact that it escapes
is the message in Fox DVD promo.
20th Century Fox has experimented with a new form
of marketing, using masseurs Three Minute Angels to
promote the DVD release of Just Married.
staff provided their regular massage while at the
same time referring to the movie. At the end, customers
were handed a voucher for a 20 per cent discount off
the DVD at all Target stores.
Fox spokeswoman said the masseurs spread the message
around the city, including hotels.
found that a lot of the bars they worked at were indeed
full of the same people we were trying to reach with
the video release," she said.
Angels founder Andrew Ward stressed that unlike those
who specialised in whisper marketing, his firm was
always upfront about promotions.
we have sponsors, we carry their names on our shirts,"
Mr Ward said. "Customers deserve total honesty.
Anything less is deception."
Sydney Morning Herald
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