Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Cautionary Note About Widgets

I often tell my students that we could learn a lot from marketing programs that don’t work, but marketers—understandably—don’t want to talk about them. Quite by accident I ran across one that had unintended effects.

My intent was to write a post about widget distribution networks, since we are all looking for cost-effective customer acquisition tools. In the process, I ran across the Kimberly-Clark Room-a-Day Giveaway and the widget it used in the promotion. Ok, looked like a good example because the widget was successfully distributed across a network.

Kept on looking, and what I found was that the web is littered with broken links to the widget. That is as it should be, because the 2008 contest ended. But I thought there ought to be a working archive somewhere so I could see the dancing Huggies and other Kimberly-Clark brands. Static captures like this one were all I could find. That piqued my curiosity, especially when I realized that KC is running the sweeps again. The highly successful sweeps was launched again on The View on January 14 with, according to Ad Age, lots of promotional support but not a widget in sight.

According to the Ad Age article, they are using Twitter this year, but I don’t see any evidence of it on the sweeps home page or on the Connect with our Brands page, although I didn’t register for any of the brand messages. I kept looking, and there is Twitter listed on Very Recent. The Twitter messages I found link to the sweeps home page, but I couldn’t find where they come from.
The 2009 sweeps has a new spokesperson—Thom Filicia. He was the designer on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy if that places him for you. The Ad Age article describes him as the blogger for the campaign. I searched his name and found all sorts of blog activity (try it; it is an exercise in creating visibility). I finally found his blog for the sweeps under Kimberly-Clark Brands. It’s interesting, but I still haven’t found the source of the Twitter for the campaign. Mommy blogs, perhaps.

But I digress. Why no widget this year? I found the complaint about the autoplay (wish we’d just delete that command from the programming lexicon) on several blogs. Here’s what Donna DeClemente said about the pros and cons of the widget on her promotions blog (links removed):

. . .they're really engaging audiences with an interactive promotional component that features a dynamic new website along with cutting edge digital technology that's enabled the first sweepstakes enabled widget.

(Please Note: I originally had the widget embedded right here in this post, but moved it to this new page instead. The reason being is that the widget automatically plays and the audio would come on immediately each time you visit my blog.)

Anyhow, I think this widget is amazing. Not only does it offers the user the interactive fun of being able to choose both a specific dance along with where the packages dance (I like the Abby Road location), but it also represents the very first time a widget has built-in functionality allowing viewers to directly enter a sweepstakes. This is truly innovative and a application that should help take sweepstakes to the next level (Sweeps 3.0?)

Now once the user is registered it remembers their name and lets them know how much time is left till they can enter the sweepstakes again with a digital clock countdown . . .

There’s more, and her evaluation is interesting. But her problem was that of other bloggers I found—the autoplay that really annoys people who are trying to read other blog entries. I have to admit that I also wonder about dancing Huggies, etc. Was it cute, or was it silly? And does it matter? A lot of promotional material is silly but if it attracts attention and is reasonably entertaining it works.

My guess is that this widget was more annoying than entertaining and that Kimberly-Clark was smart enough to recognize that and come up with another promotional tool. They haven’t given up on social media, they are just learning from a lot of what has worked very well for them and one thing that didn’t. I just hope they don't disregard what looks like great interactivity in the widget in the annoyance factor.

Learning from what does and doesn't work is what social media in 2009 should be all about!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article.