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Bridging the gaping void between offline and online marketing

My wife and I are new parents. And as such, we’re still learning the ropes and adjusting to life chasing after our lovable little monster.
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And so when we saw the new Huggies commercial that depicts a frightened father chasing his kid as said kid makes a total mess of his surroundings as he jumps and runs to and fro, we instantly fell in love with it.

We were particularly moved by the line at the very end which simply says “Good luck out there.” And it became quickly apparent that we weren’t the only ones. In the days and weeks after the commercial, which was created by JWT, first aired I noticed that fellow new parents in my Facebook and Twitter feeds were referencing the commercial, and it’s final tagline “Good luck out there” in particular.

This got me to thinking.

First off, hats off to Huggies and JWT. They did a really admirable job of creating a commercial that is aesthetically pleasing (the visual effects and background music provide a lot of depth, texture, and emotion) but also does a great job of connecting with their target demographic (new parents like me and my wife) and perhaps most importantly, demonstrates the value and benefits of the product itself (diapers that work well with a baby that’s bouncing off the walls).

Secondly, I started to think that the tagline at the end of the commercial had the potential to become not just an internet meme, but a overarching cultural meme. One that parents near and far could use to convey empathy and understanding for one another’s newfound lot in life, and one that could translate into massive long-term profits for Huggies’ Little Movers diaper line.

So I decided to see how Huggies and JWT went about mirroring the offline TV experience via online channels, and that’s when things began to unravel a bit.

I started by searching for the phrase “good luck out there” in Google. Huggies and/or the commercial was nowhere to be found. “No big deal,” I thought. After all, this is a fairly common piece of cliche vernacular. So then I tried to add modifiers to my search. Phrases like “Huggies good luck out there” or “Huggies TV commercial good luck out there”, etc.

Nada.

So I said to myself, ok, maybe Google’s not the place to make the connection between Huggies and commercial’s tag line (FYI – that’s not a good thing). I know! If I just head over to the huggies.com website and look for the “Little Movers” product I should be able to find links to video clips of the commercial and/or references to the commercial’s tagline.

No such luck. Although to be fair, the product page did offer up plenty of social interactivity including share-to-social buttons, “Follow Us on Twitter/Facebook” calls to action and a ton of user reviews that I could read through.

Still, I was unable to make the connection between my beloved tagline and the actual TV commercial touting this product.

So then I went over to YouTube, where I quickly realized that Huggies did not yet have a branded channel (FYI – this also not a good thing, especially if you’re going to invest millions of dollars in TV commercials). I was able to track down the video by performing a few different search variations, but it seems like a shame that Huggies won’t be able to capitalize on my (or anyone else’s interest) in watching this commercial by providing calls to action of some sort that might help foster social engagement or general brand loyalty and advocacy. For example, they could have bridged the gap between me, the consumer, and their Enjoy the Ride consumer loyalty program.

But they didn’t. And I suspect that this commercial was conceived, developed, and distributed in virtual offline vacuum, with little or no attention paid to how the ad would be mirrored via online channels like search, social media, or even website (or mobile site) UI. Moreover, there’s a good chance there was little or no coordination or communication between the marketers (and agencies) that handle offline marketing for Huggies and the marketers (and agencies) the online marketing and web development efforts for Huggies. And if I had to guess, this is more or less par for the course for big brands. The rule and not the exception.

After all, while many of you reading this are, like me, entrenched in all things online marketing, the reality is that offline advertising and marketing budgets continue to dwarf their online counterparts. So it understandable that a marketing executive might choose to put a lot more focus and attention into offline channels. Still, you would think that even traditional marketing executives (on the brand and the agency side) would take the proactive step of bridging the gap between what we see on offline, non-interactive channels and their online, interactive counterparts. Especially when you consider that it’s only a matter of time before the biggest offline channel, TV, switches sides.

Can I be sure that the Huggies catchline “Good luck out there” was going to become a meme of sorts? Definitely not. My personal opinion and a few scattered social media references does translate into a full-blown cultural icon. But I know this much. Not connecting the offline mass media vehicle that generated the reference with online interactive media that would have amplified it and ingrained it more or less guarantees that the meme will never come to fruition.

And in a modern advertising and marketing landscape were truly earned, word-of-mouth branding is hard to come by, marketing managers can no longer afford to miss the proverbial boat by delivering a disjointed marketing message.

P.S. Huggies folks: If you’re listening (e.g. social media monitoring) and you have some perspective on my opinions or feel that I overlooked certain key facets, feel free to share via the comments section. I’m humble enough to know that there is likely more than meets the eye when it comes to executing large-scale campaigns like the one I’m referencing.

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