Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reflections on Steve Curran's Visit To Class (Pod Design)

Last week Steve Curran from Pod Design came into speak with our class on viral marketing and branded entertainment. Steve and I had met last year as part of a panel on WOM for the Promotion Marketing Association. I knew that Pod had done a lot of interesting work for companies to engage, entertain, and stimulate pass-along among consumers so I was looking forward to his talk. In fact one of his company's recent projects (Peerflix Paparazzi game) won the top spot in the 2006 Marketing Sherpa Viral Marketing Hall of Fame. We also read Steve's chapter in the Connected Marketing book.

Students really enjoyed his talk as he used a lot of great examples and case studies. They were also impressed with the company's list of clients (Warner Brothers, Atlantic Records, Tweeter, etc.). Here are a few points I took away from his visit:

- Steve sees his company in the business of creating "conversation pieces." These could be online games, branded sites, or other online user "experiences" that lead people to conversations about the brand.

- When designing a campaign he said you have to find the "hot buttons" in culture and then "press them." They did this with a line of natural beauty treatment products for the "Making Over Mona" campaign. The cultural hot button here at the time was all the discussions about botox, collagen, and chemical peels. The point of the campaign was that you wouldn't want to use these on a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa so why do it to your own face? This campaign generated a lot of buzz for the Dr. Comenge line.

- "Porn is just one click away." Steve's point was that in the online world there are many things competing for people's attention and any viral marketing campaign that is conducted must engage and entertain people. If it doesn't then people will move on to more "interesting" things.

- And the most interesting point for me was his discussion about an ROI metric: number of minutes of customer engagement (I must be the geek in the crowd if I get excited about a ROI metric). With all the interest about engagement in the advertising industry one metric that Steve's company can show their clients is how long people are engaged with the advergame or branded site. This length of time is often significantly longer than people would stay engaged with more traditional advertising and marketing approaches.

Steve's majors in college were Visual Communications and Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising. (Students love to know this information so I ask it of every guest speaker if they don't get to ask the speaker first!).

Thanks for joining us Steve!

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