Single Brands looking for Friendship (and maybe more)

Efforts by major brands to leverage social networking sites are ramping up. As the social networking sites try to monetize the humongous traffic they’re generating, this New York Times article talks about a few big brand integration success:
gamekillers_axe_myspace.jpg

1) Axe deodorant (Unilever) & MySpace: “This spring it created a promotion around a group it called Gamekillers — people who get in the way of a seduction. The pitch is that Axe helps men stay cool in the face of the Gamekillers. The campaign included an hourlong program on MTV and a page on MySpace devoted to the topic, with message boards where people could trade complaints and tips about Gamekillers. Its online host was Christine Dolce, a busty model who was already a celebrity thanks to MySpace, where she has accumulated more than a million friends.”

2) Chase credit card and Facebook: “Chase has a promotion on Facebook that implicitly uses a person’s friends to endorse its credit cards. When people join the Chase “+1” group on Facebook, they see a list of their other friends who have joined the group. The program gives members points when they do things like apply for a card and get others to sign up. Those points can be redeemed for prizes, donated to charity or given to other friends on Facebook.”

3) Aerie underwears & Facebook: “On Facebook, American Eagle created a group for its Aerie line of underwear with photos, discussion boards, a contest and clips of the television shows it sponsors.”
The sites are trying to move beyond banner ads and develop ways to integrate marketers into the fabric of their online communities.

4) The X-Men Movie & MySpace: “MySpace is even willing to change some of its standard features to help advertisers. For example, it normally lets members display photos of their top eight friends on their main profile pages. But people who added the movie “X-Men: The Last Stand” to their friends list were given the right to show 16 top friends. ”

5) Crest Whitestrips (Procter & Gamble) & Facebook: “It is running a contest for Crest Whitestrips that involves 20 different colleges and universities. The four schools that have the most students join the “Smile State” group will earn a free on-campus concert by an up-and-coming artist (only for members of the group, of course)”
“Teens have grown up with being barraged with advertising,” Ms. Boyd said. “They just want it to be relevant, but they expect it.”

What it means: we’re clearly far away from the traditional banner ad space or the sponsored text links that we tend to see in most of the online sites. Those are more creative ways to leverage the networks by being part of the fabric of the site, akin to product placement in movies. Most of these also leverage the network effects created by large user groups.

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