Lebron James’ Toothbrush & Cavities: A Consumer Engagement Story


Lebron James goes on TV to announce who will be the next in line for the opportunity to give him millions of dollars, and clearly we are all supposed to learn something from the process. Whether
it be how news-makers are controlling the news media (is that in and of itself new?) or how the King James phenomena is fully wielding the power of social media, something much larger than sports is occurring with the buzz leading up to and following “The Decision.” Part of what makes James’ recent strategy astounding are its similarities to recent and highly successful campaigns from Colgate and Mountain Dew. Oral care, heavily sugared carbonated beverages, and championship-less, non-clutch basketball players all can use the same tools to expand their business. The key to it all: Consumer Engagement.

The concept of consumer engagement is by no means new to the marketing world, but has
clearly taken on a life of its own via the web, and not without controversy. Engagement in simplest terms is the process of changing customers from passive, indifferent consumers of your product to active participators. It is in many ways a very ambiguous concept in terms of execution, but with incredible impact once executed. Adding clouds to clarity are the odd adages that follow it. For example, Gannet Media’s recent tweet “There is no shortcut to engagement, there is only engagement.” For the business owner that is about as helpful as Yoda’s “Do or do not. There is no try.” Luckily, considering the launch of Colgate Whisp, Mountain Dew White Out, and “The Decision” as case studies we can arrive at more substantive concepts.

Engagement is Achieved Through Multi-Tiered Approaches.

All three campaigns employed the big three: social media, video, and contests. Colgate Whisp’s
campaign outsourced viral video via CollegeHumor, used a Facebook game widget, and a photo
submission/rating contest with location based filtering. Mountain Dew White Out’s campaign was literally a campaign using voting on outsourced campaign commercials, a Twitter follower contest, and solicitation of label designs all towards the ends of having consumers decide which new flavor of Mountain Dew would be mass produced. LeBron James had a well timed launch of his Twitter account that generated 300,000 followers faster than any other account, a re-launched website, and a Facebook page with 2.5 million followers soliciting questions that may be answered during ESPN’s “The Decision” primetime special. What brings all of these multi-tiered approaches together is very simple in concept– a seamless narrative that integrates each platform and asks users to participate.

Engagement is Achieved By Allowing Consumers to be Part of Creative.

The risk, and therefore courage, behind a commitment to engagement comes from the fact that engagement cannot occur unless a company is willing to open its doors a bit. For Colgate this meant looking to often crude and vulgar content generators to create their viral videos, as well as to potential customers to create the “face” of their brand. Mountain Dew probably opened their doors the most by having their consumer-base literally choose what product they wanted and how they wanted it to look. For James his openness comes from his willingness to answer personal questions via his Facebook page. In the end it is about achieving harmony between your personal business goals and the goals of your customers. Participation for the consumer quickly turns into an individual investment into the brand. This investment turns into long term loyalty and a higher likelihood that the consumer will develop into an advocate of the brand.

What About My Business?

All three brands mentioned here operate with a marketing budget significantly higher than most businesses. That said the concepts employed can be achieved for businesses of any size and for a very wide range of budgets. Outside of implementation time there is nothing inherently expensive about each campaign. And of course, like all things digital, its nothing you have to do all by yourself.

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12:45 pm Advertising, Business X-Factors, Media, Social Media

One Response

  1. Heinrich Says:

    I followed the Lebron James story with interest and it highlighted the power of social media and customer interaction. Twitter was buzzing with tweets about Lebron James and a lot of people that did not know about him previously started to follow the story. Business can also use this to their advantage and we have seen some examples already. Thanks for a good article.

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