Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hybrid Marketing

Marketing boot camps are the current rage – a local gathering of marketing professionals exchanging ideas, more often than not, about the “buzz du jour”, interactive marketing. We now live in a digital age, but the real winners will know how to balance new and classic strategies, thus implement hybrid marketing.

Read On:
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the business classic
The Cluetrain Manifesto. The book predicted the end of business as usual. To paraphrase authors Locke, Levine, Weinberger and Searls: "A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies." Note this book was released in 2000, pre-Web 2.0.

An established brand that implements hybrid marketing well is M&M’s® candy. First launched in
1941, M&M’s® has utilized classic marketing strategies to grow their business internationally – product extensions (including color), packaging changes, television and print advertising campaigns and multiple channel strategies. The M&M’s® Characters made their debut in 1954 and have evolved into America’s favorite spokes candies. In recognition of their characters popularity, M&M’s® jumped into interactive marketing full force. On their website, in addition to product information, recipes, a merchandise section, M&M’s® Racing club, they have a fun & games section (downloads, e-cards, videos and ads) to engage their customers. People can follow them on Facebook (over 950 thousand people worldwide). They used this social media platform to sample and launch their latest new product, M&M’s® Pretzel (FYI: not all of the comments posted were favorable). There are Twitter accounts for each of their colors/characters since they are currently running an integrated campaign across all medium to have their fans vote (online or via text) for their favorite color. Given that M&M’s® understands hybrid marketing, I would be remiss not to mention that they launched two classic marketing strategies in the past few years – an upscale strategy with premium candies; an exclusivity strategy offering consumers customized M&M’s®.

Marketing is morphing given all the new technology. More importantly, tech savvy consumers now want to engage with their favorite brands; have a voice. In spite of the advancement of Web 2.0, smart marketers understand the balancing act they need to now perform between executing new and classic strategies, better known as hybrid marketing.

I forgot to ask, who is your favorite M&M’s® character?


  1. I'm waiting for purple M&M's. I'm sure they make them.I didn't see the campaign but will have to search it out.

  2. My favorite is the green chick. Awesome. Enjoyed the discussion of hybrid marketing. Its amazing that certain books published years ago had the insight to predict what was going to happen over time...Megatrends is another that is worth a re-read, though its been out almost 25 years! Now lets see how many companies actually "get it" and follow-thru...

  3. I think you bring up a very important point near the end of your piece, Jim, when you pointed out how consumers want to engage with a brand. In a guest piece I wrote about how companies should approach using social media, I pointed out how consumers don't want to simply interact with a name like "Honda" or "Best Buy"; they want to engage with a person, with Bob who works in R&D who can answer why certain features aren't included in the product or with Betty in Marketing to know more about their recent ad campaign.

    In using social media platforms for marketing your organization, it's important that companies understand that's it about fostering conversations and not simply collecting numbers on your social media profile.

    Oh, and my favourite has to be the red guy; he's always good for a laugh.

  4. Good points, Jim. With Web 2.0 companies need to embrace this idea of hybrid marketing. It does not make sense for many traditional corporations like M&Ms to ditch traditional marketing completely because it does still work for them, but they do still need to adapt to new technologies and new customers who are interested in Internet communications.