SOURCE: Arc Worldwide

July 27, 2006 17:46 ET

Arc Worldwide, Whirlpool and Nestlé Purina PetCare Discuss Emerging Media and Consumer Engagement at ad:tech

CHICAGO, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 27, 2006 -- Arc Worldwide, a Publicis Groupe marketing company, and two clients, Whirlpool and Nestlé Purina PetCare, played a leading role at ad:tech Chicago this week, discussing the latest in gaming technology, emotionally charged online marketing and other emerging technologies. ad:tech expositions LLC is the leading organizer of conferences and exhibitions for the interactive marketing community.

ad:tech Chicago provided a forum for exploring the intersection of technical innovation and emotional connectivity. About 3,000 attendees discovered how the lines between these symbiotic worlds are blurring, and what it means for modern marketers.

Michael Moore, director of interactive marketing at Nestlé Purina PetCare, presented on the Blogging/RSS/Podcasting/Vidcasting panel, a subject that Purina and Arc know extremely well from using the media to engage pet lovers. Purina and Arc are like-minded when it comes to using emerging media, believing that new channels are best used to educate, inform or entertain. A podcast, for example, should not be sales-y; rather it should provide content that pet lovers can use to improve their relationships with their pets.

Purina has used content from its radio programs and the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, broadcast last year on NBC, to create its audio podcasts and vidcasts. "This approach has enabled us to get to market without a major investment in time or money," Moore said. "Early results are encouraging, because we've seen steady increases in consumer usage of RSS and podcasting."

Moore also credited Arc with identifying branding opportunities with Apple and www.itunes.com. "Arc persuaded Apple that a Purina 'PetCasting' homepage would be a great way to aggregate our growing portfolio of podcasts and connect with a large, savvy audience in a unique way," he said.

Dan Cooke, director of Internet marketing at Whirlpool, participated in the Persona Development and Decision-Making panel where he discussed how the appliance maker has used personas to redesign its website. Arc creates Whirlpool's personas -- descriptions of a client's real or prospective consumers -- to better understand consumers' wants, needs and desires.

When creating personas, Arc teams answer several questions, such as who are the client's customers, what kind of lifestyle and interests do they have, what do these customers want to accomplish, and in what context do they interact with the brand. This knowledge informs decisions on website and retail design, among other initiatives.

As a result of the knowledge gleaned from personas, Whirlpool has changed the navigation of its website, www.whirlpool.com, to make it easier to search various models in different product categories. "We've challenged ourselves and our technology to create dynamic filtering so that consumers can quickly zoom in on the models that best suit their needs. We've also used the personas to support cross-channel marketing and sales efforts, and better fulfill consumers' after-market needs," Cooke said.

Offering a word of advice to the marketers in the room, Cooke said, "Personas provide the necessary balance between brand and consumer objectives. If you haven't begun to work with personas, please do so."

Tim Irvine, vice president and interactive group creative director at Arc Worldwide, presented a case study involving Arc, Cadillac and the Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR 3) videogame during the Midwestern Magic Creative Showcase panel. In its ongoing efforts to appeal to a younger audience with its high-performing V-Series vehicles -- three cars that go from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than five seconds -- Cadillac asked Arc to create a microsite (www.vseriescollection.com) to support the release of the V-Series Expansion Pack, software that gamers download so that they can "drive" a Cadillac in PGR 3 on the Xbox 360 gaming device.

"The creative idea is at the center of all we do," Irvine told the ad:tech audience. "It's the engine that drives all exploration across marketing channels. That's why everyone at Arc is charged with thinking creatively, from the account team to the flash developers and experience planners."

In true integrated fashion, Arc -- in addition to creating the microsite -- launched a promotion around E3, the largest US gaming conference held last May in Los Angeles. Turning a budget constraint into an opportunity (no additional money was set aside to promote the Cadillac/Xbox alliance), the Arc team came up with the idea to provide 10 gaming editors a V-Series vehicle for the week of the E3. Several of the editors wrote glowing reviews of the vehicle on their sites that read more like car reviews than game reviews. One gaming editor reviewed the car, saying: "We drive the beast through the streets of Los Angeles. You drive it in PGR 3." In addition, Arc created digital premiums that gamers could download: "Cadillac-branded items that stay with them after the site experience so that they can continue to engage with the Cadillac brand," Irvine said.

Moving from the virtual world of racing to reality, Arc even designed PGR 3-inspired graphics for the Cadillac racing team's V-Series vehicles.

The campaign has been an overwhelming success. Within the first month, gamers worldwide downloaded the V-Series Expansion Pack more than 150,000 times and logged 7,600 hours of racing the Cadillac V-series. The vseriescollection.com microsite gained extreme popularity with more than 169,000 page views, 58,000 visits and an average time of 2.27 minutes spent on the website. Lastly, unpaid promotions emanating from the game editors' websites are reaching millions of consumers a month.

Kathy Beymer, Arc's director of experience planning (as in a consumer's experience with a brand), provided tips to a standing-room-only ad:tech audience on creating emotionally powerful, online experiences. Speaking on the User Experience: The Latest in Design panel, she focused on brand-heavy sites that are non-transactional in nature and geared toward creating a pure, emotional brand experience. Among other examples, she cited a Wonderbra website (www.experiencewonderyou.co.uk) as an excellent example of a non-transactional, emotionally powerful site because it educates women on the benefits of various bra styles while providing entertaining first-person, rich-media video.

Arc's tips for marketers when creating brand-heavy online experiences include:

1.   Understand your audience from a functional and emotional perspective.
Why are people coming to your site, what do they need and want, and what
are you offering them?  Answering these questions will help you create a
value exchange -- interactions of mutual benefit for the marketer and
consumer. For example, a marketer might offer entertainment or fashion
advice on a non-transactional site in exchange for a consumer's time and
attention to the brand, as is the case with the Wonderbra site.
2.   Let your creative team go.  Give them the freedom they need to engage
consumers emotionally online.  Give them the appropriate budget and time to
conceptualize a sound, strategic idea and execute it.
3.   Balance innovation and usability.  Take calculated risks.  For
example, if you're introducing a new navigation method because it plays
into your site's aesthetic appeal, then make sure that consumers understand
how to navigate and find the information they need.  Don't compromise
usability for art's sake.
4.   Plan for measurement early in the process, not at the end.  Measuring
success can be more difficult on a brand-heavy non-transactional site, but
it is possible.  Ensure your measurement plan is grounded in business goals
and includes online and offline methods such as changes in brand perception
and affinity.
About Arc Worldwide

Arc Worldwide, a global marketing-services company, is part of Leo Burnett and the Paris-based Publicis Groupe network. Headquartered in Chicago, Arc Worldwide has 1,400 employees in 37 offices and 31 countries. The company counsels clients on marketing strategy and also conceptualizes and executes integrated marketing campaigns with the goal of changing consumer behavior and driving transactions. Arc creates "big campaignable ideas" that cross numerous channels: interactive, promotional, retail and direct/database marketing. Arc partners with blue-chip clients including The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald's, Nestle Purina PetCare, Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, United, Visa and Whirlpool. Since Arc Worldwide was formed in 2004, the company has been recognized more than 260 times through creative awards and significant rankings around the world. For more information, please go to http://www.arcww.com.

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