Advanced Advertising 2.0: Lessons From CMO Kevin George

Kevin George brought belief in interactive-TV marketing from Unilever to the parent company of Jim Beam, and wants marketers to bring him more ideas.

"Push us," the global chief marketing officer at Beam Global Spirits & Wine told marketers at the Advanced Advertising 2.0 conference in New York Monday, organized by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable magazines.

At Unilever, where he last was head of the deodorant and health care business lines, George worked on about two dozen ITV campaigns. For Axe body spray, a customized video-on-demand sponsorship on Adult Swim drew created with Brightline iTV drew so many viewers, it was the fifth-highest rated program (out of 75) on that Cartoon Network late-night block. That was in 2005. The video was about a fictional Alaska town called Ravenstoke that doused itself in Axe to attract women, who came by the hundreds.

"If you're a 16-year-old boy, you love that," George said. Unilever learned from that effort that "cleverly and thoughtfully placed content in a digital VOD environment could get people to opt in -- we saw it in far greater numbers than we saw online," he said.

Other Unilever experiments he deemed a success were a Degree for women free-sample offer embedded into program guide ads on TiVo and a Degree for men channel linked to via an overlay on ads during Monday Night Football, on DirecTV. The MNF ads linked to a channel with content about football star Chad Johnson, a place to download videos and even donate to his favorite charity. "This became a serious engagement channel," he said.

Beam just did a campaign this past May, again with DirecTV, tied in with performer Kid Rock. He doesn't offer music via download, George said, so the chance to offer free digital songs on an exclusive basis of a live Kid Rock concert was a hook to get consumers to engage with the Jim Beam and Red Stag bourbon brands.

"Advanced television essentially was made for us," he said. With the remote, a consumer can attest that they are 21 or older, a requirement; it can aim at cable, not broadcast, networks, another requirement; and provides strong measurement and promotes engagement. Beam created a Kid Rock channel during the NBA playoffs, directing consumers to it during ads for Jim Beam.

George said the right formula for advanced-advertising success is like making a cocktail:

-- Start with the outcome in mind before you mix in the ingredients.
-- Know what your target audience likes: don't serve Cosmopolitans to a tailgate partying crowd.

-- Deliver content in the appropriate vehicle: don't serve a Martini in a paper cup.

-- Experiment: do before you learn. "If you can make the experimentation bite-sized, that helps."

-- Have the right tools, the right partners and use the right content for the medium, keeping it compelling and engaging.

-- Reward the paid promotional interruption: if you're going to crash the party, bring a good bottle of bourbon.
George wrapped up by saying television advertising is still effective, and interactivity helps Beam get more out of its television spend.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.