Clever Aflac Duck Spills The Ink In Space Ad Spread

Aflac is to accident and hospital indemnity insurance what GEICO is to auto insurance. They both have catchy, odd names that are very untraditional - not your typical "American National Life & Home" type of thing. And both are highly advertised national brands with a strong "mascot" strategy to generate awareness and recall for their products (GEICO has the animated gecko, and Aflac has the white duck).

Recently, Aflac took out a bunch of space in USA Today to run a series of ads, each promoting various benefits of having Aflac's protection and reasons to go to the Aflac web site. The ads were numbered #1 through #5, each with the heading "get the Aflacts" on a white piece of paper held up by the familiar Aflac duck (does he or she have a name, I wonder?). The first ad said, "Aflac is different from health insurance; it's insurance for daily living." Aflac does sell life, dental, vision and other types of insurance, but these ads are focused on the company's accident and hospital indemnity products. Nevertheless, while their 4-color ads were very eye-catching, simple to read and quickly communicated key benefits, what was truly outstanding was a bit of clever creativity ...

Ink splashes! 

Next to the 4th ad in the lower right corner of the spread, Aflac media buyers bought the lower left quadrant and filed it with benign, fake newspaper text (at the very top of the copy you can see the word "Advertisement") - and over the type, they splayed some blue ink, as if it dripped from the duck's pen in the ad above it. 

Nice creative touch that helps make these strong copy and graphic ads stand out even more!


Celebrating Customer Retention With Birthday Messages

I just read a great article online recently that was filled with 21 ways to improve customer retention through relationship marketing programs. And great timing on my end for that topic, because I'm working on a customer retention project with one of my biggest clients - while my own mailbox seems to be filling up with customer retention efforts in honor of my upcoming birthday.

Some examples:A predictable yet perfectly executed birthday greeting, from my local Hallmark store arrived in my mailbox yesterday. They send me something similar every year. You'd expect a greeting card store to send a pretty card - and so they do. You'd expect the personal touches on the envelope that make it look like a "real" card, sent from "someone I know" - the live stamp, the handwritten font for the addressing areas, and a closed-face envelope. This mailing delivers it all - along with a coupon for 20% off my next purchase at the store.

Next up ...

Here's a nice email offer with a printable coupon for $5 off, from my local Famous Footwear store. I have one of their frequent buyer/membership cards. The email subject line was "Happy Birthday from Famous Footwear--Take $5 off." Pretty straight-forward. (My birthday, btw, is over a month away. This email came today.)

And here is something I'd never seen before, which also arrived by email this 
morning ...
It's a very unexpected, birthday-inspired email from a charity I've given to in the past -  the American Cancer Society. What I absolutely loved about this email was the subject line: "Who is the official sponsor of your birthday?" - and the whole campaign concept of a birthday sponsor. I also liked the brevity of this email. No long discourse, just a "Learn More" button to take me to the next step, where I can give a gift to the charity online.

When you remember that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers and clients, you can see why customer retention programs are not only a cost-effective and profitable strategy but in today's economic environment they're a necessity.


New Gas $aver Card From Shell - Better Than Your Debit Card?

A recent USA Today article said that we won't be seeing $4-a-gallon gas prices anytime soon - at least not through the summer and probably even next year. The article claims that gas prices could be pushed slightly higher by a modest rise in global crude, but any increase is likely to be tempered by the weak economy. OK ... but the weak economy is still causing many Americans to tighten their belts and look for ways to keep their costs down.

That's where the new Shell $aver Card comes in. According to Shell's new ad, "It's an easy way to save 5 cents on every gallon you buy at Shell." The card is termed a "payment card." You have to apply for the card (applications are available at participating Shell stations). Once approved, it works like this: Swipe the card at the pump and the discounted gas price (less 5 cents on every gallon during the introductory period) is AUTOMATICALLY DEDUCTED from your checking account.

Better than using your plain old debit card at the pump, huh? And even when the introductory rate goes down to 2 cents off the gallon after June 30, 2009, you're still pennies ahead. 

Years ago, gas stations developed and marketed their own charge cards, but those cards have fallen by the wayside. And there's apparently a potential downside to using regular debit cards at the gas pump, according to this MSN Money article.

Nevertheless, this new card is good way to drive motorists to Shell pumps. Shell more than likely saves money with this type of payment card rather than going through other credit/debit middlemen. So it's good for Shell and good for the consumer from a savings standpoint. And that's gotta be good for the economy.

Tax Day

AOL is at it again - with a whimsical twist to their homepage logo on this April 15th Tax Day 2009. 

Some of my favorite quotes about taxes:

The taxpayer - that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination. ~ Ronald Reagan

America is a land of taxation that was founded to avoid taxation. ~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS?" ~ Author Unknown


Joined Together At The Hip

Looks like CVS and Depend Underwear are joined together at the hip for this recent self-mailer to CVS customers who have bought the brand.

The back story - no, I don't wear these things. And no offense to anyone who does. This is an important product for not just the over 65 crowd but anyone who needs it.

Anyway, over a year ago, my father was sick. And to help him get through his illness, during which time he had trouble getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I suggested he try using Depend underwear. I bought him a pack at CVS. 

Whenever I make a purchase at CVS, the cashier asks me to show my Extra Care Card. Showing my Extra Card helps me earn points and Extra Care bucks, which I like getting and using on things like dental floss, magazines and so forth. So I showed my card when I bought the Depend product and that purchase was registered on my Extra Care Card, along with everything else I have ever bought when I showed my card. 

Of course, the marketing strategy behind the Extra Care Card program is to tie your purchases to special savings offers with a coupon at the bottom of your CVS receipt that might say something like, "$2.00 off any CVS dental product." And thus drum up extra sales.

Well, more than a year after that Depend purchase for my dad, I get a piece of mail from CVS promoting a NEW Depend product. According to the mailing, instead of generic, cookie-cutter, unisex Depend underwear, there now is an anatomically-correct male/female version of said product. That's nice to know. (Too bad neither my dad, myself or anyone else I know is not currently using the product.) Inside the self-mailer is a $2.00 off coupon for either the male or female version and that expires 5/15/09 (not much shelf-value there - use it now or lose it, I guess).

The Depend brand is promoting their product extension on tv with their "Who rules the world?" spot, which you can catch on YouTube.

So who rules the world - men or women?

I say the Depend brand rules - the new product extension shows the brand has innovative thinkers on board who have (dare I say) b*lls. They're not afraid to launch something new in this tough economy. And what a great marketing strategy to promote the new products with CVS as a partner. Way to go, Depend!

Supporting A Worthy Cause

The Copy Grove is proud to be a sponsor of the Breast Cancer 3 Day Susan G. Komen for the Cure Event. Click to learn more and/or add your donation today.


April Fool's With AOL

When I logged on AOL this morning, I noticed an upside-down logo on their homepage. I actually thought, "Wonder if they know there's a glitch here. Should I contact them?"

The phone rang, and I was talking to a client. "Sure, next week is fine. Hey - this is strange. The AOL logo is upside-down and now it's spinning around ..."


"Oh, I'm sorry - but this is so bizarre."

And then I got the joke!

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