Innovative Marketing strategies

View from the Top: Arcus Innovation Leaders Series 

How business leaders use innovative approaches to shape their strategies.


An Arcus Consulting Group survey of 430 senior marketing executives, conducted earlier this year, indicates that since the recession began, companies have adopted more cautious marketing strategies.


Innovative marketing strategies


This shift has accelerated as consumers reassess their relationships with brands and adopt a more pessimistic and value driven attitude due to the prevailing gloomy economic climate. Nearly seven out of ten senior marketing executives – 66 percent surveyed by Arcus said they have adopted more risk averse strategies over the past year. They are looking for ways to work more economically and are less likely to look for new and innovative ways to stay “top of mind” with their customers.


An increasing emphasis on return on investment and cuts in marketing budgets has resulted in smaller budgets being allocated to innovative marketing ideas and experimentation, says Merril Mascarenhas, Managing Partner at Arcus Consulting Group.


The focus today is on a delicate balance between riding out the recession with strategies aimed at higher customer retention rates and growth oriented strategies to engage new customers. Mr. Mascarenhas says innovative marketers know recessions offer opportunities to increase market share. By maintaining their budgets and increasing investments in creative marketing ideas, these companies are likely to come out ahead during the recession and are also likely to increase market share in the long run.


Several brands have a rich history of April Fool’s pranks and continue to succeed in engaging consumers. The ideas go back to 1957, when a BBC news show Panorama announced that a mild winter had eliminated the dreaded spaghetti weevil and as a result, Swiss farmers had a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Millions of viewers were taken in. Several viewers called the BBC to find out how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”


Since the BBC broadcast, many well known brands have played their own April Fools’ Day pranks. WestJet Airlines Ltd. made a surprise announcement on April 01, 2008 it would convert its overhead compartments into sleeper cabins on flights in its ongoing efforts to woo business travelers. The airline issued a press release saying it would begin offering the service immediately. They even issued a photo of the new service with leather seats and live satellite television in overhead bins as sleeper cabins. The carrier also posted a number for those wishing to book one of its sleepers for a nominal fee , where they were greeted with a message telling them it was an April Fools’ joke and offering them a 10% discount on flights booked by midnight for playing along.


Pizza Hut announced it was being rebranded as Pasta Hut. But the pizza chain didn’t change its moniker. What startled Pizza Hut’s consumers was actually an April Fool’s Day spoof. The strategy was to grab a lot of attention for the introduction of new pasta menu items.


BMW wants to show that it has a sense of humour – despite its obsession with engineering excellence with an April Fool’s campaign that featured a print ad with a driver sleeping behind the wheel, promoting a built-in feature that starts to steer as you doze off. The tagline reads, “Lose consciousness, not control.” Another BMW ad touted built-in absorption pores that keep the car clean.


Youtube launched a new “viewing experience” when they selected a video from the “recommended for you” section. This new “view” caused the layout, including the video, to flip upside down. A Youtube page on “tips for viewing the new layout” asked users to hang their monitors upside down.


A notable April Fool’s Day hoax was Taco Bell’s announcement that it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. The announcement outraged many consumers that day. The nerves of these consumers were calmed a few hours later, after Taco Bell revealed it was all a practical joke.


About a decade ago, Burger King announced the introduction of a new menu item: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for left-handed consumers. According to the full page advertisement, the new whopper had the same ingredients as the original Whopper but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The day after the full page advertisement, Burger King revealed that the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax- after thousands of customers visited a Burger King Restaurant to request the new sandwich.

Please contact Merril Mascarenhas, Managing Partner at Arcus Consulting Group at (416) 710-2727 or by email for the Arcus View from the Top Report, a summary of insights from over 2000 interviews with C-Level executives.