Internet Forms Focus for Many Euro RSCG CampaignsPerhaps he is articulating the obvious, but Bob Schmetterer is ensuring that Euro RSCG Worldwide does not treat the Internet as just an advertising medium.
The chairman/CEO of the Havas Advertising-owned ad agency thinks the Internet will be to his industry what MTV was to music. That channel added a crucial visual element to music by bringing concerts and videos to fans' homes, while the Internet offers interactivity that other advertising forms do not.
"An advertising medium, in a very narrow definition of the medium, is used to send commercial messages to people," Schmetterer said from his New York headquarters. "A marketing medium is one that allows people to interact with companies and brands and even become part of the brand experience."
Take work for client Aventis. The agency recently won charge of marketing for Lantus, a diabetes drug. It is using the Web to create a site full of information on the disease.
"Diabetes is on the rise and a serious issue, and the awareness of it in the public mind -- you don't have it," he said. "So Aventis did to diabetes what Pfizer did with cholesterol, which was to create a public awareness of the disease and its uses and symptoms and treatment."
Central to that online-awareness generation was conveying the importance of adding a diabetes check when visiting the doctor for the annual physical. All ads direct consumers to this Lantus Web site for in-depth understanding of diabetes, thus helping position Lantus as the pre-eminent treatment in that space.
Another old client is Intel Corp. Its new Centrino chip on notebooks allows wireless Internet connectivity. Intel is using the Internet to publicize this new product that already has champions in Starbucks and McDonald's -- chains that, in many stores, let consumers wirelessly surf the Web from their premises.
Schmetterer cited Procter & Gamble Co., which boasts hundreds of sites for its portfolio of consumer packaged goods brands, as a smart user of the Internet.
His list of savvy Internet marketers also includes Amazon.com for its recommendations, Netflix.com for making video rentals easy and Classmates.com for reworking the traditional reunions business. Of course, the challenge for Classmates.com is how to remarket to subscribers for other services.
Schmetterer claims Euro RSCG was one of the first agencies to co-opt the Internet in all marketing. He cited work for telecommunications client MCI in the early 1990s. As an early backbone of the Internet, MCI broke a pioneering integrated ad effort that included a vital online element.
The agency's most recent achievement was for Volvo. The Swedish automaker had revamped its model line, and the S60 represented the new face. Volvo needed to reach out to consumers not previously exposed to the brand, yet it did not want to alienate its current customer base.
That was not all. Volvo already had launched two vehicles in 2000. It did not want to spend too much on marketing for the S60.
So Euro RSCG started its Revolvolution campaign through the Internet. It also sent e-mails and ran a teaser outdoor ad campaign with the Revolvolution name and Web address. National and local print ads followed by a CD-ROM and local and national television commercials supported.
Perhaps one of the most critical components was the partnership with America Online Inc. Volvo promotions were incorporated on AOL. Subscribers to that ISP were offered up to $2,100 in complimentary Volvo accessories when they bought an S60.
The campaign exceeded all expectations. More than 500 million impressions were recorded, and nearly 1 million consumers clicked to interact with the brand. The online launch was featured more than 60 times in the media in just one week, according to the agency.
"The Internet is the glue, in my mind, of what brings integrated communications together," Schmetterer said. "It is the future of our business."
Finland's Nokia had a different challenge for Euro RSCG. It wanted to sell its image, not the cell phones, as a key differentiator in the market.
Euro RSCG devised the Nokia Game. A mysterious TV commercial sent viewers to nokiagame.com. Players then were sent various clues across media, including SMS messages, TV movies, radio spots, voicemail boxes, anonymous phone calls, fictional voice response systems, newspapers and magazines.
The target was Europeans ages 15 to 35, trendsetters who like brands but not hard sells. Following the pre-campaign, nearly 500,000 people registered on nokiagame.com. Several independent Web sites and chat rooms emerged, involving people from 28 countries.
The number of players on nokiagame.com trying to solve the puzzle has surpassed 1 million.
"We're using other mediums, but the central, upfront idea is the Internet," Schmetterer said.
These successes are laid out in his new book, "Leap: A Revolution in Creative Business Strategy." Published by John Wiley & Sons, the book brims with similar Internet-anchored case studies that incorporate the agency's Creative Business Idea mantra in each execution.
"One of the things that I think is very important to remember is that it isn't just the Internet that is increasing in usage or popularity," Schmetterer said. "Any medium that speaks more directly and more interactively with a target audience is on the rise."
Volvo's recent campaign proves that. Similarly, the agency created half-hour direct response TV commercials for Tropicana and Callaway Golf, "categories that we wouldn't seem to do any direct marketing, certainly television direct marketing," he said.
People now expect entertainment and information from campaigns. At the same time, clients expect measurability and results from marketing efforts, things possible with the use of the Internet, mail or DRTV.
"I think the big leap that has to be made creatively is to recognize that best direct marketing does not necessarily feel like direct marketing, in a negative way," he said, adding that Amazon is direct marketing when it tells you about other books.
"Eventually," he said, "advertising will become direct marketing."