For Every Season There Is a Reason

Seasonal marketing is about relevant marketing—and relevant marketing is often about identifying an opportunity and then systematically planning to capitalize on it. The Super Bowl, back-to-school, Mother’s Day, spring cleaning—if you do the research and leave yourself enough time to act on your findings each one of these annual events is a golden chance to relate to consumers.

Newell-Rubbermaid, the global CPG marketer responsible for brands like Sharpie, Paper Mate, Goody, and Rubbermaid, has recently started taking serious advantage of seasonal marketing opportunities, namely the Super Bowl. Sixty-seven percent of Americans follow two or more sports (football tops the list), and about 180 million people tuned into the big game on Sunday—which is one heck of a captive audience.

But Newell-Rubbermaid’s Super Bowl strategy didn’t include flashy TV ads—it went deeper than that, relying on insights that the company used to pair its brands with consumer need.

Take Rubbermaid food storage containers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year. (Thanksgiving of course takes home the trophy in that category.) And Shopperscape and Kantar Retail recently released data stating that nearly one fifth of all shoppers prepare a special meal or entertain guests. Invariably there are leftovers (and popped buttons).

Now take Sharpie. Fans like to support their teams with handmade signs and posters—so why shouldn’t they be using Sharpie marketers to do so?

“Be relevant. I wouldn’t exactly call it our mantra, but it certainly is smart,” says Joe Cavaliere, chief customer officer at Newell-Rubbermaid (right). “Consumers are looking for different things at different times of the year, and it’s easier to get an extra item in the basket if it’s tied into what he or she is thinking about when they’re shopping.”

Newell-Rubbermaid also works with participating retailers to extend their football promotions to cover the entire quarter, a push collectively referred to as “Game Time.” As big as the Super Bowl is, it’s only one day, and consumers care about football throughout the entire season.

“You buy certain food items for ‘Game Time,’ so if a display placement is in the right place at the right price at the right time, you might get a consumer to pick up something like a Rubbermaid container or a Sharpie, something they weren’t planning on purchasing but that makes sense,” Cavaliere says. “Insights lead to action—everyone knows the Super Bowl is big; we dug deeper and extended that passion.”

Part of what allows Newell-Rubbermaid to so seamlessly implement its seasonal marketing strategies is the company’s recent transition from a collection of separate brands operating independently to a cohesive organization that shares insights across its many brand holdings.

It’s all part of Newell-Rubbermaid’s overall push to become more “customer intimate.”

“We’re starting to become a truly customer-centric organization by looking at customer insight,” Cavaliere says. “Once we have that, we can then have true customer intimacy.”

Don’t drop the ball in 2015

The Super Bowl may have just ended—but according to Cavaliere’s clock, it’s just about time to get started planning for next year. Below are his tips for implementing a seasonal marketing strategy that’ll totally score:

1. Start planning at least a year in advance. (Tick, tock.)

2. Ask yourself: Is what I’m planning relevant?

3. Be creative—just make sure your ideas make sense. “The more ideas you give people to use your product the better,” Cavaliere says. “Our ideas come from insight-based research—getting people to use Sharpies to make banners and posters at their Super Bowl parties isn’t a stretch.”

4. Stick with it—Consumers won’t suddenly associate you with a particular season just because you want them to. Says Cavaliere: “You’ve got to build and build and continue to cement the idea in the minds of your consumers.”

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