Global brands, Wichita agency guy

Order pizza online?  Enter Pizza Hut.
PizzaHut.gif In 2001, the Internet was a vast, expansive land of adventure.  Unfortunately, most so-called “internet marketing” companies dove in head first, and many quickly failed. So when it was time to test online ordering, Pizza Hut went with the team that had already done their Internet homework.

Named the first-ever Agency of Record for Pizza Hut’s online ordering test (Columbus, Ohio), our online/offline campaign leveraged high-interest content sites around key universities and select college-based papers to keep focus tight on the tech-responsive student segment. With constantly-evolving online messages rotating to maximize ROI and overall ad performance, the test provided an established brand can affordably introduce a new ordering experience.

Today, those learnings and go-forward recommendations can still be found in Pizza Hut’s online marketing initiatives.

Mature market? “Peel” the brand. (Rent-A-Center)
Rent-A-Center.gif Having virtually invented the RTO (rent-to-own) segment, by the mid ‘90’s Rent-A-Center was now accompanied by competitors seen as parity to their category-leading brand.  Still, RAC wanted to continue their leadership status, which was no longer sustained by simply asking the customer to compare brands.

The intangible to RAC’s brand was its ubiquity, or dominant presence in all markets where they reside. To reinforce leadership status, though, you have to act, and be seen as one.

Enter George Wendt, or Norm, from Cheers.   Who better to associate with Joe Lunch Bucket than the man responsible for securing the neighborhood bar at the country’s best known watering hole?  “Norm” and his casual demeanor were perfect to portray RAC as the place to find just what you need to sit back and relax. Ads with Norm, actually lounging with RAC products in the store, were easily relatable to our customers.  Coupled with the “Try It Before You Buy It,” tag line, which continued to position rent-to-own as the affordable alternative to traditional retail credit, Norm helped RAC disrupt a flat sales projection and create solid, upper-single-digit same-store sales growth for the balance of the year and beyond.

The biggest challenge: keeping the popcorn prop filled up during the Lay-Z-Boy shoot!

How to sell auto insurance when no one thinks you do (AAA Auto Club)a.k.a. finding the brand’s soul
AAA.gif When AAA Auto Club began promoting auto insurance, two immediate obstacles presented themselves: 1) the brand was mostly known for “a map and a tow.” 2) the category was already overflowing with mega brands such as Progressive, Geico, Allstate, State Farm and a host of second-tier players.

After extensive client interviews, we discovered AAA’s original insurance charter, crafted decades ago, was written to require inclusion of auto club membership.  This meant all AAA auto insurance customers were automatically AAA Auto Club members!  Alas, our elusive brand Point of Difference was revealed:  When you go with AAA for auto insurance, you also receive all the Club benefits, including discounts with hundreds of well-known retail brands in shopping, dining, hospitality, health & fitness and many other lifestyle categories.

Clever radio concepts revealed the “Insurance You Can Use” position, which immediately flanked all incumbents in the category.  By using Claritas and Nielsen data together, the media strategy identified stations “Switchers” were most likely to frequent. 

The result? Double-digit call volume where there were sliding decreases before.  AAA Kansas-Missouri far exceeded customer inquiry goals, and actually had to end the schedule early due to the overwhelming response.

Leaders hang out with leaders: The Olympics promotion. (AMR COMBS)
AA.gif General Aviation is a very self-contained, almost incestuous industry.  So when you’re voted Best FBO 17 years in a row, it can be a challenge to stay fresh.

For AMR COMBS, the executive aviation affiliate of American Airlines, and descendent of Combs Gates and Learjet, aligning with the world’s premier athletes was the perfect partnership. As the official corporate aviation sponsor of the 1992 Barcelona Summer and 1994 Albertville Winter Games, AMR COMBS proudly supported the U.S. team in the ultimate competition for athletic supremacy.  So while our athletes were going for the gold, COMBS’ employees competed against other FBOs to continue their 1st place ranking as the America’s flagship FBO network.

With AMR COMBS facilities donning festive red, white and blue, pilots could peruse Olympic memorabilia, enter sweepstakes giveaways, and meet select athletes at NBAA, the industry’s premier annual convention.

How do we know it worked?  After hundreds of comments from customers about how much they appreciate supporting our country, COMBS was again named FBO of the Year by Pro Pilot magazine. So, while the rest of the show displayed pristine aircraft (still a strong draw at NBAA), convention-goers visiting our booth met actual Olympic bobsledders and posed for a picture in an actual sled! The most important feedback? Years later, pilots still talk about how much they enjoyed the promotion.

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