Managing editor-digital- Columbus Business First
TourismOhio picks new branding and media planning agencies
TourismOhio Director Mary Cusick said on the agency’s online newsletter that Columbus-based Cult Marketing LLC would take over branding and creative services work, while Cleveland’s Marcus Thomas LLC would handle media planning and ad placement.
The agency put the two-year contracts out for bid in December, looking for ways to “establish a distinctive brand for Ohio tourism” through at least three seasonal campaigns. Tourism is a $38 billion industry in Ohio, the agency said.
“I am encouraged by the level of interest we received during the selection process and am ready get down to work on identifying an emotional and head-turning brand that will take Ohio tourism to a new level,” Cusick wrote. “We have a fast-paced timeline to begin rolling out a new brand and now have the partners in place to make it happen!”
A TourismOhio spokeswoman said representatives from Cult Marketing would present initial plans for marketing the state Thursday afternoon at a meeting at Experience Columbus’ offices in the Arena District.
The marketing and branding piece is part of TourismOhio’s PlantoWin long-term strategic blueprint.
Healthcare Executive of the Year: Kara Trott, Founder & CEO, Quantum Health
Healthcare Trailblazer: Quantum Health
When Quantum Health approached Cult Marketing seeking help connecting with its clients in the health-care navigation industry, Quantum’s leadership team wondered if the idea of a guardian angel might be appropriate for a sales and marketing campaign.
Researchers at Cult went to work finding out how clients and consumers perceived the company, which provides health-care coordination services to self-funded public and private employers throughout the country.
What they uncovered surprised everyone. Health-care consumers who used the company’s services saw the Quantum employees as protectors fighting on their behalf.
Those insights shaped a marketing plan that has led to double-digit growth and created a brand story that permeates the entire business.
The success of the plan correlates to the quality of the information Cult Marketing gleaned during its research phase, said Quantum Health CEO Kara Trott…
Innovation Spotlight: Cult Marketing relies on research to deliver results
One of Cult Marketing’s philosophies is to strategically disrupt markets. This is critical in getting attention with your target audience and is step one of any successful marketing effort – you must breakthrough the clutter. How do you decide where the boundaries are? When has a disruption strategy gone too far?
Most recently Urban Outfitters got into hot water with a vintage sweatshirt design featuring the Kent State logo and what appears to be spattered blood. Kent State officials publicly decried the tactic. “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” Kent State wrote in a statement on its website on Monday. “This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
Urban Outfitters have struck before with items including a “Ghettopoly” board game; a T-shirt that resembled the clothing that Nazis forced Jews to wear; and a hat that labeled vomiting as “Irish Yoga.”
Other retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch have been famous for disruptive tactics. A&F featured naked teenagers in their catalogs, a t-shirt that agitated the Asian community (“Wong Brothers Laundry Service — Two Wongs Can Make it White”), and had guest articles written by porn stars offering advice on oral sex and other sexual techniques. As expected, many conservatives and members of the religious right were outraged.
So where do you draw the line on disruption tactics?
The Cult view on disruption is based on one primary factor – a keen understanding of a company’s target audience and their attitudes, desires and motivations. One of the reasons that the A&F tactics worked so well is that it appealed to the teenager and college target audiences, not the religious right. In fact, the disapproval of the religious right gave the tactics validity with its target audience. And, while it was considered edgy and inappropriate, it was just about sex which is a hot topic among all consumers, especially the younger consumers experiencing those emotions for the first time.
In terms of the Kent State sweatshirt, our question would be to their millions of consumers that loyally shop the store: Were you outraged by the Kent State sweatshirt design? Will it stop you from shopping there in the future? Our guess is that while the sweatshirt itself may not sell very well, the publicity will create enough curiosity to actually increase traffic. After all, don’t most Americans love a good scandal?