Stunt Vs. Vision 4


Little Caesar's famous mascot

Stunts leave a brand one leg to stand on.

Everyone has a trick. That correlates to views in social media often enough. Awesome. But where does it lead after the trick is done?

Some companies make a stunt into their vision by riding a commercial gimmick into the sunset and grabbing all the business they can along the way. Little Caesar’s tried that in the 70′s and 80′s when they finally had the size to push their contagiously cartoonish brand into the market place. And for a while it really seemed to be working. People loved their commercials. I know I did. The little pizza guy is so cool, right? Seems like a strong brand image. I thought I liked their pizza, too, I really did. They did invent “the bread stick”, right? …No?

But then the demographic grew up and didn’t care about the cartoon commercial guy in the toga anymore. Little Caesar’s the brand plummeted during the 90′s before resigning themselves to a price-based alternative to the leaders of the pack. Now, Little Caesar’s is the “cheap” pizza, the $5 pizza that you might pick up after shopping at the grocery store. Most of them do not deliver anymore. It’s just too costly to deliver a brand that is proven NOT to compete well with the other top delivery brands. You know, the ones who were working on their selling points all that time Little Caesar’s was still working on a cartoon persona and selling on the idea of price.

I’m not saying Little Caesar’s hasn’t secured a nice little third or fourth place for themselves. They have. But for how long?

Why did Little Caesar’s fail to take it to the next level with their actual service? Growth at any cost. Fast dollar signs. Those little cartoon dollar signs were just too overwhelming for a young brand to pass up. After all, Little Caesar’s was founded on price. The first slogan, and the only one remembered, “Pizza! Pizza!”, is itself a call to cheapskates looking to save a buck or two on pizzas for the family instead of cooking after a long day of shopping. Two pizzas for the price of one!

Part of the reason that the little chain lost much of it’s momentum is due to the shrinkage of the market. It just didn’t grow with all the options available to eat better, and reasonably. How could the little brand that could have taken it to the next level? Well, by focusing more on “Quality! Quality!” or “Delivery! Delivery!” from the start. Ultimately, however, uniqueness is the only lasting power for any brand. That’s fine, if you’re shooting for third in your category. It’s just that they’ve set a very precarious position for themselves balancing on that beam in the parking lot. One slip on price and they’re done.

The same holds true for social media brands. For a social media brand like Zappos to be a lasting one, there should be a focus on being unique, not just cheap. Their slogan? “Powered by Service.” That leaves them some leeway when times are tough and price, for instance, isn’t going to be enough. Cheapskates are pretty good at finding the real deal.

Likewise, social media stunts may wow the crowd in the moment, but they lose their appeal after competitors pick up on the gag. It takes doing something that others can’t do to make it a lasting fling with the social media consumer. After all, it’s still media. More reflexive, less static, but still just media. So whatever you sell or provide, you should be taking it to the consumer with something they can’t get anywhere else, ultimately. It should be something that is part of you, that can’t be duplicated. Something ingrained in your personality itself. Something you have to give.

Photo Credit

Mark BrimmMark Brimm is Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Marcana.com and is author of AdWords University: The Complete Guide to AdWords and other previous related books on search marketing. He is currently working on a forthcoming book on social media strategy.

Mark consults on SEO & SEM, general web marketing and social media at Interface Communications Group where he is Partner and Director of Digital Marketing. Some of his specialties include SEO (search engine optimization), social media optimization (SMO), as well as PR campaign concepts, marketing plans and general web marketing related project management. Mark is married and currently resides in Houston, TX.


About Mark Brimm

Mark Brimm is President of 123interface.com, the Founder of Marcana.com, and runs a personal blog on social media, marketing and entrepreneurship at MarkBrimm.com. He also runs a blog on SEO & SEM at SEMinsider.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/jckhewitt JC Hewitt

    I enjoyed the historical perspective on this.

    If you compete on price, you only have two directions that you can move. If it's attached to something else, then you have more flexibility.

    In this case, their entire brand was locked up in what probably should have been a temporary promotion. Clearly, the market for “cheap pizzas” has been taken over by supermarket frozen pizzas. Those companies don't have to spend as much on labor, real estate, and so on, so they can provide cheaper pizza.

  • http://www.marcana.com Mark Brimm

    It's like with car rental companies. Like Al Ries wrote in Focus, Avis banked their future brand on being number 2, just so that people would know that they were the place to go to for a cheaper price than the top dog. Later on, of course, Budget, Thrifty and a number of other price brands exist and can compete on visibility. The Internet makes it all to easy to shop for price for anything, including car rental deals. While Avis did gain in name recognition during that time, and while they did establish a reputation with older consumers as being the cheaper choice, too often those same branded customers turn away for a cheaper price from an upstart with weaker branding.

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