The McDonaldization of BP. The key to McD’s marketing strategy is to get them when they’re young, and then have life long customers. In 2007 BP decided to follow their lead as we’ll see…
McD’s (“clown food”) isn’t even very good by fast food standards. With the exception of their fries, it can be hard to imagine how much of any of their ‘burgers’ are able to compete with the likes of Burger King, Hardee’s, etc. Yet year after year McClown’s manages to stay #1.
How do they do it? Brand loyalty, installed during youth, via jungle gym playlands that feature space shuttles, emotional gimmickry with “Happy Meals” and toys, a cast of characters seemingly modeled after Sesame Street, kiosk game stations that feature next-gen game system free to play, custom Megatouch machines built into the wall set on freeplay, and so on.
Now as far as I know, hardly ever going into BP, they haven’t gone as far as Megatouch games built into the walls. However, they’ve still opted to market directly to kids in order to gain unwitting lifelong customers. McClown’s does the same, and when the kids grow up many remain faithful customers not even knowing why.
McClown’s is the pinnacle of this sort of Brainwash Marketing, but the fact is BP has taken on that marketing strategy no less.
Perhaps you’re different and pay attention to which company you buy your gas from. BP certainly hopes so: They’re spending about $35 million on this worldwide campaign for their service stations (or “retail network”). BP head of marketing Ann Hand acknowledges that the classic industry research says people choose stations mostly because of location or price, but adds that BP’s tracking studies show some brand awareness does exist. “This campaign is the next step,” she says. “Can we build more brand loyalty? Would you cut across traffic, or go a block out of your way?” www.slate.com…
A few years ago a friend who watches TV told me about the commercials. Sure enough I found them on their website. Later I stopped in a BP anf found their playbook – activity set complete with collectible cards of their cast of cartoon characters.
I asked the attendant about the customer response to the activity set, and as I suspected he said that kids love the playsets and nag parents to stop in at BP. I had forgotten all about it for a long time until recently, and then I remembered that I still have the propaganda activity set.
Marketers plant the seeds of brand recognition in very young children, in the hopes that the seeds will grow into lifetime relationships. According to the Center for a New American Dream, babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. Brand loyalties can be established as early as age two, and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.
While fast food, toy and clothing companies have been cultivating brand recognition in children for years, adult-oriented businesses such as banks and automakers are now getting in on the act.
Magazines such as Time, Sports Illustrated and People have all launched kid and teen editions—which boast ads for adult related products such as minivans, hotels and airlines.
Seven-year-old Marley loves Happy Meals from McDonald’s. She used to get Chicken McNuggets, but now she chooses a cheeseburger to go with her fries and Sprite. Her father, Patrick, is a chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, but Marley prefers McDonald’s to his cooking. After a trip to McDonald’s, Marley eagerly surfs onto McWorld.com, where she can enter a code from her meal to get a “behind-the-scenes look at iCarly,” a kids’ TV show (boys can use their code for a Star Wars promotion).
Patrick pulled the plug on his television a few months ago, in part to shield his two young daughters from advertising, but the McDonald’s marketing execs have reached Marley all the same. Because he’s health- and environmentally-conscious, Patrick does not take her to McDonald’s often, but after a long day of school and extra-curricular activities, sometimes a little nagging is all it takes for Marley to convince her dad that she’s hungry now and only food served at a drive-thru will do.
“We’re relying on the kid to pester the mom to buy the product, rather than going straight to the mom.” -Barbara A. Martino, Advertising Executive
“Brand marketing must begin with children. Even if a child does not buy the product and will not for many years… the marketing must begin in childhood.” -James McNeal, The Kids Market, 1999 www.media-awareness.ca…