Facebook, Bras and Colored Water

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Facebook and brand marketing. It’s becoming more and more evident that the two terms are becoming synonyms. This week we saw a couple of interesting marketing campaigns associated with Facebook’s social network: one to raise awareness for breast cancer and another to advertise Vitamin Water’s new flavor.

The effort to virally raise awareness about breast cancer took place directly on Facebook, asking users to update their status with the color of their bra. The Vitamin Water promotion featured a new flavor called Connect. This new flavor is in fact named for Facebook’s network, with the bottles featuring descriptions of commonly used Facebook terms, such as untagging and friend requests. While the two promotions cover the physical and virtual arenas for marketing, they still have the Facebook network in common.

Facebook itself will certainly be relied upon for making both campaigns successful. Vitamin Water can drive a lot of traffic back to its own Facebook Fan Pages and Groups by naming one of its flavors after the top social networking site. Tying the social aspects of your personal life with the type of water you drink is a unique take on traditional marketing for real products. In that sense, it takes advertising in a new direction.

For the Vitamin Water promo in particular, I wonder at the potential for future brands to consider similar methods. It’s not the first time Vitamin Water bridged traditional campaigns with social networking–socially integrated apps have asked consumers to help think up new flavors, and the water company has also worked with MySpace on a flavor as well.

Yet such interconnected branding gives a number of opportunities for advertisers and Facebook to work together on future promos and have more tie-ins with virtual goods. Making the physical product more social may better convert into a virtual product being more social, letting marketers bring their campaigns full circle.

It may seem to be a strange tactic, but it could prove successful with continued iterations from a number of participating brands. The breast cancer awareness campaign, however, succeeded primarily in one area–numbers.

The number of people that updated their Facebook status to read as the color of their bra were quite numerous, but lot of other users were simply left scratching their heads. Some users, unaware of the meaning behind the color status updates, merely jumped on the bandwagon, adding their own snarky comments. Having such an unorganized approach to a viral marketing effort can backfire, especially in a time where its expected that brands know a little more about directing social media campaigns.

Looking at the two campaigns this week, one may wonder at the success rate of social media marketing. Is the “old” way of marketing headed out the door, and will we see more cooperative efforts between Facebook and other big brands? And will more big brands begin marking their products with Facebook to quickly reach a broad demographic and redirect attention back to an online setting?

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Facebook marketing–and all social media marketing–is undergoing some major changes in 2010. As advertisers assess the data from their social media marketing dabbles of the past year, many companies are reinvesting into online ads and allocating less of their budget to television and radio. That means even more creative ways of combining our real lives with our online profiles will emerge in the coming months. What will really gauge the success of these furthered efforts will be the consumer response to such involved marketing efforts.

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