Marketing can test tycoons too

By being exemplary in business high-profile entrepreneurs often inspire and motivate people to set up their own companies.

But those tempted to ‘go it alone’ might think twice before single-handedly taking on the marketing side of their business, no matter how lucrative it or they become.

Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin, this month emerged red-faced after a PR stunt to promote his new low-cost airline went painfully wrong.

Having leapt from a 407ft-high casino in Las Vegas, on-scene photographers caught the moment his cable got snagged, causing him to descend to earth in an ungraceful tangle.

The tycoon then agonised his way through a brief speech, before he limped off out of view, rubbing his backside as he went.

And disclosures obtained by a Sunday newspaper claim another of Sir Richard’s marketing stunts has backfired.

Last week he told a US TV show that his new business idea of a Virgin dating agency would be an ideal service for his son.

Musing about Sam, 21, the Virgin daddy reportedly said: “He’s a musician…good-looking, single and available.”

But not so: the Mail on Sunday understands that Sam has been dating actress Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe for almost a year.

Responding to news of apparently being a singleton, he told the paper: “I’m definitely not single. I’m very happy with my girlfriend.”

Another serial entrepreneur - who is already a big noise in the US – also raised eyebrows last week for his remarkable marketing in a New York bookshop.

To launch his new title, Donald Trump gave $100 to the first hundred people through the doors to snap up ‘Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life.’

It remains to be seen whether the strategy will pay off in book sales.

However wider goings-on in marketing increasingly suggest that the 30-second TV spot, a tool which both Trump and Branson have used, is making a comeback.

This is the general verdict of two studies: firstly, Nielsen, an analysis firm, has found that only six per cent of US ‘tube’ watchers skip adverts during the original broadcast of a show.

Although the number of viewers who skip the commercial break was much higher when the broadcast was recorded, a big majority, overall, are happy to sit them out.

Separately, another study of the 30-seocnd spot, specific to the UK, found television produced more lasting results for advertised businesses than any other medium.

Conducted by PwC, the professional services firm, and Thinkbox, commercial TV’s trade body, the study found that almost half the revenue gains attributable to TV ads occurred in the year after the campaign started.

The study examined the impact on businesses in the car, cereal, hair-care, juice and motor insurance industries, and used only a limited amount of data from internet marketing.

However, TV ads emerged as having more longevity in the eyes of consumers than print advertising, which had far fewer benefits to the businesses after 12 months, The Financial Times reported.

Andrew Sharp, of PwC, told the paper that television “delivered value over a much longer time frame than other media,” which was “financially useful” given the benefits to business of owning longstanding brands.”


22nd October 2007

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