Tuesday, April 6

Baffling Gawker: Classic Marketing Company

Gawker doesn't get it, and you might not either. Classic Marketing Company spent an estimated $107,075 to run a full-page "press release" in The New York Times.

It's not a great press release. It's only the typical boiler plate kind that says a whole lot of nothing, right down to the quote.

“SWS was selected because it has the marketing and sales expertise needed to position our brands for their continued growth," says Joe Ballin, president and CEO of Classic Marketing Company, before the release devolves into an inauthentic marketing pitch. "Fragoli is a unique, first of its kind beverage alcohol product that allows women to spoil themselves with something truly extravagant!"

There is so much wrong with the release that I'd need another post to correct it. Today, we'll just stick to the big picture.

How To Make Bad Marketing Worse With Logic.

Simple logic is the likely culprit in buying what Gawker calls the world's most expensive press release. And while we're very interested to learn if Joe Ballin, president and CEO of Classic Marketing Company, ever responds to their inquiry, it's easy enough to speculate.

At some point, press releases issued by Classic Marketing Company probably outperformed ads. So, for someone, it was easy to conclude that the release would be more effective than the ad in The New York Times. And there you have it.


Many marketing decisions fail because they are based on erroneous conclusions. And, while this is speculative, we've seen some marketers follow the same decision making path for decades. Here's our educated guess.

First, nobody asked whether the ad is effective. In this case, the answer is no. Sure, some beverage companies believe they can follow the fashion brand ad path with sexed up big product shots, but liqueurs need some help. People need to know what to do with them. This is why the Mud Slide is as well known as Kahlua coffee liqueur.

Second, the company completely misses its target audience. It places ads in wrong publications. And, the image of a woman biting the neck of the bottle would probably appeal more to men than women. Unfortunately, this product probably appeals to only a very small segment of men. It's also a stretch to think men would buy a liqueur to spoil their women.

Third, the press success was likely based on random pick ups and search engine ranking. Some pubs ran the full release for filler, and several probably picked up the only graph or two that constituted news. In the spirits distribution business, Southern Wine & Spirits has a strong brand. Classic Marketing Company, not so much. The pick up would be news to someone.

At the end of the day, the poorly thought out advertisement was outpaced by the poorly written release based on measuring reach over outcomes. And thus, someone allowed the release to take center stage in The New York Times. And, what do you know, it is getting exposure (for all the wrong reasons).

There is only one saving grace for the marketing ploy that misses on every level. It allows Southern Wine & Spirits to tell bar owners that Classic Marketing Company has invested in a campaign that includes The New York Times. So, they ought to buy a bottle or two for some rainy day when a patron might ask for it by name. After all, nobody likes a bar that can't deliver a drink.

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