Buick was one of the sponsors of NCAA March Madness this year, giving them a strong advantage in available marketing space. In order to effectively capitalize on this advantage, however, Buick was still faced with the classic quandary in advertising – how to make their marketing not only known, but stand out above the competition. In the modern era of advertising, this competition is not just with companies within the same field. Buick may be an automobile company, but in the highly saturated March Madness advertising market, Buick’s advertising and marketing agency had to compete with every other advertiser for the finite attention of the consumer. Buick was not only competing with Infiniti — the only other automotive corporate partner of March Madness — but the likes of Coca Cola, AT&T and Oreo.
Buick’s advertising and marketing agency was posed with this critical issue: “How can an auto company compete with other products and services during basketball?” Retail, food and alcohol companies have an easy time because everyone wants to enjoy a delicious snack such as Reese’s or refreshing cold beverage while watching the game in a Nike sweatshirt with a team logo on it. Those companies already had a built-in demand tailored into the event. A car company would have to work harder for the attention of March Madness fans during a game because, as most Americans would agree, commercials get in the way of watching Basketball. The challenge was to create brand relevance during an event where people may not be thinking about your product or service.
Buick’s advertising and marketing agency came up with a brilliant solution to the problem. In order to maximize impact and generate an appreciable ROI, companies need to create a campaign that sticks in the mind of the consumer and to generate organic growth through creating market buzz. Buick needed to create a clever tagline and their advertising and marketing agency delivered in spades with their rendition of the “Boss Button”.
The idea is simple. At some point or another, we have all been on the computer at work looking at something we probably shouldn’t’t be at while our employer is paying us, right? Some of us have had to resort to a tricky move like keeping a webpage open that looks like “work” in case the boss walks by. Quickly and discretely we can click the other page and BAM! It looks like work is being done. Well, unfortunately checking on your March Madness brackets or streaming games at work is probably not the best use of company time and equipment. The Boss Button is the Panic Button for March Madness fans.
Originally developed by CBS’s marketing and advertising agency in 2006, Buick cleverly created a two-prong advertising tie-in. Buick decided to take advantage of this chicanery and develop the Boss Button. Clicking on Buick’s version of the Boss Button wouldn’t take the user to a boring excel spreadsheet like the original CBS version. It did take the user to a screen full of stats, but they were Buick stats! Now the user of the Boss Button was exposed to what Buick really wanted in the first place — the reasons why Buick is the next car they should buy.
This is good and effective advertising. The visible promotion is not for Buick cars. It is a sophisticated advertising campaign that relies on advertising without advertising, so to speak.
Buick’s Boss Button strategy, then, was able to do two things. It utilized a successful technique to reach the suspicious public and it created brand relevance to March Madness where there wasn’t any. By using the old “hide what you’re doing from your boss” gag, Buick was able to create a rapport with potential customers. Even if an audience member wasn’t looking to buy a car, the button was fun to look at and subconsciously got them thinking about Buick. In psychology, this is known as “psychological rapport”, or rapport which is sneaky, for lack of a better word. Essentially what Buick’s advertising and marketing agency did with the Boss Button was say “Hey, we know you’re watching the game at work, so here’s a button to hide it from your boss! We’re Buick; we’re looking out for you!” Again, this is genius.
Whether it was a result of the Boss Button or clever advertising in other commercials, The Elite 8 and National Championship game showed a dramatic increase in purchase consideration in Buick autos (the Enclave primarily). For the National Championship game, consideration was up 122%! This is an astounding increase, even for a major televised event!
For a brief report on Psychological Rapport and how it is used in business click here.