ambush marketing

Risks Reap Rewards!

Most people like to play it safe, but personally I’m a big fan of taking risks. And so is Executive Chef and owner of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal. After all, it was taking a risk that propelled him to superstardom.

Liquorice salmon. Snail porridge. Quail jelly. These aren’t your average run of the mill dishes, but he took a risk believing the public would develop an appetite for them. And he was right. The Fat Duck has been ranked one of the Top 5 Restaurants globally since 2004, and claimed top spot in 2005.

In Heston’s case, a calculated risk reaped huge dividends. The same applies in marketing. Let’s take an iconic Messages On Hold image – the yellow hands at AFL matches.

Our Managing Director, Kym Illman, knew it would be a risk ‘ambushing’ each game with his big yellow hands behind the goals. And sure enough he was right. (Once he was evicted from the ground!) Yes there was negative press, but he was able to go on radio and explain his motivation, ironically securing more free exposure at the same time.

You could think of it as a cost-benefit analysis. Is the potential reward greater than the risk? In our case yes. On one hand paying sponsors were upset, and there was some expected backlash from fans and viewers. But we were getting the Messages On Hold brand out to a national audience for the price of admission.

In the end we came to an agreement with West Coast that’s mutually beneficial. In fact – we’ve been a proud official sponsor for the last 20 years.

We’ve all heard this one before – “look before you leap”. But no one ever said you couldn’t leap at all! If you’ve done your research, weighed up the pros and cons and are prepared to take a risk, go with your gut! Next week we’ll take a look at how to manage any potential fallout.

– Magnus

Coming Back For MOH

Targa events are full of thrills and spills – I should know! I misread a corner during Targa Tasmania at 190km/hr and flew 35 meters into a paddock and copped a slap on the wrist for some colourful decals. Both of these events made for some great PR and set tongues wagging.

Despite not finishing Targa Tasmania and torturing the poor Messages On Hold Evo, the paddock crash was by far the most successful. At least in terms of brand awareness it was. To date, the video of the crash has had 130,000+ views! It also boosted the number of subscribers to my YouTube Channel.

kymTarga West, I hope to achieve the same success. Obviously I can’t keep crashing out and wrecking the Evo – that’d be lunacy! So what I have planned is something very special for subscribers to my YouTube Channel… something that will keep them coming back. Curious? Well, I can’t tell you much about it because I’ve been sworn to secrecy but what I can say is that it’ll happen in the first 8 seconds of each video and the first one will involve a distinct lack of clothing.

Why am I doing this? To increase sales at Messages On Hold. It’s small ideas like this that cost next to nothing to do but keep our company name at the forefront of people’s minds and that always translates into dollars.

I’ll be uploading footage onto our YouTube Channel after each day of Targa West. Click here to subscribe – even if it’s only to view the first 8 seconds of each video – the fun part.

Smile – You’ve Just Been Ambushed!

For years I’ve been a devotee of getting the Messages On Hold logo exposed throughout the media without paying for it. We’ve ambushed AFL games, Ashes Cricket test matches, Wimbledon, live news broadcasts, even the Olympics. The result? Hundreds of thousands of dollars of free media exposure.
But isn’t there a risk of upsetting people with this cheeky (never illegal) form of marketing? Sure. After all, this sort of marketing can polarise people. Some love it, some hate it, most notice it and then get on with life – it’s no big deal.
I’m never going to do business with everyone. So why should I worry about alienating a small segment of the market. So many business people spend their lives treading the safe line, making sure they don’t do or say anything that might cause offence or gain unwanted attention.
Messages On Hold has always been “out there” and those who do business with us tend to love that sort of brash attitude. I remember when we ambushed Tim Gossage in the betting ring a minute prior to the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Glenn Wilson held up a Messages On Hold sign over Tim’s shoulder, not an easy task (he’s about 6’5″ tall). The phones went berserk. We must have received 40 calls from outraged viewers. I think we even lost a client over it. However, half the country saw that logo and focused on my business for 15 seconds.
“Would you give up a $2,000/year client in return for $50,000 worth of national exposure?” Is it ethical? That’s for you to decide. I can’t make the media expose my business, but if the opportunity presents itself and I don’t take advantage of it, more fool me.