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Weatherproof Marketing with President Obama January 21, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in marketing, Marketing Buzz, Public Relations Strategies.
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Take a look at this photo, which I took on a recent trip to Manhattan.  This billboard was placed in one of the busiest areas in Manhattan and it was hard not to catch this one.  It’s actually two billboards with one canted one way and another facing a slightly different direction.

This billboard has stirred up some contraversey but you can’t be surprised at that.  When was the last time you saw a sitting United States President in an ad for a product?  Of course, the President didn’t wear the Weatherproof jacket just to get a posed shot at the Great Wall of China during his fall 2009 trip there.  Former President’s Clinton and Bush could have been seen using any number of products as well.  Clinton was a runner of sorts, so perhaps the running shoe he used or the running suit he wore was fair game.  Bush (W) likes to mountain bike and surely he likes certain brand of bike for that adventure.

President’s photographed using common products is not a surprise here.   The real surprise is that someone had the guts to make it into a very memorable and media-notable billboard ad.  By ‘media-notable’ I mean ‘viral’.  This caused quite a stir and was noted across the country by all media channels.   And that my friends, is just what the NYC-based jacket company wanted to happen.  Apparently, they are pretty good at creating PR ‘events’ (they are too high profile to call ‘stunts’) in order to garner an amazing amount of free advertising and attention on themselves.

This use of the President in their ad was, from a purely marketing standpoint, perfectly executed.  Even if they knew (which they probably did) that they’d have to take this billboard ad down, they won.  More people heard about this billboard, the jacket, President Obama, and of course, Weatherproof itself.

Of course, this kind of media ‘event’  is not everyone’s cup of tea nor am I recommending that any go out and do this same thing based on the brand of shoes he might be wearing.  What I am pointing out is that this combination of advertising and PR event is very powerful.  The billboard is the advertising and the media storm it created was the PR half.  Just Google or Bing this event and you’ll find a trail of material a mile long.  Just what the marketing doctor ordered.

When Weatherproof got the call from the White House, which asked them to take it down, Weatherproof figured out a way to keep their billboard up for another two weeks.  How did they do that?  They pleaded their case that it would take at least two weeks to put up a new billboard to replace it.  Brillant.  Another two weeks of exposure.

The lesson here:  thinking outside of the box on ways to create media-friendly events that draw attention to your business (in a somewhat positive way of course!) is the name of the game.  For whatever money they spent on that billboard in the middle of mid-town Manhattan, Weatherproof received many times more exposure for its jackets on a NATIONAL basis.  I can only guess that their website generated a lot of activity and will for some time.

Weatherproof Jacket: $599.  Billboard featuring President Obama wearing a Weatherproof Jacket:  Priceless.