In recent years, there has been a lot of hype around “big” data in the marketing world. Big data is extremely helpful with gathering quantitative information about new trends, behaviors and preferences, so it’s no wonder companies invest a lot of time and money sifting through and analyzing massive sets of data. However, what big data fails to do is explain why we do what we do. “Thick” data fills the gap. Thick data is qualitative information that provides insights into the everyday emotional lives of consumers. It goes beyond big data to explain why consumers have certain preferences, the reasons they behave the way they do, why certain trends stick and so on. Companies gather this data by conducting primary and secondary research in the form of surveys, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, videos and other various methods. Ultimately, to understand people’s actions and what drives them to your business (or not), you need to understand the humanistic context in which they pursue these actions. It’s crucial for successful companies to analyze the emotional way in which people use their products or services to develop a better understanding of their customers. By using thick data, companies can develop a positive relationship with their customers and it becomes easier for those companies to maintain happy customers and attract new ones. Big data will tell you that in 2013, Samsung was able to sell 35 million more smartphones than Apple. But what can these companies really do with this data? Pat themselves on the back or hang their heads in shame? If you are in the market for a smartphone, you’re not going to buy a Samsung because they sold 35 million more than Apple. As a customer, you probably don’t even know this information. You may, however, buy a Samsung because they offer a multitude of models that you can customize to your preferences, and Apple’s product line is less diverse. Or perhaps you won’t buy an Apple smartphone because it’s not quite as durable, or they don’t have as wide a selection of phone colors as Samsung. Using thick data to figure out why more people are buying from Samsung is key for both companies to move forward and either keep dominating the market, or reinvent to gain dominance. At its core, business is about making bets on human behavior, and those bets backed by thick data are what business models should be based around. Take for example Lego, a successful company that was near collapse in the early 2000’s because they lost touch with their customers. After failed attempts to reposition the company with action figures and other concepts, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of the Danish Lego firm, decided to engage in a major qualitative research project. Children in five major global cities were studied to help Lego better understand the emotional needs of children in relation to legos. After evaluating hours of video recordings of children playing with legos, a pattern emerged. Children were passionate about the “play experience” and the process of playing. Rather than the instant gratification of toys like action figures, children valued the experience of imagining and creating. The results were clear; Lego needed to go back to marketing its traditional building blocks and focus less on action figures and toys. Today, Lego is once again a successful company, and thick data proved to be its savior. While it’s impossible to read the minds of customers, thick data allows us to be closer than ever to predicting the quirks of human behavior. The problem with big data is that companies can get too caught up in numbers and charts and forget the humanistic reality of their customers’ lives. As this Wall Street Journal article puts it, “By outsourcing our thinking to Big Data, our ability to make sense of the world by careful observation begins to wither, just as you miss the feel and texture of a new city by navigating it only with the help of a GPS”. This is not to say big data is useless. It is a powerful and helpful tool companies should invest in. However, companies should also invest in gathering and analyzing thick data to uncover the deeper, more human meaning of big data. Together, thick data and big data give you an incredibly insightful advantage. -Jess Cook
We were lucky enough to have our two interns Hannah and Dana stay on with us through both fall and spring semesters. Since starting at BIGfish in September, they’ve helped us execute countless projects by writing press releases, pitches, blog and social media posts and helping us plan events. We will certainly miss having Hannah and Dana in the office and we wish them the best! Read on to find out what they’ve learned during their time at BIGfish, what they’re most proud of, and what advice they have for future interns. Dana Harvey Hometown: Bayside, NY College: Boston College, Class of 2014 Major: Political Science What you’re most proud of from your time at BIGfish: I am most proud of my growth throughout my time at BIGfish. Being a Political Science major I did not come to BIGfish with a lot of communications experience, but I came with a love of writing and research paired with an eagerness to learn. The account team at BIGfish was very willing to train me and offer advice along the way. I found it very helpful to be able to write press releases, pitches, and blog posts, in addition to preparing media lists and assisting in the planning of events. Benefits of extending your internship: In extending my internship I was able to monitor our clients and their industries over my winter break in order to enter the second semester with a fresh perspective. In addition, it was great being familiar with the BIGfish team and with our clients, which allowed me to jump right into my work. Advice to future BIGfish interns: I would say that it is important to show your willingness and eagerness to learn. In a small agency there are always tasks to get done, so there are always opportunities to help out. In addition, don’t be shy when sharing your ideas with the account team. During brainstorming sessions it is really helpful to have new and innovative ideas for clients. Where you’d like to be in 5 years: In five years I would like to be working at a PR agency. Anything else? I am grateful to have been able to work and grow at BIGfish this school year. I found that the BIGfish account team was always willing to share their breadth of knowledge with me and to help me improve my PR skills. I can honestly say that I am walking away well prepared for my post-graduate career. Hannah Duffy Hometown: Washington, NJ College: Boston College, Class of 2014 Major: Communication; Applied Psychology and Human Development What you’re most proud of from your time at BIGfish: I’m proud of my growth and improvement while at BIGfish, specifically in my writing skills. My writing has become much sharper from the frequent writing of press releases, blog posts, pitches, tweets, articles, and more. Benefits of extending your internship: When I returned to BIGfish for my second semester, I hit the ground running. I already knew the clients, office environment, and expectations, so I was able to learn and grow more quickly. Advice to future BIGfish interns: Take initiative: Offering to help out with tasks that may not be assigned to you helps the team and helps you learn. Ask questions: Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge in this office. The team is extremely experienced and talented, so don’t be afraid to ask about their experiences. Get to know the clients: In my time here, I ended up feeling really invested in our clients. I found myself checking my email on my off days, checking to see how a Kickstarter campaign was going, or looking at what press hits came in. Explore each client to discover what kinds of industries interest you most. Where you’d like to be in 5 years: Working at a PR agency in Boston. Anything else? I feel lucky to have found such an educational, valuable, and fun internship. My experience at BIGfish has helped prepare me for the PR world that I’m excited to enter post-graduation!
For the last few months, Will Ferrell fully immersed himself in his character, Ron Burgundy, and traveled all over the country to appear in Dodge advertisements, anchor local newscasts, conduct interviews on ESPN, commentate Canadian curling, appear on Conan, and even hold a press conference at Emerson College. If you didn’t see Burgundy’s stunts, then you read about them, heard friends talking about them, or learned about them on the news. It seems nearly everyone in North America was aware that “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” was scheduled to be released on December 18, 2013.
In an age when consumers fast forward through commercials, scroll past banner ads and click through popups, some good PR and a little creativity can go a long way. Director of the film, Adam McKay, estimates the campaign is worth at least $20 million in free publicity, according to Entertainment Weekly. However, while the campaign meant everything for awareness, it didn’t necessarily produce the results you’d expect. The sequel’s three-day weekend total of $26.8 million pales in comparison to the original’s $28 million in 2004. Additionally, the new film’s five-day total of $40 million is still less than the original’s $46 million, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Perhaps the low numbers are a result of a poor product. The New York Times writes: “‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ is in danger of being overshadowed by its own marketing campaign.” When searching “Anchorman 2” on Twitter, the suggested searches are: “Anchorman 2 quotes” and “Anchorman 2 terrible.” If your product is “terrible” consumers aren’t going to buy it, regardless of how well it’s marketed, advertised and promoted.
Others believe that the campaign pushed too hard and consumers grew weary of Burgundy before the film was even released. The Week published an article that discusses “How nonstop marketing killed my buzz for Anchorman 2” and suggests that Ron Burgundy was not an ideal character to lend himself to discuss real news stories. But as a professional marketer who’s always trying to gain exposure for clients, I can’t imagine saying “okay, I think that’s enough coverage” and letting up. John Greenstein, chief marketing officer at Paramount, led the campaign and said, “My job as a marketer is to want as much of the right exposure as possible because we believe in this movie so much and we believe in this character and we believe in these filmmakers.”
If you ask me, Greenstein did his job. He generated buzz about the sequel and gave people something to talk about. Although ticket sales weren’t impressive, the Anchorman 2 marketing campaign did wonders for awareness and blazed a trail for creative movie marketing. Still, the film will be in theatres for another few weeks and ticket sales could fare better in the long run - or perhaps movie rentals and DVD purchases will prove more promising. It’ll be interesting to see if and how movie marketers use some of the same tactics from this campaign in the future.
What did you think of the Anchorman 2 marketing campaign? Did you go see the film? What would you have done differently if you were promoting the movie?