50yardline.jpgThe Super Bowl is coming soon and with it we can expect a variety of eye-popping television commercials designed to capture our attention and provide advertisers a spike in sales activity. The bar is raised every year to see which brands demonstrate the most creativity or controversy. In parallel, the price of the opportunity is rising as well. Thirty seconds of air time will come at the job-risking cost of an estimated $4 million, up from $3.8 million last year.

The return on investment for Super Bowl ads always seems a topic of hot debate around this time of year. Yet, for consumer products marketers -- regardless of season -- the mass media ad buy remains a staple in the constant effort to differentiate and grow sales even a few tenths of a percent.

Consumers are simply becoming ever more price conscious while at the same time manufacturers face competition from retail private labels and rising input costs. The squeeze is on for marketing to step up and perform, as demonstrated by news out of Unilever recently.

The Digital Fix

Meanwhile, all things digital have swept over the consumer packaged goods industry landscape, even while brands cling to the alluring reach offered by television. So in parallel to mass media, marketers have agencies and consultants acting on their behalf executing web, email, mobile and social marketing campaigns. For companies like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, ConAgra and Kraft, the scale of these efforts across their brands, agencies and consumer channels is considerable, if not completely intimidating.

Think Direct Branding

Brand marketers succeeding today despite down economies characterized by price sensitive consumers recognize the opportunity to marry the brand storytelling exemplified in mass media with direct response marketing principles. You could characterize this convergence as “direct branding” or an intersection of two marketing ideologies which provides brands and their agencies with a flexible and measurable storytelling platform.

It’s a different way of thinking about digital marketing that helps understand how both new and established methods of influencing consumers can work together, and not necessarily be an “either / or” proposition. Taking this hybrid approach enables: