Birthdays and Marketing

Today is my birthday. I turn 21 today. And while it doesn’t seem like a different day to you, to me, everything is different. Today even started differently with a happy birthday call from my parents. I opened cards that my friends sent me while staring at the fresh flowers that arrived at my dorm yesterday evening. (If you pause to think about it, birthdays are big business, a hallmark card is about $4! The flowers I got are likely another $40, not including the shipping.) I groaned thinking about having to walk across the street in the pouring down rain to class. Another reminder that today is no different from any other day. I am defiantly not the only to have ‘suffered’ from something like crappy weather on their birthday. Checking my phone I saw that I had two new emails, one from Starbucks and one from Sprinkles. I decided to head to Starbucks after my first class and enjoy a pumpkin spice latte on the house. The baristas wished me happy birthday. I felt special, I bought a pumpkin muffin to go with my free latte.  

If you look online, there are entire websites curated for the specific purpose of birthday freebies. Are these freebies effective? Even if you were not a huge fan of Starbucks would you go and get a drink? Probably yes. If for some reason you were not a fan of cupcakes would you go get a free one from Sprinkles? Also, likely yes. Then the next logical step would be to take a picture and show everyone on Facebook/Twitter the free stuff you got for your birthday.  How much positive publicity does a company get for these freebies? Once I share that, I got a free pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks for my birthday others will ask how they can get freebies too. Starbucks get my friends’ valuable information, including email, common purchases and locations, data that used to cost the company millions of dollars in market research, and we get a five-dollar latte free once a year.

So while the average consumer may take these ‘freebies’ as a gift, we know better. Birthday freebies are a great way to get free positive press for a company along with contributing to a feeling of community; it also brings customers into stores where they may buy something to go along with the birthday freebie. Despite knowing the marketing schemes behind these discounts, I think we are all going to go get a free cupcake from Sprinkles when our birthdays come around.

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Poking at Apple

Microsoft’s Windows Phone crew posted a long advertisement on YouTube that takes a punch at Apple and the two new types of iPhones that the company released last week. The video is called “a fly on the wall in Cuptertino.” If you watch the interesting video above, it shows two fake Apple employees (that are rumored to depict look-a-likes of the real Apple CEO and vice President, Tim Cook and Jony Ive).
This commercial is different from the commercials that Windows usually makes when poking fun at iOS and Android cell phones. In the video, the person who the two employees are pitching their ideas to looks just like Steve Jobs. In the video, it shows the two workers calling the iPhone 5c phones fancy colored names (saying “vermillion,” when it is just pink and “chartreuse” for green). The commercial makes fun of the fact that it took Apple 6 months to create the idea of coming out multi-colored phones.
The commercial then moves on to attack Apple yet again after saying that they created the newer phones out of plastic to save money. The man jokes and says that the company will not tell the customers that they are actually made out of plastic.
Another memorable joke that they use against Apple is regarding the fact that the new iPhone 5s can not come in gold. The man says, “everyone likes gold, pirates, leprechauns and this guy (a random hairy-chested man, which I did not understand why it was meant to be funny).
The video closes with a black backdrop and the hashtag “#timetoswitch” (implying the idea that consumers need to switch from IPhone to the Windows products).
Right after I saw this advertisement, I rolled my eyes at how desperate and embarrassing Microsoft look in this ad. A day after the video was released on YouTube, Microsoft released the statement and said that they intended for the video to be a “light-hearted poke at our friends from Cupertino. But it was off the mark, and we’ve decided to pull it down.”
In my opinion, I think the real reason they removed the video is because they realized from all of the negative comments and feedback from viewers that the video was very poor in creating a funny or good attack at Apple. We all know that these two are really competitive companies, so I expected a lot more from Microsoft.
Although the company took it down, the parody commercial still lives on. I was reading the YouTube comments and one comment that got many likes on the site simply said, “lamest ad ever!” I agree that this was a bad move on Microsoft because they look really stupid at trying to come up with an attack on iPhone and then failed miserably at creating it. If anything, it just makes Apple look better!