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Rock Star Marketing

Rock Star: INXS uses all Elements of a Perfect Online Marketing Campaign
Seamless synergy of offline & online marketing make CBS's latest reality show a marketing campaign worth taking a closer look at.

By Holly Berkley

The concept behind the new reality show Rock Star: INXS is nothing new. Put a group of 15 strangers in a house together; make them compete and then eliminate them one by one until you're left with the next lead signer of INXS. Think of it as Survivor meets American Idol, but with an edge.

I have to admit, I am one of the few people left who never watches reality TV. So, the fact that I got hooked on this new reality show, made me think about the marketing elements involved and why I can't get it out of my head.

It all started one Monday morning when I logged onto MSN.com (which is my default home page on my computer). Right there, on the top of the page was an animated banner promoting the new show. That night, when I started seeing promotions on TV that matched the banner, I got interested. I watched the first episode, was entertained, but didn't get "hooked" right away. It wasn't until the next morning when I started up my computer again, and there is was, right on the home page of MSN… a recap of Rock Star: INXS, plus all kinds of clickable online marketing elements that took me deeper into the show, its characters, music and energy.

There was nothing low-budget about CBS' co-branded ad buy with MSN. They spared no expense to include all the best elements of online marketing, all in one spot: RockStar.MSN.com. (Although they do also have information about Rock Star: INXS on CBS.com it does not draw you in and make you come back for more the way MSN's version does).

Below is a list of online marketing elements from the RockStar.MSN.com, along with a brief look at how incorporating similar features can maximize your next campaign.

Take advantage of Co-branding for Maximum Exposure
CBS co-branded their reality show with the biggest property on the web: MSN. They combined this by co-branding with an already established, well-known rock band; INXS. Between the two brands, the show was off to a strong start, with built in credibility and reach (MSN technology and traffic) and added interest (Existing INXS fan base).

Whether it's a paid co-branded campaign or not, co-branding works when all parties involved get equal benefit from the partnership. MSN and INXS benefit from the television exposure, while CBS benefits from the technology resources and huge exposure MSN can provide to the online world. It's a win-win situation for all parties.

Use Message Boards & Blogs to Generate New Content
Click on any of the contestant's profile pages and you can find their personal blogs about the previous night's performances, as well as their random thoughts and latest fears. There is also a message board so fans can ask questions and give feedback.
Blogs are an efficient way to keep content fresh, and keep the audience coming back for more. Generating new content for your web site every day can require a tremendous amount of resources. Whenever you can have your customers (or in this case, the contestants) generate content on your web site, it helps make the site interesting as well as sincere.

Encourage Audience Participation

Rock Star: INXS is not the first show to ask the audience to login to their web site or text message their vote. However it is worth mentioning here since it is the ultimate way to create synergy between an offline and an online campaign.

The same idea works with any type of contest or special information that your audience can only get online. The benefits of pushing an offline audience online, is the ability to track their behavior in far more detail than you could in traditional advertising. Once you get a customer to your web site, that's when you can really monitor their activities and find out what they are most interested in. In this case, CBS and MSN will be able to tell which contestants gets the most views, what songs get the most downloads and how the audience feels about the show in general by reviewing the message boards. You just can't get this type of detail from television marketing alone.

Keep Selling
Any well thought-out promotional web site has an element of ecommerce. Log on to RockStar.MSN.com, pull out your credit card, and start browsing through all the songs from the show, available for $0.99 each exclusively on MSN MUSIC. Here you can purchase and download songs performed by your favorite contestant as well as the real version performed by the original artist. You can also click on the "Store" link to view all of the INXS products you could possibly want.

Throughout both the music download area and INXS products area, you can easily click over to more general MSN shopping areas, making this the perfect gateway to keep visitors moving through all channels of MSN.

Don't let visitors ignore your Advertisers
If you forgot to record the performances on TIVO, or just wanted to see your favorite contestants perform again, you can download the videos online. However don't think this gets you out of seeing the television commercials that come with the show. As I downloaded Week 2 performance of Daphna, I had to watch a 30 second Honda commercial first. No fast -forwarding allowed. After all its advertisers like Honda that are footing the bill for all this.

Mobile Marketing
No cutting edge marketing campaign is complete without involving Mobile Marketing in some way. CBS teamed up with Verizon Wireless to offer such gimmicks as INXS ring tones, wall paper and phone video clips. Its worth clicking on the "Wireless Extras" link for an example of some very targeted banner ads and well designed landing pages that encourage fans to keeping clicking.

The Rock Star: INXS online marketing campaign contains all the elements that make me excited about being an online marker. Whether it's co-branding with other web properties, creative blogs or targeted music downloads, the campaign has something to encourage every fan, to get hooked, tell their friend about it and log on for more.


About the Author
Holly Berkley is an author, educator, speaker and professional Internet Marketing Consultant focused on helping businesses increase online sales, strengthen their overall brand, and dramatically boost Web site traffic through proven online marketing concepts. Her first book, Low-Budget Online Marketing for Small Business, was rated a "Must Read!" by Today's Books, and continues to help all size businesses increase Web site traffic and online sales. Learn more about Holly Berkley

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