Spark pits traditional media vs. social media in Kiwinade launch experiment, calls on businesses to up their digital game

Spark Lab recently pitted social media against traditional advertising in a bid to see which would perform better in launching a product, a drink dubbed Kiwinade, in the local market. 

The idea, conceived by Colenso BBDO, saw a pair of twins, George and Tess, each given $1,500, with one told to use only traditional channels and the other only social media.

“Both twins used the Colenso BBDO office in Ponsonby as a base for their three days of Kiwinade marketing activity,” says Richard Sandford, Spark’s head of business customer and marketing.  

“Social twin George was provided access to the Start Social course [spearheaded by Socialites founder Wendy Thompson]. Traditional twin Tess received some guidance from the Colenso team, but with only $1500 to play with, most traditional media channels (radio, TV, print) were out of scope – as would be the case for a lot of Kiwi SMEs and start-ups.”

This limitation meant the traditional twin relied on flyers, mailbox drops and business cards to spread word of the new product.

The respective campaigns built up to a launch event, during which both participants were required to distribute drinks to attendees drawn in by the advertising.

Sandford says social twin George ended up distributing four times as many Kiwinade drinks as Tess on the day.   

“The experiment was a bit of fun to do,” Sandford says.  “While it wasn’t strictly scientific, the results do give us a pretty interesting indication of how effective social media marketing can be when used in smart ways. The fact that George managed to reach 55,000 potential customers in only three days is impressive and proves social media is a marketing channel that more New Zealand SMEs should be using.”

The aim of the initiative for Spark Lab was to draw attention to the benefits smaller businesses could tap into through social media.

According to new data from Spark Lab’s partner Digital Journey, only 30 percent of New Zealand SMEs have a social media plan and 44 percent of small business owners spend less than one hour a week on their social media platforms.

“This data shows us that social media use is lacking for SMEs, despite these businesses being at an optimum size to easily adapt and trial social media for their marketing communications,” says Sandford. 

This push for social media does, however, come at a time when analysts such as Mark Ritson are raising question marks over businesses should be spending as much as they are on social media. Ritson argues that an over-emphasis on digital advertising can lead to short-termism, which could potentially harm a brand in the long run.

Sandford says he agrees with these sentiments and that there certainly is merit in a mixed marketing model.

“At Spark we still see the value of traditional media to form part of our own marketing strategy, but we’re a large, established company with a very diverse customer base,” he says.  

“For SMEs that haven’t given social media much of a go, this experiment shows there could be huge opportunities for them if they embrace it in smart ways – which is what the Start Social online course can help them do.”

This story originally appeared on StopPress

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