It’s late night, and the air is thick with humidity and anticipation in Miami’s chic South Beach as a pearlescent Ferrari purrs in front of a nightclub. Hip-hop superstar Flo Rida steps out of the vehicle wearing bejeweled shades that reflect the light and electric energy that pulsates through the crowd. Passing a gauntlet of excited fans, the pop sensation responsible for such number one hits as Low, Right Round, and Whistle, asks, “Have you ever dreamed of being a star?”
In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, that question is, naturally, rhetorical. Flo is there to endorse an extraordinary product called The Beamz, a device that allows anyone to perform music by simply waving his or her hands through beams of laser light. By harnessing the hit-maker’s megawattage to the product, direct marketing innovator Satya Direct hopes to help its marketer rocket to the top of the IMS charts. And while a DRTV spot is an integral part of Satya’s integrated communication plan, it is just the start of a wholistic, unified approach to marketing that recognizes the crucial roles of social and viral media, and their ability to transcend an interruptive advertising model.
At the heart of Satya’s campaign is a “transmedia” storytelling approach that borrows a page from the entertainment world. In simple terms, transmedia strategies tell a story across multiple platforms using cutting-edge digital technologies. In Satya’s view, today’s consumers are active prosumers who opt in and play a dynamic role in the marketing campaigns of the products they use—not only as audience members or prospective buyers, but also as willing developers of content itself, and as potential channels of distribution through social networking.
“We’ve got to provide and inspire content generation that encompasses a full spectrum of media and mediums.”
—Nancy Duitch, co-CEO, Satya Direct
“The lines between direct response and general advertising have blurred to the point where assigning such labels is pointless,” says Satya co-CEO Nancy Duitch, a 30-year veteran of direct marketing and retail who believes that the paradigm for what defines direct marketing success has changed forever. “Today’s prosumer has so many ways to engage with marketers at a time and place they choose that we’re focused on providing content that will draw them in, and that they will want to share with their friends.”
The Beamz is ideally suited for this model, given that it allows users to create original music or remix favorite hits and share the results and collaborate with their friends. “Amid today’s mashup culture where anyone has the potential to be a YouTube celebrity, composer, or DJ, a marketer has to give the prosumer the ability to play a central role,” adds Satya co-CEO Brandee Alessandra. “The Beamz understands this, which is why our campaign is so multifaceted and involves everything from a contest that will culminate with the chance to collaborate with Flo Rida on stage, to an app that enables Beamz users to create music using an iPad or iPhone from anywhere.”
With so many wannabe stars in the constellation, however, Satya knew it needed a hook to break through the limitless media clutter that competes for today’s mindshare. Enter Flo Rida, a hit-making machine at the top of his game with music and a persona that possess broad crossover appeal. Whereas Proactiv graduated up the celebrity scale from its modest beginnings with featured sitcom star Judith Light to secure endorsements from the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry years later, Flo Rida is arguably the hottest A-list celebrity to endorse a direct-marketed product out of the gate. With tens of millions of downloads sold, the artist (whose given name is Tramar Dillard) is poised to become the best-selling rapper of the digital age.
Such heat creates a backdraft that The Beamz intends to capitalize on. “Flo Rida’s endorsement of The Beamz gives us unprecedented credibility that we believe will translate into market and brand awareness—encouraging fans to give The Beamz a try,” says Charles R. Mollo, president and CEO of Phoenix-based Beamz Interactive. “The Beamz truly allows anyone to instantly play music regardless of experience or skill, but we appreciate that for some, that may sound a bit scary. The goodwill and stature that Flo Rida has with the public helps open eyes and minds so that anyone who chooses to can experience the joy of playing and creating music.”