Atlatnta Integrative Marketing Summit Recap

I attended the Atlanta Integrative Marketing Summit (AIMS) the other week. I know I have been meaning to post this, but haven’t actually sat down and made myself type. Well, it’s Thanksgiving day and while waiting for the food to be done, I decided to type a few blog entries.

I really liked the speakers this year and they ranged from Corporate to Agency people. It was great got see both sides and how they view marketing. I learned a great deal at the conference. The attendance wasn’t as big as last year, but I think the quality of speaker improved this year.


The first speaker was Michael Cerill, Integrated Marketing & Brand Strategy for Navistar. The case he presented was about how to reinvigorate a mature brand. They wanted to revitalize their trucking business and set out to do it. They accomplished it by doing some amazing things. The basics of the talk was:

Craft a Bold Vision

  • Navistar creating a brand new truck never before seen accomplished this. The truck was redesigned to catch attention and the campaign was built around it.
  • A listening tour was conducted to get consumer research
  • The organization needed a change and react to a redefining market
  • New Ideas had to be bold, confident and innovative

Base Decisions on Customer Insights

  • Customers were consulted and they found out what exactly they wanted in a truck. Then they took that information and built a truck.
  • They came up with style, comfort and fuel efficiency out of these talks.

Drive passion at every touch point.

  • Created a trucker advocate
  • Created a documentary “Bring the Pride Back to Trucking”
  • Reinvented the Trade Show – This included going to the Chicago Auto Show, which is not a trucking industry event. The spill over got them mainstream press
  • Created a blog, Life on the Road, which is run by an industry expert.
  • Teamed up with Harley Davidson to create a special edition truck

The results of the campaign are that they had a 15-22% market share that is expected to grow to 25% the end of 2009. It was really great to see how a mature brand can reinvent itself and come back stronger then before.

Voce CommunicationsSony Playstation


The next speaker was Josh Hallett, New Media Strategies at Voce Communications. He spoke specifically on the Sony Playstation and how they came back from a major blunder in social media that happened to Sony and the release of the PSP.

The blunder was that Sony created a blog for the Sony PSP portable gaming device. It was written like it was two teens, but turned out to be two Sony employees. The backlash was instant. Most consumers felt betrayed and didn’t trust the brand.

Josh was faced with the task of turning consumer opinions around and making Sony a player in the gaming social media world. So here is what they did:

  • Created a new blog for Sony’s Gaming Ventures
  • The purpose was to involve the community
  • Started posting about the CES Trade Show, which comments started to come in, and continued posting relevant content.
    • Developed a commenting process called redlining in the WordPress blogging platform
    • This allowed the team to comment on any comment right where it was rather then having it buried on at the bottom of the page.
    • The redline process allowed them to talk directly to readers and have other readers see the answer
    • Now, they have said reader’s look for these red lines when reading comments. The more redlines the more readers and comments they receive
    • This function is now standard in the WordPress platform its called Author reply.
    • Engaging Readers
      • Constantly doing Polls
      • Quick updates – the top area of the blog which gives readers quick info.
      • Have the social media easy to find under the Find Us section.
      • Do 3-5 posts per day
      • Created a separate European blog
      • Measuring social media
        • Delicious reflects participation of readers
        • Viddler – A video sharing site gives you more analytics then YouTube
        • Radiant 6 – measuring share o f voice
        • Measuring social media can be done but it’s a labor-intensive process. I hope to have more about that soon on the blog.

The results were the consumers now trust Sony and it has become one of the most popular gaming sites on the web.

Southwest Airlines


The third speaker was Sally Harberson, from Southwest airlines. Their challenge was flying into NYC. They were launching their service into an already busy market. How could they get their service to stand out, with so many other carriers?

They created the Southwest Porch at Bryant Park in the Southwest corner, of course, where else would it be! The concept had minimal corporate branding.  Craft restaurants, the restaurants by Tom Colicchio of Top Chef, did part of the partnership.  This porch concept became an instant hit of people in NYC. The porch played a major role in the promotion of Southwest.

Traditional Launch tactics were used as well

  • Promotions
  • In Airport Opening festivities
  • Press conference
  • Community service event
  • Partnered with NYSE to ring the opening bell
  • Employee party.
  • Southwest Porch

New Ways of Promotion

  • Blogger relations
  • Nuts About Southwest – Corporate blog
  • Held executive chats at the Porch
  • Had the entire marketing staff work a week in the park just talking to people

The Porch got publicity and partnerships

  • Had artists from Sony Music come play in the park
  • An Ad agency had an event to host potential advertisers
  • Developed a partnership with the Marriott at Bryant Park.
  • Received coverage in Skymall magazine
  • Partnership with Chase Visa
  • Participated in Hispanic Heritage month.
  • People in the area came down from their offices out of curiosity of what was going on.

The Porch was so successful that the porch will be there till 2011, a year longer then the original plan.


The last speaker was David Smith, Chief Creative Officer from RPA. He presented two case studies from Honda. He also talked about media fragmentation and how to engage consumers.

The agency created the Civic Project. The project was to bring together Civic fans. They did this by launching it with no mainstream media purchases. It was done completely with interactive and new media components.

The campaign created six degrees of separation from you and other Civic lovers. The website was very interactive and tied in with Facebook. It was a social site just for Honda lovers. Once signed up they could see how many people they were connected to, in the US and through out the world.

They also created a musical highway in California. When the Civic drove over the road it played the William Tell Overture. This proved so popular that many people drove down it up to 5 times. The city it was built in considered it a nuisance, and repaved the road, but soon found out it was a good tourist draw and recreated it on a less traveled road.

The Honda Brand Campaign consisted of:

  • Don’t be afraid
  • Be Smart
  • Get Emotional
  • There’s something for everyone
  • Its never too late

The campaign solidified the Civic core customers and created a community.

The whole even was a great event and I really enjoyed going. I hope the next one is just as in formative. I also want to say Dr. Ken Berhard from GSU did a great job as moderator. If you are in the Atlanta area next year, GO!

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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