Plain Thoughts Blog

on marketing, media and communication

It’s About Time: Thoughts on Teaser Marketing

By peterurban - August 5th, 2009


Finally after weeks, perhaps even months, I can eat and sleep comfortably once more. Finally I can go throughout my day and not break down into a blubbering mess due to critical levels of mental anguish. Finally I can drive from point A to B without having to pull over on the side of the road and contemplate the meaning of my life. Finally… I know what the “August 5″ campaign in Edmonton signifies.

Metaphysical life-altering experiences aside, Edmonton’s Southgate mall recently finished an interesting marketing campaign to generate some buzz about their grand re-opening after substantial renovations. Featuring new stores, new physical outlay and a “new feel,” Southgate created a marketing plan to gain new shoppers and align itself as a legitimate competitor to the monolith that is West Edmonton Mall. How you ask? By simply posting signs around the city that said no more then “August 5″.


Southgate's re-opening campaign had Edmontonian's wondering: "What the heck is happening on August 5th?"

Teaser marketing campaigns (definitely not something new or indigenous to Edmontonians) play off of and manipulate the innate human characteristic of needing to understand what is going on. By strategically providing only small pieces of information regarding the actual event/product, advertisers hope to stir up the most powerful marketing tool: word of mouth. In this case, mission accomplished. After only weeks of seeing the signs around the city, I heard numerous mentions of the campaign from all kinds of sources, ranging from newspaper and radio to simple banter between friends. People were agitated by knowing absolutely nothing about something they drove past every day and as a result they spread the campaign around the city for Southgate (at no extra cost).

Probably the most documented case of teaser marketing in recent memory was the 2007-2008 campaign for the movie Cloverfield. Movie advertisements featuring only a shaky camera and a single passing glance of a gigantic monster attacking a city caught people’s attention, but by not mentioning a movie title, release date, or any sort of information that would help the viewers figure out what they just saw, the advertisements caused everyone in the theatre look at each other and wonder out loud “what was that?” They added to this fantastic viral campaign with a website that gave out almost less information then the movie previews but featured videos and puzzles alluding to a post-apocalyptic world, creating more hype towards whatever the hell it was that advertisers were planning on releasing.

The catch to teaser marketing is that with added hype comes higher expectations. After toying with their emotions (as my fragile psyche would suggest) the consumer expects to find a light at the end of the tunnel that really blows them away. Anything less than that and the promoter can face anything ranging from apathy to resentment, severely damaging any hype they had created. Cloverfield did amazing out of the gates, but kind of tapered off by leaving some people expecting more explanation from the promoters as the storyline didn’t finish on a solid note. Southgate attempted to add to their re-opening by hiring performers but, from what I’ve gathered, the event left a few people saying “that’s it?” The teaser campaign can be an incredibly effective tool at drumming up publicity, but due to the hightened expecations a promoter needs to sit down and determine if their product is worthy of the hype.

Tease me all you want, but you’d better have something that’s worth my

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