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March 13, 2016
  The Perks & Perils of Piggyback Marketing
Piggyback Marketing

Piggyback Rides, Jump Rope, Bikes and Hide & Seek! ...Stirs up some childhood memories doesn't it? What in the heck does piggybacking have to do with marketing? That's serious business, you say!

Piggyback Marketing is a term used to explain a type of marketing, where one company takes another company's very successful marketing, advertising or branding strategy and references it within their own strategy. The more formal definition: a low cost market entry strategy in which two or more firms represent one another's complementary (but non-competing) products in their respective markets.

An example is the 23 year old tagline "got milk?". Ever since Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners scrawled "got milk?" on a poster board in a meeting, we've seen junk, donuts, wine and Jesus emblazoned in the familiar typeface of "got ____?". Indeed, some of these original campaigns have become such household names that some companies are not even aware that they are piggyback advertising, only that it's "familiar and successful". I say; awareness and knowledge is power, so let's look at the ups and downs of the piggyback approach:

  1. Recognition Ah yes! Your audience is already familiar. And chances are they have laughed, built trust, or the ads have already evoked some positive emotion from them that will motivate buying behavior. Getting quick recognition and being seen as a company that is smart, witty or trustworthy is a positive thing for your brand.
  2. Connotation You recognized right away - that ad is perfect for your company! ...You even know how you can play off on it to make it more effective. Tie it in with a unique twist for your product and wah-la! - you are smarter, hipper, even viewed as a savvy company. Check out how SuperMoneyMarket tied in "the cost of being Batman" with their loan services.

  3. Cost You do not have to start from scratch. The core concept has already been developed, the tone, the emotion, the "hit"... it's all there. Just create your spin off, design and send to press. Translation: great value.

  4. Gets You There... Fast! A result of recognition and cost, above. The first company has already blazed the trail, anticipated the potholes and dangerous curves en route. You let them take you on the ride, without burning your own gas.

With all this going on, how can this possibly be a bad thing? Let's consider these points:


  1. The Death of Distinction Every company and product has an identity, a personality or character, based on values, thoughts and emotions, just like individuals. When you incorporate piggyback ads, you are giving up your company's identity for another's and some companies end up with inappropriate ad campaigns. Ask yourself, is our company product or service one that demands to be seen as unique & innovative with a strong competitive edge? Or are you selling a knock-off brand of clothing or an entertainment package made up of tribute bands? Then, gear your marketing strategy accordingly.
  2. Legal "Really? ... That's Trademarked!?" Copyrights and trademarks can be applied to logos, slogans, taglines, typeface, product names, even ad layouts... the list goes on. A professional branding company knows how to incorporate recognition in graphic ad layout, without creating an exact duplicate of the original ad. Also, make sure you are a non-competing company, as in the definition above. Investing some time in research means saving face... and money!
  3. Bumpy Rides Most companies will only use spinoff advertising when these campaigns have become so successful that the products have become household names. The company has seen great success and you want to benefit from the trickle-down effect. But when you jump in the back seat, you are letting someone else determine the direction. You will be riding the ups and downs of the company's success or failure, good or bad reputation, and it will reflect on your company, positive or negative.
  4. There's a Best Before Date There is a limit to how long the weight can be carried, before it just gets tiring! Seriously, it will go stale and it won't be funny, cute or witty anymore. Do we really need to see even one more "got ____?" ad splashed across a truck? Recognize when the opportunity's life span has expired. Drink it up before it goes sour.

Get a fresh look in your online and offline advertising! Whether you want to try out a piggyback ad campaign or something truly unique, contact Lani to bring your brand to life.