Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is “marketing planning that ensures a company’s various advertising efforts send a coherent story across the different customer touch points” (Iacobucci, 2013, pp 159). And the biggest winner in this game is the Biggest Loser’s personal trainer celebrity Michelle Bridges (MB).
What is 12WBT?
First created in 2010, 12 week body transformation (12WBT) is Michelle Bridge’s 12 week exercise, nutrition and mindset program. For $19.99 per week, you get the 12WBT experience starring Michelle Bridges herself. You sign up to the challenge which runs every 5 months or so with pre-season training, weeks ahead to get you started and learn the ropes. The program includes an exercise plan, a meal plan and mindset videos, food diary, shopping lists and much, much more and these can be integrated into apps such as My fitness pal or 12WBT app itself.
There are 15 programs to choose from and is then further tailored to the individual member whether you are looking to lose weight, improve shape and tone or learn how to run. The results are communicated by the consumers themselves with before and after shots, expressions of gratitude on social media and the results of the transformation process.
Michelle Bridges Products everywhere
Like 54% of Australians, my 2016 new year’s resolution was to get fit and healthy and loose a few kilos. To get motivated, I headed off to Big W to find a whole range of MB active wear on sale. I grab a MB waterbottle with free exercise planner and MB runners to complete my look.
Donning on my new gear and with MB on the brain, I searched my Spotify app for Michelle Bridges and sure enough, I got “Michelle Bridges 12WBT” with a playlist of running music suited to my running style. After my run, I headed to Woolworths to find MB frozen meals on offer. I quickly look up product reviews to see if they are any good. Easily heated in the microwave, I sit down to watch a bit of telly, only to be hit with the Michelle Bridges 12WBT ads.
To add to the mix, there’s about 10 bestselling books to read and multiple exercise and nutrition DVDs and even MB featuring in an Xbox exercise game. These are just the many touch points of integrated marketing to help expose consumers to the MB brand which according to a McKinsey digital matters survey showed that the more touchpoints a brand has, the higher the probability that the brand would be selected for purchase.
Socialising with Michelle Bridges
The 12WBT is a social program where everyone is showing their progress as the weeks go by. Therefore it is not surprising that there is a very strong social media presence. There are over 111,000 followers on Twitter, and over 834, 000 likes on Facebook for the 12WBT on top of Michelle Bridges own personal pages. Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest and blogs are also allowing the MB brand to expand its reach.
IMC also involves the development of relationships with consumers through strategic messages and dialogue (Phelps, 2009). Connecting with Salesforce has streamlined how the MB team can connect with all their signed up consumers plus connect to potentially new members giving each a one-on-one experience. Here’s how:
Mangold and Fauld (2009) suggest that the communication capabilities of social media allow consumers to engage with the brand and therefore strengthen brand relationship. Michelle Bridges has it all, whether it is social media, radio, TV, magazines, billboard or webpage, the MB brand message is simple – Exercise, diet and mindset will transform your life for the better. The main target segment are overweight middle aged women who aspire to be like Michelle and what Michelle gives them is hope and a vision to look good and feel good about themselves and be successful.
“good digital experiences keep consumers loyal and that loyalty is built through useful experiences, not 30-sec TV commercials”
According to Razorfish 2015 Global Digital Marketing Survey (2015, p. 12), “good digital experiences keep consumers loyal and that loyalty is built through useful experiences, not 30-sec TV commercials”. Consumers are bombarded by “over 5,000 brand messages a day, and are therefore becoming savvy at avoiding or deflecting advertising”. The MB brand is successful because it has a clear message, is truly user-centric, engaging and their “services are designed to make people’s lives better”.
The Marketing Goal
The goal is to sign up as many members to the 12WBT program as possible while retaining current members. The touch points can be any of MB products whether it is active wear, packaged meals, kitchenware or books.
Touch points can also be via social contacts through any social media channel or word of mouth from current members who draw you in to take the challenge. Michelle features in magazines, editorial features on TV and billboard ads that constantly remind us to diet, exercise and change our mindset. And the media channels are all integrated that draw you down the rabbit hole to sign up to the challenge or buy one of her products. The social pages have daily postings of short workout videos or simple diet recipes that allow the endorphins to kick in and keep you coming back for more.
Negative criticism only draws attention to the MB brand
In April, 2016, radio show hosts,Chrissie Swan and Meshel Laurie criticized Michelle Bridges’s comment on the ABC’s Australian story “Building Bridges” where she said “that she has never met a happy obese person”. Swan says that she is a happy fat person and that she has known Bridges for many years. According to Berger, Sorensen and Rasmussen (2010, p. 815), negative reviews can sometimes increase sales. Chrissie and Meshel’s criticisms only serve to draw attention from other overweight women who may or may not be happy towards Bridges brand and her products potentially increasing sales and awareness.
What’s next for the queen of exercise and diet?
Michelle Bridges has hit BRW’s 2015 richest self-made women’s list with a net worth of $53 million. Can she do no wrong? The MB brand is looking to expand its reach into the US market where the Biggest Loser show all began. Their marketing campaign may have worked wonders in Australia but the Razorfish survey showed that there are differences between segments in how they view marketing tactics. For example, 83% of US Gen X people view targeted advertising on their mobile phones as an invasion of privacy and therefore Michelle’s team will need to carefully consider their marketing strategy and not just do a cut and paste version (Razorfish, 2015, p. 6). With a great marketing strategy behind her, Michelle may have a good chance of continuing her success.
By Patricia Vietheer (215464584)
Berger J, Sorensen AT, Rasmussen SJ, 2010 Positive effects of negative publicity: when negative reviews increase sales, Marketing Science, vol. 29, No. 5, pp 815-827.
Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason, Ohio.
Mangold W, Glynn D, Faulds J, 2009, Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix, Business horizons, vol 52, no. 4, pp 357-365.
Phelps JE, Milne JR, 2009, Integrated marketing communications and new media: Emerging privacy issues, International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, vol 1, no. 1, pp 84-93.
Razorfish, 2015, The 2015 Global Digital Marketing Report: Digital Dopamine, URL: http://www.razorfish.com/binaries/content/assets/ideas/digitaldopaminereport2015.pdf