Death Of The Teaser Campaign

Posted by

Most brands want to slowly build up a semblance of buzz prior to a big product launch, but that could wind up being a big mistake.

Mashable today had a a Blog post today titled, New Batman Clips Tease ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. It seems like the marketing agency supporting the release of this upcoming Batman movie has already begun the promotions by getting fans to crack a code on Twitter, and now they’re tinkering with a Facebook page and more videos being posted on YouTube. There’s nothing wrong with building hype, but the movie won’t be released in North America until late July… 2012 (yes, in over a year’s time). There’s nothing wrong with starting to build the buzz early on, but over a year in advance?

Doesn’t that seem a little strange?

In short, it’s not… and it will work. Batman’s fans are fans in the truest sense of the word (they are fanatical). They will devour, share and work hard to get a sneak peek, so engaging them earlier in the process than what we may have seen before can’t hurt. The problem is that other brands think that they can do the same thing… and they – sadly – can’t. Many brands look to build some buzz in the pre-release of their products. While there’s nothing wrong with doing some marketing and promotion in advance of a product launch, it’s important to note that this is only going to valuable and worthwhile when you’re doing this promotion because the media where it will be unveiled needs that amount of time to gather the story and produce it.

Trying to build buzz with a teaser campaign is just not a viable option anymore…

…unless you’re Apple, or the new Batman movie or something that people are already fanatical about. More often than not, if you’re trying to promote a new beverage or have a new slant on your old product, a teaser campaign will no longer be able to do what it used to do. Why? Media fragmentation is happening more and more. Now, brands are competing for mindshare in so many different corners that it’s very rare to hear about any teaser campaign that ran with truly effective results. This is what makes it surprising to sit in boardrooms and constantly hear brand managers talk about creating a viral video to tease out a new product.

Are teaser campaigns really on their deathbed?

For the majority of brands, the answer is "yes." From a professional perspective, I’d rather see the dollars, time and energy from a teaser campaign spent towards focusing on the core launch. It’s going to be hard enough to get people’s attentions in all of the clutter, so why not focus on doing the launch as perfectly as possible? Teaser campaigns made sense when people watched each and every episode of a specific TV show (on a specific date at a specific time) or when they bought the same magazines month in and month out. It gets a lot more challenging to link the teaser campaign to the product in a Web, mobile and touch world that multi-platforms on top of the traditional mass media, while everybody is time-shifting their traditional media consumption patterns and snacking on digital content as they get pushed around on a crammed subway. Unless you’ve got millions and millions to spend on cramming every corner of media with your brand, a teaser campaign is going to be very hard to pull off in brave new marketing world.

Besides, nobody really likes a tease anyways 😉


  1. Great post! I’ve been thinking through some this with a future launch.
    Would you still have the same opinion about an industry & consumer base that may be a few years behind the times? Say in the Outdoor Hunting/Fishing industry? I think the Teaser Campaign can still work here.
    Believe it or not, some of that segment is just now getting internet, email, etc. Let alone even having a clue to what twitter, facebook or YouTube is.
    I think that those of us so close to new technology and marketing strategies in the online world can overlook potential too quickly.

  2. This is a very interesting topic. Personally, I just get angry when I get teased too early on. If I were the batman fan (sadly, I’m not) I would want to see the movie as soon as I started plucking away on Facebook/Twitter. As you said I’m sure it will work with Batman but I can’t see it working with anyone else.
    Social media is instant gratification and getting teased too early on could lead to burn out if done wrong or wrong product.
    By the way I’m coming to The Art of Marketing and I’m really looking forward to hearing you speak!

  3. I have run teasers in the fishing and hunting industry mainly to warm up the dealers and distributors. In my case it drove consumers into local and big box stores asking for the product. When the product finally was released, buyers were more than ready to sit down and place some serious orders. Because there was no product in the pipeline during the tease, consumers also may have asked more than one dealer about the product, thus building some buzz.

  4. Good to hear that Rod. Although I guess I could’ve added; I do agree that having the “teaser” too soon is a bad idea for some markets.
    In my case it maybe even a bit more challenging, we’ll launching a new website. I believe building buzz with a teaser campaign can work in this market.

  5. Agree that it is only the Apple’s and Batmans of this world that can get that sort of hype in advance but I see examples of this working every day around me. For example there is a gym opening around the corner and even though they won’t open the doors for 3months they are teasing every element of the gym possible with flyers, videos, links to websites etc. Looks like they have lots of sign ups too and there isn’t even a machine in the place yet. Agree there is a certain amount of fragmentation out there but also still room if done right

  6. I have gone the other way, instead of doing a teaser campaign, I am trying to find out info from the market so that when I launch a new site, I will be a little bit more in tune with the community. That assumes of course that anyone reads my posts or comments? I tried to not annoy people by giving a date for the launch, which I hope will help.
    Everyone has their attention pretty much overstimulated, so I agree that unless you are leading a very passionate tribe, don’t expect to keep the audience hanging on your every word for more than a few seconds…and certainly not a year.

  7. This makes sense especially for the small business who doesn’t have a jillion dollars to spend on marketing. The small business owner who needs their advertising to pay for itself and/or get them a customer… not just spread the word.
    Too many small businesses want to play with the corporations using the same strategies they do. This is how they sink their ship. If they’d only realize they actually can market circles around their big sloth-like competitors using tried and true direct marketing principles, they witness with their own eyes what a tremendous amount of money most corporations waste on unaccountable advertising produced by ad agencies who live off of clients being in the dark about how productive their ads really are. If they are at all.
    This is awesome Mitch that you’re bringing attention to this topic. I trust you’ll be saving the small business owner a ton of grief by getting this knowledge into their minds.

  8. Every time I see a teaser campaign I think of Ralph in A Christmas Story drinking gallons of Ovaltine to get his secret decoder ring. When he is finally able to decode the secret message (…drink your Ovaltine) he says, “A crummy commercial?” Teaser ads are fine like you said if the fan base is already there. However, you better have the best product in the world consistently if you are going to continue to use them. If your product doesn’t live up to the hype, it will surely make people lose attention in the future. I think that is ultimately the problem with teaser ads. They have become so common place that they are almost spam-like.

  9. Great post Mitch – I couldn’t believe the Batman campaign has started a year out!
    I’ve noticed some authors start ‘teasing’ a long way out too – I’m a big Gary Vee fan but if I recall the build-up to ‘Crush It’ started many months before publication date.
    I guess there’s no right or wrong, it’s a gut feel thing and ultimately, the people will decide!
    I explored similar territory recently when I blogged about whether the days of the ‘Big Reveal’ were numbered?

  10. The other medium I think can still manage it is roadside billboards. McDonalds has done a couple of teaser campaigns on local billboards, with (say) just a spoon for a couple of weeks, THEN an announcement about their new oatmeal. But I think this only works because
    1) There are still a lot of people who drive to work on the same route every day (thus avoiding the fragmentation problem)
    2) The tease is only a week or two
    3) McDonalds is a mass-market product, for whom billboards make sense
    4) McDonalds has rented the billboard at I25 and 58th for so long that ANYTHING posted there is automatically assumed to be McDonalds, so they really have nothing to lose.
    If your business/product doesn’t have those things going for it, teaser campaigns are probably not the way to go.

  11. “There’s nothing wrong with building hype, but the movie won’t be released in North America until late July… 2012 (yes, in over a year’s time). There’s nothing wrong with starting to build the buzz early on, but over a year in advance?”
    Are you familiar with “Why So Serious?” from “The Dark Knight” film?

  12. I disagree: Teaser campaigns aren’t dead, they’re just not done well.
    Apple makes phones and computers. Hardware. Circuits wrapped in plastic. That’s it…the same thing RIM, Samsung and Dell make. The difference is Apple is better at creating an aura of anticipation. In short, they’re more creative marketers (notice I didn’t say “better marketers”…results are measured by sales, not creativity).
    The fragmentation of media doesn’t, per se, ruin the possibility of a good teaser campaign. It makes the media landscape more complicated, more difficult to comprehend…and larger. If anything, that would increase the fertile ground where seeds of a teaser campaign could be planted.
    Teaser campaigns aren’t always easy, effective or appropriate, and they’re rarely done well. But that doesn’t mean they’re dead or dying.

Comments are closed.