HP Auction Results and Thanks
The HP Auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity ended last night. Top portraits in the Auction:
- The Police (by Kevin Mazur), winning bid $1025
- Jessica Biel, $640.16
- The Beastie Boys, $505
- Terrence Howard and Lucy Liu, both at $455
- Kevin Smith, $405
HP is matching the winning bids on each portrait, up to $1000 each.
A huge thank you to all the fan site, forum and list owners who helped spread the word to their fellow fans. In particular, we are extremely grateful to Jessica Biel and www.jessebiel.com for including the auction in two emails to her fans.
And my personal thanks to blog pals, old and new, for mentioning the auction:
- Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing
- Elisa Camahort, Worker Bees
- John Cass, PR Communications
- Mack Collier, Beyond Madison Avenue
- Yvonne DiVita, Lip-Sticking
- Maria Niles, Fizz from Consumer Pop
- Betsy Palmieri, Contrary Valley
- Robyn Tippins, Practical Blogging
NOTE: June 3, 2007 -- Comments and Trackbacks closed on this post due to comment spam.
More about Sundance blog and charity auction
HP's Backstage at Sundance blog is progressing nicely. The bloggers are doing a great job sharing their experiences at the festival. And I am having a blast pulling WireImage pictures to accompany our posts about stars who've agreed to participate in the charity auction.
For me, the fact that we are announcing who is participating in the auction on the blog is pretty much the most exciting thing about the blog.
Yes, you read that right: HP is using a blog as a primary method to disseminate news. Now, granted, not news related to its core business, and definitely news well suited to online outreach. And we are also doing PR outreach in the traditional fashion. But there won’t be a traditional press release about the auction participants until the festival is over, whereas we are releasing the names of the stars on the blog as they join.
Bottom line, in my opinion, it is a very positive step forward when a big company “gets it” in any fashion, large or small.
And the blog is about more than the auction; the HP employees who are its principal writers are on the ground in Park City as volunteers and staff for HP’s many activities throughout the festival. They are blogging about being there, who they meet, where they eat. And so on...
I particularly wanted to alert my readers to the auction. Of course, some of the stars are very well known like Jennifer Aniston and The Police (!) and their pics will probably sell for a lot (or at least they will if I do my job!). But some are less well known, if equally talented, and it is possible to get a cool picture and a cool printer for a decent price that also benefits charity. What could be better than that! Last time, I bid on (and won) the picture and HP printer signed by Alan Cumming. We love the printer and the picture is going in my son’s room (Alan Cumming was in X-Men 2.)
Check it out. Tell them I sent you :-)
Sundance, HP and me
As some of you know, last fall, I helped HP promote a charity auction of celebrity signed photos and printers from the Toronto Film Festival.
Well, we’re back :-)
As a sponsor, HP has a lot of activity at the festival – from providing the technology backbone to the entire festival, as well as all the festival “printables” (posters, signs, and so forth) to a pretty neat consumer promotion where attendees can win HP digital photography gear. Plus of course, the HP Portrait Studio produced by WireImage, where all the celebrities come to get their portraits done.
As part of the overall Sundance effort, HP decided to do a blog. With all the staff and volunteers on the ground in Park City, we had all the makings of a cool blog: stuff going on and people there to write about it.
So, Backstage at Sundance was born:
The Backstage at Sundance blog is your backstage pass to what’s happening at Sundance. HP is a presenting sponsor at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and a group of HP employees have agreed to blog all about it. So those of us who can’t be there will feel like we are! Everything from what’s happening on the streets of Park City to interviews with the stars coming into the WireImage Portrait Studio, to film reviews, to a backstage look at the HP technology that’s powering the festival. It will all be here! Plus, the blog will have the first look at the celebrity photos that will be available in our charity auction on eBay in February.
I helped HP with the blog’s editorial development including helping them clarify the overall objectives of the blog, training the bloggers (most of them new to the medium) on general blogging principles, giving them some general guidance on what “blog what you experience” means, identifying “beats” such as film reviews and Portrait Studio reports, and generally supporting the writer-volunteers. I also am blogging for them (from a distance unfortunately) during the festival and auction, mostly about things I find on the ‘net about Sundance.
Our hope was that the bloggers’ excitement at being at Sundance would permeate their writing, and from initial reports, I know it will. I spoke to one of the bloggers this morning and she was jazzed! She had arrived in Park City last night, and already had about four blog posts in her head from people she had met everywhere from the airport to the shuttle to the restaurant at dinner!! She just needed to get online and write the posts!!
And that’s the key – real people will be blogging from Sundance all about their experiences. HP products may be mentioned, but the bloggers have been told that there is absolutely no requirement to ever mention a product. It fits what you want to write, go for it. It doesn’t, that’s fine too. A fun, entertaining blog will enhance the HP brand far more than a bunch of posts about products.
Some of the things we blog you may be able to read elsewhere. And some you won’t. For example, the PortraitStudio is not open to the public; Backstage at Sundance is the only place you’ll be able to get behind the scenes. As well as get a first look at which celebrity portraits will be in the auction.
And for me, that is one of the key parts of the blog. I will again be doing the fan outreach for the charity auction once we know which celebrities have agreed to participate. Having an active blog really helps set the stage.
So: if you are interested in the Sundance Film Festival or think you might want to bid in a charity auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity, please check out Backstage at Sundance !!!
Big damn auction, big damn movie
I realized yesterday that if you weren't interested in charity auctions or Joss Whedon's Serenity, there wasn't much on the Roadmap for you this week.
And there still isn't... although I promise to move onto other topics soon. Maybe next week.
The HP Charity Auction ended last night, and by all accounts a success. The auction itself raised a little less than $10,000, and with HP's matching funds, each charity (DATA and the American Red Cross) got more than $9,000. HP will be publishing a webpage with all the details, and when I get the link, I'll post it.
Everyone involved learned a lot in the process, from both our mistakes and the things that went well. One thing that is absolutely critical is to allow enough time for viral marketing to work. It takes time for messages to spread into an audience of any size, even if you do billboards and primetime TV ads. You need even more time for a grassroots message. The good news, though, is once it takes hold, it *does* snowball. Our example without a doubt is how fast the word spread in Elijah Wood's fanbase about the auction.
And speaking of grassroots marketing .... the Big Damn Movie is in general release today. I'm going tonight, more on it tomorrow, but I promise, no spoilers.
And then maybe I'll write about something else :-)
Serenity, HP Charity Auction
Just a couple of housekeeping things.
First, a reminder that the Joss Whedon film "Serenity" goes into general release this coming Friday September 30th. Whedon did an interview in today's NY Times (tip of the hat to Whedonesque and warning, spoilers). You can find many links to other articles on Whedonesque.
Second, the HP charity auction that I did a fast viral campaign for ends this Thursday, September 29th. While some fan bases have bid certain photos into the stratosphere (Bono at the Super Bowl and Elijah Wood), there are some bargains still to be had, especially if you were thinking of buying an HP Photo Printer anyway.
Further HP Charity auction update
HP is matching auction bids, up to $1000 for each photo. HP Charity Auction
HP Charity Auction Update
Well, it is certainly true that some fandoms are more active than others. In the space of a day, the Elijah Wood fans had bid his photo from its starting bid of $99 to more than $300.
Our thanks go out to all the fan sites, blogs and Yahoo! Groups list owners that responded to our email with a post to their members.
And a personal thank you from me to my marketing/PR colleagues who have blogged about the auction so far: Elisa Camahort of Worker Bees, Jill Fallon of the Business of Life, Yvonne Divita of Lip-Sticking, Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing, Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World, and Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz who covered it on the 19 September For Immediate Release podcast.
I learned this week that the photo of Kate Hudson and Kurt Russell is actually a personal photo taken by director Cameron Crowe during the Festival, which means it won't be available anywhere else but this auction. The picture and the printer are autographed by all three of them. This really would be a special gift for a fan of either actor. If someone wanted to buy it for me, that would be fine too ;-)
Seriously, even if you have no desire to own an autographed picture and printer, these photos are really suberb, and it's fun to see how the stars signed their names. Check out Alan Cumming and Richard E. Grant in particular. You have to click on the slide show, roughly in the middle of each auction page, to see the autographs.
Hurricane Katrina Relief, HP Charity Auction, American Red Cross and DATA
Warning: Long Post
I was basically in non-blogging mode when Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, and by the time I got back in blog-gear, it didn’t seem like the blogosphere needed yet another post reminding people to donate to the Red Cross or another relief charity. So I haven’t blogged anything about Katrina or hurricane relief. Until now.
Late Friday afternoon, a good friend who does marketing for HP (Hewlett-Packard) called me. Her latest project is a charity auction on ebay featuring photographs of about 40 stars that attended the Toronto Film Festival. Sponsored by HP, the auction benefits the American Red Cross and DATA, the not-for-profit started by U2 singer Bono that strives to eliminate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
She had a problem: the project came together so fast that they really didn’t have time to do “traditional” marketing. But if she didn’t get the word out quickly, people wouldn’t know about the auction, which ends on September 29th. She was looking for some marketing help to quickly spread the word, and called me because she knew I was involved in blogging and Internet marketing,
The project was worthwhile and it was a chance to help a friend, so I decided to devote part of my weekend to pulling together a grassroots plan to reach fan sites and blogs. I am getting a small fee for my work, but that’s not the reason I agreed to help. I don’t put anything in my blog that I don’t believe in, fee or no fee. And part of what interested me was to see how fast we could spread the word using ONLY viral methods. No press releases. No ad campaigns. Just some blog posts and a bunch of emails to fan sites and other people that might be interested.
The whole project is also a great example of how a company can responsibly combine philanthropy with their business interests – in this case, promotion of the HP brand and specifically the photo printers. I thought that perhaps some of my marketing colleagues might be interested in it as a case study, especially given some of the silly promotional things that emerged from some companies in the wake of Katrina.
So I divided the project into two sections: outreach to fans, specifically about the pictures, and outreach to fellow marketers, about the auction as both a charity event, and a good case study. This blog entry is of course part of the outreach to fellow marketers. I doubt that I have too many avid Justin Timberlake and Freddy Rodriguez fans in my readership :)
The outreach to fan sites and blogs was pretty simple, thanks to Google and blog search engines. I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon searching for and visiting fan sites for everyone from Anthony Hopkins, Pierce Brosnan and Kevin Bacon to Eva Longoria, Anne Hathaway and Maggie Gyllenhaal (the complete list of stars in the auction is at the end of this post). To make my short list, a site or blog had to be active within the last few months, and preferably with a post or entry within the past two weeks. No point in sending an email about a time-sensitive event to an inactive site :)
The auction itself is divided into two parts: a small auction of 5 photos that runs until September 22nd and the majority of the photos to be auctioned from September 19-29. So Saturday, I emailed news about the auction to five active sites for the first group of stars. The email itself is very simple, personalized to the star and fan site, and simply lays out the facts about the auction, short and sweet.
To my distinct pleasure, I got a note back almost immediately from one of the sites, Anne Hathaway Place, thanking me for the information and letting me know it had been posted.
Tomorrow, I will do the outreach for the auctions that go live on Monday. And I’ll probably dig around a bit more to see if I can find a few other fan-type places that would be interested.
The auction as a marketing case study
Every year for the past few years, at the Toronto Film Festival (and Sundance), HP and WireImage collaborate to produce “The HP Portrait Studio.” Essentially, all the stars/celebrities who attend the festival, and are of course promoting their films, get their pictures taken by WireImage to extend the reach of the story beyond those media outlets that can afford to send their own photographers. HP participates for corporate branding, and specifically to familiarize the film industry with its products for potential product placements in films. You can see this year’s pictures here.
HP also creates posters of the images and places them around Toronto during the Festival. For example, last year, Starbucks was a Festival sponsor, so HP placed big posters in the Toronto Starbucks windows, making it clear that Starbucks was part of the Festival. My friend told me that people were always asking if the pictures were available for purchase, which planted the seed for the idea of using them for charity.
This year, the time was right.
During the Festival, actress Kate Hudson hosted the onexone gala to benefit DATA and the Lou Adler Foundation, which framed the issue for many of the stars. As a result, about 40 stars agreed to participate in the HP charity event. They autographed pictures taken by photographer Jeff Vespa, who donated his time and the pictures. Each star also autographed a Photosmart 375 Compact printer donated by HP. As discussed above, the autographed photos and printers will be auctioned on ebay, with the proceeds to benefit the American Red Cross and DATA.
Combining charity with product promotion is hard to do well. It often feels forced and artificial. In my opinion, it works here because HP isn’t just linking its brand with the autographed photo, it is actually giving the photo printers away, autographed to boot. The main draw is certainly the photo, but the photo printer actually “goes with” pretty well. I can imagine the winning bidders will be pretty happy to have both items. It would make a pretty cool gift if you had any friends, family, children who were fans of one of the stars.
I also really like the timing of this event. It was planned well before Katrina hit, but it is happening at the point that I would call the first blush of “charitable exhaustion” from the hurricane fallout. You know what I mean – people are very generous in the early days after a tragedy, but as time goes on, those personally unaffected go back to their regular lives. The headlines in the papers start to blur, and the magnitude of the need fades from vision, even though the need has not.
Something like this auction both reminds us, and quite frankly, provides the incentive to keep giving. I’ll use myself as an example. Although we already gave generously to the Red Cross in the days immediately following Katrina, I will donate some of my fee from this project as well.
In the end, it is a win win win for everybody:
- HP, the photographer and the stars feel good about their donation of time and goods, and earn brand credit with their customers and fans;
- The charities get the proceeds of the auction;
- The winning bidders get a cool picture and a cool printer, and can feel good that their purchase helped a good cause.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Robin Wright Penn
Richard E. Grant
the Trust the Man cast: Bart Freundlich, David Duchovny, Eva Mendes, James LeGros, Julianne Moore and Maggie Gyllenhaal
the Edison cast: LL Cool J, Piper Perabo, Dylan McDermott, Justin Timberlake and Morgan Freeman
Footnote: in the fine print of the auction materials on ebay, you’ll see that 85% of the proceeds are guaranteed to go to the charity, with 15% for “posting and processing.” My friend at HP tells me that this is pretty typical – in fact better than typical; the usual range for a charity auction of this nature is between 60-80% to the charity. In the case of the HP auction, HP is paying all the marketing, production and promotional expense; the only things coming out of the proceeds are the logistical costs of the auction itself: the fee for the online auction house, which is capped, and the ebay and PayPal fees. If people pay by check, or the proceeds far exceed the expectations, it is quite possible that the two charities will receive an even greater percentage.