Rascal Flatts Mobile Promotion Runs Flat

Being an avid geek for both music and good marketing, I was really excited about a recent promotion one of my favorite bands did to generate buzz for their upcoming album. However, I was very turned off when their "genius" promotion caused me to become concerned because of a lack of clarity within the promotional message. Since mobile marketing is a very personalized form of communication, it takes a very specific and targeted message in order for the user to accept it.

I was looking for the Rascal Flatts’ album release date and, to my excitement, not only did I find the date I found something better – a wake-up call from Rascal Flatts themselves reminding me to go out and buy the album. I did the obvious thing any fan would do and opted in. They had a complete cross-channel interactive marketing strategy, integrating email, web and mobile marketing with a great target audience of people that are excited about a band. They utilized both their homepage and their MySpace page to target fans about the promotion then used mobile and email once the person had signed up.

The opt-in process was easy. All I needed to do was text “FLATTS” to the short code provided and then respond with “Y” to the return message. Then they provided you with a separate website to check out other events and sign up for email updates that appeared to be for a secret Rascal Flatts fan club. Perfect for anyone that is even mildly savvy about sending text messages and then going on the Internet.

So then the big day came when the album was released on 10/28. But, I forgot about signing up for the “wake up call.” At 9:30am on the 28th I get a call from a number I do not know. I did what others may do and didn’t answer, figuring if it’s something important they’ll leave me a message. However, they do not leave a message. A few minutes later I receive a text message from the same number stating “PLEASE CALL.” At this point I am concerned. I am then worried that there is an emergency and that someone had accidentally gotten my number by mistake. I am very nervous at this point that there is an actual emergency, so I call the number back. I am very aggravated to find that it is a voice recording from Rascal Flatts telling me to go out and buy their new album.

There are a few issues that I see with this cross-channel online marketing execution. First, it wasn’t clear that the number was theirs, and they could have easily left the prerecorded message as a voicemail and been just as effective. Second, receiving a text message in all caps from a number you know is alarming… and even more alarming when you get a message like this from an unknown number. A simple solution to this would have been to have additional messaging that identified its origin as the band’s promotional agency and not some sort of emergency.

Mobile is such a personal an intimate form of communication. If you violate a person’s trust once through this channel, it increases the chance you’ll lose them. Even if they opt in to receive the messages at first, they will immediately opt out if they feel that their trust has been violated.

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