Sometimes the easiest way to understand a new concept is to look at it from a completely different angle. One of the best examples we've found to demonstrate effective transparency as well as good visible marketing is the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) brand ”and yes, we know, it traditionally serves men. But, bear with us.
ESPN's hip sports empire includes 24- hour cable networks, a Web site, a radio network, a print magazine and theme restaurants . This fast-growing, multichannel media brand brilliantly and transparently targets young, affluent male sports fans. The entire ESPN brand focuses on delivering pitch-perfect content to their target demographic, men, and in so doing has gained the affection and respect of many male and female sports fans alike. Because they are not trying to be all things to all customers, they can dig deep into the humor, preferences and interests of their male market.
Before we examine the specific elements of ESPN's successful transparent marketing approach, we'll paint a picture of what it would look like if ESPN visibly marketed its magazine to men in the way many women's brands do. Let's look at an ESPN: The Magazine painted male blue:
ESPN: THE MAGAZINE WITH VISIBLE MARKETING
The tagline would be "A magazine for male sports enthusiasts ."
The staff would be all male; the photos would all depict men; and the articles would cover only men's teams .
Columns like these would be included: "A Man's Perspective on ," covering sports industry issues; and "His Turn ," espousing a male viewpoint on topics typically covered by women.
Photos would show the usual: a collection of men from a variety of nationalities, each wearing their team uniforms and holding the appropriate sporting goods or equipment (a soccer ball, a hockey stick, for example).
The stories and cartoons would feature the usual stereotypical male humor about beer bellies, couch potatoes, armchair quarterbacks and hot cheerleaders.
Advertisers would sell traditional men's products using departments focused on reaching men.
Specialized "for men" programs might include interactive tools such as the body fat calculator for men; the all-men's fantasy football league; the sports-savvy men's sports quiz; and the athletic men's guide to sports history.
The magazine's palette would stick to clich d, "male-appropriate" primary colors, with a strong emphasis on royal blue.
The magazine would sponsor events around major male health concerns, like prostate cancer benefit runs or heart disease bowling tournaments.
It would all be politically correct and professionally carried out, but not very inspiring .
Now doesn't it just seem bizarre to envision ESPN reaching men visibly in this way? Doesn't it wake you up a bit to how women customers might perceive the visible "for women" efforts that come their way?
Let's turn things right-side up and examine how ESPN is actually capturing an avid fan base of both men and women, with their sophisticated and fun transparent approach. Considering the essential elements of transparent marketing we cited earlier in this chapter, here's what ESPN does so well: