Akamai Trades Sneakers for Agency Meetings
If you’re a media buyer wanting a new pair of kicks, Akamai can help. The data-driven ad network is shipping hundreds of old sneakers to prospective agency client, and promising to replace them with brand-new Nike ones if they meet with its salespeople.
“Wouldn’t you rather have new ones?” the boxes read, in reference to the used shoes they house and its Brand NU Game campaign. “Redeem this old sneaker for a pair of new Nike iD running shoes! Meet with your Akamai representative, and they will deliver a pair in your size.”
Salespeople regularly incentivize buyers to meet by buying them gifts at “tangible meetings” that regularly include custom jeans fittings and outings to sunglass stores. But Akamai’s approach is a bold one. It makes no bones about the fact that it’s essentially trading sneakers for buyers’ time and attention.
“This tops all of the swag I’ve gotten,” explained one agency staffer that received the package. “Sitting on my desk was a big box from Akamai, and it said ‘shoes inside.'”
But Akamai says the initiative was less about buying agency time than it was setting it apart from its peers in the increasingly crowded ad technology and data market. Avi Spivack, product marketing strategist for its ad solutions division, said it doesn’t have trouble getting meetings, but it’s finding it increasingly difficult to “cut through the noise.” Hence the sneakers.
“We figured a giant box with an old sneaker would get attention, and it has,” he said. “Redemption rates are great, and some agency people are saying this is one of the most creative gifts they’ve ever seen.”
Despite the success of the campaign, Spivack did express concerns about the gift culture that continues to dictate which vendors agency buyers choose to spend their time with. He worries that incentives like this have the potential to undermine the company’s products, but, unfortunately, there is a cost of entry these days as venture capital continues to fuel ad tech sales efforts.
“To stand out in the market, you sort of have to do this; in the agency world, it’s a way to incentivize 20-something media buyers to look at you. Ideally, once you get the meeting, you don’t have to offer free stuff to get the buy. We don’t resort to summer houses and stuff like that.”
Then there are the vendor summer houses, of course, which staffers from many of the major media agencies including Universal McCann, Aegis Media, Zenith Optimedia, Digitas, and Mediavest attended this year.
Meanwhile, agencies themselves maintain that they enforce strict policies around the the type of gifts and entertainment their buyers are allowed to accept. In practice, however, those policies are often unclear or go unenforced.
Digiday will continue to explore the inner workings of rebates, incentives and the “gift economy” that surrounds the digital media industry. If you have examples you’d like to share, you can do so confidentially by email at email@example.com.
Image via Shutterstock
‘People are looking for ways to work together asynchronously’: Tech providers rush to meet needs of hybrid workplaces
Tech businesses are falling over themselves to arm employers and workforces with what's needed in a hybrid working world.
IPG’s Arun Kumar says the time has passed for the ad industry to regulate itself
Tech giants and government regulators are cracking down on digital tracking, and the ad industry has failed to convince people of tracking's trade-offs, IPG's data and technology officer said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: ‘This year is tougher’: Another virtual Cannes Lions shifts focus to creativity as agency execs count on a return next year
The return of in-person meetings for some vaccinated execs is more appealing that sitting in on another virtual conference. That’s not to say people won’t be attending Cannes but the excitement is more palpable for in-person business meetings, according to agency execs and industry observers.
SponsoredIdentity solution fatigue is setting in: How to keep moving
By Kristina Prokop, CEO and co-founder, Eyeota As we move deeper into 2021, the desperate search for identity solutions that can smooth marketing organizations’ transitions to a cookieless world is reaching a fever pitch. There’s no shortage of new identifiers and identity technologies vying for attention — and that’s a big part of the problem. […]
Member ExclusiveDigiday Research: TikTok has already surpassed Snapchat in the eyes of brands and agencies
Snapchat and TikTok have quickly gotten traction with brands and agencies. Read the latest Digiday Research.
The pandemic’s negative—and possibly long-term—toll on Gen X
Despite the weight of the crisis easing, many Gen Xers are still coping with the pandemic’s negative and far-reaching implications on their psychological, physical and financial health.