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Seeking riches in niches

Wall focuses on targeted marketing

Even a Super Bowl commercial isn’t what it used to be. With the fragmentation of mass media into millions of blogs and Web portals, each crowded with jerky banner ads and pop-ups, it’s getting harder and harder for marketers to reach a diversifying body of consumers, and harder still to make their messages stick. For Jenny Wall, president of interactive marketing at the Crew Creative agency, the problem is one of perspective.

“I think you have to look at it as a conversation,” she says. “It doesn’t work anymore to just go out there with a mass message. You have to be extremely relevant, extremely targeted.”

Wall has been in the business long enough to see this change firsthand, serving as director of marketing for HBO 1995-2002 and founder of the firm Go Marketing. Since joining Crew Creative in 2004, Wall’s staff has expanded from four to 30 and taken over online duties for the Discovery Channel plus NBC series “Heroes” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” among many others.

For her, successful marketing in today’s brave new world means approaching niches individually and allowing consumer feedback to influence her approach.

“We look for opportunities that have a lot more legs, meaning that there’s not just one message, there might be 10 different messages, and there might be 10 different ways to talk to 10 different groups of people,” she says.

For example, Wall’s campaign for last year’s Anthony Hopkins motorcycling pic “The World’s Fastest Indian” targeted such divergent demos as the AARP, vintage motorcycle enthusiasts, indie filmmakers and Hopkins fan clubs.

The democratization of media also enables the marketing of films that would have previously been commercially unviable, as Wall discovered when she took on John Cameron Mitchell’s sexually explicit “Shortbus.” Unrated and provocative, the film’s advertising had to be “extremely delicate,” she says.

“Everybody talks about this long tail of marketing, and that is really what the success of ‘Shortbus’ was,” she says. “We went to a ton of smaller sites and bloggers and used them as our word of mouth. That’s what’s happening now: using different entities to almost market for you, and create content for you.”

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