Seinfeld signs onto a campaign about something

Written on the 11 August 2009

A Gold Coast marketing company has pulled off the advertising coup of the year after landing US comic actor Jerry Seinfeld as the face of its client The Greater Building Society. Coolibah Marketing director John Dwyer tells Gold Coast Business News that it’s his job to make his clients stand out from the crowd.

Tell us a bit about the process of securing Seinfeld?

I spent a huge amount of time researching Jerry and his management and agents well before I made the first contact. I spoke to many US agents in the entertainment field and discovered what sort of things such big stars look for when being pitched an advertising idea.

When you are dealing with someone like Jerry Seinfeld, money is not really the prime issue for him. It’s all about ‘the creative’ and whether or not he feels some degree of affinity with the brand.

After understanding the types of pre-conditions which such stars have, we were able to structure our pitch in a way which would hopefully be appealing to Jerry and his people.

In short, we simply asked ‘Jerry to be Jerry’. He knocks back dozens of advertising pitches every week and I suspect that the main reason he does so, is because these companies want him to play a particular role which he doesn’t feel comfortable with.

With Jerry’s assistance, we were able to weave the customer comments into the fabric of the TV commercials, as the customers become passers-by in the streetscape where Jerry performs outside a Greater branch.
What was it like working with him?
Not only is he the consummate professional, but he is also one of the nicest, down-to-earth people you could possibly meet. Our two-day shoot in New York was pretty intense, with each day necessitating a lot of input from Jerry and he performed take after take always with a smile on his face.

It was quite surreal in some ways. Here you have one of the most recognisable people in the world with police security chaperoning him back and forth to his dressing room (presidential style) and yet Jerry would stop and sign autographs for excited mums and school children along the way.

In this day and age of many celebrities acting like prima donnas, it is refreshing to work with a superstar who really cares about others and also is determined to deliver more than he promised.

At the end of a long second day of shooting, Jerry demonstrated once again his work ethic, when he shook hands with me and said ‘Is there anything more I can do for you John’?

When I first met Jerry at his 55th floor New York office in early April, I presented him with some Australian gifts for his three young children (aged 4, 7 and 9), being some cuddly koalas, Aussie footy jerseys and Billabong gear. When I met with Jerry again a month later for our TV shoot, the first thing he gave me was a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from his children in appreciation for their gifts.

What has this done for the Greater brand in terms of growth and customer enquiries?
As the campaign only started on Sunday July 12, it is too early to provide any perspective on ‘growth/customer enquiries’.

But as far as building the ‘brand’ is concerned, the results already speak for themselves. News of Jerry’s involvement in the campaign broke on Thursday July 9 and within a matter of hours, the Greater Building Society was on the front pages of newspapers around Australia and on just about every TV and radio news bulletin.

This ‘media frenzy’ lasted about a week and the Greater was a major news story on most nightly news programs, Channel 7’s Sunrise program, the Nine Network’s Today Show and scores of other TV and radio programs around the nation.

There’s no doubt about it, the association with Jerry Seinfeld brought millions of dollars of free publicity to the Greater in just the first few days of the announcement of the campaign.

Will this allow the building society to leverage market share over some of the larger competitors?
Yes, I believe the Jerry Seinfeld association will allow the Greater to enjoy a larger slice of the business banking market, as once again, Jerry’s presence means that the Greater enjoys more visibility in the marketplace. The Greater has pretty much all of the products and services that business owners get from a bank and therefore our aim is to get this message out to businesses, on the back of Jerry creating the appropriate attention for us.

I subscribe to the ‘wow factor theory’ – after all, we now live in a very competitive world with thousands of messages thrust upon us every week.

With media becoming fragmented and people’s leisure time diminishing due to more time at work, it’s imperative that marketers find a ‘wow factor’ to help distinguish their products or services from competitors. And you can’t get a much bigger ‘wow’ than having one of the biggest stars in the world to promote your brand and products.

What has it meant for Coolibah Marketing, are you now in high demand by multi- nationals?
It’s obviously a great achievement for my company and on a personal note, one of the ‘highs’ of my career.

After all, we are talking about a David and Goliath story here, when it comes to comparing the only two other companies in the world that Jerry has ever lent his name to in terms of advertising.

He has only ever done ads for American Express and Microsoft over a 30-year entertainment career and therefore, it
makes this marketing coup even more unbelievable.

But I am used to dealing with both large and small companies, so it’s business as usual as far as I’m concerned.

Over the years, I’ve consulted to the likes of Westfield, New Limited, Fairfax, the NRL, Parramatta Leagues, the Nine Network, 7Eleven – so I’m used to providing companies with strategic marketing recommendations and wow factors.
My job is to make my clients stand out from the crowd – and then sell stuff.

What is your message to other companies who are slashing their marketing budgets during times of economic uncertainty?
It always amazes me that in recessionary times, some companies choose to slash their marketing budget – whereas I believe these are the times when you need to take a deep breath and strike whilst your competitors are sleeping.

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