Search Our Newsletters

The Killer Crossover

November 20th, 2003

Full Frontal PR Report
Kevin Mortesen

In basketball, the phrase, “Killer Crossover,” was coined to describe a swift change of direction by a player, usually a point guard, who faked one way and went another so rapidly that the opponent with the unenviable task of guarding them often looks very, very silly. Phrases like “faked out of their jock” and “ankle breaker” describe the effect sick ball handlers like Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson have on their defenders.

Stars on the hardwood are still applying the killer crossover, but today I’m borrowing the term to talk marketing. We’re seeing crossover in products like cars (where everything seems to become some sort of SUV, even a Porsche), and in food (where combining ice cream flavors with coffee or soda has become the norm), as well as in many other product categories. But the real “killer move” that is paying off for companies and individuals is demographic crossover, and that’s being driven by marketing communications.

Would you ever have expected to see Frank Sinatra with a shoe deal? I can see it: “Old Blue Eyes, for Florsheim.” Today, a deal like Jay Z has with Reebok for shoes and apparel clearly demonstrates how important the hip hop demographic is to sports apparel companies, and those customers are not often looking to Reebok (or Nike, Adidas or Puma) gear for performance. They are looking at it for fashion. The days of only function are gone; quite a bit of revenue is being attributed to form.

How about computers? The “Big Blue” corporate days are over. A vast majority of hardware marketing programs are about the entertainment functions of the system or tool, and those programs are being driven by movie titles, music, and even creating your own “mini-major” with your computer system. It’s all about entertainment—not about spreadsheets.

Examples can be found in virtually any industry. Expand audiences—and revenue—though marketing tools that reach a new market.

Our rule at Full Frontal is three examples per piece, so I’ll give you another sports and entertainment “move.” The traditional, country club image of golf. They get the big bucks for their TV ad time, despite relatively small ratings numbers, because of affluent demographics. But competition has led the big players in golf to look at expanding audiences to a lower tax bracket, and to do that they are crossing over. How would Bobby Jones have felt about Alice Cooper endorsing a club? He gives new meaning to a “snaking putt.”

What’s the moral of the story? To thrive, and in some instances survive, new markets and audiences must be sought and cultivated. To do that companies must “crossover” demographic lines. The way marketing communications helps do that is simpler to identify than to execute:

1. Work closely with the client to identify and prioritize potentially profitable demographics

2. Identify the best media channels to reach those demographics

3. Craft the storyline that gives you the ability to break your targets ankles!