I’ve written before on this blog about the partnership between Saturn cars and the amazing Manic Mommies – Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt, two moms “trying to do it all, and then some…” according to the lead-in to their entertaining weekly podcast about the triumphs and tribulations of motherhood, family and career.
That cooperation has now moved up a notch. In the past, Saturn’s involvement has been in support of specific Manic Mommy events. But in a recent podcast, Erin and Kristin announced a new deal with Saturn involving an ongoing year-long sponsorship of the blog and podcast.
What especially struck me about this what not so much the deal itself, but the refreshingly open and transparent way Erin and Kristin informed their audience about it.
I’m not a mom, I’m not even a dad, except perhaps to my parrot Emil, who does indeed have the intelligence and temperament of a 2-year old. Perhaps that qualifies me somewhat as a rightful Manic Mommy listener. (I can certainly relate to leading a manic life.) But since I work on the Pampers brand at Saatchi & Saatchi, and like to stay in touch with what’s on the minds of moms, and as I am also interested in social media, the Manic Mommies are a natural for me. So as a loyal listener to the podcast, I also appreciated the way Erin and Kristin informed me and the rest of their loyal fans about their new relationship with Saturn.
The centerpiece of the announcement was an interview on Episode 153 of the podcast with Jill Lajdziak, Saturn’s General manager, and — appropriately – a mom. Kristin talked with Jill about the sponsorship in a conversational way that fit perfectly with the tone of the podcast. Jill, like other marketers who have been on the show, understands that to be effective in this space, they’ve got to be people first, marketers second. (I wonder if this is due at least in part to a good briefing from Erin and Kristin.) So before the ladies talked about the sponsorship, they first shared experiences about being a mom, exchanged thoughts about kids and cars, moved on to the topic of safety and, before you knew it, Saturn. Saturn was built into the conversation, rather than the conversation being built around Saturn.
They went on to talk about what Saturn hopes to get out of the relationship with the Manic Mommies and their audience. Saturn will set up a forum on the Manic Mommies blog. This will be a place for special announcements, but Jill mainly sees the forum as a unique opportunity to connect with women in an environment that enables open and honest dialog. This is pretty innovative when you think about it. Sponsorship of a blog not merely to promote a product, but to leverage the relationship these two bloggers have with their community in order to talk with current and potential owners more freely and effectively. Innovative as well is the fact that the forum will be built into the Manic Mommies community, rather than requiring moms to go to the Saturn web site. So moms are on their territory rather than Saturn’s, which should lead to a much more open and truthful conversation.
You could tell that the Manic Mommies were concerned their audience might worry that we would now be inundated with commercial interruptions from Saturn. So they reassured everyone that not a whole lot would change, and the main thing people would notice would be the Saturn forum. Kristin encouraged people to tell Saturn what they really thought “and don’t sugar coat it!” Saturn wasn’t “just just looking to hit us all with advertising … they really want your opinion.”
In their typical charming way Erin and Kristin stressed that Saturn’s support would enable them to provide even better content to their listeners and readers, for example by allowing the both of them to conduct more live interviews, spend more time writing on the blog, and as Erin pointed out, “actually spend more time thinking about the show rather than just four minutes before we start recording.”
It will be interesting to watch how the partnership plays out over the next year. And if it stays true to the spirit of participation and conversation between the marketer and the audience, rather than becoming just a new way of pumping brand messages to “target consumers.” From what I’ve seen so far from the Manic Mommies, I have every faith that we’ll be seeing something that stays true to that spirit.
So congratulations to Erin and Kristin on their deal with Saturn, kudos to Saturn for upping their involvement in social media, and good look to both in the coming year. As Erin quipped at the close of Episode 153, “If the Manic Mommies can save the auto industry, you know, single handedly, my work here is done.” Erin, I’d be thrilled as anyone if the Manic Mommies were to save the American automobile industry, but even if you do, your work won’t be done. We’ll all still need our weekly fix of the Manic Mommies.
One last thing. Erin and Kristin, if you’re reading? I know I’m a guy, but can I join the Big Tent? I don’t want to crash the party if it’s only open to “gal pals,” but I’d love to be able to visit the Saturn forum and see what your readers and Saturn are saying.