Month: November 2013

The Dangers of Newsjacking: How two retailers tried to capitalize on tragedy

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Each year, we all witness cringe-worthy decisions made world-wide by organizations. Heck, there are even annual awards dedicated to the world’s most epic PR failures.

Whether it is an ill-advised Tweet or a poorly researched product name, the PR mistakes that countless organizations have made can certainly teach us a lesson or two.

David_Meerman_Scott-

Marketing guru David Meerman Scott coined a term called “newsjacking”.

It is “the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself.” 

Here are two examples of newsjacking gone wrong.

Hell of a Storm Sale

Now, I am all for seizing opportunities but I would have never thought that a category 3 hurricane could be presented as a marketing tool.

Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, the states that were most severely damaged by the tropical storm, in October of 2012. With many dead, millions without power and billions of dollars in damages, the storm was a devastating event for many.

Despite this, retailer American Apparel saw the hurricane as a chance to increase sales on their online store. They used adverts and emails to entice their customers to purchase discounted items during the storm.

As you can see below, American Apparel’s advert suggested, “In case you’re bored during the storm”, come receive 20 per cent off everything.

hurricane_sandy_aa

Interestingly enough, despite misjudging the appropriateness of tying a promotional offer to a hurricane, American Apparel never apologized. In fact, CEO Don Charney stood behind the retailer’s misguided marketing. He claimed that “part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going.”

don-charney

Many individuals used Twitter and Facebook to express their anger, boycotting the brand or suggesting that the company donate the proceeds of their discounted items to the Red Cross.

Although newsjacking may garner more attention to one’s company, it must be asked what the ethical implications are. The attention may be given to the brand but the effectiveness of the message is lost in the company’s misjudgment.

 #FashionFailure

If you are going to utilize a social media platform, such as Twitter, as a broadcast channel for advertisements then use the platform properly.

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#Aurora trended on Twitter after a tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. A gunman opened fire in a movie theatre, killing 12 and wounding dozens. Individuals payed their respects and offered their prayers and support to those affected by the event using the #Aurora hashtag.

Clothing retailer Celebboutique.com missed the memo. They decided to post this tweet instead:

ht_celeb_boutique_tweet_jp_120719_wblog

The tweet was followed by numerous apologies after the retailer realized the insensitive play they had just made about a horrific event.

auroro-tweet

Unfortunately, their apologies did not make matters any better. Many assumed that the mistake was made because the company’s Twitter feed was set up to scan trends and auto-generate tweets.

However, in one of the apology tweets, the retailer admits that their PR team (real people) is not based in the United States and had not looked for what the trend was about.

celeb-boutique-tweet-aurora-kim-kardashian

This example takes us to the other side of the Newsjacking spectrum.  The retailer utilized a trend on Twitter to promote themselves.. without even knowing what the trend was or how it could implicate not only their message but also their brand.

Newsjacking represents a shift in the traditional PR model.

Public discourse is now so fast paced and instantaneous. In order to stay ahead of the game, you have to use the goals and penalties to better your favor.

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They call me “Macca’s”. That’s not my name. That’s not my name.

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ImageMcDonald’s restaurants are publicly recognized in six of the seven continents on the planet. The world famous company claims to operate in 119 countries, with over 33,000 restaurants worldwide.

Whoa.

Now with this much branding, how could McDonald’s possibly relate to smaller, more intimate communities?

McDonald’s Australia CMO Mark Lollback knew just the answer.

This year in January, the world famous company changed its name to Macca’s at 13 restaurant locations throughout the country in celebration of Australia Day and its 40th anniversary.

Studies have shown that over 50 per cent of Australians have adopted the bubbly nickname for the world’s most beloved burger joint.

“Aussies are extremely proud of who we are and where we’re from, and part of being an Aussie or being accepted by Aussies is to be given a nickname – it’s a unique and defining element of Australian culture.” – Mark Lollback

As a Public Relations student, I find this campaign quite thoughtful and unique. Nicknames are used as a shorter pronunciation of a name or title, but can also be used as a connection between two people to strengthen their relationship. Lollback’s plan was to strengthen the company’s relationship with its Australian demographic by changing its brand to a commonly known nickname among the people.

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As part of the DDB campaign, McDonald’s used TV, print, digital, outdoor, PR and social executions to introduce their new Aussie Tastes Menu. McDonald’s could not have picked a better time to execute this PR Stunt. Physically changing the name on their signs occurred during the first week of January until February 4, during the nation’s holiday when morale was high. This was their final tactic for introducing their new Aussie Tastes Menu.

“One of McDonald’s strengths is our global consistency, but also our ability to meet customer demands locally.” – Mark Lollback

My name is Dylan Cain and I have more nicknames than I can count. Some people call me Dill, while others call me Cainer, Dilly, D-Man, or Dill-Pickle. The list goes on and on. When someone calls me by any nickname, I instantly feel special. McDonalds Australia took this idea upon them to further identify with their audience and make their campaign special, too.

“Sina What?” – Why you should know about Sina Weibo, one of China’s fastest growing social media platforms

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weibo

Ever heard of Sina Weibo? Probably not. But if you lived in China you definitely would.

Sina Weibo, often described as the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, is a microblogging website that is home to over 503 million users and approximately 100 million messages posted daily. With numbers like this, it is a social platform that organizations trying to connect with Chinese consumers cannot ignore.

Especially when popular western social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have been blocked from the public eye by the government.

Considering that China is home to world’s fourth largest economy, one of the fastest growing GDP rates, and a daunting 1.35 billion consumers, it’s become more and more important for businesses to understand how to connect with this lucrative market.

And Sina Weibo is the answer.

Many non-Chinese businesses have taken note of Sina Weibo’s popularity among the Chinese population and have utilized the platform to gain marketshare. Below I will highlight some examples of how organizations and people effectively use Sina Weibo, commonly known as  Weibo, to further their brand in China.

Tiffany & Co

In a country where consumers will represent 20 per cent of the global luxury goods market by 2015, Tiffany & Co. has taken to Sina Weibo to establish itself as on of the top five jewellery brands in the eyes of the Chinese consumer.

With over 215,000 fans on their Sina Weibo account, Tiffany & Co. focuses heavily on creating an association between their brand and Chinese celebrities they have worked with. They accomplish this by tagging the Sina Weibo accounts of celebrities in their posts that showcase their products.

Above is a post by Tiffany & Co. comparing their jewellery to the photography of the popular Chinese artist @wangxiaohui. By associating the beauty and craftsmanship of the artist’s photography and the creation process of their jewellery, Tiffany & Co. is defining their product offering with a sense of prestige and personal, artistic expression among their target audience. Establishing this type of connection among Chinese consumers is helping the company drive sales of it’s high-end jewellery.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that @wangxiaohui has well over 1 million Sina Weibo followers that will have seen the post by the jeweller, boosting their consumer impressions.

Even celebrities are on the Weibo train

Not only is China a hotspot for the consumption of luxury goods, like jewellery, it is also becoming the world’s largest consumer market for film and entertainment industry. Recognizing this, many western entertainment celebrities are flocking to set up their Sina Weibo pages to engage with their growing Chinese fan base.

And many of them turn to Fanstang, a company that specializes in Chinese social media marketing for international celebrities. Fanstang’s model is to translate the Twitter posts from celebrities accounts and then repost the translated version to Sina Weibo on their behalf. This allows the celebrities to gain credibility and expand their fan base by communicating in their own language. Some of the accounts that run by Fanstang include Avril Lavigne, Paris Hilton, and Robert Downey Jr.

Fun Fact: The lead actor of the Iron Man series, Robert Downey Jr.  doesn’t  have a Twitter account, yet he is on Sina Weibo where he boasts an impressive 1.02 million followers. He used this following to promote the premiere of Iron Man 3 to Chinese movie-goers when it was released this past summer. By not ignoring social media platforms that are specific to his Chinese market, Downey Jr. has successfully built a major fan base overseas and the results are apparent. The opening weekend of Iron Man 3 brought in $21.5 million, shattering previous records and making it the most successful movie opening in China to date.

So if you’re a business trying to reach out to consumers in China, what are you waiting for? Don’t get left behind in the eyes of the Chinese consumer, and go create your Sina Weibo account today.

-Curious about other trendy social media platforms in China?Check out this great infographic created by the people at go-globe.com.-

Coca-Cola Launches Stevia Sweetened Cola Beverage with Biomimic Marketing

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By Jarrett Hather

To get more in-depth with Coca-Cola’s green image, I will focus on the use of biomimic marketing in Coca-Cola’s new sugar-alternative drink Coca-Cola Life.

Launched in Argentina and Chile in 2013, Coca-Cola Life is the brand’s third low-calorie sweetener soda beverage, and its first made with naturally derived stevia leaf extract and regular sugar. The benefits? A 60 per cent reduction in calories versus regular Coca-Cola from using stevia, and the sweetener will not affect blood glucose or insulin levels – stevia may even promote insulin production. To appear in keeping with its new green image, Coca-Cola Life is made even greener with a fully-recyclable plant-based bottle.

Now stevia has been around for a while, but not clearly in mainstream products. Do you recognize any of these?

Zevia Soda

Stevia Sweetener

Didn’t think so. How about these?

SpriteVitamin Water Zero

They’re one of 45 products Coca-Cola add stevia to. Plain ol’ Sprite, now with stevia, was introduced to France in 2012 and spread to the UK in 2013.

Inevitably, this trend has everything to do with biomimic marketing, which uses images of nature to market a product. Next Nature explores the relation between people and nature and describes this marketing practice simply:

Nature is a terrific marketing tool and corporations know this. Somehow the natural reference provides us with a familiar feeling of recognition and trust. We call this phenomenon Bio-mimic-marketing.

Here are some examples from the Coca-Cola Life Facebook page marketed in a lifestyle and natural setting:

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The photos are awash with earth tones, Instagram-like candids, and a close connection to the environment; all of this is a response to consumers demanding corporate environmental accountability. And it works. In June 2013, Reuters wrote about the decline in sodas in the United States and the need to break the barriers to consumption.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, told a conference hosted by Bernstein Research in May that a breakthrough in sweetener technology could help reverse the decline in sodas in the United States and that it needed to occur sooner rather than later.

“A global roll-out seems likely.” says Bill Pecoriello, an analyst with Consumer Edge Research. PepsiCo had mixed results with its use of stevia in cola, but Pecoriello believes an initiative by Coca-Cola will spur PepsiCo’s innovation.

Coca-Cola goes further to remind us of all things relatable – chicken wraps and garden weeds – with its own collection of moments: first kisses!

If launched in North America, is this the right tactic? Does Coca-Cola need to change its familia-oriented Coca-Cola Life website?

Coca-Cola holds 50 per cent market share in Argentina. If Coca-Cola Life is successfully introduced, is this telling of health conscious attitudes held everywhere?

If consumers stay educated, this is the way to go.

Our Future Must Go Green! Why Coca-Cola Israel was so successful with their ‘Recycling King’ campaign

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Our planet needs our help.  Our world is continuously changing and our population of people keeps growing.  Technology keeps expanding, pollution keeps developing, so we must continue to spread the word and save our planet.  We all know what we have to do and we must start now.  

Coca-Cola is all about doing smart marketing as it is the best consumer marketing company in history.  Coca-Cola Israel decided to do a campaign to promote recycling in Israel using Facebook Places in 2011.  10,000 recycle bins were placed all over Israel and each of them were given their own Facebook Place location.

http://www.businessinsider.com/coca-colas-smart-campaign-to-promote-recycling-on-facebook-places-2011-6

By adding the large number of recycling centers to Facebook, Coca-Cola was able to raise awareness of recycling and successfully integrate a location-based service into their cause marketing. Brands outside of the cause marketing space can also look to this campaign as an example of how to reward users for performing branded social actions whether it be sharing a link, checking in to a location, or interacting with a brand in a social game.  Coca-cola Israel’s Recycling King challenge became a huge success and created endless amounts of buzz, not only in Israel, but for Coca-Cola in general, around the rest of the world.

Creating the buzz.

http://www.smartercontent.org/live-content/coca-cola-the-recycling-king-facebook-places-youtube/

Coca-Cola is always one step ahead of everyone when it comes to social media and campaigning.  The real beauty of this campaign is that it allowed everyone to get involved on a personal level.  It created a social buzz between friends and recycling became the new trend in Israel.  This campaign became that much more successful when it went viral on the Internet.  All countries around the world know what we have to do to help save our planet by going more green.

Importance Of Going Green At Home

Even the simplest of acts can reduce the trash you generate and thus the amount of waste you are contributing to landfills. For example, if you reduced the default margins on your word processing program, you can save a significant amount of paper. A report by Penn State University found that if the university made a similar move in their Center for Academic Computing labs, they would save $120,000 per year in paper costs.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/134490-the-importance-going-green/

Another successful campaign… A Billion Acts of Green- Together we’ve reached  1,019,890,210 ACTS OF GREEN.  Many amazing videos and ideas to watch on the link below.  We can help them reach 2 billion.

http://www.earthday.org/takeaction/index.html

Go green. Recycle. Reuse. Repeat.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

“From plastic bag-free towns to refashioned clothes and bus fleets run on chip fat, here’s a guide to what you can do to tackle waste in your community”

http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/recycling_and_waste/530515/how_to_campaign_for_less_waste_and_more_recycling.html

The Ecologist gives many ideas to make recycling more fun and easy.

Coca-Cola continues to raise awareness, campaign, and fund, so many important things around the world.  We know what we have to do, the time is now to start making a difference with the way we live.  Our planet needs our help, and so does everything else that lives and breathes the same air we do but cannot make a difference without us.

Be passionate about your planet.  Be passionate about your future.  Be passionate about green.

Blog Post by Laura Jeffs

Finger Lickin’ Great!

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In 2010, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) knew they had to come up with an innovative campaign to generate buzz and increase the chain restaurant’s business. The company wanted to draw attention to the brand’s 75-scholarship Colonel’s Scholars program. With social media on the rise, the Colonel knew just what to cook up.

KFC teamed up with Weber-Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms to award a $20,000 scholarship for a single tweet.

Students could use up to 140 characters, while including the hashtag #KFCScholar to convince KFC executives they were deserving of a $20,000 scholarship towards their college education.

KFC kept active on Twitter, providing followers with tweets like:

KFC's Tweet

“KFC Twitter scholarship application/Tweets rolling in! Search #KFCScholar to read them. More info: http://bit.ly/9reSIN

The scholarship tweet campaign generated lots of buzz for the company. KFC’s Twitter handle saw a 20 per cent increase in followers in just two weeks. The Internet definitely noticed the Colonel’s contest, generating more than nine million social media impressions. (Most of them resulting from tweets during the brief entry period.)

Time magazine’s Keith Wagstaff writes:

“I always thought Colonel Sanders’ commitment was to artery-clogging fried chicken, but no, apparently he’s a scholar as well. I guess that makes the KFC Double Down brain food!”

The winner, 17-year-old Amanda Russell tweeted:

Amanda Russell's Tweet

“Hey Colonel! Your scholarship’s the secret ingredient missing from my recipe for success! Got the grades, drive, just need cash!”

…Earning herself the $20,000 scholarship.

This PR campaign worked wonders for KFC, attracting 2,800 applicants and successfully catching the public’s eye.  Good thinking, KFC and Weber-Shandwick!

Blog post by: Veronique Simard

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