Apple’s ‘Misunderstood’ commercial pulls on heart strings this holiday

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With the holidays just around the corner, many companies are releasing new ads and campaigns focused on family time and winter festivities. (Check out our post on West Jet’s holiday surprise now if you haven’t)

One of the most emotionally impactful ads I’ve seen thus far this season was released two days ago by, none other than, the tech giant Apple. Their new “Misunderstood” holiday campaign aims to shed light on our society’s obsession with technology and why that can be okay – as long as we remember the ones we love.

Apple’s clever use of emotional appeal in this ad is highly effective (I swear I didn’t tear up) and it really strikes a chord with many people this time of year.

What do you think? Is Apple’s depiction of technology use a reality? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Check out the “Misunderstood” ad here:


A Commercial For Strong Winter Tires Surprises Viewers With A Very Different Chilling Approach In Japan! (a must read!!)

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With Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Vines, etc. it takes just a matter of seconds to get your videos or pictures posted on to social media.  The challenge now is to have your video viewed and talked about more than any other video on the web and Japan knows just how to do it!

In our world today, it is believed that if videos are not super disgusting or super frightening, they will get overlooked and will not catch the eye of the public.  Japan decided to use the fearful tactic for their new 2013 winter tire commercial.

Check out the video.  Before doing so, be warned.  It scared a whole class of 51 students in a public relations program at a college, when they watched it all together… in the daylight.

How did it do? Successful??

This chilling tire commercial by Japanese maker AutowayTire went viral with over 1.3 million views in the first 24 hours.  It has been titled the SCARIEST ADVERTISEMENT of 2013.  It used both the fear and shock tactics for it’s audience.

What’s the point of this commercial?

We think to let viewers know how important it is to have tires with great traction when driving in winter conditions.  This commercial not only grabbed the attention of everyone across the world, but it also made an excellent video to want to share and talk about with your friends, family, etc.


If you have not seen the video and were too scared to watch it with the link provided in this blog, this 40 second video comes with a serious health warning before watching.  The commercial involves a car driving in a blizzard at night time and you view the commercial feeling like you are the one sitting in the vehicle.  Before you know it, a scary ghost girl appears very far away.  Then, out of no where, she appears in front of the windshield and hits it—- insert heart attack for viewers!!


AutowayTire wanted to emphasize how important it is to have strong tires on your vehicle in the winter time.  It also needed to prove why it’s tires are better than everyone else’s on the market right now.  Before the video was put on to social media, it aired with a major warning to the public before watching it.

It may not be a favourite video to watch, especially with the holidays coming up, however, it was definitely a great success and captured the eyes of people all over the world.  AutowayTire in Japan tried something extremely risky but ended up getting way more attention than they could have hoped for.

Don’t have winter tires on yet? Who are you buying from for this winter season?

Blog Post By Laura Jeffs

The LEGO Legacy: 5 Ways LEGO Appeals to New Audiences

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By Jarrett Hather

As a kid, I had no idea LEGO® sets were targeted to me. Where did my parents keep their toys?

Growing up in the 90s, the small diversity of LEGO gave me the impression that, had I travelled to other countries, I would find localized LEGO sets of landmarks everywhere: the archipelagos of Japan, the Great Pyramid at Giza, or a massive coral reef LEGO set. Back then, almost everything LEGO was called the LEGO SYSTEM whether you owned the nautical set, police enforcement set, or Shell gas set. Being in the LEGO SYSTEM also meant everything fitThe interlockability of LEGO bricks dates back to the first manufacture of LEGO in 1958:

Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.

LEGO Wikipedia


The LEGO SYSTEM allowed the LEGO universe to coexist from legacy to present-day, but my childhood fantasy regarding LEGO sets in other countries was completely wrong. I asked Katie Bushey, assistant manager of brand relations at the LEGO Group, to clarify their product line-up for me:

All of our LEGO products are available globally and are available in all markets; individual products are not made for certain countries. The LEGO products found in a store in the US are the same as the LEGO products in stores in the other countries.

Katie Bushey, assistant manager, brand relations, LEGO Group

Then how has LEGO managed to rake in more revenue than ever in 2012?

I’ll tell you.

1. Create a New Market in Your Target Age Group and Attract More Adults

LEGO Minifigures Series 2
LEGO Minifigures Series 2

Initially shot down because “we’re a building toy company, not a minifig company”, the idea for collectible LEGO minifigures was to attract children who were also interested in collectibles. In May 2010, series 1 debuted in unmarked packaging with random figures. Each themed set has a total of 16 figurines and to date 12 series exist. A new series is released approximately every four months (design details). The idea was successful, and LEGO now attracts a new market of child collectors.

LEGO Architecture Robie House
LEGO Architecture Robie House

LEGO Architecture celebrates famous landmarks and feats of architecture through LEGO bricks. Launched in 2008, LEGO Architecture has been reviewed favourably. “This has actually increased the breadth of the adult fan population, as more adults that were formerly non-LEGO buyers are attracted by interesting and good-looking sets.” says LEGO buff, David Eaton at Forbes. Marina Bay Sands, the next LEGO Architecture set, is due October 2013.

2. Timely Trendy Products

LEGO Star Wars has been around for a while, but as the Star Wars universe expanded with a prequel trilogy, video games, spin-off series, and more and more borrowing of the brand by others, so too did LEGO need to expand its Star Wars line-up. Beginning in 2005, LEGO released its first video game LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game based on the prequel trilogy and followed-up with four other Star Wars themed video games. In 2008, to coincide with the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, LEGO released a themed set based on The Clone Wars. Several CGI Star Wars LEGO movies have also been made, such as LEGO Star Wars: Bombad Bounty (2010), LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011), and LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012).

LEGO continues to follow cool trends in their The Lord of the Rings and Minecraft sets.

LEGO The Clone Wars
LEGO Minecraft
LEGO Minecraft

3. Comic Licensing

LEGO Superheroes

It’s no surprise LEGO has bandwagoned on to this surging trend. Over 50 films based on superheroes have been made since 2005. By 2012, LEGO had its Marvel Comics and DC Comics licensing in place, and the release of sets and minifigures continue to coincide with those films.

4. LEGO Video Games

LEGO Universe

Apart from Star Wars games, LEGO has been diligent creating video games from 2010 onwards. LEGO releases video games on all consoles, handheld consoles, as well as PC and Mac. The games cover racing, shooters, real-time strategy, open world, and even massively multiplayer online games. That’s just about every gaming genre excluding adventure. LEGO’s next massively multiplayer online game is based on its Minifigures line-up.

5. Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL)

Did you know adult fans of LEGO (AFOL) are a demographic to the company? In their company profile, LEGO has quantified the sales impact of its adult audience:

Just below five per cent of the LEGO sales goes to a large and loyal group, called AFOLs – Adult Fans of LEGO.

The LEGO Group

To LEGO, some sets deserve equal consideration. “With LEGO Star Wars, adults are equally considered.” said the LEGO company in an interview here.

As the adult market grew, LEGO listened: “Our adult audience is very important to us and we will continue to produce the larger, more intricate sets.” said the company.

With their excellent up-and-up performance since 2006, it’s entirely likely LEGO is on its way to breaking another record for 2013.


Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate Program posted a similar entry about LEGO last week.

Why Was 2012 LEGO’s Most Successful Year In Terms of Revenue?

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lego

Thank you, Katie Bushey at LEGO.

Console Wars: How the PS4 has taken the edge in the U.K.

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With the release of Sony’s new PS4 console on November 29 in the United Kingdom, the Japanese tech company went into high gear promoting its release throughout England and the United Kingdom.

And that’s no surprise since its direct competitor, Microsoft, released it’s next gen console, Xbox One, only a week before the PS4 release. With both companies pushing out brand new consoles at the same time, they have entered a fierce battle for market share. Because of this, the value of generating positive buzz in the U.K. has massive implications for the success of both consoles.

Sony was quick to recognize this and took matters into its own hands to ensure no one forgot that the PS4 was being released in the U.K. at the end of November.

The tech-giant turned to the marketing firm 180 Amsterdam to help launch a campaign for its most powerful console yet.  Al Moseley, CCO of 180 Amsterdam and his team decided to focus on the gamers and their experience rather than the console hardware in order to help generate buzz for the upcoming release.

“The goal for us was to turn a product built for the gamer, by the gamer, into a communications campaign that seduced the gamer.” – Al Moseley

With this simple ingenious idea in mind, the “For the Players” campaign was born. This integrated marketing campaign was filled with gaming culture references, special effects, and relates directly to their core consumer: the gamer. By focusing on the gamer’s experience, Sony was able to generate significant buzz among their target audience before the console was even close to hitting the shelves of U.K. retailers.

See the U.K. ad here:

But Sony didn’t stop there, they also took their campaign to the skies of London.

OXOTo further help amp up the release of the PS4 in Britain, Sony took over the OXO Tower in London for the length of November. The massive landmark was adorned in the iconic symbols from the gaming console’s controller, generating a huge amount of impressions around London. These symbols were lit up alongside the glowing London skyline every night for the entire month up until the U.K. release date.

The choice of using the OXO Tower as a freestanding installation by Sony was strategic for two reasons. Not only is the tower an iconic London landmark that can be seen across the city, but the building has existing windows that are already shaped like an O and an X: two of Playstation’s four renowned symbols – making it the perfect choice.

This extensive campaigning was not done in vain, and has already paid off for Sony in the U.K. market.

Over the opening weekend in the U.K., Sony sold over 250,000 PS4 consoles. This is approximately 100,000 units more than its competitor the Xbox One. This makes the PS4 the fastest-selling gaming console in U.K. history. And it is no doubt that the massive public relations efforts on behalf of Sony and 180 Amsterdam helped make this possible.

A war is raging in the United Kingdom, and Sony and its PS4 are on top.

Your move, Microsoft.

Gap’s “Make Love” Holiday Campaign Makes Waves

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The American multinational clothing retailer Gap has released the holiday extension of its “Back to Blue” campaign launched earlier this fall. The holiday campaign called “Make Love” showcases the things that matter most in life — genuine love, respect, and compassion.

The U.S. campaign starring cultural icons from around the world includes print ads, mail, social media and television ads. New digital content is also unveiled regularly on the brand’s YouTube account.

“Make Love is about giving love through action, whether it’s a service to others or a gift that’s a representation of love,”  -Seth Farbman, Gap’s Global Chief Marketing Officer.

Gap has collaborated with celebrities who have been sharing true love with their field of work and their social lives. The famous personalities modeled Gap’s 2013 holiday collection in the ads, adding a personalized touch to the garments. All stills starring celebrities such as Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper, Waris Ahluwalia, Malin Akerman, along with other personalities and famous models can be found on the official Pinterest page of the brand.

On November 24th, a tweet by Arsalan Iftikhar (@TheMuslimGuy) was sent along with a shot of a vandalized “Make Love” print ad. Gap’s still of Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia and model and film-maker Quentin Jones located in New York City had been marked with very racist comments. The campaign’s tagline had the word “Love” crossed out and replaced with “Bombs,” and “Please stop driving taxis,” scribbled a little lower.


(via Twitter, @TheMuslimGuy)

The ad had been received so well, encouraging and promoting interracial love and diversity in America. Several tweets and articles rooted for Gap’s campaign and what it stood for.

Due to this appreciation for the campaign, the vandalism was quickly reported on Twitter. This gave Gap an opportunity to excel in public relations reaction skills and problem solving.

The very next day, Gap proudly changed their Twitter account’s header to the Ahluwalia-Jones still, and professionally responded to the tweet asking for more information from the sender, Iftikhar, so that the ad could be taken down and replaced.


“@TheMuslimGuy Hi there. Thanks for informing us. Can you please follow & DM us? We’d like to know the location of this.” – @Gap

Upon its re-installment on November 28th (four days after the original vandalized poster was tweeted) the new ad was trending all over the Internet.


The “Make Love” campaign’s poster of musician Malcolm Ford and actor Max Snow has also been vandalized with hate speech in Chicago. The poster was defaced with homophobic comments and was also quickly made public on Twitter by JK Trudell (@jktrudell), and Gap replied shortly thereafter.


Considering the fact that the hate speech on these ads dealt with touchy issues like race and homosexuality, the brand reacted quickly and effectively. Gap’s public efforts to fix these vandalized ads are impressive and well worth the buzz they have generated.

What do you think of Gap’s “Make Love” campaign and of their efforts in restoring the campaign’s image and message?


Read the rest of this entry »

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

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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

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:





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.