Public Relations

WestJet surprises travelers with a Christmas miracle

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WestJet Flash Mob

After their flashmob viral video campaign last year, WestJet knew they had to make ‘giving’ look its best this Christmas.

Christmas miracles really do happen. A team of Westjetters and the power of technology brought this heartwarming campaign to life.

“T’was a night before Christmas, and all across the land… the good folks at WestJet had a miracle plan.”

As families were waiting at the departure area prior to their WestJet flight at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, a big blue box decorated as a present caught their eye. On one side of the box was a screen with an interactive Santa all dressed in blue. Upon scanning their boarding passes (loaded with personal I.D. info) a Santa addressed the passengers by name, asking them what they wanted for Christmas. Toddlers stared, old ladies giggled and mothers’ jaws dropped as jolly old Saint Nick asked them personally what they would like this Christmas.

While Santa asked and passengers answered, a team of WestJet employees tuned in and took notes of each request. WestJetters then quickly shopped and shopped at stores like 17th Avenue S.W., Best Buy, and CrossIron Mills to find everything on the list for those lucky Calgary-bound flights.

“But was everything ready? We all had to wait… For the moment of truth, at Carousel 8.”

The real magic happened when passengers were surprised with a snowy Christmas landscape at the baggage claim area upon their arrival. This time, WestJet Santa was there in the flesh along with a gingerbread man mascot. When the baggage claim light came on, a succession of presents rolled in. Tagged by name, the well-branded blue and white gifts made their way into the arms of the smiling travelers. As requested, the young family got the ‘big TV’ they wanted and the dad got his ‘socks and underwear’. Some lucky families even got a Christmas flight home.

Studio M, a digital production company based out of Toronto started brainstorming with WestJet’s sponsorship lead Greg Plata in August to make this miracle come to life. The video was posted to WestJet’s YouTube page on Sunday, December 8th and quickly sparked an online buzz that is sure to carry through until Christmas.

The stunt was impeccably branded and seamless, it is no wonder blogs are saying “WestJet’s Christmas surprise will make you believe in Santa.”

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight!”

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

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XboxPs4

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.

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(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.

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“@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.

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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.

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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 »

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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

“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.-

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