Today, a company must work fast to respond to crisis. In a matter of seconds, via Twitter, Instagram or every other social media, the whole world can know what is happening. It’s very important to understand and promptly react to consumer complaints because a good reputation is often a company’s best advertising. And good crisis management is essential to turn a bad threat into an opportunity.
Victoria’s Secret (VS) is a brand famous for starting a lot of controversies as much as they are known for their marketing of supermodel “angels”. Over the course of more than a decade, this lingerie brand has faced a lot of complaints.
For example, when their fashion show first aired in 2002, CBS received more than 4,000 complains from the Parents Television Council that called the show a “high-tech strip tease”. More than once, the brand has been criticized for showing models in a stereotyped way, offending more than one culture: Afro-Americans, Chinese and Native Americans.
Moreover, through the years, parents protested the brand for trying to sexualize teenagers. In 2013, a questionable statement was issued by the brand: “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK.”
Recently, another controversy arose when the brand released a new advertising campaign: “The Perfect Body”.
This campaign shows supermodels wearing underwear. Immediately the reaction kicked off as people posted on twitter the pictures of the campaign they found in store, asking angrily how a lingerie brand could communicate the wrong perception that a “perfect body” is size 0.
Moreover, three girls from the United Kingdom started a petition on Change.org: “Apologize for, and amend the irresponsible marketing of your new bra range ‘Body’”.
The petition went viral, reaching over 25,000 signatures in 10 days; they also launched a hashtag, #iamperfect, used by women all around the world on twitter and Instagram sharing their pictures.
In the end, Victoria’s Secret did change the slogan to a more politically correct, “A body for every body”while showing the same picture.
But the brand did not apologize or state they were sorry for communicating a wrong message. Consumers figured out themselves that the change had been made by looking at their website. Nothing was mentioned in VS’s social networks, as nothing really happened.
In this situation, if Victoria’s Secret pretends nothing happened, other brands can take advantage of the situation to make clear that, for them, every woman is beautiful no matter what size she is. For example, the British brand of lingerie JD Williams created the campaign #perfectlyimperfect, using a photograph that resembles the VS image, but with “real” women, not supermodels.
Another similar promotion has been done by the American brand Dear Kate.
It’s pretty evident how Victoria’s Secret campaign contrasts with the now famous Dove “Real Beauty” campaign.
In fact, the two images have been show together all over the web to show that we are all perfect the way we are, and we should not compare our body with supermodels.
I think it’s clear that Victoria’s Secret will never apologize for showing beautiful and slim supermodels in their campaign versus the “real women” of everyday life. This is because that’s what the brand is based on and why it’s so famous. They can’t show normal women and then have a fashion show with the slimmest and tallest girls on the planet.
But in the end, Victoria’s Secret should have made a statement acknolwedging it is wrong to associate the words “perfect body” with that image and that it’s OK to have the body that we have. Instead, they changed the campaign because of consumer pressure but did not take the chance to engage emotionally with customers, who, for the most part, are not supermodels.
Body image is a topic that generates a lot of mixed-feelings today. Do you think Victoria’s Secret should have managed the crisis in a different way?
What’s behind every great advertisement? This is a question often posed by many critics of the trade and continues to be an area of great debate.
Fame-hungry copywriters and art directors alike can often be found beyond regular working hours hiding within cities of paperback skyscrapers stuffed deep in the corners of empty, dimly lit agencies. Their goal? Locate that one integral piece capable of transcending the normal, mundane ad into the immortal realm of greatness.
They pick and prod at copies of Communication Arts, One Show Annuals, and online portfolios. Just like every great question that plagues man’s conscious, like “what’s the meaning of life”, or “what will happen when we die”, or “why does Steve Harvey always look so confused”, the answer to “what makes a great ad” may never be solved.
Fortunately, there is one recurring characteristic in advertising that helps make messages more interesting for the viewer: Storytelling.
People love stories. It’s not just an opinion that we have all come to adopt, but an inherent trait that allows us to better understand information that we intend to take in and process. Therefore, many advertisers use the structure of story to spice up advertising messages to make it more interesting, relatable, and easier to follow.
The famous Kentucky whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s took this approach and ran like hell with it to further engage their target audience in one of their recent campaigns called “Jack Daniel’s Bar Stories.” As you’ve probably guessed, the campaign is centered on stories told in bars.
Not your yuppie, frat-boy-filled clubs that advertise as local bars, but your down-to-earth, dirt under your nails, hole-in-the-wall bars found scattered throughout the country. Places you’ll find bearded men who smell of pavement and expel exhaust fumes with each release of breath. You know, a Jack Daniel’s kind of bar.
The agency behind the recent campaign, Arnold Worldwide, followed an insight derived from realizing that people who drink Jack Daniel’s can often be found hidden in the deep corners of dusty, old bars spouting off stories. Like ones about how old “Two Toes” got his famed name (some suspect it’s because he was born with two toes).
Since Jack Daniel’s has been known to pride itself on the rich story behind its creation, it just seemed obvious to use “stories” as a way to connect the brand with people. As Laura Petry, the client brand director put it, “It’s a shared experience and part of the reason we all go to bars in the first place.”
So the Arnold Worldwide team took to the streets to find the most interesting bar stories and consequently engaged in what is arguably the world’s longest pub-crawl. After interviewing groves of people, the team eventually amassed a collection of 24 stories from locals that they claim to be 100% genuine and a direct reflection of life experienced from behind the hazy windows of true American bars.
They discovered these unique orators of the haze by engaging in a hunt based off of the classic “I know a guy who knows a guy” approach. The stories range from topics like love and death, all the way to experiencing what it’s like to be a duck baby sitter. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
To capture the true essence of these unique bar stories, the marketing team recorded the retellings with both audio and video. They used the recordings as content for a new website that was launched in conjunction with the campaign called “Tales of Mischief, Revelry and Whiskey”.
On the website the stories are presented in two formats. They’re either audio playing over a slideshow of mood setting bar photos, or video of the original storyteller retelling their tale to you as if you were right there in the bar with them.
The site itself does a really good job at setting the mood from the very beginning. It opens with a short video that praises the many American bars that have stayed true to what it means to be a bar and have helped provide a backdrop for countless stories. While traveling through the website, one gets the sense that they are in one of those gritty bars, as soft audio of people conversing and glasses clinking can be overheard in the background.
One great thing about the website is that Jack Daniel’s never pushed the storytellers to include the brand name; any mentions of Jack Daniel’s were truly genuine. That may be a little difficult to believe in our highly transparent society, but it’s 100% true.
To continue engaging with their audience, Jack Daniel’s created a photo contest to coincide with the Bar Stories campaign. Users are able to submit a personal photo that they believe celebrates the mentality behind the campaign and then apply a pre-made Jack Daniel’s headline for a chance to be featured in a Jack Daniel’s ad in the January edition of Vice Magazine. Here’s a look at one of the entries:
It’s an aspect of the campaign that comes off as a little disconnected. It’s like a quick, poorly-thought out solution to the question of “how do we further engage with people”.
A better solution would be to use podcasts to continue telling these unique bar stories. It’s a medium that seems to have been largely under-utilized by brands because it requires thought provoking discussion to hold the attention of listeners. More often than not, brands have a difficult time not talking about themselves.
For this campaign, it makes more sense to continue the motif of story by using audio to capture and share user-generated content. Users could submit personal bar stories instead of cheesy instagram-like photos. They could easily gain further insights into how their customers view the social drinking experience and not make the brand come off as pushy of their product.
Jack Daniel’s created a quality campaign centered on storytelling. It shows that looking for inspiration from within can help guide your brand to a solution that fits. Jack Daniel’s fascination with its own personal brand story led the brand in a direction that makes the most sense for the connotations that surround it. Although gathering the stories from bars nationwide proved to be a tale in and of itself, it seems that the brand has found a position that they can leverage well into the future with active consumer participation.
Do you think this is a good direction for the brand to go in? If not, how do believe they should continue the story?
Do you still remember “the most interesting man in the world (also referred as TMIMITW)” from Dos Equis? The interesting man who lives vicariously through himself, once skipped a stone that is still skipping today, and speaks fluent French … in Russian.
This fall, Dos Equis’ interesting man is not just telling you another one of his amazing stories. He is actually “inviting” you to join his virtual masquerade party. Your ticket to his party is either an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, or an interactive online video.
On top of traditional advertising channels such as TV spots, sweepstakes and offline events that have already been launched, through the end of November, Dos Equis also plans to install 21 Oculus Rift headsets in several bars in “key markets” (most of which are in the Southwest US).
Lucky Patrons who happen to be at the selected bars are invited to wear this virtual reality headset to enter TMIMITW’s exclusive masquerade party. Once you enter the virtual world, you will find out that you are not merely a guest; you are the guest of honor of the party too.
For people without the opportunity to actually wear the headsets, Dos Equis launched a parallel online interactive video (click here http://www.dosequis.com/masquerade# to participate) with a similar theme but a different twist to it.
The video, like the virtual experience, also starts with the viewer entering the house and being welcomed by TMIMITW. But in the online video, you are given a very important mission: Help him find his little black book and bring it back to him.
Throughout the video, viewers are given several navigational choices (such as going upstairs or not) on screen. Each unique choice takes you to a different storyline in which you can possibly find the little black book.
People who find the little black book and bring it to TMIMITW get to enter their email and win a chance to join this campaign’s biggest physical event – a live masquerade party hosted by Dos Equis on November 22nd in New Orleans. The party will have special guests including: Jonathan Goldsmith, The Most Interesting Man himself and hip-hop star Q-Tip.
As David Scott strongly advocates in his book, New Rules in Marketing and PR, engagement is the key to brand success. Mobilizing consumers through interactive experiences is a major vehicle for better engagement.
Moving from mass media advertising to social media, brands are experimenting with platforms to better connect with their audiences. The critical task here is finding the platforms that generate the most personal, interactive, and interesting experiences to keep their customers highly engaged.
Certainly social media conversations, contests, user-generated videos are good and effective ways to involve consumers and create buzzes for the brand. But there are also more personalized channels that allow consumers to interact and connect with the brand at a deeper and more meaningful level such as virtual reality, interactive videos, and individualized product packages.
According to Franze Aliquo, Creative Director at ad agency RPM (Krisztina, 2013), people can get addicted to highly immersive experiences, such as the Color Run and Tough Murder. When people get to create an entertainment experience for themselves, they are much more likely to remember and enjoy that particular engagement.
Brands can take advantage of this concept by associating themselves with this kind of immersive experience. Or in Dos Equis’ case, directly create an immersive brand experience for their customers.
With Dos Equis’ virtual reality headset and online interactive videos, customers become part of the most interesting man’s story. Not only that, when people get to choose their own story plots and they’re rewarded based on their choices, the brand experience becomes very individual and unique.
The two-and-a-half minute virtual reality or interactive video offers consumers a highly focused experience with little distraction. The exclusive and undivided attention given to Dos Equis in that short window is invaluable for building a better connection with their consumers.
Current results suggest the approach is creating strong engagement. As of November 4th, 2014, the online interactive video has 3.6 million views. There are also about 1,100 Instagram photos hashtagged “xxmasquerade” to enter the Sweepstakes.
As for earned media, Dos Equis’ “masquerade” campaign story has been featured in major news publications such as the New York Times and Mashable. Many independent bloggers have also written about the brand’s new endeavor.
Although no financial data has been published regarding the return on this campaign, the level of consumer involvement is already impressive. It is very creative of Dos Equis to use new technologies such as virtual reality and interactive videos to create unique experiences for the customers.
New Google CSR Initiative Extends Sight for Non-Profits
This week, at its Geo For Good Summit, Google announced the Skybox For Good Program, a program that will provide non-profit and public benefit companies with real-time satellite imagery so they can tell their story and visualize their cause as it happens.
The Program, currently in its beta version with a handful of non-profits, seeks to make global causes more data-rich and more accessible to consumers than ever possible before.
Google purchased SkyBox back in August for $500 Million, or about one third the price Facebook paid for Whatsapp.
SkyBox uses small camera satellites 185 miles above the surface of the Earth with the ability to capture still images and live video of any point on Earth with up to sub-meter magnification, two to three times per day. And by 2018, once all 24 of SkyBox’s satellites are launched, Google will have the ability to broadcast such rich data as real time traffic video in real time.
For such a relatively small investment, Google may have acquired one of its most valuable services to date. Think Google Earth in motion.
What are the implications of real-time satellite data?
Although from a consumer viewpoint we have grown accustomed to live weather maps and Google Earth, real time satellite data is something that, until recently, has been largely unobtainable and technologically impossible. Even some of the satellite data from the current iteration of Google Earth could be several years old.
But if that information were up-to the-minute, Google could see and track anything. And by choosing to freely provide such powerful backing to humanitarian and environmental causes, Google is certainly setting an example for corporate behavior.
The implications of this technology are incredibly substantial for non-profits and public service organizations. Imagine, for instance, if the Red Cross and other rescue organizations immediately had access to full scale satellite imagery in the wake of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami.
Or imagine firefighters being able to pinpoint and track the spread of wildfires and environmental watchdog groups being able to track deforestation as it happens in real time. Such world-shrinking technology could have the power to provide salience and immediacy of important issues to those living in unaffected areas.
The technology is already being used in interesting ways. Two watchdog groups in the SkyBox for Good program, Sky Truth and Appalachian Voices, are using the technology to raise awareness against mountaintop removal mining. The WWF is using it to protect tiger habitats in Sumatra. And HALO has been using the technology to clear landmines and ensure the wellbeing of refugees.
But When you get down to it, this isn’t just about capturing images. It’s also about analytics.
When raw image feeds are coupled with the right software, the results can be astounding. Imaging can predict crop yields and oil production and track commerce and shipping at all major seaports. And nobody but Google would ever know.
That’s a considerable amount of power for one company. The same way SkyBox is currently being used in the private sector to track and analyze Apple’s factory shipments in Taiwan, Google could use this tech to track individual consumers down to how many cars they drive and even assess individuals’ typical out of home schedules and behaviors.
In the future, the technology behind SkyBox will inevitably lead to the creation of new apps and technologies based on simply analyzing what Google can see from the sky. Google’s example of empowering non-profits with this technology from the beginning is a noble, authentic initiative, but we must also consider the value of consumer privacy in its implementation.
What do you think? Will Google be able to handle this tremendous power on its own? Does the potential good that SkyBox could bring to the world mitigate the bad?
It’s obvious that water is better for you than soda but are you actually going to choose the healthier option? Brita is trying to help you decide by not only telling you but showing you why you should #ChooseWater instead.
The campaign started with a “Twitter Party” where participants could win Visa gift cards.
The blog Modern Day Moms hosted the event for Brita on their Twitter page, which has over 250,000 followers! @ModernDayDads, another parent blogger, co-hosted the event by retweeting and responding to participants’ tweets. The Twitter Party questions were:
Q1 Tell us how much soda your family consumes on average: one a day? one a month? one a year? Never? #ChooseWater
Q2 How much sugar do you think one soda a day is over the average adult lifetime? We’d love to hear your guesses! Use hashtag #ChooseWater
Q3 Tell us how much sugar you think a family of four consumes over a lifetime for the chance to win prizes! #ChooseWater
Q4 If you aren’t a soda drinker: tell us what types of alternative beverages your family consumes for the chance to win! #ChooseWater
After question #1, Jesse Ferguson of ABC’s Modern Family tweeted an image of him standing next to a small city made of sugar created by Brita.
Brita built the sugar city, with the help of Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Jesse Ferguson as promoters, showing how much sugar a family of four consumes in a lifetime! The exhibit was featured in the Chelsea Market in New York City with about 7,000 pounds of sugar in 28 buildings ranging from 2 to 7 feet in height, which is nearly one million sugar cubes.
But no worries, if you aren’t a NYC resident and can’t visit the exhibit, Brita released a video after question #2 of the Twitter Party of a similar sugar city they created. Only this city represented the amount of sugar one person consumes in their lifetime if they only drink one soda a day.
Brita’s #ChooseWater campaign is a brilliant way to show families they care about their health. They could have approached this campaign in a different, less effective way, by delivering their message through a typical print ad, for example.
Instead, they showed them and engaged some of their most important consumers using people they already listened to: Mom and dad bloggers.
The use of a Twitter contest in this campaign was highly engaging because the consumers they targeted, families, already aim to save money. This generally means the smaller the effort, the better. Visa gift cards allow parents to purchase what they want whether it is diapers, groceries, or even splurge on themselves. So Brita chose a smart promotional tactic to represent this by offering the opportunity to win these gift cards by just answering simple questions.
The decision to display their creation in an art exhibit promoted by a celebrity, Jesse Ferguson, was a great way for Brita to turn owned and paid media into earned media. Ad Week and PR Newswire picked up the #ChooseWater campaign because of this stunt, which featured Brita’s new video in their articles. The video engaged 12,000 viewers in just one week.
Brita chose an impactful, engaging, and tasteful (pun intended) way to market themselves against their competition and to show their concern about obesity in our nation.
The #ChooseWater campaign was a sweet idea for the product Brita offers, a water filter, that also encourages consumers to be healthier by living in a world with less sugar.
Content is the king of websites. It’s a point every company should understand. Most of the time, corporate websites are full of animations and cool software plug-ins, but they forget what consumers really want to see is content.
Coca-Cola is probably the first brand to move in this direction. Last year it declared the death of its corporate website. The new website is called “Coca-Cola Journey”, and it looks more like an online news channel than a website of a company that makes soft drinks.
This “Journey” started three years ago, when the company, realizing the media landscape was changing very quickly, launched “Coca-Cola Content 2020”. The aim was to understand how to leverage the opportunities of the new landscape by exploiting the power of dynamic storytelling.
According to Ashley Brown, Group Director of Digital Communications and Social Media for Coke, this change happened because they looked at their data and realized that what they thought was good content wasn’t necessarily considered good by their customers. They looked at customer feedback to shape the creativity of the business. The needs and the will of the buyers became priority in the new scenario. Coca-Cola understood that social media and online engagement was too important a tool to be neglected.
This new approach is the new way to engage with the customer. And mentioning the brand is not the top priority. They realized the main goal is to build relationship and trust, not promote their products; what they share on this platform is usable, fun and emotional content. It’s often said that “content is social at the core, digital by design, and emotional”.
Coke’s content talks about a variety of topics, from food to sports, from jobs to innovation. The articles are not written only by the company, but also from a group of bloggers who are part of “The Opener”, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that brings the best food, travel culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey. Every article can be shared through various social networks.
Everything published on Journey is data driven. The website attracts an average of 1.1 million visitors each month; they drive the future content of the platform. In some cases, a topic that is highly appreciated evolves into a dedicated channel. The amount of content to be published is also determined by data; the first year they published more than 1,200 pieces of content. Surprisingly enough, even if the focus is not on the product, articles about Coke do incredibly well.
Coca-Cola is one of the most well known brands in the world. Therefore, it was obvious that their corporate website, even in this new innovative form, was going to require a focus on different countries, their issues and their will. Today, there are seven local Journey websites: Australia, Deutschland, Japan, Morocco (in France and in Arab), New Zealand, Russia and Ukraine. More countries should be introduced soon.
Despite all this good news, there are a few people who are not convinced of this new scenario for corporate websites. Mark Higginson, Social Media Manager at the University of Brighton, reviewed a sample of 87 posts on Journey to understand the real social interaction with customers. His results were not positive: “the average number of shares from a post to Facebook was 238, to LinkedIn, 103 and to Twitter, 42. Each post averaged eight comments and two-thirds of posts received no comments at all.” Of course this number of shares seems very weak since we are talking about Coca-Cola, one of the most well known companies in the world.
There is no doubt that the direction of Coca-Cola has introduced a change to the role of the corporate website. Of course, a social media approach is not suitable for every kind of business, but everyone must understand that what is important is the customer and what kind of content they want to know.
And the promotion of the product must not dominate.