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This last Thursday marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Everyone wanted to show their patriotism, and so people turned to one of the most popular communication avenues: Social Media. Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with posts from friends with images of the twin towers, American flags, and personal stories in an effort to commemorate the lives that were lost.

But what happens when a company tries to be a part of that conversation?

Countless brands headed to Twitter in an effort to join consumers across the country in showing their patriotism and support. Or at least… that was their intention. While some brands managed to demonstrate pride in their country, the majority of these “good intentioned” tweets came off as opportunistic – as if the anniversary of 9/11 was their chance to make an impression on consumers and boost their brand’s revenue.

CVS 9-11 TweetThe tweets that were well-received by consumers were from brands that left their logo and personal selling out of the message, such as a simple tweet from WalMart of the New York skyline with the caption “Always Remember.” Unfortunately, some brands went beyond the simple, humble message and tied their product into the 9/11 tragedy or even offered discounts in honor of the anniversary. For instance, CVS pharmacy posted a #neverforget tweet with an image of the New York skyline, which would have likely been much more acceptable had they not stuck their CVS logo on the bottom right hand corner. And then some companies were just straight up insensitive. For example, a southern tie company called Tied to the South asked users to retweet their 9/11 image for every death that occurred during the 9/11 attacks.

Why such a negative response from consumers? After all, in today’s market brands are a living, breathing entity with their own unique personality, shouldn’t they get a say? Apparently, according to influential Internet blogger Sean Bonner, the answer is no: “Brands are not people. Brands do not have emotions or memories or condolences or heartbreak. People have those things, and when a brand tries to jump into that conversation, it’s marketing” (AdWeek 2014).

Build-a-Bear 9-11 TweetOne part of the problem may be with the fact that these messages do not always come off as genuine. Brands that connect best with their consumers are those that are authentic and transparent with their messaging. Forcing your brand to align with the anniversary of 9/11, like Build-a-Bear workshop did when they posted a photo of a bear in army fatigues, may not seem like the most honest of gestures. Thus leading consumers to the conclusion that these brands are simply taking advantage of a national tragedy to promote their own company.

Consumer engagement is a hot topic for marketers across the country. With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever before to interact one on one with the consumer. According to The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Scott, the days of one-way interruption are over, and web marketing is about delivering useful content at “just the precise moment a buyer needs it.” However, based off the vocal backlash against the companies whose tweets ultimately failed, it’s apparent that not all marketers understand the appropriate way to utilize these communication channels.

In today’s marketplace, it is imperative that marketers are responsible and respectful with their messaging. If brands were simply trying to show their respect, the best thing they could have done would be to take a step back, and let consumers reflect and heal together without the promise of 20% off Bikram Yoga classes.

Bikram Yoga 9-11 Tweet

What do you think? Is there a way for brands to talk about current events, national tragedies in particular? Or is it best for them, and their brand, to stay out of the conversation?

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The Art of Trench

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In The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Scott states “with social media you can tell a story. If you have a special interest, then you can get an audience” (Scott, p. 247).
In 2009 the British luxury brand Burberry was struggling to find a way to build a valuable and meaningful presence in social media. The moment coincides with a period of economic pressure for the brand that was suffering from the economic downturn.
Both Angela Ahrendts, the CEO’s of the company in 2009, and Christopher Bailey, at the moment the Chief Creative Officer, recognized the importance of social media to build a long-term relationship with brand’s customers by strengthening the relationship with them.
In particular, in order to engage the youngest consumers, in 2009 Burberry launched The Art of Trench website, a global social platform, dedicated to everyday normal people wearing the iconic trench coat. The platform allows users to post photos of themselves, add comments to the pictures and even share them on Facebook.
Moreover, talking specifically about the power of FB, Scott says “there’s a human element that can be brought in with FB. You humanize what your business does” (Scott, p. 250), specifying how the company needs to create something interesting that people are willing to participate to and even share it with their friends.
After one year only from the launch, Burberry’s FB fan base grew to more than a million becoming the largest fan count in the luxury sector at the time. The results were incredible: by 2011 the site reached the 13 million page views per month.
Instead of directly marketing its product, Burberry decided to count on the influence of public relations and word of mouth that could have been generated through them. Following the success provided by the campaign the company strengthen its focus on digital and by 2012 the 60% of its marketing budget was given to digital media. Quoting the words of the ex CEO Angela Ahrendts “you have to be totally connected with everyone who touches your brand”.
Burberry was able to create a platform in which everyday people can actively participate into providing -using the words of a Twitter user- “a visual feast that inspires users to explore further” and that’s exactly where the company’s strategy should focus on: “The challenge is to create a compelling reason for somebody to want further intact with your company into the future” (Scott, p. 235)

Categories : General Virtues
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Mobile MoMa

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“ It is clear that we’ve come to a point of no return in the impact and uptake of mobile devices, and yet still most businesses struggle with the mobile-social decisions,” claims Scott in his book “New rules of Marketing and PR”. Arts and culture management traditionally is one of the most conservative fields, resistant to majority of innovations. Indeed, opportunities provided by technologies are almost totally unexploited by many cultural institutions dealing with visual art, many of which have nothing more than a simplest website. Moreover, digitalization is still seen as a threat, as it provides broad and free access to images before available only in museums, galleries and books. In this context, the MoMa’s mobile application example should be a real pattern and a benchmark for the whole cultural sector.

First of all, the application is totally free, which is a good stimulus to download it without extra thought. Second, it’s very coherent with a current need of visitors from planning (it shows opening hours, current exhibitions, directions, and allows to buy a ticket) to exploration of the museum (it serves as an audio guide and a map). In the “More” section one can add the favorite music to the audio guide, make a photo with MoMa brand frame, download podcasts, watch MoMa videos on youtube, and much more. It’s also possible to share your experience with friends or to send a feedback to museum’s staff. What is important, the application contributes to the solution of the crucial problem: “How to make people return?” as it sends notifications about upcoming events and new exhibitions and outlines the advantages of membership (which is possible to purchase directly from the app!).The MoMa’s application thought out like a real tool to move the audience from “a one-time looker to a long-term fan” (Scott, p. 235) and is a truly remarkable example for the whole museum sector.

Categories : General Virtues
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Instagram published its first sponsored advertisement for the luxury brand Michael Kors on November 1, 2013. The image, which depicts a gold plated, diamond watch propped on a white cloth and surrounded by macaroons, generated 36,000 “likes” and 300 infuriated comments on the first day.




The luxury brand’s sponsored ad is thematically is similar to previous content posted on its brand account, which has an engaging fan-base of 1.3 million followers. Although in terms of mastering social media to foster engagement, Michael Kors is at the forefront of producing compelling content, many user complaints centered on issue of simply having the luxury brand streamed on personal feeds.

An article on discusses the overall response to the luxury brand being streamed throughout all users personal feeds. One sample of the negative comments included states: “If you’re going to do sponsored ads you should at least make them cheaper I can’t afford this.”

The issue at heart ultimately stems from the fact that this new form of advertising is a blend of content marketing with traditional advertising on a platform that traditionally discourages traditional marketing initiatves and encourages engagement of brands through relevant and authentic content.

Michael Kors is one of nine brands that met the steep requirements by Instagram to advertise on the photo-sharing platform. The requirements on behalf on Instagram were that marketers must have a longstanding reputation of producing visual imagery that is compelling and attractive. Additional brands soon to circulate sponsored content include: Adidas, Ben & Jerrys, General Electric, Lexus, Levi’s, Macys, Paypal and Starwood.



Categories : General Virtues
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Brands often attempt to benefit people, but Pedigree and DDB Brussels is helping dogs, as well. It is recommended that dogs take a thirty-minute walk daily in order to keep them in good health. Pedigree decided to encourage dog owners to go out and exercise their dogs by setting up urban dog trails that stretch up to two kilometers, in major Belgian cities. With seven trails in total, dogs and their owners can explore their cities; trail maps are posted at local bus station shelter stops. Dog owners are encouraged to share photos of themselves and their dogs on Pedigree’s Facebook page with an opportunity to win prizes.

This advertising campaign succeeds by addressing and solving a problem in a unique way. It allows people to experience Pedigree in a new light rather than via traditional television and print ads. In his book, Living Brands, Raymond A. Nadeau describes Four Megatrends that are changing the world of brands. One of these Megatrends is Mood and Experience Enhancement, which includes how “culture’s desire is to get back into the body, to feel a psychological and physiological response, to feel like a ‘more human’ human.” Pedigree is providing people a literal path to experience their physical surroundings, while simultaneously improving the quality of life for dogs and their owners.

In addition to the real world connection, Pedigree wisely encourages dog owners to share their walk experiences on social media such as on their Facebook page. Author David Meerman Scoot in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, urges brands to not neglect the power that social media has to disseminate a campaign since ‘web content provides terrific fodder for viral marketing.”

With a mixture of real and virtual experiences, Pedigree enhances engagement with their brand and our best friend.

Categories : General Virtues
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Authentic auto-complete searches on Google reveal alarmingly sexist suggestions for simple phrases like “women should” or “women shouldn’t.” The branch of the United Nations focused on women’s rights has turned these search results into powerful advertisements, featuring faces of ethnically diverse women with their mouths prominently covered by the auto-complete type. The results include wordage like “stay at home, “be slaves,” or “shouldn’t have rights.” The UN is striving to raise awareness showing how “gender inequality is a worldwide problem.” While the UN isn’t a typical company that survives on selling products, it is still a distinct brand that operates on solving problems throughout the world. Campaigns like this bring attention and credibility to an organization that strives for a stronger and more united humanity through peaceful collaboration.

The effectiveness of this advertisement comes from the pure disconcerting truth of the matter. The vast multitude of people worldwide that have actually searched these phrases resulted in vaulting them to the top spot in the Google algorithm. The ads have gone viral, sparking conversation across the globe on this topical human rights issue. While the ads were originally published in the Middle East—where open societal discrimination of women is more common—the success stems from the fact that these emotions are relatable to women in every culture. Desiring love and community acceptance is a universal human value, but gender equality and respect are still lagging behind. This is partly due to how patriarchal societies are still accepted as the reigning dominant ideology in many cultures across the world.

Great ads transcend both demographic and psychcographic barriers, tapping into genuine human truths and offer insight into a compelling issue. The campaign addresses a widespread perception of women, and is appropriately informative and jarring. Using Google as a platform, the UN is bringing to light a contemporary and sensitive subject. Beginning a dialogue is the first step to altering perceptions, and the UN has excelled at setting this particular agenda. Superior advertising not only engages the audience, makes a statement and stimulates discussion, but is grounded in relevant human values. As Raymond A. Nadeau states in Living Brands, the brand becomes more meaningful when “an advertisement truly reflects culture–for better or for worse.”


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A blushing bride in a dreamy advertisement for ornate gold jewellery is certainly nothing new in India. Make her a dark skinned Indian bride who was previously married, and you’ve made advertising history — not to mention a social media sensation in a country that has historically frowned upon divorce.

Tanishq, the jewelry company owned by Tata Group, is the company behind the minute-and-a-half long ad that depicts a single mother preparing for her wedding accompanied by her young daughter, complete with a handsome groom and proud relatives. Adding to the “controversy,” the mother’s complexion is a few shades darker than the fair tone favoured by Bollywood and Indian television.

Second marriages have become more accepted in India in recent years; however, in the staid and traditional world of Indian advertising, celebrating such an event, particularly one featuring a confident, unapologetic bride, is definitely a new approach. The ad has sparked both enthusiastic praise and harsh critiques across borders and has fuelled ongoing discussions on feminism in India.

Raymond Nadeau, author of Living Brands, reminds us that a business should be considered virtuous to the extent that it truly reflects the lives of consumers and is rooted in contemporary culture. Tanishq dared to make a bold statement about the progressive values of its brand and target consumer. This is a prime example of a socially responsible company that has kept its finger on the pulse of evolving cultural trends.

Categories : General Virtues
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Ah Halloween, arguably the best time of the year, people running around in costumes, candy everywhere and most importantly; Halloween themed shows and ads. So what does this all have to do with Tide? Did they endorse a Halloween special? Did they run a spooky ad? Even better, they decided to invade Vine.

Now I know what you are thinking, what could Tide possibly want with Vine; the social media powerhouse composed of 6 second clips? Isn’t that just a place for pre-teens and young adults? Well yes, it is mostly populated by that particular demographic, but that’s the genius part about all this. Thanks to the brilliant minds over at Digitas, Tide has decided try and keep their consumer and soon-to-be ones engaged through a different social media venue, one that breeds shareable content. They first started stirring the cauldron by announcing their month long plan to showcase different Halloween themed clips featuring Tide on their Twitter. A great way to hype up what are not only hilarious, but albeit a little scary Vine clips.

Each Vine displays Tide as part of a classic horror movie, ending with the logo and tagline “Stains Better Be Scared”. But let’s not forget the hashtag  associated with each Vine, a surefire way to promote and track shares and engagement. Pretty soon everyone was tweeting, and re-sharing these Vines, and they inevitably went viral. But they didn’t stop there. Pushing the envelope once more, Tide decided to take this Digital medium and put it outdoors. Digital billboards that had these Vines playing on loop were placed along highways, cleverly bypassing the “no full video” law placed on all roadside billboards.

These things got so popular that the agency stepped up their release schedule to just every two days. All this while managing to keep the Tide on everyone’s minds, and engaged waiting anxiously for the newest Vine. And like I said before, they did it in the target market most likely to grow. Anyway, I’ll stop explaining things and let you watch my personal favorite.

An homage to Carrie? And a way to make Laundry detergent cool? Yes please.

If you are interested in watching the other Vines follow the link below to an Adweek article which has compiled them. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Categories : Engagement
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How to Sell a Piano?

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Piano is a delicate and sophisticated music instrument, and its advertisement should be not less sophisticated and smart. And this advertisement exists – it took a form of gorgeous videos with grand piano and cello.
In 2011 the videos of two guys playing music, which is impossible not to fall in love with, were published on Youtube channel “The Piano Guys”. The channel initially was settled as an attempt to promote a piano store in Utah, but in a short time became the source of inspiration for people from all over the world. “Hope I can tell and thank them somehow that THEY inspired me so much that at the age of 28 I started playing the piano”, “Guys, my daughter succeeded in persuading me to sent her to the music school after she watched your videos” – are the most typical of numerous comments under the videos and on project’s FB page.
The unique story of success started when Paul Andersen bought a piano store with the franchise name Piano Gallery of Southern Utah but instead of using the franchise’s website he started to attract customers passionate about music. He loved showing pianos and favored the Yamaha Disklavier and Clavinova; and he felt that everyone needed to know about these outstanding instruments. Several years after Paul got seriously injured and stayed bounded to the bed for almost half a year. He spent this time getting what he calls an “unofficial PhD” in Social Networking and YouTube. He came up with a daring for a piano business idea – to use a Facebook page and a YouTube channel to promote the store instead of using conventional advertising.
As soon as Paul recovered, he approached a pianist Jon Smith and a cellist Steven Sharp Nelson and convinced them to give the project a try and create a first video. All the rest now is the part of history. “During my first conversation with Paul he told me that ThePianoGuys’ YouTube channel of 10,000 subscribers (at the time) would one day be the largest in the world, I thought he was crazy,” laughs Steven Sharp Nelson. “Since then I’ve eaten my hat.”
In a while Al van der Beek, responsible for the sound, and Tel Steward, video producer, joined the team. In the video “What makes you beautiful” that got 24 million of views on Youtube for the first time all five participants showed up. They used the piano as guitar, percussion, piano itself and even violin.
The Piano Guys see their mission not mostly in selling the pianos but mainly in bringing happiness and inspiration, sharing their music and emotions with subscribers. Among around 40 beautifully made videos with astonishing sound you can hardly find one that got less than 2 million views. As for now their record is mentioned 24 millions, the second popular composition, where they combined music by Mozart and Michael Jackson, got 12 millions.
Paul doesn’t have economic education and he believes that helped him to succeed as he runs his business like a dreamer rather than a manager. The case perfectly illustrates the idea of the “New rules of marketing & PR”: “Organizations gain credibility and loyalty with buyers through content, and smart marketers now think and act like publishers in order to create and deliver content targeted directly at their audience“.

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Beginning in 2014, Hollywood studios will no longer be distributing 35mm film to theaters. While the majority of theaters have already made the switch to digital projectors this is not the case with drive-in movie theaters. There are only around 350 drive-ins left in the US; very few have been able to afford the $80,000 digital projectors per screen.

The Honda Motor Company recognizing this problem, launched Project Drive-In with the goal of preserving a piece of American culture and, specifically related to Honda, American car culture. The company pledged to donate five digital projectors to the unconverted drive-ins that receive the most votes on the Honda website. In addition, Honda is asking people to spread the word via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, pledge to go visit a drive-in, and contribute to Project Drive-In’s Indiegogo page. Through such donations, Project Drive-In has been able to save an additional four theaters and counting.

To allow even more people to experience drive-ins, at certain Honda dealerships around the country, there will be pop-up drive-ins featuring complimentary screenings of the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Honda could have easily just donated the projectors to the drive-ins and written a press release congratulating themselves. Instead, they decided to invite the community (both local and far) to rally around this cause to preserve a venue of joy. In his book, Raymond A. Nadeau asserts that, “brands can step into this new emotional territory and become people’s partners in their search for meaning…” This partnership exceeded Honda’s goal as a tide of generosity from individuals worked in concert with Honda to preserve the magic of the dive-in theater.

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