Subscribe to advirtues

Enter your email address:

Algida is the first ice cream brand in Italy, but it’s also known internationally by different names. Actually, you can see the same logo around the world and associate it to different brands. That’s because the Unilever Group (owner of the brand) opted for a globalized logo which identifies the company internationally and independently from the local name.

You may have heard about (and eaten) Wall’s or Frigo, but in Italy it’s Algida, a brand that was born in Rome back in 1945 and then acquired by the Unilever Group in 1974.

There’s a very interesting story related to Algida and another ice cream named Winner Taco. This half-moon ice cream was invented in the 1980s in the U.S. under the brand name of Choco Taco. It was briefly distributed in Italy from 1997 to the early 2000s, just long enough for many Italians to fall in love with the ice cream’s unusual shape and taste.

In 2011, two Italian men started an effort to bring back Winner Taco by launching a Facebook page called “Give us the Winner Taco back”. This act created a significant buzz and gathered a lot of protests, parodies anIl-ritorno-del-Winner-Tacod brilliant photomontages. The number of users grew to such a point that Algida completely lost control over the official Facebook page of the brand.

Whenever something was published tons of sarcastic comments followed; every initiative of the company on social media was boycotted and everything simply ended with the explicit request for the return of Winner Taco.

Their mission was to take the lost ice cream back, regardless of what Algida tried to do. In this way, the brand’s official page actually lost any kind of company value.

The brand found itself in a very delicate situation. They were between comedy and tragedy. On one hand, their rate of activity on social media was extremely high and it quickly became a successful case study. On the other hand, it could become a dangerous boomerang if not managed in the proper way.

In January of this year, Algida finally reacted by announcing on their Facebook page a “relished comeback” along with a picture partially showing a polSchermata 2014-11-06 alle 10.50.18ar bear, the Winner Taco’s mascot. At the same time, a new Twitter account was born, @ilWinnerTaco. And to push the news even further, Algida put a huge Winner Taco on Ponte Milvio, one of the most known and travelled bridges of Rome. The Winner Taco was officially back!








The web community that had developed around this issue felt empowered and considered the ice cream’s re-introduction a consequence of their pressure. This result created of a sense of ownership stronger than ever – something that wouldn’t have been easy to achieve with a traditional advertising campaign.

Algida was very clever. Even though it took them some time to understand how to respond they made the right move and were able to turn the situation to its advantage.

It’s true that this is a case in which consumers’ protests on social networks started a movement. But it’s also true that the brand listened and answered. Algida started from consumers’ commitment and created a campaign out of it. The brand had nothing to lose from the ice cream’s return on the market. And in the end, they capitalized on the spontaneous web buzz instead of lying down in the face of high interaction rates, some of which were negative.

Algida stepped forward and demonstrated that one of the greatest possibilities of the web is to create a direct connection between companies and consumers.

And the result was a happy ending. Winner Taco, son of the 1990s, the decade that had seen the birth of the internet, came back thanks to the internet itself.

Winner Taco

Comments (4)

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 “Apologize for, and amend the irresponsible marketing of your new bra range ‘Body’”.

Schermata 2014-11-11 alle 16.32.28

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.

Schermata 2014-11-11 alle 16.38.49

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?

Categories : General Virtues
Comments (5)


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?

Categories : General Virtues
Comments (4)

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.

de1In this new fall campaign called “masquerade”, Dos Equis has stepped up to give their fans a different brand experience.

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 to participate) with a similar theme but a different twist to it.de3

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.de4

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.

Categories : General Virtues
Comments (6)

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.

SkySat-1 & SkySat-2 in the Clean Room

SkyBox satellites are the smallest and nimblest of their kind.









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.

Sri Lanka

SkyBox being used to clear landmines in Sri Lanka.

SkyBox monitoring destructive mining practices in Appalachia.

SkyBox monitors a displaced persons camp in Sudan

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?

Categories : General Virtues
Comments (5)

City of Sugar

By · Comments (5)

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.

Brita launched the #ChooseWater campaign using an approach that engages consumers through Twitter, award winning bloggers, a celebrity endorsement, an art exhibit, and Brita’s YouTube channel.

The campaign started with a “Twitter Party” where participants could win Visa gift cards.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 5.59.12 PM


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?

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

Q3 Tell us how much sugar you think a family of four consumes over a lifetime for the chance to win prizes!

Q4 If you aren’t a soda drinker: tell us what types of alternative beverages your family consumes for the chance to win!

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.08.56 PM

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.


The blogosphere abounds with thoughts and messages from the most diverse individuals, representing – theoretically – all the possible voices of the world. For some people it’s just a way to share their everyday reflections. For others it’s about diffusing their opinions on relevant topics related to their job and interests. And for still others, it represents the actual source of their livelihood.

Professional bloggers exist in several disciplines, from cooking to technology to cinema and fashion. And they’re able to live upon this form of expression. Read More→

Comments (4)


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.

Schermata 2014-10-09 alle 14.25.02


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.

Schermata 2014-10-09 alle 14.34.28

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.



Categories : Engagement, Internet
Comments (3)

If you live on the planet Earth and have access to the internet, then you’ve probably heard about #Bendgate, Apple’s latest PR fiasco, which even T-Mobile CEO John Legere is vehemently dismissing as “Horse dung.”

#Bendgate arose from allegations that Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus has the tendency to bend in its users’ pockets. And while Apple has been quick to deny this unintended hardware capability, thousands of photos and videos shared on social media seem to suggest otherwise.

Brands were exceptionally quick about trying to cash in on the scandal on social media, and the results were record-setting. The most notable gain from bendgate was Kit-Kat whose image of a Kit-Kat bar being broken at a 45-degree angle topped Oreo’s now infamous “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” from the Super Bowl in 2013. Kit-Kat’s was retweeted over 23,000 times, amassed a whopping 10,000 favorites.

Does it bend?

Does it bend?


Samsung’s Tongue-in-cheek Response


Even Pringles had something to say.

Rival Samsung was also quick to capitalize off of Apple’s unfortunate bend by releasing a video, which depicts their Galaxy Note 4 undergoing a series of stress tests simulating a Galaxy Note 4 being sat on by a mechanical posterior.

While the internet’s hilarious reaction to bending iPhones allowed a multitude of brands to gain social media cred at Apple’s expense, one thing remains clear: In the world of technology, there is shockingly little transparency about how the devices we live so connected to in our daily lives are manufactured.

So much is at stake to tech behemoths like Apple and Samsung: Their stocks are made and broken on the heels of a new product release. One weakness exposed, and quarterly profits might be doomed to collapse. Case in point: Apple has yet to make an on-camera rebuttal demonstration, or even acknowledge that more than nine cases of phone bending have been reported.

Frankly, the most worrisome thing about “bendgate” is that corporations have become so big that they can no longer admit when they are doing wrong.

But there’s a dirty secret that the other tech companies have tried to keep under wraps for quite some time. Does anybody remember when Apple announced that they were banning the use of industrial Benzene and N-Hexane from its iPhone post-production process, chemicals which effectively endangered Apple’s 500,000 factory workers? Not many.

Benzene and N-Hexane are Category 1 carcinogens which are banned in most Western countries for industrial use. They are known to cause leukemia as well as nerve damage, paralysis and reproductive abnormalities. In the consumer electronics industry, benzene is used as a cleaning agent for electronic parts in the post-production process. And because it costs about $1 more per device on average to not use benzene in the manufacturing process, cell phone manufacturers are essentially putting their employees’ lives at risk to cut costs.And the use of benzene isn’t just isolated to the tech sector. Its use spans a wide variety of product categories from athletic shoes to hardware to toys.

Watch: The Human Cost of Electronics

In October 2013, Samsung was slapped with lawsuits after former factory workers were found to have contracted terminal illnesses from contact with the chemicals in the workplace. Apple had its own share of problems in 2011. And these are not isolated incidents between these two companies. Other major electronics manufacturers, including HP, Dell and LG, have still yet to pledge against the use of toxic chemicals like benzene and n-hexane.

Apple’s announcement to discontinue the chemicals was made public in August through a press release on Apple’s Environmental Responsibility blog. In addition to the announcement, Apple released, for the first time, a Regulated Substances Specification, which dictates how chemicals should be handled by their suppliers. However, apart from a few cover articles on social media, little has been done on Apple’s part to further champion against the use of these chemicals.

When it comes down to it, companies need to be more accountable for the way that they operate, not just the effectiveness of their product designs. Until then, the companies we are relying on to provide us with the technology of the future are effectively the ones working hard to endanger it. Tech brands should be required to be more transparent about their environmental and human impact, and they should seek safer ways to produce their products.

Apple was right to ban benzene and n-hexane from its post-production processes, but not enough was done to truly raise awareness about what is really going on behind factory doors. But don’t be so quick to judge Apple for #Bendgate, when they are the only ones to take measures against benzene. Instead of bludgeoning each other with the latest misstep, maybe tech manufacturers should take a step back to consider their fundamental duty to benefit not just the consumer, but their own employees. Brands need to stand up and speak up.

What do you think? Should brands be obligated to enter the conversation of how the production processes of their products affect their own employees and the environment as a whole?

Think about how often you receive a text while you’re driving. What’s your reaction: text back or ignore it?

The scary thing is almost half of teens and adult commuters admit to texting and driving. In 2011, 1.3 million car crashes involved cell phones. So whose job is it to stop you from texting and driving? Your parents?

AT&T took on this parental responsibility as a brand in 2010 telling teens “it can wait” using television ads that showed real stories of teens’ final texts before dying in a car accident. They were scary and impactful.

Their 10 minute PSA even won the Silver Integrated Lion at the Cannes advertising festival in 2011 (preview below).

As you may have seen for yourself, these ads were memorable. But the issue AT&T faced was if people actually listened and remembered in the moment while driving.

After this campaign ran for two years, 97% of teens said they knew texting and driving was dangerous, but 77% remained confident they could still text and drive safely. Do scare tactics really work?

The campaign attempted to take the advertising further by encouraging teens to take a pledge online to stop texting and driving and share their pledge via social media. AT&T was really trying to make a difference but it wasn’t until recently that they found a way teens could really take action.

Introducing: #X

If you receive a text with #X, don’t reply. Don’t get offended. The text conversation is just paused, thanks to AT&T.


AT&T added to their “It Can Wait” campaign by creating this shorthand for people to use before driving.

You simply send #X to a friend before getting into your car to drive to let them know you can’t talk until you’re done driving. AT&T used the Top-Down Influence approach Gini and Geoff talk about in Marketing in the Round (p. 61).

For the next phase of their “It Can Wait” campaign, they used influencers to accompany their ad campaign. AT&T posted on their consumer blog announcing what the new challenge was about and explaining how consumers can tell others they are not going to text and drive using the app or #X.

They used other influencers such as teen celebrities like singer, Demi Lavato, and James Maslow from Nickelodeon as spokes people. James tweeted to reach his over 3 million followers (@jamesmaslow) :

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.38.44 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 10.38.34 PM

AT&T also created a website,, where consumers can watch videos, see what celebrities are saying, make a Meme, read related buzz articles, see the live twitter feed, and even make the pledge themselves. The site is important because it is separate from the main AT&T site.

This site is not trying to sell you their products, but engage their consumers in the conversation around their positive initiative.

The recent change to the campaign moves away from scaring consumers and emphasizes the use of #X and targets teens heavily instead of just the general population. And they communicate the message through relevant social media and young celebrities.

Part of their social media campaign around “It Can Wait,” focuses on what is waiting for consumers at the end of their drive. They encourage consumers to take a picture and tweet what was waiting for them. This new approach engages teens much more than the “It Can Wait” campaign back in 2010, as evidenced by the over 5 million pledges now on

it can wait

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.21.33 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.21.54 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.22.15 PM

Ironic, isn’t it? One basic way marketers learn to engage consumers is to “start a conversation” with people. AT&T did just the opposite of that!

They essentially told their consumers (and even their competitors’ consumers) to stop using their service. That sounds ridiculous. They could potentially lose money due to their consumers not using their service.

But that is what makes this strategy effective. Consumers will most likely think AT&T cares about them and their well-being over their competition.

Either way, AT&T has been successful at reaching millions of teens in an effort to stop something that threatens our lives on the road every day.

Do you think AT&T customers even care about their positive initiatives when choosing a service provider? Is AT&T’s call to action, #X, a long-term solution to end texting while driving or just another way for the brand to be perceived in a positive light?

Follow AdVirtues on Twitter!