Tag Archives: Branding

5 Facts That Affect GREAT Social

PancakeSelfie

Holiday Inn Express has just gotten past the hump of their nine city, SelfiePancake Express truck tour and there’s already a few pieces of learning to be gained from this strong social content event. Signing Rob Riggle as the “Creative Director” for this campaign touting Holiday Inn Express’ newly launched 60-second pancake maker that includes a food truck outfitted with quirky and cool technology placing visitors’ selfies on the pancake themselves was very smart. The concept is a good one, but both wins and losses are showing in the middle of the campaign that makes a stop in Los Angeles this weekend. Here’s five of them…

CONTENT STRATEGY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ON-THE-NOSE – This campaign doesn’t blatantly tout the things you usually associate with hotel stays – hospitality, comfort, etc. – to engender conversion. They key on a secondary offering in this content – their included breakfasts and spiffy pancake maker – to add to the aura while having some fun. It’s definitely not a hard sell to stay at their locations, but its a meaningful one.

HASHTAG STRATEGY SHOULD CLARIFY, NOT CONFUSE – Looking at just some of the collateral for this campaign, there’s not one, not two, but three hashtags presented. The most beneficial to this campaign is the #PancakeSelfie tag due to the content and context. The second one – #StaySmart – makes sense as it is their current corporate hashtag. But, that general tag should not have the prominence it does on this campaign and one can wonder why they chose such a generally vague tag when other hotel chains and organizations use the same tag. When choosing a hashtag, you should know you’ll be able to completely own it (again, no confusion.) And, the third hashtag is the most confusing – #DontWaffle. Besides the obvious point that a waffle is not a pancake, it just bifurcates the audience and certainly does not inspire by leading with a negative – a sentiment not aligned with their overall branding or this campaign.

POSITIONING CELEBRITY IN CREATIVE WAYS IS A WIN – They made a smart move by incorporating talent (Rob Riggle) as not just a spokesperson, but an executive of the company. We’re not sure if he’s being anything more than creative for the company, but it puts a different spin that alludes to the fun the chain is poking at themselves. As Riggle proves, the change in perspective allows more flexibility in storytelling and relate-ability. There’s a number of videos that were created and, with Riggle’s talent, there probably was enough content on the cutting room floor to complete a half-dozen more.

AUDIENCES NEED AN INCENTIVE – OR TO BE INSPIRED – TO POST TO THE SOCIAL NETWORKS – This is absolutely not scientific (due to just being a quick look at hashtags to get a sense of how many people were tagging posts properly), but there are an incredibly low number of people posting pictures of their #PancakeSelfies. Pardon the pun, but the table was set with plates that had all the right branding printed to surround the pancake and the participants just didn’t bite. Either they felt it was not cool enough to post without prodding, or an incentive like a “post to win” mechanism was needed. In this case, the chain could have offered a lucky person(s) a few free nights.

PR AND OUTREACH IS ESSENTIAL TO EVENT SOCIAL PROGRAMMING – When reviewing location mentions, the actual locations were surprisingly not posted with the hashtag – as far as we could see. And we definitely couldn’t find exact location call-outs from the official social feeds. The location announcements were found through local media outlets. Without knowing how many people showed up at each location, we can’t tell how effective they were, but it does show that events need tight integration with the communications teams to activate all outlets. In the case of this campaign, the fact that we don’t know where the truck is going to be in Los Angeles – and there’s nothing in the feeds about past locations (except Long Beach), there’s a hole in the plan.

So, Holiday Inn Express has done a great job with the Social Content Concept and execution on a good number of the pieces. It just highlights that all of a campaigns components (social or otherwise) really need to be addressed and aligned to see holistic success and a return on the efforts of a hard-working team.

8 Examples How To Build Brands Through Audience Participation

SW_DarthWhere it was once taboo to allow normal folks to play with and publish content based on a brand’s product, the opposite now stands when looking at a key factor of Audience Development. It wasn’t too long ago that brands might have shuddered if their IP was manipulated in a way like Wacky Packages did,  but most of those survived – and it was only a precursor to what audiences have the capability to do now with creative tools and the low cost of distribution and sharing. Those tools and abilities further strengthen the abilities for brands to build audience through allowing full participation.

So, in the spirit of Wacky Packs, the truth of the title above was fudged a little bit. Included are not 8 separate examples, but 8 different iterations of one example where a brand is allowing the audience to participate. That brand is STAR WARS – which is now managed by Disney – and these examples are how the characters were inserted by a fan (or fans) into the Tinder social platform.  A compelling dilemma about the brand is that they didn’t foster or celebrate that audience participation for years. Instead, choosing to control everything and any fan-generated content was done on the outskirts, completely pulled off with a rebel intent like the heroes of the series. When Disney took over, that spirit of community celebration and the welcoming of un-“official” creatives really started to take it’s rightful place.

All that is needed is the positive space in which to allow the audience to play – if the audience shares the same passion for the brand as the brand obviously does, they will make it happen. In addition, with proper Audience Development, they will self-regulate due to their affinity for the brand and bring the brand to heights that might have previously been unimaginable. The proof of just such a thing can be seen above and below with the classic STAR WARS characters trying to find a little love on Tinder…

SW_Chewie

SW_Lando SW_Droids SW_Leia SW_Han SW_Luke

American Express Taps Into A Legendary Community?

All brands are looking for ways to tap into large communities.  In some cases, it is simple enough to buy your way in through advertising, sponsorship or promotions. In some, there’s a number of hurdles a company would have to jump through in order to associate themselves with that coveted community.  Imagine working to tap into a highly-coveted group of 30+ million millennials who are part of a passionate community that has defied normal convention by building via social and word of mouth.  It’s no longer hard to imagine as Riot Games is allowing American Express to tap into their League Of Legends community with branded pre-paid Amex cards.

AmexLeague

 

While American Express did create a co-branded card for a program with Zynga in Spring of 2012, many would argue that Zynga’s games were open to such intrusion of branding since corporate logos had been incorporated into gameplay since the beginning.  We don’t even know how successful that program was and how many points were recorded through the branded cards. A relationship with Riot is completely different and exciting.

Riot differs from Zynga in that they have not incorporated logos into their actual gameplay.  There is brand incorporation via sponsorship of their competitive eSports teams – where teams of five get together to compete in round-robin tournaments for major prizes and international coverage. But that’s almost an entirely different experience than the 5 million-plus daily players experience. In effect, Riot is taking a big risk here as such a large corporate partnership could possibly lose favor among the deeply entrenched players – those who are more interested in an unblemished world.

Something that Riot has done extremely well is build on the idea that it is created by gamers for gamers. As such, there is a community pride in the fact that you could play a very long time without spending a dime, so therefore, they are willing to put some money in (a lot of money in) to enhance their experience.  But, that “consumerism” is all in the spirit of gameplay and community.

Will this partnership turn on deaf ears – even with loyalty rewards being offered? Or, will this be a huge play for penetration into the highly-sought millennial market? That is where the excitement comes in.

If American Express is able to penetrate this community, it would be a huge win for them as they attempt to increase brand awareness and loyalty for a finance firm that traditionally plays to much older audiences. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out and whether they tap in or trip out.

Timeless Copy, Design And Placement

Some might chalk it up to being in a part of the United States where there is no connectivity, so printed materials are all you’ve got. I chalk my excitement about an ad read while camping in New York up to actually seeing a compelling bit of copy with solid layout and even better placement. In a time where we seem to either find too much copy and imagery cluttering ads, or the other extreme of oversimplified condensing to a hash-tagged  word, the value in good copy is often ignored. That unconnected time in the woods brought me to an ad pitching a British watch made for an American bomber squadron with simple, entertaining and compelling copy. It stands as a timeless example of good copy, solid design and perfect placement.

BremontAD

What is striking is that it seems like we’re just stepping back in time. With a strong balance between negative space, words and imagery, it maintains a feel that is consistent with the brand and this specific product.  The British watch brand, Bremont, does have a little fun with the topic that is – no pun intended – timely regarding revealing too much information. They astutely convey very little beyond some basic facts and the influence of the B-2 bomber.

The ad is somewhat of a throwback in that it doesn’t provide a url, hash-tag, QR code or other gadget – probably because their consumer knows where to find them.

Media placement plays a huge part in this ad as well. Bremont’s ad was in the July issue of Wallpaper magazine – a perfect placement for their messaging and target.

The interesting thing is that the placement was in their July edition, meaning it might have come out in late May or early June – yet the ALT1-B2 was released in April and you can barely find it on their site, let alone in a store.

Which brings us back to their use of copy, design and placement… Sometimes its not about the product that’s being shown. All of these elements – when used properly – go beyond product and begin to convey brand. And that is when it becomes timeless.

Transcending The Pitch And Becoming The Lifestyle

The delineation of Lifestyle Brands as a separate vertical is odd to me.  Its hard to think of “lifestyle brands” that don’t retain a product at its core. Some examples of lifestyle brands – to me – are: Nike, Gatorade, Coca-Cola/Pepsi, and some could argue Apple or Facebook. You could arguably suggest that Livestrong at its height was a lifestyle brand, but its core product was funding and awareness for Cancer research. Perhaps one of the more recent strong transitions to Lifestyle is Dove. Though the Dove brand has been around for a long time with numerous strong campaigns, it has been over the past decade that they have been able to transcend the pitch and become the lifestyle.

What started in 2004 as a way to establish itself in a new market, Brazil, utilizing creative from London, Ogilvy & Mather Brazil’s “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” had a lasting effect that has enabled the brand to create content and community without constantly pitching its products. Perhaps the best part is the fact that the Brazil team launched what seemed to be a local campaign leveraging existing materials that then went on to drive strategy for the brand globally.

RealBeauty

A recent example is their “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” program that has garnered phenomenal viewing metrics.  Rather than describe it, you can check them out yourself, but keep in mind that there is absolutely NO product description. The US 3 minute documentary has garnered over 54 million views on YouTube in just under a month and a half.  The longer 6+ minute version has had 2.6 million US views.  Just the sampling of other markets shows Brazil with another 5.3 million views of the short and 1.6 million views of the longer on YouTube.

Needless to say, the amount of views is of incredible value, but we can’t forget how they got there.  This was certainly not a matter of posting a cool video and just seeing the video completes jump. It was about an almost decade-long investment to build the community with content and programming that helped Dove to become a Lifestyle Brand.

So, with that in mind, the way to think in this technology and media age is how can your brand become “a lifestyle.” It becomes a matter of content strategy, release strategy, Social Media, messaging and campaign strategy. And it could take quite a while.

If done right, it can effectively allow the brand to not even deal with the concerns about brand loyalty. While consumers are becoming more fickle about brands, they are becoming less so about their lifestyles. Red Bull was able to achieve Lifestyle status through their media content and Dove was able to do the same – in large part through their Real Beauty campaign.

So, if marketing product properly and thoughtfully could enable it to transcend product placement and pitching to become a part of life – or lifestyle -, then what constitutes a purely lifestyle brand?

Tragedy And The Brand Collateral Damage

Upon seeing the horrible replays of the horrible event during last week’s bombing of the Boston Marathon, I couldn’t help but notice the surrounding banners and logos that seared themselves into my memory.  Though neither John Hancock Financial nor Adidas had absolutely anything to do with the disastrous events, those images of banners and apparel logos are forever connected.  Of course, the idea of this happening at a sponsored event never crossed the marketers minds – and hopefully it never will – to dictate whether they should participate. But, what if it did?  Would brands evaluate terror risk before sponsoring an event for fear of the collateral damage of repeated impressions shrouded in tragedy?

BostonLogos

I realize that, in the larger scheme of things surrounding tragic events, this topic is irrelevant and possibly tasteless, but it is absolutely real. The question is whether the represented brands do anything in response specifically because of the connection, or do they shy away from continuing the connection for fear of getting into a no-win situation.

To illustrate that thin line between good and opportunistic – what if Adidas were to do a campaign to raise funds for the survivors or even promote the fact that they might provide funding toward prosthesis for those who lost limbs? Either one is worthy at its core ( Adidas is already doing a fundraising campaign and John Hancock seeded One Fund with $1Million) but it becomes a matter of how one chooses to promote either one. Again, is the goal to place your brand in a positive light, in light of the fact that it was so connected to negative?  Or, is the goal to do good and the positive light will be a byproduct and not the goal… It really comes down to intention and messaging.

In a little side note, beyond what Adidas is doing in response, Nike actually had to remove Boston Massacre products that they had already created in celebration of the storied NY Yankees/Boston Red Sox rivalry. In Nike’s case, they weren’t even involved in the marathon, but were still affected by a branding and taste issue.

My hope is that Adidas, John Hancock and even New Balance can afford to do even more to help those most deeply affected by the bombing.  Of course, it can’t be expected.  But, if Adidas provided apparel or prosthesis for the injured; NB provided apparel or prosthesis for the injured and Hancock provided financial resources for the injured and the families of the deceased that would be very cool.

In this case, who knows if it will be more financial support to the grieving and the survivors beyond what we’re already seeing. In the spirit of the event, the city and the aftermath, all of the sponsors will most likely come out even stronger next year. And, hopefully, nobody will make the wrong move and be conveyed as opportunistic or scared.

And even more hopefully, this kind of tragedy will never happen again and the question will not arise for brands in considering their sponsorship of events and whether there might ever be a negative connection with their brand.

Tesco’s American Invasion Was DOA

UK grocery company, Tesco, has decided to pull out of their American Invasion and take a $1.8 Billion write-off (with the favorable UK exchange rate – only 1.2 Billion Pounds – it still doesn’t soften the blow of the astounding loss.) Tiffany Hsu’s LA Times article points to Tesco’s misunderstanding of what the public wants and the dire consequences of trying to compete with the Wal-Marts, Costcos, Trader Joes and the like. If Tesco believed those were their competition, their analysis was very off – regardless of recession or not. Tesco saw themselves as something they were not – and in America, it’s foolish to think that customers will save bad branding by finding the hidden gems behind whatever facade is presented. Any way you slice it, its unfortunate that Tesco’s invasion of the American market was dead on arrival.

Courtesy: Freshneasybuzz

Courtesy: Freshneasybuzz

It had a lot more to do with branding, design and store locations than what Americans do or do not want. Admittedly, my exposure is limited to their locations in the Los Angeles market, but it quickly became very clear how Fresh & Easy was positioned counter-intuitively and ineffectively.

The first store I visited was a huge space on heavily trafficked tourist destination Hollywood Boulevard. It was large, dark and depressing. Another location was also in midtown on a heavily trafficked car artery with no abundance of parking spaces. And the last one I was in a week ago was probably the best model of what they should have been doing all along – a small, bright and colorful store in a heavy pedestrian area near USC.

Beyond their questionable locations and early dreary decor, they should have positioned themselves as the perfect last minute spot to pick up quality prepared meals and sundry items on the way to work or on the way home for dinner. They couldn’t/shouldn’t have felt they could compete with the established big markets.

The article compares them to a Wal-Mart, but Tesco should have positioned Fresh & Healthy as more akin to a refined and healthier 7-11 – like their own Tesco Metros back in the UK. That healthy option would have been the right aspirational touch – especially in Southern California.

Fresh & Easy might have worked if they had stronger positioning. It seems they were even unclear on who they were meant to be. Because of that, their marketing never worked. It’s a shame, because if you look at their location near USC, they could have focused on smaller spaces in higher foot-traffic (or more easily accessible) areas to create something akin to the Marks & Spencer Simply Food product in the UK. Another similarity to M&S in the USC location was the automated tellers that allowed staff to be focused around the store to help out in ways you certainly don’t see in a 7-11.

The promise of getting in and out of a market in five minutes with inexpensive essentials and healthy prepared meals would have been something that might have made it a success.

Short of that, its another example of a move that a company should have never ventured in the first place. Or, its an example of a good thing that never had the required clarity and forethought to drive success. Fresh & Easy is Dead. Long Live Fresh & Easy.