The “Instructional” Campaign

According to the calendar, Spring has officially sprung. And while we are still experiencing some chilly days, it’s undeniable most of us are ready to shed our winter gear for shorts and sandals. As with all season changes, clothing companies are eager to help you exchange your wardrobe.

Recently, clothing company Lands’ End launched their new “How to Spring” advertising campaign, showcasing, “How fun and fashionable it is to add bright colors, graphic prints and floral patterns with a few perfect pieces from the women’s spring collection”. It could be argued that every spring campaign that will launch this season will have a similar goal; however, Lands’ End decided to do something a little different this season by adding a sweepstake to its promotional and marketing strategy.

The sweepstakes works by first connecting with Facebook or entering your email. Once you’ve connected, you are asked to fill out your name, email, and zip code. Filling out this information unlocks the game. The rules are simple, select an outfit and click “spin”. If the outfit that the player selected matches the three tumblers, the player automatically wins a gift card with a balance of $25, $50, or $1,000. That’s it! Simple right? Not to mention, everyone is eligible to enter every day for the grand prize of $1,000 shopping spree. You can view the official rules of the sweepstakes here.

While we like to think that games, contests, and sweepstakes’ only motives are for fun and entertainment, they are actually a smart marketing move – encouraging consumption of the product by creating consumer involvement. This involvement builds fan base, engages the audience, and enables consumers to do your marketing for you. Not to mention, user generated content often provides quality, innovative, and creative ads for free.

In addition to promoting brand visibility, contest and sweepstakes are strategies that provide valuable quantifiable benefits for companies as well. They are cost effective, they help build search engine optimization (SEO), and increasingly important, they provide a rich source of consumer data for the company about existing and potential customers – emails, product preferences, location, etc.

With every click essentially producing some sort of user information, online contests are growing in use on websites and especially on social media. The most popular initiatives include: photo and video contests, tagging contest, hashtag giveaways, and website raffles.

Top Rank, an online marketing blog, named some of their picks of the best contest use on social media.
Facebook: When Frito-Lay began their campaign for searching for new potato chips flavors, the company bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to connect directly with the customers who would be eating them.
Pinterest: AMC Theaters have an entire Pinterest board, AMC Giveaways, where all users have to do is follow the board to stay up to date on the latest AMC contests. The basics are simple, when users see a prize they want, clicking on the image takes them to a landing page that collects their information.
Twitter: In a “retweet to win” twitter contest, Doritos tweeted a message that simply asked followers to retweet for a chance to win. The tweet was retweeted over 500 times in a day with winners snagging products that ranged from Doritos to widescreen tvs.
Instagram: As many clothing company are starting to do, Vera Bradely’s instagram contest asked users to post pictures of them and their favorite Vera Bradley bag using the hashtag #VBStyleShare. At the end of the contest, winners received a wrislet, followers of the hashtag could receive fashion inspiration, and staff could see how consumers were pairing their products.

The benefits contests can provide seem like an almost no-brainer for companies to increase brand awareness while also gaining consumer data, but as they start to trend they are also subject to overuse. To combat becoming another form of clutter, companies will have to make sure their contest are increasingly interactive, engaging, creative, or lucrative.

Have you ever participated in an online contest? Did you win? Did it make you feel more favorable towards the brand? Scrolling through your social media feeds have you seen brands using contests similar to the ones above? What are some of the best/most creative ones you have seen?

- Elizabeth Harrington, Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade

Marc’s Makeover: Marc Jacobs’ decision to rebrand… is it the right one?

Deciding whether or not to rebrand your company is an immense decision. Your brand is the face and personality of your company. It is what viewers connect with. Changing this identity will greatly affect your company, but if done right the market can soar.

Fashion designer Marc Jacobs has decided it is time for his company, Marc Jacobs International to rebrand. In an interview with David Amsden from W Magazine Jacobs explains the troubles the Marc Jacobs brand had encountered. Describing the brand as having been “diluted” from his lack of creative supervision and merchandisers pushing his design team.

In order to fix this Jacobs decided to leave his position at Louis Vuitton to grow his company, which includes boutiques, clothing lines such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and Little Marc Jacobs (a children’s clothing line), Bookmarc (a bookstore), and more.

Some changes have already taken place such as his decision to move his offices from Manhattan to London and his decision to part with longtime campaign photographer Juergen Teller after he creatively disagreed on the Spring 2014 ad campaign which features Miley Cyrus. 

marcmiley

So what is Jacobs looking to do? He’s looking to redesign the logo and packaging, to build his shoe and handbag lines, and maybe even change the name, which he told W Magazine that he had always hated.

Rebranding can be daunting between redefining research, audiences, creative campaigns, and even products, but for those experiencing continuous losses, it is often the best way to launch back into the market.

In recent years, another clothing line, Burberry, underwent a widely recognized successful rebranding campaign. Over the years, the British line went from being known for its historically iconic outwear, to being associated with cheapest form of high fashion, and even gang wear.

In 2006, the company hired Angela Ahrendts and in the next six years, she turned the ubiquitous brand back to luxurious. First, Ahrendts did what she called “buying back the company.” Reigning in the 23 licenses Burberry had around the world, control was brought back to the company with centralized executive and creative offices that could maintain product authenticity and exclusivity.

Secondly, Ahrendts recognized we are in the age of digital consumption and a digital generation – tapping into the resources social media and technology offers. In stores, sale assistants are equipped with iPads, and mirrors transform into screens displaying catwalk images. Online, the company continues to grow its presence, attracting over 16 million fans on Facebook, and over 2 million followers on Twitter. Burberry also uses YouTube to broadcast campaigns, events, music, and even corporate news. 

However, rebranding is not exclusive to high profile companies, the challenges above are things that can be experienced in all types of companies: personal, mid, or large. So how do you know if you should rebrand your own company? From Katie Morrell’s article “10 Signs You Should/Should not Rebrand” here are some warming signs that your company should rebrand.

Macro problems

Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press) suggests that if a company notices that their target customers are choosing the competition over their own company and if a decrease in sales is also trending, rebranding should be considered.

Look and function don’t match

Another element that should be considered when having a decrease in customers is “From a cosmetic point of view, when you look old and your looks don’t reflect what you are or what you deliver, it may be time to rebrand,” said Susan Betts, senior strategy director for New York-based FutureBrand North America.

Attracting the wrong customers

Rebranding is beneficial when a company wants to change their target customers. It gives a company an opportunity to create a new brand identity that the new target audience has the chance to connect too.

Management change

When a company changes management, it is normal that policies and values change as well. When a companies values change, rebranding is a good idea.

Philosophy/function change

When a company changes it’s direction, rebranding can showcase to customers what they may or may not be aware of concerning this change. Betts also mentions rebranding should be considered when a company has a “New philosophy or a changed philosophy”.

These signs are great examples to take heed from, but it is important to note rebranding should not be done unless it has been proven your brand identity is the root of your problems. Branding is the largest initial investment for a company, it sets the spring board for your identity, association, and customers. Rebranding is an even bigger investment – an attempt to reintroduce ideas to already established and preconceived perceptions is no easy task, it is one that must be thoroughly strategized. For Burberry, reigning in and refining their identity proved to be the best decision the company has made. For Jacobs, we will see what his creative vision produces.

What companies do you think have faltered recently or over the years? Who needs to rebrand?

- Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade, Elizabeth Harrington

Tackling Consumers

A round of applause for the Seattle Seahawks as the champions of the Super Bowl XLVIII. Even if you were not a fan of either the Broncos or the Seahawks, it almost a sure bet you tuned into the game. Every year over 100 million people observe what is arguably the sporting event of the year.

The Super Bowl, however, is known for more than a fierce round of football – it’s known for the commercials. Here is time where advertisers pull out all the stops. Audiences expect commercials of both artistic and humorous grandeur. Prices for spots annually rise, this year topping at $4 million for a 30 second spot.

Yet companies don’t spend millions for spots merely to entertain viewers. Unlike in decades past, advertisers are no longer in the business of explaining, but in the business of convincing and reinforcing. This is often the purpose of commercials we see every day. So, other than the guaranteed viewership, what is the worth of a Super Bowl spot?

Credibility, claims Joe Glennon, assistant professor of advertising at Temple’s School of Media and Mass Communication. In an article for the Philadelphia Business Journal, Glennon explains that many advertisers walk away from the exorbitant price tag due to the simple financial standpoint that $4 million for 30 seconds is a largely impossible return on investment. He explains that of those who do justify the expense there are two primary advertisers – large, well known, companies who use the spots to reinforce brand propensities among current users, and smaller companies who use the spot as a means to launch into the market by gaining notoriety.

So, in the myriad of last night’s entertainment, we have selected four commercials that beautifully represent the two credibility building categories Glennon noted; some attempting cut into, or further into the market, others reinforcing brand attitudes.

Squarespace

Squarespace created a spot that was a humorous, but accurate depiction of what the Internet is like – cluttered. Personifying memes, obnoxious advertisements, and the “duck face”, Squarespace offered to consumers that when using their services for website building and maintenance, the company could alleviate such distraction. So, why did Squarespace make it onto the list today? Simple, the Squarespace commercial introduced the company values and brand in a creative, weird, funny, and somewhat true way. Justifying the $4 million dollar expenditure seems to working so far – we are talking about – there’s probably a good chance other people are too.

WeatherTech

Although the ad was neither humorous nor heart-warming, WeatherTech’s commercial built on a sacred theme in the Super Bowl: American pride. Their slogan, “American Factories, American Raw Materials, and American Workers”, was enough to draw people’s interest and introduce their company as a defying the odds, sticking with their gut, and overcoming obstacles many American companies have faced. During a time when many gripe about US jobs becoming outsourced, it’s hard to say that WeatherTech didn’t prove their credibility with their national pride.

Cheerios

Yes, the adorable little girl is back and this time she is getting a brother. This 30-second ad wraps up what all of us remember of Cheerios and what the Cheerios brand wants us to remember about them; families coming together over love. Here Cheerios is showing how they are continuing to be a hearty and healthy part of growing families.

Bank of America/(RED)/U2

What does this commercial not do? It introduces U2’s new song “Invisible” (there is still time to get your free download if you haven’t done it), it highlights and raises money for the charity (RED), increases knowledge of AIDS/HIV, and shows Bank of America’s humanitarian efforts. Reinforcing their slogan, “Life is better when your connected”, Bank of America is giving a chance for its customers and the world to connect by helping to end an epidemic.

What is your opinion? Do you think these commercials deserve a spot in these categories? What other commercials did you see that introduce the brand or reinforce existing brand propensities?

-Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade

New Season, New Drama

For 7.8 million people, winter wasn’t too cold and lonely.  Their break was filled with anticipation and whispers about Juan Pablo Galavis, the new bachelor on ABC’s hit show The Bachelor.  As the first Latino to be featured on the show, his good looks and Spanish accent had women across the country swooning.  Now, almost three weeks later, Juan Pablo is still causing a stir – but for very different reasons.

In an interview this past week, Juan Pablo gave a very controversial answer to whether he thought The Bachelor should make a gay or bisexual version of the show.

“I respect [gay people], but I don’t think it is a good example for kids to watch that,” he said.  “There’s this thing about gay people — it seems to be, I don’t know if I’m mistaken or not — I have a lot of friends like that, but they’re more pervert in a sense.”

Bachelor Nation recoiled at Galavis’ less-than-sexy response.  Some Juan Pablo fans rushed to his defense, but members of the gay community were more outspoken.  One Facebook user accused Galavis of knowing exactly what he was saying, as “pervertido” is the Spanish word for pervert.

Even Bachelor producers felt the need to do some public relations acrobatics.  Producers tried to shift any blame away from the show and entirely onto Galavis, saying “Juan Pablo’s comments were careless, thoughtless and insensitive, and in no way reflect the views of the network, the show’s producers or studio.”

juan pablo

Juan Pablo later apologized through Facebook. He insisted that throughout the interview, he had nothing but respect for gay people and their families.  He did not mean to use the word pervert, but misspoke because of his limited English vocabulary.  He claimed to have only meant that gay people are more affectionate and intense, which might not be viewed positively by some of the TV audience.

Juan Pablo probably meant to use apologia, a rhetoric in communication that is used in defense for one’s actions or opinions.  However, to many members of the gay community, it was perceived as a non-apology apology – something quite the opposite.  A term that first appeared in the ’70s, a non-apology is when you apologize – but only if you have to.  Many celebrities or companies involved in a scandal will attempt to enact crisis communication by “apologizing” for offending anyone, rather than for their actions.   To the public eye, Juan Pablo’s apology had non-apologetic written all over it.  Pulling the “I-don’t-speak-English-so-good” card as one CNN reporter so delicately put it, is one such red flag.

Was Juan Pablo sincere in his apology? Or was he just trying to cover up some ill-used “palabras”?

- Christine Schulze

The Hunger Games are…Real?

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, opened on November 22, 2013 as a sequel to the Hunger Games. What started as a series of books by Suzanne Collins has been turned into a hit soon-to-be trilogy. Catching Fire made an estimated $158,074,286.00 on its opening night in the United States alone, according to IMDB. The blockbuster film partnered with many companies, including Subway and Feeding America. This trio has combined forces to also include Twitter in an effort to end hunger.

As a result of Subway and Catching Fire being partners, Subway is currently using the tributes of the Games to encourage people to eat in the restaurant. This type of celebrity endorsement brings in people who might not normally eat there. “Oh, if Peeta eats Subway, I should too!” Granted, this behavior might come more from children but they, in turn, will ask their parents to take them to Subway. I’ve seen this time and time again with my younger siblings. This also works for the older crowd, however, because a partnership of this nature often includes promotional items or sales/deals that someone may anticipate being offered. Subway has transformed their marketing strategies and dining areas, with concepts like “Where Victors Eat” and “Win your own Victory Tour,” with the latter being a sweepstakes in conjunction with their collectible Catching Fire drink cups.r_kat1

In the third and final facet of this trio of partners, Feeding America has jumped in and put their cause directly in the middle. Subway has placed cardboard cutouts of tributes Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick in the dining areas of Subways. A patron, after eating “What Victors Eat,” can take a photo with the cutouts and post it to the Subway Twitter, with the hashtag of #SUBtractHunger. Each time a hashtag is used, it is counted towards the 1,000,000 meals that Subway will buy for Feeding America. In the fine print, it says that Subway will donate up to $125,000, as each dollar makes about nine meals. However, this linkage will only exist until 11:59pm on December 15, 2013. The meals will be provided from Feeding America through local food banks in areas in need.

This celebrity endorsement effectively ties in cause marketing in order to create an environment in which Subway patrons are encouraged to aid Feeding America. Though there is no mention of patrons being able to donate money directly to Feeding America via Subway and Catching Fire, the Feeding America website has a donation area, as well as a hyperlink to a Hunger Games site, where a large “Ignite the Fight Against Hunger” plea is proudly displayed under a Mockingjay and above a photo of the tributes stoically ready to win the real-world Hunger Games. The number of families that go hungry over the holidays is continuously growing. With Feeding America, Subway, and the Hunger Games movie series teaming up to feed families, alongside many other organizations attempting to end hunger, do you think the odds are in are their favor?

-Hilary Hall

Dogfish Disaster Averted

As we have gravitated towards becoming a society submerged in technology, in recent years, outlets of social media have become essential marketing tools for many companies and organizations.Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine are few forms of social media utilized by most. While social media can strongly influence consumer behaviors and increase consumer awareness it can also be detrimental to a company’s image. In some cases social media can be the cause of a PR crisis. Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with this major event that threatens to harm the organization.

The American Red Cross is a prime example of an organization who exemplifies strong crisis management skills. This honorable humanitarian organization managed to dodge-a-bullet back in 2011 when an intern fired off a personal tweet on the company’s twitter account. The tweet read “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd”.

red cross

This uniquely unorthodox and unprofessional tweet received a lot of negative attention from the general public. In this particular circumstance social media proved to be the cause of the crisis. When responding to the tweet the Red Cross avoided disaster by acknowledging that the tweet went out, deleting it, and explaining with humor that is was a mistake. This is an example of crisis management where the Red Cross turned a potentially harmful tweet in to an opportunity for engagement.

Thankfully, the Red Cross realized the potential of social media and understood the power that it has to bring down a major organization. Now, other companies can look at this experience and utilize it to learn for themselves. After understanding the Red Cross’s response it is easy to break down their post-crisis steps and keep them in mind for other emergency situations. First, they were able to assess the situation. They realized the crisis was a major problem but they came to the conclusion that they could handle it which brought them to their second step, adapting their message. They considered their stakeholders and created a strong message to appeal to them. Lastly, they were able to analyze and learn from the situation post-crisis. Although this could have led to a horrific downfall for one of the greatest humanitarian organizations, everyone was able to benefit, understand, and learn from this experience.

red cross 2

-Parker Farfour, Caitlin Ford, Alex Corrigan, Kaitlin Batson

#YTMA… What’s that?

This past Sunday, November 3rd, YouTube decided to take a leap and reinvent the fundamentals of music video awards as we know them; YouTube held their inaugural YouTube Music Awards (YTMA). The live-streamed event, sponsored by Kia, took place in New York City. Directed by Spike Jonze, YTMA was an interesting and unconventional mix of miscellaneous acts, unscripted hosts (Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts), and awkward moments. Although they received criticism of their “home made” feel they did one-up their MTV awards competitors in one aspect, along with live performances by popular artist such as Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Brothers they also incorporated “live music videos”.

According to Ad Age, YouTube averages more than 1 billion viewers each month and is owned by Google, the most powerful of all internet companies. With this is mind we can only assume that the YTMA was a huge success. Wrong! The viewership was astonishing low, it was only viewed by 220,000 people at its peak; to put this into perspective the MTV VMA’s viewership was at 10.1 million this year.

So where did they go wrong? Although both Kia and Youtube advertised on their websites’ homepages for some time prior to the event. YouTube neglected to realize the importance of advertising on their mobile app.  This was a huge miss to their prime public because mobile apps are 40% of where their user base are present.

Also, unlike watching music video awards on TV, YouTube had a social media disadvantage.  Like many live TV events YMTA did have a hashtag, #YTMA, for viewers to tweet while watching the event. The hashtag reached a decent number of about 30,000 tweets, but there was potential to have had much more. Once again they forgot to keep in mind that many of their viewers watch from mobile devices, making it difficult to watch and tweet at the same time. This resulted with a large decrease of tweets about YTMA when the event went live, which possibly hindered other tweeters to start viewing.

These two factors alone go against the Audience Theory by Chaïm Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca which states “approaches will achieve the greatest adherence according to an ideal audience.”  YouTube’s target audience is the social media and mobile users, and because YouTube did not take into account these minor but impacting factors, it may have cost them viewers.  Nicholas Carr the author of The Shallows says, “most TV shows and movies are also trying to become more Web-like”. I think YouTube may be going in the wrong direction. They have excelled as an online video website, for their sake they should keep it that way and stop trying to be more TV-like.

-Kelsey Raskob