One Country Painted Red

With the rapid growth of new products, brand extensions and the blurring of traditional and new age advertising, marketing and advertising to target audiences has reached a new level of competitiveness. Brands now must adapt to this changing environment and contest with competitors to stay at the top of their market and target to audiences in creative, attention-grabbing tactics.

The most iconic brand in the soda market, and throughout the world, is undoubtedly that of Coca-Cola. In the summer of 2011, Coke created an original marketing strategy to run a campaign that would inspire people to connect with the brand both online and offline in order to acclimate to the changing marketing environment. The campaign’s prime objective was to increase consumption of Coke over the summer season and to get people to fall in love with the iconic brand again. Particularly, in Australia, at the time nearly 50% of teens and young adults had never tasted a Coke and this drove the brand to reconnect with the country.

Established in Australia, the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign immediately received positive media attention and consumer responsiveness. The idea of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was to place Australia’s 150 most popular names on the front of millions of Coca-Cola bottles, simple right? This was the first time in 125 years that Coke had made such a paramount transformation to it packaging, and it was revolutionary.

“We used publicly available data to review the most popular names in Australia and ethnic representation in Australia to ensure the diversity of our multi-cultural nation was represented appropriately.”

- Coca-Cola Spokesperson.

The Coca-Cola brand wanted to initiate conversations by putting Australians front and center and inspire them to connect with people and ‘Share a Coke’. The central theme that gave ‘Share a Coke’ its power was the way a brand so universal could replace its logo with individual names by reaching out to consumers and personalizing its brand to individuals.

“We are using the power of the first name in a playful and social way to remind people of those in their lives they may have lost touch with, or have yet to connect with”

-Lucie Austin, Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign strategically exhibited that when personalization in advertising is done the right way, it can be highly appealing and extremely effective. While Coke got personal, media was buzzing with talk over what the brand was implementing behind the personalization. Coke remained silent until Australia’s highest rated media weekend. The campaign was revealed to the public and aired across the biggest weekend in Australian sport, during the AFL (Australian Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) grand finals which reached over 30% of the population.

Succeeding the campaign launch, requests for more names were coming in the thousands. Coke was prepared for this boom of requests by setting up kiosks that toured 18 Westfield shopping centers attracting consumers to personalize any name on a Coca-Cola bottle.

Coke wanted to especially reach out to the 50% of young adults that had never tasted a Coke in Australia, and there was no better way to reach this target market than online. Participation and mass allocation was achieved through Facebook by providing consumers with the resources to connect and ‘Share a Coke’ by creating a personalized virtual Coke bottle to share with a Facebook friend. Consumers were tagging friends in pictures with personalized Coke bottles and sharing stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Coke consumers also could create their own commercials! With the abundance of requests still pouring in, Coke told consumers to put in a vote of “who do you want to share a Coke with the most?” via Facebook. After 65,000 people voted, Coke bottles with 50 new names were released. “Consumers were invited to SMS a friend’s name, which was projected live onto the iconic ‘Coca-Cola’ sign at Sydney’s King’s Cross. They then received an MMS enabling them to share their friend’s name up in lights, via Facebook and email.”

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The multi-platform communications strategy was implemented to ‘Share a Coke’ with someone you know, or want to know and ultimately gave people the resources to find, connect and share. After 3 short months of running the campaign, young adult Coca-Cola consumption increased significantly in Australia by up to 7%, making 2011 Coke’s most fruitful summer season in history. The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign resulted in 76,000 virtual coke cans shared, 378,000 extra coke cans printed at kiosks, and 5% more people were drinking coke. Coca-Cola had successfully won over Australia and became a part of popular culture again.

-Briana McWhirter

Banking on Bracketology

Even if you’re not a fan of college basketball, you’ve likely heard friends and colleagues exclaim about their “busted brackets” as of late. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, billed as “March Madness” runs throughout the month of March and is one of the most popular spring sporting events. The tournament begins with 64 teams and ends with the championship game in April. Part of the fun of March Madness, is Bracketology, the science of pitting teams against each other to predict the outcome of the tournament. It gets pretty serious–billionaire Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway even offered $1 billion to whoever fills out the perfect bracket.

Where does Bracketology intersect with IMC? The answer lies in the “good hands” of Allstate. 2014 is the insurance company’s third year as official sponsor of the NCAA tournament. This year, Allstate’s antagonistic character, Mayhem, is breaking brackets in a series of Tweets, Facebook updates, and Vines. While Mayhem is infamously known for causing car wrecks and burglaries, the Leo Burnett-created “March Mayhem” campaign makes light of Bracketology. Watch as Mayhem breaks, bends, and even blends busted brackets.

March is Mayhem

“March Mayhem” is Allstate’s social media component of its NCAA tournament campaign. During TV coverage of the tournament, the company sponsors the “Good Hands Play of the Game” and is rolling out increased advertising for its homeowners insurance. Pam Hollander, Allstate’s senior IMC director, points out that the campaign goes on as the tournament progresses, taking into account how different teams perform in the tournament. She says the campaign features direct engagement with fans. Mayhem acts as a direct engagement tool to connect and learn more about Allstate’s social media-savvy audience. With Mayhem, interpersonal communication takes place in an ad campaign, personifying the brand’s relationship with the consumer.

Mayhem isn’t the only insurance character with social media presence. Representing insurance companies big and small: the Gecko, Flo, Jake, and J.J. Hightail each interact with their Twitter followers. One of the strong points of the March Mayhem campaign is how it takes advantage of the Bracketology phenomenon to establish a connection with the consumer. Using a popular social trend in a social media campaign exemplifies the personification of brands.

Do you believe using Bracketology in advertising is effective? How have you seen other brands use social phenomena in their advertising?

-Nathan Evers

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

Personal Preferences vs. Employer Requirements

Six weeks until graduation here at UNCW. Ask any senior what’s on their mind and I can almost guarantee it has something to do with employment – resumes, cover letters, interviews, portfolios.

It is our goal to make a good impression on our potential employers in every form – in person, on paper, and increasingly important, online. Searching someone’s name can yield a lot of information – sometimes too much information.

In the COM Department, many students will enter fields where managing an online presence is part of their job responsibility. Here is where we enter the public versus private debate. We have been told that our social network sites should be kept public so that prospective employers, especially those in the marketing field, can see what we post about, how often we post, and if we’re keeping up with the latest trends. But what if companies aren’t making the public or private view a personal preference? What if they are demanding access to your accounts? Other than directly asking for your log in information, employers are also asking applicants to friend a human resources manager, or log in to a company computer during an interview.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney, Catherine Crump said: “It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process.  People are entitled to their private lives. You’d be appalled if your employer insisted on opening up your postal mail to see if there was anything of interest inside. It’s equally out of bounds for an employer to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s private social media account.”

Facebook’s privacy officer, Erin Egan, also weighed in on the issue: “In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information. This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to anticipated legal liability.”

Much of what these employers are doing could be illegal. When interviewing, every human resource staff member knows that some topics are strictly off limits. Asking one of these off limits questions could put your company at serious risk for being sued for discrimination. Yet by using to social media investigation or review, this kind of off limits information can be collected about a potential employee even before their interview.

Here are some examples of questions employers cannot ask:

-   Are you married?
–   How old are you?
–   Do you have children? If so how many and how old are they?
–   What church do you attend?
–   Do you belong to any social or political groups?
–   Do you suffer from an illness or disability?
–   Are you taking any prescribed drugs?

And for women specifically:

-  Do you plan to get married?
–  Do you intend to start a family?
–  Are you likely to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC describe the issue as “Tempting Fruit from a Poisonous Tree”. They give the following example:
Applicant – Alex Jackson – catches your eye. Excellent resume, degree from a New York Ivy League school, published in trade magazine, active in community, and has excellent references. You decide to pull their Facebook page to get a better feel for the applicant. You find Alex is a 42 year old female, active in the Catholic Church, recently married, and has one year old son. A recent posts says “Please pray for my mother as she recovers from her most recent bout with cancer.”

Just like Alex’s, your profile probably reveals a lot of the same information. In just a matter of a few clicks, race, age, religion, gender, and medical history have all been revealed – and are all illegal questions for an employer to ask. In a worst case scenario, an employer could even get sued under a variety of Acts if one felt such factors contributed to swaying a hiring decision.

Social media continues to blur the lines of public and private. Be prepared for your interview – know what questions are likely to be asked, but also know what questions you don’t have to answer. How do you feel about employers requiring to see your accounts? Acceptable or infringing? Where should the line be drawn? Is there a compromise that can be made?

Savannah Valade

Make sure to keep up with the blog this week as the team explores more employment trends in preparation for COM Studies Day this Friday. Students and alumni are encouraged to attend the informational panels, fashion, and networking events that will take place throughout the day. This is a great opportunity to learn, ask questions, and get advice . For those who cannot attend the events, follow the IMC Hawks here on Twitter as we will be live tweeting, as well as live blogging, throughout the day’s events.

 

LinkedIn: Your Future Just Got Easier

Are you are a job-seeking college student, getting closer to the day you receive your diploma, and need help finding a professional career? For you social media consumers (which is everyone, right?) the next app you download should be LinkedIn, and it’s free! LinkedIn is a resourceful social media website that assists you in creating and shaping your professional identity. There really is no other website that makes all the hard work you’ve already done in college, more organized, and it’s free to join! Just like other social media websites, you create a log-in, password and your own profile. It’s basically a professional, public resume which includes your education, skills and areas of expertise. LinkedIn allows you to search for people, jobs, and companies and all the while networking in the world’s largest professional internet site. You can also stay connected with colleagues and classmates. The site is especially beneficial for discovering professional opportunities, business deals, and new ventures. You can also get the latest news, inspiration, and useful insights. With more than 250 million people “linked in” to LinkedIn, the site is obviously a professional networking success!

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LinkedIn is not just used for networking yourself but also for other businesses to reach their direct audiences. Whether you are a large brand or a direct response marketer, you can gain new customers or professionals for your business for a minimum of $10 a day. LinkedIn has limb site just for these groups called, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. LMS is an all-encompassing tool that gives professionals the ability to build relationships and increase brand awareness of their business by targeting, publishing and extending engagement. Targeting specific content on LinkedIn allows businesses to reach a specific audience of educated individuals on social media. LinkedIn promises companies a premium display of their advertisements in an uncluttered environment, increasing the chances it will be noticed by a direct target audience. LinkedIn also offers companies the opportunity to utilize a feature called Sponsored InMail to deliver content through targeted email marketing.

By publishing quality content, businesses effectively increase their marketing solutions to ensure their target audience receives imperative information. In order to publish content, sponsored updates can be used to increase your company’s brand awareness, generate leads through content sharing and building strong relationships with the target audience. In addition to sponsored updates on the website, companies can also use company pages for marketing purposes. Important content about the company can be updated here, as well as information regarding the company’s product or service for others to view.

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Extending engagement is the last feature of LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions. By sharing information on LinkedIn, this information can then be shared on various other social media platforms, thus extending the reach of the message. It also increases traffic to your company’s main website. When the messages reach the target audience through LinkedIn, they are inclined to follow the message back to your main company website which increases exposure.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has generated quite the success story for the world’s leading PC company, Lenovo. The company began using the social media platform with the goal of forming better relationships with their target audiences via engagement marketing. Lenovo used sponsored updates to fuel their new content strategy on LinkedIn that ended up increasing their brand favorability by 17%. Ron Strother, the Director of Digital and Social Center of Excellence, says that while content has always been tied between the company and their audience, it seems like they can never create enough.

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Sponsored updates on LinkedIn allow them to give the desired content to a variety of audiences and then use their feedback to improve their strategy in moving forward with the campaign. These sponsored updates contain targeted content revolving around four key themes: brand, products, thought leadership and trends. Seeing updates about Lenovo’s business and products gives audience members the opportunity to truly engage and express their thoughts, while Lenovo is able to use this feedback to continue improving and moving forward. Lenovo has shown that they care about customer engagement, which is likely to have been a major component in the percentage increase of their brand favorability.

Lenovo and other large companies have used LinkedIn to network and reach their target audiences with success. LinkedIn has allowed professional achievement for brand awareness and individual branding for millions of people all throughout the world. It really is the most beneficial social media site out there today. Do you think that while the economy improves, will LinkedIn prevail? Will businesses and individuals continue to flock to LinkedIn in the same numbers and exhibit the same behaviors?

-Bri McWhirter, Emily Foulke, Hannah Turner

Instagram Strikes Ad Deal

Advertising seems to be cluttering most forms of media we consume daily, including our favorite: social media. Facebook is surrounded by personal advertisements, Twitter is filled with promoted tweets, and Pinterest lets the users do the advertising. Instagram, a social network dedicated to images and short videos, is now hopping on the advertising bandwagon. Instagram has recently signed a deal valued around $40 million dollar with Omnicom Group Inc.

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This deal means that Instagram users will begin seeing advertisements within their news feed for certain Omnicom clients, such as AT&T and Pepsi. The advertisements will look similar to native Instagram posts, supposedly making them less intrusive to users. It is already known that Instagram has been a platform for indirect advertising and celebrity endorsements, but this deal will intensify the sense of sponsored advertising on the particular social media.

Instagram has experimented with sponsored advertisements recently with brands such as Michael Kors and Ben and Jerry’s. The reviews from users was mixed. Some felt like advertisements were entering into a place they felt as if they owned, while some felt like it was an inevitable conclusion.

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Instagram is a unique social media in that many use it to gauge their self-worth, even more so than other social media. Instagram is their place to build self-esteem as well as build or tear down other’s self-esteem, and now this “personal space” for doing so is being subjected to advertising.

Many have acknowledged the promise of the deal with Omnicom. The deal is flexible in that Instagram gets a say in which clients Omnicom promotes and the format in which they do so. Instagram wants to make sure the advertisements fit the platform because they want to stay true to their users. Some might think this is impossible, while others might believe it is irrelevant. Ultimately advertisements infiltrate all forms of media, and maybe it was just Instagram’s turn.

Will Instagram be able to stay “true” to their users and advertise for Omnicom’s clients at the same time? Does it even matter?

- Rachel Gracy

Snapchat: A New Social Trend For Brands?

Today, brands dominate social media. It is almost impossible to find a company without a Facebook or Twitter account. Even newer platforms like Instagram and Vine are being taken over, but there is one social network that has yet to be fully explored—Snapchat.

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Snapchat is a mobile app that allows one to share pictures and videos. The special component of this network is that the captioned picture is deleted after 10 seconds; this is much different from the “out for the world to see” social media we are used to.

The majority of Snapchat users are between the ages of 13-25. This age, as James Twitchell reminds us in his book Lead Us Into Temptation, is the “number one focus of almost every marketer”. Why? Younger demographics are still choosing what brands to align themselves with. A survey sent out by Sumpto, a marketing group that works to gather information about the “most difficult to reach demographic”, found that 77% of college students use Snapchat once per day. Their findings also concluded that 70% of respondents wouldn’t mind adding a brand as a friend on Snapchat if they already followed them on another social network.

So, why haven’t brands jumped onto this platform? Unlike other social media Snapchat is more intimate and personal— like a text message instead of a public wall. This very direct connection leaves brands with a problem. What type of content could they send via snap? Would people be interested in interacting with them this way?

DoSomething.org, HBO’s TV show Girls and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) have all been using Snapchat in a variety of ways. DoSomething.org described in an interview with Mashable that their strategy is to make interactive Snapchat stories that are ridiculous and fun. They see Snapchat as a tool for “opening up more options for brands”. The Girls Snapchat account has been used to remind fans of the upcoming season premiere date and give exclusive insider looks.  ASP says Snapchat is a way to “bring fans closer to the athletes and events”. They also point out there is “lots of room for experimentation and innovation”. Click on the image below to learn more about how Snapchat is being used by companies.

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Patrick deHahn from CNN Money stated that Snapchat “has more funding and a higher valuation than Instagram and YouTube when they were at Snapchat’s stage in their startup lifespan”. So it seems Snapchat itself is a viable platform and with a growing 350 million snaps per day, brands should consider its possible benefits.

Would you follow brands on Snapchat? Do you think Snapchat is a worthy social media investment? How do you think brands will begin to use Snapchat?

-Caroline Robinson