A Very Perry Spring

We are now in the transitional time of year when all the bitterness of the cold winter is transferring into the sunny, light-hearted feel that spring brings. One particular brand that has always been known for its spring-like characteristics is easily that of Perry Ellis and they are bringing forth their positively electric style to match the approaching season. For the upcoming spring/summer 2014 campaign, Perry Ellis is delivering a new, creative way to show men that style can be a fun experience. The campaign was released back in the month of January which was titled, “A Very Perry Spring: We’ll Put a Spring in your Step”. The foundational idea for this campaign is to assist men on the breakdown of fashion (patterns, prints, how to dress in suits and even undress) and to extend the message that men’s fashion does not have to be too serious and that style can be unpretentious and fun.

Perry Ellis launched his first line back in the year 1976 with the philosophy of levity being his legacy. The company is a distributor of a broad line of high quality men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, and children’s apparel. He believed that clothing should not be taken too seriously and should be fun. Perry Ellis redefined the fashion industry. Perry Ellis has coined the term that one could be labeled as, “very Perry Ellis”. This means customers of this brand are innovating their own unique style, instead of going with the fashion flow, and still looking chic.

For the Very Perry Spring 2014 campaign, Perry Ellis reunited with photographer Daniel Jackson and the label top models, Jason Cameron and Albert Reed. The advertisements incorporated the foundation of levity in the brand by fashioning vibrantly colored imagery showing the models in various confident and playful poses. Showing that style can be a fun experience, the images seem to leap out of the frame. Whether it is a hand or a hat, the meaning of this photographic placement is meant to contrast with the brand’s iconic “time to defy convention” attitude.

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Not only has the campaign mastered the traditional advertisements representing the brand’s legacy, but has also incorporated a new media strategy to reach consumers in the digital world. Matt Cronin, Vice President of marketing at Perry Ellis discusses the new media tactics will include “a series of engaging and witty videos which will bring the Very Perry attitude to life”. These videos consist of style tutorials for men and how to dress modernly. The style tutorials are entertaining, easy-going, and show men that dressing up is a lesson in laid-back attitude and breaking the rules.

Perry Ellis utilizes these media channels to promote its brand and for users to stay connected:

Facebook

Perry Ellis’ spring campaign is also holding a “March to a Million Facebook Fans” with incentives for contenders to win prizes by helping the company reach 1,000,000 fans.

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

And the brands new style blog

Brand tagline: “Very Perry”

The Very Perry Spring 2014 platform delivers a fundamental point of view from which the brand operates and incorporates everything the company is built off of into this new direction of marketing.The campaign will include digital campaigns featuring both still and video assets advertising the versatility of outlets the line is offering.

-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.

customers

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

Instagram: The New Era of Advertising

Everyday millions of Instagram users spend hours scrolling through their smart phones to view filtered photos, typically those that they “follow” or come across through #hashtags. According to the brand’s website, there are currently 150 million users, 60 billion photos uploaded, and an average of 1.2 million “likes” per day.  (website: http://instagram.com/press/) As consumers, it is understood that these photos are a reflection of such users “brands”, and the photos they choose to share are typically selected and edited to portray a desired image of themselves. Whether it’s goods they just purchased, activities they partake in, or flattering photos of themselves, Instagram gives consumers the opportunity to advertise their individuality for free.

Aside from everyday consumers trying to convey an image of themselves, products, celebrities, and other organizations are able to use this platform to brand themselves however they choose. In some cases, celebrities intertwine their “brand” with a product or service that they endorse. For example, singer Ellie Goulding, who recently became an advocate and endorser for “Nike” products, shares several photos of her outlandish lifestyle to all 2.3 million followers.. Known for her eccentric, hip, and alternative style, Goulding also posts photos of herself in her athletic gear, where there is always a “Nike’’ logo.

Within IMC, it is understood that there are both controlled and uncontrolled messages. Advertising is a a controlled and planned message that is executed through a particular medium to reach target audiences. The “Nike” brand is consistently advertised through Goulding’s photos, however, Nike does not have control over which photos she captures. It seems as though Nike and Ellie Goulding have a sort of symbiotic relationship right now, with Ellie promoting Nike products and Nike in turn supporting/promoting Ellie’s Music.

“Nike and recording artist Ellie Goulding are releasing an exclusive remix album from Goulding’s second album, “Halcyon,” to inspire the thousands of women joining Ellie to run 13.1 miles on April 28.” (Nike inc.)

It is important to note however that Ellie is not an employee of Nike and that while it may be in her best interest to safeguard their relationship could she inadvertantly tarnish the Nike brand without being aware of it? This raises an important question: How much control do companies have over the “brand” that their endorsers convey? In the meantime however the relationship between the two will most likely prove beneficial for both parties as many fans of Goulding follows her on her Instagram page. Will it soon become commonplace for all celebrities to endorse particular products in exchange for publicity of their own?

This social media phenomenon has given advertisers a plentitude of opportunities to shape and select their brand image, and then after share it in a “likeable” manner.

-Austin Johnson, Jade Lester, Jami Rogers, Ty Thomas