A recent post by Scott Stratten got me thinking: Where is the line between shameless plug and mindful, timely brand participation?
Like most things, there is a time and a place for brands to piggyback a current event or holiday as a chance to connect and engage with consumers. These opportunities range from acknowledging a symbolic day of national importance (think Fourth of July) to bringing attention to a playful, off the radar holiday like National Hot Dog day. Holidays can boost engagement, but knowing the “when and how” of execution is important before pushing that share button.
What seems like basic common sense for a digital marketing professional is not always the case, as we’ve seen brands large and small mess this up. A working knowledge of brand alignment and intention carried out with simplicity and sensitivity will take a business a long way. Let’s take a look at brands that executed with excellence and others that failed miserably recently.
The Royal Baby
It seemed the whole world was on pins and needles in anticipation of the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge, so it’s no surprise that many brands wanted to jump on this bandwagon.
Nailed It: Johnson & Johnson Tweet
Why It Works: The most obvious connection is that Johnson & Johnson’s products align with the birth of the royal baby that has the whole world buzzing. Not recognizing this current event would have been a missed opportunity, and let’s be honest; there will not be another birth that stirs up more global interest for a long time.
Johnson & Johnson kept it classy with a simple congratulatory message and an image that communicates their product as one “fit for a future king”. The use of the word “brilliant” is in and of itself quite brilliant, being such a popular British word.
Missed It: Chobani Tweet
Why This Stinks: Chobani’s product is a far stretch from anything related to the royal birth. This tweet makes me cringe in its awkwardness and inappropriateness.
Chobani should have sat this one out. Yes, social media can be a great way for businesses to connect personally with their fans, but not every occasion should be capitalized on. People can sense when a brand is being inauthentic, and no one likes a phony. If they HAD to join the bandwagon, a simple “Congratulations from the Chobani family to yours” would have sufficed.
While brand alignment is important and certainly lends itself to credibility and engagement, like Gerber’s Facebook post below, which sparked quite a bit of positive feedback, it’s not always a requirement.
Domino’s tweeted out this photo accompanied by a simple “Nuff said. Congrats! #Royalbaby”. Simple, relevant, tasteful. They did not push the envelope by trying to drive sales and traffic.
Thankfully, no brand that I’ve come across pushed the envelope too much, but the same cannot be said for the anniversary Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
MLK “I Have a Dream” Anniversary
Let’s start with a look at one of the appropriate, credible posts.
Nailed It: Feeding America Facebook Post
Why It Works: Feeding America, a non-profit dedicated to a human cause, takes the opportunity to share NBC News’ broadcast, featuring issues impactful to mankind. Feeding America’s mission aligns with the sentiment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, making this post extremely appropriate as well as impactful.
Missed It: 35 Denton Tweet
Why This Stinks: 35 Denton, a 4-day music festival in Texas, took a deeply meaningful holiday and mocked it by equating Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to the festival’s dream roster. This post, complete with poorly photoshopped image, is self-serving and lacks authenticity as well as sensitivity. Would you allow your distribution team to blow the customer experience by sending out inventory without proper packaging just to get it out? No. So don’t let your marketing team take shortcuts either.
By the way, something tells me 35 Denton wasn’t even on the list of possibilities for the NBC News segment. (Note: Since the compilation this list, I have visited the 35 Denton page, which no longer has record of this post)
Popular TV shows offer are a great way to connect a brand to their audience through a shared interest. While entertainment allows for a more light-hearted approach than a national holiday, there were still some hits and misses.
Nailed It: Warby Parker Tweet
Why It Works: Warby Parker nailed it with their Breaking Bad series finale post on Facebook, keeping it simple and clever, playing on the suspense of the show’s ending.
Missed It: Joyce Evans (Fox 29) Tweet
Why It Stinks: A HUGE miss was TV Reporter Joyce Evans’ glib Tweet that related the Breaking Bad finale to a real life fatal shooting. Evans’ tweet was controversial and insensitive.
It’s clear that respect, credibility and class win and disconnect, insensitivity and desperation lose. A general rule of thumb is that disasters, catastrophic events and trauma are off limits aside from sincere acknowledgement without motivation. Practicing spontaneity and staying within a content calendar can be a delicate dance, so be sure to stop and think before posting. Knee-jerk reactions may cause more harm for your brand than staying silent.
Has your company grasped the concept of “when and how”? How did you come to this and what are some examples of a job well done or an attempt gone wrong?
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