Monthly Archives: March 2012

Huggies Bases Ad on Stereotypical Dad, Thousands of Customers Know a Load of Crap When They Smell It

NEW Huggies "Easy Chair" Commercial

Huggies was recently forced to pull its potentially chuckle-worthy, but highly misdirected “Test Dad” campaign after a Pennsylvania dad started an online petition that quickly garnered over 1,300 signatures.

The campaign, basically depicted fathers as bumbling, incompetent caregivers, with a commercial voiceover that said leaving dads alone with their babies for five days, is the “toughest test imaginable.”

More dads than ever are taking on child-rearing chores, with one in three fathers regularly acting as their child’s primary caregiver, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. So it’s no surprise that an ad like this was bound to anger hard-working, sleep-deprived dads (and moms) of infants the world over.

As a result of the online petition and a meeting with angry fathers at the Dad Summit 2.0, Huggies poo-poo’d the most reviled spot that showed dads apparently more engrossed in watching spots on TV than minding their young kids. Huggies has since replaced the canned ad with a more subtle version that goes a long way toward accomplishing a kind of “dad’s rule (with help from Huggies)!” message they were aiming for.

Although Huggies responded quickly and cleaned up its act with a revised campaign, some commenters remain fussy about the campaign’s entire premise – that leaving dads alone with their babies constitutes “the ultimate test.”

Let’s face it, stereotypes are often funny and often true, but as we’ve seen time and time again exploiting stereotypes in advertising has the potential to hit a hilarious homerun, or sink customer credibility, and there’s a fine line between success and failure.

I’m certain that I’d naturally be a little concerned about leaving my diapered little one with a husband if he were a new father. But I’d also be confident that he’d have enough sense to know when it’s time to re-diaper junior. Apparently Huggies didn’t give their customers as much credit with “Test Dad.”

– Marrissa (Twitter: @marrissam)

I don’t care what Google says – I’m innocent

The technology that’s meant to serve us sometimes comes back to bite us.

Imagine a perspective employer enters your name in a Google search and the autocomplete feature offers suggestions such as “sex offender” or “pedophile.”  Maybe someone with the same name fits those descriptions — or maybe the Google feature just made a poor choice.  Either way, you’re not likely to get that job.

Something similar recently happened to a Japanese man.  Google’s Instant Search linked his name to crimes and his employer fired him.  The man claims he didn’t commit any crimes and now he can’t find another job.  He took Google to court claiming an invasion of privacy.  A Tokyo court recently agreed with him and ordered Google to stop the use of its Instant Search feature.

Google of course disagrees and says that as a U.S. company it won’t change its business practices due to Japanese laws.  The problem the man suffered, says Google, wasn’t intentional or the result of a malicious company employee.  The Instant Search uses impersonal algorithms to suggest the most popular searches.

Instant Search is a cool tool that I’ve used many times.  But this story led me to check out my name.   Just to play it safe, you might want to check out yours.  Fortunately, mine came back clean.  I hope yours does, too.

–JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum

Identity Crisis: Kraft Rebrands, Chooses a Name Most American’s Can’t Pronounce

Mondelēz – the new brand name soon-to-replace the historic Kraft brand, is a bit of a mouthful.

In case you’re wondering how to pronounce the new brand name to be slapped on Kraft Foods’ global snacks business later this year, the company says it should be pronounced “Mohn-dah-LEEZ.” That little squiggly line above the last ‘e,’ that’s a macron – and it’s supposed to make sure you pronounce the new brand name with an “eez” instead of an “ayse.” Got that?!

Let’s go beyond the obvious recognition challenges that come with changing your brand’s name from a monosyllabic, five-letter word (Kraft), to a made-up word with three syllables and a macron, a macron! As a college-educated English major, I have no clue how a macron functions – forget the vast majority of Americans that have no idea what sound a squiggly line is supposed to help them pronounce.

Diane Brady at Businessweek raised a great point regarding the rebrand – most journalists (the people who’ll be covering your products and news, Kraft) don’t even have a macron on their keyboard (or know what it is without grabbing a dictionary). That’s a problem, because most news coverage of the new branding is already failing to include the symbol that’s so integral to the new name.

Apparently Kraft spent several weeks searching for a new name before deciding on Mondelēz. Maybe they should have spent several months looking for something newer, fresher and easier to pronounce instead?

Rebranding a multi-national company famous for producing household favorites such as Cadbury, Ritz crackers, Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies is no easy task. It’s also something that shouldn’t be taken lightly – we’re sure Kraft, I mean Mondelēz, has done it’s market research, but we just can’t see Mondelēz Macaroni & Cheese becoming a household name any time soon.

– Marrissa (Twitter: @marrissam)

Spamming your customers is a great way to lose them

Image courtesy: AllSpammedUp.com

I will never buy a Lint Lizard, a Magic Jack, a Pimsleur language program or Orgreenic Cookware.  If, like me, you have an email address that has been around for a while and has also been listed as a contact on a website, you probably can make the connection between these brands.  The marketers behind these products all use email to sell them.  And by “use” email – I mean USE email.  They are spammers by any other name and I don’t just get one or two emails a day.  I get 10 to 20 or more a day from some of these brands.

I know there are spam blockers to take care of overzealous e-mailers, but they aren’t perfect and all too often I have had them snag important email from clients or trusted vendors.  I can take care of most of my spam on my PC by marking it as spam and having it sent straight to my junk email box.   But, when it comes to my iPhone, it’s another story.  I have to delete each piece of spam by hand.  Most iPhone users can empathize with the frustration I feel as I wade through 200 plus emails, weeding out the spam just to get to the 10 emails I need to review – a process repeated several times through the day.

I realize there isn’t much I can do to stem the tide of unwanted advertising.  I can’t get on a “do not email” list (although there is a germ of an idea here) and trying to unsubscribe doesn’t seem to help at all.  But, there is one thing that I can do.  One way that I can show my disgust for this annoying marketing tactic – and that is to never (I mean never) buy one of these products.  The Lint Lizard could be the most amazing household tool ever invented, but I will not purchase one.  I would rather have lint flowing out of my house to the point that it looks like a giant Q-tip before I give these email vultures my business.

So does spam sell products or “unsell” them as it has with me?  A recent article in The Consumerist supports my case.  It highlights how some retailers are realizing that when it comes to promotional emails, less is more.  Responsible retailers such as Nicole Miller have found that going from sending out three email ads a week to one has decreased its unsubscribe rate and increased its open rate from 15 to 40 percent.  The company has also seen the percentage of online sales that began with an email grow from 10 to 17 percent.

I know why the marketers of Lint Lizard and Orgreenic Cookware do what they do.  They do it for one simple reason – it works.  They obviously get enough people to buy their products by sending out a deluge of email each day.  This week they are selling cookware and lint cleaners and next week it will be another hot product overwhelming my inbox with offers.  They are looking for a quick sale, not long-term customers. Most (smart) companies realize that current customers are like gold and running them off is a serious mistake.

If you are sending regular email to your customers it might be time to review your process.  Ask yourself: are you really targeting your email blasts – that is sending your customers email that provides them with valuable offers or information?  And do you have an easy way of letting customers opt out of promotional emails?

Reviewing your marketing email practices could help you prevent turning existing customers into “non-customers.”  I just hope that Nordstrom doesn’t turn to email spam as a selling tool – I would hate to have to give up my shoe addiction.

– Cindy

Are media marketers doomed to repeat past failures?

Image credit: Recruitmentnewstyle.com

Why is it that some of the nation’s largest, most well-known brands keep “screwing the pooch” with misdirected social media campaigns that either fall flat, highlight inept customer service, or practically incite a riot attempting to be provocative?

AdAge’s Matthew Yeomans recently wrote a post on why social media marketers fail to learn from their mistakes (he’s also co-authored a book on the topic). He details why the nation’s top brands keep making the same mistakes over and over and what everyone – from small business owners, to Fortune 100 executives – should do to keep them from happening again.

Here are the five key reasons companies keep making the same mistakes over and over and a breakdown on how to avoid turning a potentially successfully social media campaign into a giant #FAIL:

1. They fail to take social media complaints seriously – Waiting to respond to negative social media comments, or failing to respond at all, almost always leads to a groundswell of negativity. With the supercharged nature of social media, negative backlash can easily eclipse what you thought was a ‘cool idea.’

2. A small social media snafu spirals into a mammoth #FAIL – The company either hasn’t allocated the necessary resources/experience (read: interns) to managing social media, or it’s fallen asleep at the wheel. We can’t say it enough – leave social media management to people who,know your brand, have a stake in your business and experience managing more than simply their personal Facebook page. That could mean a qualified, engaged firm or a dedicated in-house team.

3. Companies too quickly dismiss the influence of new social media platforms – Often times, it’s easy to dismiss a new platform as a ‘flash in the pan,’ but the old adage “you don’t know until you try” is especially true with technology. Give that new platform a try (perhaps via your personal social media channels). Who knows? You might unearth a powerful brand-building tool.

4. Internal departments work in silos – When the marketing team has no idea what sales and human resources are doing, it becomes easy to turn social media into a muddled effort. More and more, a successful social media campaign relies on the buy-in of all business arms.

5. Opting to crowdsource your campaign? Be ready for anything – Some of the nation’s largest brands (McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola) have seen crowdsourcing (turning their campaigns over to the general public for feedback) blow up in their faces. A good rule of thumb is: think before you crowdsource.

– Marrissa

(follow me on Twitter: @marrissam)

The Candidate Has Taken The Lead by 25 Tweets

Image courtesy of Mediabistro.com

We’re a nation that likes to handicap our competitive events.  But before we drop a few bucks on our favorite sports team or Oscar-nominated actress, we need as much information as we can get.  That also holds true before placing a bet on who’ll be our next president.

In the political arena, we follow how much money candidates raise, the major endorsements they secure and the amount of media coverage they receive. Daily polls report on who’s up and who’s down. But for a true political junkie, that’s not nearly enough.

One research firm wanted to find out if a candidate’s use of social media can predict election success.  The group took at look at Twitter activities of the four remaining Republican presidential candidates heading into the March 8 Super Tuesday primaries in 10 states.  Looking at the “positive sentiment” of tweets for each candidate during the six days between Feb. 26-March 2, the researchers predicted winners for each primary.

In hindsight, this is still a work in progress. The firm did pick the winners in Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia.  But it missed in Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vermont.

That social media is playing a significant role in this election is indisputable.  Campaign spinmeisters are tweeting even before a debate or news conference has ended.  And it’s not just Twitter getting all the political action.

Mitt Romney leads his challengers with Facebook, attracting more than 1.5 million likes.  Ron Paul is the king of YouTube with more than 10 million views of his videos.  And Newt Gingrich claims 1.4 million followers on Twitter — easily the most among this group.

But the Republicans are in trouble if these numbers have any meaning in predicting our next president.  President Barrack Obama has 24.5 million Facebook likes, 173 million YouTube views and 12.8 million Twitter followers.

We’ll see what it all means come November.  But in the meantime, as the media looks to fill its 24-hour news cycle, we might as well know how “social” our candidates are.

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum

Getting Social in Security

Marketing for the security industry has always had its challenges. After all, what company really wants to talk extensively about its security? Talk with any marketing, public relations or media person in the industry and he or she will tell you that one of the most difficult things is to get customers to talk openly about their security systems.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Nan Palmero

Now, add social media to the marketing mix. We are talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and all the other social platforms vying for attention these days. Social media is meant to be just that – “social.” It is meant to frequently and openly communicate about a company, its products, solutions, people, events and expertise. So, it might seem that social media and the reticent world of security are not a good fit, but it would be a mistake for any tech-savvy company today to ignore its potential marketing power.

Social media is a way of showing your customers, investors, vendors and employees just who you are. It gives them a peek behind the scene, builds brand awareness and sets your company up as an industry leader.

I recently wrote about how we helped a large security systems integrator expand its digital media presence and take advantage of new marketing platforms. Whether your company is involved in security or any other high technology business looking at taking on or expanding a social media program you’ll want to read this article on SecurityInfoWatch.com. It’s a good roadmap that highlights the benefits of implementing a strong social media program and provides some valuable tips help you get started.

– Cindy

Have you heard?…There’s a new definition of PR

Image credit: Duffey Communications, Inc.

After review of 927 proposals, a pretty extensive voting process and much hand-wringing, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has finally ‘re-defined’ the definition of public relations. After more than a century of existence, we wonder why PRSA chose now as the time to slap a definition on what exactly it is that PR professionals do, especially in a time when the day-to-day practice of “PR” has never been more fluid.

So what, you ask, is the new definition of PR? The winning definition, as selected by almost 1,500 voters: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Whether you agree with the new definition, or not, the process of redefining PR certainly has the industry going. And while defining PR is important, the truly important question is, “Do our clients, current, future and former, really know what PR is?” and perhaps even more importantly, do they know how it can help their business?….questions the PRSA can’t answer.

– Marrissa
(@marrissam)

Toughen up those P8sSw0rds%

Every day there’s a news report of a company, politician, movie star or famous athlete claiming their Twitter account was hacked.  That explains the embarrassing posts — at least that’s what they say.

But they may be right.  Password theft is a big business.  And sometimes it’s so easy that a middle school student could hack into an account in seconds.  It seems far too many of us — I include myself — just make passwords that are far too simple.  One security services firm found that about five percent of passwords involve a variation of the word “password.”

There are password-cracking tools that can run through millions of possible letter, number and symbol combinations.  The best way to fight back is through complexity.  A seven-character password has 70 trillion possible combinations.  Not bad.  But adding just one more character increases the possibilities to 6 quadrillion — that’s a number with 15 zeros.  Yet even that is still no absolute guarantee against some of the most sophisticated password-cracking programs.

Many corporations spend a lot of time and money to create positive public feelings through their Twitter and other social media sites.  Yet one successful hacker can undo all that in seconds.

If your job is to oversee your company’s social media sites, pay attention to your passwords.  Make them at least eight characters in length, with a variety of capital and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.  And then change them often, especially after an employee with password access leaves the company.  Also, each account should have its own very different password.

If your memory is anything like mine, you’ll need help remembering these new super-passwords.  On the bright side, there are computer-based password “vaults” that let you store your passwords.  Unfortunately, these programs require their own password to access.  Make it a good one, memorize it and know you are doing what you can to protect your social media efforts and quite possibly your company’s reputation.

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum