“Boris” Bikes and Barclays’ Problem with Authority

London’s rammed with bicycles. Everyone’s on two wheels. It’s fun, cheap, and good for you. Barclays-branded hire bikes are everywhere. But no one thinks of the sponsor when they pick up their wheels: instead, everyone calls them Boris Bikes, after our haystack-haired mayor, Boris Johnson. Why? Because Barclays is, uh, a bank with no authority in pedal power, unlike our nutty figurehead, a cycle-clipped champion of the joy of spokes.

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An Open Letter to Nutella: Why Did You Eliminate Your Greatest Marketing Asset?

My dearest Nutella,

For decades your hazelnut spread has turned everyday consumers into product purists. From brownies and cookies to hot chocolate and crepes, Nutella has been the cornerstone of a delicious treat.

As you’re aware, since 2007, Sara Rosso—arguably your most passionate superfan—has hosted World Nutella Day. She love(d) your product so much that she wanted the world to dedicate a single day—February 5—to embracing it.

What she did was nothing less than astounding. On the World Nutella Day website, Rosso has gathered more than 700 recipes, tweeted and shared on Facebook the favorite sayings, stories and links of Nutella fans and, most important, encouraged everyone to try Nutella just once.

But on May 25, all her hard work will have been in vain. That’s because you inexplicably shut down her tremendous efforts, sending a cease-and-desist letter to her mailbox—the sort of action a brand might take against a brand hijacker, hacker or activist. 

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Why It’s a Mistake For Brands to Ignore Tumblr

Pretend I’m someone who understands the basics of the Internet but has never used a social platform. Now let me ask you: What’s Facebook? What’s Twitter? What’s Instagram?

Most answers, at least from the readers of this blog, would be similar. But I’ve got another question. What’s Tumblr? I would bet that at this point the definitions start to differ. 

“It’s a blogging platform, like WordPress or Typepad.”

“It’s a social network where people share all sorts of content.”

“It’s a website for theme-based GIF repositories.”

For the record, Tumblr defines itself as a platform that “lets you effortlessly share anything” including “text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos.” But the six-year-old content platform is still commonly misunderstood by brands and agencies as it relates to social strategy. Even its self-definition fails to clearly define its focus, its user base or its potential as a place to engage with fans through organic and paid media.

Should your brand be on Tumblr? Let’s discuss.

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When Promoted Hashtags Are Campaign Killers

This post originally appeared in our April ’13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

No matter how lofty a brand’s goals are when it uses hashtags, there are always individuals ready to use them to drag it into the gutter.

McDonald’s is on its second go-round with promoted hashtags gone awry, this time with #UnwrapWhatsFresh. The hashtag was created to support McDonald’s new Premium McWrap, which features chicken (grilled or crispy) and fresh vegetables served in a warm tortilla. 

The hashtag was promoted on Twitter, but instead of talking about healthy eating, a number of people were tweeting these sweet nothings:

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Getting Marketing Miles Out of Your Superfans

In my tween years I was a huge fan of the WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation). I would watch every episode of Superstars of Wrestling and Saturday Night’s Main Event, among other various WWE programming. I’d watch all the pay-per-views on VHS days later, since my parents wouldn’t splurge to watch it live (I’m not bitter or anything). I’d even watch Talking Wrestling on the local cable-access channel in Marshfield, MA, which consisted mostly of prank calls and thick Boston accents.

I was a superfan to the full extent of the definition. I begged my parents to buy me championship belts and action figures, take me to local wrestling shows and I was undefeated against my big stuffed panda bear. When Hulk Hogan had his ribs broken by Earthquake, I sent a bevy of get well letters to his hospital bedside. I even got a postcard back. The "writing" looked eerily similar to Arial, but I’m sure it was just coincidence and he wrote it all himself.

Superfans are everywhere. From television shows and video games to automotive and even CPGs, superfans are embracing the brands they love. They aren’t getting the “superfan” title just because they tune in every week or refuse to drink any other kind of soda. Superfans are the rare but powerful fan base that is sharing branded content with friends, creating unique content of its own and providing an authentic endorsement of a product or service that a brand could never replicate. 

Brand managers: Are you listening to your superfans? Are you recognizing and rewarding them? Are you embracing them on their own platforms? If not, your brand may be suffering because of it. 

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Baking Brand Storytelling Into Your Lunch

Any restaurant is rich in stories, from the founding of the establishment to the experiences of its patrons. Because of that, the restaurant business is an interesting venue for content marketing, social media and brand storytelling. 

I like to think that the best part about going out to eat, particularly with friends, isn’t the food (though don’t get me wrong; I adore food). It’s the stories we share and the stories we create. It’s like the times spent with my wife reviewing our plate of nachos in hopes that someday we’ll cull all those reviews into a blog just about nachos (though that’s a whole other story). It’s the times spent with friends catching up and reminiscing about old times.

Restaurants have a unique opportunity to tap into brand storytelling, and there’s a restaurant in the U.K. doing just that. 

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Breaking Down the Viral HRC Marriage Equality Campaign

Unless you gave up Facebook for Lent, I’m sure that last week you saw a number of your Facebook friends’ profile photos (and possibly your own) change to a pink square with an equal sign in support of marriage equality.

The grassroots movement, initiated by the Human Rights Campaign on March 25, spread virally throughout the week, filling users’ news feeds with a sea of red and pink (and other various one-offs). The campaign was timed to coincide with the oral arguments in the Supreme Court over Proposition 8, California’s gay-marriage ban, and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.

We’re big fans of viral content here at PostAd, because more often than not it stems from having created content so funny, entertaining or useful that it had to be shared. Facebook did us a favor by investigating the campaign’s data trends, helping us all dive deeper into the HRC’s success.

So why exactly did the photo meme spread so quickly? Will this have an effect, or is it more social activism (or slacktivism)? What role did brands play, and was their participation genuine? More after the jump.

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Possibly the Greatest Brand Story Ever Told

The most effective mass media is the stories we tell and conversations we have with each other. If you don’t believe me, let me prove it to you.

We've all seen an endless number of ads for cars, car dealerships, and the like. If I think really hard, I may be able to remember a few of them. Let’s see… I remember the Volkswagen ad with Kid Vader (but mostly because it was so talked-about, not because I thought it was so effective). I remember the Toyota Celica ads in which the senior citizen sees a parked Celica and yells, “Slow down. This is a neighborhood!” If you gave me 10 more minutes, I could probably think of another three to five, but not much more. Considering how many car ads I’ve seen in my lifetime, that’s a pretty low recall rate, and I can assure you that none of them influenced my purchase decisions.  

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Marketers Take Notice: Reddit is Very Much Here

From Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Grohl to a five-year McDonald’s employee and a valet for the stars, the “I Am A ____, Ask Me Anything (AMA)” section of Reddit takes on people from all walks of life. 

It can be a scary place. No moderator. No filters. Only rule is that you prove who you are. So why would POTUS and one of the wealthiest men in the world spend time answering questions, some intelligent, some inappropriate, from this fairly anonymous yet large (and to a point, influential) digital community? 

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Coca-Cola Falls Flat Tackling Obesity

This past weekend my beloved New England Patriots, a team in the U.S. National Football League, lost in the conference championship game, falling one game short of the Super Bowl. I was devastated and inconsolable, and even as I write this I sadly consider what could have been.

Up until what ultimately became the Patriots’ final game, their season was fantastic. They won 12 out of 16 games and earned the second seed going into the playoffs. But against a motivated Baltimore Ravens team, the wheels came off and the Patriots were handily defeated, at home no less. I wholeheartedly expected the Patriots to at least make the Super Bowl, if not win it. I never expected this. 

I had a similar surprise as I watched Coca-Cola’s two-minute spot addressing the obesity problem, which is often blamed on the soda industry and high-fructose corn syrup. If you haven't seen it, take a look. 

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