Author Archives: Patrick Wentling
It’s always news when a piece of content goes viral but in the case of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” we’re happy to report that dumping a bucket of ice on your head is all for a good cause. The idea is simple: Pour a bucket of ice on your head and have someone video tape it; post the content to the web (preferably a social-media channel), and then challenge up to three friends to do the same within 24 hours. If they do not, they must donate $100 to “Strikeout ALS.” ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s Disease.
If you haven’t seen videos on your newsfeed, you likely will soon. Or simply search #icebucketchallenge on Twitter. It’s been everywhere as of late, including the Today Show. This week I found five different “Challenge” videos on my Facebook newsfeed from one day.
The origins of the movement are unclear, but there is no doubt that it has caught on quickly, seemingly achieving social media success without proper PR support or a formal marketing campaign.
As communications professionals, we see a missed opportunity for a brand or research organization to really own the program. What would make sense is a unifying site where these “ice droppers” could share their videos and encourage donations directly on the site. Movember’s site is a great example of a social movement site done right.
Without that central support and core message, the viral sensation – while for a good cause – feels misguided. Is the objective to dump ice on your head (and get those ego-boosting “likes” at the same time) or to truly encourage donations? Many of the videos I’ve seen lack that link to a site to donate.
In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to ALS without dumping ice on your head, please click here.
Following an exciting few days at the New York Marriott Marquis, the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2014 conference has come to a close, after more than 168 paper submissions were presented from the top companies in business. With key insights from industry luminaries like Keith Reinhard, Carolyn Everson and Lee Garfinkel, the days were jam-packed with valuable insights and takeaways for attendees to take back to their desks and influence their work.
We caught up with Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the ARF, for her biggest takeaway from the conference and how Re:Think 2014 ushered in a new era for the ARF.
For more Re:Think 2014 highlights, see below for a small sampling of the great coverage that ran this week:
Advertising Age: How Big Data Shapes AT&T’s Advertising Creative
Direct Marketing News: Video: Three Questions with the ARF’s Gayle Fuguitt
Day Two at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Re:Think 2014 conference was about rethinking ideas to derive better insights, and ultimately better creative executions and results.
Lee Garfinkel, CEO of FCB Garfinkel, gave the first keynote of the day said the industry needs more clarity and simplicity in using smart research to inform smart advertising. Rather than wasting time thinking outside of the box, he encourages people to think about how to get out of the corner. “Science won’t get you great ideas alone. You need the gut instinct of great thinkers.”
Garfinkel’s other call to action was to come up with the great idea that will change the mind of the consumer. Demonstrated by his own iconic Diet Coke example from 1994, he explained how the soft drink faced several challenges — from being too generic to being seen as for “women on a diet.” Garfinkel realized they couldn’t fix all of Diet Coke’s needs at once. “We asked the right question to get the right answer. The question was ‘which one of these should we address first?” Diet Coke’s response? “Make us relevant again.’”
Garfinkel and his team did just that, creating a spot that alleviated many of these issues and helped Diet Coke re-gain market share. The spot speaks for itself:
The second session keynote of the day was a fireside chat between Kim Brink, VP Marketing at NASCAR, and 4A’s EVP Michael Donahue, titled “Branding 180% Turnaround.” One of NASCAR’s marketing challenges is that people perceive it as a sport only popular in the South, without a huge reach. Conversely, the race car brand is second to the NFL in terms of recognition and hosts as many as 70 million fans at their events every year.
NASCAR’s goal was to have consumers rethink the brand. By tapping into insights around what its most rabid fans love about the sport, NASCAR was able to exact that passion and leverage it for new fans. The exercise allowed NASCAR to find its brand voice, which Brink acknowledged they didn’t previously have. NASCAR then signed their first ad agency, Ogilvy + Mather, and leveraged the insights about what rabid and casual fans love most, to create a dynamic spot that went on to be listed as the “Best Sports Commercial of the Year” in 2013.
The overarching message today was that marketers need to challenge their creative thinking by starting the process with smart research and clear insights.
The DGC team has been live from Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) Re:Think conference in New York City this week, soaking up all of the intelligent conversations and insights being shared around analytics and insights.
Day One focused explicitly on consumer engagement and how to make better decisions across platforms. Here are some of our key learnings from the first day:
Mobile is now. Carolyn Everson, VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, admitted that even the largest social network in the world was caught off guard by the rise of mobile. But the reality is, that with over five billion phones currently in use, consumers are constantly on the go – and usually active on more than one device. More than one-third of those five billion people are using at least three or more devices in a given day, and 60 percent of consumers start a task on one device and end on another. So what’s the next step in mobile’s evolution? Personalization.
Understand your fans. Peter Espersen, head of co-creation at LEGO, shared how the brand sought to understand the fans, tap into their passion for LEGOs, and then in fact produce what the fans want. After several petitions, LEGO created several limited edition series, including the infamous DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future, a Minecraft series, and the very first fan-petitioned LEGO, the Shinkai 6500, a Japanese submarine. Espersen explained that no one would have seen the fan demand for Shinkai or Minecraft but, given that LEGO allowed its fans’ voices to be heard, it created what was wanted.
Insights can help create the story. When you leverage insights in the right way, you can tell the story the consumer actually wants to hear. That was the takeaway from ad legend Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB Worldwide. Reinhard showed a famous State Farm ad from the 1960s, featuring the still-iconic “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” jingle, and a real State Farm insurance agent based in Hawaii. “The insight was that the hometown neighbor is always there, which led to the “Like a Good Neighbor,’” said Reinhard, “Consumers could get their own personal neighborhood State Farm agent.” The tagline is still used today.
The conversation was positive and encouraged the audience to question how brands are engaging with consumers. Even if you’re doing something right, you can always look at new data or find another angle that resonates in a new way, generating more insightful campaigns and buzz.
You already know the story. For the first time in the modern era of the NFL, the Super Bowl will be in an outdoor, “cold weather” location in East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. Although it’s located in the largest metropolitan area in the country, the weather remains the most talked about storyline for the game. With the “polar vortex” stalled in the area, people are asking how cold it will be. Will it snow? Will Bruno Mars be able to perform? My personal favorite is “how will fair weather players like Peyton Manning survive?”
While the weather presents an entertaining storyline, there are more dangerous factors to consider than how potential cold and snow will affect the players’ performance during the game. As one of the most watched events on TV, the game is typically the least concerning property for fans watching at home. It’s a chance for football and ad lovers to gather, socialize and see what all the buzz is about from the warm comfort of their couches. Given this year’s setup, a larger concern has to come from the safety of everyone involved. At what point is it just too cold? At what point is it a risk for anyone to actually be at the game? Is the NFL prepared to postpone the Super Bowl if need be? How would such an action affect viewership, ad spend and, ultimately, future games? And when is it the right time to decide to postpone the game?
When you’re such an enormous juggernaut like the NFL, you have to be ready to do anything and everything to plan for the unplanned. That means a black out, an owner lock out, a referee lock out, a major lawsuit towards the mental health of the players, a wardrobe malfunction, and even the possibility of postponing the Super Bowl. It’s a circumstance that the NFL doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge but has no choice to privately embrace – particularly in the live event space, where anything can and sometimes will go wrong.
It’s a classic case of preparing a crisis communications strategy and making a “worst-case-scenario” plan. Postponing the Super Bowl is a last resort but is the lesser of two evils should the game happen in poor conditions and something truly tragic happens. The NFL certainly calculated the risks prior to agreeing to host the Super Bowl in a cold weather area.
Another thing to consider: any move by the NFL trickles down to everyone else – the broadcasting station, the various sponsors, the fans who traveled to attend – all the way down to the bars and families hosting watch parties. My hope is that everyone (save for the families) has a plan in place as a backup. And in a similar major sporting event vein, NBC is prepping its own crisis communications plan for next month’s Winter Olympics – which will kick off just days following the Super Bowl. It goes to show that, while you can’t prepare for everything, the crisis plan you write today can in fact serve as a great base to combat any real crises that may arise down the road.
But personally, I’m hoping for festive, safe snow, a la the Snow Bowl in South Philadelphia last month.
Ever since Ron Burgundy crashed Conan O’Brien’s studio last year to announce the “Anchorman” sequel, momentum has been building in the social world in anticipation of the reunion of the “Channel 4 News Team.” Paramount Studios has heard the buzz and answered it with a social blitz unseen by most films. And with today’s release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” the hype just continues to grow.
Part of the success of “Anchorman” yields from the love of the main character, Ron Burgundy. Say what you will about the most ignorant broadcaster in San Diego but, as he puts it, he is kind of a big deal. His status has reached that cult following that many classic entertainment properties garner. Before social media, these followings always stayed “underground.” Now with social media, fans are able to connect around the world and grow at an exponential rate.
“Anchorman”/Paramount capitalized on the character’s popularity and teleported him from the 1970’s to the present – having him provide commentary on a curling match, advertising for “Yodge” trucks, dissing said “Yodge” trucks, hosting a local newscast and so on. It’s a walking “ad” for the new movie, yet it’s an ad you actually want to watch. You want to watch curling to see what Burgundy might say (hopefully no one messes with the teleprompter.) It’s an ad that you can’t turn away from and won’t skip through.
Thanks to YouTube and word of mouth, the truly amazing part of each of these activations is that they can go viral faster than a Ron Burgundy Cannonball. In the old days, guest hosting a newscast in North Dakota would be seen as a tremendous waste of resources. In today’s world, “Ron” can do it and be viewed by the entire world the very next day. What a PR opportunity for not only “Anchorman” but the local station itself.
What’s unique about “Anchorman 2” that nearly ten years have passed since the first film. The original came out before Facebook or Twitter existed. Now it’s unfathomable to think about life without these platforms. “Anchorman” is the rare film franchise that has properties in both worlds – and what a difference we’ve seen between both.
Unfortunately, it’s not a formula that every film can capitalize on. You won’t see Batman competing in a UFC fight before the release of the next film. Katniss Everdeen won’t be competing in the Olympics for archery. Ron Burgundy, though, has the perfect platform for marketing his role because the character can be smoothly integrated into practically anything including out-of-the-box ideas like an appearance on SportsCenter. His cult following has people who want to see him in the real world.
Hats off to the social team at Paramount. The film was already one of the most anticipated of 2013.
This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.
We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement. He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.
In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way. It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.
The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.
His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.
Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative. The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.
Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.