Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coca-Cola's Emotional Appeal on Facebook

I spotted this article over at MediaPost yesterday which reported on Coca-Cola's new Facebook campaign to 'spread simple moments of online happiness to fans'. They do this by giving riddles to their fans which, when solved, allows them to access a website set up specifically to deliver some basic satisfying experience through an online interaction. The message here being that Coke offers happiness. A very broad, yet simple value proposition, right?

Is it a status symbol that a company can market in this way because their brand is so strong in the minds of customers? Is Coke there yet? I say "yes" to both. Along with just a few other brands (McDonald's, for example), Coca-Cola is a huge, ubiquitous brand whose history of iconic advertising campaigns allows for things like experiential marketing and appeals to emotions and feelings because their brand is so much a part of popular culture.

They're not wrong. Products like Coke can offer a feeling of nostalgia for consumers not only because of their longevity in the industry, but because of the advertising over the years that made them a part of lives in a way that lasts.

Is this specific Facebook campaign to engage with fans a success? I don't know. If you're judging by clicks, the data says yes. How this affects consumers propensity to buy (again and again) is more difficult to measure. But, having the cash and brand recognition that a company like Coke enjoys allows for a lot more opportunities for experimentation in the online world, which increases the chances of success.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Beach Waterpark Closes

Yesterday, it was announced that The Beach Waterpark in Mason, Ohio near Cincinnati is closing...at least for this year. It's disappointing for me because I've been to the waterpark many times, and had looked forward to taking my kids someday as well.

Management at The Beach cited "a challenging competitive and economic climate" for the shutdown, as well as "changing patron entertainment habits".

No doubt, the park faced a lot of competition from the (very) close by theme park, King's Island, which boasts an ever-growing waterpark as part of their attractions. Add to this a massive hotel, The Great Wolf Lodge, which includes an indoor waterpark, and it's no wonder The Beach couldn't survive. Too many choices for liquid entertainment in too small of a radius. One of them is bound to fold eventually.

The two other examples have another part of their business to help support them. One, a slew of roller coasters and other rides. The other, lodging for families and an event center for receptions, conferences, and large meetings. The Beach being a stand-alone waterpark in the midst of other similar offerings is what made it vulnerable.

I don't believe that The Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau (with whom I once did some consulting work as a student) will be impacted too negatively by this closure. It is one less attraction for them to market. But, as mentioned previously, a choice of water attractions still exists in their county. Perhaps it's time for The Beach to rethink its business plan, and come up with something completely new with new investors. Or, maybe it's time for them to relocate to a new market.

What would you do?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Forget the Rumors. Google Plus is Thriving.

This is a re-post from my company blog where I speak a little bit about the advantages of G+ for businesses (and/or business professionals). Please check it out. If you agree I'd like to know. If you disagree feel free to argue your position.

Forget the Rumors. Google Plus is Thriving.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Honda CR-V Super Bowl Commercial

This ad is sure to be one of the most memorable from this Sunday's NFL Super Bowl.

Honda's homage to the iconic 80's comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off (which I've probably seen 50 times) stars Matthew Broderick as himself skipping a day of work on a film to enjoy himself. The commercial follows the same basic plot of the movie, hitting many of the high points with clever references. Here, the Honda CR-V takes the place of the cherry red Ferrari from the movie, and is basically pitched as being just as desirable.

This ad is creative in its approach, and should do well for Honda (though I'm not sure how much any of these ads actually work when it comes to ROI). There may not be a lot of focus on the vehicle itself, but it will be remembered for the movie reference and spark some curiosity by the public to find out more. And, when it comes to Super Bowl commercials, you must stand out. Plus, Honda encourages repeat viewing by telling us that there are over 2 dozen references to the movie throughout the commercial. By challenging us to find them, Honda's spot now becomes an engaging social game as well as an ad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#McDStories: A Failure For McDonald's. What Have We Learned?

Well, they asked for it. And, they got it. In their attempt at a social campaign last week, McDonald's went to Twitter using the hashtag #McDStories to encourage customers to share personal insights about the restaurant chain.

In short, the plan backfired, and McDonald's soon found that they were curating a slew of negative and/or sarcastic tweets for all to read. So, you may ask, why would they do this in the first place? I have no idea. But, my guess is that they concentrated on the positives of social media, and completely forgot all of the glaring negatives. Perhaps the same oversight put into a TV campaign was not put into one for Twitter because the cost was so low and they figured 'what have we got to lose?'

Either way, McDonald's now finds itself the latest victim of social media because they didn't think it through. They weren't the first, and they certainly won't be the last. But, below are 3 things companies should consider before beginning their next social campaign to include content from the public:

1. Be (at least somewhat) humble. Many may interpret the creation of a branded hashtag in order to collect praise to be an arrogant move. This being the case, McDonald's may have invited more negative comments than they would have otherwise simply because this is irritating to some people. A better campaign idea may have been to focus on the Ronald McDonald House, and share stories about the children that have been helped because of it. Sure, it doesn't focus on the food or the restaurants themselves, but it does bring the idea of McDonald's as a community contributor to the forefront.

2. Know how people feel about your brand. It is a fact that many people enjoy McDonald's. The food, the toys, and the overall experience are a part of a lot of lives. It's true. However, many others feel that the food is unhealthy at best, and resent the fact that McDonald's advertises to children. Not to mention the use of athletes in their ads, another group which requires much more nutrition than McDonald's provides its customers. The restaurant regularly bears the brunt of all fast-food criticism with regard to factory farms and unhealthy lifestyles. Basically, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the brand (Wal-Mart would surely face the same problem if they started #WalStories on Twitter). Now I'm not sure of the breakdown of lovers v. haters of McDonald's. But, let us assume it is 50/50. Is it really a good idea to promote a hashtag asking everyone to contribute their feelings openly? I don't think so.

3. Reflect honestly about your brand. Are people passionate about McDonald's? I mean, even those that eat it several times a week. Do they care much about McDonald's? Or, maybe a better question is whether McDonald's makes a difference in some one's life. A difference that they would want to share in 140 characters or less on Twitter. In all seriousness, what was McDonald's hoping to hear? Stories of families coming together over a bag of value meals? Of children having the time of their lives at the playground? Of someone bringing a sad friend a Big Mac to brighten their day? It just doesn't seem very realistic.

Perhaps a company like Hallmark would have had success with a campaign like this. There aren't a lot of known negatives about the brand for the public to latch on to. They aren't controversial. And, as corny as it may sound, people do tend to look to Hallmark in good times and bad to express their feelings to friends, relatives, co-workers, and more. So, who is going to take the time to trash Hallmark on a #HallmarkStories Twitter campaign? Few, if any. And, with social media, you had better know that going in because brands do not control this medium. They simply participate in it like the rest of us.