Bill Cosby Allegations: Networks Cut off Cosby Cold Turkey: Brand Representation & Reputation

Recent allegations set forth against Bill Cosby have caused major problems, both in the social realm and within corporate communications. Bill Cosby has been accused of rape on a number of occasions, with numerous women coming forward. They are coming forth, however, years after the statutory laws for charging Cosby have expired. While Cosby will not be prosecuted, his credibility and reputation within society will be put on trial. In addition to his own personal brand image, his endorsers are quickly disassociating from him in order to prevent backlash and negative association.

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Companies often use spokespersons as role models who extend or embody their principles. By association with Cosby, many of these Networks would be endorsing rapists, thus creating backlash amongst the community. For example, Netflix did not air a Cosby special after the news of rape reports surfaced. In addition, NBC cancelled an upcoming show in development with Cosby in order to prevent negative association. While Cosby is not technically guilty in the court of law, a group of his peers and brave women who have come forward have spoken enough to change the minds of America. This, as a result, has further crystallized Cosby’s newfound reputation as a rapist.

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This situation is reminiscent of that with Paula Dean, the famous Food Network star who faced racist allegations. Her sponsors immediately dropped her and dissociated. While the entire incident left Dean without any credibility, it also tarnished the brands’ representations she was associated with.

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In this day and age, companies and corporations should be selective in choosing whom to hire or use as spokespersons. They must also prepare a conflict resolution strategy should any crises such as the aforementioned arise. This will ensure corporations can maintain their positive reputations and enforce positive associations for the companies and their stakeholders. What does the Cosby situation mean for his career? Will this be forgotten? Or will networks and companies continue to disassociate?

Manic Panic: Bright Colors Take Over the Stands

Manic Panic was once a small business in New York dedicated to the clientele of punk band artists. What was once a one-shop ordeal quickly turned in to a household name for those looking to go big with colors: whether that be bright blues, lavender, or rainbow.

Corporate communications played an integral role in this brand’s upcoming. Through a grassroots campaign, Manic Panic was able to begin selling wholesale and began launching their products in salons: but the campaign did not stop there.

Manic Panic made sure to communicate with all of their consumers through YouTube and blogs by showing customers how to style their hair by themselves. This encouraged share holders to become a more active part of the company. In addition, by giving customers a way to use the products in an inexpensive way, the company boosted sales by more than 20%. The corporate communications are very transparent with this company. The people behind the brand are authentic and are truly dedicated to rocking bright hair.

Given the recent celebrity trends where celebs are choosing to rock pastel hair, the company will be sure to continue this trend. I think that corporations can benefit such as Manic Panic by piggy-backing on to the trends put forth by celebrities and can maximize their profits by offering how-to tutorials in addition to stellar products.

Manic Panic could grow potentially by partnering with media campaigns and celebrities to endorse their products. Given the already cool atmosphere and brand identify, they have serious opportunities in product growth through endorsement and a wider selection of products. In addition to the how-to videos, Manic Panic could get their fans excited by launching new, limited edition colors to suit holidays or post fan-based photos in their galleries to get customers excited. Check out some of the cool hair styles in this blog post!

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Harlequin Mannequins fly BLAH Airlines: Brilliant or Mundane?

Virgin airlines recently launched a five-hour long video as an ad campaign. I know that you’re shaking your head thinking, “that’s nonsense.” But this ad is arguably the most creative advertisement Virgin has had to date. If you wouldn’t watch boring mannequins fly on a plane for five hours, why would you fly with a boring, or BLAH airline?

With YouTube and Television overcrowded with varying ads, it is really hard to make a difference and stand out. 30 seconds is hardly enough time to be memorable and to change consumers’ opinions of the brand. Yet advertisers have taken this 30 second time slot and taken it to a whole new level on this flight.

View the clip here: 

Flight 101 from Newark to San Francisco is a terrible, tumultuous journey for these mannequins. While the ad creators did not anticipate viewers to watch the full content of the video, the message was received well by consumers. Since its posting, the ad has garnered over 11,000 views and 160 likes and was posted only today, October 15. The video seeks to identify with consumers who have experienced a bad flight and convince them that Virgin is anything but. After watching a solid 40 minutes of video footage, I find myself yearning to fly with Virgin and not with any other brand that blends in with the rest of the ‘blah’ brands.

I believe that this ad was so successful due to its unique concept. It is not only absurd but also share-worthy, as no ad company has created an ad campaign that truly lasted for more than five hours. What do you think? Do you think this ad was effective or a bust? Would you choose virgin for your next flight? Or would you rather resort to joining in with the Mannequins?

Taking “Social Suicide” to a New, Literal Level. Is this Good or Bad for Customers and Brands?

For those of you who follow my posts, I tend to post about controversial happenings in the social media world. The media is both a blessing and a curse. Or, perhaps on a more metaphorical level, a double-edged sword. The media can bring your brand business or tear down a reputation quicker than you can heat up a pizza.

Aside from looking at the media as a large entity, let us examine a sector of social media that deals with sensationalizing both the mundane and extraordinary parts of life. I call your attention to a recent occurrence: the JetBlue flight from California to Texas. Approximately 30 minutes into the flight, the right engine experienced a mechanical failure. As a result of this, the plane was immediately landed and every passenger was okay. This accident negatively affected JetBlue and its brand reputation because the social media spread was so viral. What was a rare occurrence quickly became a twitter and YouTube sensation. Passengers recorded the entire debacle and one YouTube video garnered more than one million views. The man could have very well died- but instead of praying or contacting his family, he chose to film the ordeal.

Have we now reached a point where, when we see something we find beautiful, we look through a lens rather than our own eyes? Have we reached a point where it is more important to film an injustice than to say something?

These videos sparked an ethical and philosophical question for me. Do people nowadays resort to tweeting their feelings rather than sharing with a friend? How has this behavior affected the social media landscape for big and small businesses?

More importantly, how do our outstanding videos and posts affect brands? Let us take a look at JetBlue. Millions of people were aware of the accident. Dozens of articles surfaced about JetBlue and its crisis. Rather than showcasing the valor and bravery exhibited by the captain and crew, videos surfacing focused on the tragic calamity and malfunction.

Now, it is important to note that this occurrence did indeed happen. It is also important to note that engine failure is not typical. Yet with its astounding media prevalence and JetBlue’s lack of strong media presence, this single, isolated incident has shaped the view we have of JetBlue forever.

Consumers often do not realize the impact they have on product and brand success. For example, Amazon reviews provide consumers with (typically) unbiased first-hand accounts of products and reviews. If products do not receive good reviews, they will struggle to make any sales at all. Similarly, Yelp gives consumers the ability to make or break a business. Take, for example, the case of Christopher Dietz. A small business owner in Virgina, Dietz’s company received a defamatory review from a customer claiming that the business did not complete the job and stole jewelry from the customer. As a result, Dietz lost over $300,000 in business. What is more, the allegations from the review were proven false.

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This power, while useful for consumers trying to find good products, can often lead to a ‘social suicide’ for many companies. Companies are forced to redress products, revise and create products that better benefit consumers. While this can be seen as a positive for balancing the mix of wants and desires, it can be especially harmful for small businesses using sites like Yelp.

We often times reflect and analyze the social media happenings of businesses but do not often realize the power we have in our own social media voices. Our opinions matter, both to us and to companies. While it is a powerful method of communication, social media should be used methodically. Remember that what you have to say can carry a far greater meaning than ever anticipated. Remember your own voice and your own brand.

Brands need to be mindful of their social media presence, interact with their followers, and quickly address any negative reviews or opinions. By doing so, brands will be able to better control for negative feedback and ensure that consumers are satisfied.

A tale of two tragedies: 9/11 and Branding Mistakes

From spoof ads to reality, brands struggle on how to cope with 9/11. September 11th is a day in America’s history in which the twin towers in New York were attacked by terrorists. This terrorist attack catalyzed both unrest and war, and is still one of the iconic days in the year in which Americans reflect on their patriotism and passion for their country.

Personal social media pages often include remembrances, dedications, and candid memories of the day and where they were when the attack occurred. Brands and P.R. professionals have taken to social media and promotion but have not found the perfect marriage between sentiment and marketing. The answer perhaps? There is none.

Let us look at Applebee’s most recent 9/11 post- it is a dirty, worn American flag adorned with the text, “We will never forget. 9.11.01.” It does not contain any marketing or promotional strategy but was still not received well. Numerous replies and retweets with remarks chastising the brand about using 9/11 on their social media signify that the message was not well received. In this particular case study, 9/11 is such a touchy subject that many brands should rather gloss over.

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(source: PR Daily)

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(source: The Onion)

Another problem for many big brands includes Internet spoofs and editing. I would like to call to your attention a faulty Subway ad, found on the Internet. The ad, which was created a few weeks ago, features two-foot longs representing the twin towers. The special, which would be $9.11, included two-foot long sandwiches. This ad, although created for Internet trolling, misrepresents Subway. This ad was later copied onto hundreds of other websites and the authenticity was called into question. Although it could be confirmed that the ad is indeed a spoof, the ad may have had severe repercussions for the brand Subway.

Today AT&T posted a simple gray scale photo to twitter with the text “Never forget. 9.11.01.” The tweet was considered to be somber and non-promotional, which is a contrast to their promo that ran on 9/11 of the previous year.

After providing you with these examples, many questions remain unanswered. How can a brand best approach national crises and include them in their marketing mix? Is it best to leave tragedies unaddressed- or, rather, to include them in marketing mixes to appeal to the emotional and patriotic American? Ad campaigns and marketing campaigns should proceed with caution when dealing with traumatic crises: especially if these crises are deeply rooted in American patriotism.

New Subway Promotion To Honor Subtember 11. (2013, September 6). The Onion. Retrieved September 11, 2014, from http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-subway-promotion-to-honor-subtember-11,33768/

Wilson, M. (2014, September 11). Have brands learned their lesson about mixing tragedy with marketing?. PR Daily News: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media. Retrieved September 11, 2014, from http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/17245.aspx

To Tweet? Or not to tweet? That is the Brand’s Question.

With today’s generation becoming more and more tech savvy, household and novel brands alike are finding themselves on social media platforms in an attempt to garner additional attention and consumption. Some of these brands have been total hits, gleaning thousands of retweets and social media interactions, where other brands have tarnished their images faster than a tweet from Justin Bieber is favorited by a thousand 13-year olds.

These two articles comparatively demonstrate how some brands can tweet away while others should stick to favoriting fan posts. Below are some of the highlights from this year’s brand tweets. 

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This real-time marketing stunt by Arby’s garnered an astounding 80,000+ retweets and tons of social media attention. During the 2014 Grammy’s Pharrell decided to don an Arby’s-esque hat, thus creating organic media coverage for both Pharrell and Arby’s. 

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Here you can see Hamburger Helper is just as flawless in the mornings as Queen B (Beyonce). By taking a popular lyric from a hit song, Hamburger Helper as a corporation has become more relevant and has developed a funny, sassy personality that will appeal to the social media savvy. 

DIGIORNO

Here we see some super sass from DiGiorno pizza.. #digiorno #didn’t! This is a prime example of corporations using real time events to make them interesting to their company and shareholders. This, in turn, creates a lively brand personality and a fantastic word of mouth advertising. 

The world of corporate communications does not always fall happily under the umbrella of social media. Take, for example, some of the most horrible twitter fails of this year. 

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Kenneth Cole most certainly did not get the ‘reaction’ they were hoping for with this tweet. Often times, corporations are able to make fun of real-time situations and capitalize on them in positive ways. Linking civil unrest and uproar in Cairo with the launch of a spring collection is perhaps not the best way to get good business. As a result of this tweet, people spent the rest of the day tweeting negatively about the brand. 

McDonalds

This, for McDonalds was quite frankly a McDisaster. Originally launching a campaign #McDStories with the hopes of creating real-time, cost-effective and positive exposure for the restaurant chain quickly turned into a tirade against McDonalds. The coup d’é·tat of twitter followers quickly hijacked the story, which quickly segued into a trending twitter rant topic. After launching the hashtag, it quickly spiraled out of control and became a major P.R. disaster for McDonalds.

You may be wondering why twitter is important for corporate communications. Truth is, it is one of the most valuable yet most risky assets a company may have. When creating a name and brand for its share and stakeholders, corporations need to establish a brand identity and unique voice. Corporations with a more youthful sense of humor and brand identity tend to appeal more to younger audiences; while corporations that represent wholesome family values may be better off creating pinterest accounts of recipes. Twitter is a fantastic, free way to garner additional attention for any brand. How can corporations prevent social media massacre? What strategies could they have in place to get organic media attention and fanfare?

The only question remains: to tweet? Or not to tweet. 

http://www.businessinsider.com/13-epic-twitter-fails-by-big-brands-2012-2?op=1
http://time.com/5151/sassiest-brands-on-twitter-ranked/

You’re a smart one, Mr. Grinch! Appealing to your inner narcissist: Harvey Nichols “Spent it on myself campaignn”

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Harvey Nichols, a luxury company in the UK, recently released a comedic ad-campaign with the take away message of spend less money on others, and more money on themselves. The company wanted to remind consumers that the holidays are a time to splurge on those things you desire, whether it be the Prada boots on sale at Harvey Nichols, or that Gucci bag down the street.

At this time of year, consumers can get caught up in giving gifts for others. That is the consumer problem Harvey Nichols has identified. The solution, according to the department store, is to buy trendy and fashionable gag-gifts for a wide array of people, while saving money. This applies to price sensitive consumers as well as savvy, fashionable consumers searching for a bargain.

Harvey Nichols’ campaign slogan, “Sorry, I spent it on myself” has been popular among British consumers and global markets. With a  hashtag #SpentItOnMyself, consumers are urged to further the slogan through social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. The use of hash tags bridges digital social media with traditional advertisements, thus creating a holistic campaign.

The products Harvey Nichols is marketing are simply and basic, with creative packaging. Things such as sink plugs, pens, and paper clips are available in trendy holiday packaging and are priced competitively. The idea is that consumers will latch on to the comedic appeal and purchase these small products in large quantities.

This ad campaign is interesting for a number of reasons. The gifts they are advertising are around 1 pound, a little bit or more. Clearly, Harvey Nichols’ aim is to sell these holiday gifts but also hope for consumers to splurge on themselves. In this way, it is multi-faceted in that it encourages consumers to essentially spend more at a store like Harvey Nichols.

This advertisement raises brand awareness and increases holiday cheer. With a slew of hilarious commercials, Harvey Nichols brings holiday cheer with its low priced gifts.  

 

Take a look for yourself in this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITyeI3YyYw8