Tuesday, November 16, 2010

26 Brands in Social Media

A is for Applebee's: A Partnership with Consumers

Applebee's impressively engages consumers with its Veteran's Day social media campaign. The company offers free selected entrees to veterans and active duty military personnel on November 11, 2010. It offers them a meal, a gift which consumers appreciate. Applebee's asks consumers to be co-creators on its website and Facebook page. It creates a dialogue through reading and listening to consumer messages.

Consumers, in this difficult economy, love free items. The giver's brand is enhanced in the eyes of the happy receiver. Applebee's realizes that the gift of a free entree draws diners, who will buy additional items. The company also creates its own positive aura, i.e. increased brand equity, by honoring veterans and military personnel during wartime.

Applebee's asks for its own gifts from consumers: photographs and messages relating to military friends and family. http://veterans.applebees.com/veteransday/honor-a-veteran/ These gifts of content on Applebee's Facebook page and website create a partnership between Applebee's and consumers. Consumers want to be partners with brands, and Applebee's gives them the opportunity by asking for their input. This opportunity communicates to consumers that the brand respects them and their ideas, which is important to them.

The Applebee's-consumer partnership of content creates a dialogue. Applebee's reads what consumers post to its sites and consumers read the company's responses. The exchange builds the relationship between the brand and its consumers. Free gifts, consumer content and a conversation: how to excel at social media.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Customers First

Employees represent their companies' brands in the eyes of the public. Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who dramatically left the aircraft while on duty on August 9, 2010, negatively affected JetBlue's brand, due to his role in customer service, safety and emergencies.

JetBlue's website showcases its Customer Bill of Rights. Slater, in his customer service position, displayed incorrect behavior toward a customer, which shows customers that they may not be treated correctly on JetBlue. In America, the "customer is always right," (H. Gordon Selfridge) but not on JetBlue.

Flight attendants explain safety procedures to airline customers and assist in protecting their safety. Since Slater failed to promote a safe environment when opening the emergency slide, customers could feel unsafe on jetBlue flights. They know flying is a potentially dangerous situation, due to accidents and terrorism, and would prefer airlines where they are confident that flight attendants will protect them.

The image of an adversarial employee and an unsafe environment could lead customers to decrease their purchase of JetBlue tickets. The company needs to counteract this image by highlighting its customer service and safety record versus other airlines'. Otherwise, customers perceive that they could have a negative experience on JetBlue, which tarnishes JetBlue's brand.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Social Media

It is not easy to invigorate a 71-year-old brand like Old Spice. One may describe it as a scent which perfumed one's father. Some sons prefer to not wear their fathers' colognes. They prefer their own scent, a new one. Companies cannot always change their products. Yet they could change the way consumers perceive their products, which Procter & Gamble, with the help of Wieden+Kennedy, achieved with Old Spice.

How did Wieden+Kennedy accomplish this? With the help of consumers. After updating Old Spice's brand through a confident spokesperson, Wieden+Kennedy utilized the tweets, Facebook messages and YouTube comments of consumers to create content -- user-generated content. Thus the consumer speaks, and the brand responds: a dialogue. Consumers no longer want brands to speak to them without sharing in the conversation. In the recent Old Spice spots on YouTube, the "Old Spice guy" responds to their comments which originated in social media. That the actor, Isaiah Mustapha, responds humorously only embellishes the experience, since fun is a valuable commodity in these serious times of economic, environmental and political issues. How to invigorate a brand: user-generated content, a dialogue with consumers and fun. That is also how to invigorate sales.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Such Sweet Sorrow in the Digital Age

In plays, audiences view the characters as separate from themselves. In Shakespeare’s plays, the characters are often separated from each other by circumstances, as in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare also appears distant to current audiences by the separation of time. In a difficult economy, how to attract audiences by a distant drama? The Royal Shakespeare Company bridges the chasm between characters and audience by the tweeting of its characters in its current production of Romeo and Juliet. http://www.suchtweetsorrow.com/

The tweets of Romeo, Juliet and other personages propel them into the space and time of audiences today. The fact that they tweet contemporizes the brands of Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It demonstrates that the RSC knows social media, which should increase ticket sales to younger audiences. Other theater companies could take advantage of social media as an opportunity to use real time to revivify the unreal time of their productions. Imagine the tweets of Ranevskaya and Varya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Audiences could learn that drama applies to their lives, no matter the era. They may even read Romeo and Juliet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Baseball, Italian Style

“Clothes make the man,” said Mark Twain. However, the man makes the clothes in Canali’s recent strong branding campaign with Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees pitcher. Rivera well supports the brand, since both represent understated elegance --Rivera in his pitching style, and Canali in its clothing style. http://tinyurl.com/2d5utk5

The celebrity and brand benefit from each other’s association. Often, athletes possess a personality which is different from the brand they endorse; the connection appears imposed. In this instance, the elegance of Canali increases the elegance of Rivera and vice versa. Canali’s brand now possesses an added verve. Its brand becomes more contemporary, yet still retains its refinement. Consumers will buy Canali clothing who aspire to have style and excel at their careers, like Mariano Rivera. Baseball and the New York Yankees could also become an interest for them, in order to see the stylish pitcher in action. The match is a win for both Canali and Rivera.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Social Media and Ballet

At a recent excellent performance of Alonzo King LINES Ballet (linesballet.org), music and dance joined together. Often at the ballet, one awaits the hushed, expectant pause before the conductor enters the orchestra pit. After the ballet begins, music serves the choreography, and one perceives it in the background while one focuses on the choreography. At the performance of LINES’ “Wheel in the Middle of the Field,” four singers from the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows joined the dancers onstage, which eliminated the separation of music and dance.

This calls to mind the past separation of consumers from marketers and brands. Currently consumers would like to interact and converse with brands. The opera singers in this production represent consumers. They are on the same stage as brands in this production. They even interact, where one singer while seated comforts dancers individually. At times a singer stands at the front of the stage, with the dancers in the background. At times the singers dance. Roles are reversed, as consumers would like. They now prefer to interact with brands in conversations in social media, create products through crowdsourcing (e.g. vitaminwater) and their own commercials. How will your brand join the dance?