Tag Archives: branch

More brands suffer at the hands of social media

11 Sep

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First there were hurricanes, and shootings. Then there was horsemeat and a Royal baby. What have these events got in common? They’ve all prompted (foolish) companies to jump on the bandwagon to promote their brands. But, more often than not, the PR and marketing team’s rushed efforts lead to a grovelling apology after a consumer backlash.

Let me explain.

Today, the world remembers the innocent victims from the tragic 9/11 event in New York. And, like clockwork, brands have used the 12-year anniversary for self gain. Unfortunately, it’s all too transparent and US site Fast Company has created a round-up of the worst social media stunts. Take a look – it’s really interesting.

Telecommunications company AT&T shamelessly featured the new Blackberry in its commemorative corporate tweet – which went down like a lead balloon despite the brand realising its rookie mistake and deleting from its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That’s not all.

Marriott Hotels – which has a unique connection with 9/11 in the sense that one of its branches sat at the foot of the Twin Towers and collapsed with it on the day – tweeted an image of a plate of pastries and a sign reading that it was giving them away between 8.45am and 9.15am. People lost their lives. So, needless to say that pastries aren’t really a consolation prize to shout about.

First of all, social media managers / interns / robots that are running the game must sense check with the wider marketing teams and get key messages signed off. That way if the update blows – you’re all idiots.

Secondly, an event like this shouldn’t even be viewed as a commercial opportunity. Yes, if done in the right way, it can curry favour with consumers. But, brands shouldn’t make light of 9/11 in anyway. Ok, a #neverforget hash tag can put your tweet in the centre of the online community, but images? Risky. What picture can possibly connect with thousands of people directly associated with the event, and the millions more who were touched by it. As we’ve seen, brands can be on top of the world one minute and at the bottom the next. And clicking delete doesn’t mean a thing once it’s been seen.

Brands must keep it simple. Nappy company Huggies is a good example of this by remembering the victims and the brave people who risked their lives to save others. But, even then, you’re left thinking ‘why are you getting involved?’

So, lastly, unless your brand has a direct association with the event in question and you have something that will add value to ‘the’ online conversation, say nothing at all.

Silence is golden in situations like this. Agree?

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X-rated car advert gets tongues wagging

31 Jul

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It’s a brand’s worst nightmare – an advert appears in print complete with a big mistake. No, not an incorrect spelling or wrong call to action. Either of those could easily be resolved with the help of a PR agency. Car hire firm Enterprise has had to deal with something much worse: an advert in the Pembrokeshire Herald, published last week, suggested that the firm offers inappropriate sex acts for customers. See the advert here.

To add insult to injury, the advert went hand-in-hand with the company’s Twitter launch. Although, this might be its saving grace. When the incident was spotted yesterday, Enterprise only had 61 followers – all of which were told that the service is ‘not offered at any of its branches.’

Twenty-four hours later that number has only risen by 13 – and the brand has responded to everyone that commented offering its single crisis-management message.

Of course, it’s not like the age old saying ‘if a tree falls in a forest and no-one’s there does it make a sound?’ Customers – existing and potential – are likely to hear about this via social networks or friends (the Mirror has already published the story too) But, when it comes to Twitter, I think people are less likely to get involved if they don’t think they can directly link with the brand. After all, that’s one big reason we make comments online isn’t it? To humiliate, complain or praise companies that we’re engaging with. The fact that few people knew about Enterprise’s Twitter page at that time has curbed the majority of comments.

I think the brand handled the process well. Although, I’d have suggested that they tailored their responses to show personality and a sense of humour. After all, the advert is clearly a joke.

At the time of writing this, I asked the Pembrokeshire Herald what its thoughts were and whether the error was from their side. According to reports they maintain the artwork was tampered with after it’d been signed off – and other brands were affected.

Surely, Enterprise will want an apology from the team if it was the paper’s fault – not to mention free advertising space to overright the problem.

However it progresses, this faux pas has certainly worked in Enterprise’s favour – in terms of PR and talkability. After reading this article how many hire car companies can you really think of?

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Ibis bunnies storm the hotel

5 Jun

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It’s been a busy few days for me in the PR world, but when I saw this campaign I literally dropped my phone, picked it up and started writing this blog.

Warning: This PR campaign by Ibis Hotels almost tips the cute scale.

Ibis’ new campaign to promote its range of hotels – now featuring the chains’ most comfortable bed ever – stars bunny rabbits as part of a one minute promotional YouTube video.

Forty bunnies took leading roles in the video, and were given permission to enjoy a top-floor room at the company’s Blackfriars branch over two days, in a bid to find the most comfortable spot to sleep.

Although I’m not familiar with the music, which tends to help turn a good video into a viral one (am I the only person on earth that’s never seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?), it’s a brilliant video that reaches out to meet consumers’ needs. After all, when booking rooms – whether it’s for a business meeting, girls’ weekend or to break up a journey – what really matters is a good night’s sleep.

Ibis’ key competitors have previously marketed their small touches that make customers feel special – Premier Inn’s pillow wrap, which highlights the softness of the bedding, and Travelodge’s soft toy ‘Sleep Tight‘ campaigns have been successful, but it’s this gentle and inviting video that’s really putting the message across.

The outtakes video, also produced by BETC London, is stronger in my opinion because it brings the campaign to life by telling Ibis’ campaign story. For example, did you know that 571 carrots were used in the making of this video?

Overall, it’s great content that’s already making waves in the hospitality, travel and leisure press – it’s interesting, sweet and well executed. Here’s to the bunnies.

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