Tag Archives: risk

Halloween 2014 is sponsored by…

21 Oct

20140430-231008.jpgIn a dark room in a chilling office, set among a black backdrop of skyscrapers gracing the city’s skyline, shone a single glimmer of light. John stayed silent as he moved the cursor around his overworked computer screen.

The window had been left open to curb the stench of late-night pizza. The draft surrounded John and he systematically shivered. Pressing print, he moved slowly to collect his paperwork – marking the end of a 12-hour working day. As John turned his chair a glass smashed on the floor.

‘That’s strange,’ thought John. ‘I’ve not used a glass today.’

A rush of adrenaline shot through his veins, followed by a sense of calm. He even had time to momentarily wonder if they were his last thoughts. It felt like a lifetime, but in reality the person, or thing, who’d smashed the glass had acted quickly. As he hit the thick wooden floors, he turned ever so slightly to see who had attacked him. But, the remained silent.

With no time to feel scared he didn’t even try. Instead he opted to give his body in to the pain and then… nothing.

Got your attention? Don’t worry, John’s Halloween pitch made it to the client. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many brands making the most of this American holiday as I have this this year. And poor PRs like John are risking their lives by working overtime to deliver standout campaigns.

Maybe it’s because it falls on a weekend, and entertainment and lifestyle companies want to use this as an opportunity to boost sales and strengthen its position for Christmas.

Whatever the reason, it’s working. I’ve seen some cracking campaigns and here’s my top five:

Waterstones’ blogger mystery
No, it’s not locking in more tourists and keeping them there overnight to turn them into social media sensations. Waterstones is launching an online murder mystery with five bloggers who will communicate clues for fans, via their blogs and Twitter (where was my invite guys?), to work out ‘whodunit’. Those who crack the case will find themselves £50 richer (vouchers, darling).

Nice use of social and great blogger engagement, coupled with subtle branding, means that Waterstones is getting down from the shelf and making itself the go-to destination for books. Tick!

Walking Dead staggers to PR success
To celebrate the launch of the fifth series of the Walking Dead, Now TV made former MIC star Millie Mackintosh into a zombie to support its online campaign. In addition to this, it created a buzz on social media by sending personalised popcorn holders with ‘bloodstained’ snacks inside which was sent to celebrities and journalists.

To give customers a chance to join in the fun, it’s also using Twitter to give wary special edition Walking Dead Now TV equipment, zombie makeup and the exclusive popcorn holder. The competition hashtag is hardly memorable – #TWDNOWTV – but in two days it’s generated over 150 re-tweets and is steadily seeing its follower count rise.

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Spooky Speaker app shouts out
To promote its Halloween costume range, superpower supermarket Sainsbury’s has launched a voice app to inspire children to ‘transform’ into their scary characters using its voice distortion functions. The voices – such as Frankenstein, Witches, Vampires and Skeletons – match the costume designs available in store and online.

It’s a good attempt, reminding parents and children that Sainsbury’s is their one-stop shop for Halloween goodies, but can the interactive app outdo Asda’s inflatable wings which are being supported with TV advertising? Time will tell.

Chupa Chups’ chomping campaign
It’s great that brands are starting to scratch beneath the surface to see the value of Instagram – and Chupa Chups is no exception. It’s using this social network to create an online game, encouraging users to free a trapped lolly before it gets a licking. Age is certainly no barrier here. With contemporary references to current culture, the youth brand has made this Halloween-themed relevant to all groups.

Do you dare trust the National Trust?
Not strictly Halloween themed, but the National Trust has extended its successful ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4‘ campaign by creating a direct mail around number 40: night walks. This glow in the dark pack targets existing members and encourages people to essentially see more than they bargain for by trudging down a natural trail at night.

This stunt might come with a parental advisory warning (i.e. kids – please don’t walk alone), but not only has the National Trust found a novel way to reach out to an engaged audience raising brand awareness, but it’s hit gold with timing this during half term. Expect to see families up and town the country on night walks next weekend.

With just over a week to go we’re bound to see more stunts slip out of the woodwork. But, whether they’re bold enough to make the top five is yet to be seen.

What do you think? Are brands going for ghoul this Halloween?

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A perfect World Cup tweet gone wrong

18 Jun

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I’ve decided that when Taylor Swift first sang the words ‘I knew you were trouble when you walked in’ she was talking about one of two things: 1D’s Harry Styles or the perils of social media.

Social media is a bear trap for brands and the latest honey to lure them in is the World Cup. Put simply, if a tweet misses the net the person behind the shot will end up paying the price.

Playing the hand you’re Delta
On Monday night Delta Airlines decided to keep its 690,000+ followers updated on the final score of the USA (2) vs Ghana (1) match with this tweet.

20140618-103129.jpgAn ignorant stereotype
On the outside this looks like a great tweet. It’s factual, engaging and makes the most of iconic photography.

Look a little closer and you’ll see that it was all going so well until the company decided that the photo that best defined Ghana was a giraffe.

Moments later, experts quickly pointed out that giraffes don’t live in Ghana (If you didn’t already know this go straight to jail. Do not pass go and do not collect £200.)

In fact, with a bit of digging the experts discovered that this stock image had Kenya written all over it. (Well, you know what I mean.) So, there’s no reason, or excuse, for the Delta team to have got this one wrong.

Not only does it make the brand look a little unworldly – believe me for a travel company that’s not the adjective you want to be associated with – but also a little uncaring.

Cue the apology
To right its wrong, Delta did the only thing it could do in this situation: issue a public apology.

But, I can only imagine that its community manager was trembling with fear because it added an unnecessary step to its sorry note. It made a typo by referring to its ‘precious’ tweet (opposed to previous).

20140618-114716.jpgI’ve previously said that if a link between a brand and an event isn’t obvious then they shouldn’t be wading into the conversation at all.

Global events, like the World Cup, are not only notoriously difficult to generate cut-through, but when brands do get noticed it’s often because a mistake’s been made.

Destroying the evidence
Not that you’d ever know Delta had been issued a yellow card. The offending image has disappeared from the timeline and the airline has spent the last day ‘doing a Sainsbury’s‘ by directly apologising to its critics.

Perhaps I’m not giving Delta enough credit. It may have been completely in control of this risky stunt. But, it’s not one that I’d ever recommend.

Is London Duck Tours headed for a watery grave?

29 Sep

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It’s been a good week for ducks. Or rather, it had been before London Duck Tours’ bus-boat caught on fire in the Thames this afternoon, leaving passengers to jump overboard.

Now I’ve seen those bus-boats poodling around the capital and I can’t say I’d jump at the chance to take a ride. While the brand might call this experience ‘fun, quirky and different’, I think it’s more ‘rusty, risky and darn scary’.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, it doesn’t matter what I have to say. But the truth is, London Duck Tours hasn’t said anything. No updates have been posted on Twitter, Facebook or the website. So by doing nothing, the business has exposed itself as unprofessional, unreliable and untrustworthy. Three traits nobody wants to mix with.

After a similar company had its water licence revoked last month, following a sinking in Liverpool, I’m starting to think that all the PR in the world couldn’t keep this brand’s reputation afloat.

However, if I was to pushed to come up with a strategy, this is what I’d do:

1. It’s too late to apologise
But London Duck Tours has got to do it anyway. This situation cannot get any better unless the business admits fault and takes full responsibility for the accident. This apology, directed at the brave passengers, needs to be sent to all the journalists and bloggers who have covered the story – along with details of who they can speak to for more information. Trust me, they’ll expect it.

2. The show’s over
I’d recommend cancelling all tours for the next few weeks. Certainly before customers cancel on the duck. Rather than attract attention by continuing business, and people waiting in the wings to shout about your next mistake, I’d use this time to rebuild trust with the public.

3. Buy new equipment
This is the time that City Cruises and Thames Clippers will be showing off their attributes, such as safety, so come back to your customers with a clear message: new equipment. Ideally London Duck Tours should also work with a VIP and take them out for a spin to attract interest.

Arranging a photo-call up and down the river, so everyone can see the duck is back, would be good but, better still, the team could brand the boat with a hashtag to track what people have to say about the re-launch.

After that, you’re on your own! What would you suggest for this sitting duck?

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