Archive for the ‘brand’ Category

No Matter How Corrupt FIFA Is, It Is Here To Stay

June 16, 2015
Flickr / Steven Depolo

Flickr / Steven Depolo

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for FIFA. The world’s governing body of soccer has been the subject of numerous headlines, not for the Women’s World Cup currently taking place, but for a large-scale corruption scandal.

It all started on May 26, when several top FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges. A little over a week later, the long-standing President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, resigned. And to add fuel to the fire, FIFA recently fired its communications director after making a public joke about the organization’s legal troubles.

There’s no denying FIFA’s reputation is in shambles. The media is laser focused on scrutinizing the organization’s actions and missteps. But despite all the negative media, the criminal investigation, and widespread corruption, FIFA is still as powerful as ever. Do soccer fans even care about the FIFA scandals?

Sports organizations are hit with scandals all the time, yet the sports stay as popular as ever. Take the NFL for example. Last year, the NFL was thrown under the bus for its handling of issues concerning domestic violence. The NFL’s reputation took a hit, but did the sports suffer as a result? No. Fans continued to support their favorite teams and brands continued to spend millions of dollars in advertisement with the NFL.

When it comes to sports, fans care more about the game than the organization behind it. As a sports fan myself, I’ve seen some of my favorite sports get hit with scandals that dealt a blow to the organization’s reputation. Did the scandal stop me from watching the games? No way. As a fan, you’re part of a community that has one unifying factor: the love of the game. My loyalty is with my team, and almost nothing can shake that.

No matter how corrupt FIFA is, in the end, it is going to be fine. Soccer fans aren’t going to just turn their back on the sport that they love. For many countries, especially outside the United States, soccer is about more than just a game, it’s a religion. The team you root for is part of your identity and fans aren’t going to abandon the sport that’s so integral to their community and culture.

As long as soccer is still soccer, fans will continue to watch FIFA’s games. They will continue to attend the World Cup and brands will continue to shell out millions of dollars in advertisements. No matter how corrupt FIFA turns out to be, as long as soccer remains a powerhouse sport, FIFA will be a powerhouse as well.

John Oliver tackled this love/hate relationship with FIFA perfectly last year before the World Cup. As he says, no matter how appalling FIFA may be as an organization, a fan’s love for the sport outweighs everything else.

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Apple Watch: PR Blunder or PR Perfection?

May 14, 2015

Two words can instantly spark a heated debate: Apple Watch. The device has created two schools of thought- it sucks, or it’s genius. Try to find someone on the fence and you’ll be sorely disappointed. For Apple “fanboys” like me, there’s no doubt it’s a cool device – well-designed, fills a niche no other technology I have does, and above and beyond any other wearable on the market. To everyone else it’s “Why do I need it?” “Why would I spend $800 to not look at my phone as much as I do now?” or “They’re just dumb.” Debate aside, one thing seems to escape everyone talking about it. If you’re debating the watch, Apple’s unmatched PR machine is working.

Does anyone need a smartwatch?
Apple Watch is a hard sell. It has incredible capabilities but do mainstream consumers think they need them? Probably not, but they may want them eventually and Apple has the clout to make that happen. Before Apple Watch, smartwatches were clunky, fairly ugly and nearly all were marketed to the same audience as Casio’s calculator watches from the 80s. They had no mainstream appeal and even less functionality.

On the other hand, Apple has an ecosystem of more than 3,500 apps for Apple Watch alone and 1.2 million on iOS. Developers will innovate new apps specifically for Apple Watch, leading to more coverage of the watch, more interest and more debate as the device’s appeal continues to grow.

Apple is making smartwatches cool.
Apple’s already won the battle in making a smartwatch cooler than they’ve ever been. But is that enough for a device with a price tag ranging from $349 to more than $14,000? Apple’s betting on fashion-aware celebrities and consumers to adopt the watch. And shortly before launch it was already around the wrists of Beyonce, Pharell, Drake, Sam Smith, Katy Perry and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. Meanwhile the Apple PR team made no small effort to make sure the watch was reviewed by fashion magazines from GQ to Vogue and the most influential watch experts in the world, making the device known as more than just a “mini-computer.”

In order for Apple Watch to be successful it needs to be seen as cool, fashionable, desired, capable and most importantly worth your money. For an item nobody truly needs, Apple’s already proven that they’re able to make people want it. In the end, that’s all that matters. The reviews have been positive (with a caveat here or there), the thousands of articles keep on coming, the debate wages on, yet the bottom line remains – Apple has already sold 3.2 million watches in just over a month.

The Apple Watch is already set to outpace the iPhone in first-year sales. It looks like their PR team is succeeding where others have failed, again.

 

Perfect PR? A standing O and slow clap for CVS Health

September 4, 2014

We love to talk about public relations and branding missteps. What’s more fun than shuddering at Market Basket’s month-long debacle, or how the media wages war on itself over racial issues?

Thoughtful, well-executed PR isn’t as sensational, but it sure does paint a prettier picture. And CVS just dropped the mic with its name change to CVS Health.

I know, I know – Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper aren’t exactly fighting over who’ll play the lead role in the explosive blockbuster detailing the subtle CVS rebrand. To watch the ginormous brand successfully shift its model without stepping on a single PR eggshell, however, brings a tear to the eye.

The real PR execution came to light months ago, when the Company announced it would stop selling tobacco. The move was reflective of a gradual shift away from the convenience store model and closer to preventive health. As EZG client Reynders, McVeigh pointed out in this Barron’s article, CVS is “in a prime position to benefit from the ongoing revolution in American healthcare.”

The Company is aiming to become the leader in consumer-facing preventive healthcare, which is a far cry from the foundational goals inherent in the name (Consumer Value Stores).  Such a wholesale shift could have inspired a public relations backlash from both media and the Street – unless it was handled with:

  1. incredible foresight,
  2. careful alignment with corporate goals,
  3. buy-in at every level of the organization,
  4. patience, and
  5. a message that featured restraint and sensitivity to an enormous global audience.

It seems that CVS was equal to the task.  The Company went loud with its plans early in 2014 with the tobacco draw down. It was the perfect segue into the big picture, as CEO Larry Merlo noted in The New York Times that “we have about 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners helping patients manage chronic problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, all of which are linked to smoking…We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don’t go together in the same setting.”

Did you hear that in the back, there?  It’s not about cigarettes, people.  It’s about HELPING PATIENTS MANAGE CHRONIC PROBLEMS.

Fast forward to September 2014. After absorbing the reaction to its tobacco move, CVS announced  simultaneously that it would accelerate the removal of tobacco from its stores and change its name to CVS Health.

There are a dozen ways these steps could have been mismanaged. CVS could have make smoking the issue, creating an air of judgment and a forum for debate – instead it made it clear that tobacco simply conflicted with its focus on health. Executives could have led with the name change, then eliminated tobacco – instead it made a powerful connection with consumers before changing the brand.

The way it was played out, this brand and strategy shift couldn’t seem more natural. That’s just great branding, PR, and corporate strategy working together. Well played.

As the late, great, George Peppard would say (yes, fully recognize the irony of George’s trademark cigar here):

Advertising Works, And I’m Proof!

August 14, 2014

not a chainAs advertisers, we sadly see companies represent themselves only as the way the public perceives them. They fail to define themselves by what they truly stand for and believe in. Unfortunately, we have seen that these types of stereotypes can make or break a company’s reputation and influence the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. Ads shouldn’t be created by what the target audience wants or expects to hear, they should represent a company’s standards and what they ultimately want to be known as.

I have actually recently experienced the power of an authentic advertising campaign.

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, a few weeks back, my husband and I went down to the Seaport area to have lunch and enjoy the city. We walked around for a bit, thought about grabbing a burger at Jerry Remy’s or guacamole at Temazcal. It was a beautiful day, so we headed to Legal Harborside and sat at a table on their rooftop. When we arrived, the line already had about 30 people waiting and looked like it could be awhile before we were seated. But, we waited anyway –is there anything better than having lunch on the roof on a beautiful summer day in Boston? No.

We ordered several rounds of sushi and sangria and enjoyed the atmosphere for hours! It was fantastic. Everything from the food to the service was top notch and we have been talking about that day ever since. You’re probably wondering what my sunny afternoon has to do with advertising- the answer is, everything.

So when I saw Legal’s new “Not a Chain” campaign for the first time, I was immediately brought back to that day.

When I think about chain restaurants, I usually envision popular establishments like; Applebees, Uno’s, Bertucci’s and other restaurants of similar caliber. The times where I have visited these chains, I haven’t noticed a long line out the door- this could be because I don’t frequent these restaurants often enough, but I usually don’t run into such a willingness to wait for great food as I did at Legal’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional visit to a “chain” restaurant.

In the series of ads, Legal Seafood’s CEO Roger Berkowitz sternly states that even though they have several locations, each of their restaurants is unique, not cookie-cutter. In an interview with the New York Times, Berkowitz stated that “there’s sort of a built-in prejudice about [being a chain] that really doesn’t define who we are and what we do.”

What I like most about this campaign is that Berkowitz is telling everyone what his company stands for. He is refusing to accept a mold for his company and is speaking through his advertising to erase the stereotype. We tell our clients one of the most important things they can do in advertising is define themselves. It’s up to the client and their advertising teams to define a brand and let the company’s message speak through it.

3 Brands Winning the #WorldCup on Social Media

July 3, 2014

This year’s World Cup is officially the biggest social media event ever, and it’s not even done yet. Millions around the world are watching the matches and taking to social media to live-tweet their thoughts during games—and this is a great branding opportunity for companies.

For the brands unwilling to dedicate a large amount of their advertising budget to space during the World Cup matches, social media has acted as a great platform to gain visibility. Many brands have effectively used live-tweeting to connect to World Cup fans around the world.

There are 3 brands, which have scored on social media by creating great content and engaging hashtags during the World Cup:

Waffle House

What do waffles and soccer have in common? Very little–but that didn’t stop the Waffle House from crafting one of the most talked about Tweets during the World Cup. Before the USA vs. Belgium game, the Waffle House declared a war on Belgian Waffles by tweeting a play-on the #IBelieveThatWeWillWin chant:

Despite not actually referencing the World Cup or USA vs Belgium match, this simple tweet was a huge hit. It was retweeted nearly 24,000 times and helped the Waffle House gain coverage in the national media. The Waffle House connected to the World Cup phenomenon in an extremely clever way that drove mass engagement.

Snickers

One of the most talked about moments on social media from the World Cup was the Luis Suarez “biting incident.” Twitter exploded with people immediately making jokes about biting and twitter was buzzing.  Naturally, brands wanted to participate in the action as well. Snickers, was ready and had the perfect social post created:

The simple claim of “More satisfying than Italian” fit perfectly with their brand’s voice and capitalized on Luis Suarez’s  bizarre behavior.

By using the most popular hashtags of the week, Snickers’ post was retweeted nearly 50,000 times- resulting in one of the most popular Suarez- related tweets on social media.

Nike

As a sponsor of the World Cup, Nike spent advertising dollars in all the necessary places.  Adertising aside, they still launched the #RiskEverything campaign, using Nike’s main twitter handle and their Nike Football handle as part of the campaign. Nike’s short videos (promoted on social media) have impressive viewing statistics—upwards of 80 million views. When posted on Facebook, the video garnered over 70,000 likes and nearly 50,000 shares- Gooooooooooalllllllllllll!

Their campaign has been following the cup’s action, and has had huge user engagement with thousands of social influencers spreading the #RiskEverything hashtag. Nike’s social media campaign appears to paying off with fans around the world responding and interacting.

Of all the #WorldCup posts you’ve seen on social media, what was your favorite? Who are you rooting for? Let us know @ebben_zall!

 

Top 4 Keys to Client Management in Advertising

June 27, 2014

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Working well with clients is an integral part of the advertising and public relations industry. Check out our top 4 keys to being a strong partner:

4. Saying No To Being a “Yes Man”

An agency’s responsibility to their clients often includes maintaining the brand’s integrity.  When the client has an idea for new creative that isn’t consistent with the brand’s message or takes them off strategy, we believe it’s part of our role to recommend against it. Many times, clients come to us with ideas based on personal inspiration instead of business priorities – we always guide our clients to stay on course to speak to their audience.

3. Ordering à la Carte

When we create integrated, year-long branding campaigns that run on several cylinders at once to achieve a goal, it can be frustrating when requests come to peel away important layers in order to reduce costs.  We strategically build a price structure that supports each element of the campaign, so we highly recommend against breaking apart the campaign to order specific components “à la carte.”  When advertisers design a campaign and media plan, we have a strategic thought process behind it.  If the elements aren’t put in play to work together and strengthen the client’s bottom line, they won’t achieve the desired result.  In fact, we often recommend killing the campaign until the budget can support the full strategy.

2. Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens

Listening to the client’s needs and goals is a critical important part of establishing trust.  That may seem obvious, but when a campaign idea or specific results are challenged, it can be tempting to get defensive.  On the contrary: consider the input and if it’s valid, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.  If a campaign wasn’t a hit off the bat, for example, go back and try again. If a client’s goal is to start increasing traffic as soon as possible, for example, find the best medium (or mediums) to help support that goal. Rework the budget and the campaign so the dollars aren’t spread too thin – making the campaign as successful as possible on a tighter budget.

1. Earn trust

Advertising agencies need to be trusted by clients, and that’s a fact.  Many companies are afraid to invest in an agency, as they have fear they’ll lose control of their budget.  We let clients know directly that is not the case. Reputable advertising agencies should act as marketing consultants and advise clients on best practices for their particular brand. It may sound cliché, but agencies aren’t successful unless their clients are.

To hear more on our keys to client management, check out our latest clip on EZG-TV!

What’s in a Hashtag? Entire strategies!

February 27, 2014

Hashtag

Pound sign, number sign, hashtag; whatever you want to call it, this little symbol has impacted the marketing sphere for all who work in the communications industry. It’s hard to remember a time when hashtags weren’t part of marketing campaigns because they play such a significant role when building a strategy. In fact, in some cases the hashtag is the strategy.

Since hashtags are supported on multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest) marketers realize using hashtags can be advantageous for bigger picture gains. Hashtags can be used to reach target audiences in a fun, engaging and social way that other forms of marketing materials can’t. By using hashtags, brands can create a quick connection to a large group, and if brands are really smart, they’ll connect the hashtag with a feeling. Creating an emotional connection enables the hashtag to leverage a positive brand image for an organization or individual. For example, Honda aired its touchy-feely #HugFest campaign (starring Bruce Willis) during the Super Bowl. Honda purposely did not mention their brand within the hashtag, in order to generalize it and position it to a larger group. Honda then went the extra mile and supported the #Hugfest social media campaign by launching a series of YouTube videos. Doing so caused the #HugFest hashtag to take off like a Civic Coupe on a race track. Marketers at Honda clearly know that everybody can use a hug now and then, and were wise to correlate a “warm and fuzzy” feeling with the famous auto maker.

Additionally, hashtags can be used as a fierce weapon to differentiate brands from competitors. For example, Yoplait Greek Yogurt flipped their lid and created a duel with competition brand, Chobani (the Greek yogurt giant). After realizing they would rather win the “who’s better” battle fair and square (instead of swooning shoppers with studly John Stamos) Yoplait formed the hashtag #TasteOff as a way to motivate customer feedback. A risky move that even Uncle Jesse couldn’t combat.

Yoplait invited real consumers to go spoon to spoon and vote in the #TasteOff on Twitter. Ladies and ‘gents, Yoplait won the brand battle right then and there. At EZG, we can stand behind a hashtag campaign that inspires direct engagement with consumers and promotes real brand loyalty across social media. Consumers want to be involved; they want to be spoken to and know when they’re being sold. Through a simple hashtag, Yoplait kicked off the conversation that inspired brand loyalty amongst consumers, a tasty move indeed.

At EZG we participate in hashtag specific campaigns on behalf of our clients. We conduct industry research and survey the conversations taking place on social media in order to be active social listeners. When monitoring hashtags, we filter out the noise and find the windows of hashtag opportunity where our clients can promote their brand, position the brand ahead of competitors, or just simply engage with an existing audience. Whether it is a brand specific campaign using a designated hashtag, or a hashtag that is used during an event, we understand the power that hashtags have and we love it.

What are some of your favorite hashtag campaigns? Comment and let us know which brands you think use hashtags effectively or tweet us @ebben_zall.

Live-Tweeting: A Powerful Way to Connect

January 22, 2014
©Esther Vargas

©Esther Vargas

With so many users on social media in 2014, it is nearly impossible to simply watch T.V. “Tweet-watching” would be a more accurate phrase to use when describing how we interact with television shows this season.

Program viewers like me live-tweet during programs as they air and share opinions in real-time with other viewers by connecting with hash-tags. Live-tweeting television shows using designated hashtags has taken over Twitter, with #Sherlock , #Scandal  and #GoldenGlobes emerging as trending topics as they air. By using Twitter as a communications tool to connect with others T.V. fans, thousands of people are watching, tweeting and interacting with each other at light speed.  Because of this, television is no longer a passive activity but an interactive experience.

The shows also encourage live-tweeting as they often include the desired hashtag to use on the screen, and ask viewers to tweet @ reactions to the show’s Twitter handle. For example, when the airdate for the third season of hit BBC drama Sherlock was announced, the show introduced the hashtag #SherlockLives on the side of a hearse. Fans instantly took to the new hashtag, and used it in their tweets when Sherlock returned on January 1st, 2014. The BBC used the hashtag as they live-tweeted their reactions and exclusive photos and content for the three episodes of the series. By connecting through advertising, show promotions and Twitter, fans were able to share in the experience of the show’s premiere instead of simply observing it.

However, live-tweeting is not just reserved for TV’s biggest fans—brands are also tapping into the benefits of live-tweeting and using it as an advantage.   For example,   DiGiornio Pizza is one brand that excels at leveraging the power of Twitter conversations.  During NBC’s Sound of Music Live! DiGiornio live-tweeted the entire show which resulted in hilarious tweets and free media coverage for the brand. Using #SoundofMusicLive (the second highest trending topic that night) DiGiornio was visible to a large audience, which resulted in hundreds of retweets and catapulted the DiGiornio brand as a trending topic. While the Sound of Music and frozen pizza seem to have nothing common, the people behind the DiGiornio social media campaign created funny and clever ways to tie their tweets to the broadcast and connect back to their brand.

More Examples of DiGiornio’s Creativity here:

Live-tweeting is a new way for social media managers to garner attention for their brands on social media. While live-tweeting might not work for every brand, it is an intriguing new way to use Twitter and users are already starting to get on board. If you’re confused about how to get started, I’ve included a few helpful tips below:

  • Think before you post
  • Be spontaneous
  • Find clever and creative ways to engage
  • Bring the conversation back to your brand/program/event

Live-Tweeting has already shaped the way that broadcast outlets, brands, and consumers connect in real-time. With the rise of social media platforms like Snapchat, it shows that there is now slowing of the need for immediate stimulation. Because of that need, I feel that live-tweeting will become much more common. It will be interesting to see if more brands will utilize the potential of live-tweeting and how sales will be directly impacted—who knows we may even cover that topic on the Ebben Zall Group blog.

Ebben Zall Group’s 2014 Marketing Predictions

January 15, 2014

crystal ball2013 was a year with changes that rocked the world of marketing (figuratively and literally, thank you Miley Cyrus and Buzzfeed). From Google’s hummingbird algorithm to Instagram offering advertisements to Twitter going public, media shifted and evolved at an accelerated rate.

At EZG we try to stay nimble and ahead of the curve when it comes to trends and industry milestones, and over the past month or so we’ve focused on setting goals for ourselves and our clients.

Out of that effort, the team raised a few marketing predictions for 2014.  We know 2013 took marketers on a wild ride, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the year ahead!

EZG’s 2014 Marketing Predictions:

  • The value of content will become increasingly clear – and the role of paid media increasingly blurry.  On the social media front, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others will continue to move towards showcasing certain content and sharing user information in an effort to monetize.  Meanwhile, industry news and opinion websites will try to differentiate and draw traffic by competing for viewpoints from thought leaders who have significant networks through which they can share.
  • Ad spend will increase significantly across the world in 2014 from this past year due to public events set up to receive global attention. With the Winter Olympics in Russia, the World Cup in Brazil, and the mid-term elections in the U.S., there are multiple platforms with extremely high viewership that are great opportunities for advertisers to brand their clients’ brands.
  • Short videos will continue to grow in popularity. Whether they are used to show a clients’ expertise, for pitching purposes, or for fun mash-ups that display a firm’s personal side, videos will be included in more campaigns in 2014.
  • Advertisements and social media posts that gain popularity will become more image focused. It’s important that ads are visually digested and that text is kept to a minimum.
  • Interactive advertisements will gain popularity in 2014, and they will need to be more creative than ever. Whether it’s a crawler across your screen or a game that must be played before it will disappear, ads will increasingly become interactive and engaging across multiple platforms.
  • Content strategy is king: With the amount of content floating around the internet and on social media platforms, marketers must (as always) be strategic with their publishing initiatives.  Content publishers, content context and content timeliness will be absolutely vital for the success of brands in 2014 — more so than ever before.

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