Monthly Archives: October 2012

American Apparel’s Marketing Disaster

This week has been tough on the Eastern coast of North America. Hurricane Sandy has slammed the Eastern seaboard with extreme weather causing unprecedented flooding and billions of dollars in damage. It has also claimed the lives of many people, and the numbers are rising. It has been a tragic situation and has captivated the world. This is something that has serious implications and should not be taken lightly. But that’s exactly what one company did.

American Apparel took advantage of the disaster and used it as a promotional tool. Over the weekend they sent out an email to their members featuring the “Sandy Sale”, a promotion that gave customers 20% off everything in the next 36 hours.

They specifically targeted the states highlighted in red, which by no coincidence were the same states being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Needless to say, this promotion is highly distasteful and does not respect the gravity of the situation. They took advantage of a serious situation and tried to turn it into a business opportunity. But this isn’ t the first time something like this has happened. Kenneth Cole did something similar during the Arab Spring. Immediately massive amounts of people took to social media to express their feelings about American Apparel’s move. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over so well with people and they expressed their distaste towards the brand, some even stating they will boycott American Apparel from now on.

This is a prime example of communications gone wrong, and its had a very negative impact on the brand. The twitterverse has been alive with people ranting over the horrible ads. Relating this back to my previous blogs, I think American Apparel should be worried about the impact that this will have. But the thing is, they probably aren’t. They’ve had trouble in the past with their racy advertisements and their marketing tactics are always “toeing the line” of decency. I know they always want to make an impact with their marketing, but this is too far. They definitely need to change their corporate policies and shake up their marketing department.

As this social storm rages on, it will only get bigger and more people will begin having a negative sentiment towards the brand. Furthermore, American Apparel has not done any triage at all. They haven’t released a statement defending or apologizing for their actions. Big mistake. I thnk that if theyi had ┬ácome out and said something by now, people may have been more forgiving. But now I think that opportunity has passed and their brand will suffer. This time American Apparel went too far and it may be something they may not be able to recover from.

-AK

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BodyForm understands Social Media’s Importance

Over the last week or so, BodyForm has been generating a lot of buzz online. For those who have been living under a rock lately BodyForm, a British feminine hygiene company, responded to a post on their Facebook page from an individual named Richard. Here is what he wrote:

As a guy, I found this to be pretty funny and ridiculous since he was calling BodyForm out. We all know that females are an adventure during “their time”… but not in a good way. However, BodyForm’s response was even better.

BodyForm did a great job monitoring online, its clear that the “get it” when it comes to Social Media. My last few blog posts have talked about the importance of monitoring and allocating resources to Social Media for customer service. This is exactly what I was talking about. Although it may not have been a crucial customer complaint, they did a great job becoming aware of the post and recognizing the opportunity to respond. They used humour to take a cheeky “customer” complaint and turn it into a PR gem. As a result, this video has spread across the internet and now a lot more people know who BodyForm is. BodyForm clearly had a triage system set up, and it worked.

However, I am skeptical of a few things. First, is this real or just a PR stunt? For all we know, Richard could be a fake account created by an employee of BodyForm. Second, why bother responding to Richard’s post. He isn’t the target market of BodyForm and would never use their products, so what was the point of this? Sure it created lots of buzz but is it really effective at reaching out to women. BodyForm’s response seemed like it was targeted to men and attempted to educate them. I don’t see the connection between this and increasing BodyForm’s sales among women. Lastly, from what I am aware of, this is quite a radical change in BodyForm’s past advertisement or communication strategies. Now BodyForm can’t undo this and they have to keep it up. They can’t go back to their old, boring and more mainstream ads. BodyForm will now have to alter their communications strategy to be coherent. Look for more interesting BodyForm advertisements on the horizon.

-AK

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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

As I was perusing Brian Solis’ Blog, I came across an interesting article regarding the investments that businesses allocate towards social media and customer service.

It isn’t a secret that Social Media is becoming a major part of business and an increasingly important tool to interact with your consumers. A recent study found that 71% of businesses reported using Social Media for customer service, and 87.5% of them experienced positive impacts. Obviously this is good. However, as consumers get more connected, the businesses are lagging behind in keeping up with the trend. Companies are not making the appropriate investments in social media to align with the expectations of their customers.

A whopping 77.6% of businesses invested less than $50,000 in social media customer service. Although everyone realizes the importance of social media to their business, they aren’t doing anything about it. Only 7% devote over $250,000 to their social media customer service strategies.

And the lack of investment is really reflected in the amount of customer service issues handled through social media. 41% of businesses handle under 5% of their customer service issues on social media. This just doesn’t make sense. As more consumers take to social media to express their feelings and experiences, shouldn’t businesses devote more resources to social media as well? As I mentioned in a previous blog post, consumers are more influenced by what their peers say online. If companies are more active and responsive to what is happening in the cyber world , it can change the way consumers perceive the brand and influence sales.

Furthermore, just putting more time and money into social media isn’t enough. There needs to be a process or a plan for employees to follow when interacting through social media. If there is a well defined action plan and more autonomy given to employees, it will allow the company to increase response times while providing a consistent and coherent message to its online community.

-AK

Using Hashtags for Awareness

What is a hashtag? A useless part of Twitter, a tool for categorization, or something that no one really understands but just follows suit? Well DDB New York is taking a well known hashtag on Twitter and turning it into an awareness campaign.

#FirstWorldPains or #FirstWorldProblems are ironic hashtags which people use to describe trivial burdens suffered by those in the first world. People use these hashtags in humour because first world problems, such as having too many food choices or only having water to drink, aren’t really problems at all. Ridiculous as it is, it has become one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter. Yet, from what I understand, the irony isn’t lost on those who use it. Most people are fully aware that these problems are outlandish and that’s what makes it so funny. The problem is, nothing is being done about real problems.

DDB New York has teamed up with Water is Life to create a campaign aimed at raising awareness for clean water around the world. The campaign are a series of videos where impoverished Haitians recite ridiculous #FirstWorldProblems tweets and at the end a sentence reading “#FirstWorldProblems are not problems. Donate to help bring clean water to those in need” is shown on the screen. There is also a video where a Haitian responds to a #FirstWorldProblems tweet sent out by somebody.

Take a look for yourself

I think this is a brilliant move. It takes something that has become so familiar in many people’s lives and shines a new light on it. Many people use the hashtag all the time yet they forget the purpose behind the hashtag. This campaign totally changes that.

What I really love is how DDB New York monitored social media and listened to to what consumers were saying. They realized a trend and spun it in a totally different direction. It shows how diverse of a tool Social Media is to marketers. It can be used, negatively or positively, as part of the feedback loop, can be used as a search for information or opinions, and as shown here, it can be used to generate ideas and identify trends in the market. I think this is a very smart campaign and I think it will become very, very successful.

-AK

Listen Up!

In today’s society, the traditional marketing funnels and channels have gone out the window. Throughout the past decade, the rise of social media has changed the way that consumers gain and share information about brands, products, and experiences. McKinsey’s new interpretation of the traditional marketing funnel illustrates a cyclical and more current consumer purchase decision journey.

Social media has an impact on all six of those decision stages, however it is the Advocate stage that should be monitored closely. Consumers can become both positive and negative advocates of your brand, and through social media, that message can spread like wildfire. One person’s opinion can be seen by their numerous friends or followers, which can then be shared among even more people, creating a ripple effect across the digital universe. Savvy consumers increasingly rely on social media to gain information about a subject because it is more truthful and unfiltered than going to a brand’s website where the message can be skewed and altered to benefit the brand. Therefore, when someone posts about your brand on a social media website it can have profound effects on all stages of the customer decision journey. One bad review can take your brand out of a consumer’s consideration set, and can prevent a sale from being made.

As Brian Solis explains, this is why it is so important to listen to your consumers and to have a strategy for responding to them.

He notes that younger consumers are posting their initial gut reactions to Twitter or Facebook before even searching for solutions for their problems. This is problematic and he uses this point to support his call for brands to monitor online conversations about their brand and create a “triage” protocol.

If a dissatisfied consumer posts a negative comment about your brand on social media, a good monitoring system will be able to put the fire out before it gets out of hand and spreads. A successful “triage” system will be able to possibly get the dissatisfied individual to reconsider their opinions of the brand and try purchasing again, and prevent any further damage to the brand. More importantly, even if the problem cannot be entirely fixed, at least the consumer knows that the brand is listening and cares about them. A good example of a Social Media triage system was created by the Altimeter Group and can be found here.

Although very important, implementing a monitoring system isn’t all about PR. Monitoring can be used to gain further insights about consumers and the way they interact with your brand, identify trends, and ensure that the intended marketing messages are effective at reaching their goals.

Successful brands will need to implement some sort of social media monitoring system to remain competitive and to prevent any detrimental PR effects. After all, no one wants to be United Airlines…who breaks guitars.

– AK

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