Why Ben & Jerry’s Euphoria Campaign is Getting Slapped Around, While 35 Million Directors Soars

With a war cry of #captureeuphoria, Ben & Jerry’s recent attempt at rallying its 127,000 Instagram followers has skidded on a couple social media patches.

The “Euphoria” campaign, reflecting the supposed feeling of joy you get from eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, urges users to capture kodak moments with its brand. If we consider the social technographics ladder, Ben & Jerry’s is essentially shoving its top-tier creators into the world and leveraging said user-generated content to create 20 adverts for the brand.

Consider, evaluate, buy, experience, advocate. By encouraging users to show euphoric moments via Instagram, the idea was to push the passive customers into brand evangelists. Amplify the positive, that’s what social media’s about right? Since 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations (while only 14% trust advertisements), by calling out to the community to take snapshots for their adverts, Ben & Jerry’s leverages on the trust associated with user-generated content.
However, couple days after the launch, an army of Instagram users have started sabotaging the contest with depressing photos that are anything but “euphoric”. Dreary pictures of abandoned roads, sad looking dogs, and people’s behinds are just a couple of the scenes on the Instagram feed.

But what went wrong?

What stopped Ben & Jerry’s campaign from being a standing ovation like campaign 30 Million Directors, by DDB and Canadian Tourism, which rallied citizens from around Canada to submit video excepts of Canadian experiences worthy of marvel?

Resource allocation.

Not to say that Ben & Jerry’s didn’t have the resources, they just didn’t consider the depth that a social media campaign needs to be thought through in order to be executed flawlessly. This is also not to say the Europhia campaign won’t work, because it probably will. Among the rows of butts and sad dogs, Ben & Jerry’s will most likely find enough cute toddlers eating ice cream to launch great adverts with. However, this hiccup along the road could have been avoided had Ben & Jerry’s filtered their Instagram feed. Instead of allowing automatic publishing of any photo tagged with #CaptureEuphoria, they could have set up a conversation centre to monitor the feed. What they needed was some sort of filter.

Sure, everyone wants a self-sustaining campaign, but some things just need to be monitored. Diligently too. Because there are terrible people in the world who like to post pictures of butts instead of cute toddlers. I digress.

Prior to the launch, Ben & Jerry’s should have established a set of criterion that images had to meet in order to be published and a way to enforce it (filter feeds live, re-direct approved photos to an alternate campaign page, etc.). They could even post the photos at certain times of the day and schedule “euphoric moments/blasts” where approved photos would be posted by the batch. This would have prevented the blemishes on the campaign, and preserved the Ben & Jerry’s charm.

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A Haiku to Viral Videos

Make sure it’s viral
With millions of view counts
We’ll roll in the dough.

The lesson here: Haikus are fun to write.

A viral video is a video that gains popularity through online distribution and sharing. With the development of internet sharing, “going viral” has swiftly become a phenomenon in demand. So much so that Toronto agency John St., has created a “Buyral” parody video that promises virality to its customers for just $59.99. In what I can only describe as some sort of psychotic orientation video for employees, Buyral literally pays employees to click on videos to raise the view counts. Through hacking into the city system, they can convert elevator, bank pin, crosswalk clicks into video clicks for their clients.

All marvelous sarcasm aside, mashable published an article in the summer about the secret sauce behind the creation of a viral video. The following facts about viral videos is summarized from the Q&A mashable did with agency guys from Seedwell, moguls of viral video creation.

  • First of all, if your video reaches over 10,000 Youtube views, it earns a viral “A” since this is the 95th percentile (1 million views would be the 98th percentile). Furthermore, it needs 1000+ shares within 24 hours to be considered the top 5% of the class.
  • Most viral videos have three things in common: theme, structure, and tastemakers.
  • Theme: most viral videos are either 1) parody of something popular and timely, 2) cute as hell, and 3) did that just happen?
  • Structure: Surprise the viewer, while avoiding shoving blatant advertising down their thoughts. Make it an emotional roller coaster.
  • Tastemakers: Tastemakers and digital influencers are celebrities with pre-existing audiences. Get to them first, they will share your content to their followers.

To test their mantra, I looked at the top ten viral videos this week.

Sure enough, they fit into the themes described above.
1. Parody of something popular and timely: Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman narrates a video to urge continued support for Movember. “Your Mo Will Get Fuller with Nick Offerman” plays the line “It gets fuller!” which is derivative of the LGBT campaign “It gets better”

2. Cute as hell: The Melbourne Metro made the safety video “Dumb Ways to Die” to motivate awareness in regards to safety issues that could lead to an untimely death. Featuring a catchy tune and teeny, cutesy characters, the morbidity of the video is almost overlooked.

3. Did that just happen?: This one goes to Red Bull. Need I explain more? Their “Athlete Machine” video is reminiscent of Honda’s legendary “The Cog”.

Also, my recent favourite has to go to Sears’ “Connecting Flights, This Season’s Must See”. What can I say, I’m a sucker for chick flicks. And randomness that somehow magically works with the message.

With that said, as with life, there’s an inherent uncertainty to whether a video will go viral. Even with this formula, clients and creatives will just have to live with the fact that you just never know. Furthermore, virality should not equal success. There are a lot of notoriously bad videos out there that have impressive view counts.

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If MTV Endorsed this Video, I Would Watch Jersey Shore.

Last week, McDonalds’ CMO Joel Yashinsky paid a visit to my E-marketing class. If you are unfortunate enough to be a Twitter follower of mine, you would have already been subjected to my many fangirl tweets over said encounter.

When Joel (yes, I’m going to pretend we’re on first name terms when I only spoke to him for about 30 seconds) spoke about his “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign for McDonalds Canada, he mentioned McDonalds’ transparency platform. Ask. Answer. Amplify.

Through asking the right questions, facilitating a community to answer in a creative way, and amplifying those clever responses to the mass, McDonalds proved themselves as a vulnerable brand. In their response, the audience feels as though they’re speaking with a person, not a multi-billion-dollar corporation.

The key take-away for me was: build a brand that can be bold enough to be vulnerable.

Side note: Joel is such a humble person, he stayed at the end of class to distribute customized McDonalds coupon orders to every student at the lecture – cheers to being classy.

These days, brand transparency is trending hotter than creepy movember moustaches. Maybe that’s the reason a new MTV parody video made by Brian Firenzi and Maria Del Carmen of 5secondfilms has gone viral with over 2 million views in ten days.

In the video “Why Doesn’t MTV Play Music Videos Anymore?”, a pseudo network head of MTV (played by Brian Firenzi himself) tackles the question asked by Natalie (a girl who identifies herself literally as “a female in her mid-20s”. With a blatant disregard and absence of normal, human propriety, Brian Firenzi fires off on a list of reasons why MTV does not in fact play music videos anymore.

Yes it’s crude. Yes it’s a parody. But I can’t help but to think how many brand transparency points MTV would get if they actually condoned and endorsed this video.

We all know MTV shows like Jersey Shore is the filth of television, but if MTV actually owned up to it, I for one would appreciate their honesty.

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“The Airline of Middle-earth” Just Has a Nice Ring to It

Take a random poll with five people and ask “what December blockbuster are you looking forward to?” Chances are, someone’s going to shriek “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!” more loudly in your face than you’d ever care for. Unless you’ve been secluded in some sort of Shutter Island-esque asylum, you’ve probably heard the buzz around this anticipated Lord of the Rings prequel.

Full disclaimer: I’m more of a Harry Potter girl, not really into Lord of the Rings but it’s alright.

In E-marketing, we learned about the iceberg analogy for social media. To develop an effective online presence for your brand, you have got to LISTEN. Those who take the time to monitor and listen to their conversations benefit by getting first-hand knowledge of what their audience likes. These brands, they are the ones who find niche marketing campaign ideas which help them hit the headlines.

Today, this medal of honour goes to Air New Zealand, now branded as “The Airline of Middle-earth” (teaching moment: “Middle-earth” is the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings series with many scenes filmed in New Zealand). Partnering up with Warner Bros. Pictures, MGM, and New Line Cinema, Air New Zealand has positioned themselves as the travel passport for those who want to go to Middle-earth.

Recently, creative safety videos have been popping up all over the internet, with Delta Airlines releasing a safety video that included a robot passenger fastening his seat belt. Not to be outdone, Air New Zealand released a new Hobbit inspired safety video, “An Unexpected Briefing #airnzhobbit”. Decked out with elves, dwarves, and everything Lord of the Rings, this melodramatic video clip has garnered nearly 10 million views on Youtube since its release on Halloween. Wanting to measure the impact this viral advert has made on the brand, I clicked into the Air New Zealand Youtube page to discover that it had a total of 22 million video views to date since it was established in 2006. This translates to almost a 100% increase in video hits for Air New Zealand thanks to the sharing of the Hobbit Safety Video. If we measure the amount of Hobbit fans by the number of views it has on its Trailer (uploaded 11 months ago), we’ll discover the most popular video has 21 million views. Assuming that Lord of the Rings fans made up a majority of the views for the safety video, Air New Zealand captured almost half of the fan population within a month. Of course, non-fans probably viewed the safety video as well as a result of its publicity in the advertising community.

As an added kudos, Air New Zealand probably saw the inherent weakness in Youtube comments, and provided a further conversational outlet by embedding a hashtag, #airnzhobbit, into the title to transfer Youtube viewers onto their Twitter page. Just after a 30 second skim on their Twitter profile, I’ve discovered that Air New Zealand has most recently created a Hobbit themed air bridge and baggage carousel. Imagine how much longer I’d stay on their profile if I was a Lord of the Rings fan.

Sure, you might call it milking the goat, but this campaign aligns with Air New Zealand’s point of differentiation perfectly. It’s a winner in my books.

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Maxipad Apologizes for Being a Big Fat Liar and Misleading Men Across the Globe

In the wave of McDonald’s ads promoting brand transparency by answering questions like “do you use meat glue in any of your meat?”, U.K. maxipad maker Bodyform has stepped up and proclaimed to be a pathological liar.

It all began with one consumer, Richard Neill’s, comment on Bodyform’s Facebook wall where he ranted about how he had been mislead by Bodyform’s adverts which had deluded him into believing that periods were a happy occurance. Citing visuals such as “bike riding, rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting…” as experiences women enjoyed at this particular time of the month, Bodyform had tricked him (or so he claimed).

Now this is an age-old joke about maxipads – their “false advertising” utilizing modest blue liquids to demonstrate their products’ effectiveness has always been overlooked by most (considering the other ungodly alternative).

It was a comment that any other company would let slide in their triage models. Because really, what can you do? But Bodyform’s marketing team flexed their creative muscles and separated themselves from the boys by creating a personal video response addressing Richard’s facetious comment which had already garnered 84,000+ Facebook “Likes”.

In their apologetic but smart-alecky response, a Bodyform “CEO” confesses that the jig is up. She proclaims that “there’s no such thing as a happy period” but defending that the blue liquid demonstrations exist because “in the 1980s (they) ran a series of focus groups to help (them) gauge peoples’ reactions to periods” and it was not well received.

The CEO rounds off her narrative by insisting that male viewers had only been fed misleading visuals in an attempt to protect them from the horrors of the female body.

“But you Richard, have torn down that veil and exposed this myth, thereby exposing every man to a reality we hoped they would never have to face. You did that Richard. You. Well done.” – CEO of Bodyform

As a grand finale to this fantastic display of online reputation management, the Bodyform CEO nonchalantly drinks a cup of the blue liquid viewers know all too well.

This was an incredibly inventive example of conversing with the consumer. Not only did Bodyform respond in a timely, conversational, and hilarious manner, they also made the response personal. It began by directly addressing Richard and sincerely apologizing for his dismay in reality. The video didn’t promote their product in any way and did not try to sell anything (other than hilarity). The whole  “crisis” was managed with class and style.

When a brand receives an absolutely ridiculous comment, the only right thing to do is to respond with an equally ridiculous response.

Ridiculously awesome that is.

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The Value in Faking Your Own Social Media Crisis

Social media “triage” is a response model to systematically monitor, converse, and react to online conversation.

Any social media manager worth their salt knows they have to listen and monitor the whispers around their brand online. The reasoning behind the building of a triage model is to have a systematic and consistent way to manage any crisis that may come up in reputation management.

However, every now and then, a brand that’s listening carefully finds an opportunity for a niche campaign idea among all the online mumble jumble.

Remember Australian pop duo Yolanda Be Cool?

Yolanda-what?

The “We No Speak Americano” guys.

Ohhhhh. Them.

Credited as the musical “geniuses” behind the No.1 song “We No Speak Americano” way back in 2010, the duo has pretty much been shelved as a one-hit wonder. The song, however, having reached No. 1 in 16 countries, has proliferated across Youtube, being seen in videos with dancing shirtless men and cat videos and crazy asian game shows… the list goes on.

Discovering the gross misuse of their beloved song, Yolanda Be Cool launched a pseudo global product recall for their hit song, declaring that the beats “are no longer fresh”. In this solemn pseudo press conference, Yolanda Be Cool urges radio stations, DJs, and fans online to destroy any copy of the song they may have. They even announce that they have pulled the song from iTunes Australia as well as the Yolando Be Cool Facebook page.

Near the end of their video announcement, Yolando Be Cool state that in an attempt to help fans recover their losses, a compensatory song has been released on their Facebook page named the “replacement track” (from their new album Ladies and Mentalmen).

Cue realization that the social media “crisis” was actually an ingenious advert.

Choose Your Own Adventure 2.0

You Choose.

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that roared through the 90s? Those tacky white paperback novels written in second-person point of view with questionably little to no storyline? The entire series was a one-trick pony that became a teen fiction phenomenon by offering children the delusion of control. The concept is self-explanatory, but essentially the reader would be given the opportunity to “control” the characters’ actions at certain parts of the story by choosing a specific page to flip to.

You may not be allowed to choose what you have for dinner Little Timmy, but at least you can choose whether the knight takes the less-than-scenic route through the dark and musky cave or try his chances at waddling through that shark-infested body of water on his left.

Yeah, I loved those books as a kid.

Why? Because as pathetic as the storylines were, as flat and embarrassing uninspiring the protagonists were, I was in control. It was irrational, but the books were engaging. It was a literary RPG. Plus the abuse of the second-person point of view made me think the book was speaking to me, and the only polite thing to do was to listen.

Now you might be thinking: “WOW, what a stupid, impressionable kid you were. Something like that would never work on me, seeing as how I’m a well-educated adult who has actually encountered respectable literature.”

Oh, but it does. And here’s the proof.

Last weekend, Mercedes-Benz did an interactive #YOUDRIVE campaign where a 3-part story was shown to TV viewers. The secret spice? The viewers were given the opportunity to decide what happened to the protagonist of the ad (a young music star being delivered to a secret gig the police wanted to shut down) by Tweeting the route they wanted their hero to take. The sequential ads that played were reflective of the highest tweeted Hashtags provided by Mercedes-Benz at the end of each segment.

Through this campaign, Mercedes-Benz made consumers DRIVE their new A-Class (which coincidentally is angled as a newer, younger, more dynamic brand). They were engaging consumers in both traditional television and through social media. Mercedes-Benz was able to present its image as a brand that not only LISTENS to consumers (inherent in taking online polls of any sort), but also ACTS immediately upon receiving recommendations from its audience. That’s amazing two-way communication. The advert itself is rather long as well, with almost every shot featuring the A-Class in all it’s glory, yet the urgency of the storyline combined with the cinematic appearance of its presentation almost makes you forget it’s an advert. It’s simplistic, but effective in so many ways. The icing on the cake? The initial videos were only accessible through the Mercedes website and not on Youtube.

Call the Mercedes’ “Choose Your Own Adventure” approach trite, unoriginal, or even gimmicky, but used in this medium?

It’s a freakin’ pioneer.

Evangelism Marketing in NYC

In social media, we often talk about reputation management and the absolute necessity of a watchful eye when it comes to a brand’s online presence. This systematic monitoring and careful vigilance allows a brand to prepare against PR horrors such as the infamous case of “United Breaks Guitars”.

Bad news makes the headlines. And let’s face it, “no news is good news” only exists because good news isn’t really considered news at all.

But let’s take it down a notch and step away from our social media triage kits today. Instead, let’s look at the positive effects of UGC (user generated content).

The story starts with Youtube filmmaker Casey Neistat leaving $13,238.86 worth of equipment in a NYC taxi (side note: Casey’s “Make It Count” Nike ad is incredible and garnered over 7 million views). Having tried several NYC Lost and Found departments and doing more losing than finding, Casey starts running out of ways to recover his luggage.

This isn’t a story to restore your faith in humanity – well, maybe.

But more vital in this tale is the powerful impact of positive UGC. Casey Neistat isn’t paid to review the NYC taxis. He isn’t applying for some sort of web contest held by NYC Taxis or advertising for them as part of his job. He’s an evangelist customer genuinely expressing his appreciation for the kindness he experienced at NYC. Sure the video was produced with “NY Times” stamped on the corner, but that was only after Case Neistat submitted his original video to the publication in the Opinions column.

I gave him $500, it was a lot more than I could afford, but a lot less than what he deserved. He returned my bags, sure. But it’s people like him that make this city honest. Keep it great.

To a traveller considering transit options around the city, Casey’s video would have a significant impact because his message is sincere, organic, and trustworthy. Casey’s lack of association with the brand (as is the case in most customer evangelists) is key to making his message credible and trustworthy.

Cue a round of applause for the population of honest NYC taxi drivers.

SEO. It’s Here to Stay.

“Dude, where’s the closest Starbucks around here?”

“Here. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=where%E2%80%99s+the+closest+Starbucks+around+here.”

Lmgtfy.com is a snide response you may have received after having bothered a friend with a stupid question. Because it’s 2012 and there are such things as stupid questions. How do you know you’re asking a stupid question? If the answers are a keyword search away on Google, and instead of using five seconds of your own life to look it up you’ve made the questionable decision to waste five minutes of MY life by skipping off to ask me about it – then you’re asking a stupid question.

Lmgtfy.com, aptly adapted from “let me Google that for you”, is marketed as a site “for all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than Google it for themselves…” wherein the person types the simple question they were unfortunate enough to have been asked and creates a referral link which then redirects the originator of the question to a Google search results page with the solution on it.

The existence of lmgtfy.com is a signal that we are living in the search engine generation. When was the last time you ran to crack a book in order to solve a puzzling problem?

Never.

In a world where a wealth of resources is simply a Google/Bing/AskJeeves (just kidding on the last one) search away, SEO, the process of improving a website’s visibility in a search engine’s organic (un-paid) search results, has become a dominant e-marketing tool for companies to reach consumers. Every second, 3.5 people look up “SEO” on Google, translating to 9.1 million users searching about SEO every month (see an infographic on SEO search via Mashables here).

With the proliferation of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, social media’s ability to affect consumer behaviour is not to be ignored.

In the SEOmoz “SEO Industry Survey 2012” posted on emarketer, online marketers around the world were asked “Which 5 social networks do you use most for your social media marketing efforts?” Topping the charts were, you called it, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and LinkedIn. Surprisingly, Google+ sneaked in the list, ranking third right behind Facebook and Twitter.

Call me a skeptic, but I question the legitimacy of the Google+ numbers, sure a lot of people are on it – but does anyone actually use it? And why are all the marketers on it if it isn’t? What’s the conversion rate? A few searches around emarketer again and I found myself facing statistics that proved me wrong.

Looking at Google+’s conversion rate optimization, the method of creating an experience for a website with the goal of converting visitors into customers, I was shocked that Google+ again scored fairly well amongst its competitors with a 7.4%.

I guess the lesson is, don’t judge a social media platform without doing the research. The numbers are there for a reason, and while there always exists a margin of error with any survey, its accuracy is nevertheless a good starting point in developing a successful SEO strategy.

The Perverse Inhabitants of the 99 B-Line

There is something to be said about a person who enjoys public transportation. This is not to imply that there’s anything inherently wrong with taking pleasure in cutesy bus trips towards the local aquarium, simply that it is undeniably suspicious for someone to enjoy their time on the bus without having a run-in with certain characters. I am not a believer of stereotyping but as a public transit drone that has spent an ample amount of hours on the 99 B-Line, I can’t help but to mentally categorize certain personas that make my trips slightly decline in comfort. While this list is not nearly extensive as it could be, it is definitely more familiar than it should be.

1.       The Facebook “Friend”: The catalyst of unease, the Facebook “friend” is the purveyor of tedious and mad awkward bus trip. This character takes on many elusive identities, from high school friend you’ve never actually spoken to in your life, to co-worker from your first summer job, the unifying theme lies in the fact that they’re not actually your friend but you’re inclined to pretend otherwise. This not so friend “friend” often whisks into sight when you’re looking to take a nap or are intently cramming for a test that you must write when you step off the sanctity of the bus. Usually, your conversations involve long-winded small talk about vapid topics such as your major, your studies, and what your plans are for the summer; after conventional questions are exchanged, a mutually appreciated silence will interrupt and both parties will engage in unnecessary texting until the expectation of conversation fades into the droning of the bus.

2.       The-Obnoxious-Girls-That-Are-So-Cliché-You-Did-A-Double-Take: You’re enjoying a cozy little nap on the bus, lulled to your comfort by the droning of the bus when you hear a squeal of excitement coupled with obnoxious laughter: it’s the mean girls. Easily identified by their punctuated speech as they revel in each other’s, in truth, insipid personalities, these are the high school girls you didn’t think existed outside Cineplex Odeon. Sadly, this inaugural fascination of their existence dissipates as your senses plea for their volume level to come way down. They are a punishment to the ears and while one can, at times, find amusement in listening to their self-centered proclamations, more often than not, the sight of them is just cringe-worthy. Armed with the staccato of their “O.M.Gs” and “No. Freakin. Ways” their accompaniment reminds us what a luxury it is to be a proud owner of a pair of headphones.

3.       The Incubator: The incubators grow in numbers around flu season; they are the ones with the sly superpower to withhold revealing symptoms of sickness until you have located yourself irrevocably within their vicinity. Once having cornered unsuspecting passengers, they unleash their coughs or sneezes in violent fits and make you wish you had a gas mask, or superhuman immunity, or a car.

4.       The No RSVP Self-Inviter: This type of conversation invader can be spotted making seemingly benign eye-contact during the initial start-up of your conversations. Elusively, he or she (though often taking the form of an inappropriately older individual) will somehow make their way towards you and your friend and conversation crash until discomfort of this uninvited stranger mangles the once easygoing dialogue into a vexing halt. Sometimes a restraint order proves itself to be necessary when the self-inviter probes about what courses you’re taking as they make a grab for your textbook (a great excuse for why you shouldn’t read on the bus).

5.       The Drunkards: The least classy bunch on the wagon are the stumbling drunks that somehow manage to scrape a seat on the bus. They can be identified by their blundering posture and unnecessarily loud laughter directed at nothing in particular. These are the people mothers hush their children away from but ironically are also quite entertaining when their presence is enjoyed out of vomiting range.

With the impending hike in our U-Pass fees, this was just a friendly refresher on the abhorrence of public transit and the people you are slapped with.

I’m totally just kidding. These guys make my day.

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