The Lessons Found in Big-time Online Branding Fails

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Just because everybody is in the social media marketing game and every business has thrown its hat into the online branding ring doesn’t mean it always works. Recently we’ve bumped into some online campaigns that fail at their goals – but succeed as fantastic cautionary tales.

Pampers, the most recognizable diaper brand, is certainly a product the world needs. But does the world really need a Pampers Twitter page? We’d argue perhaps not. Pampers is so concerned with covering every social media mark (cloying web series? Check! Unwanted parenting advice? Check! Chatty mom message boards? Check and check!) that the actual product gets lost in the mix. Sure, every company wants to have all its social media bases covered, but we should all employ some thoughtful restraint or, barring that, tasteful editing. Let’s remember the advice of Coco Chanel, who once said, “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory,” meaning we can pare down our campaigns to be precise and stylish without overdoing it.

Lately, we’ve heard many marketers moan, “Does everything require a video?” Oh, boy, do we hear you. The Cherry Raisinets Road Trip series on YouTube demonstrates our viral video exhaustion nicely. Animated Raisinets and their new friend Cherry (whom, of course, is not a raisin but a cherry dipped in dark chocolate) have their own YouTube channel that follows their adventures across the globe on a bunch of fruit pun-laden unfunny adventures. Groan. The lesson here is this: If you take the time and money to produce viral videos for promotional sake, you should at least make sure they are entertaining or informative.

Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, suffers from a classic case of mega-brand arrogance. J&J has had a rash of issues with recalls, congressional hearings and criticism. But you’d never know that from their website, which is tragically out of touch with the concerns of its audience. Online, everything at J&J is just peachy. There’s not even a “we’re sorry” a la Toyota video to be seen. Instead, the company’s branding is flat and oblivious – most unfortunate for a company that rakes in billions of dollars annually. Clearly, the big fail here is not recognizing the pink elephant in the room. Not addressing the topics that are on your customers’ minds is unacceptable in the era of social media where PR blunders can be fixed with a simple series of well-composed tweets.

Now it is you turn to school us, lovely readers. What online branding campaigns make you cringe? Spill it in our lonely comments section below!

Falling Into The Pool Of Social Media Narcissism

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As I left a matinee of The Social Network on Sunday, I admit it: The first thing I wanted to do is check my Facebook. Whether or not the film’s intention is to hold the mirror up to our collective obsession with ourselves by showing the ruthless narcissistic nature of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is impossible to ignore that we are a society that seeks recognition. We clamor for comments about the pictures we’ve posted. We relentlessly check if anybody noticed how brilliantly written our status is. In short, we are all desperately seeking to be “Like” d.

Social media marketing and traditional advertising are tapping into this “please notice me” desire with campaigns that put the consumer front and center. Cosmopolitan magazine, which was launched for this nation’s original “Me Generation,” turned its readers into cover girls last week. Using Facebook Connect, Cosmo invited readers to upload profile pictures. The photos were then integrated into video and depicted Cosmo lovers as the stars of the campaign. Randomly-selected photos of Facebook followers were projected on a giant Times Square billboard. It’s a wise social media move from the Hearst Magazine publication, especially considering its goal has always been to inspire women to talk about themselves.

24-7 Creative is another campaign – this one from computer manufacturer HP – that has aspiring artistic types vying to be noticed. The online community associated with the campaign does more than just pat users on the back. It awards creative types who submit videos a big prize: Videos selected by a jury will be presented on YouTube and at Guggenheim museums worldwide. While 24-7 Creative offers unique opportunities for artists to get noticed, it is certainly a campaign from HP, a company that has been marketing its left-brain computers to right-brain types for years.

While all of this navel gazing seems a tad silly, it does signal a positive change in the way big companies market. Social media marketing, now more than ever, is demanding two-way conversations and interactions from consumers. Businesses that believe they don’t have to spotlight their customers are truly living in an atmosphere of old school, 1980s corporate narcissism and undoubtedly will be left behind. Should everybody be a TV star or have an album or have their blog turned into a book? Probably not, but we can’t deny that we as consumers want to be noticed. And, hey, maybe if we’re really egomaniacal, our lives will end up being a blockbuster movie.

Doc Martens Rocks Social Media For Its 50th Birthday

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Doc Martens Social Media celebrates 50th anniversary

Oh, Doc Martens. Memories of clove cigarettes, plaid bondage pants and sneaking out to Love and Rockets concerts come to mind just from typing the brand’s name. It is hard to believe the company behind the shoes and boots synonymous with punk rock and alternative hipsters is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Although the days of Black Flag and the Buzzcocks may be long gone, Dr. Martens are here to stay – and the long-lasting brand is using social media marketing to celebrate this milestone while introducing the next generation of teenage cool kids to its line of products.

50.drmartens.com is a recently-launched website which promotes the anniversary, but on first glance, you wouldn’t know it! It looks more like a too-hip-for-words music blog – but then that’s the whole point. The company has released a CD as part of the birthday festivities, featuring 10 bands doing 10 covers of cult classic songs. The Ravonettes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Duke Spirit are a few of the bands on the compilation. They tackle beloved tracks by acts like Jeff Buckley, Sham 69 and The Runaways. As party favors, Dr. Martens is giving out free MP3s of selected songs on the album. The YouTube-centric site also has videos for most of the songs as well as an awesome history of Dr. Martens in a mini-movie. Articles on up-and-coming bands and style trends also are featured on the site to give it a magazine flavor that transcends the normal product website. Still, the boots and shoes remain the stars of the site, as each section wisely plugs the products worn by the artists on the CD.

Dr. Martens 50 Facebook Page, the cross-promotional hub for the celebration, not only plugs the CD but offers fans a chance to win boots featured in the music videos. And a designated YouTube channel has been set up for the brand, while the company’s Twitter account provides late-breaking news of Dr. Martens events and giveaways.

Being from an, ahem, certain generation, we at Brandsplat applaud Dr. Martens for bridging the gap between the old scene that put it on the map and the new media that will keep it in the hearts of angsty youth for decades to come.

Our Five Things You Might Have Missed List

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It’s that time again – time to hand over our list of five fun and fascinating things we want to make sure you know. We’re a selfless lot here at Brandsplat, and we happily share our tidbits of info with you, our lovely readers. Consider it your safe place from bombarding news about Lindsay, the Facebook movie and sinister Android phones. (You’re welcome.)

1.) Ta-Da Lists: From those organizational geniuses who created business must-haves like Campfire and Backpack, Ta-Da Lists boasts they are makers of more than 4 million to do lists since 2005. This reliable, free go-to makes our list today because of its rocking apps for smartphones and now-even-faster sign-up. In fact, the whole site seems quicker, sharper and easier to use. Ta-Da Lists helps keep the perpetually list-making artsy types on track with all kinds of easy-to-use features that keep your notes organized. Plus free and digital is a lot cheaper and more savvy than those Earth-hating Post-its blowing around your desk.

2.) ‘Paranormal’ Viral Video Spookiness: Each year, some marketing team comes up with a creepy way to use online marketing to push Halloween’s biggest movie. The scariest campaign thus far belongs to Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 2. A series of viral videos that stay true to the first film’s general heebie-jeebie vibe hit online this week, and we love that the film company also mailed the videos in mysterious packages to members of the press. Just old fashioned Halloween hijinks mixed with new media marketing.

3.) Flo Club: This is one of those things we feel like you should know about just because it’s so darn odd. So Mrs. Brady, I mean Florence Henderson, in addition to kicking butt on Dancing With The Stars, is a web entrepreneur. Yes it turns out Henderson runs a site called Flo Club that provides a subscription service that helps seniors use the Internet and answer computer questions. Who knew!? Wonder if she’s also helping Sam the Butcher create an online store.

4.) Love My Philly on Twitter: Yet another sassy social media campaign from the folks at Kraft: Love My Philly is the home of Philadelphia Cream Cheese on Twitter. The brand gives out cookbooks and coupons to moms and chefs who submit the best recipes and ideas. It is another cool Twitter model any sized company can modify and use.

5.) Free Themes and Tricks For WordPress: One of the many things we love about Mashable is the ongoing tips and tricks for using WordPress. Everyday small business owners can find articles like this one from earlier this month which features snazzy free themes to help make WordPress an even more essential and fun to use tool.