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!

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