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You cannot not communicate

Norwegian soft drink company, Solo, has thrown caution (and market research) to the wind with their new endeavor.

Solo has created the world’s largest message in a bottle, consisting of a giant replica of their soda bottle filled with a case of the fizzy drink, and are allowing the ocean currents to decide who will be the next to try Solo.

At first I thought this was the craziest thing I had ever heard.

Who is their target audience? Mermaids and other mythical sea creatures? Or maybe the next Carnival cruise?

The true professionals at Try/Apt Olso have come up with a solution to the dwindling population in the Mid-Atlantic.

A state-of-the-art camera is mounted on the on the vessel and sends pictures back to Solo’s website each day.

There is also a Facebook contest, allowing fans to guess where the bottle will make landfall. The winner will receive a bottle of Solo for every nautical mile the bottle has traveled.

You can also follow “The Solo Bottle” on Twitter with the handle @solosoftdrink. You probably think you have better things to do than follow a  floating replica of a soda bottle on Twitter but scroll through and reassess your priorities.

One of my favorites is “When your girlfriend breaks up and your friends tell you there’s a lot of fish in the sea. They are right.”

I love how clever this campaign is. They have given an inanimate object such a likable personality, I may like it more than some of the people I encounter on a daily basis.

Solo’s latest tagline is “Solo, Soon to be World Famous.” With this sort of ambition, I don’t doubt this.


“It’s funny because it’s true.” Truer words have never been spoken.

I’m writing about Slim-Fast’s new “Get what you really want” campaign for no other reason than that I really like it.

It’s funny, relatable and honest. Everything I’m looking for in a man, and more importantly, an ad campaign.

At the risk of sounding shallow, weight is very important to all of us. I know that while others may not be quick to admit it, we all have hidden motives when it comes to losing weight. Usually centered around revenge and the sheer desire to be better than our fellow humans.

This series of ads caters to the hidden agenda lurking in all of us.

These are not your typical commercials. These are an inside look into what we were all thinking, Slim-Fast was just the blunt friend not afraid to say it out loud.

The videos center around women, and their inner monologue, revealing their true motivation for dieting. The raunchiest of these features a women looking to return to her former glory in the bedroom. Others feature a woman seeking to be the “hottest MILF in the neighborhood” and one looking for vindication at a looming high school reunion.

The campaign covers multiple platforms, flowing onto their website as well, where they have a “Poll of the Week.”

This weeks poll asks, “What type of clothing are you most excited to get back into (or out of)most?”

The responses include that little black dress, skinny jeans, tank tops, and teeny bikinis.

Slim-Fast really toed the line with this campaign but I think it will pay off. Women will respect the honestly and the humor will keep them interested.

They’ve already won this girl over.

Facebook recently released their first television ad, Airplane, showcasing their latest effort to stay relevant in the social media scene.

The ad follows a khaki-clad traveler on an airplane, while this friends (Facebook friends) pay him a visit via Facebook Home.

On Facebook’s website, Home is promised to deliver a “steady stream of friends’ posts and photos,” as well as allowing users to “keep chatting with friends, even when you’re using other apps.”

The video on their site provides a broader explanation, but I have a few thoughts of my own I would like to share.

  1. Does nobody want some alone time?— The operating system essentially promises that users can be in constant contact with friends. You can even continue messaging while using those other pesky apps like news and weather. Because who can focus on current events when they don’t know what their friend had for breakfast this morning? Also, after you’ve shown all your friends your cool new HTC First phone, you will never again have an excuse to ignore “that friend.”
  2. Do we even care about Facebook? — The rising popularity of Twitter has dealt a serious blow to Facebook. I’ve heard is said numerous times that “Facebook is dead.” Although dramatic, I can’t help but agree. The simplicity of Twitter is what draws people in, so I don’t think the appropriate answer is to come up with an even more in-your-face version of Facebook.
  3. It’s not an iPhone— Simply put, it’s going to take a lot more than Facebook to get me to jump the iPhone ship. I’m sure there are many others who agree. Home also offers a downloadable app, available March 12. Guess where you won’t find it. Apple’s app store. It is only available on Google Play for Android devices. Thinking that others will give up their iPhones and Apple products is a risky assumption.

This being said, I don’t think Home will bring Facebook back. Although it’s almost impossible to fathom, Facebook may be on its way out. It was a good run Zuckerberg.

If you haven’t cooked a cupcake recipe of off Pinterest by now, you have undoubtedly had someone attempt to shove one down your throat.

This new form of social media has spread like organic butter on locally-baked bread.

Pinterst has surpassed Facebook in unique monthly users, who are averaging visits of 77 minutes. It now generates twice the revenue as Facebook and influences 10-percent of purchases.

Most popular among young women, companies are now trying to harness the power of Pinterest.

Pinterest has also realized this need and created their “Pinterest for Business” page.

Here, companies can join Pinterest as a business and utilize the new web analytic software released March 13.

They also list some tips for businesses just getting started:

1. Put pinners first

2. Curate your collection

3. Show what inspires you

4. Be authentic

5. Share your pins

Since its creation, businesses have been driving traffic to their sites with the “Pin it” button. But now, companies are creating boards of their own and becoming fully integrated into the Pinterest world, much like what happened with the rising popularity of Facebook.

ELLE fashion magazine has caught on.

During Fashion Week, ELLE pinned each look on their Runway Trends board. This tactic resulted in 16,000 repins and increased traffic from Pinterest to ELLE’s website by more than 13% that week.

Only time will tell if other brands will be able to successfully utilize Pinterest to capture a larger market share. Challenges arise in the feminine reputation Pinterest has earned, and using it as a vehicle to capture a male audience will be difficult. But with the skyrocketing success it has experienced thus far, I would not be surprised if it became the next big thing in social media marketing.

Companies can pay for expensive airtime, billboards, and radio spots, but the message that perhaps speaks the loudest does not have a price.

This is earned media, the message of your customers. Their opinions can’t be bought or sold. Their motives cannot be questioned and their thoughts cannot be tamed.

To better understand what earned media is, let’s first look at the alternatives, paid and owned media.

Paid media is the traditional ad we are used to seeing. This can be anything from a commercial on TV to an ad in a magazine. The message is painstakingly researched and planned to achieve the desired effect among its audiences. It is subject to clutter and is often not viewed with much credibility.

Owned media is the use of channels such as Facebook and Twitter by the company. This specifically refers to their pages and accounts. While this method does create a means of communication, it is still controlled by the company.

Earned media consists of the opinions customers. I can be positive or negative and can not be controlled by the company in any way whatsoever.

This virtual lack of control can be highly intimidating for companies. It is impossible to predict what sort of opinion a customer will share and what effect that will have on potential buyers. There is always the risk that negative experiences will surface. This irrepressible voice is what makes earned media so credible, and in turn, so valuable.

The trust associated with open dialogue is undeniable and cannot be matched by the efforts of paid or owned forms of media.

In a recent article in AdAge, it is reported that 92% of customers trust word-of-mouth, while only 42% trust online ads. This word-of-mouth comes in many forms and in the age of social media, it is almost impossible to avoid.

Satisfied customers can instantly become brand advocates via a simple tweet on Twitter or “like” on Facebook. Consumers can rate their experience on sites like Amazon, review restaurants with Yelp! like apps, and recommend products to thousands of people in a matter of seconds.

With its incredible reach and power, it is important for companies to embrace earned media.

Can McDonald’s new line-up attract the millennials it’s looking for?


With their incredible spending power, it’s no wonder companies are so interested in getting the millennial’s attention these days.

On top of their record spending, they offer something maybe even more valuable. Influence.

In a recent article in AdAge, Gary Stibel, CEO at New England Consulting Group, says that older consumers are increasingly learning from their children.

I can personally attest to this statement from the hours spent helping my mom navigate her iPhone and explaining Twitter to my dad.

That being said, McDonald’s doesn’t even rank in the millennial’s top 10 restaurant chains.

I can’t say that I was surprised by this statistic. While the fast food giant has become an institution in American culture, they haven’t done much to appeal to this influential generation.

Millennials, generally recognized as 18-32 years old, place an emphasis on characteristics such as social responsibility, sustainability, and healthier food choices, generally characterized by local and/or organically grown ingredients.

Not surprisingly the company famous for giant burgers and greasy fries has found itself slightly outdated.

In an attempt to reconnect with millennials, McDonald’s has unveiled what they have referred to as the “Subway buster” in the form of the McWrap.

This is their answer to other restaurants who provide the same fast service, but with fresh, customizable food like Subway, Qdoba, and Chipotle to name a few.

The McWrap will feature the choice of crispy or grilled chicken and will come in chicken & bacon, chicken & ranch, or sweet chili chicken. According to McDonald’s nutrition information, the new wraps range from 360 to 600 calories. A quick look shows that most McDonald’s burgers are easily under 600 calories with the famous Big Mac weighing in at 550 calories.

For me McDonald’s may have missed the mark on the “healthy” but I must commend them on their efforts to make a more customizable menu option. I still do not think that the McWrap will be able to compete with Subway, who offers a limitless variety of choices and when you consider their fresh vegetables and sauces, so to call this a “Subway buster” may have been a little ambitious.

McDonald’s is missing a huge opportunity to attract millennials in their handling of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Millennials have become known as a charitable generation. Everyday we hear about a new group or organization, usually headed by ambitious young people, set out to do good.

Many companies have made it the focus of their organization. Tom’s shoes, for example has completely integrated their One for One movement into their identity as a company. Much of Tom’s advertising is focused primarily on their cause, allowing that to promote their products.

My recommendation to help McDonald’s appeal to this socially driven generation would be to highlight the good they do through organizations like the Ronald McDonald House. Across a good part of the globe, McDonald’s is synonymous with burgers, there is no secret or mystery involved. To reach millennials, they need to offer more than just food.







‘PixelPlacebo’ / / CC BY-NC


South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius has been in the news a lot this week. The double amputee became one of the top stories of the London Olympics after becoming the first sprinter to compete with two prosthetic limbs.

Pistorius made headlines this week for something much less inspiring. He has been charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

After news of the charges, sponsors Nike and Oakley were forced to react. Both companies recently dropped cyclist Lance Armstrong after years of speculation and investigation of doping charges.

As a strategic communication student we are trained to know how to deal with these kind of high profile crises in a way which best protects the brands reputation. As there are still many questions left unanswered surrounding this murder, Nike’s choice to release a commiserative statement and then staying silent was a great approach.

I recently read an interesting AdAge article on this story. In this  article Eric Denzenhall, author of Damage Control, urges Pistorius sponsors to “express great distress great distress and then keep their mouths shut.”

Something I found particularly interesting about this article was a statement in the very last paragraph, “the public is almost numb to athletic scandals.”

I have to admit that this statement is sad but true. Only recently we have witnessed Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Ben Rothlisberger, and many other very publicly fall from grace. This is hardly a new trend either, O.J. Simpson’s trial was a media frenzy in the early 90s as well.

Companies in the athletic industry rely heavily on these celebrity-athlete endorsements. The name of the game has always been-and probably always will be- getting the best athletes, in their prime, to endorse your brand.

The question now is who do you pick?

There are really no predictive factors to consider. There is no magic formula to determine who will be the next to ruin their reputation and the reputation of your brand. I was just as shocked as the next person when the tally of women Tiger Woods had been with kept stacking up.

Is it time to consider new methods for these companies to market their brand? Can the industry thrive without these big name endorsements, or is this just something that comes with the territory?