Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 36 – Endangered Syndrome Generating Buzz

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society has launched a campaign to apply for endangered species status with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). I didn’t intend on talking about buzzworthy advertising again this week but I really want to talk about this controversial move from a charity that knows how to get people’s attention.

In full disclosure, I happen to know the Executive Chair of the society. I am in a networking group with her and so I’ve had the chance to get a little bit of insight and hear what it’s like to live through that tornado of a media frenzy which is fascinating to me. That being said, these are 100% my own thoughts and feelings on this campaign.

*CORRECTION THE AGENCY IS FCB CANADA... NOT WHATEVER I SAID.

In my previous videos about generating buzz, I mentioned that doing something controversial is one way to get people talking but that I don’t recommend it because it can be a fine line to walk. Plus if you’re not prepared to deal with the fallout, it can be devastating to your brand. The Down Syndrome Society's new campaign falls into the category of controversial but it is generating conversation, has been viewed over hundreds of thousands of times (and counting) and has been covered by most of the major Canadian Media outlets so in a lot of ways, it’s working.

Before we talk about why the new campaign is controversial, here is a little background. The new campaign, launched at the beginning of this month to kick off Canadian Down Syndrome week. The video features Men and Women with Down Syndrome dressed as endangered species to announce their very real application to be the first humans to apply to be on the endangered species list.

The entire campaign was produced by their agency FCB Canada and it was done pro bono. That’s right, the agency has done multiple campaigns for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society completely free of charge which is really amazing to me.

You may remember their very popular “anything but sorry” campaign from last year that featured a similar cast providing suggestions for what to say to a someone giving birth to a new baby with the syndrome. The point was that you should be happy for them, and say anything except “sorry”. It went viral because it made an excellent point and the suggestions included a lot of swearing which made it funny but I think really challenged a general perception as well. That is that people with intellectual disabilities are seen as sweet and innocent and not capable of such language, which is obviously wrong. Here is that spot for your viewing pleasure:

Here is the Endangered Syndrome Video:

With the new campaign, the controversy is obviously around this perceived comparison of people with Down Syndrome to animals. This is what the media has latched onto, and what some people feel when they watch the video. I say “perceived comparison” because there is a lot of context around the campaign that I think most are missing. Here is what I think that the  Society and their agency did right to get ahead of that negative controversy for a successful campaign.

  1. They launched a website www.EndangeredSyndrome.com that provides more context and rationale for this campaign. They share a variety of facts to support their position that their population is shrinking and therefore so is their support. You can sign the petition and read their full application to the IUCN.
  2. They have taken the media head on doing a variety of interviews since the launch. I was told that they also intend to respond to CBC for what the Society felt was “unfair coverage” of the story. So instead of staying out of the spotlight they are using this opportunity to have that discussion and try to educate people about their cause.

So if you intend on going the controversial route with your marketing campaign, you better be prepared. 2 weeks ago I shared the example of the video game company who offered to buy ad space on peoples tombstones. That failed miserably because there was no rationale other than a cheap ploy to get attention. However, In the case of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society they actually have a point to make and they have done their homework. While it may be a controversial point, they are willing to fight for it and I for one think they will come out on top.

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 35 – Generating Buzz Pt2

Last week I dressed up as a really lame bee for halloween to talk about generating buzz with your marketing. I shared 2 ways to appeal to your audience in a way that will get people talking about your brand and you can find that post here: How To Generate Buzz Pt 1. This week I am sharing 2 more ways to generate buzz.

The first one I shared was do something controversial, one that I don’t always recommend because it can be effective if it is strategically aligned to your brand and your audience. The second was do something extraordinary. This is one that can be more costly or difficult to pull off but with some creativity, anything is possible.

The point of buzz marketing is to do something that not only gets people talking about your brand but that is newsworthy where that word of mouth is amplified by the media. The key to buzz marketing is that people love telling good stories so you need to create a story worth telling.

Here are two more ways to do that and generate a whole lot of buzz:

  1. Do Something Secret or Exclusive

When most social media platforms first launch, they try to get people talking by making it exclusive. People want what they can’t have. By only allowing subscription by invite only, it makes people want it more and talk about it, especially when they do get in and others have not. Being in the know is social currency and that is what makes great buzz.

A great example is a speakeasy in New York called Please don’t tell. It’s actually a hidden bar that you find through a phone booth that you step into and dial 1 to reach the operator who lets you in.  Even though it’s out of plain sight, it’s not really hidden. By creating such a fun secret experience, it’s bound to get people talking. Also bonus points if your business concept itself is buzzworthy like Please Don’t Tell.  

  1. Do Something Absurd  

Absurd, hilarious, completely off the wall and unexpected. That’s what gets people talking. It’s also at the core of many viral videos. When doing something absurd and unexpected, guerrilla tactics are often best. Take for example this campaign from Goldtoe breiefs who dressed the charging bull statue in New York in a giant pair of boxer briefs. As you can imagine it was quite a spectacle and definitely buzz worthy.

The best thing about doing something public like this is that it gives people who witness it the opportunity to be a social media star. Again it comes down to social currency and allowing your audience to capture something no one has seen before. When people want to take photos and videos and share your campaign with their networks, that is the sign of a buzz campaign done well.

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 34 – How To Generate Marketing Buzz

Generating Buzz is essentially word of mouth marketing but with a loud speaker. When we talk about generating buzz, we’re not only referring to getting people talking about your brand but doing something that is even newsworthy where that word of mouth is amplified by the media.

This approach is obviously appealing because the media and word of mouth exposure is free. That doesn’t mean that generating buzz itself is a cheap form of advertising. It can be quite expensive but here are some ways to appeal to your audience in a way that will get people talking because people love telling stories. So create stories for people to tell by doing one of 4 things (that I will share over 2 episodes). Here's are the first 2 ways to generate Buzz:

If you’re really brave, do something controversial. Not always a great tactic but if calculated well it could work in your favour. One of my favourite stories of a controversial buzz campaign was from a video game company called Acclaim Entertainment. They created a series of games around a character named Turok who was a Dinosaur Hunter. But they launched a campaign in the UK around the a new Turok game and they announced that they would pay any new Parents £10,000 to name their newborn “Turok”.

As you might guess this caused quite a buzz. It was kinda funny, kinda stupid, and only really harmful if anyone took them up on it. As far as I know, noone did. The thing about this story however is that Acclaim pushed the envelope with another campaign and not only found the line of controversial buzz marketing, but they crossed it. They took the same approach with another video game launch and they offered to buy ad space on people’s tombstones. The public had a hay day with this and they were forced to quickly revoke the offer and I’m sure it was a pr nightmare. So bottom line is that I don’t recommend this tactic often.

Something I do recommend is doing something Extraordinary - Something your audience has never seen before.

Ok this one can be difficult and costly. Like one of my favourite examples that fits this category is Red Bull’s Stratos stunt. Remember when that guy jumped out of a weather balloon from the stratosphere, over 36,000 meters above the earth and broke the sound barrier as he fell to the ground? Ya you can’t afford that but what an awesome way to generate buzz. Here is the highlight video from that event, in case you missed it.

Something more budget friendly and realistic might be a flash mob. All you need are a couple of actors/singers/dancers and someone to film it. A flash mob can be a great way to give people an immersive and unforgettable experience that they are sure to talk about. Here is a flash mob campaign from T-Mobile: 

And here is a pretty buzz worthy campaign from ING Netherlands, promoting an art exhibit where a famous painting comes to life: 

Next 2 ways to generate buzz coming next week. See you then!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 32 – Marketing to Cannabis Culture

It’s Monday October 15th which means that in just 2 days CannAbis will officially be legal in Canada. Cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, dope, ganja reefer, whatever you want to call it, has been illegal in this country for over 90 years and this change is going to have a profound impact on our society on so many levels.

Of course, I want to talk about marketing and what this widespread social and economic change means to big brands as well as me and potentially some of my clients.

The fact is that most brands will steer clear of this subject just like alcohol consumption but with this change in legislation will come a change in attitudes and stereotypical demographics.

Speaking of stereotypical demos One notable brand already jumping on board the cannabis train is Hershey’s with their oh Henry 425 bar which is targeted directly at a younger “pot smoking” or “stoner” demographic. Obviously referencing 420 which if you don’t know what that means, here is a link to the urban dictionary definition. But they’re basically saying it’s perfect for 5 min after you get high and have the munchies.

Hershey’s partnered up with a youtube channel “epic meal time”, a Canadian based channel with 7 million subscribers to promote the bar. Now this is not a new strategy there are lots of channels, producing content for big brands but  what’s interesting is the utter lack of subtlety in this video. In the spot they act high and create a 100lb version of the bar to satisfy their munchies. To me, it’s a bit of a bold move to be so blatant about a product created for stoners but it’s kind of an obvious tactic and one we might also see from brands like Doritos or Taco bell.

However, good marketing is about understanding human behaviour and attitudes and what I am really interested in seeing is how decriminalizing marijuana will change attitudes and a lot of those stereotypes. The fact is that it’s not just consumed by a young 18-25 male demographic. It was decriminalized because it is used recreationally,  medicinally by people from all walks of life. So where before we might have used a cliche of busy mom comes home from work and pours herself a glass of wine, we might see a shift to cann ibis products whether it be a joint, oils, or edibles.

It’s like that Nike spot I was talking about a few weeks ago featuring Colin Kaepernick. The brilliance of that ad was the subtle yet impactful message that was a direct reflection of the times we live in and the times they are a changin’. Especially come Wednesday.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 28 – The RnR of Advertising

No unfortunately this episode is not about Rest and Relaxation as much as I would love it to be. Instead we are talking about Repetition and Recognition. Two very important words that I want you to remember and I will ensure that you do remember  through use of Repetition and Recognition... see it’s already working.

If there is one takeaway from my entire series I hope it’s this and here’s why. When I was in Highschool I had an art teacher who changed my life. I was really into drawing and he challenged me and taught me a lot but probably the most important lesson I learned and always remember was just 4 words. He would say “Black, White, and Grey”. He would say it constantly to remind us that good drawings should have variety of black white and shades of grey. Not just black and white as most kids tend to draw.

He would also reinforce that by showing us drawings that used a full range of black white and grey. It was through repetition and recognition that I never forgot his words and was able to produce some pretty amazing drawings. Just check out this portrait of my parents I drew in my 20s.

So how does this apply to your advertising? Well have you ever ran a single ad, that didn’t send any leads so you stopped? I’m sure many of you have because it can seem risky to put money into something that may not provide a return, so you pull the plug. The fact is however, if you only ever run one ad, chances are it won’t provide a return anyway because there was no repetition and recognition. This is key to being in the right place at the right time.

Talking about being in the right place at the right time, just this past weekend I was contacted by a potential new client who knows about BFresh.Media because of watching Happy Freakin Monday. So right there, a weekly video series is the repetition. Getting in front of my audience and staying top of mind. However, she admitted that she contacted me after seeing my branded car drive past her on the street. There’s the recognition in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s luck, but this client I don’t think believes in coincidence.

That’s why social media can be very effective because if you put in the effort, it can be a lot more cost effective to get that repetition going. For more on recognition, I have a past episode on Brand Consistency that can really help with that.

But that’s it for me. For more repetition and brand recognition, tune in next week.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 27 – Nike’s New Ad is Amazing

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Nike just dropped a bomb of an ad last week and here is why it is so important, and why I think it will go down as one of those commercials that people will talk about for a very long time.

The quote above spoken by none other than Colin Kaepernick, the NFL Quarterback who became a household name for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and discrimination against people of color in america. In august of 2016, after his protest first began,  Kaepernick was quoted as saying:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after a game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

His protest grew as other players joined him and even other teams. It became a national issue with even the President of the United States weighing in and further dividing the country on his decision to not stand during the national anthem.

Now in 2018, Kaepernick is no longer with the NFL and is taking legal action against the organization and the owners claiming that they colluded not to hire him back. Whether you are on the side that feels he is a disgraced figure or a national hero, you cannot deny that a lot of people are talking about this ad.

I think this ad is very smart and strategic and here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Timing

The timing of this could not have been better. Just before the NFL season kickoff, and as part of the 30 year anniversary of the Just Do It campaign, Nike knew that they wanted to make a statement. The interesting thing about this timing as well is that Kaepernick is back in the spotlight as he takes legal action against the NFL and their owners, claiming they colluded not to hire him back.

  1. Controversy

I have often said that when it comes to brand advertising, controversy is something that you should avoid. Historically brand advertising has been about not offending anyone, by staying even keeled on most issues, especially heated political and social debates. That being said, every rule is made to be broken and although we have seen some brands making statements on some issues in the recent past, very rarely do we ever see something of this magnitude that is incorporated into the very fabric of their marketing.

There was risk in making this decision to use Kaepernick but it was very calculated and well executed. If you watch the full 2 min ad you will notice that while it is narrated by the former quarterback, it is not focused completely on his story. In fact, out of context, that powerful quote could apply to many other athletes and their struggles and Kaepernick is just a part of that story that they are telling. On the surface it is another inspirational “Just Do It” ad but in context, obviously, it has a lot more meaning behind it.

So they played it safe but there is buzz of boycotts and actually people burning their shoes and apparel but I’m sure Nike figured that might happen. At the end of the day I think those people are not Nike’s core demographic plus they will probably get over it, or continue buying merchandise that they don’t even realize is Nike.

  1. A reflection of the times we live in.

It sort of comes back to timing but on more of a social and political level. We live in a time where the United States is divided by a very polarizing President who has added a lot of fuel to the protest fires burning around the country. There are also many different issues and movements that are gaining exposure and dialogue not just the Black Lives Matter but there have been the Me Too and Times Up, plus many other issues like gun control that at times seem to be boiling over.

This spot is a response, I think, to the argument made that “the football field is no place for protest” or that “He should shut up and play the game”. To me Nike is saying No. They are reminding us that there is no platform off limits for peaceful protest because look around you, it’s happening whether you like it or not and I’m happy to see them supporting Kaepernick.

 

So that’s my take on this whole campaign and the controversy around it. I wonder if it might potentially be a sign of things to come by brands continuing to taking a stand on certain issues. I think we have seen some already but maybe not quite to this extent. I for one support that bold risky marketing but just be careful. Nike makes it look easy but after all, they’ve been just do(ing) it for 30 years.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 26 – Start Planning Your Holiday Campaign

I know! It seems way too early to be talking about the Holidays... unless you're in marketing. As much as I hate to say it, the Holiday season is right around the corner. However, that means that it's not too late to start planning your campaign. The holiday season is obviously a good time for many businesses, especially in retail but many don’t consider how much time it takes to plan a great holiday campaign.

This week  I want to share a very important public service announcement to not put it off but start planning. Right now, today, before it's too late.

Basically if you think of putting together a campaign for the holidays in late November, there's no helping you. Now is the perfect time to start planning to get ahead. I’ve even put together some (made up) stats to help prove my point.

Let’s talk about Starbucks for a moment. Here is a brand that is very good at embracing the holidays. Not in a way that is in-your-face, or over the top but they really mix in just the right amount of holiday cheer into their customer experience. It’s funny how something so simple as a cup design  can make such a huge impact on consumers but it really does. It gets noticed and even talked about on the news (for some reason).

But do you think Starbucks decided in late november “oh hey, we should do something for the holidays”?. NO, of course not. It must take months to design, print and distribute those cups to all of their locations.

So whether it’s something simple and subtle like changing a cup design or rolling out a mass media video campaign, do yourself a favour and start now and plan for success. You will thank me come January.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 25 – The Oliver Jewellery Advertising Approach

If you lived in Ontario during the 90’s then you know Oliver Jewellery. It is a Cash for Gold jewellery store on eglinton Avenue in toronto (now with multiple locations). The owner, Russell Oliver is a local celebrity because of his persistent, television advertising approach from the 90s to mid 2000’s.

He may still be on television but that’s around the time I got rid of cable and stopped seeing his outlandish ads. I say that because they were loud, aggressive and seemed to get more and more off the wall each year. He often liked to play dress-up, most notably as “Cashman” who is wearing a superhero costume that leaves nothing to the imagination and waves huge wads of cash in one hand and gold chains and jewellery in the other.

He loved to yell at you, wave his arms around, and especially throw cash around and would stop at nothing to get your attention. Basically he is a real life version of Saul Goodman, the character from Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Oliver, I guarantee there was someone in your area just like him, doing something very similar. That’s because it worked. No one can deny that his advertising was very effective. However, here is my take on his approach and why it probably wouldn’t work for you.

At this time in the mid 90’s I would say was the peak for local affiliate television stations that were reaching smaller city centres and even rural communities. It was before Cable television had extended into these areas, before satellite television was widely available and waaay before streaming was even a thought in anyone’s head.

So this meant that those local stations were capturing a large portion of the population and it was a captive audience because a lot of these areas didn’t get many channels so there not a lot of options. From my own experience, I grew up in a rural part of Ontario, with about 3 television stations (that was on a good day). I lived about 150km away from Oliver Jewellery in Toronto and yet we still saw his advertising on a regular basis. That tells me that he was casting a very wide net.

So whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit his advertising worked and here’s why:

  1. Mass Audience. I would assume that people who want or need quick cash for their jewellery do come from all walks of life. They may be in a lower income level but not necessarily. Oliver was going for the most eyeballs because he knew that his audience could be anyone and he got a lot of eyeballs.
  2. Frequency. I can only assume that they paid a small fortune for the frequency that they were getting. I remember seeing his ads run over and over again almost every commercial break sometimes. While it was annoying for most, the frequency ensured that no one would forget Russell Oliver.
  3. Brand Reputation. In one commercial Oliver proclaims that he will “stake his reputaton” on the fact that he pays more cash for gold than anyone. I find this funny because in the eyes of most consumers he doesn’t have a reputation. The business he operates in and his clientele are often considered shady and even criminal. The point is that his main target audience probably doesn’t care about his “reputation”. I think that once he realized this, that is when his ads really started getting creative.

With that in mind, let’s talk about recreating this approach today where most of those affiliate stations are gone and we just have so many options for entertainment that it’s hard to hit that many people. Most marketers want to just try and aim for “viral success” so that they don’t have to spend on media but the reality is that most viral marketing campaigns spend a lot on media to get that ball rolling.

My suggestion would be to boost videos on Facebook and YouTube and don’t hold back on the spend. Leave the demographics targeting open and cast that net as wide as you can. This would presumably get you to celebrity status if you keep it up for 10+ years.

When it comes to the creative, each of his ads were really simple concepts and scripting with lots of yelling. He is clearly not afraid to be different in order to get noticed and he kept pushing that envelope with each spot. Now the unfortunate part of this is that you might have a brand reputation that you want to uphold and that’s why this approach doesn’t work for most. That’s because it is possible to annoy people, or come off as pushy, untrustworthy, or a lot of other adjectives that come to mind when watching those old Oliver Jewellery ads. However, if you have the type of clients who don’t care, and the budget to keep that media running then go for it. You could be the next Russell “Cashman” Oliver. Just know, those are big, gold shoes to fill.

See you next week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 23 – Stay Consistent, Stay Top of Mind

Sometimes consistency can be hard. If I were to do these videos whenever I felt like it, you wouldn't hear from me that often... certainly not today after just returning from an exhausting 2 days of travel with my family.

Doing this video today has not been an easy task. Sometimes however, you need to just suck it up for the sake of Brand Consistency. I have committed to putting out a new video each week (that I'm not on vacation) and here's why that commitment is so important.

There are really 2 parts to branding consistency. Those are Recognition and Repetition. That's because it's important to be consistent visually, meaning when people see your ad they immediately know who it's for. If you need help with this, I have done an episode on just this called 3 Ways To Lock Down Your Brand Like A Bank

And Repetition is important to staying top of mind. It is especially important when it comes to content creation. If you have made a commitment to produce content on a regular basis like i have, you better stick to it or your audience will not know what to expect and therefore lose interest much faster. 

The important thing to remember is that being consistent does not mean that you cannot change. In fact the opposite, as brand consistency should be a pivot point for change.  That's because it's connected to your core mission and values, not just the products that you offer. 

In my video I use the example of Blockbuster and how if they had a mission to provide affordable and accessible entertainment, it should have guided them in multiple directions, not down the drain. There could have been many alternatives and the Netflix model is just one. 

Starbucks is another example where consistency is key. Think about the fact that you can go to a starbucks anywhere and get the same drink and the same experience from coast to coast. With that as their focus they have the felxibility to make changes to their menu and their products if the market demands, as long as they change across the board. 

So as I often say, be fresh, be bold, be consistent, and be seen. See you next week!

 

See you next week!

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