How Crock-Pot Used Crisis Communications to Put out a Fire

How Crock-Pot Used Crisis Communications to Put out a Fire

Marketing

The days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday were a nightmare for Newell Brands, maker of the iconic Crock-Pot, thanks to an unexpected crisis triggered by a TV drama that involved a make-believe death caused by a Crock-Pot. Following is a closer look at how a fictional event caused a real-life problem for a $13 billion business – and how quick thinking contained the problem.

What Happened

The show, This is Us, an emotional drama that follows the generational story of the Pearson family, took television by storm in the fall of 2016.  The series averages about 15 million viewers a week in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic. Spoiler alert: in one of the episodes, the family’s beloved father, Jack, suffers a heart attack as a result of a massive smoke inhalation caused by a house fire. On January 23, during the episode “That’ll Be the Day,” viewers learned what caused the fire in the first place: a Crock-Pot.

Viewers watched as an elderly neighbor delivered a used Crock-Pot to the young, newly married Pearson couple. The neighbor said that the Crock-Pot’s power switch was a little temperamental but assured them that they would still be able to enjoy some good family meals. Flash forward to years later as the couple, now with teen-aged children, celebrate the Super Bowl.  The show ends with Jack turning off the Crock-Pot switch before going to bed. A spark flashes from the faulty switch, igniting a fire, and the house quickly becomes engulfed in flames.

Crisis Time

As I watched that episode with my husband, the marketing gears in my head immediately started turning. I thought about the backlash that Crock-Pot would be facing as it was revealed the product was responsible for the beloved character’s death. I told my husband that I hoped Crock-Pot’s PR team would immediately start working on a plan to offset any damage incurred by the revelation. I suggested they flood social media with a response ASAP so as to minimize the negative impact. It was then I realized that we could very personally be affected by this unforeseen series of events: my husband is employed by the company that owns Crock-Pot, Newell Brands.

By the next day, Crock-Pot was headlining news stories:

And while it may seem silly to think the death of a fictional TV character could cause such a hardship for a long-established household brand, the facts were hard to dispute. People were tweeting about throwing away their Crock-Pots. The safety of the product was called into question. The value of Newell Brands stock fell by 24 percent, and the loss was immediately linked by many to the Crock-Pot fire disaster. In reality, the stock plunge occurred after Newell Brands announced disappointing guidance for 2018. But nonetheless the brand was under attack after a perceived safety hazard.

Newell Brands Takes Action

The Crock-Pot communication/social team immediately jumped into action. For instance, the brand worked to restore trust in its product by releasing a statement. Here is an excerpt:

For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.

(The full statement is available here.)

This is Us creator, Dan Fogelman, also followed up with a tweet defending the company’s product:

Crock-Pot quickly created its first ever Twitter Account “CrockPotCares,” engaging with concerned consumers as the social media storm continued to ignite. While all of these responses were appropriate and wise measures to take, Crock-Pot knocked it out of the park when the brand teamed up with NBC and Milo Ventimiglia (who portrays Jack in the TV show) to create a hilarious new promo ad for the show’s much anticipated Super Bowl episode February 4.

In what appears to be a political ad, Milo starts off in a somber tone speaking about how the country is divided and how we need to come together. As he continues to talk about forgiveness, the camera pans to him scooping up a bowl of chili from, you guessed it . . . a Crock-Pot!  The brilliant ad ends with a black screen with the Crock-Pot logo and the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent.

Results

On February 3, after the promo ad was shown, digital content engagement around Crock-Pot increased by 84 percent, and there were nearly 2,000 tweets using the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent, with sentiment around that hashtag being 57 percent positive — the most common sentiment being that it was hilarious and a brilliant promotion for Crock-Pot.

Lessons learned? If a well-established brand such as Crock-Pot can incur such negative consequences from a fictional TV storyline, it should be a warning to every company about the importance of having a solid strategy in place to combat such challenges. Reach customers quickly through social channels and look for a unique way to re-establish your brand’s positive image. Time is of the essence — so act fast! In a matter of a few days, Crock-Pot succeeded in turning a PR nightmare into a successful restoration of trust  in its brand.

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Marketing

Influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous music festival. But influencer outreach is alive and well and will continue to thrive in 2018. Why? A few reasons stand out:

  • Businesses are feeling new pressure to rely on influencers. As reported recently, Facebook announced that the world’s largest social network is devaluing content from businesses in users’ news feeds and amplifying content from people. Brands that publish content on Facebook are looking for ways to rely on people to tell their stories, which, of course, includes influencers.
  • People still tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Time and time again, consumers, especially millennials, say they place higher levels of trust in other people than they do businesses, including word-of-mouth recommendations and online peer reviews.

In 2018, I expect to see more reliance on influencers, but not necessarily more spending. Instead, businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific, relying on tools that make the process more precise and measurable.

In addition, brands that do partner with high-profile influencers should invest more time and energy vetting them, giving them the same level of rigorous review that they would give a new hire. We’ve seen a number of instances of high-profile YouTube celebrities embarrassing themselves with reckless behavior and remarks. All it takes is one foolish incident for an influencer to destroy their credibility. Businesses are well advised to review influencers’ social media personal track record, including their personal content on their socials.

Finally, understand how to work with influencers. Know their rules of engagement and research how they can be most effective for you. Influencers who are big on Instagram might be the best choice for supporting, say, an event, whereas bloggers who write longer-form content might be more appropriate for product announcements or news events that require more thoughtful analysis.

For more insight into influencer outreach, read this KeywordFirst post. And contact us for more insight into building your digital brand.

 

4 Advertising Trends from Super Bowl LII

4 Advertising Trends from Super Bowl LII

Marketing

The past 24 hours have been full of stories rating the Super Bowl ads. The fact that the ads are even rated at all is a testament to their power. We now treat them like movies, talking about them before the big reveal, watching trailers, and then experiencing the moment, after which we discuss how we feel about them (actually, the discuss occurs in real time now, followed by more detailed analysis). In addition to judging the ads, though, it’s also interesting to watch for trends in their format or differences in how they were unveiled in years past. Here are a few we noticed:

1. The Surprise Drop

Usually ads for movies promote releases that are months on the horizon. This year, Netflix dropped a surprise: a film, The Cloverfield Paradox, that premiered immediately after the Super Bowl. The surprise release followed an approach that musicians such as Beyoncé have employed with surprise album drops. In the words of reporter William Bibbian of IGN.com, “All of a sudden, a film most people hadn’t even heard of was now a very big deal.” But the buzz turned to disappointment after critics actually saw the movie and reviewed it. Perhaps that’s what Netflix had in mind all along: drop the movie during the Super Bowl Sunday and attract viewership before word-of-mouth reactions set in.

2. Fewer Stunts

In years past, brands have used the Super Bowl to unleash amusing stunts such as fake ads. This year, advertisers unleashed fewer stunts with the notable exception of Skittles. As we discussed on our blog, Skittles release an advertisement watched by just one person, employing a tongue-in-cheek tone that made us wonder if the ad and person were real. Well, they were. Skittles did what brands struggle to do amid the Super Bowl ad blizzard: capture attention and create conversation. Otherwise, brands focused on the content of the ads themselves.

3. Longer-Form Narrative

As noted in Business Insider, Super Bowl ads were lengthier, taking a storytelling approach that required viewers to follow storylines, such as Aerosmith’s Stevie Tyler reverse aging as he drove a Kia in reverse. Tide released a series of ads starring Stranger Things actor David Harbour, who appeared in ads mocking the concept of an ad. Apparently Super Bowl advertisers wanted to create more memorable moments during the game itself by telling stories, which might help explain why fewer brands released their ads before the game this year.

4. Measurable Performance

Automobile marketplace Cars.com announced that automotive ads generally drove viewers to Cars.com to check out the cars advertised during the game. According to Cars, the Kia Red Stinger ad resulted in a 4,053-percent spike in traffic to view the car on Cars.com. Cars.com research showed that Super Bowl ads (in the automotive industry, anyway) creature measurable results. Perhaps in the future, brands will dial up their ability to measure and even adjust advertising on the fly based on audience feedback in real-time. With digital, anything is possible.

Super Bowl ads, like Black Friday, adapt to changing times and endure the most withering criticism. The Super Bowl will always be an advertising bonanza. Businesses, though, will tweak their approaches year after year as they try to capture a reward so elusive in the digital age: our attention. For more insight into how to build your brand, contact KeywordFirst.

 

 

Super Bowl Ads: The Medium Is the Message

Super Bowl Ads: The Medium Is the Message

Marketing

Evaluating Super Bowl ads has become an immensely popular spectator sport since the big game emerged in 1967. What’s changed recently is that people not only care about the content of the ads but how they’re delivered. For instance:

  • We’ve seen other advertisers take the “anti-real-time” approach, creating a build-up for the big game by sharing teasers for their ads ahead of time, similar to movie trailers. Some brands actually release the ads themselves before the game, in an effort to generate conversation, accumulate online views, and presumably extend the shelf life of the notoriously expensive ads.
  • We’ve seen a variety of other approaches that can best be described as stunts, ranging from Snickers livestreaming the actual set of its ad (for a behind-the-scenes approach) to 84 Lumber generating publicity by talking about an ad that was rejected (a “how we courted controversy” approach).

The latest stunt: Skittles will broadcast a 60-second spot for an audience of one: a teenager named Marcos Menendez from Canoga Park, California. The rest of us will watch Menendez’s reaction via a livestream on Skittles’ Facebook page. Lest you think that Skittles is pulling off the ultimate act of narrowcasting, consider the engagement Skittles is generating:

  • Creation of content about the ad. As Matt Montei, vice president of fruit confections for Skittles’ parent Mars, told Adweek, “We’ll also have content in the form of four different teasers for everyone to view and speculate what that final ad might be, even though they themselves will not be able to view the final ad.”
  • Generation of buzz for Skittles including the audience with the inevitable “Who is Marcos Menendez?” narrative emerging. Think about that. How many ads create conversation because of the audience watching them? The PR entered the realm of the improbable and offbeat when Oakland Raiders Running Back Marshawn Lynch apparently tweeted his phone number because he wanted Marcos Menendez to call him in order to watch the ad with him.

It’s possible that the Skittles campaign is informed by the phenomenal story of Carter Wilkerson, a teenager whose obsession with Wendy’s Nuggets sparked a hilarious viral campaign on Twitter to help the teen win a free year of the nuggets. A seemingly random Twitter exchange between Wendy’s and one person resulted in Carter getting the most retweets in history – and for Wendy’s, powerful PR.

The Wendy’s/Carter Wilkerson story involved a real teen with a passion for Wendy’s Nuggets. But it’s questionable whether Marcos Menendez is even real. What kind of teen joins Twitter in January 2018? When you look at the tongue-in-cheek way Skittles promotes the “audience of one” on its Facebook page, it’s easy to conclude that we’re being set up for an ad that never was to a person who never was. By creating an audience of one, is Skittle’s stealing the voice and power of organic social media? If this campaign is just a stunt and Marcos isn’t real, will the stunt cause more distrust and backlash of social media? At a time when concerns about fake news are prevalent, Skittles could be taking a big risk.

Whether Marcos Menendez real or just a clever stunt, the Skittles promotion underscores the tremendous buzz that national brands create with their ads, both the content and the format. If you are affiliated with a national brand – let’s say you’re a retailer that sells Skittles online and offline – you should be capitalizing on the spike in awareness for Skittles occurring right now. For example, adjust your keyword bids and optimize your online inventory content for people searching where to buy Skittles. Make sure your socials tap into the national campaign. Put the stunt to work for you.

For more insight into how to build your brand and generate revenue through digital advertising, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Brands, Get Ready for Video on LinkedIn

Brands, Get Ready for Video on LinkedIn

Marketing

Organic video for company pages is coming to LinkedIn. It’s only a matter of time. Businesses need to be ready to capitalize on the opportunity.

Video content is already a major way businesses and people communicate on the internet. According to Kleiner Perkins, video accounts for 74 percent of all Web traffic, and 55 percent of people watch video every day according to MWP. In 2017, LinkedIn started to catch up to other social platforms that have become more accommodating to video content when the company made it possible for users to create personal videos on its mobile app.

For LinkedIn, the introduction of video meant that its users could create more engaging stories about themselves, especially in a business setting. For example, in a blog post about LinkedIn video, LinkedIn cited the example of the president of an equipment company using video to demonstrate how her company’s forklifts operate.

Since then, LinkedIn has indicated to KeywordFirst that the company plans to bring native sponsored videos in the feed as part of its 2018 advertising plans. The timing could not be better. On January 11, Facebook announced the company will downgrade content from publishers in users’ news feeds. This move will pressure more publishers to look to other platforms such as LinkedIn to engage people with their content.

Businesses should prepare for video coming to your LinkedIn pages. For example, if you post video regularly on other platforms, create a strategy for cross-posting content on LinkedIn. You might want to start by testing different types of video to see what kind of content creates more engagement on LinkedIn versus Facebook or Instagram although these days the content between Facebook and LinkedIn is converging. LinkedIn used to be a platform for people to post business-related content, but more and more users are posting personal stories that would appear on the surface to be more suitable for Facebook. Businesses that rely on employee ambassadors to humanize their brands with more personal content might find LinkedIn to be an attractive destination for video content.

It also makes sense to earmark a larger LinkedIn advertising budget. LinkedIn will certainly incorporate video into its advertising products to monetize video and create more engagement for brands. Especially with Facebook becoming less friendly to brands, LinkedIn looks more attractive.

As I mentioned in a recent KeywordFirst blog post predicting 2018 trends, LinkedIn is becoming a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. Recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. Businesses should already be taking a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies – and make sure you include video.

For more insight into how to build your brand across the digital world, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/video-camera-optics-photography-2562034/

KeywordFirst Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

KeywordFirst Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Marketing

What trends will influence how businesses spend their digital marketing dollars in 2018? To find the answers, we asked our own people. The following six predictions from KeywordFirst employees cover a lot of ground befitting the sprawling nature of digital marketing. Our predictions include:

  • A big year for augmented reality – for both brands and consumers.
  • Possibly rough sailing ahead for Facebook, but exciting times for LinkedIn.
  • A more thoughtful approach to influencer marketing.
  • Growth of visual search.

Check out the following predictions, and let us know how you believe 2018 will shape up for your business. Thank you to KeywordFirst employees for sharing your thoughts! Learn more about our subject matter experts here.

Augmented Reality

In 2018 the use of Augmented Reality will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers; in return it will increase engagement rates, brand awareness, and hopefully conversions. While the technology to effectively use AR will still be developing well into 2018, I predict that many companies will begin to incorporate these features into their brand awareness and digital marketing strategy. —Bella Schneider, digital marketing associate

Facebook

With the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users. Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. In 2018, advertisers will need to keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. — Beth Bauch, senior manager

Influencer Outreach

Celebrity influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous event. But influencer outreach is alive and well. Why? Because people tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific. — Mark Smith, co-founder

LinkedIn

LinkedIn will become a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. As my colleague Beth Bauch noted on our blog, recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. In early 2018, LinkedIn is going to launch for enterprises organic videos and then native sponsored videos in its feed, thus capitalizing on the more visually oriented culture we have become. Businesses should take a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies. —Taylor Murphy, digital media manager

Social Media

Social media will remain a messy and imperfect place for brands to live. The major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will roll out more programs to police user activity on their sites in an effort to protect their integrity for advertisers. Recently we saw YouTube do just that by committing to hiring more people to teach computers to police its site, which YouTube hopes will prevent advertisers’ content from appearing next to inappropriate content. But as my colleague Tim Colucci argued recently, YouTube’s ad problems aren’t going away. Social media sites have become incredibly effective destinations for advertisers and will continue to be. But part of the appeal of social media is its openness. On social media, anyone can have an opinion. In 2018, advertisers will need to come to terms with the imperfect nature of social while capitalizing on its many advantages.  — Kurt Anagnostopolous, owner/founder

 Visual Search

As voice-based search continues to gain momentum, 2018 will bring more interest onto visual search. Although they both use artificial intelligence, they have a different focus, thus their use is not the same. Voice search is best suited for providing access to information on known objects, as systems become more capable distinguishing the context of a certain request. Visual search, on the other hand, is ideal for in-the-moment discovery, as it can provide contextual information for any object we can see. Now that Google has improved its visual analysis software Google Lens, and Pinterest has adopted the trend with Pinterest Lens, we’ll most likely see more social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram exploiting visual discovery technology. In this way, they could serve ads based on what people take pictures of. They could even combine location service intelligence with visual product recognition technology to provide even more relevant ads. So if you snap a selfie at McDonalds, and you are wearing a Nike hat, you will be served ads from Burger King and Reebok on Snapchat. —Héctor Ariza, digital marketing associate

Image source: ancient-code.com

What the Instagram Hashtag Update Means to Brands

What the Instagram Hashtag Update Means to Brands

Marketing

Instagram recently announced that users can follow hashtags, similar to following a friend. Once a user follows a hashtag, Instagram will use an algorithm to generate a selection of top posts displaying that hashtag within the user’s main feed. The algorithm is said to be based on factors such as recency and quality. Plus, users will be able to flag irrelevant or inappropriate content that appears for a hashtag. Giving Instagram users the ability to customize the type of content that appears within their feed will help users discover new posts and accounts that fit their interests and passions. The new functionality will also help businesses increase brand recognition, enhance their social listening, and, down the road, possibly a new ad targeting option. Here are recommendations for brands:

Increase Brand Recognition

Brands should have a brand hashtag and use it consistently, whether it’s the brand name, slogan, or product. Doing so gives brands the opportunity to be discovered by new followers or current customers that were not following before.

A word of caution: companies should be careful not to hijack hashtags or overplay their hand in an attempt to build brand awareness. Inevitably, Instagram users will add trendy or broad hashtags to their posts in order to draw attention and increase followers even though the hashtags are irreverent to their content or business. Don’t be one of those users. Following hashtags is supposed to allow Instagram users to discover accounts that align with their interests. So it’s important that companies use hashtags within their posts that align only with their brand, content, and products.

Enhance Social Listening

Companies should also take advantage of following hashtags, whether it’s their brand hashtag or other popular industry hashtags.

Following your own company hashtag will enhance your brand’s social listening strategy. You can learn what users are saying about your brand or products even when they don’t tag you within the post.

One way to get started is to create a list of hashtags that are popular in your industry. For example, if you sell a pet product or service, you should consider following #dogsofinstagram or #catvideos to stay up to date on trending posts and topics.

Marketers can also gain insight on their brand loyalists and what they are interested in or passionate about by exploring the type of hashtags your followers follow. Doing so gives brands the opportunity to take these learnings to create new posts, products, and marketing strategies that resonate with customers’ interests, hobbies, and emotions.

Advertising – Possibly New Targeting Option?

The ability to follow hashtags makes Instagram evolve from a social network to an interest network. When Instagram announced this new feature, the app did not mention rolling it out to advertisers as interest targeting – but the possibility exists in the future. Instagram could allow advertisers to target a person following a given hashtag or charge companies to show a relevant sponsored post on a hashtag’s page. Whether or not this new feature will bring in more targeting options for advertisers, it will definitely increase users’ time spent on the platform. So take advantage of testing out ads on Instagram while engagement is up.

For more insight into integrating Instagram into your marketing strategy, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.