Tidal: Jay Z’s Streaming Wipeout

By Sergio Claudio

On Monday, the world awoke to disrupted social streams courtesy of a new music app from Jay Z and friends called “Tidal.”

“We’re starting a revolution… change your avatar to blue in support. #TidalForAll!”

Instantly, all the cool kids were joining in. News spread that Kanye, Rihanna, Daft Punk, and Madonna joined the movement. For the musically curious, it was definitely worth a look (campaign mission accomplished).

To my utter disappointment, Tidal is yet another streaming music service that belongs in the “me, too” category of the app store. Claiming to be the ultimate listening experience with its revolutionary Hi-Fi streaming, the app adds hardly anything to the streaming space and comes off as a direct Spotify clone. And with a $20-per-month price tag (or $9/mo for standard definition), Tidal is basically telling fans to leave their tried and true streaming music experience for a nearly exact duplicate at double the price, because, why, HOV said so? (Oh by the way, the app and campaign were founded so that the multi-platinum artists can make more money? Jigga please.)

I’ve asked myself why I care so much. Admittedly, my reaction caught me off guard, but it must be driven by my inner-marketer. It’s hard to believe that a “business maaaaaaan” and his team of high-powered celebs would blow their influential load of social influence on a campaign for an app that does nothing new. And, furthermore, bastardizing a social strategy that has been effective for causes that people truly believe in, to try and force some prosthetic story about unity and Revolution down our throats all to support an app that is made to… make them more money? I call bullshit, and so did the rest of the Internet.

The Twittersphere quickly launched its digital tomatoes at the lackluster press conference that boasted a “follow me” celebrity lineup and awkward silences. With a keynote address from Alicia Keys replete with fluffy aspirational platitudes and misplaced Nietzsche quotes, the Tidal team made their attempt to rally the masses around a music concept designed to benefit the rich and famous while offering nothing of true value to their users. What were they thinking, that people will buy anything if they put their names on it? Now I’m sure there are those who can make the same argument about Dr. Dre and his Beats brand, but the difference is that people can get behind the idea that somewhere the good Dr. has “been in the lab with a pen and a pad” while wearing those headphones, or at least headphones with the same technology.

It’s all about the storytelling, the brand narrative, and the fact that people believe in brands that portray an image of some form of authenticity. While Jay may believe that he can sell water to a whale, when his pitch blatantly says “because you drinking this water will make me more money,” those whales would probably rather drink sand instead.

The lesson here is that we are living in a user-driven world where brands speak to more sophisticated, informed consumers. If you’re going to come out guns blazing with this much star power, do something that is going to disrupt the industry in a big way. Do something that truly flips the industry on its head. Create new music that will be licensed to platforms rather than pushed through distributors and labels. Release new albums for these influential artists exclusively on this platform. Come through with some serious innovation and fans will gladly pause their Spotify playlists to hear what you have to offer.

Otherwise, you’re just insulting their intelligence, and the Internet will respond by drowning your message in meme-worthy posts and illuminati propaganda.

 

Why Social Media is No Longer Optional

By Rocio Gonzalez

Consider the role brands play around events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl. It’s clear that you can spend millions of dollars in commercials, and still your campaign can be outdone by a single, simple tweet.

We only need to look back a couple of years and remember Super Bowl XLVII, when — shortly after Beyoncé killed her halftime set — the power went out in The Superdome and Oreo seized the moment.

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It proved to be one of the most memorable branded tweets ever, particularly because it filled an unexpected vacuum that arose during a night when brands famously spend millions of dollars on a few seconds of airtime. It was a quick, nimble, and cost-effective piece of marketing. Oreo set the bar for brands to engage with consumers during high-profile live events.

Since then, many have tried to replicate that shine on Twitter and Facebook. Among them, DiGiorno — who could forget how, later that year, they caused a Twitter storm live-tweeting NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live”?

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Big brands have realized the importance of being on high alert during big events like these. Both Twitter and Facebook function as a forum for users to come together and comment, making for valuable tools of influence over the years. They’ve become indispensable elements of the viewer’s experience, a true “second screen experience.”

Last month, Lady Gaga “won” the Oscars and the Internet thanks to social media. Twitter said her Little Monsters generated the highest number of tweets per minute during the show, while Facebook estimates there were 214,000 Gaga-related interactions globally during her breathtaking performance. Lego also had a big night, even though “The Lego Movie” was snubbed. The brand garnered 47,290 mentions on Twitter alone during the Oscars — thanks to a rendition of the movie’s theme, “Everything is Awesome,” which was, appropriately, pretty awesome. It wasn’t nearly as huge as last year’s epic selfie with Ellen DeGeneres, but impressive nonetheless.

All this is to say, brands that are serious about their future need to be serious about social media. As we’ve said in the past, you have to go where consumers are congregating, so when we build a strategy for a client, it’s essential to bake in a social game plan. Social media is an incredible, powerful machine, and those brands that leverage it wisely can quickly rise above the noise. It’s more than just an afterthought. Ignore it at your own peril.

The Magic of Thalia and Macy’s

On the heels of an unprecedented fashion show, it was time to head back to the Big Apple to join two of our most iconic clients in celebration of a groundbreaking launch.

Earlier this month, RockOrange marked the official launch of the Thalia Sodi collection at Macy’s legendary Herald Square flagship store. What better place than the world’s largest store to celebrate a star who is larger than life?

Our RockStars were tasked with U.S. Hispanic media outreach to make the event — and the collection — a total success. The team supported Macy’s internal team, with everybody, from the event team to the PR team, coming together for a night to remember.

Different factors set this project apart for us. First of all, this is the biggest launch in Macy’s history, and the events surrounding it matched the scale of a superstar like Thalia. This main event, which took place on March 4, was a spectacular celebration spanning several floors of the Herald Square location. This is the first time that Macy’s presents a collection that spans so many departments, from apparel, to shoes, to accessories.

The official launch of the collection was a must-attend style event that featured media, VIPs, influencers and an appearance from Thalia herself. We started by coordinating several one-on-one interviews with a few of our top media friends, followed by an intimate VIP reception at Stella 34 in Macy’s. We then collaborated to help put on a fashion show, which was introduced by Terry Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, and featured more than 50 vibrant looks from the collection. We also engaged some of Thalia’s most devoted fans, who were able to meet the star, take pictures and get her latest album signed by the star.

The store’s salute also encompassed six Broadway windows dedicated to showcasing the collection, with graphics and mannequin strike points along the main floor and a branded display atop Macy’s Broadway marquee.

We’re proud to have brought our RockStar power to the table, to ramp up buzz around a collection that is as sparkling, dynamic and fresh as Thalia herself.

Follow the buzz with #ThaliaSodiCollection and #ThaliaForMacys on Twitter and Instagram.

Selfie Stick in Hand, Obama Reaches Millennials

By Miguel Piedra

Selfie stick. #YOLO. “Keeping it real.” That’s how this president rolls.

Since his election in 2008, President Obama has changed the game with a fresh approach when it comes to selling his agenda. From his “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis” appearance last year to delivering “The Word” on “The Colbert Report,” to his multiple visits to “The Daily Show,” the president and his team have shaken up the ways the presidential message is delivered.

And it’s paying off.

He’s fielded criticism for this unconventional approach. After all, he’s done everything from “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, to Google Hangouts, to Twitter chats, and most recently he was interviewed by YouTube stars. It’s one hell of a diverse content marketing strategy. But at this point, the President has nothing to lose and can continue to take risks in marketing that could pay off in a big way.

Some call such tactics below the office, while others in the media establishment asked why he granted interviews to YouTube vloggers instead of more venerable journalists. But as Dan Pfeiffer, outgoing senior adviser to the president, told Bloomberg Politics, the president’s communication team understands that they “have to go where people are congregating.”

That’s today’s reality. Brands, just like the president, must search for platforms where their message is going to reach and connect with more people. BuzzFeed, for example, is one of most popular media platforms today, and Obama leveraged its power to get results for Healthcare.gov. Just hours after the grand debut of his latest viral hit — BuzzFeed’s “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About” — the video has 21.3 million views and thousands of comments.

But it goes beyond that, too — the video has made Obama “one of us,” portraying him as accessible and relatable to the public. Putting him on a pedestal and distancing him from the people he represents won’t win people over or get anyone to sign up for health insurance.

That’s a lesson in how brands win. They have used intuitive ways to reach consumers. It’s all about authenticity and connecting with your audience where they are. In a society where the millennial mindset rules, you can’t try to sell anything to them. But here the president subtly sells his Healthcare.gov message. Obama’s video is an ad campaign that isn’t an ad campaign.

It’s the marketing machine of an administration that gets it.

A Day In The Life Of A Ghostwriter

By David Quinones

8:30 a.m.: Wake up an hour late for work after staring at blank Word document until 3 a.m. previous night.

9:30 a.m.: Arrive at office, beset on all sides by clients begging for brilliance. Spend 15 minutes cleaning coffee mug.

10:00 a.m.: Peruse Gawker, post snarky comments. Intake processed sugar.

10:30 a.m.: Stare slack-jawed and baffled at the client’s request and direction, reading the same paragraph over and over until it loses all meaning. Assure self that client, the entire office, and in fact the whole world is just minutes away from uncovering what a fraud you are, a hack masquerading as a writer, who can’t back up the big talk on his résumé and clip book.

11:00 a.m.: Get 250 words into piece before identifying completely flawed premise. Take out frustrations on keyboard and desk. Start over, homeboy.

12:00 p.m.: Make rash, unhealthy lunch choices based on stress, fear and loathing.

12:30 p.m.: Consider the irony that while no one cares about your words when you apply your byline to them, people are willing to pay good money for your words when they can apply their own byline to them.

12:45 p.m.: Consider the proper usage of “irony,” and how ironic it is that you’re misusing it after correcting others so often.

1:00 p.m.: Begin three-hour jag of uninterrupted writing, cranking out 5,000 brilliant, fevered words. Passive aggressively alienate coworkers with oversized noise-canceling headphones.

4:00 p.m.: Celebrate creation of elegant, incisive prose with a light proofread and quick send-off to client. More intake of coffee and processed sugar.

4:30 p.m.: Grow dubious over alleged brilliance of 5,000 words. Allow self-doubt to creep in. Spot a lone typo. Commence bathroom crying. Assure self that you are, in fact, a fraud. Research apps that can unsend sent emails. Consider careers in bartending, private investigations, pawnshop entrepreneurship.

5:00 p.m.: Sharpen wit rage-trolling reddit.com. Google “average salary for Las Vegas valet,” “one-way tickets to New Zealand,” and “ghost scene in Three Men and a Baby.”

6:00 p.m.: Receive feedback from client. “Incredible! Thank you for making me look brilliant! Attached, please find the details for your next assignment. Can we see something tomorrow?”

8:00 p.m.: Open new Word document. Commence staring.

Just A Brand New Internal Communications Regime Incorporating Thousands of Stakeholders For A Global Brand, No Big Deal

By David Quiñones

Companies need to communicate; this truism is at the heart of our industry. It’s ingrained in our DNA as a company.

But an often-overlooked aspect of communicating is how well we do so internally. That is to say, how good are we at talking to ourselves?

Last year, as part of our scope of work for an iconic global brand, RockOrange began the long, painstaking process of replacing an aging, ineffective, costly internal communications regime with a sleek new software system that integrates elements of multimedia and social networking. Customization in this legacy system had grown cumbersome and pricy. It was too rigid to properly scale up or down in any fashion. Users were disengaging.

The solution was easy enough to identify, if challenging to implement. Industry leading software developer Jive was exactly the answer our client was looking for. After assisting in the product vetting, we braced for the road ahead—months of development, implementation and testing.

But it would be worth it. The new Jive-powered internal community promised to bring in all the myriad stakeholders, employees, partners, vendors and such who needed to know what was happening in the company.

This week, the development process ended as we launched our new community, and our team finally exhaled. Nearly tripling the client’s traffic compared to the old site on the first day, the new internal community is also yielding more opens and clickthroughs than the previous iteration. In every measure, this 21st Century gateway is mopping the floor with its predecessor.

And we’re only on Day Two.

The final product was seamless and beautiful, sure, but how we got there was a more impactful tale of our abilities.

From the earliest days of exploring the new gateway solution, our content team advised the client how best to categorize, classify, export and sort through reams of data that had accrued over the years. Working with internal IT teams, we identified the tip-of-the-spear teams who would occupy the frontlines of the new gateway and worked to train and prepare them for the change. We launched a communications plan to include thousands of global stakeholders in our plans, work in their needs and feedback, and ensure they were pumped for Day One.

In the pantheon of communications, this was not a sexy, sleek activation. There were no celebrity appearances; there was no after-party. Instead, this project tells a story about competence and expertise, a deep working knowledge of how data and technology works. More than anything, it demonstrates the trust our clients have in us, trusting our team of RockStars with their most valuable resource—their people.

Citizenship Test A Breeze For This RockStar

By RockOrange

This morning, on our way into work, the RockStars heard this interesting piece on WNYC and PRI’s The Takeaway about a new push to require high school grads to also pass a citizenship test before getting their diplomas. In Arizona, the new law makes it mandatory for students to take the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test, and they must correctly answer 60 out of 100 questions, including queries about the order of U.S. presidents in history.

Which got us thinking: Could we pass? After some discussion, we discovered our very own Account Executive extraordinaire, Crista Azqueta, has been hiding a talent from us. Watch:

I guess the rest of us will have to take her word for it.

A RockOrange Guide to Making Facebook and Fashion History

By David Naranjo

When our new client, Macy’s, and our longtime client, singer/songwriter/author and all-around-superstar Thalia, both approached RockOrange about activating a fashion line, we saw an opportunity to make history.

RockOrange was engaged to drum up US Hispanic media interest for the launch of Thalia Sodi, the Mexican icon’s clothing line with Macy’s, through an intimate, short lead media event. The collection officially launches in early-February at 300 Macy’s stores nationwide (and on macys.com) and was inspired by Thalia’s personal style. The line features bold colors and animal prints in dresses, tops, pants, shoes and jewelry, all designed to make women feel comfortable, confident and beautiful.

The collection is beautiful, and we needed an activation strategy to match. RockOrange envisioned a high fashion event of live looks for an intimate crowd of media, with the added dimension of giving access to a virtual crowd made up of Thalia’s fans.

It all came together at Gold Bar in New York’s Little Italy, where an exclusive, invitation-only soiree was held for select media. Those in attendance, who included all major US Hispanic networks, the Associated Press, People en Español, and many more, came in out of the cold to get a front-row seat for hot new styles.

But media was just the beginning. In a social media first, we coordinated the debut to stream live on Thalia’s Facebook account where it promptly broke the Internet (ok, not really, but the traffic was still huge). Together, we made history. Fans from around the world tuned in to watch the live feed of the show, and continued to stream it with more than 3 million viewers to-date.

The activation was a drop-dead success on all levels. As the first ever Hispanic-backed exclusive clothing line at the quintessential department store, the Facebook runway reveal also became the first of its kind in the history of the ubiquitous social network. The launch was one of the largest in Macy’s history.

And, let me just say, I love this project as a case study for what we do, because we satisfied all manner of requests and work types in one job. From digital to outreach to on-site event management and production, we brought together so many of our key capabilities into a multi-directional campaign that hit all the right notes for the client.

That’s because RockOrange, if I can be a bit self promotional – and this is our own blog, so I can – is a value-adding agency. We aren’t just order-takers. We are an organization built on ideas and execution. With every client, and especially these two, we develop creative, innovative solutions that break down walls.

In this case, we broke down the walls separating Thalia’s fans from a first look at her latest endeavor. Both clients won big, and RockOrange put another idea and execution firmly in the “fresh” column.

Cotton Sews Up World Record with 24 Hour Runway Show

From the pitch to the runway, RockOrange provided solid, fresh ideas that helped elevate Cotton Inc.’s signature program, Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show. Now in its third year, the show had been a local activation success story in Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive, but that success had not resulted in any meaningful local, regional or national media attention a show of this size and scale deserved.

That’s where RockOrange came in.

This year, together with the Cotton team, we set out to do it bigger and better. Back in April 2014, RockOrange created a fully integrated, multi-pronged strategy designed to generate massive press coverage across all platforms. The strategy was developed in three phases: Pre, During and Post Event.

Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show was a challenge and one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been a part of. It’s Cotton, “The Fabric Of Our Lives” — who doesn’t know the jingle from the TV campaign? The pressure was definitely on as we worked with such an iconic brand. So we set out to not only raise the profile of Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show but also make cotton synonymous with fashion.

As part of our PR initiatives, we reached out to national newspaper and magazine fashion editors and influencers, sending them an exclusively curated Cotton Box with key cotton pieces, demonstrating cotton’s versatility. We also developed and distributed several releases throughout the pre-event phase to build momentum for the must-watch style event of the year. In addition, we secured the show’s celebrity talent and influencers for 24 Days of Cotton stories.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but this will also hold true to putting on a 24 hour fashion show. It takes a village — or two — and we couldn’t ask for a better partner to work with. With the long hours and several months of planning, we built more of a friendship bond with our client.

The fashion marathon featured a star-studded list of hosts — E!’s Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Jason Kennedy and The Insider’s Michael Yo — musical performances by international sensation Jason Derulo and Fantine, renowned DJs spinning the turntables — such as Trey Smith and DJ Irie — and fashion icon Olivia Palermo. Also, the show featured more than 75 contemporary retail brands that showcase their fashionable cotton pieces down the catwalk.

And of course, we can’t forget to mention one more little thing: We set a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest fashion show. Setting this record was not an easy task. After all, this is Miami, and we were all nervous about a four-letter word: R-A-I-N!

After praying to the weather gods, we managed to pull off a record-breaking show in that was a success on many levels! Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show required the help of more than 50 hair and makeup artists, 60 models that walked the runway for a combined total of 96 dazzling miles, and more than 4,000 pieces of the finest cotton styles in the world!

We had a team of 15 Rockstars on-site to manage the VIP lounge, media check-in, and, of course, take care of our celebrity hosts.

The real work began after the models had gone home and the glitz and glamour faded away. Everyone in PR knows this: The post-event coverage requires a team dedicated to media pitching, from crafting the messaging for the press releases, to developing compelling photo captions and editing b-roll, among other tactics to garner local and national press coverage.

We rocked it! The numbers speak for themselves: 579 million media impressions across digital, TV and print, with an ad value of $1.1 million.

And if you are wondering, you do work 24 hours. Don’t think the 45-minute nap at 4 a.m. counts as sleep. All worth it!

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