FRESH IDEAS: APRIL FOOL’S Edition

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Contributed by Carolina Cepeda Vigoya

 

Welcome to our weekly “FRESH IDEAS” post.

Had a busy week and feeling a little lost around water cooler banter? We’ve got you covered. Once a week, we’ll share some of our favorite brand stunts and announcements, trending topics, tech news, and social media buzz that stand out from the herd.

Saw something awesome that we should have included? Share it in the comments section below!

BUZZ REPORT

3.27.17 – 3.31.17

Fun Fact: Scientists are able to turn peanut butter into diamonds.

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Each week, we ask our RockStars to pin a hashtag on a buzzworthy trend, news topic, or fun fact. This week’s winner: #SparkleButter by Lead Designer, Josue Brizuela.

APRIL FOOL’S

Google Outdoing Themselves

Google Wallet Mobile ATM          

In 2013, the company announced the release of the wallet Mobile ATM, a device that would attach to smartphones and dispense money instantly, including unique $2 bills.

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Google’s Treasure Map

Ahoy! The company created an old school map that “belonged” to infamous pirate William “Captain” Kidd. Users were invited to “crack the code” to find hidden clues in order to find treasure.

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Google Nose Beta

Before Siri helped us out search for stuff and answer questions, Google came up with the brilliant idea of “searching for smells.” The feature included the “Mobile Aroma Indexing Program” that would detect 50 million databases of smells.

Google Mic-Drop

As their tradition, Google released their April Fool’s “Mic Drop” prank that backfired. The feature allowed users to “send and mic drop” to their emails that attached a GIF of a minion dropping a mic. The new button had a bug that would send the GIF when using the regular “send button” and not the new feature. Google pulled the plug on the prank shortly after they detected the problem.

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Gmail            

Back in 2004, Google announced the launch of Gmail, a free email service on April 1st and because of the company’s April Fool’s history, people thought it was a hoax, as they stated that it would have 500 times the capacity of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. This was a smart play by Google, since it generated them extra publicity.

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Sayonara, YouTube

The company teamed up with The Onion to announce that after eight years, their days were almost over and that they would no longer accept video uploads. During the announcement, the spokesperson said they were looking for the best home for video on the Internet, and that it would take 10 years to watch them all in order to find the winner, who would be announced in 2023.

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Twttr Annncmnt

The social media platform announced that it was shifting to a new feature where only consonants were allowed in order to have more “dense” communication. For five dollars a month, the premium “Twitter” service would include vowels as well.

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Glasses For Dogs

Warby Parker released dog eyeglasses back in 2012 the furry members of the family. When customers went to check out their $95 canine glasses, an April Fool’s announcement popped up into the screen.

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Domino’s Canned Pizza

Canned ravioli is already a bit weird, but canned pizza is definitely weirder. Domino’s in Japan unveiled a “canned pizza” that was sold for 401 yen online as part of their April Fool’s joke.

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Cheeteau

Cheetos introduced their new fragrance, Cheeteau on April 1st, 2014. The smell supposedly smelled “buttery, with notes of sharp cheddar, and a hint of lemony sweetness.”

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DUH! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? (APRIL FOOL’S PRODUCTS WE WISH WERE REAL)

Domino’s Edible Pizza Box

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Glass Floor Plane (Virgin Atlantic)

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International Space Rental (Airbnb)

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Rain boots for dogs (Hunter Boots)

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Play Doh 3-D Printer

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How Can You Engage Using Video?

The power of video content is undeniable. Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80 percent and video in an email leads to 200-300 percent increase in click-through rate. That’s why the medium can no longer be ignored as part of your marketing mix.

But video consumption habits are changing. Live social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are taking viewing time away from more traditional online platforms like YouTube,  and shrinking attention spans mean that short form or micro content (videos less than 5 seconds) are proving as, or more, effective than TV-style 30 second spots.

So while marketers know they need to spend more time on video, understanding what’s going to work best for their brand is hard. That’s why this week we’re asking our RockStars – How Can You Engage Using Video?

How Can You Have Fun With Your Brand?

Did you see the Michelle Obama episode of Carpool Karaoke? If you didn’t stop what you’re doing immediately and click on this link.

So did you get it? Her message that is. Nestled in between her flawless rendition of Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé inspired dance moves and surprise appearance of Missy Elliott, FLOTUS took full advantage of the opportunity promote her initiative to support the education of girls around the world – Let Girls Learn. And with over 32 million views on YouTube to date, not to mention all those who tuned in to watch it on The Late Late Show, the reach of that message has been amplified far beyond traditional marketing methods could have taken it.

Now, we might not all have the influence of Michelle Obama, but it was an important lesson for brand marketers in that you’ve got to give yourself permission to have fun. And that’s why it inspired this week’s ‘Question-of-the-Week’ – How can you have fun with your brand?

 

You, Too, Can Own Your Platform. (And You Should!)

By David Naranjo
Indulge me for a moment in some “back in my day” reminiscing.

When I was coming up in the world of media and communications, leading a team of PR pros at Sony Music and later the Estefan Enterprises, we worked hard to gin up positive coverage for our artists. More coverage equaled more units sold, so these earned opportunities were golden. Those media gatekeepers could make or break a new album, a career, or a label itself.

Needless to say, things are different today. For musicians and entertainers the revolution kicked into high gear back in the mid-00s with the rise of MySpace as a proto-platform to own the messaging and imagery associated with your brand. With a little bit of HTML and a lot of elbow grease, you could bring your art to millions, where you once needed a label, a marketing team, and an interested media. The MySpace page became the new street team (not coincidentally around this time Sony and other record companies decommissioned their own networks of real street teams).

And we know the story from there: MySpace begat Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, and for artists more targeted apps like Soundcloud and Bandcamp integrated nicely. Cobbling together these pages with a centralized website and blog makes an effective, elegant platform for artists. Tend that social media garden well enough, and it becomes hard to remember why we ever needed media outlets so badly.

Of course, we love our friends in the press, and they always make our jobs easier. But the best brands today are leaving nothing to chance. Like those bands inhabiting the early MySpace, smart brands are creating their own platform for message management.

Our client Zappos recently engaged us for a back-to-school campaign. The deals were great, as was the apparel. And the brand is noteworthy in its own right—definitely not an unknown, frequently covered by mainstream press and trades. But this was a back-to-school campaign, straining its neck to be noticed in a sea of other back-to-school campaigns. Earned media coverage was incredibly unlikely without some kind of elevation.

We used the brand’s social media platforms to link out to guest bloggers whose influence made the campaign into actual coverage-worthy news. Now, it wasn’t just half off your second pair of sneakers. It was mommy bloggers bragging about the pairs of shoes they had gotten for their kids. Engaging with the influencers, we were able to rise above the commercial noise.

Sometimes the need to control the message speaks to the brand’s very existence. Consider a quick service restaurant client of ours who was facing a very difficult investigation in Europe into their locations. The sensational story gave short shrift to the facts and was bombastic in all the ways you hope to avoid for your clients.

So, rather than engage with the journalists in their forum, we marshaled the strength of the brand’s social media to publish facts about the situation, taking a crisis and turning it into a teaching moment. This kind of education would have been impossible on any platform other than the client’s own. The strategy was effective: the news magazine shelved a planned sequel to their report after our own messaging essentially defanged their reporting.

Here is a healthy exercise for anyone leading a brand’s communication efforts: imagine you have something incredibly important to say, something everyone needs to hear, and you have to do it right this moment. How would you do it? Would you be reliant on someone else to do it for you? Is your social media presence primed and active? Have you tended that garden? What shape are your lists in? When’s the last time someone organically signed up for your newsletter? Do you have a newsletter, if only to collect email addresses?

Media companies spend millions to refine their platforms. So should you. No one can tell your story better than you.

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.

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