Every client we have wants to grow their brand. We assist in crafting their messaging. We seek out the influencers and existing communities that their target customers are already engaged in so as to build their community. We do a lot of different things, but at the end of the day the companies who hire ArCompany want greater brand awareness that leads to sales.
Usually, by the time they get to us they understand that they must grow their community, drive it to their website and then convert it into real customers who actually purchase. But businesses are more social savvy now. They understand that, at the end of the day, their community size doesn’t necessarily matter; how it impacts sales does. Yes, there are a tremendous amount of ‘extras’ that come into play: customer service, communication, transparency, understanding what resonates and why – all of that is measurable, and all of that matters. But, at the end of the day ALL of us are in business to do business, and it’s our job to increase sales.
Quite often, although our clients ‘get’ what we’re supposed to do for them, they don’t know how to make that happen. Part of our job is guiding them through and explaining the process. Strategy and tactics may vary somewhat, but there is one thing almost all of them ask for: they want us to make something ‘go viral.’ And no, we do not have a magic bullet for that.
What it takes to Go Viral
Yes, I felt silly even writing that subtitle; no matter what you have been told, there is no magic recipe to make something viral. Of course you need ‘great content. ‘ Kittens and babies help, but not so much for business. You need compelling content, you need a community ready to consume and share, and sometimes, you need luck.
Yes, there are great content developers who create more of their own ‘luck’ than others, but for smaller companies without a huge community, it takes a bit more luck. And there are some shortcuts that we don’t recommend.
Yes, Ethics Come Into Play
Sometimes I’m accused of being an idealist when I say ethics and integrity are an integral part of marketing, but I’m not wrong. I am so assured of this because I’ve been paying attention to the rise and fall of marketing campaigns for years. Yes, there are times when a self created (i.e. made up) PR story has earned a company a flare up of attention, like Chipotle’s fake twitter hack back in June to ‘celebrate’ its 20th anniversary. I scoffed at it then for this reason: what lasting impact did it have on Chipotle’s brand? I think it was a singularly un-creative stunt.
Last week Gini Dietrich wrote about publicity at all costs on Spin Sucks. In the post Gini talks about being “accused of being ethical to a fault, particularly when someone needs something and I make their job harder because we can’t do it for them.” I have also watched her organization grow and prosper, and I firmly believe there is a correlation between the high standards Arment Dietrich has established for itself, and its success.
No, ethics aren’t everything it takes to garner attention for your brand, but if you are looking for long term impact, it is essential.
Yes, I’m Going to Talk About GoldieBlox
If you are unaware of GoldieBlox, it sells products that ‘get girls building.’ When the company ‘parodied’ the Beastie Boys’ “Girls,” changing the lyrics to pro-girl wording, The Beastie Boys objected. GoldieBlox appeared to be waiting for the objection, because they immediately filed suit against the Beastie Boys, meanwhile acting as if they were the victim – a little ole company being challenged by a famous band. Claiming that they were parodying the song, GoldieBlox also attacked The Beastie Boys for their misogynistic lyrics.
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad. We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
It also became public knowledge that Adam Yauch, a member of the band who passed away, explicitly prohibited Beastie Boys music from being used to sell any product in his will.
As you probably know, the matter concluded with GoldieBlox withdrawing their lawsuit and posting a ‘let’s have a truce’ type of post on their blog. Over on Mashable Todd Wasserman deems the event a win for GoldieBlox, basing his judgment on the 9 million views the original ad garnered. I beg to differ.
The Possibility of a Backlash
I am a 45 year old woman raising a daughter with messages of empowerment for women. I’m a huge Lean In fan and I’m not afraid of using the term ‘feminist’ to describe myself. I was disgusted by the GoldieBlox faux niavety and ploy for attention. I have a lot of female friends who share my feminist views – you know, the type of women who would purchase the products GoldieBlox sells. They all shared my disgust. In fact, I didn’t find one woman who believed that ‘all is fair in marketing.’
When purpose driven consumers are your target, things like ethics and honesty matter.
And I believe that most people care about truthfulness. This isn’t naivety, this is real life. The rise of social media marketing sprang from consumer’s desire to circumvent the ‘messaging’ that they had been traditionally force fed – it allowed them to communicate with and about the brands they liked or disliked.
Yes, consumers have the power to blow your brand up if they embrace the content you put out, but when you get too cute, or too clever, or you flat out mislead them, well, they may walk away just as quickly. We’ll be watching GoldieBlox and see if the stunt was worth it. We’ll also be using this story to instruct our clients on the pitfalls of disingenuous advertising.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.