How To Market the C-Word

If there’s anything I love more than a salted chilli chicken snack box, it’s a good old piece of reactive marketing.

Brands use reactive marketing as a way of engaging their audience with spur of the moment content and advertisements responding to real-time events, news, topics, TV shows, hashtags and threads. It’s a way to appear relevant, relatable and humorous. Although generally successful in getting people talking and your brand noticed, it’s a tricky business in terms of having a limited time to create the content before its irrelevant, and the risk of offending the generation of snowflakes, whom I refuse to identify with. The fallout from a bad piece of reactive marketing can cause a lot of damage to a brand’s reputation and often they would have been better of just remaining silent… but that’s no craic. We all love a bit of controversy.

It’s no shock that the only real-time event that most brands are responding to right now is COVID-19. As the pandemic, unfortunately, continues to spread brands are thinking of creative ways to encourage us to partake in social distancing, stay indoors and wash our hands, MORE OFTEN! Please don’t tell me you ever ever ever need to be reminded to wash your hands, you detty pig. Here are a few of my faves.

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Netflix #YouShouldveStayedAtHome

A reactive marketing masterpiece if you ask me. I found this piece as I was scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and it was a breath of fresh air amongst upsetting coronavirus updates, pessimistic tweets *unfollow* and reminders that there are still people who think it’s okay to bounce around households and see their friends. Did ye not hear what Boris said.

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The campaign had the aim to encourage people to stay at home by creating Billboards and Adshels with spoilers from Netflix shows including Money Heist, Love is Blind and Stranger Things with the tag line “You Should’ve Stayed at Home.” I was disappointed to see that it wasn’t actually real and was actually an idea by a duo from an advertising school in Miami who created the concept as a marketing suggestion for Netflix. I did see some comments where people were infuriated at the thought of seeing a spoiler for their favourite Netflix show when they were on their way to essential work or to get essential supplies. Which is a fair point. But how amazing if those who are not following guidelines, acting like they are above the law and are single handily decreasing the chances of us seeing our loved ones, or having pints with our mates anytime soon had their favourite binge of the moment ruined. Karma. SPOILER ALERT: if you have a life and didn’t binge Love is Blind in 3 days please look away now.

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Guinness #StayAtHome

Copywriter Luke O’Reillys created this piece of advertising as part of a One Minute brief challenge and Guinness loved it. They’ve fully credited the creator Luke and have used it as their way of encouraging people to stay at home during this time. I love the simplicity of it. Guinness also created a pretty emotional video in light of St. Patrick’s celebrations being cancelled across the world. Anyone else still pure devastated about this btw?

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The Guinness team collected clips of Guinness and St. Patricks day celebrations over the years and told us all that although we can’t celebrate together this year, we must stick together during this pretty tough time and, “Don’t worry, we’ll march again.” How emotional. I don’t even drink Guinness but I want a Guinness.

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Coke and McDonald’s response to the pandemic was spacing out their lettering to encourage social distances, whilst Burger King rejigged their tagline “home of the whopper.” to “Stay home.”

Contrary to popular belief there are other things we can talk about aside the Coronavirus. Can someone remind my Mum of this, please? So here are just a few honourable mentions I want to include from some of my favourite reactive marketing of all time.

#Sainsbey

When Beyonce dropped her latest Ivy Park collection we couldn’t help but die at the fact we could all go to a fancy dress party as a Sainsbury employee if we bought this particular piece. The memes came in almost instantly and soon went viral with the hashtag #SainsBey. Later that day Sainsbury were absolute legends in the field of reactive marketing and came out with this. Bravo Sainsbury.

It’s……….Innocent Smoothies

Coolen Rooney’s outstanding piece of cryptic literature in 2019 is the best thing I’ve read since the Great Gatsby. The suspense throughout had my heart in my mouth. I still can’t believe It’s……….Rebekah Vardy’s account. The dispute took the Twittersphere by storm and if any brand had any wits about them they would have taken every opportunity to use it for some quality reactive marketing. And Innocent Smoothie was soon to score with their newest “bolt from blue” drink saying it was “THE ONLY THING JUICIER THAN COLEEN V REBEKAH.” Must be pretty damn juicy.

“I’ve had te go te Burger King.”

Remember in 2018 when KFC ran out of Chicken and it was the WORST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN and people were literally claiming it to be a national emergency. We really didn’t know what 2020 had in store, did we? Anyway, I have the utmost respect for KFC staying cool, calm and collected and rejigging their branding to read FCK. Reassuring to know even Colonel Sanders fcks up sometimes.

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So they’re just a few of my favourite reactive marketing campaigns over the past year or so. Over the past month, I have loved seeing the biggest brands ditch their product placements and USP ploys and simply encourage us to stick together and beat this virus.

Stay safe & healthy everyone and whilst the NHS work endlessly to protect us (ye legends) please protect them by staying at home.

Catherine Maguire is a final year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Tis the Season to be Freezin’

With the Halloween festivities behind us, Christmas trees appear to be assembling earlier and earlier each year. To many individuals despair we consumers aren’t given a breath before being bombarded with Christmas themed PR marketing campaigns. I, on the other hand, LOVE the bombardment of advertisements as Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. With the festive period creeping closer and closer I wanted to reflect on past Christmas marketing campaigns which never fail to put me in the Christmas mood.

Coca-Cola Holidays Are Coming

 It would be impossible to write a blog post about Christmas marketing campaigns without including the iconic Coca-Cola Ad.  The twinkling red trucks driving by ecstatic communities combined with the ‘Holidays are Coming’ soundtrack heralds the start of Christmas on our TV screens every year. The ad first was aired in 1995 as part of Coca- Cola’s seasonal advertising campaign, 24 years later the ad has been deemed the most loved Christmas advert of all time with 34% of Brits stating it is their favourite.

 Budweiser Prohibition Campaign

 With Christmas being a time when alcohol consumption is at its peak. With ‘12 pubs of Christmas’, Christmas parties every other weekend, Christmas markets and mulled wine stalls springing up in towns across the country there really is an abundance of alcohol; with 6 billion units being consumed here in Ireland and across the UK at this festive time.

Budweiser is using digital platforms to release its new alcohol- free sub-brand Prohibition, for an ad campaign tackling drink driving over the festive period. I feel this initiative from Budweiser is effective in putting the message into the mind of the people to not drink-drive and get the nation home safely for Christmas.

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Lidl Hijacking Billboards

 Lidl embarked on a rebellious poster campaign in a bid to jab rival retailers M&S and Waitrose, endeavouring to build up Lidl’s proposition ‘Big on Quality, Lidl on Price.’ Adding fuel to fire, Lidl strategically placed these billboards near its rivals’ stores.

John Lewis Elton John Ad

 After a decade of tear-jerkers starring various harmless fluffy animals, John Lewis pulled out the stops in 2018 with a good dose of old-fashioned star power to sell Christmas. The advert named ‘The Boy and the Piano’ depicts the story of a national treasure, Sir Elton John and with a touch of poetic licence tells the tale of how the gift of a piano altered the course of a young boy’s life. The ad is heart-warming as we witness moments of his life flash before his eyes, from school plays to electric pub gigs to mega-stardom.

However, not everyone appreciated this heartening advert. The Kantar Millward survey reported that the advert lacked relevance scoring a grim 2.83/5 and overall performed relatively poorly for its persuasive nature (2.77/5) while scoring a dire 2.79 for delivering consumers information.  Various retailers responded to the advert, the most poignant of which would have to be Iceland. The tweet created by Iceland displays a similar backdrop to the John Lewis ad; however, this time a displaced orangutan is playing a burning, smoky piano as his backdrop is ablaze. This distressing, emotive response by Iceland was very powerful and fitting for their #NoPalmOilChristmas campaign and has left a greater mark on me than the initial advert.

 McDonald’s Carrot Stick Ad #ReindeerReady

 The ‘Carrot Stick’ ad illustrates a young girl who is bizarrely attached to the last carrot in her happy meal, as she proudly asserts ‘It’s for the reindeer!’ After carefully clutching it through the busy streets and bus ride home, she smugly shows her prized offering to her mother. This is shortly before her bubble is burst by her older brother who nags that ‘There are more than one reindeer!’ This inconveniently results in a trip back to the nations beloved McDonalds, to retrieve treats for the rest of the fleet.

The campaign places prevalence on the anticipation, enthusiasm and the little moments of magic that is mounted in the run-up to Christmas. The slick initiative of the #ReindeerReady Snapchat filter combined with the Christmas branded carrot sticks in store all brilliantly enhanced the Christmas campaign. The story of the little girl warms the hearts of the nation and skillfully encapsulates the magic of Christmas spirit.

 

Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

Who’s winning Burger Wars – From Genius Marketing to PR Fails

So today I continue my account of ‘Burger Wars’, what is Burger Wars you might ask? Burger Wars is the competition between McDonalds and Burger King. Two giants of the burger world, battling it out for the top spot. How do they do this? Well through their PR and Marketing Campaigns of course. Often making subtle references to their competitor or not so subtle in Burger King’s case.

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I wrote a post on my personal blog around a month ago, called ‘A Day Without a Whopper’ which you can find here. This detailed Burger King’s decision to stop selling their famous ‘Whopper’ burger for the day in aid of their competitor McDonald’s charity campaign. They told all their customers to go to McDonalds and instead buy a Big Mac as profits would go to charity. This came a few years after Burger King had tried to collaborate with McDonalds on the McWhopper, again for charity, but had been rejected by their competitor. Burger King just being charitable? I don’t think so, these were very clever and well thought through marketing campaigns designed to make Burger King look like the bigger person in this clash of titans.

So what’s happened since?

Well I have personally been seeing a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn about various PR and Marketing Campaigns from the giants – both good and bad. So I thought it was only fair that I summarise my findings in a blog post on the latest in this saga.

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  1. McDonalds – It’s Not the Same Without the ‘M’

This campaign in particular I have seen widely shared across LinkedIn over the past week and it’s one that stuck with me proving how successful it was. McDonalds decided to stamp their branding in some of the busiest places in the world – Airports. Removing their signature letter ‘M’ for the titles of many well-known countries and simply using the slogan ‘It’s Not the Same Without the M’. One thing I loved about this campaign was this simplicity, it’s eye catching and straight to the point, you automatically known what brand it’s for and it makes you think of McDonalds. I know after a long flight, often the first thing I want is a quick and easy meal, so I think the positioning here is great.

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  1. Burger King – The Meltdown

Burger King decided to get on board with sustainability and vowed to stop producing plastic toys in its kid’s meals, as part of an aim to save 320 tonnes of single use plastic. The fast food restaurant now also offers a service where you can bring in your old plastic toys to be melted down and the opening week of this promotion you would receive a free kid’s meal in return for doing so. In typical Burger King style, they didn’t miss the opportunity to take a jibe at McDonald’s by stating their toys where ‘especially’ welcome in their promotional video. For me this is a huge win for Burger King, climate change and sustainability are such a talked about issue at the moment and this is the type of reaction we need from big brands and corporations.

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PR Fails

  1. McDonalds – ‘Bloody Sundae’

I’m sure most people have heard about this by now as it’s been highly reported on and sensitive issue, especially in Northern Ireland. But McDonald’s were the subject of a huge PR Fail, over a Halloween promotion of their Ice Cream in their Portugal stores featuring the slogan ‘Sundae Bloody Sundae’. McDonald’s has since issued a public apology stating that the campaign was not intended to reference historical events and that they sincerely apologise for any offence caused. However, this has not stopped residents of Northern Ireland and further afield being highly and rightly upset by the campaign.

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  1. Burger King – Milkshake Tweet

Burger King came under fire with the ASA recently about a tongue and cheek tweet stating ‘Dear people of Scotland, We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun.” The tweet came as a response to McDonald’s stopping selling milkshakes at the request of the police, due to politicians such as Nigel Farage being ‘milkshaked’ (having a milkshake thrown over them in the street). The ASA stated that they considered that the ad encourages ‘anti-social behaviour’ and banned the tweet.

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So who’s winning here?

In my eyes Burger King have the lead here, I love how reactive their PR and Marketing is and their constant focus on current issues. I think their constant ‘trolling’ and responding to McDonald’s is pretty humorous and clever and gives them the upper hand here.

 

Hannah Chambers is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @HannahC_PR  and LinkedIn: Hannah Chambers

Ronald to the Rescue

Ronald to the Rescue

When you think of the name “Ronald McDonald”, what springs to mind? A clown who is just as creepy looking as he is infamous? The “Joe Camel” of fast food? I wouldn’t say that glorious imagery sprung to mind when I used to hear the name myself, but maybe after reading this post you will have a new-found respect for it.

We’ve all been to a McDonald’s at some point in our lives, and I’m guessing that most of us would recognise this logo which is found on the charity boxes placed at every till point.

Duchess of Cambridge to visit Ronald McDonald House

This logo represents the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RHMC), which are based right here in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, Ireland, and all over the world.

I tend to throw change into charity boxes on tills when I buy things, but as much as I do that I never really think about the charity I’ve just donated to after I walk out the door. I also always tend to think of big global and dominant brands as being somewhat selfish. For example, after finding out that Starbucks Ireland only payed 45 euros in tax last year, I tend to think twice before I invest in one of their seasonal lattes.

I’ve recently learnt that not only do McDonald’s and their franchisees allow the placement of RHMC collection boxes at each till point, the company also donates money from its own sales. In 2016, they added an extra one million pounds donation from sales to the existing three million that had been collected in the UK that year.

RHMC pride McDonald’s as an “essential, valuable and sustaining partner” and McDonald’s even provide office space to the charity in their Head Quarters around the world, along with general and administrative support, HR, payroll, organisation support and ICT and computer systems.

RHMC globally has been McDonald’s charity of choice since its founding in 1989 and provides hope and respite to families during challenging times of life. The thing that inspired me to read more into McDonald’s corporate philanthropy and the RHMC, was a tweet by an individual who was personally affected by the works of the charity and was highly praising them.

So, there you go, Ronald McDonald will continue to look creepy but hey! He’s a good guy. And McDonald’s may be swimming in profits and sitting comfortably on the Forbes’ list of “Most Valuable Global Brands”, but their philanthropic measures should not go un-noticed.

McDonald’s says its mascot Ronald McDonald is keeping a low profile as reports of creepy clown sightings sweep communities across the globe.

 

Rachel Reilly is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachelreilly98