All the world’s a stage

In his play, As You Like It, Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage and men and women are merely players. They have their exits and entrances … “ Cue the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.

Olympics All the World's a Stage

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

For the medalists, there will be corporate sponsorships much like that of Max Factor’s waterproof makeup for America’s Olympic gold medal synchronized swimmers. And Milk who sponsored the fastest woman runner in the world, Olympian silver and gold medalist, FloJo. And countless others. Many of whom got professional Los Angeles media training before spokespersoning.

But for now, these “amateur” athletes are using the world’s stage and their roles on it to promote their own causes on social media.

Adam Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. male figure skater to qualify for the Olympics, has become what some are calling a “social media sensation.” He missed qualifying for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and was passed over for the Sochi Olympics in 2014 Olympics, but has emerged as a winner on many fronts in 2018.

Adam Rippon All the World's a Stage

Photo Courtesy of Elite Daily

Mr. Rippon, who thus far has helped Team USA men’s figure skating win a bronze, blasted the choice of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. delegation at the Olympics. In an interview with USA Today, he said, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence who funded gay conversion therapy in 2000?”

Very different

At 28, he jokes about being the oldest figure skater on the ice, the oldest since 1939 to make his first trip to the Games and very, very different.

“And I think maybe that’s what people are kind of latching onto, that my story’s different. That I’m different, and I think on some level we all feel sort of different. When we are embraced for who we are and speak our minds, it’s awesome.

Surprised

“I’m a little surprised that it’s 2018 and I’m the first,” he told TIME Magazine. “In this day and age, I think it’s so important to be visible and stand up for what you believe in and let the young kids know that it’s OK to be yourself.” In a news conference, Mr. Rippon discussed how he knows what it’s like to be the kid, who’s an outsider. Many young children, who feel as though they don’t fit in, themselves, have written letters to Mr. Rippon, asking for his advice.

A Teen Vogue op/ed piece quoted Mr. Rippon as saying that skating saved him and allowed him to be himself. “It was my outlet. That if I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my feelings and thoughts, I was able to go out on the ice and express them.”

And Mr. Rippon now uses his Twitter to express everything from self-deprecating jokes to insightful messages on how far he has come in his career.

Adam Rippon Tweet All the World's a Stage

If at first you don’t succeed, try … try … try again.

The Super Bowl of Commercials

In Super Bowl 2018, advertisers gave us a break, a commercial break, from all the recent political controversy that has been cited as a factor in declining TV ratings for the NFL this season.

Even the NFL got into the spirit with “Touchdowns to Come” starring NY Giants quarterback, Eli Manning and his wide receiver, Odell Beckham dirty dancing!

Super Bowl Ads Salad Bowl

Photo Courtesy of Instinct Magazine

Toyota set the emotional bar high with its opening spot after the kickoff. Rather that focus on promoting their vehicles, Toyota instead chose to spotlight Canadian alpine skier Lauren Woolstencroft. She is the eight-time Paralympic gold medalist who was born missing a portion of her left arm and both legs below the knees. It focused on her story of beating the odds through perseverance and hard work. And the commercial will undoubtedly get more play during the upcoming Olympics, as Toyota is an official partner of the Games.

But Kia got no kudos for it’s sad and strange Super Bowl ad with aging rocker, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, driving in reverse to his youth. Especially after Melissa McCarthy’s “Save the Planet” charmer last year!

Picking up on the trend, Hyundai didn’t feature any of their cars in Sunday’s Super Bowl, either. Instead, it promoted the company’s effort to fund childhood cancer research with every purchase of a Hyundai. Watching the survivors being used as props to praise “heroes” just because they bought a Hyundai felt like a commercial way for the company to pat itself on the back.

Budweiser did a better job of sharing its social significance with its “Stand by Me” ad. By multi-purposing its manufacturing, the beer company shipped canned water to places that were impacted by natural disasters: Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and California.

Super Bowl 2018 Ads

Photo Courtesy of Today

Getting their bottle caps busted for trivializing protests in years past, Pepsi came back with a nod to nostalgia.

Super Bowl Celebrities

Celebrities were not sidelined from this year’s Super Bowl game, either. Super-rich founder and CEO Jeff Bezos played a part in a popular spoof when his Siri-substitute, Alexa loses her voice. And is momentarily replaced by an international assortment of sarcastic and unlikely characters including British chef and tv personality Gordon Ramsay, American rapper Cardi B, Australian actress Rebel Wilson and film icon, Anthony Hopkins.

And passing up social significance all together, M&M Mars kicked off with family slapstick fun as Danny DeVito personified a red M&M. While packaged goods provider, Proctor & Gamble’s created a funny and satirical Tide ad featuring Old Spice Terry Crews and “Stranger Things” David Harbour spoofing ads of every genre in an effort to show off clean, stainless clothes.

The end goal was to entertain without offending. That was a good thing and not easy these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dove Creates a Soap Opera

The famous Unilever body wash brand, Dove, struggling to emphasize positive body image, managed to offend its female audience not once, but twice this past year.

“Dove’s advertisements are some of the worst social media disasters of 2017,”  Jacob Shelton wrote in Ranker.com. “The corporations that made the list performed “big stunts, with the hopes of appealing to people’s sense of either political correctness, or idealism….”

Dove Soap Opera

Photo Courtesy of IOL

In October, Dove posted this shocking advertisement on Facebook. The video depicts an African American woman stripping and revealing a fair-skinned woman underneath. The ad seemed to reinforce a racist perspective that Dove has presented before: Once black skin is clean, it will be white.

In response to the backlash, the company posted “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. We missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.” However, many are left wondering what the intended “mark” was. One Facebook user posted “I mean anyone with eyes can see how offensive this is. Not one person on your staff objected to it? Wow. Will not be buying your products anymore.”

The controversy reminded many viewers of Dove’s 2011 campaign, in which three women stood next to each other. The woman of darker complexion stood under the “before” sign, while the more fair-skinned woman stood under the “after” sign. Many criticized Dove for putting forth the message that dark skin is dirty until its washed clean and white.

In May of 2017, Dove created a campaign called “Real Beauty Bottles.” The company created six different bottles of Dove, all various shapes and sizes, representative of women’s different body shapes. With bottles ranging from thin to curvy, and even pear-shaped, Dove intended to portray the beauty of each and every body size. While Dove may have had good intentions, female audiences were not happy with the choice of  bottle that aligned with each body type. Atlantic columnist, Ian Bogost points out the dilemma a woman with a pear-shaped body type would face, while shopping for body wash. “What otherwise would have been a body-image-free trip to the store becomes a trip that highlights her shape!”

Our Los Angeles media training would have coached Dove to just sell soap, rather than feminism and diversity.

Christmas Commercials That Connect: Toyota and Audi

Happy Holidays from READY FOR MEDIA and Tim Nudd, creative editor of ADWEEK, who has rated 30 of the best Christmas commercials from this year (we consider these as Christmas Commercials that connect to the audience) ttp://www.adweek.com/creativity/see-all-the-big-holiday-ads-of-2017/. As our gifts to you, we will summarize a few of the commericals here in a series of holiday blogs.

The usually in-your-face “Let’s Go Places” Toyotathon people created a very sentimental, story-telling commercial this year, featuring 3 generations of a real family and their family tree.

Toyota Holiday Commercials

Photo Courtesy of Toyota

 

Naturally, the trucks are Toyotas that bring home the tree the family has loved for decades, which died and had to be cut down. The tree is recycled and re-purposed into a picture frame and the family dining table.

The 100-second holiday spot is called a broadcast-first and aired right after The Voice and right before the fall finale of This Is Us. Toyota says the ad was intentionally shot in a style similar to This Is Us.

“The natural connection with Toyota’s new creative (campaign) and such a powerful night of family viewing illustrates the power of contextual messaging which still reigns king,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC Universal.

“Engaging, emotional creative combined with the unparalleled environment of television is the ultimate platform for a marketer to reach audiences at scale and enhance the consumer experience.”

Following its premiere on NBC, the spot will run in theaters on over 20,600 screens from Dec. 1-28.

Another automotive giant, Audi, offers comic relief with a tongue-in-cheek approach in its 2017 holiday commercial. Audi driving fathers race murderously to find the last parking spot at the mall and the last toy on the shelf. This commercial depicts the irony of how stressful the holidays can be to the tune of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

We’ve all been there.

Christmas Commercials that Connect: McDonald’s

Happy Holidays from READY FOR MEDIA and Tim Nudd, creative editor of ADWEEK, who has rated 30 of the best holiday commercials of 2017, http://www.adweek.com/creativity/see-all-the-big-holiday-ads-of-2017/, As our gifts to you, we have summarized a few of our choices in a series of holiday blogs: Christmas Commercials that Connect.

Our award for “Best New Product Introduction” goes to McDonald’s campaign, get #ReindeerReady from Leo Burnett/London. In introducing a packet of carrot sticks that can be substituted for French fries in your child’s Happy Meal, this fast food franchise gives a nod to a healthier alternative than leaving cookies for Santa.

Photo Courtesy of McDonald’s

“Our campaign focuses on the anticipation, excitement and little moments of magic the run-up to Christmas brings,” says Emily Somers, vp of marketing and food development at McDonald’s U.K. “It’s one little girl’s preparation for the big day (by saving a carrot stick from her Happy Meal) ‘for the reindeer.’”

Of course, things go temporarily south when her older brother makes a startling revelation— there’s more than one reindeer and she’s saved just one carrot stick. That becomes a pretext for yet another visit to McD’s, for more carrots with a tired Dad who attempts to also order “a cheeseburger for Father Christmas.”

The ad was preceded by 10-second teasers featuring reindeer-ready carrots, now being promoted on the McDonald’s website as “deliciously crunchy reindeer treats.”

Taking full advantage of social media, the story will also be told on Snapchat, where users can unlock a branded Reindeer Face Lens and a game called “Carrot Run.” You can unlock the hub by scanning Snapcodes on McDonald’s Christmas packaging. Free packs of “reindeer treats” will also be shared with families in restaurants, begging the question, Are you #ReindeerReady?”

“As children with one goal in mind—pleasing the man who holds the Naughty/Nice list—the question had never even occurred to us. But in these more inclusive times, it’s probably bad form indeed to think only of the saint … and not his hardworking fleet.”

 

 

 

 

Outside the Box

In an essay written for ELLE UK in 2015, Meghan Markle, new fiancé to Prince Harry, said, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I’m half black and half white.”

Meghan Markle event appearance

Photo Courtesy of Business insider

With the word pictures so crucial for good writing and public speaking, she notes a traumatic moment in her childhood when, “My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan.’ I put down my pen. Not as an act of defiance, but rather a symptom of my confusion.” Seems she didn’t want to choose one parent over the other.

“If that happens again,” her father encouraged her. “You draw your own box.”

Meghan  Markle has spent her life outside of the box, challenging racial stereotypes. The Markle family was the only biracial family in the neighborhood, a situation that would have caused feelings of isolation for many children. However, Ms. Markle was different.

She didn’t think anything of having parents of different colors. Her parents created a world in which she wasn’t “different, but special,” even gifting her with a biracial Barbie family one Christmas.

As an adult, Ms. Markle has been a symbol of beauty as Rachel Zane, a legal eagle on the TV drama, Suits. She points to her role as being crucial: “Some households may never have had a black person in the house as a guest, or someone biracial. Well, now there are a lot of us on your TV and in your home with you.” How’s that for integration?

Ms. Markle inherits her spunk and drive from her great-great-great grandfather.

“You create the identity you want for yourself, just as my ancestors did when they were given their freedom. Because in 1865 (which is so shatteringly recent), when slavery was abolished in the United States, former slaves had to choose a name. A surname, to be exact. The family name that my great-great-great grandfather made to start anew was … Wisdom.


 

What a Play!

Just one inning into the game. You can feel the tension as every sports bar in America has tuned in to the highly anticipated 2017 World Series, Game 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros begin to battle it out. An ad flashes across your screen: T-Mobile #HR4HR, Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery.

Say what? Wasn’t Houston where all the flooding was?

Hurricane scene Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery aims to heal.

Photo Courtesy of The Independent

T-Mobile created the hashtag “#HR4HR” at the onset of postseason baseball to encourage donations for hurricane relief. With each postseason home run, the company offered to donate $10,000 to the hurricane recovery fund Team Rubicon, the disaster response organization utilizing the skills and experiences of military veterans.  T-Mobile also offered to donate an extra $1 each time the hashtag was tweeted or retweeted.

The charitable acts only increased as the playoffs continued when T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere made it a double header with $20,000 per home run and $2 every time #HR4HR is tweeted during the World Series!

While some tweeters criticized the company’s interruption of the games and the use of natural disasters for promotion, most fans found the hashtag both philanthropically supportive and entertaining. The tweets poured in, not only flooding the website but also raising awareness and funds for fellow Americans in need.

Risky Business?

T-Mobile, the official partner of Major League Baseball with lots of customer tie-ins,  took a risk by putting the financial results in the hands of twenty-first century social media users and a possible seven game series. But the decision to initiate “Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery” and promote rebuilding the nation was a strategic marketing move.

Baseball’s loyal viewership guaranteed millions of eyes on the screen when the #ad first ran. This exposed all viewers to T-Mobile as a potential cell phone carrier. Even more powerful, though, was the branding image that was now illuminated: T-Mobile was working with viewers and fans to support those in need, on cell phones!

The company loaded the bases to do a good deed and enhance their brand. Seems they knocked this one out of the park!

It’s Not What You Say…

Communications coaching is a two-way street, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly should be advised. What you say and How you say it.

John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, and communications coaching

Photo Courtesy of Infowars.com

Seems Mr. Kelly coached President Trump on what to say to the grieving widow of a fallen soldier.  A 4-Star general and a father who’d lost his soldier son in Afghanistan expressed in somber words and tone, “your husband was where he wanted to be, he knew what he signed up for.” It was a far cry from the cold, dispassionate, insensitive, “joking” President Trump’s uttering of the same words: he knew what he signed up for!

To the press, Mr. Kelly attempted to explain the President’s style, “In his way, he tried to express the opinion that Sergeant Johnson was ‘a brave man, a fallen hero, doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into, what the possibilities were, because we’re at war.’ Mr. Kelly said. ‘And when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends.’ That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

That might have been more comforting to Sergeant Johnson’s wife and mother.

As Los Angeles-based media coaches for over 35 years, we’ve learned that audiences consider the source of the message and listen to how it’s presented.

The ensuing criticism is a case of shooting the messenger and the coach, who failed to consider the spokesperson and his personal style.

John Kelly should make the calls.

How to Avoid #Hashtag Hazards

The hashtag, when used correctly, can reach a broader group of people than those who follow you on Twitter or connect with you on LinkedIn. It facilitates branding and allows companies to create catchy slogans motivating audiences to remember and to respond.

However, the hashtag is more complicated than just throwing a few words together. Here are a few basic tips to consider when using the #.

At READY FOR SOCIAL MEDIA, we coach:

#KnowYourMarket

Charmin hashtag #TweetFromTheSeat

#TweetFromTheSeat, Charmin’s irreverent hashtag is often talked about in marketing circles for one very good reason. It successfully makes something as unglamorous as toilet paper fun, approachable, and appealing to young people. Not an easy feat.

Here’s how it works. The company’s official Twitter account posts funny quips with the hashtag, and encourages users to do the same. Research shows that 40% of people aged 18-24 use social media in the bathroom, giving them a reason to engage with an otherwise strictly utilitarian product.

It’s working too – how else would you explain a toilet paper brand having over 68 thousand followers on Twitter?

#RememberThatCapitalizationMatters

A hash-tagged phrase that lacks capital letters allows the reader to misinterpret your meaning,

#Nowthatcherisdead was mistakenly interpreted by many who began to eulogize Cher.

#ImagineTheResponses

Social media, particularly Twitter, is a platform for users to speak their minds. Before you choose your hashtag, think about the positive and negative responses that will be sparked. If a hashtag is too broad or controversial, your message may be mocked.

#QantasLuxury. Not widely known for its great customer service or luxuriousness, Aussie airline Qantas’ social media team made a big mistake. They asked customers to enter a competition by sharing their experiences just one day after the airline grounded their fleet and locked out staff for 48 hours over a union dispute about pay. Disgruntled staff and customers took to Twitter in full irony mode!

#KeepItRelevant

Every brand, team, or company has a mission. Whether it is to sell products, win games, or recruit followers. It’s important to align the # with your product or service. Even though something may be a good cause, it may not directly apply to your purpose or product.

#RaceTogether. Starbucks launched this hashtag in an effort to raise awareness for the country’s racial divide. They printed the new hashtag on every cup of joe. Unfortunately, this # message did not apply to coffee. And while the brand’s intentions were clearly for justice, they missed the mark in getting involved.

Always remember to #Wisely.

Facebook’s Fireside Chat

It is often said that with great power comes great responsibility.

Returning from parental leave, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated the 21st Century version of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chat.” Mr. Zuckerberg used his social media platform to announce that his company may have inadvertently participated in Russia’s tampering of the 2016 presidential election.

Photo Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

After hiring numerous investigators, Facebook discovered approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017 associated with some 3,000 smear ads believed to be related to Russian ads during the election period.

In response to the findings, CNBC reports Mr. Zuckerberg’s stance as “bringing Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency.” The social media site will no longer allow their users to be fooled by ad companies and those working with them.

By strategically using his social media empire, Mr. Zuckerberg was able to inform the public on the developments and how the Facebook plans to combat them.

Initially, Mr. Zuckerberg was blind sided as well, pushing back on claims that viral fake news stories could have any sway on the election, calling the idea “crazy” and saying that critics lacked “empathy” for President Donald Trump’s supporters.

But pressure on Facebook has grown over time.

Some congressional investigators saw Russian activity on Facebook as key to understanding the extent of Moscow’s influence on the election. Before Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook video, Federal Election Commission member Ellen Weintraub called for an overhaul of disclaimer rules around political advertisements on the internet.

Followup interviews with Elliot Schrage, VP of Policy and Communications revealed that the vast majority of Facebook’s over 5 million advertisers use self-service tools. “This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts.”

“We are committed to rising to the occasion, Mr. Zuckerberg said. “Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We will continue working with the government to understand the full extent of Russian interference.

Now, that’s a great way to use great power, responsibly.