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.

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: 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.”

 

 

 

 

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.

In the Public Eye

It’s often said, the camera doesn’t lie. Nor or does it blink. The same can be said of social media.

Recently Mrs. Louise Linton Mnuchin, the new since-June wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin documented her posh summer lifestyle in Italy and France publicly on Instagram, complete with a parade of designer tags…”#TomFord,” “#Valenrinorockstudheels,” and #HermesScarf.” However, a brand spokesperson said these were not free products or compensation, The New York Times reported, for her “label-loving shoutout.”

Photo Courtesy of Business Insider

But the public arrogance begged for a defacing of her Wikipedia page, which can be edited by anyone. Following this criticism, Mrs. Mnuchin’s Instagram post featured herself as she and her husband and Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell disembarked from a government jet.

Commenting on the public posting, a 45-year-old mother of 3 from Oregon criticized her photo op, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”

Grammatical error

Mrs. Mnuchin fired back defensively without the benefit of a grammar check….

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote.

“I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

And finally, “You’re adorably out of touch.”

Touché.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s often said that the camera doesn’t lie, nor does it blink. But until recently, the camera has always been in the hands of responsible and professional photographers, videographers and journalists. Not in the hands of passengers documenting airline brutality or murderers recording their own deeds as selfies.

cell phone picture

Photo courtesy of: Time.com

Now everyone with a cell phone, and that’s pretty much everyone, is a documentarian, taking cameras and matters into his or her own hands. And thanks to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, et al, there is no shortage of airtime.

Traditional print media like the New York TIMES, which narrowcasts to only those who choose to pay for it, advertises its policy of “all the news that’s fit to print.” But these social media publishers have yet to restrict the freedom of their presses.

According to Wikipedia, Clint Eastwood’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was one of the greatest and most influential Westerns of all time. But today’s citizens offer cowboy justice at its best and worst because there are no filters on these cameras.

In our Los Angeles media training and social media training world, this is the phenomena of loose cannons. Executives  must be Ready for them. It cannot be the “shoot from the hip” approach taken by United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz recently. There must be a sensible crisis plan, designed, prepared and practiced in advance.

Crisis training would have explored whether it is the best policy to boot paying customers to make way for employees.  Then, not defend employees’ actions in the face of excessive force without being aware of the details: a passenger being beaten seriously enough to cause a concussion, two broken teeth and a broken nose.

Then, after a deluge of negative traditional and social media not abjectly apologize saying Dr. David Dao “did nothing wrong.” A more appropriate response would have been, Dr. Dao was badly mistreated. But for the safety of all the passengers on my airline, everyone needs to follow the orders given by my people, even if you think those orders are stupid or unfair. And for that, I will not defend his actions either.

The cost to United Airlines in dollars and reputation is impossible to estimate. Each passenger on that flight is now being reimbursed for the price of his or her ticket, which may set a precedent that other companies will be forced to follow every time someone pictures and posts a misdeed. Finally, the passenger who was documented being dragged bloodied and broken down the aisle by countless cell phones is very likely to sue and is from Asia, an important market for the company.

The lesson, of course, is to get in front of a crisis, but to do it correctly. As the victimized doctor’s code would suggest, “First, do no harm.” And not respond impulsively without planning or design.

The world wide web offers the broadest of broadcasting possibilities to everyone who holds a cell phone. And that’s pretty much everyone.

 

Publicity Pitfalls

In today’s media climate, celebrity endorsements can be a slippery slope. Sloppy social media posts are one thing, but how do brands react when the public figures they sponsor receive bad publicity? Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Lochte made international waves surrounding the scandal of the 2016 Rio Olympics, in which he accused Brazilian police of robbing him and two fellow swimmers at gunpoint. The allegations proved false, leaving Mr. Lochte in hot water with his sponsors!

Photo Courtesy www.eurweb.com

Photo Courtesy www.eurweb.com

But the choice to abandon an athlete is not as simple as it sounds. Internet analysis conducted by marketing technology company Amobee showed that social commentary on the incident was generally neutral and sometimes positive.

Depending on the misdemeanor, it can actually benefit a brand to maintain their sponsorship and support. Earlier this year, tennis player Maria Sharapova received a two-year suspension after failing a drug test, but major sponsors Nike, Head and Evian applauded her as a “role model and woman of integrity” after her public apology–and social media largely agreed.

Gold medal companies Speedo and Ralph Lauren quickly dropped their sponsorships of Mr. Lochte amounting to $1 million. Speedo made the statement: “We cannot condone behaviour that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for.” But such brands must be careful, too, when making statements about actions “counter to the values” for which they stand. Speedo was also accused of “technological doping” with their performance-enhancing LZR Racer suits, banned from the Olympics in 2010.

Renowned swimming teammate Michael Phelps has shown support for Mr. Lochte, long after he was dropped from sponsorships himself amidst public scrutiny–most notably in 2009 from Kellogg’s for a controversial photo in which he was shown smoking marijuana. Mr. Phelps has since recovered his image and made his scandal a thing of the past.

Whether it benefitted Speedo and Ralph Lauren to leave Mr. Lochte or not, he seems to be moving forward as other brands are diving in. Most recently, he has teamed up with Robocopp, a company that produces personal alarms, and this is a commercial you’ll have to see to believe:

Video Courtesy News Views 88,70,423

Even Mr. Lochte must recognize how unbelievable the irony is.

Out of the mouth of babes

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message,” which could not be more true in today’s modern age. The internet and social media have given voice to so many who would be otherwise unheard. Perhaps the most fascinating voices are those that have a better grasp of the new media than its predecessors — those under the age of 18. Watch this impassioned video of 16-year-old environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

Video Courtesy Earth Guardians

Youth speaking out on societal issues is not a new phenomenon, Severn Cullis-Suzuki gave a similarly fervent speech at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. But only with the recent advent of social media have their shots been heard around the world.

Perhaps driven by an innocent naiveté, or perhaps by the honest, blunt nature of youth, but the youngest generation is not afraid to speak on controversial topics and to ask the questions many adults would not. Eleven-year-old Matthew Schricker did so recently when he questioned Mike Pence’s “softening” role in Donald Trump’s campaign:

Video Courtesy MiNews

When surrounded by media mistakes and poorly worded soundbites, it is comforting to hear such candidness, wit and substance from the future leaders of America.

Sloppy spokespeople

There’s a trend among the most recent spokespeople to simply copy, paste and post their sponsors’ social media directions.  In the past two months, Scott Disick of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, model Naomi Campbell, and Real Housewife Ramona Singer were all caught carelessly posting messages from their sponsors instead of their own endorsements. And all three have been victims of online ridicule from their own Instagram inattention.

Mr. Disick (see photo) who is no stranger to mockery as a consequence of the show that made him famous, was met with Tweets like “You know you failed at life when you can’t even copy x paste. @ScottDisick” from @AMstudiio and “Stop making stupid people famous! Scott Disick cut/pasted an email from a marketing team onto his Instagram caption from @loudspike.

scott disick

Photo Courtesy www.usmagazine.com

These sponsored posts typically earn the celebrity thousands of dollars, yet it seems that this is not enough to buy their effort and conscientiousness. At the end of the day, it is the celebrities themselves who lose credibility and are embarrassed by the public reaction, forcing them to correct the post–but not before it is screenshot and pasted all over Twitter.

Though it probably is no great loss to reputable companies like Adidas, they might think twice before continuing endorsement contracts with Ms. Campbell after she captioned her Instagram post,

“Naomi,

So nice to see you in good spirits!!! Could you put something like:

Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at adidas – loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range. @adidasoriginals.”

Ms. Singer’s post for Rodan + Fields addressed her in the third person as she was advised:

“Here is the draft with some language for the post – if we could have Ramona add something personal in about why she feels confident going makeup free that would be great. Happy to make any changes you’d like. The link to R+F is linked to her personal page on their site and the Instagram is linked to her acct as well.’

In our Los Angeles media coaching, READY FOR MEDIA advises spokespeople to carefully review and prepare their messages for the most credible representation of themselves and their sponsors. The realm of social media is increasingly being utilized for endorsements to connect celebrities with a sponsors, products and their audiences. Because of the permanent nature of internet content (whether the original is deleted or not), these posts need to be prepared with as much diligence as live soundbites.

Only time will tell if these celebrities and their marketing teams will be asked to continue these sponsored endorsements, but hopefully it only takes once to learn this lesson. One would think that when the caption is already written word-for-word that the job of the poster is simple enough.