The meme takeover
13/05/2013 09:42 AM
The Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style spread like wildfire on our screens earlier this year. But are brands that are cashing in on these latest crazes being lazy or cleverly responding to a cultural phenomenon?
Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon – Topshop’s version of the Harlem Shake involved newest supermodel on the block, Cara Delevingne and reached over 1.4 million views on YouTube. Electric cigarettes brand, Elites, featured a baby taking his first steps before breaking into Gangnam Style and has been viewed 1.7 million times.
Not everyone has got it right. Pepsi’s Harlem Shake edition was met with criticism for killing off the trend by making it too corporate and overtly promotional, whilst Wonderful Pistachio’s take on the dance craze, aired at the Super Bowl, was only the 20th most shared advert of the event.
Memes are nothing new, but the increase of their online exposure is. Within three days, the amount of Harlem Shake videos online increased from 12,000 to 40,000 and had accumulated 175 million views.
Memes also have a very short life span at when they are most effective. Brands that have come out on top have been quick to react to the latest trend and have captured the collective imagination as a result. Although Ask.com pre-empted criticism of their two-week late reincarnation with the pre-fix message, “Yeah, yeah, we know. We just couldn’t pass up the biggest meme of the week”, the 12,000 views generated hardly constituted viral success.
A great advert doesn’t have to stem from a craze though. Take the Evian adverts for example. The inaugural edition of the award-winning ‘Roller Babies’ advert back in 2009 has a record 67 million views online – the most ever for an ad, holding a Guinness World Record. Now, there’s no such thing as an original idea, but what Evian did was no doubt clever and creative. Even the use of babies wasn’t new (Etrade babies golfed in adverts) but Evian’s was amusing, entertaining and puzzling – some could say some of the babies were slightly creepy.
The water brand is hoping to beat its own record with this year’s advert ‘Baby & Me’. Launched a couple of weeks ago, the advert follows the same, fun loving approach as the 2009 ad, channelling the brand’s ‘live young’ strapline. A group of adults dance around in front of a reflective shop window and discover their reflections are, in fact, baby versions of themselves. The advert has received over 45 million views to date. It seems that, for the public, a good advert needs to be memorable, not meme full.
By Stephanie Rock
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Is PR in need of a professional remedy?
07/05/2013 11:25 AM
This week Ruth Wyatt asked PR Week readers whether Public Relations had been neglecting its own reputation. I would love to say of course not, that PRs are as loved as organic farmers and as respected as foreign aid workers, but that would be a lie (and therefore perpetuate the problem).
On announcing my profession, I’m often met with one of three responses:
- The Edina- Issued by those overly familiar with Ab Fab, this involves repeating what you’ve just said back to you in a loud, plumy accent, often with the addition of darling e.g “Oh PRRRRR darling!”
- The back-away- Often the response of business owners, terrified that they’ll somehow succumb to your services. Yes it’s likely that our mental cogs are turning, but we don’t carry contracts in our handbags. Often.
- Incomprehension- Possibly the most irritating of them all, this leads on to a lengthy explanation of what we do which all too often concludes with the response “Ohhh, like advertising?” No. Not like advertising.
In her article, Wyatt goes on to offer a number of reasons why this may be the case.
First- Max Clifford. Yes he’s made the reputations of many a celebrity but the man has almost single-handedly slayed that of his profession. Thanks to his shameless self-promotion and desire to be known as media-puppeteer, we are now all suspected of vanity and Machiavellian tendencies.
Wyatt also sites reoccurring fraud allegations as damaging for the PR profession. The most recent of which occurred in the last fortnight, with the sentencing of former Activision senior PR manager Kathryn Kirton and ex-Frank PR associate director Jamie Kaye.
Now we can kick and scream, protest that these are isolated incidents and therefore not indicative of the wider situation, but we are facing a crisis. It is now every agency’s responsibility to improve the reputation of our industry. So Ruth, in answer to your concluding question, Here are a few things that can be done:
- Industry transparency - We all know the importance of transparency and will emphasise this to our clients, yet we also can be guilty of opaque behaviour (be it intentional or not). Take industry jargon. On a daily basis we use terms that resemble Martian to the uninitiated. We need to speak English rather than PR or our clients will leave feeling blinded by science.
- Figureheads - Ask anyone for a famous PR and the only name on anyone’s lips is the aforementioned, virulent Max Clifford. The PR industry is changing for the better (an end to unpaid internships etc.), and there are plenty of great PR professionals. We need to get good spokespeople out there and singing our praises.
- Measurement– Any PR will tell you that the AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) system is outdated but clients, quite reasonably, need some indication of their ROI. With an industry-wide standard a far-off ideal, it is essential PRs and their clients are clear on how PR services will be measured. We need to listen to our clients, find out their criteria for success and advise on their expectations. It is only through agreeing on targets that we can experience the satisfaction of them being met.
By Polly Robinson
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Pema takes BBOXX to Nepal- Part 2
15/04/2013 11:18 AM
Despite my fear that I’d somehow not be able to live without my phone – I’ve survived to tell the tale and it’s thanks to the BBOXX.
When I ask people what they miss when they’re on holiday, most people reply with the usual home comforts; tea, their bed, food. For me, in Nepal, it was electricity and wifi.
Now don’t get me wrong- Nepal has come on leaps and bounds since my last visit and seems light-years ahead of the country I remember from my early childhood. But it still has its problems; one of them being stable, reliable electricity.
As soon as I landed there were some issues. My phone had died about six hours into the journey, which meant there was no way of contacting my mum, who was picking me up. I don’t know our home phone number in Nepal, and even if I did, I had no money whatsoever on me to call it. Not the ideal start to the holiday. Luckily for me, she’s even more nervous about me travelling than I am so had been waiting at the airport for several hours. First panic over.
As we drive to the house from the airport, I can see that one half of the road is blacked out – power cuts. My mum tells me that parts of the city black out at different times, sometimes it’s houses a few metres apart that do or don’t have electricity for a night.
The first morning- 6am- knock, knock, knock. It’s my mum, she’s eager to see the BBOXX, or should I say charge her phone. Bleary-eyed and rather reluctantly, I get up so we can set it up.
The first thing that became apparent was that there are lots of bits and bobs (this is the correct technical term). Now this is when alarms bells start going off, as my mother and I are the least techy people I know. However, it was actually surprisingly easy to set up and use. So if you’re as incapable as me when it comes to technology, then don’t fear- this is easy peasy…once you read the instructions.
So now we have our phones charged, the next issue is wifi. There is none at my grandparents' house so there’s not much I can do with my phone expect turn it on, play angry birds and hope someone texts me…all I can say is it was a long two weeks.
It's starting to feel a lot like Easter
29/03/2013 04:13 PM
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I’m a big believer in Christmas. Not so much as a religious holiday, more as an essential tonic, necessary to lift our spirits at their lowest point in the year. This is how I explain the mounting hysteria before the festive season and why Easter always seems to be a more low-key affair. Days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer and there’s a vague hope that- one day soon- we may be able to step out with fewer than ten layers.
After suffering the coldest March in 50 years however, it seems we’re anticipating the Easter break more than usual this year- we need Easter. Brands and businesses have recognised this consumer willingness to embrace the event. In consequence, there are a number of new and impressive PR and marketing campaigns designed to maximise this opportunity for exposure. What follows is my assessment of a few…
Happy Egg Co.
In a toned-down take on the popular BBC 2 show, Lambing Live, the Happy Egg Co has created a live chick-hatching experience. Aired online using Google+ Hangouts and YouTube, the experience offers a real-time insight into poultry birth. Although irresistibly cute, the chicks are not that charismatic, making long-term or repeat consumer interaction with the campaign unlikely.
As Cadbury’s most popular product between New Year and Easter, the nation’s affection for the Cream Egg is unquestionable. Incorporating this with rum and chocolate liquor, Jewel bar has concocted a cocktail to fatten its clientele and feed the media’s imagination. Packing an impressive 987-calorie punch, the Crème egg mojito affords endless opportunities for the kind of sickening food comparisons (double cheeseburger and fries plus a small coke) and Nigella-esque images loved by Metro and Mail Online.
Tesco teamed up with Google Street View for its seasonal marketing campaign. Thousands of virtual eggs were hidden on UK streets on the brand’s Find the Egg website for visitors to hunt down. Prizes were a- plenty, with three eggs valid for exchange with a chocolate bunny, whilst eagle-eyed spotters of golden eggs were rewarded with a Samsung Galaxy Tab. The combination of easy-to-use, familiar technology and uncomplicated rules made for a successful campaign and a concept ripe for adoption and adaption by other brands.
By Polly Robinson...Click here to read more