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For the past two days I have had the fun time of my favorite goddaughter Emma hanging out in my office.  I have been educated and entertained by The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction , realized how short I am without work heels, and most of all got a lesson is what is cool for the Almost-Millennial generation.  Let’s be honest, I used to brainstorm about reaching Generation Y, so I know how quick Millennials will be out as the target demo.  So where are the next gen hanging out.  According to Emma, it’s all about Instagram.  This may be because some of the other platforms are currently banned for said 12-year-old, but regardless this platform is offering her generation a lot to talk about.

Emma?

Instagram is definitely where kids my age are hanging out. We love to take pictures and share them with our little social circle of followers and followed people. Not only is Instagram a great way to reach out to friends, but it’s also a place for fan pages, business pages, and so much more! I think one of the big reasons Instagram is so popular is because of the fact that you can express yourself creatively. May it be through video or photo; whatever you have posted can have its own originality to it. Before you post a picture or video, you can choose an effect to add to it. You can also focus on certain parts and light it up a little, making even the simplest picture look professional. Unlike some social media, Instagram focuses on visuals, and then adds the option to add words to it. People use this instead of Vine, another mobile social media platform that allows you to take videos and post them, because it gives you the option whether or not to do just a picture, or an entire video. Also, you may edit the video with the effects, like I mentioned before, which Vine didn’t offer. Let’s face it, Facebook is dying. The younger generation is gathering in Twitter or Instagram. The only people who are on Facebook nowadays are parents.

As I mentioned before, many business pages are finding their way onto Instagram. And, while you’re there, you may as well do a promotional activity! Oreo is definitely an example of this statement. A little while back, Oreo hosted the #cookiethis #creamthis competition. The instructions were to take a picture of whatever you wanted Oreo-fyed, and hashtag it either #cookiethis or #creamthis. If the Oreo team found your picture interesting, they would begin to mold your picture into either cookie or cream, depending on what you hashtagged. At the end of the event, they looked at the total amount of hashtags in each category to see which ingredient was the favorite; cookie or cream. Cream won with an outstanding 21,050 to 17,060 hashtags. I can only imagine how cool it would have been to get your picture chosen as art! After looking at all of the pictures they put up, you really wanted to buy an Oreo cookie! Some of the things the artists made were very cool. (See picture). I, of course, would have gone Team Cream. Who wouldn’t?

Not sure which side I am on, but Emma’s reasoning seems to ring true for most social platforms.  Ultimately, it comes down to some of the same reasons people first migrated to MySpace or Friendster.  Its a cool new place to talk about what they want, where they want and how they want it.  It may not be the platform-du-jour for very long, but for now marketers can learn something from Oreo (heck they made it on the Today Show) and for sure something from Emma.

For years, stereotypes of men and wodonnareedmen have been played-out in marketing campaigns.  From the happy mom receiving a new Hoover for Mother’s Day to a dad shuffling off to the office leaving mom on the doorstep with a kiss.  But we all know these won’t fly today, they seem down-right archaic and ideas screaming for backlash from every direction.  So one has to ask, why would Clorox take a giant leap back into a dad stereotype?

Clorox’s stereotyping Facebook flub was recently called out by CNN, “Just when you think derogatory stereotypes about dads are on the decline as fathers take a more hands-on role in child-rearing, along comes an online posting by a major brand that shows not everyone got the memo.”

The post more-or-less slammed new dads as being “filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well.” Clorox claims it was just a humorous post from a real new dad, but with daddy bloggers on the rise and more men staying at home with kids today than ever, the consumer voice was heard, and heard loudly. And it was not just the men.

So where did they go wrong?  As I have learned working on some mom focused brands, one can never assume there is just one mom-type or just one dad-type anymore.  And all of these types have a voice. In addition, if you are trying to be lighthearted and funny, you have to be very clear and over the top.  And finally, if you are going to toss out some facts about dads have something to back it up.  Years ago we surveyed men and women about who manages chores at home, finding the 86% of women take on the laundry (most by choice).  A stereotype yes, but a result of a survey.  And we used that fact to motivate the both parties; not just point out the mistakes.

Some people say that the backlash is too much and people need to lighten up, others are furious.  But either way the polarizing post has cast negativity on Clorox.  Clorox has taken the article down and apologized, but like a tough stain I think the damage is done.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Mom 2.0 with 500+ bloggers, brands and yes, a few brave men.  Why was it a pleasure of an experience?  Let me count the ways.

1.       I had the opportunity to make authentic connections with like-minded individuals from around the country. This includes bloggers and brands like Bissell and Starbucks and those in between.
Confession: I am 100% obsessed with a certain brand’s steam mop.View

2.       Spending time with people you typically only interact with electronically is invaluable.  (Great to see you Meagan Francis!)

3.       Ideas, ideas, ideas!  From Raising America’s Shark-Tank style pitchfest to Dove’s fabulosity, I came back with tons of ideas, not only for clients but for Peppercomm.

4.       Did I mention the fabulous accommodations, view and event staff at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel?

5.       Watching the Mom 2.0 Summit evolve over the years and truly adapt to the current marketing environment and participants needs shows that Laura Mayes and crew really get it.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, launched nationally by Parade.  I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that not only understands work/life balance but embraces it. To mark the occasion, we had a group of six children in the office ranging from infants to age seven. Interestingly, they were all girls.   Check out a few photos here thanks to PRWeek.

As I commuted into the city with my twin girls, many commented on the huge number of youngsters on the train.  And while Peppercomm’s group happened to be all female – as did many on the train, the majority of thosOur Kids @ Worke commenting assumed it was Take Our Daughters to Work Day.  I wondered why that was. Is it simply because more women tend to participate and happen to have daughters who join them? Or do we think that girls will be more engaged (read: behave better)?

As part of their coverage, Parade, the magazine that launched this tradition nationally, published a story about Jackie DiMarco, Ford’s lead engineer on the F-150 pickup.  Jackie happens to be a woman and have twin daughters. She uses the day to encourage her daughters’ interest in math and science, and I hope, to dispel the ongoing stereotype that girls (and women) are not as interested or as talented in these fields of work.

The article focused on her rise in this particularly male dominated field where some have assumed prior to meeting her that she would be male and others have assumed that she would be more understanding of family commitments than a male manager would. Her response? Why would you think that?

Bravo to Parade for focusing in on what continues to be an issue in the workplace even though many believe it’s not.

Special thanks to Peppercomm’s culture committee for making this a meaningful experience (and truth be told, wrangling cats!).

Living in Manhattan, I’m always surprised when I somehow manage to stumble upon a bad restaurant, a moody store owner or just generally bad customer service. The reason it surprises me is that there are so many good restaurants and retail establishments in Manhattan. With so much excellent competition, I don’t know how the good ones stay in business, much less the bad ones.

Plus, New Yorkers are notoriously… um… particular, which makes it all the more wonderful when an establishment is able to stand out above the rest. I’m speaking, of course, about that wonderful New York City bastion of grocery excellence, Fairway. What began as a fruit and vegetable stand in 1933 is now a nine-store juggernaut of high-quality food in the greater NYC area.

But that’s not what makes Fairway great. First of all, it seems like I always go grocery shopping at the wrong day or time. I’m always bumping elbows at the deli counter, dodging baguettes by the bakery or having my toes run over by stroller-pushing mothers in full yoga regalia. Fairway is great in spite of all that, much of which I attribute to my poor planning anyway. That’s because pretty much every employee I’ve ever encountered at Fairway has been helpful and human.

I’ll give you an example. One day I decided to go to Fairway right after work. As every working person is wont to do after work, I was rushing to get home. So I gathered my jerk turkey, dark chocolate with mint, greek yogurt and honey-glazed almonds, and jumped in the express line.

The customer in front of me was completely bonkers. One of those women of ambiguous age with an alien-esque stretched face and stringy hair, she was losing her mind because the cashier accidentally added an extra zero to some quantity of vegetables, making the grand total something around $400 for her handful of items. The cashier, handling a barrage of insults, patiently explained to the customer that she would get a manager to simply void the transaction. The manager came quickly, and, before voiding the transaction, asked the cashier what happened.

It was too much for the customer to handle. She kept screaming “I refuse to pay that much!” After voiding the transaction, the manager then offered the lady free delivery. I would have called a NYC Animal Control Officer to “crate” her for a while. When the debacle was over, and it was my turn at the register, the cashier and I looked at each other and both burst out laughing. It was a little slice of humanity indicative of what I always find at Fairway and supporting what Fairway says about itself: “Fairway: LIKE NO OTHER MARKET.”

 

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s WOMM-U conference in Chicago.  I joined several sessions on different topics ranging from content marketing tools and an approach to content creation by Second City that uses improv, to strategies for embedding social across the enterprise and various ways to drive engagement (contests, reviews, etc.).

Overall, a very interesting if somewhat predictable couple of days.  The speakers were smart, for the most part engaging and focused on topics of use for those in attendance – other marketers.  Highlights include:

  • A session on content marketing tools which played out a bit too much like a sales pitch.
  • A look into how Whole Foods manages employee ownership of and participation in social media at a local and regional level.  The approach is organic and refreshing.
  • A sweepstakes case study from Jackson Hewitt – This is how they do it!
  • An honest and engaging session featuring the Whirlpool Moms/Mom Central laundry review program (disclosure: this is a Peppercom client)
  • Finally, we listened to Paul Adams of Facebook describe five major shifts that are affecting marketing.

Interestingly, no matter what the topic the key takeaway was this: driving consideration and advocacy is still all about connections and building relationships.  We here at About You wholeheartedly agree. No matter the platform, the topic or the audience, establishing that common ground is the key to success. Now go make some friends.

Fifty years ago, Marketing to Moms was perceivably simple. Based on historic icons and a few episodes of Mad Men, reaching moms was one dimensional and focused purely on making June Cleaver’s life easier. Now, the women of that time may disagree about the singular dimension approach, but it worked. And it worked well for large ad agencies relying on piles of research to identify the singular mom audience. Not anymore.

According to a recent blog from EmpowHER, 91% of women feel that advertisers do not understand her. The problem here is that “her” is more multi-dimensional than ever, and old research methods and blanket ad campaigns are just not getting it. Marketers today need to be more nimble and have honest dialogues with their female consumers. The secret sauce that worked to sell home appliances to the perfect housewife now involves 25+ recipes to reach the moms of today. Let’s start with the basics – there are single moms, divorced moms, married moms, moms by mistake, grandmoms being moms, moms to pets, etc. Then we get into situation analysis like the miserable moms, the perfect moms (or they think they are), the active moms and more. So how can one brand or agency claim to be able to reach this moving target?

Listening is the first step and recognizing that no amount of expensive research can uncover what honest conversations can. Second is having these conversations where your consumer is and not forcing them to come to your sandbox. For example, last year Frito-Lay made great strides communicating their healthy brand promise by partnering with Farmville to let social gamers learn about the ingredients in their products. And it worked. And finally, it has to be authentic. Let’s be honest, Kelly Ripa doing laundry and cooking with her Electrolux appliances is about as un-authentic as you can get (at least in this blogger’s mind). Why not show real women – and all types– struggling with daily chores, re-heating the takeout and running to Home Depot to fix things herself.

Agencies that continue to target just June Cleaver are not only getting left behind, but ignored by moms and trampled on by other, more authentic brands. They can’t see themselves in June’s shoes and they are letting brands know this loud and clear. Remember, hell hath no fury…

That is what I am calling the fact that I procrastinated starting back-to-school shopping for our twins until yesterday – the first day of school.  The onslaught of sale information (read hurry up and buy!) started in July.  I was involved in creating and disseminating some of it, yet I refused to shop.  I blamed it on work, summer-itis, you name it – anything to avoid starting the annual spending spree.

Well, yesterday was the first day of kindergarten, and guess what?  The girls wore an outfit they have worn several times before and nothing happened!  They looked adorable. And you know what else?  We went shopping today after school ended.  Expecting the worst – picked over aisles and no size options – I was pleasantly surprised.  The shelves were stocked and I discovered something else. I am not the only one.  I met two close friends and another class mom in Target doing the very same thing.

So to all of my fellow procrastinators, just because they say it’s time to shop doesn’t mean it is.  Remember that when the holiday décor and sales start in October.

Guest post by Erin Howard, fellow Peppercommer and YAY DIY! blogger.

Well, maybe not. Ready?

So yesterday, the blogosphere exploded with images of this shirt, apparently on sale just in time for back-to-school. The shirt in question was available in sizes 6-16; targeting not only elementary school girls, but girls in that already awkward and confusing time that most of us would rather forget called middle school.

There are so many things wrong with this! There’s the fact that somewhere along the line, multiple teams of people thought this was not only acceptable, but maybe even a money-maker. Because let’s face it. No one designs, creates, buys and promotes a shirt they think isn’t going to sell. Maybe they’d buy this for their child.  And maybe they’re the kind of people who dream of their daughters being First Lady and not President.  I’d like to hope that mentality is held by only a very small minority of parents in this country.

School age girls are impressionable. They believe what people tell them.  One thing they should NOT be told is that
they can’t be both pretty and smart. There are no “roles” or “molds” girls should be taught to fill.  They don’t have to be “The pretty cheerleader” or the “mousy computer nerd” or the “smart girl in Future Business Leaders of America.”  That pretty girl, the one who’s always cast as the cheerleader, or head of the “mean” squad in
the movies?  That girl should be encouraged to be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, or even President, just as
much as anyone else.

The young women who can fit into this shirt are tomorrow’s leaders – but only if we help them realize their full potential. There is nothing wrong with telling young women that they’re beautiful – there is only something wrong with telling them that beauty and intelligence are mutually exclusive.

OK, I’m done.

 

With the evolution of bloggers in today’s digital age, the relationships between bloggers and brands can be a tricky situation.  Let me begin with mentioning that our agency and clients have worked and continue to work with bloggers on both paid and non-paid efforts and have seen success on both fronts.  We value our relationships with bloggers and are curious to hear from both sides; brands/ agencies as well as bloggers on this topic.

After attending the Evo ’11 conference last week, the 800 pound gorilla named ‘Blogger Compensation’ showed up during a ‘Working with Brands’ workshop.  While the delivery of the overall message surrounding blogger compensation found to be unsatisfactory for most of the people in the room (you can read more about this here), the bigger conversation was brought to the forefront: Should bloggers be compensated with cash, not including in-kind compensation, for reviews and posts?

This is an important conversation that needs to happen in order for both brands and bloggers to develop successful relationships in the future that benefit all involved.

So here we go! Tell us what you think are the biggest challenges, recommended solutions, or heck, just vent your frustrations.