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.

Seems like the term “story telling” has been the buzz word of 2012, getting tossed around like the word innovation was in 2000.  Today too many brands are looking for any way to connect with their consumer in an over-saturated and very brand-skeptical
market.  Brands can’t just push product – well maybe Apple – and assume their legions will follow.  There is a need to provide content that motivates their consumer and applies to their needs in life, their goals.  A tall order for a brand?  Well Coke thinks not.

Today, one of the most beloved brands – though plagued recently with Bloomberg’s and others bans on soda – is launching a new website transformed into a consumer publication called Coca-Cola Journey. According to Stuart Elliott’s column in today’s New York Times, the article points out that “the use of the word ‘story’ is significant because the Web site changes are indicative of the growing interest among marketers in recasting their communications with consumers as storytelling rather than advertising. Just as attention is being paid to developing content to use for brand storytelling, an appetite also exists for  corporate storytelling.”

The question remains for Coke and all brands as to whether the consumer will engage with the story and take the journey.  I think if they can create a journey with their target, rather than forcing them down the road strewn with ads and product promotions, the iconic brand has hope with its new offering.  So read on soda lovers.

Ok, I admit it made me laugh.  And I do have a friend who loses at least one Chapstick a day, but outside of the two of us it appears the Where do Chapstick’s Go campaign has Pfizer hoping it would just go away.  Why?  They didn’t stand behind their offer to listen and they went into what AdWeek called a “social media death spiral.”

It wasn’t the semi-offensive creative that sunk the campaign (though it got folks talking), and it really wasn’t the fact that consumers don’t wonder where their Chapstick went (not a good problem solution approach).  It was the fact that they asked for our opinion and then didn’t listen.  In a world where marketing and communications has to be about a dialogue with the
consumer, this campaign opened up the dialogue and tossed it back in the consumers’ face.

As we have seen by other social guffaws this year (I won’t name them to open up old wounds), there is a right way and a wrong way to respond and listen.  Those that have done it right – and you know who you are – got through the 1.5 days of backlash hell
and have moved on to building the brand alongside their consumers.  Chapstick’s response while accurate was late.  And their removing of campaign commentary simply said they didn’t want to hear from the people they invited to the conversation in the first place.

What would Suzy Chapstick think?

By Sarah Sanzari

As I prepare to embark on a two-week European adventure, there is still one part of the trip that I am dreading – the eight hour flight.  Cramped spaces, crying babies, and security lines are not my idea of a good time.  Luckily, I have pulled together a guide with some great, and wacky, inventions to help ease the pain of flying.

If you’re worried about the latest in x-ray technology you can purchase flying pasties which protect you from TSA’s eyes.  The orange pasties include the slogan “Only my husband sees me naked,” and can be purchased for about $15.

Once you make it past security you have to deal with the flight.  A must-have is Bose noise cancelling headphones, no more crying baby or chain-saw like snoring from my seatmate.  Of course, don’t forget to bring your iPod along for the flight as well.

Tired of having your space infringed on? Get the Knee Guard which prevents the person in front of you from reclining.  You might have to deal with an angry passenger but that’s ok because you can just put on your Privacy Scarf. The scarf envelopes your head and laptop so people can’t creep on you while doing work or taking a nap.

Now that I have packed all the essentials, I’m ready! Will you be taking any of these gadgets with you on your next flight?

 

From a fancy dinner for two to a luxurious mani/pedi, I’ve taken advantage of the fantastic deals that Groupon highlights each day. However, while I sipped my morning coffee this morning, I stumbled upon the latest offering from the e-coupon giant: 75% off bunion removal in Manhattan.

Sure, New Yorkers do walk a lot and many likely suffer from foot ailments from time to time. However, I see a major problem with this: a hip, e-couponing company like Groupon is missing an opportunity to build its brand by curating deals that will resonate with its audience and show that they understand their needs. If Groupon knew its audience better, I wouldn’t have spilled my coffee in a fit of disgust and confusion this morning.

It wouldn’t be difficult for the company to learn a bit about me. I’d like to receive offers for discounted theater tickets or passes to a museum or a special tasting menu at an exclusive restaurant in Greenwich Village. By paying attention to my search history on the website, it is guaranteed that Groupon would see that I frequently peruse deals related to restaurants and events. I stay away from “deals” related to teeth drilling, skin biopsies, eye exams, etc.

In this case, the data was available but Groupon failed to listen to its customer. Perhaps I’ll see what Living Social has available today.

 

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.

Can Lisa Rinna and Patriots Football players actually make the taboo adult diaper sexy? Well Kimberly-Clarke seems to think so! To market their new line of Depend® diapers, appropriately being called Depend® Silhouette for Women and Real Fit for Men, Kimberly-Clarke has enlisted the help of 48-year-old Rinna and 3 (young) Patriots Football players to appear in their new ad campaigns.

Here’s the catch, none of these celebrity spokespeople actually suffer from urinary incontinence and have no medical need to be wearing the diaper, but all agreed to participate in a stunt campaign to benefit select charities.

The ads also encourage consumers to go to Depend’s website, The Great American Try-On, to request a free sample; not that you actually need to order one. By going to the site and answering a few basic questions about the new diapers, Depend will support The V Foundation for Cancer Research and Dress For Success women’s charity by donating money in return.

So will this marketing ploy actually help reach a new type of audience that, according to the Today Show (see video), has needed help for a while? Baby Boomers, like Kris Jenner,  are rapidly reaching the age where this product could be a necessity. So, the answer is probably yes, I mean they got me talking about it! However, it is also a bit disturbing. Kimberly-Clarke is marketing this diaper as a SPANX-type product, which will serve a younger, cooler audience and not just your grandparents. But the question remains, if you’re not wetting your pants yet, why would you need a diaper? I think I’ll stick with SPANX for now.


Yesterday, Google unveiled its latest project: glasses.  But these are not just any old glasses; they are futuristic augmented reality glasses.  By slipping these bad boys on you are able to keep your hands free from technology devices like a smartphone or tablet, but still stay connected as graphics pop up on a small screen a few inches from your right eye.

Google is a big believer that technology should work for you, the consumer, to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.  With that being said the glasses have a built-in camera to record what the wearer is looking at and then uses the images to find relevant information about what is being observed, which is then displayed on the glasses’ lens. So say you head to the subway but it is out of service, you can ask for walking directions and the glasses will pull up a 3-D map and provide you with step by step directions.

Want to check in on FourSquare, Skype with you friend or take a picture of what you are currently looking at and upload to Twitter? Well, you can do that too, and you won’t have long to wait.  Google expects the glasses to hit the market by end of year and will only set you back $250-$600.

These glasses sound great and all, but when does technology become too much and, have we really become that lazy, that we would rather be bombarded by images all day than hold our cell phone? Others seem to agree, judging by the amount of spoofs on YouTube today.

Confession: I don’t own a smart phone. I think I’m the only one in my office, and possibly in the world of PR and Marketing, who still uses a flip phone. It’s not that I don’t want one. I do. It’s not even that they’re too expensive.

The reason I don’t own a smartphone is that, every time I attempt to peruse the lovely, shiny, thin phones, I’m convinced that my service-provider has secretly entered me into a meticulously-coordinated retail version of the Hunger Games.

Upon entering, the potential customer has to sign in at the kiosk. After that, the real action begins. Angry customers ahead in line are reaching the end of their ropes, having stood around for almost an hour. Others are feeling screwed. Having entered the store with excitement about the prospect of a new shiny phone, they quickly descend into depression when extra, all-but-obligatory “options” are sold to them. The guy next to them has not purchased those options, and now has a broken phone or has gone over his monthly allotment of data thingers. Grandmothers unused to this new retail model enter the store and immediately approach seemingly-available salespersons, only to be rejected, told to sign in, and leave confused.

I want a smart phone. I even need one. This should be a win-win for me and the cell phone company. But this dance is enough to make a man leave empty-handed and call his buddies on his flip phone to meet elsewhere for drinks. Instead of models in flashy pink dresses or bold phone coverage-area proclamations, the cell phone industry should start by simplifying and improving its in-person customer service model. Do you hear me now? Good.

Cell phone store or Hunger Games scene?

Antonio Bolfo/Reportage for The New York Times

Marketers are smart, but in some cases they are becoming increasingly sneaky. We’re all familiar with customized ad displays on Gmail, Facebook, YouTube and Hulu, for example. These sites display advertisements that relate specifically to your search history and keywords found within the content you browse. The idea here is that advertisers can target their ideal audience and consumers will watch and engage with brands that are relevant to them, rather than clicking away.

But a fascinating interview on NPR with Charles Duhigg of The New York Times uncovered some even more intrusive marketing tactics. Duhigg explained how retailers are uncovering more and more about our lives based on our purchasing patterns. This market research then informs targeted advertising and direct marketing so they can put the right information in front of you when you are most likely to purchase that product.

Duhigg explains that market research is becoming so smart, it can pinpoint more than just your likes and dislikes; it can pinpoint significant milestones in your life and take advantage. For example, market research has shown that consumers are more likely to change their brand of toothpaste when they move into a new home. Based on the type of products you purchase (moving boxes, packaging tape, storage containers, for example), a store like Target could make an educated guess that you have found a new home and then present you with a Crest toothpaste coupon upon checkout. Beyond a new home, Duhigg says that companies can also tell if you are going through a divorce or if you are expecting a baby. In some cases, they can predict your exact due date based on your online and in-store shopping behaviors.

I’m all for intelligent marketing, but this seems a bit invasive. Do you think this is smart marketing or is it crossing a line?