Cadbury’s #chocpluswhat campaign

No doubt many of you have heard about Cadbury’s recent foray into Vegemite chocolate (some of you may have even been brave enough to try it!). What you might not know is that this is just the latest in a string of unusual or unique chocolate pairings that Cadbury has been promoting on social media.

Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk's Facebook page
Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Facebook page

Some of the flavours they have used so far include the following:




Yum! But we all know what social media can be like… so when they put out this question…

Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk's Facebook page
Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Facebook page

…some of the responses were yum…

Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk's Facebook page
Source: Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Facebook page

…and as you can see, Cadbury’s did a pretty good job of encouraging engagement by responding to everyone’s suggestions. It was all over Twitter too:

Source: Cadbury's Twitter feed
Source: Cadbury’s Twitter feed

Then things started getting interesting…

Source: Meanwhile in Australia's Facebook page
Source: Meanwhile in Australia’s Facebook page
Source: OZdesigns' Facebook page
Source: OZdesigns’ Facebook page
Source: Liff-gow Brahh's Facebook page
Source: Liff-gow Brahh’s Facebook page

The campaign was also being blogged about (here, here, and here).

Successful? Undoubtedly! But why – what was it about this campaign that had everyone talking?

Here’s why I think this campaign was such a success:

  1. they created some new, interesting flavours, to start the buzz;
  2. they then asked for suggestions. This got people involved and encouraged engagement;
  3. they interacted with consumers – I couldn’t find an unanswered post!;
  4. they probably guessed they’d get some whacky suggestions – they capitalised on this by getting rumours out about the Vegemite version, but left it a few days before confirming, thus creating a sense of anticipation among consumers; and finally

They were really never going to fail.

What do you think – was this a foolproof campaign? Are there any other reasons you can think of for its success? And finally – how much fun do you think it would be to work in Cadburys’ marketing department???

Coke’s ‘fail’

Coke’s recent ‘Choose Happiness’ campaign was an interesting example of how even some of the biggest (and arguably the best) marketers don’t always get things right.

This first video clearly had a lot of work, time, and money invested in it – but it didn’t really take off. It was posted on May 1, and at the time of writing had just over 450K views.

As you can see (below) its popularity was not great, with 861 ‘thumbs up’ and 475 ‘thumbs down’. As a percentage, this equates to less than 64% approval (of the people who expressed an opinion).


Compare this to the following video, same campaign, same message, posted 10 days later, that currently has over 6.5 million views!

Approval rating for the second clip was significantly better as well, with over 93% approval!


So why was the second video so much more successful? I prefer it too – and it’s not because I love babies; I actually don’t! There’s just something so contagious about a belly laugh, isn’t there?

The other thing I wondered about when comparing the two was that the subjects of the ‘Choose to Smile’ were more relatable – just babies, doing baby things. In contrast, the ‘Choose Happiness’ clip included a much broader range of ethnicities and cultures, including sub-cultures such as motorcyclists and sports fans. So perhaps that was it – while there might have been a one or two parts of the ‘Happiness’ clip that resonated with most people, I think it was unlikely that any one viewer would have been able to relate to every person and scene represented in the ad.

So how can we, as digital marketers, learn from this? I think there are a number of lessons here:

  1. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Choose a target audience and speak to them, or if you genuinely are trying to reach a variety of markets, try to find something that the majority will be able to relate to;
  2. A successful ad doesn’t have to cost a lot to create! and
  3. Even the best in the world get it wrong sometimes – as a marketer maybe you just need to be prepared to fail sometimes! See this previous post for more on how to respond when things go wrong.

What do you think? Why was the ‘Smile’ ad so much more successful? And what lessons can we learn from this?

The digital marketer’s holy grail – ‘going viral’

Having a social media post ‘go viral’ (be shared so widely on the internet that it spreads like a contagious disease) is often considered the ‘holy grail’ of digital marketing.

Source: Tickld
Source: Tickld

(Not that Holy Grail… I just couldn’t resist a bit of Monty Python.) Anyway… Kaplan and Haenlein identified three conditions required for a viral marketing epidemic: giving

  1. the right message (memorable and interesting) to
  2. the right messengers (market mavens, social hubs and salespeople) in
  3. the right environment (communicate to many disconnected subcultures – but a fair bit of luck is involved here!).

They also identified four types of viral marketing campaigns.

  1. Nightmares – such as JetBlue’s 2007 crisiswhich left passengers stranded and created a firestorm of negative publicity on social media (although it’s also a good example of how to handle a crisis!)
  2. Strokes of luck – for example the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment (YouTube returns about 281,000 results for this search, and there’s even a Wikipedia entry!)
  3. Homemade issues such as dishonesty – like this example of a fake blog that landed Sony in hot water with its target market; and
  4. Triumphs – like Old Spice’s incredibly successful ‘The man your man could smell like’ campaign, which was viewed 23 million times in 36 hours.

Source: Old Spice

So why do people share content? The following infographic may provide some answers:

Source: We are Social Media
Source: We are Social Media

So there you go… 84% share to support issues or causes they care about (so it’s not just all about cat memes!). But what does this mean for digital marketers? Well, if you’re a not-for-profit (NFP) or charity, this is obviously great news. Just make sure you emphasise your cause or issue, and remember to include a call to action by asking your followers to share your post. There are a LOT of causes that do a great job on social media – check out these Facebook pages: GetUp (whose posts often have shares in the thousands), Lean In, and Environment Victoria.

Source: GetUp's Facebook page
Source: GetUp’s Facebook page

So how can other – for profit – companies leverage people’s desire to share what is important to them? Well, bigger companies can create partnerships with charities or NFPs, like global professional services firm EY has done with various charities, and then leverage this (and create exposure for their chosen charity) through posting about the partnership on social media. Even small to medium businesses can potentially offer value to smaller charities, maybe through staff volunteering. These kinds of partnerships have the potential to be win-win, with the charity gaining assistance and exposure, and the business enjoying an improved image. Of course, funny cat memes can work well too!

Source: Memestache
Source: Memestache
Source: The Meta Picture
Source: The Meta Picture

However… while a funny meme or picture has the potential to go viral, it’s important to consider what you are trying to achieve. I don’t know who created the above memes, or for what purpose, and I’m guessing you don’t either. So it’s not always enough to post content that goes viral, it has to mean something to the target audience, and to influence them in some way, if it is to achieve your objectives.  Do you want to create awareness of a brand? Maybe it will be enough to include the brand name. Do you want to create preference? Well, then you’re going to have to provide a reason for people to prefer your brand – which is probably going to mean including some information. If it’s action you’re wanting to encourage, then there will need to be a call to action. In summary: It’s probably not that difficult to create content that goes viral… but if you want to achieve some objective, well… that’s going to be a bit more difficult! Over to you: what do you think marketers need to do to have content go viral? And if you’ve seen any memorable examples recently, please share in the comments!

Digital Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility

Adidas recently ran this controversial SM campaign, using the hash tag #therewillbehaters, and featuring footballers who have attracted attention for racism and violence during matches. 

Source: Marketing Magazine UK
Source: Marketing Magazine UK

Adidas’ director of brand strategy, Stefanie Knoren, spoke about the campaign at a Forrestor forum in London, and revealed that it marked the start of a shift in Adidas’ marketing strategy, from advertising to really creating value for customers. She said that millenials (those aged 18-35) were now expecting more from companies – not just great products, but that they ‘do good’, also.

So how much of this shift is due to social media? Is the ability to raise and discuss things that matter to us shaping the way that organisations operate? How important is this online voice to ensuring that companies don’t just pay lip service to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies, but actually live them every day?

Source: Elizabeth Tower
Source: Elizabeth Tower

There has been a strong business case for CSR for a while now, according to the author of this Harvard Business Review article. Social media commentary from consumers is immediate, permanent, and very public. Many companies have learned the hard way that they cannot get away with things that they may have been able to just a decade ago. Notable examples include Abercrombie and Fitch’s program giving clothing to the homeless, and TOMS shoes’ one that gave shoes to third world citizens.

In both of the cases mentioned above, the companies were – at least on the surface – trying to do ‘something good’. Their attempts backfired. Why?

Well, in my opinion, social media now requires that brands must be not only doing the right things, they must also be doing them for the right reasons. If they are not, the cracks will show – and the cynics among us (bless them!) will sniff it out from a mile off and shout it from the rooftops. I have no doubt they have always done so – but now, of course, their rooftops are virtual – and with an unimaginably wider reach than in the past.

Smart brands understand this, and know that they must genuinely be making life better in order to avoid the kinds of consequences mentioned above.

But how can this need to really, genuinely want to do good in the world be balanced with a (publicly listed) company’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders – in other words, to have profits as its first priority? I’m just hoping that I’ll be an awful lot wiser before I’m in a position to have to figure that one out 😉

What do you think? Does social media really hold companies accountable, and if so, how can they balance that public accountability with the needs of their shareholders?

Big data – the new big thing, or big trouble?

Have you seen the new Microsoft site, ‘How-old‘? It allows users to upload a photo, and the site will estimate that person’s age and gender.

Source: How-old
Source: How-old

Seems like harmless fun, no? (I liked it: it estimated my age as 14 years younger than I am – at my age, that’s a good thing 🙂 )

However some commentators have expressed concerns, despite the page’s disclaimer that ‘We don’t keep the photo’.

Source: The Guardian
Source: The Guardian

Essentially, the author of the above piece was uncomfortable about the vast quantity of data that people were giving the company for free, and how that information might be used.

But this is just one example of the multitude of ways that organisations harvest information about people. Do you have a loyalty card for a store? Have you ever noticed that the emails you receive from the company often include products that you have bought, or that are similar to ones you’ve bought? This is just one example of targeted marketing, the practice of sending offers to consumers based on their purchase history – and it is made possible by big data.

Source: Red Orbit
Source: Red Orbit

Big data refers to the collection and analysis of large quantities of information, and has been enabled by relatively recent progress in the capabilities of technology. Traditional databases aren’t able to cope with the vast quantity of data that is now created by humankind – these newer tools enable the extraction of insights that were previously impossible.

At first glance, this might seem like a good thing, especially for marketers. Imagine being able to figure out what a consumer wants or needs – maybe even before they do! And just think how much better that would make consumers’ lives – to be sent only marketing materials that they will be interested in, and not be inundated with tidal waves of irrelevant and uninteresting advertising.

Even (perhaps especially) outside the business world, big data has the potential to provide insights into the causes of, and solutions for, some big issues that humankind faces – from traffic congestion in cities, to pollution, to climate change.

BUT, as with much progress, there is a downside.

For consumers (and thus, by default, marketers as well) a major problem is privacy. Check out this article for an example of when marketers get it TOO right – and end up invading someone’s privacy.

Big data in the wrong hands can also emphasise an asymmetry of power. A particularly concerning example is where governments are nondemocratic or corrupt, and information can be used to further the interests of those in power, perhaps by targeting or arresting citizens based on what they ‘might’ be going to do.

But for marketers, there are other problems too.

Some commentators (see this article) say that while big data may help to analyse what is happening rather than why, often that will be good enough. Perhaps it will, in some situations – but in others, the why will be important, and true, useful insight will not be possible without it. In these types of situations, big data in combination with other research methods such as surveys or focus groups are likely to give a more accurate picture.

Like any tool, big data has the potential to be helpful if used wisely.

For marketers, this will require an awareness of both privacy issues for consumers, and also the potential for creating policies or strategies based on incorrect assumptions.

What do you think? Is big data the new big thing, or big trouble?


Memes: Proceed with caution!

What is a meme? Stupid question, you might say… they’re everywhere on social media. You could be forgiven for thinking that a meme is one of these, and only one of these:

Source: Runt of the Web
Source: Runt of the Web

However, according to Oxford Dictionaries, a meme is ‘An element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means’. Clearly, memes predate the internet.

Source: Beckybyford
Source: Know Your Meme

So… can this type of meme be a useful marketing tool?

Well, first it helps to understand why memes are so popular. This article suggests its because they are:

  1. Easy to consume – most consist of an image and just a few words
  2. Shareable
  3. Familiar
  4. Funny, and
  5. Make people feel included.

There are some major upsides to using memes as a marketing tool. The content is already created (or easy to create yourself). They are easy to share, and for others to share, thus increasing the chances of your content going viral. And they can help make campaigns more relatable, especially to young people.

But before you jump in, some words of caution:

  1. Familiarity is not universal – and sometimes the most popular memes rely on in-jokes that not everyone will understand. In this case, while they will undoubtedly make some people feel included, they are likely to make others feel excluded. For this reason, consideration of your target audience is vital. Memes are most likely to appeal to a younger demographic, so if your target is senior citizens then it is unlikely to achieve what you want it to (unless the content is very specifically targeted to this audience).

    Source: Peg It Board
    Source: Imgarcade
  2. Another important consideration should be your brand’s image and personality. Is it young and hip, or conservative and responsible? If it’s the latter, humour might not be the best approach.
  3. Many memes could potentially offend some people or groups. If you think there is a chance anyone could be offended by it, don’t use it! Campaigns incorporating memes have the potential to backfire spectacularly, as this one did for Black Milk. Running your meme past a number of people from different backgrounds will reduce the chances of unintended consequences.

    Source: Cleo
    Source: Cleo
  4. Finally, should you use existing memes, or create your own? This article suggests that newer companies looking to go viral should use existing popular memes, while more established brands with good reach already may benefit more by creating original content.

So in summary, memes can be a great way to create reach for your marketing campaign – but should be used with caution. You don’t want your content to go viral for the wrong reasons!

What about you – would you use memes for a marketing campaign? Can you add any points I haven’t thought about?

‘Food Babe’ or foolish babe?

Some of you may be aware of the controversy that has recently emerged surrounding the claims made by self-proclaimed ‘Food Babe’, Vani Hari. She is apparently a computer science graduate who has amassed a huge following (and a lot of money) speaking out against ‘Big Pharma’ and positioning herself as a ‘food activist’, a lone army speaking out against the perils posed by toxins in our environment and our food. All good, you say? Well, to an extent, I agree. I don’t want to eat or breathe ‘nasty chemicals’ either.

Source: Food Babe


BUT (and it’s a big but!) she has recently come under fire from a forensic chemist who wrote this piece in Hawker, exposing many of her claims as based on a complete misunderstanding of science (you can read more here, here, and here). She was consequently inundated on social media by people questioning her claims.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s a shame. Her message – encouraging people to eat more natural, healthy food – is a good one. It actually doesn’t NEED the help of dubious claims – the scientific ones are good enough!

I imagine that there aren’t too many businesses or bloggers that have never been criticised. How they respond is incredibly important. It appears that Ms. Hari’s approach hasn’t been particularly well received. Linked In detailed some of her more bonkers claims, and also her response to the crisis here. Essentially she lashed out at her critics and made unsupported accusations about their motivations.

Source: Linked In
Source: Linked In

The most common responses to criticism I’ve noticed from organisations are:

  1. Ignore. This may be the best option when criticism is unfounded and personal in nature, but not when legitimate complaints are made. This appears to have largely been Woolworths’ approach to the negative response to their recent campaign seeking to leverage Anzac Day. They have removed the ads and distanced themselves from the advertising agency that created them. They have been quoted as saying that it wasn’t meant to be an advertising campaign (oh right, so they just did it for purely selfless reasons? If that was the case, their name wouldn’t have appeared, surely?).
  2. Humour. For relatively minor misdemeanours (such as this one by TimTam), a humorous response can actually contribute to a brand’s image and turn a negative into a positive. This response is unlikely to work for a more serious mistake, however.
  3. Apology. This may seem like the best response – but it’s very important to get the tone right, especially on social media, where the tone of exchanges is generally more friendly and informal than in more business oriented channels. Sportsgirl recently came under fire for its use of angora fur – and even more heat for the wording of its response. The tone of the company’s apology on Facebook was too formal for social media. However there were other issues with the apology. Sportsgirl stated that ‘we strongly believe that being fashionable should not impact our customers values’. But as many respondents pointed out, what about your values, Sportsgirl?
  4. Deny or counter the claims. This has been Food Babe’s approach – but she made a crucial mistake – her claims regarding her critics’ dubious motives were unsupported, which made her appear to be a crazy conspiracy theorist. If an organisation takes this path, it really needs to be able to support any claims it makes.

So how should Ms. Hari have approached her crisis?

If I was advising her, here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. Apologise for the misleading nature of some of her claims, and point out that while some of her claims have been discredited, many others have not.
  2. Promise to be more rigorous in her approach in the future – and maybe even hire her own respected scientist or researcher to fact check for her.

Of course, all this could have been avoided if she’d just been a bit more careful about what she said in the first place – and therein lies a very important lesson for businesses: double check everything!  When it comes to social media, there’s nowhere to hide.

What would you have advised Ms Hari (or any of the other organisations I’ve mentioned) to do?