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A Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Summer? The Too-Early Trend Making Us Crazy

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As has been made abundantly clear in previous posts about the pumpkin spice marketing craze, this PRNewser writer loves Fall. Like, really, really loves it. As a New Englander, there’s nothing more magical to me than a crisp October morning kissed by the scent of fresh apples, piles of leaves, and — yes — my mug of pumpkin spice tea. I’m a sucker for the Autumnal marketing madness and I’m not sorry. But though I may be a full-fledged Fall-ophile (is that a thing? I’m making it a thing), even I know there’s a time for nutmeg and Jack-O-Lanterns, and it is not — I repeat, NOT while the beaches are still crowded and kids are enjoying their last days of summer vacation.

We’ve been griping about the holiday creep for years when it comes to Christmas decorations lining store shelves before Halloween, and now, it seems, those pesky marketers have figured if they’re going to bulldoze Halloween for Christmas, why not just move the whole calender up a couple months and bulldoze summer with way-too-early Fall? I mean, the logic is undeniable.

We’ve been seeing Halloween candy in stores for a couple of weeks now; the seasonal Sam Adams currently being sold is Octoberfest; Starbucks is releasing its Pumpkin Spice Latte on August 25 (if you have a super secret passcode), and Twitter has even been aflutter over the potential introduction of Pumpkin Spice Oreos.

All way before we’ve even had our Labor Day barbeques. Read more

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Multimedia Case Study: Foreplay Edition

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Question: how does a marketer get Millenials to think seriously about their own sexual health?

An ongoing campaign called “beforeplay” (get it?), created by ad shop Vermilion and promoted by Bluetone Marketing & PR for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, tasked the agencies with answering that question.

The larger goal was incredibly ambitious: to reduce the number of STDs and unintended pregnancies in the state of Colorado (which had one of the highest rates in the country).

How did they go about it?

Read more

Nine West Clearly Doesn’t Know the Definition of a ‘Modern Woman’

Every woman owns a pair of Nine West shoes. I would bet a whole dollar on that. So you would think the company would know a thing or two about this demographic. Or at least what they do in their shoes. Their latest marketing campaign indicates they do not.

For their latest, they’ve accompanied some glamour shots of their shoes with phrases like the one above. Or a picture of flips flops in a handbag with the phrase “Anticipatory Walk of Shame.” Not cool.

Of course, the ads are sparking backlash. Ad Age editor Abbey Klaassen says here that she thinks the campaign could help the company because at least people are talking about them; basically the “there’s no such thing as bad PR” argument. But generally, when a company’s ads or social media activity goes viral, they don’t want it to be because people are calling the company “offensive” or “stupid.” The fact that Nine West hasn’t commented on the criticism indicates either they want to wait for it to simply die down or they actually do regret the decision to go forward with this mush.

The bigger issue is that the ads are tone deaf in a way that indicates they may not be fully aware of who the “modern woman” they’re targeting really is.

Read more

Kellogg and Special K Hope to Gain Profits by Losing the Weight Loss Message

special-k-cerealsWe’re all accustomed to the Special K ads that traditionally hit the airwaves during the fall and winter, urging us to stave off seasonal weight gain by eating cereal instead of huge meals or sweets, with taglines like: “What will you gain when you lose?”

Well, it seems Kellogg is about to answer its own question, but from a marketing standpoint.

Kellogg Co. CEO John Bryant said during an earnings call last Thursday that reduced-calorie messaging no longer resonates with consumers, referencing weaknesses with other similar food categories like diet sodas and reduced-calorie frozen meals. “I think consumers are changing their views on weight management from ‘reduce calories’ to ‘nutritious foods’,” he said. Special K can “absolutely meet that criteria…It’s a very nutrient-dense food form. But we haven’t been communicating it that way. So we are increasing our communication more down that path as opposed to reduce calories.” Read more

Will Native Advertising on Reddit Be an Opportunity for PR?

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DISCLAIMER: throughout my career as a literary publicist, I’ve tried to “place” a few clients on Reddit via the popular “Ask Me Anything” feature.

Reddit staffers were always accommodating, helping me set up a time in the AMA calendar and sharing best practices to ensure success. Although the results were better than some of my live Q&As on Goodreads, and approximately on par with the various TwitterChats (though with a longer shelf life), my clients were skeptical about the return on investment—will the redditor making fun of my hair actually buy my book?

Still, I knew that Reddit’s 114 million monthly users with their highly-curated threads presented an opportunity. I just didn’t know how best to seize that opportunity for my client, especially if he or she did not have the name recognition that would land a 3PM AMA on the site’s homepage.

I know I’m not alone in recognizing that opportunity: Reddit is moving into the native advertising game.

Read more

PR vs. Advertising: Still the Same Competition?

shutterstock_166919984Forbes just published a piece discussing, in some detail, “the real difference between PR and advertising.”

This realness in difference begins with an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” Or, boiled down even further, advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media.

A simple maxim from a simpler time. But does it hold up today?

Author Robert Wynne believes that it does. Not only is PR still different from advertising — it’s still better.

“With advertising, you tell people how great you are. With publicity, others sing your praises. Which do you think is more effective?” asks Wynne.

The unspoken answer is supported by a 2014 Nielsen study on the role of content in the consumer decision-making process, which concluded that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising: “On average, expert content lifted familiarity 88 percent more than branded content…”

Expert sources also agree.

Read more

Lawsuit Blames Woman’s Injuries on ‘Shocking and Menacing’ Dexter Ad

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We thought Dexter‘s MO was to generally avoid harming the innocent, but one woman is claiming otherwise.

In a lawsuit that names Showtime, The City of New York, and The Manhattan Transportation Authority, Ajanaffy Njewadda asserts that her recent tumble down a flight of stairs at the Grand Central subway terminal — which resulted in a concussion and a broken ankle — was caused by the “shocking and menacing” ad for “Dexter” that was plastered to the stairs at the time.

Njewadda claims that the image of actor Michael C. Hall with his face wrapped in cellophane startled her so badly that she lost her footing and fell, sustaining the injuries.

To be honest, ever since we told you about the TNT/Purell ads urging subway riders to avoid becoming victims of a (fictional) global pandemic, we were kind of wondering when someone would freak out about one of the over-the-top brand takeovers that have been happening in the Grand Central Terminal — we just didn’t expect it to be one we had already completely forgotten about.

#PRFail: Honda Falls Asleep at the Wheel Joking About Narcolepsy

narcolepsy hondaI could write about this in our mediabistro sister blog over at AgencySpy, but why? This is such a #PRFail! This all comes down to a car company and the ineptitude to learn something — say about “narcolepsy.” Allow me:

nar-co-lep-sy /ˈnärkəˌlepsē/ (n.) 

A serious condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings

So, there’s this up-and-coming car manufacturer named Honda. Someone in the advertising agency or in-house decided it was time to promote the “All-New 2015 Fit” with a commercial called Synth and Seattleites. 

And then, they poked fun at narcolepsy. To wit, Honda got run over by a bunch of people they apparently didn’t know existed. You know? Like the chupacabra, Bigfoot, and unicorns, only much meaner.

Read more

Purell and TNT Team Up to Terrify Subway Riders into Cleanliness

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Ever get on a subway without your hand sanitizer and — upon realizing your terrible error — felt certain you would inevitably contract a virus that would make you patient zero in an apocalyptic pandemic? Well, if you’re one of the few who haven’t had a thought like that, this new campaign for Purell and Michael Bay‘s new post-apocalyptic TV drama will enlighten you.

New York commuters have been greeted at the Grand Central Terminal this week by an eye-catching hand-sanitizing station that boldly states, “1 virus. 6 billion dead. Don’t be next,” urging folks to clean up lest they meet a similar fate to the fictional billions who die in Bay’s new TNT show “The Last Ship.” The series will focus on a U.S. Navy destroyer fighting to save what’s left of humanity. We imagine there will also be plenty of explosions and slow-motion action scenes (it’s Michael Bay after all).

Of course, New Yorkers are no strangers to over-the-top marketing tactics — just this year alone they’ve been chased by a raging bear in search of yogurt and attacked by a demon baby in a runaway stroller, so maybe germs are the least of their worries.

Aaron Paul TV Ad Accidentally Turns On Xbox Ones, Annoys the Hell Out of People

One of the coolest things about the Xbox One is arguably its Kinect voice command feature, so of course Microsoft would want to highlight this capability in its new ads — but apparently the demonstration is working a little too well.

The new spot features Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” using his Xbox One in all its voice command glory, but when Paul tells his console to turn itself on, he’s accidentally turning on consoles in living rooms everywhere. Xbox One owners have taken to Twitter to share their surprise, amusement, and, at times, sputtering frustration.

 

Intentional? Probably not. Interesting? Definitely. Mike Cannon of Tech Times brings up an eerie thought: if an ad can do this by mistake, how long until marketers start doing it on purpose? Read more

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