When traveling over the holidays my wife and I were surprised (and, frankly, irritated) by the number of animals traveling in the passenger cabin of our plane. This topic has been in the news a fair amount over the past year as people tried to bring squirrels, peacocks, and other animals on board under the guise of emotional support. Popeye’s has launched a seasonal marketing campaign capitalizing on the recent press. Their “Emotional Support Chicken” was available to passengers going through the Philadelphia airport. You can read more about the campaign in this Forbes article.
We generally focus posts on clever, interesting, and/or effective marketing news but this post is all about marketing failures. Marketing Dive recently posted an article titled “Relive the year’s 6 biggest brand fails — they carry important lessons for marketers” that covers failures from Facebook (via Cambridge Analytica), Papa John’s, McDonald’s, Heinekin, Snapchat, and the digital media ecosystem.
The causes of these failures are varied but the impact is significant. For instance, following a redesign of the Snapchat app, influencer Kylie Jenner tweeted that she didn’t use the app anymore. That tweet erased $1.3B of Snapchat’s market value overnight. McDonald’s tried to show support for Women’s Day by flipping their golden arches upside down but it wound up being perceived as a publicity stunt and drew attention to some of McDonald’s own issues related to it’s female employees. The article covers these issues and more as well as talking about some of the lessons to be learned from each case.
Facebook has been plagued by negative publicity for the past couple of years but according to this article from AdAge, they don’t appear to be losing any advertising dollars. From all appearances, Facebook seems immune to issues resulting from high-profile hacks, Russian political interference, privacy issues, negative press, and more. Perhaps Facebook’s plethora of problems stems from their long-time motto: Move Fast, Break Things.
The lack of impact in advertising dollars to Facebook seems to fly in the face of a consumer society (primarily millennials) who value transparency and social responsibility. According to the AdAge article, many industry executives are urging caution and suggesting the tide might turn against Facebook if they can’t get a handle on their business.
I find the situation interesting, especially considering the fact that Facebook is now considered “old person social media” (at least according to my students). Perhaps the millennial desire for social responsibility won’t have an impact if advertisers aren’t focusing on that demographic.
As a side note, the article also talks about efforts made by a firm with ties to the Republican party that have tried to push lawmakers off of Facebook and onto Google and Apple. This can provide a good example for students of how the political/legal environment can potentially influence the business environment.
Students understand the concept behind celebrity endorsers but if you ask them whether an endorsement was a good idea or not they typically answer anecdotally. When pressed on how to measure the effectiveness they generally struggle.
In September, Hilton Hotels launched an ad campaign featuring Anna Kendrick. YouGov recently published the article “Hilton has a hit with Anna Kendrick” that does a great job of showing the impact that her endorsement has had on Hilton’s share of voice and brand preference. The article also talks about the effect celebrity endorsement has on their purchase behaviors as compared to consumers 35 years old or older.
If you wanted to take this discussion to the next step you could build an exercise that models the number of increased stays required for Hilton to have a positive ROI from the campaign.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing is the difficulty in measuring a discrete ROI for your campaigns. This is especially problematic when you have multiple campaigns running concurrently and when there’s no specific way to tie a sale to a marketing impression. TV advertising has always been plagued by this issue – when you spend thousands or millions on an ad, how do you prove you gained incremental sales? TV has also struggled with inefficient advertising – you buy spots in shows and times that fit your target demographics but you pay for all impressions, not just impressions that hit your target market.
Turner and Chipotle (through their marketing agency Mediahub) are aiming to tie results to effort with their “For Real” campaign. Chipotle will focus on addressable ads rather than broadcast ads using Turner’s new platform and Turner is guaranteeing a sales lift from audiences exposed to Chipotle’s advertising compared to non-exposed viewers. This is just another example of technology transforming blurring the line between mass selling and personalized sales. If the effort is successful, it could be a big boost for TV networks who are struggling for ad revenue as more and more firms shift their spending to online marketing. You can read more about the collaboration here.