Headline: Slasher Back on the Loose

More bad news for slashing jobs, especially at the Hartford Courant.

Today’s issue is reporting that 100 jobs will be cut as advertising revenues continue to decline at the troubled newspaper. Approximately 35 jobs in the newsroom will be eliminated. Not good news for us PR pros who find it challenging to get the media’s attention these days.

Fun factoid: Did you know that the Hartford Courant is America’s oldest continually published newspaper? Yep. In circulation since 1764 without missing a beat.

Don’t Rock the Boat

I’m all for change, but I’m a big believer that if something is working well for you, why rock the boat? Such is the case for Tropicana. We all know and love the Tropicana logo with the nice big orange and the straw sticking out of it. It’s refreshing and it makes you want a big glass of OJ, doesn’t it?

It took 24 years, but PepsiCo decided to change the entire look of one of its flagship products, Tropicana. Back in January 2009 a new packaging design for Tropicana was introduced, but fast forward to late February and things have changed. Customers bombarded PepsiCo with emails, phone calls and letters complaining about the change and demanded a return to the old packaging. The outcome? The new packaging is going bye-bye and the Tropicana look Americans know and love is coming back.

To me, things like this make me smile. If customers are at the center of your brand, then listen to them. I bet there’s a whole lot of happy Tropicana drinkers out there now.

Welcome back! The Tropicana we all know and love returns.

The Power of Twittering

I am a firm believer in the power of Twitter, and this is a great example.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Costa Vida recently did a Twitter promotion announcing a one-day free burrito to about 80 fans on Twitter. What happened next is that Costa Vida fans then forwarded it to about 15,000 fans that prompted more than 2,500 people to redeem the coupon.

I know a lot of companies would worry that people are taking advantage of a freebie, but isn’t this a true-and-tried method of getting people to experience your brand?!? You can only tell people how good your product is so many times until they actually try it and judge for themselves.

To me, this is a great promotion harnessing the power of social media. Job well done. Bravo!

Save a Brain

I try to make a habit of flipping through PR Week to see what’s new, catch up on industry news and what not. I always read the Campaigns section and thought this was a pretty cool campaign. Not to mention, I even learned something from it!

To my surprise, falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries. In fact, according to Hennepin County Medical Center, there are a stunning number each year- 37,446.

To help create awareness, they started a campaign “Save This Brain“. I love PR stunts. I especially love PR stunts that have a great message, and this had one. To get attention and to get their point across, a cast iron bathtub with wheels was rolled through high traffic areas throughout downtown Minneapolis outfitted with a shower curtain stating the facts. Not only did it create attention, but it also garnered media attention in the StarTribune, the Downtown Journal and Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine.

Pretty smart! So please be careful, and don’t slip on the soap.

Caution: Dangerous Celebrities Ahead!

In the PR world, there comes a time in everyone’s career where they will be a part of a product launch or some kind of an event production. When that happens, there will always be the temptation of something like this: “Hey!!! Let’s get so-and-so (insert famous celebrity name here) to be a part of our product!!”

Tempting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Case and point: Michael Phelps being dropped by Kellogg’s as a result of a photo involving marijuana use. Next up, R&B artist Chris Brown loses a sweet advertising deal with Wrigley’s because of his domestic violence arrest involving his girlfriend Rihanna.

Personally, I teeter on the celebrity endorsement thing. On one hand, it can certainly give your brand some immediate exposure and create some excitement. However, when things go wrong, you’re brand can go down with the ship– i.e. the “celebrity-at-fault”.

Lesson learned? Be prepared for the worst when linking your brand up with a celebrity.

The Grammys Go Social Media – Tweet, Tweet!

My apologies for the lack of blogging last week. Somehow between a temperature of 102 and battling the flu, it escaped my mind 🙂

So last night, like most music fanatics, I was glued to the tube watching the Grammys. There certainly were some great performances and as always, I found the show entertaining. This year it was interesting to see the Grammys go social. Social media that is. They had a Twitter page, a Facebook page and a MySpace page. Nice presence, but I found the Twitter page to be the coolest and most informative. They were posting tweets all night long on the winners from every single category, including links to the story. Nice!

Supa Dupa! The Superbowl Ads

So here we are. Maybe a little tired, a little overstuffed and (dare I say it?) possibly hungover from all the Super Bowl festivities. Sports wise, I thought it was an absolute thriller that came down to the last minute. Not to mention, the historical aspect- a new franchise team vs. one of NFL’s dominating teams with six Super Bowl titles. Wow!

What I truly love about the Super Bowl are the ads. Sure, I work in the industry and have a bit of a passion for it, but who doesn’t look forward to them? The Super Bowl is probably the one sporting event you don’t run to the bathroom during the commercials. They’re usually that good and you don’t want to miss them.

Here are my personal favorites…

This year, the top spot belongs to the Career Builder ad this year. As in the past, they stick with humor and incorporate plenty of it with this spot. The spot has a lot of repetition that’s great for two reasons. Firstly, it makes you remember their message and two, it may make you feel that your job (like the commercial) is just the same thing over and over again and it’s time to get out. I laughed myself into hysterics during this one. Bravo!!

The Cinderella story this year has to be Doritos. The brand created a contest, Crash the Super Bowl, that allowed amateurs to submit their commercials for consideration. The grand prize? $1,000,000 if you won the USA Today Ad-O-Meter top spot. Guess what? It did! I love it when a brand turns it’s marketing efforts over to the public. The end result? Two unemployed brothers from Indiana won the contest by creating a Super Bowl-worthy spot that was edgy and had the right amount of humor thrown in. Well done, but here’s the real question. Will we see more brands turning things over to their “ambassadors” and the general public instead of their creative departments? Food for thought, but no need to panic… yet. I’m sure they had lots of help casting, editing and shooting the spot from Doritos agency who probably created and managed the contest. Kudos to them.

GoDaddy.com seems to be all about women and sexual content. I’m not sure what the connection between internet domain registration and management is to sexy women, but maybe that’s just it. There is no connection and the absurd ads they produce just help us remember the brand name, Go Daddy. That might be the point, right? This year, the two Go Daddy ads all have cliff hangers at the end that say “To Be Continued at GoDaddy.com…” If you ask me, this is a nice drive-to-site component where the spots are a little more racy and entertaining. The end result? Who knows, but I’m sure they experienced an increase in web visits.

So what else?

I thought the Monster.com ad was a home run. Not only was it funny, but it clearly delivered the brand’s message of time for a change. Seems like both Career Builder and Monster were spot on by targeting people who already have jobs and may be unhappy, rather than targeting people who don’t work at all. The moose head in the successful person’s office that was connected to the back-end of the moose in the guy’s office who was unhappy was just perfect.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are embracing themes of togetherness and happiness that didn’t do much for me. Same applies for Budweiser’s Clydesdale series- nothing super exciting. I did like the introduction of the word “Drinkability” during one of the Bud Light spots. Will it enter pop culture like their “Wazzup” campaign? Not sure, but it’s worth a shot.

The final spot worth mentioning was Castrol oil. Again, more humor with a bunch of “grease monkeys” showing up to work on the car and they make the owner king. I suppose the message here is that if you use Castrol, no need to worry. You’ve got a brand with an army of expert mechanics behind it, so no worries. Not to mention the monkeys. Any ad that uses monkeys is just funny.

Want to see all of the ads and how they resonated with people? Check out USA Today’s feature on all of the ads. Overall I thought the spots were entertaining and most were on point with brand messaging. Go ahead, enjoy the show. Just be sure to close your office door and keep the volume down. You’re supposed to be working, not watching online TV… again! 🙂