Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Slamming your own brand: Does it work? March 16, 2012

I’m going to be honest, every time a Domino’s commercial comes on TV it makes me cringe. Ever since a video of two uniformed employees “messing” with a pizza went viral in 2009, Domino’s has fought big to stay as a front runner in the pizza business.

Following the viral video incident, Domino’s received high props for their reaction to the crisis through both traditional and  social media outlets. That same year, the company decided to listen to its customer’s complaints about the quality of the pizza and did a complete reinvention.

The new pizza resulted in the launching of an entire new campaign and website called The Pizza Turnaround. “You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process,” Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s, said in “The Pizza Turnaround” documentary.

I think this is brilliant. I love that they reinvented their pizza and listened to their customers. What they did, and how they did it make for a great case for any marketing and public relations person to study.

Here’s what makes me cringe: the fact that they have criticized their pizza, chicken AND cheese breadsticks. What’s left to hate about Domino’s?!  Every time you turn on the television they are slamming another one of their products. The campaign began at the end of 2009 which means they have spent over two years marketing how bad their product is, sorry, was.

It’s like Domino’s has a gambling problem. They took a risk and went “all in” by re-inventing their pizza, but instead of walking away with a success story, they keep gambling. At some point, they are going to lose.

Today, Business Insider tweeted a story that caught my eye for the same reason. Internet Explorer recorded an advertisement that straight-up bashes their product. Um, it’s hilarious. I love it because I also told my parents to stop using Internet Explorer, like the guy in the video. My concern is that while it is a humorous video, it takes 45 seconds before the IE bashing stops and the new and improved IE is mentioned. Even once it is mentioned, no discussion of what makes it better is ever announced. Instead, they feature a cat in a police officer outfit to end the video- which, is random.

So does this strategy work? Something must be working because an article earlier this year in National Restaurant News states that Domino’s will continue to focus marketing on improving its product rather than using marketing tie-ins.

What do you think about slamming your own brand? Is it beneficial? I think it is a scary gamble and a company must really analyze their full strategy before going “all-in”.


Two Super Bowl lessons from GM February 10, 2012

I realize I’m late on this topic, but if the NFL fans, players and sportscasters can continue replaying the Super Bowl, so can I.

Lesson #1

By now, the feud between GM and Ford is no secret. GM’s Chevy Silverado commercial that aired during the Super Bowl took a direct stab at the safety of its competitor, Ford. Here is the ad:

The ad runs for 38 seconds before any mention of their competitors. The funny thing is that even without the stab at Ford, it was a really good commercial. It poked fun at the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse and the fact that, as Zombieland proves, Twinkies will survive the Apocalypse (unless they go bankrupt). Why not leave it at that?

Instead, Ford has taken offense to the advertisement and formally requested that the video be taken down. According to the Wall Street Journal,

“In a statement, Ford said, ‘We do not agree with some of GM’s claims in their ad, particularly around durability. What’s important is that Ford is proud to be the best-selling truck in America for 35 years, the best-selling vehicle for 30 years and the only brand with more trucks on the road with more than 250,000 miles – demonstrating just how durable our trucks are in the real world.'”

As much as both parties would like to believe their advertisements had a direct impact on consumers’ choice in which vehicle they were going to purchase, the truth is, there are a lot of factors that drive that decision. Despite hurting their competitors feelings, this particular ad ranked 12th on USA Today’s Facebook Super Bowl d meter scores. Not too shabby.

Lesson #2

I had the opportunity to be in Indianapolis the weekend before the Super Bowl and visited the NFL Experience, presented by GMC.  I was really impressed with GMCs booth inside the NFL Experience- so much so that my boyfriend deemed me a big dork for how interested I was in their advertising efforts.

We were drawn in by a GMC girl who encouraged us to sign up to get a bracelet that allowed us to get three different NFL player’s autographs. The line was short so we said sure. We answered a few quesetions on an iPad about all GM vehicles. The questions attempted to identify what car we wanted, when we wanted it and would we like more information? Yeah, yeah… we just wanted autographs.

We then were handed a post card with two questions on it. We had to go read about the Yukon and Acadia to answer the question and receive our bracelet. I thought that was genius. They pulled us in with something we wanted, got our information and forced us to interact with the cars they had on display. Smart.

The autographs were in a larger tent because the line was so long. Here, the same promotion was going on as in the other area, but we got to skip it and turn in another card to see if we won a prize (we did not) and then waited in a short line to get our time splice photo taken (mine is here).

They then asked if we wanted to share our photo via social media. Uh… duh! I posted my photo to Facebook and Twitter using their iPads again. Instantly, I promoted GMC to everyone I knew. Smart.

We never got the autograph we did all the work for, but did have fun at the photo opportunity. Plus, we found James Laurinaitis in another area of the tent signing autographs and, being from St. Louis, it was more exciting to meet a Rams player than a Colts player.

I think GM had a great presence at the Super Bowl and even though the low blow to Ford was completely unnecessary, their advertisements that day, and at the NFL Experience, were successful. Or, maybe I’m just a social media/marketing dork.


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