Between You and Me, There's PR

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

Monopoly’s Lucky Roll April 5, 2014

My family is not allowed to play Monopoly together. With a blended family comes blended family Monopoly rules. A few of my immediate family’s rules include:

  • All money from taxes and fees goes in the middle. If you land on Free Parking, you take it all for yourself.
  • $500 goes in the middle at all times for free parking.
  • You can buy houses instantly; no need to collect all same colored properties before purchasing houses.
  • If you land on go, you collect $250 instead of $200.

If you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know that these rules are totally made up and designed to make the game go more quickly. On March 25, 2014, Monopoly launched a really engaging campaign on Facebook asking fans to post their house rules. According to Monopoly, 68% of Americans do not read the instructions.

The campaign that utilized video and graphic images lasted March 25-April 3. There was no third-party application used and no prize; people simply wanted to tell their story. The engagement for the house rule campaign posts were insanely high in comparison to their previous posts; including those posted as mix-ins during the campaign, like this one that had five shares:

monopoly baseball
Alternatively, when Monopoly posted the new official house rules, it was shared 1,287 times:


This is a great example of a well executed campaign and the brain behind it deserves big kudos for the brand engagement it drove. The most amazing part to me is that there was no prize offered. It proves how iconic this game is and how a simple board game can unite or divide a house hold. They sold nothing to consumers, yet the board game rose to the top of consumers’ mind awareness.

In comparison to their stunt last year, in which consumers were asked to vote on what Monopoly piece to retire and add, this most recent campaign allowed more engagement and brand awareness; or, maybe I’m just bitter because I’m not a cat fan.

Overall, I think this was a great campaign for this iconic brand.


Masking a brand for Halloween November 3, 2013

Halloween is a time of year when you get to act and be like something you are not and often, people choose a character they admire. Apparently this Halloween, Pepsi decided to dress up as their competitor Coca-Cola. Does that mean they admire them or want to be like them?

Pepsi as Coca-Cola

Pepsi Advertisement 2013

I cannot think of any scenario in which this is good advertising for Pepsi (except that it got the advertising world buzzing about their advertisement). Not only does it go against my theory of what to be for Halloween, because that would mean they long to be like Coca-Cola, but it also make it looks like the Pepsi can is wearing a super hero cape; as if to say Coca-Cola is Superman and Pepsi is the normal, ordinary Clark Kent. I think people would rather align themselves with the superhero in most scenarios.

Maybe they were trying to be ironic, but ironic costumes never go over well either. There’s too much explanation needed. Fork in a road? Ceiling fan? Code for I have no costume.

Even more interesting is Pepsi’s choice to cover up their own iconic packaging with their competitors brand. They used prime advertising real estate to inadvertently promote their competitor. A better move, in my mind, would be to have a Coca-Cola can dressed up as a Pepsi can for already listed reasons. Not to mention, is it every really good marketing to bash the competitor?

Here are a two brands that also capitalized on the idea of costuming their brand, but in my opinion, got it right, whereas Pepsi got it wrong.

Mini Cooper 2013

“Even your car is dressing up as something hot.”

Sharpie 2013

Sharpie 2013

Additionally, always popular, Oreo hit a big home run with their Halloween videos. Not only do I bow in the greatness of their stop motion video skills, but even the sets for the cookie actor are amazingly detailed. How much would you love that job? ‘Hey guys, let’s recreate the exorcist with an Oreo and call it “Exortwist!’ Those are the kinds of jokes only Oreo can pull off. A well liked brand with well liked campaigns gives you the space for creativity. 

There are so many opportunities for holiday advertising, especially around Halloween. Pepsi really missed the mark and came off as a bad sport, although apparently some advertisers thought it was a success. I vote to leave the other guys out of it and establish your own brand identity separate from the competitor for a really memorable and successful campaign.

What was your favorite Halloween advertisement and what do you think about Pepsi’s move?

Bias alert: I’m a Diet Coke fan all day long.


Don’t make the QR code fail list March 6, 2012

Oh how I love Yesterday, Mashable published an article titled “10 Funniest QR Code Fails,” a shortened version of the website WFT QR Codes. As both titles suggest, the article and website poke fun of the way people and companies use QR codes. Often, the strategies are not fully thought through.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog about QR codes.This was the first time I had ever been exposed to them and I wanted to learn more about them and how they were going to be applied in the future. In full disclosure, I was required to blog about industry news for my class, and my classmates were required to comment on each others’ blogs, but looking back, just one year later, it’s quite humorous to see how far QR codes have come! Here are some comments from my classmates as we first discovered QR codes:

As a class full of seniors, we were obviously fixated on the potential for QR codes helping us get jobs. They are still a great tool for networking and showing your knowledge of technology, but QR codes have become so much more than just a square with your email attached to it, as evidence by the WTF QR Codes website.

Marketers want to put QR codes everywhere. I actually had the experience of witnessing one of the fail images right near my home! The Air Force Reserve’s billboard had great placement- on a road off the highway and near a shopping plaza; however, the fact that it had a QR code was just asking for an accident to occur. Here is the image:

By the time you realize there is a QR code on the billboard, pull out your phone and open the application that reads QR codes, you have already crashed or driven past the billboard.

The key to QR codes is not to use them wherever possible because you feel you have to. I remember in my advertising class everyone tried to implement them into campaigns because it was the new thing, but a smart advertiser must consider:

1. Am I endangering my target audience by requesting them to use my QR code? (See above image.)
2. Will any one see this QR code? (WTF QR Codes shows some in areas that do not have cell service or are on top of buildings!)
3. Does my QR code offer new and important information? (Why would someone click on the QR code? Is there a coupon or exclusive content?)
4. Does a QR code fit with the nature of my product? (Don’t embarrass your consumers by making them scan a QR code to find out information about bed bugs!)
5. Is my QR code actually scannable? (The QR code shouldn’t be a moving target!)
6. Can the QR code be replaced by a hyperlink? (If you are online, using your phone to scan a code is far more work than clicking on a link.)
7. Does your audience know how to scan a QR code? (Chances are, older demographics do not.)

QR codes have great potential, but there has to be more work for consumers to fully understand how to use them and marketers to use them appropriately. We consumers can cope with the fact that there is not an opportunity to scan a QR code at the dinner table. Relax.

Before jumping on the QR code band wagon for a future campaign, think about the strategy, placement and value of your QR code. It’s great to indulge in the newest form of marketing, but it hurts to be included on “10 QR Code Fails”.

For more QR code hits and misses, read my earlier blog from Ozarks News Journal and check out Planned Parenthood’s #Wherediduwhereit campaign featuring QR coded condoms!


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