Nike’s No Stranger

Brand Marketing, Digital Marketing, General Marketing, Social Media

To social activism, controversial ads, or just getting people to talk about things.

Sure we’ve all seen the buzz around the Kaepernick-for-Nike campaign. Some people are thrilled that a company as big as Nike is designing campaigns to make these types of issues a forefront of conversation for the brand. Others are burning $180 Air Maxes in their backyards. But no matter what side you’re on, it’s important to realize that this isn’t anything new for Nike. The sportswear giant has been using advertising and design to address controversial social topics for the last 30 years. Let’s take a look at some other times Nike has stirred up confrontation with their campaigns:

1- I Am Not a Role Model (1993)

Nike features Charles Barkley to make a statement- just because he dunks a basketball doesn’t mean he should raise your kids. This spot calls attention to the seemingly endless debate many Americans have over whether celebrities or famous athletes should be considered role models, and if, as such, they should be held to higher standards by society.

2- Ric Munoz (1995)

Ric Munoz, openly gay and HIV-positive runner, is featured by Nike in this very understated spot. On the surface, Nike is showcasing an athlete’s ability to endure, to thrive even, despite any disability or disease. On a deeper level however, given the time in American history that the commercial aired, it is very likely Nike was sending a subtle, but certainly deeper statement about HIV/AIDs.

3- Voices (2012)

Fast forward a few decades, and even before Colin Kaepernick was a household name, Nike is still making statements.”People aren’t used to women being so passionate. It scares them.” “I’m a girl. That doesn’t mean I have to wear a skirt.” This spot was produced to celebrate women in sport. It also coincided with the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a US legislation that was passed in 1972 to provide women equal opportunities in all educational programs, including athletics.

So for all the debating, all the arguments and controversy, remember that this is nothing new. Brands can makes statements on social issues. In fact, many people WANT brands to take a stand on social and political issues. The controversies and debates are by design, it’s up to consumers to make the choice to have a conversation about it, not just pick fights.

Special thanks to AdWeek for giving me the inspiration to write on this.

Five Big Brands Doing Twitter Right

Brand Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media

Ah, Twitter… A beautiful place filled with highs- OMG, I got 200 retweets!– and lows- Wow maybe I shouldn’t have posted that picture from the bar last night… No matter how you use it, there’s no denying the power that this platform has created for both individuals and companies alike. And just like us individuals, companies have had to learn how to utilize Twitter without making themselves look like fools.

Here’s five companies who are doing it right:

1. T-Mobile (@T-Mobile)

T-Mobile starts off the list because let’s get real- their marketing department has kinda been on fire the past few years. From their rebranding as the “Uncarrier” to their most recent deals, #TMobileTuesdays, T-Mobile is making waves in the telecom industry as other carriers are struggling to adapt to changing consumer demands.

Why their Twitter account works:

  • Visual consistency across the board. From their header to the font color of their links, T-Mobile’s Twitter page plays some pretty slick mind games on you and leaves your brain thinking of T-Mobile anytime you ever see the color magenta. 
  • Secured DJ Khaled as a spokesperson before he jumped the shark. Often times, companies will see something go viral, only to snag it after it’s old news or miss the opportunity completely. Fortunately for T-Mobile, they got him right in time and his personality has become a major asset to their social media presence.

  • Harnessed the power of a hashtag with #TMobileTuesdays. By using a good promotion as a hashtag, T-Mobile is extending their reach on Twitter while also showcasing how their uncomplicated loyalty rewards program is better than the rest of the telecom industry.

2. Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks)

As a company whose presence extends beyond the corner coffee shop and into homes, churches, and almost anywhere else you could imagine, Starbucks needs no introduction. You’d better hope with their record fiscal year in 2015 that they’d be able to afford a good social media marketing team.

What they’re doing right:

  • Frequent retweets and interactions with customers. Arguably more important than promoting the company, positive customer interactions online are what it’s all about. Starbucks recognizes this and uses their Twitter page to frequently share the love.
  • A well-placed hashtag is a happy hashtag. Almost every one of Starbucks’ tweets contains a hashtag, but they do it in a way that doesn’t seem like they’re trying to hard (#lookatus #wecanbecooltoo). My personal favorite would be #ProTip, which is basically Starbucks validating the Secret Menu. Their hashtag strategies enable the company to extend their reach without exhausting their followers.
  •  #MerryChristmasStarbucks. When a hashtag against you goes viral, you can either hide until it’s over or you can make up your own hashtag. Starbucks kept it classy and turned the whole situation around with #RedCupArt, which encouraged consumer interaction with the brand and shifted the Red Cup controversy into a merrier memory.

Love It or Hate It: Instagram Stories

Digital Marketing, New Tech, Social Media

I think we can all agree that August 2nd, 2016 was a weird day for everyone not living under a rock. It was the day that our beloved photo- and video-sharing service introduced “Instagram Stories” to the world. Change is good. Change is necessary…Right?

Usually, yes. Especially in an industry that transforms so quickly that companies within are either forced to adapt or die. However this change that Instagram has made through its introduction of “Stories” just didn’t feel right.

First of all, it was a blatant copy of Snapchat Stories. Instagram didn’t even try to create a different name. Was that intentional or just lazy? We know what you’re doing Instagram. We KNOW.

Secondly, is a Stories feature even relevant to Instagram? I always considered Snapchat to Instagram as what Twitter is to Facebook. Snapchat is where it’s okay to get a little weird, not care how pixelated your photos are, and post videos from your drunken nights downtown because hey, they’ll be gone by the time you manage to crawl out of bed the next day. Instagram on the other hand has always been a ~classier~ place where you post pretty pictures and share things that you don’t mind your grandmother seeing. So what’s the point of adding Stories to it? The pictures I deem worthy for Instagram are typically filtered works of art. No way am I going to spend 20 minutes deciding what contrast and exposure to set my photo to, only to have to automatically wiped away 24 hours later. Even Instagram promotes itself as a vessel used to showcase the most aesthetic and creatively appealing content out there. So why include Stories if that content is only temporary and limited to those that follow you?

There are only two real ways that I see Instagram benefiting from this Stories feature:

  1. Celebrity users. The sting from Kim Kardashian’s takedown of Taylor Swift via leaked videos on her Snapchat is still fresh. The whole ordeal lead to thousands of new Snapchat followers for Kim Kardashian and more importantly, thousands of conversations that all conveniently revolved around Snapchat. Maybe Instagram watched this happen and wanted in on future action. Giving celebrities one platform for both permanent and temporary content certainly sounds nice. Especially for users that have already amassed millions on followers on Instagram and don’t want to have to start recruiting all over again for Snapchat.
  2. Advertising. AKA: the big bucks. There was certainly a lot of backlash when Instagram first announced they would be allowing advertisements to be included on users’ home feeds but that has sense died down as Instagram ensured that the marketing content is required to meeting the visually appealing standards of the service. Allowing advertisements into the Stories bar would be just an extension of this and maybe even be more comfortable for users to see. The success of allowing advertising on this feature has certainly already been proven by Snapchat’s recent revenue reports. Maybe Stories is just another way for Instagram to make a little more money.

Regardless of my feelings or speculations about Instagram Stories, it looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a while. It’s a cliché but only time will tell if this feature will be as successful as Instagram wants it to be. In the meantime, you can reach me on Snapchat (@liss.mkc)!

My 2017 Perspective:

Ah well here we are, a full year later and I find myself feeling rather humbled. Yes, Instagram Stories has surpassed Snapchat in daily users by a long shot. And yes, they continue to copy a lot of Snapchat’s best features, like filters and ads (putting their own twist on it of course).

In retrospect, a small piece of me knew this was how it would really play out. How could Instagram Stories fail? Facebook is a force to be reckoned with and when Snapchat turned down their $3 billion offer, we all should have seen this coming. Nobody puts Mark in the corner.

That being said, I have seen my assumptions about the “purposes” of each platform continue to hold true respectively. Yeah, we still post our drunken nights downtown on Snapchat. But with Stories, Instagram lets us show the classier version of our nights. You know, before they went downhill. There you’ll find the cute boomerangs of sparkling drink glasses clinking together, maybe with some fancy stickers added just for funsies. That much hasn’t changed. This example goes to show that Instagram Stories are definitely here to stay, but that they act more as an extending feature of Instagram and less as a carbon copy of Snapchat.

Personally, I still find myself using Snapchat consistently more than Stories when I want to share insignificant little bits of my life, but I see many of my peers taking to Instagram more every day. Truthfully, I just hope Instagram doesn’t make a pattern out of copying Snapchat, because I don’t want to see those damn Bitmojis any more than I have to.