Why Gap Deserves Some, But Not All of Its Recent Fanfare

In the spirit of my thinking differently, I thought I’d write down a few mind flutters I’ve been having in light of the most recent Gap ad controversy.

In case you missed it, Gap recently launched a ‘Make Love’ campaign featuring Indian Sikh-American actor and fashion designer Waris Ahluwahlia. It’s a solid campaign complete with stunning visuals and simple messaging; and is tactically disseminated across a number of channels including out of home, print, and social, to my knowledge.

Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com found a defiled version of this poster in Brooklyn. Vandals replaced the word ‘Love’ with ‘Bombs’ and added ‘Please stop driving taxis’ in what is without question an extremely racist and totally inappropriate act of intolerance.

Iftikhar’s response? He went straight to the web and posted an image of the ruined print ad to his 40,000+ Facebook and Twitter followers, imploring them to spread the word to create awareness on the topic.

So far so good right? Right. Here’s where I’ll stir the pot.

It took Gap less than 24 hours to contact Iftikhar directly. That means that it took whoever works on Gap’s social media team a near full day to catch wind of and decide how to respond to the massively viral conversation taking place about the brand and then, send one tweet to the source. Let it be known that this was indeed the right course of action for the social team to take, BUT I do not think Gap deserves accolades for their mediocre at best response time.

Iftikhar wrote, “In addition to Gap’s rocket-fast attempt to find out more details about the situation, I have to say that the best part about the company’s response to this social media campaign is that it currently has the Sikh model as their current Twitter background photo.”

Insert another red flag here.

Certainly this topic is controversial. Certainly the defilement was beyond wrong and certainly Gap’s response to find the location of and replace the defaced poster is amazing and deserves credit. That said, if we step back a minute and remove the controversy from the situation, a well-integrated campaign should indeed bridge the tra-digital (traditional-digital) line. It would be strategic, and I’ll go so far as to say expected, for them to incorporate their ‘Make Love’ campaign into their online look and feel. My question is, when did Gap change their Twitter cover photo and if it was after the Internet buzz took place, why wasn’t it on November 4th when they updated their Facebook photo?

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Here’s the thing – I assume it was indeed done at the beginning of the month and as such, it should not be positioned as a fast response act of support. This part was simply a tactical extension of a well-integrated branding campaign.

All in all, was it a bold move for Gap to use a Sikh model in their most recent campaign? Some might say yes and regardless of whether or not it is, I give them props for taking a stand -even though it’s a stand that we shouldn’t need to take in this day and age. It’s pretty sad that here in 2013, the fact that this man appearing in an ad is still such a big deal. It reminds me of what became known as the “Biracial Cheerios commercial”, a title which I loathe by the way, that came out in May of this year. By now, I really would have thought things like this would finally be given the norm status they deserve.

Did Gap mean to make waves with their model choice? Maybe. If they did, it was a pretty drastic jump for them, from a brand perspective. Gap generally brings words like classic, traditional and even preppy to mind. They don’t push boundaries like other fashion brands, or even make societal visual metaphors like the United Colors of Benetton. They usually keep it pretty PC but in this case, took a stand. To close, I’d like to give credit where credit is due. Gap deserves accolades for putting out a campaign that inspires love of and for everyone, but from my marketing heart to yours, their reaction time and effort was what any brand should have done in any situation… and not just one laden with controversy.

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Man-mas, Man-mukkah, Kwan-Man – A Man Centric Guide to Holiday Wonderment

Some of you may have caught my former post, Valenbro. Brolentine. Screw it. Get him a broquet this Valentine’s Day post earlier this year. Well, the time has come the walrus said, to bring back this gift-centric concept with a snowy ass twist. Yes dames and dudes, it’s holiday time and I, for one, am in the mood.

The following manly gems are simply segmented for your convenience.

The stuff he wears: 

The Blitzens. These thigh donning Chubtastic gems of wonderment are sewn with the spirit of the season and are 100% guaranteed to send even the ugliest of Christmas sweaters running for the hills. But seriously, those mothball laden mother f***ers have their sleeves between their knees right about meow.

Update –  these bad boys not shockingly sold out in literally 3 minutes, but rest assured, the Chubsters have a leetle beet of ridiculousness up their shorts. Cue Thighber Monday. It’s coming. 

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Tipsy Elves. Consider this inclusion a little teaser for some reindeer games soon to come your way. This humping reindeer gem is just a snowflake sized taste at all the holiday magic they have to offer. Yes, you heard me right. The reindeer are literally playing games right there on your sweater. For guys and girls alike, it’s subtle enough for a work party but party enough for your life. Get this one and just  wait to see what else I have in store as the month progresses. Get it.

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The stuff he drinks:

Old Fashioned Swag. This Draper-esque cocktail tops the classy man charts in beverage land – this we know. There is though, a right and a wrong way to craft an Old Fashioned. Keep your man’s cumber bun up to snuff with the following:

-A killer glass. Ain’t nobody got time for your rookie red cup cocktail game. Make sure this wonderment receptacle feels like it deserves to be held. Pull your class or humor card –  but repeat after me: an Old Fashioned  should only be served in a heavy tumblr like these:

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Get it on Crate & Barrel.

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Or these golf lingo laden ones on Rue La La. 

Also, if you’re missing the vital component of an Old Fashioned recipe OR a gift tag… just take this puppy, throw a ribbon through it and you’ll be straight dialed all the way to presentville.

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Get a bigger, more printable version

- Whiskey Stones: Ok, so you had an Old Fashioned… or four. Respect. Make the switch to something neat and, since no man ever ordered his whiskey with water, insert whiskey stones. A killer stocking stuffer keeping the brown, brown and the clear where it belongs…in her vodka soda.
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Get ‘em. 

The stuff he eats: 

Meat. You hang em high, hang em high, hang em high – and we’ll hang em low, hang em low, hang em low (#spacejamreference). You know what I’m talkin’ bout – the Hang Em High BBQ Barrel (serious shout out to the bearded man himself, Balingh). Hang Em’ High Barrels were born to bring a custom smoke experience straight to your back yard… and put some hair on your chest in the process.  They’re hand crafted and specifically designed to bring your wet BBQ dreams to life (#visualmetaphor).

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Bacon. Bacon is a beautiful thing with which men have a primal obsession . Maple bacon, bourbon bacon, Millionaire’s bacon, bacon chocolate, bacon bloodies, bacon guac, you name the bacon spaceship, they’re sure to hop on board all the way to the freaking bacon moon.

Oh, you thought I had something for you to purchase here? Come on son. Add bacon to anything and you’re straight dialed.

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This post could go on for days but I’ll save some ideas for when the clock tolls December. In sum, buy ridiculous clothes, drink bourbon, eat bacon.

Happy Holidays.

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Rebuttal: Teens Don’t Matter, Ignore Them.

As posted on Advertising Week

I recently read an Inc. article by Likeable Local’s CEO Dave Kerpen about how teens are leaving Facebook and what that means for your business. Generally I dig what Dave has to say but I think the time has come for me to put my metaphorical foot down.

First off, let it be known that teens are leaving Facebook. If you don’t know, now you know. It’s a fact and it’s one we expected. Teens are always looking for the next best thing and that thing, generally speaking, is some ‘thing’ your mom has no knowledge of.

Now that the shock has worn off, let’s move on.

In the meat of his post, Kerpen goes into where the teens are going if they are not in fact on the book of faces. His break down appears as follows:

  1. New Social Networks
  2. Mobile Photo Sharing Apps
  3. Erasable Media

Holy obvious bullet-points batman; allow me to translate:

  1. If they’re not here, they’re somewhere else that may or may not exist yet
  2. Practically every social network in existence
  3. Snapchat is cool and the $3 billion offer is #trending right now

Every marketer worth her tactics knows that the newest phone owning generation hops on the newest social network bandwagon, no matter its nature. Instagram at its launch was the spot, just like Facebook was before it. Dave goes out of his way to note, and I quote, “Do you want to spend your and your business’s precious time hanging out with teenagers where it’s cool, or hanging out where your customers are?” It seems to me that his recommendation is to ignore the massive potential and trend-settiness (yes I just made that word up) of our modern youth. I for one, think this is not only a massive missed opportunity, but also a very naive way of looking at overarching marketing as a whole.

Certainly I’m not saying that every brand needs to market on Instagram or God forbid Snapchat (if it was even possible), I am though, saying that no matter what brand you are, you need to at least be aware of the sway and infinite potential the younger generation has and what impact that might have on the future of your company. These young snapchatting sons of guns will eventually be your target market …and sooner than you may think.

Kids these days make stuff cool and we older folk follow suit. Facebook started the trend and now, a mere four years later, the 45-55 year olds are the fastest growing demo. Similarly, Instagram started with the tweens, kicked through the teens and now, I have to witness more baby pictures posted by grandparents than I ever expected. Gen- whatever they are now – latches onto brands they respect, brands that talk to them (not at them), brands who listen. If you as a business think about genuinelyconnecting with them – or at least thinking about them early, I really believe you’ll be set up for success moving into the future.

In sum, I’m sure Dave didn’t mean to totally discount the potential of our youth but it kind of came off that way. People need to step back and look at their marketing mix from a higher level, where social media is both a tactic and a means to an end. Does it make the amalgam of marketing wonderment more complex? Absolutely. But that’s the super tangled spider game we play. Play on marketers. Play on.

Read the post on Advertising Week

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Chatroulette Wrecking Ball. Yes. It happened.

If you asked me this morning to bet on the current existence of Chatroulette, I would have given you a hard pass (#pitchperfectjoke). And then, my wondrous friend Adam found this. Props to you Roop. Mad props. This is amazing.

 

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Maker’s Mark – Crushing It Again

As a proud Maker’s Mark Brand Ambassador and a fellow advertiser, I feel the need to give sweet advertising credit where sweet advertising credit is due. The brilliant folks at Makers have one of the best ambassador programs out there and this holiday season has proven no different.

From their consistently classic branding, personal touch and quality marketing approach, to a well executed holiday package that is clever, on brand and just plain sweet, I am impressed. I mean, they gave me a hat for my bourbon. #nightcap #doubleentendre #awesome

Cheers all.

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Miley Sings With Virtual Kitten. Internet Swoons.

Miss Miley has done it again. She took the stage at the American Music Awards with, yes, a virtual kitten who proceeded to sing along with her during her latest rendition of Wrecking Ball.

The kitten at one point around 2:30 goes into a neon green spider web, which is super cool, and then gets a little free willy thang going on coupled with moving virtual tears of wonderment.

Then finally, this happens.

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Watch it.
 

 

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Chewing Gum Means You Have More Sex, Are More Awesome & Have More Fun

Anyone of you readery readers out there who actually know me in real life know I’m  a, let’s call it, ‘fan’ of gum.

The Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi preformed a sweet experiment to promote the gum brand Beldent, the Argentine version of Trident, where they surveyed 481 people based on their impressions of gum chewers vs their non chewing twin counterparts.  The results are delightful.

Draw what conclusions you will via the transitive property of equality. 

Watch it.

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Introducing Coin – A Sexy Ass Diet for Your Wallet

Sick of massive wallets laden with cards you seldom use – but still use often enough not to leave them at home? Worry and read that wordy ass sentence no more – with Coin, a super fly invention designed to electronically house all your cards in one. It’s equipped with a low blue tooth signal for security and is pretty much brilliant.

Nerd out, slim down, spend on. Your wallet just pulled a fancy one on ya… and is lookin’ damn sexy in the process.

 

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What the Heck is an Instagram Video Share?

As posted on Advertising Week 

I came across an article recently that discussed the top shared brands on Instagram Video. Brands to earn this high acclaim include MTV, NBA, Peanuts and GoPro, to name a few.

My thoughts – great – but what the heck is an Instagram Video share?

As of this moment in time, users cannot seamlessly share videos from Instagram to any other social network. By that I mean, from mobile, which is where pretty much all Instagram videos views take place, you cannot click, tap or do anything to get that video from point A to point anywhere. So, I ask again – what the heck is an Instagram Video share? I have no choice but to assume it’s a copy and paste of a URL from Instagram WEB (not through the app, that’s not possible) to another social network which may include Twitter, Facebook, etc. Seems like a superfluous number of steps to take right? You must really want to share that video.. or rely on the brands themselves to do it so that you can share that aforementioned super sick video to your own networks. Then though, isn’t that <quote> Instagram Video </ end quote> simply a piece of content that is ironically optimized for a different social network than the one you’re sharing it to? It is. Trust me.

I then got to thinking about sharing in general and, when it comes to mass exposure of trending topics, my brain naturally took a stroll down hashtag lane. In case you still don’t get them, let me break it down for you. Hashtags are a super cool (#nerdmoment) way to consolidate a potentially world wide conversation by pairing a coined term or phrase with a symbol you used back in middle school to lock up your name with your jersey number. Mind you, this millennial trend has evolved, as all things do, to have a totally different role in social vernacular …but that’s for another post.

My point in bringing this all up is that in our forward thinking day and age, we have managed to not only miss, but whiff the mark when it comes to social integration and our perspective on it. We do not have an even-close-to-seamless way to look at the bigger picture when it comes to trending topic reach and content across the World Wide Web as it stands. Hashtags exist and are used universally on Twitter, Instagram and most recently Facebook but yet, there is no way to consolidate the analytics derived from those into one place. Not being able to share or #regram naturally from the Instagram mobile interface (be it video or image) may be intentional – and if it is I respect it – but calling out shared video links from Instagram web on other social networks just plain doesn’t make sense.

It seems to me that the social measurement space is suffering from a forest through the trees-esque syndrome. They’re looking forward through blinders as they frantically race to keep up with the tech centric joneses. The bottom line is that we don’t really know what we’re looking at or what any of it means.

So the question remains: What do we do about it?

My call to adventure is to look up and find a way to call a spade a social spade. Find a way, Internet world, to create a social map – a hashtag web if you will. That way we can at least have some idea of how far and by what vehicle our content travels. Then we can adjust our strategy accordingly. If not though, maybe we just accept the fact that quality content trumps. We should take advantage of the ready made tools in our tool belt, know that content is content first – and the way you alter it for different marketing channels, be they social or otherwise, is your intelligent attempt at catering content based on the audience you’re speaking to.

To bring this puppy back full circle, it makes zero sense focus on empty Instagram video shares. You are, quite literally, sharing content optimized for Instagram, which has a language and a user base entirely its own, to other, completely unique networks. It’s pretty much like going to a different country and assuming they’ll speak your language. That’s naive and lazy; come on son, you’re better than that. You should be focusing instead on the killer content you create and how to best disseminate that to the masses based on the mechanism through which you’re pushing it. Be better. Strategize harder. Market on.

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