But first … let me take a selfie

Have you ever taken a selfie? Admit it, you have. Hopefully you did so without making the infamous “duck face” that is so common in selfies. The word “selfie” was used so much in the English vocabulary that the word was officially added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The dictionary defines “selfie” as: an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks. The word has been engrained in pop culture…seeping into the real of music. No lie: There is an official song called Selfie and it’s by The Chainsmokers. For those who actually like the song you can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0. However, I’d suggest you save 3 minutes and 43 seconds of your life doing something more productive.

The selfie may not be as innocent as you might think. It’s no longer a matter of just taking a selfie and loading it to a social networking account for your friends to admire. No no my friends. Now it’s a way for marketing firms to mine data including information on brands. Simply put…your selfie is an ad. A new article in The Wall Street Journal states that digital marketing companies are searching, scanning, storing and repurposing images to draw insights for big-brand advertisers.

The article states that, “Some companies, such as Ditto Labs Inc., use software to scan photos — the image of someone holding a Coca-Cola can, for example — to identify logos, whether the person in the image is smiling, and the scene’s context. The data allow marketers to send targeted ads or conduct market research. Others, such as Piqora Inc., store images for months on their own servers to show marketers what is trending in popularity.”

Here’s an example of what these types of companies are capable of capturing from your selfie.

MK-CP928_PUBLIC_G_20141009135119Privacy watchdogs say these companies aren’t clearly communicating to users that their images could be scanned in bulk or downloaded for marketing purposes. Many users may not intend to promote, for instance, a pair of jeans they are wearing in a photo or a bottle of beer on the table next to them, the privacy experts say.

What do you think? Is this a little too “Big Brother” for your liking? Or do you think marketing firms have free reign on mining data when users upload images to public social networking sites?

Whatever your stance, contributors at Mashable collected five pieces of information about the history of a selfie (and what they consider social media’s most annoying fad).

So what do you say? Wanna take a selfie?

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Restaurant hopes to knock ‘Grand Slams’ web series out of the ballpark

Bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes and hash browns. Hungry for more? Denny’s is using these popular breakfast items as part of a new animated web series to be launched Oct. 15 that features its signature Grand Slam menu item.

An article in Nation’s Restaurant News states that the cartoon series, “The Grand Slams,” is the latest in the restaurant’s ongoing effort to reach Millennials with brand marketing designed specifically for viral social media play. Here’s a sample of one of the videos:

Seven episodes will be released through January, with story lines touching on Halloween, “a Bold Coffee emergency” and more.

John Dillon, Denny’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement, “As we continue to grow as a brand and engage with our Millennial audience both on- and offline, it is important we extend conversations beyond our diner walls and into the social world where they live and breathe.”

Denny’s will feature the series on other digital platforms as well. In addition to watching episodes online at TheGrandSlams.com, guests can scan QR codes on placemats in restaurants or through the chain’s mobile app, where they can learn more about the cast.

Do you think featuring breakfast items in a web series will engage Millennials, or is the concept “too young” for this target audience? Whatever your stance, an article in eMarketer seems to think branded videos are what consumers want. The article states that consumers are enthusiastic about branded videos, with 59 percent of U.S. adult Internet users saying they watched them when they visited a brand’s website. Despite consumer interest, 75 percent of U.S. marketers said producing and delivering video (besides commercials) was not a top priority, and nearly half didn’t plan to increase efforts this year. In addition, 53 percent of marketers didn’t think consumers wanted to see videos from their company. The graphic below shows consumer attitudes toward branded videos.

177599ClickZ breaks down the type of videos consumers want to watch.

levelsbeyonddata-580x358Brandlive, a platform that facilitates live, interactive video states that 70 percent of consumers surveyed state they are “more or highly likely” to purchase a product after interacting with it through a Brandlive video. “Video is the most powerful medium for brand and product storytelling,” said Fritz Brumder, founder of Brandlive.

Will Denny’s be able to hit a home run with its branded videos or will the company strikeout?

Taco Bell encourages customers to ‘Live Mas’

Taco Bell wants its customers to “live more” and what better way to allow customers to do this than by offering them more?

Taco Bell has been able to stray from its traditional marketing through TV and print ads and more toward digital marketing efforts. Utilizing different digital techniques in order to target a millennial audience has helped the company find success in new ways — more specifically mobile ways.

In the past two years, Taco Bell has utilized mobile advertising when rolling out new promos such as its Happy Hour pricing in 2013 and introducing breakfast items in early 2014.

Taco Bell’s need to target mobile users really found success in 2013 when Mobile Marketer named the company with one of the Top 10 mobile advertising campaigns. Last year, Taco Bell ran an iAd as part of the marketing push behind Happier Hour when consumers could buy Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze drinks for $1 from 2 to 5 p.m. The brand’s interactive advertising campaign included location and time-targeted calendar reminders and the ability to send animated emails that reminded consumers about the promotion. Taco Bell’s campaign with multiple calls-to-action showed how using mobile advertising can help push consumers into stores.

Taco Bell’s efforts didn’t just stop at the consumer. The “Invite a Friend” tab let users pick a GIF, where the consumer could then send an email message to a friend with the subject line, “Join me for $1 Happier Hour.” An article in Mobile Commerce Daily touted the campaign by proving to be interactive, helping to drive brand awareness and increasing in-store traffic.

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Mobile again was a key factor earlier this year when Taco Bell launched a 15-item breakfast menu with targeted messaging that leveraged dayparting. Taco Bell’s strategy for the launch of the breakfast menu was built on the previously mentioned Happier Hour. In addition to mobile media, the fast food company extended a pre-launch program for breakfast that gave social media influencers phones in order to maintain hype during the new menu release.

TB1Taco Bell understands the needs of its younger audience — millennials — and their busy lives. The company knows that mobile reach among this group is important. This article from Mobile Commerce Daily really explores how Taco Bell execs are creating unique, digital campaigns to reach youth. Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Taco Bell, Irvine, Calif., said, “Millennials are clock-less eaters, and people in general are on the go all the time, so a lot of people are looking for smaller meals and at different times of day. I think that makes mobile really relevant across every daypart, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, Happier Hour or late night. We want to make sure that we’re hitting people at all those types of day and being there when they need us.”

The company also touts its presence on Vine as having unique trends in regards to certain products and one of the few fast food restaurants with an Instagram account.

Taco Bell has truly encouraged people to “Live Mas” through different digital marketing approaches.

Twitter vending machines + soccer legend = free bag of chips

A Twitter vending machine? What could that possibly entail? Well if you take Gary Lineker, a soccer legend turned sports broadcaster, and put him in a vending machine at bus stops in London you would get free Walkers crisps. An article in The Daily Mail said the effort is part of the Do Us A Flavour (British spelling, of course) campaign, a national search to find a delicious new chip flavor with a £1million prize — similar to the same campaign in the U.S. Walkers have installed vending machines at three bus stops in London featuring the six final flavors. Take a look at the video to see how bus stop patrons reacted:

By simply tweeting @Walkers_busstop, along with a code provided to them after they arrived, commuters were given a free packet of crisps by a virtual Lineker.

Through this effort the company was able to utilize social media platform Twitter, a celebrity endorsement and product sampling — and I would expect word of mouth as well.

What do you think of this unique way of promoting a new product? More importantly, would you “tweet to eat” or would you be so freaked out by a person inside a vending machine that you’d make your way to another bus stop?

‘Food With Integrity’ campaign makes consumers think about the meat in their mouths

There are more and more companies that are understanding how to promote campaigns well online. One company that I think really gets how to utilize different online marketing techniques is a self-proclaimed “fast casual” food service specializing in big burritos — Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Let’s do a little case study to determine the indulging ingredients being offered by Chipotle.

Chipotle’s focus “has always been on using higher-quality ingredients and cooking techniques to make great food accessible to all people at reasonable prices.” But the company admits that fresh is no longer enough and the company prides itself on knowing the sources for all of its ingredients to provide flavorful food and to be mindful of the environment — thus the evolution of the idea of “Food With Integrity” campaign.

dsc03566What I like about Chipotle’s online marketing is that the “Food With Integrity” message is the same across all online platforms, even though it is presented to consumers in slightly different ways.

Corporate website — The company’s website has a “Food With Integrity” section with different tabs for consumers to learn about animals, people and the environment. Each of these sections has feature stories about where Chipotle ingredients come from and the people who deliver those ingredients. The website also has videos: highlighting farmers, talking about the CEO’s desire to get back to the food basics, how the campaign ties into the business, etc.

Chipotle also has produced other videos that don’t even run as TV ads. Remember a couple years back when it all started with “The Scarecrow” video? Here’s a reminder:

The computer-animated video tells the story of a farmer being controlled by the industry and how he gets back to the basics. To date, the video has more than 13 million views on YouTube. An article in The New Yorker claims that “The Scarecrow” has been praised as an innovative piece of marketing and beautiful work of art, and applauded for its anti-factory-farming message. On the flip side, some agricultural producers have responded angrily, accusing Chipotle of peddling misleading representations of conventional agricultural methods: all farmers, they argue, care about their animals, and no one keeps a cow in a metal box or injects a chicken with green slime.

Whether you like the video or not, Chipotle is successful in other online marketing techniques.

BlogChipotle maintains a blog with frequent entries and the company does use storytelling to convey its message; however, this is done primarily through photos rather than heavy content. Even though the idea of “Food With Integrity” isn’t obviously stated in recent blog posts, the message is still there — explaining to customers where their food comes from. Here is a screen shot from Sept. 9 that explains the use of corn in the restaurant as well as a little background information on where they receive it:

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Mobile — Chipotle gives the customers an opportunity to place online orders, pay online and then pick-up in the store later. Customers who are truly on the go can download the restaurant’s app to place orders, access nutritional/allergy information or see pictures of menu items. I think Chipotle understands how mobile marketing plays a factor in its digital marketing mix.

Although Chipotle uses various digital mediums, the company maintains consistency by always reiterating the message of quality ingredients. As Chipotle founder Steve Ells shares in one of the company videos: “I think it’s really important that people know where their food comes from.” Chipotle continues to educate customers about the meat they are putting into their mouths when they choose Chipotle, whether it’s through video, feature stories or photos.

What other companies do you think are successful of maintaining a consistent message across digital platforms?

Brand features new spin on ‘tighty whitey’ during Fashion Week

“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” — Marc Jacobs

Plenty of models are walking the runway to feature new clothing lines from designers and fashion icons during New York’s Fashion Week. But Carolina Herrera, Versus Versace and Diane von Furstenberg aren’t the only ones getting attention — common household brands like Clorox are showing off as well.

Lauren Johnson of AdWeek writes about how the brand has set up a digitally-connected booth outside of the event to promote a new bleach product. “The brand is making its debut at the event this [past] weekend with a digital activation to promote a new line of bleach products called Smart Seek Bleach. Tomorrow, Clorox will launch a digital booth near Lincoln Center in New York — Fashion Week’s main hub. The booth will have TV screens that play branded videos and a space to shoot short videos.”

The brand is encouraging consumers to create mini fashion shows, with short videos being instantly uploaded to Facebook and sent through email. Participants with the best clips can snag prizes which include tickets to Fashion Week events and coupons.

Known for its “tighty whitey,” Clorox features the underwear with bright patterns through short videos to show that Smart Sleek Bleach is safe to use on colors while removing stains on white parts of clothes.

“Clorox has also created 10 Vine videos that loop together to create a virtual fashion show — dubbed Cloey De La Rox — around a line of patterned and colored briefs,” Johnson writes. “Screens inside the Fashion Week booth will play the videos.”

Here’s one of the videos:

AccuWeather and Pilot are other brands utilizing mobile platforms and social campaigns during the week-long fashion event. While I understand the desire to utilize mobile marketing campaigns I question if certain brands (such as Clorox) are the right fit at major events like Fashion Week. It seems a bit of a stretch for me to equate “tighty whiteys” with high fashion.

However, I could be wrong. Maybe companies like Clorox figure it’s worth a shot (even if their product doesn’t directly correlate with high fashion). Take for instance information from Marketing Pilgrim from earlier this year that shows an infographic from Millennial Media. It shows that 76 percent of those attending the four major fashion weeks (New York, Paris, London and Milan) were highly engaged with their mobile phone. Only 14 percent brought a tablet along and even fewer used a different type of mobile device.

fashion2014-infographicShould companies like Clorox throw in the white flag — or white briefs in this case — and surrender the idea of a successful mobile marketing campaign? Or should these companies try to keep up with the high-profile fashion event?

U.S. Hispanic market may be untapped opportunity

Hola, como estas? Esta haciendo bien?

Depending on where you live in the U.S. you may be hearing more and more Spanish-speaking citizens. This group, along with other minority groups in the U.S. including African Americans and Asian Americans, have been booming in numbers and statistics show that these minority groups are utilizing digital media at larger rates.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 confirmed that the U.S. ethnic population is booming and the biggest segment — you probably guessed from this post’s title — is Hispanics. This group of people represents one of the fastest-growing segments of online consumers with usage spread out across platforms such as smartphones and gaming devices. The ability for these consumers to obtain online information can be vital in influencing Hispanics’ purchasing decisions.

Mobile company AT&T started taking notice of this untapped Hispanic audience. The company began injecting “Spanglish” into a campaign targeted to a millennial/bicultural audience. The “Mobile Movement” marketing effort launched in March adds bilingual and Spanish ads aimed at young, Hispanic consumers.

AdAge writer Mark Bergen states, “For the Hispanic push, the campaign is adding a short, staged video, which runs less than four minutes, as well as two 30-second commercials where young Latinos discuss living across two cultures and languages. Commercials in Spanish will run on Univision and Telemundo, while the bilingual spots will appear in ESPN Deportes and MTV Tr3s. The videos will also be featured prominently on AT&T’s ‘Mobile Movement’ Tumblr and YouTube pages, as well as other digital properties, including those from Vice. Print ads will run in People En Español and Latina. The new ads are slated to run through the end of the calendar year, but the company said they may continue into 2015.”

This video is an example of AT&T’s understanding of these growing bicultural consumers:

Think with Google also understands the importance of reaching this underserved group through digital media. The company recognizes that this cultural group is ahead of the curve when it comes to digital: “U.S. Hispanics are ahead of the curve when it comes to digital. They lead in adoption of new devices. They are power users of mobile and over-index in video consumption.”

Lisa Gevelber, Vice president of Americas Marketing Google and Think Newsletter writer, provides some tips for reaching this untapped audience:

1. Be where they are — video and mobile. Data shows that across YouTube views of top U.S. Hispanic channels are up 1.25 times year over year and much of that video watching happens on mobile, as smartphones are becoming the “first screen.”

2. Give them choices — más opciones. Too often, marketers think they’re reaching U.S. Hispanics by simply translating ads and websites into Spanish. The truth is, this audience is diverse and often bilingual, so give them options. Let them choose which language they prefer.

3. Speak their culture. A basic translation isn’t going to be enough. 

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Major companies ready to reach U.S. Hispanics need to follow AT&T’s lead by engaging bilingual millennials through digital and social channels — en Espanol, of course.