2 Comments

Back from the Dead: PODCASTING!

You heard me. Podcasts are about as hot as The Walking Dead. Making a raging comeback, revolutionizing the old medium with high quality production, juicy story-telling, and attracting droves of young, new listeners, Podcasts are a marketing field covered with untouched snow. Is it even possible? New terrain?

Three Big Reasons to Pay Attention:

1. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility 
Besides good old, fashioned music, what other form of engagement lends itself perfectly to mobility and multi-tasking? Podcasts will literally be the “hands-down” winner in the coming year as the format extends engagement into untapped occasions that are now dominated by music: driving, doing dishes, gardening, hitting the gym, cleaning the house, etc. Looking forward to that commute? Hell yeah!

2. Ears: The New Eyeballs
By the end of 2014, podcasting was up 25% vs. 2013 with nearly 40 million listeners. 2014 was also the year people started thinking differently about old stereotypes of podcasting, namely, because of the hugely popular podcast, “Serial.” Serial likely marked the turning point of the medium from cold and dead to hot and trendy. Serial has been downloaded or streamed on iTunes more than 5 million times and averaged over 1.5 million listeners an episode. It is now the most popular podcast in history. Wait till the binge-listeners catch on and catch up.

3. Accessibility to Production and Distribution
For well under $100, anyone can create a high quality podcast production from home. Youtube, Vine, Instagram – all user generated content that built empires once the technology and infrastructure were in place.

With stereotypes up-ending …. Podcasting is the new frontier.

Giddy-up!


Leave a comment

Hijacking IKEA and the Benefits of Brand-Jacking

Today’s brands are being challenged to interact with consumers in ways that can range anywhere from uncomfortable to illegal. And while most of our brands were built off the Soup Nazi model of marketing (we make – you buy!), today’s consumer expects a seat at the table.

This past year, it was IKEA’s turn to decide how to handle an increasingly “intrusive” community proudly calling themselves IKEA Hackers. IKEA Hackers share a passion for using the simplicity and modular nature of IKEA products to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture. The global community congregates onikeahackers.net to showcase and demonstrate how to recreate each unique design. In turn, more IKEA hacking businesses have emerged, hawking hacking accessories to further customize and reinvent standard IKEA furniture. (Check out Bemz,  Panyl,  Superfront  and Prettypegs)

At face value, a community like this can be seen as threatening to any brand: brand images are distorted, brand positionings are undermined and brand personalities become inconsistent.

You’ve been Brand-Jacked. Now what?

IKEA’s initial response was to issue a cease and desist order, demanding that the IKEA logo, the blue and yellow color scheme or anything trademarked by the company, including the ikeahackers.net domain name be taken down.

But what actually may seem threatening, reveals a group of IKEA fanatics, so beholden to the brand, they feel they own it. Jules Yapp, the owner of the site said, “I felt slapped by the person I loved and thought I was doing my best for. I wish IKEA could have looked at it from my side of the fence—that the site has generated tons of publicity and goodwill for their brand, which they did not pay a cent for.” In fact, “Jules” even hacked her name from the Jules Chair from IKEA. Her real name is Mei Mei.

In response to IKEA’s actions, the hacking community became outraged and vocal, attracting a second look from inside IKEA. In an unexpected about-turn, IKEA determined that the company’s initial reaction was not in the spirit of the brand, which is to “make life better for everyone.” For now, IKEA has backed off its hackers. BRAVURA!

So, for the rest of the brands out there: be prepared. Today’s consumer will increasingly try to access more than you may be comfortable sharing. It’s time to think about what you’re willing to let go.

For a great in-depth podcast on IKEA hacking, check out 99% Invisible’s Hacking IKEA.

Follow Nicole Ertas on LinkedIn to receive the upcoming series: Exploring the 10 Road Rules of Free-Range Branding.

YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE

1 Comment

Until a few years ago, the watchdog groups such as the Ralph Naders of the world tended to be sideline fanatics who often appealed to the fringe.  But gone are the days of company mis-steps or ugly baggage getting buried in the customer call center.

Today’s brands are tested on a very public stage.  This week it’s LEGO’s turn to stand trial as Greenpeace dragged the beloved brand into its battle with Shell to stop Arctic drilling.

The campaign is jarring in that it clashes sweet childhood innocence with dark corporate ugliness.  The widespread attention the campaign is getting, good or bad, is a slam-dunk for Greenpeace either way as it has sparked a global dialogue.  But the bigger question is, what is LEGO to do?

LEGO certainly isn’t a small or obscure Shell partner.  The brands have a lucrative partnership, worth an estimated $116 million.  At least 16 million Shell-branded LEGO sets have been sold in 26 countries and  LEGO has also recently released a series of LEGO Arctic building sets.   There’s no hiding there.

So far, they’ve decided to absolve themselves from the debate.  In a recent statement, LEGO Group CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp responds:  “We firmly believe that this matter must be handled between Shell and Greenpeace.  We are saddened when the LEGO brand is used as a tool in any dispute between organisations.”

LEGO might very likely escape relatively unscathed on this one given that the public is taking a protective stance of the brand, but a greater opportunity exists for LEGO while up on this stage, as a brand committed to the environment.

Up until now, LEGO has proven itself to be a great free-range brand, reinventing itself, exploring new terrain and flying on a higher emotional plane than a collection of functional offerings.  But when free-range brands run into trouble, they don’t hide for cover.  They take unexpected and unprecedented action.  They reframe the conversation.  They adapt.   Will LEGO take this opportunity while in the spotlight or continue to hide behind its protective brand parents?

 

greenpeace-takes-on-lego

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2014 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved

Benjamin Moore: Missed Opportunity

Leave a comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgEdZvfg_sA

Benjamin Moore jumped into prankvertising with a great creative concept that garnered some decent momentum.  But sadly, the brand missed the opportunity to link the creative to the message (UltraSpec 500 goes on fast) and/or leave the viewer with an emotional connection to the Benjamin Moore brand.

It’s great to see some big brands jump in the game, but some old-school brand-building ground rules still apply:  don’t let your creative overwhelm the objective, whether it’s a product message or a brand equity build.   Benjamin Moore gave 100K viewers a great prank to share, but got little in return.  Trick, or treat?

 

© 2013 Free-Range Brands LLC All Rights Reserved