Posts Tagged ‘brand management’

How Facebook Could Have Crushed the Negative Press from “The Social Network”

October 25th, 2010

While the PR industry still tries to solve a vexing riddle – how to quantify ROI and metrics of a PR campaign – there certainly is one big PR matter where the numbers do not lie.  As of today, “The Social Network” film, the Hollywood send-up of fact and fiction about Facebook’s rise to social network domination, has grossed $73 million within a month of release.  That puts it in the top five cumulative box office totals for 2010, a fairly significant number since the year’s about to end.

As the film made waves in the press before and after release, there was significant speculation that CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to the Newark school system was meant to distract media attention away from the film.  Not surprising, since “The Social Networkdoesn’t exactly paint a sympathetic portrait of Facebook’s founders.

Of course, it’s hard to criticize such a large investment in the public school system.  Still, if that philanthropy was meant to kill negative headlines stemming from the film, we’d like to think there was a much easier, and more on target, way to do so.

What we’re wondering is, why didn’t Facebook instead launch an official “Facebook Film Festival”?  Think about this for a moment.  A Facebook-sanctioned film festival could enlist hot young filmmakers to showcase their talents in a trend-setting multimedia format, expanded the social network platform more aggressively, been done at little to no cost to Facebook, would quickly co-opt the “film” media meme away from the movie, generated enthusiasm from Facebook users, and leveraged the multiple film festival fan pages that already exist.  The PR theme could have promoted “an honest filmmaking process” as a dig at the apparent falsehoods in “The Social Network” – the perfect antidote for the film’s negative portrayals.

Big PR problems require grand solutions, but simplicity adds elegance to our scenario, and steals the film’s thunder by creating and owning a whole new film-making process.  Maybe Facebook will think of this when “The Social Network” hits DVD?

Diageo Puts on Ice the Cliché that All Publicity Is Good Publicity

June 22nd, 2010

Last week, Diageo, the parent company of the spirit brand Smirnoff, apparently killed the website   Diageo executives, one assumes, are not entirely thrilled with the growing online meme of people “icing” people – when someone surreptitiously presents another with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, and the receiver (victim/ice-ee?) drops to one knee and drinks the bottle rapidly.

No doubt, other brands and products have experienced unusual public relations phenomena beyond their control.  “Spam” describes both the food product and junk email.  “Xerox” describes both the document management company and the act of making copies.  “Google” is both the search engine and a verb to describe innocent stalking.  Usually when a brand name is appropriated into lexicon or metaphor, the brand owner reaps significant public relations value.

But, there are exceptions.  It’s one thing if mention of your brand causes a playful eyeroll or knowing wink, but it’s another if that brand risks permanent association with a potentially negative and intractable trend.  Diageo obviously reached this conclusion because it had lost total control over its Smirnoff Ice brand.

Simply put, having a site that promotes unsuspecting people rapidly chugging alcohol is not good PR for any alcoholic brand.  Liquor and beer ads push the idea that booze is sexy, but these commercials also balance that appeal with the continuous refrain to “drink responsibly.”  In the age of growing interest in corporate citizenship and CSR, alcohol brand managers certainly frown on images and video of their products being used irresponsibly.  Imagine the nightmare PR scenario of kids icing kids at a party, and then one of them overdosing, with everything caught on video that is bounced around online.  That’s enough to keep any sensible CEO up at night.

As a brand manager, you may not be able to swat away a bunch of YouTube videos, but you can certainly cease-and-desist the most notorious sites out of existence – the key is understanding the difference between what’s innocent promotion of you brand, and what is potentially lethal in the world of public relations.