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Our newsletter, Biscuits, aims to provide you with the most interesting and relevant bits of information from our food and beverage blog during the previous month.
On Kitchen Nightmares, angry British chef Gordon Ramsay does a lot of shouting in an effort to turn hapless restaurants (and their owners) around. On last Friday’s episode, Ramsay finally met his match when the owners of Amy’s Baking Company proved so difficult to work with, he was forced to give up for the first time in the show’s 82-episode run.
After the episode aired, the couple who own the restaurant took a beating online. A flood of one-star ratings on Yelp and a scathing thread on Reddit are just two of many examples of the backlash that occurred.
But it didn’t end there. The husband and wife team fought back on their restaurant’s Facebook account with a flurry of poorly aimed insults. Buzzfeed calls it the “most epic brand meltdown on Facebook ever.” Others might consider it pure entertainment. We call it a classic example of how NOT to use social media to repair your brand’s image.
MARKETING LESSON: Depending upon how you use it (and your temper), social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
How do you let people know that your restaurant serves fresh food? You could buy a billboard adjacent to your restaurant, but a billboard serving up the same old message day in and day out for a month doesn’t exactly embody freshness, does it?
What if you hired a local graffiti artist to use that billboard as a canvas to create colorful ads about key menu items? And what if that artist redrew the billboard twice each day? Now that’s fresh.
That’s exactly what McDonald’s did to promote the fresh food offered at one of its restaurants in Warsaw, Poland. The billboard brings to mind the chalkboard-drawn menus that seem to be all the rage at trendy urban eateries. True, you might not consider McDonald’s a “trendy urban eatery,” but after seeing this billboard, you might change your mind.
MARKETING LESSON: Your brand can evoke freshness in many ways – starting with a little fresh thinking.
The Twitter-owned tool, which allows users to upload six-second videos that replay on a continuous loop, boasts the #1 free iTunes app and has many marketers contemplating how they, too, can join in the fun while promoting their brand. (Think of it as a combination of the visual power of Instagram combined with the video-sharing capability of YouTube in the abbreviated format of Twitter – sort of like the GIF above.)
But before you jump right in, you might consider the following tips to help you get the most marketing bang for your six-second buck:
Yesterday, we talked about a small grocery store taking a big step to block brands from marketing to children. Today’s lesson is about a big brand taking a similar step. Coca-Cola has launched a very public campaign to fight childhood obesity with a promise not to advertise to children under 12 anywhere in the world. The brand also vows to offer low or no calorie drinks in every market where its products are sold.
But wait, there’s more. Other Coke initiatives include calorie counts on all packages and a pledge to support fitness programs wherever Coca-Cola is sold. (For those keeping count, that includes 200 countries worldwide.)
The campaign includes a website at Comingtogether.com. While we applaud Coke’s efforts, not everyone is as enthusiastic. “Coca-Cola is desperately trying to disassociate itself with obesity. Too bad the core product causes it,” noted the Center for Science in the Public Interest in a tweet.
What do you think? Is Coca-Cola’s campaign a genuine gesture or a slick marketing trick?
MARKETING LESSON: Sometimes, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
MOM’s Organic Market might be a little grocery store with 10 locations in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, but a recent move by the retailer is sending big waves throughout the food and beverage industry.
The chain announced last week that it will stop carrying products featuring children’s cartoon characters. The products range from Dora the Explorer frozen soybeans to Elmo juice boxes. As you can imagine, about half the cereal aisle will also be impacted.
According to a statement released by MOM’s community outreach representative, Laura Holley-Poole:
“Several producers said they thought their products would be okay because they used mostly organic ingredients, or because they chose cartoon characters who have a positive or educational message. But they may be missing how using cartoon characters to target kids doesn’t go over too well with a lot of parents who buy their products.”
What impact, if any, will MOM’s decision have on other grocers’ stocking decisions? That remains to be seen, although we don’t anticipate any followers in the near future.
MARKETING LESSON: Does your brand have a licensing agreement with a children’s cartoon character? If so, you know the value of that partnership … and now you know the risk.