Category: Brands Worthy of a Weekend

Wendy’s & The Audacity of Personality (video)

Wendy’s & The Audacity of Personality (video)

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Brandon Rhoten on stage at the Times Center in NYC (photo credit @msspinach)

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to interview Wendy’s head of social/digital, advertising and media, Brandon Rhoten live in NYC at the 2017 WOMMA Summit. Brandon was pithy and forthcoming, sharing the story behind the Wendy’s brand personality and how their approach to audience engagement has led to runaway successes like fan/competitor “roasting” and “Nuggs for Carter”. Check out the live counter of Carter’s free nugget retweets vs. Ellen’s Oscar selfie retweets – he overtook Ellen about a week after this interview transpired.

Perhaps most valuably, Brandon shares techniques for watching what is starting to grow organically and how a brand can gently encourage that tinder to catch fire. Brandon also shares the way management built their tolerance for their “charming challenger” personality being able to take risks and tolerate mistakes.

Check out the video here or the Forbes article on the interview here.

WOMMA Summit 2012: Advocacy & Social Evolution

WOMMA Summit 2012: Advocacy & Social Evolution

Wednesday night, we closed the book on another WOMMA Summit (disclosure: Spredfast is a governing member and I serve on the board).   Having now had a few hours to reflect, there were some major themes.

Back to Advocacy – In session after session, we heard a focus from brands on meeting the needs not only of their X million fans, but creating content, experiences, and value for their hard core fans.  One of the greatest examples of of approaching this came from Jackie Huba’s preview of her forthcoming 2013 book Monster Business.  Lady Gaga’s marketing strategies focus on the 1% of her fans that want to have hyper-engaged relationships with her.  The 6 Lessons of Gaga’s loyalty strategy are a fantastic reminder that this advocate strategy needs to drive platform choices instead of the tail wagging the dog.

Big Businesses are Dissolving the Social Pillar –Nestle Digital & Social Global Head (and WOMMA co-founder) Pete Blackshaw,Greg Gerik of 3M, and “Turbo” Todd Watson of IBM all shared the communications pillars of their organizations – none of which include standalone “social”.  Instead of being a siloed initiative of a few trained marketers, social has permeated the way the company communicates on all fronts.  This is a beautiful thought, but paying off on it requires investment in socially empowering hundreds of brand managers and SMEs, measuring the results of their efforts, and getting engagement and feedback data to the right places in the organization in a way that energizes the organization.

The Paid/Owned/Earned (and sometimes Shared) media model is here to stay as a meaningful model.  No longer is there questioning about the validity or value of WOM that gets stimulated by ad dollars as the changing dynamics of what it takes for users of social platforms to actually see a connections’ recommendation.  What does differ is how people are handling the integration of paid. Whether it is a new skill being picked up by the brand, executed through specialist agency collaboration, etc. – it is a skill set that must be added to your integrated WOMM team’s arsenal molto pronto.

Measurement is becoming more sophisticated and scrutinized.  Many of the success metrics shared in sessions were about the “quick win”.  This seems to be a result of the continued ROI pressure that social initiatives, along with the entire marketing mix face (backed up by data shared in the IBM CMO study.  But elevating social activity to “business value” needs to incorporate the value of both the quick win and the long game for which social is so uniquely designed.  Dr. Walter Carl shared some great guidance on how to look at the full value picture of social in a more holistic way – giving social credit for some of the “long game” communications objectives it achieves instead of short term sales, coupon redemptions, etc alone.  We need to move beyond activity metrics and the “short game” and start thinking about how to give social credit for the more complex role it plays including soliciting feedback, cultivating offline WOM recommendations, and developing brand advocates who will spark to action in a crisis.

The Legal Socialpocalypse – The Summit closed with some amazing and well-timed reminders from lead legal counsel/cyberlawyers for Coca-Cola, American Express, and USAA.  Reminders included the need for a higher level of rigor in terms of sharing rights-protected material to basic security in the way that social accounts are being managed by individuals in the company (personal logins to control corporate Facebook, anyone?).  Above all, the guidance was to get legal involved early and often so they become involved in shaping a program instead of the late stage “no” guys.

It’s great to see so many companies that were early pioneers in social continuing to evolve and willing to share their lessons along the way for the benefit of the entire industry!  For more details and sharable nuggets, visit WOMMA’s curated tweet and photo highlights the summit sessions: Day 1Day 2Day 3. To see more of the WOM that took place at Summit, check out the Summit Social Hub powered by FeedMagnet.

Send “Vajazzle” to a Friend (or 14)

Send “Vajazzle” to a Friend (or 14)

Having recently returned from the WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas, I am reminded of some of the quick, head-smacker, “why didn’t I think of that” tips shared by WOMMA co-founder Andy Sernovitz at the very first meeting in Chicago.  One of these was to put a “send to a friend” button on every page of your website.

Now, 5 years later and in a mainstream social age, very little inspires me to email something to a friend.  I might post something on Twitter to my work peeps or on Facebook to my more personal network of family, friends and colleagues, but very that I receive in my Gmail – largely for promotional e-commerce emails, would inspire me to email.

Austin’s own “Waxing Studio” sent an email a few weeks ago that bucks that trend.  The subject line read “Free Longhorn Vajazzle Only Through Saturday!” (I’m sad to say – the deal has expired).  There are so many things I love about this.  The silliness of that word, the false urgency of the timeline, and the concept of bedazzling lady parts with the University of Texas’ famed logo.

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I almost snarfed my coffee.  I had to share the joy of this silliness with a few girlfriends.  Then with a few UT alums.  Then with some other WOM marketers (how inherently WOM-worthy is this?).  And goodness knows, it makes business sense as its an add on to their famous 15 minute Brazillian – their highest margin service by far.  By the time I was done, I had forwarded an email to 14 people.

Lo and behold, I did end up going to this local business during the time of this fantastic limited time offer and got to ask them about uptake.  While they had only had ONE taker to this offer, the sheer remarkability of the offer did spark a lot of long time clients to call and book (more boring) appointments.

This strikes me as akin to the restaurants that offer a $75lb hamburger or David Burke’s famed Lollipop Tower – you aren’t going to get rich selling them, but giving your customers something to talk about – and FORWARD – is priceless.

(Disclosure: Ogilvy is a Governing Member of WOMMA)

BWOW: Wow Bao

BWOW: Wow Bao

WowBaoIf you’re wondering who owns the eyebrow-lift-inducing Facebook vanity “hotasianbuns”, look no further than Chicago’s own Wow Bao.  Wow Bao is a concept of Lettuce Entertain You, but it has a social media voice and plan of action all its own.   Geoff Alexander, Wow Bao’s Managing Partner joined me on a panel at WOMMA’s School of WOM and shared enough of those elements to make me want to learn more.  The personality and choices that Wow Bao has made qualify it as a Brand Worthy of a Weekend (BWOW) – a brand for whom there is a passionate set of fans that would give up a weekend with their families to come “immerse” themselves in the brand – learn more, meet the people behind the brand, and want to have a hand in crafting the brand’s future.  So what’s Wow Bao’s recipe for a talkable, weekend-worthy brand?

Product Offering w/ Story, Ritual, & Explanation – Chicago is a food town, but steamed Asian Buns aren’t the most common offering by far.  The product itself provides the opportunity for Word of Mouth to be exchanged – in location or on their website in the “the Way of the Bao” video.

Sauce-Up Your Brand Voice – @BaoMouth – Their brand voice on Twitter is the disembodied Bao Mouth.  The spicy Bao Mouth’s location and identity remain a closely guarded trade secret (even when I pressed Mr. Alexander on stage).  It is interesting to note that this is usually counter to what we think of as a best practice in terms of building relationships through transparency, but here it truly adds to the Bao mystique.  What we do know is that he/she is not only listening for mentions of Wow Bao, but ready to comment on other seemingly irrelevant, but fun tweets.  My favorite today:

I’m gonna walk in through the out door all day today RT @CarolBlymire: Prince turns 52. How will YOU be celebrating his birthday?”

Surprise & Delight with Innovation – Despite (or maybe because?) Wow Bao is in Chicago and only rocking a handful of locations, they are innovating their marketing at light speed.  They know that young, digital, early adopters are their bun eaters, so they have experimented by being one of the first restaurants in Chicago to offer Foursquare deals (in fall 09), they have an iPhone app, remote ordering and shipping anywhere in the US, Facebook weekly “secret word” deals, Foursquare Mayor rituals that walk the walk in store (this talkability has to manifest IRL after all), and mobile single-use barcoded coupons with Mocapay.  Even if 75% of these fail, they’re worth remarking about and, while experimental, that probably justifies the ROI on its own.

What other brands are challenging their audiences by pushing their marketing bounds vs. being dragged into the future?  Or using the complexity of their product as a WOM advantage?


Resolution Inspiration from Maker’s Mark

Resolution Inspiration from Maker’s Mark

Last month, I met Bill Samuels, Jr. in the flesh. That name may not ring a bell for you, but for me and thousands of Maker’s Mark ambassadors, meeting the master distiller, current company president, and son of the founder of a truly beloved brand is a very big deal. Perhaps more importantly to me, this company’s philosophy and deep respect for their customers was one of the first to get me excited about the power of Word of Mouth Marketing when I heard Jackie Huba tell their ambassador story (check out her podcast interview with Bill Samuels, Jr here) almost 5 years ago.

Bill was in attendance at the December 16 WOM Supergenius conference in Chicago where I along with some other old WOMMA friends including Jake McKee, Spike Jones, and John Moore was speaking at the invitation of Andy Sernovitz and his team from Gaspedal.  While all the sessions were great, Bill’s was the only one where I broke out a pen and started trying to capture what was being said word for word.

What better way to kick off 2010 than remembering why we care about WOM in the first place from a brand that is most certainly worthy of a weekend (or a 6 year ambassadorship)?   Thus, enjoy the paraphrased quotes from Bill Samuels, Jr  – some of which originated with from his dad.  I hope they can inspire us all to a 2010 of meaningful marketing resolutions…

bill samuels jr<our target audience is…> Anyone with an above average interest in taste and taste distinctiveness that we would enjoy having home for dinner.

<how will we reach them?> We will not enter the airspace of anyone who has not invited us to enter it.

We will talk to the people who want to talk to us.

Wherever we travel, we blow the whistle at 5 and they all come running.

We send Ambassadors text emails from Bill, because your friends don’t send you Flash emails.

Surprise and delight is more powerful than a reward triggered by taking an action.

Every gift we send is a tool to help you introduce your friends to your brand, Maker’s Mark.

Thanks for the reminders, Bill.  And for the reminder to specify brands when ordering a bourbon & ginger.