Tragedy Strikes, Humanity Reigns

The tragedy yesterday was shocking for all Boston area natives. But for people who are also ad mavens in the making, like me, it was  depressing  how insensitive some national brands were on social media.

How hard would it be to have a human being monitoring a brand’s social media? It’s not like most of these brands can’t afford a social media expert or two. Besides, this tragedy happened when work was still in session across most of the USA, so someone should have been around to stop these promotional tweets from getting out in the first place.

Unfortunately, many brands had their Twitter set to automatically post and no one was able to stop their release. Other brands were able to pull their promotional tweets in time or delete them soon after.

It’s really sad when people are losing life and limb  and all you get from Burger King is a promotion for coffee.

In contrast to Burger King, fast food giants like Wendy’s and Taco Bell quickly deleted their  tweets.  But they weren’t able to stop them from going up in the first place. McDonald’s was one of the only major fast food chains to directly respond to the tragedy.

It isn’t all bad in ad land, though. Some New England based companies did more than respond– they acted with heart.  Local restaurant chains Fire+Ice and Joe’s American Bar & Grill passed out food to officers and emergency crew.

On the national level, Southwest Airlines was quick to accommodate people, giving homage to the age-old saying that actions speak louder than words.

This type of response shows the importance of the human element in branding. It’s a reminder that the best brands are driven by interaction and an emotional core–they aren’t mindless robots.

Taco Bell Knows How to Put the Social in Media

Brands have long underutilized Twitter, using it as a glorified press release platform, but some are finally getting how to leverage the Twittersphere.

In the past, social media marketing frequently looked like this:

Thankfully, branded tweets increasingly focus on creating a conversation, rather than a linear narrative. Instead of pushing a product line, brands are now wise enough to introduce a topic that consumers might want to discuss. Take this Mcdonald’s tweet for example:

Other brands have recently found success by tapping into events that are culturally relevant. During the Super Bowl black out, Oreo set the marketing world ablaze with a rapidly produced ad that reminded viewers that they can “still dunk in the dark.”

But few brands are as successful at social media as Taco Bell.  The fast food chain proves it  knows how to tell a good, interactive story that uses social media to the fullest.

Taco Bell recently announced  its new  Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, a follow-up to its most successful product ever.  Rather than typing up a tweet saying, “Hey, please come buy our Taco on March 7th. Our bonuses depend on it.” Taco Bell produced it’s first Vine video for the announcement.  Taco Bell then re-tweeted people’s comments about the launch. Taco Bell started conversations with a few, asking them if they wanted to try a Cool Ranch Taco.

Not stopping there, Taco Bell decided to capitalize on Valentine’s Day. They sent, Elijah Daniel (@aguywithnolife), an influential social media user, to a flower shop in New York City, where he found more than a nice bouquet. After giving a secret password to the clerk, he was handed a Cool Ranch Taco. Elijah tweeted the secret password and location of the flower shop to his followers. Droves of people appeared soon after, ready for some taco goodness.

Other brands should take note, because this is how you do a successful product launch via social media.