The $6 Million Dollar Tweet

Celebrity endorsements are used to enhance a brand’s image and can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $50 million and more. Beyonce’s recent Pepsi deal is one of the highest endorsements to date but there’s a fine line between paying a public figure to promote your product and stealing an image of a public figure who happens to have your product in hand – and then turning it into a promotional advertisement.

Katherine Heigl, an actress known for roles like 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth and Knocked Up, is the latest person to be caught up in a social misleading marketing campaign. Heigl was shopping at a drugstore, like people do, and when she was leaving with bags in hand from Duane Reade, the company saw it as an opportunity to promote its brand via Twitter.

What the company failed to understand was the line it crossed by turning a “normal” photo into an advertisement. Imagine seeing the below photo in a media publication with the caption,
Katherine Heigl signs deal to star in sequel to 27 Dresses entitled Get Married Already.

You wouldn’t think twice that Duane Reade and Heigl had any type of business relationship. Now take a look at really happened below:

Duane Reade did not pay Heigl or her agent or use the company’s marketing budget to pay for this type of promotion. Heigl is now suing the drugstore company for $6 million stating “unauthorized use of her image.” If your argument is that the picture falls into the category of earned media (a method of getting your brand or company into the media for free rather than having to pay for advertising), then you are wrong. Earned media is something you have no control over. Duane Reade took the photo and took control of what to do with the image.

Now if the photo had been used in a magazine or online publication for example, no harm would have been done. Duane Reade would have gotten some free advertising (earned media) and the company wouldn’t be in this current mess.

A smart brand will take time to research a public figure to make sure the individual is a right fit for the brand or company’s image. Likewise, a public figure should also do his or her research on the brand or company before being attached to it. If either side is uncomfortable, then a deal isn’t made. It’s quite simple but when one side doesn’t do their homework or takes shortcuts (cough cough, Duane Reade), you get in trouble.

Social media is quick, fun, and it can reach a wide group of people making mass marketing that much more effective when paired with social media. However, social media is still relatively new that some Engagement Directors, Social Media Executives and Community Managers don’t understand the tactics of proper social marketing. I encourage anyone remotely related in the field of social marketing to think of the consequences and don’t get sucked into the fast-paced nature of social media. So many companies have learned the hard way that once something is out there, it’s out there.

Three Big Brands Using Social

Social marketing is here to stay and it’s only going to get bigger.


People use social media for many reasons but in my opinion, the common denominator is a connection. The world is crazy, busy, always going but it feels good to say something or have an opinion that someone else can relate to or add to somewhere out there. The brands I’m going to talk about understand this idea but each one also has its own approach based on its purpose.

1.) Pfizer “Get Old” #LetsGetOld

No one likes to think of getting old. But why? In my opinion, we’re scared to talk about it. Ignoring or shying away from situations doesn’t make things better but instead it makes you anxious for what’s to come.

Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, came along and started the conversation in a non-intrusive manner. Not only did Pfizer get people of all ages talking about getting old but it worked with other leading organizations, like National Alliance for Caregiving Association, Men’s Health Network, Society for Women’s Health Research and more to help add to the conversation.

Pfizer isn’t pushing its products but instead becoming an authoritative voice (or thought leader) in the “aging” space. Sure, there’s AARP and other organizations dedicated to the more mature, but Pfizer included everyone in this campaign, used multiple touch points and lightened the mood around aging. Some examples of what people were saying range from “I want to stay healthy for my two daughters”, “I plan to get old with joy, strength and vigor” or “I want to get old having fun.”

Originally started by SS+K (Shepardson, Stern & Kaminsky) agency with an integrated approach. Current AOR: Edelman continues with its PR efforts.

Platforms: Twitter, Facebook

2.) Lowe’s “Fix in Six” #LowesFixInSix

Who hasn’t been picking up or cleaning when you thought to yourself, “Ugh, there’s got to be a better way to do this!”

Lowe’s, a retail home improvement store, showed us how we can turn every day items into problem solvers through video. BBDO worked with Lowe’s to create Vines (six second videos) and with the promotional hashtag #LowesFixInSix.

Some of my favorite tips include using a hair dryer to get rid of stickers on purchased items, lemon juice to get rust stains off knives or pillow cases to house your sheet sets.

Again, the company isn’t dominantly pushing its product but hopes to come to the top of your mind next time you think of doing some home improvement. And hey, if you need some home improvement materials why not head to Lowe’s? It’s a non-forced entry into our every day lives and it’s helpful information. Win win.

Agency: BBDO and Meagan Cignoli

Platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Vine

3.) Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is a brand that is just doing it right all around. I remember my senior year in my Social Media in Strategic Communication class, we organized ourselves in groups to work on a final project. Each group chose a brand and created a mock social plan. While our group chose CPG (consumer product goods) and certainly noticed Dunkin’ Donuts in this space, we went with one of its competitors for two reasons: we wanted to show through our research that we acknowledged an area of weakness, had a solution and gave examples of execution. Plus we like a challenge.

I wanted to tell that brief story because Dunkin’ Donuts has the reigns of their social engagement from Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and counting. What makes them stand out is the fun nature of its engagement.

Dunkin’ Donuts uses campaigns like any other brand would, such as #MyDunkin, but the personal or thoughtful posts of people sharing stories or experiences around Dunkin’ Donuts continues with or without these campaigns. Pictures of products, videos of recipes, and personal stories are just some of the ways the brand draws you in and gets you to take notice.

So there you have some of the top brands I’ve been noticing in social media. Remember to have fun with it!

Valentine’s Day Memes

If you have any type of social media account, you’ve seen a Valentine’s Day meme by now. Well, I decided to make my own meme this year! Feel free to use it because I believe in a world without coconut and hard chew chocolates. We must stand united and all that other stuff.

Scroll down to see my top 5 fave memes.

Source: weknowmemes

Source: quickmeme

Source: geeksugar



Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you can enjoy Valentine’s Day. I always say February 14th is for couples and February 15th is for singles. On the 14th, chocolates on chocolates are being bought and love is in the air. BUT the day after, all those perfectly packaged chocolates in heart shapes are discounted! YEAH! Stock up if you’re single! Rent your fave movie and surround yourself with your love of chocolate. :)

As always, I like to leave a tip at the end of my posts. All signs point to video this year. In retail, CPG, entertainment and other industries, you will see an increased amount of video placement but as a consumer, you can also join in. Instead of sharing or creating a collage of pictures, you can make a collage of video and pictures. It’s kind of cool. The app is called Flick Stitch and it’s free. Check it out. I’ve used it a few times and it’s just a fun way to incorporate pictures and video into one shareable property.

Understand Apple’s “Misunderstood” Commercial

To fully enjoy this post, I need you to watch the commercial before you continue reading.


I wanted to write about this commercial spot because my Facebook feed for days was blowing up with comments from friends about how much they loved the commercial and why. The message is one we’re going to be seeing a lot more in the new year and I wanted to go into detail about why it worked and what’s the message.

  • Name of the commercial: Misunderstood
  • Message: Love, don’t judge
  • Feeling: Warm, togetherness, nostalgia
  • Products being sold: None
  • Brand: Apple

These are just a few of the takeaways from the commercial. Another thing to notice is that this commercial felt more like a story. Good, it should. If a consumer doesn’t believe the story of a brand or is on board with a company (meaning a consumer can relate, appreciate and/or support its initiatives), then the brand has failed. In this case, Apple succeeded. Apple didn’t push a single product during this commercial but if you noticed, the boy was using an iPod/iPhone device, an AppleTV and maybe even a Macbook to edit his final family video. So through this commercial showing the importance of creating memories, you’re also left with a feeling of “Hey, that looks easy and intuitive. I bet if I had that, I could make fun videos too.”

Another feeling you may have felt is empathy. Who hasn’t been misjudged in life? This kid may have been misunderstood in his family for always being in the background but he was clearly enjoying watching his family and being around them – just in a different way. So not only do we now feel like the products are easy to use, but we relate to what? THE STORY.

Think back to some of your favorite advertisements, articles, or news stories. Chances are you remember them because you can relate or it told a story you believed in.

A strong advertisement not only tells a story but also hits on many points within Maslow’s hierarchy. Long story short, Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who came up with this hierarchy of needs to describe what drives us. We may be human and complex but we also have similarities. It’s in our DNA; it’s “human nature” to feel this way.

Through the hierarchy, I found that this commercial touches on at least one point in each segment. Can you find them?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Finally, I would like to add that this commercial has gone viral but virility doesn’t mean sales necessarily. In this case, I believe it will mean increased sales for Apple because it’s a relatable story that is also emotional. We all remember Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” commercials and while it was hilarious and also viral, it didn’t tell a story other then you can ship anything. Awesome. Ok, now what? If I wasn’t shopping at Kmart before, I probably wouldn’t start shopping there now.

Because we’re emotional beings, the next time we’re thinking about buying an electronic, we might think of the warm feeling we felt when watching Apple’s “Misunderstood” commercial and might even purchase an Apple product next time.

So I ask that you watch this commercial one last time, enjoy it and see if you can pick up on the subtle hints of advertising. It’s not a bad thing. Advertising simply tells a story, shows you things/products in a different way and if we’re doing it right, you’ll become part of the story.


SEE YOU IN 2014!