Tag Archives: Bill Gates

Cough up $100 or pour water on your head. A study in successful social media campaigns.

ice-bucket

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen at least one video of one of your friends dumping a bucket of water on themselves.

Perhaps you heard about the POTUS’ refusal to subject himself to the ice-water ritual, instead opting to part with $100.

You may have even engaged in the asinine activity yourself, and called out folks you know to do the same (as I have).

What was that, you ask?

Only one of the most successful social media campaigns ever, that’s what!

Over the past few weeks the ALS organization launched a campaign to raise funds for, and awareness about the ailment, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was simple.

If someone called you out, you had 24 hours to accept the challenge and either (a) film yourself dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, or (b) donate $100 to ALS (you could also do both as many did).

You also had to call out three of your own friends, family or colleagues to accept the challenge.

Here’s mine.

If your reading of this post is the first time you’re being made aware of this social media initiative, you’re either not on Facebook or you have no friends (or both).

Because everyone has been caught up in the ice bucket frenzy.

Mark Zuckerberg.

Bill Gates.

Justin Timberlake.

Martha Stewart.

And the list goes on.

Which is partially why I’m designating the Ice Bucket Challenge the most successful social media campaign (by a non profit) I’ve ever seen.

When I thought about penning this post, I figured I do a little digging to see what other successful social media campaigns existed in the non-profit space.

And there were quite a few – none that I ever heard of or experienced – that seemed to have achieved the desired effects: they raised money and increased awareness about their respective causes.

One that stands out is the WATERisLIFE campaign, which hijacked the hashtag #firstworldproblems to highlight the problem of communities that lacked access to clean water.

Launched by the Water Is Life organization, the campaign sought to focus on the real issues facing people living in difficult situations throughout the world.

The success of that campaign generated over a million days worth of clean water to those in need.

Curious that the ALS campaign has us wasting water, while WATERisLIFE is trying to help folks access it.

Anywho, the point of this post is simply to reinforce the point that social media initiatives, when well thought out and properly executed, can work.

As Kickstarter aptly demonstrates, people respond favorably to properly crafted calls-to-action, to the tune of billions of dollars.

And as ALS has demonstrated, a good idea goes a long way.

 

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Random Thoughts on Branding

I recently returned from a conference in St. Thomas, USVI, where I moderated a panel on advertising.  The session, titled Advertising: The Convergence of Television, Film and Technology, included an attorney from Microsoft corporation, and a senior executive from Global Grind, a start-up of Russell Simmons, backed by the same investment group that funds Facebook.

The session, which started with a brief Power Point presentation (many thanks to my good friend Ben Tannenbaum for his visuals), segued into a heated discussion of the Microsoft ‘I Am A PC’ spots.  Actually, the discussion centered around the efficacy of the first series of commercials launched by Microsoft, which featured Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, and whether Microsoft had intended to lead with those commercials, before unveiling the ‘I Am A PC’ spots.

Several members of the audience thought that Microsoft’s initial spots, were simply crap, and that the ‘I Am A PC’ was a belated effort to offer a more meaningful commercial.  Microsoft’s representative (and a few Microsoft ‘ringers’ in the audience) advised that the Seinfeld commercials (I think there were at least 2 that I viewed) were an intentional patsy, or sacrificial lamb, offered to get people talking about how bad they were.  According to him, the point of those commercials, were that they were…how to put this?…pointless.

For anyone who followed Seinfeld, the pointless nature of each episode, was, in fact, the point of the entire show.  They were shows about nothing.  Similarly, Microsoft explained, the spots were intended to do nothing more than spark discussion about how pointless they were, and to have audiences asking ‘what’s the meaning of all this?’

They specifically didn’t want there to be a single mention of Mircosoft, Vista or anything remotely related to either.  More importantly, they didn’t want people talking about Apple.  Hence, the spots were not intended as a response commercial to Apple’s many diss ads, which continually punked Microsoft as a clunky out-of-touch company.  Rather, they were intended to take the dialogue in a completely different direction.

And when people were just as confused as they could be, the ‘I Am A PC’ spots began airing.  The resulting tide of adulation and praise for these commercials, which were full of life and meaning, and the antithesis of the original Seinfeld spots, were Microsoft’s resurrection.

The reason I used the Microsoft commercials in my example, was because whatever you thought of Microsoft, or its operating system, or its commercials, for that moment in time, Microsoft had captured everyone’s attention.  It had become the quintessential brand of the moment.  When the first commercial aired, the blogsphere was a twitter (no pun intended) with people debating its meaning.  Angry posts declared that Microsoft had missed the mark in responding to Apple’s clever ads, and that no one ‘got it’ (whatever ‘it’ was).

Similarly, when the ‘I Am A PC’ dropped several weeks later (after the subsequent Seinfeld spot), the blogsphere was, once again, flooded with bloggers (and regular folks) discussing the Microsoft spot.  Over the period of time between the first and last spots, Microsoft claimed that there were literally millions of independent threads online about its ads.

While Apple may be THE brand of the hip cool, current, plugged-in minority, Microsoft (if only for a fleeting moment in time) demonstrated that it had the capacity to be that hip brand (of the dorky majority).

By the end of my session, people were literally up-in-arms, and I thought contentedly (to myself) “well done, my good man.  Well done.”  After the session that day, and into the next day, people approached myself, and my two panelists, to give us hearty handshakes and thank us for so spirited a session.  Law students wanted to know how I got into the business and asked for my card.  And a few of the conference planners invited me to moderate sessions in the future.  I may be on next year’s planning committee.  Shoot, I may have even landed a client.

While Microsoft and Apple will continually be in this war of attrition, I’ll happily pimp them for the benefit of MY brand.  ‘Nuff said.

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