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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: Top 5 social media campaigns of 2014 recognized at mashies

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Successful social media campaigns tap into emotions, persuade action and inspire behavior – whether that’s happiness, hope, fear or yearning.

Mashable, a leading digital news and social media company, recently held its annual Mashies Awards in New York, which revealed the year’s most outstanding examples of digital media from categories including Best Real-Time Marketing, Best Branded App and many more.

Here are five of the most successful social media campaigns of 2014, each of which was able to tap into genuine emotion to make a lasting impact on consumers.

BK Motel logo_rgb1. Burger King’s “Motel King” campaign

When Burger King came out with its new Chicken Tendercrisp burger, it had to convince people to “cheat” on the Whopper. The solution? It created the official Burger King Motel, complete with Burger King-branded toiletries, robes and towels. Consumers could check into the hotel through social media, and were encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag #motelBK. The result was a massively viral campaign that included a flood of user-generated content across nearly all major social media platforms.

2. AT&T’s “@SummerBreak” campaign

If there are three things that teenagers love, it’s reality TV, social media and their cellphones. AT&T combined the three in its social media reality series @SummerBreak, which followed eight friends during their last summer together before college. Fans were able to interact with the cast through their mobile devices over social channels like Instagram and YouTube, and racked up millions of YouTube views across the 51-episode series. The show was so successful that AT&T decided to launch a second season, which aired its final episode in September 2014.

3. Tombstone’s “Bites of Fright” campaign

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? In 2014, Tombstone began a campaign to associate itself with the holiday by creating a series of spooky yet funny Vines named “Bites of Fright.” The Vines, which were posted every day during the month of October, were also housed on Tombstone’s Twitter and Facebook profiles in order to increase their reach. And it worked –- the campaign went viral and helped consumers cement the association between Tombstone and Halloween.

4. Chevy and the American Cancer Society “Paint Social Media Purple”

Chevy’s emotional “Purple Your Profile” campaign paid homage to cancer survivors, kicking off with a moving 60-second spot during the 2014 Super Bowl entitled “Life.” The brand gave people the opportunity to “purple” their Facebook profile, and pledged to donate $1 to the American Cancer Society for each person that participated. The program was massively popular, with leading consumer brands like Energizer and Lowe’s joining the movement and the story being covered across major networks like Fox and ABC. Most importantly, it raised $1 million for cancer charities and gave survivors the chance to come together to deliver a message of hope.

5. Nestle Coffee-mate’s “Stirring up Love ‘Outside the Cup’” campaign

Sometimes expressing how you feel — especially on Valentine’s Day — can be a little daunting. Nestle’s Coffee-mate stepped in, tasking a team of professional artists to turn users’ declarations of love into shareable, one-of-a-kind valentines. Using the hashtag #CMValentine, users submitted love notes on Twitter and Facebook, which were turned into handcrafted Valentines for their loved ones. By thinking “outside the cup,” Nestle turned everyday expressions of love into miniature works of art, increasing their channel engagement and adding new consumers to its social media communities.

Envelope, please! And the winner is – Burger King’s “Motel King” campaign.


Things Journalists Think PR Peeps Should Stop Doing Right Now

The Spin Cycle is always collecting pearls about what not to do in pitching stories about our clients and their brands to the media. Since I’m a recovering journalist – and served for years as a daily reporter – it always wakes up the newsman in me when I see other PR peeps pedaling poor pitches. PR Newser and Mashable recently compiled a best/worst practices list in media relations. Here are some good recommendations about pitches to avoid:

Pitching a story that has already been covered

People work together on accounts, lines get crossed, etc. We get it. But the team has definitely received multiple pitches for things we already covered both from different agencies and from within the same agency.

As we laid out in our friendly note to production studios on AgencySp, this sometimes happens several weeks after the original post went live (usually in order to get a second round of media attention for a client). There’s no clearer sign that someone isn’t paying attention.

Transparently self-interested attempts at flattery

A fellow writer tells us that she often receives pitches that read something like “Really liked your piece on X, so thought you might be interested in posting on something completely unrelated!”

We see what you did there, but why not just be upfront about it?

Randomly mentioning someone on social

This is a very effective way to get a given person’s attention, but it’s usually kind of weird. In a particular instance, a rep gave one of our colleagues an “h/t” on a post unrelated to the client they wanted her to cover.

(And she still ignored the next pitch.)

Requests that we “jump on a call” with the client’s CEO

Most journalists already know what the CEO is going to say — he/she is going to talk about how his/her company’s new ad tracking/content management/influencer ranking software is going to change the industry after giving us a 45-minute demo.

In most cases, though, these pitches don’t address the “why,” which is really the most important part of the equation. Unless you’re contacting a trade publication sponsored by an industry group, the CEO is probably not going to get a thousand-word profile, with or without a full-length photo – so maybe he/she needs to temper those expectations a bit.

This is especially true if you’re proposing an in-person meeting. Unless the client is either an Apple insider or someone with an exclusive on the real Beyoncé release (not the fake one), the journalists are going to have to say no.

Stories with no angles

This is a pretty basic one, but I hear it all the time: email pitches that inspire “what’s the angle here?” responses. Assume that the question “What does this client have to give our readers?” precedes the interaction and be aware that the answer will in most cases be different for every contact.

Reporters aren’t dumb, but they’re not always geniuses, either. A little push in the direction of a larger story is almost always appreciated – unless you cross the line and tell them how to cover something, a fatal PR blunder.


Dignified Mic | Brittany Maynard Was Face of Right-to-Death Movement 

Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old face of the controversial right-to-death movement, recently legally ended her life peacefully after suffering increasingly frequent seizures from a stage 4 malignant brain tumor. She moved with her family from California to Oregon, where she could legally die with medication prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Maynard captivated millions via social media with her public decision to end her life. Her death brought a new element to the movement in the age of social media because the conversation has included younger people. These kinds of fatal diseases are so hard to swallow, especially with someone like Maynard who lived life to the fullest in her short time in this world. What she did will live on as an inspiration to those that have such terminal illnesses. She has paved a way through dignity and grace. For that she get’s The Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!


» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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One comment

  1. It’s always great to know that more and more brands are reaching people through social media with their great campaigns. Unlike 10 years ago when brands do traditional marketing, today’s playing ground in advertising and promotion goes outside the box because of social media networks and in the case of Coffee Mate, it’s “Outside the Cup”.

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