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How To Craft Messages That Capture Your Audience’s Attention

27 Jun










I found this infographic to be a great way to quickly summarize the points.  Courtesy Ragan Communications:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Be unexpected
  3. Be concrete
  4. Get credible
  5. Be emotional
  6. Tell a story


New York City Targets Energy Drinks And Sweetened Teas in Advertising Campaign

6 Jun

I worked in the Health Industry for over 3 years and the rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke is a real concern for the state, not jut in Trinidad and Tobago which has the highest rates in the Caribbean, but globally. We started to tackle this in 2011 through a public education programme about the need to lose weight, get active and eat healthy.  It is interesting however to read about the push back by the American Beverage Association (ABA).  The global public health problem of increasing waistlines is not something the ABA can hope to address with Public Relations.  A more appropriate response would be to continue to add more affordable healthier options to their product mix.  Please read this blog by Natalie Zmuda and let me know what you think.

NYC’s Latest Target: Sports Drinks and Sweetened Tea

‘Pouring on the Pounds’ Ads Also Goes After Energy Drinks, Fruit-Flavored Beverages

By:   Published: June 04, 2013
New York City is at it again. The city’s health department launched a new iteration of the long-running “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign, this time targeting sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored beverages and sweetened teas.

The ads, which will air on TV and be seen on city buses, warn New Yorkers about the dangers of sugary beverages that may “sound healthy.” Past versions of the campaign have gone after soda.

In the latest series of ads, non-carbonated beverages are attacked for being packed with sugars that can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and complications like amputation, heart attack, vision loss and kidney failure. Outdoor ads show a sports drink bottle that’s pouring nauseating globs of fat into a glass. The ads, slated to run through June, encourage New Yorkers to replace sugary beverages with water, seltzer, fat-free milk and fresh fruit.

“Sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit-flavored drinks sometimes sound like they’re good for us, but they are contributing to the obesity epidemic just as much as sugary soft-drinks,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, in a statement.

The health department says sales of non-carbonated sugary drinks have risen substantially in recent years, and the ads are meant to warn New Yorkers who “may mistakenly believe that non-carbonated sugary drinks are healthy.” According to the health department, data from the New York City Community Health Survey shows that, of the 10 city neighborhoods with the highest obesity rates, nine also boast the highest consumption of sugary drinks.

According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, energy drink volume rose 14% in 2012. Ready-to-drink tea rose 5% and sports drinks were up 2%. Those figures don’t separate out unsweetened or lower-calorie options.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo referred calls to the American Beverage Association.

Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the ABA, referenced a new study from the Centers for Disease Control that shows over a 12-year period, U.S. youth and adults lowered their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages by 68 and 45 calories per day, respectively. Mr. Keane added that the ABA has reviewed the city’s Community Health Survey and that its claims connecting consumption of sugary beverages and obesity don’t “add up.”

“This obsession that the New York City Health Department has for beverages is really unhealthy, because it’s misleading New Yorkers. The contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to diets is small and declining, yet obesity rates are going up,” Mr. Keane said. “The facts don’t match their rhetoric.”

Last year the industry was extremely vocal in condemning New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the health department for attempting to institute a ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. That effort was struck down earlier this year by a New York Supreme Court Judge.

“The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes,” Coca-Cola said in a statement, at the time. “We are transparent with our consumers. They can see exactly how many calories are in every beverage we serve. …New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase.”


Cheerios Ad Featuring Mixed-Race Family And Biracial Child Brings Out The Racists

3 Jun

A new commercial for Cheerios featuring a mixed-race family has become a target for racists on the internet – from YouTube to Facebook to Reddit.  The advertisement features a Caucasian mother, an African-American father and their biracial daughter, and contains no overt messaging, politically correct or otherwise, except that Cheerios are good for you.  The negative comments posted were reportedly becoming so outrageous that the commenting system has been disabled on the advertisement’s YouTube page.  According to CNN reports, there were over thirteen thousand negative comments compared to about six thousand positive comments. However the Huffington Post reported there were more than 1,600 likes compared to over 500 dislikes as of Thursday evening.

So why the huge uproar over this ad promoting the heart-healthy benefits of Cheerios?  This is another example of how the often anonymous environment of the Internet can bring out the worst in people.

Despite the fact that interracial couples and multiracial children continue to increase in the population of America, advertising agencies and the corporate sector are still cautious about featuring this demographic in their advertisements.  However, Camille Gibson, Vice President of Marketing for Cheerios, in a statement issued to The Gawker said “Consumers have responded positively to our new Cheerios Ad.  At Cheerios, we know there are many kinds of families and we celebrate them all.”
I commend General Mills, the manufacturer of the Cheerios brand, for their commercial which acknowledges diversity.  Hopefully the uproar over the Cheerios advertisement won’t discourage other companies from embracing the changing demographics of not just America, but the world.

Francisca Jordan is an accomplished communications strategist and advisor with over (24) years experience in Corporate Communications, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.  Ms Jordan has assisted several large and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in both the public and private sector by providing winning strategies that transform business, drive sales, engage customers, employees, and other stakeholders and increase brand value. 

More companies use email marketing for customer aquisition and lead generation

22 May

This blog by sheds light on B2B trends:

B2B Email Marketers Focus on Targeting Content
MAY 21, 2013


Customer acquisition, lead nurturing are top goals

For business-to-business (B2B) companies, email marketing is all about getting the right content in front of the right customers. Customer acquisition and lead nurturing were the most important purposes of email marketing programs among US B2B marketing professionals surveyed in March by BtoB Magazine. Brand awareness and customer retention were less important to email marketing efforts.

In keeping with the goal of reaching the appropriate audience, the greatest percentage of marketers saw delivering content to the right segment as the No. 1 tactic that would improve their email marketing program, cited by almost half of respondents. List segmentation, a related tactic, was also cited by 30% of B2B marketers surveyed.

But email marketing is not as simple as just targeting the right audience. The greatest percentage of respondents—58%—cited delivering relevant content as the biggest challenge and opportunity they faced in the next year. Reaching the right people is critical, but providing the audience with content that will matter to them is also important.

In terms of evaluating their efforts, the greatest percentage of B2B marketers (23%) said that click through rate (CTR) was the most important metric they looked at, and BtoB Magazine found that the average CTR across these businesses was 7%.

As personalization and targeting improves, CTRs are also likely to rise.


The Power of Being Black

14 May

The headline “Why is Facebook Blue” for the article below by Leo Widrich caught my attention.  Yes…why IS facebook blue?  I never thought about it until then.  The article goes on to discuss the emotions triggered by the use of various colours and which colours appeal more to men and women.  So what about my company’s logo that uses red lettering on a black background?


Hmmm……Not bad at all.  ;-o.  I hope you enjoy Leo Widrich’s blog as much as I did.  It’s a bit long, but worth the read.



Why is Facebook blue? According to The New Yorker, the reason is simple. It’s because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green color blind; blue is the color Mark can see the best.

Not highly scientific, right? That may not be the case for Facebook, but there are some amazing examples of how colors actually affect our purchasing decisions. After all, sight is the strongest developed sense in most human beings. It’s only natural that 90% of an assessment for trying out a product is made by color alone.

So how do colors really affect us, and what is the science of colors in marketing, really? As we strive to make improvements to our product at Buffer, studying this phenomenon is key. Let’s dig into some of the latest, most interesting research on it.

Which colors trigger which feeling for us?

Being completely conscious about what color triggers us to think in which way isn’t always obvious. The Logo Company has come up with an amazing breakdown that shows which colors are best for which companies and why. Here are 4 great examples:




Clearly, every one of these companies is seeking to trigger a very specific emotion:

When we feel compelled to buy something, color can play a major role. Analytics company KISSmetrics created an amazing infographic on the science of how colors affect our purchases.

Green stands out to me as the most relaxing color we can use to make buying easier. We didn’t intentionally choose this as the main color for Buffer–although it seems to have worked very well so far.

At second look, I also realized how frequently black is used for luxury products. Here is the full infographic:

How to improve your marketing with better use of colors:

This all might be fairly entertaining, but what are some actual decisions we can apply today to our website or app? The answer comes yet again from some great research done by the good folks over at KISSmetrics.

If you are building an app that mainly targets women, KISSmetrics suggests that women love blue, purple, and green, and dislike orange, brown, and gray.

In case your app is strictly targeting men, the rules of the game are slightly different. Men love blue, green, and black, but can do without brown, orange, and purple.

In another experiment, Performable (now HubSpot) wanted to find out whether simply changing the color of a button would make a difference in conversion rates.

They started out by trying to guess the outcome of a simple choice between two colors (green and red) and trying to guess what would happen.

“Green connotes ideas like “natural” and “environment,” and given its wide use in traffic lights, suggests the idea of “go” or forward movement. The color red, on the other hand, is often thought to communicate excitement, passion, blood, and warning. It is also used as the color for stopping at traffic lights. Red is also known to be eye-catching.”

So, clearly an A/B test between green and red would result in green, the more friendly color. At least that was their guess. Here is what their experiment looked like:

So how did that experiment turn out? The answer was surprising: The red button outperformed the green button by 21%.

What’s most important to consider is that nothing else was changed at all: 21% more people clicked on the red button than on the green button. Everything else on the pages was the same, so it was only the button color that made this difference.

This definitely made me wonder: If we were to read all the research before this experiment and ask every researcher which version they would guess would perform better, I’m sure green would be the answer in nearly all cases. Not so much.

At my company, we’ve also conducted dozens of experiments to improve our conversion rates using changes of colors. While the results weren’t as clear, we still saw a huge change. One hypothesis is that for a social media sharing tool, there is less of a barrier to signup, which makes the differences less significant.

Despite all the studies, generalizations are extremely hard to make. Whatever change you make, treat it first as a hypothesis, and see if the actual experiment supports your ideas. Personally, I’m always very prone to go with opinion based on research I’ve come across. Yet, data always beats opinion, no matter what.


Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook. Leo writes more posts on lifehacks, efficiency, and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter @LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy.

Will JC Penny’s re-branding efforts work?

3 May

I had to share this very good article by Rohit Bhargava which discusses the re-branding campaign started by JC Penny.


There is nothing more powerful than a genuine heartfelt apology. At least, that’s what JCPenney is hoping based on a new ad the brand just released today featuring an apology to customers for recent changes and a promise to start listening more:  

The ad is a marked departure from the Apple-style “we’ll tell you what you really want” strategy employed by former CEO (and longtime Apple exec) Ron Johnson (here’s my take on why that didn’t work). Will this rapid apology and departure from the past year’s rebranding of “JCP” work?

If recent history is any guide, it certainly can. People love a good fallen hero story. This arc is at the center of hundreds of dramatic films every year. The “hero in trouble” scene where someone walks through the rain completely alone before the problem is resolved is the ultimate cinematic cliche. But in business, redemption stories do work as well.

Culpa Marketing involves strategically using mistakes as an opportunity to rebuild trust by using a more human, direct and authentic style of communication to deliver a heartfelt apology and promise to make changes to solve the problem.

Consider these recent examples of Culpa Marketing at work:

1) JetBlue immediately responded to a PR crisis with a pilot who had a “medical situation” on board a flight by releasing information instantly, not hiding any facts and communicating as a real person might. Their lack of stonewalling help the crisis from escalating. It was a similar approach to the one the brand took in response to a controversy around stranded passengers back in 2007 that led the brand to issue it’s own Bill of Passenger Rights, and volunteer proactively to issue compensation retroactively for passengers who were inconvenienced.

2) Domino’s Pizza launched a campaign showing real focus group footage of customers’ criticizing their crust by calling it “cardboard” and complaining that their tomato sauce “tasted like ketchup.” Then the brand recreated their product from the ground up and launched a new ad campaign touting their new pizza. Over the past four years, the brand has delivered rapid growth and profit – and every recently started promoting that their newest pizza will have their delivery teams slowing down, just to make sure and get the quality right.This is the new model of marketing and crisis response – where brands admit their own faults proactively and publicly. They run million dollar advertising campaigns proclaiming their apologies far and wide. And once that’s done, the foundation is laid. Opinions are ready to shift and large groups of consumers (apart from the haters) are ready to reconsider their brand opinions. They are ready to trust again … which is exactly where JCPenney hopes they will be.

Now all they need to do is actually change their experience into one that consumers will love again. You know … the “easy” part.

Rohit Bhargava is the award-winning author of “Likeonomics,” a frequent keynote speaker on PR and the future of media, and adjunct professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University. He also blogs at Influential Marketing Blog, where a version of this article first appeared.

Video Ad’s Success Hinges on Social Sharing in the Early Days

1 May

Courtesy the eMarketer.

FMCG ranks second, behind entertainment

Digital video has viral potential, and advertisers are increasingly trying to tap into the social-sharing instinct among viewers. Unruly Media Inc., a video technology company, studied social shares worldwide and found that the fast-moving consumer goods and consumer products category (FMCG) made particular strides in the first quarter of 2013, capitalizing especially on Super Bowl placements and increasing the number of social video shares by 78.2% over Q4 2012.

In total, entertainment garnered the most social video shares in Q1 2013, which is unsurprising given the adeptness of the industry at creating video content. Impressively, the FMCG sector was right behind. The two industries accounted for over half of total video ad shares.

Looking specifically at social video ad shares around the Super Bowl, the study also found that the auto sector—a major Super Bowl advertiser—performed fairly poorly.

The Super Bowl is where auto advertisers devote a significant percentage of their yearly budget, and that allocation showed in the increased shares the auto sectors’ videos received in the first quarter of this year—377% more than in Q4 2012. But that didn’t help boost auto above fourth place in the percentage of total shares garnered during that period. It seems auto manufacturers have more work to do to bring their TV ad-spot know-how to the web.

While creating unique, compelling video is critical to getting social shares, there is also a bit of science behind the phenomenon.

Unruly Media looked at social video sharing during 2012 among the 200 most-shared brand videos and found that the first three days after an ad’s debut determined a lot about its success: 10% of total shares occurred on the second day after debut, the apparent high point for video ad sharing. And the first three days saw one-quarter of total shares.

Social networkers are ready and willing to share video; they are simply waiting for content worthy of their attention and endorsement. Online video sharing was a top internet activity among US web users, according to a December 2012 study from NetBase, especially among younger consumers. It was the No. 2 online activity among those between 18- to 34-years-old. And even among those in the 35-to-54 age group, more than half reported sharing video.



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