Marketing for Evil

Emerging media has changed the game for marketers across the globe. Unfortunately, not everyone is using these advents for good. Salafi jihadist militant terrorist group ISIS launched a social media campaign earlier this year aimed at its many followers, including over a thousand Americans. “The followers are bombarded daily with two primary messages, the FBI Director said: come join the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. If you can’t come, he said, the message is to ‘kill, kill, kill, wherever you are.'”
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Their tactics, it seem, are working. “IS has been promoting the profiles of its teenage recruits, clearly encouraging them to publicise the outfit’s brand through their Facebook accounts and other social media. Using the marketing techniques of media monitoring, Soufan points out that on Twitter, a massively influential recruitment and publicity tool for Islamic extremist groups, IS is ‘crushing’ al-Qaeda. Savvy use of hashtags and clever – if warped – videos makes Twitter the perfect tool for the IS product, while al-Qaeda remains relatively silent on the social network. And, while Isis mentions on Twitter rocketed after its early capture of Mosul in June, al-Qaeda mentions increased far less – and that despite the massively heightened global conversation about Islamic terrorism.”


But how can this be stopped? Peter W. Singer is the director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program. He said, “the growth of jihadist activity on social media is in line with the wider use of the virtual space by people in general. Government oversight is not much of a deterrent in these conflict situations. You are talking about a virtual space where physical location of the sender can be everywhere from a stable state, a failed state zone (like much of Syria or Iraq now), or thousands of kilometers away. Small governments trying to control all the content on the Internet is like them trying to build sand castles in the desert in the midst of a wind storm.”

So, what can be done? Should the US and other countries start an anti-terror social media campaign?

Marketing for Evil

Black Friday Backlash

Black Friday has been around since the 1950s, and although there are many myths of its origins, the real story was unveiled by the History Channel; “police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.” This true story was eventually overshadowed by marketers trying to spin the day in a more positive light as we know it today: a day of discounts so deep that people line up as much as a day early to score big.

Black Friday has spawned a few other “shopping” days including Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. These days are mostly in response to the ram151125-rei-seatlle-yh-0511p_b75d917285d1584ce62a29b023ac357a.nbcnews-ux-600-480pant consumerism of Black Friday and encourage shoppers to support small, local businesses, shop from the comfort of their home, and support their favorite charities. In addition to these other shopping days, many retailers have put their foot down recently. This year, REI announced that it would be sitting out the Black Friday festivities by closing on Black Friday.

“REI’s announcement … is indicative of a growing trend of brands seeking to connect with consumers,” said Julie Lyons, a consumer analyst and president and COO of marketing agency Zenzi. “Targeting demographics is no longer enough. As a result, many brands are realizing the importance of psychographics to connect with customers on a deeper level. … REI is showing that it is committed to a higher purpose. It is seeking to connect with consumers that prioritize experiencing life, appreciating nature and spending time with family over the chaos of the holiday season.”

And of course, REI was “open” for Cyber Monday and offering sales and deals. Is this a shift to more web-based shopping? What do you think this means for brick-and-mortar stores?

Black Friday Backlash

Marketing Tragedy: is it okay?

This week, tragedy struck the French capital of Paris when a series of coordinated terrorist attacks shocked the city and left over 120 dead and over 350 wounded. Around the world, religious and political reasons condemned the attacks and pledged their suScreenshot 2015-11-15 19.00.07pport of Paris in the wake of the attacks. According to a CNN article, “U.S. President Barack Obama pledged solidarity with France, saying, We’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.’ Pope Francis condemned the killings, saying they were a part of the ‘piecemeal Third World War.’ ‘There is no religious or human justification for it,’ he said in a telephone interview with TV2000, the television network of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.” And not long after the attacks, people across the globe began to show their solidarity through hashtags and other forms of social media. Some changed their Facebook profile pictures to be shaded with the colors of the French flag. Some posted pictures from trips they had taken to Paris. “Facebook also made available its Safety Check, which allows users and others to mark themselves safe in the wake of a disaster” (source).

And then, the brands began to get involved. Many French and international fashion brands used social media to show their support, including Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.

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Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so this felt natural. It wasn’t until other brands started to get in on the action that I began to feel a little uneasy. Amazon and Starbucks changed their websites to reflect their support, as you can see below.

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And I found myself wondering: is it okay to do this? There’s a reason I’m grappling with this. On the recent 9/11 anniversary, many brands posted on social media with hashtags like “Never Forget” and others. “Advertising-industry publication Digiday asked whether brands should even be tweeting about 9/11: ‘One would think that the most respectful thing a brand could do would be to not say anything at all, unless the brand’s employees or customers were in some way directly [affected] by 9/11.’ So, when would it be OK? Digiday specifically referenced a tweet from the American Red Cross, which read simply, ‘Today, we remember #september11.’ That tweet, as you might expect, drew only positive responses. The same can’t be said for one from the Los Angeles Lakers, who Ad Age said ‘seemed to realize they were treading on thin ice’ by tweeting a Kobe Bryant photo with the #neverforget hashtag as a graphical overlay. The Lakers quickly deleted the tweet” (source).

So, what do you think? Is it appropriate? Or should brands whose employees have not been directly affected by a tragedy avoid commenting?

Marketing Tragedy: is it okay?

Your Shopping Bag Has Abandonment Issues

I’ll admit it. I love to online shop. It’s the ultimate form of window shopping. I can type in a URL, cruise my way through the pages, and maybe even buy something. But most of the time, I’ll add a few items to my cart, eyeball the total adding up, panic and jump ship. And I’m not the only one. According to a report by the Baymard Institute, “Shopping cart abandonment is increasing, and it will continue to do so as more consumers shift to online and mobile shopping. In 2013, as many as 74% of online shopping carts were abandoned by shoppers, according to data shared with BI Intelligence by e-commerce data company, Barilliance. That abandonment rate is up from 72% in 2012, and 69% in 2011.”

Lately, however, I’ve noticed that a few of my guilty pleasure online shops have been reaching back out to me after I’ve abandoned my full cart. While recently doing some shopping on Old Navy, I added a few items to my cart, got distracted, and turned my computer off. A few hours later, I received the following email.


The follow-up email after identifying an abandoned shopping cart has become more prevalent in recent years, in addition to other strategic methods. The following infographic from Monetate spreads some of this same gospel.

Remarketing is another critical component to reducing shopping cart abandonment. According to AdWords, “Remarketing helps you reach people who have visited your website or used your app. Previous visitors or users can see your ads as they browse websites that are part of the Google Display Network, or as they search for terms related to your products or services on Google.” It looks a little something like this:


With these tips in mind, your ecommerce site won’t need any kind of therapy for its abandonment issues!

Your Shopping Bag Has Abandonment Issues

Media Taking Flight

I used to travel a lot for work. At least three times a month, I was off to some other time zone in some other state, or occasionally, some other country. I became intimately familiar with an array of airports: JFK, LGA, DCA, IAD, DTW, ORD, SDF, and of course my home base of CHS. Marketing in airports is nothing new. You’ll see signs for local tourist attractions and restaurants, B2B companies trying to tap in to business travelers, and any manner of ads for shops or bars within the actual airport. You can see one example of an airport advertisement that I snapped in ATL just this past weekend.


Right next to this ad, however, was the following display.

There is a stark difference between a still and a moving ad. as we learned with the advent of movies and television. What makes this ad stand out more, however, is that it’s interactive. The screen can be touched to bring up different features of the watch and can highlight other selling points. By targeting airports, where many business commuters pass through, Samsung knows that the ad might make them stop and think about how a smartwatch could improve their work efficiency while traveling.

Media Taking Flight