Taco Bell #OnlyInTheApp: A New Kind of Social Media Marketing

tacobell-tumblr-dark-800x305 On Tuesday, October 28th, Taco Bell made a bold social media marketing move to black out all of its social channels. FacebookInstagramTumblr, Snapchat, Google+ and Twitter were all closed, only leaving up a short message directing users to download its new mobile app and use the hashtag #OnlyInTheApp. The aim of this blackout was to move social media attention to its new mobile app which is capable of online ordering. According to Senior Director of Digital Marketing Tressie Lieberman:
We wanted to make sure that our fans were the people who found out about this first. We wanted to break through with a message that gets them excited and talking.
Taking a strikingly different approach than the social media driven marketing methods of the modern age, this marketing campaign drives followers away from its social channels in an effort to get them on the app. The aim is to get users' curiosity is sparked, and drive a more impactful call-to-action. Taco Bell Insta Blackout Users are abuzz following the blackout: The strategy has managed to land major successes for Taco Bell, with its mobile app gaining the title of the "22nd most downloaded app for iOS users in the United States." App Annie, an app ranking data and high quality mobile analytics service, indicated that the Taco Bell app jumped from the 60th position to the 1st in the food and drink category. What's more, the app currently holds the #1 spot on App Annie's free apps chart, outranking Google Maps, Spotify, Twitter, and Gmail. taco_bell The Taco Bell blackout without a doubt has gotten the social media audience talking, and proves that a brave move (like sacrificing nearly 1.4 million twitter followers) can sometime work in your favor. The minimal approach is refreshing, inspiring, and effective-for sure.   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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Roger Goodell Gets Tackled: The NFL Domestic Abuse Scandal

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How could the NFL, with arguably one of the most sophisticated PR departments in the world, handle a social media fiasco so poorly?  Fans were enraged over the actions of Ray Rice and the lack of response from NFL. At 451 Marketing, we had the opportunity to sit in on a webinar on Social Media Crisis Management: Lessons from the NFL, on this very issue.

Here are a few key points that I took away:

Bad news gets worse the longer it takes to come out - NFL officials were reluctant to admit that they had seen the video before it was leaked.  It took 10 days for Goodell to respond to the crisis and hold a press conference.  This is an unacceptable amount of time to address such a controversial and sensitive issue.  To many, the damage was already done.  This hurt the NFL's credibility and made its job of getting its views heard that much harder. Beware of the “Rolling Thunder”- It is usually best to break up a big announcement into a few smaller ones.  A bigger announcement, like Goodell’s press conference, addressed all the issues at once.  This can be overwhelming and leaves room for heavy scrutiny.  Smaller announcements allow the public to get the main ideas and digest it easier. Know what is being said - There were a lot negative comments flying about on the Internet in response to the NFL and its mishandling of the Ray Rice scandal. Although the NFL could not foresee the leak of the video, daily scans of keywords is a good way to see the ratio of positive comments vs. negative comments and help to predict future crises.


Appearances matter- The delivery of any message is key, especially when it is an apology.  Although Goodell said all the right things, his delivery was insincere and lacked emotion.  This led many to not believe his apology and take his words seriously.


Don’t censor comments - Just because there is negative content floating around doesn’t mean it should be censored.  People are expressing their views and they are upset—you can’t deny them of that.  Language should only be censored when words turn foul.

Know your audience and be sensitive to their issues - Domestic violence is an extremely sensitive issue, especially when almost half of the NFL fan base is female.  The NFL’s initial reaction to Ray Rice’s violence was seen as unsympathetic to the issue of domestic violence.


Utilize social media in a positive manner- Many people were expressing their views on the Ray Rice scandal via Twitter and Facebook.  This doesn’t have to be a place strictly for negative attention.  The Facebook page, NFL 12th Man, was a place where positive messages about the NFL could be shared.  This helped the league’s image.  It is also important to post third party content that helps support your cause.   In conclusion, following these guidelines can help to prevent and control any media crises that may arise.  From the NFL’s handling of the situation we are able to analyze and see what is most effective and what we may want to avoid if ever in a similar situation.   ** Written by Consumer PR intern Kelly O’Connor, Lesley University (Class of 2015)

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The Phone War Continues: Samsung Taunts Apple with Slew of Social Media Jabs

 Samsung 2Samsung’s latest online messages are taking prisoners, and its crosshairs are set on Apple.

It started out with a simple tweet:

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Long known as one of Apple’s biggest competitors, Samsung wasted no time in responding to the software company’s #Bendgate catastrophe. With the iPhone 6 Plus’s ongoing hardware issues, Samsung took the opportunity to highlight its own (purposefully) curved GALAXY Note Edge. The device, which will be available to US customers later this month, has a 5.6-inch screen with a slightly arched right edge.

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While other brands, such as Kit Kat, Slim Jim, and Heineken, created singular, good-natured responses, Samsung didn’t just stop at one stinging remark. For the past few weeks, the company has taken no sympathy on Apple, launching a full-on social media campaign surrounding Apple’s unfortunate circumstances. The technology company’s message is clear: Apple’s brand image has become shaky, and Samsung is going for a full knockout.

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Always looking for opportunities when Apple is ripe for ridicule, Samsung recently took its message off social media and onto Youtube, using Twitter users’ messages in a new video to mock its competitor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxhSnNZH3Rk#t=13 Though the company’s relentless stream of strikes and blows seems (at the very least) a little callous and (at its worst) incredibly cringe-worthy, the company is no stranger to caustic competitor marketing: The brand has been taking sly hits at Apple ever since 2010. Past ads have criticized Apple’s senseless product release lines, lack of product features, flawed hardware and slow-to-catch-up technology as weak points for the rival. Even before the iPhone 6 launched, the brand decided to take a Steve Jobs quote and use his input to its own advantage:

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Samsung has clearly mastered how to connect its own brand to other companies’ news and persistently insert itself into relevant conversations. As we wait for what scathing comments the company will release next, take a look at a roundup of the brand’s past real-time responses (compiled by The Verge): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNxDd3l0lEU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCnB5azFmTs


**Written by Elise Yancey, Public Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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National Coffee Day: Marketing Best Practices

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This much awaited holiday has been celebrated since 2005, although some suggest that the holiday originated in Japan in 1983. Regardless of its roots, the free beans are greatly appreciated by the masses. The major coffee retailers jumped at the opportunity to harness this holiday to employ creative marketing strategy. Dunkin Donuts chose to use the holiday to shed light on their new dark roast and offered free medium cups:

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McDonalds chose to extend their celebration by offering free small cups of coffee during their breakfast hours for two weeks leading up to September 29th.

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Krispy Kreme encouraged office workers to leave "out of the office" messages on their emails to let their co workers know they are enjoying a (free) coffee break. Customers can enjoy a 12 oz free cup of coffee, or a mocha, latte, or iced coffee for a discounted rate of $1. Their suggested message begins by stating "Did you know that the best way to be more productive at work is to take a break? It's true! I found it on the Internet."

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Tim Hortons took the celebrations one step further by not only offering a $1 cup of coffee, but also set up a scavenger hunt with envelopes containing "more than $9,000 in cash and gift cards", with location clues posted to social media. The envelopes were hidden across Buffalo, Rochester (New York), Detroit, Grand Rapids (Michigan), and Columbus (Ohio). The creative marketing strategy of the big coffee retailers highlights their commitment to not only reward consumers, but to also foster better brand recognition. For example, Dunkin Donuts' launch of a new dark roast on a holiday will link consumer's memory to their first free cup. McDonalds makes an effort to create a personal connection with consumers with the tagline "My coffee is your coffee", and Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons engage their consumers with parallel activities unrelated to physically drinking coffee. Although the holiday seems staged to tout the coffee producer's brand, it can serve as a lesson to content marketers across many industries. A free cup of coffee that is not glorified may not be as appreciated. The social media campaigns and conversation grab the attention of the reader, while pushing new product-all to "make Monday a little easier."   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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Emma Watson for #HeforShe: The Power of Celebrity and Social Media for Justice

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This past weekend, British actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson delivered a compelling speech to the U.N. General Women's Assembly to launch the #HeforShe campaign. The aim of this campaign is to mobilize as many men and boys as possible to advocate for gender equality. In her moving speech, Emma Watson brought attention to the unfortunate reality that "feminisim" is too often associated with "man hating," effectively halting the progression of achieving gender equality. "How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation," asks Watson poignantly. "Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too."


The involvement of men in the movement towards improving the conditions of women and girls all over the world creates a sense of universality, that males and females must come together to address what Watson calls a "human rights" issue. She continues, saying that in order to galvanize major change, men must also break the shackles of their own gender stereotypes. "If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't feel compelled to be submissive," she asserts. The concept of viewing men and women as two opposite entities with opposing ideals is not progressive or productive. According to Watson, men and women should define themselves as who they are, rather than what they are not, and in turn be accepting of their counterparts. The #HeforShe campaign has since garnered a lot of attention on social media, and Watson has encouraged her followers to take the pledge their support.

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The trending hashtag has taken over Facebook and Twitter in the past couple days, and the message seems to be resonating.


Take a look at Emma Watson's heartfelt and moving speech for yourself: In the wake of the recent flood of social media conversation following the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, proponents of gender equality are especially engaged. At the moment, many twitter conversations have centered on social justice for women, and Emma Watson's call for action could not have come at a more relevant time. Streamlining the message of #HeforShe under a unique yet succinct hashtag creates a solid platform for generating widespread conversation. Social media sites are fantastic forums for grassroots campaigns to snowball into global movements for justice - as seen this past summer with the viral success of the #StrikeOutALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I hope to see the #HeForShe movement stay afloat among other current social issues, and maintain its fearless determination to spur change.   **Written by Marketing intern Aneesha Joshi, International Relations major at Boston University (Class of 2015).

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