Posts from the ‘Social Media’ Category
No one is immune from being misunderstood, most everyone is guilty at one time or another of misspeaking or of making an off comment. Yes, people are human and we all make mistakes, but how do you account for a large company like ING Direct launching the “Are You Suffering?” campaign that was viewed by many people as insulting or insensitive? The ad concept centers on an attempt at humor, comparing the anxiety and tension of retirement savings at tax time to a fictional disease called “RSP” (‘retirement savings plan”; a Canadian version of our “IRA”) for which, in the commercial, ING Direct Canada provides the ‘cure’.
In defense of the campaign that rolled out just over a week ago, ING Direct says that they never meant to insult. Unfortunately for them not only did they offend some of their viewing audience, they managed to rile the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). What were the creatives thinking, or were they? After all, unlike a thoughtless or misunderstood quip in facebook, advertising campaigns are (should be) the result of much research, reflection, creativity, critique, and audience testing. The Toronto based advertising agency of record says the ads were tested. But as fellow creative professional Rand says, “There’s testing and then there’s common sense and gut feelings.” Maybe some people are overly sensitive, or perhaps the creatives in charge did not have their own sensitivity meters turned up high enough.
Colleague Rand MacIvor brought the campaign to our attention via a closed group of creatives on LinkedIn. He also posted comments on facebook. Having health challenges of his own Rand felt insulted by the nature of the ads. As it turns out he was one of many. A few of us weighed in with our opinions and by and large there was a consensus, the ads were not funny, nor would they evoke the response that was intended. Being the kind of guy Rand is he wasn’t about to allow the spots to go unaccounted for. He launched a campaign of his own to draw attention to the offending ads. He wrote to ING Direct’s customer service and PR department and tweeted their CEO. He also wrote to the president of the ad agency. Rand says that, “all replied that they hadn’t intended to belittle anyone’s health issues. The fact is, they did.” Rand tweeted a reply to the CEO of ING Direct Canada saying, “No one wants to be known as the bank that makes fun of the chronically ill…” The days that followed saw the company attempt damage control over the many comments posted by others on it’s Facebook page. On Tuesday, a bit more than a week since the ads began running, and following several comments from health associations, the company announced it was pulling the ads, apologizing for any ill feelings they had caused.
Ewing Creative applauds both Rand MacIvor for taking issue with the ads publicly, and ING Direct for appropriately deciding to pull them from the air. We also applaud the citizens of Canada for making their voices known through social media.
The campaign was aimed at a Canadian audience and the tv ads were not aired in the U.S., but could be viewed worldwide on YouTube (of course). View tv spot and read Marketing Magazine article here. Also see Marketing Magazine’s article announcing that the ad was pulled.
ING Direct Canada is a separate entity from its parent company and has been bought by the Bank of Nova Scotia in Canada, thus has no relation to the international ING anymore.
The overall success of a website can be measured by two basic factors: Effective branding and search-ability. To do these two things well requires a balanced mixture of art and science. One needs to have a better-than-rudimentary understanding of branding and what it takes to achieve great search engine optimization (SEO).
The Art. Effective Branding.
Branding 101 versus “Content is King.” For many years “experts” have declared that content is the most important factor of a website. Content drives SEO, but it does not persuade people at first glance. How many times have you landed on a site only to be turned-off by chaos and clutter, pop-up ads, slow load times, unreadable text, and confusing messages? In a matter of seconds a new website visitor will make a snap judgment about you, your product, or service. They will determine if they like and trust you. They will decide if they want what you’re selling. That is the brutal truth, and that is why branding ought to be your first consideration. Only after a brand is effectively conveyed via key messaging — text and images — should one delve into the details of content.
The Science. Search-ability.
Beyond initial messaging, the purpose of content is to attract real people and robots.
Content builds loyalty. It establishes credibility. Assume that people have come to your site to “learn more”. Give them more. Sell them even more. But by all means make certain your content is accessible via a sensible, organized navigation scheme.
Content is candy to search engines. The more relevant the text is to your product and audience the better your website will rank, and the easier it will be for both people and search bots to find you.
Art meets Science — A winning combination. Unlike books, websites are malleable. Take advantage of the fluidity of the platform to change your content at will. Deliver it compellingly. Deliver it with motion. Search engines sit up and take notice when you make changes or add new content. Spread the word about what you have to offer the world via RSS, social media, videos, maps and workshops. Advertise. Interact. Like a spider spins her web, create many paths that all link back to your site. Ensure that you can be found. Make it easy for your audience to communicate with you.
© 2012 Kristy Ewing – Ewing Creative Inc.
Opportunity for creativity abounds via Facebook’s anticipated release of Timeline. One striking new change in the profile page layout will be the “cover photo”. Like a huge blank canvas we can foresee this space being filled imaginatively by everyone hoping to get our attention. Especially everyone with something to sell. As of this writing it’s unclear just how similar the new Brand Pages will be to the new personal profile pages of Timeline. But you can bet that if the change is as radical as anticipated the Big Brands are already positioning themselves to use the cover photo compellingly.