As with yesterday’s 2013 Year-End List of the Best Year-End Lists, I presented a similar list to this one last year. That makes each of these lists TRADITIONS, and our descendants are now obligated to carry them on long after our deaths.
I believe very much in the concept of “Marketing Moments,” almost more than anything else these days. (A whole chapter of my book is devoted to dividing the restaurant visitor’s experience into eighteen separate Marketing Moments!) In reality, those moments occur everywhere, from mobile devices and TV screens to server interactions, messy restrooms, and tabletops crowded with point of sale pieces that leave no room to unfold an overly complicated menu. Most of the examples on this particular list were delivered by some kind of established media (even if only recently established). But the fact is, every little moment has the potential to be as intense and persuasive as a well-received SuperBowl ad.
Those of us tasked with marketing only get people’s attention for little tiny slices of time—what are we doing with that time?
Here’s what some people did (and what others did as a reaction to what they did):
1. Chipotle Made Us A Little Miniature Pixar-esque Film.
It’s darker than their earlier one, and more hit-you-over-the-head. Which is fine, but to me, as a result it contains less charm, more uncomfortable manipulation. Still: making something this expensive (you can almost see the money) and expecting 99% of the people who see it to willingly and willfully watch or even search for it online, or share it with friends on social media—those moments are only possible with a brand who’s built up so much goodwill.
2. FunnyOrDie.com Made Us A Little Satire of Chipotle.
Almost immediately, unaffiliated smart-alecks pointed out some inconvenient truths (as smart-alecks will) about the Chipotle film—another awesome moment, in that it reminds us that non-manipulated truth and sheer entertainment are powerful, and possibly necessary to survive in the new media landscape.
(BTW, I do not personally recommend you go check out more funny videos; that’s some digi-message that FunnyOrDie stuck onto their video embed link that I can’t figure out how to get rid of. Go if you want, but (a) PLEASE COME BACK and (b) be utterly confident that your eyes are ready for content that’s NSFW.)
3. KFC Invented the Obvious and Called It GoCups.
Good idea. Just, y’know, very nifty. Why were these not invented in 1977? I hope they catch on. Are they catching on? They may not be catching on—but I’m sure it’s too early to tell. Only time and the Yum! annual report will tell.
4. Despite the Introduction of Instagram Video, Vine Brought Out Marketer’s Creativity.
Dunkin’ Donuts got some nice attention for their Vine, the first use during a football broadcast of the 6-second format—and Taco Bell used it to introduce their Cool Ranch. It seems like more of a natural space for marketers to play than Instagram, possibly. Instagram might be too personal; marketers might not be welcome there yet. I might rescind that observation next year, but so far Vine seems to be the better place for marketers to connect.
5. This “Chicken Scratch” Billboard in Dallas Demonstrated the Power of Anti-Heroic Branding.
It just goes to show: if you really understand your brand, you can ignore almost any kind of “rule” a marketeer throws down. I think this probably got a lot of new customers and reminded some fans why they love Chicken Scratch.
6. Twitter Hackers Messed With Burger King, and Gave McDonald’s A Chance To Be Gracious. Then Those Same Hackers Turned Around and Did Absolutely NOTHING To Chipotle.
I’m on record as finding the current Burger King work sort of insipid. So I was personally rather amused at the Twitter hacker who broke into their feed and pretended to be McDonald’s, giving the BK Tweetstream unexpected life, originality, honest (though R-rated) fun and interest for a change—and giving McD’s a chance to play it very cool.
Then our friends at Chipotle made a marketing misstep (which it turns out is surprisingly common for them) by pretending to hack their own feed in a quasi-humorous bit of self-pranking. To be honest, that tawdry moment happened back in July and unless I go look it up, I can’t remember exactly WHY Chipotle purported to betray its followers’ trust—though clearly they did it to get attention and increase their followers. So, like a smarmy Burger King ad, I guess, y’know, if something works that must justify it. But I’m not convinced that’s true. There has to be quiet but significant damage to the brand overall.
So: those were my six favorite Marketing Moments of 2013.
Runners up were: Amy’s Baking Company’s PR and social media mess that came from their appearance on Kitchen Nightmares. The Hardee’s taunt of McDonald’s when McD’s discontinued Angus burgers. The McDonald’s retro Big Mac campaign. And even though they’re not confined to 2013, this was the year I really got into Real Actors Reading Yelp; and those funny Groupon oddball remarks that show up in their emails. Gosh, now that I typed those, I wonder if some of them should beat out the ones on the Official list. Oh well. Decision of the judge is final. Better luck next year, I guess.