Power Outages & Oreos

So Beyoncé’s pyrotechnic show caused a power outage at the Superbowl last night!  Did anyone else hear about that??  Crazy stuff, right??  Oh wait, apparently I’m late breaking the news, because during the now-famous post-halftime power outage, Twitter users posted up to 231,000 tweets per minute about the sudden gloom.

Responses to this year’s Superbowl commercials have been mixed, though apparently most people agree on one: the Budweiser bit featuring a baby Clydesdale has become the third most shared video in advertisement history, according to Unruly media.  Psy’s pistachio commercial, Crackin’ Gangham Style, certainly made me giggle; The GoDaddy.com Big Kiss commercial is creating buzz just by being gross (seriously, only click if you can stand smooching noises); and Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd’s appearance in the Samsung Galaxy commercial is admittedly pretty funny.

But my favorite was the Whisper Fight from Oreo and then their response to the power outage.  In a stroke of genius, Oreo had someone on hand to whip up this baby:

ht_oreo_tweet_kb_130203_wmain
Oreo is right on the money

Congratulations, Oreo!  For what it’s worth, you win The Brain In Jane prize for best commercial!  The video combined with the brilliant response to real-time events show that Oreo and their agency 360i have what it takes to stay relevant and clever and get people talking.  Well done!

#Hashtag of the Week 2

super-bowlA major trending topic in North America this week has been, unsurprisingly, the #Superbowl!  Woo-hoo!  American football!  How FUN!

Alright, I have to confess that I know very little about American football, and I have little to no interest in the game (rugby is my bag, baby!).  However, the Superbowl is more than just a football game.  It is a showcase of all that is good (?) about US culture.  The concert at half time features some of the US’s top artists (and sometimes foreigners, like that crazy Paul McCartney!).  Perhaps an even more important representation of American culture, though, are the Superbowl ads.

The Superbowl captures a HUGE national audience, and advertisers know that they have to step up to the plate (whoops, is that a baseball analogy?) to break through the clutter.  And the pressure is on to perform: with a price tag of about $4 million for a 30-second spot, a flop would make for a pretty expensive failure.  Over the years it has become tradition for brands to prepare their cleverest, most attention-grabbing ads for the Superbowl.  Some have lived on in our collective memories (we all remember the first time we encountered the man our men could smell like) and others have gone down in history as the worst ads ever.

Ad Age published an article listing the commercial spaces bought by which companies, but I’m afraid I spent so long on the article that AdAge.com got mad at me and demanded I subscribe in order to continue reading.  Needless to say, I did not subscribe.  However, I do remember that the list includes giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Chevrolet and Oreos, among others.  There are also some relative newcomers on the scene such as GoDaddy.com.  Some brands release their ads for some pre-game exposure before the big day, while others keep them dead secret until Superbowl Sunday.  They hope the clips will go viral, and eagerly look forward to the online conversations their spots will generate.  Already Twitter is abuzz with comments about the pre-released ads, and a significant number of tweets with the #Superbowl hashtag have nothing to do with football.  It will be interesting to follow the reaction to this year’s commercials and see if they have better luck than Volkswagen so far.

If you weren’t planning to watch the Superbowl, perhaps you’ll reconsider simply for the pleasure of seeing these commercials.  Who knows, you could see the ad that will spark the next viral video craze!  Or, if you can’t even bring yourself to watch it for the ads, you can browse through Mashable’s top ten Superbowl commercials of all time.

Happy Superbowl Sunday!

The Internet Never Forgets

I was chatting with a girlfriend the other day, and I told her how I periodically like to clean up my Facebook profile.  By “clean up” I mean remove older posts from my timeline and untag old photos.  Today, while I was creating a physical photo album of my wedding, I got to thinking about why exactly I feel the need to do this.  What makes photos and posts online different from a photo album on my shelf?

Here’s the big difference: The Internet remembers everything.  Once information is up there, it is very, very hard to take it down.  Photos are reproduced and saved elsewhere, status updates are shared, tweets are retweeted, and their reach grows exponentially.  (A recent example is of the kids who asked their dad for a puppy and were told they could get one if they got one million “likes” on Facebook.  Needless to say, they got the puppy.)

Hey, I never realized you could "like" this...
Hey, I never realized you could “like” this…

If  you don’t manage your Facebook timeline carefully, those posts, inane comments, shares and unflattering photos will populate it forever.  Unless you show some discretion (“having good judgement” or “being able to make responsible decisions”), comments, photos and the ugly details of a crazy evening out on the town could follow you online forever.  We have all heard stories of how dubious photos or thoughtless status updates have cost people their relationships or their jobs – let’s not even talk about what tweeting a photo of your crotch can do for your career!  Part of living in an online world is practicing online reputation management.  Companies and brands do it to monitor conversations about them online, but individuals need to become more aware of the importance of allowing ourselves (and the Internet) to forget about episodes in our past.

We all like to reminisce.  Sometimes we have memories that cause us pangs of embarrassment just to think of them.  Something we said to someone, a lie we were caught in, an outfit we wore (what was I THINKING?? – it’s okay, it was the 90s).  It is healthy to privately remember those moments and draw lessons from them for the future.  But why does a status update need to remind everyone who can see our Facebook timeline about it?  When you accept a friend request today, ask yourself if you really want that person whom you’ve most likely just met briefly at a dinner party to see the gory details of your college party days.  There is always the possibility of taking the time to carefully manage our groups of friends and limit who can see what, but in the end even those who lived through experiences with you might not necessarily want to be reminded of them every time they click “view friendship.”

But most importantly, we need to remember how the information we share on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram affects people other than ourselves.  Are you posting photos of yourself with friends or parents who aren’t on Facebook (yeah, I’m guilty)?  Are you tagging people in unflattering photos?  I have to admit to having gone through a Facebook phase in which I would post any and every photo I took, approve tags of all kinds of silly faces I made, and not think twice about posting a photo of myself with a friend or family member who isn’t on Facebook without asking permission.

It was my Chico who first challenged me to think more carefully about what kind of information I posted.  I have no right to invade his privacy by sharing with everyone the fact that he hilariously wore mis-matching socks this morning (that’s just an example – that has never happened.  That I know of.).  Then, working on this website and consolidating and managing my personal brand online made me even more conscious of that fact.  Doing a Google search of “the brain in jane” produced many surprising results that I hadn’t even realized would be visible publicly (nothing shocking, mind you, but that search was certainly informative).  That’s when it hit me that even information that is posted “privately” online and doesn’t show up in a Google search is still present in a public space.  The Internet is not, by any stretch of the imagination, private, no matter how strict your settings on social media.

So my challenge for everyone, including myself, is to think twice before posting.  Let’s ask ourselves, “How will someone else perceive this?  Will it hurt someone’s feelings or offend unnecessarily?  How will I feel about this when I read it in two weeks, two months or two years?”  But most importantly, let’s ask ourselves, “How will my kid feel when he’s a teenager and he sees all the poop-related status updates and baby photos I’ve posted of him through the years?”  How will he feel, indeed?

#Hashtag of the Week

This week, as I wasted time on–AHEM, I mean as I QUICKLY GLANCED at–my Twitter feed, I noticed #AskJack2 was trending globally.  My natural curiosity led me to click on the hashtag and it took me to this page which was full of questions for someone apparently named Jack.

Jack Harries, I learned, was a child TV star in the UK (he was on the BBC rather than the Disney channel) and vlogger (that’s “video blogger”).  He has over 576,000 followers on Twitter, almost 966,000 subscribers on YouTube with over 45,000,000 views of his videos, and an impressive quiff hairdo.  He even has his own Wikipedia entry!  While he doesn’t have a website yet, he has made the smart move of buying both “jackharries.co.uk” and “jacksgap.com”.  He often makes videos with his twin brother, and from the couple that I’ve watched, they’re actually kind of cute and fun in a very teenage-cool kind of way.

Yes, I said “teenage”.  This guy is nineteen.  And this 19-year-old has established his personal brand more successfully than a lot of celebrities.  His use of social media is consistent in its tone-of-voice and general theme:

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 5.53.51 PM
This guy could school many people (including me) on successful branding.

If anyone is looking for a very simple, fun example of how to manage a personal brand, this guy’s got it right.  He’s upbeat, positive, and entertaining because he enjoys doing fun, every day things.  One could argue that his apparent mastery of his personal brand comes from growing up in a generation where people “live” online, and one could also argue that sharing so much of yourself with millions of internet viewers is perhaps not the wisest idea, but hey, he’s over 18 and that’s his choice.

My point is that he strikes a perfect balance between brand identity (as in, how the brand sees itself) and brand image (how the brand is viewed by the public).  Both he and his followers describe him as “cheeky, fun, and a bit random.”  There you have it.  That’s brand equity for you.  Jack has set the tone for how people view him (or his “branded” version of himself), and if he continues to manage this successfully he will make quite a name for himself.  This kid just needs to post “good morning!” on Twitter and he gets hundreds of responses and retweets.  You can’t buy that kind of engagement, folks.

I’m curious to see where he’ll go in terms of internet celebrity and if his will be a sustainable business model (Justin Bieber, anyone?).  The work he’s doing online now may very well bring him success in his dream job as a television presenter.  In any case, bravo to Jack, and I wish him all the best.

Each week I will post my thoughts on a trending global #hashtag on Twitter.