Building Brand Love With Feeling

This month in New York, SheKnows Media presented the first annual Femvertising Awards at the BlogHer social media conference. According to SheKnows, the awards are intended to acknowledge brands that are “challenging gender norms by building stereotype-busting, pro-female messages and images into ads that target women.” A CNN article covering the event said that the ads are “selling good ideas… good values….”  I would add selling good feelings to that list.

The inaugural award winners were brands/campaigns Hello Flo (First Moon Party), Dove (Speak Beautiful), Ram Trucks (Courage Inside) and Always (Like a Girl). What these campaigns have done is connect with deep emotions, memories, and experiences – whether positive, hurtful, embarrassing, maybe ones that need reconciling, righting, acknowledging and celebrating. Each is an ideal example of how mining emotions can spark, ignite and foster brand love into a warm, ongoing fire. These brands got brand love right:



As important as the Femvertising movement is, giving someone “the feels” isn’t just in the realm of women. Brands are tapping emotions to get through the hunky crusts of men to inspire brand love. Often, fatherhood is the easiest and more obvious door to emotional connection. Over Father’s Day, there was the highly-effective First Fatherhood Moments campaign by Dove. And before that Toyota scored big during the Super Bowl with the My Bold Dad campaign. I know, I know – just listening to the music on that one gets me going.

But before embarking on memorable campaign creation, there’s serious work to be done first to get at authentic emotions, then to get at other cues that telegraph your brand. Brands that leverage insights techniques that capture visceral, irrational, nonverbal, visual along with contextual language are in a better position to create the optimal positioning and messaging foundation that will inspire enduring –and viral – brand love. At BuzzBack, we are grounded in the belief that because emotions are the common bond of humanity, the brands that weave emotional insights into their narrative will stand the test of time.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to better connect consumers to your brand on a profound level, we’ve got a webinar on the subject of brand love. Click here to learn more.

Love App-tually

Are you ready for the most romantic holiday of the year?  If you’re still looking for love or the perfect way to express how you feel, consider yourself lucky! This season, Love Hearts®, a popular Valentine’s Day staple, will have a few new phrases added to the mix. Fourteen phrases were chosen as part of a contest this year to celebrate the candy’s 60th anniversary and to help them stay up-to-date with how people choose to communicate. Winning phrases – including ‘YOLO,’ ‘Take a Selfie,’ and ‘Swipe Right’ – will definitely help the confection stay current with today’s lingo.

And if you’re just not sure what ‘Swipe Right’ means, allow us to explain. Tinder is a mobile matchmaking app that uses location tracking to show you profile pictures of people in your area. You swipe right if you like what you see, left if you don’t. Among Millennials, Tinder is currently very popular. In fact, our recent Valentine’s Day BuzzPoll found that for one-third of Millennials, Tinder is their most favorite or most used app. They express appreciation for Tinder’s casual approach: it’s easy to meet local match-ups and there is a large variety of men/women to browse through – unsurprising, given the app’s current popularity.

OKCupid, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, and Coffee Meets Bagel are also deemed Millennial favorites in our study. You might be asking, how do Millennials choose which matchmaking service is right for them?  We found that unique reasons for preference started to surface for each app. For example, OKCupid is preferred for its user-friendly interface and for being easy to use and understand. Long-term relationship seekers appear to gravitate towards eHarmony, with a handful saying their system is realistic – asking detailed questions before matching you up – and users feel it has the most potential for success.

We also found that the majority of apps mentioned are favored for being free. Then it got us wondering, how are these online dating sites making money? A little digging helped us discover that while most of these matchmaking apps and websites provide free options, they currently generate revenue through a combination of brand advertising and paid upgrades or memberships. Like most websites and apps, Tinder is completely free – except for a new, less popular option called Tinder Plus. Both options have  yet to allow brands to openly use their app for advertising purposes; and, with its widely popular status among Millennials, this is making some brands a bit anxious.

Earlier last year, Tinder employed experimental advertising through profiles for Domino’s Pizza and the U.S. TV show, “The Mindy Project.” Most recently, Gillette teamed up with Tinder to test out the theory that ladies prefer men with well-maintained facial hair (as opposed to unkempt beards). However, this approach was not considered traditional advertising and was not purchased through ad inventory on the Tinder platform.

While Tinder keeps toying with the idea of raking in advertising revenue, it has yet to settle on a strategy. So for all those brands out there that may want to strike up a relationship with Tinder in hopes of getting in front of the Millennial audience, you’ll just have to wait. Tinder’s just not that into you… yet.

For more info, click here or scroll below to see how Millennials these days are using online dating apps to find ‘Love App-tually.’


Photo credit: Love Hearts®


BuzzBack BuzzPoll Millennials Valentines Day FINAL

Flu Vaccine: Hype or Hope?

When I walk around New York in the winter time, it feels like I run across a drugstore on every other block with a large ad in the window for flu vaccinations. The ads offer a quick, walk-in vaccination covered by most health insurance policies, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

Not everyone is persuaded by those ads, however. In our upcoming BuzzPoll infographic on flu vaccination, more than half of respondents (54%) have no set plans to get a flu vaccine this year, with the primary reason for non-vaccination being skepticism over how effective flu vaccines are. Unfortunately, some of that doubt is particularly warranted this flu season, as the CDC has reported that flu vaccines are only 23% effective this year, compared to a typical flu prevention rate of 60-65%. The main influenza A (H3N2) strain circulating this year has mutated enough that about 68% of those viruses are genetically different from the flu viruses used in this year’s vaccines.

Still, even a less effective vaccine offers some level of protection, especially considering that the flu vaccine protects against several different strains of flu. So a flu shot now could also protect you from some of the different strains that emerge throughout the flu season. Half of our BuzzPoll respondents who do plan to get vaccinated this season cite doctor recommendation as a reason, and the CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months and up (with only a few rare exceptions).

So if you’re among the more than half of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated yet, maybe you’ll want to take a second look the next time you pass by an ad for the flu vaccine. As for me? Walking by all those drugstores drove the message home – I got my flu shot a few days ago.

For more information on our flu vaccination findings, get in touch with us below.

Like a Girl

As we noted in a previous post back in January, advertisements powered by feminism that expose gender inequalities underlying our everyday culture were on the rise in 2013, and definitely continue to have a significant effect on the industry and consumers in 2014. The most recent campaign currently receiving a lot of  attention is Lauren Greenfield’s “Like a Girl,” for Proctor & Gamble’s popular brand Always. At the start of the video, several men and women, as well as a young boy, demonstrate what they believe it means to run, throw and fight ‘like a girl,’ quickly revealing harmful cultural stereotypes. These actions are then juxtaposed against clips of tween girls who completed each task with immense passion, strength and self-assurance. The ad’s point? The idea that women and young girls are weak, foolish, and incapable is something taught by our culture and far from the reality of our world. While aiming to critique destructive gender stereotypes, the ad also prompts viewers to think of how these stereotypes negatively affect girls’ conceptualization of themselves and of their potential, especially during their pre-teen/teenage years as statistics show that self-esteem plummets in many girls during adolescence.

Although this advertisement was only released a couple weeks ago, a multitude of reposts, news articles and viewer reactions has helped it to quickly go viral. However, as I surveyed different pieces highlighting the ad, it was interesting to read the wide array of opinions being expressed; the most thought provoking being those commenting on the ad’s undeniable purpose to also increase sales. It is true that in today’s competitive world, many companies are using Corporate Social Responsibility as a differentiator, and with CSR making up as much as 40% of a company’s reputation (according to a 2011 Reputation Institute Pulse Survey), it’s clear to see why. By making that emotional connection with the consumer and showing them that they share the same values, consumers are attracted to the brand and are more likely to remain loyal customers. With this in mind, some wonder if the marketing intent diminishes the feminist message. While advertising cannot be separated from its intentions to promote consumer products, in my opinion, “Like a Girl” is much more than just a sales pitch. Through genius story-telling and emotional appeal, it is a brief snapshot of one of the many gender inequalities girls are faced with. Most importantly the video is a launching pad for people to have productive conversations about how we can make positive changes in our world that empower emerging generations of women.

Viral Marketing At The World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is upon us and of course, from a research point of view, the way brands capitalise on such a huge global event to increase their penetration and improve their image is a fascinating component of the tournament. Of course we expect to see huge companies like Nike and Adidas featuring football stars in advertising to further their association with the sport, but there are plenty of examples of how this can work in far less obvious ways.

This World Cup has been commonly referred to as a genuinely second-screen phenomenon, with Twitter especially creating functions that help to facilitate discussion and sharing on matches as they are played. Brands should seek to capitalise on this and many do so.  The bookmaker Paddy Power have a particularly effective social media team who keep their posts relevant and humorous, such as this guide on how to spend the first evening with no game:


The marketing of gambling is a particularly interesting area, given that differentiation between bookmakers really boils down to little other than offering superior odds to competitors. However through effective positioning that resonates with the target consumer (i.e. sports fans), they can carve out a role for themselves and Paddy Power play this game better than most.

Since the World Cup is an event that seems to transcend general sporting interest though, jumping on the World Cup social media bandwagon is not only the jurisdiction of brands that one might commonly link to sport. Following Luis Suarez’ bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, opticians Specsavers posted an image on their Facebook page which has been widely shared due to the high profile nature of the incident and the amount of discussion around it:

ben wc 2So with this in mind, here is my star five-a-side team of brands who have caught my eye (in no particular order):

1)      Nike: The Last Game (great animated mini-movie capturing what so many love about football –

2)      Panini (sticker collection promoted by the hashtag #gotgotneed which taps effectively into the social aspect of collecting and swapping stickers with friends)

3)      Specsavers (Chiellini vs. Cannelloni)

4)      Paddy Power (their entire Twitter feed

5)      MasterCard (image below – not directly from them but a strong enough tagline that this poor England fan has appropriated it to show his despair!)

ben wc 3

Taking the Long View: Millennials Won’t Be Broke Forever

Have you seen that great ad by Miller High Life that captures the reality of cash-strapped Millennial consumers? As one of those Millennials just starting out and trying to establish a life on my own while balancing student debt – I really could relate!  Miller Beer did a great job of capturing the angst of what it’s like going from being a broke college student to a broke Millennial.  Mainly, the reality of life after college doesn’t necessarily live up to the hype.  This clever campaign highlights the opportunity for brands to connect meaningfully with my cohort – both today and into the long term.

As newly launched “real” adults, Millennials are making purchase decisions to fill refrigerators, prepare meals, clean bathrooms, do laundry completely on their own for the first time, etc.  Our recent study on student debt shows that Millennials feel under tremendous pressure to manage their financial obligations and daily expenses, citing food, clothing, travel and entertainment as the top areas they cut back on to save money.  Brands in these categories need to focus on messaging that either positions them as a good value or a necessity that can’t be cut.

More importantly, brands need to connect on an emotional level so that as these consumers mature and become more affluent, the brand continues to be relevant.  Miller’s “we get you” approach is an effective one, as would be tug-on-the-heartstrings messaging that connect brands with former family life and home, hearkening to simpler times when Mom took care of (and paid for) everything.

For more information on our Impact of Student Debt survey, click here.

HoneyMaid’s Gamble on Love

I, like many other consumers, was touched and impressed by HoneyMaid’s recent viral Love video in response to backlash for its original Wholesome campaign. But of course, as a market researcher, it got me thinking about it all on a professional level, and I have to say, it took my admiration for the brand to another level. The question that came to my mind was “Does an ad always have to be liked by the masses in order to be successful or is it enough to just draw attention to the brand?” Ads that are polarizing are not new. And it takes certain guts for a brand to know on some level that they might tick some people off.

A campaign of this size and scope was probably tested, under typical Go/No Go metrics. So often, we’re asked to field message concepts to find the majority winner. And I would believe that HoneyMaid’s Wholesome concept probably didn’t bowl everyone over. But, in this case, someone at HoneyMaid made the call that the brand didn’t need the absolute majority in order to move forward. What a bold decision when we all know that the prevailing direction is to move forward with the highest number. But how often does one challenge this customary approach as the right course? Sometimes the brand is ready to take the messaging plunge, when the traditional research shows that not all of the consumer base is on board. When is it ok to test the boundaries, and alienate some consumers in order to create even deeper bonds with others?

For Honeymaid, the when was now, and the gamble paid off. And that’s the lesson for us in this by-the-numbers game we’ve chosen as a profession – the surface doesn’t always tell the story. That’s why it’s critical to get into the deeper, unconscious and nonverbalized emotions to understand the visceral – because that’s where the deeper consumer/brand connections happen. In Honeymaid’s case, the visceral was expressed so clearly in the flood of social media interaction from both sides of the controversy. And, in the end, more love was evoked by the brand’s portrayal of wholesome than not.

Disrupt + Differentiate… With Branding

I recently attended a great seminar organized by the Burke Institute about reporting. The seminar leader, Jim Berling, used the new Virgin America’s safety video to illustrate the point that as researchers we have to deliver actionable recommendations. We have to go beyond the So What?

We all know that not many people watch the in-flight safety instructions after boarding a flight. Ok, nothing new. But, now what? Creating an entertaining and engaging safety video is a great first step. But, it can also be used as a brand tool. And Virgin America understood it well…

This safety video did much more than deliver safety messages in an entertaining way, it reinforced the brand image of the company. The video is provocative, friendly and clever, all personality traits of the brand. Virgin America infuses their branding into every bit of the customer experience to help disrupt the industry and differentiate themselves from the other airlines. See for yourself.


Commercials That Drive Sports Fans To Cheer

It’s one of America’s favorite pastimes and it’s right around the corner. As we gear up for Super Bowl Sunday, many people are excited about the parties, the drinks, the food and of course… the commercials! We asked sports fans, what’s so awesome about their favorite commercials during the game. More women want their commercials to be funny, while men prefer their commercials to be modern, informative and sports-oriented. When asked which products they’d be more interested in seeing, it seems food, drinks, cars and electronics were top of mind. To see what else we found out, click the image below to see the full infographic.





TRENDING: Feminism in Advertising

When Pantene’s “Labels Against Women” commercial aired in the Philippines, no one expected it to receive the amount of attention it did. What started out as a simple ad created in response to a gender bias study done in the Philippines, went viral after Sheryl Sandberg promoted the video on Facebook, making it clear that the stereotypes in the ad resonate with women all over the world. If it didn’t show up in your news feed, you might be seeing it on your television soon because Procter & Gamble have begun purchasing ad space for it in the U.S.

The message was to showcase how men and women are sometimes perceived differently and it encouraged women to not limit themselves by these labels.

What I found interesting though is that this type of brand story line is not a one-time thing, there actually seems to be a trend here. From the Pantene ad, to the Bing “Celebrating Heroic Women” ad, to the GoldieBlox Inc. ad being named as one of the years best in the WSJ’s annual survey of marketing executives. It’s clear that feminism was a major theme for the year. Women were not only finding themselves in the spotlight more than usual, but also garnering a lot of support from the public.

What do you think? Will the trend continue through 2014?