Skip to main content

Selfie for Good.... Contrived Marketing


Yesterday I went out to eat at a restaurant. On the table was a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. The label read, "Take a Selfie for Good". By posting a picture online with your Heinz bottle, Heinz would donate up to $200,000 to Stop Hunger Now.

Did anyone else feel awkwardly uncomfortable after reading that?

That's right.... while you shovel your face full of food, you can relieve some of your middle-class burden by snapping a selfie on your mobile phone (likely quite expensive in itself) and Heinz will help those out who are too starving to afford their own meal at the restaurant (or even a bottle of ketchup). Don't do it and you're letting the poor people starve.

While I'm certain such campaigns are effective on some people, I suddenly lost all respect for Ketchup (and Heinz's public relations team) in that moment and grabbed a bottle of A1 instead (unfortunately Kraft owns them too). I know someone in marketing at their corporate office thought this was a good idea. I can imagine someone got their ideas right out of Coca-Cola's playbook. Remember all the Coke selfies people were taking with their personalized names on them? "Brilliant!", someone thought. Except, the difference was their campaign wasn't contrived. It didn't guilt people into taking the pictures, people wanted to do it. That's a big difference.

When I got home, I decided to Google the campaign. It has now finished, of course, but doing a quick Google image search for "Selfie for Good", yielded almost no results for Heinz. Googling "Heinz Selfie for Good", yielded about two dozen images. That's not much of a response for so large and expensive a campaign.  So did it work?

Well I took notice but didn't like the feeling of the campaign. I was forced to contemplate starvation and America's socio-economic crisis while eating a lemon and rosemary sirloin. No body wants to do that! I go out to eat to relax!  Also, I would have felt quite stupid posting a picture of ketchup to my Instagram and I'm guessing others would too. The bigger question you have to ask of a corporation as large as Heinz, why wouldn't you donate the money anyways (they probably would for tax purposes)? So, I think the lesson here is, innovate your campaigns, don't copy them, and when appealing to your audience's emotions, guilt is not one in which you should use unless you're certain how people will respond to it.

Popular posts from this blog

Stranded by Uber's dysfunctional customer service

I was getting ready for my trip to India and my friend recommended that I download a couple apps for our trip, including Ola (a local Bangalore taxi company) and Uber. No worries, I thought. I was one step ahead of her having downloaded Uber for when in New York, as we were spending a few days there. I was quite excited to use the app considering the fact that there was a $20 credit sign-up bonus promotion going on. It seemed as though everything was falling into place as I was ready for our big adventure. I didn't bother with Lyft or the other competitors, knowing I had the Uber app on my phone and assuming since it's 2017, and a very popular option, it's going to work great. This as it turned out, would be a huge mistake that resulted in us taking the public bus at the airport.

What happened? Well, the first time I used the app, it immediately banned me. Thankfully, Bangalore has thousands of rickshaws that got me to and from our destinations. Had I downloaded Ola ahead …

Food Lion: Saying One Thing and Doing Another

Something strange is going on, something's wrong at my local grocer store, a Food Lion. The deli and bakery are missing. Rumors are flying around town as to what's happening. Did the snow storm crush the roof? Is it water damage or is there something more mysterious? As it happens, it's nothing more than continued renovations of the store... but no one told the customers.

In a world of communications where transparency is often the only thing holding your reputation together, not telling the customers anything seems like a little bit of deception. More importantly, why not tell the customers of your super cool improvements coming their way? Before the local townspeople crack completely at their inability to purchase their sliced bologna, I have to wonder if this is poor public relations or something more.

Food Lion is selling it to the media in larger markets (where curious journalists have reached out to the company's media relations) as:
The remodels are part of Foo…

Guerrilla Marketing in a Millennial World

Millennials are all about digital media. Companies are clamoring for their piece of the pie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, sometimes what you need is a little bit of guerrilla marketing. Now, not every PR-pro has the grit or the intuition for this sort of thinking outside the box, but I believe those who do have a distinct advantage to their counterparts who only work in the digital or traditional medium.

Some of the best campaigns have been grassroots movements that utilize traffic patterns or public spaces to advertise their message. Some of the first of these clever campaigns simply used bed sheets hung at dawn on overpasses to catch the L.A. traffic rush that often sees hundreds of thousands of commuters.

A few years ago, I served as editor and chief on a local forum that used guerrilla marketing techniques to reach our audience. One of these techniques was borrowed from a hobby called Car Casting whereby you basically created a tiny pirate radio station. It involve…