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Viewing posts categorised under: Branding
PR Holiday Gift Guide

A Holiday Gift Guide How-To for PR Pros

by Adriana Howell

branding public relations

“Christmas in July” means something entirely different to PR pros than it might to the average consumer. For us, it’s not just a classic 1940s movie or an excuse to shop mid-summer sales. Instead, it’s a time to get serious about annual holiday gift guides. With lead times for many publications six months out, it’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays.  

Red Sox: World Series Champs and Rebranding Geniuses

by BIGfish

branding marketing public relations

As you’ve probably heard (how could you not?), on October 30th, 2013 the Boston Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway for the first time since 1918. This title was particularly impressive seeing as the Red Sox performed less than satisfactory last year.

The 2012 Boston Red Sox season goes down in history as the one of the worst that the team has faced. It was the 112th season in the team's history and the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. However, 2012 was also the year of the team’s first losing season since 1997, their first season with 90 or more losses since 1966, and overall, their worst season since 1965. The Red Sox ended the season with a 69–93 record, a last place finish in the American League East. Needless to say, when the team suited up in April this year for spring training, the Red Sox was a truly tarnished brand.

Just one year later, the author of this article from Sports Illustrated rightfully stated, “The Red Sox pulled off the baseball equivalent of turning around a hulking battleship on a dime in the middle of the ocean.” So how did the Sox go from a last place finish in the American League East to World Series Champs? Though they couldn’t have done it without Big Papi, good marketing and strategic PR played a bigger role in their World Series win than you might think. A recent article titled “How the Red Sox Won Back the Hearts of Boston Through Brilliant Marketing” credits five key rebranding tactics in the great Red Sox turnaround. Here’s the Big Fish take on these tactics:

1) Purge the Brand Killers

ValSIThe first step in the rebranding of the Red Sox was to rid the team of those who tarnished the brand. They let go of manager Bobby Valentine, who proved to be a bad fit for the team. Valentine was unable to foster trust and communication among the players, which translated to poor performance on game day.

"The feel was different, the clubhouse was different,'' Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said about their new manager. "Having Farrell back in the mix was big for us. A lot of the guys were here when he was the pitching coach and had a relationship with him. He basically ran a really relaxed clubhouse and then expected people to do your business between the lines.” In addition, they got rid of overpaid players who were not producing results.This included Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. These players were not only losing games, but also would have cost the Red Sox $250 million in salaries through 2018. 2) Be Accountable

AdAnother great move by the Red Sox was to admit their wrongs. The team knew that it would be much easier to admit to having made mistakes and move forward, than to ignore that there was a problem altogether. In doing so, they opened themselves up to an opportunity to mend relationships and gain fans.

The article cites that at the start of the 2013 season, the Red Sox unveiled a new advertising campaign. The ads admitted that they let down their fan base the previous season, and looked to reassure them that the next season would be better. To add a cherry on the proverbial rebranding sundae, the Red Sox executed this move perfectly by putting the face of fan favorite, Dustin Pedroia, on the ad.

3) Build Community and Seize Opportunities

Boston-StrongIn light of the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox stepped up and became more than just a baseball team for the city of Boston. As the article notes, they became the epitome of the phrase Boston Strong, wore commemorative patches on their jerseys, invited police officers to the stadium all season long, and commended the survivors at Fenway games. To further emphasize their love for Boston, the Sox even hung up a 617 Red Sox jersey in their dugout every game, representing the area code for the city. Through these efforts, the team made it clear that they value and are committed to the people of Boston.

"I was just getting to know the city of Boston, and all of a sudden, it happened and it pulled me so close to the city because it hit so close to home," catcher David Ross said in this article. "Remember 9/11, and it was like everyone was a New Yorker all of a sudden? [This bombing], it happened a mile from where we live. I'm a Bostonian now."

4) Add Personality

Gomes-NapoliA major problem for the 2012 Red Sox, according to the article, was that the team lacked “likeable” players. A big issue arises when players are perceived as only being there for the large contracts, rather than the love of the game and a commitment to winning. There is a big difference between hiring big name superstars and hiring players that bring character and prove to be a good cultural fit.

For the 2013 season, the Red Sox brought in new players who seemed to be more personable and a better cultural fit for their fan base. This included Johnny Gomes and Mike Napoli. These players proved to have brought an ever stronger sense of community to the team, not to mention a newfound love for beards!

5) Win Games!

Although the article cites “grow beards,” as the Red Sox’s fifth step to success, I’d credit something else: winning games! No marketing or PR strategy would have been effective for the team if they did not produce results. Clearly, their rebranding strategy paired with high performing players resulted in a World Series win and the highly anticipated duck boat parade on Saturday, November 2nd. You can find more details about the parade here.

“Return to the river, we want to go into the dirty water,” stated Mayor Tom Menino in a press conference on October 31st.


-Dana Harvey, Spring 2013 Intern

Mistakes Companies Make on Instagram Video and Vine

by BIGfish

branding social media

In a previous blog post we discussed how brands are effectively using Vine as a unique and creative way to connect with audiences. More and more companies, including BIGfish client Iceland Naturally, are finding that image-centric content on social media is a fantastic way to connect with fans.

As more companies continue to engage with consumers through visual content, it’s important to create likeable and visual campaigns on new platforms. Many companies have taken to Instagram and Vine videos as they’re inexpensive to produce and can be created in a matter of seconds. Yet sometimes even big brands make mistakes that are easy to avoid. We’ve outlined a few mistakes that you should be sure to avoid.

Too Much Content, Too Little Time

Six seconds can go a long way with a little creativity, but simply cramming a ton of content into a small time frame can result in an uncomfortable viewing experience. For example, this American Apparel Vine starts off promising, but by the end, it can leave viewers with a headache.

Unless a fast pace is essential to your message, give viewers time to see and take in each clip - especially if you’re trying to show off product. Lack of Creativity and Sensory Appeal Not everything needs to be in a video format. Wheat Thins makes no use of sound in this video and the moving text is difficult to read. Videos offer incredible opportunities for brands to express their unique voice, but this requires some thought and imagination. This video would be more effective as an image.

When creating a video, make sure the platform you are using is appropriate for the content you want to share.

Poor Quality

It can be difficult to make a video that’s perfectly smooth and stable. Although all Instagram and Vine videos are taken using a smartphone, companies should make the best quality films they can. In this Instagram video by Anthropologie, the camera shakes, making each image unstable and difficult to watch.

Always view the video prior to uploading it and if the video appears wobbly, try it again.


Considering the average adult’s non-task oriented attention span is only eight seconds, Instagram and Vine videos are the perfect way to engage a mass audience at little to no cost.  While these videos are meant to be fun, it’s crucial that brands take the time to produce high-quality videos, not just ones that are easy to make.


Liz Blumenthal, Summer Intern & Brigid Gorham


Humor and Twitter

Humanizing Corporate Twitter Accounts: Why Humor Works

by BIGfish

branding social media

It’s much easier to build affection towards brands when they feel human, as opposed to the standard cold tone of a business playing it safe. When companies only use their Twitter for shouting promotions and responding to complaints, they’re squandering the unique interactive potential of social media by treating it the same as 20th century mass marketing. Take this tweet, which sounds like it was copied and pasted directly from a TV commercial:

People are already tuning out this kind of advertising on TV, so why would they voluntarily opt in to more of it on Twitter? Information about sales and new products is important, but it’s “closed loop” content. In other words, followers are less likely to retweet overt promotional material - so if that’s all the account tweets about, they won’t reach or convert new potential customers. In the world of earned media, brands have to put out content that gives some kind of value to the customer, content that they’ll actually want to see and retweet. A 2012 study on the top 100 most engaging Facebook posts in the fast food industry found that fewer than 20% featured straight-up promotions such as buy-one-get-one offers, discounts, sweepstakes or contests.

Arena Flowers, a UK flower delivery company, used to have a traditional, strictly business Twitter account - tweets about flowers, few followers and no interaction. CEO Will Wynne says he understands the lack of engagement: “Unsurprisingly, people are not that interested in tweets about flowers...it's just not that interesting, not much changes.” So now they tweet things like this:

Wynne explains the motivation in the change of strategy: “This was not a value added activity for us, an organization with limited resources...the value of our twitter account in its previous form was absolutely nil. Options: either change the approach, carry on wasting time writing stuff that no one reads or stop tweeting." The account now features hilarious one-liners and random silly thoughts, with almost no mention of their actual business.

Wynne admits the new style got a mixed reaction: Some thought they had lost their senses, and “other flower-related businesses looked over protectively and offered us kindly words of advice about how to conduct ourselves on Twitter properly.” But the zany tweets got them noticed, and their followers love it so much that they’ve become enthusiastic brand advocates.

The retweets, favorites, and rave reviews from fans put the Arena Flowers brand in front of exponentially more eyeballs than when they tried to promote their business directly. This is exactly what they were going for, according to Wynne: "It would be annoying to keep pushing buy messages (the average Brit buys flowers twice a year). So our plan is to keep people engaged and have our name in their head so that when they do buy, they think of us."

Chapin Clark of Cannes Lion winner R/GA says humor “imbues the brand with a more human face — a warmth and familiarity that people can identify with,” as he put it at a SXSW panel called Being Funny on Twitter (Without Getting Fired). It gives people a reason to follow and a positive association with the brand, even if the tweet isn’t actually related to the product.

Previously perceived as an old-fashioned deodorant worn by your grandpa, Old Spice famously reinvented its brand with The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (currently boasting a whopping 45 million Youtube views). Their Twitter displays the same charmingly unapologetic absurdity.

When Old Spice picked a fight with Taco Bell, the result went viral - and not only on Buzzfeed and Adweek, but also more “serious” media outlets like the Atlantic, BusinessInsider, and ABC News.

This kind of offbeat humor with a shot of testosterone is distinctively Old Spice. Taco Bell is another brand known for its cheekiness that frequently engages in Twitter banter.

But even when (or perhaps especially when) brands aren’t known for their sense of humor, it makes waves when they let their hair down and joke around. This little tiff reached the front page of Adweek and nabbed almost two thousand retweets.

Here’s another example of brands throwing down: After Twitter user Laura Ellen tweeted about following both Kit Kat and Oreo, Kit Kat challenged Oreo to a duel for her affections in the form of a game of Tic Tac Toe. As Mashable notes, this was a clever choice that allowed Kit Kat to show its product.

Oreo declined, probably to avoid the awkwardness of potentially losing the game. But they did so in a tactful way that complimented Kit Kat and incorporated their slogan “Gimme A Break.”

As long as they keep the “fight” light and fun, the ensuing publicity is actually a win for both companies. Most corporate Twitter accounts remain more of a presentation than an interaction, but conversations can make the company feel more human, and that makes it much easier for people to bond with them. Taco Bell’s clever quips excel at making their brand seem like a person you want to be friends with...or more than friends:

Taco Bell’s social media community manager says, “every day, we get tweets and Facebook posts from consumers asking us to marry them," and an increasing number of people are incorporating the brand into their actual weddings. Taco Bell has also honored passionate fans’ requests for everything from a custom speedo with its slogan “Think Outside the Bun” to a poster of the Beefy Crunch Burrito (which racked up over 66k notes on Tumblr).

Taco Bell wins a lot of love from fans for firing off fresh, funny replies tailored to the individual tweet or Facebook post. Ron Faris, CMO of Virgin Mobile USA, describes how social media is all about context: “Talking to consumers now is like engaging a group of people mid-conversation at a cocktail party: You want to know the right time to step in, the right time to bring context and contribute to the conversation. That’s a revolutionary approach to advertising, an industry founded on the concept of shouting messages from billboards to break through and win your attention.” Taco Bell shines in this area. It doesn’t limit its responses to tweets it’s tagged in - it keeps an eye out for people talking about the brand and then surprises them by jumping into the conversation.

They also participate in trending hashtags, something I haven’t seen from any other major brand. By finding a funny way to make themselves relevant to whatever people are talking about, they hijack the wide audience on the trending hashtag feeds.

They even surf the pop culture zeitgeist - here’s a perfect example of knowing how to step into a conversation and contribute:

And their strategy is paying off: In the aforementioned study on the fast food industry’s most engaging Facebook posts, Taco Bell led by a wide margin with almost twice as many top 100 posts as the next closest competitor, and it snagged the #1 post with 87k likes.

Taco Bell prioritizes conversation and community building over self-promotion, and their humorous indirect approach nets them a lot of free exposure and brand loyalty. Their brand illustrates how far companies can go using nothing but free resources, if they’re willing to stop relying on the traditional style of promotional content and take a leap. Other companies should move into the 21st century and take advantage of social media’s unique potential by revamping their approach from a broadcast to a conversation. -Morgan Kee    

What Kevin Ware Can Teach Us About Twitter

by BIGfish

branding social media

This past weekend, University of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered a devastating injury to his leg during a March Madness game against Duke University. Although the horrific injury has put Ware’s basketball career on hold indefinitely, Ware’s social media career has flourished in the days since his injury. Ware has both inspired and caught the attention of thousands of Twitter followers, which has allowed him to quickly rise to fame in the Twittersphere.

The story of Ware’s injury became a legendary March Madness moment, which was reflected when Ware’s name began trending on Twitter worldwide through the hashtag #prayforware. Numerous fans, players and celebrities alike have sent well wishing tweets to Ware, including Lil Wayne and LeBron James.

KW - 4 copy

Ware’s personal tweets showcase his unwavering positive attitude, optimism and constant support of his teammates, which have translated into a significant spike in Twitter followers. Rising by the minute, Ware currently has more than 156,000 followers - a stat that increased by tens of thousands of new followers in the days following his injury.

Aside from blowing up on Twitter, Ware has also taken the Facebook world by storm. According to Facebook, Ware has become the most talked about player on the social networking site. Mentions of Ware on Facebook have increased an impressive 196,000 percent during March Madness.

Ware’s story demonstrates that posting content with a positive tone and a forward-looking attitude is a powerful and effective method to increase one’s Twitter followers. Additionally, users who promote optimistic and useful information are more likely to receive a larger number of followers than users who post funny, critical or self-involved content onto their Twitter feed.

The grace and humility that Kevin Ware demonstrated both on the court and on his social media feed reveals that the simple concepts of maintaining a positive attitude and showing gratitude towards others are invaluable lessons in a myriad of social and professional settings, including Twitter and Facebook. So for brands and users alike who are looking for a boost in their Twitter followers, try a little optimism and kindness. And remember: you’ll attract more Twitter followers with honey than with vinegar.

-- Emily Berkowitz,  Spring 2013 Intern

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