Grey Poupon’s Society of Good Taste Is True-to-Brand: Elitist Like-Shunning Creates Chatter

Hello world!  I’ve not vanished from the face of the earth, but have been buried by school/kids/work/newlywed status (it’s a harsh reality, I know).  I’ve not had the opportunity to shower daily in the last 30 days, let alone sit down to write.  But, I’ve wanted to write about Grey Poupon’s Facebook campaign since it rolled out, the week of my wedding, but I didn’t get around to blogging about it until it was old news.  Instead, I chose to write about Grey Poupon for a communications class this week.

Drawing on its marketing history (a la Rolls Royce and butlers), Grey Poupon shunned the typical race for “likes” on Facebook and instead created an exclusive fan society.  Fans wanting to “like” the page (thus, joining The Society of Good Taste) allow an application to review their Facebook use to assure that all fans have “discerning taste.”  Perhaps hoping to spark a viral word-of-mouth campaign in which many Facebook users play their game just to see if they would make the cut, this campaign had some  success (though limited in terms of viral social media marketing).  Upon hearing about the campaign in early September, I immediately applied for membership in The Society of Good Taste for research purposes.  I was denied.  As an opinion leader in my circle regarding social media, I posted my rejection for my friends to see.  My friends first expressed their horror that I might not be as classy as they once believed, and then took the test for themselves.  Most were also denied – and my circle is full of MDs, PhDs and CFAs…  If well-educated, travelled and cultured professionals aren’t acceptable, then who is?  I applied again today so I could share some of the messages created in the campaign and see how many members have joined the society as a way to measure the campaign’s success (36, 175 as of 10/31/12).  While I certainly didn’t change much about my Facebook usage in the last month (though did enable the “check-in” mapping feature during my recent trip to New Orleans), this second time around, I did “cut the mustard” (that’s one of GP’s messages) and was accepted into the Society.

The application assesses your Facebook profile, scouring your status updates for grammatical errors, assessing the number of likes on your comments and your number of friends.  I was dinged for using “ADD” in a post (I was referring to Attention Deficit Disorder and though perhaps I should’ve used periods in the abbreviation, it would be considered by many to be correct.  Duh, Grey Poupon, I know ADD is not a word, at least not in all caps).  Bonus points if you can identify the dangling participle in this Grey Poupon commercial:

What was the purpose of this counter-intuitive marketing campaign?  If the goal was primarily to create brand-related chatter, then I’d call it a success.  The Facebook campaign received a great deal of credible press: articles in the New York Times and Time, as well as blog posts (from Joe Berkowitz from Co.Create, Olivia Roat of Business 2 Community, and many others).  If the goal was to further differentiate the brand from the fairly saturated condiment market, then reminding its fans of the advertising campaigns of old that set Grey Poupon apart as the choice of the elite would accomplish this.  I’ll admit the application is clever and fun, but I wonder what happens when a campaign such as this is released into the ether, when the Company allows people to co-create content in social media?  What if those rejected by GP were key opinion leaders in their virtual worlds?  Is negative press or chatter better than no chatter at all?  One Facebook user said it well in her comment:

Well said @grey poupon

Another negative comment:

Grey Poupon Facebook talkback

So, will the campaign overcome the negative comments and come out on top, translating the campaign into increased mustard sales?Grey Poupon as appetite

Shun me, shun  my business

Kudos to Grey Poupon for the following:

  • Finally accepting me into their Society of Good Taste.
  • Having the brand confidence to take marketing risks.
  • Maintaining it’s tongue-in-cheek branding for nearly two decades.
  • Embracing, and profiting from, those who make fun of them.

Seriously, this kind of product placement is every marketer’s dream, right?

Filling Your Social Media Shopping Cart: Spree or Strategy?

The business section of today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer highlights local real estate investment trust company DDR Corp., which recently launched a social media campaign aimed to increase brand recognition and loyalty.  According to the Plain Dealer article, DDR’s social media strategy involves reaching out to consumers – a trend gaining momentum among real estate investment trusts as these companies compete to drive foot traffic to shopping centers, making them look more attractive to new tenants as they try to fill the ever-increasing space vacated by failed businesses.

Retail real estate investment trusts own shopping centers, and shopping centers need stores and shoppers to thrive.  Most of the time, if I need to shop, I go to the closest mall, or the mall with the trendiest stores.  Lately though, if I’m going to leave my house to shop, I want it to be a pleasant experience from start to finish.  I want to shop in a beautifully landscaped and well maintained space that has plenty of fresh air (no hot flashes in the check out line please); a decent foodcourt so I can buy my kids refreshments (bribes) if needed; the stores I’m looking for; and hey, a clean play area doesn’t hurt!  With more places to shop (and many of them electronic), shopping centers have to fight to keep tenants and to continue to drive shoppers to the stores.  For real estate investment trusts, and businesses in general, engaging in social media is mandatory.  I’d bet that most consumers don’t know who owns the malls they shop – perhaps because the ownership is invisible, or secondary to the retail stores they house, or maybe because consumers just don’t care.  I, for one, care about where I shop, the quality of the building, how it’s powered and patrolled, and where I park.  But the task of a social media strategist at a real estate investment trust seems a bit binary: is the aim to woo consumers or tenants?  If you want to attract a tenant to fill a retail space, why not start with the local population, crowdsource the tenant search a bit through online discussions about what kinds of shopping experiences they are after, and build demand from there?  Something akin to: “If you build it (demand), they (retail tenants) will come.”

I perused DDR’s social footprint, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest but the pages were not easy to locate.  Maybe TimeWarner is having a slow day, and the search functions on Facebook and Pinterest could use some work (just in case anyone from there is listening; and DDR, maybe some search optimization or paid search ads would help direct traffic?), but the only way I could find the Facebook and Pinterest pages was by clicking on the Plain Dealer links.  Once there, I found some good things.  I got a sense of community involvement on Facebook that made me hungry for more.  On Pinterest, I found links to valutext.com, which offers location-based discounts by text message, akin to mailed ads only paper-free, and more likely to be read.  On YouTube, I learned about DDR’s “Set Up Shop” program, in which they lease to new, small business tenants rent-free for six months to fill empty space and stimulate local economies.

To get to this consumer-focused content, however, I had to sort through press releases and business graphics.  Plain Dealer reporter Michelle Jarobe McFee refers to these graphics as whimsical.  Indeed, they are not your average pie charts, but they are still pie charts that explain the retail real estate business, and I’d like the sense of community to speak louder than the CEO on these platforms.  Yes, let the CEO speak, but let him tell me drinking Diet Coke for breakfast gives him a competitive edge, or that he does 100 sit-ups before he eats lunch in addition to (or instead of) business speak.  People who use social media don’t want the same content they could get by flicking on CNN Money or picking up a newspaper. They don’t want the typically stale press release.  They want engagement. Connection.  They want to see what it’s like to work for DDR. They want to see what it’s like to shop at a DDR shopping center.  They want know what the Company values.  They want to be inspired.

Some ways that DDR Corp. (and the company you work for) could increase engagement:

  • Share photographs of special events at malls that involve real people – not models.

More of this: DDR photo of Endeavor passing over mall

DDR chalk festival

DDR Wellness Center

NOT this:

DDR patriotic kids

No offense to the cute kids here, but this looks posed and is perhaps only engaging to mom and dad.

  • Encourage interaction by asking people to hit like to congratulate your organization for winning awards.
  • Include calls to action in Tweets to drive retweets.
  • Start a blog hosted on your company’s website (Google loves blogs, so this will increase your search optimization).
  • Consider establishing different, interest-tailored social communities: one for consumers, one for tenants, one for investors.
  • Host a contest that offers rewards for engagement/participation.

The bottom line is this: the social media landscape is a lot like Home Depot right now.  You push your cart down the aisles, a bit overwhelmed by all the options available.  You didn’t do any research before driving to the store, and you don’t really know how to unclog your sink, but were hoping to be inspired by the tools in the plumbing section.  You can either fill your cart up with all-things-plumbing, whether or not they are useful tools that will help you on your project, but because they look good and you may have seen a plumber on HGTV use this type of snake OR you can ask a professional (either a plumber or helpful Home Depot employees) for help.  With social media, the shopping spree is useless – strategy is key.

Having Grown Weary of Replacing Ink Cartridges, Socialmediaphobe Buys an iPad

For years I said I’d never do it. I love the smell of books – the way the coarse, yellowing paper feels in my fingers as I turn the page.  I love the sound of books – the opening and shutting of them.  I write in my books, using them like a diary to record my feelings and thoughts as I read.  I like to pull those dusty books off the shelf from time to time, to flip through the pages and remind myself where I was when I read it, what I was thinking, who I was with.  I underline and highlight – not just my textbooks, but the really well written parts of novels that just jump off the page at  me.  Going back and underlining what I read is part of my learning process: the highlighter, a gluestick for my memory collage.

And yet. I’m taking all my courses online, printing hundreds of pages of research articles each month, and there’s little more frustrating than replacing the ink cartridge twice in one day, or running out of paper with two pages of an article left to print.  There’s no romance to PDFs of research studies.  I don’t cuddle up with my spouse, with a glass of wine and a good journal article by the fire (I still need printed books of poems or novels to complete this scene).  When I went to reorder ink cartridges for the second time this semester, I realized it was time for an eReader (always a late adopter).  The iPad’s been great for studying. It’s fairly intuitive and when I run into trouble or become frustrated, I just ask my kids for help.

In other news: I’ve been working with Prezi, experimenting with a new, multi-media approach to a resume (those in the know call these Prezumes).  It’s fairly easy to use, and I like that it’s interactive and non-linear (much like my career path).  Check mine out and consider making one for yourself at prezi.com.

Some presume tips:

  • Your name should be prominent.
  • Make the path from one slide to the next easy to follow, without a lot of jumping around (your future employer will not be able to hire you if she got so dizzy from viewing your prezi that she passed out).
  • This is a chance for people to get to know your journey in a different, potentially more memorable way.  Don’t just reiterate the things on your standard, formal resume.  Be creative.  Be yourself. Include pictures and items from your portfolio.  Let people see who you are and what you do rather than just read it.
  • This is an opportunity to fill in any blanks left on your resume from periods of unemployment, staying home with the kids, caring for a sick relative, etc.
  • Be sure to include your contact information (deleted from my last slide for the purposes of this blog), and to embed your formal resume as well (some employers still prefer the old black and white versions).