Insights: The EGC Blog

Happy National Chili Day!

To celebrate, our very own Dillon Winegar, Jr. Marketing Analyst, created an amazing agency-wide chili party. We sat down to get the scoop on taking on this chili challenge. 

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So Dillon, tell us what inspired you to host an EGC Chili Fiesta to celebrate National Chili Day?

I love chili – like any chili I can get a spoon into. 

Let’s go back.

I was on the crew team my sophomore year of college, and as any rower knows, your average day is comprised of four things – eating, sleeping and practice. That being said, most of the friendships I made on the crew team were built around food. When the fall hit and the temperatures dropped, we would sit in our boats, freezing cold and soaking wet dreaming of all of the warm things we would eat after practice.

Ever since, chili, for me, is my favorite way to connect with people and build stronger friendships. As silly as that may sound, I thought there could be no better way to connect with my colleagues during this frigid winter. 

(I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve actually had the date for National Chili Day on my work calendar since September.) 

We have some pretty talented chefs among us here at EGC. Feeling the pressure?

A few people have been throwing shade, but I’m not worried. I’m cool as a cucumber. Chili is what I do. At the end of the day, I know that most of the people here love to eat, and hang out and if nothing else goes right tomorrow, everyone can at least enjoy a break from their desks bonding with each other.

Just some light preparation for #nationalchiliday @egcgroup #chili #chiliday #egclife

A photo posted by Dillon Winegar (@kenkensington) on

To prepare, have you reflected on your years of chili study? Any chili masters you particularly want to call out who’ve helped you on your chili journey?

I was actually just thinking of the first time I ever made chili. I was in third grade and my mother and I were sitting at the kitchen table. She was looking through cookbooks, trying to find something for dinner. I was across the table, looking through the children’s cookbooks she had pulled out for me to look through. 

I asked her if I could pick a recipe and cook it for dinner, to which she happily said "yes." I flipped through the cookbook, pointing at every single recipe along the way asking, “how about this?” (Literally every recipe from breakfast through dinner.) Finally, we got to Corny Chili, which to my surprise, got an OK. 

Let’s just say that my brothers (and secretly parents) hated my Corny Chili. I absolutely loved it. That was basically the start of my love affair with Chili.

Are you feeling warmed up and ready to rock some chili today?

The recipe that I have prepared for EGC’s Chili Fiesta is actually the same one I’ve been working on for the past seven years. I’ve never cooked chili in this large a quantity before and actually had to buy a last minute 16-quart stock pot to finish the second batch. 

I’m fairly confident that both the spicy and not-as-spicy renditions of the chili will be awesome. I’m also making a traditional Southern chili (no beans) for the party. It’s a new, simple recipe I’m trying out. I was having my doubts about this recipe originally, but I’m actually most excited to try that version when it’s done cooking.  

Any tips for aspiring chili chefs?

Chili is a really easy thing to make. Most of the time you’re just throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot and cooking it forever. Find a recipe you like, something that has a good base (I like 80% lean ground beef and spicy Italian sausage), and go from there. 

Make the recipe to the "T" the first time and right after you dig in, go back to the recipe and make notes. Was it too spicy? Did I make too much? Did your friends and family like it? When you go back and make it again, just let the chili "speak" to you. Get on the same wavelength as your ingredients and really feel their vibe.  

I use my recipe card as a guide at this point, remembering what I changed from the last time I conjured up a batch of chili.  The recipe now is 75% different than what it originally started out as, but it’s my recipe and it’s delicious.

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So what’s next for you in the world of chili mastery?

I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now. That being said, I’m most likely going to wait a few years before adventuring further into the world of chili. My feet are more than wet in the chili pool, so I’m going to wait, and respect the meal before going further. 

After this experience I can definitely say that I don’t really ever want to pursue a career in catering. I think I’ll just stick to my annual chili party for the time being.

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Any other signature dishes you’re planning to unveil for the hard-working, hungry EGC team?

Oh, good question. Hm...

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Oscars

While Super Bowl advertising grabbed a lot of attention – understandably so at $4 million for a 30-second spot – the annual Academy Awards broadcast is no slouch in generating advertising dollars. The price of a 30-second spot now averages nearly $2 million, an increase from last year’s rate, according to the LA Times.

The bigger price tag hasn’t kept advertisers away. Reportedly, the spots sold out four months ago, a quicker pace than for the Super Bowl. With the huge success of last year’s show, advertisers are hopeful for another hit broadcast.

A key to last year’s success was the style of host Ellen DeGeneres, who created a number of memorable moments, such as ordering pizza and the selfie seen round the world. Her record-breaking selfie, according to Money, had an estimated value (in equivalent advertising expenditure) of $1 billion.

A number of brands are back this year, including Oscars® staple McDonald’s. The brand has run commercials during the awards show every year since 1992. American Express® is also advertising this year, as it has done each year since 1993. The brand will run four ads featuring inspiring stories from celebrities talking about overcoming odds. 

JCPenney has struggled over recent years, but returns again in the hopes of Oscar bump gold. The brand is planning a total of seven commercials during the show and is the official retail sponsor. In addition to its hefty TV spend, the brand is also launching a Lookbook on Tumblr.

According to a press release from JCPenney Media Relations, this brand will: “Surprise and delight customers by turning select photos into a fashion illustration of them wearing a look from JCPenney’s spring assortment and offer a chance for customers to be featured in the Lookbook. Customers will also be able to shop the looks from jcpenney.com.”

Further integrating digital and traditional media, JCPenney is creating a cause marketing moment with its “Oscars® Play to Give” game. Registering and playing will generate a donation to one of three charity partners. Individual and group play via social media platforms Facebook and Twitter will be possible and a coupon is offered to players who register before Sunday.

Following the Academy Awards show, CRM (in the form of “trend inspired mailers”) will be sent to “select customers” with trends and tips. A traditional print campaign will also launch in various People properties, Redbook, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Essence and Latina. The print campaign will tie into the look and feel of the overall campaign on digital.

Are there spots you’re particularly looking forward to this year? Predictions for best and worst ads? Tweet with us during the show with #EGCAdTalk. We look forward to tweeting with you! 

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House_of_CardsTV is dead. TV is experiencing a renaissance. Nobody goes to the movies anymore. New releases are breaking box office records. Digital will kill product placement. Product placement is everywhere in digital.
Just when the death knell is sounded for traditional mediums, platforms and advertising tools, things get interesting. While product placement seems to be experiencing some growing pains, sometimes still awkwardly trying to integrate products into content, it seems brands are exploring new methods and are adapting to shifts in programming tastes.

Commentators have noted the sometimes forced use of products in television and film. Well while products are moving into digital entertainment, such as the hit Netflix series House of Cards, that awkward moment of making a product work in the storytelling is sometimes there in this new medium as well.

While the show has made huge headlines this week for the apparently accidental release of Season 3, not officially slated until the end of the month, the show has also gotten attention for its ubiquitous product placements. From smartphones throughout the show to Pizza Hut runs and from Francis Underwood’s Cadillac to the integration of Canon’s EOS1 camera and photo printers in the love affair of his wife Claire and a photographer boyfriend product placement plays a big role in the show.

This somewhat old school approach in a new medium is helping fund productions of new series on content providers like Netflix. But Variety reported last week that a growing number of big brands are moving away from some of their traditional product placements. 

In Brian Steinberg’s piece, TV’s Old Product-Placement Era Could Be Nearing Its End,he ciites Coca-Cola’s move to pull its cups from American Idol. Steinberg suggests brands are looking to move away from traditional models to explore new avenues of product placement. Steinberg mentions Walmart’s sponsorship of both NBC’s live productions of The Sound of Music and Peter Pan.

Working Walmart into the script of Peter Pan would have been a disaster, of course. In this case, Walmart created spots with Melissa Joan Hart and her real life family that thematically tied back to Peter Pan, and were perfectly timed to follow specific scenes in the production.

Will product placement go away from television and film? It’s not likely.

As Kevin Downey writes in Product Placement V2.0 is Hot Brand Strategy for TVNewsCheck, products as characters within the stories is a big trend with brands and studios. Angela Courtin, CMO at Relativity Media, told Downey that Relativity is not only a film and TV studio, but it’s also “a branded-entertainment company. That allows brands to sit at the table and collaborate on creating content that fits their marketing objective.”

One long-standing example of products playing a significant role in films and almost becoming characters in their own right, is the placement of cars in James Bond films. As brandchannel’s Mark Miller reports, "One of the most coveted placements for any Bond film is in the automotive category..."  And Jaguar Land Rover has just announced that three of their vehicles will be featured in SPECTRE, the 24th installment in the 007 films, now in production.

Dramatic car chase scenes are fun and iconic examples of product placement that don’t seem like they’ll be going away anytime soon. But brands are exploring other means of creating product storytelling as well.

Gap and directors “The Daniels” are collaborating on an Instagram "micro-series" for the brand. Twelve 15-second "films" feature the search for love and the perfect pair of jeans. Starring Jenny Slate, Paul Dano and Gap jeans, one will be released each week this spring.

Gap reports it will also release the series on dating websites and apps. They add, “The ‘Micro-Series’ series is one of the first campaigns to take advantage of Instagram's new video auto-replay looping capabilities.”

Is the future of brandchannel’s beloved Brandcameo Product Placement Award in danger? It doesn’t look that way. Brands and their advertising tactics are evolving, and brands such as Gap have taken on shaping their own stories. But it does seem that we’ll be seeing brands race to ride with Bond and be part of hit shows – whether on TV or from digital content providers    for some time to come.

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Loctite

Let’s start with the ad that was so unpopular that it didn’t even air. 

Put a puppy in an ad and you have a surefire hit, right? This year, GoDaddy stuck to its strategy of envelope-pushing messaging, but this time with a puppy. What would ordinarily be a recipe for cuteness overload became a spot that was so controversial, they pulled the ad and cobbled together a new one at the eleventh hour.

The brand is known for being willing to make viewers uncomfortable. Remember the 2013 ad that featured an awkward kiss between Victoria’s Secret model Bar Refaeli and actor Jesse Heiman? (It was voted the worst ad of the 2013 game by viewers in the USA Today Ad Meter.) But the reaction to the online preview of the puppy ad resulted in a change.org petition to have the ad removed.

In time for the Big Game, GoDaddy produced a spot that “raises a chip with some dip to the men and women who sacrifice so much to run their businesses.”

The response was generally that the new spot was,wellOK. 

 

But it was appreciated by small business owners.

 

While the brand has offended many (this year and in years past), it hasn’t seemed to hurt business. In fact, GoDaddy announced that the Monday after the Big Game in 2013, it experienced its biggest sales day ever. 

In an interesting twist this year, Nationwide Insurance has made some of the ‘Best Ad’ lists and many of the ‘Worst Ad’ lists. Its Invisible Mindy Kaling spot was funny and well-received. The spot with a little boy talking about all the things he’ll never do because he died in an accident generated more than 230,000 tweets the majority of which were negative.

 

 

 

Many of the other ads were somewhat forgettable, didn’t quite deliver, or were just a little confusing.

 

 

But there were some standouts. Loctite®, a glue company, jumped in feet first with its first-ever Big Game ad. A quirky spot with dancing fanny-pack wearing people, it was lighthearted fun. The brand also was very smart about getting active on social media and truly created a playful conversation around the spot.

 

Other standouts include the Snickers ad that featured a grumpy Marcia from The Brady Bunch played by Danny Trejo and a moody Jan played by Steve Buscemi, as well as Fiat’s little blue pill ad.

 

 

So, the game is over. The ads have aired. Ad enthusiasts, marketers, viewers and the media have weighed in on who triumphed and who flopped. What should brands do now?

If they flopped, is there a recovery plan they should put in place? If they triumphed, how do they capitalize on it to keep the momentum going?

Looking at a list from NBC of "The 10 Worst Super Bowl Ads of All Timefrom 2007, each brand but one came back from the fallout. Apple tops this worst list with its 1985 “Lemmings” spot – but Apple is one of the top brands in the world today. The one that didn’t survive the damage was Just for Feet.

Just for Feet’s ad in 1999 (that featured a Kenyan runner who is kidnapped and forced to wear the brand’s sneakers) was panned as racist and imperialist. The brand sued its agency and filed for bankruptcy. Eventually, Just for Feet shuttered its last store in 2004.

Graham ByersDirector, Strategic Planning, EGC Group, suggests that if a brand’s ad missed the mark, “Go back to the core strategy behind the messaging.”  

Tony PasquarielloAccount Supervisor, EGC Group, adds, “Everyone is talking about the play call by Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll with just around a half-minute to go in the world’s biggest game. Was that the worst play call in Super Bowl History? But way before that moment that will live in sports infamy, there was another call that was being weighed by corporations around the world. That was the call to play in the Super Bowl ad game or not. Some companies and brands jumped at the opportunity while others shied away from the steep $4.5 million price tag. But whether their ad made it on the ‘Worst Super Bowl ad list or ‘Best Super Bowl ad list, the fact is either way it made it on a Super Bowl ad list.”

Despite that fact that some of the ads may have missed the mark or been critiqued, they are generating buzz. “Based on 114.4 million viewers for this year’s Super Bowl, there were no losers,” Tony says. “Good or bad, advertisers should put the pedal to the metal and keep the momentum of that record high viewership going with an integrated strategy of social, video and promotional marketing, just as most companies that advertised did leading up to the game. In deference to Ron Popeil – ‘You can’t just set it and forget it!

None of this year’s ads fell into the Just for Feet trap of being business-enders, but some did miss the mark. What should they do now? 

Angela MertzMedia Director, EGC Group, advises, “The first course of action should be to examine why they’re on the ‘Worst’ list in the first place. Most were considered the worst because they failed to properly utilize that precious time they had in front of an audience ready to receive their message. They either had no calls-to-action (many were missing hashtags this year), the ad didn’t have much to do with the product, or they were just downright depressing. My suggestion: Get your social media team out there and engage with your community using topics, photos, and videos that you KNOW people want.” 

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Twitter recently added a new feature to its iOS app. This new Twitter home timeline tweak could have a big impact. The update highlights or recaps some of the top tweets you may have missed from accounts that you follow since the last time you logged in.

ACTweet1Twitter is one of the fastest paced social media platforms on the market today. Tweets fly by on the feeds of 284 million monthly active users.

Justin Bieber is going to be on “Comedy Central’s Roast” is all anyone is talking about one hour, and the New England Patriots’ “#DeflateGate” is the hot topic an hour later. There is an average of 6,000 tweets being sent out every second. This can be extremely overwhelming if you follow a lot of users, and even more overwhelming if you are new to Twitter.

ACTweet2Social media is becoming integrated into more and more aspects of our lives today. You can see hashtags now associated with brand campaigns, events, TV shows and news stories. Even those who predicted social media would be just a fad are slowly making their way to actively using not only Facebook, but multiple social platforms, (even posting what they’re eating for dinner on Instagram). This update will definitely help ease the transition for new users to the real-time experience that Twitter has to offer, helping this platform stand out as a social media staple.

This new update is called GENIUS, and it eliminates Twitter’s Achilles’ heel. A lot of things can happen while you’re not constantly checking your phone. (You can’t always stay connected.)

The new “while you were away…” feed will help fill in the gaps with a collection of the best tweets that you might otherwise have missed. Curating tweets you missed could help with one of the biggest complaints about the platform – feeling inundated with a never ending influx of updates.

“Oh, so it’s an update like Facebook’s highlighted timeline,” you may be thinking. Not necessarily. Unlike Facebook’s highlights feed, Twitter’s new news feed will still show tweets in chronological order, keeping you in the loop in the fast-paced world that we’re living in.

Many other social media apps (like Instagram and Vine) can learn from this update. If you haven’t logged into Instagram or Vine in one day, you’re out of the loop – unless you spend your time scrolling through all the content you fixed. This Twitter feature is perfect for the casual user of social media and could  increase the number of monthly users for Twitter in 2015.

Twitter has officially launched this update for iOS users, but the platform expects to expand it for the Android and Twitter.com soon. There is currently no option to turn off the new feature. (Note: if you check your Twitter feed often, you won’t see this feature as much.)

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Facebook yesterday announced the release of a new report from Deloitte, Facebook's Global Economic Impact, which looks at the economy-stimulating power of the social platform. Picking up where Deloitte’s 2011 European report left off, this update includes a more global perspective.

The survey looks at the impact of Facebook as a driver of economic growth and job creation around the world. Deloitte studied the effects of marketing, development tools and connectivity.

Looking at the “Marketing Effect,” Deloitte calculated this social media platform’s impact on the overall economy. This includes the impact that everything from targeted Facebook advertising, Pages (and all of the content creation and community management that goes along with maintaining a successful brand page) and referral traffic all have on a brand’s bottom line. Deloitte examined the total sales of brands with Facebook pages and the “sales uplift estimated due to their engagement on Pages.”

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Deloitte asserts that the estimated marketing effect of Facebook in 2014 enabled $148 billion of economic impact and 2.3 million jobs, globally! The US remains Facebook’s largest market (contributing to North America’s leading position in the survey), capturing nearly half of the world’s overall economic impact with $81 billion and 870,000 jobs.

Some economists are already questioning Deloitte’s methodology in the report. As The Wall Street Journal reportseconomists like Tyler Cowen of George Mason University feel that while Facebook has an impact on the economy, the report’s numbers are exaggerated. 

But Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, stated in yesterday's announcement in its newsroom, The good news is that the tech industry is powering the economy and creating jobs within and beyond its own campuses. Every day, businesses of all sizes, sectors, and skill sets are using the Facebook platform to grow and expand.”

Deloitte’s Global Managing Director, Technology, Media & Telecommunications says, “Our study finds that Facebook enables significant global economic activity by helping to unlock new opportunities through connecting people and businesses, lowering barriers to marketing, and stimulating innovation.”

Overall, the report suggests Facebook has had a global economic impact of $227 billion and contributed 4.5 million jobs, from October 2013 through October 2014. 

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As marketers, we know the power of Facebook and experience it daily with our clients. As the report states, thanks to the “cost-effectiveness of advertising for businesses” and the number of tools for targeting and optimization, Facebook allows brands to reach the people most likely to become customers as well as to nurture relationships, building a community of loyal brand ambassadors.

While Facebook is an ever-evolving platform with algorithm changes, developing advertising guidelines and the challenge of competing in an increasingly crowded social space, the possibilities it creates for building brand awareness and driving sales are significant.

 

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sock_with_sensorsWe at EGC are still recovering from a whirlwind CES. Here is our better late than never, bite-sized recap for you – the marketer. 

Connectedness

On the other end of Las Vegas, far away from the convention center, was the Wearables and Connected Home section. 

This was truly one of the busiest sections of Las Vegas. Here, it was not about the thinnest and biggest, but rather the smartest. 

Your refrigerator, dishwasher and even your socks are built in new ways to help you measure, plan, and essentially live a better life. 

This included, of course, our client Brother International, who was a finalist in “Best in Tech for their unbelievably advanced sewing and embroidery machines.

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And the automotive sector was in on digital connectedness, too. Hyundai’s Genesis luxury sedan can unlock and start with a tap on a smartwatch. Audi sent one of its sedans more than 500 miles from Palo Alto to Las Vegas for CES – via autopilot! BMW claims that it is one-to-two years away from selling self-parking cars with dashboards that will all be controlled by hand gestures.

What does this mean to you? Consumers are more ready than ever for your brand to serve some utility in their lives and the technology is there to make it possible. 

Personalization

Thanks to all of these connected devices, more and more personal data will be available. Obviously, privacy concerns abound, but personalized data will allow companies and brands to personalize human experiences and study the behavior of their customers’ reactions

Fitness-related companies can begin to optimize their content, based on the data they receive from wearables. Health-related companies can adjust your diet and plan in real time. And still other companies could begin to create content specifically for smart watches. These new devices will become both a platform and a data-collection tool that will help bring content marketing to the next level.

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Prepare to be touched 

For screens, it wasn’t about 8K or 4K or 85". It was about how you can interact with your screens, and where those screens can go. 

Throughout CES, new touch screens and other interactive features, such as facial and voice recognition, were featured. 

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What this means is that tapping – or in some cases, waving or speaking  rather than clicking has changed how people interact with your advertising. 

Start planning the secret wave that will unlock customer benefits and offers.

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Untitled-2In all of the anticipation for a new year, it’s hard not to expect 2015 to come rolling in feeling revolutionary from the get-go. And with each year beginning with welcoming the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there’s a big expectation that we’ll get a taste of some brilliant new innovations that will change our lives. 

When we think innovation, most eyes turn to giants Google and Apple. Yet, neither tech leader attended CES 2014 and, once again, they are absent this year. Interestingly, even though the brands themselves aren’t present, there’s plenty to see at CES 2015 that is designed with them in mind. A glance over the products that debuted this week illustrates just how entwined Apple and Android will become in our lives ­– and beyond the phone in our pocket.

The iPhone 6 was launched in September 2014 and clearly a number of brands have been busy developing products for it, particularly battery cases. Otterbox’s Resurgence power case (with a 2.6k-mAh battery that charges itself via a micro-USB connector) and Reach79’s new case (with a built-in antenna that enables faster webpage loading, improved signal strength of an average of 1.6X and improved music streaming quality) are two cases that have generated the most buzz this week. 

On the Android phone side, some big news came from Kodak with the introduction of the brand's first-ever smartphone the Kodak IM5. It boasts a 13-megapixel camera with editing features that celebrates the brand’s history as a pioneer in photography. Another Android phone that’s grabbing attention is from little-known manufacturer Saygus. The Saygus V2, which has the option of up to a remarkable 320GB of storage, also features a 21-megapixel camera, support for Wireless Qi charging and a biometric fingerprint scanner.

Devices looking to take iPhone capabilities beyond the phone itself are a big part of CES this year. Announced in 2014, Apple’s HomeKit aims to create an organized smart home. This week, iDevices, Schlage and Chamberlain are all introducing new devices that are designed to be compatible with HomeKit. Switch, from iDevices, is a plug that can enable an iPhone to control appliances plugged into it. Schlage (known for its locks) has created a lock that opens with a verbal command to your iPhone. And Chamberlain has created a Wi-Fi garage door controller that would allow Siri to open or close it for you remotely.

MediaTek, a semiconductor firm based in Taiwan, launched the world’s first Android TV devices as well as a new audio chip designed for Google Cast for audio software.They also announced their new System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for wearables. These launches signal a growing relationship with Google for MediaTek and Google’s expansion into broader product categories. 

Powerful partnerships announced at CES have heightened interest in Android TV. Sony, Sharp and Philips will all be releasing TVs that offer shows, games and movies from Google Play and apps, and are also voice search capable and compatible with Google Cast. 

But what does this all mean for most consumers who are still in the midst of the iPhone vs. Android phone battle? Is there hope in all of this for those who feel like they’re Android users in an iPhone world?

Clearly Apple is a branding giant. It’s easy to feel like this is an iPhone world with 42.7% of Americans using iPhones. People still line up overnight for iPhone releases  including for the new iPhone 6, despite pre-orders.  

Even with the headlines of the last few years since Tim Cook took the reins (e.g., as The Problem with Tim Cook, With Apple Profit Falling, Board Should Replace Tim Cook with Jony Ive, and Why Tim Cook’s ‘Level 5 Leadership’ Might Not Be Enough to Secure Apple’s Future), the popularity of the iPhone 6 shows that the sentiment tide is turning. In fact, Android’s US market share has decreased for the first time since 2013.

No single other smartphone brand comes close to matching Apple’s market share. But. Looking at all of the brands that run Android collectively... 52% of Americans use Android OS.And while the buzz may seem to be overwhelmingly about iPhone fandom, there are plenty of places to celebrate a love for Android.

Tech writer Florence Ion, for example, is a self-described “Android-using yogini.” Following the release of the iPhone 6, she penned a passionate piece, 10 Android features that still make it better than iOS8. Ion writes, “That's the beauty of being an Android user: you can tweak the interface, change up the icons on individual apps, and plop widgets wherever you see fit. Can your iPhone-loving friend do that?”

Ars Technica writer Ron Amadeo even created an infographic that’s become very popular with Android fans:

 

 

Of course, Apple fan Sonny Dickson, of SonnyDickson.com (a site that features news primarily about Apple), tweeted this retort:

 

One stumbling point for Android fans has been issues surrounding the release of the much-anticipated update to Lollipop 5.0. First announced in November, the rollout from manufacturers was slow, and early adopters encountered some bugs that left many choosing to stick with KitKat instead. And, as of now, most Android phones still have yet to receive the update.

 

So, is it an iPhone world, after all? While it’s easy to see where the perception might come from. Yes, looking around it seems like there are so many iPhones in people's hands and so much buzz about the brand. And Android users have different phones from a variety of brands. But the dominant operating system is Android. And there’s plenty of passion for it, as well as buzz around its products and integration into broader categories of technology.

So where do you fall on the iPhone vs Android debate? 

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The recipe for a successful social media post is fairly simple. Learn what’s interesting to your target audience. Consider what topics make sense for your brand to share about. Be conversational, but do it in a voice consistent with your brand’s overall messaging. But from the annual lists of “worst social fails” of the year, it’s clear that executing this recipe is tricky.

Tune into competitive chefery shows and you’ll often hear the professional chefs who are guest judging note that they employ “the chef’s egg test.” To be considered for employment in the kitchen, an aspiring chef must perfectly prepare a dish that seems simple, yet can be a challenge to get right. As Master Chef Thomas Keller wrote once in the LA Times, The real test of a chef doesn't come from elaborate dishes…  I'm fascinated by seemingly simple dishes… because they not only showcase the quality of their ingredients, but, more important, they also demonstrate the skill of the cook who prepared them.”

This is true of social media. What makes a great post is the deftness of its creator it in blending the perfect mix of simplicity, timing, and great, simple ingredients that inspire people to respond with a resounding: “That’s awesome!

These five posts, the most shared and buzzworthy of 2014, captured that magical mix most effectively.

The Top 4 Posts of 2014

4. The Kim and Kanye Wedding Kiss

Simple. Beautiful. It’s garnered 2.4 million Likes and 57.1 thousand comments on Instagram, making it the most popular post on the platform to date and a success for brand Kimye.

Kimye

3. The AMC Theaters Post

Minions + Holiday Video = Record-breaking Share Rate. Posts with videos and photos outperform those without. What happens when you add the popular minions from Despicable Me? You win 3.2 million shares of that post on Facebook. Reinvigorating brand AMC, this post took the offers of a gift card and free popcorn to new heights.

2. The Oscars Selfie

Ellen’s ability to connect with the audience  speaking directly to them and making them feel part of the event  and enlisting Hollywood A-listers for a fun group shot made for a record-breaking tweet with 3.4 million retweets shared in 151 countries. Not only did people engage with the tweet itself, but it was the most talked about tweet of the year, inspiring 254,644 Tweets per minute about it during the Oscar show. This simple, but highly effective tweet promoted not only the personal brands of the actors and the Oscars, but was also a highly effective strategic product placement for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

1. Content Marketing Done Well

The Influencer post on LinkedIn that was viewed the most (at 3.5 million views) was advice from Dr. Travis Bradberry the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and president at TalentSmarton how to manage emotions and remain calm under pressure. How Successful People Stay Calm also garnered 32,612 likes and 4,221 comments. The title is just the right balance of simplicity and the promise of useful advice everyone can benefit from. 

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Graphic from How Successful People Stay Calm.

What this post does well is feature TalentSmart’s research in an effective inbound marketing piece, strategically positioning Bradberry and TalentSmart and bringing the audience to them. As EGC’s Managing Partner Nicole Larrauri explained in The NSFW State of Advertising 2014-15, inbound marketing is a critical tool for brands today. What this post also does well is offer brand utility with content that people need and love. As Larrauri writes: “It’s about out-thinking and out-teaching.” And this post captures that. It isn’t fraught with obvious signs that it’s trying too hard to be either very brief or fill up a word count quota. The language is clear and accessible and demonstrates that content matters.

In spite of these great examples of successful social content, there were so many examples of that simple recipe’s execution gone awry. It was hard to narrow the field. But here are our picks for the frighteningly bad posts of 2014.

The 4 Most Cringeworthy Posts of 2014

4. American Apparel’s Challenger Post

In a classic example of a post gone wrong thanks to lack of research, American Apparel tweeted an image of the Challenger disaster on the company’s Tumblr site. Tagged #Smoke and #Clouds, the image was of the moments following the explosion on January 28, 1986 that killed the seven people aboard the shuttle. The post was swiftly removed and the brand issued an apology.

 

The lesson for brands? A little desktop research can spare everyone that mortification moment. Take a beat before posting. Everyone wants to be quick and nimble in social, but taking an extra moment to learn more about the content you’re about to share is a must.

3. DiGiorno Pizza Uses a Trending Hashtag

Following the revelation of Janay Rice’s experience with domestic violence, conversations on social started up around this serious topic. Many began sharing their own personal stories using the hashtag #WhyIStayed to discuss the complexities of their own experiences and choices. Seeing the hashtag was trending, but apparently without looking into why and what it meant, DiGiorno attempted to use the hashtag “humorously” to promote pizza.

DiGiorno

Lesson for brands? Click on a hashtag and read through the story it’s telling before using it. Again, it’s about taking that beat to get your bearings and make an informed decision before hitting Share.

2. Dave & Buster’s Taco Tuesday Post

Brands often look to incorporate the right balance of humor in their posts as a way to help boost engagement. Dave & Buster’s attempt at taco humor was decidedly unamusing. It may have yielded plenty of attention, but none of it was positive. Tim Herrera of The Washington Post captured the moment and predicted an apology was forthcoming in less than 45 minutes. Sadly for the brand, it wasn’t in as big a rush to apologize as it was to post and the apology post appeared about an hour and a half later.

 

Lesson for brands? Steer clear of stereotypes. Humor can work for brands, but offensive humor is just a bad idea. 

1. Best Buy’s Murder Case Joke

Attempting to tap into the buzz around the podcast Serial, Best Buy recently tweeted a reference to a 1999 murder of a high school senior. A key component of the prosecutor’s case was whether or not the alleged killer used a payphone outside of a Maryland Best Buy after committing the murder. While it seems, according to this Huffington Post article, that the store location has become a bit of a tourist attraction because of interest in the podcast, the brand’s decision to promote itself through a joke about the murder was met with understandable criticism. 

Best_Buy

Lesson for brands? Be careful piggybacking on something just because it’s popular. Exploiting a real murder for brand messaging is just such a bad idea, it’s hard to believe we’d actually have to explain why…

From honest accidents  – like US Airways posting a graphic photo – to deliberate attempts to control the social conversation against best practices and damaging its reputation  like Smuckers deleting negative comments about GMOs  sadly, there were plenty of runners up this year. Most of these were cases of just not thinking things through. 

The best strategy is to implement procedures and protocols that avoid these kinds of social fails in the first place. But if your brand should face a disaster moment, the next step is the crafting of an appropriate apology.

All of the brands listed here issued apologies. But some were more effective than others.

American Apparel simultaneously blamed the employee’s youth and apologized. “We deeply apologize for today’s Tumblr post of the Space Shuttle Challenger. The image was reblogged in error by one of our international social media employees who was born after the tragedy and was unaware of the event. We sincerely regret the insensitivity of that selection and the post has been deleted.”

Dave & Buster’s apologized, but without fully acknowledging that their remark was offensive. The brand instead noted: “…our intention was never to offend anyone, please accept our apology.”

Best Buy took a stronger stance in its apology, tweeting: “We deeply apologize for our earlier tweet about Serial. It lacked good judgment and doesn’t reflect the values of our company. We are sorry.”

DiGiorno initially offered a somewhat flat apology: “…that our comment may have been perceived as offensive.” But the brand earned some points with critics when the account then personally began responding to the criticism with tweets such as: “It was late and I got sloppy. A rare mistake, I promise you. Never again. I’m so sorry Kim.” and “It was. And I couldn’t be more sorry about it, Emma. Please accept my deepest apologies.”

DiGiorno2

 

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EGC is proud to present its Creative Highlights of 2014. From TV spots to websites to social media posts, check out some of our best work – ever. It's been a fun year and 2015 promises to be even better, so stay tuned.

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