Perhaps I’m overly critical, having spent nearly 20 years analyzing the effectiveness of nearly 200,000 advertisements.  As a result, I find most ads to be quite ineffective, actually.  When something catches my critical eye as being the exception to (my) rule, I can’t wait to share it.

Oscar Mayer recently launched an ad campaign that I thought is pretty clever.  And if I had to guess, I expect it will be successful too.  It’s called “Bacon Barter” and it’s about a man travelling across the U.S. (12 cities) with 3,000 pounds of bacon who will trade that bacon for everything he needs, including food, gas, lodging and entertainment.  Here’s why I think it will work . . .

1)  Most Americans love bacon!  Bacon is delicious…enough said.  🙂

2)  The campaign will capitalize on regional/local promotions as the barterer travels across the country.  Even though the campaign is national, it will incorporate valuable local/regional publicity as it progresses.

3)  It incorporates humor.  Traditionally, humor works (just watch the Super Bowl, although Super Bowl spots have gone down-hill in recent years in my opinion).

4)  It incorporates social media.  As of September 12th, @baconbarter already has over 1,800 followers on Twitter.  Want to barter?  You can tweet your barter offer using the hashtag #baconbarter!  The Oscar Mayer page on Facebook already has 734,000+ likes (granted, not all due to this campaign).  They’re using Instagram too.

5)  The campaign feeds on (pardon the pun) Americans’ sense of travel and adventure.

6)  Americans love a good deal, so you can follow all of the barter deals he makes on their website and/or social media accounts.

But, Oscar Mayer better closely monitor the social media aspect of this campaign. Quite a few companies have had their seemingly clever campaign backfire in the social media world.  One recent example is McDonald’s, who asked fans to tweet about their favorite fond memories of Happy Meals using the hashtag #McDStories. Instead, Twitter was flooded with McDonald’s horror stories using that same hashtag.  If they’re not careful, I can see this account getting barter offers for all sorts of illegal products/services and that hashtag could quickly slide down-hill.

All of this writing is making me hungry!  Bacon, anyone?

Authenticity in Advertising

In my last post, I wrote about authenticity in social media.  With this post, I’m focusing on authenticity in advertising.  While that subject could likely provide enough source material to teach a full semester’s course, I’ll narrow it down to fast food advertising (and just this one post).

It’s not a secret that many hours go into enhancing the look of fast food products.  The lighting has to be just right, items are strategically placed, touch-ups are done.  In fact, quite often what you see isn’t the actual food product but something made to look like it.  Is that really ice cream you’re seeing in a commercial, or scoops of lard covered in motor oil?  Is it milk in that cereal bowl, or watered-down glue?  Yes, you read those examples correctly.  🙂

Since learning about these techniques in college,  I’ve never really trusted fast food advertising.  Watch the video below and your level of trust might be lower too.

There’s a recent trend that’s become an advertising pet peeve of mine.  Have you noticed fast food restaurants often include slow-motion shots of sandwiches being meticulously constructed with farm-fresh ingredients using pristine instruments?  It’s almost like watching a culinary version of the game “Operation!”  Do you really think that’s what occurs after you place your order at the drive-thru?  Or, is it more likely someone is slapping together food warmed under a heat lamp as quickly as possible using their hands (hopefully with gloves)?

For the above reasons, I find authenticity in fast food advertising significantly lacking.  What other industries need to do a better job of being authentic in their advertising?

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Auto-Synchronize Social Media

There’s a common metaphor that explains social media which perhaps you’ve heard . . . Facebook is like a backyard BBQ (closest friends and family, sharing of some personal details), LinkedIn is like an office party (co-workers, colleagues, clients, vendors with many professional conversations), Twitter is like a cocktail party (may or may not know others in the room, many conversations that you will hear, some you’ll participate in, on numerous topics).  If you agree with that metaphor, then you’d most likely agree each of those three social media sites have different participants, in a different atmosphere, with different goals, objectives and expectations.

There are many tools available that allow you to auto-synchronize your messages across the various social media sites.  LinkedIn can auto-synchronize to Twitter.  You can have Facebook auto-synchronize to Twitter too (and visa-verse).  There are numerous third-party sites that allow you to auto-synchronize in various combinations too (, HootSuite to name a few).  While there can be valid reasons to auto-synchronize your message on occasion, to do so full-time is a major mistake from a marketing perspective.  Here are three reasons why:

1)  Different target audience.  McDonald’s is not going to market to the Happy Meal crowd the same way they’re going to advertise to the late night meal crowd.  Why?  Different target audiences!  Go back to the metaphor in the beginning of this post.  Different target audiences need different messages to be effective.

2)  Different platforms with different etiquette.  Using McDonald’s as an example once again . . . how they advertise on television is (and should be!) vastly different from how they advertise in the newspaper.  It’s a different medium, with different norms and expectations.  Tweeting about your tasty sandwich is okay (not a great use of a tweet, but okay).  Talking about your sandwich on LinkedIn is not.

3)  It makes you look lazy.  Yes, synchronizing saves you time from having to alter your postings and manually upload to the different platforms.  As mentioned earlier, there are times where it’s appropriate and acceptable to do so.  If you do it 100% of the time, you risk alienating your followers/fans/connections because you likely look lazy or think I’m not worth the few seconds it takes to customize a message for the social media platform.  If we’re connected on more than one platform, it’s very noticeable.

Now that this blog entry is written, let me go cross-post it on every social media platform I can find.  😉