It’s a little known fact that I happen to have dual citizenship with the US and the UK. So it was with great excitement that I awaited the birth of the royal prince a couple of weeks ago – not enough excitement that I would have camped outside the Lindo Wing, but enough to stick on the BBC online once news of his Royal Highness’s birth was confirmed.
I’ve spoken before about "fame-jacking" – seeing what’s out there that is culturally popular, and leveraging the excitement and interest that surrounds it. There are good ways and bad ways to do this, and following the royal birth, there was a flurry of them. While I’m generally in favor of identifying a way to link your business with the hot topics of conversation, I felt a bit icky about some of those brands that used the arrival of Prince George to push their wares (and yes, I am aware of the irony of my blogging about it).
We at the ILN posted a simple "Congratulations" message on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which I’m well aware that they will never see. Those brands that did something similar, or came up with the clever way to congratulate them without linking to their website or pushing a new product, I thought did a clever thing.
However, more often than not, brands attempted to be clever, but also pushy, using the opportunity to encourage people to go to their website, to buy their products, etc.
It’s a fine line, and I suppose there’s no right answer for how best to handle something like this as a brand – but like any branding decision, your choices can affect how people view you long-term, and the characteristics they associate with your brand.
Business Week felt that the American brands were being "lame" – let’s take a look at a few, and you can decide for yourselves!
Oreo went with a "Prepare the royal bottle service – long live the creme" image, which I thought was cute and clever. They tweeted this out shortly after the royal birth, and it supports their brand without being overly pushy. Business Week recalls that Oreo was also on the ball (no pun intended) when the power went out during the Superbowl, and they started a "dunk in the dark" campaign. Good brand awareness, nice use of fame-jacking, not overly pushy. Agree or disagree?
Some other cute congratulations mentions included Delta:
If you’ve been to London recently, you’ve likely seen these "Share a Coke with…" ads on the side of the double decker buses, so this fit right in with their UK branding.
There were a few I really wasn’t enamored of…for example, Twinkie:
I didn’t even realize that was a Twinkie until reading the Business Week article. It makes total sense now, but initially, I thought he was holding a loaf of bread. Also, I liked the more straightforward "congratulations" messages, versus this slightly snarky post.
Then, there’s Pampers:
There’s nothing terribly wrong with it – they’re leveraging the interest in the royal baby by reminding us all that everyone considers their own children to be princes and princesses. But they’re pushing their advertising and their website in one tweet, and never congratulate the royal couple at all. It just wasn’t my favorite.
And finally, Charmin:
Admittedly, they’re a toilet paper company, so they’re a little limited in connecting their branding to this particular event, but I think it fell far short – sure, we get the "throne" connection, but I’m not sure that seeing a gold training potty was the best translation here, and all I could think when I saw it was how far the royal couple is from having to potty train their son.
So what about law firms? How might they have gotten in on the fame-jacking? A simple congratulations post for the royal couple, either on Twitter or Facebook is a good start. Another idea might be to find a way to tie it in to the firm’s blogging efforts – those with a trusts & estates practice may want to use the opportunity to discuss how a family might go about writing a will or coming up with an estate plan with a new arrival such as a baby. Perhaps an intellectual property attorney uses it to discuss someone’s rights when images of them are used without their consent.
But again, as a caution, whenever looking to insert your brand into popular culture, make sure that the message you’re actually delivering is one that fits in with your overall branding strategy – being quick and cute may not support your message in the long run, and in those cases, it’s absolutely fine to send a simple congratulations.