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Marketing Win/Marketing Fail: Full of beans

From Hollywood A-listers to canned foodstuffs. There were lots of examples of successful and not-so-successful marketing to pick from for this instalment but two in particular caught our attention this week. They offer contrasting perspectives on the old adage, “If at first, you don’t succeed…” Persistence can bear results in marketing and when you fail, often it pays to dust yourself off and try again. Other times, it’s better to cut your losses and start fresh. But then again, that’s easy for us to say with the benefit of hindsight.

Marketing Win: TransLink/Seth Rogen

Not so long ago, TransLink was facing a PR nightmare. It had just announced the new voice of the PA system on Vancouver’s SkyTrain and Bus services was going to be Morgan Freeman. The news was greeted enthusiastically until another story broke about a group of women who accused Freeman of “inappropriate behaviour” on a movie set.

The voiceover, which was part of a campaign to inform passengers they could now use VISA to pay for trips on the public transit network, looked to be over before it started after TransLink announced it would not be going ahead with the already-recorded Freeman announcements in light of the allegations.

Cue Vancouver’s own Seth Rogen to the rescue. After a local journalist tweeted that she would love to hear the Canadian actor’s voice on the SkyTrain, he replied to her saying he would be willing to act as a replacement. Shortly afterwards, TransLink tweeted Rogen to say “Let’s DM and talk.” Sliding in the DMs seemed to work because a few weeks later an official announcement was made that Rogen would be filling in the vacant spot.

The news was welcomed by Vancouverites. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of hearing Rogen’s infectious laughter on the bus? If Seth Rogen told us to expect delays on the Canada Line, we wouldn’t even get mad.

From a marketing standpoint, this worked out very well for TransLink. Faced with a scandal that threatened to derail what was meant to be a fun campaign, they acted swiftly to cut ties with Freeman. They then capitalized on a seemingly minor social media interaction to secure Seth Rogen’s services and save the campaign. The actor, meanwhile, has earned some bonus goodwill by helping out his hometown.

The very public nature of the story also counted in their favour. The fact it all originated on social media meant people were able to follow the process all the way through and excitement for the campaign has surely benefited as a result.

Marketing Fail: Heinz

Canned food giant Heinz got into some hot water over one of its recent ads which was banned in the UK for breaching advertising code. It depicted a couple comparing the nutritional content of a can of baked beans with a protein shake.

The offending commercial featured a man drinking a protein shake after exercising and telling his family about its health benefits. His partner then takes her bowl of baked beans out of the microwave, with a caption on the screen explaining the beans are high in protein and fibre and low in fat.

It was actually Heinz’s second attempt at comparing its beans to a protein shake after a previous version was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency last year.

The company took a gamble by trying to salvage its first failed campaign but it blew up in its face once again.

The bold claims seemingly being made in this marketing concept perhaps meant it was doomed from the outset. Going from baked beans to health shakes is a huge mental hurdle for consumers to get over. We get that it’s meant to be ironic but we just don’t know who this ad is aimed at.

Baked beans are never going to be as popular among health junkies as faddy foods like kale or avocado. If they were targeting mums with this ad, do they really expect them to believe eating canned beans will suddenly turn them into a swimsuit model?

advertising, brands, marketing, marketing win/marketing fail