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When Does Negative Publicity Have A Positive Effect?

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The New York Times’ “Good News, Bad News” from October 29, 2010 reminded me of the recent blog post “The Power of the Twitterverse” about the negative publicity that the Gap generated when it released its new logo. New York Times Reporter Rob Walker asks, in response to the Gap logo fiasco, the age-old question “can negative publicity actually have a positive effect?” Here’s what he found out really matters:

How familiar was the brand before the negative publicity? Researchers found that negative reviews of a new book by an already well-known author actually harmed sales. For new authors, however, the opposite effect happened: sales increased when the author was relatively unknown. Simple public awareness.

How closely linked are the brand and the bad publicity? Researchers concluded that the more indirect the link is between the brand and the bad publicity, the more sales boost — from an increase in brand awareness. Michael Jackson record sales increased after he dangled his baby over a balcony. Similarly, when Michael Richards made a racist statement during his stand-up routine, “Seinfeld” DVD sales increased. Luckily for the Gap, it wasn’t its clothing that caused a stir — it was the logo.

Only sales will tell what the unveiling of a new logo with extremely negative feedback will mean for the Gap. But if research from New York Times reporter Rob Walker’s article helps us make a prediction, we may just see a rise in sales for the jean giant — over the simple unveiling of a new logo.

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Why Facebook Is King

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

After seeing “The Social Network” this weekend, I was struck by how another successful business rose to the top by using a simple marketing concept. Mark Zuckerberg expanded Facebook with a tactic mentioned in class to increase the number of a dentist’s clients. How did Zuckerberg distinguish and then build the world’s largest social network? Exclusivity.

Sure, Facebook has a cleaner interface than Friendster and MySpace, which were already big names when Facebook started. But how does one compete with them? Zuckerberg simply differed how his social networking site spread — using exclusivity — to make Facebook surpass Friendster and MySpace in size.

Exclusivity allowed Facebook to spread like wildfire because of ego. Not only does being surrounded by techno-savvy friends make college campuses the perfect setups to make websites go viral, but campuses are also where students pride themselves on the prestige of where they are, as the original Harvard Connection website concept supported.

Malcolm Gladwell’s idea about the perfect spaghetti sauce also suggested the idea of ego in marketing success. It may not just be that we aren’t in tune with what we really want, but that our egos tell us we want what we think we should want — what will make us look better to others regardless of what kind of coffee is really in the cup we just bought. When all options will make us look equally good in our minds, we go with a more specific choice — or identity — for happiness. Why would we define ourselves as just lovers of spaghetti sauce when we can identify with something even more specific to distinguish ourselves: extra chunky spaghetti sauce? Along the same lines, Zuckerberg used the power of ego — students’ need to identify with their colleges — to lay the foundation for Facebook.

Find out how Facebook spread »

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Twitter Soon To Launch “Promoted Accounts”

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Advertisers will soon be able to further the reach of their brands through Twitter’s new “Suggestions for you” section. Different from Promoted Tweets launched in April, which pushed advertisers to the top of search results, Promoted Accounts “uses algorithms based on users’ public list of whom they follow on Twitter.” So Twitter recommends other accounts to you based on patterns of accounts that you already follow.

Promoted Accounts are still in testing.

Get the full story from »

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