Tag Archives: Social Media

How Complementary Marketing Can Empower Your Brand

How Old Spice Harnessed the Power of Complementary Marketing (And What It Means for Your Brand)

It’s easy to feel lost in the complex, brave new world of online marketing, where tweets or search engine results can be as crucial to your success as more traditional media. But never fear—the new school isn’t completely detached from the marketing you already know and love.

In fact, using your digital marketing resources to complement old school approaches can result in huge online successes. By looking closely at Old Spice’s recent and widely-praised major marketing campaign, let’s explore how complementary marketing helps brands navigate advertising in the modern world—and how you can do it, too.

What is complementary marketing?

Simply put, complementary marketing is what you get when the many arms of your marketing and branding work together in harmony. Whether your brand awareness comes from an email list or a broad social media campaign, you’ll be more successful when each component complements and feeds off of every other component. Complementary marketing means taking a look at each part of your marketing and making sure it’s aiming at a common identity.

How is Old Spice using complementary marketing to drive visibility and awareness?

Old Spice recently launched a marketing campaign to introduce their “Fresher” collection of nature-themed scents; each stick of deodorant or bottle of body wash comes packaged with a name like “Coconut” or “Roar.”

To usher in these new and novel scents, they released a series of video advertisements in which muscular men grapple with the complexities of nature while smelling fresh and clean. Armed with their brand’s distinctively edgy sense of humor, the videos poke fun at more traditional ads that evoke ideas of manliness, scientific breakthroughs, or nature to position a product as revolutionary.

These ad spots are hilarious and effective in their own right, but Old Spice’s team didn’t stop there. In addition to the videos, they’ve hijacked the #naturefacts hashtag by composing their own absurd, snarky “facts” about animals that call back to their line of scents. They’ve even rolled out a first-of-its-kind vending machine in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The machine accepts only items from nature, and true to the Old Spice brand, it deposits bizarrely humorous items in return — for example, visitors can exchange ocean water for “all the wadded up cash in a rich guy’s pocket.”

It’s funny—but more importantly, it’s effective. Every piece of Old Spice’s marketing is working toward the same goal of promoting their transition to “nature” themed products; their multifaceted campaign is a perfect example of complementary marketing at work.

How can complementary marketing help your brand?

As we all know well, it’s easy for marketing campaigns to get messy. Sometimes the parts aren’t working in sync. Other times, the overall concept misses its mark, and the brand falls on its face as a result. But no matter your approach, your campaigns will stick in the minds of your target audience best if your various approaches are aligned.

You may look to SEO, social media, print materials, even television ads — but don’t forget to make sure that each of these are bolstering one another. When it comes to marketing, a cohesive whole is always better than the sum of many disparate parts.

On the surface, complementary marketing may seem like just another concept to wrestle with. But fret not: when the elements of your marketing are built to complement one another, you’ll find your message only becomes clearer and more powerful.


4 Clickbait Questions You Were Afraid to Ask—The Answers May Surprise You!

ClickbaitWe’ve all heard whispering and grumbling about the proliferation of clickbait, those irresistible, attention-grabbing headlines that have become an inescapable part of the social media landscape. But where do you draw the line between marketing and something more sinister? Should clickbait-y concepts be a part of your own strategy? We know you’re curious—let’s get right to the answers!

What is Clickbait?

Coined a few years back, “clickbait” is a pejorative term for curiosity-inducing headlines designed to generate as many clicks and shares as possible on social media channels. You know it when you see it—web sites like Upworthy and BuzzFeed made their names with shareable headlines like “What’s One of the Worst Ways to Motivate Someone? Hint: You See It All the Time.

Titles like these beg the reader to click through to reveal the answer or to uncover the supposedly shocking twist. Most of these sites take the bait a step further by suggesting that you share their content, generating likes and conversations on social platforms in the process.

Is Clickbait Actually Effective?

There hasn’t been a lot of empirical research done regarding the efficacy of clickbait-style headlines, but the evidence speaks for itself. In November 2013, Upworthy was outpacing CNN.com with twice their total social shares, even though CNN had twenty-six times the amount of actual content.

Take one look at your own Facebook news feed and you’ll likely spot dozens of shared articles; unsurprisingly, the majority of them have headlines that make you want to cringe and click through all at once. All of the evidence suggests the same thing: clickbait is working, and it’s here to stay.

What’s Wrong with Clickbait?

Detractors have pointed to an influx of low-quality, sloppy content on the other side of the click; some critics have even called clickbait unethical. After all, if the content is good and they’re telling the truth, why do the authors have to “bait” you into viewing it?

Of course, there’s always another side to the story. Content generators must seek out new and novel ways of driving readers to their sites—their business model depends on it. At the end of the day, no one is forcing users to share, click, or “like” anything. It’s an organic process, often more of an art than a science, and the best writers at Upworthy have discovered effective methods of funneling users toward their articles—what’s wrong with that?

Should I Be Writing Clickbait-y Headlines?

There’s no catchall answer. Rather, the strategies you utilize should derive organically from the content itself. As Neil St. Clair, writing for Forbes Magazine, puts it, “[clickbait as a marketing tactic is] neither right nor wrong; it’s simply a matter of your business model and audience.” An austere, self-serious publication like The New York Times doesn’t rely on sensational headlines because it doesn’t mesh with their identity; likewise, the fun-loving BuzzFeed depends on clicks and shares to survive, and they have no qualms about using headlines that have been proven to succeed.

There you have it: clickbait-inspired titles are everywhere you look in today’s online world, and this particular trend shows no signs of slowing down. Content generators continue to value these headlines because they’ve been effective at grabbing social media readers’ attention in the past.

But that doesn’t mean you have to use them yourself just to keep up—that will depend on your own unique goals. Sometimes just knowing what you’re up against is the best place to start.

How Social Media Advertising is Changing Everything

In 2013’s Super Bowl XLVII, a surreal blackout put the nation’s most fanatically watched game on hold for what seemed to be an eternal half hour. In the midst of the chaos, Oreo posted the below tweet. It earned half a billion impressions and was named by Adweek as one of the top 5 ads of the night. Most astoundingly, it was the only one placed for free.

During the 2014 Academy Awards, host Ellen DeGeneres jumped into the star-studded audience and took the below selfie. As she predicted, it broke Twitter (disrupting service for an interminable 20 minutes) and gained the most retweets in history. In reality, the move was a not-so-subtle publicity stunt for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3.

What do these social media “ads” have in common? And what can they tell us about the future?

Timely, Fun, & Friendly

First, both were triggered by massive events. Social media travels at light-speed, with trends, topics, and memes flitting in and out of existence in mere instants. Brands who can jump on hot news get rewarded.
Second, both were fun, playful, and unexpected—fortuitous moments you couldn’t wait to share with your friends.

Finally, both come off as rather non-promotional—they don’t hit you over the head with a “buy me!” message. They play it cool and friendly, allowing the sales message to seep in subconsciously.

Monetizing Social Media

Today, Facebook—with its mind-boggling 1.3 billion monthly users—is the preferred platform for B2C advertisers, with smart algorithms that weave targeted ads into ordinary storylines and updated from loved ones.

Twitter is close behind and poised to release 15 new types of ads in the coming weeks. These new features, many designed for Twitter’s mobile app, are eliminating barriers between social networks and commerce. One tap can put an interested user directly on a call with a sales rep. Eventually, users will likely be able to make purchases directly from the platform.

But brands are also turning to Pinterest, Instagram, and even lesser known platforms like Snapchat to gain exposure—though the social network that turned down a $3 billion buyout from Facebook has yet figure out how to monetize ads.

The Shape of Ads to Come

The bottom line? We fully anticipate seeing the rising tide of social media advertising race toward its inevitable pinnacle.

But will these ads resemble their 20th century counterparts? Not at all. This represents a fundamental shift in the way brands and consumers connect. Rather than static pitch and purchase, ads of the future will launch responsive, interactive dialogue.

Nor is this change limited to business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions—B2B brands have been expanding beyond LinkedIn, with 85% using Twitter and 81% using Facebook to distribute content, according to a recent CMI report. While B2C companies tend to entertain, B2B brands inform, offering valuable insights over social media and establishing authority in the process.

Social media pushes both types of companies to speak with their prospective customers, rather than at them. Brands will continue to get more skilled at conversation as sell, and the world will be better for it.

Author: Paul Wry

Successful Social Media Crisis Management

Every social media manager should remember that he or she plays a role in customer service. Sometimes, however, it seems like this is forgotten, resulting in a social media gaffe, embarrassment, and on occasion, a full-blown meltdown (I’m looking at you, Amy’s Baking Company). It’s always easy to criticize and point out what a company did wrong. We do it so often that we usually overlook corporate role models: companies that have handled social media snafus with skill and dignity. Here are three of their stories and what you can learn from them.

Burger King

The award for fastest resolution may very well go to Burger King over a photo posted to the Internet earlier this year of an employee standing on top of two open containers of lettuce. Though not Burger King’s fault, it immediately reflected poorly on the judgment of its employee, the quality of its ingredients, and likely diminished interest in further patronage by Burger King customers.

But almost as quickly as the Internet got a hold of this incriminating image, Burger King responded. Through tracking the online trail of the post, users of the site where it was first posted were able to locate the store with the offender and publicize the act to local media outlets as well as to Burger King. Three days later, Burger King fired the offending employee as well as two others and issued a public apology assuring customers that this sort of behavior was not tolerated and that food safety was a top priority.


It happens a couple of times a year. Social media managers aren’t managing only their business accounts––they’re also managing their personal accounts. And sometimes they mess up. (This social media manager may have posted some of his personal VanScavenger Hunt pictures under the corporate account.)

KitchenAid ran into that problem when an insensitive comment about President Barack Obama’s grandmother that was clearly supposed to be on a personal account was tweeted on the company’s account. This immediately alarmed Cynthia Soledad, KitchenAid’s senior director. Immediately, she sent out apologies via Twitter. Having an upper manager issue the apology and take action, not by skirting the subject but by addressing it head-on, was the perfect strategy against the possible catastrophe.


Sometimes, a well-meant tweet can be misconstrued. Starbucks learned this in 2012, when it fired out a tweet apologizing to its Argentinean customers for running low on supplies and having to temporarily use Argentinean-made, non-branded cups and sleeves. Rather than being taken as a courteous update for customers, it was instead interpreted as an insult, the implication being that Starbucks was apologizing for using what it perceived to be inferior local products until its own arrived to replace them.

Starbucks reacted swiftly and appropriately with its response, issuing an apology with full transparency and legitimate remorse. Fighting back would have made the company seem like it had something to hide. Admitting it made a mistake, whatever the intent of the original tweet, humbled the brand and allowed it to save face.

So how can you learn from these brands and not become the inspiration for another article on what not to do? Listen to what your customers are saying. Both in person and online, have the proper tools in place to detect anything that may be damaging to the reputation of your business. Next, have a crisis plan, complete with a chain of command, worst-case scenarios, and multiple solutions to the possible issue. If a crisis surfaces, follow the plan, taking appropriate action to get to the source of the problem, while also addressing all those who may have been affected. Make sure to solve the problem, not fight, using a lighthearted tone that is also sincere and apologetic. Finally, review the entire incident and evaluate what could be done differently should anything like that ever happen again. This way, you’ll end up a social media champion instead of a target for critics and customers alike.

Author: Zack Smith

What Pinterests You?

VGD Pinterest Page

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has made big strides in the world of social media. According to digital analytics company comScore, Pinterest hit 11.7 million monthly U.S. visitors in January, making it the first stand-alone site to cross the ten million mark so quickly. There is still debate, however, as to how useful Pinterest is for businesses. Is it merely used to learn how to make teriyaki-glazed salmon with grilled sesame broccolini or how to spend the perfect afternoon in NYC? How can businesses benefit from Pinterest? What has made this channel of social media explode?

I never had an interest in Pinterest (see what I did there?) until quite recently. After creating an account and experimenting with the site, I now understand why people are raving about it. It’s simple—anyone can use Pinterest. Travelers can discover ideas for their next trip, party planners can explore themes for upcoming occasions, builders can find architectural inspiration … the uses appear endless. With the extensive array of “boards” (virtual bulletin boards), individuals can explore pretty much anything. But a lingering question remains: What does Pinterest have to offer businesses?

Pinterest has been described as a “light visual appetizer” for businesses. Consumers can get a little taste of what a company has to offer from its Pinterest page. If viewers want to know more, a link to that company’s official website is generally included on the page. Pinterest is attractive and easy to use, making it effective at displaying products, services, and details about the internal workings of a company.

Presently, Nordstrom is one of the most successful businesses using Pinterest. (Click here to view the most popular boards.) As a company primarily focused on fashion, it is advantageous for Nordstrom to use Pinterest as a means to promote styles, special offers, and services. For other businesses, Pinterest can be a way to share more about their workers using “employee boards.” These boards can allow employees to interact with the public in a non-business way. While it is essential for businesses to connect with consumers on a professional level, it is also interesting to learn about the employees “behind the scenes.” A Pinterest board is a great way for employees to pin things that may be related to work or simply things they want to share with potential clients and interested viewers. Pinterest is also a way for companies to get feedback from their supporters. When viewers “like” or “pin” something, it gives companies an idea of what the public wants and what’s popular.

Many businesses are now beginning to get started with Pinterest, as it is a rapidly growing channel of social media. Why? Because it’s a strategic move. Pinterest is yet another means of advertising that a company can take advantage of to promote itself. Unlike other social media channels—Twitter limits posts to 140 characters and Facebook drowns in text—Pinterest is focused on visual content. It’s been determined that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Compared to text-based channels like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, Pinterest has the advantage of being visual. It has a smart visual appeal with organized, basic, and categorized boards that make it easy for users to browse.

If you have yet to explore Pinterest, check it out. I can almost guarantee you’ll find something that Pinterests you. If you want a place to start, take a look at our newly launched Pinterest page!  (www.pinterest.com/vanguarddirect)

Author: Liz Baron

Let’s Get Visual!

I’m going to tell you the worst-kept secret that you already know. Nobody likes to read anything anymore. Well, not anything that is just a wall of text. We’re all guilty of scanning a document instead of reading every word or sharing an article after just reading the headline. Nobody is proud of it, but with the sheer bulk of content that is produced everyday, we have to get through all of it somehow.

All of the most digestible information we encounter now has enormous visual pieces coupled with it. Think of every infographic you read, every photo with a caption, and video you can play while multitasking. You learn much more from these visually captivating pieces than from walls of text similar to this post (but I’m breaking up this content with pictures, so bear with me).

Social media provides a great platform for watching how people consume information. We started off with blogs that were hundreds––if not thousands––of words long. We then moved to Facebook, cutting people’s word count by at least half, and then to Twitter, keeping our count to 140 characters or less. Now, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr are allowing for content sans words, replaced by images, audio, and visual communication.

But just because we are truncating what we write, does that make it more effective? It sure seems that way. Here are some stats:

  • 44% of social media users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures (as opposed to other types of media)
  • Facebook photos get at least 7x more likes than links do
  • Pinterest, a completely visual social media channel, has grown by 6000% in the last 8 months
  • Images are the most clicked-on content on Twitter
  • Recruiters spend more time looking at a user’s LinkedIn profile picture than anything else
  • More than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are being watched per month
  • Flipboard, a visual news app, was the #1 application when the iPad launched
  • Images are processed 60,000x faster than text by the human brain

So are you prepared? Content is still king, and visual content requires originality and thought. Make sure everything you post has something engaging to look at.  Visuals will cut through regular marketing speak, and original visuals can even stand out from other media of the same ilk. So charge your smartphone and grab your camera––you have some work to do!

Author: Zack Smith

The Last Dinosaur in the Forest Drinks Yoo-hoo

Growing up in the Bronx meant that being a Yankees fan was a birthright (especially if you were Italian). Also, at the age of eight, my favorite drink was Yoo-hoo. Why are these two things related? Talk to anyone who loves the Yankees and grew up in the Bronx from the late 50s to the early 60s and ask him or her: Why did you drink Yoo-hoo?

The answer, of course, is Yogi Berra. Yogi, a famous catcher for the Yankees, joined Yoo-hoo in 1955 as a spokesperson for the drink during a time of poor sales, later being promoted to a vice president of the company. It was his idea to brand the drink with his beloved Yankees, convincing his teammates to help him endorse the drink, with several of the players from the era having thumbnails of their pictures on the bottle caps.

I recently was at a sports-themed flea market and saw some of the caps for sale for seven to ten dollars each. (The Yogi cap was ten.) I often wonder how much marketing credit Yogi received. Was Yogi ahead of his time? Would you want Yogi in your social media groups for business?

Since then, Yoo-hoo has seemed to know how to connect with younger audiences. When I asked a twenty-something at Vanguard Direct for his first memory of a Yoo-hoo advertisement, he recalled seeing Yoo-hoo product placement in popular 90s sitcoms like Friends. As a fan of the particular character who consumed the drink, he was inspired to buy the drink to be more like that character.

Whatever the advertising tactic of Yoo-hoo is, it’s strong enough to take root in children at a young age. Starting with Yogi, Yoo-hoo has had a knack of making strong connections that will be long remembered, allowing them to stay with us as consumers.

As a vice president at Vanguard Direct, I insisted that Yoo-hoo be put in our vending machine. Even my clients ask, “Why Yoo-hoo?” I tell them to move to the Bronx in 1967! I still drink Yoo-hoo at 64 and smile when I hold the can. Because as Yogi, or any good marketer would tell you, “It’s not over till it’s over!”

Author: Joe Corbo