Being on the other side of a trend can feel like the end of the line for a brand – whether you’re a spirits brand during dry January, a baked goods line when everyone’s slimming down for summer, a dairy product when celebs announce it’s trendy to be dairy-free. But it doesn’t have to be. A creative strategy and carefully executed tactics can help turn the narrative around in your favor. Here are some of the ways we’ve seen brands leverage creative campaigns and story angles to change the public’s perception when they find themselves on the wrong side of a trend.
Change the Conversation
With healthy living at the top of consumers’ minds now more than ever, many are passing up fast food for more nutritious options. So Wendy’s came up with a different tactic to win over consumers – humor. The team keeps the focus on their wit over their food, using social media to create a brand personality that has translated over to their advertising and commercials. And while some reports indicate fast food restaurants are dropping in popularity, according to Forbes and The Business Journals, Wendy’s saw a 49 percent increase in profit in 2018 and hopped over Burger King to become the #3 fast food chain in the US.
Go Straight to the Source
After This is Us killed off America’s most beloved Dad with a Crock Pot, it’s no surprise the brand had made a few enemies. Crock Pot enlisted the adored Jack Pearson to help regain its brand reputation. They shared his declaration that Crock Pots are indeed safe through commercials, social media and even an expertly-timed Ellen appearance plus audience giveaway to win back boycotting fans.
Sometimes the drawbacks are what differentiate you. Ikea owned it by creating a ‘flat pack’ chocolate Easter bunny. Much like their furniture, you have to assemble the bunny yourself before you eat it. It’s only offered in stores, driving both buzz and traffic to their retail locations. Ikea also keeps a keen eye on social media to come to the rescue when things go awry. When GQ challenged star Ryan Reynolds to assemble an IKEA crib, it could have been a bad look when it resulted in a serious struggle. Instead, the brand was quick to jump in on social media, offering to help, while at the same time promoting their Home Tour Squad.
Shed Light on the Positive
Expensive, perishable…not quite perfect. One of our clients, Harmless Harvest, decided to own perceived criticisms of its coconut water front and center with an advertising campaign that highlighted why some of those negatives were actually positives. We helped build buzz for the campaign and Harmless Harvest’s commitment to quality, integrity and community stewardship. One key tactic was researching and releasing a Harmless Cities Index, ranking just how “Harmless” communities around the country truly are – combined with creative mailers, media desksides, and “fridge takeovers” to help reporters stock up on healthy snacks and drinks in the office.
Start a New Trend
TGI Fridays kicked off News Year’s resolution season with a campaign to do just the opposite and forget resolutions – TGIF*IT. The chain rolled out a menu with resolution-breaking cocktails and food to tackle the popular resolutions of Dry January, giving up caffeine and cutting back on sugar-filled desserts. It celebrates liberation and encourages cheat days to drive home the brand’s mission to commemorate “the spirit of Friday.”
Ultimately, brands should accept what makes them unique – and get creative to put the focus on the story they want to tell. Brands are no longer an intangible thing; they’re the people and values behind them, so consumers are drawn to brands with a personality. Some call for witty campaigns, and others use transparency to own up to the negatives and focus on the positives. No matter the challenges, brands need to be able to quickly adapt their strategies for the ever-changing landscape.
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