Pinterest Integrates “Visual Search” To Attract Users and Improve Performance

pinterest hacks features

Social media site, Pinterest, is the home of DIYs, engaging infographics and helpful life hacks. Whether you’re getting decor ideas, baby name suggestions or tips for turning red crayons into a flawless lip stain, this site has got you pinned (get it?). Now they are getting an upper hand when it comes to usability.

As of November 9th, Pinterest will allow users to search with pictures rather than words. karlie kloss fashion model For example, say you are looking at Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss’s Instagram feed. You love her designer boots, but she doesn’t include a link to where to buy them. Simply take that image and search it on Pinterest. You’ll discover they are Marc Fisher boots and they are available at Nordstrom. You’ll also find cheaper dupes on Ebay, DIY tips to keeping your boots polished with coconut oil and ways to pair those boots with any outfit. (***Coconut oil is not a verified polish for boots, use at your own risk)marc fisher boot nordstrom

It is predicted that keywords have seen better days and that many searches will be moving towards an image-based setup in the coming years. Controversially, this strategy benefits advertisers and focuses on purchases rather than really honing in on the needs of users. It is speculated that this might be a move for Pinterest it gain more revenue from companies as apposed to catering to their existing Pinners. In fact, some Pinners might be unhappy with this new feature or simply avoid it because of its encouragement towards making purchases.

Only time will tell how users will respond to this new integration. If you are a dedicated Pinner, would you respond positively or negatively to this feature?

Every Brand Has A Story To Tell, But Which Ones Are Really Worth A Listen?

brand story telling examples

Do you know someone in your life who is an excellent storyteller? Perhaps it’s a family member or good friend who has the ability to have you hooked on their every word. They can bring about emotion, laughter and intrigue just from their own presence and voice. This is the type of person that big brands want to emulate. The companies of the world want to have you enthralled by their words, their imagery and their insights. They want to make you feel raw emotion and tell you a tale that will change your perspective on the day or even on life itself. Many brands are successful at creating this sense of feeling, but some unfortunately fail to communicate their stories properly.

Skype Makes The Impossible Happen With Tearjerker Ad Spot 

Skype is a beautiful example of a brand that has won at telling stories to consumers for years now. The live video chatting tool stretches beyond being an easy means of conferencing in the boardroom. It even goes farther than saying ‘happy birthday’ to Grandma who lives across the country in Florida.

Skype video chat social media
Image source: http://search.creativecommons.org

Skype wanted to tell a story that crosses the globe, and exemplifies the true meaning of family, and they succeeded.

The “Stay Together” campaign actually shows how digital platforms are changing what it means to come together. The 2 minute spot tells the story of Solomon, a Ugandan man who came to America with the clothes on his back and only 5 dollars in his pocket. Leaving his family behind, Solomon uses Skype to connect with relatives and his young son from thousands of miles away. The masterful campaign contrasts America and Uganda with stunning imagery, and concludes with an emotional gift for Solomon. A photographer takes a photo of Solomon’s family on Skype being projected onto his living room wall, while Solomon stands beside them. This ‘Impossible Family Portrait’ is the first of it’s kind and a unique testament to the power of the video tool.

This type of storytelling let’s the product speak for itself. It does not push the value of Skype on the consumer, but rather opens their eyes to the possibilities it presents. There is no call-to-action, no deal offered, no salesperson asking you to buy. Simply Solomon’s tears as he sees the official printout of his first ever family portrait and hangs it on his bare bedroom wall says enough about why Skype is so essential and meaningful to people. The company also projects the sense that it cares about the lives of it’s users and the journeys they undergo.

How does this Skype campaign resonate with you? Are the imagery and story enough to take the viewer from perception to purchase?

“Not Your Father’s Oldmobile” – A Cautionary Tale  

The story of how General Motors lost it’s way with their model, The Oldsmobile, is a classic tale of a reinvention that went terribly wrong. (Rarely do brand-reinventions go right, mind you).

oldsmobile gm vintage cars
Image source: http://search.creativecommons.org

General Motors banked itself as an all American, slice- of-apple-pie kind of brand back in the 1960s. It produced cars that were not only burly, but very innovative for their time. GM was always on the cutting edge of design and technology, along with being trusted for their craftsmanship and quality. Their tagline was, “Escape From The Ordinary”. But come the 1980s, that’s just what they did…

With the emerging popularity of Asian car manufacturers and changes to the standard look and feel of a motor vehicle, the late 80s and early 90s was a hit or miss for American car companies. Faced with an adapt or flee kind of circumstance, GM tried its hand at adapting the Oldsmobile. In an attempt to be ‘hip’, the brand developed a whole new story for the trusty vehicle, which was now being favoured by a much older demographic. They released a commercial featuring Ringo Starr and his daughter that was jam-packed with early 90s cheese-ball production value. “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” was the new tagline, in hopes of attracting young drivers by rebranding their dad’s dated old set of wheels and making it look desirable again. It went against their original automotive values and tried to rewrite what it was all about to appeal to this new generation of drivers it had little understanding of.

The campaign went against what the brand originally stood for, and cheesed off the loyal customers. It was a certified nail in the coffin for the Oldsmobile, which shut down production a few years later. The key takeaways from this brand storytelling fail are: 1) do not betray what your brand stands, 2) let your brand die with dignity vs. trying to grasp at straws to be something you’re not.

What could GM have done differently to save the Oldsmobile, or was it on it’s way to anyways?

How Starbucks Made Fun Of Their Customers, And Won The Internet 

pumpkin spice latte starbucks
Image source: http://search.creativecommons.org

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a yearly tradition for Starbucks lovers and even non-Starbie regulars alike. It became such a craze upon it’s release years ago that it has almost become a modern cultural staple in the Western world. The coffee giant recognized their customers pent up excitement for the PSL’s release date each year, their obsession with Instagramming and Facebooking their beverages and the inherent mocking of people (particularly women) who love PSLs. Starbucks decided to poke some fun at this cult flavour following with a clever ad spot.

The story revolves around a made-up town which celebrates the coming of the PSL every year with an annual festival. There is cinnamon stick baton twirling and pumpkin-inspired hair colouring. The spot is beautifully shot in a real-life documentary style that could easily pass as a TLC network reality show you may have the fortune of binge-watching on a Saturday afternoon after Say Yes To The Dress.

The narrative connects to the audience in a way that gently jokes about the PSL phenomenon, and creates a heartfelt depiction of this endearing and relatable small town. It opens up an interaction between brand and customer, a sort of nod from Starbucks that they understand what is happening with this product. It also gives the brand room to expand upon these characters and this fictional town.

Is this type of storytelling creating the right engagement with customers? Where could Starbucks take their narrative next?

Share examples of your favourite brand stories, or ones that have failed miserably in front of the eyes of consumers.

Clean and Clear Features Jazz Jennings in Beautiful New Campaign

Clean and Clear’s #SeeTheRealMe campaign is a fresh perspective on the typical zit shaming acne ads. Rather then pointing out blemishes, the Johnson and Johnson skin care company focuses on feel good, esteem building stories.

Among the collection of mini bios is a story from Jazz Jennings. At only 14, she is a Youtube sensation, author and LGBTQ rights activist. Jazz is also transgender and has become a role model for children and teens. jazzHer Clean & Clear ad spot has been part of a recent cultural shift of including openly transgender people in mainstream media.

The spot features Jazz explaining her initial struggle with being a transgender pre-teen, and her journey of becoming authentically her. It is a story that any teen can relate to. Jazz’s dynamic personality and captivating smile light up the spot. 

Just this year, brands have made significant progress with the inclusion of same-sex relationships in their campaigns – tiffany-gay-couple-fullsuch as Tiffany and Co. who put this real life same-sex couple as the face of their 2015 engagement ad. Hallmark has also featured a same-sex couple in their 2015 Valentine’s Day spot called “Put Your Heart to Paper”. But as far as creating campaigns positively representing transgender people, Clean and Clear is one of the first to get it right.

The ads are also flawless because they rail against traditional skin care advertising. The beauty industry appears to be making a change in the way they communicate what “beauty” is to their audience. They approach the consumer more delicately rather than telling them how their skin should look. In turn, empowering, encouraging brands create a deeper relationship with customers.

The best part about this? If media makes these changes now to promote authenticity and inclusivity, new generations a more accepting world than those before them have. It is remarkable to see brands help shape that future world.

Pucker Up for 2015’s Answer to the Ice Bucket Challenge

Twizzler challenges celebs to lock lips over liquorice Lady and the Tramp style to raise awareness for autism.

Following the wildly viral success of last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the world has been waiting for something like this. The sensation that sparked up last June inspired over 2.4 million videos posted of participants dunking ice water over their heads. Ice-Bucket-Challenge-LIt was hailed “The Harlem Shake” of summer, with celebrities, athletes, Homer Simpson and college students alike posting their chilly challenges and tagging their friends. Nearly $100 million was raised for the ALS Association alone, along with millions raised for various other charities of dunkers choice.

The challenge began at Jon Stewart’s Night of Too Many Stars gala to raise funds for New York Collaborates for Autism. And while the Twizzler Challenge is still in it’s infancy, Today show hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Matt Lauer have taken part in an awkward smooch, along with Girls stars Lena Dunham and Allison Williams.

 Things have already taken a freaky turn with one man liquorice nibbling with his dog. Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 9.16.25 PM

As long as participants are donating, or at least know the cause they are representing, then viral video challenges are an effectual way to raise both awareness and funding. Twizzler, owned by Hershey’s, has made a strategic move to get behind a positive, charitable venture that will solidify a genuine, caring brand image.

2015 Presents: Gendered Bread

What? Yes…Stonemill Bakehouse, an Ontario based bread manufacturer has just released bread targeted specifically to each gender. genderFor men, there’s the green packaged, protein packed, fibre fuelled Barley and Rye. For women, (who apparently don’t need protein and fibre) there’s the pink packaged, calorie conscious, calcium filled Hemp and Quinoa.

“Gendered eating” is not limited to bread. Marketing has played the gender card many times before when branding certain foods.

yogurthumAds tell us that meat is man food and we learn that women eat flaky, flavourless “guilt-free” snack foods and yogurt. But rarely do you see anything other than daily supplements be specified as “his” and “hers”.

The company insists the intention behind the Health and Well-Being bread is to directly target the nutritional needs of each gender. From a marketing perspective, it’s right on point. Why? Because as I mentioned above, specifically marketed products shape our way of thinking. Throw in a few trendy buzz foods we can’t pronounce like quinoa and you’ve got a wheaty gold goose. 

The health bread craze has been baking up for a little while now with company’s such as Country Harvest and Dempster’s using ingredients like “chia” (like the pets?), ancient grain and everyone’s favourite crop – quinoa. Now I’m no Nutritional Expert here, but I would concerned with anyone who derived most of their daily nutritional intake from bread…of any gender… In fact many of these breads still contain fructose (which, in considerate amounts, causes insulin resistance and high blood pressure), preservatives and other unhealthy additives.

So there you stand. It’s a Wednesday night Loblaws run and you’re staring at the endless aisle of health breads, gluten free breads, whole wheat breads and you’re favourite of all – good old white. Stonemill has noted your yoga pants and your calorie-counting wrist watch and thinks they know you. And they are presenting you with that pretty pink package that fits in so perfectly with your stereotype. But let’s face it, Barley and Rye just sounds so much yummier. You rebel! You walk through the store swinging the burly green bag and when you get to the check-out and the cashier says, “Oh, picking up something for the husband?” you laugh. “No,” you smile, “Actually, I’m low on fibre.” You swing the bag over your shoulder and triumphantly leave the store. Applause ensues. You’ve concurred gender bread bias!

Evaluating the Evolution of Smooth

It all started in the summer of 2013. A twerking, tweaking former teen star was climbing the charts with “We Can’t Stop”. (What a time to be alive!) And as I watched the insanely popular music video something struck me – no, not the giant bear backpacks and no, not the man eating a sandwich made of dollar bills. A simple application of lip balm in a round, red pod. miley

It was instantaneous I that wanted this. But why? It wasn’t until after a flurry of Google searching I found it these stress-ball sized spheres are 95% organic, petroleum free and full of vitamins. So how could a 2 second flash of product, applied by Hannah Montana (not someone I particularly idolize), conjure in me a need to try every colour available at the drug store? And how has this now ubiquitous brand stirred such a demand in other consumers?

The company, Evolution of Smooth or “Eos” has been around 2009. In recent years it has resurrected a love for lip balm not seen since the 90s. The company also produces hand creams, but it’s the balm that collects the big bucks. It rivals natural competitors Burt’s Bees and conventionally made products like Blistex.

Pop artists are throwing in almost as much product placement of Eos as Beats by Dre headphones. eosNow that’s saying something! Eos has over 3 million Facebook “likes” and over 800k Instagram followers. Celebs like Jennifer Lopez are gramming pics of themselves using unique Eos hashtags. jlo

The company’s wild popularity has sprung about a multitude of copycats such as this cube from recognized lip care brand Soft Lips. soft

Because of Eos’s strong social media presence, the company has invested in few traditional advertising efforts. They know their target audience (young, trendy, social media savvy) and capitalize on it. The product design is genius in it’s simplicity – modern, stylish, uncomplicated, candy coloured and collectable. It’s oversized shape doesn’t have much in the way of practicality (try putting one in your jean pocket), but neither does an oversized clutch or a pair of 5 inch heels. That doesn’t make them any less desirable. The balm itself is again simple in nature. Soft, sweet smelling and easy to apply. The little Eos “eggs” fit perfectly into this generation of chemical conscious consumers searching for product purity.

Brands Try To Be Your “Bae”, Lose Credit With Young People

baeThe word “bae” is a term of endearment used ad nauseam by today’s youth. It is a short form of “baby” or “sweetie”. The slang sprung to popularity this past summer after hip hop artist Pharrell Williams introduced it to our vocabularies with his catchy single “Come Get It Bae”, despite it being used by artists such as Kanye West years earlier. It’s lyrical origins can be traced all the way back to 2005, but it took 10 years to rise to mainstream glory. The word saturates internet memes, Twitter feeds and Instagram hashtags. It was recently declared one of the “Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English due to Misuse, Overuse or Uselessness” by Lake Superior State University.

Now brands such as Ragu and Hamburger Helper are jumping on the bae-wagon. But teens are not falling for these attempts to be cool. Picture a dorky uncle at the family barbecue trying to bond with his 15 year old nephew by claiming he’s into the hip hop and saying “yo yo yo” a lot. Part of me hopes these brands are subversively mocking this overused slang, but another part of me realizes that sadly they are not. I like this Tweet from Mountain Dew the best because it exhibits the way older generations place “the” baebefore names of things, such as “Why don’t we connect over The Facebook?”.

With Pizza Hut and Whole Foods begging to be bae, and the word already on the decline, chances are it’s demise is imminent. Young tweeters are responding in a negative way to these campaigns declaring the term officially uncool now that Walmart is using it to sell them toilet paper. I have faith that brands need not worry. With a new year upon us we will witness the dawn of a new slang word. And companies have all year to finally get around to sort figuring out what it means…