How Charitable Partnerships Can Boost a Brand’s Profile

We’ve talked before about the importance of community impact for businesses both large and small. In any community, there are a wide array of ways to get involved and help improve that community for those living and working in it.

Forming charitable partnerships is another way to get involved and improve the community around a business. Of course, businesses can provide support in ways that individuals cannot to a nonprofit or charity. But these partnerships should always be done with tact and taste — the opposite effect can easily happen if a move is done for seemingly ulterior motives.

Finding the Right Charitable Partnership

When selecting a charitable partnership for a business, there are many things to consider. One of these factors is what charity or nonprofit to partner with. Here are some considerations for this decision:

  •     Core values and mission of the business
  •     Nonprofits that align with these core values naturally
  •     Reputation of nonprofit and of the supporting business
  •     Required budget to support a charitable partnership
  •     End goal of charitable partnership

Core values lie at the heart of a business’ purpose. These values are important. They give consumers a look at the belief and value systems of those in executive positions, and they provide a roadmap of how a business conducts itself in public dealings.

With that in mind, it’s equally important for a business to align itself with a nonprofit that also values the same ideas. The purpose and mission of the nonprofit must also make sense. For example, a leather goods company may not look the best if it were to support PETA, nor would PETA be likely to accept their partnership proposal. This is, of course, an extreme example, but it shows that a partnership should be genuine, not self-serving or just “for looks”.

Forming a Charitable Partnership

Once a business has selected a nonprofit to enter into a partnership with, it’s time to figure out exactly what that partnership is going to look like.

Not every partnership has to look the same. Remember, this has to be a beneficial arrangement for both the business and, more importantly, for the nonprofit. Whether the support is financial, in the form of volunteer help, or other services provided, it’s important to set clear expectations and guidelines for the new partnership. Contracts are helpful in this situation, to protect all parties involved.

Before jumping in, take the time to form a strategy about how a business can best assist a nonprofit. Perhaps a marketing agency can offer its services to a local animal shelter each month. Or maybe an event planning portal can donate a portion of the proceeds to local community programs in an effort to create a safer neighborhood in which to host events. Maybe a local consultant can jump on board to help plan a fundraiser for a nonprofit. The possibilities are endless!

Finding creative ways to help out is important too — it doesn’t always have to just be about writing a big check. In fact, finding other ways to get involved is often even more helpful, especially for under-staffed nonprofits.

Aligning business with a nonprofit is a smart move for many reasons, but the biggest motivator should always be the betterment of community or the helping of others. From this motivation can come a great, fulfilling partnership on both sides.

coffee marketing

Advertising Authority Slams Costa Coffee: Don’t Bring Home the Bacon

The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a radio ad for Costa Coffee after it was ruled the ad discouraged the consumption of avocados as a breakfast choice- instead boosting the profile of the humble bacon sandwich.

The Costa ad, produced by BBH London, featured a voice-over which asserted: “Oh, there’s a great deal on ripen at home avocados. Sure, they’ll be hard as rock for the first 18 days, three hours and 20 minutes, then they’ll be ready to eat, for about 10 minutes, then they’ll go off. For a better deal head to Costa Coffee and grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin for just £2 when you buy any medio or massimo hot drink or flat white before 11am.”

According to Costa Coffee, the ad was a harmless gag, focusing on the “frustration and unpredictability of the avocado.” The brand said the script was drawn from comical anecdotes based on widespread consumers’ experiences, and the frustration of trying to predict when an avocado ripened after purchasing. It was not, as the ASA alleged, “suggesting to listeners to make a definitive choice over two breakfast items.”

Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio and the gatekeeper for broadcast advertising, backed Costa’s claims. Consumers would see the comparison as a “light-hearted remark about the common experience of buying inedible avocados when compared to buying an instant hot coffee and bacon roll or egg muffin,” the body said.

Still, the ASA did not agree, with the watchdog adamant that “consumers would interpret the ad as a comparison between the experience of eating an avocado and a bacon roll or egg muffin.” It noted the UK’s BCAP Code, a guideline for advertisers, stated that brands must not discourage the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Although the ad was light-hearted,” the ASA went on to rule, “it nevertheless suggested avocados were a poor breakfast choice, and that a bacon roll or egg muffin would be a better alternative.” The ad is not to be broadcast again, and future Costa marketing efforts must not “condone or encourage poor nutritional habits and not disparage good dietary practice.”

The ASA has recently also cracked down on advertising by Kinder, KFC and Kelloggs in a bid to tackle the UK’s national obesity crisis, tackling advertisers that market salty, sugary and fatty foods.

StarKist Caught in Bad PR Net

If you had to guess which popular food brand found itself in the PR hot seat last week, you probably wouldn’t have guessed StarKist Tuna, and yet, that’s exactly what happened. The brand was obliged to plead guilty to a price fixing allegation that could wind up costing the company $100 million, as well as a loss of face in the consumer market.

While most shoppers don’t worry too much when a brand changes a logo or tries to get an edge in the marketplace, when that company is accused of price fixing, people stop and pay attention. According to prosecutors, StarKist “colluded” with two other major brands to keep their prices “artificially inflated.”

Now, the company has been caught, publicly outed, and forced to admit culpability. What remained to be seen is if they would accept responsibility. To date, StarKist has taken a step in that direction. CEO Andrew Choe said, “We have cooperated with the DOJ during the course of its investigation and accept responsibility… We will continue to conduct our business with the utmost transparency and integrity.”

Those who have been following the case say it was just StarKist’s turn. After all, its co-conspirators have already been pushed out into the harsh spotlight of negative media attention.

Back in 2015, Chicken of the Sea attempted to buy Bumble Bee, but that attempt failed to be realized. At that point, Chicken of the Sea executives went to federal authorities and admitted to a conspiracy to inflate prices that involved them, Bumble Bee and StarKist. Subsequently, Bumble Bee paid a $25 million fine, which was more than $100 million lower than prosecutors had asked for. Given that information, it was only a matter of time before StarKist faced the music.

So, what does this mean for all three companies? Well, each has a black eye from all the proceedings. StarKist has yet to hear its penalty, and Bumble Bee, which is still struggling financially, now has to be a fine over the next five years.

But what does that mean for their brand bottom line? Hard to say, but it’s not helping when the Assistant Attorney General is pointing out that “the conspiracy to fix prices on these household staples had direct effects on the pocketbooks of American consumers…”

If that narrative takes hold, the fines may be the least of these tuna companies’ worries. No grocery brand wants to be on the bad side of cost-conscious American shoppers, especially when there are easy alternatives to choose.

Why GM Loves the Transformers

Critics may love to mock director-producer Michael Bay, but he continues to laugh all the way to the bank, stacking up hundreds of millions in profits on movie after movie, mostly summertime popcorn fare with as many explosions as lines of dialogue. Audiences know they’re not getting Shakespeare. They love Bay movies for exactly what they are, and big-name brands love Bay movies for the massive exposure they receive for splashy and obvious product placement.

While Bay is known – and some would say renowned – for his myriad products prominently placed in every film, it’s probably safe to say that no brand has been more prominent in a Bay film than General Motors.

When the world first learned that Bay would be at the helm of a live action retooling of the hugely popular 80s cartoon and toy line, Transformers, it had to be a watershed moment for many automotive manufacturing marketing departments. This was going to be a series of movies where the cars were the stars. Whoever got in on that stood make a huge impact.

Turns out, that company got to be General Motors, who used the first Transformers movie to roll out a new model of an iconic sports car, as well as signature models of just about every auto body style imaginable.

There was the Pontiac Solstice, the GMC TopKick, the Hummer H2, and the most visible star of the show, the brand new Chevrolet Camaro concept car. In fact, the human characters in the film also say the word “Camaro” multiple times, in case the audience missed the ‘slow-roll’ vignette of the new Camaro gliding up to the lead actors. GM would go on to sell fleets of “Bumblebee” inspired Camaros, making this partnership with Bay’s Transformers a massive PR win.

In the follow up Transformers film, GM would introduce a concept Corvette Stingray, as well as a Chevy Volt, Beat, and Trax concept vehicle. In every scene, along with the prominent Autobot emblem, the automaker’s logos are front and center.

There’s no doubt both Bay and his main product placement customer, GM, benefited greatly from the partnership. The vehicles look impossibly cool, and the target fan base of 18 to 40 year old guys found themselves dreaming – and eventually going out and buying – their own “Transformer.”

Whether fans love the product placement in Bay’s movies, or they love to joke about it, companies will continue to line up to get the exposure as long as he keeps producing massive blockbuster hits.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

nba pr

Rough Ratings Signal PR Problem for the NBA

What’s the matter with the NBA… and, when they figure it out, how can the league solve it? Opinions vary. Some say it’s the lack of star power. Others point to a serious dearth of parity, to a league of haves and have nots.

That’s not to say there isn’t interest in the Finals. Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals, which pitted the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors, drew huge ratings for ABC. But, while those games were watched by a good number of fans, they also illustrated what’s wrong with the NBA, and why viewership is down across the board.

The Cavs came in, once again, the Beast in the East. In fact, they have made it to the Finals four straight years… And they faced the Golden State Warriors. No other NBA team has come close to vying for a championship in years, and the best in the east can’t even win a game against the best in the west.

Sports leagues fare best when there’s a chance another team could win. Parity brings drama, and drama creates interesting narratives for commentators and fans to share.

Sharing narratives – from arguing about games and players to talking about them the day after – are a huge part of spectator sports. For more than a few years, now, the biggest storyline in the NBA is “what’s LeBron’s legacy?” Fans who are not diehard James fans are long-since tired of that.

Even young fans who were not alive to remember the glory days of the Lakes, Celtics, Pistons, and Bulls — when NBA drama dominated this time of year with “fantastic” action and suspense — are talking about the Great Ones: Magic, Bird, Jordan, Thomas, and Kareem. Others pine for Kobe and Shaq and Duncan. When fans are tweeting and talking about whether Jordan is better than Kobe while LeBron is on the court, that’s bad for the NBA. And it’s a narrative the league can’t seem to shake.

Coming out of yet another Golden State victory – they swept the Cavs this year – the “big story” in the NBA is if and when James will leave in free agency. Teams considered top contenders: San Antonio and Houston. If these or any other Western Conference team gets James, the NBA will have another serious problem to content with. When the best player and the best teams are all in one conference, the good rivalries die, and the good stories fade.

A trade might not happen, but if it does, the League will enter PR crisis mode. Hardcore basketball fans will tune in, but casual fans will drift away, leaving the league wondering how to manage having both the best player and the best team in at least a decade… and a fan base that’s just not interested in watching. And, even if it doesn’t, the League is still in a tough spot, trying to keep the interest of fans who believe the end is inevitable.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian is the founder of 5W Public Relations.

social media ronn torossian

Using Social Media to Support Global Initiatives

 

Social media campaigns that launch on a global basis require a significant amount of experience and skill to succeed. While brands and agents might have wonderful ideas to creatively connect with their customers, if they don’t have a solid system to deliver the same voice and marketing strategies worldwide, then global campaigns can quickly turn into an inconsistent mess. Managing your global campaign means adapting the right framework and strategy. For instance, the “hub and spoke” model for social media delivery is often one of the best options, as it allows large companies to take a central approach to global communications, while adapting each arm to suit the needs of individual regions and countries.

The “Hub” of a Global Campaign

The “hub” component of a global social media campaign is the command centre of the whole experience, where a brand and their agencies come together to define strategic goals for implementation and management. The central team will create the overarching strategy for the campaign, along with social media guidelines and creative concepts. This ensures consistent quality throughout each channel.

A global hub can also ensure that each part of a company’s social media team knows which metrics they should be gathering for long-term success.

The Spokes of Global Campaigns

While the hub is the heart of a global social media campaign, the spokes are the local teams that exist in diverse geographical locations. These spokes are responsible for implementing the overarching strategy created by the hub, but they also need to provide consistent feedback so that the organisation can continue to evolve.

Spokes in a global social media campaign need to check the content they’re sharing against local guidelines and expectations. These professionals must judge how their specific audience will respond to and engage with a campaign. What’s more, the spokes of a global social campaign will also need to be ready to ensure the consistent success of the campaign or project.

In a worldwide initiative, each team must know the escalation process involved in addressing issues with their central hub, and who they can contact at certain times of the day. The spoke teams are responsible for measuring success in a campaign against the objectives that are set by the overarching hub team.

Localizing and Optimizing Global Campaigns

While companies launching a global initiative need to maintain a consistent personality throughout all their dispersed social channels, they also need to customize each spoke in the campaign to ensure that local audience respond as well as possible. After all, local legislation and different cultural attitudes can come into play when brands need to make important decisions on how to communicate with their customers.

Importantly, once a campaign is up and running, companies need to make sure that they’re ready to listen to local teams around the world and respond accordingly. From this point onwards, the hub team can give customized responses on how to structure regional content. If the central hub doesn’t know enough about regional content, they won’t be able to offer new ideas for business growth.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations.

public relations

Disney finally gets a win in China

It’s been a long hard road for many American companies trying to get a foothold on the massive emerging consumer market in China. Tech, sales, electronics, and entertainment media companies have all found themselves on the wrong side of China’s international business hurdles.

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, are blocked by the country. Amazon has struggled to gain access, and Netflix finally just gave up, citing challenges with the “regulatory environment.” But some companies continue trying to chip away at Chinese resolve, hoping to find an amicable way in. One of the biggest names to continue to fight for the right to market to China is Disney.

The massive media giant has been desperately trying to get its movies to be shown in China for some time, and, finally, a deal was recently announced with Alibaba to stream more than 1,000 Disney movies and TV shows through the Youku video platform.

This sounds like a big win, but it’s really more of a foothold. At this point, only 30 million households will have access to the content. And there’s no guarantee it will last. Disney and Alibaba have been here before. DisneyLife, another streaming program in China, lasted less than six months before being closed down by Chinese regulators.

For Disney, the demise of DisneyLife was just a stumble along the way to a better option and a better deal. Executives told the media they expected other opportunities to get into the Chinese market and grow a base. Many market watchers were dubious, but this next venture with Alibaba appears to be the answer to that hope.

One of the concessions Disney is giving up in this operation is autonomy. Even as the company is working to debut its own branded streaming channels in the United States, Disney will still have to rely on second-party vendors like Alibaba if it has any real hope at all of establishing long-term market share in China.

Despite the lack of media success in China, Disney has seen some inroads in other industries. The company built a massive theme park in Shanghai, and that has seen good success. The Chinese government seemed entirely content to have a monument to Disney branded content in the center of one of its most important cities, but it draws a different line when it comes to Disney content in homes and on smartphones.

So, will Disney be an outlier in this, or will other US entertainment media properties hope to connect with licensed providers to get into the Chinese market? At this point, the answer to that question appears to be that they are waiting to see how it goes with Disney before making any new moves.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5W Public Relations

Ronn Torossian toasting to 5W PR