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Slow-cooked PR strategy, New Balance Declares Independence, Make room for Ella in your Google Home, Big Mac w/ a side of hype

CO-OP, Weekly Digest

Written by on February 20, 2018

A weekly digest of new and noteworthy industry happenings.  Or just cool stuff we like. Brought to you by CO-OP.

Huge news coming out of the tech/digital world!

Sun Life Financial’s digital persona “Ella” is growing and is now available to a new audience on Google Home. This move not only expands the functionality of Sun Life’s AI “digital coach”, but it helps grow the potential audience beyond Sun Life’s existing clientele. Ella was first announced in September 2017; initially launched to help customers access benefit and pension information, but the new Google Home version will help anyone who owns a smart speaker locate healthcare professionals in their area.

Though voice-assisted products are becoming increasingly popular, Sun Life chose the Google platform (instead of Amazon’s Alexa) because it is bilingual just like Ella. So far Ella has interacted with 1.5 million clients through email and the web since launch, and it is expected to grow with the new Google platform.

This is a great story that shows how a company is leveraging the success of their product and expanding it application to engage a wider audience.

Crock-Pot quickly learned how fictional events can create a real-life PR crisis for a brand.

Heads Up: This Is Us SPOILER ALERT! Spoiler ahead!

The slow cooker brand (whose name has become synonymous with slow cooker market) had to react swiftly when it was revealed as the ‘cause’ of the house fire and eventual death of beloved ‘This Is Us’ character, Jack Pearson. Fans immediately took to Twitter to express their discontent, rage and sorrow with the brand and its faulty product. Before we go any further, it is important to note a few things. #1 Jack Pearson is a fictional character. #2 The slow-cooker featured in the show was not explicitly of the Crock-Pot brand (live by the sword, die by the sword when your brand name becomes synonymous with its product market). #3 Crock-Pot did not have a Twitter account… until now. With a sudden resurgence of brand relevance in the social media era, Crock-Pot quickly identified an opportunity; not only to spin the narrative from a negative to a positive, but also engage with consumers on a medium never used before (Crock-Pot’s first ever tweet is dated January 29th, 2018). Crock-Pot was able to take the Twitter backlash in stride, applying actual crisis communication techniques and rework the narrative surrounding their brand and the now iconic Crock-Pot house fire. The Crock-Pot Twitter account (@crockpotcares) allowed the brand to help steer the dialogue, tweeting and responding to fans, empathizing with claims, and responding with facts about Crock-Pot’s safety assurance. Crock-Pot even took it a step further by hiring Milo Ventimiglia (the actor who plays Jack Pearson) to deliver a PSA (in character) advocating for the safety of Crock-Pot’s and their ability to bring families and friends together. Now that’s how you spin a PR crisis. And even though it took a little longer, Crock-Pot has finally arrived to the Twitter party, and they’re cooking now! Slowly… but surely.


McDonald’s unveils its newest collaboration with… bacon. The latest reincarnation of the iconic Big Mac [& bacon] represents McDonald’s commentary on contemporary culture; where fashion meets innovation (insert more ‘buzz word’ nouns that mean everything and nothing at the same time). With an inarguable satirical approach to the way ‘newness’ is unveiled in fashion, automotive and entertainment, McDonald’s first released a 15 second hype ad that was almost as ambiguous, as it was aesthetically fashion forward. McDonald’s sees these new set of ads as an effective way to repackage an iconic, yet classic QSR staple in a way that is more innovative and contemporary to the way products are announced and marketed today. What’s probably the most intriguing about this ad campaign (if it’s not the futuristic aesthetic and black and white balance) is that out of all QSR products, The Big Mac is probably the one that needs the least amount of promotion… its The Big Mac! But that’s what makes the approach so significant; the key is to make things new again before they become old, because if a product’s marketing does not keep up with the times, rest assured time will catch up.

New Balance has a new campaign called “Declare your Independence”, that showcases different athletes’ independent style and determination to their sport. This campaign is meant to push the notion of independence to the front of its brand identity.

The brand hopes to attract the “metropolitan athlete” aged 24-34, who enjoy playing various sports or training in social groups, (ie. running groups and sport social clubs) as well as the “game-changer athlete” aged 15-23. The game changer is someone who is really dedicated to one or two sports and have built their social media following up.

This is a global brand campaign, and each spot has been adapted to showcase cultural differences. In Canada specifically – locally sponsored athletes such as Milos Raonic and Brad Marchand have been brought on and New Balance has partnered with The Score and Spotify which will help span distribution and content development.

By focusing on attracting different forms of everyday athletes, this campaign will help gain new customers on a global level.

Written by:

CO-OP Curator