Social Media, Marco Rubio and Poland Spring Water

Marco Rubio's Poland Spring Water Tweet pic. Image Courtesy of Marco Rubio and Twitter. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2013.
Marco Rubio’s Poland Spring Water Tweet pic. Image Courtesy of Marco Rubio and Twitter. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2013.

Last night’s GOP rebuttal to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address given by Marco Rubio created quite the stir on social media. Twitter went ablaze with jokes on Rubio’s off-camera reach for a bottle of Poland Spring water. Since then more tweets and news stories covering the drinking of water has sparked a lot of online comments from political followers. However, more surprisingly has been the discussion on Poland Spring water’s Facebook page. Some are wondering why the Nestle brand has not responded to any of the online chatter.

“Come on people, you get the #1 FREE media w/Marco Rubio taking a swig of a Poland Spring water bottle and there’s crickets coming from your social marketing …” – Victoria K.

“How have you guys not posted about your superfan Marco Rubio?” – Raman S.

And John D. wrote, “NOW IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE, Poland Spring social media manager!”

But in the professional communications’ circles, many would agree, that no comment by Nestle is the best stance to the brief and probably much appreciated shine that the few seconds brought them.

Here’s why:

  • Jumping into a political arena showing support or disdain for Rubio’s use of their brand, could cause more hurt in sales than anything else.
  • The moment, although great product placement, is appearing as not staged. Any discussion surrounding being happy for their time in the spot light, may cause others to consider it was more or less agreed upon in advance rather than being at the right place at the right time.
  • One wrong turn with the online chatter could be misconscrewed as a part of the Poland Spring brand.
  • None of this is following their “Born Better” tag line for the brand, at least it couldn’t be associated positively without touching on the first point above.
  • It’s not as though Rubio began to choke on the water or mention any disgust for its taste. It’s not as though the water was a part of a crime investigation. (See Skittles and AriZona Iced Tea.)

Although Nestle can safely capitalize off of the promotion from “water bottle gate”, there is no need to push it further. Some moments are just that and should be left to the public to run with them.

What do you think? Should Nestle respond?

Please comment below with your thoughts. They may be used for future articles.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

Papa John’s: It’s Time to Slice Humble Pie

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John's, makes news over Affordable Healthcare for employees. Photo Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.
John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, makes news over Affordable Healthcare for employees. Photo Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2012.

John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, first came under attack after his address to shareholders in August. What wasn’t meant to be a public declaration of being against the Affordable Healthcare Act as introduced under the administration of President Barack Obama, turned into a discussion gaining a lot of confusion and animosity towards the pizza chain.

John proclaimed in August that, “We’re not supportive of Obamacare, like most businesses in our industry. But our business model and unit economics are about as ideal as you can get for a food company to absorb Obamacare.” The Politico article containing words from the call went on to include the company would use tactics to protect its shareholders. In the same call John went on to say, “Our best estimate is that the Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents per order from a corporate basis.”

Now for the general public who sees that Schnatter was a huge donor and supporter of the Republican Presidential Candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, they can equate the use of his term of Obamacare and his personal support to mean an attack on policies and lack of consideration to employees. However, I do not believe this is where John went wrong. Stick with me, I’ll show you where his words started to bite him.

  • After the shareholders meeting, Papa John’s announced its NFL promotion to giveaway 2 million pizzas.
  • Schnatter says that franchises will more than likely reduce employee hours. This news reignited the public spurring a boycott of Papa John’s.

I do not believe that it is the concern of people who support the healthcare act or not, that is really driving the criticism, it’s the simple math of it all. The mixed statements coming from John has caused this backlash. Here’s why.

The public sees an increase in rates, free pizzas being given away and a reduction in employee hours. Period. John has not clearly addressed the fact that instead of raising rates, the employee hours will be reduced. Although, as seen, it was not swallowed as easily. But making a statement to amend a previous one would have placed some indication that there is an “either or” or not both in this situation. But instead of clarifying the company’s position, he left individuals to ask the question, “why raise the rates and give away pizzas if you still intend to not provide healthcare to your employees and reduce their income?”

Now that probably isn’t the message John was intending on sending, but due to the inconsistency or not providing clarity in their business’ possible solutions, he created an uproar to those who like to do arithmetic, such as Caleb Melby of Forbes Magazine. You see, Caleb decided to break down the proposed revenue of the increase and even the promotional giveaway. Like many others, this giveaway was really putting a wrench in to the thought of customers seeing employees lose income instead of Papa John’s incorporating the insurance. Even in the August call, John indicated that his company is structured to handle such a change. So if this is a manageable change to the business model, why continue to speak about the regulation in a new public appearance? Now this just comes off to the public as a man upset with the outcome of the election.

What really draws my interest as a media professional to his original statement to the shareholders, is that if he had used words to not draw an emotional response to government policy, increasing the price of the pizza would have been forgotten after it was implemented. Instead his words then have tangled with his words now. Truth be told, the cost of food increases every year. In fact, food increases are felt by consumers often throughout the year. The increase would have been assumed by many as the cost of inflation not disdain for providing healthcare to employees. Had emotions over politics never entered the original statement, the majority of the public may have never been the wiser. Just think about it, if Frito-Lay decides to make a huge spend within their company, does the typical American know the reason behind it?

I wanted to give Schnatter some credit from his recent statement. He said he isn’t in support or against the Affordable Care Act. But as mentioned above in his words at the stakeholder’s meeting, that isn’t the truth. It makes it hard for the public to believe, “the good news is 100 percent of the population is going to have health insurance” when a couple of months ago you stated you were not in support of Obamacare. Unfortunately, by the time he publicly mentioned this in a recent appearance, everyone had already stoned him for going against their company’s mission of protecting their best asset, their employees and had NOT forgotten his original comment of being against the healthcare act.

John Schnatter really has only one thing left to do at this point in his crisis, slice up and eat some humble pie. Here is what I recommend:

  • John needs to make one final and clarifying statement on the topic of how his company will handle healthcare as it concerns his employees.
  • His final statement should be either pro-customer or pro-employee. If he has paid attention to the comments, he would realize that none have been highlighted as saying, the public will not pay the extra cents so others can have health insurance. Either way, he needs to make one final statement and stop discussing it from various angles. The inconsistency is not sitting well with customers.
  • The company needs to focus on publicly highlighting their mission to their employees and to the customers. Ensuring to the public, a business that started off small, can still relate to the working class (his demographic).
  • Until this is completed, the emphasis on giving away 2 million pizzas needs to simmer in the oven before serving it back to the public. (Pun intended.)
  • This should all be done before the boycott gets legs and runs away too far for him to fix.

What do you think? How has the Papa John’s discussion played out among your family members, friends or business associates? Above all, please walk away with this reminder to not incorporate political emotions into your company’s public stance.

Leave your comment below as you may be featured in a follow-up article.

 

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************

Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores

 

 

Don’t Forget: Don’t Get Caught Up in the Politics of It All

Don't forget. Don't get caught up in the emotions of politics online. Photo courtesy of Ronaldo Taveira. Above Promotions Company 2012.
Don't forget. Don't get caught up in the emotions of politics online. Photo courtesy of Ronaldo Taveira. Above Promotions Company 2012.
Don’t forget. Don’t get caught up in the emotions of politics online. Photo courtesy of Ronaldo Taveira. Above Promotions Company 2012.

It would be too easy and probably too late to bring up Pizza Hut (please click the Pizza Hut link and read this humorous take on the story) and their short-lived debate advertising campaign. Although it must be said, that their marketing tactics accomplished what it needed to do. No one would really expect a person to stand up in front of millions of people around the world at the town hall presidential debate and ask “Sausage or pepperoni?” just to win a life’s worth of free pizza. Although they recreated the promotion for online, it is safe to assume, they will not lose a noticeable amount of sales over it. It will be interesting to see if they actually see a positive or negative spike in sales or brand awareness afterwards.

Former President Bill Clinton makes the debate gaffe with a binder full of women. Photo Credit Unknown. 2012
Former President Bill Clinton makes the debate gaffe with a binder full of women. Photo Credit Unknown. 2012

It would be just over doing it by bringing up this week’s social media debate gaffe, binders full of women, as mentioned by Governor Mitt Romney on Tuesday. Although it’s actually quite funny to see that former President Bill Clinton seems to have had more of a viral effect with the binder statement than the candidate that mentioned it. It seems like Mr. Clinton just will not be able to shake the women from his past. It can pretty much be expected that the binder will last at least until the debate next week. So brace yourself to see the funny and incorrect images attempting to restate what Romney stated during the debate.

It would, however, be appropriate to remind everyone about not spreading their political views through their business or non-profit organization platform online. I stumbled across a Facebook page which was titled and even described in the “About” section as being a religious organization promoting pro-life music cds. (I’m still unclear as to what those songs entail, but perhaps one of you readers can explain.) Upon reviewing the page, it became clear the page went from music to being a place with more political party affiliation updates than anything else. Assuming the page was not a front for a political party, it would be safe to say, they are inappropriately using an avenue that could instead help them to gain positive exposure about their music.

Last Saturday after finishing the Bar Camp Tampa Bay workshop on “Turning Your Beta Testers to Brand Ambassadors”, I had to call in to WEAL in Greensboro, North Carolina for our monthly on air discussion regarding marketing. I explained to the listeners why people should not allow themselves to get emotionally charged up and jeopardize sales for their business or their non-profit status with the government over politics. Although it was my first public conversation regarding determining what is and is not ok with sharing with your customers, this discussion really started the previous week offline with a colleague asking me, “do you think this year’s election is worse than others?” She was surprised at my answer of “no.” These discussions led to the need to share this “don’t forget” reminder with each of you.

I believe that this year’s political campaign on a local and national scale is more emotionally charged due to social media. The candidates are really using the same amount of mudslinging directly from each campaign. Those of us that use social media daily are just feeling more overwhelmed by it all.

Let’s go backwards to the 2004 and 2008 elections. Neither former President George Bush nor Senator John Kerry were using the internet nor social media in the same manner to drive their campaigns as is done today. Neither were social media users as active in the campaign online when President Barack Obama‘s camp led a charge of merging politics with Facebook and Twitter in 2008. Now with staggering numbers of social media users (Pingdom announced in 2011, that Facebook had more users than there were internet users in 2004), the immediacy of gathering information and sharing it (whether correct or not) is extremely easy.

Just think about it. How long would it have taken for you to reach all of or at least a third of your social media friends to share your political views in 2004, then in 2012. In a hour, I can tell hundreds how I feel on a topic or share a funny meme with others. A lot has changed and this election is important, but I would not venture to say the political climate is the same. It is the citizens’ environment that has changed, due to the manner views are quickly shared from within and outside of the candidates’ campaign. The flood gates are literally opened to the opinions of others.

With all of that said, you can easily find yourself swimming in political statements online which could be further from your truth on the topic in question. When you do feel like the misrepresentations or views of others are so vile, step away from the computer. Ask yourself, how can the words you type or image you share be used to hold you accountable for offense or against you and your business or organization. You may want to stand on the “freedom of expression” leg, however, be prepared to stand alone when customers drop off or your comments are so biased they cost you your non-profit status with the IRS.

I’m not encouraging silence, but intelligence. You must be prepared for how your words will bring about change in and out of your business.

All in all, don’t get caught up in the politics of it all. November 6th will come and go, but your business or organization, will need to still be in tact.

What are your thoughts on sharing in political discussions as a business owner or non-profit leader?

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************

Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.