Crenshaw Communications Tapped For “Be Berlin” Campaign

Our team is very excited to support the launch of a new PR and media relations campaign to spotlight Berlin as a timely destination of choice. “be Berlin” is sponsored by Berlin Partner, the Berlin marketing and tourism organization, and coincides with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The campaign is in cooperation with fischerAppelt Kommunikation (www.fischerappelt.de) in Germany, our sister agency within the international PR network known as Public Relations Organisation International (www.proi.com).

Kicking off in New York City in late March, the “be Berlin” campaign will highlight Berlin’s offerings in fashion, art and film. The centerpiece will be a traveling exhibit of brick-like modules to be signed first by New Yorkers, then other global residents, with messages of hope, unity and freedom. The exhibit will conclude in November in Berlin as part of planned ceremonies to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Read the official news release here.

 

The New Home Economics

The flip side to the dismal economy, of course, is that it forces us to live within our means, and, if we’re lucky, to appreciate simple enjoyments as if they’re something new. That’s why I’m interested in the plethora of articles about the newest old trend, which is our national enthusiasm for socializing, cooking, dining, and entertaining ourselves at home.  So, it makes sense that many of the popular products at this year’s International Home and Housewares Show, held this past week in Chicago, were in sync with the DIY (or DIH, Do It at Home) trend.  Among top sellers are such non-glamorous items as slow cookers, which can help make cheaper cuts of meat taste better; home freezers for bulk storage; vacuum storage containers;  canning supplies; and (gasp) home haircutting kits.

depression-cooking-with-clara

Depressed yet?  Don’t worry, it’s not all one-pot meals and vegetable gardens.  A recent survey by BIGresearch found that many consider dining out discretionary, while other expenses like cable TV and videogame entertainment are still sacred.  That’s a relief, because I couldn’t agree more….in fact, you’d have to pry the Wii remote from my cold, dead hands.   My husband recently floated the idea of getting rid of our premium cable channels, and I was as horrified as if he’d suggested he cut and style my hair.  We all have to draw the line somewhere.  But, for good measure, I’m hiding every pair of scissors for a while.

How Coke Became A Pop Star On Facebook

We saw what happened when Skittles gave up too much of its online identity to consumers.  By contrast, Coke’s handling of a recent Facebook challenge shows that it’s possible to engage customers and even offer them ownership without giving up control of the brand. What’s interesting to me is how easily it could have gone, well, flat. But, it didn’t. Today, Coke is second only to President Barack Obama in its number of Facebook fans, and, technically, it happened overnight.

The fan page that grew so explosively wasn’t a corporate page. It was started by two guys in Los Angeles and, over time, racked up a couple of million fans.  Nobody’s sure why, but their page, out of over 200 dedicated to Coke, aroused an unquenchable interest among Facebook users.

Then, a move by Facebook threatened to take the fizz out of the page’s popularity.  Last November, in an effort to crack down on obscene or offensive comments and spam, Facebook began to enforce its policy that any branded page must be authorized by the brand in question. It insisted that Coca-Cola either take over the page or shut it down.

Coke, on the other hand, came up with an ingenious idea.  Instead of shutting down the page or banishing it to the Facebook equivalent of Siberia, it asked the creators if they’d be willing to share its administration with the company. It then flew them to Atlanta for a tour of headquarters, a few days of discussions, and a peek at the brand archives.  The result?  The brand page is still growing, and Coke’s “official” Facebook presence is bigger, cooler, and more authentic than it ever could have been on its own.

The “Other” Social Networking

I just returned from a trip to North Carolina for a family wedding.  We took a few days’ vacation, but because I had an opportunity to mix in some business meetings, I did just that.  Two of my meetings were with people I’d had phone contact with for months or even years.  hat a difference a face-to-face conversation makes!  I actually thought I was doing very well building relationships through email and social networks liked LinkedIn.  I was wrong.  In these cases, I didn’t manage to fully connect until we sat across from one another over coffee or a drink. It’s almost like the novelty value of an actual, handwritten letter, versus email or a junk envelope with a mailing label attached.  For communicators, I think the lesson isn’t that social networking is ineffective, or that being tethered to the blackberry is wrong (although, for me, getting out from under e-mail is a huge boost to creative thinking.)  It’s that we need to constantly re-evaluate how we communicate, and how we can best make a lasting connection.

Facing Up To The Competition

As the world knows, Facebook is planning to unveil another redesign this week. We were able to preview what users will see on their home pages at our offices last week, courtesy of Facebook, and of course we plugged into the live blogging of its news briefing.  Though the early reviews are mixed, to us the changes seem pretty simple, and timely.  The newsfeed will take front and center,  it will be updated in real time, and the 5000-friend limit will  go away. Sound like a Twitter-killer?  It’s probably more likely that the redesign will hurt FriendFeed, but the Twitter influence is clear.  Twitter is how users engage with celebrities and large companies, and Facebook apparently wants a big piece of that action. If you can’t buy it, why not build it?

Skittles Social Makeover Or Trouble In Candyland

What’s up with candy this week?  I was planning to cover the Snickers “Snacklish” outdoor advertising campaign, but two things changed that.  First, it was more difficult than I thought to blog in the Snacklish dialect, and then….Skittles happened.

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Mars.  For at least 48 hours, everyone was talking about the brand.  For anyone just dropped from (the other) Mars, Skittles replaced its home page with social media feeds from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others.  In an instant, its online identity was in the hands of The People.

I don’t know that it added lasting brand value, but it sure made for colorful marketing…and was instantly chewed over by the media and digerati.  That is, until the balance tipped, and pranksters began posting obscene comments, jokes, and other tweets that soured the brand on its plan and forced a slight retreat to Facebook.

Nevertheless, I loved the Skittles move.  It’s a bold and creative risk, and one that other brands will likely follow.  But the learning is clear.  A brand must maintain a voice in the social dialogue; otherwise, it risks being swallowed up in a stream of negative or irrelevant commentary.