What do a 50-inch statue, the top paid quarterback in the NFL’s budding music career, and a fictional mad scientist’s favorite 1998 McDonald’s dipping sauce all have in common?
Earned Media, baby.
Earned Media is the unreachable brass ring in the advertising world. It’s what birthed the dangerous phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” which is a total lie, as countless ill-advised campaigns and nose-diving stock prices spurred by scandal could tell you.
Yes, the pursuit of earned media is what causes advertisers to do really, really, really dumb things, and sink their campaigns and clients like a sailor chasing a siren. But once in a blue moon, a campaign goes very, very right, and when it does, it’s like seeing a natural wonder—like an eagle soaring above the Grand Canyon, all majestic or whatever. Pure magic.
Take for instance, McCann’s Fearless Girl Statue. Created for State Street Global Advisor’s SHE Fund (a fund that only invests in companies with female leadership), the Fearless Girl statue faced opposite the famous Charging Bull statue in Manhattan’s Financial District. She appeared on Wednesday, March 8, also known as International Women’s Day. She went viral within hours, garnering over a billion twitter impressions in her first 12 hours of existence.
And her impact was explosive.
For the most part, people didn’t recognize that she was an ad campaign. She was taken at face value as a feminist statement, a little girl laughing in the face of the bull: Patriarchy. And those who did pick up on the fact that she was corporate seemed to be yelling into a void. Nobody cared that she was an ad campaign—she was an icon.
According to AdWeek, Fearless Girl Garnered $7.4 million dollars in free marketing. Yet, she had a media budget of exactly zero dollars.
And what does $7.4 million dollars in free marketing look like?
– Over 200,000 Instagram posts in 12 weeks
– Almost 1 million tweets in 12 weeks
– 1,676 TV segments to an audience of 43.3 million in three weeks
So what makes the difference between “good publicity” and “bad publicity”?
Plan ahead – Fearless Girl worked for a multitude of reasons, but mostly, great planning. She was erected on March 8 exactly, and was clearly an art instillation, not to be mistaken for a bomb. Ask Cartoon Network, and their 2007 Mooninite Scare in Boston, about that.
Be bold – If you put the work in early, an audacious, creative campaign really pays off. Something that makes a statement like Fearless Girl, or more recently, promoting the new IT remake with strategically placed red balloons are things that make people look twice—and share with their friends.
Capitalize on “win-wins” – It’s a piece of business advice my dad gave me awhile back, and begrudgingly, I have to admit that he was right (nobody tell him I said that). Any time a little cross-promotion can happen, you can get media buzz to reach fever pitch. Ten years after the catastrophic Mooninite Scare, Cartoon Network found itself on the other end of the earned media spectrum when fans of the show Rick and Morty rallied McDonalds to bring back the wildly obscure “Szechuan Sauce,” a dipping sauce that was used to promote the 1998 Disney animated feature Mulan. And it worked. The Golden Arches opened up their golden archive to recreate 3 bottles (read: 192 oz.) of the stuff. A few lucky fans and the show’s staff became proud owners of the best dipping sauce in any dimension, and both the cartoon and the burger franchise got some good, tasty media buzz. Stay Schwifty, my friends.
Now we here at JSA have never garnered earned media, and we certainly don’t know anything about Derek Carr’s debut single, or his new music video.
Step aside, Taylor Swift! Here’s the exclusive premiere of Derek’s debut single, “A Bank I Can Trust.” Destined to hit #1 on the Billboard charts!
Posted by Educational Employees Credit Union | EECU on Sunday, September 17, 2017