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Digital and Traditional Media

The media landscape has evolved into two segments: ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’. Each with their own set of pros and cons that marketers must consider.

Digital media is very dynamic, allowing marketers to adapt quickly as situations and environments change. It also allows marketers to develop specific campaigns for each of their target segments at a low cost. Digital media, however, may not reach certain audiences due to technological and user capabilities.

Traditional media is far more permanent. Once a campaign is developed, it is harder to adjust. Traditional campaigns must be appealing to a broad variety of audiences due to their public placement. However, traditional media is excellent at maintaining brand awareness across many audience segments.

Both traditional and digital media campaigns have their advantages. Marketers need to consider the pros and cons of each and select the right balance for their own campaigns, whether it is primarily a dynamic, targeted, digital campaign for a highly-online audience, a more steady and reliable traditional campaign for a broader audience, or an effective mix of the two.

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Masterful Marketing: The Death of Mr. Peanut

As marketers one of our main objectives is to build and maintain brand recognition. Even established brands must maintain their marketing efforts to stay relevant in the minds of consumers. The death of Mr. Peanut is a fabulous example of an established brand engaging with audiences and keeping things fresh.  

Campaign Concept

Mr. peanut made his debut in 1916 and has been the Planters mascot ever since. During the 2020 Super Bowl, Planters ran a commercial in which Mr. Peanut sacrifices himself so that his friends can survive. In the second half of the game, a second Planters commercial aired and continued the story of Mr. Peanut showcasing his funeral service and Groot-like reincarnation.

Media Outlets

The Death of Mr. Peanut campaign started with the super bowl ads and quickly spread across media platforms. The video, which is now unlisted, has over 7 million views on YouTube, and 2.3 million views on Planters’ Twitter feed. The ad was soon being featured in CNN stories and had a segment on SNL’s Weekend Update.

Audience Reception

The reactions to the death of Mr. Peanut were mixed. Many viewers were intrigued by the tongue and cheek nature of the mascots demise. Others saw the campaign and trending twitter hashtag #RIPPeanut as tone deaf given the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant four days after the release of the campaign.

The killing of Mr. Peanut, while controversial to some, was an excellent example of an established brand staying relevant. Within minutes of the commercial airing, the hashtag #RIPPeanut was flooding news-feeds across the country, bringing Mr. Peanut and his legacy back into peoples’ minds. Although killing off a mascot was a bold and risky move, Planters was able to use this controversy to build its brands recognition and equity.

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Corporate Responsibility and Marketing

As marketers we want to show our organizations in the best light possible. This can be difficult today as consumers are more informed than ever and expect corporations to live up to their promises. Consumers want more than superficial corporate responsibility campaigns and photo ops. Today’s consumer expects brands to embrace their values and follow through.

Surface Level Engagement

For a long time, many corporations have been making promises of a better future to then abandon these plans quietly in favor of those that will bring more shareholder value. Coca Cola has long promised to reduce plastic waste with ecologically friendly initiatives that have largely gone unfulfilled. In fact, Coke has lobbied against bottle bills that would put some of the cost and responsibility of recycling plastic bottles on producers.  

Breaking From the Crowd

There have however been some form profit companies that live up to their brand values and Ben and Jerry’s is an excellent example. Ben and Jerry’s ensures that their supply chain is ethical and having starting salaries above the minimum wage. While some of these policies may mean smaller profit margins, the Ben and Jerry’s brand equity keeps growing.

In today’s market consumers expect more of the brands that they love. Consumers are no longer impressed with one-time acts of decency and demand that brands follow through on their promises. As marketers we must ensure that our brands practice meaningful engagement and offer more than superficial actions.

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Brand Equity and Public Health

As public health marketers, it is our job to get people to actively make healthy choices and to follow through on those choices with specific actions. This can be difficult however if the community is unaware of your organization and what it has to offer. Therefore, it is important to the brand equity of public health departments in order to increase buy-in and improve the health of communities.

Branding

Often branding is not a top priority for health departments. Because of this lack of attention, many people are unaware of the important role that health departments play. Improving awareness of a health department, like any organization, will improve community trust and buy-in. Increasing community engagement both digitally and in person is a good first step to increase the equity of your health department.

Messaging

Consistent brand messaging across communication channels can build brand equity. Digital platforms attract different demographics and may require slight adjustments to engage with diverse audiences. However, the voice behind messaging should remain consistent across channels.

Improving the health and well-being of communities through meaningful engagement is the foremost goal of health departments. Building the brand equity of health departments can assist with these goals by increasing the community’s awareness and utilization of services. Brand equity is key for a health department to be effective in reaching its goals by solidifying it as a trusted source of information and resources.  

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Authentic Engagement in Digital Marketing

Authentic engagement is an important but often overlooked aspect of digital marketing and communication. Consumers are ever aware of a brand’s reputation and are less likely to be swayed by empty gestures. As the digital landscape changes, authentic engagement with consumers is becoming more important than ever. I’ve spoken with five experts to get their opinions on authentic engagement in digital marketing and here is what they had to say:

Authentic Engagement in Digital Marketing

Consumer Expectations

Kimberly Taylor Ph.D.
Full Professor at Florida International University

Kimberly Taylor Ph.D., a professor at the FIU College of Business noted a shift in expectations that consumers place on brands and how they engage with the public. “Consumers often expect brands to engage authentically with an issue or with a consumer group, and not just post on social media during a particular month (such as for Black History or Breast Cancer Awareness.)  For example, in our study of breast cancer survivors, they said ‘I’m a cancer survivor all year!’ (not just in October), and they wanted to know what exactly a company was doing to help the cause beyond simply slapping a pink ribbon on a package.)  Moreover, a younger generation of consumers is not only accepting of brands actively engaging with social causes they support, but they have come to expect it, viewing a company’s silence as some level of complicity or disagreement.” These new customer expectations are part of the shifting landscape of digital marketing. As companies engage further on social media, and as those same platforms have waves of social and political engagement, the companies are also held to a different standard. The standard neutral stance of past operations has become much more obvious in the current environment.

Human Connection

Samantha Blanken
Marketing Manager at Mediafly

This changing landscape has also opened opportunities for brand growth and engagement, a sentiment shared with Marketing Manager Samantha Blanken. “This past year has opened the door for us to share more of who we are as individuals. For authentic marketing engagement, we must remember that we’re speaking to a human being, not a job title at a target company. Authenticity invites stronger connection and more meaningful engagement.” So even while expectations for organizations have risen, to have opportunities to connect with small groups of customers on a human level in a way that creates lasting relationships.

A Friendly Face

Catherine Whitlock, M.S.
Associate Vice President of Online Communications at Parkinson’s Foundation

These kinds of relationships are built on a clear knowledge of your brand’s values and goals. As noted by Catherine Whitlock, Associate Vice President of Online Communications at Parkinson’s Foundation, organizations can build trust by intentionally shaping their messaging through their goals. “When you’re communicating something about a serious and frightening lifelong disease like Parkinson’s, knowing that there is someone or some entity like the Parkinson’s Foundation who’s friendly and in your corner can make a huge difference. We actually define what we mean by friendly. We mean we’re approachable, but we’re not unprofessional. As an authority in helping someone live well with Parkinson’s, we can’t be all emojis and slang, but we can have just enough of it so people realize there is a human on the other side of the screen and that human is rooting for you.” This kind of messaging creates consistency in the minds of customers and clients so the organization can seem more relatable and reliable.

Cultural Competency

John Rodriguez M.S.M.
Senior Account Executive at
the community

There is also a need for brands to implement more authentic and culturally competent marketing strategies, as pointed out by Marketing Executive John Rodriguez. “There is a lack of authentic digital marketing (and overall marketing in general) to Hispanic Audiences. Many clients choose to tackle talking to Hispanic Audiences by casting multiracially and simply translating the work done for General Market. If clients want to truly engage with Hispanic Audiences, they need to push for more bespoke work that will actually be relevant to said audiences. It isn’t enough to cast and old Hispanic woman and push the ‘Abuelita’ trope, they must listen to the needs to Hispanic Audiences and tailor messaging properly.” Authentic messaging relies on a careful knowledge of customers’ home cultures. Clichés and generalizations from outside perspectives are not enough to show a real care for and value of diverse audiences.

Metrics of Success

Kaycee Conlee
Marketing Coordinator at
Ware Malcomb

Despite all this work, authentic engagement is not the only thing an organization uses to determine the success of a campaign, as pointed out by Marketing Coordinator Kaycee Conlee. “Authentic engagement in digital marketing is certainly valuable and important but with many platform’s emphasis on algorithms, it’s not always the goal for companies. Since any engagement, genuine or not, can boost your message on most platforms, a lot of marketers aim to trigger engagement with questions or polls, and authenticity is irrelevant.” While authentic engagement should remain a core value for organizations seeking to establish lasting relationships and value, technological constraints also impact the success of marketing campaigns. Often, marketers must achieve a careful balance between going viral and staying human.

Opportunities for Growth in Digital Marketing

Ultimately, authentic engagement on digital platforms presents a unique challenge and opportunity for digital marketers. The rise in social media marketing has organizations in constant contact with their customers. The largest reach can occur through having marketing campaigns go viral to reach as many people as possible. While this strategy may work in the short term, the success of an individual campaign may hurt the brand’s overall credibility. Keeping brand image, values, and reputation in mind will help in creating more authentic content that will connect with consumers and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors.

Human-centered communication is key for a brand to effectively create authentic content. Consumers don’t want to be viewed as a commodity for brands to acquire. Instead, the modern consumer is looking to form a meaningful relationship with a brand. This relationship has to be built on a human element that connects to the customer’s larger worldviews.   

There is pressure on brands today to support causes that connect with their audiences and values. Consumers notice and hold brands accountable if a brand is only supportive of a cause when it is convenient, using terms such as rainbow washing to refer to the performative allyship towards the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month (June). There is now an expectation for brands to authentically engage with causes year-round, as opposed to promoting their support when trending.

As the digital landscape changes, authentic engagement with consumers is becoming more relevant than ever. The modern consumer is more informed of a brand’s reputation and is more likely to act on their perceptions of it. Authentic engagement can no longer be overlooked and is now a cornerstone of digital marketing.

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Brand Image and Representation

I am currently working with a podiatrist in North Miami who is looking to rebrand and expand his practice. As we start the rebranding process a key factor to consider is brand equity. Since I am working with a medical professional, his potential patients must see his brand as not only professional but also as trustworthy and compassionate. When I assessed the current brand, it appeared to be rather generic: nothing is terrible, but nothing is memorable. There is very little that separates him from other podiatrists in the area.

One of the easiest ways to improve his brand equity is to focus on the brand image. Almost all of the imagery used on the website/blog/SM posts are of white individuals. This is unrepresentative of the North Miami community which is 60% black (2010 US Census). Additionally, the Associated Skin Care Professionals website notes that this under-representation of POC individuals can lead to delayed treatment and misdiagnosis. So, by diversifying the imagery his brand could stand out from the competition while also providing necessary information to the community, all while increasing the brand’s equity.