Category Archives: Observation

Digital humans as influencers?

Do you follow digital humans on Instagram? According to StopPress, “a new wave of influencers is already here”. Last week I had a conversation with my colleagues about how AI will shape the future of marketing. While agreeing with many predictions, I was not sure about why we used the future tense in the discussion as AI is already shaking things up. I’m waiting for the day Instagram digital influencers replace current brand ambassadors, so that instead of hiring Julia Roberts for Lancôme, just custom build a virtual one based off the looks, personality, and slang promulgated by social media users to drive engagement. For example, @lilmiquela (a “change-seeking robot” with 1.8m followers) and her digital human friend, @burmudaisbae.

digital humans on instagram
Image from @lilmiquela , Instagram , 2020

These are perfect examples of where I see branding going. Obviously, there are plenty of possibilities associated with AI that can massively change a PR or branding strategy – but there are also many questions around digital humans moving from the sphere of pure entertainment to becoming poster-children for political and social movements…Let me know your thoughts.

The lost opportunities

As it’s almost the end of 2019, I’ve decided to have a look at the most notable events in branding and marketing and create my personal top three list for 1) the lost opportunities and 2) best exploited opportunities.

Today let us cheer for the lost opportunities. First place goes to Smirnoff Vodka, who erected a billboard poking fun at the technical issues of Lime e-scooters. The cheeky billboard appeared in central Auckland just the next day after the scooters were temporarily banned by Auckland city council. It was a quick, well-thought out and planned reaction that, unfortunately, was not exploited any further. I was patiently waiting for a sequel on social media – but this did not happen. All Smirnoff Vodka managed to get is average coverage in the local media. The company fell short of using IMCs.

Second place belongs to Fly Buys, who mistakenly sold a $2000 Apple iPhone 11 at $140. Fly Buys said it would refund all customers who snapped up the bargain…Clearly consumer-brand relationships totally slipped their mind. Looking at responses, they definitely should have honoured the deal instead of offering a refund. The company fell short of consumer relationships.

In third place is Starbucks’ unwittingly anachronistic coffee cup on “Game of Thrones”. Even though experts say Starbucks has earned millions in free publicity because the social media community wouldn’t stop talking about it, the company, surprisingly, didn’t take full advantage of the event. Their response was very quiet, and hardly noticeable. I would have expected Starbucks to play a better role in the “after show” party. The company fell short of UGC, ambush marketing, and cross-promotion.

Image by The Verge https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/6/18530917/game-of-thrones-got-season-8-hbo-final-last-of-the-starks-starbucks-coffee-cup-blooper

Seems like these companies have been taking pointers from Abe Weissman (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), who said: “Just because there is a door does not mean you use it.” What’s your list? What’s your take on it?