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Heritage brands storytelling by viral marketing in social media Part 2

December 29, 2014

Written by Onsurang Siripiyavatana

Case and discussion

To illustrate how heritage brands develop viral storytelling in the era of social media where the power of sharing and the perception of brand value are in the hands of consumers. The examples of Thai Life Insurance and Volkswagen will be analyzed from heritage perspective as well as consumer orientation.

Branding in social media era is not only about creativity but also facilitating conversations around the brand. From the heritage perspective, roots down to brand promise and brand essence, heritage brands have track records and many stories to introduce to the audience. Heritage brands have demonstrated successful relation to consumers in the past through its core values and heritage essence hence, it should be able to modify and re-tell the story given the current marketing landscape and the way to stand out in the crowd is to make the brand’s story go viral. In order to go viral, a brand must choose the right story to tell and craft around it, brands must know their targeted audience, learn what the consumers are care about most and do more of that. The new version of the heritage stories provide relevant factor that is consistent to the brand’s core and hence consistent heritage brand image that yield trust, caring and authentic impression to the targeted audience. Thai Life Insurance (TLI) is a heritage brand that is still much relevant today, the key behind this is to take simple product and to promote it by relating the most relevant human emotion to the product. TLI exploited sensitive human emotions and develop extremely effective marketing tool, namely advertisement campaign. The emotional ads have made the brand memorable and placed securely on top of the mind of the consumers.  Take the “Silence of Love” advertisement campaign for example, without directly mentioning about the insurance product, the story of the commercial states: the kids are sometimes ashamed of their parents, but it is their parents who care for them no matter what. The overall tone of the ad is sad and touching which provoke all the positive emotions full of caring, love, family bonding and honesty are then translated into more down-to-earth message: if you care about them, insure them. The “Silence of Love” ad is not the first in the series of TLI emotional advertisement campaign, but it definitely creates a consistent message, and adds to consistent brand story and relevant brand image through the co-creation with the consumers who were impressed by the message delivered. The company made the ads public by broadcasting it through Thai television channels as well as in YouTube. The first channel of distribution is costly but it opens to wider audience and definitely worth it, amongst the crowd of television ads “Silence of Love” gains much attention from audience and creates a viral offline word of mouth impact. In parallel, the company makes the ads available in YouTube to create online viral with a potential to reach endless consumers since they are much more likely to view an advertisement if it is communicated to them from someone they know and not a company.

The language spoken in the ads was Thai, the company later provide English subtitle to enhance the understanding and hence emotional engagement of international audience.

   
  
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     <img src=”Siripiyavatana_image1.jpg” alt=”Silence of Love Thai Life Insurance Advertisement”>

<img src=”Siripiyavatana_image1.jpg” alt=”Silence of Love Thai Life Insurance Advertisement”>

Figure 1) Silence of Love-Thai life insurance commercial (Thailifechannel, 2011)

As a result “Silence of Love” becomes viral because TLI does it right by understanding the culture and know what the consumers want and how to approach it for example Thai audience have the characteristics of sympathetic, sensitive, like to chit chat, social media addict and easy going. The brand works hard to give people something they are willing to talk about, something they can relate to. The series of emotional ads is a catalyst and the tool that the brand use to consciously and continually bake word of mouth into its product. The company gives consumers a reason to talk about its product part of its culture, not just marketing.

Heritage brands on the other side of the world also work hard to understand consumer and find the relevant in brand storytelling. Rules, regulations and restrictions of international marketplace are different, let alone the consumer diversity. A successful marketing story of the brand from one country may not even gain recognition in another country for example Dove’s real beauty campaign was a viral success in the US but the same campaign fails to market in China (Chiu, C., Ip, C. and Silverman, A. 2012). That’s why social media marketers have to be creative and specific, matter to one person first, speak to that person. Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory is a good story of viral success in social media. Volkswagen launches a campaign through The Fun Theory website with the slogan “Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better”. The brand invited creative people to come up with their ways of making everyday activity more fun.  The Fun Theory campaign is brand’s storytelling tactic that relates to consumers in a given current marketplace and brand’s core messages of being innovative, offering enduring value and responsible (Volkswagen, 2012). One of The Fun Theory award is “The speed camera lottery” the idea behind this is to get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do, this idea was made a reality in Stockholm, Sweden. The Speed Camera Lottery device would photograph all drivers passing beneath it. A portion of the subsequent fines levied against speeders would be pooled in a lottery, with a random winner periodically drawn from the group of speed-limit adherents. The result of this campaign is impressive, according to Volkswagen, average speed before the installation of the Speed Camera Lottery sign on a multilane street was 32 kilometers per hour. That figure dropped to 25 kilometers per hour during a three-day test, despite the device’s inability to issue financial penalties.  The short films documenting the projects went viral and it invokes positive brand association in relation to the audience. By making boring thing such as obeying the traffic rules fun and instead of getting punishment for disobeying the rule, people get rewards by obeying the rules. The idea not only reflects upon brand heritage and story but also score high in the relevant scale of contemporary marketplace. The consumers are engaged in the campaign from sending their ideas in for the competition and the trials is seen as a little excitement added to consumers’ everyday lives without provoking frustration to the pedestrian. The brand uses an excuse of promoting safety for positive brand associations and gain awareness. The Fun Theory is a storytelling strategy that embraces the heritage and stays relevant in the consumers’ minds in the current era of social media. The continual success of the campaign endures the heritage for tomorrow.

   
  
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   &lt;img src=”Siripiyavatana_image2.jpg” alt=”The Speed Camera Lottery The Fun Theory by Volkswagen”&gt;

<img src=”Siripiyavatana_image2.jpg” alt=”The Speed Camera Lottery The Fun Theory by Volkswagen”>

Figure 2) The Speed Camera Lottery- The Fun Theory by Volkswagen (Rolighetsteorin, 2010)


Conclusion

Heritage brands have developed the brand story over a period of time, the time required for the consumers to absorb and digest the story. However in an ever changing marketing landscape of social media era, the ability to adapt and fit in poses a challenge on heritage brands to stay relevant in consumers’ minds. They key to relate to consumers while maintaining brand’s heritage is to understand consumers and focusing effort to change how people feel before trying to change what they do. As illustrated by Thai life insurance case, telling simple emotional stories work well in relating the brand’s heritage to consumers. The brands deal with customer-centric orientation in an emergence of social media and act as facilitators. Storytelling facilitates conversation amongst customer community and it is brand’s job to give people a story that they are willing to talk about. By this method, consumers become co-creators of the brands as they influence the transmission of messages by getting involved in the viewing, commenting and sharing through social media or even directly helping to create a story, as illustrated by Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory where consumers get involved in the process from the beginning to submit their ideas, take part in trials and sharing the story.

More specifically, while keeping to the heritage, brands have to invite consumers into the branding process in order to stay relevant and this can be achieved by telling a consistent series of compelling story, stories that keep going viral. The businesses that succeed outrageously are not just founded on ideas that are shared in a split second; they are grounded in what matters to their customers throughout the long heritage. The track record and relationship between a brand and its consumers are parts of the heritage that they co-created and stay relevant until now. The key for an enduring heritage is to make giving people a reason to talk about your products and services part of brand’s culture, not just marketing.





















References

Aaker, D. A. (1996). Building Strong Brands. New York NY: The Free Press.

Aaker, D. A. (2004). Leveraging the corporate brand. California Management Review, 46(3), 6–18.

Barwise, P. & Meehan, S. (2010) The One Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand, Harvard Business Review, December 2010

Cambridge University Press (2011). Cambridge Business English Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chiu, C., Ip, C and Silverman, A. (2012), “Understanding social media in China”, McKinsey Quarterly, 2, 78-81.

Fournier, S. & Avery, J. (2011) The uninvited brand, Business Horizons (2011) 54, 193—207

Hamm, J. (2013). Why Agencies and Brands Need to Embrace True Storytelling Branded content is not the same thing. Adweek Magazine, [online] Available at: < http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/why-agencies-and-brands-need-embrace-true-storytelling-152534> [Accessed 10 February 2014]

Jiwa, B. (2013). Fortune cookie principle. Perth: The Story of Telling Press

Liebrenz-Himes, M., Shamma, H., & Dyer R.F. (2007). Heritage Brands- Treasured Inheritance Or ‘Over the Hill’. Charm, 2007.

Merchant, A., Rose G.M. (2013). Effects of advertising-evoked vicarious nostalgia on brand heritage, Journal of Business Research, 66 (12), p.2619-2625

Moser, M. (2003). United We Brand. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Rolighetsteorin, (2010). The Speed Camera Lottery, The Fun Theory. [video online] Available at: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iynzHWwJXaA#t=106> [Accessed 13 February 2014]

Seybold, P. B. (2001). The Customer Revolution. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Singh, S., & Sonnenburg, S. (2012) Brand Performances in Social Media, Journal of Interactive Marketing 26 (2012) 189–197

Thailifechannel, (2011). Silence of Love (Official English Subtitle), TVC Thai Life Insurance. [video online] Available at: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZMX6H6YY1M> [Accessed 13 February 2014]

Trusov, M., Bucklin, R.E., & Pauwels, K. (2009). Effects of Word-of-Mouth Versus Traditional Marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site. Journal of Marketing, 73(5), 90-102.

Urde, M., Balmer, J., & Greyser, S. (2007) Corporate brands with a heritage, Brand Management, Vol. 15, No. 1, 4–19 September 2007

Vargo, Stephen L. and Lusch, Robert F. (2004) Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing, Journal of Marketing 68(1), p. 1–17

Volkswagen, (2010). The Fun Theory. [online] Available at: < http://www.thefuntheory.com/> [Accessed 12 February 2014]

Volkswagen, (2012). Annual report 2012. [online] Available at: < http://annualreport2012.volkswagenag.com/managementreport/value-enhancingfactors/salesandmarketing.html> [Accessed 12 February 2014]

Winer, R. (2009) New Communications Approaches in Marketing: Issues and Research Directions, Journal of Interactive Marketing 23 (2009), p. 108–117

Woerndl, M., Papagiannidis, S., Bourlakis, M., & Li, F. (2008). Internet-induced marketing techniques: Critical factors in viral marketing campaigns. Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, 3 (2), 34-45.

Heritage brands storytelling by viral marketing in social media Part 1

December 25, 2014

Written by Onsurang Siripiyavatana

Introduction

Powerful stories always link to the heart and mind of people. Well-crafted stories reach out to the audience, making each and every story unique for the individual. Audiences develop their own imagery and co-create the brand. Heritage brands are rich in track records and longevity; they have good stories to tell. Storytelling is an opportunistic marketing tool for heritage brands, if marketers package it right.

However, heritage brands come with the ‘sincerity’ characteristics of being honest, authentic, trustworthy, caring and unassuming (Aaker, 1996). The model of heritage brands view the consumer as passive commodity but it is no longer relevant in the social media era.

In the social media era, companies are now evaluated by much more than their products. It is the era where brand’s values and emotions they evoke are narrative material (Hamm, 2013). It’s indisputable that the best way to link the brand’s idea with an audience’s emotion is by telling a compelling story (Hamm, 2013). Moreover, the opportunities of hyper-connected and social consumer as well as new distribution platform enable rapid sharing of information and contribute to the effectiveness of viral marketing. Viral marketing, by Cambridge Dictionaries Online is defined “A marketing activity in which information about a product spreads between people, especially on the internet” (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Trusov et al., (2009) state that customer involvement is crucial for company’s survival in the social media era and viral marketing is a necessary tool to gain attention in a cluttered marketing environment.

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine and analyze how heritage brands keep the heritage story relevant in an era where social media is increasingly important and how they utilize viral marketing to elevate the consumers to brand’s value co-creator. Two heritage brands’ storytelling strategy via viral marketing are examined, namely Thai Life Insurance and Volkswagen. These brands are of irrelevant categories and of different base location, one in service another in automotive, one in Asia another in Europe. The two distinct examples are selected to give evidence of powerful storytelling regardless of circumstances.

How the organizations with strong heritage brand strategy manage to stay relevant in the social media era? How they embrace storytelling and make use of viral marketing? What are the keys for success? This is focus questions of the paper. A summary will be given to how heritage brands can adapt and create a sustainable competitive advantage in the cluttered social media environment, “as our new brands of today turn into the heritage brands of tomorrow” (Liebrenz-Himes, 2007) 

Who write the brand storyboard in social media

A brand story is more than content and a narrative. The whole picture of the storyboard is made up of facts, feelings and interpretations, which means that part of a brand’s story is not told by brand owner (Jiwa, 2013). As mentioned by Winer (2009), the communication of brand story has changed and with the emergence of social media, the power of storytelling shifts from the hands of brand owner to the consumer through user-generated brand content. According to Vargo and Lusch (2004), the three ingredients central to co-creation of brand story are networks, relations, and interactions— which are enabled through discussion forums, blogs, community platforms, and news-sharing sites. In the landscape of open source branding, Fournier & Avery (2011) used the metaphor of “un-invited brand” to address how branding through the internet is viewed upon by the consumer. The authors claim that the social media was made for people, not for brands. Hence the people, more specifically the stakeholder, is all it matter in the age which the context of social collective, transparency, criticism and parody are relevant.

Storytelling involve a narrator and listener however, because of the two ways interaction nature of social media, both the consumer and brand owner can play the role of a narrator and that of a listener, resulting in an interactive co-creation driven by the participants. Consumers evaluate products or brands online and influence other consumer’s perception, give consumers an active role in branding and storytelling process (Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012). Hence the brand storyboard in social media era is crafted by interlinked content and co-creation of brand from interrelated stories is the key.

Brand heritage and the ability to make use of viral marketing to stay relevant

Brand heritage is a dimension of brand’s identity found in its track record, longevity, core values, use of symbols and organizational believe that its history is important.
Heritage brand make use of its history as a key component in brand identity and value proposition. Many brands have heritage but did not make use of it are not heritage brands (Urde, Greyser, & Balmer, 2007).  Heritage brand appeals to its current and past consumer, and if it continues to appeal to future consumers, its heritage continues to be a key asset of the overall brand equity (Liebrenz-Himes, 2007).  Aaker (1996) highlights that identity equity in heritage brands is extremely strong and valuable, the brand’s footprints add sincerity and differentiation, especially as the brand’s history and origin are re-interpreted in contemporary time (Aaker, 2004). Benson (2005) notes that heritage brands convey their heritage in a form of storytelling and the key that these brands all have in common is that they have had the time to build a meaningful and relevant past – a heritage. Barwise & Meehan (2010) also see this as an opportunity for heritage brands and that they should exploit the social media and revise the marketing playbook rather than rewriting it—meaning brands should strive to go viral, but protect the brand.

What makes a heritage brand stay relevant from generation to generation is the ability to respond to changing marketplace. Researches point out that the existence of successful brands has to be built on strong core values (Seybold 2001, Moser 2003) that consumers can relate. Seybold states “Your customer’s experience with your brand includes how that customer feels when he is in you brand’s presence” (Seybold, 2001). Hence, it all comes down to the “feelings” or consumers’ emotional engagement. In a diverse marketing landscape of today, the challenge facing heritage brands is to deliver the message and to appeal to the younger generations and stay relevant in changing marketplace. A study by Merchant & Rose (2012) confirms the positive impact of advertising-evoked vicarious nostalgia, a longing for a period that an individual did not personally live through, on brand heritage as “Promoting brand heritage bonds the consumer to the brand by enhancing trust, reinforcing perceptions of stability, creating positive emotions, and communicating the consistency of the brand’s promise over time”. According to Woerndl et al.(2008) the critical characteristic of successful viral marketing is the ability to reach out to the targeted audience and emotionally engaging message content.

Continue reading: case discussion