What HRH Prince George of Cambridge Taught Us About Today’s Marketing Environment

Who’da thunk it?  The birth of a baby stimulates an economy and provides opportunities in other countries.  According to Reuters, “Economic forecasters have suggested the new prince could boost Britain’s austerity-hit economy by as much as 520 million pounds in the short term.”

When the impending birth was announced, many businesses immediately saw dollar signs.  They got to work trying to figure out just how they could profit from, sorry, share, in the momentous occasion.  To learn that businesses in Britain were creating memorabilia was understandable; other countries doing so was questionable.  The list of companies jumping on the bandwagon was certainly interesting.  Companies promoting baby products made perfect sense.  However, companies, with no obvious connection to the event needed to be creative in establishing a link between their product and the royal birth or risk looking desperate.

Considering that outside the United Kingdom, very few have more than a superficial knowledge of the Royal Family, it was amazing to see not only the media hype, but the number and types of advertisements surrounding the event.  This past week therefore was an interesting study in the evolution of marketing and advertising.  The most successful would be those whose message was considered witty and relevant to the situation and brand.   The goal would be to avoid any appearance of trying to capitalize on the precious, otherwise private moment.

The tweets in particular, created some buzz.  A few, included below, are probably better appreciated, with the help of the accompanying captions.  So, in keeping with all the cheesiness that ensued:

  • Domino’s tweet totally delivered.
  • It was a no go on Charmin’s tweet which seemed amateurish, and as if it were a last-minute attempt.
  • Hostess, “makers of the original crème filled snack-cakes” left us a little empty on this unimaginative and visually unappealing tweet.
  • At first, Oreo’s tweet was just, okay; but it somehow seems to gradually lose its appeal – not a slam dunk this time.
  • Starbucks UK’s tweet is generally what results when some people don’t get enough coffee.  A lackadaisical effort to say the least.
  • As for Las Vegas’ tweet, it was one of those things that should have just stayed in Vegas.

Sprint, Coca Cola, Google and Century 21 were also among the long list of companies.  Although I have not seen all the tweets or ads, I was left thinking about brand tie-in.  What impact can this kind of cheesy approach have on brands?  In this instance, there was no drawback.  It would take something truly offensive, the type of communication that results in harsh scrutiny or backlash for there to be a negative effect.  Any negative reaction probably extended to mere rolling of the eyes, shaking of the head in disapproval, or just plain indifference.  Nevertheless, the result was that the ads or tweets got us talking about the companies, and thinking about their products.  As ridiculous as people thought the tweets or ads were, they were re-tweeted and shared.  So did the benefits outweigh the nonsense?

In this instance, there was no drawback.  It would take something truly offensive, the type of communication that results in harsh scrutiny or backlash for there to be a negative effect.  Any negative reaction probably extended to mere rolling of the eyes, shaking of the head in disapproval, or just plain indifference.

Marketing and advertising behavior today lean heavily on social media.  The fast-paced nature of social media forces companies to react faster than they are sometimes able, to developments in their environment, and the result is often campaigns that are not properly thought out.  Social media provides the world of opportunity for the quick-witted.  If this is to be the new trend, businesses need to make a decision on how they want to react in such cases.  Social media is to marketing what scissors are to a child.  These tools become dangerous in the wrong hands.

So what lessons did this royal birth present for marketers and advertisers?

  1. Be ready to recognize and seize opportunities.
  2. Be ready to recognize that not all ‘opportunities’ are in fact opportunities.
  3. If you intend to be part of a noteworthy occasion, it will take planning.
  4. Be sure your message is in good taste.
  5. Get feedback before launch on how the ad could be perceived, particularly if it is a major issue.
  6. Marketing efforts should not appear to be taking advantage of the situation.  This is a difficult and delicate slope for those wanting their name in mix or hoping to get some buzz.  Consider the subject or person(s) involved, and make the ad relevant to them and the occasion.
  7. Above all, does the message tie in seamlessly or logically with your brand?

It is better to not be at the party, than to join the party and leave as the laughing stock or worse.  Suddenly, the movie ‘Carrie’, comes to mind.  Like Sissy Spacek’s character who should have just stayed home, businesses have to know when, where and how to make their presence felt.  It involves an understanding of your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  Businesses must go beyond merely wanting to be a part of what’s happening, to intentionally wanting to make a good impact.  It’s all about having a goal, and thinking strategically about how to accomplish that goal.


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