Brand Bracketology: Where we’re placing our bets

Rob Pasquinucci

Senior PR and Content Strategist

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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With the NCAA tournament underway, we decided to do something a little different with our office March Madness brackets this year. If it were a tournament of brands, who’d make it to the Final Four? We pulled our in-house brand experts to get their takes on the winners, the team players, the benchwarmers and more.

Sonos for three!

Chris Heile, Chief Strategy Officer:

Sonos hit a long 3 pointer in their competition with the launch of the new Apple HomePod, beating Apple to the punch by designing the first truly high quality speaker (Sonos Play) with Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant built in. Their price point was considerably higher than the Amazon Echo ($199 vs. $99), but so was the quality of the sound.

When Apple finally launched HomePod at an even higher price point ($350), Sonos stunned the market and put Apple in its place with a brilliant price promotion, “Buy two Sonos" Play speakers for the price of one HomePod.” The quality of the sound was almost indistinguishable between the two brands, and two Sonos speakers could fill your home with amazing sound and access to Alexa’s voice control everywhere. Sonos scored a true game changing shot with this marketing stunt. The promotion earned tons of press and gave Sonos the clear win in their first head-to-head matchup with Apple. Brands collaborating for better results. Game on.

Great shots (and a few fouls)

Rob Pasquinucci, Senior PR Strategist:

There continue to be media relations opportunities for brands who listen and can find ways to insert themselves into the trending topic of the moment. Here are two winning examples and one I’ll call a foul on.

When Olympic half-pipe medalist Chloe Kim tweeted about being hungry, ‪Ben & Jerry’s‬‬ was among the brands who offered her food. Is this a social media tactic? Yes. But it also netted mentions in USA Today, The Denver Post and others. While we’re at it, let’s give the Vermont ice creamery a pat on the back for staying true to their brand’s mission and voice on social media. This might be why Ben & Jerry’s consistently generates more conversation than much larger food brands.

Eyewear retailer Warby Parker shined during the 2017 solar eclipse, with clever social media posts, a contest, a viewing party in Nashville and even a music video parody of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Engagement soared, with nearly half a million views of the video.

And while I’m a big fan of newsjacking, there’s always the danger of taking something too far or offending your audience. Such was the case with Cinnabon, who “felt the force” after the untimely death of Carrie Fisher and tweeted a tribute (Fisher’s hairstyle in the first Star Wars movie is often compared to the shape of Cinnabon’s signature roll). The social media outcry was swift, and the brand issued an apology.

Diaper Dandy: Senosis Health

Katie Peters, Account Director:

The next generation of health trackers is stepping up to the line and startup Senosis Health is attracting fans for its ability to turn smartphones into medical devices that carry life-saving personal health stats. By simply using functions already on smartphones—like the microphone, camera, flash and accelerometer—Senosis transforms your phone into your virtual healthcare provider, measuring vitals such as heartbeat, lung health and hemoglobin count, among others. To measure hemoglobin, Senosis’ app uses the phone’s flash to illuminate a user’s finger.

“Those sensors that are already on the mobile phone can be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can actually use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases,” founder Shwetak Patel told GeekWire. The Seattle-based start-up founded by Patel has shown so much promise, it was picked up by the powerhouse Google machine. This acquisition comes after Google has shared much interest in the digital health space.

Best Team Players: Amazon and Whole Foods

Abby Otting, Senior Content Strategist:

I’m excited to see the collaboration between Amazon and Whole Foods as they figure out their new relationship. Will Amazon be able to deliver on the high quality standards of Whole Foods devotees? Will Whole Foods’ equity with consumers help Amazon corner the grocery market? My bet is that Whole Foods, which has always embraced co-creation and prized the customer experience, will only benefit Amazon as the e-retailer continues on its mission of being the most consumer-centric brand in the world.

Photo credit: Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash.

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