Mentality Matters: Peloton Takes Back the Narrative with its Chris Noth Ad… Then Loses it Again

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Mentality Matters: Peloton Takes Back the Narrative with its Chris Noth Ad…
Then Loses it Again

December 17, 2021

On December 9, HBO Max aired the first episode of the highly anticipated ‘Sex and the City’ reboot. While the conversation leading up to the show’s release had centered around the absence of one leading actress, Kim Cattral, the focus quickly shifted once the episode aired and Chris Noth’s character, known to fans as “Mr. Big,” died from a heart attack after completing his one thousandth Peloton ride.

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

This unfortunate positioning for Peloton within the highly anticipated series left the brand scrambling amongst public discussions about the character’s death being linked to his Peloton use and the subsequent drop in the brand’s stock price.

Peloton moved quickly with Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventative cardiologist and member of Peloton’s health and wellness advisory council, releasing a statement to The Times citing Mr. Big’s extravagant lifestyle as the cause of his fatal heart attack, adding that “riding his Peloton Bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.”

But Peloton’s response did not end there.

Incredibly, the brand created an ad in less than 48 hours in partnership with Maximum Effort, a digital marketing agency co-founded by Ryan Reynolds and George Dewey.

The ad starred Chris Noth and provided a clever response to the unflattering product placement in the ‘Sex and the City’ reboot.

The ad was posted on Peloton’s social media accounts on December 12th; Peloton’s stock added $900 million in value on Monday following the ad’s debut and their social engagement skyrocketed.

Chris Noth Teams Up With Ryan Reynolds...YouTube video

What insights does this story and its multiple dimensions offer for brands?

To get some context on the layers of Peloton’s role in the popular ‘Sex and the City’ reboot and the brand’s speedy public response, review the chronology of major moments below, as told by a representative sample of online news articles throughout the story’s continuing timeline.

Keep in mind these articles and videos are just a handful of the thousands upon thousands of articles, opinions, social posts, videos, comments, etc. generated by this major viral moment.

Most actionable moments don’t reach this level of virality or last this long but these “big moments” are useful for gaining and sharing insights.

Photo by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/people/diversey/

For example, the initial spotlight quickly shifted from buzz around the sequel of the popular ‘Sex and the City’ series, to shock at the death of a popular character, to spotlighting Peloton as the potential cause of death, to Peloton’s resulting stock drop, to Peloton’s quick responses on social media, to their creation of an ad starring Chris Noth that expertly addressed the negative product placement, all in a matters of days.

Peloton expertly navigated this situation and turned a potential branding nightmare into a win within an impossibly tight timeframe. But this story isn’t just a best-in-class example of Advertising and PR, it’s also a potential opportunity for other brands in the exercise & wellness space and beyond to enter the conversation and capitalize on the viral and evolving story.

And then just like that…the story turned again.

On December 16, The Hollywood Reporter broke a story that two women had stepped forward and accused Noth of sexual assault.

Within hours, Pelton removed the new ad featuring Noth and stated it had been unaware of the allegations when it created and launched the ad and that “every single sexual assault accusation must be taken seriously.”

How would your brand have approached this story?

1. Does your brand have a way of monitoring PR controversies and public sentiment that allows for quick decisioning (such as Peloton’s quick ad creation)?

2. If you were a competitor of Peloton, would you have targeted, blocked, or monitored this emerging story when the episode first aired?

3. If you were a competitor of Peloton, would your action have changed after the story evolved and Peloton released their creative addressing the episode?

4. What about when the narrative turned again and Pelton pulled the ad following public allegations of sexual assault against Chris Noth?

Source: CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/16/peloton-removes-viral-chris-noth-ad-after-sexual-assault-allegations.html

Click this link to participate in a poll on these questions, and we’ll share the results with you via email.

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Peloton ‘And Just like That’ Story Chronology with representative content samples

Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from Virgil Abloh’s Sudden Passing

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Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from Virgil Abloh’s Sudden Passing

December 10, 2021

Virgil Abloh was a trailblazer in every sense of the word, and the announcement of his death due to cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at the age of 41 came as a shock to many.

Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was known for the influence he had on the contemporary fashion landscape through the creation of his luxury fashion label, Off-White, as well as his leadership as artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division.

Abloh’s influence and creativity extended far beyond the world of fashion. For example, he:

  • Made it his mission to mentor and support the talents of young Black creators,
  • Had a thriving DJ career that included performances at Lollapalooza and Coachella,
  • Created cover art for artists including Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus,
  • Designed furniture including the popular Markerad collection for Ikea, and
  • Had a solo exhibition, “Figures of Speech,” at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

This list, shockingly, is not comprehensive, and represents just a few of Abloh’s accomplishments outside of his extensive and important work in fashion.

Virgil Abloh preferred to view himself as a “maker” rather than just a designer, and his curiosity and talent allowed him to impact culture through many lenses.

Virgil Abloh’s death was announced on November 28 and quickly became a top story, as his death represents a narrative on Black artists, health & wellness, fashion, music, art, and more.

What insights does this story and its multiple dimensions offer for brands?

Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech Author jpellgen https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpellgen/

To get some context, review the chronology of major moments below, as told by a representative sample of online news articles throughout the story’s continuing timeline.

Keep in mind these articles and videos are just a handful of the thousands upon thousands of articles, opinions, social posts, videos, comments, etc. generated by this major viral moment.

Most actionable moments don’t reach this level of virality or last this long but these “big moments” are useful for gaining and sharing insights.

For example, the spotlight quickly shifted from the announcement of Virgil Abloh’s death, to additional information on his private battle with a rare form of cancer, to high profile friends of the designer playing tribute to him and his work, to brands he had ties to honoring him at shows and in stores, to Art Basel recognition, all in a matters of days.

Virgil Abloh’s connection to brands was far reaching, as the founder of the cult brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division. With Off-White, Abloh collaborated with dozens of premium brands and companies, including Rimowa, Mercedes Benz, the NBA, Levi’s, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Kith, Timberland, Byredo, and, perhaps most notably, Nike.

Virgil Abloh’s first ad campaign for Louis Vuitton, on MLK Day 2019 Author Steve Jurvetson https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/

How would your brand have approached this story and all the content it has generated?

1. Does your brand routinely target content in the Fashion category?

2. Does your brand have a multicultural marketing strategy?

3. Does your brand distinguish specific content around death, or completely avoid headlines about death?

4. If you were a competitor of Nike (one of Virgil Abloh’s most notable collaborating brands), would you want to target or block news around Virgil Abloh?

Click this link to participate in a poll on these questions, and we’ll share the results with you via email.

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Virgil Abloh Story Chronology with representative content samples

Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from the Rerelease of Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’

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Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from the Rerelease of Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’

December 6, 2021

Taylor Swift’s rerelease of her album Red became a widespread news story and evolving cultural narrative over the past few weeks, with layers that included the topic of artist ownership in the music industry, nostalgic commentary on the Red album that was originally released in 2012, and new insight into Taylor’s past relationships—a topic she famously focuses on in her songwriting.

Swift’s official release of Red (Taylor’s Version) took place on November 12 and instantly became a cultural fixation because of Taylor Swift’s global star power, but buzz around the release was largely magnified because of the multifaceted nature of the album release.

What insights does this story and its multiple dimensions offer for brands?

To get some context, review the chronology of major moments below, as told by a representative sample of online news articles throughout the story’s continuing timeline.

Taylor Swift RED Tour (8642419792).jpg Author Jana Beamer https://www.flickr.com/people/94347223@N07/

Keep in mind these articles and videos are just a handful of the thousands upon thousands of articles, opinions, social posts, videos, comments, etc. generated by this major viral moment.

Most actionable moments don’t reach this level of virality or last this long but these “big moments” are useful for gaining and sharing insights.

For example, the spotlight quickly shifted from villainizing Scooter Braun for purchasing the masters to Swift’s music in 2019, to Taylor Swift’s actual album release and the updated contents of the “Taylor’s Version” album, to a massive response

against Jake Gyllenhaal, (who Swift’s relationship with in 2012 is believed to be the focus of All Too Well—10 Minute Version), back to Taylor Swift performing the new version of All Too Well on SNL, all in a matters of days.

Taylor Swift boasts one of the most expensive celebrity endorsements of all time with a $26 Million deal with Diet Coke, along with notable partnerships with Apple, CoverGirl, Keds, and Capital One.

With her massive global appeal and sponsorship deals, when Taylor Swift stories break, brands best be prepared to act.

A Conversation with Jake Gyllenhaal: Author Daniel Benavides from Austin, TX https://www.flickr.com/people/52309209@N02

How would your brand have approached this story and all the content it has generated?

1. Does your brand routinely target content in the Music category?

2. Does your brand routinely target content in the Entertainment category?

3. If your brand had a way to distinguish content that is part of a larger story (e.g., Taylor Swift’s performance of All Too Well on SNL vs. Jake Gyllenhaal receiving public backlash from All Too Well relationship coverage), would you utilize this ability in your content selection for media campaigns?

4. If your brand had a turnkey way to incorporate major cultural moments into your earned or paid media, would you utilize it?

Click this link to participate in a poll on these questions, and we’ll share the results with you via email.

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Red (Taylor’s Version) Story Chronology with representative content samples

November 11

Scooter Braun Reportedly Thought Taylor Swift Was Bluffing About Re-Recording Her Albums

November 12

Taylor Swift’s Re-Recordings Expose The Music Industry’s Chokehold On Intellectual Property

Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers’s ‘Red’ Duet, and 14 More New Songs

The Story Behind Taylor Swift’s 10-minute Version of ‘All Too Well,’ The Song Making Fans Lose Their Minds

Brands Are Feeling 22 After Taylor Swift’s New ‘Red’ Release

November 13

Taylor Swift Delivers Passionate Performance of ‘All Too Well’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Cardi B Reacts to Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ Short Film

November 14

On SNL, Taylor Swift Stopped Time

A Lot Of Taylor Swift’s Famous Friends (And One Famous Ex) Came To See Her Perform On “SNL”

November 15

Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ and the Weaponization of Memory

Taylor Swift’s ‘I Bet You Think About Me’ Lyrics Seem Full Of Jabs At Ex Jake Gyllenhaal

November 16

Scooter Braun Sells Taylor Swift’s Big Machine Masters for Big Payday

Dionne Warwick has a message for Jake Gyllenhaal about Taylor Swift’s scarf

A Comprehensive Explanation of Why Taylor Swift Fans Seem Ready to Commit Homicide on Jake Gyllenhaal

It’s me, Taylor Swift’s scarf. I’m here to tell my side of ‘All Too Well’ (Scarf’s Version)

November 17

iHeart Promises to Only Play Taylor Swift’s New Versions of Her Songs, Once They’re Out

Taylor Swift’s Quest for Justice

Jake Is ‘Mortified’ Taylor ‘Targeted’ Him For Dating a 25-Year-Old on Her New Album

Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from Aaron Rodgers’ COVID Vaccine Wrangle

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Mentality Matters: Brand Insights from Aaron Rodgers’ COVID Vaccine Wrangle

November 30, 2021

The story about Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 played out online the past few weeks, after he returned to the football field following a mandated quarantine.

His positive COVID-19 diagnosis was first reported November 3 and instantly became controversial because Rodgers claimed back in August that he had been “immunized.”

What insights does this story and its multiple dimensions offer for brands?

To get some context, review the chronology of major moments below, as told by a representative sample of online news articles throughout the story’s continuing timeline.

COVID-19 vaccination - U.S. Secretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Keep in mind these articles and videos are just a handful of the thousands upon thousands of articles, opinions, social posts, videos, comments, etc. generated by this major viral moment.

Most actionable moments don’t reach this level of virality or last this long but these “big moments” are useful for gaining and sharing insights.

Like, notice how quickly this one went from news to controversy on Day 1: the story broke, and within hours, widespread opinions appeared questioning Rodgers’ veracity.

Then two days later on November 5, it took a major turn, fueled by Rodgers’ appearance on a Sirius XM show, where he responded to the criticism.

How did the biggest brand that employs him as a spokesperson respond?

At first, there was not much of a response but five days in, on November 8, following the Rodgers-less Packers’ loss to Kansas City the day before, a brand spokesperson said it encourages vaccinations but respects his right to his own personal opinion.

Opinions continued to proliferate.

The NFL fined his team and him.

The Packers activated him for the next game.

He played and beat Seattle.

State-Fram-Insurance-Office-Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The next several days saw stories that were reactionary trajectories off the main narrative:

  • Punditry and humorous commentary,
  • The NFL announced new COVID protocols ahead of Thanksgiving games, and
  • Health professionals decried the continued spread of disinformation about the vaccines and alternative treatments.

How would your brand have approached this story and all the content it has generated?

1. Does your brand routinely target content in the Sports category?

2. Does your brand routinely avoid news about COVID-19?

3. Does your brand have a strategy for avoiding misinformation?

4. If your brand competed in the insurance category, how would you approach content relating to this story?

Click this link to participate in a poll on these questions, and we’ll share the results with you via email.

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Aaron Rodgers Vaccine Story Chronology with representative content samples

November 3

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19, source says

Did Aaron Rodgers Lie About His COVID-19 Vaccination Status?

Opinion: Aaron Rodgers has COVID. He lied about being vaccinated, and being a team player

November 4

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers caught in his big vaccination lie

November 5

Aaron Rodgers says he’s unvaccinated, takes ivermectin and bashes ‘woke mob’

Aaron Rodgers Attacks NFL and ‘Woke Mob’ of Critics in Defending His Unvaccinated Status

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers Says He’s Taking Joe Rogan’s Advice On Treating COVID, Is Using Ivermectin

What State Farm Is Saying About Aaron Rodgers’ Endorsement Status Amid Covid Vaccine Controversy

State Farm stays quiet after Aaron Rodgers’ COVID-19 vaccine comments and MLK comparison

November 6

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers loses endorsement deal with healthcare group after Q&A regarding COVID-19 vaccine

SNL’ jabs Aaron Rodgers’ COVID-19 vaccine stance: ‘It’s my body and my COVID’

November 7

Without Aaron Rodgers, Packers and Jordan Love manage just one TD in loss to Chiefs

November 8

Breaking: State Farm Announces Decision On Aaron Rodgers

The ‘woke mob’ didn’t come for Aaron Rodgers

November 9

Aaron Rodgers’ fiancée, Shailene Woodley, slams media for ‘disparaging’ athlete amid COVID vaccine controversy

Aaron Rodgers takes ‘full responsibility’ for comments about COVID-19 vaccination status

Packers fined $300K, Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard fined $14K for violation of COVID protocols

November 13

Green Bay Packers activate QB Aaron Rodgers off reserve/COVID-19 list

Scientists react to Aaron Rodgers’ comments on Covid-19 vaccine and treatments

November 14

Misty-Eyed and Tired, Rodgers Wins in Return From COVID

Post-COVID, Aaron Rodgers won’t do in-person press conference, opting for Zoom instead

Aaron Rodgers’ endorsement partners are mostly silent on his COVID controversy, a sign they’re likely taking a wait-and-see approach

November 15

Aaron Rodgers Returns to Play for Packers After Testing Positive for COVID, Quarantining

Karma may still want a word with Aaron Rodgers

November 16

Punchlines about Aaron Rodgers’ vaccination controversy keep popping up

November 17

NFL chief medical officer pushes back on Aaron Rodgers’ claim that some COVID-19 protocols are ‘not based in science’

Amid rising COVID cases, NFL updates protocols ahead of Thanksgiving

‘So Disappointing;’ Stanford Doctor Chastises Aaron Rodgers For COVID Vaccine Misinformation

Forbes: The Opportunities And Challenges Of Putting A Brand’s Mentality Into Action

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Forbes: The Opportunities And Challenges Of Putting
A Brand’s Mentality Into Action

August 23, 2021

By Greg Garunov, EVP Business Development

In my previous article, I talked about the importance of a brand knowing its mindset — its unique mentality. This article explores the opportunities and challenges of codifying and putting it into action so that brands can respond to events in real time.

When Narratives Change in an Instant

All marketers want their messages to appear alongside content that’s relevant to what their brand stands for, but with the speed of today’s news cycle, that’s easier said than done.

Here’s an example: On February 23, Tiger Woods crashed his Genesis GV80 SUV. According to the police, he was “driving in an unsafe manner.” This wasn’t Woods’ first highly public car accident.

Then, on March 10, something very interesting happened: YouTuber and car enthusiast Elliot Alvis posted a video detailing how the many safety features of the Genesis GV80 saved Tiger Woods’ life. (Elliot Alvis openly acknowledges a relationship with Genesis.)

With that single upload, the story took a sudden, viral turn, doing more to promote the SUV’s safety features than a $5 million Super Bowl spot ever could. Consumers all over the world were suddenly talking about the remarkable ways in which Genesis protects drivers and passengers from harm.

YouTube video

Now, if you’re the brand manager for, say, the Subaru Outback or the Volvo V90, this story just became incredibly important, and you probably want to insert messages about your brand’s safety features in the conversation ASAP.

Here’s the upshot: We all know that brands tend to be naturally risk-averse, but sometimes bad news stories morph into golden opportunities. Stories are multi-layered narratives that can twist and turn. Tactics you once relied on (e.g., avoiding car crash stories if you’re an auto brand) can work against you if the narrative becomes core to your brand.

A Lack of Agility Kills the Moment

For the past 20 years, behavioral targeting and programmatic ad tech were the marketer’s primary tools for message alignment, but to respond to the Tiger Woods story, Subaru or Volvo would first need to realize that the story’s twist is relevant to its brand.

Sometimes bad news stories morph into golden opportunities

This begs the question: Is the brand manager even likely to see Alvis’s video until it percolates into the mainstream media? Possibly, but not probably, since the tools the brand manager uses — Google Alerts or some other keyword/regular expression monitoring tool — may not even be set to pick up stories or content related to Genesis.

Second, the competitive brand would need to notify its media execution team that this story has turned into an opportunity. Once notified, they would need to monitor and respond to the story in an automated fashion since this story twist will probably last only a couple of days. They’d likely create a set of keywords to target and then feed the revised strategy into their demand-side platform (DSP) or other platforms’ algorithms. That’s precious time lost.

And how will the media team even know who to target? In all likelihood, they’d build a proxy for consumers who are in the market for a car and are concerned with automobile safety. But is that even the right audience at that moment in time?

Many would say that the content people are consuming is a better real-time indicator of where their psyches are, and I agree with them. It’s critical to craft ad-placement decisions around consumers’ psyches because it’s the only way to really capture them in the right moments with the right message (ironically, all the promises that have been made over the years but never really came to pass).

Sometimes, content signals are just better suited to deliver on that promise than behavioral signals, as the Tiger Woods example shows. Modern content signals, when activated against strategic thought and speed, can deliver on this promise today in a significantly more effective way compared to the behavioral signals of old.

Data Science Delivers on a Brand’s Mentality

Can the industry get to the point where a marketer will know when a piece of content, somewhere in the universe, was posted that aligns with a brand’s messaging? To do this, we need to move beyond keyword detection and flag content based on a deeper level of context.

Fortunately, data science has vastly improved in its ability to read content signals. In the past, there was very little nuance to content data signals because all focus was on behavioral signs. But that’s changing. Today, data scientists have the ability to navigate content at a granular level, which makes it a much more effective tool for targeting than it was in the past.

Data science

To see how, let’s go back to the Subaru/Volvo predicament: What if the company had some kind of mechanism that told it instantly that Elliot Alvi had uploaded his video on the car that saved Tiger Woods’ life? Getting that information in real time would have tipped off the brand manager that the narrative around the accident had changed in an important way.

Getting data on content-origination points is only half the challenge. The other half is understanding a brand’s mentality — a filter that recognizes when a narrative changes to become a golden opportunity and helps execute the right message.

It’s Hard, but the Rewards Are Worth It

Getting a brand’s mentality right involves being sensitive to societal, psychological and anthropological thinking. It means translating business and marketing objectives and inputs in a way that aligns with how people actually think in the real world, not inside a marketing bubble.

At times, those inputs (story of a car crash) and outputs (we want to be part of this story) are off-kilter, and brands must learn to recognize that narratives change, quickly morphing between opportunities and challenges. This is how a brand’s mentality builds on brand suitability and brand safety, ensuring they go further and enabling them to respond in real time to fluid situations.

As you can imagine, that requires a lot of sophisticated analytics driving automation, which I’ll tackle in my next article.

 

See the original article on Forbes here.

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