Marketing for Thought

Social celebrities take center stage in Target and H&R Block campaigns

Target and H&R Block are redefining the meaning of celebrity collaborations. Each of the brands have partnered with top Pinterest users and YouTube sensations in their most recent product developments and  marketing campaigns, capitalizing off of the popularity of social media and its ability to identify and interact with consumers.


Target is no stranger to product collaborations. From Missoni to Philip Lim, Target has partnered with several famous fashion designers to produce product lines that reflect the designer’s aesthetic and taste but sold at a more modest price.  Each of these collaborations were extremely successful, leading to Target’s website crashing and merchandise is certain locations being sold out within an hour. Then again, who wouldn’t love designer clothes, shoes and home goods at a good price?

This time, Target’s recent collaboration isn’t with a famous European designer, but design bloggers and Pinterests users with followings between 2 million and 13 million.

The chosen designers,  Joy Cho of Oh JoyJan Halverson of Poppytalk and Kate Arends of Wit + Delight have teamed up with Target to produce party goods. Target’s idea to work with well-known deisgn bloggers and Pinterest users is a stroke of genius. By teaming up with users with large followings, Target is aligning itself with an aesthetic that millions of women already love. 

H&R Block 

Who says taxes and music don’t go together? H&R Block is challenging the boring stigma of doing your taxes and marketing the celebratory feeling of getting a tax refund. With the help of agency 360i, H&R Block created a record label called Billion Back Records that uses 10 YouTube sensations including Pomplamoose and iJustine as brand ambassadors. Through original songs lyrics and social media, this tax preparation company hopes to attract young adults through the excitement of tax returns.

Through utilizing social media and partnerships with YouTube stars, H&R Block is positioning itself with a younger audience and becoming a more relatable brand. No one enjoys doing their taxes, especially young adults, but by focusing their marketing on the end result of tax returns, they are reminding them of the joy and satisfaction post process.

Why Social Celebs

Everyone loves a good star-studded performance. The public eats up movies like Valentines Day and He’s Just Not Int You because they feature 10+ highly recognizable actors. They love feeling like they can relate to celebrities and socialites because they use the same products or react to situations in a similar manner. But the public also loves when a product or service identifies with them personally, especially when they see average people like them collaborating with Target or making original music for H&R Block. It’s something that is familiar to us because we have seen them or heard of them through social media, but also because we’ve had the ability to interact with them.

As social media gains more traction, companies won’t have a choice but to incorporate its channels and its own celebrities into their marketing mix. Those who don’t choose to identify with their consumers or engage them online will not exist in years to come.

Marketing for Thought

Kids say the darnest things

For the past two summers I have babysat for the same family in the town where I grew up.  I spent hours playing games, coloring, riding bikes, going on adventures, and watching cartoons with  the 7 year old girl and 3 year old boy, and every night without a doubt I would come home exhausted but with plenty of stories.

Everyone, even if they have only been around a kid below the age of ten for five minutes, can tell you that they say the most ridiculous, innocent, and thought-provoking things we will ever hear in our lives.  While I was babysitting on my 19th birthday, the young boy told me I was so old that when I was his age there were no GPS’s in cars. Another time, I was greeted by him on the front lawn, riding his bike without training wheels for the first time.  I asked him how it had happened so fast- just last week he had his training wheels on.  He told me that he was training to be in the Olympics.

Their innocence, curiosity, and carefree spirit paired with their non-filtered dialogue is what pulls at our heart strings.  It makes us melt. It makes us think of things in a new way, a different light.

How have marketers used this to get their messages across? Here are two of my favorite examples from this past year:

Soulpancake: Kid President Pep Talk

We watched this in my Integrated Marketing Communications class. I still melt.  His enthusiasm, speech inflexion, and perspective makes me smile and stay engaged the entire video.

Extra Mile: 10 year old teaches college guys to be gentleman

This one came up in my Facebook feed yesterday. Once again, these are simple calls to action: be nice, treat a girl nicely, pay for her dinner, pull out her chair, open the door, take long walks and talk, be a gentlemen, and ultimately be a nice guy.  Coming from a little kid though makes it mean even more.

Why do these videos work?  As we get older, we forget the little things.  Kids reminding us to make a change, be happier, or be a nicer guy, prove that these are simple things that we haven’t adopted into our lifestyles. Hearing it through this communication channel makes it even more effective than someone older telling us “the right thing to do.”

A couple weeks ago, we read as a class David Williamson’s “Marketing & Communications in Nonprofit Organizations,”  and he discusses in his cause marketing guidelines the importance of identifying the appropriate vehicle and combination of tools for delivering your message. This ties directly with knowing your audience.  He used the example of the “Truth” anti-smoking campaigns that use real facts and smokers to deter teenagers from smoking instead of authority figures.  This audience was not receptive to their parents, teachers, or other authoritative figures saying “don’t smoke” and needed to see the message in another manner.  The Kid President and the Extra Mile video use this same tactic- hearing what we should be doing from someone we don’t see as “above us.”

Plus, don’t you think they are just precious?

Marketing for Thought

One Ad, Two Messages

How can one ad contain two completely different messages?  I’m not talking puns- I’m talking actual wording and meaning.

ANAR, the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation in Spain, has found a way.  Their recent ad campaign launched this past week and utilizes lenticular “top layer” technology that allows viewers of different heights to see different messages.  If you are below 4 feet 5 inches (the average height of a child), the ad you will see is a picture of a young boy with bruises and a message that reads “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we will help you” along with the foundation’s phone number.  Any taller than this and you will see a message that says “sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.”  This is taking social responsibility and directness to a whole new level.

The goal here is to provide a communication channel where the foundation can offer their help to abused children even if their aggressor is walking with them on the street.  Adults won’t be able to see the message, but any child walking past it will.

I think this is a brillant initiative that not only brings awareness to the foundation and child abuse, but also provides a direct message in what was originally conceived a safe channel.  That being said, I agree with most when saying that launching YouTube videos and announcing the campaign online takes away from it’s effectiveness. Now all adults, including aggressors, know what the true message of the ad says.