Diana Marszalek 25 Oct 2017 // 8:55PM GMT
MIAMI – With cultural norms changing at rapid-fire speed, brands are finding success through initiatives that accurately, and authentically, reflect real-life goings on.
That was a key takeaway from a discussion at PRovoke17 in Miami Wednesday exploring brands’ place and purpose in cultures, and how they they boost their relevance by tactics that range from leveraging pop culture events to responding to everything from natural disasters to cultural shifts. The panel was moderated by Weber Shandwick president Gail Heimann.
Royal Caribbean’s Tracy Quan and Excedrin’s Judy Berei explored the topic by sharing examples of how their particular brands have bolstered their relevance by keeping pace with larger societal events and changes – and their impact.
Berei, Excedrin’s global brand lead and agency transformation global lead, said doing so was a critical component in reviving the Excedrin brand after a massive recall in 2012.
In the time since, Excedrin has rallied consumers by drawing attention to the very real debilitating pain migraine sufferers’ experience. In 2016, the Excedrin launched its centerpiece ‘Migraine Experience,’ VR migraine simulator. The company now uses 60% of its ad spend, 100% of which had previously gone to TV, on digital and social, leveraging platforms to tell emotional stories about living with migraines
Excedrin even tied in the brand to last year’s presidential debates. “Excedrin said no matter what side you are on, you are going to have a headache,” Berei said, adding that the the tie-in had “great buzz results.”
“We inserted ourselves into the conversation but did it in a way that made a lot of sense,” she said.
Meanwhile, world events — both tragic and celebratory — were major influences on Royal Caribbean’s initiatives this year. When Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico devastated, the cruise line canceled trips, instead using its ships to provide aid, from delivering supplies to evacuating people in need.
“The hurricane impacted the company professionally and personally,” said Quan, the cruise line’s associate VP of global brand communications, adding that brand leaders knew “it was the right decision”
“Where ever there are challenges around the world, our values stay the same,” she said.
Royal Caribbean, however, has also successfully leveraged pop-culture events and favorites to boost business. Seeing the enormous interest in the summer’s solar eclipse, the company staged a cruise surrounding the event – including a “Total Eclipse of the Heart”-singing Bonnie Tyler.
Capitalizing on the recent popularity of celebrating ‘Friendsgiving,” a Royal Caribbean ship, with 6,000 people on board, hosted what Quan said was the largest such party at sea.
Quan said that leveraging such opportunities provides Royal Caribbean opportunities to expand its reach – and attraction to consumers who don’t necessarily think of themselves as cruise-goers. “Its very vital that we stay culturally relevant, especially with younger generations who view cruising as uncool,” she said.