WestJet: My Favourite Feel Good Campaign

I’m a bit of a sucker for a good viral video, especially if they make me laugh out loud or bring a tear to my eye.  If I had to choose one company who tug at my heart strings every time it is WestJet, an American airline who create the most fabulous videos that have gone viral in an instant.  Some of THE BEST feel good campaigns in the world are the ones that WestJet have created, especially their Christmas videos, which really continue to maintain and build on their reputation as a friendly and caring company as well as having a positive impact on their website hits, bookings and revenue.  You might be wondering why I’m talking about Christmas when we’re only in July, well to create campaigns with such a huge impact, WestJet actually start their planning in August.  At least they have done for the last two years and I sincerely hope that those in their PR department are have another on their agenda this year too.

Last years campaign was INCREDIBLE.  At 25 years of age, I still love Santa.  I’m a believer; there’s just something about good ol’ St. Nic that really makes Christmas feel so magical and brings people together.  When I first saw the WestJet Christmas Miracle video, I couldn’t help but beam with happiness and if was in America and I’d needed a flight that day, theres no doubt in my mind who I would have booked with!  Check out the video below:

The video was created to show the world that the owners of WestJet care at such a special time of the year.  Virtual Santa kiosks were set up at different airports and passengers were asked what they wanted for Christmas.  As they boarded the plane, 150 WestJet employees worked their socks off to make their Christmas wishes come true and when they got off the plane, the passengers were surprised with their gifts wrapped up on the baggage carousel.  Hidden cameras captured scenes of tears of joy and laughter as the passengers were surprised beyond their wildest dreams.  You can watch a case study of the results of the video here:

The WestJet Christmas Miracle video was uploaded to Youtube on 8th December 2013 and Twitter and Facebook updates amplified the reach that the video had through the use of hash tags and propelled the video to viral stardom.  WestJet were the number one trending topic worldwide with millions of people from all over the globe interacting with the company through social media as well as watching the video.  The result was amazing for business but it did more to rocket the reputation of the company with so much positive publicity.  An American news channel even hailed it as ‘the perfect lesson on how to do public relations’ and I couldn’t agree more.

What I also really admire about WestJet as a company is that the way that they really engage with social media, and their ever increasing audience, to really shout about the good work that they do and what they stand for as a business.  They’re their to be profitable but they’re also their to give back and do some good in the world.  I love watching how passionate the Vice President, Richard Bartrem, is when speaking about WestJet in this video:

He comes across as a fabulous representative of the company.  What he is saying is believable, honest and you can relate to it which would definitely increase a customer or potential customers trust in WestJet.

The year prior to the WestJet Christmas Miracle, they created a Flash Mob in an airport (check out the video here) and over the years they’ve created some fantastic videos, not just at Christmas time.  Give their Youtube channel a watch to really appreciate the PR genius that goes on in this company.

In the meantime, I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see what they do this year… Ho ho ho!

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Gemma Collins for Simply Be

Alright, alright so I promised my next post would be about unsuccessful celebrity collaborations with plus size fashion brands but then #AskThicke happened and everything got a bit viral up in Twitter land and I just had to write about it over here in Blogger Relations HQ.  My fingers have barely rested having been going ninety to the dozen on my keyboard for the last hour lol-ing at Robin Thicke and praying I never make a contribution to such an epic PR fail in the future, but I’m back now blogging about these unsuccessful celebrity ambassadors that I speak of.  Call it a bonus post for today…go on, I know you want it.

Ok, ok I’ll stop with the #AskThicke references.  That’s enough for one day.

So, where Beth Ditto and Evans and Gok Wan and Simply Yours succeeded, as I noted in what would have been my previous post, many celebrity and plus size fashion brand collaborations have failed and I think that is largely because of who they have chosen to represent their brand.  The major downfall I see is that the celebrity doesn’t remain loyal to the plus size community and the brand that they are working with.

Take Gemma Collins for example.  She’s at the top of the ranks when it comes to celebrities who say one thing and then do another.  She launched The Gemma Collins Collection back 2012 and to be fair to them, CAN, who I’m assuming were her PR team at the time, manage to secure some great media coverage for the her and they still do to this day.  However from the outset, Collins appeared to not practice what she preached in that before the line launched she was quoted as having said that she had created a line that all sizes could wear but then when it was launched it was only available in sizes 16 to 22.  She had already signed a deal to bring out a line with Simply Be that would see her range become available for a much larger size range however this wasn’t revealed for a few weeks after the first launch by which point she had received quite negative feedback from plus size women and influential fashion bloggers writing about the range, including Lauren of top plus size blog, Pocket Rocket Fashion.  To my knowledge the PR efforts didn’t stretch to include bloggers which I think was a little short sighted of the PR efforts because plus sized bloggers are hugely influential when it comes to plus sized fashion.  This is something that Simply Be really thrive on and they usually utilise plus size fashion bloggers very well, Gemma on the other hand, not so much.

When I first heard that Gemma was creating a fashion line and bringing it out with Simply Be I was so excited because I thought that her style would be very influential in giving those at the higher end of the plus size spectrum, myself included, that Essex charm and confidence to wear glamorous, colourful clothes filled with print and fun.  However where I think the Gemma Collins line for Simply Be went wrong was that when she was promoting the collection, she was all in favour of bigger women and being beautiful but then in separate interviews and in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex, she was constantly seen talking or even crying about how she hated how big she was and was constantly seen the be trying to lose weight.  That may be representative of a lot of plus size women but certainly not all of them and a lot of negative talk Gemma Collins on Twitter and Facebook was about how she was fat shaming, body shaming and making people feel bad about themselves which is surely going to be counterproductive.  Women don’t want to be preached to about plus size fashion and then read about how that figure-head is now fat bashing.  The Ramblings of Mrs BeBe blog writes an open letter to Gemma Collins that pretty much sums up the feeling of many plus size women.

Gemma Collins Boutique Image Source

Gemma Collins Boutique
Image Source

Add this together with rumours that she didn’t design all of the line and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to having someone represent your brand.  As a company, Simply Be are all about being YOU and being comfortable with whoever that is.  They make such an inclusive size range, from size 12 to 32, to try to avoid women from feeling excluded and as a brand, they’re all about empowering women, not putting them down.  Their whole philosophy is about making women feel and look good regardless of their size and it is something that they usually do very well but ultimately they were unable to control the reality TV show that Gemma features in (check out this great article about how TOWIE put down plus size women here) and they were unable to control what she said in interviews and on social media.  I really think that its a shame that Gemma’s big mouth could have put a dampener on what could have been a very great partnership between her and Simply Be, who sell online not only in the UK but in other European countries and in America.  Gemma is often quoted as saying that she wants to break into the American market and working with Simply Be could have really given her a foot in there.

Another downfall of her line with Simply Be was that she very rarely promoted it on social media whereas she was always promoting her own clothing ventures for the Gemma Collins Collection, including her online store and her retail boutique.  This kind of promotion she does very well including tweets of her favourite pieces, linking her pieces to current events that they could be worn to, or the weather, tweeting photos of herself in her garments and retweeting press coverage and customer photos however I very rarely saw it for the pieces on Simply Be.  It appeared as though she made a conscious effort to drive traffic to her own website where she would have been getting a far larger percentage of profit than if she had driven traffic to the Simply Be website.  Simply Be do not appear to have any new collections from Gemma Collins so I would imagine that they are phasing out her line and not collaborating with her in the future although there hasn’t been a statement released to say whether or not this is true.  However I have looked online to find that Gemma has brought her collection to Very, another home shopping, catalogue style brand and she is doing the same thing with them whereby she isn’t really promoting them on her social networks, she is instead pushing traffic to the same pieces that are listed on her own website via Twitter and Instagram.

Perhaps it was never in her contract with Simply Be or Very to promote the range on social media and therefore she isn’t legally obliged but it seems very silly not to.  The Gemma Collection has actually done really well for Gemma, who scooped the prize of Best Designer at the British Plus Size Awards in 2013 and is set to host the awards ceremony in 2014.  However the vast majority of her range stops at a 24, effectively alienating the rest of the plus size market and gives the impression that there’s fat and then there’s too fat which of course is a load of rubbish.   This doesn’t tend to sit very well with plus size bloggers who, like me, advocate confidence and wearing whatever you like and as a result, she hasn’t been very well received by the plus size blogging community and she isn’t doing much to change that which has resulted in a lack of support and blog posts against her line rather than for it.

I think that Gemma Collins does incredibly well for HERSELF and shes’ a great spokesperson and sales woman for her own brand, I just don’t she represents other brands as well as she does her own.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments!

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In The Thicke of an Epic PR Fail

Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke is no doubt feeling a little red faced this evening after a PR exercise hit the ground running… right into the thick of it.

Robin Thicke Image Source

Robin Thicke
Image Source

Thicke is already a very controversial celebrity thanks to his misogynistic lyrics,  racy videos, relationship with estranged wife Paula and frolicks on stage with Miley Cyrus.  He isn’t someone who you would struggle to poke fun at, God knows he’s already added enough fuel to the fire himself, so why on earth would his PR think that it would be a tremendous idea to agree to host a question and answer session with him on Twitter?!  Surely things like this are arranged at meetings?! Someone at Thicke HQ could anticipate the backlash coming before the excrement had even hit the fan?

Clearly not it would seem as users were asked to leave questions for Thicke using the hashtag #AskThicke on the VH1 Twitter Page.

Thickes never ending stream of twitter trolls were out in force and quickly caught onto a source of entertainment at the entertainers expense by going to town with insults regarding the star.  Some took the moral high ground by using the #AskThicke hashtag as a way of addressing their views on the way he treats women (if you haven’t heard Blurred Lines, then where have you been? Check it out above) whereas other Twitter users took the opportunity to ridicule him, either scenario yielded thousands upon thousands of tweets, the majority of which I found hilarious, and got the hashtag trending.  In essence, #AskThicke went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Needless to say, the buzz on Twitter today has had me literally ROFL-ing.  Here’s some of my favourites:

Pretty funny, even though I feel like a naughty school girl giggling in class…

VH1 are yet to respond or comment back to anything relating to #AskThicke on Twitter.  Perhaps they’re trying to keep quiet in the hope that the next viral sensation will take over soon or that their involvement will go relatively unnoticed, with the mocking criticism will remain on Thicke.  The focus really does seem to be on the singer and I haven’t really noted anyone commenting on VH1’s involvement, after all had they constructed the questions for their interview with Thicke themselves, rather than engaging with the public, which surely would have been a much smarter move for such a controversial singer, then they might not have ended up in the same situation.  Either way, the beautifully ugly reality of social media is that once you’ve got a story it can run and run so the Thicke Trolls may well be dining out on this one for many days to come.

I sincerely hope Robin Thicke’s single doesn’t climb higher in the charts after this. Instead, check out the top tweets using the #AskThicke hashtag. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!

What is your take on #AskThicke?  Comedy gold or are you bored already?

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#NoMakeupSelfie Making Money, Changing Lives

When the Oxford Dictionaries named the ‘selfie’ as the word of 2013, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the effect the #selfie would have just a few months later.  Over the last few weeks, photos of my friends and family have been popping up all over my social media newsfeed, looking barefaced and fancy free, and it wasn’t long before a nomination to do the same came my way.

If I’m talking gibberish right now, then let me update you.

On the 18th March, women started posting photos of themselves on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram without make up with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie.  The aim was to raise money for cancer research as those posting selfies were encouraged to donate to Cancer Research UK and nominate their friends to do the same, which is clearly a much healthier and sensible choice than the ‘NekNomination’ trend that was doing the rounds just a short time before.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 17.01.07

Katy Stoddard posing for her #nomakeupselfie Image Source

The exact origin of the #nomakeupselfie is unknown and it certainly wasn’t started by the PR department for CRUK however they were quick to react to the craze by promoting it across their social networks and CRUK helped to make donating even easier by creating a text number that donations could be made to.

To date, the #nomakeupselfie has raised a staggering £8million.  Cancer Research UK are an independent charity that receive no government funding for their research so they rely on donations in order to carry out the good they do.  The money raised from the #nomakeupselfie will literally help to change lives.

But what made this campaign go viral?  How could it be so successful without a huge PR driving force behind it?

Undoubtedly the success of the campaign is down to its simplicity; simply take a snap, post it and text to donate.  The fact that it started organically helped too as the public were the driving force behind the campaign and recruited other advocates for the campaign, gaining some serious media coverage.  There’s no bells and whistles to be seen here; no fancy shock tactics (well, until you see your Aunty Maud without her usual rouge on), no HD short films and no cheesy, half-hearted celebrity endorsement.  Just regular people using social media to its effective best, from Josephine Bloggs in the street to Kym Marsh from Corrie.  Even men got involved by posting snaps of themselves wearing make up, genius!

Image Source

Daragh Ward wearing makeup, supporting #nomakeupselfie                                                             Image Source

When the photos started littering my Facebook timeline, I’ll openly admit, I questioned what on earth wearing no make up in a photo online had to do with raising money for a cancer charity.  About as much as men growing a moustache during ‘Movember’ does for prostate cancer, I figured.  Either way, awareness was spread, people were talking about it and money was, and is still, being raised.  The fact that the #nomakeupselfie got people thinking ‘Why? What is this about?’ in the first place shows its success and, never one to shy away from the camera, it wasn’t long before my own #nomakeupselfie was posted, my own friends nominated and most importantly, my donation made.

Cancer Research have said that they will be using the money raised to carry out 10 clinical trials which they wouldn’t have had enough money for, if it hadn’t been for all of the donations received thanks to the #nomakeupselfie.  I think that in itself speaks volumes and if we’re a step forward towards finding a cure for cancer then that is a great achievement, regardless of whether the campaign to raise the funds has anything to do directly with cancer or not.  Personally, if I thought it would help find a cure for this dreadful illness, I’d run the length of Old Trafford, mid game, naked, wearing glittery nipple tassels.

What do you think is the success behind the #nomakeupselfie?

Let me know in the comments if you took part in the #nomakeupselfie and if not, you can jump on the bandwagon by posting your own selfie and texting BEAT to 70099 to donate £3 and help to save lives.

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