Can you tell? Is it real or fake?

Have you ever seen products where you don’t know what it’s for?

Life by city’super, a trendy goods retail chain originally from Hong Kong, is famous for exactly this: design-oriented products that consumers buy without even knowing their real usage.  Continue reading Can you tell? Is it real or fake?

Maya Angelou and what she teaches us about building a movement

and written by Kate Hays, Social@DC


Photo from Social@Ogilvy Twitter

 If you work in the digital marketing industry, at some point you’ve probably been asked to create a social movement akin to the “Obama effect” of 2008. “How can my mission/cause/brand follow in the path of the underdog who becomes president?”

At Social@Ogilvy, we hear that question about as often as we get asked to create a viral video hit.

But with the passing of Maya Angelou last month, it occurred to me that her inspiring life story — and her own words — have much to teach us about turning ideas into social movements — and that maybe there are some concrete steps we can all take to conjure up some lightning of our own.

“The caged bird sings / with a fearful trill /
 of things unknown 
/ but longed for still / and his tune is heard
 / on the distant hill
/  for the caged bird
 / sings of freedom.”

Dr. Angelou’s most famous words tell the story of a bird who’s been trapped for a while — long enough to ponder what else might exist. He knows there is something more than the cage, but that change hasn’t arrived quite yet.

Movement building requires lasting vision and endurance. You’ve got to have the power to keep singing that song when it seems like that cage will never open.

 What powers are already moving toward the change you want to create? Do you have opportunities for partnership? Do you have the long view?

“Ive learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

Lots of people surround movements with catcher’s mitts — taking in information and ideas, but rarely throwing back energy, solutions and sweat.

I recently had a conversation with a nonprofit board member who was complaining about the director of her organization. I asked this board member what she was doing about the situation: Was she rolling up her sleeves and taking on tasks, coming up with solutions? Or was she treating board meetings like a progress report for a badly performing and ignored student?

For a movement to be effective, it requires more than catcher’s mitts. It requires leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, Bono, Maya Angelou, and an army backing them up, doing the daily, unglamorous work that creates true, lasting movements.

Who is doing more than catching for your cause or your brand? Who is fielding and pitching? Do they have the power to inspire others to join?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Authenticity has become a bit of a cliché in some of our social media circles. With our clients, we try to get beneath the skin of a request and find the core of the brand. What makes it unique, fascinating, true?

Angelou’s point — that how people are made to feel is what they remember — applies to brands. True movements, even commercial ones, aren’t driven by slacktivism or armchair hashtagging. They are driven by shared pain, the desire to alleviate that pain and the ability to see the long view.

“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”

Something was broken in the world of Maya Angelou. There were (and still are) people without civil rights, without full personhood. The stories our culture tells about people, their value and their freedoms needed to change — it was a notion that bore into Angelou’s brain and couldn’t be shaken.

What change do you see that insistently, stubbornly, commands your attention? You must feel that change bulldoze through your core. Can you communicate that insistence to others?

If you can, then maybe you can build a movement.

[Featured Image via Face2Face Africa]

How Animated GIFs are Changing Real-Time Sporting Events

This post was written by Mac Cullen, Megan Garafola and Matthew Whatley, Digital Strategists in the Social@Ogilvy Washington, DC office.

This week, as we watched closely for the latest and greatest in social at the World Cup, one type of content showed up time and time again in our feeds: animated GIFs. Around for years but only recently seeing a resurgence, we take a look at why GIFs are the images of choice during live events, especially sports.

Why GIFs? Because We’re Not Poets

Watching sports can be an emotional experience, especially during the month of World Cup play, where a four-year wait and nationalistic fervor don’t leave much room for rational thought.

Expressing those emotions is a tricky business, however. It’s hard – and even harder in 140 characters. GIFs let fans (mostly non-poets) express their emotional elation, outrage and devastation in a way that a 140 character count may not allow. They are able to express to a level of nuance and intensity that no amount of exclamation points or capital letters can indicate. Take a look at these GIFs and see if you can come up with a better expression of the emotion in 140 characters and you’ll see what I mean.

Journalists Leverage a “New” Medium

Despite the antiquity of the GIF, there’s no doubt its endless loops capturing single moments in time have newly captured the attention of millions of web users. The animation in a GIF makes it more compelling than a static photo, and the small file size makes it more immediate than a video. Although Tumblr has been ground zero for the best GIFs on the web, Twitter made waves during the start of the World Cup with its surprise announcement that the platform would begin supporting GIFs. With that news, we’ve seen many examples of journalists capitalizing on format to punctuate their reports on World Cup games.

One of our favorite examples of great GIF-powered journalism was Slate’s post on the abundant energy of Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera. The GIF format works perfectly for the story; a simple photograph wouldn’t capture the emotion, energy and passion Herrera has – and the endless looping just hammers the point home with hilarity. We’re with Josh and the Slate team, the GIF below might be the greatest GIF in the history of GIFs.

Soccer is a tremendously fast-paced sport and sometimes you need a replay to see how a play unfolded when things escalate quickly. BuzzFeed Sports utilized GIFs to capture a miraculous save by Portugal during the US-Portugal game this week. During worldwide events with millions of people tweeting, its GIFs that capture near misses like this one that become Internet currency and instantly viral.

Can Brands use GIFs? Aren’t they just for Teens?

Yes, brands can use GIFs and no, they’re not just for teens. Without a doubt, there are several reasons for brands to incorporate GIFs into their social efforts. On top of capturing emotion, GIFs are also highly sharable, capable of telling stories and adding action to otherwise stagnant content. And let’s be honest – GIFs make content a lot more fun. World Cup sponsor Adidas Football has caught on, creating flashy, action-packed GIFs on their Tumblr account.

However, brands shouldn’t go GIF-crazy; there are many questions to answer before going all-in. First off, are you willing to take the time to create your own content? GIFs, like any other piece of content, are considered property and require permission from the creator before posting. Therefore, creating your own GIFs (and avoiding featuring public figures who won’t give you permission to use their likeness) is one of the easiest ways to avoid copyright issues. Brands eager to leverage GIFs must first understand the full legality of the “fair use” of the copyright act, and push this content  through various levels of internal review (yes, including legal) before posting. Like any other piece of visual content, they take time to look just right.

But if you can find the right GIFs that complement and add to your brand identity, it can only be a win for your content strategy. Now you tell us, what’s your favorite World Cup GIF?

World Cup Sponsorship: Worth the Price of Admission?

With strong content strategies and significant advertising efforts, official World Cup sponsors like Budweiser and Coca-Cola are pulling out all the stops to make sure their claim on the world’s largest sporting event is worth the price.

By sponsoring FIFA and the World Cup, brands have the exclusive ability to incorporate World Cup content, “allowing each brand to distinguish themselves from competing brands in their product category” according to FIFA. For brands like Adidas and McDonalds, this means the exclusive right to share social media content showcasing World Cup athletes and brands and the ability to place their messaging dead center in the global conversation.

Their efforts will, no doubt, be judged against the work of non-sponsors like Nike and Apple’s newly acquired Beats by Dre, each of whom are aiming to capitalize on World Cup conversations without having to pay the giant sponsorship price tag.

And so far, the non-sponsors’ efforts are faring pretty well; we’ve seen plenty of smart content strategies from non-sponsor brands. Here are the two that caught our attention:

Beats by Dre: Game before the Game

Launched a week before the start of the World Cup, Beats by Dre entered the playing field with a beautifully produced five-minute film (long-form video content by our standards) called “The Game before the Game”. With more than 11 million YouTube views, Beats by Dre has depended on smart and specific audience targeting of social ads and word of mouth to promote their content over larger sponsorship contracts.

Nike: The Last Game

Not to be outdone by rival Adidas, Nike rolled out a highly entertaining animation (also five minutes long) called “The Last Game.” As a sponsor of the Brazil National team, the animation showcases Brazilian stars like David Luiz and Neymar, along with some of the world’s other best soccer players, displaying superhero-like moves to save the sport from robots. By producing an animation, Nike created an opportunity to caricature the increasingly commercialized sport and overemphasize the rock star lifestyle and luxuries of professional soccer players.

World Cup 2014

Early results show that the creative strategy and tactics by non-sponsors is paying off. Ad Week asserts that Nike is inches away from eclipsing Adidas’s long-held stake as the world’s biggest soccer brand. Way to Blue research indicates that Nike has garnered 232,000 social mentions in the first week of the World Cup — while official partner Adidas has received only 129,000 mentions.

Regardless of the outcome, this year’s World Cup presents an interesting lesson to Olympic Summer Games sponsors for Rio 2016. With a mere two years separating the global sporting events, Olympic sponsors will be watching eagerly to see how the world responds to marketing efforts in the same host country. At the same time, non-sponsoring brands will be keeping notes on how to follow in Nike’s footsteps.

What do you think? Is sponsorship still worth the $20-$50 billion price tag for the World Cup?

Ogilvy & Mather Greece: The Lacta story, so far…

This guest post was written by Panos Sambrakos, Executive Creative Director at OgilvyOne Athens. 

Lacta chocolate has been a symbol of love for generations in Greece. Since the early 90s, all communication for the brand has been in the form of love stories, traditionally as :30 second TV commercials, and more recently in the form of branded content, with an online short in 2009 (“Love at first site“), a crowdsourced TV movie in 2010 (“Love in Action“) and a feature film released in theaters in 2013 (“Love in the end.“).

But in recent years, due to the economic crisis, priorities have started to shift for young Greeks. Instead of searching for true love, they focus first on pursuing a career. At the same time, Social Media has forever altered the way people flirt.

In an age when people didn’t believe in the value of love and didn’t want to invest in it, our mission was to keep the Lacta brand and its love theme relevant.

An integrated campaign was launched in 2014 with a new TVC that talked about the effort one needs to make in order to make a relationship work. It described how much it is really worth to invest in love and how you can find someone that completes you. The main message being “Make the first step, because #LoveDoesExist”.

social media campaign asked people to post messages using the #LoveDoesExist hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Lacta’s Facebook page with the promise of posting selected messages. Selected messages appeared as online display ads, YouTube pre-roll videos and out-door posters on bus stops around Athens. Users could even select the location of the bus stop where their message would appear.

In order to further raise awareness of the social issue and show people how important it is to invest in love, Lacta made an hour-long documentary titled “Does Love Exist?” that aired on the eve of Valentine’s Day as a prime time TV special.

In the documentary an actor, famous for his leading roles in love stories, sets out on a quest to talk with young people and discover how important love is to them. In his journey he talks with people ranging from 30-something singles and rappers recording love songs, to people who have made a conscious choice to be alone.

To balance the viewpoint, the documentary also featured happily-married couples and people in new relationships.

A psychology professor analyzed the young people’s hesitation to invest in love, offering the advice that by falling in love, one has the best chance to discover their true self and grow as a person.

The documentary managed to attract a 17% viewer share during prime time with more than 1.55 million viewers. That day the #LoveDoesExist hashtag became the number #1 trending topic on Twitter in Greece.

On Valentine’s Day, when the complete documentary was posted on Facebook it gathered 130,000 views, 22,000 likes and 37,000 shares. The documentary sparked a discussion that had many people commenting on how much it made them reevaluate their priorities and their stance on love.

Even though Lacta still held its place as the leading milk chocolate brand in Greece, 2013 marked a year of downward sales trends. The new campaign managed to turn around the brand’s negative trend, as Lacta succeeded in gaining the highest value market share of the last 3 years during the week of Valentine’s day, gaining +2.6pp Share Of Market vs that of 2013. (AC Nielsen, Scanning Data).

Additionally, in February Lacta earned February approximately 75% Spontaneous Brand Awareness, increasing by +3pp vs 2013. (TNS Ad. Tracking).

See the complete documentary, subtitled in English below.

Please visit the documentary’s webpage for more information:

Social Media Imagery: 5 Must-Knows

 This guest post was written by Hope Frank, Assistant Account Executive at Social@Ogilvy Chicago, and Josh Williams, Art Director at Ogilvy PR Worldwide.


Imagery is key to any social content strategy. Here are 5 must-knows for social media practitioners about the basics of using images on social.

1. File Format. With so many different image types, it can be confusing to know which ones work on social platforms and which don’t.  Formats accepted across social platforms:

  • .JPEG: most common, basic image file, but with every save more of the picture is lost.
  • .PNG: most likely to look exactly as planned on the web.

Formats not accepted:

  • .PDF: not accepted as an image file.
  • .GIF: image files that are compressed and look like a moving picture, but will not upload to social networks (if you’re really looking for a .GIF, check out Giphy).
  • .PSD/.AI: editable versions within Photoshop and Illustrator that are not considered image files.

2. File Size. Each platform has recommendations as to which image sizes populate best both on the platform. As of March 2014, the recommended image sizes are:  Facebook:

  • Photo Post: 403×403 pixels
    • Note: this is the size that the image will preview on the Timeline, but it is recommended to use larger images with a similar aspect ratio of 1:1.
    • Images with other aspect ratios can be used, but will preview as letterboxed.
    • Cover Photo: 851×315 pixels
      • Note: design consideration must be given to the bottom left corner where the profile photo overlaps.
      • Profile Photo: 180×180 pixels


  • Photo post: 900×450 pixels
    • Note: this size fully populates the preview screen. Other sizes can be used, but only a portion of the image will preview.

On April 8, Twitter announced a new profile layout. Updated creative specs (for when your brand page transitions over to the new layout) include:

  • Profile Photo: 400×400 pixels
  • Header Photo: 1500×500 pixels
    • Note: the header is cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio on mobile devices.


  • Banner image: 646×220 pixels
  • Standard Logo: 100×60 pixels
  • Square Logo: 50×50 pixels

3. Usage Rights Possibly the most important aspect of using images on social media is whether your brand actually has the right to do so. Three key questions to ask yourself include:  Do we own this image?  In what context do we own this image?

  • Royalty-Free: stock images for purchase that can be used in any application, for as long as you like, in as many different projects as you like.
  • Rights-Managed: stock images for purchase based on licenses for a defined scope of usage and some are available with exclusive rights.

 How long do we have rights to this image?

  • Rights-managed stock images will state in the license when usage runs out

4. Advertising Considerations. While each platform is constantly changing, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when utilizing imagery in paid social: Facebook:

  • Facebook Paid Ad images have a recommended aspect ratio of 1.91:1 and an upload size of 1,200×627 pixels.
  • Promoted posts only allow 20% of the image to contain logos/copy within the image. Want to know if your image works? Try out their handy tool here.


  • As far as we know, Instagram ads have the same image requirements as regular Instagram uploads.

5. Quick Facts. Beyond basic image sizes, advertising, and rights, here are a few nuances to images that are helpful for social media practitioners to understand.  

Pinterest [1]

  • Images with less than 30% whitespace are repinned the most.
  • Images with multiple dominant colors have 3.25 times more repins per image than images with a single dominant color.
  • Red, orange and brown images receive approximately twice as many repins as blue images


  • Twitter images now have a preview that automatically populates within the user’s feed. This part of the image – or whole image – has a 2:1 aspect ratio (the proportional relationship between an image’s width and height).
  • Tweets featuring images garner 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets than tweets without images.[2]

Now that you know the basics, what questions do you have about imagery?


Top 5 Trends Your Business Will Need to Follow in 2014

Ricky Bobby image by Jim Larrison (

Ricky Bobby image by Jim Larrison (

Ricky Bobby said it best when he said “if you’re not first, you’re last.” In today’s ever competitive landscape, brands need to be thinking several steps past the norm in order to stay ahead. By putting social practices under a magnifying glass, you can see the path of where things are going, and if you’re smart, apply that to your own business.

Here are a few of the trends we see being crucial to businesses in 2014. You’ll be hearing a lot more about these in the coming months.

Social Acceptance

Maybe a few years ago, most brands saw social as something that would be a nice addition to their media campaigns, but it was just that – an addition. A shiny new toy that they could put a low investment into and it would be just another line item on a final report.

More and more brands are seeing that social is a vital component to any campaign, and just having it in the plan is not enough anymore, so they are throwing some serious budget towards it. This acceptance is creating a shift in client’s budgets at an alarming rate, so in 2014 we will more than likely not hear “do we need social?” It will be more like “what shouldn’t we do so that we can put more focus on social?”

Visual Advertising

In 2013, we saw that brands were shifting away from text based ads on social and focusing more on visuals to tell their story. We see this trend continuing into 2014. Visual platforms like Vine and Instagram may be primarily ad free and user based at the moment, but we predict that we’ll see more ads popping up in newsfeeds, especially with the changes that Facebook are making to their algorithms.

However these ads will be visual in nature, so it’ll look more like friend content and less like an advertisement. The lines between “regular” content and paid will begin to blur. As a brand, you’ll find yourself working more with your graphic designers and less with your copywriters.

More Mobile

Fun fact – in Q3 of 2013, 70% of Twitter’s ad revenue was from mobile. That staggering number will only go up in 2104.

Mobile capability is a godsend to social. Behaviorally, most users are using social on the go, and a smart phone is the perfect tool for that. Your moments are only worth sharing if you are out in the world doing awesome things, right? With that much time being spent on mobile platforms, social ads on mobile will only become more valuable.

Platforms like Twitter, which are very “in the moment” type platforms, will see more and more brands coming to them looking to gain exposure. This is only further solidified with their new ad offerings that include location based ad serves.


If we’re being honest here, ads can be sort of boring. While they can be thought provoking or slick looking, what people really enjoy and see value in are stories. Social provides the perfect platform to tell a brand’s story and not just push this quarter’s message.

Storytelling over pushing product is going to be the disruptor in 2014. This is going to cause a change in thinking about how brands present themselves overall. Brands would be smart to staff their teams with creative as well as brand managers, finding that balance of cool content along with the important brand message. More and more, users will judge brands by the stories they tell and not the ad campaigns.

Content First

In 2014, saying “content is king” will only get you a room full of groans. The idea has evolved enough where it is now commonplace. It has transcended from a good idea to “goes without saying.”

In the new year, if you’re content isn’t funny/thought provoking/sweet/memorable/impactful, then you should give it a second look. With so many brands stepping up their content game, the quality is only going to go up. This goes back to stacking your team with creative minds.

If you have funny/thought provoking/sweet/memorable/impactful people making your content, that’s what it will be.

Four Social Content Resolutions for Marketers in 2014




Looking back at 2013, it’s clear that social media has experienced a major evolution in brand content:

  • Oreo tweeted its infamous Super Bowl tweet, catalyzing the “real-time marketing” trend and causing marketers to rethink what’s possible in content production.
  • Vine launched and revolutionized mobile video; brands like GE, Lowe’s and Target set a high bar for experimentation in the new medium.
  • Social media platforms, including Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, offered new advertising opportunities; better empowering brands to showcase their content through sponsored posts.

These are just a few examples. But what’s ahead for brands in 2014? As the end of the year approaches, it’s time for marketers to look forward.

How can your brand achieve better social media content in 2014? Start the new year off right by setting four content resolutions:


1. Focus on the right content engine for your brand

Content marketing reached a new high this year and 80% of marketers expect a moderate to aggressive shift in future content marketing spending, according to a recent study. But this doesn’t mean brands need to become overnight media companies. They just need to determine the right content engine that will drive to business objectives.

Is a newsroom model realistic for your brand, or does a content curation approach make more sense? Maybe a real-time marketing or a lead generation strategy is a bigger priority.

Read Social@Ogilvy’s guide to six key content engine models to see which structure might be right for your brand.


2. Inform a smart content & channel mix with data 

As social media becomes even more diverse, brands will need to consider how they should allocate their resources for the greatest impact. What channels and content mix will best meet your business objectives? What return will your current channels provide?

Don’t just default to the biggest networks like Facebook, especially as platform changes continue to indicate a shift towards a paid model for brands. Determine where your key audiences can truly be engaged based on business goals; this won’t be the same for every company.

A new year is an opportunity for a fresh start, and brands need to consult data and research to help make smart decisions about which social platforms they should prioritize.


3. Start designing content for specific contexts

We’ve all heard it before — next year is set to be the real “year of mobile” (no, seriously this time!). The era of mobile is already here, and in 2014, no brands can afford to lag in this area. Smartphones outsold regular phones for the first time in 2013.

People are consuming content like never before, and we need to consider where — and on what device — we’re reaching them. Are they in line at the grocery store? Or on a tablet in front of the TV? The ability to design content for different screens and contexts will define what makes a great social content marketer today. And on an advanced level — telling a seamless story across multiple screens will become the ultimate frontier.


4. Commit to great storytelling

Not all content is king — quality content is what really wins. People are looking for better stories with better characters to hook them in; the new wave of TV and on-demand series is evidence of this. Brands can learn from the success of shows like Breaking Bad and Netflix originals. As an example this year, Chipotle and Fiona Apple set a new bar by gripping viewers in the haunting ad, “The Scarecrow,” named by AdWeek as “the year’s best branded-entertainment campaign.”

A great story begins with a great idea. At Ogilvy, we help empower brands to find this through our big ideaL. What larger story can your brand tell? What cultural tensions impact your customers’ world? The big ideaL uncovers a brand’s best self and brings out its inner greatness. This is what builds the foundation of a powerful story.

What trends are you foreseeing for social content in 2014?


Click below to see this presentation on Slideshare:
Content Resolutions

Pinterest’s First API: What it Means for Brands


In mid-November, Pinterest opened its API for the first time, allowing select retailers to display top pins directly on their websites. This API, which is the first of four that Pinterest plans to roll out in the coming weeks, refreshes content automatically in real-time and gives users the ability to repin directly within the widget.

Initial partner retailers include brands like Nestlé, Disney’s Babble, Target, Better Homes and Gardens, and others. The look and feel of the Top Pins widget varies by website, but some examples from these brands are below:


Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 1.33.28 PM


Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 1.36.38 PM



Future APIs that Pinterest plan to add include:

  • Domain Search: This will enable brands to create custom keyword searches (think timely holidays or brand-relevant events) and embed the results into a widget on their website.
  • Most Recent Pins: This will source the brand’s most recent pins into one stream on the brand’s website.
  • Related Pins: Similar to Pinterest’s new offering within the platform, this will enable brands to source recommendations for pins consumers may like based on what they are viewing on the website.


What does the release of Pinterest’s API mean for my brand?

With these API capabilities, brands will now have the ability to incorporate their Pinterest presence throughout their entire digital ecosystem, rather than just directing users to their page within the platform.

Here are three effects that the API will have on brands:

  • Content will be curated based on consumers’ interest: By automatically pulling in the most popular content, these new widgets provide brands with a better understanding of what is resonating with their consumers, both on and off Pinterest. This will allow brands to curate the best and most engaging content for their consumers based on what is and isn’t engaging them.
  • E-Commerce without interrupting online browsing: Releasing the API demonstrates Pinterest’s continued growth as a true ecommerce referral site. With the API, brands can now curate and embed their most socially popular content directly within the confines of their website, allowing consumers to have the experience of pinning things they like without interrupting their online browsing/shopping session.
  • More content efficiencies across brands’ digital ecosystems: Since the Top Pins widget will automatically update, brands will have constantly refreshed content on their websites without having an actual need for new web development.


The API launch comes after months of continuous updates, such as the launch of Promoted and Related Pins. This is the first update that brings pins off the platform, giving Pinterest a larger presence throughout the Internet and underscoring its continued desire to up the platform’s value to both brands and consumers.

The Many [Marketing] Lessons of #SFBatkid



PHOTO CREDIT: Associated Press


On Friday, November 15 we all watched a great storytelling event unfold. Miles Scott, a five-year-old leukemia patient recently in remission, wanted to be Batkid for the day. So thousands of volunteers morphed San Francisco into Gotham City to deliver his dream. All they got in return were warm hearts, wet cheeks and smiles for days.

There was no contest or monetary reward for engaging, the people of San Francisco just wanted to do the right thing and be part of the magic of making wishes come true.

And the entire thing happened because of social media.

Even Patricia Wilson, the director of the Greater Bay Area Make-a-Wish foundation, has said that the whole thing started with a few emails asking for volunteers to line the street. That email was forwarded repeatedly and made its way to Facebook and Twitter.

We all followed along as over 300K tweets were made leading up to Friday and extending into the weekend. The @SFWish twitter handle went from 4,000 followers on Thursday to 26,000 followers on Saturday.  Google shows over 700K results when searched.

Everyone wanted to talk about this story because it was heartwarming and they wanted to be a part of it. According to Mashable, even people outside of the US were getting in on the conversation with 14% of tweets coming from 117 different countries.

As I watched this unfold, I kept thinking beyond the human story and to the marketing one. If this were nominated for any award, it would win. And there is much for marketers to learn from this very selfless act of a great organization.


First of all, start with the story.

A good story that grips your emotions always wins. The Make-a-Wish foundation had a story about Miles who was finally in remission and wanted to be Batman. But the story evolved into the city government and newspaper diving in to play along and everyone under the sun donating their time and talents (and Lamborghinis).

But the real story started with the call from the Police Chief that morning, to saving the woman on the cable car track and the Giants mascot, to ultimately being awarded the key to the city. We all followed along all day on social media – but it started with the story.


Be simple and consistent.

It was truly a social media explosion (and traditional media, too). The #SFBatkid hashtag allowed everyone in and out of the city (and country) to cheer him on. Celebrities got involved and even the POTUS posted a Vine to thank Miles at the end of the day. The lesson here is simple: stay consistent. Make it easy for people to follow your story.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation created the hashtag but the media caught on and picked it up immediately. Headlines didn’t read “Child’s dreams come true”, they read “Batkid stole our hearts”.


Consider how content helps tell the story.

On Instagram there were thousands of images shared. The cover of the Chronicle that was altered to Gotham Examiner was a hit, as were posters and t-shirts with the Batkid logo. All of these small things made a difference to creating that emotional connection to the story and igniting interest in wanting to be part of it all.

The reminder here is content matters. Custom artwork, a specialized logo for an event, even branded t-shirts that connect you with a movement, an event, or even a brand, matter. They continue the word of mouth online and off and can be the social currency to maintain the conversation.


Friday was a heart-warming day. Let us not forget how powerful being part of a strong emotional story can be. And to Miles and his family, we wish you all the best. Stay strong and thank you for helping our wishes come true, too.