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Based on the nature of today's 0-60 news cycle, I'm assuming that most people reading this post have already seen the headline ' Bus Monitor Bullied by Middle Schoolers ' and the correlating YouTube video which features 10+ minutes of truly ugly, vile behavior as a group of young teenagers verbally taunt and bully 68 year-old bus monitor Karen Klein. If you haven't already seen it, you can find the video here, but be forewarned'?¦ it's incredibly hard to watch.

The controversy/buzz surrounding the video has been meteoric. But so has the outpouring of support. And in conjunction, Karen is quickly becoming a household name ' appearing on the Today show this morning and being featured as a lead story across many news outlets including the headline story on CNN.com at the time of this posting. What promises to follow is another (and most definitely a necessary) look at the growing trend of bullying and a slew of perspectives and questions around how to counter the rise of this type of behavior among teens.

But what may or may not occur is a broader look at what role the internet played in this story. The internet you ask? Yes. Although the incident occurred on the most non-digital place in the world, a school bus, I believe it was heavily influenced by internet culture and the post-event hysteria has been driven primarily via the web. Here's how:

  1. The trajectory of the story ' from online video upload to national news ' occurred because of the shift in how we access news. Rarely do we see major headlines that are the driven by long-term investigative reporting. Instead, we seek immediate, reactive coverage of headlines that are made prominent based solely on the viral nature of the story being passed along. Karen Klein was made a celebrity (for lack of a better term) by the internet. And major news outlets in turn are now telling her story.
  2. As cruel as the internet can be, it is also uniquely inspiring. Having been exposed to the YouTube video via Reddit, a gentlemen in Canada decided to setup a group funding site to try to raise $5,000 to send Karen on vacation. He was bothered by the video and wanted to do something nice for her. A pretty simple proposition, but one that likely could not have occurred without web-based donation platforms and simple e-commerce functionality. 24 hours later, more than $300,000 has been pledged to Karen by over 14,000 people. Her vacation is likely to take the form of retirement.

The Internet is a wonderfully complex thing. As a digital marketer, it's my life blood. And personally, it's how I consume most content, maintain many relationships and find daily entertainment. Yesterday, I had two drastically contradictory moments with the internet ' one extremely depressing interaction when I watched all 10 minutes of the school bus video, and one ' which I'll hold on to for much longer ' where my faith in humanity was restored when I stumbled upon the inidiegogo fundraising page created for Karen.

Have you had any moments with the Internet lately? Was it positive or negative? Leave a comment below and share.

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A buzzing topic in the world of data security and protection is the upcoming Google Chrome changes. That’s right, we will soon be living in a cookieless world. Technology solutions in the current landscape are optimizing their efforts much before the implementation as they’d like to get well-acquinated with what the future of advertising may look like.   “We want to be early adopters and hand-raisers as a part of these cookieless and new ID solutions,” said Meghan Galligan, Stop & Shop’s director of digital marketing. (Source: AdExchanger) AMP Agency partnered with Stop & Shop and Dstillery to learn more about how to navigate through an ever-changing cookieless landscape.   Read the news here.

Cinco de Mayo is a day most Americans associate with two-for-one margaritas and bottomless salsa or maybe even with Mexican Independence. In reality, it’s the anniversary of a David vs. Goliath-esque battle that took place between Mexico and France in the 1860s. More than a century later, it was co-opted by alcohol marketers to sell booze to Spanish-speaking Americans. Quite the tenuous thread, considering that outside the state of Puebla–where the battle took place–it isn’t widely celebrated in Mexico. But this post isn’t intended to cancel Cinco de Mayo revelry; quite the opposite. With an Avocados from Mexico poll revealing that only 22% of Americans know what they’re actually raising their cervezas to every 5th of May, consider this a brief primer on how to celebrate a day of Mexican heritage, resilience, and pride respectfully, without the appropriation of a sombrero. As marketers ourselves, it’s the least we can do.    Picture it: Mexico, 1862.  What started as a naval invasion to secure debts owed by Mexico to European governments turned into a sly attempt by France to take over the country. Emperor Napoleon III–nephew of his namesake Napoleon Bonaparte–set his sights on claiming a French-backed stronghold in North America. But before his troops could invade Mexico City, they were remarkably defeated by Mexican general Ignacio Zaragoza and his men in Puebla de Los Ángeles. Though Napoleon ultimately occupied the country until 1867, this battle remains a symbolic and historic moment of Mexican resilience and sovereignty with as few as 2,000 Mexican soldiers fighting off three times as many French ones. Against the backdrop of the American Civil War, Mexicans living in California–wary of France’s Confederate support–regaled their underdog countrymen’s victory over foreign powers with the first Cinco de Mayo celebrations stateside. Today, the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations take place in Los Angeles, California.    From cultural pride to corporate gains   In the 20th century, Chicano activists embraced the holiday as an occasion to celebrate their broader Mexican heritage and fight for their civil rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is also said to have had a hand in raising its popularity through US-Latin American policy. But, as happens with most holidays, Cinco de Mayo’s origins were usurped by commercial interests. In the 1980s, beverage brands saw it as a prime opportunity to sell more beer and launched marketing campaigns to Spanish-speaking Americans. As Paste magazine put it, “An ethnically-themed holiday falling on a relatively blank calendar space between St. Patrick’s Day and Memorial Day, just as the weather is starting to warm up? Nothing could be more perfect.” The rest, they say, is history. Or rather, historical ambiguity?    Celebrating responsibly  Of course, supporting your favorite local Mexican restaurant or bar on Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful thing. But without the sobering context and history of a day that is typically anything but sober, it’s easy for Cinco de Mayo to simply be an excuse to throw back too many tequila shots at a chain restaurant wearing a stick-on mustache when it could be an opportunity to authentically immerse yourself in the culture. So, without further adieu, here are a few ways we recommend celebrating and a few that should be absolutely stricken from the itinerary. By now it should be obvious, but for those not of Mexican descent who may be unclear: trust your instincts and forgo dressing as a caricature of Mexican attire. That means no sombreros, no ponchos (called serape and jorongo in Spanish), and absolutely no fake mustaches. Embrace the culture without making a mockery of it. In this same vein–for marketers and everyday folks–don’t give English words a Spanish flair in an effort to rhyme or be cute. It’s not Cinco de Drinko.   Go ahead and sip on a freshly muddled margarita, an ice-cold tequila, or even a smoky mezcal, but refrain from getting sloppy at best or offensive at worst. Better still, talk to your bartender and ask to try a cocktail you haven’t had before like a paloma, michelada, or horchata. Beyond enjoying Mexican spirits or beers, it’s the perfect opportunity to eat delicious, authentic food. Seek out family-owned Mexican restaurants, food trucks, or ingredients you haven’t tried before, and avoid chains if you can. Take a Mexican cooking class taught by a Mexican or Mexican-American chef and learn how to make traditional recipes at home like mole poblano, a traditional sauce of Puebla. Read a book by a Mexican or Mexican-American author, watch a Mexican show on your streaming service of choice, or sing along to a playlist of Mexican musicians. Attend a Cinco de Mayo festival in your area to experience traditional music, dancing and dress, and activities for the whole family.  Tell your friends what you learned in this blog post! Or better yet, continue reading about the intersectionality of Mexican and American history.     AMP and Advantage Employees Weigh in on Cinco de Mayo  “In my family, Cinco de Mayo is usually combined with Mother’s Day and boxing fights. It’s a weekend of bonding, delicious food, and good times. However, I did grow up seeing it celebrated inappropriately by my peers. As an adult, I notice that there is more of an effort to explain what the day actually commemorates and how to celebrate appropriately. The comradery of this makes me more proud to be Mexican-American and even encourages me to celebrate my culture more with my family.”  - Destiny Velazquez, Engagement Strategist at AMP “Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that in Mexico we don't really celebrate. As Mexicans or Mexican-Americans in America, we cringe about [it] due to the insensitive depiction of our heritage and culture and seeing it narrowed down to maracas, sombreros, and culturally appropriated Americanized dishes that fail to represent the rich gastronomy that Mexico has to offer. As a result, as an ERG, we originally chose to bypass Cinco de Mayo as an occasion to celebrate or even acknowledge. But the more we thought about it, the more we thought about the need for us to be part of the solution. Cinco de Mayo will not go away, and we do not want it to go away. We want more people to embrace it and celebrate it appropriately. It is an opportunity to share our culture, tradition, and history, and it’s an opportunity to bring our communities closer together.”  - Gerado Orta, Co-Chair HOLA (Advantage’s LatinX ERG) and VP Strategic Planning at InMarketing Services    "Yo soy (I am) Peruana. In the town I grew up in [in] New Jersey, Cinco de Mayo was not something I saw celebrated or acknowledged; most of my friends were from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, or from South America. And because I am Peruvian, Cinco de Mayo was not part of my cultural upbringing. It wasn’t until I began working professionally in corporate America, that I was introduced to Cinco de Mayo. Frankly, it never felt right the way the holiday was presented, associated with tacos, margaritas, and sombreros. I have friends who are Mexican and saw the holiday as perpetuating stereotypes about Mexican culture. I did my research and learned more about the origins and significance of the holiday – something, unfortunately, missed when talking about Cinco de Mayo. If you want to celebrate or partake in another communities’ cultural traditions or celebrations, learn about [them] first. Sometimes people confuse dressing in a certain way or imitating another cultures’ traditions as appreciation, [when] what they are doing is appropriating another culture. This can be off-putting or seen as disrespectful by individuals in the other community.  Even if the intent was meant to be positive, “I was just trying to celebrate x culture,”  what’s important to remember is the impact it can have on another community. The best advice I can give [is] showing appreciation for another culture starts with educating yourself first on what’s acceptable and what’s not before taking any action. And if you make a mistake, which is bound to happen (I mean we are human), acknowledge it, learn from it, and don’t do it again." - Giannina Seaman, Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Advantage Solutions

If you’ve ever watched an ad or TV show and felt fond memories of simpler times rushing back to you, then you’re familiar with nostalgia. Connecting with a brand’s positive concepts or ideas from the past is referred to as nostalgic marketing. The goal is to create campaigns that trigger fond memories of comfort and security causing consumers to have positive associates with the brand. The emotions that viewers experience with specific brands serve as an escape from reality. While the concept is not new, it’s become more popular in recent times and is used by companies of all sizes across all industries, from Coca-Cola to the Walt Disney Company and that’s because it works.  There are plenty of brands that have created notable “throwback” campaigns over the past few years targeted at millennials, GenX, and GenZ. From reboots of beloved television shows, limited runs of signature throwback packaging, or collaborations of new and #TBT music remixes, these all successfully promote sentimentality. If Stranger Things doesn’t scream “the ‘80s”, then I don’t know what does. The Netflix original series lays the nostalgia factor on thick, complete with Eleven’s vibrant and geometrically fabricated outfits to Steve Harrington and Billy Hargrove’s hairstyles. The creators of the show have perfected the balance of fond memories and futuristic innovation to keep viewers hooked with the heartwarming storyline and CGI that brings the Demogorgons to life from the popular game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Fast-forwarding to the ’90s, the hit HBO Max show, Euphoria, has brought back glitter and Barbie’s baby blue eyeshadow.  In season two, the cast adorned their lids with bold flicks of blue leading fans to take to Instagram and TikTok to show their best takes on the show’s top makeup moments, according to Instyle. With Y2K taking over, vibrant colors are back and brighter than ever.  Nostalgic marketing is an effective way to inspire brand affinity and encourage consumers to romanticize memories of the past. Here are 5 ways to implement nostalgic marketing: 1. Tune into Social Media: With the resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic powered by social media creators and influencers, gaucho pants and platform sandals have found their way back to our timelines and into our hearts. Social media is a melting pot of nostalgia where you can reminisce and feel connected to a larger community of people with shared interests. Social platforms are full of conversations and content about what consumers miss from the past, the memories that bring them back to their childhood, and what brands left a mark along the way. Scrolling on TikTok or Instagram allows consumers to find out what’s trending from the past. It is important to keep your ear to the ground regarding trends to know what to do when injecting nostalgia into a future campaign. Think about a brand and how it could’ve improved from back then to now. 2. Focus on the audience:  The best nostalgia marketing effort resonates with multiple audiences. Brands need to understand their audience and keep in mind that the generation that first experienced the product or service will immediately be drawn to the campaign because of the nostalgia factor. In the beauty realm, Colourpop has been nailing this with their recent throwback collabs with Lizzie McGuire, and Malibu Barbie. As history repeats itself, nostalgia is now and TikTok is where Gen Z sets trends for what’s in and what will fly off the shelves.  3. Supply and demand: Consumer preferences and shopping trends are always changing, which is why brands frequently discontinue and launch products. With social listening, brands can take into account the backlash they are receiving for taking away beloved products. If the conversation is large enough, the brand might consider bringing the product back to the customers' delight.  4. Pull on those heartstrings: What story can be told? Is there a fan of the brand who has been following the company’s moves for a while? Make the brand feel human and embrace the 5 senses that dig deep into the brain’s memories. Recently, the Harry Potter crew had a reunion (Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts) on HBO Max. The special took place at Warner Bros. Studio which is home to the beloved sets of the Harry Potter movies. As many people streamed the reunion, a flood of emotions filled the cast and viewers when reliving the films. 5. Don’t rush it: You are working with human emotions so your approach must be strategic and full of effort. A quick turnaround campaign will feel rushed and a money-grabbing stunt. Make your audience want more while also feeling satisfied with what you have given them.   Keep listening to your customers to figure out what makes your audience nostalgic. Allow your brand to bring comfort to many during these unpredictable times by connecting and embracing the familiar.  Best-in-class brands listen to the voice of the customer to make strategic decisions to ensure their campaigns create warm feelings for their customers while also shedding a positive light on the brand. Time to shake up your Magic Eight Ball and bring memories to fruition!