Damage Control: Crisis Communication in a Constantly Connected World

Social media has revolutionized the way brands function. Messages reach a larger demographic, consumers engage more often, and news hits the stands before it’s even fact-checked.

But let’s just say it: not all sharing is constructive. And if there’s one thing that permeates the digital space faster than the latest Kardashian scandal, it’s brand controversy. Even a relatively small issue can erupt into vicious global outrage.

There’s no real science to definitively avoiding one, but how can brands use social media as a way of managing an impending crisis?

Separating business from pleasure

It’s social media 101 to take extra when managing a business channel. However, mistakes happen. The American Red Cross took quick action when an employee mistakenly posted a personal tweet to the company’s Twitter page instead of their own.

American cross1

The Red Cross quickly removed the tweet and in response posted:


Often times, responding in a genuine and even humorous way can diffuse the crisis. It might even help a brand’s exposure – the #gettingslizzard hashtag spun off to become a positive message to donate blood.







  1. Respond immediately
  2. Openly accept responsibility
  3. Use social media management tools such as Hootsuite to mitigate accidental posting

An automatic “no-no”

We can all agree: it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with an endless stream of real-time conversations. But that doesn’t mean brands should give in to taking the easy way out.

Progressive Insurance proved that this is never the right course of action after a “robo-tweet” Twitter mishap. It started when people accused the company of defending one of its insurance holders in court after he killed a young girl.



The company did not respond directly but rather used a robot with an auto response when prompted.



  1. Silence does not resolve an issue
  2. Be human, compassionate and authentic in your response
  3. Directly communicate with consumers

Removing political ties

Crisis communication has touched most agencies, including CBC. When our client, Garnet Hill’s, advertisements were unknowingly featured on the highly controversial website Breitbart, we took immediate action.



CBC instantly removed the ad and Garnet Hill was praised by hoards of social users.



  1. Constant monitoring of social channels to prevent the spread of bad press
  2. Stay neutral in politics
  3. Listening to your audience’s requests pays off

As many of us know, crises happen. Effective communication and management, as well as a plan to mitigate, can turn a negative into a positive.

Or, at the very least, extinguish the fire as it starts.

(In)Authentic Marketing in the Age of the Influencer

Casey Neistat is a YouTube influencer and vlog pioneer.  With cinematic shots and clear narrative lines, his high-quality daily vlog has been a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with shaky selfie-like shots. Moreover, Neistat has built himself a loyal audience from the ground-up; one that follows his recommendations devotedly and takes his word on different products as the undying truth.

Digital influencers like Casey are the ticket in for successful marketing campaigns. In fact, MuseFind revealed that 92 percent of consumers trust an influencer more than a celebrity endorsement or traditional advertisement. With that, companies are doing everything they can to foster these unicorn relationships as a way to build loyalty with consumers.

Earlier this year, Samsung recruited Neistat to be the face of their “Do What You Can’t” campaign, to position the Galaxy S8 as the device to have in today’s creator-driven landscape. The campaign celebrates everyday people who use social media and new technology to shape their careers.

Samsung’s choice to solicit an influencer was understandable; however, how valuable a choice was it? Historically, Neistat is a loyal and vocal fan of Apple – a major rival to Samsung with a reputation for innovation.

Neistat’s following responded to the Samsung partnership negatively, saying it wasn’t the authentic story. Perhaps Samsung made a bet that the benefits of Neistat’s endorsement and the exposure would outweigh the questions the partnership begs. But evidence of that can’t be found in the comments of Neistat’s video.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 9.40.20 AM

Unnatural brand and influencer partnerships can tarnish an image. Comments from Samsung’s Oscar ad are pretty mixed, but the animosity towards Neistat for working with Samsung centers on him “becoming a sellout”. As Neistat once said, “The key to cool is that you shouldn’t have to tell someone you’re cool.” Seems like Samsung wasn’t listening. That said, the entertainment industry is changing, and the line between marketing and entertainment is blurring. Many influencers have started launching their own brands using platforms like YouTube, allowing them to control their own image and ensure everything they endorse remains authentic.

Jeffree Star is one example of this kind of self-made influencer. Originally a makeup artist, Star began his climb to top-tier influencer as a Myspace musician and makeup/beauty vlogger. A few years ago, he launched an eponymous cosmetics line.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 11.41.43 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 11.44.24 AM

Star also uses his products to secure trust and strengthen his brand’s image.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 11.51.11 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 11.49.19 AM

And that feedback loop has led to immense commercial success for Star, who now employs over 100 people. Star almost never partners with anyone; however, when he does, it’s either his best friend or a brand he truly believes in, allowing him to ensure his image and messaging are consistent. As Samsung proved with Casey Neistat, all of this matters when fans are loyal to their influencers and can recognize an inauthentic partnership.

When brands and influencers partner, both need to make sure their actions and essence align. Audiences can smell inauthenticity a mile away, and you can bet they’ll have something to say about it.

Why the Louise Delage Campaign Went Viral

We live in the age of information; an era that gave birth to the World Wide Web, online messaging, and social media.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 9.44.09 AM

More and more, brands are expected to keep up with digital trends when it comes to connecting with their audiences, oftentimes relying on tried-and-true approaches.

But every so often, one brand will do something completely unexpected and disrupt the digital space.

One such brand is Addict Aide, a French organization that empowers progress in the fight against addiction.

Their 2016 campaign Like My Addiction featured Louise Delage, French socialite who had it all: glamour, wealth, style … and a drinking problem? In every one of her pictures, she held a drink. Not one of her followers noticed.

Little did her fans know, she was an actress devised by Addict Aide as part of a campaign to bring awareness to alcohol addiction.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.47.45 PM

Below we have dissected the science behind this viral campaign using an online persona and created some takeaways for your next disruption.


Do your homework

Underneath the seemingly simple social posts was a data-driven scheme. The creators identified their audience before the launch, studied the influencers within that space, and designed a character that would appeal to the targeted demographic.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.48.07 PM

They also used standard strategies such as posting at high-traffic times, networking with influencers, and sourcing trending hashtags.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 3.15.10 PM

Fake it ‘till you make it

To keep “her” audience unaware, Louise Delage posted content that was relevant, attractive, and enviable. While the alcoholic beverages were conspicuous, the images crafted a realistic storyline that didn’t seem out of the ordinary.


Blending in with the crowd

Users are accustomed to an Instagram feed of idealized and fantastical photos from their favorite influencers – a space that already makes it difficult to quickly distinguish reality from fiction. Louise Delage successfully played the part of “the girl women want to be and men want to be with”. She evoked jealousy and longing, sentiments that led to her reaching 50k followers in just a few weeks.


Close with a bang

The big reveal came in a short video; one that disrobed the campaign and presented the concept that you never know when someone is suffering from addiction, even when it’s right in front of your face. Addict Aide closed its campaign in a simple, informative, and nonjudgmental way.


The Like My Addiction finale video garnered more than 1 million views and was featured in prominent publications. Most importantly, the creators achieved their objective. Louise was more than just an interesting marketing tactic – she was a living, breathing representation of the company’s mission.

When done wisely, an alternate identity or other disruptive use of digital marketing can help to prompt brand awareness. Just remember: what you see on social media may only show a fraction of the truth.

Brand Positioning: Apple’s HomePod

Apple has undoubtedly changed the face of the tech world, and the company has cultivated a loyal following while contending against its rivals. But they’re about to put their brand positioning to the test as they introduce their newest product since the Apple Watch: the HomePod, due to release in December 2017.

The new Apple HomePod poses a challenge to other voice-controlled speakers currently on the market, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, despite their similar functions including spatial awareness, advanced sound technology, voice recognition, and mobile apps.



All it takes is Apple’s brand positioning and loyal cult following to set their new products apart from the competition.


The force of Apple’s brand—arguably the supreme manufacturer of 21st century technology—significantly strengthens the appeal of the HomePod.

The HomePod’s ultimate goal (to “reinvent home music” as a “breakthrough speaker”) only bolsters Apple’s authoritative positioning, a powerful stance on the project of combining the right blend of smart speakers and good music—something that, according to Phil Schiller in a recent presentation, has not been achieved yet.

Not until the HomePod. Or is this true? By virtue of originating directly from Apple, the HomePod may seem to have certain advantages. But do all consumers believe this?


According to Schiller, Apple’s signature A8 chip also allows the HomePod to have the “biggest brain” in any speaker. However, even with the hype—the HomePods’s reception among potential customers has been lukewarm.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.26.35 AM
Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.16.52 AM

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.25.52 AM

Our prediction? HomePod will be a success—but not due to its claims of breakthrough technology and features. The brand awareness of the Apple name and customer loyalty will be the true reasons behind its success.

What do you think?

Source: https://www.apple.com/homepod/

Drone Marketing: The New Face of PR Stunts

When we used to say the word “drone,” you probably envisioned a low humming sound or a male bee that does no work. But recently, drone is a common term for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or a more specific type of UAV, quad-copter. As drone technology continues to develop at a fast pace, these small, durable and cheap model aircrafts are becoming one of the hottest tools for people to shoot videos and for companies to market their brands.

Drones – The Conversation Igniter

OREO’s Drone Cookie Dunk, Fantastic Four’s Human Torch drone, Lexus’s automotive ad campaign, Super Bowl LI drone show, and even Petco’s DooDooDrone are all eye-opening marketing applications of this new technology. Now, let’s see how exactly they used the drones.


March 6th was National Oreo Cookie Day and to celebrate, the brand pulled a PR stunt. They launched five big Oreo-like drones from NYC and dropped cookies into milk cups on a barge in the Hudson.

Although it was an undeniably creative approach, the video ultimately backfired because the brand revealed how many resources were wasted to produce this video.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 10.51.15 AM

Even in 2015, the drones were used in guerrilla marketing for the sci-fi movie, Fantastic Four. Producer of the film, Marvel studios, was so proud of its character “Human Torch” that they brought the superhero to life using a flaming drone.

To some fans, this was even better than the film itself.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.40.47 AM

Lexus – the Japanese luxury branch of Toyota – rolled out an “amazing in motion” campaign to highlight the modern design of its cars. In this particular instance, cameras followed the drones as they explored the city at night.

While an interesting idea, the audience agreed that the brand muddled its message in the process.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 12.24.53 PM Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 12.25.07 PM

Drone marketing has also made its debut at large-scale entertainment events. During the Super Bowl 2017 Half Time Show, Pepsi and Intel shared their brands’ excitement using hundreds of drones:

Intel Shooting Star drones light up the sky in the Pepsi logo following the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show. (Credit: Intel Corporation)


Based on twitter reactions, the future of drones is as bright as their shining lights.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.36.18 AM Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.35.29 AM Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.36.04 AM

What’s more, for the past April Fools Day, Petco engaged its audience with a “new” app, which provides drone service for dog pooper-scooper.

With this short and simple video, the brand spurred some social discussion and triggered some laughter.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.35.01 AM Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.35.46 AM Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.37.35 AM Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.38.23 AM

The CBC Way

Last but not least, at CBC, we also try to follow up with the drone marketing trend. This January, we invited editors to Colorado for our Telluride Experience where we enjoyed fresh powder and delicious meals. To capture the experience, we shot video footage using drones of the quaint town and beautiful mountains. As an added plus, the drone perspective depicts our five-day program and destination experiences in a brand new way.

There are still many questions remaining in the area of drone marketing. Our advice: keep your eye on drone technology and prepare yourself for the impossible!

Context Matters: A Marketer’s Guide to Safer Digital Advertisements

AT&T, Verizon, and Johnson & Johnson were among the over 100 brands that quit YouTube after a London News Reporter exposed the advertisements were aired alongside extremist videos. Soon after, conversations broke out about brand placement and how to create a safe digital space.Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.17.11 AM

Especially in lieu of today’s tense political climate, it is essential to ensure that your digital advertisements do not appear in a damaging context that could sabotage the brand image.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.04.59 AM

How can we, as marketers, try to avoid framing our creative and content in a negative light?

Promoting Transparency

A two-way street of open and transparent communication between both parties is crucial in programmatic buying. Ask the publisher to provide you full information about where the ad will run and the nature of their incoming traffic.

 Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.17.20 AM


Establishing Your Target Audience

Conceptualize your ideal audience. Task yourself to prioritize pushing your content to the right audience in the right environment.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.18.07 AM


Research Your Options

There are several ad networks out there – know how they differ from each other and what’s best for you. Understand the price market. If something is cheaper than it should be, it’s likely a shady site.


Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.17.51 AM


Know Where Your Ads Run

At the end of the day, you are still accountable for where your brand’s advertisements are placed. Crosscheck live URLs to make sure your brand values align with content on these websites.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 10.17.42 AM



When you work with vendors or ad networks, make sure they’re certified to IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) measurement guidelines. IAB has set a list of Quality Assurance Guidelines to make sure suppliers comply with the industry’s best practices. To ensure authentic inventory, use services by companies that have been certified by a third party.



Establish Relations

Develop good relations with media sellers to build a reliable network.



To avoid situations like this, practice methods that will keep your brand identity safe in the digital space.




Taking Home the Gold at the 2017 David Ogilvy Awards

On Monday night at the 2017 David Ogilvy Awards, CBC and our client Garnet Hill took home gold in the “Reinventing Traditional Media” category for the Beautiful, Naturally Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique.

Named after advertising legend David Ogilvy, the ARF David Ogilvy Awards celebrate the critical role of insights that inspire great advertising. In the category of “Reinventing Traditional Media” Advil’s “Distant Memory” campaign took Silver and TD Bank Group’s “Official Partner of Big Dreams” campaign took Bronze.

The Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique, a 350-square foot refurbished shipping container, is part mobile showroom, studio, and pop-up brand experience. It made its pilgrimage throughout the summer of 2016, beginning in Franconia, NH and wrapping up in New York City. But not only that, it acted as a living, breathing billboard.



Built to feel like a tiny home where customers can literally touch, feel, and shop all of Garnet Hill’s select products, the boutique is equipped with all of the homey essentials including a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, closet, and a roof deck.

More than just a shopping experience, the boutique embodies the brand’s essence. It was used to host community events including wine tastings, farm-to-table meals, art shows, and more.


Lastly, the boutique acted as a broadcasting platform for Garnet Hill’s digital and social media channels. Live and produced content was shot with various partners such as Apartment Therapy and influential lifestyle bloggers.

Read about the whole story behind the pop-up experience here. The Mobile Boutique plans to hit the road again in 2017 so keep an eye out for announcements on Garnet Hill’s blog THREADS, or follow #GHMobileBoutique on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 4.33.02 PM


The last few years of digital expansion has certainly provided many opportunities for us to connect personally and professionally. This includes a rise in Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing: the marketing of products or services to other businesses.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 94% of marketers use LinkedIn as a platform for B2B sales. Twitter follows this rate at 87% and Facebook at 84%. Why is LinkedIn more popular over other social media platforms? LinkedIn is the only one that emphasizes professional networking, rather than just socializing.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.40.17 PM


If you’re looking to optimize your company’s LinkedIn page and generate more leads, here are a few tips on how to do so successfully.

Image is everything.

Improve your company page with attractive pictures. A research by Ad Age shows that brands utilizing high-quality, original images are perceived as more creative, experienced, and knowledgeable.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.40.39 PM

You have the opportunity to make a lasting impression at a glance. Invest in a banner that’s personable to your company, and provide clickable links to your products, website and contact information.

Set your profile settings to fit your needs.

If you want to generate leads, the leads need to be able to find you. Customize your LinkedIn URL with the company’s full name and use the LinkedIn Showcase option to promote brands under your company.


Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.40.49 PM

Share diverse content on your page.

It is key to find a good balance between promotional posts and interactive posts. According to Content Authority, the good balance is 20-80. Toot your own horn without being annoying.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.40.57 PM

Make sure you understand your audience by evaluating what kind of posts are getting the highest number of likes or shares.

Search for groups, and create them too.


Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.41.04 PM

Find a group on LinkedIn that fits your niche. Be an active participant of that group. If you don’t find a group that fits you, create your own!

Paid advertising and its worth.

Organic is good, paid is better! If your budget doesn’t allow you to spend on everything, prioritize your content. Promote whatever you think has potential to generate leads. Be specific with your target audience. This way, not only will your cost-per-clicks save you money, they will be more effective.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.41.15 PM


Ask for recommendations and reach out often.

Ask your loyal customers and companies to recommend your products and services on LinkedIn, and share what they love about them. At the same time, build credibility by posting often on your LinkedIn page with updates and latest news.
Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.41.23 PM


Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.41.36 PM


Social Selling works 68% better than cold calling does. Use it to your advantage and generate more B2B leads by improving your LinkedIn page with the above tips!

How brands are adapting to a changing (consumer) environment

In 2016, the world saw a rise in temperature. In fact, it was recorded as the highest on record thus far. With this shift in climate has come a significant change in consumer behavior. Many people are emphasizing an environmental consciousness and embracing what we call an ‘eco-fad’.

So, how are brands positioning themselves to adapt to this profound environmental mindset amongst its customers?

Moving Away from Plastic Bottles

S’well was launched in 2010 with a mission to reduce the amount of plastic bottles. Using a recycling bottle can help one consumer save up to 1460 plastic bottles per year.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.42.39 PM

In its latest collection of bottles, S’well collaborated with Lily Pulitzer and Starbucks to bring other brands into the cause.

  Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.07 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.42.59 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.15 PM

Plant your Pencil

Sprout is a green startup that makes sustainable pencils that you can plant after you finish using them. The seed in the eraser capsule blossoms into either flowers, fruits, herbs or vegetables.     

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.25 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.33 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.39 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.45 PM

Drink More Beer, Save the World

A New Zealand beer company DB Breweries organized a series of fun and creative sequel campaigns to promote the importance of conserving their beaches. DD Breweries beer bottles can be crushed into sand to help restore the receding beaches – and all the consumer has to do is chug a beer!

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.43.51 PMScreen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.44.03 PM


Eco your Journey

Tesla is known as a car company accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy. With a focus on energy innovation, Tesla raised the bar for all other auto-makers in 2012 after introducing Model S – the world’s first premium electric sedan.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.44.13 PM Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.44.21 PM Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 2.44.26 PM
With more emphasis being placed on environmental awareness, there is definitely room for brands with environmental activation missions to get involved.

3 Après Ski Essentials

After a long day on the slopes, there is really only one way to reward yourself: après ski. Après ski definitely has a party reputation, though there is no reason you can’t create an après ski party at home with your friends. We spent some time with Miraclesuit in Park City, UT and they shared three essentials that make for the perfect après ski gathering.

Miracle Suit-7

1. Make Slopeside Cocktails

This is a given. And sometimes a beer or glass of wine doesn’t do it after a chilly day on the mountain. Try warming up with cozy cocktails like a hot toddy, Irish coffee, or hot spiced wine. Since we had a roaring fire pit to keep us warm, we made Pomegranate French 75 and Moscow Mule cocktails.



 2. Warm up in the Hot Tub

There is nothing better than relaxing in a hot tub after a long day of riding or skiing. Your tired muscles will thank you! Grab your freshly made cocktail, a trendy, figure-flattering après ski swimsuit, and toast to your day on the mountain.

Miracle Suit-2

Also, it might just be us, but isn’t it fun to hot tub in the winter? We love pairing our swimsuit with a winter beanie and boots. Our friends at Miraclesuit are experts in après ski style, so they gave us these outfits ideas as well.


 3. Pull out the Board Games

Next on the list of après ski essentials: board games. Get the fire crackling and throw down a blanket to have a cozy game night with friends. We love pulling out old favorites like Scrabble and Pictionary.

Miracle Suit-8

You’ll never get cabin fever when you use these three tips! Thanks to Miraclesuit we’re ready to have the perfect après ski gathering with friends.

Miraclesuit was a sponsor at Winter House, our winter-themed experiential media relations program. Interested in learning more about our House Programs, click here.