In recent years, some of the world’s biggest tech companies have been unveiling ways for consumers to interact with their products. Apple jumped out of the gate first with Siri, the queen of facilitating our laziness (and we wouldn’t have it any other way).

To expand on this concept, Microsoft recently unleashed its newest bot to the Twitter world. However, this bot isn’t ordering pizza or giving directions to the closest gas station; this AI powered chatbot, called “Tay,” is meant solely for entertainment purposes. It is designed to be a virtual friend for millennials, with behaviors influenced by the web chatter of 18-24 year olds, and some language help from a few improv comedians.

While this seemed like a great idea that could really improve Microsoft’s interaction with the millennial market… the opposite happened. As a result of some kind of shortcoming on Microsoft’s part, Tay’s tweets turned sour really quickly. On her first day in the Twitter universe, Tay started sending out some very racist and hateful tweets (we won’t go into detail on this oh-so-PG forum, but you can find out more here).

As a result, Microsoft quickly shut Tay down to make adjustments. But, lo and behold, it didn’t end there. After a week of silence, Tay was accidentally reactivated and went on another short-lived tirade. This time, instead of racism, Tay turned to referencing drugs and alcohol (once again, look here for more – and don’t shoot the messenger). To kill her off again, Microsoft chose to switch the account to private.

Microsoft is still trying to figure out how to fix this egregious mistake. To begin to explain what went wrong and apologize for Tay’s offensive tweets, Microsoft published this post to their blog. They claim that the problems were a result of “a critical oversight” that “a coordinated attack by a subset of people exploited.” Ooph.

 Hopefully Microsoft can use its learning experience to fix this PR disaster and reprogram Tay in a way that allows the tech giant to take her out of virtual time-out. According to this Adweek article, chatbots are expected to be a billion dollar industry. If Microsoft can find a way to get it right, then this invention could launch companies into a whole new level of direct interaction with consumers.

We like the way that sounds! But we’ll let the big guys figure out the kinks before we dip our toes into that Taynted wade pool.





It’s almost time for spring-cleaning to commence, and that junk drawer in the corner of your kitchen isn’t the only thing that could use some sprucin’ up. The Internet is filled with clutter—from political rants on satirical news sites to therapeutic venting sessions in the comments section—sometimes meaningless commentary seems impossible to escape. But wait…there’s hope! Viacom recently launched a project that seeks to generate attention and incite change in regard to important social issues that are often ignored.

What’d they do?

Teaming up with Witness, a human rights organization co-founded by singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, Viacom released a series of PSAs titled, “Witness the Power of Story.” The subject matter of each PSA is catered to support each of Viacom’s networks (MTV, BET, Spike, VH1 and CMT) with a social good campaign. In order to have the most poignant impact, these campaigns resonate with each networks’ target audience:

  • MTV seeks to defy gender bias with their “Look Different” campaign
  • BET’s “What’s At Stake” campaign aims to inspire and empower African-American millennials
  • Spike raises awareness about veterans’ health issues with “Veterans Operation Wellness.”
  • Save the Music Foundation by VH1 is committed to keeping music education in public schools.
  • “Empowering Education” is CMT’s effort to improve rural education.

How’d they do it?

These aren’t your typical PSAs. You won’t see them on a poster, in a Facebook video, or the magazine in your doctor’s waiting room. Viacom has bigger plans. Instead, the media company is projecting astonishing and unbelievable (but unfortunately true) statistics, quotes and videos onto buildings in New York City.

 To all the ladies out there—have you ever been old “you’re too sensitive” or “you’d look prettier if you smiled?” MTV’s PSA is working to raise awareness of these stereotypes by projecting them around Manhattan. For BET’s PSA, a video is shown with the following statistic: “Stereotype: More black men are in prison than in college. Reality: Fifty-nine percent more black men are in postsecondary education than in jail.” Spike kept it short, but incredibly eye-opening with the statistic, “Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day.”

All PSAs were strategically placed in order to increase their impact and relevance, such as VH1’s stats, which were shown on the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Similarly, Spike’s video about veterans’ health can be seen on an armory in Washington Heights. All the feels, am I right?

Why’s it matter?

Viacom’s ultimate goal is to generate awareness and make an impact; thus, feedback is fundamental to this project. At the end of each PSA, viewers are encouraged to visit the website to explore each networks’ initiative and upload their own photos, videos or stories using #story4change.

People have become blinded to the abundance of clutter we see on the Internet and social media every day. Score one for Viacom for the taking the initiative to put real problems in perspective for people every day with this engaging campaign.




Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has created a phenomenon in the social media world that has brought people together in the “snap” of a moment. With its ongoing success, Snapchat has evolved into a social media platform that is not only beneficial for communication among its users, but, as we discussed in last week’s blog,,brands, as well.

Like other social media platforms, using Snapchat as a form of branding is a gamble. Brands cannot possibly know how well their content will perform among target audiences, and it’s hard to measure numerical success with limited metrics provided by the platform. On the bright side, if given the right attention and execution, Snapchat could prove to be extremely successful in connecting with young (target) snappers


For example, Frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles used Snapchat to bring coupons to their loyal fans. The campaign premise was simple: snap a picture of yourself enjoying a cup of their frozen yogurt and you’d receive a coupon for anywhere from 16 to 100 percent off. This was effective in both initiating repeat business and loyalists, and generating lots of organic brand and product promotion. [Source]

Below are a couple of tips for incorporating Snapchat into your next branding initiative. With these, and the tips from last week, we’d say you’re set to snap into gear and surveil your successive Snapchat stardom.

Know the Application and its Users

As self-explanatory as it may be, knowing the ins and outs of any application will only prove to be more beneficial when using it. Knowing the limits of Snapchat will allow your brand to test the waters and use it to the brand’s advantage. In addition, knowing the kind of people that use it, how they use it, and when they use it will all play a role in the success of your company’s approaches.

Embrace the Short Amount of Time

With only 10 seconds of possible screen time, it’s smart to know how to efficiently connect with your consumers. The small amount of time allows for brands to let people peek into the brand’s overall aesthetic like mentioned above; it can be used to promote the introduction of products and services, or can simply be used for brand/consumer engagement.


By now, we all know how essential social media is to a company’s success. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been utilized in almost every way imaginable. In addition to these big three, numerous other different social media outlets are used for more specific uses and for different target audiences. In the past, Snapchat has had a reputation of being too casual of a platform for social media. But with more than 26 million users, companies are starting to realize that they should tap into the potential of Snapchat by embracing its unique qualities and its marketing potential.

The casual communication through pictures and videos that Snapchat promotes is something that marketers are learning to embrace. In fact, there are many benefits to using Snapchat as a creative way to reach target audiences.


Through Snapchat, companies can show their own personality and convey their identity through the photos and videos they share. Take, for example, the Food Network. Their Snapchat consists of short demonstrations of how to make food, articles on food news, recipe inspiration, and frequently features TV personalities who have their own shows on the network, like Katie Lee and Giada De Laurentiis.



Snapchat also allows a personal component of the identities of these companies to shine through, offering behind the scenes footage for followers to view. MLS and NBA take part in this, just to name a couple. Sports have not just become a love for the game, but also for the players and associations involved, and through Snapchat, fans can engage more with the players and teams by watching live footage of their moments leading up to the big game.



Snapchat offers a geo-feature that brands can take advantage of. The most recent to do this is IHOP, offering branded filters to use on pictures taken at the restaurant. IHOP’s VP of marketing explained their choice to do this, saying, “IHOP receives Snapchats from users every day, a lot of them taken while in our restaurant. Introducing customized filters was a great way to further engage with our guests and at the same time extend our brand message when they share that content with their friends.”


Just like many of the popular social media outlets out there, Snapchat has become a part of life (millennial life, at least). In order for brands to be recognized, they are starting to realize they need to get creative and integrate themselves into the phenomena any way they can. And as users, we have to admit: (ba da ba da ba) we’re lovin’ it.