SodaStream Stirs Up A User-Generated Ad Campaign

SodaStream has stirred things up with a user-generated ad campaign!  It’s no secret that the line between consumers and marketers has become increasingly blurred in our social media dominant age. One interesting example of this tricky dynamic is the recent marketing push from SodaStream, a company that sells do-it-yourself soda making machines for home use. In a quest for greater market penetration, the company has started a campaign to feature user-generated advertisements – and the results have been pretty m/sodastream-pours-on-the-user-generated-content/article/324550/”>surprising.

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SodaStream started by asking fans to upload their own photographs of the product onto the company’s Facebook page. SodaStream then selected a number of these photos to appear in their ad banners, alongside traditional paid content. So far, the metrics show that the public is far more responsive to the user-generated content than the traditional creative work. User-generated ads scored a 76% higher click-through rate, as well as a 136% increase in the engagement rate (which includes post likes, page likes, and overall photo views). The photos themselves scored a whopping 313% increase in viewing rate over the conventional content on social media.

As paradoxical as it may seem, there are plenty of strong arguments for getting consumers to, effectively, advertise to themselves. A representative for SodaStream touted the results as proof that people increasingly want to feel some sort of ownership over the products they buy – no doubt, it’s implied, because many people increasingly define themselves by what they purchase. In the case of SodaStream customers, creating ads for the company simply reinforces the scrappy DiY spirit of making your own soda at home, and it’s yet more evidence that self-expression sells.

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Experts Are Vocal About How To Fix HealthCare.gov

With only one week  left to go until the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the federally-run HealthCare.gov website, experts (and non-experts everywhere) are vocal about to how fix Healthcare.gov.

It’s been a rocky ride since the site’s October 1st launch, and while many of the kinks have been smoothed out, there still remains quite a bit of retooling to do. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the debate surrounding the website’s botched rollout has been colorful, acrimonious, and wide-ranging. From bungling the political messaging of the site launch to blatantly failing “Web 101,” the various explanations for the failure have been as complicated as the site itself.

Last week, a panel of industry experts got together to offer their insights about what the Feds can specifically do to repair the site’s shortcomings and win back the trust of a skeptical public:

Wendy Lund, CEO of Health-Care Public Affairs Shop GCI Health

Eliminate confusion around coverage and restore credibility through testimonials: Reviving faith in HealthCare.gov will require two things. First, concrete action that assures nervous Americans that they will not have to pay more for coverage that gives them things they don’t necessarily want will be critical. Second, the government needs to start shifting the focus from the myriad problems that plague the site to success stories that demonstrate that the system is beginning to work. Now that HealthCare.gov is functioning better, these “successes” should be identifiable, and the government needs to seize on them to begin converting the skeptics, including those in the media.

Lindsay Resnick, CMO of Health Services at KBM Group

Run the cleanup effort like a political campaign: The quick answer is do what our government does best … run it like a political campaign. It’s begun to reset expectations around timing and process, and now it needs to rebuild trust among the voters. You’ll see much more outreach, especially over the next few weeks, around the enrollment deadline in January. It might include grassroots — including POTUS on the ACA campaign trail — to social and possibly an uptick in TV and radio. Basically, everything you didn’t see leading up to October because enough insiders were nervous about HealthCare.gov readiness. Welcome to Obamacare 2.0 … and it’s only two months in!

Matt Powell, Chief Information Officer, KBS+

Turn data into sharable content: Comparison information, benefits of insurance, relative cost of being insured vs. uninsured and even improvements made to HealthCare.gov are all kinds of “data” that lend themselves perfectly to infographic-style and short-form web-video formats. They’re sharable and they reach younger demographics of uninsured.

Relate to the uninsured through branded entertainment: New voices, particularly voices that are more relatable to the uninsured, might be very effective at getting people to reconsider HealthCare.gov. Imagine reality TV stars like the crew of “Duck Dynasty” going through the sign-up process.

Partner with community health centers and pharmacies, use street teams: Target the uninsured at pharmacies — the uninsured are heavy users of over-the-counter products — and community health resources, such as health centers and health vans and buses that serve neighborhoods on weekends. They can distribute training and content to their constituents in these communities. Street teams in key geographies nationwide, including volunteers to answer questions and tablet-based sign-up kiosks, can also help establish a beachhead of credibility and trust within communities that have less access to the internet.

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“More than half a million Americans have enrolled through HealthCare.gov in the first 3 weeks of December alone,” President Obama said in his final press conference of 2013. “Millions of Americans are now poised to be covered by quality, affordable health insurance come New Year’s Day.”  Good luck!

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Oreo Cookie’s Jingle Has Balls

Oreo, the best selling cookie in the United States since its introduction in 1912, now has a jingle with balls.

With more the 362 billion Oreo cookies sold to date, Oreo is taking a ballsy move this holiday season.  The company has partnered with The Martin Agency and rolled out a Wonderfilled jingle celebrating the popular holiday treat, the Oreo cookie ball. This isn’t an actual product of Oreo, but rather a homemade delicacy of crushed up Oreos and cream cheese that are rolled into a ball and covered in chocolate (in case you’re one of the unfortunate few that aren’t familiar). The treat is so popular in fact, that the video makes no point of showing us how to make them. Alas, Oreo cookie balls are already a staple of our holiday cuisine and we need no instruction.

The jingle was recorded by upcoming rap sensation and MTV favorite JINX drops a seasonal rhyme to get you in a cookie ballin state of mind. The catchy tune makes no point of trying to sell us Oreos directly (sure, you might need a few to make the cookie balls), and the homemade treat is widespread enough to need no further push.

Beware; the jingle is a bit addictive.  As you may have heard, Oreos are in fact addictive too.  Connecticut College students and a professor of psychology have found “America’s favorite cookie” is just as addictive as cocaine – at least for lab rats. And just like most humans, rats go for the middle first.

So go ahead, decorate your cookie balls with pretzel antlers or a carrot nose as the video instructs. Meanwhile, good luck with getting it out of your head (and stomachs).

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Arby’s and Kraft Mac & Cheese: The Healthiest Choice For Kids

It’s true,  Arby’s and Kraft Mac & Cheese: The Healthiest Choice For Kids.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be the best year for Kraft and their signature Macaroni & Cheese. Social media has been aflame in recent months over Kraft’s use of artificial (some would say “toxic”) dyes in their Mac & Cheese. A torrent of public criticism coupled with a popular Change.org campaign forced Kraft to announce the removal of said dyes from their food just last week. But as far as the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is concerned, Kraft Mac & Cheese is actually the healthiest fast food choice for children.

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In the Yale Rudd Center’s new ranking of fast food combo meals for kids, the Kraft Mac & Cheese meal (served at Arby’s, no less!) seized first place. If that’s not shocking enough for you, different variations of the meal also placed second, third, and fourth. Of course, we have to keep in mind that Kraft is going up against potemkin foods like the McDouble, Chick-n-Strips, and Sonic Corn Dogs, but it’s still an impressive finding.

Even after this vindication, Kraft is pressing forward with its health initiatives. The company will soon start replacing some of its additives with natural spices like paprika. It will also deliberately incorporate many of these healthier natural ingredients into kid-centric variants like the Spongebob Squarepants Mac & Cheese.

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