Things You Should Know: Brandjacking

 

Welcome to Things You Should Know, our new ongoing series on Millennial-fueled trends, slang, and memes that will keep you up-to-date on everything happening in youth culture. 

Last week, media organizations began to report that online vigilante group Anonymous had hacked Westboro Baptist Church’s Facebook page after the church announced they would be picketing the funerals of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. But the truth soon came to light: Westboro had never had ownership over the page at all; Anonymous had started the fake page themselves months before. Westboro had been brandjacked.

The term brandjacking has been in use since around 2007, when it was used in an article in Businessweek describing the new problems that corporations were facing protecting their reputations online from “cybersquatters,” individuals using unauthorized trademarked name or phrase in a domain name. These days the practice of brandjacking has become much more complicated. Brands’ reputations online are as vulnerable as consumers’—perhaps more so because they are bigger more alluring targets with more public failings. And because brands don't have emotions or feelings, to Millennials don't see it as bullying. For this generation, trusting what they read online is already a dubious process, and with brandjacking becoming more common, the veracity of every brand message, profile, and campaign is up for questioning. In an era of catfishing and profile hacking, brands are not above having their identities stolen, and brandjacking is taking on many forms.

The Social Media Brandjack: Perhaps the most common form of brandjacking is a fake social media profile for a brand being set up in order to mess with that brand’s reputation. In the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill, a Twitter feed under the handle…

 
 

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Quote of the Day: “Being famous is overrated. I would be more happy [sic] being locally known for the good I do in the world in a popular way but not for the wrong reasons.”—Female, 16, UT

Minecraft is being used to get kids interested in reading actual, real books. Litcraft recreates the world of a book as an interactive Minecraft map, adding “educational tasks” throughout. Treasure Island was the first completed world, followed by Kensuke's Kingdom, while The Lord of the Flies and Dante’s Inferno are in the works. Trials at U.K. schools are being met with “an enthusiastic response,” so Litcraft is eyeing a larger rollout. (The Guardian)

Nordstrom is stocking up on Instafamous brands like Allbirds, Everlane, and Reformation. The company announced that “strategic” brands account for about 40% of their current revenue and that’s expected to rise. While they benefit from indie brands’ popularity with young consumers, the direct-to-consumer brands are getting an expanded physical footprint, too. In the case of Reformation, Nordstrom explains that they “can bring sustainable fashion to a new (and much bigger) group of customers and closets.” (Business Insider)

A baseball team struck out with their “Millennial Night” promotion, putting Twitter in an uproar. We’ve warned brands that making fun of Millennials is not the way to get earn their spending power, and minor league baseball’s Montgomery Biscuits learned the lesson first-hand. Their “Millennial Night” offered participation ribbons, selfie stations, napping areas, and “lots of avocados,” while playing into stereotypes about Millennials being lazy. A Biscuits exec explains that “Something got lost in the sarcasm,” but instead of offering an apology, they doubled down with another cutting tweet. (AdweekInc.)

Nearly half of Millennials think that “their credit scores are holding them back.” OppLoans found that 27% of 18-34-year-olds haven’t been approved for a new car because of their credit while 25% have been declined for an apartment or house. Debt, a top financial concern for Millennials, is partly to blame: 15% said that their debt “is unmanageable.” Education could help dig them out of the hole, as 24% feel they’ve never learned how to build good credit. (Moneyish)

Baby Einstein is growing up for Millennial parents with a new mission and campaign. Their “Ignite a Curious Mind” effort goes after parents, not kids, with short spots that encourage curiosity. They’re also working on new toys, moving beyond their “sweet spot” of zero to 12 months for toddlers. Baby Einstein’s parent company, Kids II is also planning on reworking other brands, like Bright Starts and Ingenuity. (Ad Age)

Quote of the Day: “[American Eagle Outfitters’] clothes are generally what I wear and are my style. They're comfortable and affordable. They do not do a great deal of vanity sizing and offer something for guys and girls of every size.”—Female, 23, GA

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