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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“I want to work for myself so that I can have more flexibility and be my own boss. I have an online business.”
—Female, 16, FL

Fast fashion is only getting faster as Asos & Boohoo outpace industry front-runners, Zara and H&M, moving clothes from concept to sales floor in less than four weeks. These up and comers’ fast paced supply chains, coupled with millennial-minded tactics and strong social media presences, are driving a 30-35% expected sales growth for Asos and 50% for Boohoo. A major contributor to Boohoo’s profit margin is its army of celebrities, bloggers, and other influencers who promote its clothing across Instagram. Zara and H&M, meanwhile, saw slowing YOY sales growth; H&M has admitted its need to speed up and announced plans to change its supply chain accordingly. (QuartzThe Guardian)

A new Doritos bag will be loaded with the entire Guardians of the Galaxy 2 soundtrack, via a built-in cassette player. A limited number of the “Awesome Mix” soundtrack bags will be available on Amazon tomorrow, and influencers will be activated to take the bag to surprising locales and sing a song of their choice. Fans will also be invited to go to custom pop-up recording booths, record their track, and upload it to social media for a chance to win prizes. Thanks to social media posts and unboxing trends, packaging has the potential to become a spotlight stealer, and brands are thinking outside the box to make packaging as interesting as the product. (Creativity)

Apple wants to be Gen Z’s Starbucks. The brand is reimagining stores to encourage teen hang out sessions, rebranding the Genius Bar as the Genius Grove, and aptly adding some foliage to the space. The start of a series of educational sessions next month will also bring in photographers, artists, and musicians to teach lessons and in some cases, perform concerts. Apple’s head of retail says of the effort: “I’ll know we’ve done a really, really great job if the next generation, if Gen Z says, ‘Meet me at Apple. Did you see what’s going on at Apple today?’” Ypulse’s Experiencification trend explored the fact that more retailers are looking to turn stores into social spaces to attract young shoppers. (QuartzApple)

Coachella has become a profit powerhouse, with earnings of $94 million last year, and nearly half of all attendees are 18-34-years-old. Brands have been looking for any way to activate their spending power through the event—including influencer marketing, which reportedly earns an estimated $6.50 for every $1 spent. This year, American Express became the first official credit card of the prodigious festival, using influencers to spread their message on-site instead of signage and “overt product messaging.” One AMEX executive emphasizes, “You can’t deny the power and reach of influencers today.”(Forbes)

Mars’ new ad has gone viral with Gen Z, thanks to the power of online celebrities. The video, promoting popular U.K. candy bar Maltesers as it launches in the U.S, features social media and YouTube stars Caspar Lee, Andrew Huang, and Dytto and has earned almost 2.8 million views in the last few weeks. The campaign encourages positivity in the face of typical “teen crises” as the influencers are shown turning #FML moments into “Fun Maltesers Life” moments. The spot is part of a larger effort, which will include distribution across social media channels, custom content creation with BuzzFeed, and a tour featuring an experiential photo-op, game play zone, and 10 million free samples. (MediaPost)

Quote of the Day: “I don't drink on a typical night, but my choice when I do have a drink is often red wine.”

—Female, 34, FL

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