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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some family drama.” –Male, 23, MA

The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line has found their anthem, and it’s a Millennial hit. The brand has famously helped home cooks with their turkey efforts for 30 years, allowing anyone to call to get their bird questions answered. This year, the Butterball Twitter account is filled with references to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and its viral video. Sample parody lyrics: "'You always call me on my landline, from the kitchen when you need my help." #TalkLineBling #HotlineBling’” (Digiday)

Though Black Friday mania is still high, there is a burgeoning backlash to the day, and according to Ypulse’s holiday shopping survey, 68% of 13-33-year-olds support companies that close their retail locations that day. E-tailer Everlane did shut down their site for two Black Fridays in protest of the commerce chaos, but this year the site will instead donate all its Black Friday profits to its factory workers to create a wellness program that includes free groceries, English lessons, and health care. The brand hopes to raise $100,000 in their Black Friday Fund. (Racked)

Millennials are growing up, and for many that means they’re starting to host their own Thanksgiving dinners—and they aren’t necessarily following every tradition. A Yahoo Food survey found that 44% of 18-34-year-olds say they’ll be serving ham instead of the traditional turkey, 10% are adding a meatless entrée to their feast, and Millennials are twice as a likely not to serve cranberry sauce, but more likely to deep fry or smoke their turkeys. (Washington Post)

It’s a struggle for a brand that only gets attention once a year, and Stove Top is ready for a stuffing revolution to reverse their fate. The brand has introduced a new campaign starring an “Artisanal Hipster Pilgrim,” a Millennial character who is out to convince everyone to eat stuffing all the time with lines like “I’m sorry, I just thought you might like to enjoy delicious things all the time instead of one day a year. My mistake.” The effort includes four comedic online videos and a hipster pilgrim Instagram. (Adweek)

Since more are hosting their own turkey day gatherings, Millennials are also spending more on Thanksgiving, with an Allrecipe survey reporting that 42% plan to spend more this year than they did in 2014. Vice president of consumer and brand strategy at Allrecipes explains, “’(Millennials) are more likely to be buying more artisan, local-crafted products. They pride themselves on being tastemakers and trendsetters.’” Millennials are also more likely to have multiple Thanksgiving dinners to attend…perhaps including a Friendsgiving or two. (Time)

Quote of the Day: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my cousins' annoying kids running in front of the TV.” –Male, 30, MA

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