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: “My favorite brand on social media is Complex, because it's more of an online network that reports on urban culture.”

—Male, 23, MI

Luxury watch brands are innovating to cater to what could be their biggest opportunity: Generation Z. A September 2016 survey from Mintel found one in five 16-24-year-olds reported they were thinking of buying a watch “in the coming months,” and that “the young are the biggest buyers of all age groups.” As a result, watch brands are taking marketing online. Omega says that social media is not part of their marketing strategy but “the way [they] communicate.” (Financial Times)  

A group of moms is making hijabs for Barbie to battle Islamophobia. Created through a partnership with the non-profit For Good, Hello Hijab sells $6 handmade headscarves for dolls, available April 1st, along with a card explaining what the accessory is. As one founder explains, the aim is for a more inclusive generation: “They will see it as a kind memory from their playtime, and then they will grow into a kinder generation…used to playing with dolls that look different to them.” Profits from the new doll accessory will go to support multicultural communities. (RT)

Netflix is winning the “steaming wars”—at least on home TV sets. comScore’s analysis into video streamed over Wi-Fi to televisions in U.S. homes found Netflix’s penetration is around 40%, while YouTube, the next most-used service, was less than 30%. Both Amazon and Hulu are far behind at below 20%, but the latter was found to have engagement rates on par with Netflix: “People who do use [them] use [them] a lot…Both services engage their users for more than 25 hours a month.” (Recode)

Chipotle wants to "slyly” promote kids’ healthy food habits with an unbranded video series. RAD Lands, available for purchase on iTunes, follows “the Cultivators” as they try to save the galaxy’s animals and plants, and features cooking segments with celebrity chefs and musical appearances by the likes of Biz Markie and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Described as an “entertainment Trojan horse,” the series is all about educating the next generation while also making a play to win back consumers after the brand’s food-related illness issue. (Ad Age

Airbnb is launching Aibiying, a new brand to target Chinese Millennials. The company’s research has shown an increase of 142% of travel out of China in 2016, and 80% of their users in the country are under 35. The young travelers are also a “lucrative market” according to one expert: "Chinese Millennials are likely to travel farther afield -- and to spend more while traveling—as their disposable incomes and appetite for adventure grow." Aibiying, which translates to "Welcome each other with love,” will include the brand’s latest “Trips” and “Experiences” features. (Inc.

Quote of the Day: “Budweiser ads are memorable because they pull at the heart strings with the horses and dogs.”—Female, 22, CA

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