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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The Newsfeed

“[Anna Victoria is] a good role model to women and is changing the way the world looks at fitness and body image.”—Female, 21, CA

Abercrombie & Fitch is going gender-neutral for their new kids’ clothing line. The “Everybody Collection” features “tops, bottoms, and accessories” for five-14-year-old boys and girls. A&F’s Brand President explained their decision to appeal to The Genreless Generation: "Parents and their kids don’t want to be confined to specific colors and styles, depending on whether shopping for a boy or a girl.'' The line of 25 new styles will be rolling out online and to 70 stores, starting this month. (Today)

Millennials & Gen Z already think the Nintendo Switch is cool, and now the brand is giving them more ways to use it. They’re introducing Nintendo Labo, “cardboard-based, interactive DIY experiences” for the Switch, tapping into the “toys-to-life” trend. The variety kit lets players construct five different “Toy-Con” experiences that include turning the Joy-Con controller into a motorbike handle complete with a throttle that can be twisted to accelerate, and creating a piano that senses which keys are pressed to produce the correct musical note. (Kidscreen)

YouTube is pulling Tide Pod Challenge videos from its platform. Teens started eating Tide pods when memes showcasing their Gusher-like colors went viral. The brand has since issued warnings not to eat the pods, and some stores have even begun locking up the product. YouTube has explained the decision to take down the popular pod-eating videos as a continuation of their policy to “prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm." Some are suggesting that pressure from parent company Procter & Gamble may have also been a factor. (Mashable)

The streaming wars are continuing, but audiences are turning to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for very different kinds of content. Hub Entertainment Research found original content is winning users' time on Netflix, while over half watch Hulu for its syndicated collection, and movies are most popular on Amazon Prime. The study also found that most Americans overall spend their entertainment time watching TV (40%), but 18-24-year-olds are most likely to engage with gaming and online video, like YouTube. (Quartz)

Outdoor Voices embraced Millennials’ minimal moment to break onto the athleisure scene. The brandless brand goes for a minimalist aesthetic with pops of color, and sees itself as an anti-Nike of sorts. The founder explains that they’re “a recreational Nike” because “With Nike and so many other brands, it’s really about being an expert, being the best. With OV, it’s about how you stay healthy—and happy.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working: the company has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2013, climbing a startling 800% in 2016 alone. (Vogue)

“I saw some heartbreaking stories in the internet, and decided to look up some international charities and donate to them.”—Male, 20, WA

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