#26 – Bonfire Brewing gets warm response, Aunt Jemima feeling the pressure, and Gmail finally stops being creepy

#26 – Bonfire Brewing gets warm response, Aunt Jemima feeling the pressure, and Gmail finally stops being creepy

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Cheers to Bonfire Brewing and Gmail for doing the right thing. We’re still waiting for Aunt Jemima to do what’s right.

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  Thank you for joining us again. We are back with what we hope is another interesting episode. In fact, we’re going to kick it off with an update to the story we had last week.

If you remember about Liquido Active and them violating all of the rules and signs and trespassing signs, all that kind of stuff at Hanging Lake in Colorado. Erin has an interesting and somewhat positive story that’s related to that. Haven’t you, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  I do. One of our local breweries here in the area hiked up to Hanging Lake and took a picture of one of their beers in front of the lake. They never left the trail, they never stepped or set anywhere they shouldn’t go. It was just a really positive, really great clap-back at Liquido Active. They showed … The caption on the photo was, “Demonstrating proper Hanging Lake product promo photo etiquette.”

Andy Beal:                  Say that fast three times!

Erin Jones:                  I know, it was really hard to get that one out. Their hashtags are really funny, “Stay off the log. Pack it in, pack it out.” I feel like it was a really positive message, and the geek in me is really, really happy because I shared this post both from my personal Facebook page and from my brand page, and they took a moment to go over and like my shares.

Not only are they making a joke of this and having a little fun with it by showing people the way the locals would do it and the right way to do it without damaging the nature, but they’re also taking a minute to follow up and see what’s being said about them from this post.

Andy Beal:                  That’s really cool. It’s a great opportunity for them as a local company to … Just as Liquido Active fell short and kind of incited outrage from the local community, here comes Bonfire Brewing and they know all about the etiquette and the rules for Hanging Lake. They do something that demonstrates just how easy it was to do it right. They’re appealing to the local community who were outraged, and they’re going to likewise get a lot of positive shares and positive feedback from this. People are going to want to share it and show, “Hey, this is the right way to do it.” Then like you said, they’re closing the loop and demonstrating that they’re listening and trying to keep the story going.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. I was so happy to see this yesterday, and if anyone at Bonfire is listening today, I will absolutely be going and buying a six-pack.

Andy Beal:                  This is a great way. When you see a competitor or another business in your area that comes under fire, you don’t want to outright pile on and attack them, ’cause that could backfire. But, if you can find a subtle to reference it and to demonstrate that your brand is the complete opposite to the negativity that’s happening with somebody else, then this can turn into a positive for you.

We see this with other brands. Usually on Twitter someone … With the airlines, for example. We’ll see United under attack, and then we’ll see the other airlines like Emirates, or somebody like that that has a good reputation, leveraging it without actually calling out the brand.

When it comes to stuff like this, don’t call out the brand that’s under fire. Bonfire Brewing did a great job of not doing that, but in the same way, everybody knew who they were referencing. It’s a win/win for them.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. It’s a great photo. It’s beautiful. It’s a nice post. It would have been really great regardless of what happened, but their timing on this couldn’t have been better.

Andy Beal:                  It’s a great way for local business, small businesses, to get involved with social media and to build a positive reputation without having to spend a lot of money. Because, that was just a simple photo.

There’s a coffee shop here in Raleigh, Solo Coffee Café who I talk about a lot. They’re always doing great stuff. They’ve painted a mural at the back of their coffee shop that says, “I believe in Raleigh.” People are just lining up to get their photo taken with it. Get a selfie taken, and post it online. They’re getting some positive press from that. Stuff like this doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

That’s what’s great about reputation management, especially online, is it’s an even playing field. Often we end up wanting to help the small company, the small guy.

Erin Jones:                  I agree completely. It just feels good. Everything about this feels good. It’s really nice to see.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. Good story. Good follow-up on that.

Let’s move on. We normally have negative story to talk about, so this one is no exception. This week we saw that there was a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that basically said that disparaging trademarks are okay. So, even if it’s a negative trademark that people don’t like and it offends people, they’re still protected. They can still be trademarked and registered.

At the same time, we saw an online petition happen against Aunt Jemima, the brand Aunt Jemima, to try and get them to change that brand. This has been an ongoing struggle. People are, rightly so, saying that, “Look, we live in a society now. We live in, I guess, an enlightened age where for the most part, we accept that the depiction of Aunt Jemima is not a positive one these days, even if you have a positive sentiment towards the pancakes and the syrup, whatever it may be.”

They’re trying to get them to change that brand. Of course, they’re pushing back because it’s a brand that’s been around for over 100 years. It’s got great recognition. People will recognize it in the stores for what it is, and that is great pancakes, great syrup, that kind of thing.

What are your thoughts on this, Erin?

Erin Jones:                  I really get tired of the whole, “That was a different time,” excuse that people use, but I think that’s kind of what’s coming into play here. It was something that would have been overlooked when the company cam around, but it’s kind of a situation for me that, you do the best you can until you know better, and then when you know better, you do better.

Andy Beal:                  Right.

Erin Jones:                  Why don’t take this opportunity to do better?

Andy Beal:                  Right.

Erin Jones:                  That would be some great … Like we just talked about the brewery. Some great public buzz. They could come up with something less offensive and still have the same great products and really take a different stance with this.

I had a client a while ago that had the most hideous logo. It was old from when their great-grandfather started the company. They wouldn’t change it because of the cost of changing all of their signage and all of their promotional material and everything. I always just wondered how much they left on the table by not spending the money to revamp with the times.

Andy Beal:                  Right. Those times are only going to continue to change, right? This is not going to be a battle that they’re going to win. We’re not all of a sudden going to revert back to 100 years. This social pressure on Aunt Jemima is going to continue to grow. The longer they wait, the more it’s going to cost them, because they’re having to justify themselves. They’re having to battle social media. They’re having to battle general media and peoples’ outcry against this. That’s just going to get louder and louder. It’s going to cost them more money to battle that.

In fact, there was a company in the U.K., Robertson’s, that made a jam, a jelly that I grew up with, that used a black and white minstrel. They called it the golly. It was very racially offensive. Growing up, it took a while for everybody to realize that. Even when it got to about the ’60s, they started having pressure on them to change it. They refused. Long story short, the brand closed down. They basically pulled the product from the shelf in 2008, when they perhaps could have, earlier on, just made a rebranding.

I think with Aunt Jemima, they could get a lot of good will by saying, “You’re absolutely right. It’s time for us to change this brand,” and basically put it out to the audience and ask, “What do we want to have instead?” You might end up getting something like Pancake McPancakeface as a suggestion. We all know how that goes, but if you put it so the general public can say, “We are gonna rebrand. You’re right. This is not accepted anymore. What are your thoughts?”

Get that public input so that when they do make that rebrand, there’s more chance that the general population’s going to go, “Oh, look. That’s that new brand. It’s the brand that was Aunt Jemima. They’ve changed their brand now. I am gonna purchase that, because they’ve done the right thing.” They could see an increase in sales from it.

Erin Jones:                  I agree. There’re so many ways they could make this a positive experience. Like you said, they could have some fun with some contests. Come out with a new non-GMO, gluten-free formula. Use a launch of a new product line to revamp who they are and say, “We’re changing with the times. We’re not gonna be irrelevant. We’re in your face. Here we are, and here’s how we’re doing better.”

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. I think it reminds me a little bit a couple of shows back where talked about the person that was cussing in public and I said that nobody’s ever boycotted a company because their employees didn’t swear enough. I don’t think anybody’s going to say, “Okay, I’m gonna keep buying this product because they have that Aunt Jemima.” I think they’ll actually get more fans and more people buying their product if they make that change.

I don’t think they’ll necessary lose people if they make that change, because let’s face it, it’s like we talked about. You’re buying it for the quality of the product. The quality of the product is there regardless of what you call the brand.

We’ve seen some companies go through successful branding. Heck, if Google can rebrand it’s parent company to Alphabet, then anybody can go through a rebranding and come out on the positive side.

Erin Jones:                  Exactly. Also like you mentioned about Uber, people aren’t shopping with Uber because they love the corporate culture there right now. They’re doing it because it’s the ride they like. It’s easy and convenient. I feel like this is the same thing. People aren’t going, “I really love what this stands for.” They’re going, “I like this food. I don’t really care what’s on the box, but if you could make it something more positive, I’d probably like it a little bit better.”

Andy Beal:                  Aunt Jemima could use some positive right now. They had a big recall back in May. That’s a real dent to their reputation and their bottom line. They could use some good news. I think this would be a way to achieve that.

I think sometimes brands look short term. They look at, “Well, what’s the cost of …?” Like your client, “What’s the cost of changing all of the promotional materials and all the advertising?” Yeah, that’s going to hurt a little bit, but the long term benefits. It’s like a bandaid. Just rip it off now. Get it over and done with. Let the healing begin, and then you’ll start to see the profits.

The longer you wait, the more likely that Aunt Jemima’s going to end up being like the Robertson’s brand in the U.K. where it ends up a slow decline and then finally being pulled completely from the shelves.

Erin Jones:                  You don’t want to become obsolete. A lot of my clients, I will tell them, “Instead of looking at what this is gonna cost you, look the other direction at how much you’re leaving on the table. What could this be?”

Andy Beal:                  Right. How many people would end up buying this product if it didn’t have something that offended them right there on the front of the bottle?

Erin Jones:                  Exactly. Show people that you care.

Andy Beal:                  All right. Okay, I think we talked that one to death, so let’s move on.

You found an interesting story. Gmail is, apparently, going to stop reading all of our emails in order to target us with ads. What’s that all about?

Erin Jones:                  Google has always done this, I think. I had a friend a few years ago say, “It was really weird! I was talking about a yoga class in an email to a friend, and now I’m being served ads for yoga mats.” Google scans people’s email content, and then serves them advertising based on what they’re discussing in their emails. Their reasoning being that they want to serve people with ads that are of interest to them. From our side, it’s really freaky Skynet stuff.

They have decided to stop doing that. They’re going to continue serving ads, but they are not going to be pulled from people’s email content. It’s going to be pulled from people’s search content instead.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. They’re going to look at other information that they’ve harvested about you from all the other services that you use, as opposed to specific emails. I think, if I read correctly, a lot of this is coming from confusion from the business side. They don’t actually show ads if you have a business account of any size. I have a business account, so I don’t ever see these ads.

There’re a lot of decision-makers that Google would like to convince, “Hey, we’d love for you to use our Enterprise or our business level services for your email and replace your office products.” They see, in their personal Gmail, “Hey, but wait a minute. You’re spying on my email.”

This was actually a decision to this was based on, “Let’s just clarify this and let’s just get rid of this completely.” It’s a good decision, because we’ve seen time and time again where companies have these data collection policies that allow them to provide a product for free. Then, they go ahead and mine all of your data. Gmail was selling it to advertisers, but we see lots of companies just selling it in bulk to business partners.

Erin Jones:                  Right. Let’s not pretend that they can’t still see it, but at least they’re not throwing it right back in your face now.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah.

Erin Jones:                  It’s a little bit less creepy when you realize what’s going on.

Andy Beal:                  We’ve said before that if you’re not paying for a product, then you are the product. If you’re not paying for your email, then you are the product. You are being sold to somebody, so you have to accept that.

To opt out of that if you like, completely, it’s just five dollars a month. That’s how much I pay. It’s five dollars a month. That gets me my own custom email address. I don’t have to use the Gmail one. It gets me my own custom login. It gets me all kinds of great products for just five dollars a month.

We talk about how … I see it time and time again, “Oh, I’d love to opt out of Facebook ads,” or, “I’d love to opt out of AdWords. I’d be willing to pay.” Put your money where your mouth is, because you can opt out of these targeted email ads completely for just five bucks a month.

Erin Jones:                  Right. That is one thing that I really appreciate about Google. They do give you the option. You can pay, or your advertiser can pay for you. I even think it’s nice here that they’re not saying that they can’t see what’s in your emails, but they are listening to people. They know that this bothers people and that it freaks them out a little bit. So, they said, “Hey, we’ll stop doing it. We’ll get our ad data somewhere else.”

I just appreciate the fact that they’re going, “Okay, this bugs people, so let’s switch it up a little bit.” I creates an active goodwill, even though I’m sure they can still see whatever they want to see. It’s a free product.

Andy Beal:                  Google is so huge, so many products. This is not going to cost them anything at all. They see the enterprise benefits here being able to sell this product to larger companies who are going to pay for more features than I’m paying for. Going to probably pay more than five dollars per user. This is probably going to outweigh the interaction, because there’s very few people that open up their Gmail and then look at that ad. They’ve probably blocked it or tuned it out. The click-through rate’s probably dire, anyway. The CPM’s probably terrible.

They’re not losing anything here, but they’re creating that goodwill, right? Now, they got something to talk about. Something that people didn’t like the intrusion, and now they can say, “Hey, we’re not gonna look at your emails anymore. We’re not gonna scan them, but all that other information you give us, that’s fair game.”

Erin Jones:                  Yep. I think it was a good move.

Andy Beal:                  All right. Well, that’s our show for this week. Sometimes we run for 25 minutes, sometimes we don’t. We just want to give you the information we think you’ll find useful. We keep scouring stories.

In fact, Erin has a really good story that we’ll kind of link to if you go to her social link, Facebook page. We’ll put a link to that. She’s got this really cool story that she found at the last minute, so there’s the cliffhanger. You’ll be amazed and disgusted when you see it. So, be sure to check it out.

Erin Jones:                  (singing)

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. Right. A little teaser there, but we’ll wrap up the show. Thank you as always, Erin, for joining me.

Erin Jones:                  Thank you so much for having me.

Andy Beal:                  Thank you guys for tuning in. We always appreciate you taking time out of your day to listen to us. Please leave comments or questions at our Facebook page, Andy Beal ORM, or just go to AndyBeal.com, find the latest podcast post, and leave your question there.

We appreciate you listening. Hope you’ll join us again next time. Thanks a lot and bye-bye.

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.