As 2016 finally staggers to a close (and none too soon, some might say), I thought I’d survey a few of my colleagues to get a sense of which brands they thought had the greatest impact – good or bad – over the course of the past year. Read on to see if any of their answers surprise you and please feel free to share your own two cents!…
First up is our esteemed VP of Brand Strategy, Chris Langathianos:
“The Good: The Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin Manuel Miranda, for bringing a renewed interest in populist theatre and the role it can play in political and social awareness. Underscoring this were 1.) the exorbitant ticket prices, 2.) the fact that seemingly everyone says it’s worth whatever you have to pay, and 3.) in a particularly turbulent 2016, it managed to make those lucky enough to see it think back to the original blueprint for the American political system.
The Bad: The NFL. This has been a bad year for this brand, and I think there are some lessons to be learned, primarily about hypocrisy. From “Deflategate,” to increased awareness of the long-term effects of concussions, to hypocritical policies on domestic violence and national anthem protests, viewership has been down a reported 11%. You can bet that these decreases are going to cost the League in advertising revenue when it comes time to set new ad rates for 2017.”
Account Manager Brianna Roy identified two particularly brands she felt had a strong year:
“First, Forward.gift is a brand I learned about this year that’s doing amazing things. They work with local businesses – currently just select Boston and San Francisco neighborhoods – to offer a free “gift” (usually in the form of a sample) via email to the recipients you choose. It helps local businesses by introducing prospective patrons to their establishments to sample an offering from their menu and you get the satisfaction of sending a little joy their way!
Another brand I was impressed by this year has been the Sierra Club. I’ve been a member for a while now, but this year they've had a significant focus on saving bees. From social campaigns (#SaveTheBees), to mailers, YouTube videos, and petitions, their efforts have not gone unnoticed. They’ve made great strides in educating people on the impact bees have on our lives, pollinating 70% of the crops that feed 90% of the world.”
Tracy Hartman, our Director of Public Relations and Social Media chose two others you may have heard of:
“For better or worse, Snapchat seems to be emerging as a highly relevant brand in the land of social media. Whereas it was an immediate social media app hit for teenagers (my son uses it a lot with his friends) we quickly recognized the platform – short snippet videos that disappear after a certain time period – would become a relevant business and social media tool.There are now 150 million daily active Snapchat users, and Snapchats’s projected 2017 ad revenue is $935 million! That’s nothing to sneeze at.
From a more personal perspective, the other brand that came to my attention this year was Fairlife milk. When it comes to post-run/-workout recovery drinks, chocolate milk tops the list in our household for our competitive running sons. Like most other parents however, I wasn’t much of a fan of the level of sugar found in the typical chocolate milk products you find on the grocery store shelves. Fairlife milk, launched in 2015, is a nutrient-rich ultra-filtered milk with 50% more protein and 30% more calcium and half the sugar found in typical milk (it’s also lactose free). Clearly we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed as it’s taking up more and more space in the dairy section.”
Our Director of Finance and Talent, Chris Maynard, mentioned two that have made a strong impression on him in 2016:
“Under Armour really hit it’s stride in 2016, continuing to disrupt the sports apparel market with 23 quarters of consecutive growth and recent sales figures up 31%. Younger generations are especially enthusiastic about the brand, which I witness first-hand as my son and his peers engage with it. Under Armour is a firm believer in athletes overcoming the odds and they only sign spokespeople who fit that messaging. People like an underdog and, supported by the quality of their products, find Under Armour’s brand story to be authentic.
Savers is a great example of a company who doesn’t just preach about social responsibility. They actually incorporate it into their business practices. Savers is a large thrift store chain with stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Corporate responsibility is actually a part of its business model. It purchases its products from non-profit organizations who have received the items as donations. Then, it sells these items at affordable prices. Any items that are not sold are then recycled. In this way, Savers is able to give money to non-profit organizations and help the environment by recycling products that are not sold.”
Finally, I offer my selections on two brands that seemed to have a pretty good year:
The gaming and social media app Pokémon GO pretty much hit it out of the park this year quickly becoming a global phenomenon with more than 500 million downloads. While there were some technical glitches and controversies related to, among other things, player security and location nuisance issues, it’s successes were attributed to increased foot traffic at local businesses and health benefits related to increased physical activity (not to mention the unexpected side effect of helping local officials discover a number of bodies in unusual places). There’s simply no disputing the brand had a tremendous worldwide impact in 2016.
Thinking a bit more regionally, lifestyle brand Lark Hotels also made its mark this year. Appealing to travelers that seek individualized attention and something a little outside the ordinary chain hotel experience, this group of reasonably-priced boutique hotels across New England and in California delivers on its brand promise of unique, experience-driven stays in properties that ooze character. With the opening of a number of new properties in 2016, they really hit their stride and are poised for continued growth if they continue to deliver.
So tell us what brands you think had the most impact in 2016 – we want to know! Share your thoughts on the winners and loses (but please, no politics during the Holidays)…