But the brilliance of this campaign is beyond the product itself. Kim has done dozens of product launches in her career, but this marketing move is special. For Kim, it brings everything full circle…
Paris and Kim — The Original Influencers
I’m not sure how familiar you are with the history of Paris and Kim’s iconic friendship, but let’s rewind.
Paris Hilton was the it-girl of the early 2000s. As a young and beautiful hotel heiress, she lived a lavish lifestyle of glitz, glamour, and lots of partying. The paparazzi was fascinated with her, and documented her every move.
Before Kim Kardashian became a household name, she was Paris’ stylist-turned-sidekick. Inevitably, she was photographed out and about with Paris. The public then started to wonder, who is this beautiful brunette hanging out with Paris Hilton?
Side note… this is one of my favorite videos ever.
Fast forward to 2020. Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous people in the world with countless business ventures, brand partnerships, and social media followers. She’s marketed dozens upon dozens of fully integrated product launches in her career.
Most product launches involve months of developing social media posts, writing email campaigns, designing web pages, directing product photoshoots, creating polished videos, pitching to media outlets, and placing advertisements.
But with the release of SKIMs velour tracksuits, Kim channeled inspiration from her early road to stardom and how she marketed herself.
It’s paparazzi photos(along with a little sex tape) that put Kim Kardashian on the map in the 2000s. Without having to spend a dime, she was in every tabloid. So why not tap into this tactic to promote SKIMs?
Kim could have easily announced the velour tracksuits by posing in front of a white backdrop, or outfitting models in every style and color. Instead, she produced photos and video of her and Paris on-the-go, reminiscent of their escapades nearly two decades ago.
They’re seen walking through parking garages, stopping for snacks at a gas station, and driving around in a Range Rover with their bedazzled cell phones — all while comfortably sporting the tracksuits.
As routine as these activities may seem, this is when these two would typically encounter paparazzi. The art direction for the SKIMs campaign recreates that magic.
Even back in the 2000s, every brand wanted a piece of Paris or Kim K. They were influencers before Instagram existed. Did you even grow up in the 2000s if you didn’t beg your parents for a Louis Vuitton bag?
Today, Kim and Paris’ influence is stronger than ever — they just have new tools to exercise it.
That’s Hot — What SKIMs Got Right
Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is cashing in on SKIMs. Here are the main takeaways explaining why this campaign made such a big splash.
Why develop a new idea when you can create a remix of what’s worked before? Nostalgia is a surefire way to create an emotional bond with your audience. Develop a campaign that brings them back in time and you’ll immediately make them feel something, which is always the goal.
It’s easy to follow a playbook or do things the way you’ve always done them. Kim deviated from what she typically does for a product launch and made this campaign true to her roots. Look for ways to make your marketing campaigns personal or more authentic to the brand.
When you market a product, you want your audience to envision what life would be like if they had it. SKIMs strategically promoted their velour tracksuits in a relatable setting. Their audience is looking for something cozy, comfortable, and stylish to wear while out running errands, so that’s what they portrayed. Ditch the plain backdrops and show your product out in the world.
Two audiences are better than one. Paris and Kim were a power duo of the 2000s, but seeing them together again in 2020 energized both of their fan bases(and the media!). If it makes sense for your product, find collaborators and influencers to help build trust and spread the word.
We all know that cameras follow Kim and Paris everywhere. They built a connection with their audience by giving them a glimpse behind-the-scenes of this brilliant campaign shoot, while also sharing fun facts from their partying days.
Kim revealed that that iconic Louis Vuitton bags they were photographed with during a 2006 trip to Australia were actually empty. Kim was afraid Paris would ruin the bags, so they were just for show.
The takeaway? Let your audience behind-the-scenes so they can get to know you better.
With 2020 being as crazy as it is, I wouldn’t mind going back to the 2000s. SKIMs velour tracksuits go on sale Wednesday, October 21.
If you grew up in the late’90s and early 2000s, long before Spotify, TikTok, and YouTube, Carson Daly was your gateway to new music.
On September 14, 1998, a little show called Total Request Live (TRL) premiered on MTV. It was a driving force that helped launch the career of a few blonde bombshell likes Britney and Christina, boy bands like BSB and *NSYNC, and rappers like Eminem and Ludacris.
For me, TRL was my daily after-school ritual. I looked forward to exclusive interviews and music video premieres. But the best part was seeing which videos would clinch the number one spot. And in an age when artists were pitted against each other more than ever, the competition got pretty heated.
But TRL really wasn’t about the music. It was about the fans.
The Magic of TRL
Even before social media made two-way communication something you could do in an instant, TRL found a way to put the power in their fans’ hands. The programming was essentially crowdsourced.
The countdown wasn’t carefully curated by music journalists or producers. They left it up to the fans to show up and vote. We were empowered to control the outcome.
MTV invited us into the studio. They let us take over the streets of Times Square. They answered our phone calls and counted our votes. TRL was our chance to feel seen, included, and heard.
This goes beyond simply acknowledging their audience. They made them part of the process, which is a surefire way to strengthen their bond.
How to Emulate the Success of TRL
Aside from the fact that the Backstreet Boys will always be better than *NSYNC, what can we learn from TRL?
If we want to engage with our audience more, we need to apply one of the magic words from TRL’s acronym: REQUEST.
Simply pushing a message won’t activate your fans or customers. Truth be told, sometimes they need a little nudge, and all you have to do is ASK!
Make your communication two-way by presenting them with a request.
You can request your audience to:
Answer a question
Respond to a poll
Ask a question
Complete a survey
Share their opinion
Choose this or that
Enter a contest
Vote for their favorite
Leave a review
Tag a person or brand
Express an idea
This approach is a win-win. Your content gets a boost, and your customer feels included.
Making Social Media‘Social’
If you work in marketing, you’ve probably said this countless times: social media is meant to be‘social.’
Along these lines, I tweeted the following phrase this week which seemed to resonate with my followers:
You get the most out of social media when you use it to start conversation, not post information.
So no, you shouldn’t post your flyer on Instagram.
We’re in this to start genuine conversations with our followers. But that’s not the end of the point I want to make. There’s a difference between interesting conversation and boring conversation.
While you’re following TRL’s framework and requesting that your audience to engage, take a moment to think about what you’re asking. Are you asking a question that is rhetorical, overdone, or too broad?
Social media is cluttered with businesses asking lame questions with posts like
“Happy Friday! Who’s ready for the weekend?”
OF COURSE WE’RE READY FOR THE WEEKEND.
We’re not sitting at our computers anxious to tell businesses how we feel about the weekend. But if you asked us something interesting, we’d be more likely to respond.
For instance, if you’re a local bar with a happy hour special, instead of a post that says“Happy Friday, who’s ready for happy hour?”, you could ask your audience to comment with their go-to happy hour drink.
This starts a REAL conversation, and more importantly, it lets people talk about themselves. Trust me, that’s what your followers want.
Give Your Followers the Answers
The other thing to keep in mind when asking questions on social media is not to make it too difficult. If you’ve gotten your audience to stop their scroll, don’t make them complete a math problem, for lack of a better analogy.
It’s best to ask questions with a finite number of answers, or where something specific can easily come to mind.
That’s why content where your audience chooses this or that, answers multiple choice, or votes is a simple mechanic.
And if you ask an open-ended question, you don’t want it to be so broad your audience can’t quickly think of an answer, and is forced to move on.
We employ system 1 for fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, or unconscious thoughts or decision.
System 2, however, is slow, effortful, calculating, and conscious thinking.
As marketers, we want to make it easy on our audience and present them with opportunities to use system 1 thinking. Calling for system 2 is usually asking too much.
You know what they say… keep it simple, stupid!
Asking for User-Generated-Content
In addition to not making your audience think too hard, you don’t want to make them work too hard either!
Thankfully, social media has made it easier than ever for fans to share their thoughts, photos, or videos. But I’ll end this post with a throwback clip of Britney Spears and Melissa Joan-Hart guest hosting TRL in which they encouraged the audience to FAX THEM UGC to enter a contest.
Fast forward to the 3 minute mark:
If you want your brand to thrive, do whatever you can to reduce friction and make it easier for your audience to engage with you. They’re busy enough, so when you have their attention, make it count.
With my social life taking a hit during quarantine, I’ve been spending a lot more time reading.
How do you expand your vocabulary?
Do you read books? Articles? Listen to speeches?
I enjoy both of these activities, but one of my favorite ways to learn new words is to listen to Mariah Carey.
A 2015 study by SeatSmart indicated that Mariah Carey had the“smartest lyrics” of any artist. And did you know she writes ALL of her songs?
If you take a close look at some of the interviews Mariah has done over her 30-year career, you’ll notice her incessant effort to be recognized as a both a singer and songwriter. Many know her for being one of the greatest voices of all time, but overlook her songwriting ability.
Mariah says that people even think her iconic hit, All I Want For Christmas Is You, is a holiday song that she covered, but it is complete Mariah original, written by her.
So yes, not only does Mariah write her songs, but she incorporates some million dollar vocabulary words!
Mariah’s Smart Song Lyrics
Let’s do a deep dive on some of the more advanced vocabulary words Mariah has incorporated into her discography over the years.
There’s Got to Be a Way(1990)
Meaning: lack of the means of subsistence; utter poverty.
Lyric: And maybe then the future will be a time / Without war, destitution and sorrow
Meaning: delight beyond measure
Lyric: I was so enraptured / No sensibility to open my eyes /I misunderstood
Meaning: to disenchant
Lyric: I don’t want another pretender / To disillusion me one more time
Meaning: difficult to find
Lyric: Oh, I can’t be elusive with you honey
Meaning: to give in, submit, or yield
Lyric: It’s easy to succumb to overwhelming fears inside
Meaning: decorated with brilliant colors
Lyric: I can see you clearly, vividly emblazoned in my mind
Fourth of July(1997)
Meaning: being or showing a sign of evil
Lyric: So threateningly, ominously hovering / and the sky opened wide
Close My Eyes(1997)
Meaning: to scatter in various directions
Lyric: I left the worst unsaid / Let it all dissipate and I try to forget
Meaning: unending; without interruption
Lyric: Heartbreaker you’ve got the best of me / But I just keep coming back incessantly
Meaning: sadness; gloom; dejection
Lyric: A boy and a girl befriended me / We’re bonded through despondency
Thank God I Found You(1999)
Meaning: plain; clear; straightforward
Lyric: After so much suffering I finally found unvarnished truth
Never Too Far(2001)
Meaning: comfort in sorrow
Lyric: Incandescent eyes still preserved in my mind / In the memories I’ll find solace
Meaning: belonging naturally, essential
Lyric: Like you’ll always be, an intrinsic part of me / Even though life goes, ooh
It’s Like That(2005)
Meaning: freedom; liberation
Lyric: It’s a special occasion / Mimi’s emancipation
It’s a Wrap(2009)
Meaning: compliant; cooperative
Lyric: I was oh so acquiescent / But I learned my lesson
Meaning: common or widespread
Lyric: Limitless, omnipresent kind of love / Couldn’t have guessed it would just stop / And disappear in a whirlwind
Meaning: lacking discretion
Lyric: Oh my love, imprudently I left every cell in me so naked
Meaning: a feeling of fear or alarm about something that may happen
Lyric: She was full of such trepidation / There in front of the whole damn nation
What’s Next for Mariah?
These songs and vocabulary words just scratch the surface on Mariah Carey’s songwriting talent. This September, she is releasing a new album called The Rarities, as well as a memoir called “The Meaning of Mariah Carey.” I hope the memoir gives us a glimpse into Mariah’s 30-year-career of songwriting and using her voice to make art.
MTV is hosting their annual Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 30th.
We all know that the best part of the VMAs are the performances. This year Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, The Weekend, BTS, and CNCO are just a few acts to take the stage.
But to practice social distancing, all performances will be held outdoors with “limited or no audiences”… yikes.
Truth be told, the VMAs’ audience has been dwindling for years.
There are two things that can explain their consistent ratings decline:
1. If Britney Spears isn’t performing, there’s really no point in watching.
2. MTV deviated from their original brand purpose.
The Early Days of MTV
MTV officially launched as a channel on August 1, 1981, which was the same year as the first launch of the space shuttle, Columbia. This explains the significance of the moon man awards they hand out at the VMAs.
You can watch it here. You might want to skip to the 1:50 mark:
The original slogan of the channel was “You’ll never look at music the same way again”.
And through the ‘80s and ‘90s, MTV delivered on their promise to bring more music, through video, to audiences. They had shows like Yo! MTV Raps, TRL, Headbanger’s Ball, and Making the Video, mixed in among their music video marathons.
But by the early 2000s, MTV’s programming strayed away from music (although they were still airing Making the Band — the inspiration for my podcast).
Their show line-up was mostly original reality TV shows like Laguna Beach, 16 and Pregnant, Room Raiders, and even Jackass.
By 2010, MTV officially dropped “music television” from their logo altogether.
So for at least the past decade, MTV admittedly hasn’t been about music except for one night of the year: the Video Music Awards.
But If MTV doesn’t care about music, why should their audience?
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
When I was a kid, MTV’s “main thing” was music. Their programming fueled my passion for it, and I couldn’t get enough. I was glued to the TV. Their programming added more context to the music I loved. I looked forward to exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, and concert specials.
But now, if I want to learn about music, I’m on my own. Yes, social media has given us access to our favorite musicians, but as a network, MTV isn’t contributing to the conversation or adding any value.
That’s the problem. They’ve given up on music, which doesn’t set the right example for their audience.
If you want your audience to care about something, you have to be the thing you want them to care about.That means 365 days a year… not just one night for an awards show.
This applies to MTV and pretty much any organization.
I think about this a lot in the non-profit world. I see so many non-profits make their messaging about their sponsors, volunteers, and donors. They profusely thank them and feature them on every one of their channels.
Of course, these groups are important. They provide necessary funding and assistance to keep these organizations going.
But you want your audience to care about the people (or animals!) you serve. Tell THEIR stories. This happens to be the better approach to create more donors, sponsors, volunteers, and funding.
Your supporters want to know how their donations or hard work are impacting people’s lives. THIS is what will open their hearts and wallets going forward.
Stick to the thing you want to be known for, and you’ll hold your audience’s attention.
I know… pursuing a shiny new opportunity can be tempting. You may feel pressure to innovate or switch things up, like MTV did once they got a taste of reality TV.
But stay the course. Specialize, niche down, and go all-in on what you do best. And if you must try something new, make sure it reflects who you are as a brand.
It’s wild to think that TikTok has become a vehicle for people to discover music. Growing up, I turned to traditional media to fuel my passion for music — radio, print, and television.
One TV show I always gravitated toward was VH1’s Pop-Up Video. Although it only aired from 1996 to 2002, there are so many takeaways from this show that we can apply to content creation today.
If you don’t remember Pop-Up Video, it was a mini music video marathon where fun facts would pop up onto the screen. As you watched, you’d learn various things about the musician, the video production, or other relevant factoids.
Here’s an example from the beloved Spice Girls video for“Wannabe”.
My favorite pop-up reveals some Spice Girls history: each member was hand selected out of 400 women who responded to an ad for a girl group.
A Content Creation Must: Education
The mark of any interesting piece of content is that it serves a purpose. Whether it be to entertain, inspire, connect, or educate, you want to publish content that feeds your audience.
Although the factoids shared on Pop-Up Video are far from academic, they still educate the viewer. These fun facts provide context and insights that make the music video more enjoyable.
From your email campaigns, to social content and YouTube videos, incorporating facts is a surefire way to enhance your content. Here’s why:
Facts illustrate your brand’s WHY.
As Simon Sinek always says, start with why. Sharing facts with your audience can illustrate how your company got started.
For instance, after learning that 14 billion pounds of plastic end up in our oceans each year, two friends took action. Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze created, 4ocean, a company committed to removing plastic from our oceans.
Publish the facts about your industry that inspired you to make a change.
Facts help establish credibility.
What better way to demonstrate you know your stuff than to spill all the facts? When people are in the research phase of the customer journey, they are weighing their options and comparing you to competitors.
One way to instantly build your credibility with facts is to do a myth busting content series. This will educate your audience while you show your expertise.
For example, imagine you are an interior designer. You could debunk a design myth, such as“everything in your house should match.” Then, explain how to pair various colors, patterns, and textures. Better yet, illustrate it with photos and videos.
Facts show your brand’s personality.
Your audience doesn’t choose to work with you solely based on reputation or impressive accolades. Personality is what sets you apart from the competition, especially if you have similar credentials.
Perhaps you’re trying to choose a financial advisor to help you set up a college fund for your small children. A candidate whose“About” page touches on personal details, like the fact that he or she is also a parent, may influence your decision. The other advisors you’re considering may be just as qualified, but you relate to this one more.
Facts boost engagement.
We all know that the purpose of social media is to be social! Positioning your factual content in a trivia-style format is a simple way to open things up for conversation.
You can ask your audience to make a guess about a statistic, fill in the blank, answer true or false, or build intrigue with a“did you know” series.
Facts bring you closer to your audience.
A small fact about you or your company may be what inspires a potential customer to work with you. We like to buy from companies we are proud to support.
Share facts about how your brand gives back to the community. If you are a corporation who has also raised thousands of dollars for charity, let your audience know. These details can be the push you audience needs to hear before conversion.
Facts inspire your audience to share.
In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger says that audiences like to feel smart. When we’re in the know about something, we’re more compelled to share this information with our social circles, both on and off social media.
Going back to Pop-Up Video as an example, facts make for interesting conversation. The next time I’m out and hear a Spice Girls song on the radio, I may feel compelled to mention their backstory, which I learned from Pop-Up Video.
It’s Easy to Face the Facts
Content creators can breathe a sigh of relief because interesting facts are all around us! Rather than banging our heads against the wall to come up with a creative content ideas all the time, all you have to do is a little research.
Start by asking questions and you’ll learn of countless interesting facts to share with your audience.