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Purpose-Driven Social Media Campaigns Help Brands Connect With Target Audiences

August 31, 2020 Melissa Ledesma

The expectation on brands to do more than provide relevant products and services is rapidly increasing. More and more consumers are gravitating their brand allegiances and preferences toward companies that are believed to be actively and positively impacting society at large. To align with the evolving values of their target audiences, brands are engaging in strategic partnerships to further their social responsibility efforts. 

COVID-19 has been a time of societal and economic uncertainty for many industries. Hershey’s, Staples, and Hellmann’s are responding to the new normal with the launch of their latest social media campaigns, which feature charitable contests and partnerships with non-profit organizations. 

Hershey's Provides S’more Support To Small Businesses With Latest Social Media Contest 

The global pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard, with quarantine and social distancing measures causing many small restaurants to close their doors or operate at a limited capacity. Associate Marketing Director for Jet-Puffed, Allison Kelly noted, “We are all looking for comfort and connectivity right now! Restaurants, specifically small and independent restaurants, have so many memories and traditions embedded in them and it’s time to give back to that community.” What’s more comforting than melted chocolate sandwiched by gooey marshmallow and crisp graham crackers?

Hershey’s, Jet-Puffed and Honey Maid recently came together to launch a social media campaign that will add sweetness in a time of stress. On August 10, the three brands asked small, local restaurants and food businesses to head to Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #SmoresGivesBackContest to show off pictures and videos of new or existing s’more menu items. Five winners will be selected on September 1 in celebration of “National S’more Day” and each win $10,000. 

According to Hershey’s, s’mores represent feelings of connectedness and comfort. Senior Marketing Director for Hershey’s Bill Maclean said, “We wanted to bring attention to all of those local restaurants who have been affected. We want to provide some relief while celebrating these restaurants, their recipes and their love of S’mores.” The Hershey’s, “S’mores Gives Back” campaign leverages user-generated content (UGC) to remind consumers of the simple joys we all share. The campaign positions these brands as supporters of small businesses, which aligns well with the community-oriented values of many consumers. 

Hellmann's Helps Turn Virtual Crops Into Real Food Donations

Pantry items and video games have both surged in popularity and demand during COVID-19, turning Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing” into a hot platform for brands to connect and engage with consumers. Hellmann’s Canada is the latest brand to leverage Animal Crossing to interact with prospective customers and maintain relevance among current customers. The newest craze on Animal Crossing is the Stalk Market. Here players can buy turnips that they later sell to earn a profit which can be used for in-game purchases and character customizations.

Playing off the immense popularity of The Stalk Market, for one week in August, Hellmann’s Canada allowed players to visit Hellman’s Island and turn virtual waste into real meals. Each turnip exchange represented one full meal Hellmann’s donated to Second Harvest Food Rescue. Gina Kiroff, Director of Foods at Unilever Canada said in a statement, “When we noticed spoiled turnips is a real tension point for many Animal Crossing players, we wanted to take advantage of the insight to create a fun consumer experience that would have real world impact.” The #HellmannsIsland campaign furthers Hellmann’s initiative to prevent food waste, as Canada has the second highest rate of food waste. 

To take advantage of this unique opportunity, players were driven to Hellmann’s Canada Twitter page to get the access or “dodo” code to the island and the time when the exchange would be accessible. While on Hellmann’s Island, players could also participate in fun photoshoots with backdrops and visit virtual bulletin boards to learn how to reduce food waste in real life. Through its partnership with Second Harvest Food Rescue, Hellmann’s Canada donated 25,000 meals as a result of Animal Crossing engagement. Hellmann’s commitment to its social responsibility initiatives will help the legacy brand continue to connect with new audiences as it focuses on differentiating itself in the competitive CPG market.           

Staples Launches UGC Campaign On Twitter To Recognize Teachers

2020 has reshaped the face of organized education. Teachers and educators across the U.S. have quickly adapted to provide quality instruction during a time of social distancing. With the back-to-school season feeling a bit different this year, instead of encouraging consumers to purchase affordable school supplies, Staples’ latest social media campaign is dedicated to recognizing the immense impact teachers have had over the past few months. Mike Motz, CEO, Staples U.S. Retail said, “It’s undeniable that this school year will look different for everyone. Staples knows that teachers will need our support more than ever – whether they’re teaching in the classroom, remotely or a combination of both.” The events of COVID-19 have put immense pressure on students, elevating the role teachers perform and making them a symbol of stability. 

By sharing stories on Twitter and Instagram, Staples is helping to shed light on outstanding teachers. Consumers can nominate teachers through September 26 by sharing videos, pictures and personal stories using the hashtag #ThankATeacher and #contest and tagging @StaplesStores. Consumers can also shout out the incredible teachers in their lives via Staples’ ecommerce site. Staples will select 20 teachers from the submissions to each win a $5,000 Staples gift card to purchase essential supplies for the upcoming school year.

Marketers Can Leverage The Power Of Social Media To Connect With Consumers Who Share Their Values

Brands can leverage strategic social media campaigns and partnerships to reach new audiences, engage their core customers and give back. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other major social media platforms can help brands further their digital strategies, especially as they pertain to social responsibility campaigns. It is vital, however, that brands remain committed to promoting authentic purpose-driven initiatives in order to drive effective results. According to Walker Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer for Branding and Marketing at Kantar Consulting, “People are demanding that brands not just deliver a better self, but a better society as well.” 

When executed correctly, brands can powerfully employ their social media channels to host contests, sweepstakes and UGC submissions that promote causes which embrace existing brand identities and align with the empathy of consumers. Whether it’s mayonnaise, chocolate or school supplies, consumers will feel better about patronizing brands that represent their values, and positive consumer sentiment is key for maintaining brand loyalty. 

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About the Author

Melissa Ledesma

An innovative problem solver by nature, Melissa Ledesma is both experienced and passionate about the digital marketing industry. She has held a number of high-level positions within the real estate, mortgage, entertainment and digital advertising industries, including Director of PR and Business Development at NJ Lenders Corp. and Director of Communications & Government Affairs at Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. As Director of Content & Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Melissa demonstrates a strategic, creative and tactical approach when handling the thought leadership programs and marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its family of brands. She manages all conferences, sponsorships and event execution and plays a pivotal role in the creation of written, digital and video content for all campaigns. Melissa has consistently positioned the team at DMS as experts in performance marketing across multiple industries.

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