Friday, February 22, 2013

Carnival Corporation PR nightmare

Picture via CruiseCrazies

It is safe to say that Carnival Corporation is smack dab in the middle of a public relations nightmare. The company is no stranger to this type of animosity directed at them, but this time, they may have really done it. Here's what happened:

The Carnival's mishap began when a fire exploded in the engine room, knocking out the power and leaving almost 4,000 people with no working toilets or air conditioning. Ultimately, the people onboard were stranded at sea for almost five days while the boat slowly made its way to dock in Alabama. What was the real kicker, however, was that the boat was scorching hot and had sewage literally dripping down from the walls. To me, this sounds like an absolute nightmare.

With the outbreak of social media, Carnival could not hide any of their customers' disgust or complaints. Among the first interviews with those onboard, the media learned about how passengers had to wait in line for four hours to simply receive a hamburger. They also covered stories about how people were throwing up over the side of the boat due to the awful smells. 

So how has Carnival decided to save their reputation and salvage this PR nightmare? According to Time Business and Money, Carnival gave all customers onboard a full refund for the cruise and travel expenses, reimbursement for everything purchased while on the ship, a credit towards a future cruise, and a $500 compensation. For all of the horror the passengers endured, one must wonder if that was enough to save their brand. The Wall Street Journal has concluded that, although this has definitely tainted their reputation, it is uncertain whether it will have a big impact on sales.

Personally, I feel that Carnival handled the situation in the best way that it could. They did not try to hide what had happened on the ship and were completely transparent about the fire and its consequences. The crew never gave up and my only suggestion would be that they should have evacuated passengers to another ship so that the agony did not even have to be endured. Lastly, I applaud the fact that  Carnival's CEO, Gerry Cahill, was there to greet the passengers when they arrived on land. It demonstrates that he knows that the company messed up and that he is not above being there in person. Also, his apology seemed rather genuine to me. Take a look for yourself and decide:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hashtags are the new credit cards

Yes, you heard me right. As of this past Tuesday, people are now able to purchase things on Twitter without even having to dig into their purses or wallets to get the credit card numbers out. You can thank American Express for this one. 

With the credit card debt many Americans are already facing, this honestly frightens me. People say that they do not realize how much money they are spending when they swipe rather than pay with cash. Thus, one can only imagine the excessive spending that will go on when people can do it from their favorite social media network, Twitter.

Ultimately, this collaboration between Twitter and American Express has turned the social media site into a shopping cart. People who use American Express will be able to create an account and buy certain products by tweeting an appropriate hashtag. The @AmexSync account will then send a confirmation tweet indicating that their purchase was successful.

Ultimately, this idea was actually quite genius of American Express. People will be tweeting the hashtags, which will cause their followers to become curious. American Express hopes that perhaps, people will become so intrigued, that they sign up for an American Express credit card just to be able to buy things on Twitter and participate in what may be the next big thing (or a fleeting fad).

If you are wondering how to join in yourself, all you need to do is link your American Express account with your Twitter account. If you have a protected account, however, you will not be able to participate. Twitter and American Express want all companies to get the recognition they deserve, so protected accounts will not be allowed to utilize the system.

According to the CNN Tech article, the first discounted items that will be available for purchase include an Amazon Kindle Fire, a Sony Action Cam, a Donna Karan-designed bracelet and an XBox360. 

This whole e-commerce and social media collaboration is not necessarily new. Facebook now lets you buy Starbucks gift cards for your friends on their birthdays by placing a convenient link under their picture and indicating that they have linked the chain in the past.

In fact, for Valentine's day, Facebook created a header which encouraged people in relationships to surprise their "valentine" with a special gift. Unless, of course, you're like me and saw this this morning:

Thanks for the friendly reminder, Facebook. Happy Valentine's Day to you, too.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jason Mraz features user's tweets in latest video

Everyone has heard of singer-songwriter, Jason Mraz. On a snowy day like today with Valentine's day just around the corner, my guess is that you could find countless girls curled up in their beds listening to his melodic jams. He has gained much popularity with many great hits, including "I Won't Give Up", "I'm Yours", and "Lucky". 

But what I bet you didn't know, is that his latest single's music video features tweets by ordinary Twitter users and fans. The song is called "The Woman I Love" and talks about how the artist feels about the woman in his life. He expresses the good and the bad in the video and features himself, as well as a beautiful young woman, acting as "his woman".

What ultimately sets this video apart, however, are the tweets which pop up throughout the video. Jason Mraz and his director, Elliot Sellers, posed a challenge on Twitter for users to tweet what they considered "the woman I love" to mean to them. The users were to tweet their thoughts with the hashtag #MrazingTheVideo. Here a few that made it into the finished project:

Pictures via

I found this idea to be both clever and sweet. I also think it is just the beginning of what we can expect from artists utilizing social media in their music videos. User generated content is gaining popularity and something like this allows users or fans to enter a challenge and anticipate the results. This then leads them to get excited about the premiere of the music video and share it with their friends. It is word of mouth at its most basic form and I applaud Jason Mraz and his director for this successful project. 

Take a look at the video and enjoy on this snowy day:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Last night's Beyonce Concert (I mean Super Bowl)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, I am sure you are well aware of the plethora of events which have recently taken place. There was a football game, a blackout, a Beyonce concert, a Destiny's Child Reunion, and plenty of mediocre commercials. 

That is not to say that there weren't a few great commercials. However, according to the New York Times, many of the ads depended on outdated ad tactics. Many commercials simply missed the mark and included tried and true outdated implications. A few notable ones which took this approach would be Century 21's mother-in-law reference and an Audi commercial that took place at a prom. There was also a central theme around space (Axe Apollo, Kia Sorento, and Lincoln). The New York Times list of "outstanding" ads include Bud Light, Oreo, Taco Bell, and Budweiser. I find it is also valuable to note that many of the ads contained a hashtag for people to tweet about. To me, this emphasizes the power and popularity of social media in this day and age.

Moving on to the football game itself, it is safe to say that it was mostly one-sided and boring. That is, until there was a blackout. Unsurprisingly, the blackout was filled with various renditions of a tweet claiming that "Ray Lewis had killed the lights, allegedly". Moreover, the blackout caused the 49ers to gain momentum, while also allowing the Super Bowl to gain more viewers. This occurred because it pushed the game into prime-time hours and the ending was quite dramatic.

Finally, discussion of this year's Super Bowl would not be complete without a reflection on the incredible half-time show. After facing much adversity for "lip-syncing" at the presidential inauguration, Beyonce most definitely redeemed herself and then some. Beyonce's performance rendered a total of 5.5 million tweets according to Mashable. The most tweets came in at the conclusion of her performance, when the members of Destiny's Child shot up from the floor, and Beyonce's performance of "Single Ladies". Instagram was filled with 200 Beyonce photos per second, including the star herself posting pictures of the action backstage. Furthermore, Beyonce saw a 49,000% increase, Destiny's Child saw a 10,000% increase, and the phrase "killed it" saw a 40,000% increase in mentions on Facebook at the conclusion of her performance. I have never been a huge fan of Beyonce, but my feelings have definitely shifted after watching last night's powerful performance. 

Ultimately, this Super Bowl was one for the books. From the dramatic ending leading to a Ravens win, to the blackout which almost changed the entire game, this Super Bowl was nothing short of great entertainment. It is also safe to concur that Beyonce "killed it" and Jay-Z is one lucky man.