We’ve heard of luxury brands getting shout-outs in popular song lyrics, but what happens when a family-dining brand gets an explicit shout-out?
Popular clothing brands such as Michael Kors, Versace, and Tom Ford are mentioned numerous times in hip-hop, rap, pop and rock songs and these mentions build brand awareness to mass audiences in an organic way.
However, not all brands get the best publicity when being put into a negative or poorly associated context. Recently, the popular casual dining chain, Red Lobster experienced this when Beyoncé mentioned the brand in her latest single, Formation. The lyrics associate Red Lobster in a very explicit way, but the celebrity endorsement boosted the restaurant’s sales.
The Pros and Cons of Brand Endorsers
Brand endorsers almost seem like an easy way around marketing by hitching a ride on a celebrity or public figure’s fame. Many times, this strategy will boost sales and brand awareness soon after the endorsement, however negative press on a celebrity could rub off poorly on the brand.
In Red Lobster’s case, having a celebrity like Beyoncé endorse Red Lobster in her new single and perform it at the SuperBowl half time show will boost the restaurant’s sales. Compared to Red Lobster sales in 2015, the chain said sales were up 33% after the song was released. Additionally, with the help of social media and Twitter, Red Lobster was mentioned 42,000 times in a single hour and was trending for the first time in history.
While poor endorsers have never permanently damaged a brand, the association to a scandal may change some consumers’ perception. In Subway’s case, spokeman Jared Fogle was just a man with a testimonial of losing 200 lbs. from eating Subway sandwiches. Though, once Jared was caught in the child pornography scandal, Subway had stated on Twitter that they would no longer have Jared as their endorser.
How Being Active on Social Media Supports Your Brand
If there is one thing that can ultimately hurt a brand, it is having a bad or absent reputation on social media. Having a social media account that actively communicates with its followers, helps build trust and build a consistent brand image.
While the recent Red Lobster shout-out boosted the restaurant’s sales, it also turned into a big social media blunder when the Twitter account failed to respond to Beyoncé’s endorsement. The Twitterverse and Beyoncé fans were outraged by how long it took (8 hours) for Red Lobster to reply.
When Red Lobster finally tweeted, people were still not impressed given the length of time they had to really come up with something good. In Red Lobster’s defense, their PR and social media team had to figure out how to “square their family-dining image with a shoutout that portrayed a visit to the restaurant as a kind of performance bonus for good sex,” as suggested by Fortune Magazine.
Either way, Red Lobster bounced back and still received a positive outcome of a 33% boost in restaurant sales in response to trending on Twitter. What are your thoughts on endorsements? Do you think it’s lazy marketing? We know one thing is for sure and that is never leave social media publicity out when it comes to building your brand. Being a trending topic on Twitter will guarantee brand awareness and remind people you’re still around.
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