social media watch

Victoria's Secret PINK Partners with Frankly Chat for Guilt-Free Gossip

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 20, 2014 03:06 PM

Victoria's Secret PINK has taken its app to the next level by partnering with Frankly, a private messaging service. Now, VS PINK fans—also known as #PINKNATION members—can send private in-app chats to one another. The feature will also enable PINK app users to chat live with Victoria's Secret supermodels and have all-access to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show when it airs on December 9th.

The partnership marks the start of Frankly's foray into making its chat technology available to other app developers through its newly launched customizable Chat SDK platform.

“Gossip with your best friends without getting caught!” is Frankly's brand motto, which pairs well with how the PINK line is “dedicated to the independent and inspired collegiate girl…designed to appeal to the spirit, humor and optimism of the girl who wears, lives and loves PINK.”

Apps are increasingly jockeying with traditional social media platforms like Facebook and are emerging as the major traffic drivers of today, thanks to a younger generation that lives and breathes on mobile.

The current crop of messaging apps is dominated by WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook for $19m last February. They broke the mold on Twitter and Facebook’s traditional one-to-many model, and replaced it with one-to-one communication.

WhatsApp's payoffs for brands can be substantial. For example, after BuzzFeed integrated WhatsApp in iOS in October, its shares have doubled, BuzzFeed VP of business development Ashley McCollum said in an extensive article in NeimanLab.

“Every time we looked at WhatsApp’s numbers, it blew us away,” said BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg. “We knew last April this was a huge social network and have become increasingly obsessed with it.”

A case study on the Spanish soccer club Valencia by Nieman further revealed WhatsApp's global potential, as it was generating more than two-thirds of the team's website visits, more than any other social platform. Nieman cautions that the data is susceptible to national context, though. “As of earlier this year, 65 percent of Spain’s mobile Internet users were using WhatsApp; the equivalent number in the United States was just 8 percent.” 

If these numbers are any indication, the US messaging market is still largely untapped—which is where Frankly comes in. With over 1.5 million downloads to date and venture funding of nearly $22 million, it is also a portfolio company of Stanford University's StartX incubator program. 

At the Frankly launch, Stanford President John Hennessy said, “We train and house these creative minds, and it is only fitting that we invest in their future success." 

John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers regularly visits the Stanford campus to scout for ideas, calling it “the germplasm for innovation." "I can’t imagine Silicon Valley without Stanford University," Doerr said.

Though PINK and the Victoria's Secret brand evoke the more revealing side of intimacy, their partnership with Frankly is emblematic of at least one value that's sacred to the next generation: privacy. 

The app promises, “Some things are best kept between friends. Whether you send a private text, photo, or video—we make sure that what happens between friends, stays between friends.”

Add sexy models and smart tech and it’s a perfect brand elixir for the times.

• Follow us: @brandchannel on Twitter and brandchannel on Facebook. Connect with Sheila on Twitter: @srshayon



LA Auto Show Brings Ultra-Luxury Vehicles. Will Ultra-Wealthy Buy Them?

Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2014 01:29 PM

Luxury auto brands are going to great lengths to appeal to the upper-income consumers may kick the tires at the now underway Los Angeles Auto Show. Premium-brand car sales are booming, and from Hollywood to Rodeo Drive, there are plenty of premium-type consumers who will be checking out the latest hardware at the conclave.

But interestingly, a new study from Martini Media and Ipsos research shows that some of the most mainstream car brands are the most widely owned among American upper-income consumers—indicating, as Inc. puts it, that "the rich are really just like us." Well, sort of.

Clearly brands such as Mercedes, which introduced the new Mercedes-Maybach during this week's press preview in LA, are after not just Americans who make six-figure incomes but "the hyper-affluent" who bring in $250,000 or more a year.

As part of its celebration of its return of the Maybach name for the super-high-end new model, in fact, Mercedes released a promo at the LA Auto Show featuring a glimpse of ultra-luxe accessories such as leather goods and sunglasses (below) that bear the same logo (above) as the car.Continue reading...


Amazon's Black Friday Blitz: Robots, Snapchat and Early Flash Sales

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 20, 2014 12:09 PM

Black Friday will soon be upon us, and hopeful retailers are doing all they can to prepare themselves for the onslaught of consumers that will materialize when they throw open their doors. One business going the extra mile this year certainly doesn’t have to worry about opening times or making people wait out in the cold: Amazon.

The e-commerce giant has pushed retail boundaries in the past during the holiday season, such as the controversial app it launched back in 2011 that promoted "showrooming" by encouraging shoppers to check prices of items in brick-and-mortar stores and then buy it cheaper on Amazon. Clearly, the company wants the biggest piece of the holiday-shopping pie that it can get.

This year, Amazon has a few tricks up its sleeve, including hiring more workers—of the automated kind—and tying in with one of the hottest apps with millennials these days.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

HRC Corporate Equality Index: LGBT Progress in Record 366 Perfect Scores

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 20, 2014 11:06 AM

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is a closely-watched bellwether on the treatment of LGBT employees in corporate America.

HRC's new report, released this week, gave perfect scores to 366 of the 781 companies surveyed, spanning nearly every industry and market, thereby earning the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

The national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees shows the steady advance of transgender and LGBT awareness in corporate America, but even those getting 100 percent refuse to rest on those laurels.Continue reading...

brand news

Brand News: Corning Taps MythBusters, Lyft vs. Uber, Apple Plugs Beats and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2014 09:17 AM


Corning promotes new "The Glass Age" campaign with web series starring MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

Lyft gets a lift from Uber controversy.

Apple plans to push Beats to every iPhone, reveals rare misstep with sapphire factory.

Takata faces day of U.S. Senate grilling over air bag debacle as its switch to cheaper propellant comes to center of crisis.

Walmart tightens onlline price-matching policy as Amazon gets warehouse robots ready for Christmas. Continue reading...


British Holiday Ads 2014: Don't Go to War Against a Penguin

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 19, 2014 04:01 PM

War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing—except pulling at the heartstrings, perhaps.

During this most lucrative retail holiday of the year, a pitched battle is underway by UK brands looking to wrench hearts and wring a few pounds out of shoppers.

Sides have been taken by bystanders (like PETA) while newspapers' op-ed pages are weighing in on the gentlemanliness of the contest.

The winner—by a flipper—turns out to be this year's first mover waddler in the annual battle that is British holiday advertising.Continue reading...

app watch

HONK Snares $1.8 Million to Disrupt Roadside Assistance Industry

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 19, 2014 03:03 PM

This year, 86 million Americans will travel by car for the holidays in a car that will be, on average, a dozen years old. Combined with inclement weather, there's always a buildup of driver frustrations during the holiday season.

The $10 billion U.S. roadside assistance industry is ripe for disruption, with AAA and The Auto Club in dominant positions.  

Enter HONK, a mobile app connecting drivers in need to roadside assistance services including immediate access to towing, tire change, jump start, fuel and lock-out service for prices as low as $49, and with no membership fees required.

Formerly known as RoadsTruck, its executive team just raised $1.8 million in seed funding from investors Double M Capital, Venture51, Expansion and Karlin Ventures and individuals including Aaron Batalion, Ben Huh, Naval Ravikant, Paige Craig, Jillian Manus and Mike Walsh.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Can Uber Reverse the Damage Before Driving its Brand Into a Ditch?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 19, 2014 02:09 PM

Uber can take pride that it pretty much created the global ride-sharing industry that didn’t exist when it launched only four years ago. Yet the company, valued at anywhere from $17 billion to $25 billion depending who you talk to, has made so many PR missteps that it shouldn’t feel too good about itself. 

Growing faster than its staff can keep up with has generated, it seems, a culture of arrogance—and a ton of bad news.

Among the flood of negative press, TIME and The Daily Beast have recounted the litany of PR disasters, including a driver that ran over and kill a six-year-old, accusations of sexual assault levied against its drivers, wage protests by its own drivers, claims of causing mayhem for rival Lyft by booking and canceling rides, and a driver who (reportedly) verbally attacked a cancer patient who canceled a ride a minute after scheduling it.Continue reading...

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