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Samsung, Big Mama’s and the brands that shook up this year’s Academy Awards

If there's one thing we've learned in the last 86 years, it's that Oscar night is without a doubt the biggest party in showbiz. As celebrities flocked the Dolby Theater on Sunday night, 2014 proved, yet again, what a powerful platform it can be for brands who want to leverage Hollywood's big night.

Though big names such as Mercedes-Benz, JC Penny, Chevrolet, American Express and Chobani followed a traditional approach when it came to advertising, it was Samsung, Twitter and a pizzeria by the name of Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria who stole the show, proving that authentic and spontaneous interactions during the show leave a far more powerful impression on viewers. 

Samsung Galaxy Academy Awards Oscars

Samsung, a big sponsor of the event, was more than present during the live telecast, especially during moments when host Ellen Degeneres took out a Galaxy mobile phone out of her pocket. The golden moment came when she attempted to snap a photo of her and Meryl Streep, which soon turned into the most star-studded group selfie, ever. 

Samsung Galaxy Academy Awards Oscars

The epic picture taken with the phone and posted on Twitter set a new record for the most number of retweets ever - an incredible amount of 2.4 million as of Monday - making it without a doubt the coolest product placement during the Oscars, and the most successful social media moment in modern history. The platform was mentioned several times and stole the show at one point, especially when Ellen announced that the they had accidentally 'broken' Twitter: "We crashed and broke Twitter. We made history." "It's fantastic. See what we did, Meryl?"

But perhaps one of the funniest moments came from Ellen when she offered pizza (with a real delivery guy) from Big Mama's and Papa's to the stars in the audience.

Big Mamas and Papas Pizzeria

Another brand who received a lovely surprise was Miller Lite, mentioned by Matthew McConaughey during his speech towards the end of the show: "To my father, who I know is up there right now with a big pot of gumbo; he's got a lemon meringue pie, probably in his underwear and he's got a cold can of Miller Lite and he's dancing..."

Of course, the brand did not let this historical moment slip through its fingers. It immediately posted:

Miller Lite Oscars

This year proved that interaction and authenticity is monumental and brands need to be ready to make the best of these opportunities - especially when it comes to live events.

Other stars at this year's Oscars:



American Express




 JC Penny


Brands that are not afraid to ¨come out of the closet¨


With marriage equality being such an important topic these days, numerous high-profile brands have come forward in support of gay marriage in the United States, running some of the most creative and ingenious gay-pride theme ads that certainly have not gone unnoticed. 

Historically, corporations and mainstream brands haven’t been that enthusiastic about a political and social issue as this one. So why has this changed? Demographically, according to a 2011 review conducted by the Williams Institute in the United States, approximately 3.5% of American adults identify themselves as lesbians, gays or bisexual, and 0.3% are transgendered, which translates to approximately 11 million people. This includes as well heterosexuals supporters of the cause. So when the Supreme Court of the United States took such a historical leap and overturned the Defense of Marriage Act between same-sex couples, naturally everyone reacted and so did brands, some with great joy and some with dollar signs through their eyes.

It may be that the leaders of these companies simply believe strongly in gay marriage, but to be true, the case may be that they are seeing this as the perfect opportunity to connect with consumers in a more personal and closer level, leveraging on a topic that is clearly important to millions of people around the world. 

The strategy has been simple: Take the social media networks by storm, since herein lies its largest support platform, through the use of hashtags such as #gaymarriage or #prop8 and #StopDOMA in sites like Facebook and Twitter, allowing brands to easily target those who are more interested in the issue. Great examples are Mastercard, which ran a giveaway with the hashtag #acceptancematters, suggesting that the company believes that supporting gay marriage is good policy as well as good business. Meanwhile, according to sources, Adweek ABC channel was reported buying promoted tweets associated with the #gaymarriage hashtag on Twitter to promote a forthcoming show called “The Fosters”, revolving around an interracial lesbian couple. Also, the online travel company Orbitz promoted a contest to win first class flights using the hashtag #marriageequality.

There is no doubt that these are step-changing moments for society and also for brands, who are now quickly learning that besides having a personality, they should also be allowed to have a political and social standpoint. Even though they might risk negative reactions from potential conservative consumers by loudly supporting marriage equality, this hasn't stopped them from flying their rainbow flag high, coming out of the closet and proudly becoming gay-friendly brands.

I leave you with my top 10 favorite examples of brands actively supporting marriage equality. Enjoy!

10. Kenneth Cole spreads the word on social media, billboards and print ads. 

9. Smirnoff went for a straightforward and clear message.

8. JCPenney was criticized for using openly gay personality Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson, but the company didn't care. It also ran this ad featuring two dads for their Father's Day catalogue.

7. Absolut has been a gay marriage advocate since 1989.

6. Target released this wedding gift registry ad featuring a gay couple.

5. Banana Republic posted on Facebook the following after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage was announced: "As a San Francisco based-brand, we celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling moving California forward on the road to marriage equality."

4. Gap tweeted this photo reacting to the ruling.

3. Grey Poupon posted this image on its Facebook page - a riff on its classic 1981 commercial.

2. Mastercard message and complete strategy are just priceless.

1. Oreo is still #1 for me, maybe because it was one of the first ones to come forward with its unforgettable colored-cream cookie posted during Gay Pride Month in 2012.



Business Insider: ¨These major brands actively support gay marriage¨

 Huffington Post: ¨27 companies that aren't afraid to support the Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings¨

 Slate: ¨How Apple, MasterCard and Chick-Fil-A reacted to the gay marriage ruling.¨