Welcome to Will It Stick? podcast, where hosts Melissa and Alexis cover creative advertising campaigns, PR stunts, and marketing activations that brands of all shapes and sizes pull, and dive into the research and data to understand if it worked.

Today, we’re talking about brandstanding and we’re focusing in on 2021. First, we’re gonna take a look at a couple of brands that took a stand this year on social media—one small and relatively unknown, and a large name brand. 

Brandstanding is a trend that’s been picking up speed the past few years. More and more companies are taking a public stand on social issues and causes that align with the values of their customers and cultural changes, pledging transparency and gaining trust…. Brandstands are often driven through statements or stunts shared on social media channels, building a solid audience of customers and brand enthusiasts, and of course, the controversy comes along with it, keeping social media teams on their toes.

One Fresh Pillow

One Fresh Pillow is a pillow subscription company that was founded in 2017 – you can choose different intervals for replacing your pillow with, yep, One Fresh Pillow. 

Back in January of 2021, One Fresh Pillow went viral on Twitter and made national news.

One Fresh Pilllow was tagged in a photo of National Guard troops sleeping on the floors of buildings in Washington DC. Cofounder Adrianne Krautz saw the photo, showed her husband and cofounder Aaron, and then asked the Twitterverse to help them find a contact. In ½ hour, the plan was a go. The small Florida-based company sent a shipment of 130 One Fresh Pillows to one regiment, simply because they thought it was the right thing to do.

As the act of kindness went viral through celebrity retweets, orders poured in, resulting in the company selling out its entire inventory in a single day. After the pillow donation went viral, the account grew from a few hundred followers to nearly 100K by the end of this year, many of them customers. The company has had some significant barriers to fulfillment this year including a giant boat stuck in the Suez Canal, cargo ships hung up offshore, and all sorts of crazy things. They’ve stayed open and transparent about the setbacks, and have had very little pushback from customers waiting for months.

One Fresh Pillow still has a waiting list for their goods, along with a ton of five-star reviews.  Will the idea of pillow subscriptions stick? Will their social media stand eventually bite them back? It will be interesting to watch this company to see how it fares in the longer term.

Lush Cosmetics

Giant cosmetic brand Lush rejected social media for a second time, citing the harmful effect of social media. Sort of. They’re keeping Twitter and YouTube hashtag #ForNow; dropping Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok and Reddit. 

The UK-based company has pledged to stay offline for at least a year, estimating up to a £10 million potential loss in sales. And it seems history does repeat itself. After Lush UK announced its plans to drop social media in all of its 48 global markets, Lush North America briefly went rogue, dropping a social-media size bath bomb by announcing they would continue to operate their channels.  They’ve since fallen back into line, and the company is sending a message to its customers and followers: “Be somewhere else” – tying it neatly back into their brand values.

We’ll see if Lush makes it a full year off social media and how it impacts their bottom line. They’re not the only ones making the move. Many companies and consumers are rethinking their position on social media.

Meta (Facebook) & Good Old Mark Zuckerberg

Controversy about Facebook and its other channels continued to grow in 2021, and the social network has seen increasing backlash. Of course, it’s still the largest social media company in the world, with Facebook owning 4 out of the top five social platforms. 

After a year punctuated by scandals, whistleblowers, Congressional hearings, and scathing reports, Mark Zuckerberg’s July 4 Instagram post set off a new firestorm of criticism and a social media frenzy.

The catalyst? A video of Zuckerberg hydrofoil surfing across a lake with a giant American flag in tow. The whole thing was inexplicably set to the tune of John Denver’s 1970s hit, Take Me Home, Country Roads. Of course, if the video was meant to cause a ruckus, it did its job – briefly.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg rides a hydrofoil surfboard holding the American flag. July 4, 2021.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Rides a Hydrofoil Surfboard Holding the American Flag, July 4, 2021. Photo Credit: Mark Zuckerberg, Instagram

Just a couple of months later, with more damning reports about company operations and use of consumer data emerging, Facebook shook the world in October by announcing it was rebranding. A rebrand is one way to get yourself out of a crisis. In this case, it backfired…at least for now.

By November, it became clear that the Facebook brand had damaged the platform’s reputation further.

Public trust in Meta dropped 5% after the rebrand, a Harris Poll report found, per Fast Company.

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