“Sexist crap”: Target Australia slammed over kids toys promoting gender stereotypes - SmartCompany Article.

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This article written by Dominic Powell originally appeared on SmartCompany here, featuring commentary from Good Things Marketing's CEO Helen Ahrens.

Despite a checkered history of outrage over gender stereotype-enforcing children’s products, Australian discount department chain Target has been slammed again on social media over blue and pink “boy and girl’s” toys.

The toys in question are a pair of “My First Carry Along” plastic briefcases, one in pink and one in blue. The blue toy is offered as a “medical centre”, whereas the pink toy is a “beauty studio”.

Customers took to Twitter to call out the retail giant over stocking the toys, with the toys being called “an absolute crock” and “sexist crap”.

SmartCompany contacted Target Australia but did not receive a response prior to publication. However, the retailer responded to individual tweets from disgruntled customers, saying it was currently investigating the matter.

“Hi there, thanks for getting in touch! We want to encourage children to be whatever they aspire to be so are disappointed to hear this,” the company said in a tweet.

This is not the first time Target has been caught out for stocking products and promoting gender stereotypes in store, with the company coming under fire for stocking a girl’s ‘Batgirl’ t-shirt in late 2016.

However, shortly after discontinuing the shirt, the company received further backlash from customers who had promised the shirt to their children.

In the US, Target removed all gendered signage from its stores in 2015, saying it did not want customers to be “frustrated or limited” by how products are presented in-store.

However, previous backlash and discussion on the issue has not prevented the company striking the outrage chord again, which director at Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens believes is “sadly” due to the sales supporting the products.

“When there’s a small amount of outrage but a large amount of profit, it gets tricky for companies and consumers,” Ahrens told SmartCompany.

“But this doesn’t mean Target shouldn’t do the right thing by working towards breaking down gender stereotypes. Don’t just pigeonhole people into boxes because it’s profitable.”

In a similar view, director at Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble told SmartCompany that categorising a target market in this way is how “99% of companies do it”, hence why these products keep being placed on shelves.

“Marketing and product development work that way — you put people in a certain box,” she says.

But Gamble says this doesn’t mean Target should continue to perpetuate these stereotypes and notes the company has done some good work in promoting diversity in its clothing catalogues.

“On a gender front they’re still putting people in boxes, so it’s an opportunity for Target to pave the way and embrace more diverse views,” she says.

“Equality is really high on the agenda right now, so the quicker a business embraces it, the more forward thinking and progressive they will appear.”

Ahrens agrees, saying with the current marriage equality postal survey underway, there’s never been a better time for businesses to take a stance on social issues such as gender equality.

“This year has been the year of taking a stance for commercial businesses, so in my mind, there’s no reason after this year why businesses can’t take a moral stance,” she says.

“A precedent has been set.”

Article: The original Tamagotchi will return to Australia, but will nostalgia be enough to drive sales?

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This article written by Dominic Powell originally appeared on SmartCompany here, featuring commentary from Good Things Marketing's CEO Helen Ahrens.

Get ready to switch off those smartphones and turn off those TVs, because the Tamagotchi is back.

The virtual pet toy that dominated the 1990s has been given a new lease on life in its original form. Producer Bandai Namco will be re-releasing the original model in Australia from next month.

The egg-shaped digital pet was first released in Japan, but its popularity spread like wildfire to all corners of the globe with over 82 million models sold after in first launched in 1996. The toy sprouted numerous imitations, spinoffs, and follow-up models, with the most recent 2013 model including near field communication functionality and playable mini-games.

But banking on the nostalgia of Gen Ys and Millennials to drive sales, the upcoming new-old Tamagotchi model won’t include any bells or whistles.

The company is instead sticking with the compact egg shape, unlabelled buttons, and has gone for a smaller 256×256 LCD screen.

If painstakingly caring for a small alien pet for hours every day only to have it die on you anyway is your thing, the new version Tamagotchis will reportedly be available in “most toy and collector stores” from November onwards, at a price of $24.95.

While choosing to relaunch the virtual pet might be a questionable move in a world where young adults can barely keep a pot plant alive, director of Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens thinks Bandai could be in for a winner.

“Launching something like the Tamagotchi in 2017 has some risk, but it could definitely take off,” Ahrens told SmartCompany.

“For example, smartwatches like the Apple Watch exist, but people will still pay for and seek out the timeless classics when it comes to watches, because of that nostalgia and longevity factor.”

Ahrens believes the Tama-relaunch is likely targeting both nostalgia-ready adults and curious kids and teenagers, and despite competing against the millions of apps available on modern smartphones, she thinks “tech abandoners” will be keen to engage with something simple.

Memories of the 90s driving strategy

Speaking to The Verge, director of brand management at Bandai America Tara Badie was blunt about the company’s intentions.

“We’re going after that nostalgia,” she said.

“I’m not going to pretend it’s the best, latest, greatest everything, and it’s going to compete with your constant social medias and all that that’s constantly changing and everything,” she told The Verge. 

“But when you take care of something, you start to love it and want to take care of it. You want it to grow. You have that connection with it, so you want to have it succeed and survive.”

The Tamagotchi relaunch is riding on the coattails of a number of similar relaunches, including Nintendo’s NES and SNES mini consoles which have seen high levels of consumer demand. The new Tamagotchi models will be a limited edition run.

Nostalgia-fuelled product releases come in cycles says Ahrens, which has been happening “since the beginning of marketing and advertising time” and can work well for brands, given they don’t push it too hard.

“Go for it, but don’t be too cheesy,” she says.

“There should be a fun factor, but there is a point where you can be pushing too hard and it’ll come across as behind the times. Run it as a campaign, but not an overall strategy.”

“Bandai is excited to bring back one of the most beloved toys in a way that captures the magic and joy of a generation while embracing the sensibilities of new generations,” a Bandai Namco Australia spokesperson told SmartCompany.

An army of chocolate lovers is putting the hard word on Cadbury to bring back this product

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This article written by Emma Koehn originally appeared on SmartCompany here, featuring commentary from Good Things Marketing's CEO Helen Ahrens.

Chocolate maker Cadbury has been hit with a deluge of emotional pleas calling for the restoration of its marble chocolate block, in the latest chapter of a social media campaign that has popped up over the past year to bring back the milk and white chocolate swirl.

A Facebook post from a Cadbury fan last Thursday has generated more than 25,000 engagements after she begged the company to bring back the marble blocks and their “fluffy hazelnut praline” centres.

“I’m writing to implore you to bring it back, even just for a little a while. Let’s not kid ourselves, it should have never been taken away,” the post reads.

Cadbury Australia has been tight-lipped on whether there’s any chance the product, which was discontinued in 2012, could actually return.

In a statement to SmartCompany, a spokesperson for Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez International said while the company was constantly reviewing product lines, the discontinuation of the marble block years ago was a case of making way for other ideas.

“Unfortunately this sometimes means that nostalgic favourites need to be discontinued to make way for the new,” the spokesperson said.

While there was no commitment to a revival, the company says “we are always listening to consumer feedback so we never say never!”.

This is not the first time this year the chocolate maker has been asked to come to the table to discuss resurrecting the product.

A Facebook page with more than 10,000 followers has also been making a push for the return of the product, posting a variety of humorous pleas, including an image of an open letter to Malcolm Turnbull on the matter.

In response to individual comments on Facebook this week, Cadbury Australia has responded with the message, “We’ll let our team know of your interest in seeing Marble return “.

Social media expert and director of Social Concepts Jessica Humphreys says even if the company has no intention of bringing back the product, Cadbury could be doing more to leverage the product enthusiasm on show in this case.

“I think most businesses of any size would count themselves lucky to be in the position Cadbury is, but they’re not really taking the opportunity,” she says. 

Even if there’s no intention of reviving a product, it’s important to engage with fans to show “there’s an understanding of why they love the product”, Humphries says. In this case, a standard response might not cut it.

Amplifying the goodwill

Cases like this one hold significant lessons for small businesses, says branding expert Michel Hogan. There’s always room to amplify enthusiasm even if you can’t follow through on a customer’s request.

“If something like this is going viral, it’s going viral from a reason,” Hogan says.

“You’ve got a customer saying, ‘Hey, we love you!’ They’re not saying, ‘you suck’. It’s about finding and taking the cue from the customer and doing something with it.” 

There might be cases where you simply cannot accommodate a request for a product relaunch because of logistics or timing. Hogan says that doesn’t mean a business shouldn’t form a connection with a fan who is asking for something to be added to your business.

“There are so many other ways you can tap into it. Maybe you involve the person in a product development group, saying ‘we’d love to have your opinion on some other good things we have coming up.”

Chief executive of Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens agrees that bringing fans into the realm of product testing is a good strategy. But given Cadbury’s silence so far, Ahrens believes it’s unlikely the company is seriously thinking about relaunching the marble product.

“If they haven’t brought it out already, then it’s probably not viable,” she says.

However, Cadbury’s reluctance could carve a space for other businesses to leverage enthusiasm for the marble product with their own cheeky campaigns.

“Maximise the opportunity that someone else isn’t picking up on,” Ahrens says.

“If you were a rival chocolatier, I would be a bit cheeky on social, maybe offer a product, or try a “Marble pop-up” in your cafe.” 

Learn more about Good Things Marketing and what we do here.

How to nail guerrilla marketing - Sydney's “awesomely creepy” marketing It campaign.

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This article written by Dominic Powell originally appeared on SmartCompany here, featuring commentary from Good Things Marketing's CEO Helen Ahrens.

A crafty guerrilla marketing campaign for soon-to-be-released horror movie It has been met with both delight and horror on social media, with users saying it was “awesomely creepy”.

On Sunday, a number of red balloons appeared attached to drainage grates around Sydney CBD, accompanied by a stencilled chalk note saying, “It is closer than you think”.

The initiative also received praise from advertising trade publications, with Mumbrellasaying it was “impressed” with the guerrilla campaign.

Speaking to SmartCompany, product marketing manager at Village Roadshow Films Stacie Beeksma said creative agency Mr Glasses and guerrilla marketing agency Showtime Marketing were behind the campaign.

“Our strategy was to implement a disruptive campaign geared to generate anticipation of the release and establish a new generation of IT fans,” Beeksma says.

“The balloons on the drains was another disruption element executed by Showtime Marketing. Amazing that sometimes the simplest and cheapest ideas are the most effective.”

Beeksma says marketing for films is “a combination of art and science” and while her team was hoping to create some buzz with the campaign, she said it is “never guaranteed”. The campaign is reportedly launching in Melbourne today.

Concerns were briefly risen by some on Twitter over the environmental impact of popped balloons entering drainage systems, however, in a tweet, Beeksma said her team would be removing the deflated balloons.

How to nail guerrilla marketing for you business

Director at Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens tells SmartCompany she thinks the campaign is “brilliant”, especially due to the ostensibly low cost of “a few balloons, some string, and some stencils”.

However, for businesses hoping to gain similar traction through their own campaigns, Ahrens warns these types of campaigns often need to be backed up with a strong social drive.

“The thing to note with this campaign is the team has created content online to match the real life experience with these balloons,” Ahrens says.

“When viewers see the marketing, companies need to be strategic and have somewhere where they can go online and find out what it’s all about.”

The hashtag tie-in via the stencils serves a dual purpose, believes Ahrens, because it provides an avenue for viewers to locate more info and can be used as a way to drive user generated content around the movie.

“It’s also a way for them to measure the engagement for future campaigns,” she says.

“Advertising with emotion involved has been proven to get viewers more motivated and interested, and this will invoke strong emotions in some people because it’s pretty creepy.”

Businesses of all size should try guerrilla marketing

Ahrens says guerrilla marketing can be employed for businesses of all shapes and sizes, using the example of a restaurant getting its staff members together and doing a cooking demo in the middle of a busy area.

“If you can do things people remember and take photos of, it can be very low cost but very effective, especially compared to $300,000 TV or billboard campaigns,” she says.

“You’ve got to be looking at your marketing strategy and your projected budgets, and make the choice between a pop-up style of marketing or something bigger.

“All campaigns have risks, but even if you calculate a 5% chance of there being risks, take the other 95% and go forth with strength and confidence.”

Learn more about Good Things Marketing and what we do here.

How to build a troop of your own social media influencers & follow Kmart's lead

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This article written by Emma Koehn originally appeared on SmartCompany here, featuring commentary from Good Things Marketing's CEO Helen Ahrens.

It’s no secret Kmart fans are competitive bargain hunters, but branding experts say small businesses should take note of the discount department store’s strategy for rallying its Instagram base and transforming enthusiasm into organic advertising content.

News.com.au reports the retailer is powering goodwill towards its newest products by inviting a select group of 20 social media savvy Kmart fans to special preview events several times a year, giving the store’s most passionate shopper base access to new products and hopefully inspiring their Instagram posts.

“[The events] are usually held at a house which they have styled exclusively with Kmart products so you can walk from room to room and imagine the pieces within your own home,” said Helen James, whose Instagram account @i_heart_kmart has 112,000 followers.

“You also get the chance to chat with the design team and buyers. They are always eager to see how we like the products and if we have any suggestions,” she told news.com.au.

In a statement to SmartCompany this morning, a Kmart spokesperson confirmed these events happen several times a year, and “we have a lot of fun together as we share the same love of the product”.

The “Kmart Instagrammers” are invited to take photos at the events, however, Kmart told news.com.au that it does not pay for sponsored content on the social platform, although some users are sent free products.

Kmart has secured a lead in the discount department store wars because of its product mix, store layout, focus on simplicity and low-cost homewares, according to retail experts.

However, it’s the significant reach of its online fan community which has sparked fervor for the brand’s offering. Instagram accounts like @kmartlovers, which has 142,000 followers, focus on finding individual bargains in stores across the country and sharing these with other bargain hunters.

Director of Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens says Kmart’s approach of giving its biggest fans a glimpse of what’s on offer is not a new idea, but executed well, any business can benefit from taking customers behind the scenes.

“It allows mega fans to then go and be influencers in their own communities,” she says.

However, pulling off this kind of digital marketing isn’t always an easy proposition. Here are three ideas for giving clients VIP treatment to ensure they share the love.

1. Find the big hitters

There’s several ways to drill down and identify your most influential users, says Ahrens, but the first stop is identifying those individuals who might deliver the biggest bang for buck.

This can include key clients and important people in your suburb or area more generally, as well as the top social media accounts in your industry.

The trick here is to think beyond your own offering and not to be afraid to look at the competition for inspiration.

“Look at rival business’s hashtags with a similar offering. Ask others in your industry, ‘who do you listen to for insights’ and go to them,” she advises. 

Director of CP Communications Catriona Pollard says for SMEs, the most difficult part of finding a loyal client base is determining which people will create an authentic tone when they share their experiences later.

“When it comes to the genuineness of sharing, and the authenticity of it, that is worth 1000 likes,” she says. 

2. Beware those who say they have influence

There’s no shortage of social media users positioning themselves as influencers, says Pollard, so small businesses should try to steer clear of anyone who claims to have a big following or reach if it’s not obvious they actually use your products.

“Looking for influencers is a minefield,” she says.

“You have to do a lot of research on whether an influencer is really an influencer at all. I think it’s a lot more effective if you can find people that have demonstrated that they are a key part of your target audience. Maybe they already share things or use a hashtag without payment.” 

The process of choosing an elite group of fans is also about understanding that they might not like everything you put in front of them, says Ahrens.

“Risk is something that exists in business everyday, but as long as we take calculated risks, the payoff is worth it,” she says. 

Even if one member of an influencer crew doesn’t like a new idea or product and voices that, you’ve already got the space to respond to them in a straightforward way.

“Just say, ‘thanks for your feedback – we’re going to work on this’,” says Ahrens.

3. Prioritise in-person over online

Ahrens says in her recent work with clients on launches and special events, the aim has been to create an “exclusive launch” feel that demonstrates not just individual products on offer, but the overall brand of the business.

Pollard says the experiential element of any product launch or preview is as important as the payoff you get from Instagram posts.

“It’s as much about the experience as anything else. And remember, even if someone doesn’t have 10,000 followers, they still have a sphere of influence,” she says.

And while having a social strategy is important, SMEs should continue to stay focused on connecting in-person and directly with the groups of people most likely to speak to their networks about your brand.

“If someone’s emailed you to say, ‘I really like your products’, then start developing relationships with those people,” Pollard says.

Want to activate your own social media influencer tribe for your business through clever social media marketing? Contact Good Things Marketing here now to chat about the possibilities!