Tag Archives: Public Relations

ChapStick vs. Carmex- A social media competitive assessment

4 Mar

This is my assessment of the way ChapStick, (I chose them in spite of their PR/Social media disaster of last fall) and Carmex are  using  social media as of Spring 2011. As part of an assignment for my Social Media Insights class we were asked to choose an industry and pick 2 companies that compete in that industry that are using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and compare and contrast how each company uses these tools.

I found it interesting that ChapStick doesn’t have a twitter handle at all, but I am impressed with some of the things that they do on their other platforms. Both companies seem to be targeting anyone who is a regular user of the product. A lot of ChapStick’s and Carmex’s content focuses on contests to win free product or on encouraging customers to share their experiences with the product. These brands are trying to build fan loyalty, not create new fans. For ChapStick, the objective seems to be to increase awareness of limited edition flavors by encouraging customers to share their favorites and to introduce them to something new. Since lip balm is a product that you can use multiples of at one time (one is a purse, your car, at your desk, etc), promoting all the different flavors will encourage additional purchases. Carmex’s business objective seems more focused on just pushing Carmex as a whole brand instead of focusing on the individual products as sub-brands. They’re objective seems to be increasing loyalty to Carmex by encouraging customers to visit social media sites for chances to win free product.


In an effort to get more Likes, Carmex is running a “75 years with 750,000 fans Carmex Collection” Giveaway. You have to like the page, submit a form, and then you have the option to publish the giveaway on your FB page.  Carmex also has a graph showing their likes so far and their goal. By giving away a decently large amount of their basic products, they’re obviously targeting people who are committed users of Carmex. I thought it was interesting that they make it optional to share the competition. They are clearly more focused on getting Likes than on getting interaction. It might have been better if they had made the contestants write a post on the Carmex wall telling where and when they use Carmex the most (i.e. When skiing, at the movies, on the train, etc); this would have gotten more discussion going about the brand. I like the idea that they’re tying this to celebrating something, instead of just trying to get likes in general. It makes the campaign feel more genuine and less like a gimmick. When reading some of the Carmex posts on their wall, I got really bored. Most of the posts were either spamming of promoting contests or saying “congratulations to our winners…”  There was nothing really worth looking at (although they did look like some cool contests/prizes). If I were a fan of the page, I might check it fairly regularly to see if there was a contest I could enter, but I would not write on the wall or feel more inclined to purchase the product.

Carmex Facebook contest

On ChapStick’s FB page they are promoting their new limited edition flavors in a variety of ways. They ran a “Send a Kiss” Valentine’s thing that wasn’t really a promotion, but it encouraged fans to interact with the brand.

Chapstick Facebook post

They also occasionally do free giveaways, but it’s not the focus of the page. Most of their posts are great interactive questions to fans. “ChapStick fans always have a backup flavor. What’s your number 2?” or “Name a President and name the ChapStick® that you believe was his favorite, or would have been his favorite! Go!” or  “If ChapSticks® co-mingled, which two flavors would you want to see hook up?” Sometimes the questions have absolutely nothing to do with ChapStick, but they’re hot discussion topics so the fans will spend time on the page talking about them anyways. Recent posts include “What do you think of reality TV–love it or hate it?” “Which celeb has the best looking lips?” (This question had 159 likes and 248 comments) another “Fill in the Blank Friday, you know the drill! It’s Friday night and I’m _______________.” The questions ChapStick posts are almost water cooler topics that people might talk about at work. It makes the brand feel more like a friend posting this on their wall than a company.


Carmex redeems its overzealous contest promotion on its FB page with its Twitter account. On Twitter they interact with fans more, answering questions, responding to complaints, and thanking fans for compliments. They retweet good things fans say (but they do it as RT instead of hitting the button, so it looks like a tweet from Carmex and not the follower). They encouraged fans to interact with the brand via their LeBron James partnership. People tweeted things like “I use @Carmex just like #TeamLeBron. My Terrific Tuesday game depends on it. #TeamCarmex http://bit.ly/vz7FNm” Basically they were only changing what their “game” was that depends on Carmex and including the link to the LeBron/Carmex page. The RTs of these fan tweets are all over the Carmex page near the end of January and into February so it seems like it was a popular trend. Very few tweets from Carmex were unique content that was not a response to someone else or a contest announcement. After being so underwhelmed with their FB page, it was nice to see more involvement with the Twitter handle.

ChapStick has an @ChapStick handle but it’s got a person’s name attached to it, has 35 followers and no tweets. Sad.


Chapstick’s YouTube channel looks impressive at a glance. They have a background with pictures of the different flavors and the same lips image shown above that they’ve got all over their Facebook page. The two pages are cohesive and display the brand nicely. I then noticed that there’s been no activity on the channel for 4 months. Not good.  It looks like last fall they did a “Sing your love for ChapStick” competition so some of the videos from that are posted, but nothing since then. They do have some featured 15-second videos that are set up as interviews on the street asking people “where is your ChapStick now” and “Who is the ChapStick thief in your life.” These are cute, but are obviously staged and a bit commercial-y. There are not very many comments on the channel and none of them are by ChapStick. They do have a referral to their FB page that keeps a real-time count of how many Likes they have.

Chapstick Facebook likes

Carmex’s channel is a little less showy than ChapStick’s. The background is their signature yellow color, but the channel almost looks like a fan and not the company might run it. Their latest activity was back in October, and since they joined in 2006, they have only posted 4 videos; one is a 4-minute tour of their labs, one is an announcement of their new skin-care product. One from 2008 is a 1 ½ minute TV commercial with this copy under it “Do you have a unique Carmex story to share? Why do you think people love Carmex so much? How do you share the tingle? Well, break out your video camera or cell phone (and some Carmex!) and show us your movie making magic. Enter your video (under three minutes) and we’ll reward the most promising up and coming film-makers with $5,000 or other fabulous prizes! Videos will be judged on creativity (“tingliness”), humor, overall appeal and popular vote in case of a tie.”
There doesn’t seem to be much follow-up on the page from that promotion and there’s been nothing like it since then.

Both of these brands have a lot of room for improvement in their social media customer interactions. I applaud them for having YouTube channels, but both of them really need to refocus on making the channels valuable. I am very surprised that ChapStick doesn’t have a Twitter, but at the same time the conversational tone of their Facebook page covers a lot of the same content that a Twitter handle would. Since they focus so much on the visual of each new flavor or difference in product benefit, it makes sense for ChapStick as a brand to focus their attention on FB where they can post pictures that are easy to see than on Twitter.

Carmex redeemed their weak Facebook page with their Twitter handle, but then was very disappointing in their YouTube channel. I’d say that in the end ChapStick wins out, mainly because they seem to be working very hard to provide clever and fresh, relevant content on their Facebook page. I loved the question about “Name a President and what ChapStick flavor they would use.” They weren’t blatantly pushing their brand, but it did encourage fans to stop and really think about the different products they offer. In reading the comments other fans made, I realized that there are some flavors out there that I wasn’t even aware of. So ChapStick wins this contest, but due to their PR/Facebook debacle last fall only by a margin. (They still use the phrase “Be heard on Facebook” but they seem to have learned that they can’t say that and then delete peoples’ comments.)


Chicago Theatre District: Broadway in Chicago “Student Scene” PR Campaign

21 Nov

This is the paper for the group project/final for my intro PR class at DePaul. We got an “A” so I thought I’d share.

BIC Student Scene PowerPoint Presentation

 Chicago Theatre District

PRAD 555 Final Campaign

Broadway In Chicago Student Scene Logo

Alina Blackford, Katie Denton, Lauren Dixon

 Situation Analysis:

Broadway in Chicago was founded in July of 2000 and throughout the past ten years has become one of the largest locations for traveling performances in the country. “Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining well over 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including the Bank of America Theatre, Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and just off the Magnificent Mile, the new Broadway Playhouse.”[1] While Broadway in Chicago reaches a large number of people every year, none of their marketing efforts are geared specifically towards one or even a few target audiences. Broadway in Chicago seems to be trying to reach everyone with their campaigns and out of that target of “everyone,” BIC ignores the thousands of Chicago University students who live and play right next-door.

Subscription purchases are always preferable to theaters than single ticket purchases. Customers purchasing subscriptions commit to a certain number of performances and are more likely to purchase again in the future than single ticket buyers. Theaters aim to make life-long partnerships with subscription buyers, hoping that a feeling of loyalty to and ownership of the theater will keep them from straying to other entertainment sources. BIC has a members club in which subscribers can receive points for performances they attend but offers no additional perks for students, not even student rush tickets. Broadway in Chicago does not manage its own box office but uses Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster records can be accessed for tracking subscription and single ticket purchases.

Broadway in Chicago theaters host touring performances in an array of genres ranging from traditional musical theater, (West Side Story, Marry Poppins, South Pacific) to new modern musicals (The Book of Mormon, Rock of Ages, American Idiot). Broadway in Chicago Theaters are right in the heart of the loop surrounded by a variety of restaurants and nightlife options. Many loop restaurants offer a prix fixe menu where anyone with theater tickets can get an appetizer, dinner, and desert for a set price.

SWOT Analysis


  • BIC presents nationally touring Broadway shows
  • BIC has a wide variety of performances to choose from
  • BIC is the 5th largest tourist attraction in Chicago
  • BIC theaters are surrounded by restaurants and nightlife


  • There is a lack of a target audience in Broadway in Chicago communications.
  • There is a missed opportunity in targeting students and creating discounted programs to encourage their attendance


  • BIC theaters are located in the heart of the Loop near 4 major arts schools
  • There is room to target students at these colleges with an interest in art, but a lower budget
  • Liberal arts students offer a large target audience


  • Chicago is home to a large number of arts organizations that have similar performances at the same time as BIC theaters
  • Chicago has a dynamic nightlife that attracts students on the weekends
  • School theaters offer lower prices to their students than BIC shows


Broadway in Chicago Theaters

  • Oriental Theatre-24 W Randolph St
  • Cadillac Palace Theatre-151 W Randolph St.
  • Bank of America Theatre-18 W Monroe St.
  • Auditorium Theatre-50 E Congress Parkway
  • Broadway Playhouse-175 E. Chestnut Avenue (Water Tower Place)

Loop Schools

Columbia College Chicago- Private Arts and Media College

  • 600 S. Michigan Ave (about 15 minutes away from the theatre district)
  • 11,400 undergraduates and 522 graduate students
  • 2,200 students live in four residence centers – all located steps from our main campus

DePaul University- The Theatre School

  • 135 N. Kenmore Ave (about 20 minutes away from the theatre district)
  • One of America’s oldest and most respected theatre conservatories
  • 330 students (very small program)

DePaul University- Loop Campus

  • DePaul Center 1 E Jackson Blvd (right in heart of theatre district)
  • Upperclassman and graduate loop housing at the University Center (UC).
  • 25,145 students total

○        16,052 undergraduate students, 8,017 graduate students and 1,076 law students.

Roosevelt University

  • 430 S Michigan Ave
  • Home to the Auditorium Theater
  • 3,919 undergraduate students and 2,703 graduate students

SAIC- School of the Art Institute of Chicago

  • 37 South Wabash Avenue (right in the heart of the theatre district)
  • Leader in educating artist and designers
  • In addition to studio courses all students are required to take courses in liberal arts and art/design history, theory, and criticism
  • 3,246 students currently enrolled

Strategic Planning


To generate interest and increase attendance among Chicago students at Broadway in Chicago performances.


To increase subscription purchases by liberal arts students who are more than 21 years old to 1,000 in one year.



○       Students to become regular subscribers to BIC performances and to view BIC as a social event


○       By bringing BIC to the schools and forming relationships with student clubs to further promote student program


○       Through a combination of social and traditional PR techniques to successfully roll out our one-year campaign


Broadway in Chicago Student Scene

We will create the Student Scene to encourage students studying at schools with connections to the Loop to become regular viewers of productions by Broadway in Chicago. A points system will be developed allowing for exclusive member benefits. Once the students graduate, they will have the option to roll over their points to the official Broadway in Chicago Club, encouraging them to become life-long subscribers.

For further encouragement to join the Student Scene, we will position the club and theater as a social scene for this younger generation. We will choose four performances each year, one at each theater, to host a pre or post-performance event for Student Scene members. Students with a pre-determined amount of points will be able to attend the event free of charge; those with no points can pay a small fee to attend. The events will also be multi-tiered benefiting those students with more points. In October we will host a kick-off welcome party for Student Scene members.

Events for the 2011-2012 Season:

The Book of Mormon: Bank of America Theatre, Dates: Begins December 11, 2012

  • Pre-performance cocktail hour with a special introduction by the directors

The Addams Family: Cadillac Palace Theatre, Dates: December 13, 2011 – January 01, 2012

  • Post-performance costume party

American Idiot: Oriental Theatre, Dates: February 07, 2012 – February 19, 2012

  • Post-performance party with Green Day cover band

Bring it On: The Musical Cadillac Palace Theatre. Dates: March 06, 2012 – March 25, 2012

  • Pre-performance party with cast members, the Chicago Bears and the Honey Bears cheerleading squad

University Engagement

We will hire student ambassadors from each university for season-long internships. The students will act as liaisons between Broadway in Chicago and the student population. Their job will be to promote the Student Scene while bringing suggestions and concerns voiced by peers to our team to better the program. Student ambassadors will participate in information tables at competing performances or as a street team. This represents the grassroots portion of our campaign, as the student ambassadors will be required to physically promote the program. Student ambassadors will receive a free membership to the Student Scene and double points for future members referred by them. We will also purchase Student Scene advertisements in PlayBills for University Productions and partner with Marketing professors at these four target schools to incorporate the Student Scene campaign into curriculum.

Traditional Media

Our campaign team will pitch relevant local and university media with features about the kick-off party and following performances, events and benefits. We will pitch entertainment reporters at:

  • Chicago Sun Times
  • Chicago Journal
  • Chicago Reader
  • RedEye
  • The DePaulia
  • The Columbia Chronicle
  • Roosevelt Torch
  • FNewsMagazine (SAIC)

Social Media

Develop a social media campaign around the Student Scene for updates on schedules, productions, events and other news. Social media is an effective outlet with which to reach our defined audience.

  • Facebook page: Members will be invited once they join the Student Scene. Pictures and short video clips will be posted of events and performances, and updates will be listed. The Facebook page will only be open to Student Scene members.
  • Twitter account: The Twitter account will run continuous updates on all BIC performances and events.
  • Blog: Managed by student ambassadors chronicling their experiences as BIC Student Scene interns, the performances they view and events they attend. This will act as another outlet for updates and will also encourage the next round of students to apply to be ambassadors to experience the perks.
  • YouTube channel: Student Scene will post clips from their events

Measuring Success:

Success of this campaign will best be measured over time. In the short-term, BIC can compare ticket sales and subscription sales of young people ages 21-30 before the campaign to the numbers afterwards. All aspects of this campaign will be tracked through Ticketmaster with codes. For example, if a student buys a ticket because another student referred them, the purchaser’s transaction will have a specific code entered into the database, so BIC can tell how many new customers were generated through referrals.

Building lifelong relationships with these students can also be tracked in the long-term through Ticketmaster. Upon graduating from their Loop University, students can be transferred in to the regular BIC Club and their points from the student club will carry over. These BIC Club accounts will be tagged differently in the Ticketmaster system than those of regular adult members and in ten years BIC can track how many active club members originated in this student program.

The success of this campaign can also be measured by the longevity of partnerships with the Universities and student organizations. The goal of generating interest and increasing attendance among Chicago students at Broadway in Chicago performances can easily be measured by using encryptions in the ticketing software to determine why ticket buyers are purchasing. After each season we will host a focus group of Club members to ensure that the club is still meeting their expectations. After the first year, this campaign can be rolled out to include younger students and expand to more schools in the Chicago area.








Another Thirsty Thursday is here already.

10 Nov

I decided I need to add some sort of regularity to this blog, and instead of feeding it a Jamie Lee Curtis-promoted yogurt, I came up with Thirsty Thursdays. On Thursdays I will post any interesting blog posts, tweets, articles, or anything else that people thirsty for marketing/PR insights would (hopefully) be interested in reading.\

So this week  I am being consumed by my final campaign presentations for both my PR and Advertising classes which are next week. However, I still managed to find time to stumble upon something that truly fascinates me. On Monday, I was discovered a Tweet from Adam Thurman that said “My goal as an #artsmarketer = no more paid advertisements, ever. No print, no outdoor, nothing. Not there yet. Working on it.”  Now Adam is the President of Mission Paradox, a Chicago consulting firm specializing in marketing and also is the Marketing Director at a Chicago theater (while I know where he works, he doesn’t state it on his website so I’ll leave it be).  I’ve been following the Mission Paradox blog ever since I met Adam in April of 2009 when I volunteered for the Chicago Artists’ Resource Creative Chicago Expo and monitored his information session. I’ve noticed a theme in his posts of focusing on creating quality experiences and letting them speak for your art, but until I saw that tweet,I’d never thought about what sort of organizations would be willing to try this and would it work for them?

After thinking about it for a while, I came up with two case studies.

#1. Proctor and Gamble and the 2010 Winter Olympics (in Vancouver). (yes, if you’re in my Advertising class you know that I’m cheating because we sort of talked about this last week, sorry). Proctor & Gamble Vancouver Olympics campaign

For the 2010 Olympics, Proctor and Gamble (while they did purchase their fair share of television ads) spent what seems like a great deal of money basically on PR. Their slogan was “Proud Sponsors of Moms” and they flew every mother of an American Olympic Team member to Vancouver so they could be there to watch their child. They also set up a home site for mothers which included doing their make-up (So when their kid won the gold medal she’d look her best in the following shot of her crying hysterically). While it seems like this was an incredible amount of money for P&G to spend, they most likely spent less in flying all those mothers to Vancouver than they would have for a 30-second TV spot, and probably gained a lot more positive brand perception among their customers. While their advertising did follow the concept of sponsoring moms, if they’d wanted to they could probably have spent their whole advertising budget on similar tactics and come out just as well, if not better off in sales and definitely better off in goodwill.

#2. Bath & Body Works. Bath & Body Works logo

I’ve worked off and on for a BBW for the last 3 years and until they started their Chicago “Blue Chip” initiative last year they had not once run a TV ad in their 25 years of existence. I don’t know about you, but long before I worked there I was a serious customer and can remember deadly junior high locker room fumes of Plumeria, Sun-Ripened Raspberry, and Sweet Pea all mingling together. For 25 years this company built themselves up with a customer service motto of “Take her from satisfied to loyal.” I’ve seen a few people bring in coupon ads from magazines, but maybe only 5 in 3 years. The company relies on the quality of their product to keep the customer coming back for more. They also have a pricing strategy similar to Kohl’s (which my mom and I refer to as the “If you paid ticket price, you’re an idiot” model). BBW gives every purchasing customer a “reason to return” in the form of a coupon that takes effect the next month and has done a lot lately to promote their online store and to promte BBW in general on social media sites. (but not in paid advertising on social media).This company has managed to become a household necessity (at least in a lot of our homes) without advertising. Even as a new company, they relied on people loving their products so much that they’d tell all their friends about it.

These are just a few things I thought about on the topic. I’m sure I could have found a lot more interesting things had I more time, but I have homework to do.

I really do love the idea though of creating something that makes such a quality experience for your customer that you don’t have to pay for them to notice it and become involved in it.

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