McWhopper for World Peace

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Burger King released a video proposal on Wednesday as an open letter to its No. 1 competitor McDonald’s, calling for the two burger powerhouses to bury the hatchet in honor of World Peace Day on September 21st.

The fast-food chain proposed a pop-up shop at the halfway between its headquarters in Miami and McDonalds’ headquarters in Chicago, in Atlanta as the middle ground. The shop would exclusively serve “The McWhopper,” half-Big Mac and half-Whopper, designed to “settle the beef” between the two companies for a day. In addition, to the video, the company also created a website illustrating the logistics of the proposal, even featuring an endorsement from nonprofit Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley and the recipe for the proposed hybrid burger.

However, the advertisement was seen by some as both a not-so-subtle challenge and a cheap marketing stunt, namely, by the face of McDonald’s himself, who released a public rejection letter of the proposal. “We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?” wrote Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s. “And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.”

Despite what is clearly a highly-publicized branding move, Burger King seems sincere in its efforts to contribute something meaningful using its status as a popular fast-food chain. McDonald’s seems a little more reluctant to do so, at least in partnership with Burger King.

So who “won”? McDonald’s is making it clear that they refuse to play the game, and in terms of tactics, what was doled out to them as a friendly curveball was slam-dunked over Burger King’s head. But the circumstances of the offer should be taken into account as well. Was it smart or snobby for McDonald’s to reject the offer given that it was for a good cause, especially considering McDonalds’ struggle to stay relevant as of late? You decide.

But all things considered, McDonald’s had better come up with a really great campaign with all this talk of “global awareness.”

What Sparks Our Fire: Creative inter-brand collaborative marketing campaigns (and a little beef)

Google+ is Going Through a Breakup

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Google+ has been suffering from what many tech blogs and business publications are calling a “slow death”—its initial launch established the site as an attempt to be a fully-integrated social platform, with its multifaceted approach rivaling companies like Facebook, Dropbox, WordPress, and Skype.

However, after failing to gain both traction and users in the social media community, it recently announced that it will be splitting the platform into three different components: Hangouts, Photos, and Streams. Hangouts is a video chatting service that will remain independent of Google+, photos is a storage space for images that will be added to Google Drive, and streams covers the rest of the Google+ experience along with News and Blogger.

While the idea of a streamlined, all-in-one social media platform sounded like a good idea, perhaps it was the ambition of the venture that led to its demise; users considered the Google+ login to YouTube a nuisance, found the interface unaesthetic, and the whole system a cheap Facebook facsimile.

Google has finally compromised, maintaining the best aspects of Google+ like Hangouts and Photos, and has removed the Google+ sign-in on YouTube, much to users’ delight.

The moral of the story: Don’t put all of your digital marketing eggs in one basket, especially if your product is at risk of being disruptive—and not in the good way.

What Sparks Our Fire: Google+ taking the next step forward and making smart decisions in the face of a highly-publicized technological failure.

Vice Goes Broad

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Popular media website Vice has announced the release of its 11th channel, Broadly, which caters to female readers.

Its tongue-in-cheek tagline “For Women Who Know Their Place” is a tribute to its mission to promote broader coverage of issues with a female perspective, including “politics, culture, sex, and fashion.” While its content (reproductive health and fertility, gang activity, drug culture, etc.) maintain’s Vice‘s edge and envelope-pushing tendencies, Broadly aims to add a new dimension to such topics.

A major distinction from its other sites is the noticeable lack of comments section, in order to encourage civil discussion and a safe space. However, in true Vice fashion, it will focus on subject matter that is generally underreported by the mainstream media.

This marks an important shift in focus for Vice, capitalizing on the momentum of feminism in the media and seeking to carve out its unique place in branding culture.

What Sparks Our Fire: A digital publication expanding its brand by creating a space for candid conversation among women about prevalent modern issues.

Happy Prime Day

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When Amazon launched 20 years ago, online retail shopping was revolutionized. Ten years later, Amazon introduced the Prime program, offering members free two-day shipping in exchange for a yearly fee. Today, as arguably the biggest player in the retail industry, Amazon celebrated it’s 20 year Anniversary by offering all-day deals for Prime members and dubbing the day ‘Prime Day’.

In preparation for Prime Day, Amazon announced some of the top deals it’d be offering, but allowed users to anticipate the rest. And starting at 12:00 AM PT (or, 3 AM on the East Coast), the deals opened up, with new ones popping up almost every 15 minutes.

Customer reaction all day has been mixed, with some calling today a failure. Twitter users– using #PrimeDay– have voiced their frustration at being locked out of deals, the lack of transparency around the flash sales, and even the completely weird things Amazon chose to put on sale in the first place (check out Mashable’s list here).

Despite all of the jokes at their expense, Amazon is aware of the long-term benefits of Prime Day. Before the deals began, Amazon promoted their 30-day trial accounts for new Prime users on their front page. Since deals were only open to Prime members, trial users were also able to take advantage of the deals. By giving trial users the opportunity to experience Prime during Prime Day (and thus offering them double the savings), Amazon has surely proven the value of the program to many new users who will convert to paying members after their trial ends.

What Sparks Our Fire: Celebrating a retail giant for it’s long-term thinking