How to take ownership of a problem you have inherited and how to respond online

In this day in age, you say one dumb thing and it can be misconstrued in so many ways.   The language you use, the tone and voice plays a critical element in how you, your brand or company is viewed by the public eye.  Take for instance GM CEO Mary Barra, who in early 2014 was faced with addressing a problem she didn’t ask for – but was tasked with putting the fire out.  To get up to speed with what Barra had to deal with, click on this link to get the back story.  It was this video above that really showed she was willing to admit fault on behalf of the company she was now figure head.  How she responded was nothing short of brilliant and hit a lot of key points.

Assessment of the company’s tone, voice and language selection

GM CEO Mary Barra’s video message to GM employees on March 17, 2014 addressed the ignition switch recall crisis. It was the first communication Barra addressed on the recall issue.

In regards to her tone, Mary was transparent with her plan to combat the challenges that awaited her company.  Her tone demonstrated awareness of the issue, as well as determination with proceeding with progress steps moving forward.

Her voice was authentic, her authoritarian presence was felt.  Barra acknowledged the severity of the issue at stake, while providing a path of strategies for her team to implement.   Her voice was confident, stern and demonstrated leadership qualities.

The language presented was done with a formal tone.  She did not use complex vocabulary or super detailed insights, but rather focused on an overview plan instead.  Barra spoke in a language that all employees of GM could understand – all the way from the top-level executives to the hard-working men and women staff on the assembly lines.

Tone, voice and language selection as I understand it

I thought her tone was consistent throughout the video communication.  As for her voice, I was not fully convinced she came across as sincere as she should have, it sounded like she was most likely reading from a teleprompter.  And for her language, I thought it was appropriate for an internal communication that was sent to staff and would eventually be picked up by news media outlets.

If I wrote her online apology letter, it would look like this…

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Mr. Clean gets Dirty at Super Bowl 51?

Making a Big Splash at the Big Game

Procter and Gamble delivered on a great debut for Mr. Clean with their Super Bowl commercial this past Sunday.    If you’re going to spend $5 million dollars in ad money to get your product out there, why not make a memorable splash in front of a viewing audience of 111.3 million.

What makes this commercial so interesting is that they are shying away from the traditional, squeaky clean image of the navy seal inspired mascot.  Instead, they have re-introduced Mr. Clean in the digital era with a sex appeal like no other cleaning product on the market place.

Playing off the success of recent films such as Magic Mike and the 50 Shades of Grey series, we see a brilliantly created spot of what one could only imagine as simply tongue and cheek.  Leo Burnett Toronto agency was behind the story boards for this 30 second spot, where Mr. Clean comes to life as a desirable hunk for a day dreaming woman named Sarah.  We see a mini-romance unfold, playful sexual desires quenched and even Sarah’s actual real partner becomes more desirable after he finishes cleaning.

Mr. Clean Super Bowl Commercial 2017
Has Sarah met her ideal man?

Mr. Clean’s Intended Target Audience

While the Super Bowl has a large male viewing audience, this commercial takes aim at the characteristics of what a female likes in a man.   Mr. Clean in particular portrays a few of these qualities.  He’s depicted as masculine, attractive, sensual, he can dance and the big kicker here…is that he cleans.  The idea that a man is sexy when he cleans, is one of the messages you get after you view this ad.  While the target demographic looks to aim at homeowners particularly women, the ad also identifies to men as well.  They too can become desirable in their spouse’s eyes if they start using a Mr. Clean product.

Overall, it was a great strategy for Procter and Gamble to go in this direction.  It was also another great idea to release this ad online 10 days early before the actual Super Bowl game to help build the buzz.  The clip has already surpassed 10+ million views on YouTube, it will be interesting to see if these views can translate into product sales in the long run.  While there were other memorable and bigger budget ads like Wix, the Mr. Clean commercial is fun, playful and memorable.   I did a brief presentation on this ad a few days before the actual clip aired at the big game, you can check out the slides below.