Brands hop on #TheDress bandwagon

Were brands’ attempts to seize on the social media phenomenon smart or silly?

If you’ve touched any type of social media since last Thursday, you’re likely sick of hearing about #TheDress. If you missed the entire debate over the colors of this dress, which a Buzzfeed post helped to spark, then congratulations.

Brands certainly took note, and came out swinging with some newsjacking that ranged from clever to cloying.

Several brands just went for the obvious joke: “The dress is the color of our logo or our product!”

This observer pretty much sums up the amount of credit these brands should get for the creativity they put in with the “it’s actually our color!” tweets:

I don’t know what Denny’s was trying to do, but it seems to have succeeded.

Pizza companies jumped into the action without bothering to go beyond the obvious:

Here’s a tip, however: Never make your food product look unappetizing in social media—especially don’t make it appear to be glowing green from radiation.

And these aren’t marginal brands that are all making some small variation of the same joke. Here are a few venerable marketers that jumped into the fray:

If I had to give an award for the best #TheDress tweet (and thank goodness we don’t), I’d have to say that Lego at least brought a little something extra to the table:

Dunkin Donuts went beyond the super obvious too:

Snickers stayed on-message with its tweet, though it didn’t really get the engagement I’m sure brand managers were hoping for:

And Snapple was on-brand with its under-the-cap message:

Overall, this was the worst example of brands jumping on trends for the sake of jumping on a trend in the most obvious way. Sure, it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback here and judge brands for being too obvious with all of this. You may be wondering, What should they have done? Nothing. If you can’t get beyond the obvious, do nothing. If you can’t add value, do nothing. If you’re adding to the noise because someone above you said, “What are we doing about this whole dress thing?” it’s not a reason to newsjack something.

No one tried to recreate the optical illusion that the dress originally employed. No one tried to add value by explaining the phenomenon. The closest a brand came to it was Adobe, which shared some user-generated content. This is at least valuable:

Behr Paint took a similar tack with its message:

When it comes to real-time content marketing you have to ask yourself this question first: Are we entering the conversation because we have something valuable to add or are we shoehorning our brand into the conversation because we think that’s what’s expected?

If you can’t articulate the value you’re adding with your post, just don’t do it. Let the Pizza Hut UKs of the world damage their brands.

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