Now that 2010 is underway, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to acknowledge some great success stories, or at least success stories in the making.  There have been several programs that I’ve run across recently that grabbed my attention, and each of these can provide us with lessons in how we approach marketing in 2010 and beyond.

Disney
The other night I was with friends when a commercial for Disney came on that highlighted their promotion where they are giving away theme park tickets to people who volunteer for selected charitable organizations.  I’ve been thinking a lot about causes lately and how they can impact customer perception of brands, so this really resonated with me.

Of course, there are detractors that claim Disney is bribing people into doing service work and it’s not truly an altruistic gesture.  I see the glass half full here.  Disney is taking a stand and making it clear that they support service to the community and are rewarding those who are willing to give up their time and service for the greater good.  I believe this is a great example of aligning corporate values and goals with the bigger needs out in our communities.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Domino’s Pizza
I’ll go ahead and say right now that I’m not a fan of Domino’s, or of pizza delivery as a whole, however they have made an astounding leap forward with their business recently that comes on the heels of an embarrassing PR fail back in 2009 (you may recall the YouTube video fiasco where employees of one of the local franchises made a video of some pretty gross things happening in the kitchen).  Most interesting about the Domino’s approach is that they actually LISTENED to their customers and ADAPTED to the reality of the situation (a lot of people didn’t like the pizza).  Instead of making excuses or paying for celebrity endorsements to make up for the lack of taste preference, they turned their whole business on its end and actually re-worked the recipe for their pizzas!  Watch the video that shows how and why they did it.  It’s a remarkable story, and this really gets to the heart of how the entire organization should be involved with ‘social’ – not just the marketing/PR/Customer service departments.

I wrote about this back in 2007, and it’s wonderful to see a major brand putting this kind of thinking into action.  As Amber Naslund recently cleverly articulated on her blog, when brands suffer a setback, it’s important to circle back around and determine what happened and why, but most importantly to ‘get back in the saddle’ and commit to understanding where it went wrong and to doing better next time.  Excellent metaphor here, and clearly one that Domino’s ‘gets.’

Pepsi
By now, I’m sure everyone is well aware of Pepsi’s daring move to pull out of Super Bowl advertising in 2010 and redirect that money into the Pepsi Refresh Project, which is a cause-based initiative that’s being promoted via social channels.  This is a bold statement from Pepsi, but it reinforces the idea that brands are finding new ways of connecting with their end-users outside of broadcast advertising.  Think about the incredible potential Pepsi has to connect with people and truly align the brand with their values.

I believe we’re going to see a lot more of this type of thinking in 2010 and the years ahead.  Let’s face it – Pepsi can’t advertise their way into market leadership.  Coke is too far in front.  What they can do is connect with people in a more meaningful way.  Will it work?  We will have to wait and see.  In the meantime, I’ve got to tip my hat to Pepsi for taking this approach.

Eight O’Clock Coffee
This is another example of a legacy brand that has really stepped out of the mainstream and taken a fresh approach to social media.  Denise McVey, who runs the Eight O’Clock Coffee Facebook page is interviewed in a video that shows people how to get started on Facebook.  Pretty cool, because the focus isn’t on the coffee or the brand – the focus is on helping the customer solve a problem.  I’d bet the target demographic for the brand is a bit older than the median Facebook user, and I’m sure there are plenty of their customers who would welcome a guiding voice to walk them through getting started on Facebook.  And if that’s not cool enough, you also get the added bonus of getting to know the person behind the brand on Facebook – love that!  Kudos to Eight O’Clock Coffee and their agency, S3 for this!

I’ll leave it at that for now, but I plan to share examples like these more often as 2010 gets into full swing.  Hopefully these spark some creative thinking for those who are planning their own social programs.

What about you?  What are some examples of programs or campaigns that you think are worth sharing?  Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

photo source: iStockPhoto