Brands want attention. That's how they sell -- and why so many have latched onto the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, scheduled for this Saturday. There are more royal wedding promotions than you would probably care to count.
Pull off this type of connection in the right way, have your gimmick connects with consumers, and you get marketing resonance. But choose the wrong connection, like Burger King did with net neutrality, and it doesn't work. (You could even communicate that no one should care about your brand.)
Some brands have pulled off smart promotions to coincide with the wedding. Others, not so much. The key is the connection they can build between the connotations of a royal wedding and what their brand offers. Here are three bad and three good examples. Let's start with the less outstanding ones.
Bad royal wedding promotions.
Choosing the bad promotions is a challenge, as there are so many of them. Not necessarily last or least, but trying hard is Dunkin' Donuts, with its "heart-shaped donut filled with jelly and frosted with chocolate icing and a strawberry drizzle." Not to be confused with the heart-shaped doughnuts the company offered around Valentine's Day. Little new there.
A few "select guests" will get a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park along with some heart-shaped doughnuts. Save yourself the trouble. Go someplace with horse-drawn carriages and bring your own bag of treats. As a promotion, this is boring, and in marketing things rarely get worse than that.
Boodles Gin, a brand around since the 18th century, also tried its hand at a royal wedding promotion. Except it wasn't really about the wedding. Instead it suggested "challenging British traditions in favor of a new modern era of etiquette and style."
Oh, great, lessons. Pass.
And then there is Chili's, which decided to promote brand-inspired cufflinks and fascinators, the latter being the bizarre hats British women often wear to major events. Or as the company press release asks:
"You're probably wondering, Why? Why did Chili's create burger, rib, fajita and margarita-inspired fascinators and cufflinks? Well, because -- Why not?"
Because they asked, here are two reasons. One, there's nothing particularly relevant to the brand. Two, the company just had to announce days ago that "some of our guests' payment card information was compromised at certain Chili's restaurants as the result of a data incident." When you've just been hacked, levity has a high cost. How about this as a promotion: Make sure the safety of the data lasts longer than the wedding reception.
Good royal wedding promotions.
You might think the absolute worst had to be from Velveeta, the processed cheese brand. "Being a princess is not all it's cracked up to be, so why settle for being a princess when you can eat like a queen?" you're told. How ridiculous, right? I expected to find it so. And I did, but in a good way. (Pay attention to the following video at about the 45-second mark.)
The brand didn't take itself or the event seriously and even demonstrated a transformation of a character from weepy royalty wannabe to self-possessed person who knew what she wanted. Even if the product was Velveeta Mac and Cheese, it's a great way to capture attention. (And look at the number of outlets writing about it.)
SodaStream, which makes DIY seltzer equipment, came up with a clever charitable promotion. The company developed a set of commemorative bottles, each with its own miniature fascinator.
People can bid on the bottle of their choice, with the money from the winners going to a charity that has the royal couple's approval. Good design, cause marketing, and the upcoming event, all in one.
Remember Pez, the candy dispensers? This isn't necessarily the biggest brand in the world, but it has a following of people who collect the different models. The company created Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Pez dispensers and auctioned them off for the Make-A-Wish Foundation U.K. This campaign uses the upcoming nuptials, finds a cause, and sticks with the brand -- for a win.